Bika overcomes Soliman, and in the chase for a lucrative finale

It is hard to know what a Sakio Bika victory over Sam Soliman in their third encounter can mean in the long term. Aged 41 and 47 respectively there is no long term. only the here and now. The two men went at it for 8 rounds last night, Bika taking the decision unanimously following a largely dominant display over the veteran of veterans.

Bika called out Oscar DeLaHoya in the aftermath, perhaps with a taste for those who once were as opposed to those yet to be, or, more prudently, because of the zeros that will appear on the cheque the Golden Boy will write to the fighter who wins the sweepstake for his comeback.

This writer cannot fathom how DeLaHoya would turn to the 6-1 Super-Middleweight in the face of less rugged opponents with lighter fists but in the current climate it is hard to rule anything out.

Soliman will hopefully heed the call of retirement following a spirited display, albeit in the face of a naturally bigger opponent, and for Bika, it will be a tremendous satisfaction to have returned to action following a frustrating period on the sidelines. The unanimous victor received a 80-73, 79-73, 78-74 review from the three judges.

Continue reading “Bika overcomes Soliman, and in the chase for a lucrative finale”

The life and times of Henry Cooper

This article first appeared on BritishVintageBoxing.com

Two minutes into the opening round of Henry Cooper’s first fight with Muhammad Ali, then Cassius Clay, the proud Englishman snorts hard and draws deeply, he is beyond Clay’s reach and permits himself a momentary pause. He knows he has started strongly. His eyes narrow, focussed on the American quarry before him, his nostrils flaring wide as he sucks air from the cool London night. His pale chest heaves.

Thin black leather shoes mold tight to his feet, glistening like wet paint. They slide and sweep, hop and reset to the doctrine of boxing, those strangest of dance steps. Cooper’s body is taut, narrow and sinewy, his gloves small and almost cuff less. Thinning hair is cropped short, pointing skyward, exaggerating the urgency of his actions. Battleship grey eyes glare from the shadows of a chiselled brow above. A wedge of protruding bone that juts forward, straining skin and tissue. It is a genetic anomaly that has betrayed him before and would again, in countless wars as yet unfought.

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Whyte shatters Povetkin in 4

Dillian Whyte is a chaotic amalgam of power, tactics and old fashioned toughness. His 4th round knockout of veteran Alexander Povetkin restores the baubles to his mantlepiece and positions him back among the.top 5 heavyweights. There remain flaws and they will persist until the end. Whenever that may come.

A straight right hand landed flush (in the 4th), Povetkin stumbled back, eyes trailing right, his back landed against the ropes, the elastic effect propelled the 41-year-old back toward the maelstrom. Whyte was waiting, punches continued.A left hook that started on the Spanish mainland before arriving to detonate on Povetkin’s right cheek proved to be the finisher.

Povetkin rose, unconvincingly, a towel of surrender fluttered into centre ring as Victor Loughlin waved off the fight.

Whyte continues. Povetkin, surely, does not.

Continue reading “Whyte shatters Povetkin in 4”

Cheeseman stops Metcalf in old school war

The scrap between Ted Cheeseman and J.J. Metcalf for the British Light-Middleweight title was fought in Gibraltar. It was screened, for this writer, in high definition on a 42 inch television via the internet. It would have been equally at home had it been available on a Bakelite wireless only or fought at the Mile End Arena in the 1950s.

Two hard men, bent noses, flinty eyes sunken beneath prominent brows. One entered the ring with a ruby welt beneath his eye the other started seeping claret from his nose in the second. Cheeseman wore the white shorts, Metcalf, son of Shea Neary, a throwback fighter himself, wore the black. Just like the days of old.

A vacant British belt, the oldest in the sport, though the division is only of the modern era, the prize for the victor. The gold, the Union Jack coloured ribbon, the history, the tradition. A crown worn by Herol, Jamie Moore, Maurice Hope. It was all there.

Both had stories and both were willing to sacrifice the quality of their tomorrows for the glory of the night.

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Dillian Whyte v Alexander Povetkin Rematch, The Big Fight Weekend Podcast Preview

Always a pleasure to talk to TJ Rives and to guest alongside Marquis Johns and BoxingScene’s Manouk Akopyan as the team discuss the weekend’s biggest fixtures. From Whyte and Povetkin in closest focus, along with some notes on Fabio Wardley and Campbell Hatton.

The link is included below, the Big Fight Weekend podcast has been running for two or more years and is frequently decorated by the great and good of the boxing world, guests have included Sergio Mora, Keith Idec and Winky Wright in recent weeks.

An enjoyable mix of voices. Subscribe via your usual outlets.

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David Adeleye wins in heavyweight farce, calls for Nathan Gorman next

Boxing absorbs punishment better than Oscar Bonavena. Thankfully. Most of the blows are self-inflicted. Home to the peculiar and the perverse, the notorious and nefarious, boxing has long been plagued by the foretelling of its demise. Editorials have sermonised about the end of boxing, predicting the various rocks ready to hole the ailing liner beneath the surface since the beginning of time.

And yet, by many measures, boxing is in ruder health than at any time since the time of the Four Kings. The US may lack the attractions of old, but Canelo, Joshua and co are resurrecting stadium size audiences, new platforms plead for boxing’s attention and new markets are opening up to the boxing circus.

A new variation on this customary self-harm is permitting a debuting professional, from a background in White Collar boxing, to fight against a decorated Amateur who is 20 pounds heavier and boxing his 5th fight.

That happened tonight in the UK, when David Preston was sanctioned to box David Adeleye.

Continue reading “David Adeleye wins in heavyweight farce, calls for Nathan Gorman next”

Povetkin, a nomad from another decade, rides again

Welterweights, lightweights, feathers, they’re all better technically, quicker, busier. But it’s impossible not to be drawn by the old dreadnoughts, the big bruisers, the heavyweights. This weekend fight fans can indulge the oldest of their pugilistic persuasions, as Russian veteran Alexander Povetkin offers Dillian Whyte a second opportunity to add his rusting hull to his resume.

Both men will hope to parlay a victory into a world title shot, the first for Whyte, the 27th for Povetkin. I exaggerate of course but there is a feeling of the perennial about the heavy-handed 41 year old. Briefly, he excited those searching in the detritus of the 1990s for a successor to the thrown abdicated by Iron Mike. For a moment or two it was a hefty clubber from New Zealand with a Don King do and then it was Povetkin.

Neither fulfilled the destructive promise of their youth. Tua grew ripe on the vine waiting for his mandated shot at Lennox and Povetkin, having first turned down a shot at Wladimir under the tutelage of Teddy Atlas, then slowed, thickened, like an over cooked borscht, and by the time he decided to say yes he wasn’t the threat he would have been when fresher and quicker.

If he beats Whyte again, he may get one more shot. And with his power, some natural, some acquired, one shot could be enough.

That’s the heavyweight appeal.

Continue reading “Povetkin, a nomad from another decade, rides again”

Saturday night at the fights; Okolie, Ortiz and two crazy guys called Lopez

Change is not made without inconvenience, even from worse to better

Richard Hooker, English theologian, 1554-1600

It would be easy to be cynical about the Lawrence Okolie story. Too much of Saturday night television has leant on the ‘journey’ of whoever the wannabe singing or dancing hopeful was that particular weekend. The tears, the back story, the setbacks, the dead grandma. It can become repetitive and contrived. But as Eddie Hearn demanded in post fight interview, following the Londoner’s exemplary victory over Krzysztof Glowacki to win the WBO title, Okolie’s tale merits retelling.

The fat kid in McDonalds, a perfectly respectable career for many let it also be said, inspired by heroes Usain Bolt and Anthony Joshua to chase something bigger, something more. Boxing, as it so often does, provided the vehicle for the revolution Okolie wanted. No barrier to entry in boxing you see. Show up, and someone will teach you, will care.

He began. And while last night represented a huge step in his career, winning a quarter of the world title, it was the first step eight years ago that required the most gumption.

Okolie wasn’t the only winner on an entertaining evening of boxing as the action swung from London to Texas.

Continue reading “Saturday night at the fights; Okolie, Ortiz and two crazy guys called Lopez”

Necessity is the mother of invention, Bika to face Soliman

Two weeks ago I had the good fortune to speak to Sakio Bika ahead of his return to the ring against Australian middleweight Adam Stowe. Bika was bright, confident and determined to project himself toward bigger targets by winning convincingly in his first fight in 40 months. It was a practical stepping stone for a pragmatic former world-champion with a shrinking window of opportunity.

Within the week, pragmatism was replaced by disappointment as an administrative oversight by the Cameroon born Super-Middleweight left his fight with Stowe in tatters. The waiting crowd, eager to see a fighter of Bika’s calibre, were hard to placate when the realisation Bika wouldn’t be able to fight began to break. As a result, trouble ensued. Where Bika had hoped for a knockout and a new beginning, he found police dogs and pepper spray, fist fights and discontent.

It was a sobering episode in a long career. As with all things in boxing, from disaster grew opportunity.

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Estrada edges Gonzales in a pulsating encounter as boxing remembers a fallen great

Greatness, true greatness, borne of excellence and deployed over an extended period, is not a prize many fighters acquire. The term is liberally used. An affectation encouraged by a culture of over-promotion and the superficiality of the social media age. Perception, however unsubstantiated it may prove, is always king.

Last night, as two of the modern era’s greatest, Juan Francisco Estrada and Roman Gonzales, waited to provide another example of their outstanding talent and devotion to the craft, the news Marvellous Marvin Hagler, the former Middleweight champion had passed away, aged 66, was revealed to the arena. A silence and sadness fell across proceedings, punctuated only by the trill of the ring bell, struck ten times in keeping with boxing’s tradition.

Michael Buffer was clearly emotional in announcing the news to the gathered audience and those of us fighting the call to sleep in the early hours of the morning shared his emotion too.

The fight was thankfully not subdued and served as a pulsating reminder of how greatness, of the type Marvin Hagler represented a luminous example, was once earned.

Continue reading “Estrada edges Gonzales in a pulsating encounter as boxing remembers a fallen great”

In the name of the father. Cosme Rivera Jnr. steps up this weekend

As I trawl through the upcoming fight schedule, as has been my habit this past twenty years, looking for an angle, a name, a story, I realised I have borne witness to the arc of a thousand careers. Watched young, fresh-faced fighters climb from the foot of the bill, to their personal mountain top, however modest it may prove, and then succumb to the inevitable descent. Back to the darkness and all too frequent anonymity that waits beyond the glare of the lights. Old, tired and damaged.

On one low-key card in Mexico on Friday night (12th March), I was intrigued to note the name of Cosme Rivera. A 19-year-old professional with an embryonic 3-0 record it turns out. The name doesn’t hold the same resonance as Benn or Hatton or Tsyzu, all of whom have sons who now punch for pay, but for this writer, it brought back to mind a rugged and capable Welterweight of the same name who once came to England to box James Hare.

Cosme Senior.

Continue reading “In the name of the father. Cosme Rivera Jnr. steps up this weekend”

Undisputed Heavyweight Championship clash close to becoming reality

By Hector T. Morgan

Fantasy fights have long been a source of debate among boxing fans. Cross generational contests divide followers; Ali and Tyson, Mayweather and Leonard, the idea never ages, the passions evoked never cool. In the modern era, a time of fewer fights between the sport’s great and good, boxing fans are often left with only the fantasy debate to decide who is the best between two fighters who co-exist. Politics, money, broadcast platforms, sanctioning bodies, fear, they all play their role in keeping the best prize fighters apart.

The news Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, the best two heavyweights active today, are on the brink of signing to box each other this summer is, therefore, a subject of both excitement and cynicism among those same boxing fans. Excitement about the contest, the all too uncommon clarity it will provide for the heavyweight division duels with the enduring suspicion that fate or politics will intervene once more.

It is a tantalising fight, but dare we believe?

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Oscar Rivas, a rare Colombian heavyweight, talks about his return to the ring

Heavyweights aren’t supposed to look like Oscar Rivas anymore. A nudge over six feet tall. 230 pounds. He is a compressed anomaly in a forest of giants. From Fury to Joshua and back to Wladimir, heavyweights have got bigger, taller, heavier. Not necessarily better, but bigger. For every Gypsy King there is an Alexander Ustinov after all.

Heavyweight contenders don’t tend to emerge from Colombia either. It is birthplace for skilful Light-Welters like Antonio Cervantes or Flyweight greats like Fidel Bassa and Irene Pacheco, not heavyweights. True, Bernardo Mercado laid Trevor Berbick out flat in ’79, and overcame Earnie Shavers a year later, but the hard head from the cattle ranch capital of Colombia, Monteria, never did land the title shot, losing to Neon Leon in a final eliminator in late 1980. Heavyweights do, however, come from Canada, the scene for Mercado’s upset win over Berbick, the home of Tommy Burns, who held the title a century or more ago, and Sam Langford, the greatest fighter never to land a shot at the championship. It also where a then 21-year-old Rivas settled 12 years ago, having left the Amateur vest of his homeland to begin a career in the paid ranks.

His journey as a prize fighter continues next week against former foe, and deposed Canadian Cruiserweight champion, Sylvera Louis. I had the chance to speak to Oscar this week about his long overdue return to the ring, that Dillian Whyte fight and the possibility of contesting a Bridgerweight title this summer.

Continue reading “Oscar Rivas, a rare Colombian heavyweight, talks about his return to the ring”

Ali v Frazier, 50 years on, still casts a shadow long enough to eclipse Fury v Joshua

I don’t think Clay will want one.

Joe Frazier answers the question of a rematch following his seminal victory over Ali in 1971.

I was born in the summer of 1973. Bawling my way in as a humbled United States left Vietnam, a few weeks before Nixon’s impeachment began and Great Britain joined the EEC it left acrimoniously in January. I arrived broadly equidistant between Muhammad Ali’s back to back encounters with Kenny Norton. I like to refer to Kenny as Kenny, I don’t really know why. Perhaps I hope it implies friendship. On that basis, Mr. Norton would probably be more appropriate, but I digress.

Kenny was of course the strapping enigma the Champ could never quite resolve, in those two fights or in their trilogy bout in ’76. By the time my interest in boxing was stirred, first by the emotive sight of Barry McGuigan walking through the mist and hot breath of Loftus Road to face Pedroza in ’85, and then the amalgam of Tyson, Balboa and Herol, Muhammad Ali was no longer an active fighter.

There he remained. Still waters. Frozen in time and placed out of sight by retirement, remembered only by the words and pictures contained on my, by then, late grandfather’s book case.

Continue reading “Ali v Frazier, 50 years on, still casts a shadow long enough to eclipse Fury v Joshua”

BoxingWriter.co.uk Fighter of the Month – February 2021

As the world permits hope to smile, like the pale Spring sun of late February, boxing is emerging squinting and yawning from the hibernation of Winter and the grip of the COVID pandemic. Shows and events are beginning to populate the diary, fights are happening and momentum is being wrested from the inertia of lockdown.

There has been chaos too. Boxing isn’t boxing without its signature melodrama, the myopia of judges and the sanctioning bodies’ eternal shenanigans. Certainly, there was enough action committed to record to award another Fighter of The Month to follow in the steps of Ryan Garcia who won the equivalent January prize.

Continue reading “BoxingWriter.co.uk Fighter of the Month – February 2021”

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