Edmonton boxing can be even better

MURRAY GREIG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:23 PM ET

Last week's abbreviated card at The Palace banquet hall marked the first time in a long while that behind-the-scenes problems conspired to blow up a local promotion at the 11th hour.

And while the cancellation of the main event and shrinkage of what was supposed to be a seven-bout card down to a mere nine rounds of actual boxing sparked a flurry of angry e-mails to my inbox, most of the comments were directed at local promotions in general -- not just the April 10 debacle.

What follows is some sage advice to fighters, promoters and the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission on how to get things back on track and running smoothly:

- Boxing isn't MMA. Fighters with records of 1-2, 3-1, 0-4, etc., have neither earned nor deserve a five-minute walk to the ring, complete with an entourage of hangers-on and blaring rap music. It's silly, cartoonish and impresses nobody.

Just get in there and go to work. Respect is measured by effort -- not by the number of flunkies in your posse. Leave the elaborate entrances to champions and/or main event guys.

- Promoters and/or ring announcers who insist on holding raffles, shilling products or generally acting like they're auditioning for late-night infomericals in order to spice up the show should be taken out back and horse-whipped. Nobody pays to listen to the announcer or watch the promoter's posturing.

- Why is there an "observer" from the Edmonton Combative Sports Commission in the fighters' corners between rounds?

They only get in the way, track dirt into the ring with their outdoor shoes, and most wouldn't have a clue about anything fishy a trainer might try to pull.

The observer's "job" could just as easily be done from a ringside seat.

- The ESCS has to be more transparent and accommodating when it comes to its individual dealings with promoters. Too much of what the new regime does is secretive, shadowy -- and suspect.

- Cut the crap when it comes to national anthems. If you insist on playing O Canada and The Star Spangled Banner prior to the main event, spring for a tape recording instead of relying on your wife's best friend's sister-in-law to torture us with a live rendition.

- For televised cards, use the best available local talent instead of trying to cut costs by bringing in commentators who know nothing about boxing.

The best in these parts is the tandem of James Monsees (blow-by-blow) and two-time heavyweight champ Ken Lakusta (colour).

They instinctively know each other's style and have a comfortable synergy that easily translates to the viewers.

- Promoters have the right to structure their cards any way they wish, so why not push the ECSC to eliminate four- and six-round bouts in favour of five- and seven-round distances? This would substantially decrease the likelihood of draws while at the same time giving prelim fighters added incentive for future paydays.

- Instead of whining about the lack of media coverage for main events, some promoters need to face the fact that their shows always start late and then get bogged down by chronic organizational mismanagement.

For them, two words: walkout bouts. Instead of building their card progressively to the main event, it should be structured Vegas-style with one or two prelims, followed by the co-main and main events in the middle, followed by two walkout bouts. You get the coverage you crave, and everyone goes home happy.

- Finally, find a way to stop -- or at least limit -- the pettiness and backbiting that threatens to turn the Edmonton boxing landscape into a playground punch-up. There are enough fighters and enough fans for everyone to enjoy a slice of the promotional pie. The incessant bickering and name-calling only serve to exacerbate the problems.


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