Exactly one year since ‘Iron’ Mike Towell had sadly passed away, I found myself asking two questions as I watched Matchroom’s ‘Battle on the Mersey’;
- Who is responsible, ultimately, for pulling out a fighter when he cleary needs no more punishment?
- Why are we sat here, a year on to the day, watching a young man have his head rocked back and forward in a fight he had long since lost?
It really bothered me.
It’s tricky when trying to nail down the burden of responsibility in a situation like this. Ohara Davies v Tom Farrell was sold to the viewing public as a pick em’ fight. A 50/50, we were told. The brash Hackney man proved the difference between both as he carried raw, brutal power with most of his work. I’m sure Tom Farrell is a tidy boxer, but 7pts down after 4 rounds and with a knockout ratio of only 23% – he did not need to take this level of punishment.
Many point the finger at Farrell’s corner, claiming they should ‘know their fighter’ and ‘save him for another day’. In an ideal World, yes, the corner should have their boxer’s health as their primary concern. Surely they could see Farrell struggling to walk straight even after the first knockdown? Surely they knew, as his face was sliced up and his head flopping from side-to-side, that he could not win this battle? If casual arm-chair fans can see it, then why can’t they?
Well… I thought about the role of the corner. I considered the emotional attachment they have to their charge and the months spent grinding, sweating, bleeding and crying together. Tom Farrell is not a quitter. That much is evident. The decision to pull your fighter out must be one of the toughest a head trainer can make. Dominic Ingle has made it correctly on a couple of occasions with Gary Lockett rightly erring on the side of caution recently.
Tom Farrell’s team are far less experienced on the big stage and sadly for me, they got this badly wrong.
Should it be left to the corner however, when a man wearing a white shirt masquerading as an object of fighter safety is staring into the glazed Liverpudlian’s confused pupils?
Steve Gray watched Tom Farrell stumble to his feet four, nearly five times. In between the knockdowns he was punched up and down the ring by an impressive Ohara Davies. What was his role? He is literally paid to protect the boxers. That is his job. He never showed up to work on Saturday and we can only hope he has learned from the stinging criticism widespread online.
The referee surely must be required to attain a degree of knowledge on the boxers involved in the contest? He surely must pay heed to the fairly light-punching Tom Farrell’s record and recognise he was never going to find that ‘one big shot’? Without having that knowledge, conducting that research and taking it into account we may as well hire a stranger.
I still cannot understand why we had to see this? On that day. With those connotations. In that fight. Everything about it was a no-brainer.
I watched countless pundits, fans, fighters and coaches talking over Twitter about how the fight had to be stopped before Farrell was seriously hurt… each one of the Twitter display pictures commemorating the brave Dundee fighter who lost his life after a gruelling contest last year. We cannot keep watching these types of fights.
Marcus Morrison v Jason Welbourn. Again, why are we watching this? A young fighter having the prospect punched out of him. He has since lost to journeyman Tyan Booth and I assure you, will never fulfil that Gallagher-hyped potential. We watched that fight and thought, ‘Why are they still sending this guy out here?’. To this day, I have no idea. He remains with his trainer, Joe Gallagher. Putting his faith in the man who sent him out round after round to be broken down.
I often wonder if this is an issue with training or with matching fighters? Are fighters training correctly in order to put themselves through these physical wars in the best shape possible? Are fighters being matched for 10 fights against nobodies and then suddenly thrown into tough domestic fights – drowning and endangered? It isn’t my job to find the root cause. But I refuse to ignore it.
Fighters come again if they are handled with care. A loss does not define your boxer, it also does not define your camp/team/gym/brand. The loss suffered by Ohara Davies is a key example. He took himself out of that situation and preserved himself. He trained hard, made some adjustments and came back roaring on Saturday.
Fighters lose, even the best. Bernard Hopkins lost his debut. Johnny Nelson lost his first 3 outings! Clinging on to the slender hope of a miracle and juggling with a boxer’s health is unneccessary. We have nothing else to prove. It’s sadly already been proven.
My thoughts are with ‘Iron’ Mike Towell’s family at this time, one year on. A brave warrior and an exceptional family man.
Written by Craig Scott