The third M's for Mess

Glyn Leach
08/10/2016 6:56pm

As a total cop-out ending to a particularly frustrating interview with Michael Moorer in the February issue, I bailed out, quick as I could, by saying that where Moorer was concerned, anything could happen and it probably will. Well, it has.

The Detroit southpaw outscored Evander Holyfield - (doesn't it seem ironic that he of all fighters, should be diagnosed as having a heart problem?) - to become the heavyweight champion of the world according to the WBA and IBF, thus throwing the division into another of its not regular spins of confusion.

No more the prospect of a November unification date for WBC champ Lennox Lewis; Moorer, it seems, is going to go the Riddick Bowe route and entertain opponents such as Joe Hipp. Pass the valium. Funny thing is that Hipp might beat Moorer on the Holyfield fight form. So would half a dozen other heavyweights on the circuit including, might I venture, Frank Bruno and Herbie Hide.

Moorer will have to tread on egg shells if he is to fight and win until Mike Tyson comes out of jail next year, the payday that every heavyweight high-flyer has his eyes set on. And that is what Moorer will attempt to do.

"We had great meetings with Michael Moorer, HBO and TVKO, and the good news for Lennox Lewis is that there's no problem making the deal for a unification fight," said promoter Dan Duva.

Yeah, Dan, but when? Duva admits that it's "almost impossible to get a unification fight together by the end of 1994", and that leaves Lewis entering his third year as a world champ without having the chance to prove himself the best of what can only be seen as a bad bunch.

That means trouble. Lewis's goal is the unified championship and then a fight with Tyson - "it is ordained". He has trouble getting himself up for moderate opposition, as the nature of his win over Phil Jackson proved, so a prolonged period of either inactivity or uninspiring turnover fights - such as his mandatory defence against Oliver McCall - might not be that appealing to him.

"My guy rises to the occasion', explains his trainer, Pepe Correa. "You put a Holyfield or Bowe in front of him and my guy's a barn-burner. But if he's got someone who's just gonna lay back, he's just gonna get the job done. I mean, why bust your ass if you don't have to?" You can see the reasoning there.

But Holyfield's gone, Moorer's permanently on the phone to Alex Garcia, and that leaves one man who can help Lewis out of this situation. Last month's villain becomes this month's hero.

You think Moorer's going to fight Riddick Bowe? Bowe's in exactly the same position as Lewis, without a sniff of a big fight on the horizon. You think Bowe's going to be chomping at the bit - (well, knowing him, anything's possible) - at the prospect of a three-fight series starting with Buster Mathis Jr. and ending with, gasp, Larry Donald? He couldn't even motivate himself for the Holyfield rematch.

With fighters such as Lewis and Bowe, you can forget about Olympic ideals - they left them behind in the 1988 Seoul final. These are extremely rich young men with enough money to be able to say "no thanks" to big paydays for low risk fights. They need a major fight to look forward to retain (regain) an interest in the game and there has never been a better time than now for them to renew their rivalry.

And with Seth Abraham, head man at American subscription TV network HBO - the Hug Bowe Organisation - in a position where he provides financial backing to Duva's promotions, he could force a Bowe fight on to the Lewis and Duva factions, against what they profess to be their wishes.

Frank Maloney, manager of Lewis knows this, for sure. "HBO? Seth Abraham is so far up fucking Rock Newman's arse it's unbelievable."

Don't sit on the fence, Frank.

But now's the chance for the the permanently feuding Lewis and Bowe camps to get together and settle their differences, once and for all. They have no better option. It's the only fight out there.

Boxing's debt to fighters

The tragic death of London fighter Bradley Stone reminds us once more of what a tough sport boxing is. It also raises questions about how safe boxing can actually be made, or rather, how safe the people who hold the purse strings are willing to make it.

For while the British Boxing Board of Control has set safety standards that put the rest of the world to shame, we can still go the extra yard for victory, just as brave men such as Stone have tried to do in the ring.

But how much money are promoters willing to spend to make the game as safe as possible? This is the question. Colin McMillan of the Professional Boxers Association has called for MRI scanners to be present at all promotions or, at least, for fighters to be scanned after bouts, as a matter of course. I'm in total agreement with this, but will the promoters be willing and able to cough up for it?

I would like to see a ruling introduced whereby all beaten fighters, and any boxer who has been in a particularly tough contest, stays in hospital for 24 hours observation - this would certainly have detected problems like Stone's, and could possibly save lives.

But for now we have to accept that our best, no matter how good it may be, just is not good enough. Maybe it never will be, but we can but try. We owe the fighters that much.

It may be too late to save Bradley Stone, but we must never stop trying to improve levels.

Our sincere condolences to all concerned.