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”

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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”

BoxingWriter.co.uk Fighters of the Year 2018

It is said that time feels increasingly fleeting with the passing of every year. A lament often aired during the Christmas frivolities, as the day itself ‘cannonballs’ in whilst our minds are still fresh from collecting spent rockets and eating the last of the Halloween Haribo. Certainly for those of us wrestling with middle life, the sticky toffee that holds the melange of children, grandparents and other assorted acquaintances together, the reflection brought on by year end arrives all too quickly.

Add in an interest in the world of boxing, a niche within the Venn diagram of human existence once obscure and peripheral but now experiencing a population boom, and the pace is quickened still further. No weekend in the boxing fan’s diary is ever clear, perhaps save the one forthcoming, and the platforms and mediums for indulging their passion grows by the day. There is barely time to pause for breathe between a Spring time heavyweight showdown in a football stadium and a Featherweight dust up on the brink of New Year.

But, just as the charity pleas that interrupt our Christmas viewing and draw us back from the excess of our indulgence and before we dare to complain, gratitude should be our only sentiment.

Continue reading “BoxingWriter.co.uk Fighters of the Year 2018”

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”

BoxingWriter Archive: “Hit ‘im wiv the uppercut John!”, Danny Williams prevails

It is now more than 10 years since I began writing here and capturing articles and columns I’d written for the great, good and mediocre platforms that have come, gone and succeeded across print and digital during that time. The words were a little more tangled back then, but they do serve as a wonderful aide memoire for nights I’ve spent at the fights. This piece was a meander through the fight between two of British Heavyweight Boxing’s most recognisable characters; Danny Williams and John McDermott. A controversial affair, fought long before football stadia were the norm and when Leisure Centres were very much the home of British boxing.

First published on 23rd July 2008

Being at the fight is a special experience. True, television coverage offers you multiple camera angles, proximity and the benefit of replays for those crucial moments but no matter how effective your Dolby surround sound is, or crystal clear your high definition LCD presents the pictures, it cannot beat being there.

Danny Williams’ absorbing victory over Big John McDermott last Friday was a classic case in point. The Sky team of Adam Smith and Jim Watt had McDermott clearly winning the bout in their commentary and in doing so illustrated just how subjective scoring a fight can be. Continue reading “BoxingWriter Archive: “Hit ‘im wiv the uppercut John!”, Danny Williams prevails”

Fury pivots and the heavyweight division changes direction too

Francesco Pianeta played his part, the 250-pound piñata for birthday boy Tyson Fury’s party. He took his cheque and plodded home safe and well as Fury confessed he hoped he would. Pianeta seemed happy enough. Undamaged, paid and with a tale or two to tell his grandkids. It says much of the heavyweight division we’ve endured this past 10 years that the gallant, if parsimonious, German pug once fought for the title.

But then Joe Louis fought bums too. With the party complete, and with the piñata not opened up in the way one might imagine the Brown Bomber would’ve done following a similar two year absence, Fury’s big present was revealed. Continue reading “Fury pivots and the heavyweight division changes direction too”

Elephant in the room. Tyson Fury returns.

Throughout Anthony Joshua emergence over the past three years; in every pre-fight press conference, in every post fight interview, the chill of Tyson Fury’s often ethereal presence has persisted. Unspoken, particularly in the period in which the Mancunian candidate seemed emotionally furthest from a return, the legend of the enigmatic Gypsy King has grown exponentially and offered silent sentry to the conflicting rhythms of hoopla and humility being sold in his absence.

Continue reading “Elephant in the room. Tyson Fury returns.”

Brendan Ingle. Some things are meant to stay.

Some things are meant to stay, to remain, to defy. Offering an unconscious, if often illogical reassurance to the otherwise transient chaos of our day-to-day human experience. The things themselves, they’re different for all of us. They may be a person, a principle, perhaps a place, a truism you clutch or a collage of them all but regardless of their form or on which premise they were collected, they provide foundation for the sandcastles of our lives. When one of these tumble and succumb to the tides of time to which we thought them immune, it resonates more deeply than ever we may have anticipated it might.

A few of these manifest in the relationship I have with boxing. Some are vague, abstract concepts like my belief that the social and emotional benefits boxing’s gilded stories of redemption and salvation provide outweighs the physical damage and tragedies it facilitates, others are more tangible and, as in the case of late Brendan Ingle, an individual figure. Continue reading “Brendan Ingle. Some things are meant to stay.”

Bronze Bomber proves his mettle and greatness may yet await

Greatness is a product of many things, without a degree of innate talent the journey to such status is hard to even begin. It is a status that requires resistance, friction. Without a compilation of experiences that burnish and test the qualities of those who chase it, the talent beneath remains undiscovered or unresolved; an intangible or immeasurable ore.

In beating Luis Ortiz, beautifully described as the Cuban ogre by Kevin Mitchell at the Guardian in his preview, the WBC Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder finally, belatedly, took the opportunity to step toward the greatness he craves. Victory polished his record to a pristine 40-0 with 39 knockouts and the seventh round proved he was more than the sum of those shiny statistics. Continue reading “Bronze Bomber proves his mettle and greatness may yet await”

Wilder not taking Ortiz too lightly

The news Deontay Wilder weighed in at 214 pounds and the weight of his pants and socks for the 7th defence of his fight with Cuban Luis Ortiz drew a raised eye brow or two. In the modern era, which consensus seems to determine began when Mike Tyson knocked out Trevor Berbick in 1986, or alternatively, when Lennox Lewis overcame Tyson’s nemesis Evander in 1996, we’ve grown accustomed to heavyweights of gigantic dimension.

Beneath the greatness of Lennox and the longevity of Wladimir Klitschko, a procession of giants from the four corners of the globe have tried to impose their own dominance on the division and prove the boxing truism; ‘a good big un always beats a good little un.’

Continue reading “Wilder not taking Ortiz too lightly”

Archive: Old man Thompson stops Unbeaten Haye in 5

With yet another David Haye comeback appearing on the horizon I’m always nudged to remember the night he lost his unbeaten record. It is staggering to consider 13 years have lapsed since Carl Thompson did what Carl always did better than anyone – survive a shelling and then win by stoppage. It was a pulsating evening, hotly anticipated and perhaps the beginning of the golden era we are now enjoying. After all, only ‘flat-earthers’ could deny Audley, Haye, Hatton and Amir were the forefathers of the sport’s  current popularity and the inspiration for many of the Amateur champions and emerging professionals superstars fans flock to see.

David Payne reports from Ringside (10/09/2004):

Veteran cruiserweight Carl Thompson tore up the script last night, knocking out British boxing’s pin-up star David Haye in the fifth round of a tumultuous, absorbing and often punishing contest at Wembley Arena, London.

The baying crowd loved every second of the most eagerly awaited all-British encounter of the year.  Imaginatively billed as ‘Don’t Blink,’  the contest pitted two of boxing’s biggest punchers together for the IBO belt Thompson secured with his characteristic last gasp, fight saving knockout of Sebastian Rothmann in February.

But the fight meant much more than the peripheral belt. This was a battle of generations, of styles, of pride. A crossroads bout, the gnarled old champion, the photogenic young buck. Name the cliché and you could hang it on the fight.

Continue reading “Archive: Old man Thompson stops Unbeaten Haye in 5”

Canelo, Golovkin and the luck of the draw

“To me judges seem the well paid watch-dogs of Capitalism, making things safe and easy for the devil Mammon.”

Maud Gonne, Irish philanthropist (1865-1953)

Sunday was a long day. Tired from the all-nighter that stretched between my back row seat at the CopperBox Arena in London, where I saw Billy Joe Saunders retain his WBO bauble in a soporific engagement with a subdued, and at times motionless, Willie Monroe Jr., through to 5am back on the sofa for a thudding, if not exhilarating, bout between Gennady Golovkin and Saul Alvarez for the real Middleweight title.

I’d risen after three hours sleep, sought comfort in tea and the balm of contemplating Adalaide Byrd opening her eyes, and blinking her way in to a morning of regret. Perhaps permitting herself the hint of a smile at the word play of her husband Robert, a decorated boxing referee, asking if she wanted him to draw the curtains.  Continue reading “Canelo, Golovkin and the luck of the draw”

Boxing: A golden time – it wasn’t always so good.

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

W.H. Davies, ‘Leisure’ c1911

Parking had been difficult, as was finding the venue itself, and I was late for the show. It was long since dark and the city still intimidated me a little despite my projection of belonging. I broke into a jog between the pools of street light on my way to the Elephant and Castle Leisure Centre, London. It was late March, 2002. Continue reading “Boxing: A golden time – it wasn’t always so good.”

Boxing: Can we really expect ‘vanilla’ role models from boxing?

Fury2George Foreman once said; “Boxing was the sport to which all others aspire.” Oh how the sport’s followers love to trot that line out. The average fight fan yearns for boxing to meet Foreman’s validation. On occasion it does, too often it is merely wistful nostalgia.

Tyson Fury’s ascension to the throne in Germany rekindled that debate once more as boxing was pushed to the front of the news agenda. Continue reading “Boxing: Can we really expect ‘vanilla’ role models from boxing?”

Boxing: Tyson Fury will topple a Klitschko first – BoxingWriter Reader’s Vote

Three years ago the audience of BoxingWriter.co.uk plumped for young Tyson Fury in a poll which asked the question; Who will one of the Klitschko’s lose to first? Time moved slowly in between and it seems a life time ago in retrospect; both Povetkin and Thompson were, at the time, the Klitschko’s next two opponents. Continue reading “Boxing: Tyson Fury will topple a Klitschko first – BoxingWriter Reader’s Vote”

Boxing: Heavyweight Poll – Who will one of the Klitschko’s lose to first?

There are precious few negative descriptives left unemployed  by those who try to define the current heavyweight scene. From the shallow to the lamentable, to the drab and forgettable the current crop of heavyweights and those still clinging to credibility from the last generation have largely all been exposed or dismantled at the hands of the Brothers Ukraine. Those thought to have the tools to upset their duopoly; Povetkin and Haye have proven lacking in the ability or willingness to execute the required strategy. So who will find a way to beat them? Continue reading “Boxing: Heavyweight Poll – Who will one of the Klitschko’s lose to first?”

Boxing: Judah back to Brooklyn; but a ring is a ring is a ring

I read today Light Welterweight contender Zab Judah is promoting his next fight on the notion it represents his debut in his native Brooklyn and is therefore, publicity implies, likely to evoke a return to the glories of his past. Like many 34-year-old pugilists before him, Judah is attempting to invert the natural course all fight-careers take; decline, by reaching for the placebo effect fleetingly afforded by trainer change, managerial move or in this case a fight in his home town.  Continue reading “Boxing: Judah back to Brooklyn; but a ring is a ring is a ring”

Boxing: Nobody gets out on their own terms, not even Hopkins

It was sad to see Bernard Hopkins, a fighter who has battled the boxing establishment, its promotional and managerial cartels and the perceived wisdom that tried to dictate to him for twenty years finished by one of the sports unshakeable truths; nobody leaves the sport on their own terms.  Bernard has spent the past decade and specifically, the last 5 years selling his resistance to the ageing process. Alas, a cruel injury may snatch the crescendo he still pursued from this curious if inexplosive tale. Continue reading “Boxing: Nobody gets out on their own terms, not even Hopkins”

Boxing: “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” Heavyweight rigor mortis continues; Mormeck v Wladimir

Look around any garden centre, walk-in bath store or drug rehabilitation unit and you will probably find a big lug willing to suggest he remains a contender. Many of them will be unfamiliar in appearance. Don’t let their seeming impotence, age or lack of vim discourage you. Embrace your quarry when you find them, ignore their venerable state, gloss over their lack of lucidity or form because within your arms you likely hold the guy Wladimir Klitschko will pursue after 39-year-old Jean Marc Mormeck collects his pension annuity in December. Continue reading “Boxing: “Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien” Heavyweight rigor mortis continues; Mormeck v Wladimir”

Boxing: Laugh or cry, matchmaking with the Klitschkos

As a boxing traditionalist, the Klitschko brothers prove something of a troublesome enigma to me. Resplendent though they are at the top of the heavyweight mountain, their individual and collective resumes feature nothing but a procession of mediocrity – some of whom the physically gifted Ukrainians have conspired to lose to. But I cannot always count defeats against them, as an advocate of risk taking, defeats are the inevitable byproduct are they not? Risk? What risk? You see, for every argument I make against them, there is objective counsel to the contrary. News Sam Peter may replace the perpetually injured Alexander Povetkin in the Wladimir Klitschko’s September 11th defence yet more evidence to pour over. Do we laugh or cry, empathise or chastise? Continue reading “Boxing: Laugh or cry, matchmaking with the Klitschkos”

Boxing: Tyson Fury 270 pounds for McDermott rematch

Big Tyson Fury was bigger than ever ahead of the much-anticipated rematch with John McDermott. Weighing in at 19 stone 4, eclipsing his debut weight 18 months ago and 23 pounds heavier than in the first contest. McDermott looked more trim despite a characteristic weight of 18 stone 2, or 254 pounds. Surprisingly Fury, who attended in typically jovial mood seemed in reasonable shape but the weight doesn’t suggest his preparation for this fight has been as intense as it should have been. McDermott certainly appears fixated on victory this time and with McDonnell in his ear, may yet find the resolve and self-belief to make the final step. Continue reading “Boxing: Tyson Fury 270 pounds for McDermott rematch”

Boxing: Whats wrong with boxing? Adding the letters P, P and V to Tua v Barrett.

I like David Tua. I shared the dream once. I threw him up as another fighter Tyson ducked in his shambolic 1990’s reincarnation. He shook up heavyweights; he was fast, dangerous and busy. Obviously, that was all before he got his mandatory ranking, hibernated and then froze versus Lennox Lewis – since then he’s been dormant, injured, uninterested – but is now repackaged, remotivated and back in the lucrative American market, or so he hopes we believe. But Pay-Per-View at $24.95 against Monte Barrett, the guy who lives in a tent in front of the heavyweight top 25 towers, is available on 24 hour call out and has a key emblem on his nightwear? Really? Continue reading “Boxing: Whats wrong with boxing? Adding the letters P, P and V to Tua v Barrett.”

Boxing: David Haye in Orwellian about turn; Audley not Vitali or Wladimir next?

It was meant to be different. That was the tag-line. The sedentary waters of the heavyweight division were to be purified. David Haye wanted to fight the best heavyweights straight away, he didn’t want to procrastinate, to manoeuvre. He just wanted to know if he was the best, prove it or fail. Money was secondary. Challenge was everything. Boxing’s downtrodden masses craved the Utopia Haye was selling. He evangelised about bypassing promoters, side-stepping sanctioning bodies and the established order. Boxing is about the fighters not men in suits he might have said. He founded this alternate reality. Hayemaker. Fighters flocked to his rallying cry. Pretty girls flushed, forums hummed, fans cheered. Now, with a portion of the establishment in his possession – the WBA belt – and an unexpected level of renown that now enables him to accumulate £1-3 million pay-days for the type of rudimentary defence he once denounced, the urge to corner a Klitschko in a ring, or even at the top of an elevator has evidently subsided.

Continue reading “Boxing: David Haye in Orwellian about turn; Audley not Vitali or Wladimir next?”

Exclusive: Tyson will not fight Holyfield says David Payne

I’ve consulted with my much ignored common sense, accessed with the help of a strong mug of Yorkshire tea and low-lighting, and I can confirm that this fight is not going to happen, I’d encourage you all to breathe, take stock and have a similar internal conversation. It will save you time and energy for other more credible activities, like washing the car or painting the back-bedroom. And please don’t read or believe anyone who tells you different because they’ve probably got an accomplice entering your home through the back door to rifle through your purse. In other news, Prince Naseem Hamed will not be returning to fight Justin Timberlake at catchweight,  Joe Calzaghe will not be fighting Robert De Niro (though he is old enough) at Light-Heavy and Ricky Hatton is as likely to share a ring with Floyd Mayweather again as he is to play wide-right for England on Friday.  I think my work here is done. Continue reading “Exclusive: Tyson will not fight Holyfield says David Payne”

Flying over the cuckoo’s nest for the last time? Oliver McCall defeated

Anyone with a passing interest in heavyweight boxing over the past twenty years will hold a mental image of one sort or another of heavy punching former champion Oliver McCall. Whether it be the crunching right-hand which felled Lennox Lewis, his emotional implosion in the rematch or the various drug fuelled episodes which have blighted his attempts to construct another run at the championship he lost to a grateful Frank Bruno in 1995. Last night at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel he dropped a clear decision to peripheral contender Timur Ibragimov spelling the end of any residual potential the now 45-year-old could claim. Continue reading “Flying over the cuckoo’s nest for the last time? Oliver McCall defeated”

Old? Check. Fat? Check. Unambitious? Check. Brian Nielsen next for Vitaly?

Did you hear the one about Vitaly Klitschko and the hungry, young contender? No, nor did I. Admittedly, Vitaly Klitschko hasn’t fought during a particularly glowing period for heavyweights. His tenure, interrupted by a now mysteriously cured knee problem, as the leading heavyweight began when Lennox Lewis retired and has continued through soporific contests with Danny Williams, Kirk Johnson, Corrie Sanders, Sam Peter, Juan Carlos Gomez, Chris Arreola and latterly Albert Sosnowski. So maybe, the revelation Danish pastry Brian Nielsen is making a comeback aged 45 will be welcome news in the Klitschko castle if nowhere else. Continue reading “Old? Check. Fat? Check. Unambitious? Check. Brian Nielsen next for Vitaly?”

Sosnowski, Subbuteo, Sanders, Snooker and me

I’ve always found an attic or loft to be a fascinating place. It probably originates from the joyous isolation it provided me as a child, resplendent with snooker table, dart board, train set and Subbuteo it was a place of dreams, solace and make-believe. On the baize I was Davis AND Higgins, on the Astropitch I was everyone from Peru to Peterborough and with darts in hand I was toothless Jocky Wilson and the Crafty Cockney.

Continue reading “Sosnowski, Subbuteo, Sanders, Snooker and me”

Boxing: Say what you like, but Holyfield v Botha caught your eye, didn’t it?

Francois Botha has tried many things to stay relevant and keep earning including a hapless foray into that form of combat that needs no introduction beyond its initials.  The veteran South African is in the Autumn, arguably Winter, of his fluctuating career. A career, lest we forget, which has variously included Michael Moorer, Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson and shortly, Evander Holyfield too.  For some reason his proposed match with fellow heavyweight grandfather Evander Holyfield has me intrigued. Regulars will know I have some curious vices.

Continue reading “Boxing: Say what you like, but Holyfield v Botha caught your eye, didn’t it?”

John Ruiz v David Haye will be a thriller

johnruizIt will not prove as easy for newly crowned WBA Heavyweight champion David Haye to sell tickets to his mandated clash with American John Ruiz in the spring as the David v Goliath showdown proved last weekend. But for all the doubters, I’d like to encourage everyone to visit YouTube and refresh their preconceptions about the 37 year old former two-time WBA champion. In short Ruiz is a different beast to the much maligned jab and grab merchant he’s often described as. Continue reading “John Ruiz v David Haye will be a thriller”

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