After ensuring a wonderful early Christmas surprise against excellent South African Vusi Malinga at December’s backend, Darlington’s Stuart Hall makes the first defence of his recently acquired IBF super-bantamweight belt against regional rival, Martin Ward. Now I’m fully aware of how the rusted cogs of boxing somehow keep rotating, but I’m scratching my head like a severe sufferer of nits trying to fathom how a man decimated by Lee Haskins for national honours less than a year ago has found himself in a position to be challenging for one of the sport’s most prestigious prizes.
Ok, I can accept that the fight may do satisfactory business in a district that has been starved of sporting recognition in recent years, but just because a fight will get people talking, it doesn’t mean that people should talk about it. At last glance, Ward wasn’t ranked in the IBF’s top five. He didn’t even feature in the six to ten placings. Ward teetered in at 15th, two places below Haskins for those who care. Imagine being at the front of your local post office queue waiting to send a special delivery to the IBF premises to complain about their ridiculous rankings when the postmaster shouts the person 14 places behind you to come and take your place. Only in boxing.
Boxing, in fact sport, should always be about fairness. That’s not always the case, and certain circumstances can be accepted, but the condoning of this fight by some of boxing’s commentators shows me that they don’t know or don’t care. Hall, after a long and illustrious journey, became world class on December 21st. On March 29th, he’ll plummet back into the domestic landscape.
A testing time for Ricky Burns With less than two weeks to go until the biggest and most dangerous test of Ricky Burns’ career, an amazing war of words involving ex-promoter Frank Warren, Burns’ manager Alex Morrison, and now MP for Bradford West George Galloway, is threatening to distract the likeable Scot from an examination that requires his full concentration.
Eventually there will be an unsavoury ending that will leave somebody extremely unhappy. If that somebody happens to be Burns on March 1st then there will be questions asked if this ugly and unfortunate episode played its part in unseating the Coatbridge man from his privileged throne.
My pick for this fight since day one has been Crawford and it’s a prediction that looks more solid as the weeks go by. Burns has had angels smiling on him in recent outings against Jose Gonzalez and Ray Beltran but the Nebraska native has the look of a boxing purist and victory over Burns will likely be the beginning of long title reign yielding many high-profile fights.
It’s not often that people wish to be proved wrong but if Burns can overcome this test with everything currently going on then it truly would be a momentous occasion and I’ll be glad to shout “What do I know?”.
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