Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Money-grabbers make boxing pay a high price

By Jack Magowan

nosedive.

nosedive.

From an absurd mis-match in Glasgow, to Bugner's retirement benefit in Berlin, to a ritual slaughter in Las Vegas. Somebody made money from it all, but there were losers, too _ the sport and a multitude of fans.

One painfully negative round by a punch-shy, cautious old Joe Bugner was enough to convince me that the British Board were right not to grant this 46-year-old pappy-guy a UK licence, and he was stopped in the sixth.

But who ever persuaded the Board that a novice masquerading as somebody else deserved to be in the same ring as Naseem Hamed?This was an odorous and degrading spectacle, so shamefully one-sided that it could have been declared 'no contest'.

If the Eubank-style firework display for a posturing Hamed lasted longer than the fight, it was only partly because of the champion's genius. The only threat to Naseem was that he might trip over his bootlaces. If they ever get around to awarding an oscar for the mis-match of the year, this was it!It will take more than the anaemic credentials of a third- rate Nigerian to diminish Hamed's appeal, but I wonder how many Scots felt like asking for their money back?After all that outrageous pre- fight burlesque, which Henry Cooper is not alone in finding distasteful, they deserved something better than this.

Nothing succeeds like excess in boxing, and we had a bellyful of it before Bruno stepped in to earn his cheque for £4 million the hard way.

Everybody in Fleet Street seemed to think that big, cuddly Frank had a hitting-man's chance against Tyson, and so did he. The blunt truth is, however, that behind all the headline- making hype, there was nothing to back it up.

For Bruno, this was a battle of pride, profit, and decline. It wasn't that he ran out of miracles; he simply had none to start with.

Britain's great one has now become boxing's great none. Surely, it's time for him to call it a day. Frank is just too nice a guy to be somebody else's cannon-fodder.



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