Dylan Cleaver on sport
Sport analysis and comment from Dylan Cleaver

Dylan Cleaver's Midweek Fixture: A message for boxing fans

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Manny Pacquiao, left, tries to avoid a punch by Timothy Bradley during their WBO welterweight title bout. Photo / AP
Manny Pacquiao, left, tries to avoid a punch by Timothy Bradley during their WBO welterweight title bout. Photo / AP

Australian stand-up comedian Jim Jefferies has a great take on American attitudes on gun control.

"I'm all for your second amendment rights," he tells an American audience. "You should be allowed to have guns; it's in your Constitution. What I am not for is bullshit arguments and lies.

"There is one argument and one argument alone for having a gun, and this is the argument: 'F*** off, I like guns.' It's not the best argument, but it's all you've got."

I was reminded of this piece of social commentary when I chanced upon a radio interview with Dean Lonergan this weekend. Lonergan, as most of you will know, is the big-talking former Kiwis prop who is now owner of Duco, a successful events and promotions company.

One of the jewels in the Duco crown is up-and-coming New Zealand heavyweight Joseph Parker. Duco promotes boxing events and evidently does a first-class job of it.

There has been a spate of high-profile serious injuries in boxing and it's gawdy offspring Mixed Martial Arts recently, including the brain bleed to boxer Nick Blackwell that required him to be placed into a medically induced coma, and the death of Portuguese MMA fighter Joao Carvalho during a Total Extreme Fighting (the clue is in the name) event in Dublin.

Lonergan was asked about the safety of the sport to which he replied, to paraphrase: "Do you know what the most dangerous sport in the world is? It's equestrian."

The implication, flashing in neon, is that while boxing and MMA have an element of danger, why do you hear the wowsers and do-gooders calling for the banning of these noble pursuits while you don't hear a peep about sports like equestrian.

This is an all-too-common refrain. It is also what is technically known as a STUPID ARGUMENT.

Here is the big difference between boxing and equestrian... and rugby, motor racing and other perceived high-risk sports. The aim of boxing is to inflict brain damage on your opponent.

Dress it up and put some protective padding around that sentence if it causes you offence, but that's it in a nutshell.

(On a slight tangent, another STUPID ARGUMENT I have heard recently is that boxing is not about hurting your opponent, it is about beating them. This is the equivalent of saying F1 is not about driving at dangerously high speeds, it is about finishing ahead of your opponents. It is much harder for one to happen without the other).

Let's stop the bullshit. There is only one argument that makes any sense for the existence of the sport, and it is this: "F*** off, I like boxing."

Lonergan is correct when he says other sports have risk, but it is pure posturing. In all those other sports, rules have been or could be introduced to mitigate risk. You may not be able to eliminate danger, in fact you can't, but by banning shoulder charges and lifting tackles in rugby for example, you reduce the chances of serious head and neck injuries.

How do you introduce rules to boxing that mitigates the risk of brain damage without ruining the sport?

This is not a call to ban boxing. It wouldn't work and even if such drastic policy was implemented a more lethal underground scene would surely fill the void.

I used to believe that in two or three generations time it would fade into fringe sport status but the immediate and stunning success of UFC indicates there is a massive market for bloodlust.

There is the small matter of personal liberties to consider as well. If a consenting adult wants to share an enclosed space with another consenting adult whose aim is to, well, punch his head in, who am I to tell him not to.

No, I suspect boxing and its offshoots are here to stay and if you're a fan, rejoice.

But let's stop the bullshit. There is only one argument that makes any sense for the existence of the sport, and it is this: "F*** off, I like boxing."

It's not the best argument, but it's all we've got.

GIVE 'EM A TASTE OF KIWI ...

Just imagine what is happening inside that skull (involuntary shudder).

SPORTS SHAREMARKET

I'm buying... Tuimoala Lolohea
Somebody told me to write this. Something about him now being the Warriors most important player. In the absence of anything else compelling, I'll go with it for now.

I'm selling... Israel Dagg's hairdresser
Apparently the fullback made a triumphant return to the fray last weekend but I didn't really notice. All I saw was that cross between a Bobby Charlton comb-over and something out of Deliverance living on his head.

I'M READING ...

Cycling eh, flickin' heck...

MY LAST $10

The comeback gathers pace, like a 97-year-old man on a Zimmer frame getting to the head of the buffet queue at a rest home.

Last week: A three-headed multi with raging hot favourites - Crusaders halftime/fulltime over Jaguares, Brisbane Broncos halftime/fulltime over Newcastle and Hawthorn (just) head to head over St Kilda (just) - combining to gross $19.20.

This week: Hawthorn to beat Adelaide (they won't play that badly twice in a row) in the AFL, and the Chiefs/ Hurricanes game to finish as either a draw or with either team winning by seven points or under. There's a $29.40 gross there.

Total spent: $110 Total collected: $86.55

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- NZ Herald

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