An emergency meeting at New Zealand's busiest boxing venue will today assemble industry leaders to set stricter rules around corporate fight nights after a spate of serious knockouts.
The meeting at ABA Stadium will bring together boxing associations across Auckland to negotiate a set of safety standards for the popular Eden Terrace venue.
Auckland Boxing Association president Paul McSharry said he called the meeting after becoming distressed at the number of serious injuries to novice and amateur fighters this year.
"I either do something or I do nothing," McSharry said.
"I'd just come back from the funeral of Lucy Brown two weekends ago. I've come back from that funeral, to arrive at the ABA [Stadium]. "I just sat down and Joel Rea, he got knocked out. It wasn't the official's fault, it wasn't anyone's fault other than he wasn't prepared. I don't think he was conditioned for what he was up against."
In August, the Herald on Sunday reported two separate serious concussions at corporate fight nights that led to the hospitalisation of inexperienced fighters.
McSharry said safety equipment for corporate bouts would be under particular scrutiny at the Auckland meeting.
"Headgear does not stop the power of a punch. But headgear stops that bone on bone, the head clashes, it's a safety measure so why do we not have it [made] compulsory?" the ABA president said.
"I think the image of corporate boxing needs to lift its game. I've known some promoters, they turn up with one set of gloves, well it's not enough to run a tournament."
Inconsistent officiating will also be addressed.
"Some officials are following the professional rules. Well that's got to change, they've got to smarten when it comes to corporate boxing," McSharry said.
"We need an agreement between our coaches and the professional boxing authorities and the promoters. Officials could apply slow eight counts, or don't apply them at all, stop the bouts prior to it."
In addition to the Auckland Boxing Association, it is understood representatives from the NZ Professional Boxing Association, the NZ National Boxing Federation, and the Professional Boxing Commission of NZ will attend the 11am meeting.
National secretary of the NZ Professional Boxing Association, Pat Leonard, said representatives will attend the meeting with an open mind, but he does have suspicions over the severity of the risks.
"I've just asked them to go, listen and observe," Leonard said.
"It's an unknown quantity at the present moment. I can only go on the publicity at the moment.
"Hopefully we can come up with something that will help, I don't know until we see what they come up with. Because you think of all the years it's [corporate boxing] been going, all of a sudden it comes up in a conglomeration, and yet nothing has ever been said for 10 or 12 years."
Despite this, McSharry said some definitive rules will be set by the meeting's conclusion.
"I'm sure it'll be a robust discussion, probably a bit of an argument will happen," he said.
"But we're all boxing people. Let's get something out of it on the way forward, we have to agree with each other."
McSharry said once the corporate boxing rules are set, they will be mandatory in order for associations to hire ABA Stadium.
"If they're not in agreement, then they won't be using the ABA," McSharry said.
"I'm trying to ensure that everything we do is beneficial to boxing, not detrimental. Because corporate boxing will be stopped if boxers continue to be hurt, and there's been two this year, and that's two too many."