Tuesday , June 19, 2018

Limpag: Another ring death

WHILE the rest of the world was playing catch-up to the latest news of the Pacquiao vs. Mayweather fight, another Pinoy was involved in yet another ring tragedy, this time in Australia.

John Moralde defeated Braydon Smith on points for the inconsequential WBC continental featherweight title bout, a fight that wouldn’t have made the news if not for what happened after.

Smith, who was undefeated prior that fight, collapsed and died, becoming yet another grim statistic and a reminder of the dangers in boxing.

As expected, there are calls to ban the sport in Australia, just as there were calls to ban the sport here when Karlo Maquinto died in 2012 but banning the sport is not the solution. It never is, a ban on boxing only deprives young men who want to fight their way out of poverty.

Reforms are needed but boxing’s unique set-up also hinders it. Unlike other sports, there is no unified international governing body in world professional boxing. There’s no Sepp Blatter in the sport, no Fifa to oversee every single aspect of the game.

There’s the World Boxing Council, the World Boxing Organization, International Boxing Federation, and a slew of other alphabet bodies who only oversee their own fights. As an analogy, think of these groups as barangays, with captains who are only concerned with their areas of responsibilities.

What applies to one area, may not apply to all and reforms in one area may not be accepted, or even be barred, in another.

That’s also the reason why there’s no professional boxing in the Olympics. Just imagine, if you want the pros in the Olympic games, which international body would be recognized? Knowing how politics, and greed, led to the formation of some of the bodies, just deciding on which body to run the Olympic version of pro boxing would be an epic story in itself.

So, what happens now after Smith’s death? Well, what always happens after a boxer dies? After the initial furor and calls, the concerns disappear and everything is business as usual.

This won’t be the last death in boxing. But I hope the governments can do what the international bodies can’t, make sure the right check-ups prior a fight are done, competent medical personnel are in the venue and fights are held near a trauma center.

To be honest, that’s just wishful thinking. Just imagine, under those requirements, can a fight in the provinces be staged?

Boxing is dangerous. It’s a sport that has someone targeting the head of another fighter for 12 rounds and such sustained beating, as the Smith vs. Moralde fight showed, can lead to a tragedy.

Short of a worldwide ban, the only way to prevent future tragedies is to hope that all preventive measures are taken. No short cuts from promoters and international bodies.

Is that possible?