On the evening of Friday 18 May, boxing fans gathered at The Pavilion in Flemington, Melbourne to witness super-feather weight champion ‘Wild Will’ Tomlinson defend his world title against Mexican, Daniel Ruiz. The venue was filled to capacity. Tomlinson successfully won five of the first six rounds of the fight. During the seventh round, however, a neighbourhood power blackout caused darkness to descend upon the arena. When the lights had not returned after fifteen minutes, the International Boxing Organisation supervisor and referee ordered a verdict in favour of Tomlinson based on the scores at that point. This incident highlights the importance of contingency planning for public venues. Utility failures such as power outages can put an immediate end to an event causing potential safety concerns for patrons and reputational damage to the venue. When a sporting competition is terminated prematurely issues of fairness can arise. The challenging boxer in this case was denied the opportunity to fight additional rounds which meant that the blackout effectively secured his loss. Paying spectators would also have cause to complain in this situation as their experience was cut short.
Venues should ensure that they have a backup power generator to prevent incidents like this from occurring. It is also important that they have an emergency plan which includes a response for power blackout situations, as well as effective emergency lighting.