Joshua learns a jab is no inoculation to criticism

Like Joshua, I spent Saturday playing a role distinct from my usual casting; Joshua won largely favourable reviews for his portrayal of a cautious, pedestrian boxer loathed to engage whilst I stood against a post in the pub, nursing an almost empty pint glass, nervous at the prospect of committing to the queue between rounds. Neither of us, I suspect, gleaned the same satisfaction or contentment we would have from playing to type. He as the emotional, knockout artist and me as the thoughtful wannabe.

Though both proved prudent, these temporary alter-egos, it will be a temporary diversion for me at least, though the experience did provide several valuable and salutary lessons. I learnt much about Joshua and the perspective of those who do not need to contemplate the impact of sharing their opinions too. Certainly not in the way I do when committing them to the world beyond the pub door, however small the readership.

Joshua undoubtedly learned much from his 21st professional success too; notably the power of patience, discipline and employing a degree of pragmatism. Coincidently, a stark juxtaposition of my experience with the impatience, ill-discipline and blood lust of an evening as a ‘casual’.

Continue reading “Joshua learns a jab is no inoculation to criticism”

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Hip to be square; Parker the hipster pick

The advent of social media has provided a platform for everyone should they desire one and magnified the good and bad of people within the three ring circus of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram – if omitting Periscope, Snapchat and others I don’t even know doesn’t demean my conclusion too unduly.

Within this duopoly of love and hate, good and bad, the imperative to gather behind a message of cynicism or forge an individual path in the pursuit of notoriety consumes its devotees.  In reaching for an unconventional conclusion or opinion, those who divorce themselves from the received wisdom of the group are often motivated by the accumulation of the kudos they require in their quest to be considered ‘cool’ or ‘hip’ by people they’ve never met. Occasionally, this bears fruit and the minority view is proved to be correct or insightful, but usually, and by definition, more typically, its just misguided attention seeking.

Over the past week or two, as the muscular Matchroom Sports press machine limbered up to promote and process the unification bout between their charge, Anthony Joshua, and New Zealand’s Joseph Parker, it didn’t take long for a ‘hipster’ view to be aired. That opinion being that Parker, who holds the most lowly regarded of the four available belts, the World Boxing Organisation’s, and has failed to impress in any of his three 12-round fights for that strap, has the necessary tools to unseat Joshua. Continue reading “Hip to be square; Parker the hipster pick”

Golden boy Joshua’s key victories in his march to unification

By Hector T. Morgan

Whilst Cardiff’s Principality Stadium lacks the salty history of Madison Square Garden or the indoor sunglasses of Las Vegas it is fast becoming a mecca for big time boxing. On March 31st it will provide a vociferous and rousing back drop to Anthony Joshua’s defence of his status as the consensus number one in the division. The potential unification of three of the four major belts, against New Zealand’s Joseph Parker, should enhance his stature as the sport’s most recognisable active fighter and position him for even greater reward and contractual control of contests with Deontay Wilder and the galvanised Tyson Fury.

A fight between unbeaten champions, or title holders to pedantic, is a rare occurrence and in the era in which the World Boxing Organisation is more widely accepted, it represents a penultimate step to the first time all four belts have been held by one fighter. The small matter of Wilder’s World Boxing Council belt representing the last step on Joshua’s path to undisputed status…..until someone mentions he still needs to overcome Fury of course. Continue reading “Golden boy Joshua’s key victories in his march to unification”

Joshua v Parker; follow the crowd but don’t follow the crowd

By T. R. Lewison

Those who followed boxing in its formative, freewheeling and unregulated years were afforded the collective sobriquet ‘The Fancy’, a title bestowed by Pierce Egan in his seminal studies of the noble art; Boxiana, published in the early part of the 19th century. Despite its evolution over the ensuing century or two, boxing remains more closely preserved to its original form than modern reportage would encourage you to believe. A sprawling metropolis of hope and deceit, today as ever it was then, the sport still attracts interest across the social spectrum irrespective of demographics or political persuasion.

The new ‘Fancy’ enjoy the reverie as much as their forebears and for those who attempted to secure a taxi following Anthony Joshua’s last bout in Cardiff there will be a kinship for the travails of earlier followers who traipsed across ploughed fields to find secretive venues in the morning mist.

Yes, much remains the same. Betting on the outcome of bouts was at the heart of those early encounters and events, like the forthcoming unification between Joshua and Parker, and only in the availability of a battery of sophisticated markets to tempt punters and investors is  a distinction to be found. While the fight itself draws yet another enormous sell out crowd to the Principality Stadium on the 31st, it is wise not to follow them in the betting market if you seek to profit on the outcome.  Continue reading “Joshua v Parker; follow the crowd but don’t follow the crowd”

Unification? What? Simplification? Please. Joshua v Parker is a good fight.

By T.R. Lewison

A good fight is a good fight. Nobody cared for what prize Ward and Gatti battled nor did they fuss that Benn and Eubank contested lightly regarded belts or that they were technically inferior to contemporaries James Toney, Roy Jones Jnr. and Michael Nunn. The equality of fighters make fights great, fighters make belts important. Belts do not a great fighter or fight make. To laud a unification is also to contradict our greater aspiration for a single champion in each of the 17 weight classes.

But, we don’t live in that unreachable nirvana. Nobody appears to have visited the mythical Republic of Boxing Utopia where such clarity is natural and if they have, they’ve not sent so much as a postcard, although Marcus Maidana’s Instagram account suggests he may be living nearby, and we must, therefore, respond to the boxing landscape as we find it. When the World Boxing Organisation’s champion, Joseph Parker, strides across the ring to tackle Anthony Joshua, recognised by the International Boxing Federation and World Boxing Association as their champion, it will be important.

Continue reading “Unification? What? Simplification? Please. Joshua v Parker is a good fight.”

Bronze Bomber proves his mettle and greatness may yet await

Greatness is a product of many things, without a degree of innate talent the journey to such status is hard to even begin. It is a status that requires resistance, friction. Without a compilation of experiences that burnish and test the qualities of those who chase it, the talent beneath remains undiscovered or unresolved; an intangible or immeasurable ore.

In beating Luis Ortiz, beautifully described as the Cuban ogre by Kevin Mitchell at the Guardian in his preview, the WBC Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder finally, belatedly, took the opportunity to step toward the greatness he craves. Victory polished his record to a pristine 40-0 with 39 knockouts and the seventh round proved he was more than the sum of those shiny statistics. Continue reading “Bronze Bomber proves his mettle and greatness may yet await”

Wilder not taking Ortiz too lightly

The news Deontay Wilder weighed in at 214 pounds and the weight of his pants and socks for the 7th defence of his fight with Cuban Luis Ortiz drew a raised eye brow or two. In the modern era, which consensus seems to determine began when Mike Tyson knocked out Trevor Berbick in 1986, or alternatively, when Lennox Lewis overcame Tyson’s nemesis Evander in 1996, we’ve grown accustomed to heavyweights of gigantic dimension.

Beneath the greatness of Lennox and the longevity of Wladimir Klitschko, a procession of giants from the four corners of the globe have tried to impose their own dominance on the division and prove the boxing truism; ‘a good big un always beats a good little un.’

Continue reading “Wilder not taking Ortiz too lightly”

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?”

The grip of nostalgia, the theft of perspective. Fury v Joshua could be Ali and Frazier.

Although age usually brings a degree of wisdom, to those of us blessed sufficiently to accumulate the years and decades, it also brings with it the inherent risk of becoming a nostalgic. A condition without physical pain, but one that can effect your eyesight and reason. Too often we, the royal we, because I’ve succumbed as much as the next man, unless the next man is dear old Colin Hart, apply a rosey exaggerated hue to all things by gone, to the events of history and the heroes and villains who acted in them. This is most virulent around instances and characters we bore witness to in our formative years, but not exclusively so.

Boxing, like every other aspect of life, suffers from this phenomenon. I’ve seen the argument for Harry Greb being the best Middleweight of all time, and read the case for Jack Johnson being the finest heavyweight who ever graced the squared circle to name but two examples. Opinion with merit of course, but based almost entirely on still photographs and a precious few seconds of actual recorded action. More commonplace among those of us with grey at the temples is the summary dismissal of any fighter active today if matched with their historic forefathers. Continue reading “The grip of nostalgia, the theft of perspective. Fury v Joshua could be Ali and Frazier.”

Can Wilder really beat Joshua?

By T.R. Lewison

2017 already feels like a watershed year in the world of boxing, and with discussions underway to conjure further big fights in the New Year, 2018 may yet surpass even the high points of the past twelve months. The best are beginning to realise the commercial benefit of fighting each other; from flyweight to the new generation of giants contesting belts in boxing’s blue riband weight class, the heavyweights.

The rise of Anthony Joshua has been the story of the sport’s heaviest division in recent months, as the Briton has stormed to prominence and sporting superstardom with his efforts in the ring and likeability factor outside of it. AJ’s defeat of legendary fighter and future Hall of Fame world champion Wladimir Klitschko, and the drama contained in the 11th round victory, gave him the platform he needed to propel himself beyond the confines of boxing and become a transcending ambassador for the sport. Continue reading “Can Wilder really beat Joshua?”

Anthony Joshua and the creep of distraction

Perhaps it says more about me than it does Anthony Joshua that I find myself in pursuit of weakness not strength when I watch his fights. Certainly, my wider predisposition for the cause of the underdog influences my perspective more than it should. The sight of late substitute Carlos Takam punching on through a veil of blood, huge physical disadvantages and referee Phil Edwards’ repeated invitations to retire, engaged this inclination.

Continue reading “Anthony Joshua and the creep of distraction”

Joshua set for 20th straight stoppage success against Takam

Anthony ‘AJ’ Joshua had been busy preparing for a mandatory defence of his IBF and WBA heavyweight titles against Bulgarian challenger Kubrat Pulev but that fight was scrapped just two weeks before fight night in Wales. An untimely injury to the visiting challenger has forced  ‘AJ’ to alter his preparations for a last-minute replacement, in the form of French Cameroonian puncher, Carlos Takam.   Continue reading “Joshua set for 20th straight stoppage success against Takam”

Joyce challenges a boxing truism and the heavyweight status quo

When events are shifted from their established pattern or place it can cause discomfort for those of us accustomed to a certain way of doing things. People are nervous about such change, preferring the security and assurance of the familiar. It is this familiarity that makes a local, a local. Sitting in mine, watching boxing on Dave, I was drawn to some negative conclusions about the performance of heavyweight Joe Joyce on his professional debut. “Arm punches”, “Slow hands”, “He squares up.” “There is no power in his jab or his right hand.”

I said all of the above, some more than once. With the benefit of reflection and sobriety I’ve grown to be kinder to the effort of the giant Londoner. Continue reading “Joyce challenges a boxing truism and the heavyweight status quo”

Going mainstream. Anthony Joshua, the rogue who charmed your Gran

There was a time when boxing in Britain on Saturday night meant Colin Dunne or Jawaid Khaliq and circuit pros like Rakhim Mingaleyev and Dariusz Snarski. The latter, solid, earnest little scrappers but unknown in their own hometowns, the former, World Champions as the term was cheaply distributed at the time. Heavyweight fights meant a butcher from Chesterfield or an ex-Rugby League player from Featherstone. ‘Event logistics’ amounted to twisting brass handles to lever basketball hoops from vertical to horizontal before Mike and his crew arrived to erect posts, canvas and ropes to the eyrie abyss. Nobody checked train schedules or whether U2 had left town. Continue reading “Going mainstream. Anthony Joshua, the rogue who charmed your Gran”

Takam or leave him; Pulev pulls, Carlos steps in for Joshua bout

Photo credit: Johann Walter Bantz

Such is the enormity of Anthony Joshua fights these days that the withdrawal of Bulgarian heavyweight Kubrat Pulev just two weeks before fight night was never likely to derail the promotion or force a postponement. To recreate the logistics committed to October 28th, within the confines of a packed pay-per-view schedule and Christmas expenditure looming would have been close to impossible.

French Cameroonian Carlos Takam steps from the shadows and two routine encounters in 2017 to save the show. One assumes he had rivals for the post, even at late notice, but the most obvious choice of Dillian Whyte, who appears on the undercard and brings some renown following his first bash at Joshua, will be saved for another day. Continue reading “Takam or leave him; Pulev pulls, Carlos steps in for Joshua bout”

Three brothers and the Golden Apple

My affection for fighters is often forged on the most obscure and obtuse of foundations and the Bulgarian heavyweight Kubrat Pulev is a recent addition to this rarefied collection. Perhaps it is merely his under dog status that creates the appeal, I’m often drawn to the man with the odds against him. However, most of all I think it was probably just the suit and the look he gave the interpreter when he relayed to the waiting press that Pulev would find the fight “terrifying”.  Continue reading “Three brothers and the Golden Apple”

Boxing: A golden time – it wasn’t always so good.

We have no time to stand and stare. And stare as long as sheep or cows. No time to see, when woods we pass, Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

W.H. Davies, ‘Leisure’ c1911

Parking had been difficult, as was finding the venue itself, and I was late for the show. It was long since dark and the city still intimidated me a little despite my projection of belonging. I broke into a jog between the pools of street light on my way to the Elephant and Castle Leisure Centre, London. It was late March, 2002. Continue reading “Boxing: A golden time – it wasn’t always so good.”

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