The night the Raging Bull fell

“You can’t think about the past any more.”

Jake LaMotta, 1922-2017

No hush fell within the domed ceiling of the Miami Coliseum, the crowd’s hub-bub continued neither interrupted nor escalated by the sight of Jake LaMotta slumped to the canvas for the first time in his then 103-fight career. Referee Bill Regan, his once Welterweight frame thickened by twenty years of retirement, took up the count as LaMotta, 31 and fighting at a career high of 173 pounds, pawed for the bottom rope with his right hand.

Danny Nardico rushed to a corner, the adrenaline pumping through his body, the enormity of what he’d just done with a thunderous cross-cum-hook, the last of a flurry of clubbing shots, writ large before him. Whether he mouthed through his gum-shield; “stay-down” was never asked, all eyes were on LaMotta, the man who had once, if only once, beaten Sugar Ray Robinson but was now desperately over-reaching for the second rope, his spatial awareness scrambled by fatigue and the weight of the shot that put him there.

Regan’s fingers splayed wide in front of the bruised fudge of his face, “FIVE, SIX!”. Continue reading “The night the Raging Bull fell”

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That was the boxing weekend that was (15th Oct. 2017)

Increasingly, I’m losing my nerve when I watch boxing. Maybe it’s fatherhood, maybe its the persuasive refrain of those linking concussion to mental health issues in later life, maybe its just a phase. The weekend was punctuated and illuminated by knockouts and in some instances preceded by a number of blows beyond those usually required to invite a referee to intervene.

Aside from my own, hopefully temporary, philosophical dilemma, several fighters leapt forward in their careers and entertained fans via the short route on cards from The Flash Grand Ballrooms of Manilla to the Hotel Metropole in Mbuji-Mayi. The latter is in Ghana for those of you, like me, not worldly travelled. Continue reading “That was the boxing weekend that was (15th Oct. 2017)”

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: March of Time for Light-Welter and Welterweight veterans

It strikes me as strangely poetic that three of the most significant fighters of their generation should all be pursuing relevance and redemption this weekend. Erik Morales, Jose Luis Castillo and Zab Judah all hope to eek one last hurrah from their respective careers. Most notable is Morales’ attempt to defend the WBC’s Light-Welterweight belt, followed by Judah’s eliminator bout with Vernon Paris and lastly Castillo, who looked jaded 5 years ago against Ricky Hatton, mixing it up with Jose Miguel Cotto. The oldest among them, Castillo, will be furthest from the top of the bill. Continue reading “Boxing: March of Time for Light-Welter and Welterweight veterans”

Ian Bailey, Prizefighter’s cruelest loser, looks to upset Carl Frampton

Despite his diminutive stature and win some lose some record, 26 year old professional fighter Ian Bailey  is a handy little battler and deserves a degree of good fortune and good will this Friday as he travels to Belfast to tackle touted prospect Carl Frampton on the under card of Paul McCloskey’s attempt to encourage veteran Italian Giuseppe Lauri to retire. For international readers or those with a more headline orientated interest in boxing Ian Bailey is Berkshire born, 5-4 (0) thus far, and missed out on a big Prizefighter pay-day on the spin of a coin last month.

Continue reading “Ian Bailey, Prizefighter’s cruelest loser, looks to upset Carl Frampton”

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?”

David Haye, boxing’s new Barnum, continues to sell

valuev9If promoting a fight is craft, then David Haye has used every tool in the box to generate interest in this Saturday’s fight with Nicolay Valuev. He is an effervescent self-promoter who has used eye-catching gimmicks, distasteful commentary about Valuev’s personal hygiene, appeared on every talk-show, press event and personal appearance in order to force this fight to transcend the confines of the boxing audience. And, glory be, its working. Continue reading “David Haye, boxing’s new Barnum, continues to sell”

No electricity like Tyson electricity

miketysonblackandwhite2During the dim days of his post Buster Douglas career, I would maintain in the face of often fervent opposition that Mike Tyson was over-rated. That he succeeded in a weak era and through the many attempts to recycle the myth he tip toed around any of the risk-laden contenders of the 1990’s. Fighters like Ray Mercer, George Foreman, Shannon Briggs, David Tua were all punchers and held a shot** – Tyson wasn’t allowed near them. Evander Holyfield and latterly, Lennox Lewis further undermined the theory in emphatic triumphs over the ageing former champion. Continue reading “No electricity like Tyson electricity”

Look beyond the smiles; the Haye v Valuev build up begins

ValuevvHayeI wrote yesterday of Frankie ‘El Gato’ Figueroa’s unique ability to self-promote through the multitude of outlets the modern world of communication affords a fighter, contemporary David Haye is another advert for the power of a fresh approach to promotion. He was conspicuous in his use of the MySpace platform a year or two ago, collecting a rich bounty of busty twenty-somethings as friends on the premise of recruiting ring card girls, and blessed with good looks and an exciting, hard punching style his refreshingly candid manner in front of camera and his willingness to challenge giants on the top of elevators has rushed him into the consciousness of fight fans around the globe. But boy has he talked himself into a fight now. Continue reading “Look beyond the smiles; the Haye v Valuev build up begins”

You know the game is up when you’re dressed as Captain Hook

captain-hook-disney1I don’t wish to demean Roy Jones Jnr, one of the finest fighters of his, or any, generation, but the publicity shots circulated today showing the once pound for pound king of the sport dressed as Captain Hook, the infamous pirate from the Peter Pan stories made me laugh out loud.  I have to wonder whether the Light-Heavyweight great had a moment of self-awareness either before, during or after the shots were taken. Here is a man who  whipped McCallum, Hill, Hopkins, Toney and more – who was arguably the purest athlete the sport has seen reduced to wigs, props and gimmicks, surely he caught a glance of his reflection and posed the question to himself; “what the f*** am I doing?”. Continue reading “You know the game is up when you’re dressed as Captain Hook”

The brainwash is almost complete, I’m hooked on Tyson Fury

ARC_0229064.jpgYou have to concede it has worked. Firstly, the day in June 1988 when former heavyweight battler John Fury decided his son would be called Tyson, a reflection of Fury senior’s love of the then unbeaten Heavyweight champion Iron Mike, and secondly the day now 6ft 9inch Tyson Fury became Hennessy Sports’ most promising signing. Those two events have led the 6-0 (6ko) heavyweight prospect to become one of the most talked about fighters in the modern game. Continue reading “The brainwash is almost complete, I’m hooked on Tyson Fury”

Irish eyes are smiling; McCullough fights on

WaynePrecious few combatants evoke the same swell of good will that will greet Wayne McCullough when he strides to the ring for the 35th time in a fortnight’s time. The former Super-Bantamweight world title-holder has had a frustrating Autumn to his career, with the shadow of an overturned suspension for irregular brain scans thwarting his attempts to regain momentum in his ebbing trajectory. A retirement six rounds in to a fight he appeared to be winning last June, on the back of a doctor’s intervention during the rematch with Oscar Larios, remain his only meaningful action of the past 40 months.

Continue reading “Irish eyes are smiling; McCullough fights on”

Tarver granted stay of execution; Dawson injured

ChadIt would be remiss of me to overlook the timeless performances of Bernard Hopkins and Shane Mosley in recent months before deploring the matchmakers and executives who compiled and approved the Chad Dawson v Antonio Tarver sequel. Perhaps Tarver’s sojourn to the Rocky Balboa film set has infected the romantics among the powerbrokers, who refuse to give up on Tarver despite Dawson’s complete domination of the ageing former champion last year. A Dawson hand injury postpones Tarver’s second portrayal of a man with a white chalk line around his youth. Continue reading “Tarver granted stay of execution; Dawson injured”

Boxing: Bottom of the 9th, One Last Swing for Morales

NostalgiaSaturday’s bout between weary veteran Erik Morales and Lightweight belt-holder David Diaz has failed to cause much of a stir on either side of the pond. Lost in the post fight fog of the Hopkins victory and the hubbub of the Hatton v Mayweather announcement, the fight pitches chunky champion Diaz versus the world’s oldest 30 year old. Setanta are airing the fight free to subscribers in the UK. To paraphrase Victoria Beckham; “That’s Major!” Continue reading “Boxing: Bottom of the 9th, One Last Swing for Morales”

Boxing: Mikkel Kessler is Taylor made for Calzaghe

KesslerI fear this story line could become a theme of the next few weeks as experienced promoters Mogens Palle (Kessler) and Frank Warren (Calzaghe) carefully manoeuvre their ‘pieces’ in a bid to gain the upper hand in negotiations, both privately and in the public’s perception,  for the proposed clash between the two belt holders. Joe Calzaghe has changed his tune on his most desirable opponent once more following Jermaine Taylor’s soporific defence versus Cory Spinks last month, suddenly Mikkel Kessler is “the man”. Continue reading “Boxing: Mikkel Kessler is Taylor made for Calzaghe”

Exclusive: Boxing Writer T-Shirt Shop

BoxingWriterShopIt may prove to be the most under-used facility since the Baghdad Tourism Office but I’ve developed a range of simple, classic t-shirts featuring the professional win-loss records of a host of boxing legends. Made to order, to high quality specification the shirts present good value with prices starting around £12. Fighters from the recently lost Diego Corrales to Mike Tyson are featured with a few lesser known gems in between. Click the t-shirt link on the right to be directed to the site or click here.

Continue reading “Exclusive: Boxing Writer T-Shirt Shop”

Is Zab You Judah?

YoelIn one of the most bizarre stories I’ve heard in a while and for a sport which, to paraphrase Dennis Norden, doesn’t lack stories you’d have to file under strange but true, a recent conference call held between the media and Welterweight contender Zab Judah proved to be a meaningless and misleading endeavour for the hacks who dialled in. Why? Because the classless Judah had his father Yoel sit in and pretend to be him. Cheap. Continue reading “Is Zab You Judah?”

Tyson To Work Sultan’s Corner

tyson2Boxingtalk.com report Mike Tyson will be a fully fledged member of Sultan Ibragimov’s corner for his challenge to breathless WBO champion Shannon Briggs this weekend. Hopefully, it represents more than a cheap publicity stunt because a place for Mike Tyson’s knowledge of the sport should really be found. Articulate and a once keen student of the sport it would be shame if he doesn’t grasp the olive branch, it would certainly be more dignified to see Tyson passing on his wisdom to young fighters than see him feature in the glorified boxing booth he did late least year. Continue reading “Tyson To Work Sultan’s Corner”

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