CONTROL THE CROWD: WHICH FIGHT DO I WATCH?

There isn’t much left to be said about the World Boxing Super Series and its level of production. Personally, I feel it is on a different stratosphere. The lights, the podiums, the smoke machines and the announcer with a pork-pie hat and impressive dreadlocks. They have it nailed!

Last night FightTalk.net were gratefully in attendance at the George Groves v Jamie Cox fight in Wembley’s SSE Arena. It was breathtaking to see it all come together and witness a good championship fight, for as long as it lasted. That fight was very enjoyable. It contained two high-level athletes who have spent years honing a very technical skillset. I respect that. Here’s what I don’t respect;

  1. Asinia Byfield v Sammy McNess. West Ham crowd start an absolute war in the CopperBox Arena involving all parties. Involving kids and women caught in the melee.
  2. Billy-Joe Saunders v Willie Monroe Jr. Crowd trouble, including footage of a woman being punched in the face by a drunk, probably-on-drugs man.
  3. Chris Eubank Jr v Avni Yildirim. Gangs or Turkish hooligans battling it out at a sporting event. Striking fear into innocent fans, just there to enjoy the fight.
  4. George Groves v Jamie Cox. Pockets of twenty, maybe forty men at a time in different sections of the crowd erupting into violence. Loads of them. I seen men kicking other men in the face. At a sporting event.

These four examples have all taken place in the last few months. It has to stop. Boxing treads a very thin line already with regards to its reputation. ‘It only attracts thugs’. ‘It is barbaric’. Sadly, the behaviour of these individuals fits the mould. These cavemen. These sad, out of shape, drunk excuses for fans of the sport.

Every single one of you damages boxing as a commercial entity and a respected competition. You piss all over it. You roll up in your Stone Island with your cheap cocaine and ruin everyone elses night. Boxing doesn’t need, or want you.

Spencer Fearon recently stated on his Instagram that drinking alcohol in the venue should be reviewed. He accompanied this with a video, check it out; https://www.instagram.com/p/BaP9lB4Fodq/

This was only one of around three or four breakouts at all different areas of seating. One took place right next to the media table with Paul Zanon managing to slip out of the firing line. Plenty of us missed the Groves body shot that crippled Jamie Cox. Keeping our eyes open, scanning the arena for violence.

There may not be a simple answer. From what I learned after the fallout last night, football teams were involved. QPR, Chelsea or whoever elses fans were in attendance. As with McNess, we have already witnessed the impact an affiliation with football teams can have. That is not to condemn football, but the mixing of the two muddies the waters for anyone already a bit wobbly after a 3pm kick-off.

Is it the appeal of an event? The target market? The last two big Frank Warren shows have ended with crowd violence in abundance. Though, Matchroom shows on the most part, escape with maybe a minor scuffle. Is it Eddie’s modern approach to promoting the sport that allows a more appreciative audience to be held captive? Frank’s last weigh-in had a child kicking and punching his father’s adult opponent. The TV network tweeted out the incident with laughing faces… what chance did we have?

Boxing is a sport that will always split opinion. Men or women punching each other will never endear itself to everyone, but that’s okay. Fat, out of shape, lonely, sad men kicking other men in the head in a stand that contains children or couples enjoying an evening out is just unacceptable.

Whether more security is required or whether we look at the way events are packaged, promoted or sold – something has to change.

Every punch or kick thrown from the stands or in the crowd opens up nasty cuts on the face of boxing that will drag us closer to a referee’s stoppage.

Written by Craig Scott

@craigscott209