The sight of two boxers in a boxing ring might turn some people off, but rarely will it confuse. Violent and controversial, boxing is also one of the more easily understood sports in the world; we all have a grasp of what is going on when two men or women throw punches at one another; we are all aware of the intended aim and outcome. And, in that sense, there is perhaps no purer sport.
That said, boxing, often referred to as the 'noble art' or the 'sweet science', is far more than just a case of one boxer throwing punches at another. There's a skill to it, an art to it, and only once you spend three minutes – the length of a single round – in a ring trying to punch and, crucially, evade punches is it possible to fully appreciate its gruelling nature and the need for skill, strength, stamina and no small amount of bravery.
The boxing ring itself is unforgiving. Ranging in size from sixteen foot to twenty-two foot, with four ring ropes keeping the two boxers inside, it's no place for pacifists. It got its name – a 'ring' – during a time when fights happened in a roughly drawn circle on the ground. The first square ring, however, was introduced by the Pugilistic Society in 1838. Nowadays you'll often hear the boxing ring described as the 'squared circle', a nod both to its origins as a circle and the fact its shape changed in the intervening years.
Boxing matches typically take place over four, six, eight, ten or twelve rounds, though the full twelve is traditionally saved for championship fights, of which there are many. In fact, today there are more world championships and world championship contests than ever before. This is because in each weight category you can find as many as six or seven world champions. Too many in the opinion of most, the respected champions are those in possession of the World Boxing Council (WBC) belt, the World Boxing Association belt (WBA) or the International Boxing Federation (IBF) belt.
As for weight classes, these too have multiplied over the years. Gone are the days of just eight (flyweight, bantamweight, featherweight, lightweight, welterweight, middleweight, light-heavyweight and heavyweight). Now we have seventeen. Added to the original bunch are minimumweight, light-flyweight, super-flyweight, super-bantamweight, super-featherweight, super-lightweight, super-welterweight, super-middleweight and cruiserweight.
Currently, within these divisions, Great Britain and Ireland boast a whopping ten world champions. Because of this, the sport is again the talk of pubs, taxis and barber shops, and, in April, more than 90,000 fans descended on Wembley Stadium to watch Anthony Joshua, London's WBA and IBF world heavyweight champion, defeat the great Wladimir Klitschko in the eleventh round of a record-breaking classic. It was a monumental occasion, the highlight of the year's sporting calendar, and proved beyond any doubt that boxing still carries mass appeal.
Dog Rounds by Elliot Worsell out 13th July RRP £16.99 (Blink Publishing)