Inside Lines: Charlie Fitch gets round hitch that threatened big showdown

 

The wrangle over the referee for next Saturday's prodigious punch-up at Wembley seems to have been sorted. Both fighters have finally agreed on 43-year-old New Yorker Charlie Fitch, whose appointment, together with three scoring judges from continental Europe, should be formally ratified by the International Boxing Federation and British Boxing Board of Control this weekend. The Board reluctantly bowed to the demand of Londoner George Groves, who insisted on neutral officials following his bitterly disputed stoppage by Carl Froch when British referee Howard Foster controversially put him in a headlock as he briefly staggered when leading in the ninth round. However, finding the right officials has proved a vexing task. As revealed here last week, Froch's camp vetoed ultra- strict Californian Jack Reiss, claiming he was "too fussy", while the boxing politics ruled out America's top middle man Tony Weeks. He is from Nevada, which does not have a reciprocal arrangement with the Board to use each other's officials. It is also believed Groves refused to accept a judge from Poland because of Froch's Polish ancestry. Fitch seems a sound choice to handle what could be another ill-tempered fight. An athletic former light-welterweight boxer he likes to keep his distance from the action and is known as firm but fair. He has overseen five previous world title fights. Another American in mid-ring will be the renowned Michael Buffer, imported for his usual six-figure fee to announce an event that is engrossing an audience beyond fight fans. "When you get it right, boxing can be one of the biggest sports out there," says promoter Eddie Hearn, a view underscored by a post-war record crowd of 80,000 who will fill the national stadium facing a rapid overnight transition after the England-Peru football international 24 hours before. As Buffer will inimitably declare: "Let's get ready to rumble..."

McKenzie takes a KO

Nigel Farage saw Ukip's lone sporting connection – and a rare black party member – counted out when ex-boxer Winston McKenzie bucked the national trend by finishing bottom of the poll in Croydon in last week's local council elections. The flamboyant 60-year-old elder brother of Duke McKenzie, Britain's only three-weight world champion, former British and European champion Clinton and uncle of footballer–turned-boxer Leon, he hardly enhanced his campaign by labelling Croydon as "unsafe and a dump". Jamaican-born Winston, a national amateur champion lost nine of his 16 fights as a pro light-middleweight before retiring with eye injuries. He vows he'll be back on a political scene he has traversed from Veritas to Ukip via Lib Dem and Tory. He stood as an Independent in the 2008 London mayoral election under the slogan "I float like a butterfly and sting like a bee; I've got the policies they can't see." He'd certainly liven up BBC's Question Time.

Back in business

Political opposites they may have been, but Labour's Dame Tessa Jowell and Tory peer Lord Sebastian Coe were always united in their aim to make London 2012 a success. So much so that the duo have been brought together again by the International Olympic Committee to be part of a key working group to help re-shape the future of the Olympic movement. They will investigate bidding procedure, arguably one of the most crucial areas that the IOC needs to reform. Under the new-broom presidency of German Thomas Bach, the IOC is seeking to freshen up its image and Jowell and Coe are among a number of international figures invited to examine all aspects of the Games in 14 working groups. Others include Glaswegian Sir Craig Reedie, the new head of the World Anti-Doping Agency; Eric Schmidt, Google's billionaire executive chairman; and Vanessa Mae, the Singapore-born British violinist, who will advise on the cultural aspects of the Olympics. No strings attached, presumably.

a.hubbard@independent.co.uk

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + uncapped commission : SThree: Hello! I know most ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Performance Consultant Trainee

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Consultant trainee opportunit...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - (Full marketing mix) - Knutsford

£22000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Executive - Knu...

Ashdown Group: Web Developer - ASP.NET, C#, MVC - London

£45000 - £55000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Web Developer -...

Day In a Page

Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss
Tony Blair joins a strange and exclusive club of political leaders whose careers have been blighted by the Middle East

Blair has joined a strange and exclusive club

A new tomb has just gone up in the Middle East's graveyard of US and British political reputations, says Patrick Cockburn
Election 2015: Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May

Election 2015

Meet the top 12 wacky candidates seeking your vote in May
Countdown to the election: Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear as the SNP target his Commons seat

Operation Save Danny Alexander shifts into high gear

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury didn’t forget his Highland roots in the Budget. But the SNP is after his Commons seat
The US economy is under threat because of its neglected infrastructure

The US is getting frayed at the edges

Public spending on infrastructure is only half of Europe’s, and some say the nation’s very prosperity is threatened, says Rupert Cornwell
Mad Men final episodes: Museum exhibition just part of the hoopla greeting end of 1960s-set TV hit

New Yorkers raise a glass to Mad Men

A museum exhibition is just part of the hoopla greeting the final run of the 1960s-set TV hit
Land speed record: British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

British-built hybrid rocket car aims to be the fastest on Earth

Bloodhound SSC will attempt to set a new standard in South Africa's Kalahari desert
Housebuilders go back to basics by using traditional methods and materials

Housebuilders go back to basics - throwing mud at the wall until it sticks

Traditional materials are ticking all the construction boxes: they are cheap, green – and anyone can use them
Daniel Brühl: 'When you have success abroad, you become a traitor. Envy is very German'

Daniel Brühl: 'Envy is very German'

He's got stick for his golden acting career and for his beloved restaurant - but Daniel Brühl is staying put in Berlin (where at least the grannies love him)
How Leica transformed photography for ever: Celebrating 100 years of the famous camera

Celebrating 100 years of Leica

A new book reveals how this elegant, lightweight box of tricks would transform the way we saw life on the street and in fashion, on the battlefield and across the world