THE civilising, saving grace of so brutal a sport as boxing is that its protagonists confine their violence to the ring.
Time and again we have seen the loud-mouthed grandstanding of the pre-match hype, followed by a injury-inducing bout, followed very often by a friendly, respectful embrace between victor and vanquished.
The great heavyweights of the past like Ali, Frazier and Foreman talked the talk as well as any of them.
There was plenty of that eye-bulging toe-to-toe stuff and name-calling at the weigh-in and then they would put heart and soul into battering seven bells out of each other during the bout.
But there was a deep-grained honour behind all that show and effort which usually led to them at least saying nice things about each other afterwards.
None would have dreamt of sullying their sport or their own image with the kind of disgraceful behaviour exhibited by British boxers Dereck Chisora and David Haye at the weekend.
Their brawl in front of the world’s media following Chisora’s game defeat to Vitali Klitschko was a shaming moment for a sport which in this day and age needs to be on its best behaviour if it can continue to be taken seriously and not end up banned or abandoned by its fans.
Neither of these two pugilists has covered himself in glory in the sportsmanship stakes before, but this disgrace is a new low for British boxing and I hope the authorities deal with them severely.
Our ’Enry Cooper will be spinning in his grave.