Monday digest: Khan, Diaz and all that

An amazing weekend of action, nothing like a good upset to stir boxing fan’s interest. Pampered protege Amir Khan was unceremoniously exposed as a chinny, naive pretender, while there were good wins for Nicky Cook, American heavyweight Kevin Johnson and Juan Diaz among others.

Kevin Johnson TKO 5 Bruce Seldon

The last thing you want to be called as a heavyweight fighter, other than perhaps the gay cavalier or the naked civil servant, is America’s next hope. But it seems Johnson maybe as close to the mantle as contemporaries Arreola, Witherspoon and er, well, those two anyway.

Beating a former world-champion is always a landmark in my estimation, but Bruce Seldon’s status as a former world-champion is more flimsy than most – though beating Tony Tucker, as Seldon did in 1995 to win the vacant WBA title, was rarely easy. Seldon, now 41, is arguably best remembered for being knocked out by the draft from Mike Tyson’s ring-walk.

However, for all that sarcasm Johnson added to his long streak with the win and must now be considered to have completed his apprenticeship and be pitched in with a more ambitious fellow contender. This is his fifth year as a professional after all.

Nicky Cook UD12 Alex Arthur

I didn’t see the fight, as regulars will know, I vowed not purchase the card at £14.99 with Amir Khan as the main attraction and for once stuck to my principles. Similarly, in a mood of rebellion I regarded the status of Alex Arthur versus Cook as a world-title bout as entirely misleading too. Both can fight but I wouldn’t place either fighter in the top-5 at the weight. For Cook it was a debut, in title class of any kind, at the Super-Feather limit [unless you count the always vacant WBF Inter-continental strap pointed out to me by the esteemed Oliver Fennel].

Reports suggest Arthur felt somewhat aggrieved at the verdict. The verdict being he was fortunate to win the vacated belt and hasn’t looked good trying to keep it – he moves to the more comfortable surroundings at 135 lbs one assumes. Lets hope the defeat doesn’t lead to another change of trainers – none of the men who preceded Wayne McCullough taught him how to block, duck or parry a right hand either.

Delighted for Cook, who has been a hard-working professional throughout his often over-looked career. As a fighter twice messed around by Scott Harrison, prior to the Scotsman’s plummet from favour, Cook deserved some good fortune and could earn well from the belt. Frank Warren, who guides his career, is preciously short of attractions and may need to build Cook’s profile to maintain some presence until Maccarinelli, Arthur and Khan are rebuilt.

John Fewkes LTKO4 Martin Gethin

Internet forums hummed with the debacle that appears to have preceded promising British Lightweight John Fewkes’ first defeat. The sum total of all the ‘insider’ knowledge is, Fewkes made the check-weigh in last Monday but couldn’t hit 135lbs on Friday and so only Gethin could win the English title on offer.

The pound Fewkes couldn’t shift proved to be a window on poor mental and physical preparation, with life-time coach Glyn Rhodes opting not to work Fewkes’ corner. He wouldn’t be the first British Lightweight to have been reading his own press clippings and believing victories were won by default rather than focus and discipline.

As the old boxing adage goes, fights are won and lost in the days and weeks before the first bell and Fewkes snapped unbeaten record is evidence of that. Rendell Munroe defended his European Super-Bantamweight belt as the bill-topper and is a growing force and attraction for Frank Maloney who promoted the show at the Harvey Hadden in Nottingham, formely ‘home’ to Jawaid Khaliq and the Booth brothers.

Audley Harrison UD10 George Arias

Another fight I’ve not seen, and my artistic sensibilities wholeheartedly approved of my self-discipline in not handing over the money to view it. Tales of Harrison being booed and Arias being cheered at the fight’s conclusion told me enough regardless of the official result. Harrison failed to engage, or entertain and his post-fight predication that Frank Warren would lead him to the world-title just sounds hollow and repetitive.

Finding positives, after a long lay-off, ten rounds and a victory isn’t a bad week’s work for the former Olympian. Well by his standards.

Ray Mercer MD6 Rachel Hersisia

Speaking of tired old heavyweights, fossilised Ray Mercer, all 47 years of him, still proved to have too much for the Dutch Sonny Liston over six-two minute rounds. The fact Hersisia is fighting 2-minute rounds and probably still represents the second best performance on Audley Harrison’s resume says a lot about both fighters.

Mercer will be smiling all the way home. This is his second low-key win in Sweden; one of the last corners of the fistic globe where Mercer’s name still means anything.

Juan Diaz SD12 Michael Katsidis

Diaz places himself firmly in the spotlight in the Lightweight division by squeaking past iron-man Katsidis while Rocky Juarez, the likable contender, stopped Jorge Barrios in the penultimate round to galvanise his own standing among the Super-Featherweights.

Amir Khan LKO1 Breidis Prescott

As a better judge than I said to me; “we all knew Khan was an accident waiting to happen” and I suppose the evidence, on reflection, is not only self-evident it is a reminder that fighters really should concentrate on fighting. Khan has been speaking like a world-champion in waiting, as though championship belts were his divine right but in the meantime he’s neglected to hone his craft, protect his chin and develop tactical nous beyond  the “button-basher” mentality of his contemporary game-players.

Boxing isn’t a play-station game. When you get hit, you go on the floor. And Khan has always been easy to hit. If the preceding ‘easy’ fights were meant to tutor Amir in the nuances of professional boxing – he has learned precious little. His naivety in the ring, considering the talent he has, care with which he’s been handled and the expertise afforded to him, is almost beyond comprehension.


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