IBoxingTickets.com’s May Boxer of the Month: Josh Warrington

There is, I believe, something hard wired in to our collective psyche that encourages us to root for the underdog; to cheer for those that seek to overcome, those that rise when knocked down or stretch for a dream apparently beyond them. Perhaps this solidarity is a product of our island status and the ensuing defiance it encourages, all clotted together into a sugary fudge by the echoing sentimentality of a thousand war films and a warped nostalgia for an Empire we now apologise for.

Or maybe it isn’t special to us at all, and is, more truthfully, a simple and innately human response to the plight and peril facing those dwarfed by the assets and advantages of their foes. What ever informs this predilection for the ‘little man’, I’m surprised it didn’t infect my judgement of last month’s Selby and Warrington match. A contest which secured Warrington the IBF Featherweight belt and now the IBoxingTickets.com’s Boxer of the Month for May. Continue reading “IBoxingTickets.com’s May Boxer of the Month: Josh Warrington”

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A boxing ring, the old truthsayer, humbles Fury on his return.

I know things that are broken can be fixed. Take the punch if you have to, hit the canvas and then get up again. Life is worth it.

Queen Latifah

Such is Tyson Fury’s unique predisposition for the sublime and the absurd, frequently embracing both within the same interview and occasionally a single sentence, we the onlookers, with our garlands of good will and ‘fag-packet psychology, shouldn’t be surprised that even in the confines of the pre-ordained he continued to defy convention.

Where speed was expected, sluggishness was found, where elusiveness was predicted, vulnerability was evident and where power was anticipated, delivery was flawed.

In preview, I’d mooted a scenario in which Tyson Fury could find simply climbing from the well of despair in to which he’d fallen, following his seminal victory over Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015, back to ground zero, back to a debut, essentially, against an overmatched Cruiserweight – which is where it all began a decade ago – could prove sufficient triumph. There was evidence enough in his return bout to suggest, however unlikely, that the possibility remains.

Continue reading “A boxing ring, the old truthsayer, humbles Fury on his return.”

Elephant in the room. Tyson Fury returns.

Throughout Anthony Joshua emergence over the past three years; in every pre-fight press conference, in every post fight interview, the chill of Tyson Fury’s often ethereal presence has persisted. Unspoken, particularly in the period in which the Mancunian candidate seemed emotionally furthest from a return, the legend of the enigmatic Gypsy King has grown exponentially and offered silent sentry to the conflicting rhythms of hoopla and humility being sold in his absence.

Continue reading “Elephant in the room. Tyson Fury returns.”

Brendan Ingle. Some things are meant to stay.

Some things are meant to stay, to remain, to defy. Offering an unconscious, if often illogical reassurance to the otherwise transient chaos of our day-to-day human experience. The things themselves, they’re different for all of us. They may be a person, a principle, perhaps a place, a truism you clutch or a collage of them all but regardless of their form or on which premise they were collected, they provide foundation for the sandcastles of our lives. When one of these tumble and succumb to the tides of time to which we thought them immune, it resonates more deeply than ever we may have anticipated it might.

A few of these manifest in the relationship I have with boxing. Some are vague, abstract concepts like my belief that the social and emotional benefits boxing’s gilded stories of redemption and salvation provide outweighs the physical damage and tragedies it facilitates, others are more tangible and, as in the case of late Brendan Ingle, an individual figure. Continue reading “Brendan Ingle. Some things are meant to stay.”

Worn out tools and the last If of David Haye’s career

Introspection can be a dangerous folly in your mid-forties, leading as it does to the contemplation of regret, of the unfulfilled, of the opportunity missed. All of us seek to resist the intrusion and the creep of negative thoughts; realigning our index of success to reflect the wisdom accrued in triumph and disaster or, perhaps, less constructively, by dismissing those failures as the fault of others or a conspiracy of circumstance. Neither is a panacea, and even for those enjoying the conspicuous fulfilment of their life and professional goals, irrespective of how well they aged into adulthood, there is no absolute protection from the often withering darkness of middle age.

For those of us not tied to a profession dependent on our physical supremacy, the battle is just as real but nevertheless softened by the elongated nature of our careers and the extended opportunity for achievement and respect that offers. Strikingly less acute than the challenge facing professional sports people, for whom the denouement is played out in the public eye, and worst still for boxers for whom the fall is frequently irreversible and often manifestly stark.

There are few grey areas in a boxing ring after all.

Continue reading “Worn out tools and the last If of David Haye’s career”

Lomachenko the betting favourite for New York clash with Linares

By Hector T. Morgan

When he takes a break from walking on his hands or boxing tennis balls, Vasyl Lomachenko will turn his attention towards Venezuelan Jorge Linares as the Ukraine boxing superstar aims to move his professional CV to 11-1-0. The talented pair will meet over 12 rounds for the WBA lightweight world title on May 12 at Madison Square Garden, New York and the betting has ‘Hi-Tech’ hot favourite for victory.

The 30-year-old has been fast-tracked towards the top of the paid ranks following a glittering amateur career and has taken the challenge in his stride to date, losing only to Orlando Salido on a 12-round points split decision in March 2014, and that was just his second professional contest. Continue reading “Lomachenko the betting favourite for New York clash with Linares”

Boxing, drugs and the complicity of the apathetic

I wonder where it is all going to end don’t you? You, we, I sit and watch from the sidelines as the events of the day unfold, beyond our control, beyond, at times, our understanding. The sense of helplessness, the difficulty of arriving at a balanced opinion without wondering whether you are merely adopting a promotional message from one side of the argument or the other, is hard to elude.

In the shadow of larger issues like Syria, the friction and/or collusion between military super powers and people dying in hospital corridors or in the street, the reporting and regulation of PEDs in boxing can appear a trivial point on which to muse. Nevertheless, the pursuit of justice, sanction and clarity suffers the same distortion of facts and an ensuing disengagement which is as dangerous as the problem itself. Continue reading “Boxing, drugs and the complicity of the apathetic”

Joshua learns a jab is no inoculation to criticism

Like Joshua, I spent Saturday playing a role distinct from my usual casting; Joshua won largely favourable reviews for his portrayal of a cautious, pedestrian boxer loathed to engage whilst I stood against a post in the pub, nursing an almost empty pint glass, nervous at the prospect of committing to the queue between rounds. Neither of us, I suspect, gleaned the same satisfaction or contentment we would have from playing to type. He as the emotional, knockout artist and me as the thoughtful wannabe.

Though both proved prudent, these temporary alter-egos, it will be a temporary diversion for me at least, though the experience did provide several valuable and salutary lessons. I learnt much about Joshua and the perspective of those who do not need to contemplate the impact of sharing their opinions too. Certainly not in the way I do when committing them to the world beyond the pub door, however small the readership.

Joshua undoubtedly learned much from his 21st professional success too; notably the power of patience, discipline and employing a degree of pragmatism. Coincidently, a stark juxtaposition of my experience with the impatience, ill-discipline and blood lust of an evening as a ‘casual’.

Continue reading “Joshua learns a jab is no inoculation to criticism”

Hip to be square; Parker the hipster pick

The advent of social media has provided a platform for everyone should they desire one and magnified the good and bad of people within the three ring circus of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – if omitting Periscope, Snapchat and others I don’t even know doesn’t demean my conclusion too unduly.

Within this duopoly of love and hate, good and bad, the imperative to gather behind a message of cynicism or forge an individual path in the pursuit of notoriety consumes its devotees.  In reaching for an unconventional conclusion or opinion, those who divorce themselves from the received wisdom of the group are often motivated by the accumulation of the kudos they require in their quest to be considered ‘cool’ or ‘hip’ by people they’ve never met. Occasionally, this bears fruit and the minority view is proved to be correct or insightful, but usually, and by definition, more typically, its just misguided attention seeking.

Over the past week or two, as the muscular Matchroom Sports press machine limbered up to promote and process the unification bout between their charge, Anthony Joshua, and New Zealand’s Joseph Parker, it didn’t take long for a ‘hipster’ view to be aired. That opinion being that Parker, who holds the most lowly regarded of the four available belts, the World Boxing Organisation’s, and has failed to impress in any of his three 12-round fights for that strap, has the necessary tools to unseat Joshua. Continue reading “Hip to be square; Parker the hipster pick”

Black and Whyte ending for Browne

Lucas Browne demonstrated incredible bravery on Saturday night. As the saying goes, courage is feeling the fear, and doing ‘it’, whatever ‘it’ is, anyway. If the Australian giant wasn’t feeling fear, having arrived at the first bell heavy and with precious little craft and even less tactical acumen with which to win, it speaks only of blissful ignorance as to the pain of the ‘bloody good hiding’ he was about to receive.

He frequently admonished himself when caught by single jabs he should’ve avoided, pulling the wry expression of man who’s dropped the buttered toast again to acknowledge his failing. People often say the journey to escape from a destructive habit, like smoking, gambling or getting hit in the face repeatedly, must start with self awareness. There are no published white papers on the success rate of those making this emotional break through in the opening round of a prize fight, but as an early indicator in the research, Browne’s epiphany doesn’t bode well. Continue reading “Black and Whyte ending for Browne”

Golden boy Joshua’s key victories in his march to unification

By Hector T. Morgan

Whilst Cardiff’s Principality Stadium lacks the salty history of Madison Square Garden or the indoor sunglasses of Las Vegas it is fast becoming a mecca for big time boxing. On March 31st it will provide a vociferous and rousing back drop to Anthony Joshua’s defence of his status as the consensus number one in the division. The potential unification of three of the four major belts, against New Zealand’s Joseph Parker, should enhance his stature as the sport’s most recognisable active fighter and position him for even greater reward and contractual control of contests with Deontay Wilder and the galvanised Tyson Fury.

A fight between unbeaten champions, or title holders to pedantic, is a rare occurrence and in the era in which the World Boxing Organisation is more widely accepted, it represents a penultimate step to the first time all four belts have been held by one fighter. The small matter of Wilder’s World Boxing Council belt representing the last step on Joshua’s path to undisputed status…..until someone mentions he still needs to overcome Fury of course. Continue reading “Golden boy Joshua’s key victories in his march to unification”

Joshua v Parker; follow the crowd but don’t follow the crowd

By T. R. Lewison

Those who followed boxing in its formative, freewheeling and unregulated years were afforded the collective sobriquet ‘The Fancy’, a title bestowed by Pierce Egan in his seminal studies of the noble art; Boxiana, published in the early part of the 19th century. Despite its evolution over the ensuing century or two, boxing remains more closely preserved to its original form than modern reportage would encourage you to believe. A sprawling metropolis of hope and deceit, today as ever it was then, the sport still attracts interest across the social spectrum irrespective of demographics or political persuasion.

The new ‘Fancy’ enjoy the reverie as much as their forebears and for those who attempted to secure a taxi following Anthony Joshua’s last bout in Cardiff there will be a kinship for the travails of earlier followers who traipsed across ploughed fields to find secretive venues in the morning mist.

Yes, much remains the same. Betting on the outcome of bouts was at the heart of those early encounters and events, like the forthcoming unification between Joshua and Parker, and only in the availability of a battery of sophisticated markets to tempt punters and investors is  a distinction to be found. While the fight itself draws yet another enormous sell out crowd to the Principality Stadium on the 31st, it is wise not to follow them in the betting market if you seek to profit on the outcome.  Continue reading “Joshua v Parker; follow the crowd but don’t follow the crowd”

Trio of strong matches support Joshua v Parker

By J.B. Smithers

Even in these heady times of sell out stadiums, monstrous pay-per-views and a host of channels clamouring to show boxing in the UK, there remain critics of the manner with which this demand is created and served.

Increasingly, to the fringes of the swell of goodwill on which Anthony Joshua rides, there remain voices who point to a weakness in the undercards on these Matchroom events and the sense hype, and the desire to feed the ‘event-crowd’ beast, is overwhelming the need for value and legitimate supporting match-ups.

In short, if Joshua is on, the hipster hardcore – they used to be called anoraks when the world was inside a forum rather than on social media – believe too many viewers are interested only in Joshua knocking someone over and are not unduly concerned by the merits of a featherweight clash at 6.25pm. Hardcore fans don’t like that type of ‘casual’ fandom you see. Sometimes, I wonder if they like boxing at all. Certainly, whether they like that so many others like it too. Hardcore fans would, if boxing were a band, always prefer the ‘earlier acoustic stuff’.

I digress. Despite my cynicism, it is refreshing, particularly given Eddie Hearn’s sense that it was necessary to over pay Joseph Parker relative to his true commercial appeal, to contemplate a much stronger selection of undercard features for the event on March 31st in Cardiff. Continue reading “Trio of strong matches support Joshua v Parker”

Unification? What? Simplification? Please. Joshua v Parker is a good fight.

By T.R. Lewison

A good fight is a good fight. Nobody cared for what prize Ward and Gatti battled nor did they fuss that Benn and Eubank contested lightly regarded belts or that they were technically inferior to contemporaries James Toney, Roy Jones Jnr. and Michael Nunn. The equality of fighters make fights great, fighters make belts important. Belts do not a great fighter or fight make. To laud a unification is also to contradict our greater aspiration for a single champion in each of the 17 weight classes.

But, we don’t live in that unreachable nirvana. Nobody appears to have visited the mythical Republic of Boxing Utopia where such clarity is natural and if they have, they’ve not sent so much as a postcard, although Marcus Maidana’s Instagram account suggests he may be living nearby, and we must, therefore, respond to the boxing landscape as we find it. When the World Boxing Organisation’s champion, Joseph Parker, strides across the ring to tackle Anthony Joshua, recognised by the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association as their champion, it will be important.

Continue reading “Unification? What? Simplification? Please. Joshua v Parker is a good fight.”

Bronze Bomber proves his mettle and greatness may yet await

Greatness is a product of many things, without a degree of innate talent the journey to such status is hard to even begin. It is a status that requires resistance, friction. Without a compilation of experiences that burnish and test the qualities of those who chase it, the talent beneath remains undiscovered or unresolved; an intangible or immeasurable ore.

In beating Luis Ortiz, beautifully described as the Cuban ogre by Kevin Mitchell at the Guardian in his preview, the WBC Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder finally, belatedly, took the opportunity to step toward the greatness he craves. Victory polished his record to a pristine 40-0 with 39 knockouts and the seventh round proved he was more than the sum of those shiny statistics. Continue reading “Bronze Bomber proves his mettle and greatness may yet await”

To Kell and back, Brook stops Rabchenko in 2.

Having written much on the possibility Kell Brook would discover he had too little soul left in his old dancing shoes on his return this weekend, I was delighted to see him look both powerful and dynamic in stopping the competent Sergei Rabchenko in the second round of their Super-Welterweight clash in Sheffield tonight.

In doing so the 31-year-old won the WBC’s Silver title at the weight, a festoon for which no plausible explanation for either it’s existence or significance has ever been committed to ink.

Continue reading “To Kell and back, Brook stops Rabchenko in 2.”

Wilder not taking Ortiz too lightly

The news Deontay Wilder weighed in at 214 pounds and the weight of his pants and socks for the 7th defence of his fight with Cuban Luis Ortiz drew a raised eye brow or two. In the modern era, which consensus seems to determine began when Mike Tyson knocked out Trevor Berbick in 1986, or alternatively, when Lennox Lewis overcame Tyson’s nemesis Evander in 1996, we’ve grown accustomed to heavyweights of gigantic dimension.

Beneath the greatness of Lennox and the longevity of Wladimir Klitschko, a procession of giants from the four corners of the globe have tried to impose their own dominance on the division and prove the boxing truism; ‘a good big un always beats a good little un.’

Continue reading “Wilder not taking Ortiz too lightly”

Beauty is only skin deep, yeh, yeh, yeh. Gorman and Dubois win again

My first look at Nathan Gorman last year led me to reminisce about Big Bad John McDermott sitting in the back of a Range Rover eating chicken legs out of Tupperware tubs. Whilst it is clear the young heavyweight has been working hard and improving under the tutelage of Ricky Hatton up in Manchester, his physical definition remains below that associated with a professional athlete.

When viewed in the same ring as Daniel Dubois, a physical specimen of Marvel dimension, it is easy to be dismissive of the fleshy 21-year-old. However, to reach such superficial conclusion is to fail to understand the nuance that exists in the making of a good fighter and the attributes that fighter may possess, i.e. boxing isn’t a beauty pageant. Continue reading “Beauty is only skin deep, yeh, yeh, yeh. Gorman and Dubois win again”

They do Ron, Ron, they do Ron, Ron. Clark beats Barrett.

I don’t know if anyone at ringside could explain what the being the Super-Featherweight champion of the East/West of Europe, as sanctioned by the International Boxing Federation, actually means or define the area it covers nor or how effectively it places the custodian in any regional or global hierarchy. A cynic may ask if the East/West of the title’s, erm, title suggests it doesn’t include Northern Europe and subsequently enquire how Ronnie Clark was fighting for it, given he is a born and bred product of one of the continent’s most Northerly cities.

However, the primal scream the eccentric 33-year-old from Dundee let out at the announcement he’d beaten the highly favoured Zelfa Barrett by split decision to earn the honour illustrated, that to him at least, it meant the world. You’ll have to pardon the awful misappropriation. Continue reading “They do Ron, Ron, they do Ron, Ron. Clark beats Barrett.”

Groves distinguishes himself, and boxing, from the vanity of hype

Twenty out of thirty fight figures in Boxing Monthly thought Eubank would beat George Groves on Saturday night, of the dozen regular writers at Boxing News half drew a similar conclusion and Buncey went for Eubank too. I’ve leaned heavily on those opinions this morning as I wrestled with how close I came to joining them. At the last possible moment, as I watched Gabriel and Michelle interview the two protagonists, my instinct flipped from the hipster pick, Eubank being too quick, too fit and the growing irresistibility of his ‘from the shadow of his father’ narrative to the more obvious, that Groves was simply too big, too clever and hit too hard not to win. And back again.

In the end, at the death as it were, I opted for Groves, just. His presumed method of victory; stay outside, control distance and the pace of the fight with his jab, was hard to be confident in such was the appeal of Eubank’s fast hands, knowing glare and Brook Benton baritone. Adam Abramowitz, an American writer I respect, had inserted a doubt worm too, suggesting that Groves’ boxing ability was being overstated and he had a habit of finding failure when success was abundantly available. Continue reading “Groves distinguishes himself, and boxing, from the vanity of hype”

Elementary Brad Watson

There are few periods in British boxing that stand comparison to the current buoyancy and popularity of the sport. Within this on-going euphoria it is easy to become desensitised to the merits of a good old fashioned ‘scrap’. The Dennis Hobson card which appeared on FreeSports here in the UK, live from Ponds Forge, Sheffield, offered just such an opportunity to remember the value of evenly matched opponents intent on securing a victory over their foe. Small purses, but gallons and gallons of courage, determination or, to make best use of age-old boxing parlance, heart.

Luoa Nassa, the favourite, succumbed in the final round of 10 to a desperate onslaught from Brad Watson. Rallying from a knockdown in the 6th, apparent fatigue and a potentially fight ending cut on the bridge of his nose, Watson eventually overwhelmed Nassa with a series of flush right hands. Continue reading “Elementary Brad Watson”

Whispers getting louder, calling your name

It’s hard to understand why certain fighters become important to you as a spectator, a largely detached, anonymous observer. A football team is a regional affiliation, representative of a people, their values, their history or, at the very least, embraced by default, from father to son and therefore, easier to qualify and understand. Fighters, though their geography can be a thread in the fabric of the union, become important to us for deeply more instinctive and personal reasons. In some instances, this importance lasts beyond their prime, beyond the entertainment they offered or titles they won, beyond, even, their own retirement.

A handful remain entwined in our psyche, sometimes an unwitting avatar of the person we wish we were or a sculpted peg for a hole in the children’s puzzle of our lives. Like the characters of those to whom it is directed, the reason, the motivation, the endearing qualities that engender this adulation is varied, sometimes splintered, unresolved and ill-defined. In middle life, as outlook cedes from the vain and amorous to the mortal and mortgaged, there are moments of pause, even within the cacophony of father hood and the persistence squeal of the interest payments on the roof above, in to which whispers of doubt and reflection echo and haunt.

You know, the ‘Ifs, the buts’, the couldas and the wouldas.  Continue reading “Whispers getting louder, calling your name”

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