Damned if you do, damned if you don’t; Davis to face Hugo Ruiz

In 2019, the weed of cynicism is so thickly entwined in much of what we say, read and hear that our collective consciousness is being starved of the sunshine of positivity. Clouding our days and gnawing at our nights. Social media has proved to be the artificial lighting required to fuel rampant growth of an outlook once the preserve of the few but now the default setting for millions. To stretch the metaphor further, cynicism has its dealers and users and the internet offers them anonymity or infamy, subject to preference, as well as an infinite supply of virtual street corners and under the table shadows in which it can be exchanged.

Omnipresent on every platform in which people congregate, irrigated by sarcasm and often recut and repackaged, to avoid scrutiny, as its more palatable brethren; pragmatism and realism, cynicism is far too established to unroot.  In the main, it’s origin is merely disguised jealousy. Espoused by the covetous, by those searching for meaning and popularity they cannot otherwise find and loathing those that have.

Accomplishment, effort, courage, success are met with scorn by eager detractors. Should a fighter stumble or crumble, the misfortune attracts a cackle of anonymous hyenas keen to feast on the schadenfreude of it all.

I know, because, like you, I recognise the behaviour in myself. I am trying to be better. Gervonta Davis is the newest recipient of my new, but often erratically applied, benevolence. Continue reading “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t; Davis to face Hugo Ruiz”

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Kownacki – simplicity strikes back

There is much to love about the big Polish-American bruiser Adam Kownacki, in every sense. With a puffy squint borrowed from Harry Greb or Carmen Basilio and the heft of a thirties strike breaker, Kownacki is fast becoming my favourite heavyweight. Tyson Fury not withstanding.

At the Barclays Centre last night, Kownacki further enhanced his reputation in the evolving heavyweight division by destroying Gerald Washington in two thunderous rounds that you suspect old Carmen would’ve loved to witness. Continue reading “Kownacki – simplicity strikes back”

Thurman returns; rugged Josesito Lopez the first challenge

Article first appeared on Freebets.bet

The current Welterweight division would benefit from some ‘old-school’ busyness as it seeks to ascertain who is the true king from a courtyard full of aspiring princes and deposed monarchs.

On Saturday night, Keith Thurman will return from the latest hiatus in his 11-year career to pursue this unified crown and reinforce a claim validated by a resume that contemporaries struggle to match, but one undermined by inactivity.

Following Manny Pacquiao’s victory last week, and with the spectre of Terence Crawford tackling Amir Khan and Errol Spence tangling with Mikey Garcia already on the horizon, Thurman’s return following surgery and rehabilitation, elongated by subsequent injuries, is exciting and timely. Continue reading “Thurman returns; rugged Josesito Lopez the first challenge”

Bermane Stiverne booked as ‘former champion’ for Joe Joyce

If, like me, you are swimming in the tapioca of middle-age, the last vestiges of youth evaporating before narrowing eyes and a runaway appetite your exercise regime cannot keep up with, retirement represents the ultimate mirage. That fantastical, care-free and indefinite holiday we venture on when work and children have completed their consumption of our finite will and reserves of energy.

Heavyweight fighters tend to get there sooner than a typical blue collar worker or executive, often no more or less content than the rest of us and frequently troubled by the life sprawling ahead of them without purpose, routine or income. It is frustrating for those of us still governed by mortgages and the alarm clock that the mirage, once reached, is just that, a mirage. Even for those heavyweights who captured larger purses in their prime, the discomfort remains and for some, the ‘end’ is never quite conclusive enough, like a season finale written in the hope of being commissioned again.

Winning, success, money doesn’t sate the thirst, frequently it merely affords more stake to play with, to gamble with. Only in losing, often repeatedly, sometimes with enormous consequence, can the gambler stop or have the temptation rendered impotent.

Unfortunately, and particularly for heavyweights, there will always be someone, an opportunist usually, who thinks a 40-something heavyweight has either a shot at redemption or the remnants of a reputation their own, younger, fresher starlet could still capture. It can prove irresistible for heavyweights who care not for the preservation of that reputation or still crave the adrenalin of competition. Fight a novice or emerging prospect for a lump of cash? Why not?

On Saturday 23rd February Bermane Stiverne, 25-3-1 (21), now aged 40 and with less than three minutes of ring time since November 2015, will face British prospect Joe Joyce in a fight notionally made to test Joyce’s readiness for the big prizes. Continue reading “Bermane Stiverne booked as ‘former champion’ for Joe Joyce”

Not fighting; the new fighting

In my preparation of notes for this weekend’s clash between Welterweights Keith Thurman and Josesito Lopez I was struck by the inactivity of both men; Thurman returns from a prolonged sabbatical following elbow surgery and Lopez fights for the first time in almost a year. As the attraction in the fight, Thurman’s absence has been well documented and largely explainable but their respective inactivity is reflective of a broader trend in boxing, particularly among those who have punched and parried their way to the top of their division.  

Not fighting has become customary. This ‘resting’, as old thespians may have once termed these periods of unemployment, is a point of frustration for many of us who remember a time when champions and contenders fought three, four and more times per calendar year. True, training has evolved. Accruing new voices from the doctrines of science, nutrition as well as a disparate parade of sorcerers and snake oil salesman from the grey-scale in between. A boxer’s ‘camp’ has now become an umbrella beneath which this entourage of analysts and soothsayers restore the abandoned physique to optimum and, in doing so, too frequently devour large swathes of calendar too.   Continue reading “Not fighting; the new fighting”

Boxing, is it still a young man’s game?

I wrote earlier this week about the questions posed to boxing fans by Manny Pacquiao’s continued career. Pacquiao ploughs on at an age when the leading lights of every preceding generation were long retired, whether in good health or bad, destitute or comfortable. Where once fighters were considered ‘shop-worn’ or ripe for the plucking, we now find the perennially untested, underachievers and those still punching to prove themselves.

The volume of shows, the quantity of fighters and the plethora of platforms fans can now access to consume boxing creates a script in which the characters, and the weeks and months, are dragged across the stage with increasing speed.

In the thrall of this often breathless narrative and the surge of popularity fuelling it, certainly in the UK, themes and large scale ‘set-changes’ can be harder to notice. Pacquiao’s 40th birthday provided this observer with the necessary illumination to the shift in fighter demographics that has occurred in the past twenty years.

Fighters appear to believe their prime is an infinite or elastic resource and, as a state of mind, it can’t help to bring the best available together.  After all, ‘there is always next year’.
Continue reading “Boxing, is it still a young man’s game?”

The extraordinary and ancient Pacquiao makes accomplices of all of us

It is the way of things that the fresh-faced heroes of our youth, who once charged the ramparts of boxing’s established names in our stead, now find themselves clinging to the last castles of their own generation. A month ago, notification Manny Pacquiao’s December birthday cake now required 40 candles spilled in to my consciousness and caused momentary pause in the day’s proceedings.

For so long, Pacquiao’s dancing feet, blurring fists and relentless aggression represented the new, the urgent, the usurper of the established. Overcoming and occasionally wrecking totems of pay-per-view, Pacquiao swatted aside the Mexicans Featherweights (more often than not) and a series of champions presumed to be too big or too strong for the diminutive Philippine.

This success vaulted him beyond the vanquished, planted him in the Hall of Fame and encouraged us to overlook the fact the one time Flyweight was now into his thirties and far beyond his beginnings. [3min read] Continue reading “The extraordinary and ancient Pacquiao makes accomplices of all of us”

Pacquiao to prevail; Broner can’t be trusted

First appeared on freebets.net on 14/01/19

On Saturday night, at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Manny Pacquiao seeks to extend an astonishing career, already longer in years and bouts than those of any of his contemporaries, by beating the enigmatic contender Adrien Broner for the WBA’s Welterweight title.

It is an intriguing contest in prospect for fight fans, in part because of the contrast of the career journeys to date and in the potential for their styles to blend well as a spectacle.

Beyond Saturday, their fight also represents the ‘starting gun’ for a sequence of clashes among a generation of Welterweights within which greatness could yet be achieved.

As you would expect, their respective profiles ensure all the leading bookmakers are offering markets on the fight. Pacquiao is 2/5 with Paddy Power for the outright win and also offer a competitive 21/10 on a Broner win by any means. Continue reading “Pacquiao to prevail; Broner can’t be trusted”

KATIE – The acclaimed story of women’s boxing’s biggest star

“I never put limits on myself.”

Boxing remains a rich seam for those who enjoy mining for stories of glory, triumph, loss or redemption. It is a world inhabited by the colourful and paradoxic, from the magnanimous hero to the loveable villain and a fair smattering of everything in between.

Occasionally, for those immersed in boxing’s culture, in her truths and philosophies and her lies and darker corners too, it is possible to become desensitised to the virtue of most of her participants and to the greatness she can draw from people.

In November 2017, in the unspectacular surroundings of Wembley Arena, on an otherwise forgettable card notionally headlined by a van glorious Light-Welterweight, Katie Taylor made her professional debut and, in doing so, woke the gathered.

A special fighter, perhaps a special person, was among them. And, like me, years from that night they would be able to say they were there when it all began.

Continue reading “KATIE – The acclaimed story of women’s boxing’s biggest star”

Kid Galahad mandated for Warrington’s IBF belt

IBF Featherweight champion, Josh Warrington, may be forced to abandon, at least temporarily, the pursuit of unifications with the three other ‘champions’ recognised in his weight class and face Sheffield’s Kid Galahad instead.

Following the positivity of the preceding article on BoxingWriter.co.uk, in which Warrington’s manager Steve Wood revealed the intention to “better 2018” by pitching the unbeaten 28-year-old in with one of Leo Santa Cruz, Gary Russell Jnr. or Oscar Valdez.

There was much to admire in the aspiration, but just a few days later, the sobering hand of boxing appears to have suffocated this would be plan. Continue reading “Kid Galahad mandated for Warrington’s IBF belt”

Warrington will remain urgent and ambitious as champion

Josh Warrington, the IBF Featherweight champion, has enjoyed proving people wrong this past twelve months. Firstly, and most potently, to the two world-class fighters he has faced in 2018; Lee Selby and Carl Frampton. Both were outworked and outthought to first win and then defend the title he now boasts. The suspicion Selby and Frampton felt they were superior pugilists and, therefore, consciously or otherwise, dismissive of the Yorkshireman was hard to supress.

Warrington explained their mistake with his fists in qualitative and quantitative terms. Neither Selby or Frampton could discourage or dissuade him.

In pursuing Frampton at all, despite acknowledging he represented the richest prize he could snare, Warrington showed an intent to fight the best available competition and not follow the more customary practice of a ‘soft’ first defence following the title win.

Warrington’s manager, Steve Wood assures fans, the aim is to continue chasing gilded rivals and not settle for simple defences. [4 min read]

Continue reading “Warrington will remain urgent and ambitious as champion”

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