It’s not often an organisation in the right, with a moral high ground and a position of authority, gets it so spectacularly wrong that it turns public opinion against itself – but that’s exactly what the British Boxing Board of Control has done.
If ever there was an a case study for bad crisis PR then it’s the way the BBBoC has handled the David Haye v Dereck Chisora fiasco.
It’s the fight in the ring that shouldn’t happen after their out of ring brawl in Munich. The BBBoC had no jurisdiction to deal with Haye because he had retired and allowed his licence to expire, but they had an opportunity to sanction Chisora.
And they did – but they completely messed it up.
Instead of banning him for a fixed period or sine die, they withdrew his licence indefinitely, but said he was welcome to apply for a licence elsewhere. And that is exactly what has happened.
Haye v Chisora will now take place at Upton Park in London in July under the auspices of the Luxembourg Boxing Federation. So a foreign body will sanction professional boxing in the UK for the first time.
Despite the BBBoC’s protestations, this is perfectly legal and you can’t blame the boxers and their teams for exploiting an opportunity. After all, the first rule of boxing is protect yourself at all times – but the BBBoC has stuck its chin out and has been flattened.
Boxing is under the spotlight and now its own regulatory body has scored a spectacular own goal and enabled the sport’s detractors to put even greater pressure on the it.
There was no real crisis for boxing itself after the Munich brawl, but there is now – and blame for that lies squarely with the BBBoC.
In its response to the announcement of the fight, the BBBoC had a further opportunity to gain public support, enhance its own credibility and at least partially clear up its self-created PR crisis. Instead, it produced one of the poorest statements I’ve read for a long time.
Rambling, unclear and peppered with language such as ‘evince’, ‘therewith’ and ‘repudiation’, the statement merely reinforced the view that the BBBoC is a clueless body populated with pompous old buffers.
If ever an organisation needs crisis PR support it’s the BBBoC.