Don’t believe their hype as Donald Findlay QC and Tam Cowan land body blows

So often in sport the pre-match build up ends up being far more interesting than the encounter itself.

In 2002 Lennox Lewis and Mike Tyson fought at the Pyramid Arena in Memphis, Tennessee. It was billed as the fight of the year. The fight itself was massive just because of the street fighting nature of Mike Tyson, whilst Lennox Lewis’ British credentials added a little transatlantic edge to proceedings in a heavyweight division dominated by Americans.

The IBF, IBO and WBC heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis goes head to head with former IBF, WBA and WBC heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. Tasty right?

The build-up was incredible. The aura surrounding Tyson and the confidence emanating from the Lewis camp had it down as a classic. Then in the pre-fight press conference the hype was ramped up to the max when a massive brawl broke out between Tyson and Lewis and a few of their respective entourages joined in.

Yet once the exchange of punches actually began on the night, it was fairly clear it had all been smoke and mirrors from the Tyson camp. The faded champion had appeared to expend all his energy in the pre-match shenanigans and the fight itself petered out to an eighth round win for Lennox Lewis.

Tyson was shown for the fading star he was, while Lewis didn’t look much better despite winning the fight. In short the pre match build up was far more interesting that what was actually served up.

Lewis fought one more time, beating Vitali Klitschko – one of just two defeats on the Ukrainian’s record – before retiring from boxing in 2003. Tyson fought three more times – winning just once – before hanging his gloves up in 2005.

Turns out what we were watching was two fighters passed their sell by date. What we were sold was the next Thrilla in Manilla. The public were sold a pup.

Scottish football’s current big fight build up seems to be heading in the same direction. The pre-match has gone on so long that the public are already wise to the fact there may not be much power in the punch of the challenger. In the Royal Blue corner the heavyweight champion of the past (in their own minds) has long been replaced by a pale imitation (A Tribute Act).

The public are being sold ‘the’ Rangers as the Mike Tyson who knocked out Michael Spinks in 91 seconds when really it’s the Tyson who fought Lewis, weighed down by personal issues and financial problems.

It’s fair to say the SPFL have been more aggressive in their own pre-match press interviews, yet ‘the’ Rangers are the one who are telling the world they have the knockout punch in their armoury. They do however seem a little shy on detail. The fact the SPFL – somewhat famous for their media silence – have been far more public in their defence certainly fuels the fire that there may be something exciting to come in this exchange.

However, you know the bravado is questionable when the country’s most famous bluenose QC – who has made a personal fortune dealing with the minutiae of legal details – is questioning the validity of the evidence the Ibrox club may or may not have.

Donald Findlay QC and current Cowdenbeath chairman spoke last night to BBC Scotland’s The Nine: “I’m disappointed in the way they have approached this,” the QC said. “If they have evidence to back up what they say – and I assume they must – let’s see it. Why is it being held back?

“If you have something, just let everybody see it, then we can deal with it.”

It appears Findlay himself has no qualms with the legality of the SPFL ballot after gaining 81% of the vote following Dundee changing their vote during the process nor does he seem perturbed by the thought of any coercion being involved in the voting process.

As Donald Findlay said during the Interview; “I’d like to see them try.” With his own legal background it would take a brave SPFL administrator to try and bully the Cowdenbeath Chairman.

In fact Findlay appeared to further jab the ribs of his former club when he said criticism of the SPFL ballot was “a lot of noise from limited quarters”. It’s certainly starting to sound that way.

When these two self-styled heavyweights do ever get into the ring it might be worth considering the words of Public Enemy. ‘Don’t believe the hype’.

It would appear the pre-fight exchanges in the press are going to be as good as it gets unless ‘the’ Rangers have a powerful right hook in their game plan that no-one has seen. Somehow I’m already thinking this fight is more Box Nation than Pay per View.

It took Tyson 91 seconds to knock out Spinks in his prime. By the time he fought Lewis he wasn’t the same boxer. He lacked his previous power and faded in fights after the fourth round. He was living of past reputation.

There are similarities to that tale when compared to this years and last season’s title races. Steven Gerrard’s side talk a good game, come out fighting and their legs go at the halfway stage. It’s then left to Celtic land a few body shots and a knockout blow.

Off the park ‘the’ Rangers boardroom is trying to allude to having a bit more power than their on-field charges. As things stand they look just as wanting. Even their own legal heavyweight supporter is questioning what they’ll bring to the ring on 12 May.

Somehow I think this encounter may be as anti-climactic as Lewis-Tyson from 2002.

This time I’ll just watch the replays on You Tube. I’ve had my fill of long finished fighters trying to remain relevant.

And as a wee postscript to this, here is BBC’s Off the Ball co-host Tam Cowan – a Motherwell fan as you all know – giving his take on this current controversy surrounding the claims against the SPFL coming out of Ibrox.

Outside of the mad Ibrox bubble – and their two relegated friends – there’s very few in Scottish football who would disagree with Cowan.

Niall J


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About Author

As a Bellshill Bhoy I was taken to my first Celtic game in the summer of 1987. It was Billy McNeill’s return to Celtic Park as manager and Celtic lost 5-1 to Arsenal . I thought I was a jinx, I think my Grandfather might have thought the same. It was the finest gift anyone ever gave me when he walked me through Parkhead's gates.

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