Lee Ann Maurtin by Bongani Magasela
The boxing career of budding female boxer - Lee Ann Maurtin - is already at a crossroads as she does not know whether to become a brawler or follow in the footsteps of the skilful artists.
The Cape Town-born Maurtin, who is trained in Johannesburg by ex-professional fighter, Stanley Takalane - says she is confused as brawlers are put on a pedestal and allowed to gain more prominence on television while artists — where her heart really lies — are starved of fights.
This has got Maurtin worried and she is already pondering her future as the furious debate continues to rage among followers of the fistic sport.
“I am confused now — either I chose to be a brawler to make it in boxing or learn the fine art and be fight starved,” she said.
An architect by profession, Maurtin, quoted former president Nelson Mandela saying he did not enjoy the violence of boxing so much as the science of it.
Former world champions Brian Mitchell and Welcome Ncita, and Boxing South Africa’s director of operations Loyiso Mtya echoed Maurtin’s sentinnest that television must give preference to skilful boxers and not brawlers.
Mitchell said fans want to see somebody with work-rate. ‘‘They don’t want to see somebody run around for 12 rounds because he has got skills. Floyd Mayweather is great but his fights are boxing because he just wants to survive,” said Mitchell, the former WBA and IBF junior lightweight undefeated champion, who was as busy-as-a bee in his heyday.
Ncita, who was a skilful boxer, said fans went to see Sugar Ray Leonard’s three epic battles against Thomas Hearns because Leonard was a skilful boxer
‘‘Precision and great technique are the sweet science of the game,” said the former IBF junior featherweight titlist.
The brawler vs skill debate gained prominence recently when Home Box Office (HBO) commentator Larry Merchant was asked to comment on the premium cable station’s decision not to air undisputed WBA and WBO Super junior featherweight champion Guillermo “The Jackal” Rigondeaux’s next fight.
The Cuban turned in a masterful and dominant performance against the Philippines Nonito Donaire — who was touted as the next Manny Pacquiao — on April 13.
Donaire had clubbed his way to a top five spot of many poundfor- pound lists but Rigondeaux had him baffled for 12 rounds. “If you can’t make the people want to come back and see you, it’s just like going to a restaurant; they don’t feed you well, you don’t come back. They feed you well, you come back. And he’s got to know that this is a professional game and it’s not an amateur game,” Merchant said.
Fans have been known to boo if a round goes by without either fighter hurling a long, clumsy hook at his opponent. Multiple world champion Floyd ‘‘Prettyboy” Mayweather has also been a target of those fans and media who want violence and no science in boxing.
He has been labeled ‘‘boring” even though he breaks pay-perview records and proves himself to be the most successful and most media-covered fighter of this era.
Meanwhile American Paul Magno, Editor in Chief of The Tribune, wrote: ‘‘Being smart and technically sound, no matter how good you are, will get you thrown off TV and pushed into non-televised mid-card gigs and pay-per-view filler - just ask Rigondeaux.”
Maurtin said as a beginner, she was worried.
‘‘True skill and art of boxing is executed by timed, precise and balanced movements, rather than sloppy slug-fest. Julior Cesar Chavez was a brawler of note but television loved him. He fought quite often - hence he had 107 fights,” she said.
‘‘The disparity for technicians over the fighters for brawlers is staggering. I don’t think that fighters should not get fights because they are technically gifted and not brawlers.”
Mtya argued that smooth boxers are best sellers irrespective of what fans and television thinks.
‘‘Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson remain popular even today because they were best practitioners in history. Go across all centuries, you will find that biggest stars were smooth fighters,” said Mtya, a former boxer, trainer, promoter and commentator.