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Lou DiBella urges serious conversation on fighter safety

The promoter says we need to review a number of topics to make the sport safer, and not just hope for the best.

Regis Prograis v Josh Taylor - World Boxing Super Series Super-Lightweight Ali Trophy Final: Press Conference Photo by James Chance/Getty Images
Wil Esco is an assistant editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2014.

The run of tragic deaths in the sport of boxing this year has been nothing short of a black cloud. And with promoter Lou DiBella just recently losing one of his fighters, Patrick Day, to a head injury which lead to his death, the promoter says we need to start doing more and praying less.

“You need people to stop saying they’re praying. Stop putting up praying hands and saying they feel really bad when someone dies. We all know then the conversation ends as opposed to taking a good look at why people are getting hurt and what we can do to make it better.”

When asked about specific things in the sport he believes needs review, DiBella mentioned a few things that stand out, including PEDs, weight cutting, and sparring.

“There’s no other sport were practicing for that sport is as dangerous as it is for the real thing. I’m not so sure whether guys constantly being the gym and sparring regularly, how much are they leaving in practice?

“Sparring can be just as dangerous as the fight. That’s certainly an issue that has to be looked into.”

The sparring part is an interesting point to make because it is essentially unregulated and many injuries happen in the lead up to actual fights — with many of those injuries never revealed until after the fact. In recent years we’ve seen the NFL impose restricted methods of practice, limiting the hits players take in between games. Might we see soon see something similar in boxing? Regretfully, I doubt it because the sport is too fragmented in its organizational structure to enforce that kind of oversight.

Nonetheless, there’s certainly good discussion to be had on the topic of improving fighter safety. Are there any ways you can think of to make the sport inherently safer for its participants?

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