Costello & Bunce podcast: When should a trainer throw in the towel?

By Michael EmonsBBC Sport
Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder
Deontay Wilder criticised assistant trainer Mark Breland after he threw the towel in during the American's world heavyweight title loss to Tyson Fury last month

Protect your boxer or let them go out fighting? When is it acceptable for a trainer to throw in the towel and hand their fighter an immediate defeat?

They are the questions every trainer faces, which have come to the fore with two recent high-profile corner stoppages.

Last month, Deontay Wilder was furious with assistant trainer Mark Breland's decision to bring a premature end to his WBC heavyweight title fight against Tyson Fury.

"As a warrior, as a champion, I want to go out on my shield," said Wilder, who did not allow Breland into the dressing room after the fight.

"I told my team to never throw the towel in - it's my life, my career, he has to accept my wishes."

On Saturday, trainer Joe Gallagher was criticised for waiting until the 11th round to end it as Scott Quigg was outclassed by Jono Carroll in their super-featherweight contest.

Former world champion Carl Frampton said the stoppage came four rounds too late.

In the latest 5 Live boxing podcast, Mike Costello and Steve Bunce, along with Adam Booth - who trained world champions David Haye, George Groves and Andy Lee - discuss why a corner decides to stop a fight.

Our experts also discuss world super-featherweight champion Terri Harper and the UK impact of streaming service DAZN.

A difficult watch, not a pounding

Joe Gallagher, Jono Carroll and Scott Quigg
Joe Gallagher (left) threw in the towel as his fighter Scott Quigg (right) lost to Jono Carroll

Bunce: "Some of the things written about Joe were ridiculous - we're all geniuses afterwards.

"Quigg got hurt at the end of the 11th but was getting outboxed, picked off, countered and that was Carroll's tactic.

"I don't think Joe was necessarily at fault - I'm not 100% sure he should've pulled him out after eight, nine or 10, or threw in the towel earlier in the 11th.

"Would it make my top 50 incidents where the corner failed to look after their boxer? No. Would I have liked it to be stopped earlier? Yes, but I'm not going to point the finger at Joe."

Costello: "You cannot describe it as a pounding, but there was a point where there was no question he couldn't win.

"He was not going to break Carroll down or stop it with one shot so there's a point where you protect, not so much the boxer's health, but the dignity and reputation.

"I've seen many a worse beating but I was getting texts saying 'this is a tough watch' and it was."

Can a fighter defend themselves and can they compete?

Booth has pointed out the decision to end a fight could determine if a boxer fights for, or misses out on, millions of pounds in their next bout.

He recalled an incident when Lee was knocked down in the first round by Peter Quillin and was struggling.

Andy Lee
Andy Lee was close to defeat in his middleweight bout against Peter Quillin in April 2015, but fought back to gain a draw

Booth: "I looked at Andy sliding along the ropes, not able to walk in a straight line, and I had this feeling the fight was over.

"I got him to slow his breathing, I said a couple of things and he didn't respond so I was getting ready to call the referee over.

"I said 'how do you feel?' and he didn't respond so I said 'Andy, if you don't tell me what I need to hear, I will stop the fight' and very quickly his focus came back.

"I said 'what are you going to do?' and he told me something technical, something I needed to hear. I said 'stand up', and in that second round he managed to get control.

"The easiest decision would've been to stop the fight. Andy finished the fight and got a draw [and then fought Billy Joe Saunders for the WBO middleweight championship].

"I made the right decision but it's a thankless task - it's easy to get it wrong but you rely on your knowledge of the individual. Is a fighter able to protect themselves, and can they compete?"

Saving a fighter so they can come back stronger

It is said in boxing that the last thing a brave fighter needs is a brave corner.

Booth spoke about when he threw the towel in on Haye during the fifth round of his IBO world cruiserweight fight against Carl Thompson.

David Haye
David Haye's loss to Carl Thompson in September 2004 came in the 11th fight of his professional career, though he went on to win world titles at heavyweight and cruiserweight

Booth: "That was not a difficult decision. I knew he didn't have another seven rounds in him.

"After the fight, he whispered 'I don't feel right' and we went straight to hospital. He had a concussion so it was the right decision."

Costello thinks Wilder has a better chance of regaining his belts because of Breland's decision to throw in the towel.

Costello: "If Wilder wins the third fight against Fury, will he thank Breland for keeping him fresh?

"If he had got through 12 rounds and taken another battering for five rounds, would he be ready for 18 July?"

Also on the podcast...

'My path will lead me to Katie Taylor'

Terri Harper
Harper beat Finland's Eva Wahlstrom in February to gain her WBC and IBO super-featherweight belts

Terri Harper, who has fought 10 times as a professional, puts her WBC and IBO women's super-featherweight belts on the line against fellow Briton Natasha Jonas in Doncaster on 24 April.

"Natasha was one of the elite amateurs - I remember winning a national championship and she presented me with my medal," said Harper, 23.

"There's a lot of pressure, people are saying it will be easy as Natasha lost to Viviane Obenauf [who Harper has beaten], but we're preparing for the best Natasha.

"I want to do this for as long as possible. Katie Taylor is the queen of boxing and I believe my path will lead me to her."

'DAZN launch shows how strong British boxing is'

More than 100 fights a year are streamed on DAZN in the United States

DAZN, a streaming service similar to Netflix, is set to launch in the UK this May, and could change how boxing is watched here.

Costello: "It's a statement of intent from DAZN, but shows how strong British boxing is and the atmosphere generated at British fights.

"If you're going to pay £4.99 or whatever a month for DAZN, that adds to what you pay for Sky Sports and pay-per-view fights. It's becoming very expensive to watch boxing."

Bunce: "If they do what they've done in the US, they'll put on as much as they can. They are not going to just do three shows a year."