Inside Lines: At least MPs can't complain over boxing's spitting image


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The Independent Online

The good news at a bad time for boxing is that at least the would-be headbangers in Parliament who called for it to be banned following last weekend's mayhem in Munich have been sucker-punched.

After all, how else would drunken MPs be able to settle political differences in the Strangers' Bar? As they are in no position to condemn those shameful occurrences before and after Dereck Chisora's otherwise valiant world heavyweight title challenge against Vitali Klitschko, they must leave it to the British Boxing Board of Control – whose inquisition panel on 14 March can draw on a fistful of QCs, a feisty Labour peer (Baroness Golding) and former heavyweight boxer Billy Walker, all stewards of a body who now must exercise what their title demands: control.

When Chisora appears before them in Cardiff he may well feel he is in the dock – to which he is no stranger. He has previous, in and out of the ring. There are so many aspects of this unsavoury business, which included slapping, spitting and threats of shooting and burning (all down to Chisora) and David Haye's provocative punch with a fist that held a bottle.

If only Haye had displayed such aggressive intent when he surrendered his WBA title to Vitali's brother Wladimir in Hamburg. His police-evading vanishing act wasn't the first time he had gone missing in Germany.

The Board have always come down heavily on fighters who use their fists outside the ring but they cannot punish Haye because he has relinquished his boxing licence. Now they must refuse to hand it back, ever.

For me the nastiest aspect of Chisora's behaviour was spewing the contents of his mouth into Wladimir's face, a despicable act but one lightly dismissed by fledgling TV station BoxNation's pundits. Taking into account his earlier biting of an opponent, for which he was suspended for four months, Chisora must be banned for at least a year and told to see a psychiatrist before he is allowed anywhere near a ring again.

At least with the brainless Brits back in their cages, dignity and decorum will be restored in Düsseldorf next Saturday when Wladimir defends his own quartet of titles against Frenchman Jean-Marc Mormeck, who is unlikely to get within spitting distance. We saw the best and worst of British sport last weekend.

Contrast what happened at the Olympic Velodrome, where there was genuine sporting rivalry between Sir Chris Hoy and Jason Kenny, and the scandalous scuffling in the Olympiahalle. A golden weekend in London; a dirty weekend in Munich.

Which gives a clear message to the heavyweight hooligans: on yer bikes.

The captaincy? Moore or less

It is 30 years this week since one of the most poignant interviews of my career, when I went to Oxford to meet the late, great Bobby Moore.

Alas, he wasn't receiving an honorary doctorate from the University – though he surely deserved one as much as he does a posthumous knighthood. Instead I knocked on the door marked "Manager" outside an old Portakabin in the car park of Oxford City FC, then a struggling club of part-timers in the bowels of something called the Isthmian League. Moore was sitting behind a cluttered desk.

"Bloody hell, Bob," I said as we shook hands. "What on earth is the former England captain doing in a place like this?" He shrugged and smiled wryly. "Well, no one else will give me a job."

It is to the eternal shame of football – and the Football Association – that nothing more worthy was ever forthcoming for the only Englishman ever to have held aloft the World Cup. "Mooro" should have been one of the game's outstanding global ambassadors, like his old adversary Pele.

In view of what has happened with the captaincy, no doubt Harry Redknapp, if he takes the England job, will be wishing he had someone of his old West Ham mate's calibre to call on as an on-field lieutenant. So too another former Hammer, Stuart Pearce, as he ponders his side for Wednesday's game with Holland.