In boxing not all things are created equal. Take for example the contrasting fortunes of Andrew Moloney and Andrew Selby, who fought behind enemy lines in world title eliminators over the weekend.
Moloney traveled from his home country of Australia to the boxing outpost of San Francisco de Mostazal, a 45-minute drive from the Chilean capital of Santiago, where he stopped hometown hero Miguel Martinez in eight rounds. Moloney did suffer the indignity of receiving a count from the Argentinean referee when he’d clearly slipped, but that was irrelevant – he was too good for Martinez.
Meanwhile former amateur standout Andrew Selby took on Julio Cesar Martinez in Metepec, an hour outside Mexico City. Their fight started at a frenetic pace and didn’t relent until Martinez landed a perfect body shot that crumpled Selby, forcing him to take refuge on the canvas in the fifth. As the Welshman began to rise referee Hector Afu reached 10, although the count appeared quick.
There’s a reason why teams the world over stump up extra money for home advantage. Yes, there’s little you can do if you don’t have the better fighter, but don’t let anyone tell you being at home doesn’t come with benefits.
Over the years we’ve heard countless stories of what goes on behind the scenes for the away fighter. I’ve heard tales of being picked up at the airport and driven around for hours when the hotel is minutes away. There’s been 3:00 a.m. wake up calls, bad food and inaccurate scales. All of that before throwing down before a hostile crowd and then there’s the possibility of favoritism from the referee and judges.
Being away from home tests a fighters mettle and if not strong-minded, they can crumble under the strain. One need look no further than former IBF super middleweight titleholder Lucian Bute. The Canada-based Romanian brought a 30-0 record and his belt to Nottingham, England to face Carl Froch in May 2012. Bute was a relatively battle-hardened fighter, in his prime, a southpaw and he had good amateur credentials. But the pre-fight favorite was in for a rude awakening. Cheered on by a raucous home support, the Brit destroyed Bute inside five rounds. Now I’m not saying Froch wouldn’t have won elsewhere, but Bute definitely seemed to fall apart mentally.
Moloney has long chased a championship fight against WBA junior bantamweight titleholder Kal Yafai and rolled the dice when offered the opportunity to face Martinez. In this instance Moloney and his team got away with it.
The same can’t be said for Selby in his WBC flyweight eliminator. Selby-Martinez took place 8,645 feet above sea-level compared to Selby’s home, which is a mere 80 feet. That’s a huge difference.
Boxing alliances certainly help. Doubtless both Moloney and Selby’s teams wanted to further their fighters positions and held back from signing with the bigger promoters.
Tony Tolj who manages Moloney and previously worked with former long-reigning titleholder Chris John, took a gamble and his fighter is now mandatory challenger for Yafai. They’ll still have to wait a while as the Englishman must overcome his first mandatory opponent, Norbelto Jimenez, at MSG in June. Despite his lofty position, Moloney could be on the sidelines for several months.
Selby is handled by father and son duo Chris and Jamie Sanigar who have guided the likes of Glen Catley, Lee Haskins and Lee Selby to world titles. They decided against going with the likes of Frank Warren or Eddie Hearn, who would likely have secured them home advantage on route to title fights.
Matchroom’s flyweight Charlie Edwards nipped in front of the more highly-rated Selby to win the WBC title last year against Cristofer Rosales, a man Selby had beaten previously. On Saturday, within the comfy confines of the Copper Box arena in London, Edwards faced Angel Moreno, something of a soft touch in his first defense, while the Welshman was on the road in Mexico.
The game of Russian roulette paid off for one Andew but not the other.
Questions and/or comments can be sent to Anson at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter @AnsonWainwright
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