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Bleacher Talk: A Little Respect Please


PhilBoxing.com




This corner has always been proud of Cebu Boxing, and we have hailed its achievements and have boasted (almost with arrogance) that nothing beats us in this part of the world. In a way, I feel guilty of sounding like a PR man for Cebu Boxing.

But this is where coming in as an analyst takes us back to reality and acknowledge that not everything is all that rosy for boxing after all. There are a number of things that continue to hamper our growth and do not support our statement that we?re the best in the business. And this is something that we?ll need to work on asap.

Cebu Boxing is plagued by unprofessional practices that continue to take place without anyone doing anything about it. All these are indicators of a lack of respect towards the people who serve as officials of the sport and eventually the fans.

Around a week ago, a boxing event organized by a Manila-based promoter was held in Bogo, some 100 kilometers north of the city. It was day dedicated to boxing where a combination of amateur and professional fights was to serve as the sports feature for the local sports fans of the city that produced the great Gabriel ?Flash? Elorde. Officials were advised that amateur fights would start at 2pm while the professional fights would follow at 4pm. Based on experience, that would most likely mean an hour?s delay given the ?Filipino time? mentality. In such situations, call time for officials is usually one hour before the declared start of fights: 3pm for the officials of the pro fights.

This is when everything suddenly a little out of sync. At 3pm, the ring was still being set up! But that wasn?t only surprise awaiting the pro boxing officials. The flyers being distributed indicated that 34 amateur fights were to be held before the start of the professional fights. 34! If the ring was still being set up and we had to wait for 34 fights before kicking off the pro card, the big question was what time will the pro bouts start?

I have nothing against amateur fights. In fact, we need a lot of these as a means to discover future world champions. But to schedule 34 fights to serve as preliminary fights to a pro card is something a little out of line. We?ve never seen anything like this before. If these were done earlier in the day, that would be fine. After all, the amateur fights by themselves would?ve been good for a whole day activity already.

The first of 34 amateur fights finally kicked off at 5:30pm. After an hour, seven fights were done, with 27 more to go. At the rate they were going, the entire amateur card would?ve been done by around 1030pm! And this was just the preliminary show! The pro boxing officials who were there as early as 2pm would?ve waited for six hours before officiating their first fight. The sadder part was that no representative from the promoters bothered to brief or explain the situation to the officials on what was taking place and what alternative steps could be taken. It was as if they were telling officials to just sit and wait.

In the end, the GAB officials convinced the promoters to cut short the amateur fights by the time the 16th bout was about to take place. But the damage was done. The officials were made to wait for at least four hours before the bell of the first pro bout was heard. The GAB officials eventually got the job done and reached their homes dawn of the following day; yes, they had to travel home from Bogo at 2am.

Another interesting thing happened at a boxing event in Lapu-lapu last April. Boxing officials were treated to a weird surprise when the absence of crowd control had the spectators standing and/or squatting on the edge of the boxing ring?s apron. Since it was a free-to-the public affair, I guess the promoters thought that they might as well open up the whole ring to the public as well. It was the first time for judges, officials and trainers to have spectators nudging their chairs, pushing them from behind and literally rubbing elbows with them. Aisles for the boxers or spectators were absent, and one had to do weave his way through a maze of people if he wanted to go to the CR or to any other part of the venue.

I hate to think about it, but it was a stampede-in-the-making had anything untoward happened. When asked to describe the whole scene, one word best fit it: ?tigbakay.? Yes, it was pro boxing?s version of your neighborhood cockfight.

Sad but true. While we boast about how great Cebu Boxing is, we also have to deal with four-hour delays and zero protection for officials from fans, thanks to promoters who overlook this part of running a boxing event. I just hope that our local GAB officials and the officers of the organization of professional boxing officials take a strong stand and sit down with promoters about this.

After all, it?s all about respecting the sport that we all love.

Top photo: Crowds occupy whatever space available during a recent free-to-the-public boxing show in Lapu Lapu City.


Click here to view a list of other articles written by Rico Navarro.


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