Monday, 8 June 2009

DeGale and the ‘Boo-Boys’

A guest post this week from the mysterious boxing maniac only know as 'Wizzy'.

The Olympians have racked up a few wins now and, supposedly, the most shocking revelation of those first few fights was the fact that James Degale, the Olympic Gold medallist, got a rough reaction from the fans. The commentators and pundits on Sky were all outraged and baffled as to why he got booed on his debut and received what I heard called a ‘mixed reaction’ in his second fight. I guess the mix in the mixed reaction was those who booed and those who did nothing as it just sounded like a poor reaction all around to me.

The reaction, in both fights, is not that difficult to comprehend. I was at his debut and the excuse peddled by some, that Darren Sutherland’s fans were the ones booing (Darren Sutherland having lost in Beijing to DeGale) was nonsense – loads of people were getting involved. In fact, the excuses were getting so tenuous that I half expected a Smithers-esque pundit to come out saying that they were actually chanting ‘Boo-urns, Boo-urns’. The reason for the booing can be found in the comments that DeGale made before he had even got his professional gloves on: That two British Champions, Wayne Elcock and Brian Magee, were effectively nobodies.

The charge was reminiscent of the Audley Harrison approach to the transition from the amateur to the pro ranks, shout your mouth off about well liked, longstanding British fighters and set yourself up for a fall – not that there is any chance of him screwing anything up like Audley did, that became an artform in itself. Surely the first thing a promoter says to a rookie boxer these days is, ‘Don’t do an Audley Harrison’. Unfortunately, it would appear that DeGale took this to be a challenge, throw in the fact that the performance itself, in his debut, was lacklustre with a couple of referee warnings about slapping his opponent and the fuse was lit.

So, it was not an issue that required Columbo; Criticise popular professional British boxers before you have even taken your headguard off and you face an uphill struggle to become the next Frank Bruno in the eyes of the public. Oh, and did I mention that DeGale’s debut was in Birmingham and that Wayne Elcock is from Birmingham? Or the fact that Brian Magee is from Northern Ireland and Degale’s second fight was in Belfast? Like I said, not rocket science.

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