Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me, is a saying that British boxing fans should consider following Kell Brook’s fifth round TKO defeat to Gennady GGG Golovkin. The all too predictable outcome at the O2 arena in London on Saturday night comes just a few months after Brook’s fellow countryman Amir Khan met a similar fate at the hands of Mexican, Saul Alvarez. Fans must be scratching their heads and wondering how they fell for the same old ruse again? Brook and Khan both moved up two weight classes from welterweight to challenge for the middleweight crown and both got flattened by a proverbial steamroller. Brook boxed well for the few rounds that the contest lasted and showed a ‘champion’s heart’. But when we’ve exhausted all the usual platitudes and finished lauding Kell’s ‘unquestionable courage’, boxing fans need to ask why these mismatches continue to be made? Money, name recognition, a lack of willing challengers, a built in excuse for defeat, are all the usual suspects. A big payday for the fighters, promoters and media, but sadly an all too predictable show for the fans.
Last month’s Middleweight clash between Gabriel Rosado and Brian Vera may have been overlooked by the majority of fans, but its significance to the future of boxing should not be, as it heralded the arrival into the mainstream of BKB, Big Knockout Boxing. The bout took place not in a traditional boxing ring but in ‘The Pit’, a 17 foot diameter circular arena without any ropes or cage favored by other contact sports. With Championship fights taking place over seven, two minute rounds and under a new rules system designed to encourage more action and excitement, the main event did not disappoint. Rosado put on a magnificent display of controlled aggression eventually knocking out Vera with seconds to go at the end of the sixth round.
With the sport still in its infancy, Big Knockout Boxing will undoubtedly have many detractors quick to brand it as simplistic violence for uneducated boxing fans. Purists will decry it as a blasphemy against traditional boxing as it negates many of the defensive skills of their idols. But boxing fans should not overlook the interest BKB promises to bring to a sport that has seen better days. Whilst I understand the feelings many have about traditional notions of the ‘Sweet science’, fans have grown frustrated at being asked to pay top dollar to watch boring fights and have expressed a desire for change. Change that forces fighters to engage more and not simply run or hold. Change that encourages fighters to win decisively by knockout rather than relying on the judges’ scorecards. And change that will provide the excitement and drama necessary to attract new fans the sport. Casual fans and TV audiences simply do not want to watch two ‘Scientists’ run, hold or jab their way through twelve rounds of tedium refereed by a United Nations Peace keeper!
Boxing purists are a group of fans that like nothing better than to fawn over the defensive skills and ‘tactical mastery’ of fighters who most normal fans would simply describe as boring. Whilst there is nothing inherently wrong with appreciating the defensive aspects of the sport, boxing purists often look down on aggressive, come forward fighters who try to force the action as being one dimensional and lacking in genuine boxing skills.
Like a bunch of snooty College Professors they usually regard ‘lefty’ Southpaws to be inherently superior to Orthodox fighters, a belief which is as baseless as it is predictable. Purists are also some of the most vocal whiners and complainers when a close decision does not go their way and it is time their charges were rebuked.