Will boxing's 'third way' win over the purists?

By Mel Dixon: While most fight fans are accustomed to the existence of two boxing codes, a new setup has emerged in the UK called the Queensbury Boxing League. It launched at the start of 2011 in relative obscurity but has since gained television coverage on Sky's Premier Sports.

The league is now set to gain wider exposure as it makes its debut on Eurosport on February 3rd . Which begs the question: can boxing fans make room for another code?

The Queensbury Boxing League was founded by former English welterweight champion Ross Minter (son of former world middleweight champion Alan Minter) and promoter Alan Foley with the idea of filling a perceived gap between the amateur and professional codes.

The bouts resemble professional boxing in the way that participants don't wear headgear or the vests associated with the amateur form of the sport. However, standing eight counts are commonplace and fights range from three to five minute rounds. Watching coverage online, it's a relief to see that this isn't some grubby underground set-up, but instead a slickly put together show.

“What we set out to do with the league was to create the first legitimate boxing organization outside of the already established amateur and professional associations that would offer boxers an exciting and professionally run platform for them to compete on,” explains Minter. “The whole idea is centred on putting on straight 50/50 matches where every fighter is matched according to experience, weight and boxing ability and the fighters move up the league table according to their results and eventually challenge for titles.”

Talking to Minter, it's clear that one of the challenges they face is that participants are coming in from very different levels of experience. Many are ex-amateur, some are ex-pro and others are experienced gym rats. For that reason he checks out every fighter individually.

“With the league every fighter who steps into the Queensbury ring has been personally seen by myself in the gym so I know exactly what we are working with,” says Minter. “I watch them spar, train and get a complete history of what experience they have had previously so that is all taken into consideration when making the matches so I know each fight is a good even contest which will be fair, competitive and hopefully enjoyable to watch.”

Clearly, what they are trying to do is create a shorter, faster and more explosive form of boxing which will appeal to the masses in the same way that the Prizefighter series has. And there are parallels in other sports, with 20-20 cricket and, more recently, speed snooker coming to the fore. It may not always please the purists, but there is certainly a market for sports offering quick-fire results.

Now that the Queensbury Boxing League is set to gain greater exposure, I guess we're about to find out whether followers of the hardest game can make room for another form of fistic entertainment...

Article posted on 02.02.2012

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