Disgusted Cooper gives up commentating

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The much-loved former British and European heavyweight champion, Henry Cooper, is hanging up his radio microphone and not doing any more ringside commentaries on the fight game because the modern-day razz- matazz and aggressive hype have turned him off the sport which made him a national hero.

Cooper, among other observations on 1990s boxing, particularly dislikes the way "Prince" Nazeem Hamed "humiliates and taunts his opponents", but Hamed's manager, Brendan Ingle, believes that Cooper's traditionalist views on boxing are out of date. Ingle said yesterday: "Muhammad Ali was my hero and Hamed's hero, and started all this back in the 1960s and pulled boxing off the floor.

"Henry should think himself fortunate that he was around in that era and became famous with the left hook that put Ali down - and 'Naz' and Chris Eubank have brought it all back in this country in the last few years.

"Frank Warren and Sky have also brought all the razzmatazz back and the crowds love it. Time has moved on and, if you don't move yourself, you get left behind. What 'Naz' has provided is needed in the sport. Henry is being old fashioned. You've got to have change and entertainment. Look what Kerry Packer did for cricket."

Cooper also believes it is a "different game" these days, but does not like what he sees.

"It takes 45-50 minutes to get two fighters in the ring before they start, you've got smoke, you've got fireworks, laser beams, singers, bands and these entourages of 10 to 15 people," he said.

"And I don't like fighters having a go at each other before a fight, having scraps outside the ring, calling each other names, saying things like: 'I'm going to push your nosebone into your brain.' All that talk is crazy.

"It's a rough, tough business, but I didn't know of any boxer when I fought who wanted to seriously injure another boxer. I'm not commentating any more but I'll still go to watch it and retain an interest."

n Richie Woodhall can prepare for a midsummer World Council middleweight title fight against the Texan holder, Quincy Taylor. The WBC have ordered Taylor to put his title on the line against Woodhall within 90 days of a voluntary defence against the Washington southpaw Keith Holmes, scheduled to take place in March.