February 20th, 2012
02:38 PM ET

Can boxing climb out of the gutter?

David Haye smashed his beer bottle on Dereck Chisora as they brawled in Munich at a press conference. (Getty Images)
David Haye smashed his beer bottle on Dereck Chisora as they brawled in Munich at a press conference. (Getty Images)

It’s been a long time since anyone referred to boxing as a gentleman’s sport. Or, at least, a long time since they did it with a straight face. Any lingering pretensions of pugilism as an honorable and noble pursuit have vanished forever following the ugly press conference brawl between Dereck Chisora and fellow Briton David Haye in Germany.

As the quality of boxing’s heavyweight division has declined, so the outrageousness of pre and post-fight “stunts” has increased. But all the experts I have spoken to insist this was not a set-up. It was a genuine outbreak of madness that has demeaned a sport already, metaphorically, winded and hanging on for the bell.

Haye's nonstop trash talk in the leadup to his disappointing defeat by Wladimir Klitschko and subsequent retirement last year hardly helped matters. If this incident was the result of an attempt to stir up interest in his bid to return and face Chisora's Saturday conqueror, Vitali Klitschko, then it can only leave a sour taste in the mouth of fight fans.

Muhammad Ali was the master of trash talk, but he had the wit and the talent to back it up.

For decades, boxing’s validity has been weakened by multiple governing bodies, a bewildering array of world champions at every weight class and frequently unjustifiable points decisions in major title contests. This latest scandal is another major blow.

I am not trying to suggest it will spell the end of boxing. While there is still money to be made from it, the fight game will continue. But when Chisora stepped down from the news conference stage in Munich to tangle with Haye, it plunged boxing's reputation further below the cut-off line for those fans who like their sport hard but also fair.

While racism continues to plague parts of European football, and Asian gambling rings fuel cricket’s match-fixing curse, boxing is being betrayed by its own athletes and their lack of class in certain situations.

Mike Tyson may have shocked us just as much when he bit a chunk out of Evander Holyfield’s ear in 1997, but at least he overstepped the mark in the ring; an outrageous act conducted in the heat of combat.

There is no such excuse to be attached to Chisora and Haye’s pathetic playground rough-and-tumble in front of the world’s media.

Boxing badly needs better role models right now. Even the two most respected and talented fighters at the moment, Floyd Mayweather Junior and Manny Pacquiao, have swapped insults during a prolonged negotiation over the one bout that could put their sport back on the map - but looks no closer to ever happening.

The biggest shame is that, if you look at the action in the ring, Chisora did surprisingly well against the elder of the Klitschko brothers - who are the only remaining global heavyweight drawcards. No one will remember the Zimbabwe-born Brit’s boxing display now.

And the only way the sport can redeem itself is if he, and Haye, are never allowed to fight again.

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Filed under:  Boxing
soundoff (25 Responses)
  1. Shen Mishima

    True words Alex. Boxing can try and gain a bit of validity back by ensuring these two pathetic excuses for athletes are banned from professional sport.

    February 20, 2012 at 3:35 pm | Reply
  2. DanUK

    But He glassed me!! He glassed me!!! He Glassed me!!! He glassed me!!!

    February 20, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Reply
  3. michael

    Well the article of course is conveniently leaving out that the sport currently has the Klitschkos, who are not only the best athletes, but also probably the best sportsmen the sport has seen in decades. But of course Vitali is 40 and on verge of retirement

    February 20, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Reply
  4. Gerry

    When the fighting actually started it involved a broken bottle, a micophone and the threat of the use of firearms. They obviously had little faith in their boxing abilities.

    February 20, 2012 at 5:13 pm | Reply
  5. wtf

    Gee I've never seen this type of headline related to a boxing story specifically concerning the heavyweight division. lol

    February 20, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Reply
  6. Jack

    The suggestion that this scuffle is worse than Mike Tysons "outrageous act" of biting part of someones ear off is laughable. No mention of Tysons constant attempted scuffles, biting Lennox Lewis's calf and threatening to eat his kids?

    Horribly biased article suggesting that sport across the world is in dire straights – apart from America that is.

    This scuffle just happened to be high profile. Like nobody else has ever got into a fight? So many people seem to be saying what shocking behaviour it is – and yes it is, but a lot of people like throwing stones in glass houses.

    February 20, 2012 at 8:45 pm | Reply
  7. alehandro

    I'm guessing you don't follow boxing too closely, Alex, as there have been numerous incidents of fighters "getting it on" in extra curricular match-ups down the years. Heck, check-out Youtube and you'll find Don King introducing the Top 10 Boxing Press Conference Brawls! My point is that Saturday's incident was just the latest of many illicit confrontations that were supposed to signal a new low for boxing. Well, the sport is still around and the fighters are still able to command massive fees because of the TV's interest. Chisora and Haye behaved like street punks but a certain amount of barbarism is innate in these guys whatever the Marquis of Queensbury has to say and, judging by promoter Frank Warren's smiling face as the rumble took shape, if it sells it's tolerated if not welcomed! Face facts, the two best heavyweights in the world right now are the Klitschko's who are educated, articulate and sophisticated, yet for all their qualities they are perceived as robotic and boring. Fight fans like a pantomime bad guy. Recklessness is an asset when it comes to boxing which is why we often get the kind of amateur dramatics we saw last weekend. You can ban Haye and Chisora, give'em a suspended jail sentence if you like(though actual jail time seems a little unlikely), fighters will still be given an unspoken license to over react in the interests of commerce. Promoters know it, fighters know it, and TV execs know it, bad blood boosts ratings which equals more money all round, and no amount of armchair moralizing is ever going to change that.

    February 20, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Reply
  8. Gerry

    When one threatened to shoot the other, is that where the famous boxing phrase "a couple of more rounds and I would have had him" comes from?

    February 20, 2012 at 10:23 pm | Reply
  9. buffalo

    I quit watching boxing years ago, when when fights became such arranged affairs, designed to make even the loser wealthy. How is losing getting 10 million dollars? Most of them are too stupid to handle their own affairs, or money, and end up broke retards. The boxing "commissions" are nothing more than thugs getting dumber thugs to beat each other senseless. You didn't know that?

    February 21, 2012 at 1:08 am | Reply
  10. Imlovingit

    I am loving it, now everyone wanna see them fight it out on the ring. This is WWF theatrics at its finest!

    February 21, 2012 at 6:18 am | Reply
  11. Michael Anakwe

    A rhetorical question indeed! But if you are in need of an answer, i will avail you with this: Boxing, for since it was created and by it very nature is made for the gutters! However, the conducts of these British pugilists who woefully, especially the offender (in my opinion, David Haye), failed to make any difference in the ring against the Klitschkos is ridiculous and have taken the Boxing profession to an embarrassing height. Punishments of any kind will add little or make any difference to the already damaged reputation of both the men and the sport. I suggest a match- up between the two-that's if David will come out of his paranoia and early retirement.

    February 21, 2012 at 9:05 am | Reply
  12. Armando

    This is what happens when you take a man with poor education, no manners, from a destitute urban background often characterised by scenes of daily violence and social exclusion, fill his head with ideas of glory, fame, money, women and a crazy lifestyle, teach him how to fight and unleash him upon society. There is a reason why fighting arts in most non westernised societies are taught within a specific ideological and philosophical context. We know tend to teach the sport itself but disregard the sportsmanship that goes with it. Same with all these MMA and UFC 'competitions'. Nothing but thuggery, egomania, money and hype. And all that while young eyes are looking on.

    February 21, 2012 at 10:03 am | Reply
  13. Josh GM

    Those two Britons are just a disgrace, I just couldnt believe my eye. As for Chisora he is a good fighter probably better than his homeboy but whatever he smokes he should just quit it, it doesnt do his well. Slapping, spitting water, fined, lost a fight, a brawl with his country man, arrested and out of Germany all in 3 days! I think both need discipline by the Boxing bodies and Klitschko brothers NEVER to fight them – again! What a bunch of British losers behaving like 12 year olds in a school yard.

    February 21, 2012 at 12:37 pm | Reply
  14. Joey

    Alex, you stand to be corrected. Mayweather and Pacquiao didn't swap insults.
    Only Mayweather did the insults including racial slurs. Pacquiao professionally does not in any way answer back or trash talk. On the contrary he was gracious enough to wish and pray for Mayweather well to improve positively in his behaviour.
    Pacquiao is a good role model to all, in and out of the ring, he would continue to do so by giving back what he has achieved to God and help his countrymen.

    February 21, 2012 at 2:33 pm | Reply
  15. Hernan C. Robles

    I agree with Joey regarding JoshGM commentary on Pacquiao and Mayweather in comparison with the Chisora and David Haye's behaviour. Its only Mayweather who hurls insults and racial slurs. Congressman Pacquiao does not dignifies Mayweather"s manners who's latest racist" remarks targeted Jeremy Lin.

    February 23, 2012 at 11:22 am | Reply
  16. carlos riva

    Haye and Chisora are only a pair of bums. Chisora a savage bum and Hayes a cowardly bum. The Klitschkos, were once good boxers, today they are only two overage athletes trying to harvest as mush easy money as they can, extremely adept at picking second rate easy victims.
    Yes, boxing is doomed and has been already substituted by martial arts competitions. Deservidly so.

    February 23, 2012 at 2:11 pm | Reply
  17. Skeiron

    The Klitschkos are great, unfortunately most of their opponents aren't.

    It was also very nice of Wladimir to allow the ill American boy to carry one of his belts into the ring.

    March 4, 2012 at 11:46 am | Reply
  18. Nicole

    Basicaly everything taht is fedrint is too something for america.Games,MMA,Kendo(Actualy heard someone say its nothing byut beating with sticks).I could keep reading a list but i think you get the point.I cant take the violence in boxing.Also it gets realy repeptetive.But MMA matches are always fast with litle no no repeating something.Just take a look at a boxer after a match and an MMA fighter after one.Hell some of them dont even show signs of being hit.They just shake it off in a day or two.Also this is the main reason i hate the USA and will never live there.Too many idiots on TV and too many idiots who believe the idiots on TV.Well that and Bush.

    March 5, 2012 at 4:42 pm | Reply
  19. ipayattention

    boxing is a dead sport with fixed fights......needs to be replaced by mma....a superior sport in every facet.....and you get kicked out for acting like an idiot outside the ring....dana white actually takes care of bizz when it comes to people disgracing his sport....granted every sport has its grey areas.....boxing is basically the 8-track of fighting.....dated and useless

    March 7, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Reply
  20. catsnake

    I hope not!!! I love to watch rumbles!! What I am sick of is this increasingly feminized and gay accepting society we live in!! That's what sucks.

    May 1, 2012 at 2:00 pm | Reply
  21. Rae Ann Pointer

    I remember that Tyson bite thing. Holyfield kept headbutting him and the ref did nothing. Tyson must have thought, "well if this is going to be a no rules kinda fight, I can play that game too." Sometimes when the fight is rigged, you have to do your part to make it fair. These modern day guys, just another drunken brawl. Who cares.

    June 11, 2012 at 6:37 pm | Reply
  22. Wayne

    Boxing has gone down the tubes. But like everything it is according to a persons taste. The Klitschkos are really boring to watch, straight up style not very quick. The lighter weights are much more interesting, but very corrupt.
    Favorites are determined by having the same race as themselves. So a lot of racial slurs and tensions come out of it which I get tired of hearing from all sides. I have no interest in boxing anymore!

    June 13, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Reply
  23. Lady_Dragon

    I've been bored with boxing for a very long time.

    UFC is the shiz, baby!!

    June 14, 2012 at 4:32 pm | Reply
  24. Duncan

    As a 7-time Golden Glove Champ, 3-time AAU amateur Champ, and
    a 2-time ABF amateur champ, the LORD was always a part of my
    life. Humanity hasn't made time for Prayer, thereby accepting the
    "belief" that ANYTHING GOES. Gays offered Marriage by this
    president, (Democrats), Abortion, ......................Now, we think these
    two dim-wits (above) are Unusual, and spoiling the World of sports?
    .....................No JESUS, No Peace.........Know JESUS, Know Peace.

    July 10, 2012 at 5:04 pm | Reply
  25. dbw

    Boxing was great in the Muhammad Ali era, but those days are long gone. As for the so-called MMA, all I see is 2 guys trying to kick each other in the nuts, then they roll around on the mat and try to punch each other in the nuts. People pay to watch this nonsense.

    November 27, 2012 at 6:39 pm | Reply

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