Inside Lines: Death in the ring is a risk we all take, says Nathan Cleverly

 

Britain's brainiest boxer, Nathan Cleverly BSc, faces arguably the toughest fight of his unbeaten 25-bout career when he defends his WBO world light-heavyweight title against mandatory challenger Robin Krasniqi at Wembley Arena next Saturday.

He also has another on his hands, this time involving verbal fisticuffs with one of his local MPs, Paul Flynn, the Labour member for Newport West and an arch-abolitionist who doubtless will again call on Parliament to ban the sport following the death last weekend of the light-middleweight Michael Norgrove.

Flynn, 78, who wants to outlaw what he calls a "degrading spectacle of gratuitous violence that exploits the least advantaged people", has said in the past that it would take another ring death to really bring the message home. Flynn's Private Members' Bill in 1998 failed and his campaign has been rebuffed by successive sports ministers – one of them, Tony Banks, memorably describing it to me as "effing bollocks".

Cleverly's counter-punching argument is somewhat more cerebral, as befits a maths graduate. He tells us: "Michael's death was a tragic accident which underlines the dangers of boxing that have always been there. All boxers know the risks. We know what business we are in, what the dangers are, and that is why there is so much respect between us and why we go into the ring 100 per cent fit to limit those dangers."

One of Cleverly's recent opponents, Tony Bellew, unwisely declared he would be "willing to die" in the ring and Cleverly himself is not shy of employing similar rhetoric, saying of the Kosovo-born German Krasniqi: "This guy is getting blasted to bits". The fight looks a humdinger, Krasniqi coming off a 38-fight winning streak and knocking out his past four opponents.

The Wembley bill is promoter Frank Warren's riposte to those defections from his stable to rival Eddie Hearn, with 14 contests in a show starting at 4pm and screened live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky Channel 437/Virgin 546, www.boxnation.com).

From Russia with drugs

A four-letter word is casting a disturbing shadow over this summer's World Athletics Championships in Moscow: dope.

The sports world's preoccupation with the chemical wrongdoings of Lance Armstrong have diverted attention from what seems an equally huge scandal, with Peter Eriksson, Britain's head coach, questioning why over 30 Russian athletes are serving bans for drugs offences. The former European long jump champion Tatyana Kotova and 2005 world hammer champion Olga Kuzenkova were caught after their specimens were retested this year, as was the 1992 Olympic shot champion Svetlana Krivelyova, whose sample dates from her bronze medal at the 2004 Athens Games.

With the break-up of the Soviet bloc it was thought that many of the inherent doping malpractices might disappear. Apparently not.

Another question mark over the Championships is whether Oscar Pistorius will compete. Organisers say he is more than welcome. If he does, he'll have more front than Blackpool.

Chisora's Argie bargy

The late Iron Lady has one unlikely admirer. The irascible heavyweight boxer Dereck Chisora, who lives in Baroness Thatcher's old constituency of Finchley, says: "She was a very powerful woman and I liked her. I would have voted for her."

So the relicensed ring rebel, who makes his return at Wembley next week, says he will dedicate the fight to her when he meets the Argentinian Hector Alfredo Avila. "A Brit bashing an Argie. Maggie would have loved that."

Service charge at LTA

Among those jostling in the queue to succeed Roger Draper, the unlamented departing chief executive of the Lawn Tennis Association, are two unemployed former heads of the British Olympic Association, Andy Hunt and Simon Clegg. Whoever it is can expect Draper's "unthinkable" £640,000-a-year salary to be halved.

a.hubbard@independent.co.uk

Voices
voicesSiobhan Norton on why she eventually changed her mind
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
food + drinkZebra meat is exotic and lean - but does it taste good?
Arts and Entertainment
Residents of Derby Road in Southampton oppose filming of Channel 4 documentary Immigration Street in their community
tv
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
News
i100
Extras
indybest
Sport
Scottish singer Susan Boyle will perform at the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony in Glasgow
commonwealth games
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Portfolio Analyst/ PMO

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

Systems Analyst (Technical, UML, UI)

£30000 - £40000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Cost Reporting-MI Packs-Edinburgh-Bank-£350/day

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...

Senior Private Client Solicitor - Gloucestershire

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: Senior Private Client Solicitor - We are makin...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn