Put it in perspective

Glyn Leach
28/07/2016 5:35am

On 16 August 2014, Glyn Leach, Editor of Boxing Monthly passed away at the age of 54.

For over 20 years Glyn gave knowledge, wit and honesty in his Editorial column every single month which became loved by BM’s loyal readers.

As a tribute to the great man, Boxing Monthly is proud to bring these columns back for you to read again and again on our website. We kick things off with Glyn’s debut column as BM Editor.

It was May 1992 and Glyn wanted to talk about George Foreman and Ray Mancini.

It may have been a sad sight to see the battered and bruised face of George Foreman after the amiable 43-year-old had won a points decision over British-born Alex Stewart, but calls for restrictions to be imposed on boxers “of a certain age” should be put into perspective.

Foreman might well have arrived at the end of his particular road now, although he wants to fight on, but in a long second career he has proved himself to be worthy of his high world ranking and even had his moments when challenging for the undisputed world title.

More a cause for concern is the “celebrity fighter”: the ex-champ who comes back from a long absence, usually one of many retirements, and goes straight into a high-profile competitive fight.

On rare occasions the comebacking fighter can defy the years of atrophy and beat a top fighter with first taking tune-up bouts.

But more often the returning hero should be protected from himself – a case in point being 31-year-old Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini and his painful beating at the hands of Greg Haugen for the vacant NABF light-welterweight championship.

Prior to being outboxed and busted up in seven by Haugen, Mancini last fought three years ago, when he was beaten by Hector Camacho. That was Mancini’s only fight in the last seven years.

Mancini, and others like him, would seem to be at far greater risk than an active but aged fighter like Foreman.

Saleable Mancini got the fight because of his past reputation and through novelty value, but was a study in ring-rust against Haugen: the speed of his perpetual motion attack had deteriorated and his defensive reflexes had dulled (although Mancini was never known for his defence). That’s a dangerous condition to be in against a “live”, active fighter like Haugen, and Mancini, always too brave for his own good, paid the price for his temerity.

Ponderous and sluggish Foreman may be, but rusty he is not. Foreman may not have looked too pretty after his fight with Stewart, but two judges still thought he’d done enough to beat the big-hitter.

If Mancini, who has subsequently announced his “I mean it this time” retirement, had been made to prove himself in low-pressure, short-duration bouts, Foreman-style walkovers even, before facing Haugen, he might have been spared the pain and indignity of discovering just how far his skills had eroded at the worst possible moment – in the ring.

Mancini escaped with little more than a bruised face and ego, but others who are tempted to “give it one more try” might not be so lucky.