Boxing absorbs punishment better than Oscar Bonavena. Thankfully. Most of the blows are self-inflicted. Home to the peculiar and the perverse, the notorious and nefarious, boxing has long been plagued by the foretelling of its demise. Editorials have sermonised about the end of boxing, predicting the various rocks ready to hole the ailing liner beneath the surface since the beginning of time.
And yet, by many measures, boxing is in ruder health than at any time since the time of the Four Kings. The US may lack the attractions of old, but Canelo, Joshua and co are resurrecting stadium size audiences, new platforms plead for boxing’s attention and new markets are opening up to the boxing circus.
A new variation on this customary self-harm is permitting a debuting professional, from a background in White Collar boxing, to fight against a decorated Amateur who is 20 pounds heavier and boxing his 5th fight.
That happened tonight in the UK, when David Preston was sanctioned to box David Adeleye.
It is important to contextualise the events. David Adeleye is not Sonny Liston, but he is a powerful heavyweight, on a knockout run a the beginning of his own career and a man who won titles as an Amateur both as a teenager and as a senior. Equally, Preston was a late replacement for the original opponent. In the event of circumstances like this, when an international opponent is unable to box, the hosting party is then left with a search for a man willing to fight their dangerous prospect at short notice. It isn’t easy to summon a worthy alternative and Adeleye would be a painful night’s work for many and will knockout better men than Preston.
The answer to this problem has never, to my awareness, been to approve a debutante who is an ill-defined Cruiserweight. Adeleye did as was expected, hit Preston hard with a precise and well placed shot and stopped him in the opening round. Preston looked bleakly at the referee, suddenly aware that the gumption shown in agreeing to the fight, was no match for professional power.
An apology isn’t expected from Adeleye. He trains to box and win. Not to matchmake, but the fixture seemed like a dangerous precedent to this observer. The suggestion Preston’s experience in White Collar boxing, as advised by the BT Comms team, was valuable another low point.
In post-fight interview with Steve Bunce the exercise that proceeded it was grinned at wryly by both parties, there was little hope in defending it. However, it is the skill of Bunce and the nature of the charisma Adeleye demonstrated, that it was impossible not to warm to the young Londoner. He spoke of his desire to fight Nathan Gorman. This writer would like to see that fight too. To that end, you can see why every effort was made to preserve a contest for the youngster however desperate the search for a late replacement was to prove. Illustrating that the exposure, the opportunity to place him in front of the camera is paramount.
Not as paramount as the safety of the fighter of course. A fact we must lose sight of.