Andre Ward SCOLDS promoters/managers on TOO many tune-up level fights for their fighters
By Chris Williams: Former two division world champion Andre ‘SOG’ Ward spoke up on Thursday to SCOLD the promoters/managers for them putting their fighters in TOO many tune-up level soft fights. Without singling any of the promoters/managers out, Ward let them know that they’re NOT helping their fighters by matching them against repeated tune-up level opposition.
Ward (32-0, 16 KOs) says the managers/promoters are doing their fighters no good by feeding them a soft diet of easy opponents, because when they do eventually get in with a quality fighter, they won’t be ready.
Tune-up/stay busy fights hurting fighters
Their skills will have atrophied due to the dreadful guys that they’ve been facing. The boxing business has changed dramatically since Ward’s era, unfortunately. It’s impossible for a fighter to develop fully when the sole objective for a promoter/manager is keep them winning. If the only concern is to make sure a fighter doesn’t lose, then you’re going to see a lot of mismatches.
One example of that, you can argue, is the way Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis has been matched. Instead of fighting the cream the crop, we’re seeing him in with guys like 38-year-old Yuriorkis Gamboa, Ricardo Nunez and Hugo Ruiz. A lot of top fighters like Vasily Lomachenko, Devin Haney and Ryan Garcia want to fight Tank Davis, but they’re not getting a chance.
Fighters no longer taking risks until fighting for world title
Nowadays, you can argue that the promoters and managers are working to build up their fighter’s records with wins over journeyman, old timers and no name guys. In effect, it’s a race to the bottom.
Managers/Promoters: There’s a time & place for building a fighter, tune up/stay busy fights. If that’s all your fighter fights, you are doing them a disservice. The day they face an elite fighter, they won’t be ready. Reward comes with risk,manage the risks, but don’t avoid them.
— Andre S.O.G. Ward (@andreward) February 12, 2020
For some promoters/managers, it just seems that the ultimate goal is to build up their fighter’s record in order for them to hit the jackpot with one big money fight before they’re badly exposed, and sent back down in the ranks.
Sadly, then the process begins again with the fighter being built back up with more soft opponents to get them another world title shot, which they often get after a handful of easy victories over lesser opposition. It’s a rinse and repeat cycle, and the losers are the fans, who are stuck seeing mismatches instead of competitive fights.
Sanctioning bodies could fix the problem
If the sanctioning bodies chose rank fighters based on the quality of their opposition rather than just on the basis of their unbeaten records, then you could start seeing tougher match-making by the promoters/manager of those fighters. That would be the way to end the cycle of soft match-making by the promoters and managers of the fighters.
At this point the sanctioning bodies probably won’t take that step, and even if they did, it wouldn’t be surprising if management/promoters started ignoring those sanctioning bodies.
It’s troubling when you see a fighter ranked #1 without ever having fought anyone remotely good during their careers. IBF #1 Apinun Khongsong (16-0, 13 KOs) is the mandatory challenger to IBF light welterweight champion Josh Taylor.
If you look at Khongsong’s last six fights, you’d be hard-pressed to see a name fighter among them that would lead to you agree with him being the mandatory for Taylor. And yet the International Boxing Federation has Khongsong as the mandatory for Taylor, without having him face a risky opponent. The IBF could have at least insisted that Khongsong beat someone talented like Ivan Baranchyk, Subriel Matias or Regis Prograis to earn the mandatory spot to challenge Taylor. That hasn’t happened though.
This is probably going to be a terrible mismatch similar to when Errol Spence Jr. destroyed IBF mandatory Carlos Ocampo by a 1s round knockout in June 2018. Ocampo hadn’t faced anyone notable during his career before he was made the IBF mandatory, and he hopelessly over-matched against Spence.