Rio Ferdinand announced on Tuesday that his attempt to become a proffessional boxer will be chronicled in a reality show named Defender to Contender. Photo: Reuters/Tom Jacobs

JOHANNESBURG - My Oupa loved Creme Soda floats. It was an art form to him - a simple indulgence resulting in maximum pleasure. When we would visit, he would take immense time and effort to create the perfect float for us, his grandchildren.

There seemed to be a tightly-guarded formula, easy to grasp, difficult to master, wherein the correct ratio of ice-cream to Creme Soda was crucial, as was the sprinkling of Milo on the top.

He used to serve it with a spoon and his instructions were always clear: Eat first the ice cream on top and then mix the rest of it into the soft-drink.

In this fashion, in his opinion, you’d get the best of both worlds - a fantastically presented treat that would end in the creamy goodness of a “Brown Cow” (well that was what it was called whenever there was Coke involved).

My Oupa was a builder by trade. In Joburg South - Glenvista, Mulbarton, Glenanda and Liefte en Vrede - there are several houses he built and in some areas there, the foundations laid, were the first.

He loved doing things with his hands, working, melding, molding, chiselling, shaping, painting, carving and taking pride whenever he finished construction.

I think it is for these reasons, he loved boxing so much. I recall him always looking forward to a big bout, especially in the heavyweight division, and watching Friday night fights on SABC.

He was a huge fan of Brian Mitchell and I can clearly recall my Oupa’s despair when Mitchell drew in 1991 against Tony “The Tiger” Lopez for the IBF Junior Lightweight title, which subsequently saw the South African also stripped of his WBA title.

I think, were he alive today, my Oupa would be shaking his head in disappointment at the sport he so loved.

More so after this past week when it was announced that former Manchester United defender, club captain and Red Devils legend, Rio Ferdinand, was turning pro in the pugilist game at the age of 38.

Now Ferdinand has defended his foray into the sport by saying that it was an outlet for his anger after the death of his wife to cancer in 2015 and that his turn was a natural evolution of that.

Well, good for him. We should all be so lucky to find a recourse to deal with grief if such a tragedy should befall us.

However, it seems his push is also backed by a £250 000 reality show that will chronicle his quest, maybe, to a title fight. The truth is, if it was a Plain Jane or Joe Public that so boldly declared their professional turn so close to their 40s, no-one would care.

And that small percentage that did, would call them quite mad. Even disrespectful. It is these types of gimmicks that further devalue a sport fighting to find its place in the world.

Recent cards, such as Floyd Mayweather v Conor McGregor don’t help either, no matter what praise is heaped on the Irishman and MMA fighter for nearly going the distance.

And when boxing does get it right, such as booking Gennady Golovkin against Saul Alvarez - a tasty bout if ever there was one - the main event does not live up to the heavy burden of expectation, or as the New Yorker declared after that encounter: “One of boxing’s exceptionally unsatisfying conclusions.”

The sport has become a confusing mess - in the four major boxing associations, there are a minimum of 64 world champions across the various divisions. I say minimum because there can be more than one champion in an organisation’s division.

Like the WBA’s Light Heavyweight championship currently, which has three title holders: an undisputed champion, a regular champion and an interim champion. What casual viewer can keep up with such an overwhelming amount of information?

So, long live the current contrivances that must generate interest, even if it is at the misfortune of the greater game. Methinks my Oupa is turning in his grave.

The Star

Like us on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter