Celebrity boxers ruining it for youngsters
OPINION: Boxing has its issues; it's far from squeaky clean.
The world heavyweight division is hardly mouthwatering at the moment, which isn't helped by the fact that the world's top two are brothers who won't fight each other.
In New Zealand we have a limited wow factor as we await a young gun or two to come through.
All this aside, I think the New Zealand media and the public's obsession with celebrity boxing has downgraded the sport and continues to disrespect those genuine boxers in New Zealand attempting to make a career out of it.
In the weeks leading into Shane Cameron's showdown with American Monte Barrett on July 5 in Auckland, we've heard plenty about how some all-right-looking girl, who has never boxed, is gearing up to take on another all-right-looking girl who has never boxed.
Then came the Jesse Ryder debacle, a cricket player I like, but a boxer I have no interest in.
Ryder will take on anti-cricket sports radio jock Mark Watson on the undercard to Cameron and Barrett as well.
The sad thing is this fight has been set up because event promoter Duco Events knows people would be more attracted to watching C-grade celebrities box than actual boxers.
For me, the silly situation was summed up last week with the Ryder v Watson announcement.
Ryder's mug was splashed over various media platforms and he and Watson dominated column inches when it came to boxing.
That same day it was also revealed whom Joseph Parker will take on in his first professional bout.
Parker's situation, however, was tagged on the very bottom of most Ryder stories and was regarded as fit to warrant only a couple of sentences.
If David Tua decided to turn up one day and have a runaround on the cricket field would anyone really care? No.
What's the difference here?
The fact that boxing has been hijacked by the celebrity market is sad for the sport and for Joseph Parker.
It also hardly inspires other young boxers in New Zealand thinking about putting in the hard work and making a real go.
I like Fight for Life – and in Southland, Fight for Kidz – because they are about charity, but we are now stepping into messy territory when celebrity boxing and proper professional fight nights are being merged.
In Parker we have a 20-year-old from New Zealand who had success on the world stage as an amateur and now wants to carve out a lengthy career in the professional ranks – yet leading into his July 5 debut he sits in the shadows of celebrity boxers who have made their name in other fields.
Parker's first fight against 38-year-old Huntly physical education teacher Dean Garmonsway is hardly going to make his career, and his first 10 bouts, for that matter, probably won't be against all-that-flash opposition either.
But these are still his first steps into the professional ranks and it warrants more attention than he has received.
Our skilled boxers at amateur and professional level deserve more respect.
People like Jaime Ridge, Mark Watson, Rosanna Arkle from The GC and Jesse Ryder deserve less respect, at least when it comes to boxing.
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