New rule presents new danger

By Clive Bernath
The British Boxing Board of Control has contributed immensely to making boxing safe for its participants over the years and probably done as much for a boxer’s welfare in the ring as any other boxing commission in the world today. But the new rule being introduced from January 1, 2002, stating that all boxers must weigh in together on the same set of scales, regardless of whether or not it is a championship fight, could prove very costly for the promoter and, more importantly, dangerous for the fighters themselves.

Under the new rules, sketched out on December 12, the Board of Control Committee concluded that all boxers must weigh in on the same set of calibrated scales as their respective opponents. This rule, of course, already applies to championship fights. Boxers fighting for titles weigh in together anywhere between 24 and 36 hours before a contest.

But the real problem will be the non-title undercard fights. At the moment, for example, house fighter A will weigh in the day before, with the title fight opponents, let’s say in London. If his opponent, boxer B is based two or three hundred miles away in Manchester, then boxer B will be weighed by the local appointed Area Inspector.

Under the new rules, put in place by the BBB of C, that will not be allowed to happen. If boxer B does not travel down to London then both boxers will have to weigh in together on the day of the fight. Some years ago that was always the case anyway, but the Board changed its policy to the day before, shortly after the unfortunate death of Bradley Stone in 1994, reasoning that the extra time would allow fighters to re-hydrate themselves if weightmaking was a problem.

However, the process has again been reversed after the Board’s research found that randomly weighing some fighters the day before and on the night showed some boxers had put on vast amounts of weight that may give one fighter an unfair advantage over the other.

Ironically enough, this proved to be the case on the very day (December 12) the BBB of C decided on the new regulation. Former double British super-featherweight champion Floyd Havard was to have fought Ukrainian journeyman Rakim Mingaleev in London on December 13. Havard, not wishing to travel from Wales the day before, scaled 9st 1lbs when weighed by an official from the Western Area. But, a day later in London, he tipped the scales at an incredible 10st 12lbs on the night. Mingaleev, in contrast, weighed 9st 4lbs at the official weigh-in and 9st 4 1/4lbs on the night.

It would seem that the British Board is trying to do the right thing by making sure both fighters climb into the ring at roughly the same weight. But, aside from the obvious health issues, the decision could also contribute another nail in the preverbal coffin of British boxing.

Firstly, will British promoters be willing to fork out for overnight accommodation and expenses for the entire bill? It is difficult enough already for promoters to break even on a show and this may prove to be the last straw. Secondly, this rule will almost certainly mean that small promoters may only use local fighters to keep down expenses and create an even bigger north and south divide.

And then, of course, there is the matchmaker. Finding opponents at the last minute is commonplace, not ideal, but accepted all the same. Will there come a time when the promoter says, ‘I only want local fighters’? The matchmaker’s job is difficult enough without putting that restraint on.

Basically, the Board has left the decision firmly in the hands of the promoters on when to hold weigh-ins. Certain fighters will always have an advantage, regardless of when the weigh-in takes place. Weigh-ins were brought forward on safety grounds, but let’s hope the Board of Control do not rue the day they made this decision.
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