The pen is mightier than the sordid

Boxing, like every sporting undertaking, has developed a glossary of terms that for many seem like a foreign language. Evolving through a century and half of the gloved era, the words can feel like a device for exclusion to those wishing to penetrate the niche. Some of the vernacular used by those of us confined to boxing’s obtuse sanatorium are timeless, worn like old slippers, others are necessary and pertinent, a few newly minted and, unfortunately, there is a stocked quiver of the entirely disingenuous.

By way of example, even boxing’s simplest premise is layered with nuance; a jab, isn’t always a jab. Sometimes a jab is a heavy jab, a straight jab, a lead hand, a pitter-patter jab, a range finder, piston-like or ram rod? Away from the technicalities that help fight fans discriminate between the merits of Larry and Audley, within the linguistically creative departments of promotion and regulation, the use of language becomes ever more political in style. Designed to distract the audience, the questioner and cloak the issue in hand beneath a cavalcade of obfuscation.

This week’s revelation that Dillian Whyte had failed a pre-fight test for Performance Enhancing Drugs brought the importance of words, and their use in the deception and distraction of the unwitting, into sharper focus. An outcome not without irony given Whyte’s fight with Oscar Rivas, which took place three days after the first notification of his failed test, was for an Interim belt to secure a mandatory shot against a fighter likely to be installed as a Franchise champion and, therefore, be relieved of the obligation to fight Whyte.

Are you keeping up? Scream if you want to go faster.
Continue reading “The pen is mightier than the sordid”

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Dillian Whyte v Oscar Rivas betting tips

First appeared on Freebets.net

On Saturday 20th July, in the lull between the unexpected crescendo of Andy Ruiz’s victory over Anthony Joshua last month and the return of Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder in September, Dillian Whyte will tackle Colombian rival Oscar Rivas in yet another dangerous ‘qualifier’. It is a fight of unusual character; no belt is currently attached to the fixture, as is customary in the current scene, and it features two top 10 heavyweight contenders in their physical prime.

Jamaican born contender Whyte, 25-1 (18kos), has been a conspicuous buck to this otherwise soporific trend. In Rivas, 26-0 (18kos), the London-based fighter faces an opponent who poses risk to his health and status but with the knowledge victory will reward him by cementing his position as the most worthy challenger to the division’s leading attractions.

The best bookmakers are intrigued by the bout too and offer match odds alongside markets for the chief support bout between fellow Heavyweights Dave Allen and David Price. Continue reading “Dillian Whyte v Oscar Rivas betting tips”

All that glitters is not coal; Doncaster heavyweight Dave Allen and a century of struggle

By David Payne

When popular British heavyweight Dave Allen ambles to the ring on Saturday as the unofficial headline act in a show far removed from his Doncaster home, he will, as all of us do in some shape or form, seek to step in to the spotlight and beyond the shadow cast by his forefathers and the whisper of self-doubt amplified by their deeds.

Across the ring will stand the Liverpudlian giant, David Price. A man who denies the presence of such demons, with fighting pedigree the Yorkshireman can not yet requite and tangible advantages of height, reach and experience too. The O2 Arena in London plays host to this battle of could, would and should. A venue repurposed from inauspicious and self-conscious beginnings as the Millennium Dome and therefore an apt stage for the pair to find out a little more about each other, themselves and the realism of their respective ambitions.

It is a heavyweight contest with much to endear it to the boxing fraternity, the thousands promoters Matchroom Sports will urge to make the pilgrimage to the gate and the wider public too. Fighters like Allen and Price, flawed, with the bruises of life’s slings and arrows evident but not ruinous, with opportunity or obscurity waiting for the victor and the vanquished, often provide more entertainment and are more relatable heroes than those garrulous fellows of untainted preserve. We can admire Floyd, but we love Arturo. Continue reading “All that glitters is not coal; Doncaster heavyweight Dave Allen and a century of struggle”

Heavyweight action: Dubois v Gorman preview and tips

Article first appeared at Freebets.net

Heavyweights. Nothing demands attention like a heavyweight fight. Boxing bristles when the big men climb the steps to the squared circle, the air becomes charged, beer and handbags are put down, heads are turned. A truth that has echoed through the sport’s history and will, when unbeaten British prospects Daniel Dubois and Nathan Gorman face off for the British title, be confirmed once more this weekend.

A prize with more than a century of memories and boasting a gallery of the great, game and infamous of British boxing as former holders, the belt has, nevertheless, laid dormant since Hughie Fury beat Sam Sexton in May 2018. The two fighters, Dubois and Gorman, represent the youngest pairing to ever contest the belt at just 21 and 23 respectively. Hopefully, the belt will be kept active by the victor and that sense of history cherished and extended.

It is rare for two unbeaten fighters to meet so early in their career. Only the clash between James DeGale and George Groves a decade ago leaps to mind when searching for a comparable match up. Supported by the equally intriguing clash between Joe Joyce and Philadelphian contender Bryant Jennings, the O2 plays host to a bonanza of heavyweight action ESPN+ will televise in America and BT Sport will cover for boxing devotees here in the UK.

Top bookmakers are offering markets on this enticing contest too. Continue reading “Heavyweight action: Dubois v Gorman preview and tips”

Pacquiao, trapped in a boxing Jumanji, leads a trio of great match ups

2019, sometimes I say the numbers aloud, pausing in thought, marvelling at just how futuristic the words still sound. Perhaps, there is part of each of us that remains trapped in the sounds and deeds of our formative years, an area of preserved nostalgia from which all subsequent events are perceived. In those years before the millennium, when Prince sang about 1999, as a distant party we would all attend, Sarah Connor met a cyborg from 2029, and Harrison Ford wrestled with Rutger Hauer in a dystopian Los Angeles, two thousand and nineteen was a year drawn back from a projected future too far away to recognise. One mathematics could presume we’d live in, but one sufficiently distant to make the visions Ridley Scott and James Cameron shared with us entertaining rather than terrifying.

Yet, here we all are. Prince not withstanding, in mid-2019, long since detached from those analogue decades of the seventies, eighties and much of the nineties.

Hard to fathom therefore, that one of our middle-life contemporaries, who debuted in 1995, the year of Robin Williams’ Jumanji, the story of an inquisitive boy trapped by a super-natural game, could still be central to how we will one day look back on the boxing year of 2019. But with the year half through, and with many of the matchups the sport promised failing to materialise, Manny Pacquiao is part of a trio of bouts that could arrest the disappointment fans have felt so far and restore some much need momentum, particularly in the would-be golden Welterweight division he now inhabits.
Continue reading “Pacquiao, trapped in a boxing Jumanji, leads a trio of great match ups”

Tyson Fury returns for carnival in Vegas – Preview and Tips

Article first appeared on Freebets.net

The earthquake caused by Andy Ruiz and inflicted on the heavyweight landscape continues to reverberate more than a week on from his astonishing triumph. Contenders are renewed and emboldened by Ruiz’s exploits. For a while, there will be a swirl of belief, of daring do to enflame those endowed with a shot at the sport’s leading lights in the months ahead.

Such was the completeness of Anthony Joshua’s denouement to the speed, guile and gumption of Ruiz that practically anything now appears possible.

Could an aftershock unseat another of the would-be trio of Kings? This weekend unheralded German Tom Schwarz will be the first to try as he attempts to fell the towering Tyson Fury at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Boxing bookmakers offer some attractive odds for those willing to dream the impossible dream. Continue reading “Tyson Fury returns for carnival in Vegas – Preview and Tips”

Joshua v Ruiz Junior – Preview and Tips

Article first appeared at Gambling.com on 31st May 2019.

This Saturday, at one of sport’s greatest venues, Madison Square Garden, Britain’s Anthony Joshua (22-0, 21 knockouts) bids to win the support and engagement of the lucrative American market – and pick up the baton of popularity from Deontay Wilder following the latter’s knockout victory on May 18.

Joshua’s American debut is the latest step in a long-standing business plan compiled by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport, accelerated by Joshua capturing the IBF belt in 2016, and has been executed with Hearn’s assured touch. Jarrell Miller withdrew from this fight against Joshua after failing drug tests for three separate banned substances.

But even after a protracted search for a replacement, the Garden is expected to be full by the time Joshua strides to the ring to defend his WBA Super, IBF and WBO championships.

Commercially, it remains to be seen whether a fight with Andy Ruiz Jr. encourages new subscriptions to DAZN in the US, but there are certainly a wide range of UK boxing betting markets available for you to glean a little commercial return of your own. Continue reading “Joshua v Ruiz Junior – Preview and Tips”

Joshua and the pursuit of undisputed

“The struggle is my life.” 

Nelson Mandela (written in 1961)

Accepted wisdom proposes that heavyweight boxing is in rude health.  The simultaneous primes of Deontay Wilder, the WBC’S champion, Anthony Joshua, recognised by the WBO, IBF and WBA and Tyson Fury, the somewhat contested custodian of the lineal championship offer the promise of a new golden age.

Were there a PowerPoint presentation to pitch this notion to investors, it would suggest, repeatedly, that Heavyweight boxing is stronger now than it has been at any other point in the past 20 years.

Graphs, pie charts and slick video clips of vast crowds and packed football stadiums  would be used to convince the doubting audience. And boxing wouldn’t be short of salesman capable of taking up this thread, but as a summary of the sport’s blue ribbon division, it does host an obvious omission. Continue reading “Joshua and the pursuit of undisputed”

Wilder v Breazeale Betting Odds

Article first appeared at Gambling.com

Fans of boxing betting turn their gaze to the blue ribbon heavyweight division, and the Barclays Center, Brooklyn, this weekend to witness unbeaten American Deontay Wilder’s ninth defence of the WBC world title belt he won in 2015. 

The WBC made this a mandatory fight to the consternation of many, particularly Britain’s Dillian Whyte. Still, Wilder emerges from the rubble of a failed negotiation with Tyson Fury to tackle fellow American Dominic Breazeale. Wilder is available at 1/6 with BetVictor for the outright win.  Continue reading “Wilder v Breazeale Betting Odds”

Greatness to visit, and be confirmed in Glasgow. Inoue and Taylor in action

First published at Gambling.com

The World Boxing Super Series has been a timely entrant into the boxing landscape simplifying the all too complicated world of boxing politics with a tournament format everyone understands. Crucially, the wealthy backers of the concept have ensured the program is filled with outstanding fighters too.

On Saturday night, the SSE Hydro in Glasgow is the venue for a pair of semi-finals that will enthral boxing’s most ardent observers and should excite the casual follower too. Investors have the potential to make returns from mouthwatering fights between Josh Taylor and Ivan Baranchyk and Manny Rodriguez and Naoya Inoue, with the best boxing betting sites offering up numerous markets.

In the Super-Lightweight class Josh Taylor continues his journey in the footsteps of Scottish greats Benny Lynch, Jim Watt and Ken Buchanan, as he bids to capture Ivan Baranchyk’s IBF title and progress to a final against American powerhouse Regis Prograis. The financial rewards are high, and the kudos accrued equally so, if the ‘Tartan Tornado’ can succeed. Continue reading “Greatness to visit, and be confirmed in Glasgow. Inoue and Taylor in action”

He fat, Shefat, Billy Joe Saunders seeking momentum

First published on Freebets.net

This Saturday night, in the inauspicious surroundings of Stevenage Football Club, Billy Joe Saunders seeks to inject much-needed momentum into a boxing career that has wandered, sometimes aimlessly, from the path to riches and renown it once promised. His opponent, a curated choice from the gallery of obscurity the WBO specialises in, is the unheralded German, by way of Serbia, Shefat Isufi.

A prohibitive underdog with most leading bookmakers, 18/1 with Bet365 the widest, Isufi offers precious little hope or opportunity for investors. Continue reading “He fat, Shefat, Billy Joe Saunders seeking momentum”

Age isn’t just a number. It remains a deadline.

“I am a shadow of my former shadow. My day was decades ago.”

Ian Holm as Gilliam, Snowpiercer 2013.

The competitive chasm that yawns between the trio of heavyweight champions; Fury, Wilder and Joshua, and their respective guests in the next few weeks has served to anithetise fans previously stirred by Fury and Wilder’s fight back in December.

Back then optimism flowed freely. Fury’s boldness had holed the dam of pragmatism risk averse advisors use to contain the adrenalin and fervour good fights create and suppress the inherent courage of their fighters. Continue reading “Age isn’t just a number. It remains a deadline.”

Canelo and Jacobs step into the spotlight of future history

Before the advent of the internet, specifically the explosion of available answers to every conceivable question, and the need to finesse the ensuing search results to more manageable quantities, filters, in common parlance, would only be found in conversations about car engines, or perhaps a fish tank sufficiently grand to require a pump. Not the bowling ball sized hell my own goldfish endured for a year or two but one of those with an apologetic piece of plastic seaweed or perhaps an ornamental bridge or lost ship wreck. You know, fancy ones. The type of thing people with a caravan had in their hall, those who drank coffee not tea, used sunflower spread not butter back in the seventies. Holidayed in France. You know the type.

Both applications remain relevant today of course, though you may need a safe cracker, with a sideline as a contortionist to find and replace a filter on a modern combustion engine, even a car has to ask Alexa to diagnose a fault these days. Fish in captivity do still need something to keep the flotsam and jetsam at bay too, not as much as their free swimming cousins a ‘green’ wag might suppose, but I digress. Continue reading “Canelo and Jacobs step into the spotlight of future history”

Jacobs must beat Alvarez, money and the Golovkin trilogy storyline

Occasionally boxing gets it right. The mist is blown aside, the knots untangled and a bread crumb trail through boxing’s unnecessary maze, the one too many important fights have been lost in, is scattered sufficiently to force even reluctant matchmakers to follow.

On Saturday 4th May, just such a rarity occurs. Saul Alvarez, the Mexican with the Lion King locks, contests the Middleweight title with Daniel Jacobs. Between them they will amalgamate three of the important belts available, if the oxymoron of multiple ‘world’ title belts is to be accepted. Boxing fans, impoverished by the relative inactivity of their heroes and the reluctance of their hero’s advisors to contemplate risk, will hungrily devour the competitive fare the two promise to provide. Continue reading “Jacobs must beat Alvarez, money and the Golovkin trilogy storyline”

Steve Forbes and a tale as old as time

In 2004, in the illuminating The Seven Basic Plots, Christopher Booker proposed there were only seven scenarios on which the incalculable number of books we read are based. Most of the seven, with perhaps the exception of comedy, unless pith and sarcasm make you smile, are told and retold in the pages of boxing history.

From the bare knuckle savagery and steam boats of the 1800s, to the sepia, black and white and technicolour of the 20th century and on to to the high definition and pay per view of the modern day, those half a dozen narratives have echoed through the ages. A constant set of storylines in an endeavour dripping with the fool’s gold of nostalgia and more deeply entwined with the human stories of it’s protaganists than many contemporary pursuits. More is risked, more is lost, more is gained.

The news Steve Forbes, one of the sport’s nice guys, is making a comeback offers further evidence that fighters, no matter how well told the story of failed returns has been, always believe they will find a new ending, a plot twist, success where others perished.

Despite their will, they’re invariably wrong. Continue reading “Steve Forbes and a tale as old as time”

Boxing fans must guard the gate to heavyweight history

“Any fool can tell the truth, but it requires a man of some sense to know how to lie well.”

Samuel Butler, Novelist – 1835-1902

The vacuous melange of bullshit, fabrication and bluff boxing fans endure grows more tiresome by the day, the month, the year. However ‘casual’ or ‘steady’ you define your own relationship with the old show girl, ‘it’s complicated’ is likely the most apt summary of the connection.

Where certainty should be available, in the places most sport’s host facts and truth, black and white, boxing has only grey, caveats, asterisk. It is a tired rumination. A frayed thread tugged on by good writers and bad ones. Despite the magnatism of the ‘modern problem’ narrative to this unwelcome reality, boxing has always been a cocktail of the bewitching and bewildering. In 135 years of the gloved era, since John L Sullivan fought Dominick McCafferty, a fight the ‘Boston Strong Boy’ won in the seventh round of a six round fight, and that isn’t a typing error, sport’s ultimate prize has rarely existed in the nirvana our nostalgia insists it did. Continue reading “Boxing fans must guard the gate to heavyweight history”

Garcia stands at the gateway to greatness

“History, faced with courage, need not be lived again”

Maya Angelou (1928- )
American novelist and poet

In some ways, analysis of this weekend’s Welterweight fist-fight between Errol Spence Junior and Mikey Garcia depends which end of the binoculars you want to look down. Influences abound. Those of recent memory, the annihilation of Amir Khan, the breaking of Kell Brook, to the asinine and unfathomable; the ‘side of the bed you rose from’, the craving to be heard in a gale of voices or the need to gamble an opinion in the pursuit of  distinction. All impose themselves. Continue reading “Garcia stands at the gateway to greatness”

Maurice Hooker v Mikkel LesPierre betting preview

Article first appeared on Gambling.com

Tonight at central New York’s Turning Stone Resort and Casino, Maurice Hooker defends his WBO light welterweight belt against Brooklyn’s adopted Trinidadian, Mikkel “Slick Mikk” LesPierre.

The fight is the co-main feature alongside Dmitry Bivol’s light heavyweight title fight with Joe Smith Jr., who is best known for spoiling Bernard Hopkins’ farewell night.

Hooker will contest the title for the third time in nine months, a level of activity few current champions or established contenders match. Continue reading “Maurice Hooker v Mikkel LesPierre betting preview”

Heavyweights beware, Time is Gonna Pass You By

Tobi Lark, aka Tobi Legend, once sang, ‘Time is gonna pass you by, so quickly and it waits for no man‘.

Not a theme exclusive to the songwriter, John Rhys, of course and, tangentially, it was serendipitous to learn Rhys was born in the sleepy Suffolk town of Saxmundham, a place a Sunday afternoon drive from my own adopted home, particularly given the sophistication and significance of the song. Rhys moved Stateside as a youngster and would become a distinguished music producer in Detroit and Los Angeles I discovered. Perhaps the influence of Michigan’s blue-collar ‘Motor-town’, historic home of the Ford motor company and Motown Records of course, as opposed to the coastal market town of his birth, explains the soul and beat in the tune and is why it resonated so deeply with a generation of British youngsters.

The thumping cocktail of melancholy and triumph in the Northern Soul anthem embedded Rhys and Legend’s sentiment deep into the psyche of a receptive audience in the 1970s. Tracks like ‘Time is Gonna Pass You By’ entranced a communion of working class kids; coal miners, steel workers, bakers and candlestick makers, longing to escape Lowry skylines, and the drudgery of daily life to converge, via all-night pilgrimages, to clubs and dance halls across the North of England.

Continue reading “Heavyweights beware, Time is Gonna Pass You By”

DeGale surely too wise for Eubank

Article first appeared at Freebets.net

No title. No eliminator status. The James DeGale versus Chris Eubank Junior fight this weekend is a novelty in the modern boxing era. A contest baked on the purest ingredients of style, reputation and personality.

The bout’s appeal is improved by the salty accoutrement of their long running online spat. Exchanges that took the dislike forged in their conflicting recollections of a six round spar they shared and turned it into a grudge. And grudges sell. Continue reading “DeGale surely too wise for Eubank”

Santa Cruz stagnates with Rivera defence

Article first appeared on FreeBets.net

It is one of the inevitabilities of boxing, reliant as it is on the health of two singular participants, that scheduled fights are sometimes derailed by the misfortune of injury.

From the heat of this forge, where promoters and matchmakers scramble to salvage the show, because the show must always go on, opportunities for unheralded fighters can be struck.

This weekend, opportunity knocks for Rafael Rivera as he accepts a late call to replace Miguel Flores, who withdrew with an ankle injury three weeks ago, as the challenger to Leo Santa Cruz at the Microsoft Theatre, Los Angeles. Continue reading “Santa Cruz stagnates with Rivera defence”

Gervonta Davis expected to knockout Ruiz

Article first appeared at Freebets.net

Gervonta Davis, he of the thick neck, thicker jewellery and thunderous punches, returns to action on Saturday in Carson, California in what was once the StubHub Centre, but has recently be renamed the Dignity Health Sports Park. A name lacking the poetry, grit or evocative history of the York Hall or Caesers’ Palace, but an important boxing venue these days.

Davis’ defence of the WBA Super-Featherweight title, versus late-replacement Hugo Ruiz, is his first since winning the title in April of last year. Davis, his handlers and those of us who recognise his potential all hope the bout will prove an important jumping off point from which the 24-year old builds momentum and recaptures the acclaim he was initially afforded.

Soft-featured but with darkness in his eyes, Davis is a product of Baltimore’s mean streets, having fought to survive the life of chaos his parents’ drug problems inflicted on him.

Just getting to the ‘start line’ of a professional career in 2013 was achievement in itself, and it is easy to conclude in the period where he stagnated, that the initial riches and early attention he garnered were distracting for the twenty-something. Six years on, 2019 becomes a pivotal year if he is to capitalise fully on the potency of his youth and undoubted talent. Continue reading “Gervonta Davis expected to knockout Ruiz”

The home of greatness; Light Heavyweight awaits Alvarez versus Kovalev rematch

Article first appeared on Freebets.net

One seven five. 12 stone 7. Light Heavy.

Words to illicit a quickening of the pulse in a boxing fan a century ago and words that still cause an extra frisson of excitement for their modern-day counterparts too.

From Fitzsimmons to Loughran, the Fighting Marine to the Ole Mongoose, Ezzard Charles to Bob Foster, through Michael Spinks and Roy Jones, Light Heavyweight has been ‘home’ to some of boxing’s greatest.

They, alongside a legion of other warriors there isn’t space to document, distinguished themselves in the division and decorated the sport’s history books with fights and rivalries still purred over today.

On Saturday night, boxing turns her gaze back to this touchstone division and two diverse characters pursuing their own legacy with the flickering embers of their youth. Sergey Kovalev, the Russian who fights out of Florida, is hoping to win this rematch and reclaim the portion of the world title Eleider Alvarez took from him in August last year. Continue reading “The home of greatness; Light Heavyweight awaits Alvarez versus Kovalev rematch”

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”

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”

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