While last Saturday’s so-called fight between returning heavyweight Tyson Fury and Albanian Cruiserweight Sefer Seferi may have been a damp squib in the ring, one talking point at least was created as an ugly fracas broke out between spectators near ring-side.
Cameras caught the moment that the brawl began in the second round, and even Fury and Seferi directed their attention away from each other and towards the scenes that were unfolding as the crowd turned against itself.
The available video footage had so far been insufficient to explain what caused the disturbance.
But two unnamed brothers from North Wales who claim to have been involved have come forward to put across their version of events, beginning by stating that they had paid upwards of £1000 for their tickets, granting them seats in the front rows.
One of the brothers told the Daily Post: "It was all OK until Tyson Fury’s fight was due to start. The front few rows were just swarmed with people who shouldn’t have been there, disrupting the view for everyone who had paid to have that view.
"We were shouting the crowd control people to come down and ask them to move, but they didn’t do anything about it."
It was at this point, it is claimed, that the brothers were attacked by a mob of fellow spectators.
He continued: "The next thing I knew there were about five or six people attacking me. I was beaten, punched and kicked, and I could see about three or four of them attacking the other man. They were seriously hurting him.
"It was about two or three minutes before the crowd control people came over one by one. But instead of taking the others out, they instead decided to throw the four of us out."
The footage certainly seems to corroborate suggestions that one group of perpetrators overwhelmed a smaller one, which if correct, would form the basis of any police investigations into whether a punishable assault occurred.
The girlfriend of the man’s brother contacted the MEN arena to complain about what she considered an unfair response to the melee which saw the smaller group ejected from the stadium.
In response to the woman’s complaint, the arena responded via email: "Whilst we agree we can’t ascertain how the incident started, the footage (also) shows your partner throwing numerous punches which encouraged other members of the crowd to join in.
"As he was involved with the fight, even if it was only in self-defence, we are unable to comment further."
Investigations will of course continue until all of the facts are established, but what is certain is that the brawl in the crowd was a black eye for British Boxing.
The ugly scenes were a poor reflection of the sport. With Anthony Joshua regularly selling out the 78000 Principality Stadium, spectator safety must be a priority, and security teams must be properly equipped to deal with trouble if and when it occurs.
The possible ramifications of having such a large number of people mingling in a relatively confined space is not to be underestimated, and there should be no negative impact on those who simply want to see a good fight in the ring.
Commenting on the crowd troubles at the MEN, a British Transport Police spokesman said:
"A disturbance occurred inside Manchester Arena on Saturday night. British Transport Police officers were on standby but the incident was dealt with effectively and efficiently by Arena security staff."
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