This article was written by FightTalk.net’s Tom Humber (@thomas_humber).
Mayweather vs McGregor has split opinions and dominated conversations between boxing heads and the casual fan alike for months, with the bout breaking records and causing controversy on almost a weekly basis.
But away from the record purses, the painfully obvious skill gap and the at times almost WWE like nature of the build up, there has only been one moment that has hurt the sport of boxing. The Paulie Malignaggi saga.
Anyone who finds themselves reading this article is most likely to have themselves up to date with the storyline between Conor McGregor and his sparring partner/former World Champion, Paulie Malignaggi; so I will save the long winded narrative of what has already happened.
The theme of the dispute between McGregor and Malignaggi surrounds the question of a sparring session between the pair, and the subsequent fall out on social media after.
Now for the purpose of this article, I am not interested in whether or not the ‘feud’ between the pair is in fact genuine, or simply a ploy to generate hype and legitimacy for the often dubbed ‘circus act’.
I am taking it at face value. What needs to be discussed is the mistreatment of sparring partners and the message it sends about boxing.
Pictures and videos posted by ‘Notorious’ and UFC President, Dana White of the sparring session have been met with mixed reactions on social media and in the boxing world.
Some loved the clips, others hated it. Either way, in black and white terms it was an edited clip of a fighter putting his best shots on his sparring partner. A deliberate attempt to discredit and embarrass another fighter who was merely offering help in preparation for a fight.
It wasn’t so long ago that Chris Eubank Jr lay a heavy beating on a young sparring partner on a Snapchat video, with the mantra of ‘what happens in the gym, stays in the gym’ echoing around social media.
Now it may or may not be because the pictures involve Conor McGregor, but somehow, through the elaborated web of storylines and hearsay, it has suddenly become acceptable for disrespectful images of sparring partners to be distributed in the most disrespectful of ways.
In the shameless and self-indulgent nature in which these images were released by McGregor and White, a picture of boxing is suggested to the millions following the events unfold, which simply isn’t true.
It may all seem like an innocent attempt to generate extra attention for a fight, but in using the name of a former World Champion, whether he was in on the plan or not, shows little respect for the sport.
Respect is an ethos which runs strong from a grassroots level in boxing. The hardest of spars are met with an embrace at the end and a mutual respect between the pair. Not with arrogance and ‘leaking’ videos on Twitter. If this is the message promoted to young fighters learning their trade, then boxing could be looking like a very different sport in the not too distant future.
I personally do not want to live in an age where fighters must be cautious in sparring, living in the fear of a bad round or a slip up making its way onto the internet. If fighters cannot make mistakes, they cannot improve. That is why sparring is so important. That is why this issue is so important.
Written by Tom Humber