2022 hasn’t been the finest year for British boxing.
This month, however, leading boxing management company MTK Global confirmed it would cease operations.
Daniel Kinahan, one of MTK’s founders, faces financial sanctions by the US Treasury amidst investigation of his suspected involvement as the leader of a drugs cartel.
The sanctions have sent shockwaves through the boxing world, with known affiliates of Kinahan (including Tyson Fury and Merseyside UFC fighter Darren Till) quick to downplay their ties.
In the wake of the scandal, Merseysportlive caught up with Liverpool boxers to assess some of the scandals that have marred 2022 thus far.
“I don’t think that type of involvement in the sport is anything new,” says WBO junior-middleweight champion, Natasha Jonas.
“I think the Italian Mafia half ran the New York boxing scene for a very long time (in the 1950s) and people just dismissed it.
“Going forward, I do think there will be tighter regulations. I think this is just the start, if I’m honest. This will open up the floodgates but people have to act.
“The biggest turning point was the US Government getting involved.
”Once there are big government agencies – especially a powerhouse like America – that’s what gets the ball rolling. Boxing will have to clean itself up.”
Between the ropes
In February, Scotland’s Josh Taylor defended his unified light-welterweight titles against Jack Catterall.
Despite many of the pundits and fans seeing the bout firmly in the favour of Catterall, Taylor was awarded a narrow split decision.
The decision has divided pundits and fighters alike.
While some categorised the fight as another example of the suspected corruption lamenting boxing, others cite incompetence and poor regulation for the regularity of bad decisions.
“You think it’s more than just an ineptitude, it’s got to be some form of corruption,” says leading BT Sport pundit, Nick Peet.
“There’s got to be some political powers behind the scenes to ensure the ‘right’ man wins, that suits the promoter and the TV network.
“As soon as the fight starts, it should be ‘red corner vs blue corner’, it shouldn’t be names, it shouldn’t be ‘who’s the champions vs who’s the challenger’.
“Unfortunately, that’s just not how boxing works.”
World title bouts such as Taylor vs Catterall appear to be only a small slice of the wider cake.
The International Boxing Association (AIBA) was found to have selected referees and judges to ensure bouts could be manipulated both in Olympic qualifying and at the Rio Games.
However, McLaren maintains in the years following the Rio Olympics, corruption remains rife at all levels.
“It starts with the amateurs.
”I’m an amateur coach and the decisions I see getting made week in, week out – they’re breaking kids’ hearts,” adds Interim WBO Bantamweight Champion, Paul Butler.
“Kids come in here wanting to win national titles, they get robbed in the semi-finals and you won’t see them again.
“It’s heartbreaking to see a kid with so much potential get to those semi-finals and think ‘aw, the kid in the England vest is gonna get the decision over me because he’s got the vest on’.
“From the very top to the very bottom, it all needs to be sorted, it all needs to be changed.”
(Photo Credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing)