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BOXING: Swindon trainer slams ‘unprofessional’ boxing board over dealings following Groves contest
PADDY Fitzpatrick has slammed the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) for the “unprofessional” way they dealt with the aftermath of George Groves’ world title fight with Carl Froch last year.
Following the controversial ninth round stoppage of Groves, BBBofC general secretary Robert Smith immediately backed referee Howard Foster’s decision by saying: “Howard Foster is a world class official. He did his job tonight and I can back him on that.”
Swindon boxing trainer Fitzpatrick, who trains super middleweight star Groves, believes Smith was wrong to jump to Foster’s defence so quickly after the fight without hearing any evidence from Groves’ corner.
Since the bout in November Fitzpatrick’s boxer Groves successfully won an appeal to the International Boxing Federation (IBF) and has since been installed as the mandatory challenger to Froch’s IBF title.
And this week Groves launched a further appeal, this time to the BBBofC, to ask for his defeat to be deemed a ‘no contest’ although Fitzpatrick doesn’t expect them change the stance they made after the fight.
“He obviously doesn’t want that defeat on his record,”said Fitzpatrick.
“George is doing what he feels is right. He has got a right and duty for himself and his wife to fight for everything that he should be getting.
“Being as they (the BBBofC) acted unprofessionally after the fight and made their decision before they received our information or evidence I don’t see any reason why they would change their minds now.
“I think it might just get their backs up.
“With this one I don’t think they will give it any credit. Going by the way they have dealt with things so far with the aftermath of the fight, I expect they will only pay George's petition lip service.”
As a BBBofC licence holder Fitzpatrick claims he and Groves have been let down by Smith and his organisation, adding: “The board have acted unprofessionally by making a decision to defend Howard Foster knowing that we were going to be contesting the stoppage and before receiving any of our own evidence.
“That referee is a board of control licence holder, same as me, same as George and if you are a board of control licence holder then you should be represented and protected by the board.
“The board of control are their to protect licence holders and that means to stand up for what is right.
“It is not always going to be possibly to choose who you stand up for. When Robert Smith made a choice live on TV and in the Mail newspaper as a board of control representative to say he was standing by Howard Foster that for me is acting unprofessionally, right up there with Howard Foster ‘liking’ a comment on facebook saying Carl Froch would knock George out in round nine.
“Some people will want me to be quiet and not rock the boat, others might say I'm looking for my 15 minutes of fame but I just want what is right. I feel gutted that I have a licence for the British Boxing Board of Control and I have zero protection.
“I never turned round and said that there was anything crooked or bent about the decision, just that the whole thing had been dealt with unprofessionally. Robert Smith has played judge and jury on the verdict before receiving our evidence.”
Referee Foster has since resigned from the IBF although he remains a member of the BBBofC and Fitzpatrick believes he should be taken to task about the way he dealt with the Froch-Groves bout.
“In my eyes Howard Foster should be called in by the board,” added Fitzpatrick.
“I am not saying fire or fine Howard Foster but something needs to be done. Maybe referees in cases like this should be retested.
“I have never slagged anyone off, I have just stuck to the facts that he acted unprofessionally.
“The IBF, and they set the rules on the night for the last fight, ruled Howard Foster acted unprofessionally and I would like to know what the British Boxing Board of Control think should be done to Howard Foster. Do they think he should resit his exams or will it just be a case of it getting left until it happens again?
“Here’s my point. I have a driving licence which means I am a good driver but if I suddenly go out smashing up cars, speeding and drink driving then I am no longer a good driver and I could lose my licence. It’s the same for boxing referees. Just because Howard Foster is a world class referee doesn’t mean he always makes world class decisions, he can make mistakes like anyone else. That is what the boxing board need to accept.”