British Boxing Critics On The Attack Again
Its been another eventful week in the world of boxing. The Mayweather-Pacquiao fight seems to be the topic of conversation, and rightly so with the biggest fight of our generation just around the corner.
British news this week included another world title assault for Liverpool’s Paul ‘Real Gone Kid’ Smith. Smith who recently had two epic fights with decorated champion Arthur Abraham, has agreed to take on former P4P number two Andre Ward in his comeback fight, to take place in Oakland on June 20th.
Ward, 31, has been inactive for 18 months following a bitter promotional dispute with former promoter Dan Goossen. However following Goossen’s death from liver cancer late last year, Ward has now chosen to link up with music mogul Jay-Z and his new promotional company RocNation Sports, with his first outing under his new promotional banner to come against Smith.
What was interesting after Smith’s promoter Eddie Hearn announced the fight, was the reaction of some British fight fans to the news. Smith received numerous messages on twitter, berating his decision to take on the unbeaten Ward and questioning his motives for taking the fight.
The same reaction was afforded Smith in the build up to both fights with Abraham. Fight fans telling the scouser he was not up to the task and that he did not deserve his chance of fighting for a world title.
Smith not only proved those fight fans wrong, but with efficient judge scoring, it could be argued he won the first fight in Kiel, before being comprehensively beaten in the return in Berlin.
There is no shame in that however, with Abraham’s only defeats coming against Ward, Carl Froch, Andre Dirrell and Robert Stieglitz, all either former champions or current respected champions. Abraham is also a two-weight world champion.
So it was sad to see the abuse Smith was suffering on Twitter yet again. It is not the first time however the British boxing public have chosen to berate their own rather than get behind them.
In August 2014, Kell Brook travelled to America to take on unbeaten IBF welterweight champion Shawn Porter. Before that fight Brook was told by numerous fans not only was he not good enough to share the ring with Porter, but that he had no chance of dethroning the champion dubbed the ‘Mini Mike Tyson’.
Brook went on to defy his critics, ripping the title away from the champion, in his own backyard, before defending it in Sheffield only last month in a mandatory defence.
Other instances of the public not getting behind its own are easy to find also. Brian Rose travelled stateside to challenge Demetrius Andrade for the WBO light-middleweight title in New York only 2 months previous to Brook. Rose was afforded the same abuse as Smith and Brook. The difference between Smith’s challenge and Brook’s and Rose’s? Both Brook and Rose were mandatory challengers for their respective titles. This did not stop Rose receiving stick for taking the fight however.
It’s astonishing how some fans can not understand why a fighter would take a fight like the ones mentioned above. In the case of Brook and Rose, they worked their way into mandatory positions. They were never, after all their hard work to get there, going to turn down the chance to fight for the world title in what would be the biggest payday of their career so far.
As for Smith, he may be a voluntary defence for both Ward and Abraham, but he was ranked highly in the WBO, therefore eligible for a shot at the Abraham’s title. Whilst his performances in those contests more than merit another chance to fight for another title against Ward, with a career high paycheck an added bonus.
Sink or Swim
Boxing sometimes can be a sink or swim sport, with some promoters at times forced to throw their fighters in at the deep end to see if they can handle it. In Brook’s case, he swam. Both Smith and Rose may have failed in their bids for world titles but at least by contesting for the titles they now realise their levels.
So now the priority for these fighters is becoming as financially secure as possible. Who can begrudge these fighters a payday when they’ve been taking punches on the chin from an early age just to put food on the table.
Next month James DeGale, Lee Selby, Kevin Mitchell and Brook all fight for world titles whilst Smith will contest his bout with Ward the following month. Just for once, can we, Great Britain, get behind our fighters, just like every other country.
With our support and less British boxing critics, these guys will go into their respective fights knowing their country is behind them, which is bound to give them an added lift going into the defining fights of their careers.
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