Women’s Boxing has been a taboo subject in the past, some people love it while others still believe that women shouldn’t fight, for any one of a number of different reasons. Whatever side of the coin you fall, the female code is on the rise – but are promoters doing enough to assist it?
Recently, in New York, #TeamSouthpawJab’s own Hannah Rankin had her WBA Super-Middleweight World Title bid shockingly left off the televised show that the rest of the card appeared on. Hannah’s battle with champion Alicia Napoleon was the only title fight on the card, and it was left until after the “Main Event” – a 12 round fight between Devon Alexander and Andre Berto. Hannah and Alicia were sent to the ring after half the venue had left. If it wasn’t for Claressa Shields filming the fight and adding it to her Instagram, there would have been no footage of the bout for Hannah’s loyal fans who couldn’t make the trip abroad to watch. It’s an even worse crime when you see that the fight was described in a review as “the greatest fight you never saw”.
When this happened to Hannah, I put it down to an old promoter being “stuck in the mud” and not changing their ways. But they’re not the only one to commit this sin. I saw it again, just last weekend, on the Cyclone Promotions card at York Hall. The McGuigan family stable put on a stacked card at York Hall – three big title fights and a title eliminator, as well as having some talented fighters on the undercard. My complaint isn’t about the quality of the show – it was really good and it was free to air on Spike and Channel 5. My complaint is they didn’t televise the one world title fight they had on the bill.
The last time there was a world title fight at York Hall, Katie Taylor defended her WBA Lightweight World title against Jessica McCaskill. That was last December. Taylor topped the bill, which was stacked with Matchroom’s hotly tipped and hugely talented prospects as well as a fight for the European title featuring Martin J Ward. Taylor was rightly the main event, where a world title fight should be- regardless of gender, and her fight with McCaskill didn’t disappoint.
When Cyclone first announced last Saturday’s card I thought they were going to copy the blueprint that Matchroom had set out exactly ten months earlier with Taylor, and have their own female Lightweight World Champion top the bill at the spiritual home of British Boxing. However, from the first press conference this was clearly not the case. I was lucky enough to attend the media engagements for Saturday’s event and it was here where I learned that the exciting, unbeaten and heavy handed Chantelle Cameron would not be headlining it. Despite this, I thought Cameron’s world title defence (as it was at the time – the WBC Silver title was added at the last minute) would at least be chief support, or at worst, the main event on the Spike coverage.
Cameron’s IBO World and WBC Silver Title fight started just before 7.30pm on Saturday– the televised coverage on Spike didn’t start until 8pm. Argue about the validity of an IBO “world” title all you like- but the fact remains that the card was headlined by Martin Bakole’s showdown with Michael Hunter for the IBO Inter-Continental Heavyweight title, surely an IBO World title is worth more than their Inter-Continental? Why was Cameron left off the broadcast?
Fortunately, for those of us keen to see the women’s sport grow, and heroes made of the women competing as they deserve, the backlash on social media was vociferous. Many fans vented their anger at the fact that they couldn’t watch Cameron live. Chantelle seemed receptive to the sentiment, liking and sharing many of the tweets. Now, maybe this was not the McGuigan’s decision, perhaps it was Channel 5’s executives getting cold feet, but after Bakole was hyped as the next big thing all show, then dominated by the much smaller Hunter until he finally wilted, with any luck after Cameron’s confident beat down of opponent Jessica Gonzalez, as well as the public demand, Chantelle may be rightly pushed up onto the TV schedule.
We keep being told that women’s boxing is booming, but if arguably our biggest promoter to be on terrestrial TV isn’t showing their female star live for everyone to see, how is it supposed to grow further? Cyclone Promotions are in the unique position of having their golden egg, in the form of Josh Taylor, out of their hands for the next eighteen months due to the WBSS. This would have been the perfect time to showcase Cameron as the other top name in their outfit. They could have pushed the envelope and dared to be different – a big promoter with a female fighter as the star of their televised shows.
Surely the aim with Cameron now is to win the WBC Lightweight World title and unify with Katie Taylor down the line. If that really is their end game for this chapter of her career, she needs to be made a star for all fans to recognise. Now is the time to raise her profile. We’ve seen how Matchroom play hardball when they’re negotiating for their fighter to unify against a lesser known champion (just look at the ongoing saga between AJ and Wilder) so just imagine what they’ll do if and when it comes to Cameron and Taylor to unify. If Cameron was to be a huge star in her own right Matchroom would have no choice but to treat her as an equal to Taylor.
Cyclone have missed a trick. They could have made Cameron the female fighter on everyone’s lips – putting her on terrestrial TV for everyone to see her ability would make her a star in next to no time. For want of a better term, they could have made Cameron the female Anthony Joshua – she’s a former Team GB boxer, a KO artist and articulate where the rest of their stable still need to brush up on their skills in that area. If women’s boxing is truly booming, we need a proactive promoter to put a female fighter as their figure head, their focal point. If women’s boxing is to be taken seriously and seen as an equal sport to the male code, as it should be, it needs to be treated as an equal by those who put on the shows and run the sport.
Women’s boxing needs a promoter to take the plunge and back the talent we have just waiting to get their chance to shine in the public eye.