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”

It’s not your night. Why Jake LaMotta had to lose to Billy Fox in ’47

Article first appeared on Gambling.com

June 14th 1960. A warm summer’s day in Washington DC. The air is sweet with the city grind and the hustle of a country racing toward adolescence and the associated rebellion.  Chatter spills from sidewalks, shoes are shined, a soft percussion to the chaotic jazz horn of taxicabs and the last of the capital’s iconic street cars. Morning sunshine glints from a mile of Buick chrome. 

This commercial idyll and the blue sky of the American dream belies the pulse of political tension that throbs beneath the surface. Impatient for ignition. It is a time of ideology, the battle for civil rights, of JFK and crusaders for truth and equality. 

Former Middleweight champion Jake LaMotta is in town. A name from the smoke and shadows of the monochrome America wrestling against technicolour progress and the dawn of an age more recognisable to us today. Continue reading “It’s not your night. Why Jake LaMotta had to lose to Billy Fox in ’47”

Spoiling for a fight: The Arv Mittoo story

Article first appeared in Boxing News (£) 30th May 2019

There are no easy lives in the boxing business. Even among those changed for the better, the ones saved, the ones directed away from the darkness, from the cells, from the ground. Every professional fighter complicit to boxing’s unspoken truth; that something of themselves must be sacrificed, perhaps only temporarily, perhaps permanently, in order to access the financial and emotional benefits derived from success, however modest or fleeting they may be.

This grittier reality swiftly overwrites those cinematic show reels, composed in the imaginings of their adolescence, that novice professionals may still cling to when they enter the paid ranks. The dream is nevertheless important, prizefighters are not enticed to lace up the gloves as willowy ten-year-olds, or encouraged to punish and curate their bodies into adulthood, with the expectation of losing or moreover, choosing to, being paid to.

But losing is half of the boxing story. Continue reading “Spoiling for a fight: The Arv Mittoo story”

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”

Boxing legend Donaire surely retires, happily untethered from regret

At journey’s end, life is about the moments, the impression made on those closest to us and perhaps too, the fulfilment of our own potential. The peace provided by the sense of completion, as opposed to the artifice of possession, is life’s richest reward.

For those of us without the skill, or dedication to develop one sufficiently definitive to draw a crowd, this sense of completion can be humble and pass by all but our own scrutiny. And we are often our own harshest critic. This mundanity makes the pursuit of fulfilment no less important but it is done without the glare of the spotlight.

For fighters, with their careers compressed into a decade, perhaps two, there is precious little time to waste, nor latitude for misteps. It is the waste and the missteps which keeps fighters fighting too long and burdens those who fail with the demon of regret.

In what will surely prove to be the final performance of a gilded career, Nonito Donaire’s natural humility and dedication to his craft was rewarded. He left the ring as the loser, beaten on points by the Japanese phenomenon Naoya Inoue, but with his legacy enriched, the figurative embrace of the crowd and a warm hand shake from his future self, unshackled from the ghosts of could, would or should have. Continue reading “Boxing legend Donaire surely retires, happily untethered from regret”

Archive: Colin McMillan – the man who defied convention

From November 2017 – First published in Knockout London to accompany a video interview featurette

The tassels dance; folding, bouncing and exaggerating the rhythm of his purposeful, often balletic movement. Pristine white boots travel distances measured in fractions of inches, from arm’s length to harm’s length. Mesmerising hesitant opponents, rendering them inert with speed, and precision, with timing and the bluff of feints and counter punches.

His hands act as gloved rapiers, his brain analysing, identifying weakness, processing the opponents’ ‘tells’. Busy, perpetual movement, these assessments imperceptible, conclusions drawn, punches selected to capitalise are thrown naturally, the switch from offence to defence and back again is fluid, instinctive.

This isn’t the best of Sugar Ray Leonard or a delve into the prime of Muhammad Ali, but an attempt to capture the beauty and brilliance of a British Featherweight, a forgotten jewel, Colin ‘Sweet C’ McMillan. Continue reading “Archive: Colin McMillan – the man who defied convention”

Sliding doors; Donaire and Burnett move on

There is no luck in life. Things happen. Things don’t. Some expected. Some not. Fighters don’t always get what they deserve, sometimes they get things they don’t – if anyone is qualified to make the determination.

If there are individuals of the required integrity and absence of ego to adjudicate, as yet, they haven’t found employment amid the racketeers running the sport’s sanctioning bodies, but I digress.

The coincidence of Ryan Burnett retirement announcement, a unified champion at 118 pounds before injury stole his prime, aged just 27, in the same week Nonito Donaire boxes Naoya Inoue in the final of the World Boxing Super Series Bantamweight competition seemed inescapable. But boxing is too cold a science to contemplate the ethereal presence of a hand of fate or any misplaced sense of destiny. Continue reading “Sliding doors; Donaire and Burnett move on”

Canelo takes the Kovalev castle

“He has a child’s face, with brown hair and a freckled face, but his fists are just as devastating as a sailor.”

Rodolfo Rosales writing for El Universal in March, 2010

14 years on from his debut as a fresh faced 139 pounder, Saul Alvarez, now 29-years-old and boasting a 53-1-2 (36ko) professional record, holds a portion of the Light-Heavyweight crown. He knocked out a grizzled old champion, Sergey Kovalev, in the 11th round of an otherwise muted battle for the WBO’s belt.

The coupling of those sentences is remarkable. To denigrate the credibility of that achievement by demeaning Kovalev’s credentials, as some have, speaks more of the critic than Alvarez. There are those who’ve have developed a negative myopia toward the Mexican attraction because of the decision gifted to him in the first Golovkin fight or his failed drug test, the latter of which I too refuse to ignore, or are simply too lodged in their version of the past that the merits of the modern era will never be sufficient to draw praise.

I’ve been guilty of that too. But whatever the premise or subtext behind your view of the world, whether you recognise or deny its influence, I encourage you to appreciate the significance of Alvarez’s performance this weekend.

Continue reading “Canelo takes the Kovalev castle”

Podcast: Big Fight Weekend – Canelo Kovalev

Always a pleasure to catch up with TJ Rives, “the somewhat capable host” of the Big Fight Weekend Podcast. Naturally, this episode is in preview mode as the boxing world turns its attention to the sport’s biggest star; Saul Alvarez and his Light Heavyweight debut against gnarly veteran Sergey Kovalev.

Conversation always wanders a little, both into the history of the noble and not so noble art and other fights forthcoming. This particular episode was further enriched by the presence of Antonio Tarver as the star attraction and the irrepressible Marquis Johns to round off proceedings.

The very special prospect of Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis in the final of the WBSS is also covered.

Continue reading “Podcast: Big Fight Weekend – Canelo Kovalev”

Boxing: Canelo seeking greatness an asterisks may deny him

I wonder whether it is harder for fighters to etch their legend into our collective psyche these days. The saturation of coverage helps build brands, invites us to know our heroes better, to co-exist beside them. An invited voyeurism that can reveal struggle and educate fans to the risk and reasons that motivate prize fighters but also homogenise those we would otherwise propose possess special powers.

The price of this exposure, if there is one, is this puncturing of a fighter’s mystique, their sense of otherworldliness. Unfettered access has removed the robe of mythology we once wrapped our kings in. I’m not sure even Marvellous Marvin Hagler’s solemnity would have outlasted the chatter of video courtiers every pug with a pair of gloves is now exposed to.

Even the words; Hagler, or Tyson or Duran, still provide a frisson of the electricity fans once felt when they caught the first glimpse of their walk to the ring. Or when their hero’s eyes locked on to his prey.

It is harder for their modern day counterparts to leverage the same awe in their less active careers and, in the case of Saul Alvarez, one of this generation’s most gifted fighters, with the burdensome asterisks of a failed drug test forever attached to his name. Continue reading “Boxing: Canelo seeking greatness an asterisks may deny him”

Taylor and Prograis push each other to their peak

Note to self. Remember to watch the boxing.

Note to boxing. Remember to make fights like Taylor v Prograis.

Boxing is a remarkably simple premise. One for whom meritocracy should be its preeminent mode of governance. Instead, as it has always been, it is widely subverted by the politics of television and the opportunism of oily raconteurs.

The sweet science, like the lost and vulnerable it attracts, is too willing to comply to their whims and persuasion. Lowering its lofty brow from the high theatre it is capable of to the tawdry soap opera fighters and fans endure in order to unearth gems like Josh Taylor v Regis Prograis hidden beneath. Continue reading “Taylor and Prograis push each other to their peak”

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”

Golovkin now fighting in the Autumn of a golden career

As I lay here in the post summer funk of early October, rendered motionless by fatigue and the bleakness of an approaching Winter bellowing at the windows of my afternoon, rumination is often a friend and occasionally a foe too. For reflection too easily cedes to the creep of melancholy.

The transition between seasons is a blustery reminder that the world keeps turning and the clock keeps ticking. Leaves swirl and dance on the driveway outside, like discarded ticker tape from a parade long since passed. The terror of middle-age visits us all.

Watching Gennidy Golovkin wrestle with the Autumn leaves of his golden summer as boxing’s preeminent middleweight it was hard not to draw a wry, knowing smile. Despite his ultimate success aged 37, he defeated Sergei Derevyanchenko via unanimous decision, the revelation that he is no more impervious to decline than the rest of us is both a comfort and a sadness. Continue reading “Golovkin now fighting in the Autumn of a golden career”

Benn faces a nightmare in pursuit of an ill-advised dream

I wrote about Sakio Bika once. He’s the type of prize fighter you perhaps only write about once. Which is not to say he isn’t a boxer of note, or a person of depth and interest, the former Super-Middleweight belt holder has performed at world level for much of his professional career after all.

However, the challenge of defining his fighting style, to fall on the closest cliché boxing has to offer regarding awkward opponents, is hard to look good against.

The news this week that Nigel Benn had convinced himself he can recapture a significant proportion of the fighter he once was brought only one happy thought to mind. I now have a go to phrase to describe Sakio Bika that conveys some of what made him difficult for men as talented as Joe Calzaghe, Markus Beyer and Anthony Dirrell to overcome in their prime. It isn’t catchy, but it gets the job done.

If you’re 55 and planning a return to boxing having not fought in 23 years, the last person you want to fight is Sakio Bika.

Thank you Nigel. Continue reading “Benn faces a nightmare in pursuit of an ill-advised dream”

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”

Pacquiao, trapped in a boxing Jumanji, leads a trio of great match ups

2019, sometimes I say the numbers aloud, pausing in thought, marvelling at just how futuristic the words still sound. Perhaps, there is part of each of us that remains trapped in the sounds and deeds of our formative years, an area of preserved nostalgia from which all subsequent events are perceived. In those years before the millennium, when Prince sang about 1999, as a distant party we would all attend, Sarah Connor met a cyborg from 2029, and Harrison Ford wrestled with Rutger Hauer in a dystopian Los Angeles, two thousand and nineteen was a year drawn back from a projected future too far away to recognise. One mathematics could presume we’d live in, but one sufficiently distant to make the visions Ridley Scott and James Cameron shared with us entertaining rather than terrifying.

Yet, here we all are. Prince not withstanding, in mid-2019, long since detached from those analogue decades of the seventies, eighties and much of the nineties.

Hard to fathom therefore, that one of our middle-life contemporaries, who debuted in 1995, the year of Robin Williams’ Jumanji, the story of an inquisitive boy trapped by a super-natural game, could still be central to how we will one day look back on the boxing year of 2019. But with the year half through, and with many of the matchups the sport promised failing to materialise, Manny Pacquiao is part of a trio of bouts that could arrest the disappointment fans have felt so far and restore some much need momentum, particularly in the would-be golden Welterweight division he now inhabits.
Continue reading “Pacquiao, trapped in a boxing Jumanji, leads a trio of great match ups”

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”

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”

He fat, Shefat, Billy Joe Saunders seeking momentum

First published on Freebets.net

This Saturday night, in the inauspicious surroundings of Stevenage Football Club, Billy Joe Saunders seeks to inject much-needed momentum into a boxing career that has wandered, sometimes aimlessly, from the path to riches and renown it once promised. His opponent, a curated choice from the gallery of obscurity the WBO specialises in, is the unheralded German, by way of Serbia, Shefat Isufi.

A prohibitive underdog with most leading bookmakers, 18/1 with Bet365 the widest, Isufi offers precious little hope or opportunity for investors. Continue reading “He fat, Shefat, Billy Joe Saunders seeking momentum”

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