Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years

“Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years.”

James Todd Smith (aka LL Cool J)

Since I began to write about boxing again, I’ve taken note to appreciate how much has changed and how much has remained the same. The reflection this affords to my own life; the realisation of how much time has lapsed since I was immersed in boxing; attending shows, buying magazines, pay-per-views and inhabiting forums is an uncomfortable one. Representing, as it does, a decade of neglect for my love of the craft of writing and the sport itself; the characters, the light and dark, the sepia past and the high-definition future.

The recurrence of names of similar vintage to my own, those who were pertinent that decade ago, and the realisation so many of them are still pursuing purses and chasing dreams provides a touchstone which is both comforting and disturbing in equal measure.  Continue reading “Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years”

Anthony Joshua and the creep of distraction

Perhaps it says more about me than it does Anthony Joshua that I find myself in pursuit of weakness not strength when I watch his fights. Certainly, my wider predisposition for the cause of the underdog influences my perspective more than it should. The sight of late substitute Carlos Takam punching on through a veil of blood, huge physical disadvantages and referee Phil Edwards’ repeated invitations to retire, engaged this inclination.

Continue reading “Anthony Joshua and the creep of distraction”

Joshua set for 20th straight stoppage success against Takam

Anthony ‘AJ’ Joshua had been busy preparing for a mandatory defence of his IBF and WBA heavyweight titles against Bulgarian challenger Kubrat Pulev but that fight was scrapped just two weeks before fight night in Wales. An untimely injury to the visiting challenger has forced  ‘AJ’ to alter his preparations for a last-minute replacement, in the form of French Cameroonian puncher, Carlos Takam.   Continue reading “Joshua set for 20th straight stoppage success against Takam”

That was the boxing weekend that was (22nd Oct. 2017)

The punchers threw punches, opponents ducked and stumbled, people were drawn to their feet, the crowd howled and cheered. Women, and a few men, were heard to gasp and scream as the action, dramatic and fast moving unfolded. Momentum shifted and in the end, as the lights came up, it was hard to determine an outright winner. Inside the ring, British fighters progressed their respective causes, new stories were begun and one or two names, loaded with nostalgia for those of my generation, echoed from Saturday nights of the past.

It was a heady mix, one without the prestige or brutality of the preceding weekend’s knockouts and with the sense of a fistic hors d’oeuvre for bigger nights yet to come. Despite this, there was much to enthral and the fights and their outcomes revealed plenty about the horizons of the combatants. Continue reading “That was the boxing weekend that was (22nd Oct. 2017)”

Joyce challenges a boxing truism and the heavyweight status quo

When events are shifted from their established pattern or place it can cause discomfort for those of us accustomed to a certain way of doing things. People are nervous about such change, preferring the security and assurance of the familiar. It is this familiarity that makes a local, a local. Sitting in mine, watching boxing on Dave, I was drawn to some negative conclusions about the performance of heavyweight Joe Joyce on his professional debut. “Arm punches”, “Slow hands”, “He squares up.” “There is no power in his jab or his right hand.”

I said all of the above, some more than once. With the benefit of reflection and sobriety I’ve grown to be kinder to the effort of the giant Londoner. Continue reading “Joyce challenges a boxing truism and the heavyweight status quo”

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”

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

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. After all, only ‘flat-earthers’ could deny Audley, Haye, Hatton and Amir were the forefathers of the sport’s  current popularity and the inspiration for many of the Amateur champions and emerging professionals superstars fans flock to see.

David Payne reports from Ringside (10/09/2004):

Veteran cruiserweight Carl Thompson tore up the script last night, knocking out British boxing’s pin-up star David Haye in the fifth round of a tumultuous, absorbing and often punishing contest at Wembley Arena, London.

The baying crowd loved every second of the most eagerly awaited all-British encounter of the year.  Imaginatively billed as ‘Don’t Blink,’  the contest pitted two of boxing’s biggest punchers together for the IBO belt Thompson secured with his characteristic last gasp, fight saving knockout of Sebastian Rothmann in February.

But the fight meant much more than the peripheral belt. This was a battle of generations, of styles, of pride. A crossroads bout, the gnarled old champion, the photogenic young buck. Name the cliché and you could hang it on the fight.

Continue reading “Archive: Old man Thompson stops Unbeaten Haye in 5”

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