Usyk cuts out your heart Witherspoon

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

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

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

Continue reading “Usyk cuts out your heart Witherspoon”

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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”

Boxing, the precipice few dare to gaze over

Boxing is an arduous and often merciless undertaking. It rescues souls, the broken, the lost and plucks the willing from chaos and poverty. This is the romantic trope we swaddle the sport in. The fable those vested in the sport’s continuation dispense in response to difficult questions in the aftermath of a boxer’s death. Like many mantras or acts of faith, repeated enough, the conviction in it’s validity can grow. Manipulating the meaning of events, seeking out evidence to fit the convenience of the narrative and in the doing so, soothe the twitching needle of our collective moral compass.

There is truth within the fables of course. Pugilistic folk lore is laden with examples of those who found a pathway to self-respect, control and, occasionally, financial security but even their stories barely conceal the reality of the long term damage fighters accrue. Boxing, the sport, the game, the occupation, is, at its core, a transaction. Give and take. An inescapable yin and yang. Success for x, means pain for y.

The deaths of Maxim Dadeshev, 28, and Hugo Santillan, 23, following punishing contests last weekend brought the eyes of the world and a tsunami of familiar disdain to boxing’s door. Visitors to our peculiar eco-system should be embraced, not eluded or dismissed, for their potential for objective perspective could be cathartic for a sport betrothed to ‘snake-oil’ salesman and spivs. Continue reading “Boxing, the precipice few dare to gaze over”

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”

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”

Moving on up. Ali, Mayfield and Joshua’s all too familiar crossroads

“We planned and worked hard, from the very start
Tried to make him better, than all the rest
But the brother proved to be so much less.”

‘Eddie Should Know Better’ by Curtis Mayfield (1972)

Curtis Mayfield would’ve been 77 today, like his friend Muhammad Ali he was born in 1942, and the “gentle genius”, as he was often referred, passed away on Boxing Day in 1999. His legend, as one of the greatest musicians, songwriters and innovators of the century, was secured long before being struck by falling rigging while performing in Brooklyn in 1990. An accident that would paralyse him from the neck down.

He and Ali were both powerful social commentators, transcending their area of excellence in lives in the public eye that ran in parallel and through some of the most turbulent episodes in modern American history. In 1958 a 15 year-old Mayfield joined The Impressions a short two years before the then Cassius Clay flew off to the Rome Olympics, the musical pioneer’s passing came just three years after Ali’s iconic opening of the 1996 Atlanta games. An event that marked the beginning of the end for the century’s most famous face, for one last time he was able to demonstrate his courage and defiance, fighting, inch by inch, the symptoms of Parkinsons to deliver the Olympic flame.
Continue reading “Moving on up. Ali, Mayfield and Joshua’s all too familiar crossroads”

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”

You don’t ‘play’ boxing

There is much in the language and fundament of boxing that reverberates through the game of poker and much in the apparent simplicity of the two that deceives the ill-informed. Those who don’t linger, often dismiss, or fail to recognise, the skill and whit required to succeed. For fans and participants more in tune with the nuances and layers present in both, they recognise the guile required to lure an opponent in, to bluff, the psychology of what to do when faced with a stronger hand, when to cut and run, or go all-in. Continue reading “You don’t ‘play’ boxing”

Less is more. Wilder glorious. Inoue imperious.

German-born American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, or Mies as he was widely known, gilded the phrase ‘Less is more’ while writing in the New York Herald Tribune in 1959. A phrase that informs much of the modernist movement of which Mies was a pioneer in his works in Germany, Spain and the United States and may predate his seminal use in his essay on Restraint in Design. Robert Browning, the great poet and playwright, may also contest the origin, but it was Mies who substantiated the philosophy in bricks, mortar and steel.

Mies celebrated the beauty of the necessary and the restraint required to resist all but that which is essential for the building to function. Every single structure he was commissioned to design in America remains in place and in use.

In the present era, in which boxing’s beauty is obscured and disfigured by the posturing and politicking of promoters and champions, with the rampant virility of sanctioning bodies’ influence tugging and displacing the sport’s very foundations, there was a refreshing simplicity to Saturday night’s action. In the contrasting displays of Wilder and Inoue, much that is great in boxing, that which enthrals us, entwines itself about our spirit and soul was available to see.

More was taken from less. More enjoyment. More progress. More clarity.
Continue reading “Less is more. Wilder glorious. Inoue imperious.”

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”

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.”

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”

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”

Fury, Wilder and Joshua; the normality of avoiding risk

Coincidences can prove jarring, awakening us from the mundanity of our rituals, sometimes they’re not evident without the spectacles of hindsight and occasionally the happenchance of concurrent events or unexpected meetings of people, things, occurrences pass by unnoticed. Just such serendipity brought together two different eras in the heavyweight division for me today and in doing so offered a salve to my throbbing suspicion that Tyson Fury’s alignment with Top Rank and ESPN will steal away a heavyweight era barely rediscovered beneath a layer of Ukrainian dust. Continue reading “Fury, Wilder and Joshua; the normality of avoiding risk”

The Heavyweight soap opera welcomes ‘Two Ton’ Jarrell Miller

The heavyweight picture has always been more of a long running melodrama than a feature film, a truth we sometimes ignore but a truth nevertheless. Great actors have graced the stage and there have been plotlines, rivalries and performances to enrapture us. A few of us remain loyal through the leaner periods when the script dries up and the leading men exit stage left.

Despite the romantic montage we conjure when we think back to by-gone seasons from our formative years, whether Mike, Muhammad or Joe were playing the male lead, not all the episodes were Rumble in the Jungle or The Long Count. For every award winning production there was a Two Ton Tony or The Lion of Flanders episode too. Continue reading “The Heavyweight soap opera welcomes ‘Two Ton’ Jarrell Miller”

Kownacki – simplicity strikes back

There is much to love about the big Polish-American bruiser Adam Kownacki, in every sense. With a puffy squint borrowed from Harry Greb or Carmen Basilio and the heft of a thirties strike breaker, Kownacki is fast becoming my favourite heavyweight. Tyson Fury not withstanding.

At the Barclays Centre last night, Kownacki further enhanced his reputation in the evolving heavyweight division by destroying Gerald Washington in two thunderous rounds that you suspect old Carmen would’ve loved to witness. Continue reading “Kownacki – simplicity strikes back”

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”

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?”

Whyte versus Chisora – betting preview

Preview first appeared at gambling.com

This weekend’s clash between Dereck Chisora and Dillian Whyte at the O2 Arena in London, a rematch of their 2016 encounter, reveals much about their respective characters and perhaps particularly Whyte’s, who has the greater career momentum and the higher rankings to risk.

In fact, if Whyte succeeds, and places himself at the front of the ‘Not Deontay Wilder’ queue for Anthony Joshua in April, it will be the latest in an impressive sequence of qualifying victories that began with the contested points verdict over Chisora.

In the two years since, Whyte has added the scalps of American trial horse Malcom Tann and Finnish giant Robert Helenius to his resume, before then brutalising Lucas Browne in quick time and outpointing former WBO World Champion Joseph Parker this year.

As with all heavyweight prize fights, leading boxing bookmakers are extending a range of markets for the contest. Continue reading “Whyte versus Chisora – betting preview”

Fury returns from the abyss

“when you stare into an abyss for a long time, the abyss also stares into you.”

Nietzsche, 1886

As the thick black oil of sleep flooded through Tyson Fury’s gigantic body, the crackle of nervous energy that had powered his wit and reflex silenced, his senses immersed in unconsciousness; time, possibility and life all fell silent too. His body and mind in a temporal abyss, a place he had travelled close to in the darkness of the past three years, a destination boxing, until that moment, at the fists of her purest puncher, had saved him from.

In those moments, those precarious and precious seconds, Jack Reiss’ two palms and six digits casting a pale shadow over his blank, peaceful expression, something inside the 30-year old former champion stirred. Defining or quantifying the force or personal quality that drew Fury from the depths of the slumber Wilder’s right cross and left hook had plunged him in to is as close to impossible as the act itself. Continue reading “Fury returns from the abyss”

Wilder v Fury: How Tyson Fury can beat the odds

By Hector T. Morgan

The wait is almost over, anticipation has grown steadily since the fight announcement and with the drama of the final press conference fresh in the mind, fight fans are just a day or two out from seeing undefeated heavyweight behemoths Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury trade leather in their WBC title fight in Los Angeles on Saturday night.

Wilder is the odds-on betting favourite to claim his 41st career win and, if he is to fulfil that expectation, it is assumed it will be inside the distance and Fury will become Wilder’s 40th knockout victim too. Anyone counting out the self-styled “The Gypsy King” would be greatly underestimating the giant Brit, his penchant for the improbable and a host of advantages he has going into the fight. Continue reading “Wilder v Fury: How Tyson Fury can beat the odds”

Fury disappoints

There was a cut, he’s young, he was away from home, his opponent is a wily veteran. All true. All verifiable reasons Hughie Fury’s attempt to secure a mandated shot at Anthony Joshua failed. Those protecting their interest or adopting an especially thick monocle of pragmatism through which to view the result will point to the experience gained, the rounds navigated and the narrowest of the three cards.

It would be understandable and, as the days turn in to weeks, that narrative may well take hold and become the hazy recollection of a bout otherwise willingly forgotten by those that endured it. For Fury to succeed on the world ‘stage’, rather than merely exist as an awkward facsimile of his more talented cousin, the flaws that run much deeper in his performance than the cut eye lid he sustained last night must be addressed.

Must.

Continue reading “Fury disappoints”

Glory days. Can boxing reclaim the flagship American market?

By Hector T. Morgan

Dedicated boxing fans who have stayed attentive to the sport may resent the notion that it needs restoring to its former glory, and where do we pitch these romaticised glory days in the landscape of our memories anyway? Perhaps, The Four Kings of the 1980s, Ali and his great rivals in the 1970s or perhaps the era when Boxing was America’s premier sport along side Horse Racing and Baseball? All, in truth, with flaws of their own.

Mass popularity ebbs and flows after all, but there’s still something pure about boxing that loyalists remain appreciative of regardless of ebbing TV ratings, which led HBO, for so long the ‘King’ of boxing in America to abdicate its throne. Despite the passion of it’s most ardent followers, the complexities of the sport; multiple sanctioning bodies with their myriad champions has disenfranchised the casual fan. Boxing in America lost it’s way.

Paradoxically, it remains capable of creating huge piques from the valleys of apathy inhabited by most general sports fans. The right narrative, the right mix of characters and skills and boxing still appeals more widely than almost all of its contemporaries. Continue reading “Glory days. Can boxing reclaim the flagship American market?”

“Martin, listen to me.” Bakole stopped by Hunter in 10.

There are people who know far more about boxing than me, there always has been and there always will be. For some this precludes me from forming an opinion of merit and as such, that opinion should be kept private. After all, I’ve never climbed between the ropes. Which isn’t quite true, but my fistic career never progressed beyond some tame sparring at my local ABC in my mid-thirties, I was dropped twice by body shots in the process too, and my street fighting record is, as far as memory serves, 0-1-1.

I’ve have watched a lot of boxing mind you; from Audley to Zolani, Oscar to Choi and most of what lays in between. I’ve seen knockouts that made my stomach flip, one sided beat downs which made we want to turn away or turn off and I’ve seen cornermen cajole and, in the cases of mess’s Francis and Calzaghe, slap their subjects to extract a response.

The exchange I witnessed between Billy Nelson and the Congolese heavyweight Martin Bakole, now fighting out of Scotland, last Saturday night was something I’ve never seen before. And, while there are more forgiving opinions available, from voices many would prefer to listen to, I hope I never do again. Continue reading ““Martin, listen to me.” Bakole stopped by Hunter in 10.”

Pulev surely too wise and too sturdy for Fury the younger

First published on Gambling.com on 10th September 2018

There is much to like about the heavyweight clash between Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev and Britain’s Hughie Fury. Scheduled for late October in Sofia, the match brings together two big men at different ends of their respective careers and will clarify much about their prospects in a weight class rich with possibilities.

As with all prize fights there is a sense of a ‘crossroads’ for both fighters, a study of the usual metrics can inform those looking to invest in the outcome. Continue reading “Pulev surely too wise and too sturdy for Fury the younger”

Johnson goes around to go a round. Dubois learns much from wily veteran

There is an inherent sadness in the face of a heavyweight gatekeeper, of which Kevin Johnson is currently the foremost practitioner. The brow is heavy, eyes dark and the breathing laboured. Aged 39 now, and with features flattened and softened by years of fists crashing in like waves against a pier, the midriff a little broader, the scales leaning a little further, Johnson cuts a forlorn figure.

In the latest instalment of his decline from unbeaten fringe contender, which he was in 2009 when he fought his only world title fight against Vitaly Klitschko, the grizzlier of the Ukrainian bears, Johnson dipped and rolled to a 10 round shut out defeat to Daniel Dubois. Continue reading “Johnson goes around to go a round. Dubois learns much from wily veteran”

Joshua finds more equality than expected in veteran Povetkin

You don’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might just get what you need.

Michael Jagger and Keith Richards (c) 1968

Dominance is an elusive quarry. And in boxing, I maintain, it is unwelcome. I’ve struck upon the notion that only in equality can greatness be forged; Ali needed Frazier, Holmes needed someone he didn’t have. On Saturday night, Anthony Joshua, the type of gentleman champion British fans so adore, emerged victorious from a difficult heavyweight defence with his titles in tact and most of the adoration suckled. The fight revealed a relative equality with his contemporaries that will suit his own quest for historical significance.

For those of us commenting and watching from the safe side of the ropes, his pursuit of that legacy will be all the more enjoyable for the competition. Continue reading “Joshua finds more equality than expected in veteran Povetkin”

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