Michael Moynihan: Timing decision could rule out Katie at Croker

Over a coffee recently GAA President Larry McCarthy chatted about it, pointing to the long tradition of boxing in the area around the big house in Jones’ Road - and in the stadium itself
Michael Moynihan: Timing decision could rule out Katie at Croker

Katie Taylor vs Amanda Serrano, Madison Square Garden, New York 30/4/2022. Katie Taylor after the fight. ©INPHO/Gary Carr

The momentum behind a Katie Taylor title fight in Croke Park was strong in the immediate aftermath of her win in New York a few weeks ago. You noticed, surely.

Over a coffee recently GAA President Larry McCarthy chatted about it, pointing to the long tradition of boxing in the area around the big house in Jones’ Road - and in the stadium itself.

“There’s been boxing in Croke Park before, Muhammad Ali fought Al ‘Blue’ Lewis there back in the early seventies,” said McCarthy.

“I think it’d be a great opportunity for Katie to come home and box in Dublin, obviously. There’s a history of boxing in the area around Croke Park, in that vicinity - Kellie Harrington comes from down the street, and the East Wall Boxing Club itselfs very, very close to Croke Park.

“From that perspective it makes an awful lot of sense. Having her fight in Croke Park would be wonderful, of course it would.” 

Croke Park stadium and commercial director Peter McKenna was enthusiastic about hosting the fight after Taylor’s win over Serrano, and McCarthy echoed his thoughts on the matter.

“It’s a sports event so it’s slightly different from hosting a concert in Croke Park and I know Peter (McKenna) touched on that, but I think generally there’d be a positive feeling within the GAA about it. It’s not something I’ve discussed widely but chatting to a few people my impression is they’re in favour of it.

“Think of it - an Irish world champion fighting in an iconic Irish stadium, Croke Park? It’d be an iconic event if all the pieces fall into place, and to me the biggest piece is television.” 

As befits a professor who teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in sport marketing and sport management at Seton Hall University in the US, McCarthy was able to put a different hat on as well, sounding a note of caution about the commercial imperatives.

“The concern, if that’s the right word, is that it probably won’t be our decision to make, really - it’ll be a television decision. The money in boxing, I suspect, is probably in the television rights and reaching the prime markets.

“The prime markets for this event are in the United States, particularly as Katie’s opponent is Puerto Rican. So the question is whether you can fix a bout in Dublin into a TV schedule when we’re five hours ahead of the US.

“A 10pm fight in Dublin is a 5pm fight on the East Coast of the US, a 2pm fight on the West Coast. My own suspicion is that ultimately, therefore, the decision will be a television-based one.

“I know people think about Madison Square Garden as the great venue for boxing in the US, and that Katie fought there the last time (against Serrano), but if you take a step back and really look at it, where are most of the big fights held in the US? They’re held in Las Vegas because the money is there - literally - and because that suits the TV schedules better.” 

Is there anything that can be done on this side of the Atlantic to make the fight a more attractive prospect? The time difference doesn’t look like an area where there’s much room to manoeuvre - unless the organisers decide to revisit the decision made by those who ran the ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ back in 1974.

Muhammad Ali defeated George Foreman in a sensational upset to regain the heavyweight title, but in order to facilitate US television coverage the bout began at 4.30 am.

Is that a runner for a Taylor-Serrano rematch in Dublin 3?

Lessons learned from great writer

News drifted across the Atlantic over the weekend of the passing of Roger Angell of the New Yorker magazine.

Angell was 101 and worked as an editor with writers as various as Vladimir Nabokov, John Updike and V.S. Pritchett, but he’s probably best-known as the writer of long, ruminative pieces on baseball - some of the best sportswriting you can imagine even if you have no interest in that particular sport. (One player, standing up from his crouch behind the plate, Angell compared to “an aluminum extension ladder stretching for the house eaves”.) 

For the daily journalists amongst us there’s a certain element of envy - the magazine allowed Angell plenty of time to compose his pieces, which might emerge weeks after the game he attended. Then again, he only started writing about baseball when he was in his forties. A lesson there for everyone.

You can read his pieces collected in books like Game Time and Five Seasons - and you should. In decades tracking baseball Angell never lost sight of what people get from watching sport: “What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring - caring deeply and passionately, really caring - which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives.”

US lags behind on gambling ads regulations

Apologies in advance to the pal of mine who regularly gets in contact to complain about the American stuff in the column (see elsewhere today).

Because the world of American sport is so vast, and because so much of it has been professional for so long, there are often interesting portents of what’s to come on this side of the Atlantic - on a sheer numbers basis American sports often hit on the future slightly ahead of us.

Which makes it ironic to see them now approaching the future from the opposite direction.

I refer to a recent report in the Guardian where the headline tells you just about everything: “Americans have bet $125 billion on sports in four years since legalisation.” 

In 2018 the US Supreme Court legalised gambling and the resulting explosion in betting - that $125 billion is greater than the net income for America’s farmers last year - has led to some unintended consequences. For instance, legislators in some US states are seeking to regulate gambling advertising because it’s become so pervasive.

From this perspective, though, the huge levels of gambling, the relentless, merciless advertising - all of it suggests that the US has yet to really reckon with the real cost of gambling.

At least on this side of the pond there’s an awareness and an acknowledgement of how insidious gambling can be.

That awareness ranges from distaste for sportspeople who are willing to shill for gambling companies right down to shaking one’s head at the ‘hilarious’ TV advertisements which seek to depict gambling as a wholesome, good-for-everyone-in-the-family, harmless pastime.

Tough lessons ahead for those in American sport. And tougher lessons for those ensnared in American gambling.

Feel the revolution in Beevor's new book

Hold everything just a minute. Anthony Beevor has a new book out.

Beevor’s Stalingrad must be in the top five of anyone who wants to know exactly how unpleasant the Eastern Front was, while Ardennes 1944 is so good you can almost feel the snowflakes falling while you read it.

Now he’s returned, this time with Russia: Revolution and Civil War 1917-1921. It’s out this month, and Beevor is one of those writers whose works you recommend sight unseen.

PS: Sincerest thanks to all who got in touch in the last week.

*Contact: michael.moynihan@examiner.ie

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