‘Punching Bag’ Fights

Conail Gallagher went to York Hall for an evening of boxing - but came away disappointed.

Boxing

Reading’s Asinia Byfield pulled off a great performance at York Hall, stopping fellow Berkshire fighter John Brennan in an entertaining brawl – but this was a mere cherry on top of a bland cake when looking at the fight card in full.

Tickets, tickets

It is a well-known fact in the boxing universe that small-hall shows are dedicated to selling tickets and not necessarily producing the best displays of boxing.

To attract viewers, then, there usually has to be a ticket seller, who is a fighter who attracts a large following and makes most of his earnings through ticket sales. The opponent, on the other hand, often turns up to ‘do the rounds’ and take a pay cheque.

Out of all the small hall shows, York Hall is notable for not carrying up-and-coming fighters in this respect, instead going the other way and putting on more 50/50 fights for the fans, while providing a chance for rising fighters to prove themselves, especially those from the east London area.

Punching bags

York Hall’s attitude towards hosting proper fights made it all the more surprising when I saw that 90% of the fight card seemed to be set up for one-sided beat downs. One away fighter after another stood like a punching bag in front of the protected home fighter. Which begs the question, are the fans really getting their money’s worth?

With tickets being dished out at £35 for a standard (£55 for ringside/VIP), this is just five pounds cheaper than a Sky Sports World title show where the cheap tickets sell for £40 on general sale.

It doesn’t take a boxing purist to work out what is the better deal.

Atmosphere

On the flip side, with plenty of tickets being sold by the home fighters, the atmosphere at York Hall was still rocking. In addition, everyone is paid for their own individual jobs.

Also, some ticket buyers prefer these small shows to the fancy O2 Arena fights that Eddie Hearn bills, simply because the fans prefer the small-hall ambience. With a narrower distance between the four walls, the noise from the fans echoes around York Hall, building in volume as the fights go on.

And York Hall offers a closer look at the fighters, which can create a euphoric experience, especially for the more casual fan who cannot tell the difference between Lennox Lewis and Lennox the pub fighter and is just there for the excitement of the fight.

Bournemouth welterweight Joe Hayes, who boxed on the same show and won a comfortable six round decision, said afterwards that York Hall is an important place to announce yourself as a fighter.

“I was looking to put Bournemouth on the map,” he said. “York Hall is a great place to get your name out there.

“I have always wanted to do it so it was good to bring a big crowd down and that’s one thing ticked off the bucket list.”