Fury dominates and then destroys Whyte in six

First appeared on BigFightWeekend.com

It would be cruel to suggest 76 years young singer Don McLean moved his feet quicker in his pre-fight rendition of American Pie than London bruiser Dillian Whyte did before being struck by a Tyson Fury right uppercut, but it wouldn’t be far from the truth. Deconstructing Whyte’s reputation based on the ease with which Fury deposited the floundering challenger on the canvas in front of a baying Wembley crowd, high on freedom and other confections, will be a popular undertaking but unjust too. Observers are encouraged to refrain.

The division today isn’t 1970s deep. It never was before Ali, Foreman and their many contemporaries and it likely never will be again, and as such the perennial comparison is redundant. Within his generation, Whyte possessed a credible record and a consensus place in the top half a dozen big men.

That Whyte failed to land a punch of note in six rounds speaks to Fury’s dominance of that same generation more than the limitations of the self-made ‘Body Snatcher’. But defeat brings cynicism. Dominance, as Fury’s predecessor, Wladimir Klitschko found, invariably does too.

Continue reading “Fury dominates and then destroys Whyte in six”

Boxing bullied out of the Kinahan business on eve of Fury versus Whyte

“I think crime pays. You travel a lot.”

Woody Allen

Fighters always attract a troupe of colourful characters. Their money, and their potential to be parted from it, even more. Sycophants. Chancers. Criminals. Sugar Ray Robinson, the greatest of them all, engaged a parade of the bizarre and the harmless. From a person with Dwarfism, employed for no discernible reason beyond the novelty of their height, to a pair charged with whistling while the shimmering Robinson worked – if Gilbert Rogin’s obituary of April 24th 1989, by way of coincidence, is to be taken as a gospel of the period.

The great man danced in an era in which dressing room visitors were far from harmless, and in a shady world where the advice of ‘advisors’ was always followed. Boxing’s enduring chaos is fertile territory for organised crime. In the 1950s, a period oft considered a golden age, the Mob were manifestly the king makers within the sport.

On the eve of the heavyweight title fight between Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte, Daniel Kinahan’s growing influence within boxing’s many lucrative shadows, including a documented advisory capacity in Fury’s later career, has finally been arrested.

If not the man himself. It is a story perhaps only at its beginning.

Continue reading “Boxing bullied out of the Kinahan business on eve of Fury versus Whyte”

Khan and Brook cast long shadows from their last sunset

Ageing is natural. It happens to all of us. I just always want to look like myself, even if that’s an older version of myself.

Halle Berry, Actor (1966- )

In the summer of 2004 a boxer called Amir Khan, aged just 17, the possessor of unfathomable hand speed and armed with a quiver of jabs, a favourite grandson’s smile and a vest beneath which beat a fearless heart, became a household name in Britain when his voyage to an unlikely Silver medal at the Athens Olympics was broadcast live on terrestrial television. Fight fans, sports fans, grandmas, uncles, friends, all bore witness to Britain’s sole entrant.

On Saturday night, much closer to home than the Greek capital and now a retired veteran of 35, Khan climbed the steps to the ring for the final time. The loneliness of his entrance in to the public’s consciousness as a boy all those years ago reflected back in a brutal departure from the prize ring. Referee Victor Loughlin showing sufficient mercy to save a wilting Khan from a pitiless and increasingly rampant Kell Brook in the sixth round.

A fight 17 years in the making was over in 17 minutes.

Continue reading “Khan and Brook cast long shadows from their last sunset”

Canelo to confirm his dominance

The fight between Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Caleb Plant for the undisputed Super-Middleweight title occurs this weekend, and while the IBF belt the unbeaten American will bring to the party completes the modern day quartet for the victor, in truth, Plant is, in auld money at least, merely a distinguished contender for a crown Canelo earned beating Callum Smith 11 months ago.

True, the IBF were the first to inaugurate a championship at the 168 pound limit, Scot Murray Sutherland becoming champion in 1984, but Plant’s belt, despite the history, is no more validatory than the WBO strap Canelo took from Billy Joe Saunders earlier this year. They add to the aesthetic of his dominance but it was proven some time ago.

None of which should detract from the positivity in play in a bout between the two. Foremost because Canelo will be fighting for the fourth time in less than a year and in doing so cementing his status as the number one fighter in the world and Chairman of the ‘What have you done for me lately?’ club. Plant is also undisputed as the best available contender in the division.

But can he win?

Continue reading “Canelo to confirm his dominance”

DeMarcus Corley, the old grifter, dances into another Diggstown

The guy got hurt. It happens. It happens to fighters. I thought you knew that.

James Woods, as Gabriel Caine, in Diggstown.

In the 1992 picture, Diggstown, or Midnight Sting for those on this side of the pond, Lou Gossett Jnr. plays ‘Honey’ Roy Palmer. A long retired prizefighter for whom fame never called. Subjected to the persuasive patter of con-man Gabriel Caine, Palmer finds himself in the titular town with 10 opponents lined up to face him in a 24 hour period. The prospects of triumph seem distant and the consequences of defeat, and the lost bet for Caine, catastrophic given the Mafia origins of the money Caine has wagered on the outcome.

‘Honey’ Roy, like DeMarcus Corley, who boxes again this weekend two years on from the last of a long sequence of defeats, had retained a fighter’s physique and the wiles of a well-schooled pug, but he was, nevertheless, 47 years old.

Continue reading “DeMarcus Corley, the old grifter, dances into another Diggstown”

Whyte goes all in for Fury chance

The higher I go, the crookeder it becomes.

Michael Corleone, Godfather III (1990)

Dillian Whyte is a good heavyweight. He isn’t Earnie Shavers, or Ray Mercer. He is, as the Acorn and Merciless were, a good heavyweight in an era that belongs to others. Whyte has compiled a resume that stands comparison with most of his own contemporaries. And a few of his predecessors too. His era isn’t the golden one of Shavers and his thunderous right hand but it has the potential to rival or surpass many of the decades that preceded the glorious 1970s. Besides, no fighter chooses his or her own time.

However history will remember Fury, Joshua and Wilder’s era, their collective defeats and the emergence of Usyk is unlikely to remove any of their names from above the door of the decade they’ve cohabited but Whyte has been a perennial presence. The demise of his showdown with Otto Wallin, a credible if unexciting fixture, became ever more predictable following Joshua’s decision to opt in on the contracted Usyk rematch and the WBC mandating a victorious Fury negotiate with the winner of Whyte and Wallin.

The risk to reward ratio of the Wallin fight changed. Dramatically.

Continue reading “Whyte goes all in for Fury chance”

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.

Continue reading “Old money and the roads to Fury”

Cheeseman and the deal with the devil

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

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

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

Continue reading “Cheeseman and the deal with the devil”

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.

Continue reading “Former British champion, David Price hangs them up”

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”

Saunders arrives at the moment of truth. Canelo on Cinco de Mayo

First published on January 29th 2021

British Super-Middleweight contender Billy Joe Saunders has landed a fight with boxing’s premier star, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, to coincide with Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican celebration of the nation’s victory over the invading French forces in 1862. It is a day now synonymous with boxing and, specifically, whoever is the nation’s biggest star in that calendar year, headlining a US based show.

Saunders’ challenge to Canelo will bring joy to those hipsters who revel in the possibility the Hatfield rascal will prove to be slippery Kryptonite to boxing’s newest and seemingly invincible Superman. For those to whom Saunders is merely a crass irritation, their joy will be found in the presumed evisceration of such a fanciful idea.

The fight offers the Mexican superstar an opportunity to substantiate his status as the division’s king. A crown he earned beating Callum Smith last year. Saunders holds the WBO belt. In truth, it is a decoration. Saunders won the vacated title by beating unheralded Shefat Isufi in May 2019. Two subsequent defences, both abject in their significance and the entertainment provided, added negligible kudos to his reign and the belt stubbornly remains little more than a curio.

Nevertheless, without it Saunders would probably not have landed the fight and be facing his moment of truth.

Continue reading “Saunders arrives at the moment of truth. Canelo on Cinco de Mayo”

Liam Williams secures his place in a gallery of the gallant

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

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

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

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

Rampant Benn wrecks Vargas in 90 seconds.

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

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

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

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

Conor Benn, the gatekeeper and the history at his shoulder

On Saturday night a British Welterweight, Conor Benn, will face a Colombian out of Canada called Samuel Vargas. Sufficiently endowed with a past, a sliver of remaining future to sustain belief in his motivations and the keys to the top 20 in the division, Vargas is the perennial nearly man and now 31-years-old. He retains respect for the toughness he’s demonstrated in a 10-year career and for being competitive with those Benn aspires to meet. In this weekend’s contest he will be playing the part of the gatekeeper.

For fans of a certain age Conor Benn continues to be a touch stone for memories of a youth long since passed. His swagger, his instinctive, spiky words transport many viewers back to the halcyon days of the early 1990s. Specifically, the time of Conor’s father, Nigel, and his nemesis Chris Eubank, their mutual rival Michael Watson and the five battles they shared between 1989 and 1993. All of which are seared into the consciousness of those of us who witnessed them.

This is the legacy Conor Benn carries. It opens doors but it cannot sustain him. Against Vargas, Benn will continue his quest to establish a place of his own in the Welterweight landscape. One rich in opportunity and decorated by some of the sport’s most gifted fighters.

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

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

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

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

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BoxingWriter.co.uk Fighter of the Month – March 2021

An accolade without an interim or regular, international or super alter ego. Just a plain old pat on the back and well done this month. Perhaps an honourable mention or two but otherwise a straight forward award for the fighter who impressed this writer the most during the month of March.

A competitive field as boxing returned to, essentially, full capacity, but limited in viewership by the audience restrictions in certain countries. It has a bearing on outcomes, the lack of fans. Fighters feed off the energy, judges are influenced by crowd responses, it is an intangible variable and one that has played out across the sporting sphere, with upsets in many sports reflecting the loss of home advantage for many teams and individuals.

There were solid outings for the great and good, performances that surprised the cynics and courage from those over matched and under paid too.

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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”

Cheeseman stops Metcalf in old school war

The scrap between Ted Cheeseman and J.J. Metcalf for the British Light-Middleweight title was fought in Gibraltar. It was screened, for this writer, in high definition on a 42 inch television via the internet. It would have been equally at home had it been available on a Bakelite wireless only or fought at the Mile End Arena in the 1950s.

Two hard men, bent noses, flinty eyes sunken beneath prominent brows. One entered the ring with a ruby welt beneath his eye the other started seeping claret from his nose in the second. Cheeseman wore the white shorts, Metcalf, son of Shea Neary, a throwback fighter himself, wore the black. Just like the days of old.

A vacant British belt, the oldest in the sport, though the division is only of the modern era, the prize for the victor. The gold, the Union Jack coloured ribbon, the history, the tradition. A crown worn by Herol, Jamie Moore, Maurice Hope. It was all there.

Both had stories and both were willing to sacrifice the quality of their tomorrows for the glory of the night.

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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”

Saturday night at the fights; Okolie, Ortiz and two crazy guys called Lopez

Change is not made without inconvenience, even from worse to better

Richard Hooker, English theologian, 1554-1600

It would be easy to be cynical about the Lawrence Okolie story. Too much of Saturday night television has leant on the ‘journey’ of whoever the wannabe singing or dancing hopeful was that particular weekend. The tears, the back story, the setbacks, the dead grandma. It can become repetitive and contrived. But as Eddie Hearn demanded in post fight interview, following the Londoner’s exemplary victory over Krzysztof Glowacki to win the WBO title, Okolie’s tale merits retelling.

The fat kid in McDonalds, a perfectly respectable career for many let it also be said, inspired by heroes Usain Bolt and Anthony Joshua to chase something bigger, something more. Boxing, as it so often does, provided the vehicle for the revolution Okolie wanted. No barrier to entry in boxing you see. Show up, and someone will teach you, will care.

He began. And while last night represented a huge step in his career, winning a quarter of the world title, it was the first step eight years ago that required the most gumption.

Okolie wasn’t the only winner on an entertaining evening of boxing as the action swung from London to Texas.

Continue reading “Saturday night at the fights; Okolie, Ortiz and two crazy guys called Lopez”

Necessity is the mother of invention, Bika to face Soliman

Two weeks ago I had the good fortune to speak to Sakio Bika ahead of his return to the ring against Australian middleweight Adam Stowe. Bika was bright, confident and determined to project himself toward bigger targets by winning convincingly in his first fight in 40 months. It was a practical stepping stone for a pragmatic former world-champion with a shrinking window of opportunity.

Within the week, pragmatism was replaced by disappointment as an administrative oversight by the Cameroon born Super-Middleweight left his fight with Stowe in tatters. The waiting crowd, eager to see a fighter of Bika’s calibre, were hard to placate when the realisation Bika wouldn’t be able to fight began to break. As a result, trouble ensued. Where Bika had hoped for a knockout and a new beginning, he found police dogs and pepper spray, fist fights and discontent.

It was a sobering episode in a long career. As with all things in boxing, from disaster grew opportunity.

Continue reading “Necessity is the mother of invention, Bika to face Soliman”

In the name of the father. Cosme Rivera Jnr. steps up this weekend

As I trawl through the upcoming fight schedule, as has been my habit this past twenty years, looking for an angle, a name, a story, I realised I have borne witness to the arc of a thousand careers. Watched young, fresh-faced fighters climb from the foot of the bill, to their personal mountain top, however modest it may prove, and then succumb to the inevitable descent. Back to the darkness and all too frequent anonymity that waits beyond the glare of the lights. Old, tired and damaged.

On one low-key card in Mexico on Friday night (12th March), I was intrigued to note the name of Cosme Rivera. A 19-year-old professional with an embryonic 3-0 record it turns out. The name doesn’t hold the same resonance as Benn or Hatton or Tsyzu, all of whom have sons who now punch for pay, but for this writer, it brought back to mind a rugged and capable Welterweight of the same name who once came to England to box James Hare.

Cosme Senior.

Continue reading “In the name of the father. Cosme Rivera Jnr. steps up this weekend”

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?

Continue reading “Undisputed Heavyweight Championship clash close to becoming reality”

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”

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