Knowing when to quit (featuring Iron Mike and Daniel Dubois)

I don’t need permission

Make my own decisions

Robert Barisford Brown, (1969- ), My Prerogative

There was an unerring symbiosis between Saturday night’s principle contests. The old and the new, the real and the forged, the premature and the belated. A pair of bookends to boxing’s top shelf of literature.

In London, unbeaten heavyweights Joe Joyce and Daniel Dubois duked it out to an 8 second TikTok loop of crowd noise for a prize as old as the gloved sport they excel in. While across the pond, Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jnr., two fighters who predate Jurassic Park, tried to dig up the remnants of their glorious past against an LP of greatest hits for a belt even the WBC couldn’t produce in time.

Continue reading “Knowing when to quit (featuring Iron Mike and Daniel Dubois)”

But it’s Mike F****** Tyson

Take it from me,

It’s hip to be square

Huey Lewis, Songwriter, 1967-

I’ll have to whisper. So come a little closer. Now, look, this thing Saturday. Yer know, the fight. No, not that one. The other one. Yeh. That one. Well, I know all the hipsters have had their say and I know it’s all a bit silly, but, well, how can I put this?

I’m a little bit excited.

I know it’s wrong. I know I’m meant to rise above it. Look down on it. Reject it. Yeh, yeh, 54, I know. I know. But it’s Tyson.

Mike ******* Tyson.

Don’t tell me you’re not watching it.

Continue reading “But it’s Mike F****** Tyson”

Mike Tyson and Roy Jones; an exhibition of shadows

Even as your body betrays you, your mind denies it.

Sarah Gruen, Writer, Water for Elephants

On Saturday night, which is the 27th day of the 11th month of the 20th year of the 21st century, two of the most luminous talents of the preceding century, Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jnr., will climb between the ropes for an 8 round exhibition. The boxing world, in all its enduring schizophrenia, will pray neither are the destroyer of men they once were, for fear of the damage they may still impart on each other, while simultaneously hoping that they are both exactly what they once were. The latter, for the affirmation such Peter Pan deliverance would offer those voyeurs who’s vintage they share.

What began as little more than the whimsical nostalgia of those older viewers, who digested the curated footage of Iron Mike training, to maintain fitness and ego, in the midst of their mindless morning scroll, has now taken on its own life force. Plucking Roy Jones Jnr. from a retirement he didn’t seem to accept he had to enter, despite a catalogue of hellacious knockout defeats noisily encouraging the step, has added steam to the push. Now boxing has an event, the inherent risk of which, to the two relics in the ring and the sport they graced in their youth, can not be truly assessed until the first bell rings.

Or maybe the last , or maybe for whom it tolls.

Continue reading “Mike Tyson and Roy Jones; an exhibition of shadows”

Dubois and Joyce clash in the heavyweight foothills

Don’t be afraid to take a big step, you can’t cross a chasm in two small jumps.

David Lloyd George, Politician
1863-1945

It is all too rare for unbeaten prospects to fight while still in the foothill stages of their climb toward boxing’s mountain top. So numerous and divergent are the paths to boxing’s summit; and the world titles to be found there, a prize broader and less elusive than the zenith it once represented, that exciting contenders often progress in isolation of each other. The fear of falling back from the trail tends to prove more persuasive than the rewards found in victory or the lessons of defeat.

On Saturday night, British heavyweights Daniel Dubois and Joe Joyce will dispense with the unsatisfactory custom of cosmetic record padding and pitch their unresolved potential against one another. The fighters, the division, boxing fans and the sport itself will benefit from the nobility of trying to authenticate their standing as a potential world title challenger in the old fashioned way.

Continue reading “Dubois and Joyce clash in the heavyweight foothills”

Conor Benn, remember HIS name

The shadows, some hide others reveal

Antonio Porchia, 1885-1968

Conor Benn is an excellent Welterweight. Furthermore, he is a television friendly fighter in a talent rich division. On Saturday night he distinguished himself. Distinguished himself by both of those measures but also as an entirely different prospect to the man-child who flailed and windmilled through an early career beneath a spotlight his surname, rather than the merit of his ability, had provided.

Continue reading “Conor Benn, remember HIS name”

Callum and Canelo, boxing as it should be

And though hard be the task,

Keep a stiff upper lip.’

Phoebe Cary, American poet (1824-1871)

Super-Middleweight is a relatively new division, pitched like a mobile phone mast between the ancient spires of the 160 and 175 weight classes in 1984. It was then, a time of Terrible Tim Witherspoon, Nicaragua and the British Miners’ strike, that Scot Murray Sutherland defeated Ernest Singletary for the freshly foiled IBF world title.

168 pounds had been a contested weight on the almost invisible fringes of the sport long before the widely under appreciated Sutherland stepped between the ropes. Since the late sixties an organisation called the WAA had toiled alone in trying to establish the half way house between the classic divisions. But it was a story that only truly came to life in that low key promotion in Atlantic City. Since then, despite Sutherland’s loss of the belt to Chong-Pal Park in his next fight, the weight class has been home to a parade of British boxing greats.

Benn, Eubank, Froch and Calzaghe were the most illustrious, accompanied along the way by Watson, Catley, Reid, Groves, DeGale, Graham and Irishman Steve Collins too. The latest, Liverpool’s Callum Smith, has this week landed an opportunity to etch his name into the very particular folklore reserved only for Calzaghe and co.

It isn’t outlandish to suggest winning the fight with boxing’s richest cash-cow, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, on December 19th, certainly in terms of profile, would eclipse any individual victory those four secured. Heresy though that will appear for many nostalgic observers.

Continue reading “Callum and Canelo, boxing as it should be”

Do I have to understand the ‘business’ of boxing?

There is a lot written about the boxing business. I know, because I’ve contributed to the digital morass over the years. The decoding of boxing’s uniquely improvised jazz chords is something I’ve grown tired of. I was happy to prove my grasp of its trills and chromatic harmony at the peak of my immersion. Approaching 50, I’m a much more weary listener.

Continue reading “Do I have to understand the ‘business’ of boxing?”

Crawford brooks no sentiment; destroys Kell in 4

You can learn too soon that the most useful thing about a principle is that it can always be sacrificed to expediency

Williams Maugham, The Circle (1921)

Terence Crawford didn’t prove he is the best Welterweight in the world by adding Kell Brook’s scalp to his record. True, the ruthlessness of his victory emboldened his claim but to capture the throne in the classic division he needs to meet, and beat, Errol Spence. And while Errol Spence needs Terence Crawford too, the need in play is merely the increasingly prosaic premise of proving to be the greatest of their era.

It requires both parties to care enough about this type of ‘old testament’ sentimentality for the fight to be made. The question is, do they?

Continue reading “Crawford brooks no sentiment; destroys Kell in 4”

Kell Brook and his glorious quest

That one man scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage.
To fight the unbeatable foe.
To reach the unreachable star.

The Impossible Dream, Andy Williams

There is a thread that ran through the careers of those that soared highest from the Winconbank Gym in Sheffield within which Kell Brook learned his trade. A course, irritating interloper in an otherwise beautiful, if unconventional, fabric. Woven in to Naseem’s robe of almost greatness, the elusive silk of Herol nearly man cape and the off-beat otherness of Junior, that thread, of the ‘if only’, cannot be unpicked. Continue reading “Kell Brook and his glorious quest”

Martinez running toward a mirage

Tis but a blink since I wrote on the fairytales we whisper to ourselves on entering our forties. The type former champion Sergio Martinez has, alas, succumbed to, adding Instagram filters to the truth of his middle age. In actuality, several months passed before the 45 year old ducked between the ropes for a thankfully tame encounter with Joes Miguel Fandino. Continue reading “Martinez running toward a mirage”

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