Boxing: Bruno supports boxers' union

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(First Edition)

FRANK BRUNO, who had been accused of ignoring the new British boxer's union, threw his weight behind it yesterday.

Bruno was criticised by the former world featherweight champion Barry McGuigan, the prime mover of the Professional Boxers' Association, which was officially launched in London. McGuigan, elected the Association's president, said: 'I am disappointed and a bit upset that Frank turned it down. He could have helped us a lot. Maybe he is suspicious of what we are trying to do. I can assure him there are no nooks and crannies.'

Nicky Piper, the first chairman, said: 'Frank may think he does not need the Association because he is a millionaire. But we are here to help all boxers. There is no reason why he should be against us and I would have thought he would turn up.'

However Bruno said he would have attended the union's first meeting if it had not been for prior engagements, including visits to two schools for handicapped children.

'I only recently returned from holiday in Jamaica, and by the time I received notification of the meeting it was too late for me to change my schedule,' the heavyweight said. 'The union has my full backing. It is acting in the interests of all boxers. That can only be a good thing.'

Lennox Lewis, the newly-crowned WBC world heavyweight champion, was among leading, present and past fighters who attended the meeting.

Colin McMillan is the secretary, Jim McDonnell treasurer, Chris Eubank a member of the management committee, and Henry Cooper patron.

'I think boxing is such an individual sport basically a boxer and manager is a very tight relationship,' Cooper said. 'In the past it was thought they didn't want any interference from outside, but I was lucky. I had a good manager so I didn't perhaps need a Union. I don't think there are so many good managers around now so boxers need a union, need an Association.'

The Association's aim is to offer financial, legal and medical advice to members and will have an early meeting with the British Boxing Board.

It is being financed initially by the Insitute of Professional Sport - whose chairman is former Tottenham footballer Garth Crooks - and helped by full-time staff at the Central Council of Physical Recreation.

Robbie Regan, the European flyweight champion, has pulled out of his fight against Danny Porter because of the effects of a stomach infection. The title defence was scheduled for Saturday in Cardiff. The show will go ahead, however, with a Commonwealth welterweight title fight between Eamon Loughron and Mike Benjamin.

Tony Tubbs, the former World Boxing Association heavyweight champion, returned to the ring with a unanimous but disputed decision over a Russian fighter in Auburn Hills, Michigan. Tubbs beat Alex Zolkine in their 10-round contest in his first fight since he was barred from a match in Las Vegas last month after failing a drug test.