Going mainstream. Anthony Joshua, the rogue who charmed your Gran

There was a time when boxing in Britain on Saturday night meant Colin Dunne or Jawaid Khaliq and circuit pros like Rakhim Mingaleyev and Dariusz Snarski. The latter, solid, earnest little scrappers but unknown in their own hometowns, the former, World Champions as the term was cheaply distributed at the time. Heavyweight fights meant a butcher from Chesterfield or an ex-Rugby League player from Featherstone. ‘Event logistics’ amounted to twisting brass handles to lever basketball hoops from vertical to horizontal before Mike and his crew arrived to erect posts, canvas and ropes to the eyrie abyss. Nobody checked train schedules or whether U2 had left town. Continue reading “Going mainstream. Anthony Joshua, the rogue who charmed your Gran”

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Takam or leave him; Pulev pulls, Carlos steps in for Joshua bout

Photo credit: Johann Walter Bantz

Such is the enormity of Anthony Joshua fights these days that the withdrawal of Bulgarian heavyweight Kubrat Pulev just two weeks before fight night was never likely to derail the promotion or force a postponement. To recreate the logistics committed to October 28th, within the confines of a packed pay-per-view schedule and Christmas expenditure looming would have been close to impossible.

French Cameroonian Carlos Takam steps from the shadows and two routine encounters in 2017 to save the show. One assumes he had rivals for the post, even at late notice, but the most obvious choice of Dillian Whyte, who appears on the undercard and brings some renown following his first bash at Joshua, will be saved for another day. Continue reading “Takam or leave him; Pulev pulls, Carlos steps in for Joshua bout”

That was the boxing weekend that was (15th Oct. 2017)

Increasingly, I’m losing my nerve when I watch boxing. Maybe it’s fatherhood, maybe its the persuasive refrain of those linking concussion to mental health issues in later life, maybe its just a phase. The weekend was punctuated and illuminated by knockouts and in some instances preceded by a number of blows beyond those usually required to invite a referee to intervene.

Aside from my own, hopefully temporary, philosophical dilemma, several fighters leapt forward in their careers and entertained fans via the short route on cards from The Flash Grand Ballrooms of Manilla to the Hotel Metropole in Mbuji-Mayi. The latter is in Ghana for those of you, like me, not worldly travelled. Continue reading “That was the boxing weekend that was (15th Oct. 2017)”

Archive: Old man Thompson stops Unbeaten Haye in 5

Photo credit: David Clerihew (Men’s Health)

With yet another David Haye comeback appearing on the horizon I’m always nudged to remember the night he lost his unbeaten record. It is staggering to consider 13 years have lapsed since Carl Thompson did what Carl always did better than anyone – survive a shelling and then win by stoppage. It was a pulsating evening, hotly anticipated and perhaps the beginning of the golden era we are now enjoying. For without Audley, Haye, Hatton and Amir, none of the current popularity, nor crop of Amateur starlets may ever have materialised.

David Payne reports from Ringside

Veteran cruiserweight Carl Thompson tore up the script last night, knocking out British boxing pin-up David Haye in the fifth round of a tumultuous, absorbing and…. Continue reading “Archive: Old man Thompson stops Unbeaten Haye in 5”

Groves stops Cox in 4 to set up Eubank Jnr. contest

Photo credit: Tom Jenkins

Thousands of words have been written about George Groves this past decade, I’ve written a few along the way, and I suspect none of them have ever succeeded in defining the enigmatic Super-Middleweight. Whilst writers and fans wrestle to place him in the convenience of a fixed position in our catalogue of stereotypes, the current WBA Super Super-Middleweight champion stays occupied and continues to overcome adversity and collect scalps in entertaining bouts.

In defeating Jamie Cox by fourth round knockout tonight, the 29-year-old Londoner confirmed the much assumed and much anticipated World Series Boxing semi-final against Chris Eubank Junior and delighted a good crowd at the Wembley Arena in the process. Continue reading “Groves stops Cox in 4 to set up Eubank Jnr. contest”

Fighters, like all of our heroes, are just people

In the relative tranquility of midweek, a peace I enforce rather than receive from boxing by default, when the memory of the preceding weekend is flushed of emotion and the fights ahead do not yet submerge them into shadow, I often grow reflective and thoughtful. Boxing’s busyness is welcome, as I’ve written before many of us remember the wilderness years of leisure centres and the WBF, but as with all things in society these days, there is barely time to pause for breath. Continue reading “Fighters, like all of our heroes, are just people”

That was the boxing weekend that was (08th Oct. 2017)

Photo credit: Phil Peterson

As I’ve written recently, these are heady times in British Boxing. The breadth and depth of exposure fighters and events are being afforded is unprecedented. This weekend, a host of shows were available to viewers across various channels and platforms and it was hard to know where to bring your shekels and attention to rest. Within the quietness of Sunday I like to reflect on the high points from the weekend; this one came packed with super-sized lightweights, knees to the nether regions and the arrival of a new fighter to my roundtable of favourites. Continue reading “That was the boxing weekend that was (08th Oct. 2017)”

Eubank annihilates Yildirim. A special fighter arrives

Photo credit: Corey Pellatt

I know, I know. Adni Yildirim is not Carl Froch or James Toney but he was the fighter the rest of the World Boxing Super Series field would only whisper about. Yildirim was tipped, perhaps merely for psychological purposes, by Callum Smith’s trainer Joe Gallagher, among others, as the fighter most likely to emerge from side of the draw containing Eubank Jnr., Yildirim and Groves.

Tonight, Eubank Jnr. completely destroyed him in a performance of precision, confidence and power which marks him out as a fighter of very special qualities. For this observer he crossed a rubicon from irritating caricature of his father, who illuminated his own era of course, to an unmissable commodity in his own right.  Continue reading “Eubank annihilates Yildirim. A special fighter arrives”

Archive: Bernard, do not go gently into that good night

Photo credit: Jeremy Phillips

Published December 31st 2016 at british boxers.co.uk

In the breathless still before his final defeat, when the surge of the crowd left his ears and the noise of his own pulse flooded in, Bernard Hopkins must have known, as all wise men at the end know, darkness was coming and the cruel affirmation of “Special-Common” had failed to fork lightening. The two-years inactive, close to 52 years old, gnarled veteran had refused to go gently into the night. Instead, he had to be punched from it, through it and knocked into, not tomorrow, but yesterday by boxing’s truest maxim; nobody gets out on their own terms. Not even you Bernard. Continue reading “Archive: Bernard, do not go gently into that good night”

Sexton wins British title in rough and ready brawl

Norwich’s Sam Sexton cut an emotional figure on the ring apron tonight, following a rough and tumble contest with Scotland’s Gary Cornish. It was a triumph built on will, self belief and old-school ring nous. Sexton overcame a giant opponent, thistles, blood, knees and wayward heads to win the British Heavyweight title for the first time and open up a host of lucrative opportunities in the months ahead. Continue reading “Sexton wins British title in rough and ready brawl”

Three brothers and the Golden Apple

My affection for fighters is often forged on the most obscure and obtuse of foundations and the Bulgarian heavyweight Kubrat Pulev is a recent addition to this rarefied collection. Perhaps it is merely his under dog status that creates the appeal, I’m often drawn to the man with the odds against him. However, most of all I think it was probably just the suit and the look he gave the interpreter when he relayed to the waiting press that Pulev would find the fight “terrifying”.  Continue reading “Three brothers and the Golden Apple”

Clinton McKenzie; one of a neglected generation

Since I picked up the pencil again last month the invitations to contribute to other outlets have arrived much quicker than I anticipated. One such venue is the digital publication Knockout London. The concept of digital magazines was not something I’d encountered during my last ‘run’, however, the opportunity to frame the career of Clinton McKenzie for readers was too good an opportunity to turn down. Continue reading “Clinton McKenzie; one of a neglected generation”

Ward retires undefeated and he will beat the comeback call too

The fact Andre Ward’s retirement leaves a bittersweet taste shouldn’t surprise those of us who could appreciated his skill and yet felt infuriated by his inactivity. His scripted departure message was as deft and well crafted as some of his performances in a professional career that began in December 2004 and an unbeaten run that stretched back to his teens. Continue reading “Ward retires undefeated and he will beat the comeback call too”

Yes M’Lady. Parker retains title

Joseph Parker, the World Boxing Organisation’s World Heavyweight Champion – a top-10 contender in old money, secured a Majority Decision against Hughie Fury at the Manchester Arena tonight.

In a turgid affair, the Kiwi champion was rewarded for landing a mere handful of heavier right hands and forcing the pace throughout. The scorecards, which included two 118-110 returns, one from the same Terry O’Connor Parker’s team had rejected as the appointed referee, appeared unduly wide. Continue reading “Yes M’Lady. Parker retains title”

Canelo, Golovkin and the luck of the draw

“To me judges seem the well paid watch-dogs of Capitalism, making things safe and easy for the devil Mammon.”

Maud Gonne, Irish philanthropist (1865-1953)

Sunday was a long day. Tired from the all-nighter that stretched between my back row seat at the CopperBox Arena in London, where I saw Billy Joe Saunders retain his WBO bauble in a soporific engagement with a subdued, and at times motionless, Willie Monroe Jr., through to 5am back on the sofa for a thudding, if not exhilarating, bout between Gennady Golovkin and Saul Alvarez for the real Middleweight title.

I’d risen after three hours sleep, sought comfort in tea and the balm of contemplating Adalaide Byrd opening her eyes, and blinking her way in to a morning of regret. Perhaps permitting herself the hint of a smile at the word play of her husband Robert, a decorated boxing referee, asking if she wanted him to draw the curtains.  Continue reading “Canelo, Golovkin and the luck of the draw”

Saunders remains unbeaten. No more, no less.

Billy Joe Saunders confirmed his status as a leading contender in the middleweight division tonight with a unanimous decision victory over Willie Monroe Junior at the Copperbox Arena, London.

By keeping his unbeaten record and custody of the World Boxing Organisation’s version of the 160 pound division title, Saunders maintains his leverage in the race to face the winner of tonight’s Golovkin v Alvarez super-fight in Las Vegas. Continue reading “Saunders remains unbeaten. No more, no less.”

Nerves; Golovkin, Canelo, Dodge and Laight…

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

On Saturday night, most eyes will be on on the seminal, potentially era-defining bout between Gennady Golovkin, the piston-powered champion from Kazakhstan and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, the quiet, scowling Mexican, his number one contender. A few more will be keeping abreast of the preceding middleweight clash between Billy Joe Saunders and Willie Monroe Jnr. from London, and Callum Smith will pique interest against the Swedish heft of Erik Skoglund in the first of the World Boxing Super Series Super-Middleweight tournament too. Continue reading “Nerves; Golovkin, Canelo, Dodge and Laight…”

Golovkin v Alvarez: Boxing returns to its Middleweight touchstone

“Every man’s got to figure to get beat some time.”

Joe Louis –  (1914-1981)

The weekend super-fight between Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez from the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas returns the sport of boxing to the bosom of those who embrace it through the good times and the bad. The type of ardent disciple who nods and purses lips at the mention of James Toney or smiles and rub his or her hands together at the memory of Smokin’ Bert Cooper or Paul ‘Scrap Iron’ Ryan*.

*Other ‘win some, lose some’ brawlers are available. Continue reading “Golovkin v Alvarez: Boxing returns to its Middleweight touchstone”

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