Ohara Davies and the part that can’t be played.

‘All the world’s a stage.’

William Shakespeare, As You Like It

It is received wisdom that a first impression takes just seconds to draw and, more often than not, time only confirms it’s accuracy. Fighters, who must exist in a world where self-belief is paramount, can often exude, or wear like a cloak, an exaggerated confidence. It projects a barrier of protection and is intended to unnerve the opponent. A virtual stand off, a falsehood before the actuality of the physical contest.

The manner or tone of this adopted persona is crucial, not only for its authenticity but also because of its impact on the profile of the fighter, their ability to generate interest and, from that essential metric, their prospects of upward trajectory. If one of the biggest sporting businesses in the world, Manchester United PLC, can sign players based on their Instagram following, it isn’t hard to understand the correlation between opportunity and popularity.

One fighter who has chosen the most precarious version of this script; to gamble on the longer odds of creating dislike and contempt to motivate people to watch him fight, is Ohara Davies. Continue reading “Ohara Davies and the part that can’t be played.”

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Waning Groves succumbs to Smith

George Groves’s journey from l’infant terrible to veteran former champion, as he now is, has taken almost a decade and just a baker’s dozen or two of Saturday nights and no little heartache. As he was bludgeoned to the canvas by Callum Smith last Friday night in the seventh round of their Super Middleweight world title fight, it was impossible not conclude that his career was at an end.

An articulate, thoughtful man who has earned lucratively from his ability to box and promote, it was hard to fathom from whom or where any redemption or source of motivation could be summoned. This jars with the loathing we all have for those who write off fighters as a spent force, or spoiled goods, when they encounter defeat I concede, but more experienced viewers also develop a sense for when a fighter’s appetite for battle has gone. Continue reading “Waning Groves succumbs to Smith”

Groves distinguishes himself, and boxing, from the vanity of hype

Twenty out of thirty fight figures in Boxing Monthly thought Eubank would beat George Groves on Saturday night, of the dozen regular writers at Boxing News half drew a similar conclusion and Buncey went for Eubank too. I’ve leaned heavily on those opinions this morning as I wrestled with how close I came to joining them. At the last possible moment, as I watched Gabriel and Michelle interview the two protagonists, my instinct flipped from the hipster pick, Eubank being too quick, too fit and the growing irresistibility of his ‘from the shadow of his father’ narrative to the more obvious, that Groves was simply too big, too clever and hit too hard not to win. And back again.

In the end, at the death as it were, I opted for Groves, just. His presumed method of victory; stay outside, control distance and the pace of the fight with his jab, was hard to be confident in such was the appeal of Eubank’s fast hands, knowing glare and Brook Benton baritone. Adam Abramowitz, an American writer I respect, had inserted a doubt worm too, suggesting that Groves’ boxing ability was being overstated and he had a habit of finding failure when success was abundantly available. Continue reading “Groves distinguishes himself, and boxing, from the vanity of hype”

Groves v Eubank Jr. date and venue announced; DeGale still the prize

By J.B. Smithers

Such is the nature of the sport of boxing these days that one has to remember to write George Groves’ name first in any discussion or announcement regarding his World Boxing Super Series Semi-Final clash with Chris Eubank Jr. The tournament has been a huge success in terms of the entertainment provided and threatens to restructure much of what we understand the accepted hierarchy of boxing, it’s matchmaking and promotion, to be too.

The momentum behind Eubank Jr., despite a curiously innocuous period prior to his last two fights, one the quarter-final with Yildirim, is growing. Growing to the point, his name frequently appears to the fore, to the left to use boxing parlance, of releases and public rumination about the bout with Groves, who is, for the casuals who have forgotten, the WBA Super-Middleweight champion. This seemingly trivial faux pas speaks loudly about the potential for Chris Eubank Jr. to transcend, standing on the shoulders of his father and the great names he tangled with, to reach a much loftier and lucrative plateau than the one Groves could reach.

In and of itself, when one considers the enormity of Groves’ rematch with Carl Froch, to believe that is even possible is remarkable. Continue reading “Groves v Eubank Jr. date and venue announced; DeGale still the prize”

Tyson Fury; treading a fine line with fans

tightrope-walkingLike many who have witnessed his open three engagements, I’ve warmed to Tyson Fury – he’s seemed confident but sincere, ambitious but eager to learn. Hennessy Sports matchmaking has been encouraging and his name and story help garner him a disproportionate amount of exposure. However, like Audley, Amir and Eubank before him it is easy to see his youthful mischief turning into unlikeable arrogance if he’s not careful. David Price, who debuts this weekend, is inevitably his latest target. Continue reading “Tyson Fury; treading a fine line with fans”

Buncey’s Boxing Hour Fantasy Fights, really?

HamedFirstly, it is important to point out the irrepressible Steve Bunce was fully aware his selection of the best fantasy fights sent in by viewers wouldn’t be unanimously approved and in the subjective nature of these types of theoretical debates, disagreement is inevitable but come on Steve, Ricky Hatton the bull strong 10 stoner versus Prince Naseem the short featherweight? Surely, there is a better, more realistic fight than that for either man.

Continue reading “Buncey’s Boxing Hour Fantasy Fights, really?”

Best of Big Fight Live: Michael Watson, the forgotten gem

watsonA rare treat on ITV4 last night, Jim Rosenthal and Barry McGuigan hosted a wander down memory lane. Using footage from ITV’s impressive archives, action from Hagler v Hearns, Mark Kaylor, Benn, Eubank, Tyson and Hamed were inter-spersed with ‘talking head’ contributions from Colin Hart, John Rawling, Duke McKenzie, a very nervous Ron Lewis from the Times and most treasured of all, Reg Gutteridge. I miss Reg’s wisdom on the mic. However, for me, the biggest thrill was being reminded of Michael Watson’s excellence. Continue reading “Best of Big Fight Live: Michael Watson, the forgotten gem”

Boxing: Witter Just Wouldn’t Let It Lie

WitterThe on-going PR campaign being waged by Junior Witter’s irrepressible promotional team, Hennessey Sports  is beginning to take on a life of its own. Perpetual and persistent, the endless supply of challenges made to Ricky Hatton is slowly returning the long-overdue Hatton v Witter clash to the top of most boxing fans’ list of must-see engagements.

True, Hatton’s clash with Jose Luis Castillo takes on greater meaning for the intangible ‘legacy’ to which it seems all boxer’s attribute every matchmaking decision of their career – though precious few selections actually the deliver the validation they claim to crave – and for the lucrative American market for whom Junior Witter represents… Continue reading “Boxing: Witter Just Wouldn’t Let It Lie”

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