Bob Jones on the Parker fight fiasco

Bob Jones writes at?NBR:

For nearly seven decades boxing has been part of my life. That includes Joseph, who I sponsored in his amateur days and managed in his initial professional years.? Plus, I count as friends promoter Duco?s Runyanesque principals Dean Lonergan and David Higgins, who I contracted Joseph to, and also his Las Vegas-based trainer Kevin Barry, who I arranged to look after Parker.

So should I run along with the lapdog media and pretend this fairly non-descript matching is actually for the world heavyweight title, or instead care about the sport?s credibility?

I chose the latter path, more so after watching Trevor McKewen, the sports editor of NZME, owners of the Herald, Radio Sport etc. unbelievably tell television it will be the greatest event in Auckland?s history. God help us all. That remark is possibly the most stupid ever uttered in Auckland?s history and this contest wouldn?t rate in the first 10,000 events, sporting and otherwise in the city?s history.

When it comes to rugby, league, cricket, soccer and netball, our sports journalists are excellent. But with the exception of Joseph Romanos and Mark Reason, who always do their homework, they?re unprofessional, indolent slobs when commenting on minor sport, especially boxing.


The advent of satellite television and subsequently Pay Per View almost overnight made the rewards for top fighters surreal. When fighters scoff at $25 million offers as insultingly inadequate, as occurs, all perspective is lost.

The extraordinary money involved, in which bouts of interest can gross $300-400 million and sometimes more, and with little overhead thanks to satellite television, was too good not to attract opportunists. They arose in great numbers with groups of individuals, usually centred on one so-called President, forming themselves into self-appointed governing bodies, charging huge sums to so-call ?sanction? title fights. To increase the number of ?title fights? they nearly doubled the number of weight divisions, plus introduced numerous nonsense new championships such as Intercontinental, Pan African, Pan Asian, North American etc. etc.

By the advent of the 21st century there were 12 of these self-appointed so-called governing bodies and collectively, where once there were eight household names world champions for the eight weight divisions, now 166 boxers claimed to be world champions, as formally recognised by these ratbag outfits. Some have since fallen by the wayside but today there?s the World Boxing Association (WBA), the World Boxing Council (WBC), the International Boxing Federation (IBF), the International Boxing Union (IBU), the international Boxing Organisation (IBO,) the International Boxing Association and the Global Boxing Union (GBU), all purporting to administer the sport.

Boxing magazines railed in vain against these outfits which they dubbed the alphabet soup?but the ludicrous farce prevailed because promoters liked it for obvious reasons and boxers loved it as so many who hitherto would never have made the grade, could now boast of having been a world champion.

It’s a joke really. Bob Jones nails it, he’s been a boxing aficianado for decades, and he sees the demise of his sport.

Imagine if seven different Olympic organisations were running seven versions of the Olympics, or seven competing bodies running other sports. It?s farcical. And indicative of that, on two occasions in recent years, two of these outfits have rated dead men; one, once reduced to ashes, rising in the ratings over the subsequent months and last year, a flyweight slipping from 6th to 11th place over the six months following his burial. Seems he was still world class but faded just a little when dead.

All sport is about championship aspirations, be it an Olympic gold medal, a tennis grand slam victory, the Ryder Cup or a PGA title, etc. etc. And by definition there can only be one world champion. Yet currently England?s Anthony Joshua is the IBF world heavyweight champion. Until his recent retirement announcement England?s Tyson Fury was the WBO world heavyweight champion, American Deontay Wilder is the WBC champion and a poorly skilled Australian, Lucas Browne, was in March the WBA champion, only to have the WBA strip him of?the title after a bogus drug test following his unlikely victory in Chechnya. All of those named have built substantial undefeated records against mugs while carefully avoiding one another.

A farce in the making…or in action.

Joseph Parker is a highly promising boxer. He and Duco should be patient and step up the calibre of his opponents rather than chase costly bogus championships. There have been too many poets or has-beens in his record. He?s only fought one opponent who might squeak into a top 20 rating and he struggled with him. Ruiz is a good opponent as he will be competitive. Joseph will be too smart for him but it?s a bout worth making. The Mexican has fought possibly two opponents who would make a top 50 list and none who would make a top 20. Thus this fight is the rugby equivalent of the Rugby Union scrapping the provincial championships and instead nominating South Canterbury and Wanganui to play a decider. To call it a world heavyweight championship fight is nothing less than insulting.

Brutal but fair.

Readers may recall a Kiwi heavyweight in the early 1990s who fought under the name Jimmy Thunder but achieved amateur success as Jimmy Peau. Jimmy was a pretty good fighter but lacked the skills for the top level at a time of very good heavyweights. Be that as it may, the WBF ?sanctioned? (were paid) a fight in a Townsville beer garden for the ?World heavyweight championship? in July 1993 for Thunder against a perennial American loser. Jimmy bowled him over quickly.

Contrary to Duco?s claim of their forthcoming bout as a New Zealand first, the WBF then ?sanctioned? Jimmy?s defence of their bogus heavyweight title against capable Englishman Johnny Nelson five months later at Mount Smart stadium and Jimmy lost his pretend title. But that wasn?t the end, for 10 months later in Atlantic City Jimmy again became ?World Champion,? this time for the IBO?s version of it (they, note, being Duco?s ?sanctioning? body), against a so-so American opponent.

So if you believe the Duco claim then it seems we?ve already had a World Heavyweight Champion and a championship fight in Auckland. You?re unaware of that because that was the age of Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Holyfield and company who were real champions and Jimmy?s ?championship successes? were properly ignored, even here in New Zealand when journalist standards existed. That said?when Jimmy contested these ?titles? he had fought and beaten far better opponents than Joseph has to date encountered.

The Ruiz fight is good for Joseph as the Mexican is a hardy fellow?but for God?s sake, cut this world title crap. The proposition that the taxpayer should contribute towards this insignificant event is preposterous. It?s a fairly run of the mill matching having to bear the financial load of massive ?sanctioning? fees so as to ascribe it a bogus world championship status no-one in the outside boxing world will take seriously. To suggest it will induce visitors and put New Zealand on the map is simply insulting.

Which is why they pulled the funding request, because the government could see through the crocodile tears and realised they were being played by a couple of boxing thugs.