Boxing must never ignore the safety factor

WHENEVER A tragedy occurs in boxing, it is certain to be said that even greater efforts must be made to ensure that fighters do not put their lives at risk from dehydration.

Admittedly, there has been a big improvement in the sport's medical supervision, but events leading up to last week's World Boxing Council super-middleweight bout between the champion, Richie Woodhall, and Vincenzo Nardiello of Italy indicate a need for more punitive action.

By his own admission Nardiello was almost 5lb over the stipulated limit of 12st a few hours before he stepped on the scales last Friday and broke the rules by first taking a sauna. In the interests of safety, the Italian, who was reported to be visibly undertrained when providing Woodhall with a sixth-round stoppage, should not have been allowed to box and, at least, fined for coming to fight in such poor condition.

However no action was taken by the WBC supervisor, Houcine Houichi of the African Boxing Association, who, if not empowered to withdraw Nardiello from the contest, could have sought the sanction of the WBC president, Joe Sulaiman, who was in Las Vegas.

Unsurprisingly, commercial interests came into play. Minus two of six world title fights advertised to pay-per-view customers, Sky television was unlikely to countenance the loss of another.

The promoter, Frank Warren, held the view that Nardiello's purse should be withheld pending an investigation, and was angry when Joe Calzaghe, who is under his management, proved to be a pound over when weighing in for a World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight defence against Robin Reid.

Since no great fuss was made about any of this on the radio commentary I heard, I raised it with the British Boxing Board's general secretary, John Morris.

When seeking explanations for what sometimes appears to be a lack of action on the Board's part, allowance has to be made for the potentially disastrous effect of litigation on its fragile economy. Morris makes no secret of this. "We are not in a position to legally defend any decision we might take to safeguard a boxer's welfare," he said. "For example, unless a scan provides irrefutable evidence that someone should not be allowed to carry on, it becomes a matter of opinion that could go against us in a court room. We simply don't have the resources to take that risk."

Following one of the bleak events in recent years that brought fresh attacks on boxing, the Board introduced a system of weight monitoring that was expanded last year at the WBC's annual convention.

Contestants for WBC titles are now supposed to be 10 per cent within the stipulated limited 30 days before fight time, five per cent with a week left for preparation. Fine in theory, but there is no guarantee that every boxing national boxing authority will observe the requirement. It was not, apparently, in Nardiello's case. Nevertheless, since he was in Newcastle three days before going up against Woodhall, the WBC had ample time to enforce its regulations. The trouble is that Houichi, maybe fearful of litigation, was not prepared to risk a run-in with Sky Television. This was loose thinking on his part - a fresh fuel for the abolitionists.

The inevitability of another bad night in boxing is always with us. In May last year the super-bantamweight Spencer Oliver slipped into a coma at the Albert Hall in London when defending his European title against Serhiy Devakov of the Ukraine.

Fortunately, Oliver survived the crisis, but the suspicion was that he had been finding it difficult to meet the weight in his division.

For anyone to take lightly the decision that allowed Nardiello to go through with his challenge to Woodhall suggests an attitude that pays no serious account to the obvious dangers of boxing. It is all very well to suppose that Nardiello knew more than enough to avoid harm - but in the hardest of all sports there is never a case for ignoring the safety factor.

Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films... by the director David Fincher
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
stoptober... when the patch, gum and cold turkey had all faied
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
Life and Style
Magic roundabouts: the gyratory system that has excited enthusiasts in Swindon
motoringJust who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

year 1/2 Teacher

£21500 - £32000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: "Where teaching is e...

English Teacher

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: If working in an out...

EYFS, KS1, KS2 Teachers

£100 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to be part ...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?