Thursday, 19 September 2013

Boxing's Shame - by Jim Black

BOXING is clinging onto the last vestiges of credibility by its fingertips in the wake of Ricky Burns’ world title bout against Mexican Ray Beltran.
What other conclusion can possibly be drawn from the shameful events of September 7 at the SECC?
Burns retained his WBO lightweight crown by dint of a points win that once again exposed a system of scoring that is wholly inadequate, given that it is so flawed and open to abuse that it is no longer capable of shocking.
One judge awarded the fight to Burns, 115 points to 112, another to Beltran, by 115-113, with the third scoring it a draw, 114-114.
Hispanic-American Jose Ortiz was probably the only person who witnessed the contest who actually thought Burns had won, including, one suspects, the fighter himself.
Even Burns’ promoter, Eddie Hearn expressed the belief that the challenger had truthfully prevailed.
Jim Watt, the former world champion and highly respected Sky pundit, delivered a damning indictment of the verdict when he declared: “Sometimes I really don’t like this business.”
He is most certainly not the only one.
It was not Burns’ fault, of course. Having courageously boxed for 10 rounds with a fractured jaw, the 30-year-old from Coatbridge was, like Beltran, at the mercy of the judges.
Scoring in boxing is dependent on opinion rather than fact and that is the nub of the problem.
May it now be time to consider the amateur system of points scoring where scoring shots are registered electronically and the ringside judges score in tandem?
At the time of writing, I understand that a probe in underway into the discrepancy in the scores that shamed the sport yet again.
That is the least that must happen and if the WBO has the courage of its convictions, Ortiz will never again officiate at a world title bout.
But none of this should be allowed to sully Burns’ achievements. He has been an outstanding champion at two weights and deserves to be regarded as one of the country’s true sporting icons.
However, Beltran must be given a rematch in the interests of fair play. Otherwise, there is a danger that Burns will be remember as the champion who got lucky rather than one who has done his country proud.
Still on the subject of boxing, the sport has lost one of its unsung heroes.
I refer to Dean Powell, promoter Frank Warren’s 47-year-old matchmaker who died as the result of a tragic incident at New Cross Gate train station earlier this month.
Investigations are ongoing, but witnesses have testified to seeing Dean leave the platform as a train passed.
If so, the tragedy is all the greater, given that none of those closest to him were fully aware of his state of mind or the affects of the pressure he clearly felt under.
Warren writing in his weekly column in The Sun said that he has become aware that something might be wrong when Dean texted to ask that his family be looked after before switching off his phone.
Having some years ago suffered from a bout of depression, I can only imagine the degree of turmoil in Dean’s mind that drove him to deliberately end his life, if, indeed, that was the case.
One thing is certain, the sport is all the poorer for the passing of a genuine “boxing man” and someone who was a friend to many.
At first glance a dog dressed in a Celtic top may appear mildly amusing.
But when the animal in question – a boxer – is subjected to a kicking for “wearing the colours”, no sane-minded person can feel anything other than revulsion.
It must be hoped that the morons who attacked the unfortunate animal on a Glasgow bus are caught and dealt with.
But what does it say about the dog’s owner that he felt a need to express his allegiance through his pet? 
I have the upmost respect for the various anti-sectarian groups who campaign to rid us of this blight on society. However, I fear they are wasting their time.
Meanwhile, apologies to my friend at the BEEB, Phil “Good Lad” Goodlad.
I stated in a recent blog that Phil hails from Stornoway. Let the record show that he is a Shetlander – and rightly proud of the fact.

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