Frontline Diary: (Well over) 22 Twos
Scott Quigg, Anthony Crolla, Sam Eggington, Glen Foot, Tyrone Nurse and Chris Jenkins were all engaged in title action at the Manchester Arena while Ireland's Carl Frampton made his U.S. debut on CBS against Alejandro Gonzalez Junior (W12) on what was a packed night of boxing.
It was also a tale of two comebacks: Crolla’s return to action after being attacked by would-be burglars in December and Boxing Monthly columnist Billy Graham’s first ringside appearance in the U.K. since he worked Ojay Abraham’s corner in August 2008, the night both men retired from boxing.
Graham was Sky’s guest of honour. It was a chance for him to mingle with boxing fans at a fight for the first time in almost a decade in a venue he once called home yet has only visited twice since Ricky Hatton’s win over Kostya Tszyu in June 2005. “It is fantastic,” said Graham.
“I’ve had an unbelievable reception. I am overwhelmed by the way the fans have treated me. It’s taken me a couple of rounds to adjust to the velocity of the punches and get a feel for it all again. Don’t forget, it’s the first time I’ve been ringside for a long time.
“I’m bumping into people I’ve not seen for an awful long time - the Sky team and that - so I’m really enjoying myself. I’m definitely going to go to more fights. I’m going to Luke Campbell’s fight with Tommy Coyle with Kerry [Kayes] - I can’t wait for that one.”
“I’m here to support Scott and Anthony [Quigg stopped Spain’s Kiko Martinez in two to retain his WBA super-bantamweight title; Crolla and Colombian WBA lightweight holder Darleys Perez fought to a contentious draw], but I also came to support Sam [WTD8 over Foot for the British and Commonwealth titles] because Kerry works in his corner. I’ve seen him a few times - he’s a very good fighter on his way up and will get better,” he added before being guided to Sky’s ringside area.
Fight nights are great opportunities for fans to ask for photos and autographs, but some miss out if they can’t get past security or catch the attention of their favourite fighters. One woman spent most of the night trying to get a few snaps only to be left frustrated by the vigilance of the in-house security team.
It would be nice if there was some kind of pen area where fans can mingle with the boxers and ask for autographs or photos.
However, one particularly drunken fan practically fell onto a fighter due to his astonishing level of inebriation. He managed to ask for a photo, but was almost hanging over his target’s shoulder by this point and clearly did not respect personal space.
As quick as a flash, the fighter offered to take a ‘selfie’ of the pair of them so the reveller handed over his phone, which the boxer sneakily turned off before saying: “Your battery has ran out, mate—we can’t do it.” That’s ring(side) intelligence at its finest.
Many people adjudged Nurse the winner of his fight against Jenkins scores of 117-112, 114-114 and 115-115 ushered in the draw. I bumped into the 25-year-old but had forgotten that he injured his right hand during the fight, he reminded me of this after a particularly firm handshake. When asked about the fight, he was in a philosophical mood.
“Worst things have happened in boxing, haven’t they?” he said. “I thought I won so I’ll be asking Eddie [Hearn] for a rematch.”
Diogenes of Sinope was a true cynic. Very few stories about him survived yet one of the ones that was passed down illustrates one of the good things about watching a fight on-site. Whilst reclining on a beach, Diogenes was approached by Alexander The Great, who asked the philosopher if there was anything he could do for him. “Yes, please step out of my sunlight,” he replied.
Alexander was the centre of the world at that time - representing politics, culture and religion - so, taken as an analogy, the cynic wanted to push the world to one side so he could take in the light of truth, the sun, without distraction.
Devoid of the sound and fury of Twitter and the forums, you can really take in the fights properly. It is a rewarding experience, especially if you can zone out the chatter and whoops from the one or two reporters who root for a fighter.
The crowd exploded into life during Quigg and Crolla’s ringwalks. Strong support is always a good thing, however the fans also booed the visiting fighters’ national anthems. This is one of my pet peeves - it is unnecessary and rude.
“I’m gutted for Anthony, but the atmosphere for the two main fights was wonderful and they both put in very good performances that they can build on in the future,” said Graham when I grabbed a quick word en route to the exit following the final bell. “Crolla will fight for a world title again based on that.”
Once the dust settled on the shows, it was clear that it had been a night of twos.
We had two British title fights (the light-welterweight and welterweight titles). Two world titles. Two Technical Decision wins (Eggington-Foot and Jono Carroll against Barrington Brown). Two draws. Two British super-bantamweight title-holders on two different sides of the world. Quigg took two solid shots before scoring two knockdowns to stop Martinez in two - the Spaniard has twice lost to Frampton. Perez had two point deductions, which led to two 113-113 cards and the second draw of the night.
Over in America, Frampton was floored twice, but came back to win in a fight in which his opponent lost two points for low blows. We had boxing on two networks, Sky and ITV, and two terrestrial networks, ITV and CBS.
Crolla picked up two injuries when assaulted by one of two attackers in one of the two months that has a two in it. Local trainer Joe Gallagher had two fighters in title action on the bill. There were two titles on the line in the Eggington fight. And, of course, there are two fighters in the ring once that first bell goes.
Still, the most important thing to bear in mind is that we have two super-bantamweights who really need to fight each other.