Promoter Ahmet Oner demands less politics, more focus on the sport: "Let's get back to boxing!"

boxingWith his Cuban heavyweight contender Odlanier Solis in line to face WBC champ Vitali Klitschko after beating Ray Austin in Miami on Friday, promoter Ahmet Oner should be one of the happiest people in boxing. But the ARENA-CEO seems far less satisfied than expected because of the state he sees his beloved sport in at the moment.

"When I learned about the official scores after nine rounds of Solis vs. Austin I was shocked", says Oner. "I saw Solis winning the fight easily. He connected with the harder and cleaner shots, landed more punches and was putting pressure on Austin for the whole fight. In addition to that he knocked Austin down in the fifth. He might have given away a mid-round or two when he was not as active as he could have been Ė although Austin never did enough to win a specific round Ė but I clearly saw Solis winning the fight. Then I heard that one judge had Austin leading by two points after the ninth and another one scoring it a draw up to that point. That freaked me out. Are you kidding me?."

One day after the Solis-Austin fight cruiserweight champion Marco Huck won a controversial decision over Denis Lebedev while the great fight between Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal in Canada was ruled a technical draw.

"I cannot and will not comment on any specific decision - especially because I didnít watch the other fights this weekend", says Oner. "But from all the discussions I picked up I think itís time that we all together make up our minds and ask ourselves in which direction we want our sport to go. As far as I am concerned I can put it clear and simple: Letís get back to boxing. Being a promoter and a business man I know how much money is involved in the big fights. But I honestly think we should get rid of the politics and return to the basic sport of boxing. If we continue to let down our fans with poor decisions we are sacrificing the future of this phantastic sport and we are risking the legacy of the great champions of the past. I know that lots of fans think I am a crook like they consider most people in boxing crooks. So we have to send out a message to all of our fans and let them know that we care for the sport and that we care for fairness. This starts with the right matchmaking and goes on to fights ending in fair decisions.

In Germany we had lots of problems with mismatches in the past. I have to say that our colleagues at Sauerland Event have done a great job recently in putting together fantastic fights including the bouts of the Super Six world boxing classic and fights like Huck vs. Lebedev this weekend Ė although this was a mandatory fight they had to take. We do the same thing on a slightly lower level at our Eursport events: Just send two fighters into the ring to face each other and expect the better man to win. To bring back the credibility we need to have square and fair decisions. If my fighter is not the best man in the ring he doesnít deserve to win the fight.

I am not only a boxing promoter but first and foremost I am a boxing fan. I donít want to screw people in my fights. When we did the very first show in Turkey after 30 years in June 2007, my fighter Sinan Samil Sam Ė a national hero in Turkey Ė lost a decision to Oliver McCall. He just didnít deserve the win in that fight. When we brought back Sat.1 to boxing in March 2010 our German heavyweight prospect Steffen Kretschmann lost to Denis Bakhtov. If it happens, it happens. I am not proud on my fighters losing important bouts. But I will not try to fix it if they canít pull it off in the ring.

I think itís important for people to understand that we need the fans on our side if we want to go on doing what weíre doing. Without public interest there are no big fights. And I feel that the interest is fading when fight fans get the impression that things donít go the right way. We cannot lose the fans because they are the ones who turn an exciting fight into a major event by buying tickets and watching fights. So we have to deliver true clean sport and nothing else."

In respect to the Solis vs. Austin fight in Miami, Oner added: "I really appreciated the reaction of Florida State Athletic Commission Executive Director Thomas Molloy after the fight. I have faith in the officials and commissions in the USA to handle all possible problems. They are doing a great job for instance in respect of preventing possible mismatches. The worldwide sanctioning bodies are also doing what they can to lead boxing into the right direction. But we as promoters also need to contribute and make it very clear that we want to get back to the basics. In the end, we want to see close and dramatic fights and we want the better man to be declared the winner. This is the only way how boxing can survive with its huge fan base all around the world. We have to show our fans that we are serious on that."

Article posted on 19.12.2010

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