Boxing

British Boxing Board needs to do more for struggling fighters says former Lennox Lewis promoter Kellie Maloney

Kellie Maloney with Cathy McAleer and her coach Sammy Wilton at Eastside Boxing Club
Andy Watters

KELLIE Maloney says the British Boxing Board of Control needs to do more to help the struggling fighters who form the bedrock of the sport.

The vastly-experienced promoter who, as Frank Maloney, guided Lennox Lewis to the world heavyweight title and David Haye to the cruiserweight crown, says she has never experienced such a difficult period for boxing.

“I've never known a time like this,” said the Londoner who was in Belfast yesterday to meet with her fighter Cathy McAleer who has had four fights cancelled this year

“I'm very frustrated. I've never know a situation like this and I don't think the British Boxing Board has done anything to help fighters who are not signed to the elite promoters.

“I can't see it getting any easier to be honest because small-hall promoters can't afford to run shows and that means fighters' careers are at a standstill. The problem is that a lot of boxers can't afford to renew their licences (a cost of up to £700) so that's why there is a big shortage of opponents.

“So the Boxing Board and the governing bodies should help the boxers – not everyone is an Anthony Joshua but without the Cathy McAleers of this world, boxing can't survive.”

Maloney explained that McAleer had been offered two opportunities to take on Australia's ‘Blonde Bomber' Ebanie Bridges on Matchroom shows but both offers were turned down because they were at short notice.

“I would have taken them if we had been given the right time to prepare for them,” she said.

“At this stage of her career, Cathy is ready to step up but we need notice to step up. I have studied Ebanie Bridges and I'm happy for Cathy to take that fight but I want at least five weeks' notice to train. I don't want a week or 10 days to take a fight of that magnitude.

“If they book us long enough in advance, we'll turn up no problem but you have to prepare for a fight like that. You have to get the right sparring partners because it's not a learning fight, it's a career-defining fight.

“We've been very unlucky, we've had four fights that have fallen through because of Covid and if we'd had them Cathy would have been ready to fight for a title now.”

McAleer's dream is to win a world title and Maloney says her ambition is to deliver that opportunity to her. However, the experienced fight manager admits that: “At the moment it's getting further and further away unfortunately”.

“We should have been out on the 18th of September but the promoter would have lost £12,000 on the show so I understand pulling the plug,” she said.

“We should have been out on the 25th of September but there was a problem with opponents so that's been moved to the 9th of October and that's what we're aiming for now. If we can get this fight out of the way then, to be honest, I think I've got to say: ‘Cathy is ready to fight anyone' because of the time element. Time is not on Cathy's side (McAleer is 43) and she knows that herself.

“But she can't keep putting her body through what she's had to do. She is peaking for a fight and then I'm having to phone her and say: ‘Stop what you're doing Cath, the show's cancelled'. She stops her training and then she rebuilds again… Her body can't keep going like that and what people don't realise is that boxing is also a very mental sport.

“Mentally you have to prepare as much as physically. The body stays fit but the mental part of it is the hardest part – the disappointment. I get frustrated and mad but I'm not the one who's putting my body through it, I'm just making phonecalls!

“I'm talking to people and arranging things but for Cathy it's much harder. A lot of fighters are going through a tough time but Cathy has had fights lined up and she is paying for her own fights – she is paying to get on the cards and promoters are getting a free fight when they get her because her sponsors are paying for everything.

“My enthusiasm gets killed a bit I suppose but this is something I can't walk away from because I'm committed to it. If we go into another lockdown then we'll have to sit down and consider what's going to happen. We are aiming for the 9th of October so it's fingers crossed for that.

“If it gets cancelled then I think I might pull my hair out, go to a convent and become a nun! In all my life in boxing I've never gone through a time like this.”

CATHY McAleer will have to wait until October 9 to finally get her career back up-and-running again after nine frustrating months on the sidelines.

The former martial arts world champion and Down ladies' football star has had to deal with the disappointment of having four fights cancelled since she suffered the first loss of her career in December last year.

Since then the Belfast bantamweight has thrown herself into training with Sammy and ‘Alio' Wilton at Eastside ABC and remains determined to kick on with her career when she finally returns to action in Birmingham on October 9.

“Covid has been a nightmare for promoters in terms of getting ticket sales and match-making,” she said.

“It's been very hard for them to cover costs and then there have been fighters getting Covid at the last minute so it has been awful, it's been a bad run.

“But you just have to keep going because nobody can do anything about it.

“We should have had four fights by now but we've had so many cancelations and we've just had to push on through every time. You get ready for an event, then it gets cancelled and then you have to get up again and then you get another disappointment...

“I've been training away and trying to use the time wisely. I train clients too so I stay active and mentally strong and that's all part of it, just keeping strong. You can't stop because if you dwell on it there's no point so I'm just looking forward to getting back in the ring after all this time and doing what I do.”

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Boxing