Old money and the roads to Fury

A champion is someone who gets up even when he can’t.

Jack Dempsey

Rude. The only way to describe the health of the heavyweight division. It has a singular and consensus champion. Tyson Fury. One fresh from an enthralling rumble with the sport’s biggest puncher. Subsequently, his WBC mandatory challenger, and therefore his most likely next opponent, will be Dillian Whyte, a fighter in every fan’s top 6 or 7, if he beats Otto Wallin, who cut and bothered Fury when they met a year ago.

Beyond Fury’s immediate challenge, contenders Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua will reconvene in the Spring to determine the most worthy to contest all of the available belts, for whatever merit resides in the custody of all four. And alongside that quartet, exist a parade of potential challengers with varied styles, stories and skill.

Boxing has its heavyweight champion. A charismatic one. Unconventional. Gigantic. Everyone else, merely contenders. In old money at least. The hope now, in this brave new-old world, is that the Champion stays busy.

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Former British champion, David Price hangs them up

Imagine being the British Champion. The British Heavyweight champion at that. A Lonsdale belt draped over a shoulder, shimmering beneath the ring lights. A century of history on which to stand. David Price, the Liverpudlian giant, has stood and felt those sensations, held that famous belt as his own.

And he did so, in his hometown.

Only a few men have ever shared that feeling; Iron Hague, Tommy Farr, Woodcock, Cooper, Bugner and Lennox Lewis perhaps most famous among them. Frank Bruno never did. Price won the title, aged 29, by beating Sam Sexton in 2012. He defended the crown twice, beating Audley Harrison and Matt Skelton, before relinquishing the belt in late 2013 to pursue higher honours.

Those honours never did quite materialise for the self styled ‘big horrible heavyweight’. Momentum was lost on the alter of circumstance. Poor management, bad luck, injuries and the reality of a knockout defeat or two, which can happen when you’re boxing world level big men, or mediocre big men juiced to the brim for that matter, all contrived to deny him the breakthrough he so desperately craved.

He announced his retirement this week. Sanguine about his frustrations but characteristically honest about his reasons for choosing not to box on.

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Fury, Wilder and the third act

“Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act.”

Truman Capote, Novelist (1924-1984)

Trilogies, in an era when the first fight is all too often hard to make, are a rare spectacle. Particularly among heavyweights. The third of the series is typically only required to settle the argument as to who is the better fighter following shared outcomes in the opening bouts. Ali v Frazier, Bowe v Holyfield the most famous examples in the modern age, if the 1970s and 1990s still count as the modern age. Both pairings were notable for the equality of the protagonists and for the career best performances drawn from all four.

As the days and hours tick down to the third fight between Fury and Wilder, there should be, given this scarcity, the iconic nature of those illustrious predecessors and the tumultuous events of the first two encounters, more enthusiasm for the fixture than there is. Remarkably, considering the dramatics of those two fights, the mandate behind their third meeting is not driven by the appetite of fans or the quest for resolution as to who is the superior fighter, it is compelled only by contractual obligation and the stubbornness of Deontay Wilder.

Fury v Wilder III, until last week merely an irritating obstacle to greater prizes, is now upon us. As boxing’s various troubadours, fixers and mystics descend on Las Vegas, the memory of Joshua’s dethronement as fresh in their minds as the jet lag and neon lights will permit, the fight in prospect has become entirely more intriguing.

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Posturing, greed and the loss of Fury v Joshua

By Hector T. Morgan

Anthony Joshua’s humbling defeat to Oleksandr Usyk didn’t steal a unification bout from him, or his contemporary, Tyson Fury despite the persuasive narrative that it did. Boxing’s usual follies and the greed of one or both parties deprived the fans of the most enticing fight available several months ago. The two protagonists will one day look back wistfully to the moment, or moments, when they allowed the fight to slip away in the pursuit of an ever larger purse they will never have time to spend. Hipsters will point to the overdue Welterweight pairing of Errol Spence and Terence Crawford as the bout boxing actually needs the most, and there is merit in the argument, but heavyweights remain the premier attraction and the measure by which most eras are judged.

A fact that informs the greed that enveloped the potential fixture and permitted the contracted trilogy bout between Fury and Wilder to encroach and supersede the richest fight boxing could make.

And though fans may one day witness the two face each other, it will forever be diminished by the passage of time and the two defeats Joshua has now collected.

Continue reading “Posturing, greed and the loss of Fury v Joshua”

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”

Joshua and the legends we chase

The notion boxing can ever be brought to heel, conform to the norms at work in other sports is a Camelot many still yearn for. Every fan, writer and concerned bystander would like boxing to pitch its best versus its best more frequently. Noble? Yes. Futile? Entirely. It is akin to trying to make a ruler from a snake. A Freudian analogy, given the snakes that rule the game.

There is no utopia, and the unwelcome truth, as it was for the Arthurian legend of Camelot, there never was.

A heavyweight contest between Anthony Joshua and the Ukrainian, Aleksander Usyk, being fought before a gathering of 60,000 of London’s most lubricated inhabitants represents an intriguing and important reality.

And while not the eternal fantasy of Tyson Fury v Joshua, it boasts the players and the stage to forge a new legend, possibly two.

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“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.

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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”

The life and times of Henry Cooper

This article first appeared on BritishVintageBoxing.com

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

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

Continue reading “The life and times of Henry Cooper”

Whyte shatters Povetkin in 4

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

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

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

Whyte continues. Povetkin, surely, does not.

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

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

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

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

Continue reading “Dillian Whyte v Alexander Povetkin Rematch, The Big Fight Weekend Podcast Preview”

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

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

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

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

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

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

Povetkin, a nomad from another decade, rides again

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

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

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

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

That’s the heavyweight appeal.

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

Undisputed Heavyweight Championship clash close to becoming reality

By Hector T. Morgan

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

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

It is a tantalising fight, but dare we believe?

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

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t think Clay will want one.

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

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

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

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

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

Leon Spinks, 1953-2021 Former Heavyweight Champion of The World

“But I ask Mr. T, ‘Where’s Leon?’ And Mr. T says, ‘I don’t know.’

Butch Lewis, speaking to Thomas Hauser, ‘Muhammad Ali: His Life and Times’

Leon Spinks was The Heavyweight Champion in 1978. He was Olympic Champion in 1976.

Two facts that are indisputable. Representing two mountains tops few stand upon. It was rarified air Leon Spinks was breathing for a time. Grinning through much of it. A young man with the boxing world in the palm of his hand and the rest of it knocking at his hotel room door. He met most of both with love and that unique smile of his. Boxing taught him to trust few of them and his fame was a blessing and a burden in the days beyond 1978.

He will be remembered always, not as the greatest or for enduring greatness, but because for a night in 1978 he ‘put it on Ali’ for 15 rounds and won the title, back when it was still referred to, and was, THE title.

Continue reading “Leon Spinks, 1953-2021 Former Heavyweight Champion of The World”

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”

Oquendo, King and the Game of Thrones

I never got around to watching Game of Thrones. Breaking Bad. I’m resigned to my fate as a person daunted by ‘seasons’, not excited by them. A box set binger I am not. Maybe I’m an outlier. Just a nudge beyond the appropriate demographic.

The idea of playing catch up, of sitting down with 120 hours of plot sprawling out before me holds no attraction. Is that how I want to spend days of my dwindling future and aren’t all tales merely derivatives of just seven stories anyway? I’m 48 this year. I don’t have time.

Fres Oquendo is already 48. In the past six years, the period since he last boxed in a prizefight, the moon faced heavyweight may well have consumed every drama the various platforms had to offer. He may be a TV critic beneath a cryptic pseudonym. A pointed and acidic reviewer as adept at slinging zingers as he once was jabs and left hooks.

One thing is clear, he hasn’t been fighting. He argues he’s tried, but he has an unfortunate habit of choosing fighters who fail pee tests.

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Can 2020 vision make 2021 boxing’s year of compromise?

Absence makes the heart grow fonder

Isle of Beauty, Thomas Haynes Bayly, 1797-1839

Any pursuit elicits frustration and apathy in even its most ardent admirers from time to time. The pursuit and the follower are both a composition of variables that insist their relationship is one of ups and downs. Of sunshine and darkness. Boxing, in all her blood splattered chaos, is inherently inclined to frustrate more than most endeavours.

Among the excitement and wonder boxing engenders, the Cinderella stories and greatness it is crucible too, the ugly sisters of cynicism and sarcasm are the tones struck when otherwise monogamous devotees articulate their despair. A chorus of mismatches, marination and muddle cheats on the affection extended to it by its fans.

No other sport brings together its leading participants together as infrequently as boxing does. As January unfurls and the year’s early schedule is revealed, it is possible fans clamouring for the best to fight the best as well as those willing to moderate their own expectations and embrace the not so goods versus the not so goods, could finally be rewarded.

Continue reading “Can 2020 vision make 2021 boxing’s year of compromise?”

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”

Joshua tackles the patient giant

In the three years since the Anthony Joshua and Kubrat Pulev fight was first scheduled, the Bulgarian contender has grown risk averse, as investors and stockbrokers might call it.

At 39 years of age, with his stock as high as it needed to be to secure the shot at Joshua, he remained only sufficiently active to preserve his lofty rating with the governing bodies.

Evidence as to Pulev’s remaining ambition, condition and punch resistance is therefore undermined by the quality of his opposition. He’s been winning, but only against tier 3 and 4 big men.

For all the qualification, it remains an intriguing contest.

Continue reading “Joshua tackles the patient giant”

Usyk, the smiling assassin, targets Fury and Joshua

By T. R. Lewison

A Halloween night victory over heavyweight gate keeper Dereck Chisora substantiated Ukranian Oleksandr Usyk’s claim to a place in the division’s top 10. Many observers remain confident Usyk can depose the belt holders above him despite greater than expected problems overcoming the veteran Brit. 2020 has been a frustrating one for Usyk. In his career this far, he has been eager to progress and boasts an appetite for challenges and a willingness to say “Yes”, too few of his contemporaries can match.

The kudos accrued in beating Chazz Witherspoon and Chisora represent a below par annual return for Usyk. Having carved through the entire Cruiserweight division in sixteen bouts to become undisputed king, he has become accustomed to faster progress. Within a complex heavyweight title picture, he may need to develop the virtue of patience in 2021 too. At 33 years old, 34 in January, despite the division traditionally extending a fighter’s prime a little longer, Usyk may prove to be past his own peak when his opportunity finally arrives.

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Boxing embraces the ‘two headed snake’ of nostalgia and celebrity

“‘Remember when’, is the lowest form of conversation”

Anthony Soprano (James Gandolfini), The Sopranos Season 6

The news Felix Sturm, once a credible middleweight, will fight again this month, aged 41 and a full four years after his final bout, albeit successfully for a title at the time, comes as no great surprise. Just another unnecessary swansong from a chorus line of by-gone prizefighters who can’t quite let go.

It is a timeless fable for grizzled pugs. From Jack Johnson to Sugar Ray, Tommy Farr to Smokin’ Joe, fighters have always returned, financially or emotionally motivated far beyond the reach of their prime. And for those that don’t, the comeback is never far from their mind, or the lips of an inquisitor. Whether champion or chump, intact or broken, there is always one more fight. As another old heavyweight out of Philadelphia, himself no stranger to punching for pay in his fifties, lamented to his confidant, Paulie; “There is still some stuff in the basement.”

Continue reading “Boxing embraces the ‘two headed snake’ of nostalgia and celebrity”

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

I don’t need permission

Make my own decisions

Robert Barisford Brown, (1969- ), My Prerogative

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

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

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

But it’s Mike F****** Tyson

Take it from me,

It’s hip to be square

Huey Lewis, Songwriter, 1967-

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

I’m a little bit excited.

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

Mike ******* Tyson.

Don’t tell me you’re not watching it.

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

Mike Tyson and Roy Jones; an exhibition of shadows

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

Sarah Gruen, Writer, Water for Elephants

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

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

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

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

Dubois and Joyce clash in the heavyweight foothills

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

David Lloyd George, Politician
1863-1945

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

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

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

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

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

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

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