Cheeseman and the deal with the devil

Every fighter has a relationship with sacrifice. Offering something of their unseen tomorrow for the conspicuous glory of today. As a witness to the transaction, boxing fans marvel at the willingness of those inside the ring who make the exchange for our entertainment. Light-Middleweight Ted Cheeseman, who succumbed to the fists of the Troy Williamson and relinquished his British title last night, is a man that embraces this truth.

Not for the first time, the courageous former champion departed from the stage a little less than he’d entered it. The crowd and the audience at home staggered by the action Cheeseman and Williamson had provided in 10 gruelling rounds of thudding combat.

Cheeseman’s tumultuous encounter with Williamson evoked memories of those in whose footsteps they trod, Jamie Moore and Matt Macklin most prominent among them, and proved a fitting prelude to the night’s main attraction over in Las Vegas, where a fellow brother in arms willingly gave a piece of his future self in the pursuit of his own glory.

Continue reading “Cheeseman and the deal with the devil”

Usyk the Great uproots the Joshua tree

And so it was, the giant visited by defeat once more. Anthony Joshua lost for the second time and the collection of party garlands he’d hoped to parlay into an undisputed clash with Tyson Fury at some future point were passed to a new custodian. The fight proved revelatory for those trusting in the age old adage “a good big un beats a good little un.” and, further, revealed limitations in Joshua’s technical competence and confirmed Oleksandr Usyk’s unquestionable superiority.

As night follows day, the dissection of Joshua’s performance began before it had even ended. Sport in the spotlight insists all losers are finished, all conquered champions exposed. It is an incessant and usually unqualified scrutiny. True, problems have grown like weeds around and within Joshua’s performances; where once there was a youthful vigour and self belief, knots of indecision and timidity now prevail.

Joshua remains a dangerous heavyweight and there is scope still for improvement on the disappointment of Saturday,. Boxing fans must be wary of dismissing those who venture to fight their peers, and lose. He took his lumps and bumps, his defeat, with humility and grace.

They too, are admirable qualities.

Continue reading “Usyk the Great uproots the Joshua tree”

“I coulda had class”. Fighters, films and the fix

For cinema goers, the image of a boxer being coerced into losing a fight or consoled in the aftermath, is all too familiar. A convenient vehicle deployed by film makers since the advent of ‘talkies’ in the 1920’s. From John Wayne to Charlie Chaplin, actors have been knitting their brows as earnest pugs buckling beneath the guilt that ensues. Electing to forgo the integrity they cherished, in exchange for easy money or the promise of richer fruit down the line, is a choice much easier to reject in theory and detached from the starkness of life as a prizefighter from the 1930s to the late 1950s.

As Brando immortalised in The Godfather, fighters, like others in position of influence and value, were made offers they couldn’t refuse.

Continue reading ““I coulda had class”. Fighters, films and the fix”

And the band played on. Boxing’s voyage to the abyss

Rogers Morton, a prominent figure in American politics in the 1970s, once said, while serving as Campaign Manager for Gerald Ford’s ailing push for the White House and pressed on how he intended to salvage lost momentum; “I’m not going to re-arrange the furniture on the deck of the Titanic.” A quote that would outlive the Statesman, both in political influence and life, he would succumb to cancer in 1979, and one that became synonymous with actions deemed superficial and redundant in the face of impending disaster.

As a 58-year-old Evander Holyfield clambered back down the ring steps in Florida this weekend, a state which withdrew his license to box 17 years ago on the grounds of his diminished ability, it is easy to clamour for boxing to do something, to intervene. Thousands added their voices to the cause in the days before the ‘fight’, screened by Triller (no, me neither) and commentated on by former president and the doyenne of delusion, Donald Trump. They urged ‘boxing’ to change course, to come to its senses.

Gratefully, it took but a few seconds for Holyfield to be separated from his, if he wasn’t detached from them, or at least reality, when he arrived.

Continue reading “And the band played on. Boxing’s voyage to the abyss”

Liam Williams secures his place in a gallery of the gallant

Explaining the status of any individual fight, the sense of the significance it should be afforded in the wider boxing landscape, is an undertaking for only the boldest and most patient among us. This intractable maze also makes it impossible to define fighters in the way they once were. Any argument about a fighter’s world class credentials must first be preceded by agreement on what world class actually means.

Is losing a world title fight enough or must you win one? Ken Norton never did but would give any heavyweight in history an argument. What is a world title anyway, if there are four available and others competing to be recognised? The WBA routinely acknowledge three of their own in a single weight class and list ‘champions’ few have even seen fight.

As Demetrius Andrade distorted Liam Williams’ face on Saturday night, in the way a potter might when throwing wet clay on a wheel, the notion of what makes a world class fighter, or how such status is earned, ebbed and flowed. A WBO title fight is rarely the platform for greatness, though exceptions exist, and the organisation’s mandatories, of which Williams was one such example, are not typically drawn from a consensus top 10.

Continue reading “Liam Williams secures his place in a gallery of the gallant”

Rampant Benn wrecks Vargas in 90 seconds.

The acceleration in Conor Benn’s progress as a fighter is, frankly, astonishing. Samuel Vargas is not Carmen Basilio, but he’s rugged, durable and still held aspiration. He was obliterated in 90 seconds by a 24-year old with the patter of a superstar and a magnetic persona to match.

Vargas protested the stoppage, Colombian’s from the North American circuit expect to box on unless they’re laid out flat, but a degree of compassion will serve him well in the long run. There was the sense Vargas let the enemy in through the front door and Benn ran rampantly through the opening. Right hands, uppercuts and left hooks. Vargas’ eyes looked to the lights, the end would have followed had Michael Alexander not intervened.

For Benn, as with all prospects, contenders, matchmaking is key. If left to the protagonist, it will be ambitious.

Continue reading “Rampant Benn wrecks Vargas in 90 seconds.”

Sadness and truth as Herring ensures familiar end to Frampton’s career

There was a theme of sadness running through the final chapter of Carl Frampton’s outstanding career as a professional fighter this weekend. In part because of the apparent inevitability of the defeat to Jamel Herring, and in part because his story drew to a close far from home, far from the fans he loved and the family he yearns for.

Dubai, the crudely affluent capital of UAE, was an ill-fitting suit for a man who has flown highest in the traditional boxing heartlands of Belfast, Las Vegas, and Brooklyn. The location, missing the accoutrements of the historic stages and bigger broadcasters Frampton has boxed on, added to the sense of lament for a prime long since passed and the glorious nights of his twenties. A two-weight champion, with victories over Leo Santa Cruz and Nonito Donaire, Frampton eked a great deal from that fleeting peak and while the Autumn of his career has been unfulfilling, he departs in tact and with enormous respect from those he encountered.

It isn’t the ending Frampton hoped for, or perhaps deserved, but with the unrelenting tick of a fighter’s career, he hadn’t the time to wait for a post-pandemic normality to resume. Money he had, time he did not.

Continue reading “Sadness and truth as Herring ensures familiar end to Frampton’s career”

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”

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.

Continue reading “Cheeseman stops Metcalf in old school war”

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”

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”

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”

Avanesyan has his triumph, Kelly’s loss needn’t be a disaster. If fans rally to his side

One may learn wisdom even from one’s enemies

Aristophanes, Greek Satirist, 445-385BC

It’s traditional to muse on the events of the night before on a Sunday morning. Where once it was the haze of a hangover and wondering what may have been said and done beneath the influence of alcohol, Sundays are now more typically dominated by the injustices and frustrations evoked by Saturday night boxing. In a world of the cynical and sarcastic, of the negative and voyeuristic, being motivated to write by failure, by schadenfreude is a widespread malaise.

Important then, to write when a show has produced entertainment, drama and delivered a large dose of the thunder fight fans all crave. We must, collectively, counteract the all to familiar narratives. For if we don’t, if there is no buzz to compensate fighters and promoters for taking the risk of evenly matched fights, then they will defer to the tried and trusted safety first modus operandi that plagues the sport in the modern day. Their hangover will not be worth the entertainment they share.

Last night’s show, in which the favoured Pretty Boy Josh Kelly was stopped by a 32-year-old Armenian who lives in Newark, David Avernysan, and the loquacious Albanian Florian Marku had to get off the floor to beat Ryan Charlton, there was everything that was good about the fight game.

Please be upstanding for the participants and the matchmaker who compiled such an evenly matched card. There was so much to enjoy.

Continue reading “Avanesyan has his triumph, Kelly’s loss needn’t be a disaster. If fans rally to his side”

Honeyghan destroys Bumphus. 34 years on, the memories remain

Much time has passed since last I was ringside for a boxing match. A break exacerbated by the pandemic of course. The joy of people watching, a pastime inherited sitting besides a Grandad waiting “near the Spinner” in Doncaster for a Grandma browsing in Marks’, is sweetly fed in a press seat. From those middle-age men assigned to chaperone ring card girls, to the fighter’s moll, tightly wrapped for later, the polo shirt security blinking into the darkness beyond the apron, to the men in silk pyjama jackets, bent noses all, a stray towel flung on their shoulder, boxing employs a diverse troupe of characters.

One of the most glorious attendees at any London event is the former Welterweight champion, Lloyd Honeyghan. The Ragamuffin Man is a man of sartorial individualism. From the fur coat, the spats, to the ‘Chicago’ trilby, to the cane with a leaping cat, his presence is felt the moment he enters a room. Any room. He was once afforded the front row seat directly in ahead of me at a fight card I’ve long since forgotten. Or to rephrase, I was sat behind him. That seems more respectful. Star struck, I failed to speak.

The aura to which I was prisoner that night, began 34 years ago.

Continue reading “Honeyghan destroys Bumphus. 34 years on, the memories remain”

‘Bronco’ Lara throws Warrington from the Featherweight saddle

It is hard to know where to start a fight report on Josh Warrington’s contest with unheralded Mexican, Mauricio Lara. The 22-year-old, who catapults himself from anonymity and small purses to the world scene with the victory, remains the same boxer he was on Friday. He is still slow, with wide punches, ponderous feet and a propensity to mark up. But he has, whatever circumstances prove to have been in play, battered the best Featherweight in the world and knocked him out in spectacular fashion.

Congratulations to him for taking the fight and grabbing the chance. Almost everything else about the night felt wrong.

Continue reading “‘Bronco’ Lara throws Warrington from the Featherweight saddle”

Bad publicity is still publicity. Bryan beats Stiverne in heavyweight hinterland

Championship [noun]

A contest for the position of champion in a sport or game

Any publicity is good publicity the proverb insists. Trevor Bryan’s win on Friday night, KO11 v Bermane Stiverne, secured him the most inauspicious of ‘world’ title belts, in a world awash with inauspicious belts, and tested the age-old notion to the fullest. As well as the credibility of all involved.

The days before the fight, usually the key period of promotional push on a PPV card, were spent navigating a labyrinth of nonsense conjured by the Panama based World Boxing Association (WBA). A largely faceless enterprise seemingly inspired by the imagination of Lewis Carroll and harnessed with a move or two from the Lucky Luciano playbook.

Venerable promoter Don King was the unusual Alice in their dystopian wonderland.

Only in America.

Continue reading “Bad publicity is still publicity. Bryan beats Stiverne in heavyweight hinterland”

Conor, the boxing conman, departs. Garcia and Pacquiao to reassert boxing’s authority

As blood seeped from his nose, the veneer of alpha stripped from his name and with millions of dollars leaking from his future, Conor McGregor lay prone on the canvas. Pain flooding in beneath the Trojan horse of disorientation that smothered his senses. The Irishman appeared to pause. At first in shock but then with a sense of revelation, of the realisation that he was no longer what he was or what he thought himself to be.

Damage was smeared across his features. The malevolence of his persona hacked out by the fists of a capable opponent. Faces, familiar and new, bobbed into view. McGregor continued gazing toward the lights, perhaps beyond, like a husband outside a shop, staring to the heavens, contemplating whether he’d remembered everything on the list he’d left at home.

Dustin Poirier’s punches had pummelled McGregor’s to defeat. An upset victory that changes much in the world of MMA, and perhaps too, the boxing world McGregor was planning to return to.

Continue reading “Conor, the boxing conman, departs. Garcia and Pacquiao to reassert boxing’s authority”

Revisited: Quirino Garcia, the elephant and the castle.

We have no time to stand and stare. And stare as long as sheep or cows. No time to see, when woods we pass, Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

W.H. Davies, poet, ‘Leisure’

Parking had been difficult, as was finding the venue itself, and as a result, I was late for the show. It was long since dark and the city still intimidated me despite my tailored attempt to project self-assurance and belonging. I broke into a jog between the pools of street light on my way to the Elephant and Castle Leisure Centre, London. It was late March, 2002. A cool night, I missed the entrance. Twice. No fluorescent signs, no limousines. Just a door, in the shadows, almost turning away from the glare of potential passers by negotiating crossings, blurting horns and the choke of car fumes.

Boxing inhabited a different world twenty years ago. One of Leisure Centres and bootlegged world titles. Smaller. Seedier. And virtually unrecognisable from the gigantic events we now enjoy.

Continue reading “Revisited: Quirino Garcia, the elephant and the castle.”

Dennis Hobson signs Scottish trio, a reward for his innovation in the pandemic

Necessity is the mother of invention

Plato, Philosopher, 428-348BC

For the millionaires in boxing, the pandemic has been difficult, preventing as it does the furtherment of their wealth and for those who punch for pay, it has pried a year of their short career from their grasp. Those not blessed with the talent and opportunity to secure such affluence have been punished much harder by inactivity.

The numbers may be smaller but they represent a greater portion of the whole and they were disproportionally affected as they operate at the end of boxing spectrum where margins are at their tightest. Narrow margins mean less tolerance for absent fans. Ultimately, without television, shows became unsustainable despite the clamour to box by those who frequent these smaller bills.

Dennis Hobson opted to innovate to try and keep his fighters active and preserve their form and standing. This resourcefulness came to prominence twice, firstly in the inception of Drive in Boxing, or Straightener in the Car Park to give it its full title, a format which saw spectators remain in their cars to watch boxing. It was as bonkers as it was brilliant and though the sound of a symphony of car horns distracted more than enhanced, fighters fought, fighters got paid and their career’s ticked on.

Continue reading “Dennis Hobson signs Scottish trio, a reward for his innovation in the pandemic”

Canelo disarms and dismantles Smith. An education in pressure

There is no pressure at the top. The pressure is being second or third.

Jose Mourinho, Football Coach, 1963-

Many words and phrases enter into boxing’s lexicon. Some pass, like ‘drug cheat’, others linger, hold, like Henry Akinwande, and are as misunderstood as the heavyweight octopus too. Others feel contrived and crash against our senses like finger nails on a chalk board; “downloading data” one unpopular example, “purse split” another. Often these new terms describe something old, something eternal, but the descriptive refreshes and repackages the classic, adds a veneer designed to appeal to a younger audience and infer wisdom in the speaker.

Beneath this modernism, or bullshit as we used to call it, remains the skill, the truth, the meaning. In Saul Alvarez’s performance last night, dismantling a world class fighter six inches taller and with a barge pole reach, the flame haired Mexican added a 2020 definition to the often misunderstood ‘educated pressure’.

If you didn’t know what it meant, nodded bewildered on hearing the term used without appreciating what it looked like, how it could be distinguished from any other type of ‘pressure’, then last night was a definitive exemplar.

Continue reading “Canelo disarms and dismantles Smith. An education in pressure”

Golovkin destroys I.B.F’all Guy

‘Cause I’m the unknown stuntman

Who made Eastwood look so fine

Lee Majors, Unknown Stuntman, 1984

Kamil Szeremata performed admirably last night. He got up. He got up again. He hung tough. He didn’t deviate from the mandatory script. The one he tried not to read. The lines he had were simple enough to learn, they’d been spoken before by others like him across a thousand shows in a hundred countries.

Remain in character. Be obscure. Stay still. Hit your cue. But, crucially, get knocked out.

Continue reading “Golovkin destroys I.B.F’all Guy”

Hughie Fury; a peculiar attraction

How these curiosities would be quite forgot, did not such idle fellows as I am put them down

John Aubrey, Folklorist and biographer, 1626-1697

There is little contained within the professional career of heavyweight Hughie Fury that isn’t enveloped by the unconventional. From entering the paid ranks as a man-child at 18, to the debilitation of a profound skin condition, a backdated suspension for an anomalous sample in 2015 and matchmaking that saw him box Joseph Parker, Kubrat Pulev and Alexander Povetkin before his 25th birthday.

Defeats in those three contests prevents lofty expectations of his ultimate ceiling but should be contextualised by his youth and the fact all three were lost on the judges scorecards and particularly in his challenge to the then WBO title holder Joseph Parker, very competitively. The boldness of the fixture list isn’t matched by Fury’s dynamism in the contests alas. It is on the alter of entertainment that the cruelest sermons on his merits are dispensed.

But in the bipolarity of Fury’s aggressive matchmaking but cautionary style, his famous surname and relative obscurity and the enduring sense that there is one great triumph yet to be had, this observer is infected with a desire to see him box. However niche that pursuit remains.

Continue reading “Hughie Fury; a peculiar attraction”

Joshua lays out Pulev but doubt lingers

Anthony Joshua is a fine heavyweight. He looks beautiful. Has an encyclopaedic knowledge of motivational couplets and more sponsors than a school skipping challenge. He has a redemption story of sorts. He’s connected. Made.

He also has a pinging jab, a thudding right hand that arrives smartly and with intent and a notable uppercut too. When moved to, when permitting his youthful vigour to prevail against the growing indoctrination of caution, he is brutal, aggressive and entertaining. Dangerous.

It is within the battle between those two ideologies; to fight or to box, to be street fighter or statesman, that the problems begin.

Continue reading “Joshua lays out Pulev but doubt lingers”

Spence outworks Danny Garcia in Dallas

On Saturday night, in his home town, Errol Spence Jnr. defended the WBC belt and in the process confirmed his status as one of the best two Welterweights in the world. His rehabilitation from the injuries accrued in a car crash in 2019 appears complete and in beating leading contender Danny Garcia, he returned in tougher company than he could have been excused after a long lay off.

Continue reading “Spence outworks Danny Garcia in Dallas”

Saunders stays outside the velvet rope

Saunders is still unbeaten. Murray is still 38 years old. The sense of frustration stole the breath from the arena. Belief ebbed. Dwindled. The tiredness of the narrative slowed the clock, clouded to a fog the air beneath the lights. A spectacle without spectators. A fight without a fight. A world title in name alone. No more than a hollow promise. A ticket-stub for a gala ball you can’t attend.

Continue reading “Saunders stays outside the velvet rope”

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)”

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”

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”

Defeat is not the end, until it is. Saturday night with Quigg and Kownacki

“And go on until you come to the end, then stop”

Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1865

I don’t know why Robert Helenius’ knockout victory of Adam Kownacki, the doughy faced Brooklynite by way of Poland, pleased me so much. After all, I had begun to appreciate Kownacki’s simple but effective modus operandi as exposure to the unbeaten heavyweight grew. Recognising him for what he was, rather than what he wasn’t was key to enjoying his progress.

Perhaps the joy I felt at Helenius’ success is merely the reminder it provided of the inherent uncertainty in the fight game, particularly in the heavyweight division, and that no sport does plot twists quite like boxing.

It was hard to digest the aggressive ‘bomber’ Helenius became on Saturday given the passivity of his performance against Dillian Whyte in a bout with equivalent opportunities for the victor 30 months ago. But the puncher he unquestionably was.

Proof, if proof is still required, that no performance, in isolation, can ever define a fighter’s capacity or potential. As the saying goes, sometimes, it just isn’t your night.

And sometimes it is.

Continue reading “Defeat is not the end, until it is. Saturday night with Quigg and Kownacki”

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