Book Review - Dog Rounds: Death and Life in the Boxing Ring


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The effect on the fighters that were left standing is one of the most fascinating parts of the book. Obviously they were affected emotionally, but they also all, with a couple of exceptions, weren't the same boxer afterwards either. Barry McGuigan makes a brief, yet moving appearance, and is one exception – Eubank Jr may be another.

You may find yourself warming to Eubank Sr, by the way – not much, perhaps, but his experience in the Watson fight, and the way he reacts immediately post the Blackwell fight (he was urging Jr to aim for the body rather than head) does seem to do him credit. Eubank Jr, however, remains somewhat enigmatic, but his attitude, whilst different, is interestingly explored here.

The longest chapter juxtaposes the Eubank Jr/Blackwell fight with the Eubank Sr/Watson fight round by round (including what happened afterwards), and the device, which I thought may not quite work given the differences in the fights, actually does a fine job in getting the visceral nature of the events across.

The last part of the book focuses on the recovery of Blackwell, and asks questions about what drives the boxers, when they know the risks. What drives us to watch, what attracts us. The author himself seems to have a crisis of confidence, particularly when Blackwell ends up in a second coma after sparring – the word 'addiction' is used, and never seemed so apposite.

There's also an interesting, if brief, diversion into wrestling (and if you thought that'd be light relief, think again), and even thoughts of a referee (Kenny Bayless). My one criticism would be that I'd like to have heard more from referees, but then that may have been putting a lot of pressure on the men who have the thankless task of stopping a fight at just the right time...

To sum up then – a rewarding, if at times difficult read, that seems to ask us to address our relationship with a sport so many of us love. It started working on me very quickly – after some consideration I've decided not to include pictures or videos here of fights in the book. When most sports books seem 'by the numbers' and anodyne, this is something different, and I urge you to have a look.

(in case anyone is wondering, I've gone for four stars rather than five purely because I don't think it'll be for everyone. For boxing fans 5 out of 5 would be a fair score).