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Boxing Isn’t To Blame For Cheating- Cheaters Are

Conor Benn Cleared By UKAD To Fight

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Boxing Isn’t To Blame For Cheating- Cheaters Are

Mark Robinson- Matchroom Boxing UK

Boxing Isn’t To Blame For Cheating- Cheaters Are

Boxing isn’t an entity. It isn’t sentient. It isn’t a building, a person or a particular group of people. Nor is it an organisation or corporation.

It isn’t owned. It isn’t a charity. It isn’t a sanctioning body, or a certain array of promoters. It isn’t one thing, or a sum of many. It isn’t a game. It isn’t a business. It doesn’t think. It doesn’t care. It doesn’t have a conscience.

It isn’t even an it.

On days like today, when “the shit hits the fan” and someone has been caught with their hand in the till, or cheating to get ahead, the orgy of activity that occurs beneath the word boxing is often referred to in this way.

As a thing. A conscious, aware, tangible, living, breathing thing.

Boxing is not any of those ‘things’. And as such, the idea ‘boxing is hurting itself’ or, more dramatically, ‘shooting itself in the foot’, is a phrasing which hinders progress and the serious discussion required to find solutions to the problems all too frequently perpetrated in the name of the sport.

This weekend’s match up between Chris Eubank Jr and Conor Benn, at a compromise weight of 157 pounds that demands unprecedented bulk from Benn and unnatural weight control by Eubank, is a classic example of the failings of people, individually and collectively, being attributed to ‘boxing’.

Conor Benn failed the urine test. Allowed a banned substance to enter his system at some undefined point beforehand and on an unknown number of occasions. A substance which implies greater misconduct beyond the benefits to be found in imbibing it in isolation. If guilty, as Sample A proposes – and Sample B has never to this observer’s knowledge ever exonerated a fighter, Benn must also have had people within his inner circle aware of the nefarious activity too.

That person, or persons, are also culpable for their own behaviour and for either helping facilitate it or by remaining silent, supporting it. Both or all are acutely aware of the risk to Benn’s career and reputation, such as it is, if caught and the potential risk to the opponent they seek to unfairly disadvantaged. In this instance Chris Eubank, a fighter with whom there is a life-long family connection.

Benn’s promoter Matchroom Sport, eager to now dismiss the failed test as erroneous and not relevant to the promotion – because the BBBofC don’t recognise the testing body VADA and contract their testing to UKAD – are culpable for their behaviour and decision making too. The stance offered by Eddie Hearn today, himself responsible for the opinions and decisions made since the result was revealed to him, is juxtaposed to his stated position on fighters on the other side of the bill when his own fighter is the innocent party.

Joshua Buatsi’s proposed fight with Jean Pascal a topical example. Hearn is intelligent and experienced. He knows what he has said in the past and he knows he is contradicting those words to suit the finances at risk this weekend. Integrity is being sold. He just assumes you don’t care because he tells you don’t need to.

Boxing doesn’t make decisions. Boxing is merely a pronoun for a sport populated by opportunists, spivs and criminals. Many holding decision making and influential positions at the behest of honest and dishonest fighters searching for an edge or a payday, or both. Beyond them and behind them are coaches in Amateur gyms, taking nothing and giving everything, and fans who grow ever more apathetic toward failed drugs tests as regularity normalises the occurrence. The blasé reaction of the faces they know – ‘the show must go on’ – dilutes outrage to the point of indifference too.

Nevertheless, none of those people ARE boxing.

Don’t blame boxing for days like today. Blame the people cheating not only the rules, but the fans and the entire premise under which the sport was first spawned; fighting made fair.

There is very recent history to inform observers here as to what happens next and to conclusively lance the idea that the mistakes of today, clear for all with an interest, are an outlier. The debacle of Dillian Whyte’s fight with Oscar Rivas is too fresh in the memory. Jokes about Whyte’s B-Sample being in a witness protection programme in Utah or The Thames persist to this day.

Back then, Rivas and his camp were not informed of Whyte’s failed test. There is an attempt to reframe the narrative by those involved in the Born Rivals promotion because of the transparency afforded to Eubank Jr. No credit should be awarded for the notification alone nor should much credence be extended to the sincerity all parties are desperate to display in their attempts to convince bystanders of their innocence.

The people making decisions in boxing’s name need to think long and hard about what they choose to do next because the surnames of the protagonists in this occurrence ensure their words and actions will transcend the usual borders of the sport. As such, there is a much wider audience for this watershed moment in British Boxing’s long history.

Are fighters permitted to cheat and still box?

Over to you people. The rest of us are watching.

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David has been writing about boxing, sport’s oldest showgirl, for almost twenty years. Appearing as a columnist and reporter across print and digital as well as guest appearances with LoveSportRadio and LBC in the UK and, of course, The Big Fight Weekend podcast. Find his unique take on the boxing business here and at his site;

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