Mayweather piques my disinterest still further

“Your love made a slave of me,
But the love you gave you took away from me.”

Why When The Love Has Gone,
Isley Brothers 1967

Floyd Mayweather will be 42 in February. Full on middle age. Irrespective of what he does in the squared circle from this point on he will forever remain one of the finest prize fighters to ever lace ’em up. Fast, elusive and a diligent and instinctive reader of opponent’s weaknesses and ‘tells’, Mayweather’s mastery of the conventional was so complete, so absolute, he could bend and manipulate the old standard tunes with frills and trills in the way Whitney might when faced with a number from the American Songbook. And yet. And yet. And yet.

He still leaves me cold. It is ironic, given his desire to chastise those who follow in his financial wake, that he remains entwined with the sport, however spuriously, in the pursuit of spotlight, of easy money, despite retirement and record breaking earnings. Continue reading “Mayweather piques my disinterest still further”

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The night the Raging Bull fell

“You can’t think about the past any more.”

Jake LaMotta, 1922-2017

No hush fell within the domed ceiling of the Miami Coliseum, the crowd’s hub-bub continued neither interrupted nor escalated by the sight of Jake LaMotta slumped to the canvas for the first time in his then 103-fight career. Referee Bill Regan, his once Welterweight frame thickened by twenty years of retirement, took up the count as LaMotta, 31 and fighting at a career high of 173 pounds, pawed for the bottom rope with his right hand.

Danny Nardico rushed to a corner, the adrenaline pumping through his body, the enormity of what he’d just done with a thunderous cross-cum-hook, the last of a flurry of clubbing shots, writ large before him. Whether he mouthed through his gum-shield; “stay-down” was never asked, all eyes were on LaMotta, the man who had once, if only once, beaten Sugar Ray Robinson but was now desperately over-reaching for the second rope, his spatial awareness scrambled by fatigue and the weight of the shot that put him there.

Regan’s fingers splayed wide in front of the bruised fudge of his face, “FIVE, SIX!”. Continue reading “The night the Raging Bull fell”

BoxingWriter.co.uk Fighters of the Year 2018

It is said that time feels increasingly fleeting with the passing of every year. A lament often aired during the Christmas frivolities, as the day itself ‘cannonballs’ in whilst our minds are still fresh from collecting spent rockets and eating the last of the Halloween Haribo. Certainly for those of us wrestling with middle life, the sticky toffee that holds the melange of children, grandparents and other assorted acquaintances together, the reflection brought on by year end arrives all too quickly.

Add in an interest in the world of boxing, a niche within the Venn diagram of human existence once obscure and peripheral but now experiencing a population boom, and the pace is quickened still further. No weekend in the boxing fan’s diary is ever clear, perhaps save the one forthcoming, and the platforms and mediums for indulging their passion grows by the day. There is barely time to pause for breathe between a Spring time heavyweight showdown in a football stadium and a Featherweight dust up on the brink of New Year.

But, just as the charity pleas that interrupt our Christmas viewing and draw us back from the excess of our indulgence and before we dare to complain, gratitude should be our only sentiment.

Continue reading “BoxingWriter.co.uk Fighters of the Year 2018”

Warrington overwhelms Frampton

As I imagined the seats slapping back to rest, the discarded plastic glasses being brushed along the aisles and the last heels clip-clopping from the arena into the Manchester night, the electricity of Josh Warrington’s performance still charging the air, there was time to recognise a first flush of empathy for his vanquished foe, Carl Frampton.

Frampton has been a fantastic fighter and though he may yet accomplish further before retiring, the weight of the ‘has been’ in this sentence is a burden he has been stubbornly resistant to but can no longer contest. In Yorkshireman Warrington, Frampton was forced to face the ripeness of his career by a fighter of unrelenting intensity and aggression. As had been the suspicion of the small band of Warrington believers, he represented the worst type of opponent for Frampton at this stage of his career.

Whatever the headlines of today and tomorrow, it was a performance of great skill and tactical acumen by Warrington, not just the fervour and volume that caught the eye; though all were key ingredients to the ‘pudding of proof’ he provided.

Continue reading “Warrington overwhelms Frampton”

Whyte versus Chisora – betting preview

Preview first appeared at gambling.com

This weekend’s clash between Dereck Chisora and Dillian Whyte at the O2 Arena in London, a rematch of their 2016 encounter, reveals much about their respective characters and perhaps particularly Whyte’s, who has the greater career momentum and the higher rankings to risk.

In fact, if Whyte succeeds, and places himself at the front of the ‘Not Deontay Wilder’ queue for Anthony Joshua in April, it will be the latest in an impressive sequence of qualifying victories that began with the contested points verdict over Chisora.

In the two years since, Whyte has added the scalps of American trial horse Malcom Tann and Finnish giant Robert Helenius to his resume, before then brutalising Lucas Browne in quick time and outpointing former WBO World Champion Joseph Parker this year.

As with all heavyweight prize fights, leading boxing bookmakers are extending a range of markets for the contest. Continue reading “Whyte versus Chisora – betting preview”

Bet on Warrington to surprise Frampton

Article first appeared on gambling.com

The featherweight division has provided a platform for many of British boxing’s most noted prize fighters.

From Jim Driscoll a century ago, who lost much of his prime to the First World War, to Welshman Howard Winstone in the 1960s and the braggadocios Prince Naseem Hamed of the 1990s, the 126-pound weight class has been rich in world-class operators from Great Britain.

On Saturday night, at the raucous Manchester Arena, two more British featherweights will seek to carve their names alongside their prestigious predecessors. Continue reading “Bet on Warrington to surprise Frampton”

Fielding and the liberation of defeat

When Rocky Fielding retires from boxing, which may be before you read this or at some much more distant juncture, he will, like a long sequence of British fighters before him, be able to say he fought one of the best fighters of his generation. Beyond the financial security he presumably secured in his defeat to the irresistible Saul Alvarez on Saturday night, there was something less tangible than the purse but no less essential to his story and his prospects of contentment in retirement.

Simply put, at least Fielding now knows. Like the four British fighters that fell to Canelo before him; Ryan Rhodes, Matthew Hatton, Liam Smith and Amir Khan, Fielding found a definitive benchmark against which he could measure his ability.

It is a question several of his illustrious predecessors failed to resolve before their careers were complete and one which still hangs over a number of Fielding’s contemporaries too.

Continue reading “Fielding and the liberation of defeat”

‘The kid got heart’

Article first appeared in Big Write Hook Magazine: Round 2

Heart. Every successful fighter must have it. Not the pumping organ of all human kind. The intangible version; heart as the metaphoric adjective for the invisible and yet essential.

Other terms are coined to define this unquantifiable asset; courage, guts, balls. Words you will read and hear in the tumult of a boxing match and in the aftermath, when the cups and broken dreams are swept away. Beneath the spotlight of a more dispassionate scrutiny ‘heart’ proves an elusive quarry. What is it? How can it be proven, can it be measured, developed, lost or restored? Continue reading “‘The kid got heart’”

Magic Man Lomachenko returns as odds on favourite.

First published on Gambling.com on December 7th 2018

Sport, and perhaps particularly boxing, with her inherent echoes of by-gone gladiators, has an ability to first conjure and create heroes and then carve their deeds deep into our psyche.

Their greatness never wilts and a fighter’s flaws, whether technical, physical or emotional, are invariably worn smooth by the passing of time.

In a week where Tyson Fury performed an act of recovery that will be spoken and written about a century from now, it is perhaps fitting that another of boxing’s most blessed sons, Ukrainian Vasiliy Lomachenko, is the next star to return to the squared circle.

As always, the best boxing bookmakers are offering a variety of odds on Lomachenko’s (1/25 with Paddy Power) unification clash with Jose Pedraza (12/1). Continue reading “Magic Man Lomachenko returns as odds on favourite.”

Fury returns from the abyss

“when you stare into an abyss for a long time, the abyss also stares into you.”

Nietzsche, 1886

As the thick black oil of sleep flooded through Tyson Fury’s gigantic body, the crackle of nervous energy that had powered his wit and reflex silenced, his senses immersed in unconsciousness; time, possibility and life all fell silent too. His body and mind in a temporal abyss, a place he had travelled close to in the darkness of the past three years, a destination boxing, until that moment, at the fists of her purest puncher, had saved him from.

In those moments, those precarious and precious seconds, Jack Reiss’ two palms and six digits casting a pale shadow over his blank, peaceful expression, something inside the 30-year old former champion stirred. Defining or quantifying the force or personal quality that drew Fury from the depths of the slumber Wilder’s right cross and left hook had plunged him in to is as close to impossible as the act itself. Continue reading “Fury returns from the abyss”

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