Says Michael Benjamin
On Tuesday afternoon last, the boxers that were contracted to participate in the fourth edition of the ProAm boxing card that was staged Friday evening, convened at the NCN Studios for the customary press briefing. It was at this forum that most of the boxers give vent to their feelings. There were caustic remarks that bordered on threatening language that went ignored in keeping with the trend of modern day boxing press conferences.
Of all the bouts, the one that caught the imagination of the public was the Iwan Azore/Troy Lewis catchweight affair. The two boxers spewed venom at each other heightening the level of interest and, I am certain, boxing buffs that visited the arena or viewed the fights on television anticipated four rounds of fistic fury.
Somewhere between the press conference and the actual fight the evidence suggested that the bad blood between the two fighters emanated from other sources and not merely the bout in question. They both transferred their hatred for each other into the square jungle which in the end affected the quality of the fight. Both fighters were so desperate to mete out as much punishment as possible that they ignored strategy, constructive punch selection and wise tactics among others. Instead, the fight evolved into a slugfest with both fighters attempting to hit the other over the moon.
When the bout ended, both fighters hopped on the ropes and bared their fists to the crowd, each confident that the decision would have gone his way. The judges decided that neither had definitively distinguished himself and the fairest decision was a draw. What happened afterwards could best be described as conservatively unlucky on one end of the continuum and extremely primitive on the other.
The two boxers were close to each other when all of a sudden a fight broke out. Azore received several kicks while Lewis collected several wallops to his head. It took the concerted effort of several boxers and supporters to separate the two boxers. To make matters worse, the untidy episode was broadcast live via NCN Television for the entire country to see.
Preliminary investigations revealed that after the announcement of the decision, Azore felt that he was ‘done in’ and followed Lewis around the ring taunting him. An eyewitness further revealed that the former fighter hurled disparaging remarks at the latter and subsequently lashed out first. The eyewitness said that Lewis merely acted in a defensive capacity.
This reporter later learnt that officials of the Guyana Boxing Board of Control (GBBC) ordered the revocation of both purses until a proper hearing to determine the circumstances that led up to the fracas.
Boxing has had more than its fair share of controversies. The huge crowds of the seventies and eighties have dissipated largely because the pundits are dissatisfied with the quality of fights. When Peter Abdool initiated the idea of the ProAm boxing cards the bifurcated objective was to provide frequent activity for the pugilists as well as qualitative bouts for the spectators. Mr. Abdool felt that local pugilists had the ability and skills but opportunities were glaringly absent. Coupled with this, other well established promoters had thrown in the towel saying that they were losing their investment and despite their love for the sport, such foolishness could not continue.
A fundamental aspect of the ProAm card is that the boxers had agreed to a small purse of $50,000 per fight. A simple mathematical survey would reveal that any one boxer fighting at least six months of the year would take home a tidy sum of $300,000. Therefore, it made sense to fight six times per year for $300,000 than once or twice for let’s say $200,000. Apart from reasonable purses, the boxer would also acquire valuable activity that could serve him/her well when the world powers are scrutinizing his record. The plan appeared to be foolproof but the occurrence on Saturday night last has uncovered a loophole that the organizers have not catered for. Because the fight was nationally televised, the sordid and unpalatable scene was broadcast in every household. It is too early to ascertain the effect of this nasty occurrence on the promotion itself.
Irrespective of that, Mr. Abdool must take decisive action to quell this unfortunate development. The issue must be thoroughly investigated and punishment must be meted out where it is due. No one boxer must usurp the smooth flow of development. No one boxer is bigger than the sport. No one boxer must believe that he could satisfy his urges, irrespective of how unpalatable his actions.
This writer has been informed that the disciplinary committee of the GBBC would convene shortly to decide on the appropriate action needed to discourage future incidences of this nature. The severity of the decision must exemplify the severity of the act. No one is bigger than the game and the message must be clearly underlined in the magnitude of the punishment. We wait with bated breath for the decision taken by the disciplinary committee. The future of the sport is at stake.
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