Four deaths in six months - Is enough being done to protect boxers inside the ring?

By Sports Desk October 17, 2019

Boxing has been rocked by a number of deaths in the last few months, begging the question, is enough being done to protect the boxers. The Zone Blitz team asks the question.

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  • Mayweather to pay for George Floyd's funeral services Mayweather to pay for George Floyd's funeral services

    Floyd Mayweather Jr. will pay for George Floyd's funeral services, Mayweather Promotions chief executive Leonard Ellerbe confirmed.

    Floyd – an African-American man – died in Minneapolis after a police officer was filmed kneeling on his neck during an arrest on Monday.

    Violent protests have broken out across the United States since Floyd's death, during which he was filmed crying out for help as he was handcuffed and pinned to the ground.

    There has been an outcry of support for Floyd and growing calls to tackle racism in the USA and cross the world.

    In the meantime, unbeaten American boxing legend Mayweather – who has a perfect 50-0 record – has committed to paying for all of Floyd's funeral costs.

    "He'll probably get mad at me for saying that, but yes, [Mayweather] is definitely paying for the funeral," CEO Ellerbe told ESPN.

    Ellerbe added: "Floyd has done these kind of things over the last 20 years."

    Mayweather's last boxing bout was the mega-money Las Vegas showdown with UFC star Conor McGregor in August 2017.

    After that, the 43-year-old Mayweather faced kickboxing star Tenshin Nasukawa in an exhibition fight.

  • Cricket's financial model is broken, but there is no easy fix Cricket's financial model is broken, but there is no easy fix

    The West Indies will most likely leave for the United Kingdom (UK) in about a week from today to play England in the first bio-secure Test series in history in July.

    The teams will play and whether they win the series or not, England will come away with virtually all the revenues generated from the series. For the West Indies, the story will be significantly different.

    Come July 1, the West Indies players and all Cricket West Indies (CWI) staff, will be taking a temporary 50 per cent salary cut.

    However, they are not alone. In April, England’s male and female players took a 20 per cent pay cut as the pandemic began to take hold in the UK forcing the postponement of the West Indies’ visit, which was initially scheduled for June.

    The thing is, on this tour other than match fees, CWI does not really earn anything. Under this dispensation, wherein the regional players are going to be guinea pigs for the way cricket could be played for the immediate future, they and CWI should be receiving extra compensation.

    In fact, pandemic or not, visiting teams need to get something from away series. Without an opponent, the home team has no content for their broadcast partners.

    In boxing, for example, should promoters be able to put together a fight between Mike Tyson and me, we would all agree that Tyson would command the bulk of the revenue. After all, he is who they would come to see. However, a reasonable argument could be made that I should be paid fairly for having the daylights knocked out of me.

    It definitely takes two to tango.

    A couple of years ago, under the Dave Cameron presidency, CWI proposed changes to the current model of wealth distribution in world cricket but those were rejected as being unworkable.

    Correctly citing that competitive balance is critical to the appeal of the sport, Cameron argued that: “Broadcasters and viewers are not willing to see international cricket because they are getting to see their stars anyway in the IPL or CPL. As a result, international rights have been devalued, except in the big market, which is India, England and Australia. So, 20 per cent of each series should go to the visiting teams.”

    The problem with this proposal is that given what the big teams would have to pay over at the end of a tour, there would not be equitable reciprocation when their teams visit the smaller-market teams rendering it impractical.

    Mumbai Mirror writer Vijay Tagore explains it like this. In a column published on May 11, he said Star pays India about U$10 million for every international match. If the West Indies plays six matches on tour, then they would earn US$12million for the tour. When India tours the West Indies, India would earn much less from their 20 per cent take.

    Under the current status quo, the International Cricket Council (ICC) generates income from the tournaments it organizes, like the Cricket World Cup. Most of that money goes out to its members.

    So, for example, sponsorship and television rights of the World Cup brought in over US$1.6 billion between 2007 and 2015. Sponsorship and membership subscriptions also generate a few extra million.

    However, the ICC gets no income from Test matches, One Day International and Twenty20 Internationals. In this scenario, the host country gets the money earned from its broadcast partners and sponsorship as well as gate receipts.

    A breakdown of the money distributed from the ICC shows that for the period 2016 to 2023, based on forecasted revenues and costs, the BCCI will receive US$293 million across the eight-year cycle, ECB (England) US$143 million, Zimbabwe Cricket US$94 million and the remaining seven Full Members, including the West Indies, US$132 million each.

    Associate members will receive US$280m.

    For the CWI that equates to US$16.5 a year. In addition, CWI will generate money from broadcasts of home series. However, not every home series makes ‘good money’. Based on my conversations with CWI CEO Johnny Grave, CWI only makes money when England and India tour the West Indies.

    What that means is that when teams like Bangladesh, Pakistan and Zimbabwe visit, CWI loses money.

    According to an ICC Paper submitted by CWI in October 2018: The revenue is inextricably linked to the nature of the tours hosted in a member country. It is also linked to the existence of a host broadcaster to exploit media revenues.

    “Media values for members vary: the West Indies does not have a host broadcaster, mainly because of the size of its market.”

    According to the paper, in 2008 the West Indies revenue was US$19.6m. In 2009, revenue jumped to US$48 and then in 2010, it fell to US$24.2 million. Media rights in 2017 amounted to US$22million but fell precipitously to US$987,000 by the end of the financial year for 2018.

    Meanwhile, player salaries remain constant, money goes into grassroots programmes, player development, tournament match fees and salaries, coaches and coaching development, as well as support for the territorial boards. In bad years, these costs easily exceed any revenue generated.

    The current model is simply unsustainable but solutions are hard to come by. In the Caribbean, sponsorship is hard to come by. Stadia remain empty because the West Indies does not win consistently enough to bring the crowds back, and for the most part, the ‘stars’ don’t play in regional competitions meaning fans stay away.

    Meanwhile, the peaks and troughs in earnings against the costs associated with what is required to maintain a competitive international cricket programme, demonstrates in part why there needs to be a better way; why there needs to be a more equitable way to distribute money generated from bilateral series.

    For the smaller market teams, it amounts to a hand-to-mouth existence that keeps them poor and uncompetitive. And frankly, that’s simply not cricket.





  • Andy Ruiz can be champion again, says former opponent Johnson Andy Ruiz can be champion again, says former opponent Johnson

    Ex-unified heavyweight champion Andy Ruiz Jr has the heart and quality to reign again according to one of his former opponents.

    It is exactly a year since Ruiz and his deceptively fast hands battered Anthony Joshua to a seventh-round loss at Madison Square Garden – an outcome that was instantly ranked alongside the biggest upsets in boxing history.

    However, the 30-year-old's stint as Mexico's first heavyweight champion proved short-lived, as Joshua took the IBF, WBA and WBO belts back into his possession with a lopsided points win in Saudi Arabia last December.

    In the aftermath, Ruiz's focus was questioned on account of his rotund appearance. He weighed 15 lbs more than in the original encounter to top 20 stone and turned in a ineffective performance against a newly streamlined Joshua.

    Indulging in the bounty from his shock triumph over Joshua is something familiar to heavyweight veteran Kevin Johnson.

    Now 40, Johnson was undefeated with 22 wins and a draw from 23 career contests heading into a unanimous points loss against Vitali Klitschko in 2009.

    Although he responded by winning his next six bouts, the American never returned to world title contention and is now a respected journeyman opponent – having shared rings with the likes of Joshua, Tyson Fury, Dereck Chisora, Kubrat Pulev and Ruiz himself.

    Speaking to Stats Perform News, Johnson insisted boxing's big men had not heard the last of Ruiz, who he lost to over 10 rounds in 2018.

    "Andy Ruiz is going to conquer again in the division. You can't sleep on him," he said.

    "He made the same mistake I made after I fought Klitschko. You can't make all that money and then go and do whatever you want to do. You've got to stay focused.

    "There was a rematch to come, he didn't stay focused and that's what happens. He got way more money than I got, so I can imagine!

    "I know Andy, I know his pops. I love those guys. I've been out in LA with him one-on-one.

    "He's one of the greatest fighters that you can ever sit down and talk to, you wouldn't even think he was a fighter. It will fool you.

    "He has the greatest spirit of all fighters I know in the world."

    Ruiz has frequently posted training clips on social media over recent weeks as he awaits a return to competitive action, having joined up with Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez's trainer Eddy Reynoso in the aftermath of the Joshua loss.

    Johnson knows first hand that natural gifts remain – ones often overlooked when it comes to a boxer who is far from body beautiful.

    "When I fought Ruiz the first four rounds were hell because I did what AJ did," he recalled.

    "You can't stand and trade with a guy who's a sniper. He's fast, very fast. Don't let the weight fool you.

    "Under all of that fat is a great conditioned guy – great! And fast."

    As Joshua, Fury, Ruiz and the other leading lights in the heavyweight division wait for boxing in the UK and America to plot its return amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Johnson is in the unique position of having a fight date confirmed and ready to go.

    He will face fellow former world title challenger Mariusz Wach at Palac w Konarach in Konary, Poland, as part of a behind-closed-doors event on June 12.

    "It's going to be under a strategic, surgical eye as far as the methods and precautions are concerned," said Johnson, who has undertaken his preparations in Gelsenkirchen, Germany with trainer Christian Hiller.

    "It's going to be very different to any show that's been done because of the extremes we have to go to for our safety.

    "The government in Poland have approved a very strict venue. Everyone's going to get tested, even the camera crew, the referees, the judges. Everyone."

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