Khan, Brook and Buncey’s fear of regret

Many small brooks make a big river.

Swedish Proverb

The boxing podcast from the BBC, presented by Mike Costello and Steve Bunce, is an essential listen and has grown warmer and more meaningful as it has evolved. Such is Steve’s omnipresence across almost every conceivable platform and medium around, his yarns about the loveable rogues and lost souls he’s encountered along his voyage through the boxing world have become ever more entertaining and vital.

Beneath the repartee he clearly enjoys with Mike, there is a genuine care for the sport as a viable and healthy entity but also, and most keenly, for the men, and women, who climb between the ropes. In their discussion of Amir Khan’s future, which has been widely distributed by the BBC website, there was yet more evidence of the duty of care they feel to those who punch for pay and for our entertainment regardless of how well received that opinion might be by those about whom it is aired. Continue reading “Khan, Brook and Buncey’s fear of regret”

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Amir Khan returns, but the clock is ticking for the ‘would be’ golden Welterweight era

Amir Khan’s returned to the business of boxing at the weekend, not the virtuality of press conferences, asinine video interviews about future opponents or his new trainer, but the reality of scrapping. And scrapping is something Amir has always been good at.

True, he is an unhealthy commodity for those vested in progressing his career, either emotionally or financially; too often neglecting his natural attributes of speed and movement to indulge in fights more suited to opponents than himself. From the beginning he has been a ‘seat of your pants’ fighter and television gold too, as reports his contest with Samuel Vargas drew the largest SKY audience for a boxing event further confirm.

But for all his previous achievements, and the benefits he will glean from completing twelve tough rounds going forward, there is evidence that the modern fighter’s belief that their physical prime is elastic and can be stretched into their mid-thirties is misplaced. Even for British boxing’s Peter Pan Welterweight.

Continue reading “Amir Khan returns, but the clock is ticking for the ‘would be’ golden Welterweight era”

Amir Khan faces Vargas ahead of one last run. Betting tips

Article first appeared on www.gambling.com

Amir Khan’s emergence, the willowy man-child that he was in 2004, to capitalise on the exposure Olympic predecessor Audley Harrison brought to boxing, will one day be considered pivotal in the history of the British fight-game.

His slender frame, flashing fists and boyish face catapulted him in to the hearts and minds of fight fans across the country, and via the broader reach of terrestrial television, to their families too.

Now 14 years later, it speaks to all of the clichés about how swiftly time passes that this weekend’s fight, versus Canada’s Samuel Vargas, will likely prove to be his last before his 32nd birthday. Continue reading “Amir Khan faces Vargas ahead of one last run. Betting tips”

Tipping the scales; experts weigh in on boxing’s hydration problem

Boxing, like all things, has evolved to reflect the society it exists in. Knowledge and tragedy led to the end of 15 round bouts; the additional fatigue and trauma accrued in the longer contest determined to be contributory in the damage done to fighters while active and in their decline in retirement.

Simultaneous to this was the advent of ever more minute weight classes, devised to protect fighters from facing opponents with an advantage in heft and to encourage the notion that there was a division to suit every fighter. The net result hasn’t quite matched the lofty ambition, but in the pursuit of optimising physiology to take advantage of these marginal increments between divisions, new risks and unwelcome realities have emerged.

The extreme weight loss, achieved at least partially through dehydration, creates the voyeuristic ritual of ‘zero’ body fat freak shows on a Friday and the alarming spectacle of a fighter becoming essentially re-inflated by Saturday night. It is a fertile area for good and bad practice. Continue reading “Tipping the scales; experts weigh in on boxing’s hydration problem”

To Kell and back, Brook stops Rabchenko in 2.

Having written much on the possibility Kell Brook would discover he had too little soul left in his old dancing shoes on his return this weekend, I was delighted to see him look both powerful and dynamic in stopping the competent Sergei Rabchenko in the second round of their Super-Welterweight clash in Sheffield tonight.

In doing so the 31-year-old won the WBC’s Silver title at the weight, a festoon for which no plausible explanation for either it’s existence or significance has ever been committed to ink.

Continue reading “To Kell and back, Brook stops Rabchenko in 2.”

The 5 biggest fights of 2018?

Only the most faithful narcissist could conjure reasons why the current buoyancy of the sport, particularly in Europe, is not unprecedented and, seemingly, irresistible. These mole-eyed killjoys are often compelled to remind the frothy new members of the ‘Fancy’ that stadium fights are not a 21st century invention. Further, they point to different periods of the 18th and 19th century when champions of the prize ring were feted and known around the globe long before their image and actions could be bounced from a satellite or appear in miniature and unfathomable immediacy in your hand.

There was, after all, a John L Sullivan, before there was a Johnson, or a Dempsey or a Louis. An Ali and Tyson before a Joshua, though all too obvious and too topical to reference given the frisson the die-hards feel at confounding the sport’s ‘tanked up’ new casuals with tales of the more obscure and obtuse credentials of Langford and Wills, Briscoe or Lopez. Continue reading “The 5 biggest fights of 2018?”

Amir Khan: Silver, Shades and Tom Sayers

“The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.”

Samuel Beckett  [Murphy 1938]

Amir Khan is a frequent interviewee. As a fighter in the modern communication age he’s fielded more questions, or perhaps half a dozen repeated infinitum, than a hundred of his predecessors, even those of greater luminosity than his. None of those fighting forefathers shone so brightly they needed to wear sunglasses inside as Khan has a predisposition to, certainly not when the extent of their preceding exertion was a mere fall out with their spouse. One might presume only Johnny Tapia could have made a case for an exception. Continue reading “Amir Khan: Silver, Shades and Tom Sayers”

Boxing: Reassembling a defeated fighter, Kevin Mitchell begins to convince

The winning of a prizefight is decided by a complex equation. Combining as it does the unquantifiable x and y’s of the scientific and the visceral, the physical and the emotional. Each aspect of a fighter’s make-up contributes to his equilibrium and the tipping point between winning and losing. These variables are infinite and even at a fight’s conclusion, the outcome can remain subjective and the underlying building blocks for success and failure only ever partially revealed.

Continue reading “Boxing: Reassembling a defeated fighter, Kevin Mitchell begins to convince”

Boxing: Old school, new school? Cleverly and Bellew spat

For those of a certain antiquity, the increasingly ubiquitous press conference rumpus between world-class Light-Heavyweight contender Nathan Cleverly and champion of the Commonwealth Tony Bellew will have proven distasteful. Others of more recent vintage will be torn. Nurtured as we were on the polarised demeanours of the ever urbane Lennox Lewis, the pantomime charm of Frank Bruno and the caustic atmosphere of all things Benn and Eubank, it is hard to either embrace or condemn the two ‘headline’ novices. I’m caught between the conflicting etiquettes I grew up with. Continue reading “Boxing: Old school, new school? Cleverly and Bellew spat”

McCloskey smashes Lauri to the canvas in the 11th

Irishman Paul McCloskey plucked a world-class right hook to knockout veteran Italian Giuseppe Lauri in dramatic fashion to retain his European title and preserve his aspirations of securing a world-title shot in the near future. Just moments before there had been concerns about his swollen right eye between rounds and he’d had a point deducted for persistent use of his head. It had served to nudge the partisan Kings Hall crowd to the edge of their seats as the points verdict looked likely to be close. Then, with Lauri lowering his guard momentarily, McCloskey stepped forward and thudded his pet right hook on to his chin and the famous old Hall erupted in delight. Continue reading “McCloskey smashes Lauri to the canvas in the 11th”

Gavin Rees added to McCloskey v Lauri card

I was interested to read that pocket battleship Gavin Rees has been added to the under card of Paul McCloskey’s encounter with veteran Italian Giuseppe Lauri this weekend. Rees has fought once since winning the Prizefighter 140 pound tournament, defeating three former European Champions in the process, and appears to be a promotional free agent in the absence of Calzaghe Promotions and his departure from the Sports Network stable. His last tune up being deep on the Harrison v Sprott under-card put together by Matchroom Sport. Continue reading “Gavin Rees added to McCloskey v Lauri card”

Boxing: Barrera. The pudgy-faced geriatric.

As a white-collar worker with the thinnest of fistic endeavour behind me I cannot ever bring myself to discourage professional fighters from doing what they do best whether a fathom removed from their prime or not. The likes of Evander Holyfield, Roy Jones and Bernard Hopkins all earned the right to make their own decisions and though a shadow of their former selves they remain steadfastly more capable than a plethora of younger fighters for whom world-titles will always remain a pipe-dream. You cannot make a fighter retire simply because of their age or the evident decay in their performances. However, as an independent observer with a soft spot for the Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera I’d be happy to whisper quietly that its time for him to stop. If I could get close enough.

Continue reading “Boxing: Barrera. The pudgy-faced geriatric.”

Ricky Hatton, Danny Williams and the search for common sense

Contrasting stories surround two of British boxing’s favourite sons this week. Firstly, and most satisfactorily, is Ian McNeily’s piece at BoxRec News dutifully reporting Ricky Hatton difficulty in summoning the will to commence training while the same site also records a summer fixture for Danny Williams on the other side of the world. News of this proposed clash comes just days after the genial Londoner promised retirement in the aftermath of his capitulation to Derek Chisora.   Continue reading “Ricky Hatton, Danny Williams and the search for common sense”

Fagan back on track

OisinFaganStrange how fighters flicker in and out of boxing’s VIP lounge. Irishman Oisin Fagan has twice dipped beneath the ropes dividing the obscure and the revered, first in a razor tight defeat to Mum’s favourite Paul Spadafora and then more recently by knockout to Lightweight star Amir Khan – a defeat tinged with melancholy as Oisin broke an ankle on the way to the canvas. On Saturday night, he continued his attempt to build toward a third chance.

Continue reading “Fagan back on track”

Wrestling with fog, Golden Boy seeks to tame Guzman

guzmanNow aged 33, the career of Joan Guzman is a curious one. An unfulfilled one. Despite being a decorated Amateur and world-championship belts in two divisions, the Dominican has failed to deliver on his unquestionable talent and has frozen himself out of the title pictures from 126 to 140 pounds. Oscar De La Hoya will need every ounce of his wealth and charisma to play Midas to ‘Lil Tyson’s’ stuttering career. Continue reading “Wrestling with fog, Golden Boy seeks to tame Guzman”

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”

Save the boxing martyrs; BringBackBunce.net

buncey“God is our guide! from field, from wave, From plough, from anvil, and from loom; We come, our country’s rights to save, And speak a tyrant faction’s doom: We raise the watch-word liberty; We will, we will, we will be free!” wrote George Loveless in 1834, ahead of his transportation to Australia as one of the Tolpuddle Martyrs. Six friends who’d sworn an oath to each other not to work for less than 10 shillings a week. Now Steve Bunce and attentive side-kick Andy Kerr aren’t likely to have plaques placed on Plymouth docks or die in workhouses, but the loss of their one hour show in the wake of Setanta’s expiration  has created a seemingly comparable level of public outcry and angst. Continue reading “Save the boxing martyrs; BringBackBunce.net”

Boxing relies on Don King and Terry Dooley for sense and integrity!

donking2For a man accused of just about every sin possible within the parameters of boxing and capable of bamboozling writers with quotes and sentiments drawn from Twain to Churchill it says a lot about the sport he inhabits, that veteran promoter Don King is the sole voice of reason in the aftermath of the Khan v Barrera contest. Well, alongside Terry Dooley at BritishBoxing.net at least. Dooley is a fearless, if slightly dishevelled, writer who can always see through the mist,  and is unafraid of running against the grain. Dooley titled his review of the fight; “Say what you like but Khan should never have won”. Continue reading “Boxing relies on Don King and Terry Dooley for sense and integrity!”

Guest: Barrera’s bloody mess obscures the true worth of Khan’s victory

khanvbarreraHaving clung tight to my £14.95 last weekend, Amir Khan is not presently a pay-per-view attraction regardless of the affection with which I hold his opponent – in this case Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera, I’m delighted to provide a forum for guest writer Ben Carey’s view of the contentious clash between the aspiring Khan and the jaded Barrera. Continue reading “Guest: Barrera’s bloody mess obscures the true worth of Khan’s victory”

The Great Guzman and the WBA’s weight of responsibility

It might be the stiff wind from the Urals which makes guest writer Andrew Mullinder such a cantankerous observer of the noble art. Mullinder is not implored to write by the science or the beauty of boxing, only the muck, the politics and the fractious infrastructure of the sport evoke his withering invective. His latest target is the WBA, for whom the dietary plans of Joan Guzman appear to have been but a distant theme from a distant land. Mullinder thinks its time governing bodies started, well, governing. Continue reading “The Great Guzman and the WBA’s weight of responsibility”

Nowhere to Hide, not that old chestnut

I’m sure the revelation Delia Smith, who famously coined the phrase “lets be having you” during an impromptu half-time plea to the insipid Norwich City football crowd, is looking to sell her stake in the club has nothing to do with the impending return of boxing maverick Herbie Hide to the region, but Hennessey Sports’ decision to run with the “Lets Be Having You” show title does provide coincidental segway between the two events.  Continue reading “Nowhere to Hide, not that old chestnut”

BoxingWriter.co.uk Fighter of the Month; September

Thus far the BoxingWriter.co.uk Fighter of the Month award has been won by Monte Barrett for his destruction of Tye Fields’ flimsy standing as a heavyweight contender, Antonio Margarito’s thrilling suffocation of Miguel Cotto’s resistance and latterly Cedric Boswell’s destruction of pampered prospect Roman Greenberg. I found the stand out performance in September was much harder to select. Continue reading “BoxingWriter.co.uk Fighter of the Month; September”

Guzman better not rely on hunger

Joan Guzman doesn’t strike me as a fighter who bases his strategy on assumption. He’s played the sanctioning body game shrewdly, most recently choosing to abdicate the WBO Super-Featherweight belt to earn a #1 ranking with the same body at 135 pounds. Placing him firmly in the sight-line of Nate Campbell, a fighter with a brow like a porch roof and a virulent case of Hopkinesque ‘outsider’ syndrome. If Guzman assumes his role as the challenger means he is, by default, the hungrier fighter, as he did in interview this week, he’ll underestimate the 36-year old champion. Continue reading “Guzman better not rely on hunger”

Setanta, Skywalker and Bunce; Boxing’s New Hope

Watching Steve Bunce’s Boxing Hour last night on Setanta Sports 2 I was struck by a number of things. Firstly, how good it is to see a magazine show for the sport where debate, discussion are preeminent over the gloss Sky once applied to their weekly Ringside presentation. True, big Buncey isn’t to everyone’s taste and it took me a while to ‘get’ his role, persona and style, to understand that enthusiasm and energy were his selling points and that he had his tongue firmly in his cheek. But I do now and it works. A boxing night isn’t the same without his animated contribution. But the Setanta hour is more than just Bunce let loose. Continue reading “Setanta, Skywalker and Bunce; Boxing’s New Hope”

Oliver Harrison, Amir Khan and the final word; blame

I’m struggling to summon a fight in recent memory to which more attention has been paid. Certainly, the column inches afforded to Amir Khan’s humbling defeat is entirely disproportionate to the superficial importance of the Inter-Continental bauble he and Breidis Prescott scuffled over on Saturday night. Of course, Amir Khan is not merely ‘just another’ fighter, Andrew Mullinder provides one final analysis of the fight, the aftermath and that most emotive of topics, blame. Continue reading “Oliver Harrison, Amir Khan and the final word; blame”

Video: Amir Khan mimicks Judah’s ‘chicken dance’

Seeing Amir Khan laid out like a flat-packed bookcase on Saturday, with his head propped against the ring post in the style of a teenager watching Batman re-runs on the portable reminded me of one of the first times he came to the public’s attention. Coincidentally, he was mimicking the Zab Judah inspired ‘chicken’ dance he show-cased when hit by a Prescott punch on Saturday following a less formidable left-hook from Craig Watson back in the Amateurs. Continue reading “Video: Amir Khan mimicks Judah’s ‘chicken dance’”

“Nobody is invisible”, Amir Khan explains

It is hard to know where to begin a review of the shattered remnants of Amir Khan’s fastidiously constructed repute. Following 4 years of painfully cautious match-making, three trainers and a deluge of column inches, platitudes, award ceremonies and celebrity television appearances the 21-year old demonstrated holes in his fistic education large enough to drive even his ego through. In a slip of the tongue, Khan said “nobody is invisible”, he meant invincible of course, but invisible seemed to fit very well too. Breidis Prescott certainly found him easily enough. Continue reading ““Nobody is invisible”, Amir Khan explains”

Harsh home truths for Alex Arthur

Until Alex Arthur starts beating world-class fighters instead of simply being trained by them his tenure as WBO Super-Featherweight champion will never be widely regarded as anything other than opportunistic. It isn’t that Arthur is without ability, nor I suspect, is it because the Edinburgh man fears the division’s elite contenders, but with the long-shadows of Jim Watt and Ken Buchanan falling across his achievements, he will need to beat someone like Joan Guzman or Juan Manuel Marquez to be taken seriously alongside his predecessors. Continue reading “Harsh home truths for Alex Arthur”

Fewkes, Khan, Maloney and that old favourite “the anorak”

Useful garment in certain circumstances is the anorak. In the current climate of record rain-fall it is arguably a must-have in any sensible wardrobe. Okay it isn’t likely to enthuse Trinny and Susannah, but for those of us not worried about such frivolous opinion the anorak is a much maligned but much required item. Promoter Frank Maloney loves to use the negative connotations associated with the anorak – that its inhabitant is a solitary, narrow-minded, unsociable and unworldly individual – to mock, antagonise and tease those who contribute to boxing forums and message boards.  Reading the latest release from his stable, I can only assume its raining where Frank is.

Continue reading “Fewkes, Khan, Maloney and that old favourite “the anorak””

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