Frank Maloney On Boxing: Let's Get Back To Basics

15.07.06 - The business of boxing has changed a lot. It has been banned from schools and there aren't many young people taking it up these days. And what's more concerning, the young people that are doing it, I believe, are not getting coached properly. Anyone can fight but young people have to learn the skill of boxing. Some people are naturally gifted but that talent has to be brought along as well; it can only happen if they are shown the correct fundamentals.

I look at many fighters today and I watch them performing. They think they are a Sugar Ray Leonard, Pernell Whitaker or Floyd Mayweather. But there are only a few fighters who can get away with those sorts of strokes. I've watched many good trainers in the gym over the years and my belief is the same as theirs; teach the basics first. But most fighters today don't seem to have that foundation, because most trainers today don't have the understanding of this principle.

Without a fighter knowing the basics, he can never progress or become a superstar. In Britain today, I believe there isn't much real talent coming through to catch the public's imagination or to get the TV companies as excited as they should be.

If this situation isn't corrected over the next couple of years, it will only spell trouble for the future of the business.

I know everyone is jumping up and down, raving about Britain's "Golden Boy", Amir Khan, and at this moment, he has caught the public's imagination. There are still lots of question marks regarding Amir but he does have a very experienced promotional company behind him. However, one man cannot save the future of boxing; we need more than just Amir Khan.

At this moment, I'm going up and down the country, looking at amateur fighters, reading websites about boxers...all in search of a star.

I've just signed a young Irish heavyweight who was supposed to make his pro debut recently on the Carl Froch - Brian Magee card, but after looking at him in the gym I felt it would be too early. This guy had not really been taught the basics of boxing; rather, he'd been taught how to have a fight. I do believe, and have put my neck on the line, that this young man could have the talent to set the heavyweight division alight if handled right.

It was one of the first times that I've ever actually sat with a fighter and told him that he's not quite ready to step into the pro ring because when he does, I want him to feel confident and look good. This heavyweight will make his pro debut in the not too distant future, and I've had my trainers in our gym take him purely back to basics and just teach him the fundamentals of boxing. But this is part of my job, the same as other people like me; to unearth talent and develop it.

In the past, I've worked with Lennox Lewis and developed him to the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world, but his amateur pedigree was never in question. He certainly knew the basics of boxing and the value of a good jab.

My next world champion was Paul Ingle, followed by Scott Harrison. I've also produced a number of British, Commonwealth and European Champions, but producing champions is not what it's all about. You need to be able to produce a champion that can capture the public's imagination, has charisma and has everyone talking about him.

At this present moment, there is only one fighter in Britain that has got people outside of boxing talking about him. And that is current European Cruiserweight champion David Haye, who seems to get ordinary people in the street talking about him, not just boxing fans. The big question is - has he got the talent and the know how to go all the way to dominate the cruiserweight division and finally step up to the heavyweight division? Only time will tell.

But without the amateur trainers really getting their heads together and working a system that will bring the talent through from grass roots level, and without people from the professional world putting something back in boxing, the sport will greatly suffer.

Time will also tell if there will be anyone to follow on from Amir Khan, who at the moment is one of the only names out there. Unless professional and amateur trainers get their heads together, it could be that no more superstars will be produced.

Britain is not the only country suffering from this problem; when was the last homebred superstar America produced?

Oscar De La Hoya is still the biggest name in American boxing and he should really be sitting at home with his feet up, enjoying his rewards. But the TV companies still rave about him and they still talk about Roy Jones coming out of retirement, so the boxing business is not what it used to be.

Here in England, there are a couple of names to watch in the Maloney Fight Factory stable such as Ajose Olusegun, Gary Woolcombe, Clifford Smith, Chris Pacey, Akaash Bhatia and our young heavyweight. We're not saying that all of these young fighters will be stars but put it this way, a lot of effort will be put in to turn them into the very best they can be and in the correct manner.

On the international scene, there are a number of stars coming out of the Eastern Bloc countries but unfortunately, they do not appeal to the fight crowd and TV executives of Britain or America. So the search continues, but the question must be asked - will the sport of boxing eventually be knocked out of the frame by such other contact sports as kick boxing or ultimate fighting?

Let's hope that never happens because there is something special about a real world title fight.

- Frank Maloney

Article posted on 15.07.2006

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