Boxing’s beacon of hope

Junior ABA champion Jack Stringer. Picture: Malcolm Wells (121688-5004)
Junior ABA champion Jack Stringer. Picture: Malcolm Wells (121688-5004)
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Boxing last week found itself back in the headlines and gutter at the same time.

David Haye will meet with Dereck Chisora in July in a contest which will see them profit from their roles in an ugly brawl in Munich in February.

The pair brought the noble art into disrepute in the aftermath of Chisora’s fight with Vitali Klitschko by rolling around the floor in the post-fight press conference.

There are those who will argue, with some merit, that boxing’s reputation disappeared around the time Joe Walcott was disqualified by a referee who bet on his opponent Dixie Kid to win their title bout in 1904.

But the manner in which the former world title-holder and challenger will now meet in a vulgar battle of their bank balances, badly hurts a sport which can’t take many more kicks.

Chisora had his licence revoked by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) for his role in the sad saga, while Haye was technically retired.

But the decision of the board to take Chisora’s licence rather than administer an outright ban, which would have had to be enforced throughout Europe, has left a loophole for his promoter Frank Warren to exploit.

Warren has now gone to that boxing hotbed of Luxembourg to licence the contest, even though it will be staged in London.

The fact of the matter is Haye versus Chisora is an interesting match-up, one which will no doubt sell tickets and subscriptions to Warren’s BoxNation television channel.

Had the pair shown some remorse for their role in the debacle, taken a punishment and perhaps offered to undertake some community work with youngsters, the prospect of their fight on these shores would have sat more comfortably.

As it is, a contest which saw the pair separated by a metal fence at its press conference launch last week, now has more in common with the gaudy world of WWE wrestling than the sweet science.

The fear is the damage caused by recent events is another nail in the coffin for a sport facing challenges from many different angles.

But while the Marquess of Queensbury would have turned in his grave at such dark developments, he may just be allowed to rest a little easier thanks to a 16-year-old from North End.

Last Saturday, Jack Stringer took on European Schoolboys’ champion Patrick McCann for the prestigious Junior ABA title in Yorkshire.

The City of Portsmouth Boys’ School student had already suffered a controversial defeat to the Kettering ace previously in his promising career.

Instead of being bitter at the loss, though, he used it as motivation – and set about training even harder to improve himself.

The reward for his endeavour arrived in glorious fashion at the weekend as he defeated McCann 25-19 in the national final.

A performance of that quality showcased why Stringer is being touted for a big future.

It’s not just his talent that is earning plaudits, though.

His grandad and trainer Ron Chandler highlighted a humble and hard-working mindset as one his biggest assets. He said: ‘He is very polite and has a great attitude.

‘If he ever loses, he shrugs it off and says he is going to work harder.’

Stringer will now receive an England vest after his victory and is one day hoping to represent Great Britain at the Olympics.

Amateur boxing is thriving locally and it looks as if Stringer could fly the flag for the area for years to come.

So, while Haye and Chisora taint a proud sport, how refreshing it is to see a Portsmouth teenager providing a glorious beacon of hope for the future.