Boxing: Canelo seeking greatness an asterisks may deny him

I wonder whether it is harder for fighters to etch their legend into our collective psyche these days. The saturation of coverage helps build brands, invites us to know our heroes better, to co-exist beside them. An invited voyeurism that can reveal struggle and educate fans to the risk and reasons that motivate prize fighters but also homogenise those we would otherwise propose possess special powers.

The price of this exposure, if there is one, is this puncturing of a fighter’s mystique, their sense of otherworldliness. Unfettered access has removed the robe of mythology we once wrapped our kings in. I’m not sure even Marvellous Marvin Hagler’s solemnity would have outlasted the chatter of video courtiers every pug with a pair of gloves is now exposed to.

Even the words; Hagler, or Tyson or Duran, still provide a frisson of the electricity fans once felt when they caught the first glimpse of their walk to the ring. Or when their hero’s eyes locked on to his prey.

It is harder for their modern day counterparts to leverage the same awe in their less active careers and, in the case of Saul Alvarez, one of this generation’s most gifted fighters, with the burdensome asterisks of a failed drug test forever attached to his name. Continue reading “Boxing: Canelo seeking greatness an asterisks may deny him”

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Taylor and Prograis push each other to their peak

Note to self. Remember to watch the boxing.

Note to boxing. Remember to make fights like Taylor v Prograis.

Boxing is a remarkably simple premise. One for whom meritocracy should be its preeminent mode of governance. Instead, as it has always been, it is widely subverted by the politics of television and the opportunism of oily raconteurs.

The sweet science, like the lost and vulnerable it attracts, is too willing to comply to their whims and persuasion. Lowering its lofty brow from the high theatre it is capable of to the tawdry soap opera fighters and fans endure in order to unearth gems like Josh Taylor v Regis Prograis hidden beneath. Continue reading “Taylor and Prograis push each other to their peak”

Usyk cuts out your heart Witherspoon

Those pruning the previously lustrous blooms of their expectations of Oleksandr Usyk are very obviously still reading from a script the Ukrainian long since tore up and rewrote. Despite the interest surrounding his heavyweight debut and the apparent modesty of opposition, Usyk was never likely to win this fight by early stoppage.

To expect him to comply with the traditions of heavyweight debuts, given his  personality and the nature of his boxing style was a misguided notion. True, Chazz Witherspoon was a less dangerous opponent than widely anticipated when Usyk opted to move up to the more lucrative division, but, like any man North of 200 pounds, he still represented risk. Usyk, for all his formidable ability and gargantuan self-belief remains a studious and respectful prize fighter.

Seven rounds with Chazz Witherspoon, although essentially semi-retired, was more valuable than two, despite the bolder font a quicker win would have earned in the ensuing coverage.

Continue reading “Usyk cuts out your heart Witherspoon”

Golovkin now fighting in the Autumn of a golden career

As I lay here in the post summer funk of early October, rendered motionless by fatigue and the bleakness of an approaching Winter bellowing at the windows of my afternoon, rumination is often a friend and occasionally a foe too. For reflection too easily cedes to the creep of melancholy.

The transition between seasons is a blustery reminder that the world keeps turning and the clock keeps ticking. Leaves swirl and dance on the driveway outside, like discarded ticker tape from a parade long since passed. The terror of middle-age visits us all.

Watching Gennidy Golovkin wrestle with the Autumn leaves of his golden summer as boxing’s preeminent middleweight it was hard not to draw a wry, knowing smile. Despite his ultimate success aged 37, he defeated Sergei Derevyanchenko via unanimous decision, the revelation that he is no more impervious to decline than the rest of us is both a comfort and a sadness. Continue reading “Golovkin now fighting in the Autumn of a golden career”

Benn faces a nightmare in pursuit of an ill-advised dream

I wrote about Sakio Bika once. He’s the type of prize fighter you perhaps only write about once. Which is not to say he isn’t a boxer of note, or a person of depth and interest, the former Super-Middleweight belt holder has performed at world level for much of his professional career after all.

However, the challenge of defining his fighting style, to fall on the closest cliché boxing has to offer regarding awkward opponents, is hard to look good against.

The news this week that Nigel Benn had convinced himself he can recapture a significant proportion of the fighter he once was brought only one happy thought to mind. I now have a go to phrase to describe Sakio Bika that conveys some of what made him difficult for men as talented as Joe Calzaghe, Markus Beyer and Anthony Dirrell to overcome in their prime. It isn’t catchy, but it gets the job done.

If you’re 55 and planning a return to boxing having not fought in 23 years, the last person you want to fight is Sakio Bika.

Thank you Nigel. Continue reading “Benn faces a nightmare in pursuit of an ill-advised dream”

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