Glyn Leach: 'No excuses!'
As a tribute to the late Glyn Leach, the former Editor of Boxing Monthly, we are proud to bring his Editorial columns back for you to read again and again on our website. On this occasion we go back to January 1999 when Glyn was pondering a chaotic heavyweight scene and hoping for order to be restored... Sound familiar?
Recent events remind that competitive fights can fail to materialise, but the unification clash MUST go ahead...
Forgive us if, as I suspect, some of the items in this issue of the magazine might become obsolete before or within its shelf-life. By attempting (and 99% of the time achieving) to be the world's most up-to-date monthly boxing mag, we can often get caught out by fight cancellations - the last two issues, for instance, have seen fights between Oscar De La Hoya and Ike Quartey, and Kostya Tszyu and Miguel Angel Gonzalez previewed, only for the fights to fall through.
This month's issue concerns me on three fronts - because three of the fights we preview have "suspect" stamped all over them to my sick and cynical mind; I worry about Mike Tyson's return against Francois Botha, the George Foreman-Larry Holmes Battle of the Aged, and the potentially wonderful super featherweight title match between Floyd Mayweather and Angel Manfredy.
Firstly, Tyson-Botha; I don't trust Tyson as far as I could throw him, nor the doctors who say he's unlikely to "lose it" in the ring again; Foreman-Holmes? You keep hearing rumours, but promoter Roger Levitt has fronted money to both participants so hopefully it will go off - even if it is 20 years too late; Mayweather-Manfredy, meanwhile is in the same league as De La Hoya-Quartey and Tszyu-Gonzales - a bit too competitive to be true, perhaps, with both contestants having too much to lose in this ultra-cautious era in matchmaking.
Of the three, I'd be most disappointed if Mayweather-Manfredy didn't materialise, because that one matters. Let's hope that no "surprise" injuries occur to "postpone" it. But it seems to me that, these days, only fights where one has what another wants, and fancies his chances of hanging onto it, are likely to go ahead without a hitch. That's why I'm not too worried about Fernando Vargas's challenge to Yory Boy Campas, scheduled to take place after this issue is printed but before it hits the news-stands, being blown out; Vargas wants, Campas has, and the latter probably thinks the former is a kid who won't be a real challenge. And maybe he's right. But maybe not. That's what makes for a good match.
What boxing desperately needs is this level of matchmaking and it seems that the American TV giant Home Box Office is demanding it of the promoters the network deals with. De La Hoya-Quartey is one that has needed to be made for some time; but Tszyu-Gonzalez, Mayweather-Manfredy and Campas-Vargas were surprise announcements, and very welcome ones. If the fighters are as brave as the matchmakers appear to be getting, this sport might actually have a future. But if all and sundry are to start pulling out of any fight that might pose difficulties, if only of the perceived variety, then we might as well all pack up and go home.
Of course, some fights are best cancelled. At the forefront of my mind here is Joe Calzaghe's ditched date in December against Syd Vanderpool, whoever that might be. Why ever would such a match have been made? If the WBO super middle champ needed a stiff test to come back against, give the money to a Brit and not some bogus contender from Canada. After all, Glenn Catley did okay against Richie Woodhall not so long ago. Maybe a little too well, come to think of it, hence Pontypool, or whatever his name is.
But the one fight that must not, repeat MUST NOT be cancelled, postponed, whatever, is the 13 March heavyweight unification clash between Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield in New York. If ever a fight were designed to "save" boxing from the blight of gutless matchmaking, it is this one. Our offices have been flooded with calls from British fans wanting to make the trip and, reportedly, Lewis will have a travelling army of some 7,000 cheering him on at Madison Square Garden. It should be some night.
But this fight is not about one night, it is about the future of the sport. Come 14 March the world will know who the Baddest Man on the Planet truly is, the heavyweight champion of the world; the decade can start pretty much as it began, before Riddick Bowe split up the titles. Boxing will have a figurehead once more - and who knows, he might even be British. That's certainly something to look forward to as we go into the New Year. Fingers, toes, and whatever else crossed.