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A couple of things happened at the weekend which could be claimed to be at the polar, opposites of the same thing. Firstly, former Commonwealth title challenger and WBA continental light welterweight champion, Tommy Martin announced that after 14 professional fights his career in the ring as a professional fighter was over. He had suffered from bleeding on his brain and thanked the British Boxing Board of Control for “probably saving” his life by stopping his return to the ring.
With the recent events surrounding Mike Towell and Nick Blackwell you can see why the Board deserve plaudits for what might have been unpopular but was ultimately the right decision. Telling anyone – man or woman – that their livelihood is in danger can only initially be heard as a bad thing.
The Board have come in line for stout defences and high praise for their ethics and medical support for the fight game from current professionals and former pros who are fulsome in their praise for the efforts and check-ups that boxers go through to ensure their safety. Tommy Martin is now living talking proof of that.
Then Anthony Ogogo goes into a fight against Craig Cunningham at the weekend and it is stopped. At the time, we were all mystified as to the reason, and there was much confusion throughout the hall when the referee waived it off.
There were then quickly around the outside of the ring, rumours of blurred and double vision and my first thought was detached retina; remember though that I am no doctor and maybe a detached retina does not lead to such things as double or blurred vision. It was then heard that he was having balance issues too. When you look back and see the swinging he was doing and the wildness of his early tactics you could of course accept that he was not in the best frame of mind or shape in the ring. Something to do with his vision sounded just about right. But then again ironically we have 20/20 vision after the fact.
It took less than 24 hours for news to break that what he had suffered from was a broken eye socket. The same injury which stopped Kell Brook in his fight with Gennady Golovkin. We then started looking back to see when Cunningham inflicted this injury on him. We couldn’t find it.
And why was this so important? Why did the media sniff some form of controversy? You see, the script was that Ogogo was going to sweep Cunningham to one side and then Gary Spike O’Sullivan, who was in the Birmingham audience, was going in against him in a massive grudge match – that at least was what we all hoped for. This stoppage was not in the script. We needed to understand why it had gone Pete Tong.
Some people had it tagged in the 2nd round as he was complaining of blurred vision afterwards. It then broke that a doctor had said, in his opinion, Ogogo had the injury PRIOR to the fight. Now if that is true then what about those checks? Not long afterwards Barry Hearn, father of Eddie and father of the whole Matchroom organisation came out and asked for the British Boxing Board to have a very serious look at this.
I happen to believe that the British Boxing Board of Control do a very good job in a fairly testing and difficult environment. They are often hide bound to the commercial interests of people who want or need things to go one way when perhaps they ought to go another. The question that does need to be asked though is, why was it not picked up? If the injury occurred PRIOR to the fight injury, before the gloves went on and not when they came off, then who passed him fit to fight?
It was, however, great to see referee Victor Loughlin back in the middle of the ring and on the TV after having been the guy in the middle for both the Mike Towell and Nick Blackwell fights. Loughlin was blameless in both instances, is a very fine referee and should be lauded and kept onside to pass on his experiences. Through those experiences we learn and that is precisely with each of these 4 instances the sport needs to listen, learn and follow.