Boxing’s increasing worries about pull-outs, and pulled muscles

posted on: 04/10/2015

ALAN HUBBARD’S PUNCHLINES – 04.10.15

Fighters can be fragile creatures. Not necessarily in the ring, of course, unless their chins is are exceptionally vulnerable, but in the gym.

The increasing spate of pull-outs because of injury or illness has become quite concerning.

In recent months we have seen a plethora of postponements. Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders will finally resume hostilities in December after two earlier setbacks, WBO World Middleweight champion Lee first being ko’d by a virus and then Saunders getting caught by a stray elbow as he sparred, resulting in a cut eye.

Andy Lee V Billy Joe Saunders

Russia’s WBA World Middleweight champion Fedor Chudinov broke a nose in sparring causing his defence against Frank Buglioni needed to be rescheduled to last weekend and now we have Wladimir Klitschko putting off his world heavyweight title defence against Tyson Fury after claiming to have pulled a calf muscle the day after he returned from sizing up the gypsy giant in London.

I am still not quite sure what to make of this. Has Klitschko really pulled a muscle or is he simply pulling a fast one? Or someone’s leg?

I veer towards thinking the injury, while certainly an odd coincidence, is genuine because I cannot really believe that a champion of his stature and experience would be fazed by Fury and decide he needs more time to prepare.

Though he does have a history of delaying tactics.

I am not Fury’s greatest admirer, especially when he elects to dip his tongue in sewage, but I’d forgive him the odd four-letter outburst in the circumstances, especially after having his earlier scheduled fight with David Haye twice called off because of respective eye and shoulder injuries to the Hayemaker in the gym.

Haye impishly tweeted: “Seems Klitschko got hit with the ‘Fury injury curse’ as well! Clearly The Boxing Gods don’t feel Fury deserves that retirement pay cheque!”

However Fury himself has also pulled out of at least one fight with indisposition and he is by no means alone in having to scratch from a scrap. Such withdrawals are now part and parcel of the boxing business, as is the increasing frequency of non-punch related injuries in the ring.

We saw Terry Flanagan’s opponent Jose Zepeda surrender his WBO lightweight title when his shoulder came out of its socket in the second round in Manchester and at Wembley last Saturday Bradley Skeete’s opponent Mark Thompson had to be treated in the ring by paramedics for a dislocated hip.

On the same bill Dereck Chisora offered a literally lame excuse for his lumbering (should that be slumbering?) performance against the clueless Brazilian Marcelo Luiz Nascimento. Apparently he pulled a hamstring, an injury common to a sprinter but not a slow-moving heavyweight fighter.

A few months back another British boxer, Floyd Moore, suffered an unusual injury, a fractured ankle, when he tripped over a medicine ball in the gym.

Barry McGuigan has a theory about those injuries which increasingly seem to affect boxers of a certain vintage. He reckons the harder the over-thirties train, the more susceptible they are to strains and pains. They also take longer to recover than younger boxers.

There is an inherent danger in this, because we have seen how certain boxers have resorted to the use of illegal steroids which, contrary to popular belief, do not enhance performance in the ring but help in the speedier recovery of training injuries.

Frank Warren also raised a pertinent point in his recent column here about boxing’s biggest bugbear, hand injuries, which also seem to be escalating.

One fighter on the Wembley bill reportedly broke both is hands and the promoter rightly points out such injuries have nothing to do with wrapping the hands but the fact that some boxers are choosing to wear the gloves worn by some of the world’s top fighters rather ones that may offer better protection.

Warren says: “The problem seems to be the padding with glove manufactures moving the cushioning away from the knuckle part and more towards the wrist with subsequently less protection.”

Surely this is something the always safety-conscious Board of Control should be looking into, pronto.

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No political heavyweight

Tyson Fury’s latest wheeze is that he wants to be a member of Parliament. He aims to represent home-town Morecambe at Westminster and vows to stand at the next election

“There is too much focus on immigration and not enough on our own brothers and sisters who are on the streets and abusing drugs and alcohol,” he declares.”I want to make a change for the better for the place I live. I believe that I will succeed because of the influence I have over the people from the town.”

Tyson Fury

Well, if the Labour party can elect oddball Jeremy Corbyn as leader I suppose anything is possible in politics.

Fury says he will stand as an Independent but after his recent batty antics as Batman he surely seems an ideal candidate for the Monster Raving Looney party.

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All-time classic for BoxNation

My long-time friend and fellow boxing scribe Colin Hart and I exchanged memories on the anniversary last week of that Manila morning 40 years ago when Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier fought as it was inimitably described by the American sportswriter Jerry Izenberg, “for the championship of each other” in the Philippines.

We were there (and there aren’t many of us left who were) for what was, indeed, A Fight To Remember, and you will be able to enjoy both that unforgettable occasion and our recollections of it on BoxNation shortly.

Ali v Frazier

Two recent functions also have highlighted the immortalised Thrilla in Manila and the careers of arguably the greatest double act in sporting history.

Former champions and opponents Larry Holmes and George Foreman were among the guests who joined the three-time heavyweight champion Ali when he was honoured last week in his Kentucky hometown with friends, associates and dignitaries turning out to mark the 40th anniversary of the greatest battle in the annals of unarmed combat.

The 73-year-old Ali, stricken with Parkinson’s sat wearing sunglasses during the ceremony alongside his wife Lonnie as a slide show of iconic photos were shown behind him.

Ali’s victory and other notable moments from his life were highlighted on a backdrop of two dozen magazine covers at different points of his three-decade career as a fighter and half-century as a humanitarian, with a tribute made by Louisville mayor Greg Fischer.

A couple of weeks earlier a 12-foot tall bronze statue in the likeness of the late Smokin’ Joe had been unveiled in Frazier’s own home-city of Philadelphia before a similar gathering of the great and good in the game.

Ali was unable to be present, but he sent a message saying how much he admired and respected his oldest, fiercest and most bitter foe, of whom he said after they had taken each other almost to the brink of death in Manila: “Man, I hit him with punches that’d bring down the walls of the city. Lordy, he’s great! Joe Frazier is one hell of a man. If God ever calls me to a holy war, I want Joe Frazier fighting beside me.”

Quotes of the week

I thought it was on the bell so I was a little bit disappointed that I was deducted the two points. ‘If it was 10 or 15 seconds earlier I think I would be walking away world champion. Nobody can disagree with that. I know I can take a shot and I know I can punch. I’ve just got to get a little bit cuter and smarter which has always been the case. It’s coming, it’s improving. But, such is life and it might have done me a favour – winning the world title might have been too much too soon


Frank Buglioni reflects on the punch-and the world title – that got away

Chudinov v Buglioni

“He (Eddie Hearn) put out a tweet saying he wants me on the undercard on October 24 in an eight rounder. What does he think I am? Eddie, have a day off. Im the number one mandatory in the world, and he wants to put me in an eight rounder against some random guy. He thinks I was born last week. Im going to have to wait for Wlad. Im contracted in. I cant take no fights in between. I dont know how Kell Brooks pay per view is going to go off against a guy (Diego Chaves) that no one even knows his name or who hes fighting. It cant be pay-per-view.

Tyson Fury finds one offer easy to refuse

Tomorrow: Pro-File on Vijender Singh

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