No more heroes

 

My social networks have been pretty filled up today with talk of the boxing match between Froch and Groves tonight at Wembley stadium.

 

Am I going?No. Am I going to watch? No. Am I even remotely interested? No. Boxing is a great sport and I think that at its two ends – olympic and amateur; and Las Vegas and OTT, it can be a great spectacle. However there is the same problem with boxing as there is in snooker – there are no more heroes anymore.

 

Look back to the 1980s, football and rugby were barely noticed in the television schedules, and as far as I know there was hardly any interest in athletics outside of the Olympics or tennis with Wimbledon. Mind you, nothing much has changed really there.

 

What you had in the 1980s with snooker and boxing was personalities – people who were entertaining to watch and who had a great character. For boxing, this was definitely the case in the 1990s too, as Tyson came and went, Holyfield proved to be the everyman and Bruno and Lennox Lewis fought out the British affections. At lower weights, Benn, Eubank, Watson and Prince Naseem divided people, but captured attention like no other time for lower weight ranges. Who is the middleweight champion now?

 

Aside from the likes of Mayweather and Pacquiao, boxing barely has any stars these days, and I do throw in Britain’s Amir Kham. A terrific star, but seemingly unable to escape his amateur side, whatever happened to his promising sibling(s)?

 

Boxing should and probably will come good again, but for now and tonight, I’ll see who wins and wonder what their first names were.  

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“Every man will do his duty”

 

Last night saw the announcement by 100+ capped England defender Ashley Cole that he was to retire from international football.

 

It’s good timing from Cole; he is battling for a place in the starting line up against Everton’s Leighton Baines and for a place in the squad against Southampton’s prodigy Luke Shaw.

 

All three at their peak would be viable selections, but Baines and Shaw have excelled while Cole has not looked his best and is set to leave Chelsea at the end of his contract this summer.

 

Now my own personal feelings about Cole aside, I’m not a fan of the man but am of the player, his decision not to feature anymore struck of “I’m not picked so I won’t play anymore!!” It’s a shame that an England international, Champions League and Premier League winner should take such an attitude – but I guess it summarises the man.

 

I’ve always disagreed with the concept of retiring from international duty. You do not retire, you stop getting selected. The England team has been hit in the past by the retirement of players who were still well within their prime: Shearer, Scholes, Lineker. Only in the case of Lineker being replaced by Shearer was there a natural replacement. Since Shearer, England has had Michael Owen who did a great job for a while as England’s main striker. Since then the mantle has been picked up by Peter Crouch, Andy Carroll and Danny Welbeck, all aided by the only man who seems to care, Wayne Rooney.

 

So Cole has left at a time when there were natural replacements, and given Head Coach Roy Hodgson an easier time by not having to choose him. But the better attitude to this would have been to have called Hodgson and said “if you want to take the other two, do it as they are in better form, but I’m here if you need me.” Instead he’s decided to cut his nose off to spite his face and ruled himself out of contention. Sheer class Ashley.

 

It’s my view that you don’t retire from international duty, you just don’t get picked because there is a better option. Unfortunately some footballers don’t see that my way.