Over the weekend, I watched a documentary dedicated to Colin Jones. In particular, it focussed on his two WBC titles fights with Milton McCrory.
Re-watching the footage of Jones destroying Kirkland Laing caused me to wonder when we last saw a domestic title fight between two fighters of equivalent quality? And how good a fighter had Jones been to do the double over such a mercurial talent in Laing?
Reflecting on his world title draw in Reno and the subsequent split decision loss in Vegas to the ‘Iceman’ McCrory, Jones candidly admits, ‘Perhaps I didn’t quite have it at the very top level.’
It’s hard to imagine any of the recent crop of home grown ‘world’ champions making a similar self-evaluation. Why? Because they don’t really know what the very top level is, as it’s a situation that is rarely established in the modern boxing landscape.
“PEOPLE ARE BEING CONNED.” – Frank Warren
Last Saturday night Chris Eubank annexed the lightly regarded IBO super middleweight title on ITV’s inaugural pay per view telecast.
Precedents have been set and opinion within the industry seems utterly divided as to whether they shall prove for good or ill.
I have spoken to various insiders such as Leeds boxing doyen, Nick Manners , and Welsh maestro, Tony Borg (trainer of Andrew Selby) who argue that another platform for fighters on terrestrial TV for less than the price of 3 pints can only be a good thing.
Legendary promoter, Frank Warren, begs to differ in dismissing Saturday’s offering as ‘Hardly a pay per view event… a total mismatch and people are being conned when they call it a world title fight.’
While Warren can scarcely be seen as impartial, it’s difficult to argue with his straight-talking logic in any qualitative sense.
Quinlan, the defending champion brought a record of 11-1 to the ring, with faded former middleweight Daniel Geale as his most notable scalp. Coupled with a threadbare amateur career and a boxrec ranking of 16 he can hardly be regarded as a true world class campaigner at 12st, much less a world champion.
Eubank, for his part, is an undeniably decent fighter who was merely testing the waters in a new weight division against a reasonably safe opponent.
The faux coronation and attendant hyperbole was simply the extension of a business model that promoters and television executives have used since the late 1970s.
Despite a fair undercard it would have been practically impossible to have sold Eubank – Quinlan on the inherent quality of the match but a ‘world’ title fight has instant cache and glamour, particularly with that section of the audience that the diehards contemptuously refer to as ‘the casuals.’
Viewing figures of around 78 thousand buys have been cited but the launch was further blighted by reports that droves of disgruntled paying punters were left staring at a stark blue screen due to a technical glitch.
Many of the hardcore on social media threatened to boycott the event on principal and, to the best of my knowledge, most kept their word and searched for the most reliable stream on fight night.
£9.95 to watch Eubank Jr fight some geezer I’ve never heard of, for a Mickey Mouse world title?
You can shove that where the 🌞 don’t shine!
— Matthew Mason (@mattgmason70) January 29, 2017
Those like me who aren’t willing to pay for next weeks fraud ITV PPV featuring Eubank Jr’s ‘world’ title shot. We will have a stream!
— StreamPlanet (@Stream_Planet) January 30, 2017
Wait, I’ve just seen an advert for “itv box office” 😂😂😂 to watch eubank jr 😭😭😭😭
The cheek of it
— Dirk Diggler (@tubbsie88) January 31, 2017
Eubank will go forward from here with whatever bargaining power his newfound trinket affords and, presumably, the terrestrial powerhouse of ITV behind him. There are plenty of good fights for this exciting young prospect at middle and super middleweight.
The message from the hardcore fan appears to be that he wants boxing back on free to air TV and neither does he mind paying extra for a genuine blockbuster.
But sardines sold as caviar doesn’t quite whet his appetite.