Boxing media review: Promoter versus lawyer

In the absence of Fury and Whyte we get a slanging match between a promoter and a lawyer, writes George Gigney in his boxing media review

IF we’re not going to get any confrontations in the media between Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte ahead of their Wembley clash next month, we may just have had the closest thing to it this past week. Frank Warren, who co-promotes Fury, and Jeffrey Benz, Whyte’s legal representation, were both invited onto talkSPORT to discuss the fight. No points for anyone who guessed it would not be a pleasant conversation.

There was a lot of talk about contracts, legal obligations, agreements and disputes. There was no talk of fighting.

This was by design, though; The strained relationship between the two teams on either side of this fight is well known. talkSPORT knew what it was doing here.

The segment was both entertaining and a little embarrassing. In which other sport would you have a veteran businessman and a lawyer shouting at each other on a radio show about negotiations for a contract that has already been signed?

If the issues raised during this conversation – most importantly whether or not Dillian Whyte’s guaranteed purse should be put into an escrow account until the fight takes place – are still as prevalent as they were made out to be, this clearly wasn’t the platform to them discuss on.

We even heard about Whyte’s team disputing the way he was portrayed on the official fight poster. It’s pettiness on steroids. The sad reality is that this isn’t that uncommon in boxing; There are so many tiny details that need to be agreed to with fights of this scale.

What’s happened in recent years is that we’re being shown more and more of how the sausage is made. Negotiations aren’t played out behind closed doors anymore; We’re given updates – sometimes on a daily basis – about what’s going on.

For some, this is a good thing. But mostly it’s just nauseating. Please, leave us out of it. If not purely for the fact that it’ll lead to fewer legal experts popping up on social media.

When it comes to documentaries, few sports provide such a rich content pool as boxing, though the focus is usually on more well-known names. Last week BT ​​Sport premiered an excellent one-off titled M14: A Moss Side Story.

Its focus was legendary Manchester trainer – and former fighter – Phil Martin. Though somewhat of a mythical figure among a certain generation of the British boxing world, Martin’s impact on the sport and his community might not be so well-known to others.

This documentary does a great job of bringing that to light, featuring interviews and soundbites from countless fighters and trainers who worked with Martin. What really came through, though, was the impact he had on those around him.

Having died from cancer at the age of 44, Martin’s life and career was cruelly cut short but he is clearly remembered by the boxing world.
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It seems we might be experiencing an encouraging trend developing wherein fighters are willing to align with different promoters in order to make the best fights possible. It’s emerged – though not officially confirmed – that Devin Haney will move from Matchroom and DAZN to Top Rank and ESPN to finalise a fight with George Kambosos Jnr.

Demetrius Andrade’s contract with DAZN and Matchroom is also set to end and according to Eddie Hearn will not be renewed. Lastly, Gervonta Davis is said to be leaving Mayweather Promotions after his next fight.

Andrade is the outlier here as he is much closer to the end of his career than the other two, however it’s still an interesting development. He’s been unable to nail down the marquee fights his career has so far been missing.

Despite it looking like he and Kambosos were destined to just Tweet at each other until the end of time, Haney appears to be stepping up to the mark and should be applauded for it. According to ESPN, his contract with DAZN has expired and he will now sign with Top Rank to fight on ESPN. Obviously, in an ideal world, fighters shouldn’t have to tie themselves down to one platform (see: the success of Canelo Álvarez) but this is a step in the right direction. Young fighters knowing their worth and being willing to take their talents elsewhere for bigger fights (and purses) is only a good thing.

Gareth A Davies spoke to Wladimir and Vitaliy Klitschko for the Telegraph, producing an impactful and important article. The two brothers are, of course, in Ukraine not only defending their home country against Vladimir Putin’s invasion but also providing much-needed sources of inspiration and strength.

It’s difficult to put into words the strength these two men have displayed over the past month, though Davies treats the interview with an appropriate amount of reverence and context.

The Klitschkos also spoke about their compatriot, Oleksandr Usyk, leaving Ukraine to prepare for a rematch with Anthony Joshua. Both gave him their support and spoke about how important it could be for Ukrainians to see one of their most accomplished athletes fly the flag on the grandest of stages.

While Barstool Sports is not a place you’d expect to find much nuance or insight, it was still disappointing to read their piece on Australians Ebanie Bridges and Skye Nicolson. Both are clearly talented and have proven themselves very marketable, yet this Barstool article focused almost exclusively on their looks.

There was at least some self-awareness in the piece (the writer referring to himself as a “mouth-breather” and his readers as “knuckle-draggers”) but that didn’t stop it from ending on a note of “enjoy the tits.”

Even if it were tongue-in-cheek – which really isn’t clear – it’s still grossly misogynistic. Barstool Sports doesn’t cover boxing much – and women’s boxing even less so – but if this is what they come out with then the sport is probably better off without their attention.

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