It's not often I'll write about fighters outside the top 10, especially those outside the top 100, but the "Prizefighter" tournament was such an interesting event I think it's worth noting.
The event was held April 11th in London, and featured some known names, many lesser-known names, and several unknowns. But the single-elimination tournament format insured that one fighter would emerge with a claim to being in the Top 100. All fights were scheduled for 3 rounds.
Martin Rogan, 7-0 before the event and at #117 in the SportsRatings Top 100, was the highest ranked fighter participating. #219 Paul Butlin (11-5) and #317 Colin Kenna (16-6) were the only other "registered" fighters in the mix.
Two others went in undefeated: Dave Ferguson at 5-0 and David Dolan at 7-0. Though he hadn't defeated a name fighter yet, Dolan was considered by many to be the tourney favorite.
Alex Ibbs (3-1), Darren Morgan (5-2), and Billy Bessey (7-5) rounded out the field of eight.
Kenna and Butlin met in the first round, matching two fighters ranked in my system. The higher-ranked Butlin ended up the winner by KO in round two.
The three undefeated fighters also advanced: Dolan by unanimous decision over the 273 lb. Morgan; Ferguson over Bessey, also unanimous; and Rogan by TKO in round 2 over Ibbs. This meant that likely the four best fighters were advancing to the semifinals.
Dolan won all three rounds on all cards over Butlin. The win "registers" Dolan in my system this month, since he beat another registered fighter, meaning that half the fighters in the tournament are now ranked.
Rogan and Ferguson both put their undefeated records on the line, with Rogan emerging victorious. Ferguson didn't show much polished technique in either fight, and Rogan won a UD on all three cards.
Rogan vs. Dolan. The final fight was much more even, and showed better technique, than any of the previous matches. Rogan scored knockdowns in both the first and third rounds that were the deciding factors, the judges scorecards reading 29-25, 29-27, and 28-27.
In all, four fighters will see their SportsRatings rankings affected by this tournament. Here's a preview:
pre post (estimated)
Martin Rogan 117 63
David Dolan --- 165
Paul Butlin 219 265
Colin Kenna 317 348
Martin Rogan will definitely be in the SportsRatings Top 100 Heavyweight Ratings for May, somewhere in the 60s probably. He's now 10-0 as a pro, and after beating two other undefeated fighters including the favorite Dolan he should be considered a possible contender for the UK title. At age 36 his days of being promotable in this fashion might be short, but that still makes him a full five years younger than Matt Skelton, so he maybe he'll get a shot, although he joined this tournament partly in frustration over not getting decent bouts.
The tournament format was interesting, and in these days when boxing is competing with MMA it might help to try to steal some tricks from MMA's playbook. Fewer MMA tournaments exist today, but they are what the sport was built on. In this case, even a field of lesser-knowns has a greater impact due to the tournament format.
The field wasn't filled with contenders like some previous tournaments, such as the People's Choice Heavyweight Tournament in 1993. That tournament had 10 fighters including James "Bonecrusher" Smith and Marshall Tillman, largely because it paid $1 million to the winner, Tony Tubbs. A 2002 event, the Thunderbox Heavyweight Tournament, saw Maurice Harris decision Tony Thompson for $100,000, but was declared an exhibition event, which is why Thompson has only one loss on his record today.
Rogan won 25,000 British pounds for his victories, which by current exchange rates is about half of what Thunderbox paid, and when adjusted for inflation, is about 1/30 of the People's Choice. But even on this lower budget it stands out, especially as a regional event for UK boxing. Despite limited name-recognition in the field, the well-chosen brackets led to two bouts between undefeated fighters and an exciting finalé.