Groves v Eubank Jr. date and venue announced; DeGale still the prize

By J.B. Smithers

Such is the nature of the sport of boxing these days that one has to remember to write George Groves’ name first in any discussion or announcement regarding his World Boxing Super Series Semi-Final clash with Chris Eubank Jr. The tournament has been a huge success in terms of the entertainment provided and threatens to restructure much of what we understand the accepted hierarchy of boxing, it’s matchmaking and promotion, to be too.

The momentum behind Eubank Jr., despite a curiously innocuous period prior to his last two fights, one the quarter-final with Yildirim, is growing. Growing to the point, his name frequently appears to the fore, to the left to use boxing parlance, of releases and public rumination about the bout with Groves, who is, for the casuals who have forgotten, the WBA Super-Middleweight champion. This seemingly trivial faux pas speaks loudly about the potential for Chris Eubank Jr. to transcend, standing on the shoulders of his father and the great names he tangled with, to reach a much loftier and lucrative plateau than the one Groves could reach.

In and of itself, when one considers the enormity of Groves’ rematch with Carl Froch, to believe that is even possible is remarkable. Continue reading “Groves v Eubank Jr. date and venue announced; DeGale still the prize”

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Heavyweight David Price on learning from loss, his comeback and Tyson Fury

“I don’t like this myth that I’m a fucking head case!”

Wisdom oft proves an elusive asset. Remaining invisible to subjects unwilling or unable to recognise and embrace the lessons life uses to swaddle it in. These lessons are typically more conspicuous, more tangible, in the loneliness of failure, when your senses are exposed, when life, or, in a heavyweight prizefighter’s case, a seventeen stone opponent, has knocked you down and stripped you of much of what you thought you were. If you pause long enough in that stillness, when the roar of the crowd fades and the platitudes and sycophants dissolve in to the night, wisdom can come flooding forth.

In conversation with former British and Commonwealth Heavyweight champion David Price, I was struck by how much more content and at ease he sounded following a period of soul searching in the aftermath of his stoppage defeat to Christian Hammer in February. He confesses, he contemplated retirement. Continue reading “Heavyweight David Price on learning from loss, his comeback and Tyson Fury”

The grip of nostalgia, the theft of perspective. Fury v Joshua could be Ali and Frazier.

Although age usually brings a degree of wisdom, to those of us blessed sufficiently to accumulate the years and decades, it also brings with it the inherent risk of becoming a nostalgic. A condition without physical pain, but one that can effect your eyesight and reason. Too often we, the royal we, because I’ve succumbed as much as the next man, unless the next man is dear old Colin Hart, apply a rosey exaggerated hue to all things by gone, to the events of history and the heroes and villains who acted in them. This is most virulent around instances and characters we bore witness to in our formative years, but not exclusively so.

Boxing, like every other aspect of life, suffers from this phenomenon. I’ve seen the argument for Harry Greb being the best Middleweight of all time, and read the case for Jack Johnson being the finest heavyweight who ever graced the squared circle to name but two examples. Opinion with merit of course, but based almost entirely on still photographs and a precious few seconds of actual recorded action. More commonplace among those of us with grey at the temples is the summary dismissal of any fighter active today if matched with their historic forefathers. Continue reading “The grip of nostalgia, the theft of perspective. Fury v Joshua could be Ali and Frazier.”

Can Wilder really beat Joshua?

By T.R. Lewison

2017 already feels like a watershed year in the world of boxing, and with discussions underway to conjure further big fights in the New Year, 2018 may yet surpass even the high points of the past twelve months. The best are beginning to realise the commercial benefit of fighting each other; from flyweight to the new generation of giants contesting belts in boxing’s blue riband weight class, the heavyweights.

The rise of Anthony Joshua has been the story of the sport’s heaviest division in recent months, as the Briton has stormed to prominence and sporting superstardom with his efforts in the ring and likeability factor outside of it. AJ’s defeat of legendary fighter and future Hall of Fame world champion Wladimir Klitschko, and the drama contained in the 11th round victory, gave him the platform he needed to propel himself beyond the confines of boxing and become a transcending ambassador for the sport. Continue reading “Can Wilder really beat Joshua?”

Life on the right hand side of the bill; Ian Bailey and the toss of a coin

First published at BritishBoxers.co.uk in November 2016.

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Some are shared by thousands or even millions. Others are more personal; grandfathers with ‘snap’ tins filled with medals and ribbons or a father marching for his community beneath a colliery banner. Usually, their place is earned in endeavour we believe to be beyond us or undertaken in our stead.

Occasionally, a figure enters my consciousness from an apparently innocuous encounter or anecdote or due to the most obscure or seemingly trivial of reasons.

One such occurrence happened six years ago as I witnessed a humble coin toss occur in a boxing dressing room with a potentially career changing prize at stake. The toss was necessary to select one of the two unused reserves to replace an injured finalist in the Featherweight edition of the then popular Prizefighter show and a chance to win £32,000. Continue reading “Life on the right hand side of the bill; Ian Bailey and the toss of a coin”

Nathan Gorman, Hatton’s BFG, begins to shine

Photo: Laura Ayres/Hatton Promotions

Variety is the spice of life they say. In Nathan Gorman, British heavyweight boxing has a markedly different type of prospect to add to the flush of body beautiful contemporaries emerging in the wake of Anthony Joshua. This weekend’s victory over Mohammad Soltby was my first live exposure to the Nantwich prospect, I’ve only seen highlights and clips of his previous contests, and there was enough on display to suggest he will prove more than merely an aesthetic counterpoint to his highly regarded rivals. Continue reading “Nathan Gorman, Hatton’s BFG, begins to shine”

Colin McMillan: The man who defied convention

First published in Knockout London

The tassels dance; folding, bouncing and exaggerating the rhythm of his purposeful, often balletic movement. Pristine white boots travel distances measured in fractions of inches, from arm’s length to harm’s length. Mesmerising hesitant opponents, rendering them inert with speed, and precision, with timing and the bluff of feints and counter punches.

His hands act as gloved rapiers, his brain analysing, identifying weakness, processing the opponents’ ‘tells’. Busy too, these assessments done instantly, conclusions drawn, punches selected to capitalise are thrown naturally, the switch from offence to defence and back again is fluid, instinctive.

This isn’t the best of Sugar Ray Leonard or a delve into the prime of Muhammad Ali, but an attempt to capture the beauty and brilliance of a British Featherweight, a forgotten jewel, Colin ‘Sweet C’ McMillan. Continue reading “Colin McMillan: The man who defied convention”

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