I have a confession to make. I am a fan of boxing. I freely admit that it speaks to something primeval in me, not to mention admiring the skill, strength, guts and stamina that make up a successful fighter. However boxing has long had a reputation of shady dealings, arising from dodgy things in the past like fixed matches.
The future of boxing in Australia, at least, has been dealt a telling blow.
Last night saw a title fight between IBO cruiserweight title holder, Danny Green and Paul Briggs. The fight was mired in controversy from the outset with it being banned in New South Wales. Briggs was returning to the ring after a three year layoff and NSW authorities deemed him medically unfit to take part. Authorities in Western Australia took a different view, claiming that the medical scans they viewed show no reason to disallow the fight.
Less than thirty seconds in to the fight, Green’s glove little more than brushed Briggs’s head. But Briggs went staggering down, to be counted out with the win on a Technical Knock Out going to Green.
The crowd present were far from impressed, pelting Briggs and his minders with pretty much everything they could lay their hands on. Back in the ring, Green took the microphone amidst loud boos from the crowd. But Green got them somewhat back onside by shouting defiance in the ring, describing Briggs as ‘less than a canine’. He seemed genuine in his anger.
Things have taken a decidedly murky turn today.
For a start, after his apparent anger in the ring last night against Briggs, today Green has come out claiming that he did strike a blow that legitimately hurt Briggs. Having repeatedly seen the blow in slow motion, I find that decidedly hard to believe.
The really concerning thing however, is what has now been revealed by sports betting agencies. A sudden major betting splurge came out on a first round knockout. TAB Sportsbet smelled a rat and suspended betting. Today, that agency announced that it will be refunding money to people who lost on the fight. That is the first time I have ever heard of bookies refunding money like that!
There is yet another issue. This was a title fight for an international title belt. So just how does someone who has not fought for over three years, get a first-up crack at a title shot? What was this – a bad (worse?) version of Rocky?
The evening’s fights were put together and promoted by Green’s own promotion company which makes things look even more suspect.
Some big names from Australia’s boxing past have made some telling comments today. Legendary trainer, Johnny Lewis, described Australian boxing as being ‘raped’ last night, saying the punch that put Briggs down, wouldn’t have dented a Sao (a brittle Australian dry biscuit/cookie). Multiple title holder, Jeff Fenech, was similarly unimpressed, saying it was shameful and describing Green as getting what he paid for. “He paid for a knock-out win.”
The final, telling word for the moment came from Johnny Lewis. This stalwart of Australian boxing now says he would rather encourage youngsters to go and play football instead.
To butcher Shakespeare, something stinks in Denmark, my friends – worse than my socks in summertime.