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.
At 18stone, 252lbs, he fits snugly into an era of super-heavyweights but is not forged from the same mould as those sculptured giants. Happily, the sweet science is a far more secular pursuit than the tag suggests and as such, our interests in individual fighters, and their shape and form, needn’t conform to agreed norms. However, it is equally difficult to consume bouts featuring Bermane Stiverne and Nathan Gorman, and not recognise the contradiction in the conclusions drawn about their respective motivation and performance despite their physical similarities.
I joined the masses who predicted Stiverne would not stretch Deontay Wilder, and chorused disappointment and bemusement at the sight of a fighter overweight for a fight he barely deserved but would be handsomely remunerated for. That was last week. This weekend I smiled and enjoyed watching the rounded heft of 21 year old Gorman patiently assess and then overwhelm unbeaten Mohammad Soltsy, a Russian born German, in the fifth round.
Boxing doesn’t judge me.
For those yet to see the latest travelling man to join the heavyweight circus, he has much still to polish but there was evidence of patience, poise, good hand speed – though slightly over played by the commentary team – and decent combinations too. In victory, Gorman won something called the WBC International Silver Champion. This assures him favourable review in forthcoming WBC rankings but I think, technically makes him the second best heavyweight outside the top 20, as viewed by the WBC.
I’d love to be corrected by one of the scholastic community able to decipher the algebra present in such things but in truth the belt he wrapped around himself meant less than the British title he isn’t quite ready for yet. Certainly while Sam Sexton protects it.
With Ricky Hatton guiding his development as a fighter and his path through the professional ranks as both his trainer and manager I’m inclined to believe he will be afforded time to evolve sensibly. The fighting heritage of his family and background may encourage a nudge more boldness.
There was talk of Dubois and Joyce post fight who both appear unnecessary risks at this point although the youngster is reportedly eager to disprove the assumption their greater pedigree would be decisive.
As an aside, Nathan brings to mind another bulky heavyweight with quicker hands and better boxing skills than his physique suggested, John McDermott. Forgive the lazy comparison but there are echoes of the first time I saw Big John at York Hall. That night he was fighting durable, young trial horse Luke Simpkin if my memory serves me correctly.
However, my greatest memory of John was sitting in a multi-storey car park in London Docklands, grid locked with the boos that greeted Prince Naseem’s final appearance still ringing in my head. I don’t recall who John boxed or whether he was merely there as a fan, but I do remember being ravenous whilst sitting in that car park and watching him, his girlfriend, Dad and Mum peel the tops off several Tupperware containers filled with roasted chicken thighs.
Like Nathan, John never worried much about how he looked.
But he could fight a bit.