It's time to make fighters break clean and come out fighting

21.01.07 - By Mansfield B. Frazier: Unbeaten British junior welterweight titleholder Ricky Hatton makes no bones about his intentions of cashing in big on his talent in Las Vegas , and few would argue against that possibility in light of his unanimous 12-round decision over the vastly outclassed Columbian champion Juan Urango on Saturday night (Jan.20). With a 42 - 0 record and a sparkling personally to boot, the only thing that could kept Ricky Hatton out of the realm of superstardom is Ricky Hatton himself.

What started out as an exceptionally entertaining boxing match turned into a boring waltz after the sixth round once Hatton got slammed with a couple of body blows. Knowing full-well that he was way ahead on the scorecards going into the last half of the fight, Hatton chose to quit boxing and merely clinch and tie up Urango for the remainder of the fight. Since Hatton only fought for half of the fight, I wonder how he would feel about giving fight fans back half of the price of their tickets.

Hatton certainly isn't alone among boxers of greater and lesser talent in utilizing the tactic of turning a boxing match into a dance many others do it, a rare few to the point of disqualification. Certainly clinching is a legitimate tactic when a boxer is hurt or dazed, and no one can fault a fighter when he's holding on for dear life. But when boxers use it as a strategy to avoid fighting, that should be another matter entirely.

However, if anyone is to blame it isn't the boxers it's the officials. There's an easy and sure-fire way to control clinching and any other unwanted or unwarranted activity in the ring, and that is to deduct points early and often for fights who ignore referees' warnings. The problem is, getting the refs to give the warning. They simply untangle the fighters over and over and rarely, if ever, verbally warn fighters to quit clinching and fight, and it is almost unheard of for them to deduct points for this kind of behavior.

Let's face facts: Boxing has been in a slow decline for almost the last half-century. In any other sport that wants to remain viable and continue to attract crowds officials would look at what was wrong and fix it ... but not in boxing. The way the point system is set up boxing is the sport most easy to control ... if there was simply a will to do so. Obviously the wise men of boxing don't give a hoot that fans get cheated and disappointed by performances like the one witnessed on the night of Jan. 20 if they did, they would do something about it, and not allow quality fighters like Hatton destroy their own chances of superstardom.

Equally to blame are the ringside commentators and the journalists that churn out story after story ... virtually none of them in any way critical of the sport or the men that run it. When a fighter repeatedly hits an opponent below the belt either by accident or intentionally the ref will deduct points. But who deducts the points when it's the boxing fans that are constantly getting hit in the nuts?

Article posted on 22.01.2007

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