Fedor Chudinov v Felix Sturm (WBA super-middleweight title)
As Chudinov seemingly extended his lead throughout the fight, the Sky Sports commentary team concurred. He was doing enough to outpoint Sturm. Chudinov was the better fighter on the night. Infact, Chudinov outlanded Sturm by more than 100 punches, landing almost double the number of jabs over 12 rounds. Fedor also landed nearly 100 power punches more than his opponent.
What was a half-drunk Scotsman to do moving into the championship rounds?
… bet on Sturm obviously!
The event was promoted by, STURM BOX PROMOTIONS. Fascinating. Sturm won a very controversial decision, not for the first (second or third) time in his career and Chudinov took his loss graciously. The purpose of this piece however, is not to berate Felix Sturm. It is to discover just how level a playing field can be, when one of the competitors can select so many factors influencing the game?
Famously, Floyd Mayweather successfully promoted his own bouts through his company Mayweather Promotions. This meant; he was able to select and approach his opponent, able to decide their purse and able to hold a deciding vote on the venue (although that was always Vegas!). Mayweather was frequently accused of cherry-picking and only fighting opponents at a time that suited him. Blame the promoter, I guess. He is also the highest paid pugilist of all time and was unbeaten throughout his professional career.
Imagine this wasn’t boxing, though. Imagine it was your regular nine-to-five. I’m a bank manager, for instance, and can’t fathom being in charge of a rival banks salary. It is ludicrous to think of me enforcing a binding contract which allowed me to re-launch a product after you had launched one of your own isn’t it? I would go away, look at what you had created, better it and be allowed to try again regardless of how convincing your work was the first time. How about this, I make everyone in Santander work in a train station and their annual review is conducted by three of my mates from Glasgow.
I imagine HR would have to step in.
Many of boxing’s greats have followed suit. Oscar De La Hoya made enemies when he decided to go it alone, thus creating GoldenBoy Promotions. Even David Haye dipped his toe in the water with Hayemaker Promotions before linking up with Richard Schaefer of Ringstar Promotions this year.
The most striking example in Europe is undoubtedly K2 Promotions.
Bernd Boente is the head of the group, however he is effectively a Klitschko robot wearing the face of a little blonde man. The company was formed primarily to look after the Klitschko dynasty. This meant stadium fights in Germany, a strange array of defences including Pianeta, Leapai and Samuel Peter twice, and tricks being played at every turn (one would imagine). Take the Tyson Fury fight as a recent example. K2 had organised a ring layered with a sponge-type covering. The effect would have been the sinking of Fury’s feet and thus the slowing of his pace. Wlad then also had his hands wrapped without a representative of Team Fury even in the room! The venue, the ring, the sanctioning, the licensing, the judging and the refereeing would have all been decided by or suggested by K2. Or should I say, one of the fighters.
I asked Sam how often he thought they had played tricks like this on opponents who either never realised, or bowed down. His reply? “Every… fucking… time!”.
It can’t be fair can it? Surely the promoter must be of an independent organisation? Of course he might be your promoter – that’s a given. But to be free of any conflicts of interest or promotional advantage inside the ring, can only serve to produce a clearer version of the sport. The money in self-promotion must be larger in comparison which immediately sells it. But it takes away from the pride in the sport when Mark De Mori rolls in on DAVE.
We moan in the UK now about judging. Can you imagine a dodgy victory, in a gym in Bolton, at an event hosted by Scotty Cardle Promotions? Let’s hope it never gets to that.