ON THE roulette table the choices are simple. You bet odd numbers, or you bet even numbers. You bet red square, you bet black square, or, if you’re feeling particularly bold, you bet on a specific number or a combination of them. Whatever you decide, it’s a risk. The experienced player resorts to strategies. They use known systems like the Fibonacci, which is supposed to ensure more success or the Martingale system, where you double your wager until you win. In the end, though, it’s all a gamble.
Roulette is a game of chance. There is no guarantee – none whatsoever – as to where the little ball will land when it stops spinning. I have been in Las Vegas where I have seen the high rollers lose big wagers. It’s not for me, however. I stay away.
I am a boxing man. Boxing is my business. I was always a boxing fan. During my years as a competitor, my preference was for boxing, even outside of the ring. It was always boxing. I read the old magazines and newspaper stories. I watched video tapes of past fights.
Now retired from the combative aspect of the fight business, I remain attached with many tentacles. One is that I study form. I am still a boxing enthusiast. I look at fighters’ strengths and weaknesses. Just like the high rollers in Vegas, however, I can’t get it right all the time but get more right than I get it wrong.
But you’ll never catch me betting, not even on a sport I know inside out.
With boxing contest at championship level, the results can be unpredictable. A single punch can change the course of the fight at any given time.
A fight that clearly demonstrates this is when John Tate defended his WBA heavyweight title against Mike Weaver in 1980. Looking at their fight records, Weaver should have been beaten in his challenge to the undefeated Tate.
Going into fight, Weaver had nine defeats, including five by kayo. As expected, during the fight, Weaver was behind, until he landed a left hook which knocked Tate out with less than a minute remaining in the 15th and final round.
Another example is the fight between Meldrick Taylor and Julio Caesar Chavez, ten years after Weaver clocked Tate. Taylor was on the way to handing Chavez his first defeat, but Chavez knocked Taylor down in the final round. Taylor got up but the referee deemed him unfit to continue. The fight was stopped with less than five seconds remaining.
The night that I won the European heavyweight title, I was one of the best heavyweights in the world. I knew it was my time to get myself on the world platform and in contention for a world title. Two months later, when defending my title against Jean Chanet, I lost to a fighter who believed should even be in the same room as me, much less the same ring.
After totally dominating him in the first round as was expected, to everyone’s surprise, Chanet was still there at the end of the 12th round and got the points decision. The result remains a shock to this day, it’s still a mystery to many in boxing, including myself, as to how he had survived. I still can’t explain that result – another one that defied all boxing logic.
When Gervonta Davis stopped Ryan Garcia with a thunderous body blow in the seventh round two weeks ago my phone immediately started pinging because I had predicted the outcome – Davis to win in the seventh with a shot to the body. I even said Davis would have to land big shots to slow Garcia down. He did that too, in the second round.
But nobody can claim to be Nostradamus in this business.
The week before, I predicted that Joe Joyce would beat Zilhei Zhang on points or even via late knockout. I got it totally wrong.
My phone was busy then too. There were calls from the social media group members, gloating, telling me, that I was wrong and making sure that I knew it. They enquired, ‘So what now with Joyce?’ With boxing, though, you never can tell.
Some months ago, on these very pages, my thoughts were that Joyce would become a world champion. That belief does not have to change. It is down to how he mentally copes after such a defeat.
Boxing is not a sport where you can be sure of the outcome of fights or what happens next. Guessing is fun. I enjoy the reasoning behind selections as to who should win a contest but, ultimately, it can never be more than educated guesswork. Unless you match boxers who are at completely different levels, there are no strategies or systems in place that can ensure which boxer will be victorious. That is the beauty of boxing, it’s what makes it exciting. It’s what makes us all go back for more.
A boxer being defeated or victorious in the boxing ring is more than the statistics. There are a multitude of reasons that those outside their closest circle couldn’t possibly know. The training camp, their mental state, niggling injuries.
Boxers climb in the ring with the intention to win. As they go through the rounds, the dynamics can change. Fights can be demanding. They can be mentally draining. Fighters’ resilience is put to the test and mostly, they push themselves to overcome the challenges, but they will never know how they will react under extreme pressure.
So, when supporters are angry or choose to be cruel because a boxer has not been victorious, they should take the time to consider what the fighter has had to overcome.
Boxers don’t lose fights because they want to. To win or lose is down to all the anomalies that come with boxing. It is not roulette, but it’s always a gamble.