"Johnny, let's tell the truth!"
|I'm amazed at the article I've recently read on WBO cruiserweight champion Johnny Nelson, entitled "Nelson Warns on Boxing's Future." Without being disrespectful to Johnny, I have to take him to pieces for his comments concerning my fighter Scott Harrison's fight last week.|
Johnny is very clever to be wise after the event. Let's look at Johnny Nelson's record itself; who has he fought that's dangerous? Whenever he steps out of a certain class, Johnny was beaten in his early career. Up until now, he has been cleverly managed and promoted. But even by doing that, Johnny hasn't done anything to excite the public or the fans that watch his fights in person. I was at one of his shows in
Derby where someone shouted "please turn the lights out, I can't bear to watch anymore of this!" And the guy next to him said, "leave the light's on, I'm reading the newspaper instead of watching the boxing!" And eventually, someone came up to me in the hallway and said "here Frank, here's the keys, I'm getting a cab home, I can't watch any more of this, lock up when it's all over!"
So, who is Johnny Nelson to say that boxing is in a bad way? Can anyone tell me when Johnny Nelson has been involved in a fight where it's come down to putting everything on the line to save his title? Johnny, over the years has been a good servant to boxing. But, obviously, his popularity has faded, as we all know his last title defense wasn't even shown on Sky Television, on which Johnny works as a commentator. Doesn't that say something to you? And if I'm not mistaken, it was his promoter Frank Warren who recommended him for the job on Sky. I do feel a certain sympathy for the public who paid to go to the last Scott Harrison fight.
But at the end of the day, no one could have known that Kebede would roll over in the first round. I still believe that it was a punch at the top of the head that did that to him. You can go through the histories of boxing and there have been many times when these situations have occurred in the first round. One famous case is when Muhammad Ali knocked out Sonny Liston in their rematch. You didn't hear too many people booing and screaming at Ali because they were proclaiming him as the new sensation. Anyone in the sport knows that if you get hit on top of the head it certainly disorients your body and coordination. Most trainers send fighters out in the first round to throw a punch like that when the opponent is still cold, to try and catch him on the temple or on the top of the head.
Scott Harrison has had more hard fights and fought more recognized opponents than Johnny Nelson has done in his reign as world champion. People wrote Harrison off after the first Medina fight. He proved them wrong by coming back and stopping the cagey Mexican. When the WBO featherweight champion at the time, Julio Pablo Chacon, was injured and pulled out of what would have been Harrison's first world title fight, Scott took an interim title bout, putting everything on the line to fight Victor Santiago. He risked everything just to he could keep his fans happy.
If Scott gets an easy fight every now and again, I hold my hand up and say I'm doing my job right. Everyone knows that the Kebede fight was made eight weeks before it happened and there were a lot of websites that posted commentary about what was thought of the matchup. No one predicted a first round stoppage. There were comments that maybe Kebede will take Harrison four or five rounds, some even speculated on six or seven. Even our trade paper, Boxing News, predicted the fight would go into at least eight rounds.
I'm a great believer that boxing's unpredictability is what draws the majority of interest to the sport. That's what keeps us all glued to our seats. I believe that people will always tune into boxing to see if the underdog will beat the favorite. I've been involved in at least four fights where I've seen heavy favorites get beat. Lennox Lewis against Oliver McCall, the first Lennox Lewis - Hasim Rahman bout, Scott Harrison against Medina, in which Scott was such a hot favorite with the bookmakers, you couldn't even get a bet on that fight. And also, if I dare bring it up again, Paul Ingle versus Mbulelo Botile. So again, if a fighter like Scott Harrison or Ricky Hatton get an easy night at the office, so be it. Because every time they step into the ring, they are putting their career and life on the line. Ask Paul Ingle about this.
So Johnny, don't you think this is the pot calling the kettle black? As you're coming towards the end of your boxing career and taking up a new one on the safe side of the ring, how about giving all us poor suffering fans a fight to remember you by? And let's remember John, how you've managed to earn such a good living to support your family by being in that ring, so don't bite the hand that feeds you. I believe there will always be a future in boxing, because there's always going to be fights. And there will always be more good fights than bad fights.
- Frank Maloney