Even in a period of national mourning, the news lines keep pouring out of the boxing bubble, writes Matt Christie
WHAT a few days.
It all began in an ancient cinema on a seafront town where Elvis played to an audience of tens. Ninety minutes in, as Elvis straddled the iconic Hollywood sign and signalled his plan to make that all-conquering comeback of 1968, the film stopped, an attendant walked in and informed us that the Queen had passed away. Several people picked up their coats and left the auditorium.
My immediate thought was not one of sadness, admittedly. Instead I thought of the boxers who were due to weigh-in the following day, ahead of Saturday’s huge all-female fight card. I thought about the numerous fight cards up and down the country that were also in jeopardy.
What followed on Friday, as television and radio encouraged the nation to mourn the passing of the Queen, was a difficult day for many, not least the British Boxing Board of Control. They made their decision just before 2pm. All fights taking place under BBB of C jurisdiction that weekend would be cancelled. Many disagreed, but the boxers, those who would not be paid, accepted the reasoning behind the Board’s decision. In short, the Board said, it didn’t feel right to champion women’s boxing when the most famous woman of them all had just died. Plenty claimed that the Queen would have wanted the boxing to go ahead. It’s unknown how many of them actually asked her before she passed away, however.
We were told that negotiations for the unlikeliest of Christmas presents, Tyson Fury vs Anthony Joshua, would cease, only for the time being, in another mark of respect. For four days, the two camps kept quiet. Truth is, the boxing world never stops turning, regardless of what day it is or who might have died.
Whispers that Oleksandr Usyk’s team were also talking to Team Fury were rejected. The same Usyk who had publicly rejected the idea of fighting again this year. The same Usyk who realised that if he did not he could be stuck waiting for a year if a rematch between Fury and Joshua were to be required.
On Tuesday morning, Joshua’s management team announced on social media – where else? – that they had agreed to all the terms and conditions and were prepared to fight Fury on December 3. Frank Warren, again via social media, replied that the contract was on its way. Cue utter bedlam on Twitter. The deal was close, we were told. We’ve been told that before. We will wait and see before reaching for the champagne.
The night before, another hearty news line had stolen our attention. Chris Eubank Snr, as reported by Daniel Matthews of the Daily Mail, intended to pull his son out of his October 8 fight with Conor Benn. He was concerned about the weight that Junior would have to lose to get down to the contracted 157lbs. There should be no question that his worries are genuine.
Ronnie Davies, the former trainer of Senior and the long-time trainer of Junior, does not share them, however.
“He’s 100 per cent fit,” Davies told us on Tuesday morning as he prepared for that day’s training session with Junior. “He’s always easily made 160 and he’s done so while eating breakfast, lunch and dinner. It will not be difficult to lose those extra three pounds. I don’t know why the old man is saying what he’s saying. Everything is on target for October 8 and his weight is perfect.”
As for who will officially ‘train’ Eubank, as in stand in the corner and bark instructions on fight night, he wasn’t so sure. “He keeps saying he hasn’t got a trainer so I don’t know what the f**k I’ve been doing all this time,” Davies chuckled, “but there you go.”
The Board confirmed that Eubank Jnr had been weighed “lots of times” since the fight was announced and they were more than satisfied that he was losing weight safely.
One fight that won’t take place is Leigh Wood’s September 24 showdown with Mauricio Lara. The Nottingham fighter is injured but the card will go ahead, topped by Kid Galahad-Maxi Hughes.
Still we’re to mention where our attention will be this weekend. When Gennadiy Golovkin attempts to roll back the years against old rival Canelo Alvarez. A terrific fight, and even better, one that’s really happening. Should “GGG” pull it off, it will be every bit as memorable, at least to us in this bizarre boxing bubble of ours, as Presley’s epic rebirth in 1968.
Boxing will return to British rings this weekend, too. Our great Queen will be remembered and honoured at every event, no doubt.