Kid Galahad mandated for Warrington’s IBF belt

IBF Featherweight champion, Josh Warrington, may be forced to abandon, at least temporarily, the pursuit of unifications with the three other ‘champions’ recognised in his weight class and face Sheffield’s Kid Galahad instead.

Following the positivity of the preceding article on BoxingWriter.co.uk, in which Warrington’s manager Steve Wood revealed the intention to “better 2018” by pitching the unbeaten 28-year-old in with one of Leo Santa Cruz, Gary Russell Jnr. or Oscar Valdez.

There was much to admire in the aspiration, but just a few days later, the sobering hand of boxing appears to have suffocated this would be plan. Continue reading “Kid Galahad mandated for Warrington’s IBF belt”

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Warrington will remain urgent and ambitious as champion

Josh Warrington, the IBF Featherweight champion, has enjoyed proving people wrong this past twelve months. Firstly, and most potently, to the two world-class fighters he has faced in 2018; Lee Selby and Carl Frampton. Both were outworked and outthought to first win and then defend the title he now boasts. The suspicion Selby and Frampton felt they were superior pugilists and, therefore, consciously or otherwise, dismissive of the Yorkshireman was hard to supress.

Warrington explained their mistake with his fists in qualitative and quantitative terms. Neither Selby or Frampton could discourage or dissuade him.

In pursuing Frampton at all, despite acknowledging he represented the richest prize he could snare, Warrington showed an intent to fight the best available competition and not follow the more customary practice of a ‘soft’ first defence following the title win.

Warrington’s manager, Steve Wood assures fans, the aim is to continue chasing gilded rivals and not settle for simple defences. [4 min read]

Continue reading “Warrington will remain urgent and ambitious as champion”

Mayweather piques my disinterest still further

“Your love made a slave of me,
But the love you gave you took away from me.”

Why When The Love Has Gone,
Isley Brothers 1967

Floyd Mayweather will be 42 in February. Full on middle age. Irrespective of what he does in the squared circle from this point on he will forever remain one of the finest prize fighters to ever lace ’em up. Fast, elusive and a diligent and instinctive reader of opponent’s weaknesses and ‘tells’, Mayweather’s mastery of the conventional was so complete, so absolute, he could bend and manipulate the old standard tunes with frills and trills in the way Whitney might when faced with a number from the American Songbook. And yet. And yet. And yet.

He still leaves me cold. It is ironic, given his desire to chastise those who follow in his financial wake, that he remains entwined with the sport, however spuriously, in the pursuit of spotlight, of easy money, despite retirement and record breaking earnings. Continue reading “Mayweather piques my disinterest still further”

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”

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”

Warrington overwhelms Frampton

As I imagined the seats slapping back to rest, the discarded plastic glasses being brushed along the aisles and the last heels clip-clopping from the arena into the Manchester night, the electricity of Josh Warrington’s performance still charging the air, there was time to recognise a first flush of empathy for his vanquished foe, Carl Frampton.

Frampton has been a fantastic fighter and though he may yet accomplish further before retiring, the weight of the ‘has been’ in this sentence is a burden he has been stubbornly resistant to but can no longer contest. In Yorkshireman Warrington, Frampton was forced to face the ripeness of his career by a fighter of unrelenting intensity and aggression. As had been the suspicion of the small band of Warrington believers, he represented the worst type of opponent for Frampton at this stage of his career.

Whatever the headlines of today and tomorrow, it was a performance of great skill and tactical acumen by Warrington, not just the fervour and volume that caught the eye; though all were key ingredients to the ‘pudding of proof’ he provided.

Continue reading “Warrington overwhelms Frampton”

Whyte versus Chisora – betting preview

Preview first appeared at gambling.com

This weekend’s clash between Dereck Chisora and Dillian Whyte at the O2 Arena in London, a rematch of their 2016 encounter, reveals much about their respective characters and perhaps particularly Whyte’s, who has the greater career momentum and the higher rankings to risk.

In fact, if Whyte succeeds, and places himself at the front of the ‘Not Deontay Wilder’ queue for Anthony Joshua in April, it will be the latest in an impressive sequence of qualifying victories that began with the contested points verdict over Chisora.

In the two years since, Whyte has added the scalps of American trial horse Malcom Tann and Finnish giant Robert Helenius to his resume, before then brutalising Lucas Browne in quick time and outpointing former WBO World Champion Joseph Parker this year.

As with all heavyweight prize fights, leading boxing bookmakers are extending a range of markets for the contest. Continue reading “Whyte versus Chisora – betting preview”

Bet on Warrington to surprise Frampton

Article first appeared on gambling.com

The featherweight division has provided a platform for many of British boxing’s most noted prize fighters.

From Jim Driscoll a century ago, who lost much of his prime to the First World War, to Welshman Howard Winstone in the 1960s and the braggadocios Prince Naseem Hamed of the 1990s, the 126-pound weight class has been rich in world-class operators from Great Britain.

On Saturday night, at the raucous Manchester Arena, two more British featherweights will seek to carve their names alongside their prestigious predecessors. Continue reading “Bet on Warrington to surprise Frampton”

Fielding and the liberation of defeat

When Rocky Fielding retires from boxing, which may be before you read this or at some much more distant juncture, he will, like a long sequence of British fighters before him, be able to say he fought one of the best fighters of his generation. Beyond the financial security he presumably secured in his defeat to the irresistible Saul Alvarez on Saturday night, there was something less tangible than the purse but no less essential to his story and his prospects of contentment in retirement.

Simply put, at least Fielding now knows. Like the four British fighters that fell to Canelo before him; Ryan Rhodes, Matthew Hatton, Liam Smith and Amir Khan, Fielding found a definitive benchmark against which he could measure his ability.

It is a question several of his illustrious predecessors failed to resolve before their careers were complete and one which still hangs over a number of Fielding’s contemporaries too.

Continue reading “Fielding and the liberation of defeat”

‘The kid got heart’

Article first appeared in Big Write Hook Magazine: Round 2

Heart. Every successful fighter must have it. Not the pumping organ of all human kind. The intangible version; heart as the metaphoric adjective for the invisible and yet essential.

Other terms are coined to define this unquantifiable asset; courage, guts, balls. Words you will read and hear in the tumult of a boxing match and in the aftermath, when the cups and broken dreams are swept away. Beneath the spotlight of a more dispassionate scrutiny ‘heart’ proves an elusive quarry. What is it? How can it be proven, can it be measured, developed, lost or restored? Continue reading “‘The kid got heart’”

Magic Man Lomachenko returns as odds on favourite.

First published on Gambling.com on December 7th 2018

Sport, and perhaps particularly boxing, with her inherent echoes of by-gone gladiators, has an ability to first conjure and create heroes and then carve their deeds deep into our psyche.

Their greatness never wilts and a fighter’s flaws, whether technical, physical or emotional, are invariably worn smooth by the passing of time.

In a week where Tyson Fury performed an act of recovery that will be spoken and written about a century from now, it is perhaps fitting that another of boxing’s most blessed sons, Ukrainian Vasiliy Lomachenko, is the next star to return to the squared circle.

As always, the best boxing bookmakers are offering a variety of odds on Lomachenko’s (1/25 with Paddy Power) unification clash with Jose Pedraza (12/1). Continue reading “Magic Man Lomachenko returns as odds on favourite.”

Fury returns from the abyss

“when you stare into an abyss for a long time, the abyss also stares into you.”

Nietzsche, 1886

As the thick black oil of sleep flooded through Tyson Fury’s gigantic body, the crackle of nervous energy that had powered his wit and reflex silenced, his senses immersed in unconsciousness; time, possibility and life all fell silent too. His body and mind in a temporal abyss, a place he had travelled close to in the darkness of the past three years, a destination boxing, until that moment, at the fists of her purest puncher, had saved him from.

In those moments, those precarious and precious seconds, Jack Reiss’ two palms and six digits casting a pale shadow over his blank, peaceful expression, something inside the 30-year old former champion stirred. Defining or quantifying the force or personal quality that drew Fury from the depths of the slumber Wilder’s right cross and left hook had plunged him in to is as close to impossible as the act itself. Continue reading “Fury returns from the abyss”

Mundine v Horn betting preview

First appeared at FreeBets.net

In a week when boxing’s most unconventional of prodigal sons, Tyson Fury, returns to the pinnacle of the sport, Anthony Mundine – a man with a meandering story of his own – is in pursuit of his own improbable dream, aged 43.

Mundine’s middleweight clash with fellow Australian Jeff Horn will, naturally, not draw the attention of the potentially seminal clash in Los Angeles later the same weekend.

However, the bout offers a singular curiosity and bookmakers are offering markets for those inclined to see opportunity where others scream ‘farce’. Continue reading “Mundine v Horn betting preview”

Wilder v Fury: How Tyson Fury can beat the odds

By Hector T. Morgan

The wait is almost over, anticipation has grown steadily since the fight announcement and with the drama of the final press conference fresh in the mind, fight fans are just a day or two out from seeing undefeated heavyweight behemoths Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury trade leather in their WBC title fight in Los Angeles on Saturday night.

Wilder is the odds-on betting favourite to claim his 41st career win and, if he is to fulfil that expectation, it is assumed it will be inside the distance and Fury will become Wilder’s 40th knockout victim too. Anyone counting out the self-styled “The Gypsy King” would be greatly underestimating the giant Brit, his penchant for the improbable and a host of advantages he has going into the fight. Continue reading “Wilder v Fury: How Tyson Fury can beat the odds”

Deontay Wilder v Tyson Fury betting preview

First appeared at gambling.com

Despite a lifetime of following boxing it is hard to summon memory of a fight in which the imponderables were as unfathomable as they are in Deontay Wilder’s clash with Tyson Fury on Saturday night.

The lack of convention in both of their careers and in the styles they’ve deployed in the compilation of them is arguably unprecedented and could leave investors, looking for betting value with the leading bookmakers, frustrated.

But how could any self-respecting sports fan tune in to the biggest heavyweight fight of the year, and perhaps since Lennox Lewis’ retirement in 2003, and not be vested in the fortunes of one of the towering participants? Continue reading “Deontay Wilder v Tyson Fury betting preview”

Maurice Hooker v Alex Saucedo betting preview

First appeared on gambling.com

Boxing is awash with many things, much of it desirable, some less so.

The politics created by the sport’s myriad governing bodies an omnipresent example of the latter. Since the shiny flotsam and jetsam of these organisations began to beach on the shores of the world’s oldest sport in the 1970s and 80s, the phrase ‘fighters make belts’ has become one of a flood of unwanted idioms in boxing parlance.

Often invoked to justify and explain the presence of a ‘world-title’ belt around the waist of a fighter few would recognise as the real champion, the phrase is an apology in itself.

The WBO Light-Welterweight belt Maurice Hooker (8/5 best price with William Hill)and Alex Saucedo (8/13 best price with Coral) will fight for on Friday night is just such a piece of boxing driftwood. Continue reading “Maurice Hooker v Alex Saucedo betting preview”

Fielding fights against the odds

First published on Gambling.com on December 13th 2018

This weekend, Rocky Fielding, the WBA Super Middleweight title holder, faces the boxing’s premier attraction, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in a bout rich with opportunity for the 31-year-old Liverpudlian.

Should Fielding (8/1) emerge victorious from the encounter at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night it would represent arguably the greatest upset achieved by a British fighter in modern times.

Their bout is loaded with commercial expectation too, this will be Alvarez’s first bout on the digital streaming platform, DAZN, since signing his 10-fight deal with the embryonic organisation following his contentious victory over Gennady Golovkin in September.

There are a lot of parties vested in that relationship; stakeholders who anticipate a regulation victory for the Mexican hero, a 1/16 heavy favourite.

Despite the yawning chasm in pedigree and big-fight experience between the pair, there remain a host of betting opportunities with the best boxing bookmakers. Continue reading “Fielding fights against the odds”

Usyk v Bellew betting preview

First appeared on gambling.com

On Saturday night, in the hothouse of the Manchester Arena, Tony Bellew will tackle Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk for the unified Cruiserweight championship.

A fight that offers Bellew the chance to etch his name alongside predecessors in British Boxing folklore with whom the self-effacing “fat lad from Liverpool” will be the first to insist he has no right to be compared.

It has been this paradox, the deeply held certainty of victory despite simultaneous acknowledgement that the other guy holds all the advantages, that has been the narrative of his rise from peripheral domestic fighter to pay per view attraction and, albeit briefly, world champion. Continue reading “Usyk v Bellew betting preview”

Fury disappoints

There was a cut, he’s young, he was away from home, his opponent is a wily veteran. All true. All verifiable reasons Hughie Fury’s attempt to secure a mandated shot at Anthony Joshua failed. Those protecting their interest or adopting an especially thick monocle of pragmatism through which to view the result will point to the experience gained, the rounds navigated and the narrowest of the three cards.

It would be understandable and, as the days turn in to weeks, that narrative may well take hold and become the hazy recollection of a bout otherwise willingly forgotten by those that endured it. For Fury to succeed on the world ‘stage’, rather than merely exist as an awkward facsimile of his more talented cousin, the flaws that run much deeper in his performance than the cut eye lid he sustained last night must be addressed.

Must.

Continue reading “Fury disappoints”

Glory days. Can boxing reclaim the flagship American market?

By Hector T. Morgan

Dedicated boxing fans who have stayed attentive to the sport may resent the notion that it needs restoring to its former glory, and where do we pitch these romaticised glory days in the landscape of our memories anyway? Perhaps, The Four Kings of the 1980s, Ali and his great rivals in the 1970s or perhaps the era when Boxing was America’s premier sport along side Horse Racing and Baseball? All, in truth, with flaws of their own.

Mass popularity ebbs and flows after all, but there’s still something pure about boxing that loyalists remain appreciative of regardless of ebbing TV ratings, which led HBO, for so long the ‘King’ of boxing in America to abdicate its throne. Despite the passion of it’s most ardent followers, the complexities of the sport; multiple sanctioning bodies with their myriad champions has disenfranchised the casual fan. Boxing in America lost it’s way.

Paradoxically, it remains capable of creating huge piques from the valleys of apathy inhabited by most general sports fans. The right narrative, the right mix of characters and skills and boxing still appeals more widely than almost all of its contemporaries. Continue reading “Glory days. Can boxing reclaim the flagship American market?”

Andrade and the vacant possession

Demetrius Andrade‘s career is, thus far, defined by it’s gaps as much as it’s substance.  Four years ago, aged 26, with the WBO Super-Welterweight title slung over his shoulder, following a successful defence against the over-matched Brit Brian Rose in 2014, he was standing at the gateway to the gold and glory of his physical prime. Alas, a 16-month period of inactivity stole this momentum, and forced the return of his belt to the youngest of boxing’s four main sanctioning bodies.

On his return, in late 2015, Andrade secured the vacant International version of the same title, a pungent confirmation of the ‘two steps back’ he’d taken following the ‘one step forward’. The vacancy of the original WBO belt, the similar status of the WBA version won in 2017 belt, and the vacancy of the WBO Middleweight strap he won on Saturday against Walter Kautondokwa, undermines their value in any fighter’s quest to legitimise his standing.

And, while it is pedantry to point to it now, in light of Andrade’s performance for much of Saturday night, it is nevertheless true. Continue reading “Andrade and the vacant possession”

Andrade v Kautondokwa betting preview

First published at gambling.com

On Saturday night Demetrius Andrade, the middleweight from Rhode Island, will face the unheralded Namibian, Walter Kautondokwa for the World Boxing Organisation’s vacant middleweight title.

It wasn’t meant to be this way; Andrade was scheduled to fight Billy Joe Saunders in a contest designed, unofficially at least, to serve as a qualifier for a match with the winner of Saul Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin’s rematch.

Unfortunately, the British fighter was found to have a banned substance in his system. Despite the change, the leading bookmakers are still offering a range of odds on the contest. Continue reading “Andrade v Kautondokwa betting preview”

“Martin, listen to me.” Bakole stopped by Hunter in 10.

There are people who know far more about boxing than me, there always has been and there always will be. For some this precludes me from forming an opinion of merit and as such, that opinion should be kept private. After all, I’ve never climbed between the ropes. Which isn’t quite true, but my fistic career never progressed beyond some tame sparring at my local ABC in my mid-thirties, I was dropped twice by body shots in the process too, and my street fighting record is, as far as memory serves, 0-1-1.

I’ve have watched a lot of boxing mind you; from Audley to Zolani, Oscar to Choi and most of what lays in between. I’ve seen knockouts that made my stomach flip, one sided beat downs which made we want to turn away or turn off and I’ve seen cornermen cajole and, in the cases of mess’s Francis and Calzaghe, slap their subjects to extract a response.

The exchange I witnessed between Billy Nelson and the Congolese heavyweight Martin Bakole, now fighting out of Scotland, last Saturday night was something I’ve never seen before. And, while there are more forgiving opinions available, from voices many would prefer to listen to, I hope I never do again. Continue reading ““Martin, listen to me.” Bakole stopped by Hunter in 10.”

Tete faces Aloyan: Betting Preview

Article first appeared on 12th October on Gambling.com

Boxing, sport’s oldest show girl, remains stubbornly inconsistent. Subject to source, she is in both rude health and her final death throes. One of the most pointed criticisms is her perceived inability to pitch the best fighters against each other often enough.

It is an accusation with foundation, but one which also romanticises preceding generations in which similar complications occurred too. For all the Ali v Frazier trilogies and tales of Sugar Ray and the Raging Bull, there remained the lost classics of Holmes and Foreman, Lewis and Bowe and a whole generation of fighters denied world title shots.

The second season of the innovative World Boxing Super Series format, guided by Kalle Sauerland and lavishly financed, aims to address this failing.

Fight fans are particularly excited about the Bantamweight version that began last week and there is growing belief it could eclipse the thrills provided by the Cruiser and Super-Middleweight editions of season one.

There are a host of betting opportunities available for those willing to invest. Continue reading “Tete faces Aloyan: Betting Preview”

MyFightTickets.com: Under the Radar award – September

Fighting ‘on the road’ is not the easiest way for a boxer to make a living. While regular work is almost guaranteed, win one too many fights – or upset the wrong applecart – and a journeyman may find the phone stops ringing. The life of a road warrior also involves additional sacrifice, suppressing as it does a level of personal ambition innate to most fighting men and women. Craig Derbyshire seems to be managing this delicate balance with real deft. Continue reading “MyFightTickets.com: Under the Radar award – September”

Ciao Enzo. Another boxing giant departs

Article first appeared in issue 22 of Knockout London Magazine

Biadu quie ischeddat in palas anzenas*

Sardinian Proverb

It is a sign of the passing of time that the heroes we hold most dear are leaving. The great talismanic figures we revere; totems within their chosen landscape, their accomplishments and influence reaching far beyond the lives they physically touch, are, one by one, beginning to depart. Earlier this year, boxing bade a sad farewell to the beloved Irish sage Brendan Ingle and now, with the autumn barely upon us, his death is compounded by the loss of a similarly diminutive colossus; Enzo Calzaghe. Continue reading “Ciao Enzo. Another boxing giant departs”

Pulev surely too wise and too sturdy for Fury the younger

First published on Gambling.com on 10th September 2018

There is much to like about the heavyweight clash between Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev and Britain’s Hughie Fury. Scheduled for late October in Sofia, the match brings together two big men at different ends of their respective careers and will clarify much about their prospects in a weight class rich with possibilities.

As with all prize fights there is a sense of a ‘crossroads’ for both fighters, a study of the usual metrics can inform those looking to invest in the outcome. Continue reading “Pulev surely too wise and too sturdy for Fury the younger”

A little less conversation a little more action please. Saunders stalls again.

There is a lot more waiting involved in boxing these days. A lot more empty hollering. Much more theorising. Greater noise. Less fighting. Fighters have become business men at the expense of their supposed vocation. Many are more familiar to us in tweed tailoring, discussing percentages and the narcissism of their legacy than the blood soaked satin of their trade.

For a sport in such apparent rude health, with many tens of thousands pouring through turnstiles to glimpse heroes in illuminated Lowry dimension, there doesn’t seem to be as much actual fighting. Particularly, by the era’s most exceptional talents.

News Billy Joe Saunders has been stripped of his World Boxing Organisation Middleweight belt, after the Massachusetts State Athletic Commission refused to sanction him to fight in their state in a mandatory defence against Demetrius Andrade due to a failed, if contested, drugs test, once again brought the issue of inactivity back to the fore. Continue reading “A little less conversation a little more action please. Saunders stalls again.”

Beneath the opulence of Wembley the small hall classics remain; Tommy Frank steps up

With every passing stadium fight, with the new disciples boxing attracts through those seminal occasions, the memory of how the boxing landscape used to be seems lodged in ever fewer of us. Which isn’t to begrudge the progress and popularity boxing now enjoys nor eschew the game changing economies of scale available to promoters and fighters a like.

Boxing is a tough enough business without those who clutch the sport closest to their collective bosom resisting this upward trajectory and yearning for the time their own affection for the sport distinguished them; identified them. Continue reading “Beneath the opulence of Wembley the small hall classics remain; Tommy Frank steps up”

MyFightTickets.com Boxer of the Month – September

It is unfair to compare siblings, defying as it does, the uniqueness of all of us. However much we may share of the nature and nurture from which we spring and emerge, there is only one of each of us. This solitude of spirit and story is a reality we often deny to ourselves and submerge in the families and communities we cling and migrate to. But as the old idiom reminds us, in life, rather like the boxing ring in to which our heroes step, you come in alone and you leave alone.

At the end of last month, when Callum Smith dropped to the canvas, overwhelmed by the magnitude of his achievement in stopping George Groves, it was an essentially individual accomplishment. Aided by his trainer Joe Gallagher, who won a battle of his own too, and reward for every punishing pad session, every punch absorbed and delivered and every icy dawn run Callum Smith had completed in twenty years of absolute dedication. Continue reading “MyFightTickets.com Boxer of the Month – September”

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