THOUGH it’s easy to criticise promoters, their job is a difficult one in the current landscape. There’s no denying, however, they make it harder for themselves when staging rival events at the same time. Even worse when they’re in the same city. Such was the case on Saturday night when Matchroom hosted a show at Wembley Arena headlined by Dillian Whyte (televised by DAZN) and Queensberry went to the O2 Arena with John Ryder versus Zach Parker (BT Sport).
It should also be noted that Boxxer, and Sky Sports, got in on the London action the following afternoon at Alexandra Palace. At all three shows there appeared to be as many empty seats as tickets sold. There was also an event at York Hall (Wasserman’s Harlem Eubank show on C5) on Friday night but it’s not unusual for that old and comparatively small venue to showcase boxing the night before bigger shows take place in the capital.
Perhaps the lack of interest can simply be explained by the recession and punters deciding against shelling out on a ticket. After all, none were cheap to attend. But three major cards taking place within 12 hours – and even fewer miles – of each other highlighted how a stricter scheduling system would benefit the sport.
Ticket-buyers interested in both Whyte-Jermaine Franklin and Ryder-Parker had a decision to make. Furthermore, unless free of any money worries, it’s exceptionally unlikely too many could afford to attend multiple events anyway. Had there been just one event in London last weekend, it would undoubtedly have been better attended than any of the three actually turned out to be.
Fans at home either got busy with their remote controls or watched one event and recorded the other. Those hoping to watch the main event at the O2 then switch over to see Whyte would have been disappointed to discover Franklin already in his stride by the time Ryder had beaten Parker. We accept this is not exactly a life-changing problem, and promoters attempting to stagger start times is not a solution, but it’s a problem fans of other sports don’t encounter due to scheduling rules in place.
But who’s to blame for the poor planning? We know it’s too much to ask of the promoters to communicate with each other on matters such as this. Their priority is ensuring their fighters are active and getting paid. Finding suitable venues isn’t as easy as it may appear, either. Yet one does wonder if the British Boxing Board of Control can enforce a rule that stops major events from clashing with a simple first come, first served system. Though we all want as much boxing to take place as possible, diluting the interest is something we should surely seek to avoid.
It was a shame, because the boxing on display was generally of a high standard. Perhaps the most memorable performance of the weekend was turned in by young Adam Azim when he trounced the usually sturdy Rylan Charlton in two rounds on Sunday afternoon. However, Boxxer’s fixation with musicians performing a track or two during the ringwalks is not to everyone’s taste. Furthermore, Charlton being made to stand in the ring for an extended amount of time as the singer belted out her full vocal range was unfair. Only when she’d finished could Azim make his way to the ring.
Rylan wasn’t the only one who was left hanging. Shannon Ryan was waiting in the ring for several minutes before her opponent, Ivanka Ivanova, could locate a suitable groin guard. And after the main event, Sky Sports were left to fill time when it became apparent there wasn’t an ambulance on site ahead of the heavyweight bout between Jeamie Tshikeva (TKV) and Joel Ducille. What followed was curiously entertaining as Sky commentator Andy Clarke showed off his knowledge of London traffic and sidekicks Matt Macklin and Natasha Jonas scurried through their notes only to find that particular subject wasn’t on them.
It was no surprise to see Mike Goodhall fast asleep in the background. Mike is a stalwart of the British boxing scene and he and his team would have been responsible for setting up all of the rings last weekend. He’d certainly earned his nap.
It was exceptionally sad to read about the death of Reece Newcombe, aged just 31, after he was stabbed on the streets of Richmond in the early hours of Saturday morning.
Reece was a very good amateur boxer who worked alongside his father, John Holland and grandfather, Harry Holland, at Westside Boxing Gym on Whitton Road.
Newcombe’s death leaves his six-month old daughter, Misse, without a father.
James Dobson, Newcombe’s best friend, has set up GoFundMe page to raise money for Misse. Already, more than 1,000 people have a made a donation.
“He didn’t have a bad bone in his body,” Dobson said of Newcombe. “He made an impact on everyone he met… I want to raise money to give Misse the first Christmas and start in life her dad would have wanted.”
Reece’s family stated: “We are truly heartbroken at the loss of our son, brother, grandson, nephew, cousin. Words cannot describe our grief. Our family is broken and will never be the same again without Reece’s larger than life personality. As a family, we will make sure his darling daughter Misse will know all about her daddy and how much he loved her and how much he was loved by everyone.”
Police are appealing for witnesses. They believe the incident that led to Newcombe’s death was filmed by some onlookers.
Our thoughts are with Reece’s family and friends.