‘It’s not your night’. Why did Jake LaMotta have to lose to Billy Fox in ’47?

Article first appeared on Gambling.com

June 14th 1960. A warm summer’s day in Washington DC. The air is sweet with the city grind and the hustle of a country racing toward adolescence and the associated rebellion.  Chatter spills from sidewalks, shoes are shined, a soft percussion to the chaotic jazz horn of taxicabs and the clatter of the capital’s iconic street cars. Morning sunshine glints from a mile of Buick chrome. 

This commercial idyll, stretching out beneath the blue sky of the star spangled dream belies the political tension that pulses under the skin of black and white America. It is a time of ideology too, the battle for civil rights, of JFK, Cuba, missiles and crusaders for truth and equality. 

Former Middleweight champion Jake LaMotta is in the capital. A face from the smoke and shadows of the monochrome America of the 1950s. One uncomfortable with technicolour progress and the dawn of an age more recognisable to us today.

Continue reading “‘It’s not your night’. Why did Jake LaMotta have to lose to Billy Fox in ’47?”
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Canelo to confirm his dominance

The fight between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Caleb Plant for the undisputed Super-Middleweight title occurs this weekend, and while the IBF belt the unbeaten American will bring to the party completes the modern day quartet for the victor, in truth, Plant is, in auld money at least, merely a distinguished contender for a crown Canelo earned beating Callum Smith 11 months ago.

True, the IBF were the first to inaugurate a championship at the 168 pound limit, Scot Murray Sutherland becoming champion in 1984, but Plant’s belt, despite the history, is no more validatory than the WBO strap Canelo took from Billy Joe Saunders earlier this year. They add to the aesthetic of his dominance but it was proven some time ago.

None of which should detract from the positivity in play in a bout between the two. Foremost because Canelo will be fighting for the fourth time in less than a year and in doing so cementing his status as the number one fighter in the world and Chairman of the ‘What have you done for me lately?’ club. Plant is also undisputed as the best available contender in the division.

But can he win?

Continue reading “Canelo to confirm his dominance”

DeMarcus Corley, the old grifter, dances into another Diggstown

The guy got hurt. It happens. It happens to fighters. I thought you knew that.

James Woods, as Gabriel Caine, in Diggstown.

In the 1992 picture, Diggstown, or Midnight Sting for those on this side of the pond, Lou Gossett Jnr. plays ‘Honey’ Roy Palmer. A long retired prizefighter for whom fame never called. Subjected to the persuasive patter of con-man Gabriel Caine, Palmer finds himself in the titular town with 10 opponents lined up to face him in a 24 hour period. The prospects of triumph seem distant and the consequences of defeat, and the lost bet for Caine, catastrophic given the Mafia origins of the money Caine has wagered on the outcome.

‘Honey’ Roy, like DeMarcus Corley, who boxes again this weekend two years on from the last of a long sequence of defeats, had retained a fighter’s physique and the wiles of a well-schooled pug, but he was, nevertheless, 47 years old.

Continue reading “DeMarcus Corley, the old grifter, dances into another Diggstown”

Whyte goes all in for Fury chance

The higher I go, the crookeder it becomes.

Michael Corleone, Godfather III (1990)

Dillian Whyte is a good heavyweight. He isn’t Earnie Shavers, or Ray Mercer. He is, as the Acorn and Merciless were, a good heavyweight in an era that belongs to others. Whyte has compiled a resume that stands comparison with most of his own contemporaries. And a few of his predecessors too. His era isn’t the golden one of Shavers and his thunderous right hand but it has the potential to rival or surpass many of the decades that preceded the glorious 1970s. Besides, no fighter chooses his or her own time.

However history will remember Fury, Joshua and Wilder’s era, their collective defeats and the emergence of Usyk is unlikely to remove any of their names from above the door of the decade they’ve cohabited but Whyte has been a perennial presence. The demise of his showdown with Otto Wallin, a credible if unexciting fixture, became ever more predictable following Joshua’s decision to opt in on the contracted Usyk rematch and the WBC mandating a victorious Fury negotiate with the winner of Whyte and Wallin.

The risk to reward ratio of the Wallin fight changed. Dramatically.

Continue reading “Whyte goes all in for Fury chance”

Old money and the roads to Fury

A champion is someone who gets up even when he can’t.

Jack Dempsey

Rude. The only way to describe the health of the heavyweight division. It has a singular and consensus champion. Tyson Fury. One fresh from an enthralling rumble with the sport’s biggest puncher. Subsequently, his WBC mandatory challenger, and therefore his most likely next opponent, will be Dillian Whyte, a fighter in every fan’s top 6 or 7, if he beats Otto Wallin, who cut and bothered Fury when they met a year ago.

Beyond Fury’s immediate challenge, contenders Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua will reconvene in the Spring to determine the most worthy to contest all of the available belts, for whatever merit resides in the custody of all four. And alongside that quartet, exist a parade of potential challengers with varied styles, stories and skill.

Boxing has its heavyweight champion. A charismatic one. Unconventional. Gigantic. Everyone else, merely contenders. In old money at least. The hope now, in this brave new-old world, is that the Champion stays busy.

Continue reading “Old money and the roads to Fury”

Furious and wild. Tyson and Deontay carve a place in heavyweight history

The King of Las Vegas. The King of the Heavyweight division and the conquerer of demons seen and unseen, Tyson Fury finally convinced someone, anyone, to stop Deontay Wilder from trying in the 11th round. It was an astonishing battle between two men with a depth of resolve that cannot be taught, nor bought by the millions they’ve already accumulated.

Fury climbed from the canvas twice in the fourth, to eventually overwhelm and knockout Deontay Wilder following 11 of the most furious and wild rounds the division has seen in decades. They do not have the equivalence of Ali and Frazier or the technical brilliance of Bowe and Holyfield, but Fury and Wilder have provided entertainment and drama to match those illustrious predecessors.

There will be no fourth. But thank goodness for the contractual obligation that insisted on a third.

Continue reading “Furious and wild. Tyson and Deontay carve a place in heavyweight history”

Cheeseman and the deal with the devil

Every fighter has a relationship with sacrifice. Offering something of their unseen tomorrow for the conspicuous glory of today. As a witness to the transaction, boxing fans marvel at the willingness of those inside the ring who make the exchange for our entertainment. Light-Middleweight Ted Cheeseman, who succumbed to the fists of the Troy Williamson and relinquished his British title last night, is a man that embraces this truth.

Not for the first time, the courageous former champion departed from the stage a little less than he’d entered it. The crowd and the audience at home staggered by the action Cheeseman and Williamson had provided in 10 gruelling rounds of thudding combat.

Cheeseman’s tumultuous encounter with Williamson evoked memories of those in whose footsteps they trod, Jamie Moore and Matt Macklin most prominent among them, and proved a fitting prelude to the night’s main attraction over in Las Vegas, where a fellow brother in arms willingly gave a piece of his future self in the pursuit of his own glory.

Continue reading “Cheeseman and the deal with the devil”

Former British champion, David Price hangs them up

Imagine being the British Champion. The British Heavyweight champion at that. A Lonsdale belt draped over a shoulder, shimmering beneath the ring lights. A century of history on which to stand. David Price, the Liverpudlian giant, has stood and felt those sensations, held that famous belt as his own.

And he did so, in his hometown.

Only a few men have ever shared that feeling; Iron Hague, Tommy Farr, Woodcock, Cooper, Bugner and Lennox Lewis perhaps most famous among them. Frank Bruno never did. Price won the title, aged 29, by beating Sam Sexton in 2012. He defended the crown twice, beating Audley Harrison and Matt Skelton, before relinquishing the belt in late 2013 to pursue higher honours.

Those honours never did quite materialise for the self styled ‘big horrible heavyweight’. Momentum was lost on the alter of circumstance. Poor management, bad luck, injuries and the reality of a knockout defeat or two, which can happen when you’re boxing world level big men, or mediocre big men juiced to the brim for that matter, all contrived to deny him the breakthrough he so desperately craved.

He announced his retirement this week. Sanguine about his frustrations but characteristically honest about his reasons for choosing not to box on.

Continue reading “Former British champion, David Price hangs them up”

Fury, Wilder and the third act

“Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act.”

Truman Capote, Novelist (1924-1984)

Trilogies, in an era when the first fight is all too often hard to make, are a rare spectacle. Particularly among heavyweights. The third of the series is typically only required to settle the argument as to who is the better fighter following shared outcomes in the opening bouts. Ali v Frazier, Bowe v Holyfield the most famous examples in the modern age, if the 1970s and 1990s still count as the modern age. Both pairings were notable for the equality of the protagonists and for the career best performances drawn from all four.

As the days and hours tick down to the third fight between Fury and Wilder, there should be, given this scarcity, the iconic nature of those illustrious predecessors and the tumultuous events of the first two encounters, more enthusiasm for the fixture than there is. Remarkably, considering the dramatics of those two fights, the mandate behind their third meeting is not driven by the appetite of fans or the quest for resolution as to who is the superior fighter, it is compelled only by contractual obligation and the stubbornness of Deontay Wilder.

Fury v Wilder III, until last week merely an irritating obstacle to greater prizes, is now upon us. As boxing’s various troubadours, fixers and mystics descend on Las Vegas, the memory of Joshua’s dethronement as fresh in their minds as the jet lag and neon lights will permit, the fight in prospect has become entirely more intriguing.

Continue reading “Fury, Wilder and the third act”

Posturing, greed and the loss of Fury v Joshua

By Hector T. Morgan

Anthony Joshua’s humbling defeat to Oleksandr Usyk didn’t steal a unification bout from him, or his contemporary, Tyson Fury despite the persuasive narrative that it did. Boxing’s usual follies and the greed of one or both parties deprived the fans of the most enticing fight available several months ago. The two protagonists will one day look back wistfully to the moment, or moments, when they allowed the fight to slip away in the pursuit of an ever larger purse they will never have time to spend. Hipsters will point to the overdue Welterweight pairing of Errol Spence and Terence Crawford as the bout boxing actually needs the most, and there is merit in the argument, but heavyweights remain the premier attraction and the measure by which most eras are judged.

A fact that informs the greed that enveloped the potential fixture and permitted the contracted trilogy bout between Fury and Wilder to encroach and supersede the richest fight boxing could make.

And though fans may one day witness the two face each other, it will forever be diminished by the passage of time and the two defeats Joshua has now collected.

Continue reading “Posturing, greed and the loss of Fury v Joshua”

Usyk the Great uproots the Joshua tree

And so it was, the giant visited by defeat once more. Anthony Joshua lost for the second time and the collection of party garlands he’d hoped to parlay into an undisputed clash with Tyson Fury at some future point were passed to a new custodian. The fight proved revelatory for those trusting in the age old adage “a good big un beats a good little un.” and, further, revealed limitations in Joshua’s technical competence and confirmed Oleksandr Usyk’s unquestionable superiority.

As night follows day, the dissection of Joshua’s performance began before it had even ended. Sport in the spotlight insists all losers are finished, all conquered champions exposed. It is an incessant and usually unqualified scrutiny. True, problems have grown like weeds around and within Joshua’s performances; where once there was a youthful vigour and self belief, knots of indecision and timidity now prevail.

Joshua remains a dangerous heavyweight and there is scope still for improvement on the disappointment of Saturday,. Boxing fans must be wary of dismissing those who venture to fight their peers, and lose. He took his lumps and bumps, his defeat, with humility and grace.

They too, are admirable qualities.

Continue reading “Usyk the Great uproots the Joshua tree”

Joshua and the legends we chase

The notion boxing can ever be brought to heel, conform to the norms at work in other sports is a Camelot many still yearn for. Every fan, writer and concerned bystander would like boxing to pitch its best versus its best more frequently. Noble? Yes. Futile? Entirely. It is akin to trying to make a ruler from a snake. A Freudian analogy, given the snakes that rule the game.

There is no utopia, and the unwelcome truth, as it was for the Arthurian legend of Camelot, there never was.

A heavyweight contest between Anthony Joshua and the Ukrainian, Aleksander Usyk, being fought before a gathering of 60,000 of London’s most lubricated inhabitants represents an intriguing and important reality.

And while not the eternal fantasy of Tyson Fury v Joshua, it boasts the players and the stage to forge a new legend, possibly two.

Continue reading “Joshua and the legends we chase”

“I coulda had class”. Fighters, films and the fix

For cinema goers, the image of a boxer being coerced into losing a fight or consoled in the aftermath, is all too familiar. A convenient vehicle deployed by film makers since the advent of ‘talkies’ in the 1920’s. From John Wayne to Charlie Chaplin, actors have been knitting their brows as earnest pugs buckling beneath the guilt that ensues. Electing to forgo the integrity they cherished, in exchange for easy money or the promise of richer fruit down the line, is a choice much easier to reject in theory and detached from the starkness of life as a prizefighter from the 1930s to the late 1950s.

As Brando immortalised in The Godfather, fighters, like others in position of influence and value, were made offers they couldn’t refuse.

Continue reading ““I coulda had class”. Fighters, films and the fix”

And the band played on. Boxing’s voyage to the abyss

Rogers Morton, a prominent figure in American politics in the 1970s, once said, while serving as Campaign Manager for Gerald Ford’s ailing push for the White House and pressed on how he intended to salvage lost momentum; “I’m not going to re-arrange the furniture on the deck of the Titanic.” A quote that would outlive the Statesman, both in political influence and life, he would succumb to cancer in 1979, and one that became synonymous with actions deemed superficial and redundant in the face of impending disaster.

As a 58-year-old Evander Holyfield clambered back down the ring steps in Florida this weekend, a state which withdrew his license to box 17 years ago on the grounds of his diminished ability, it is easy to clamour for boxing to do something, to intervene. Thousands added their voices to the cause in the days before the ‘fight’, screened by Triller (no, me neither) and commentated on by former president and the doyenne of delusion, Donald Trump. They urged ‘boxing’ to change course, to come to its senses.

Gratefully, it took but a few seconds for Holyfield to be separated from his, if he wasn’t detached from them, or at least reality, when he arrived.

Continue reading “And the band played on. Boxing’s voyage to the abyss”

Charlo takes a jab at Tszyu ambitions

By Hector T. Morgan

Smack talk is part of the game when it comes to boxing. The quest for edge, for attention and the need to nurture ego and project self-belief has prompted thousands of fighters to diminish potential opponents and boast of their own dominance. Jermell Charlo is one such fighter. In a social media world where the background noise is high, getting noticed, particularly when fighters box so infrequently, is often as arduous as the fights.

Since his knockout victory against Jeison Rosario in September 2020, the 31-year-old American has held the WBA (Super), WBC, IBF, and The Ring light middleweight titles. Charlo is an outstanding fighter. But to transcend, to stretch to the weightier purses of those who passed before him. He needs bums on seats and eyeballs on his career.

Continue reading “Charlo takes a jab at Tszyu ambitions”

Saunders arrives at the moment of truth. Canelo on Cinco de Mayo

First published on January 29th 2021

British Super-Middleweight contender Billy Joe Saunders has landed a fight with boxing’s premier star, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, to coincide with Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican celebration of the nation’s victory over the invading French forces in 1862. It is a day now synonymous with boxing and, specifically, whoever is the nation’s biggest star in that calendar year, headlining a US based show.

Saunders’ challenge to Canelo will bring joy to those hipsters who revel in the possibility the Hatfield rascal will prove to be slippery Kryptonite to boxing’s newest and seemingly invincible Superman. For those to whom Saunders is merely a crass irritation, their joy will be found in the presumed evisceration of such a fanciful idea.

The fight offers the Mexican superstar an opportunity to substantiate his status as the division’s king. A crown he earned beating Callum Smith last year. Saunders holds the WBO belt. In truth, it is a decoration. Saunders won the vacated title by beating unheralded Shefat Isufi in May 2019. Two subsequent defences, both abject in their significance and the entertainment provided, added negligible kudos to his reign and the belt stubbornly remains little more than a curio.

Nevertheless, without it Saunders would probably not have landed the fight and be facing his moment of truth.

Continue reading “Saunders arrives at the moment of truth. Canelo on Cinco de Mayo”

Liam Williams secures his place in a gallery of the gallant

Explaining the status of any individual fight, the sense of the significance it should be afforded in the wider boxing landscape, is an undertaking for only the boldest and most patient among us. This intractable maze also makes it impossible to define fighters in the way they once were. Any argument about a fighter’s world class credentials must first be preceded by agreement on what world class actually means.

Is losing a world title fight enough or must you win one? Ken Norton never did but would give any heavyweight in history an argument. What is a world title anyway, if there are four available and others competing to be recognised? The WBA routinely acknowledge three of their own in a single weight class and list ‘champions’ few have even seen fight.

As Demetrius Andrade distorted Liam Williams’ face on Saturday night, in the way a potter might when throwing wet clay on a wheel, the notion of what makes a world class fighter, or how such status is earned, ebbed and flowed. A WBO title fight is rarely the platform for greatness, though exceptions exist, and the organisation’s mandatories, of which Williams was one such example, are not typically drawn from a consensus top 10.

Continue reading “Liam Williams secures his place in a gallery of the gallant”

Rampant Benn wrecks Vargas in 90 seconds.

The acceleration in Conor Benn’s progress as a fighter is, frankly, astonishing. Samuel Vargas is not Carmen Basilio, but he’s rugged, durable and still held aspiration. He was obliterated in 90 seconds by a 24-year old with the patter of a superstar and a magnetic persona to match.

Vargas protested the stoppage, Colombian’s from the North American circuit expect to box on unless they’re laid out flat, but a degree of compassion will serve him well in the long run. There was the sense Vargas let the enemy in through the front door and Benn ran rampantly through the opening. Right hands, uppercuts and left hooks. Vargas’ eyes looked to the lights, the end would have followed had Michael Alexander not intervened.

For Benn, as with all prospects, contenders, matchmaking is key. If left to the protagonist, it will be ambitious.

Continue reading “Rampant Benn wrecks Vargas in 90 seconds.”

Conor Benn, the gatekeeper and the history at his shoulder

On Saturday night a British Welterweight, Conor Benn, will face a Colombian out of Canada called Samuel Vargas. Sufficiently endowed with a past, a sliver of remaining future to sustain belief in his motivations and the keys to the top 20 in the division, Vargas is the perennial nearly man and now 31-years-old. He retains respect for the toughness he’s demonstrated in a 10-year career and for being competitive with those Benn aspires to meet. In this weekend’s contest he will be playing the part of the gatekeeper.

For fans of a certain age Conor Benn continues to be a touch stone for memories of a youth long since passed. His swagger, his instinctive, spiky words transport many viewers back to the halcyon days of the early 1990s. Specifically, the time of Conor’s father, Nigel, and his nemesis Chris Eubank, their mutual rival Michael Watson and the five battles they shared between 1989 and 1993. All of which are seared into the consciousness of those of us who witnessed them.

This is the legacy Conor Benn carries. It opens doors but it cannot sustain him. Against Vargas, Benn will continue his quest to establish a place of his own in the Welterweight landscape. One rich in opportunity and decorated by some of the sport’s most gifted fighters.

Continue reading “Conor Benn, the gatekeeper and the history at his shoulder”

Sadness and truth as Herring ensures familiar end to Frampton’s career

There was a theme of sadness running through the final chapter of Carl Frampton’s outstanding career as a professional fighter this weekend. In part because of the apparent inevitability of the defeat to Jamel Herring, and in part because his story drew to a close far from home, far from the fans he loved and the family he yearns for.

Dubai, the crudely affluent capital of UAE, was an ill-fitting suit for a man who has flown highest in the traditional boxing heartlands of Belfast, Las Vegas, and Brooklyn. The location, missing the accoutrements of the historic stages and bigger broadcasters Frampton has boxed on, added to the sense of lament for a prime long since passed and the glorious nights of his twenties. A two-weight champion, with victories over Leo Santa Cruz and Nonito Donaire, Frampton eked a great deal from that fleeting peak and while the Autumn of his career has been unfulfilling, he departs in tact and with enormous respect from those he encountered.

It isn’t the ending Frampton hoped for, or perhaps deserved, but with the unrelenting tick of a fighter’s career, he hadn’t the time to wait for a post-pandemic normality to resume. Money he had, time he did not.

Continue reading “Sadness and truth as Herring ensures familiar end to Frampton’s career”

BoxingWriter.co.uk Fighter of the Month – March 2021

An accolade without an interim or regular, international or super alter ego. Just a plain old pat on the back and well done this month. Perhaps an honourable mention or two but otherwise a straight forward award for the fighter who impressed this writer the most during the month of March.

A competitive field as boxing returned to, essentially, full capacity, but limited in viewership by the audience restrictions in certain countries. It has a bearing on outcomes, the lack of fans. Fighters feed off the energy, judges are influenced by crowd responses, it is an intangible variable and one that has played out across the sporting sphere, with upsets in many sports reflecting the loss of home advantage for many teams and individuals.

There were solid outings for the great and good, performances that surprised the cynics and courage from those over matched and under paid too.

Continue reading “BoxingWriter.co.uk Fighter of the Month – March 2021”

Time waits for no man, can weight add time for Frampton?

Carl Frampton, a 34 year old former champion at Super-Bantamwright and Featherweight, will attempt to win a portion of the world title at his third weight this weekend when he tackles Jamel Herring for the American’s WBO 130 pound belt. History presents little precedent for the challenge.

Fighters at the smaller weights don’t tend to prevail chasing their youth. Reflex, punch output and speed are necessary qualities simply to compete in the lands beneath, perhaps, Welterweight, where single shot power, fight ending power tends to be rare. There are exceptions, one of boxing’s biggest superstars, Naoya Inoue, has been cracking heads from Flyweight to Bantamweight in the last few years and there were others before him, but the fights are usually won and lost with technique, busyness and the cumulation of punches.

As the old boxing adage suggests, ’34 is old for a Featherweight”.

That is the truism Frampton must dispel if he is to succeed.

Continue reading “Time waits for no man, can weight add time for Frampton?”

Bika overcomes Soliman, and in the chase for a lucrative finale

It is hard to know what a Sakio Bika victory over Sam Soliman in their third encounter can mean in the long term. Aged 41 and 47 respectively there is no long term. only the here and now. The two men went at it for 8 rounds last night, Bika taking the decision unanimously following a largely dominant display over the veteran of veterans.

Bika called out Oscar DeLaHoya in the aftermath, perhaps with a taste for those who once were as opposed to those yet to be, or, more prudently, because of the zeros that will appear on the cheque the Golden Boy will write to the fighter who wins the sweepstake for his comeback.

This writer cannot fathom how DeLaHoya would turn to the 6-1 Super-Middleweight in the face of less rugged opponents with lighter fists but in the current climate it is hard to rule anything out.

Soliman will hopefully heed the call of retirement following a spirited display, albeit in the face of a naturally bigger opponent, and for Bika, it will be a tremendous satisfaction to have returned to action following a frustrating period on the sidelines. The unanimous victor received a 80-73, 79-73, 78-74 review from the three judges.

Continue reading “Bika overcomes Soliman, and in the chase for a lucrative finale”

The life and times of Henry Cooper

This article first appeared on BritishVintageBoxing.com

Two minutes into the opening round of Henry Cooper’s first fight with Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay, the proud Englishman snorts hard and draws deeply, he is beyond Clay’s reach and permits himself a momentary pause. He knows he has started strongly. His eyes narrow, focussed on the American quarry before him, his nostrils flaring wide as he sucks air from the cool London night. His pale chest heaves.

Thin black leather shoes mold tight to his feet, glistening like wet paint. They slide and sweep, hop and reset to the doctrine of boxing, those strangest of dance steps. Cooper’s body is taut, narrow and sinewy, his gloves small and almost cuff less. Thinning hair is cropped short, pointing skyward, exaggerating the urgency of his actions. Battleship grey eyes glare from the shadows of a chiselled brow above. A wedge of protruding bone that juts forward, straining skin and tissue. It is a genetic anomaly that has betrayed him before and would again, in countless wars as yet unfought.

Continue reading “The life and times of Henry Cooper”

Whyte shatters Povetkin in 4

Dillian Whyte is a chaotic amalgam of power, tactics and old fashioned toughness. His 4th round knockout of veteran Alexander Povetkin restores the baubles to his mantlepiece and positions him back among the.top 5 heavyweights. There remain flaws and they will persist until the end. Whenever that may come.

A straight right hand landed flush (in the 4th), Povetkin stumbled back, eyes trailing right, his back landed against the ropes, the elastic effect propelled the 41-year-old back toward the maelstrom. Whyte was waiting, punches continued.A left hook that started on the Spanish mainland before arriving to detonate on Povetkin’s right cheek proved to be the finisher.

Povetkin rose, unconvincingly, a towel of surrender fluttered into centre ring as Victor Loughlin waved off the fight.

Whyte continues. Povetkin, surely, does not.

Continue reading “Whyte shatters Povetkin in 4”

Cheeseman stops Metcalf in old school war

The scrap between Ted Cheeseman and J.J. Metcalf for the British Light-Middleweight title was fought in Gibraltar. It was screened, for this writer, in high definition on a 42 inch television via the internet. It would have been equally at home had it been available on a Bakelite wireless only or fought at the Mile End Arena in the 1950s.

Two hard men, bent noses, flinty eyes sunken beneath prominent brows. One entered the ring with a ruby welt beneath his eye the other started seeping claret from his nose in the second. Cheeseman wore the white shorts, Metcalf, son of Shea Neary, a throwback fighter himself, wore the black. Just like the days of old.

A vacant British belt, the oldest in the sport, though the division is only of the modern era, the prize for the victor. The gold, the Union Jack coloured ribbon, the history, the tradition. A crown worn by Herol, Jamie Moore, Maurice Hope. It was all there.

Both had stories and both were willing to sacrifice the quality of their tomorrows for the glory of the night.

Continue reading “Cheeseman stops Metcalf in old school war”

Dillian Whyte v Alexander Povetkin Rematch, The Big Fight Weekend Podcast Preview

Always a pleasure to talk to TJ Rives and to guest alongside Marquis Johns and BoxingScene’s Manouk Akopyan as the team discuss the weekend’s biggest fixtures. From Whyte and Povetkin in closest focus, along with some notes on Fabio Wardley and Campbell Hatton.

The link is included below, the Big Fight Weekend podcast has been running for two or more years and is frequently decorated by the great and good of the boxing world, guests have included Sergio Mora, Keith Idec and Winky Wright in recent weeks.

An enjoyable mix of voices. Subscribe via your usual outlets.

Continue reading “Dillian Whyte v Alexander Povetkin Rematch, The Big Fight Weekend Podcast Preview”

David Adeleye wins in heavyweight farce, calls for Nathan Gorman next

Boxing absorbs punishment better than Oscar Bonavena. Thankfully. Most of the blows are self-inflicted. Home to the peculiar and the perverse, the notorious and nefarious, boxing has long been plagued by the foretelling of its demise. Editorials have sermonised about the end of boxing, predicting the various rocks ready to hole the ailing liner beneath the surface since the beginning of time.

And yet, by many measures, boxing is in ruder health than at any time since the time of the Four Kings. The US may lack the attractions of old, but Canelo, Joshua and co are resurrecting stadium size audiences, new platforms plead for boxing’s attention and new markets are opening up to the boxing circus.

A new variation on this customary self-harm is permitting a debuting professional, from a background in White Collar boxing, to fight against a decorated Amateur who is 20 pounds heavier and boxing his 5th fight.

That happened tonight in the UK, when David Preston was sanctioned to box David Adeleye.

Continue reading “David Adeleye wins in heavyweight farce, calls for Nathan Gorman next”

Povetkin, a nomad from another decade, rides again

Welterweights, lightweights, feathers, they’re all better technically, quicker, busier. But it’s impossible not to be drawn by the old dreadnoughts, the big bruisers, the heavyweights. This weekend fight fans can indulge the oldest of their pugilistic persuasions, as Russian veteran Alexander Povetkin offers Dillian Whyte a second opportunity to add his rusting hull to his resume.

Both men will hope to parlay a victory into a world title shot, the first for Whyte, the 27th for Povetkin. I exaggerate of course but there is a feeling of the perennial about the heavy-handed 41 year old. Briefly, he excited those searching in the detritus of the 1990s for a successor to the thrown abdicated by Iron Mike. For a moment or two it was a hefty clubber from New Zealand with a Don King do and then it was Povetkin.

Neither fulfilled the destructive promise of their youth. Tua grew ripe on the vine waiting for his mandated shot at Lennox and Povetkin, having first turned down a shot at Wladimir under the tutelage of Teddy Atlas, then slowed, thickened, like an over cooked borscht, and by the time he decided to say yes he wasn’t the threat he would have been when fresher and quicker.

If he beats Whyte again, he may get one more shot. And with his power, some natural, some acquired, one shot could be enough.

That’s the heavyweight appeal.

Continue reading “Povetkin, a nomad from another decade, rides again”

Saturday night at the fights; Okolie, Ortiz and two crazy guys called Lopez

Change is not made without inconvenience, even from worse to better

Richard Hooker, English theologian, 1554-1600

It would be easy to be cynical about the Lawrence Okolie story. Too much of Saturday night television has leant on the ‘journey’ of whoever the wannabe singing or dancing hopeful was that particular weekend. The tears, the back story, the setbacks, the dead grandma. It can become repetitive and contrived. But as Eddie Hearn demanded in post fight interview, following the Londoner’s exemplary victory over Krzysztof Glowacki to win the WBO title, Okolie’s tale merits retelling.

The fat kid in McDonalds, a perfectly respectable career for many let it also be said, inspired by heroes Usain Bolt and Anthony Joshua to chase something bigger, something more. Boxing, as it so often does, provided the vehicle for the revolution Okolie wanted. No barrier to entry in boxing you see. Show up, and someone will teach you, will care.

He began. And while last night represented a huge step in his career, winning a quarter of the world title, it was the first step eight years ago that required the most gumption.

Okolie wasn’t the only winner on an entertaining evening of boxing as the action swung from London to Texas.

Continue reading “Saturday night at the fights; Okolie, Ortiz and two crazy guys called Lopez”

Necessity is the mother of invention, Bika to face Soliman

Two weeks ago I had the good fortune to speak to Sakio Bika ahead of his return to the ring against Australian middleweight Adam Stowe. Bika was bright, confident and determined to project himself toward bigger targets by winning convincingly in his first fight in 40 months. It was a practical stepping stone for a pragmatic former world-champion with a shrinking window of opportunity.

Within the week, pragmatism was replaced by disappointment as an administrative oversight by the Cameroon born Super-Middleweight left his fight with Stowe in tatters. The waiting crowd, eager to see a fighter of Bika’s calibre, were hard to placate when the realisation Bika wouldn’t be able to fight began to break. As a result, trouble ensued. Where Bika had hoped for a knockout and a new beginning, he found police dogs and pepper spray, fist fights and discontent.

It was a sobering episode in a long career. As with all things in boxing, from disaster grew opportunity.

Continue reading “Necessity is the mother of invention, Bika to face Soliman”

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