By Terence Dooley
As expected, promoter Frank Warren has reacted bullishly to claims that Ricky Burns is moving to pastures new by uploading documents to www.frankwarren.com that reveal the WBO lightweight titlist’s unification match with Miguel Vazquez on April 20th is still very much on despite Alex Morrison, Burns’ manager, claiming earlier this week that Burns is set to leave his promoter.
An email from Sean Gibbons of Zanfer Promotions, who promote Vazquez, was published on March 8 to alleviate fears that the fight might not take place. During the email, Gibbons confirms that their preparation had been hit by Vazquez’s stomach illness, but stresses that he is “prepared to bring Miguel and his manager to England next week for a press conference to confirm the bout if needed,” as well as confirming that his charge has signed a fight contract.
Warren also uploaded another document relating to the bout, an email from the IBF’s Lindsey Tucker, their Championship Chairman, granting ‘tentative approval’ for the unification match-up. This email was originally sent out on February 20 and was forwarded to Dean Powell, Warren’s matchmaker, once again on Thursday to underline the fact that the IBF have penciled in the unification meeting.
Furthermore, the letter confirms that the IBF have discussed the bout with the WBO and that their mutual presidents have agreed that the winner, and partly unified champion, will defend against his WBO mandatory and then meet the IBF mandatory in the months following the contest.
It leaves Burns, 35-2 (10) in a tough spot. The Coatbridge fighter’s disappointment at the rescheduling of the original March 16th fight is understandable, especially given that a defence against Jose Ocampo was scrapped in December after Ocampo withdrew due to the sudden death of his trainer. The 29-year-old wants to fight, and with Vazquez, 33-3 (13), waiting in the wings it would be a big step if Burns and Morrison continued down the path they have said they want to head down.
Indeed, and although Liverpool light-heavyweight Tony Bellew walked away from Warren last year, Burns would find it hard to argue that there has been a breach of contract. Unless they feel that being moved from fights against the likes of Youssef Al Hamidi — an eight-threes win on the undercard of Kevin Mitchell’s Upton Park defeat to Michael Katsidis — to a WBO super featherweight world title shot against the highly-rated Roman Martinez in Glasgow is considered an actionable offence.
For now, though, the only thing that is certain is that Warren is moving forward with the April 20th date and is confident Burns will meet Vazquez as chief support to Nathan Cleverly’s WBO light-heavyweight title defence against Robin Krasniqi despite Morrison’s comments earlier this week.
This will be music to the ears of Liam Walsh, John Thain, Gary Corcoran, Mitchell Smith, Steve O’Meara, Miles Shinkwin and Frank Buglioni, just some of the names penciled in for the undercard. Fighters who, unlike world champions and the men at the top, cannot afford to miss out on this bill.
Ironically, the postponement of the show, plus Warren’s recent setbacks, was greeted with a sense of Schadenfreude in some quarters — it is hard to understand how anyone can square the circle of being a fan of the sport with wanting to see bills delayed or pulled altogether. If you applauded the strife of this week because you cream from the politics and a hint of controversy then you are doing a disservice to the sport, which is going through hard times and needs as many shows as possible.
The Burns situation has been absorbed into the Warren Vs. Matchroom debate that has raged on forums and via emails for over a year, with people stating that they are either Team Warren or Team Eddie Hearn, and reducing themselves to the mental level of Twilight fans in the process — I’m Team Victoria myself, both versions.
It is not just the fans, either. Boxing outfits in the U.K. are, and have always been, equivalent to feuding tribal warlords who consistently fail to see beyond the walls of their own little encampments. If they did look any further they would see that there is an entire nation beyond their own little bubbles, but that’s Utopian thinking.
What we have is two big main stables, and never the twain shall meet. It is time to look ahead and, given that they are on different channels, ditch thoughts of inter-promotional fights and hope that both Warren and Hearn cut their cloths accordingly over coming years to put the sport back where it belongs — on multiple channels and pulled in multiple directions while getting a kicking from within yet still compelling enough to draw in the punters.
Boxing should be the biggest sport in the world. Especially as everyone you meet in the sport tells you a) they love boxing and b) they don’t earn a penny from it: leading us to ask ourselves how and why these groups of altruistic charity workers have consistently failed get the sport to where it belongs? It is a question that needs to be answered, and soon, if things are to improve because there has been too little in-ring action for my liking thus far in 2013.
Sky, in giving Carte blanche to Hearn and Matchroom, has said they are doing their bit to save the sport. Maybe if they had shown a firmer hand when Messers Warren, Hearn, Frank Maloney and Ricky Hatton were under their roof then we would not be in this position. The corporation has said that it finds boxing hard work and an unwieldy world to operate in. Well, professional football is hardly a bed of roses, but the organization has kept a firm hand on the leagues and clubs, most of whom have more clout than our top boxing outfits.
No, Sky should have made big fights happen rather than trimming their output and stable down — that they didn’t is on them. There is no doubt that their anchors and pundits love boxing, perhaps if the suits at the top understood it, and its wider appeal, a bit better than we would be in a stronger position.
They didn’t, we aren’t, and the boxing needs the loss of Warren’s Wembley Arena show like it needs a hole in the head. People should bear that in mind before popping open the champagne and celebrating the difficulties the bill has faced. The undercard fighters listed above can’t join in the celebrations — they have had to keep ticking over in the gym ahead of the new date and need this show so they can earn some money and win over some new fans.
Here is the link to the documents mentioned in this article: http://www.frankwarren.com/news/press-releases/2013/03/08/further-documents-released-ibf-confirm-vazquez-agreement-to-fight-burns.html .
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