Still boxing in the shadows

Once again women boxers are making history in a Fox Sport black hole.

An international bout for a world title – the first female WBO title to be contested locally – is not worthy of a live broadcast and will instead be delayed by a couple of weeks.


erin mcgowan

Erin McGowan


Tomorrow night Perth based boxer, the former amateur champion and now undefeated in 13 bout pro bouts, Erin McGowan (left), goes head to head with British fighter Lindsey Scragg for the World Boxing Organization (WBO) lightweight title. But it’ll be a case of watching the net for scraps and second hand reports.

‘The WBO expects another night of championship caliber fight, as we always do, and hope to solidify our presence in Australia with this very important event,’ said WBO Asia Pacific chairman Leon Panoncillo, who will personally supervise the bout.

Important to the sanctioning body but not the broadcaster.

Fox has a history of pretending there is no such sport as women’s boxing or thinking they could make it go away by refusing to show it. They once used a severe weight mismatch between Holly Ferneley and Rain Mako nearly a decade ago, to make the case that women’s bouts weren’t competitive. And then we women had to watch as boatloads of brave but ill-fated journeymen from Thailand and the Phillipines made the local fighters look like supermen.

Fox also used the excuse that if they did show women’s fights, subscribers would complain. But while they were making these claims, their own channels would be broadcasting international shows with women included. I guess the local broadcaster couldn’t edit them out. Or maybe no one was manning the complaints line that day.

When her fans got wind that they wouldn’t get a chance to see Susie Ramadan fight on a Fox show two years ago, they bombarded the broadcaster with emails and calls and they eventually relented.

But when last year Erin McGowan came to Melbourne to fight Sarah ‘Missy’ Howett the broadcaster chose then only to show a few rounds on the delayed telecast.

Scraps of what was, by all accounts, one of the best fights of the night.

The world is turning though, outside Australia at least.

Just last month, HBO finally conceded that women were in the game for good by broadcasting a fight between Kaliesha West and Angel Gladney this time for the WBO bantamweight title. I didn’t hear anyone complain. In fact it was quite the opposite.

David Avila, writing for The Sweet Science, said: ‘This new crop of female boxers can really punch.’

‘West (12-1-2) is part of the new razor sharp crop of speedy and smooth punching female professional boxers who are filtering through the ranks. She wowed the crowd at the Staples Center with her one-punch knockout of Angel Gladney. The crowd roared partly in surprise and awe at her electrifying left hook.

‘Isn’t it about time HBO televises female prizefighting?’

And the answer is clearly yes it is time. Fox needs to realize that we’re here to stay.

Here’s the whole article if your interested.


About mischamerz

Mischa Merz is an Australian journalist, author, amateur boxer and painter. She is the author of the memoir, The Sweetest Thing, published by Seven Stories Press as well as Bruising, published in Australia first by Picador then re-issued by Vulgar Press in 2008. She has written for a range of newspaper, magazines, specialist publications, literary journals and websites. She lives in Melbourne with her husband Peter.
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