Boxing: The Ali Files by Norman Giller – A review

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Within the pages of The Ali Files, from the pen of the prolific Norman Giller, there is a gift for boxing fans young and old. Particularly those for whom Muhammad Ali is an experience afforded by the proxy of film or television interview or those of us desensitised to his brilliance by time and the ensuing mythologising and marketing of his story.

In The Ali Files, Giller has returned Muhammad to his rightful home. The ring. The place where the story began and where his legend was hewn. It serves to refresh us all, including the great man himself.   Continue reading

Boxing: Audley Harrison. The importance of the man who wouldn’t be king.

Audley-MiddletonLennox Lewis strode down the aisle, the glow of certainty and phosphorous bulbs around him. The manifest presence of the world’s heavyweight champion entered the atmosphere.  Assurance screamed silently from his frame.  Natural stillness served to amplify the power beneath. His height and languid gait serving notice that his kingdom remained entirely visible despite the black shields hiding his gaze.  His patronage immediately verified all before him.

A lion, on a high, shaded rock. Continue reading

Wladimir Klitschko, dominance and the burden of proof

Historically, dominance is a fleeting experience in the heavyweight division. Perhaps, thankfully fleeting. In the last century we’ve seen a number of periods in which one fighter reigned over the sports blue ribbon division. Louis, Marciano, Holmes, Tyson. An exalted list of greatness. Once in a generation fighters who destroyed their contemporaries and illuminated their respective eras. Something else unified those luminaries; the lack of a defining opponent.

Wladimir Klitschko, who turns 38 ahead of his next defence, is in the Autumn of a career even by today’s extended measure. Like those illustrious greats he finds himself searching for an opponent who will offer triumphant definition to his manicured statistics or risk being remembered for a defeat to Lamon Brewster in 2004 or a slew of moribund victories similar to the one he will accumulate in April when he tackles over-matched Alex Leapai.

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Boxing: “Just wave Joe, you’re beautiful baby. God bless ya champ.”

ImageLennox Lewis simply isn’t celebrated enough. Now before you depart, mistaking this statement as a prelude to a tired hit-chasing argument about Lennox always beating Tyson – even in 1993 – or whooping Vitali in the never seen rematch, it points instead to his well timed retirement; faculties in tact, money safe and talent fulfilled.

Too few have the wisdom and foresight to resist the public or personal clamour to continue or, worst still, return. Great, good and those no more than game very rarely depart from boxing on their own terms, and if they do, they are frequently drawn back. Invited or not.

Joe Louis, for some the greatest heavyweight of all, was reduced to welcoming tourists to Caeser’s Palace before an equally humble turn as a wrestler and wrestling referee following his second retirement. For fifty years it remained the most visible and documented example of a fall from greatness. Until now.

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Boxing: Derry Across the Mercy; Mathews stops Crolla- Round by Round Report

Derry Mathews won the famous British Lightweight title tonight, stopping Anthony Crolla with just 4 seconds of the 6th round remaining. Referee John Keane jumping to the champion’s aide. Crolla felt the stoppage premature and with so little time until the round end and in the context of a championship fight I have some sympathy, but Mathews twice had his foe in trouble and on the canvas once too. I for one, would relish the prospect of watching a rematch. You will find hastily typed round by round coverage below.

Live, round by round coverage of the classic Lightweight clash between British champion Anthony Crolla and challenger Derry Matthews. Keep clicking refresh for round updates. Continue reading

Boxing: Cleverly pulls out but still hopeful of landing Hopkins – really?

Despite the lack of substance Robin Krasniqi had on his resume, it is regrettable that the custodian of the WBO‘s Light-heavyweight belt, Nathan Cleverly was unable to defend it against him. For all the clamour for more progressive matchmaking for the young Welshman I’m equally eager to see busy fighters. Too many modern day boxers reach title level, whether domestic or international, and adopt the status of a religious deity. Permitting themselves just one or two public appearances a year.  While fight-figures always maintain fighters are made in gyms, I’m an advocate of the alternate view that fighters develop through competition and activity. One destination you wouldn’t expect this lost fight to lead to however is, Bernard ruddy Hopkins. Continue reading

Boxing: Tyson Fury career lightest at 245 pounds

If Tyson Fury is to be taken seriously as a heavyweight contender it is always implied that it will only happen when he adds stamina to his natural gifts of hand-speed, confidence, height and gumption. The latter he has already demonstrated in abundance. The pre-amble to his fight with Martin Rogan has centered on two things, Fury’s Irishness and his claim to the ‘crowd’ at the Belfast event and bold proclamations about previously unheralded fitness for his clash with the 40-year-old veteran. Weighing in at a lean 17 stone 7 pounds 12 ounces, or 245 pounds to our American cousins, Fury suggests he has employed some much needed discipline in preparation for this Irish Heavyweight title clash. Continue reading

Boxing: Haye, Ron Boddy and all that Chazz

September 10th 2004 was a seminal night in British Boxing. For the curious, this was the day David Haye learned the priceless lessons only defeat can impart in his stoppage loss to the venerable Carl Thompson. Without a loss at that juncture, one wonders if Haye would have rallied to hit the heights he did. Had the loss come later, it may have been too late for the rededication he employed post-Thompson. It was a memorable event for those in attendance too. My own enjoyment of proceedings was enhanced by a chance introduction to a stalwart observer of the fight game, and now regular on Steve Bunce’s BBC London show, Ron Boddy. Continue reading

Boxing: DeMarcus gets the Corley never expected; disappointing for McCloskey

Criticising boxing promoters is a popular business. Both historically and in matters topical. A fighter’s promoter, who can be his manager too, despite the conflict of interest inherent in that scenario,  is often lumbered with blame for all manner of peaks and troughs in a fighter’s career. As uninformed bystanders, it is easy to point the finger of blame at those who determine the trajectory and strategy of a fighter’s career. Beyond the knowledge of the ‘man in street’ are the unknown variables; from a fighter’s form and focus to the sensibilities, pliable and otherwise, of the regulatory bodies and television networks who fund and benchmark the process. To date, Matchroom Sports has proved a reinvigorating presence in the stagnant waters of British Boxing and thus far remain untouched by criticism. DeMarcus Corley as an opponent for Paul McCloskey on May 5th, even as a late replacement, should provide dénouement to that honeymoon period.

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Boxing: Frank Warren – “It would be a tough fight but even if he got beat, so what?”

I cannot think of a statement of more significance, if it is upheld, than the one Frank Warren delivered to the BBC in his attempt to substantiate the suggestion Nathan Cleverly is being primed for a ‘unification’ fight with Bernard Hopkins later this year. Followers of the noble art are well versed in the model Warren usually employs in his promotion of an unbeaten fighter like Cleverly; offer the fighter every advantage through shrewd matchmaking via the vagaries of the WBO’s ranking system and  home comforts while simultaneously tantalising the public with tales of forthcoming opponents. Continue reading

Boxing: Tyson Fury will topple a Klitschko first – BoxingWriter Reader’s Vote

The audience of BoxingWriter.co.uk plumped for young Tyson Fury in a poll which asked the question; Who will one of the Klitschko’s lose to first? It will surprise many I’m sure that the 6-9 giant has emerged as the most likely to dethrone either brother. Naturally, Tony Thompson and likely Alexander Povetkin are the two with most immediate opportunity and that should shorten their odds and improve their support in this poll. In part it did, but Fury finished with more than 52% of the votes. An astonishing result. And yes, it was a relatively modest sample. But still….

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Boxing: March of Time for Light-Welter and Welterweight veterans

It strikes me as strangely poetic that three of the most significant fighters of their generation should all be pursuing relevance and redemption this weekend. Erik Morales, Jose Luis Castillo and Zab Judah all hope to eek one last hurrah from their respective careers. Most notable is Morales’ attempt to defend the WBC’s Light-Welterweight belt, followed by Judah’s eliminator bout with Vernon Paris and lastly Castillo, who looked jaded 5 years ago against Ricky Hatton, mixing it up with Jose Miguel Cotto. The oldest among them, Castillo, will be furthest from the top of the bill. Continue reading

Boxing: Heavyweight Poll – Who will one of the Klitschko’s lose to first?

There are precious few negative descriptives left unemployed  by those who try to define the current heavyweight scene. From the shallow to the lamentable, to the drab and forgettable the current crop of heavyweights and those still clinging to credibility from the last generation have largely all been exposed or dismantled at the hands of the Brothers Ukraine. Those thought to have the tools to upset their duopoly; Povetkin and Haye have proven lacking in the ability or willingness to execute the required strategy. So who will find a way to beat them? Continue reading

Boxing: Judah back to Brooklyn; but a ring is a ring is a ring

I read today Light Welterweight contender Zab Judah is promoting his next fight on the notion it represents his debut in his native Brooklyn and is therefore, publicity implies, likely to evoke a return to the glories of his past. Like many 34-year-old pugilists before him, Judah is attempting to invert the natural course all fight-careers take; decline, by reaching for the placebo effect fleetingly afforded by trainer change, managerial move or in this case a fight in his home town.  Continue reading

Boxing: In form and active; the path less trodden to the Klitschkos

Fifty-five thousand people gathered at the weekend to watch Wladimir Klitschko render the once proud Cruiserweight Champion of the World, Jean Marc-Mormeck, even more ineffective than those with some foresight believed he’d prove when the fight was signed. Size is not the only currency in the heavyweight division, it is important to remember Jess Willard, at 6ft 6 inches and 235 pounds, was pounded to defeat by Jack Dempsey and later Primo Carnera who weighed 270 pounds and was of comparably lofty perspective when Max Baer inflicted a similar drubbing. At nearly 40 years of age, inactive for 15 months and struggling to stretch the tape even to six feet, Mormeck was however, spectacularly unqualified for the adventure he signed up for. Continue reading

Boxing: Bobby Gunn and James Toney in a room. Never going to be tea and biscuits.

It may surprise some readers to learn Bobby Gunn causes the biggest spike in readership whenever I cobble (do you see what I did there) together a news or opinion piece on the plucky prizefighter. Avoyd Mayweather holds nothing on the scrapper once spectacularly referred to as “the most ferocious fighter since Jack Dempsey” ahead of a one round mauling at the fists of Enzo Maccarinelli. He also fought Tomasz Adamek for another portion of the Cruiserweight title so his notoriety isn’t entirely hollow. I ducked any coverage of his bare-knuckle contests on principle but I must confess to a curious interest in his next bout. A clash with James Toney. Yes, the real one. Continue reading

Boxing: Povetkin still looking for the World but now without an Atlas.

Muhammad Ali was 32 years old when he Rumbled in the Jungle in 1974. His victory considered all the more miraculous given his veteran status and the power of youth presumed to reside with George Foreman.  There are many who feel he should have retired at that zenith. How times change. On Saturday night another 32-year-old, Alexander Povetkin, he of the callow face and quiet demeanour, will belatedly try to step from the shadows of the brothers Ukraine. Continue reading

Magee and Confusion Reign; the WBA and the quest for ever more titles

Only those entirely immersed in the sport are able to negotiate the labyrinthine collection of weight classes, governing bodies and titles the sport has adopted to provide measure of its participants’ success or failure. But as it adds ever more tiers and layers, so the benchmarks become ever more meaningless. Even the seemingly impeachable concept of a fighter’s record is blighted by context and controversy.

There is no longer an available method for recognising a fight’s or a fighter’s place in the sport’s hierarchy. And there is the rub. The simplest, purest sport is now engulfed in unnecessary complication. Complication that serves to ostracise the general public and push boxing to the margins of the sporting landscape. Continue reading

Boxing: Nobody gets out on their own terms, not even Hopkins

It was sad to see Bernard Hopkins, a fighter who has battled the boxing establishment, its promotional and managerial cartels and the perceived wisdom that tried to dictate to him for twenty years finished by one of the sports unshakeable truths; nobody leaves the sport on their own terms.  Bernard has spent the past decade and specifically, the last 5 years selling his resistance to the ageing process. Alas, a cruel injury may snatch the crescendo he still pursued from this curious if inexplosive tale. Continue reading