The Hopkins-Taylor card wasn’t the only boxing on offer for fans of the sweet science this past Saturday. BBC’s Radio Five Live offered internet audio coverage of boxing’s return to terrestial television in the UK, as ITV is bringing back boxing to regular TV in Britain. The original card was to feature a heavyweight bout between former Tyson-conqueror Danny Williams and former K1 fighter Matt Skelton, plus the professional debut of much-hyped British prospect and media darling Amir Khan. Things, however, took a turn for the unexpected Friday night, when Skelton looked like he might be left without an opponent.
Williams pulled out of his heavyweight tilt with Skelton Friday night, claiming he had the flu. Promoter Frank Warren found a late replacement in butcher (and boxer) Mark Krence. Krence, by all accounts, had even shown up to work on Saturday morning as per usual, and by Saturday night was trading blows with the crude, but hard as nails Skelton. Skelton inevitably wore the game Krence down, stopping him after seven rounds. Khan then did his part in front of an adoring crowd, stopping opponent David Bailey in the first round in a bout that was not at all competitive. Bailey’s corner was enraged by the referee’s stoppage. Not, though, because they thought their man was still in the fight, but because the ref had failed to see the towel they had thrown in and had let the fight continue when it was clear Bailey was way out of his depth.
Even more interesting was some of the post-fight commentary. Frank Warren berated Danny Williams for pulling out of the fight, saying Williams had never recovered from the beating he took against Vitali Klitschko and that Williams’ bottle had gone (his stomach for battle had left him.)
“I am disgusted and won’t be promoting any fights involving him,” Warren said “The situation is totally unacceptable. If he has been in bed all week he should have informed me. I believe the real reason is his bottle has gone I had a phone call from his wife saying he had been in bed with flu all week despite him having weighed in on Friday and being examined by the doctor.”
Listening to Warren was probably the most entertaining part of the broadcast.
On a more serious note, the 18-year-old Khan said in the wake of the London bombings – he would attempt to use his unique position as Britain’s most prominent Muslim sportsman to encourage harmony between divided communities in his native England.
Myself and my family were knocked back by the London bombings and we all need to be nice to each other now because there are a lot of bad things happening. Anyone would help and I am just doing my bit.
It was a sobering thought from an 18-year-old at a time when most eyes in the fight game were turning towards Las Vegas and Old Father Time.
– Chris Gielty