The bloody brutality of boxing

There is always an incredible sense of sympathy for the loser of a title fight, particularly if a man has been stopped or knocked out.  The knockout can be chaos.  A man is separated from his senses and desire.


Men lose their dignity worse in boxing than in any other sport.  That is the nature of the sweet science.


Words cannot always describe the vision.  It is easier to watch and flinch as the punches land and a man crumbles.


Alex Leapai will be praying for vision to guide his future.  In defeat, he failed so spectacularly.  It was virtually guaranteed.  That he lost is not surprising, nor the way it happened.


Leapai was knocked down three times, once in the first round from a jab and twice from hard right hands during a torrid fifth round.  The fight ended with Leapai on his back, gazing up at Eddie Cotton as the referee halted the bout.


It was the mismatch it promised to be.  Leapai had nothing but a puncher’s chance, but he never got close to landing it.  He talked about a plan to move and get inside.  He couldn’t move passed the jab.


It wasn’t that he didn’t try, he just didn’t have the talent.


During the build up, no one mentioned a miracle.  Plenty of writers compared him to Cindarella, but Leapai has nothing to do with her.  He wasn’t wearing glass slippers or a dress.  He wasn’t going to a ball.  He was standing bare-chested in shorts and lace up shoes, waiting for a fight.


The bus wasn’t going to turn into a pumpkin if Leapai lost.


A miracle punch was the obvious topic, yet the writers were too respectful to be disparaging.  Besides, boxing is riddled with miracles.  Anything can happen, but Leapai couldn’t solve the riddle.  Wladimir Klitschko is just too imposing, too big and skilled, to get beaten by a man as limited as Leapai.


When betting opened, Klitschko was paying $1.01.  During the build up, he drifted as high as $1.15.  Betting on Klitschko was pointless.  Picking the round was the task.  This writer suggested Klitschko should be embarrassed if the fight went beyond five rounds.


It didn’t.  This writer should’ve made a bet.


Klitschko hasn’t lost for ten years.  He seems better with age.  His record is outstanding, 62-3, with 52 knockouts.  A record like that indicates power, yet Klitschko has a glaring fault.  Despite stopping 52 opponents, he is boring to watch.


There is nothing wrong with fighting safely, but against opposition Klitschko should blast out inside two rounds, he’ll win in eight or ten.


Often it seems he doesn’t want to destroy his opponent.  He fights as though he is fearful of his power and skill.  He fights without the killer instinct that defined the greats, men like Louis, Marciano, Ali, Foreman, Frazier, Tyson and Holyfield.


The lack of killer instinct is why the Americans don’t rate him, which is why his 10-year unbeaten reign doesn’t get the recognition it should.


Klitschko could’ve thrown bombs at Leapai the moment the bell rang.  He didn’t need to land 146 punches to stop him.  He was methodical and safe, precise with his power.  The knockout came without that gory excitement boxing is renowned for.


Criticism of Klitschko isn’t just extended to his style.  He’s fought 20 times in ten years.  In 2009 and 2011, he fought once.  He has hardly been active, which is testament to his earning capacity.  There is no point in fighting when the money is plentiful.


Most of his opponents of the past ten years won’t be inducted into boxing’s hall of fame either.  That isn’t Klitschko’s fault.  He hasn’t ducked anyone, and he’s given plenty of men a title shot.  Simply, there is no depth in the heavyweight division.  Journeymen are getting title fights, just to keep Klitschko busy.


In the aftermath of the fight, Leapai was criticised across the world by many boxing writers, fans on forums and in social media.  Most of the criticism came from people who had never seen the inside of a gym.


Leapai deserved his title shot.  He earned it by defeating Denis Boystov in November last year.  Klitschko was compelled to make a mandatory defence against Leapai or give up the WBA belt.


Klitschko chose to fight.  In an industry where boxers and promotes don’t always follow the rules, Klitschko’s decision was admirable and honourable.  That he was never going to lose might’ve made the decision easier.  He should be commended for giving a virtual unknown a shot at the title.


After the fight, Klistchko praised Leapai, words about toughness and heart.  ‘I wish him all the best,’ he said.  ‘He gave everything.’


It is hard to imagine Tyson, Ali or Holyfield offering words like that after a fight.


It shows Klitschko is a humble, respectful heavyweight champion of the world, a rarity in the red light district of sport.


Leapai should also be commended for his performance, despite landing just 10 punches.  Somehow he found the guts to take 146 punches before the fight ended, and Klitschko has despatched 34 opponents in quicker time.


‘That’s why he’s the champion,’ Leapai said after the fight.  ‘Just a supreme fighter.  It just didn’t work tonight.’

Losing carries no shame, yet Leapai apologised to the people of three nations, people he believes have been let down.


That is folly.  Getting beat up doesn’t require an apology.  He did what no other Australian has managed in 106 years.  He will be back.  Rebuilding his career won’t be easy.  He will need to put together a winning streak and defeat several men with recognisable names.


If he can do that, he might eke out another title fight.


And everybody in boxing has a puncher’s chance…




About Matt Watson

My name is Matt Watson, avid AFL, cricket and boxing fan. Since 2005 I’ve been employed as a journalist, but I’ve been writing about sport for more than a decade. In that time I’ve interviewed legends of sport and the unsung heroes who so often don’t command the headlines. The Ramble, as you will find among the pages of this website, is an exhaustive, unbiased, non-commercial analysis of sport and life. I believe there is always more to the story. If you love sport like I do, you will love the Ramble…


  1. Peter_B says

    I was brought up on TV Ringside, and revelled in the fights of Ali, Frazier, Leonard, Hearns etc.
    Sky in NZ showed Joseph Parker the local heavyweight who fought on the undercard (athletic but crude – a future ‘bum of the month’ candidate). There were some excerpts (I can’t bring myself to say highlights) of Klitschko and Leapai.
    I told my friend to change the station after a minute. It was sickening to see such a cruel mismatch. “Punchers Chance” is a euphemism for legalised murder.
    I have no problem with a serious contest between capable fighters, but professional boxing has long ago consumed itself, and vomited up the remnants.
    A fellow passenger on the flight home was watching what I took to be a 5 round/5 minutes kick/cage boxing fight. Barbaric and brutal. But a serious competitive contest between skilled, strong athletes.
    What professional boxing used to be.
    No more please.

  2. Outstanding Matt. Great summary of the event. I thought both men conducted themselves wonderfully well. Boxing is a sweet science, but mis-matches can be hard to stomach.

    I think Klitschko should be rated right up there with some of the very best. He has impeccable timing. I prefer that type of boxer to the bash and crash.

    After these fights we always hear the usual “stop the brutality” stuff. I have no time for the horrible cage fighting, but boxing, done well, is supreme.

  3. It’s sad the way many peolpe now view Boxing. In many ways the sport only has itself to blame, globally, and here in Australia.

    I have no problems with how the Klitschko-Leapai bout panned out. The victor is a champion in the true sense of the word, great winning reign, a man with great poise and humility, putting it succintly, he is no dill. Leapai proved himself a worthy contender, you can only beat who you are put up against and he did all that was asked, in that sense. True the final was a mismatch, but we see happening that in all sporting contests, ie Black Caviar V the ress, Essendon V all teams bar one, in 2000, Steve Waughs Australian test team, when they were at their peak. True boxing is a brutal sport, but it is an activity humans have participated in for a long time, and hopefully continue doing so well into the furure.

    Truly boxing is “the Sweet Science.’


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