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”

Wilder, the sense of loss and the loss of sense

We are the hollow men,
We are the stuffed men.
Leaning together
Head piece full of straw.

T.S. Eliot

As weary eyed guests checked out of the MGM Grand hotel and post fight podcasts sieved through the detritus of the weekend like a hopeless gold rush miner searching for an undiscovered nugget, veteran reporter Lance Pugmire revealed deposed champion Deontay Wilder’s claim that the weight of his ring entrance outfit had stolen the sap from his legs and contributed to his downfall.

To the average Joe, it was a line without precedent and one met with universal dismay or good old fashioned laughter. Quite how above average Joes; Louis, Walcott and Frazier, would’ve greeted the revelation one can only speculate. Consensus might reasonably assume any responses that were printable would’ve been light on empathy.

Spare a thought for Don Rickles too, who will be fuming to have missed the chance to pen an entire 20 minute Roast at the former WBC champion’s expense.

Continue reading “Wilder, the sense of loss and the loss of sense”

Deontay Wilder and his battle with truth and nostalgia

“I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.” 
 Virginia Woolf

In a world of fake news, to which all facts become refutable, where opinion matters more than truth and being right is a state of mind rather than a resolved conclusion, it becomes ever harder to remain objective in our summation of fighters. Fighters like Deontay Wilder. These modern ills encourage closed thinking, nostalgia for times passed and the methods and ways that made them.

To crave that past is natural, to canonise those who loomed large within it likewise, but it is a flawed benchmark with which to measure those who swim in their wake. It is a story as prevalent in boxing as any other facet of life. The hurricane of content we are subjected to in the age of social media does tug at the anchor points of these beliefs but amid the din of those gales, we can all be guilty of becoming extremist in our view in order to be heard, clinging ever more tightly to the rigidity of our thinking. Continue reading “Deontay Wilder and his battle with truth and nostalgia”

Joshua excels, Ruiz rues excess

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First by reflection; second by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”
Confucius

Anthony Joshua’s victory last night revealed much about the character of the man, and the capability of the fighter. In a career which has seemed preordained as success followed success, endorsement battled endorsement, as millions were stacked upon millions, the ‘Stay Humble’ hashtag Joshua hung on every action and endeavour had begun to irritate rather than soothe those of us craving that defining match up with Deontay Wilder.

Last night, and in the corrective steps Joshua took in the prelude to the fight, he secured redemption for the nightmare of defeat in June, but demonstrated a humility in the process to match the much worn sound byte. Continue reading “Joshua excels, Ruiz rues excess”

To be or not to be. Joshua seeks a truth only a rematch can dispense

As a man who often speaks in the couplets and chiasma of a Californian self-help guru and pursues enlightenment among the slings and arrows life as a prizefighter affords him, Anthony Joshua will surely embrace the truth his rematch with Mexican Andy Ruiz should provide. The British giant is likely to learn more about his mettle as a fighter this weekend than in any of his preceding encounters and, whether victorious or not, will also reveal much about his own character to those, like me, who questioned his ability to reinvent himself following such a humbling defeat.

Irrespective of the outcome of the rematch there will be a satisfaction, a solace or consolation at least, in the clarity of the result. Providing controversy doesn’t visit, Joshua’s boldness in seeking redemption when more pragmatic options were available will be lauded. For there are many fighters who would’ve sought a more circuitous route back to the top and many of us watching from the ringside or the comfort of our sofas who would have accepted the pragmatism it would’ve represented.

Continue reading “To be or not to be. Joshua seeks a truth only a rematch can dispense”

Joshua v Ruiz rematch preview and tips

Saudi Arabia is the controversial theatre for the latest act in the grand old opera of heavyweight boxing on Saturday 7th December. A purpose built stadium plays host and offers an unwelcome echo from the original golden age of boxing when eager investors brought the great Jack Dempsey and Tommy Gibbons to Shelby, Montana and almost bankrupt the entire town in 1923.

The 15,000 open air arena outside Riyadh is unlikely to trouble the infinite wealth of those who built it and invited boxing to its exclusive back garden. It will be an unlikely stage for Anthony Joshua to try and reclaim the belts he lost in New York to the same American, Andy Ruiz Jnr, he faces on Saturday.

For all the historic significance of the titles the two will battle for, the fight means more than just the prizes to Joshua. It is about the restoration of the truth he still believes, that he is best heavyweight on the planet and his defeat in June was an aberration. A fluke.

Victory would certainly reassert his place among the highest echelon of the division and reignite interest in potentially defining fights with Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder in 2020. A second defeat to the previously unheralded Ruiz may prove a blemish too far and forever extinguish Joshua’s hopes of transcending the sport’s history and diminish the notion the trio could yet create a new golden era in the flag ship weight class.

It really is, all on the line for the 2012 Olympic Champion. Boxing betting sites are thankfully eager to offer markets. Continue reading “Joshua v Ruiz rematch preview and tips”

Wilder flattens Ortiz. Fury next for the ultimate prize

Deontay Wilder’s demolition of Ortiz, having lost the first six rounds on every score card other than those of his eight children and Terry O’Connor, proved that he is the division’s, and maybe the entire sports’, purest puncher. Wilder has the power of Zeus in his right hand and the one that pierced Ortiz’s guard, leaving the talented Cuban crumpled in a heap like soiled clothes on a wash room floor, had all the meta required for the viral age.

Wilder has become a box office fighter, just in time for the most lucrative box office era of them all. Continue reading “Wilder flattens Ortiz. Fury next for the ultimate prize”

Deontay Wilder v Luis Ortiz rematch preview and tips

First published on Gambing.com 

This Saturday, among the fountains and neon of Nevada’s ‘Sin City’, WBC Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder defends his title against Cuban veteran Luis Ortiz in a rematch of their 2018 fight. A tumultuous encounter befitting the historic championship they were contesting, and one the boxing betting world has had its eye on.

Wilder eventually triumphed via 11th round knockout. If he succeeds again, it will be the 10th defence of the belt he won at the same MGM Grand venue in January 2015. Leading boxing bookmakers are offering markets on this heavyweight clash, though margins are tight for investors. Continue reading “Deontay Wilder v Luis Ortiz rematch preview and tips”

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”

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”

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