Chris Rattue 's Opinion

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: Boxing's credibility out for count

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Cameron contest is not worthy of a world title fight.

Shane Cameron's. Photo / Janna Dixon
Shane Cameron's. Photo / Janna Dixon

Call me a boxing pea-weight but it is not a world title fight in Melbourne tonight. Good luck to Shane Cameron against the ageing Aussie Danny Green, but spare us the ludicrously exaggerated title nonsense. Those two don't constitute a world title contest, even in the current boxing trash heap.

A mysterious thing happens with boxing. We refer to it as a joke, a vast circus dominated by a standover man like the double killer Don King. Come fight night, we dutifully pretend that a crock is a crown.

A world of evil intent, gentlemen brutes, lovable rogues, desperadoes, pain, redemption, of dark hearts and places, and immeasurable skill, fitness and courage, once gave boxing an unmatched allure and mystique.

It produced the greatest figures in sports history. This wonderful sport deserved so much more than the shambles it has become.

Remember Louis, Schmeling, Dempsey, Marciano, Ali, Frazier, Norton, Foreman, Robinson, Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran ...

and many many more. There are hardly any modern equivalents and just as importantly, the best, like Manny Pacquiao, have failed to grab full acclaim because boxing is in such disrepair and disrepute. What is more, there are no all-time contests, like Ali v Frazier, or Leonard v Hearns.

The modern reality is even worse than it often seems, because boxing keeps its battered head above water via a pliable media that reluctantly plays along, having given up on a reliable scrutiny. The biggest laugh of all is the plethora of three-letter acronym organisations who claim to run world title events. Boxing outfits use "world" and "international" the way dictatorships use "democratic".

As for the Melbourne fight, a mirage of legitimacy is spread over four boxing organisations and the IBO - whose cruiserweight belt is up for grabs tonight - isn't even one of them. For my money - and they ain't getting any of it, by the way - the IBO is on the wrong side of a line in some very dodgy sand.

As for Cameron, I cringe every time his demise at the brutal hands of David Tua hits the memory cells. It was sickening to watch. Cameron should have retired then, in a desperate bid for a happy old age, but he didn't and maybe irreparable brain damage had occurred anyway.

So in for a penny, in for a pounding. This is a free world, and Cameron - who has risen bravely from the physical and emotional canvas - has as much right to a trembling mess of a dotage as Sir Ed Hillary had risking a plunge off a very big mountain.

We've also got the right to call boxing a trembling mess in a death plunge. And yet they still expect us to pay a $40 fee each time.

If boxing was straight up about this contest then count me in, maybe. I might, at a pinch, part with a fiver to watch Cameron and Green slug it out for transtasman supremacy, an over-the-hill star extending his pay days against a very average, beaten-up heavyweight. A bit of blood could be just the ticket for a quiet Wednesday night, an alternative to drowning in DNA on the crime channel. But that ain't no world title fight, and they ain't getting the 40.

Cricketers back at bottom

New Zealand cricket is like a donut - a lot of puff with nothing happening in the middle. A glorious test in Tasmania seems such a long time ago. The New Zealand cricket team has hit another low and surprise surprise, top order batting is the problem. Five defeats on the trot is a nightmare for Ross Taylor's hopeless lot.

There is an obvious solution - Taylor's Titanics need to play more games against Zimbabwe. Unfortunately, the ICC will concur. Taylor, not exactly Churchillian, commented the past "is what it is" after the latest debacle. In fairness, what can he really say but that New Zealand will need more stirring stuff than that to get the only liferaft off the beach and it's hard to imagine Taylor working any magic on Jesse Ryder.

NRL good home for Cooper

Hopefully Quade Cooper - snubbed by Australian rugby - takes his magical hands and feet to the NRL. Cooper in his prime is wonderful to watch, but his defence, temperament and judgment are found wanting in test rugby.

Cooper is unlucky, playing behind a weak Wallaby pack, but he has not stepped up as a player or influence and has invited open conflict with the coach. Time to see if he can star in the rival code, although his notoriously flaky defence remains a problem.

Cooper would be a great publicity coup for league, alongside the return of Sonny Bill Williams and Israel Folau. One player who will welcome Cooper is the Kiwi centre Shaun Kenny-Dowall - they were junior rep teammates in the Waikato.

As for Wallaby coach Robbie Deans, he is not at fault for Cooper's demise, but the apparent ostracising of Matt Giteau is another story.

- NZ Herald

Chris Rattue

Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue writes about a wide range of sports for the New Zealand Herald. He has covered numerous sporting events for the Herald including Rugby World Cups and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Read more by Chris Rattue

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