Worn out tools and the last If of David Haye’s career

Introspection can be a dangerous folly in your mid-forties, leading as it does to the contemplation of regret, of the unfulfilled, of the opportunity missed. All of us seek to resist the intrusion and the creep of negative thoughts; realigning our index of success to reflect the wisdom accrued in triumph and disaster or, perhaps, less constructively, by dismissing those failures as the fault of others or a conspiracy of circumstance. Neither is a panacea, and even for those enjoying the conspicuous fulfilment of their life and professional goals, irrespective of how well they aged into adulthood, there is no absolute protection from the often withering darkness of middle age.

For those of us not tied to a profession dependent on our physical supremacy, the battle is just as real but nevertheless softened by the elongated nature of our careers and the extended opportunity for achievement and respect that offers. Strikingly less acute than the challenge facing professional sports people, for whom the denouement is played out in the public eye, and worst still for boxers for whom the fall is frequently irreversible and often manifestly stark.

There are few grey areas in a boxing ring after all.

Continue reading “Worn out tools and the last If of David Haye’s career”

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Whispers getting louder, calling your name

It’s hard to understand why certain fighters become important to you as a spectator, a largely detached, anonymous observer. A football team is a regional affiliation, representative of a people, their values, their history or, at the very least, embraced by default, from father to son and therefore, easier to qualify and understand. Fighters, though their geography can be a thread in the fabric of the union, become important to us for deeply more instinctive and personal reasons. In some instances, this importance lasts beyond their prime, beyond the entertainment they offered or titles they won, beyond, even, their own retirement.

A handful remain entwined in our psyche, sometimes an unwitting avatar of the person we wish we were or a sculpted peg for a hole in the children’s puzzle of our lives. Like the characters of those to whom it is directed, the reason, the motivation, the endearing qualities that engender this adulation is varied, sometimes splintered, unresolved and ill-defined. In middle life, as outlook cedes from the vain and amorous to the mortal and mortgaged, there are moments of pause, even within the cacophony of father hood and the persistence squeal of the interest payments on the roof above, in to which whispers of doubt and reflection echo and haunt.

You know, the ‘Ifs, the buts’, the couldas and the wouldas.  Continue reading “Whispers getting louder, calling your name”

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”

Archive: Old man Thompson stops Unbeaten Haye in 5

With yet another David Haye comeback appearing on the horizon I’m always nudged to remember the night he lost his unbeaten record. It is staggering to consider 13 years have lapsed since Carl Thompson did what Carl always did better than anyone – survive a shelling and then win by stoppage. It was a pulsating evening, hotly anticipated and perhaps the beginning of the golden era we are now enjoying. After all, only ‘flat-earthers’ could deny Audley, Haye, Hatton and Amir were the forefathers of the sport’s  current popularity and the inspiration for many of the Amateur champions and emerging professionals superstars fans flock to see.

David Payne reports from Ringside (10/09/2004):

Veteran cruiserweight Carl Thompson tore up the script last night, knocking out British boxing’s pin-up star David Haye in the fifth round of a tumultuous, absorbing and often punishing contest at Wembley Arena, London.

The baying crowd loved every second of the most eagerly awaited all-British encounter of the year.  Imaginatively billed as ‘Don’t Blink,’  the contest pitted two of boxing’s biggest punchers together for the IBO belt Thompson secured with his characteristic last gasp, fight saving knockout of Sebastian Rothmann in February.

But the fight meant much more than the peripheral belt. This was a battle of generations, of styles, of pride. A crossroads bout, the gnarled old champion, the photogenic young buck. Name the cliché and you could hang it on the fight.

Continue reading “Archive: Old man Thompson stops Unbeaten Haye in 5”

Boxing: Tyson Fury and the impossible search for context

Fury2True, there were those who hoped, a few stifled an instinctive inclination and one or two were willing to believe, rarely publicly for fear of the subsequent denouement of their opinion, but on the whole the consensus among the great and good of the boxing reportage was – ‘Fury is out of his depth.’ It was the obvious patter. Continue reading “Boxing: Tyson Fury and the impossible search for context”

Boxing: Tyson Fury will topple a Klitschko first – BoxingWriter Reader’s Vote

Three years ago the audience of BoxingWriter.co.uk plumped for young Tyson Fury in a poll which asked the question; Who will one of the Klitschko’s lose to first? Time moved slowly in between and it seems a life time ago in retrospect; both Povetkin and Thompson were, at the time, the Klitschko’s next two opponents. Continue reading “Boxing: Tyson Fury will topple a Klitschko first – BoxingWriter Reader’s Vote”

Boxing: Tyson Fury career lightest at 245 pounds

If Tyson Fury is to be taken seriously as a heavyweight contender it is always implied that it will only happen when he adds stamina to his natural gifts of hand-speed, confidence, height and gumption. The latter he has already demonstrated in abundance. The pre-amble to his fight with Martin Rogan has centered on two things, Fury’s Irishness and his claim to the ‘crowd’ at the Belfast event and bold proclamations about previously unheralded fitness for his clash with the 40-year-old veteran. Weighing in at a lean 17 stone 7 pounds 12 ounces, or 245 pounds to our American cousins, Fury suggests he has employed some much needed discipline in preparation for this Irish Heavyweight title clash. Continue reading “Boxing: Tyson Fury career lightest at 245 pounds”

Boxing: Haye, Ron Boddy and all that Chazz

September 10th 2004 was a seminal night in British Boxing. For the curious, this was the day David Haye learned the priceless lessons only defeat can impart in his stoppage loss to the venerable Carl Thompson. Without a loss at that juncture, one wonders if Haye would have rallied to hit the heights he did. Had the loss come later, it may have been too late for the rededication he employed post-Thompson. It was a memorable event for those in attendance too. My own enjoyment of proceedings was enhanced by a chance introduction to a stalwart observer of the fight game, and now regular on Steve Bunce’s BBC London show, Ron Boddy. Continue reading “Boxing: Haye, Ron Boddy and all that Chazz”

Boxing: Heavyweight Poll – Who will one of the Klitschko’s lose to first?

There are precious few negative descriptives left unemployed  by those who try to define the current heavyweight scene. From the shallow to the lamentable, to the drab and forgettable the current crop of heavyweights and those still clinging to credibility from the last generation have largely all been exposed or dismantled at the hands of the Brothers Ukraine. Those thought to have the tools to upset their duopoly; Povetkin and Haye have proven lacking in the ability or willingness to execute the required strategy. So who will find a way to beat them? Continue reading “Boxing: Heavyweight Poll – Who will one of the Klitschko’s lose to first?”

Boxing: In form and active; the path less trodden to the Klitschkos

Fifty-five thousand people gathered at the weekend to watch Wladimir Klitschko render the once proud Cruiserweight Champion of the World, Jean Marc-Mormeck, even more ineffective than those with some foresight believed he’d prove when the fight was signed. Size is not the only currency in the heavyweight division, it is important to remember Jess Willard, at 6ft 6 inches and 235 pounds, was pounded to defeat by Jack Dempsey and later Primo Carnera who weighed 270 pounds and was of comparably lofty perspective when Max Baer inflicted a similar drubbing. At nearly 40 years of age, inactive for 15 months and struggling to stretch the tape even to six feet, Mormeck was however, spectacularly unqualified for the adventure he signed up for. Continue reading “Boxing: In form and active; the path less trodden to the Klitschkos”

Boxing: Bobby Gunn and James Toney in a room. Never going to be tea and biscuits.

It may surprise some readers to learn Bobby Gunn causes the biggest spike in readership whenever I cobble (do you see what I did there) together a news or opinion piece on the plucky prizefighter. Avoyd Mayweather holds nothing on the scrapper once spectacularly referred to as “the most ferocious fighter since Jack Dempsey” ahead of a one round mauling at the fists of Enzo Maccarinelli. He also fought Tomasz Adamek for another portion of the Cruiserweight title so his notoriety isn’t entirely hollow. I ducked any coverage of his bare-knuckle contests on principle but I must confess to a curious interest in his next bout. A clash with James Toney. Yes, the real one. Continue reading “Boxing: Bobby Gunn and James Toney in a room. Never going to be tea and biscuits.”

Boxing: Fur Coat and No Knickers? David Haye retires

Any consideration of David Haye’s career is usually accompanied by a track from my internal Jukebox. It isn’t McFadden and Whitehead’s Aint No Stopping Us Now; his entrance tune, nor is it From Russia with Love, primarily because his nemesis was Ukrainian, I tend to hear the chorus from Natalie Imbruglia’s Torn representing as is does the conflict between his achievements and failings. Continue reading “Boxing: Fur Coat and No Knickers? David Haye retires”

Boxing: Its unofficial, Haye v Harrison is on

Now some would say I know precious little about boxing, others are less flattering, but one thing I do know for certain is – it takes two to make a fight. By my reckoning, and with some reliance on my Casio fx-100c, I am able to announce the inevitability of a clash between David Haye and irksome veteran Audley Harrison later this year. This isn’t based upon any inside knowledge, just the inescapable truth that all other roads are now closed for Haye. Continue reading “Boxing: Its unofficial, Haye v Harrison is on”

Boxing: Vitali Klitschko to fight Shannon Briggs, the prosecution rests

I wrote recently in at least partial defence of the brothers Klitschko. Excusing some of their benevolent matchmaking as the inevitable by-product of their misfortune of being resident in arguably the weakest era in living memory. Following on with the theme of that piece, I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry at the announcement by Shannon Briggs that he will suspend his acting career long enough to tackle Klitschko the elder in Germany in October. Thankfully, Briggs can punch. Because he brings no other discernible form or currency to the match. Continue reading “Boxing: Vitali Klitschko to fight Shannon Briggs, the prosecution rests”

Boxing: Laugh or cry, matchmaking with the Klitschkos

As a boxing traditionalist, the Klitschko brothers prove something of a troublesome enigma to me. Resplendent though they are at the top of the heavyweight mountain, their individual and collective resumes feature nothing but a procession of mediocrity – some of whom the physically gifted Ukrainians have conspired to lose to. But I cannot always count defeats against them, as an advocate of risk taking, defeats are the inevitable byproduct are they not? Risk? What risk? You see, for every argument I make against them, there is objective counsel to the contrary. News Sam Peter may replace the perpetually injured Alexander Povetkin in the Wladimir Klitschko’s September 11th defence yet more evidence to pour over. Do we laugh or cry, empathise or chastise? Continue reading “Boxing: Laugh or cry, matchmaking with the Klitschkos”

Boxing: Harrison v Haye – why it should happen

Despite David Haye’s protestations to the contrary the prospect of this unlikely heavyweight prizefight remains the talking point of the day in the dungeons of the internet’s boxing forums. Audley Harrison has, afterall, already sacrificed the European title in the belief that he will secure the all-British world heavyweight title fight he and television network Sky Sports appear to crave. Debuting his guest column, John Cascells reflects on the fight; why it may prove to be more challenging than the cynics presume and why he is sure it will make for must-see television. Continue reading “Boxing: Harrison v Haye – why it should happen”

Boxing: Long and winding road. Six years since the BBC dumped Audley

Precious few heavyweights polarise opinion in the way Audley Harrison does. Maybe that is part of the fascination with him. Maybe that enigmatic quality is what draws observers back to the story despite a series of tame defeats to mediocre fighters. The Mona Lisa is neither the most beautiful subject nor the most technically perfect painting but it endures as the most famous artwork in history (arguably) because of the interpretation her expression is open to. It isn’t definite. It has depth beyond the brush strokes da Vinci swabbed across the canvas. Much like Harrison, who has conjured few moments of brilliance during his own career on the canvas and yet holds a depth of fascination few others can match. However, despite the critics and the years completed since his first low point of being dropped by the BBC he is on the brink of the title shot he told us all along he would get to. Continue reading “Boxing: Long and winding road. Six years since the BBC dumped Audley”

Boxing: David Haye in Orwellian about turn; Audley not Vitali or Wladimir next?

It was meant to be different. That was the tag-line. The sedentary waters of the heavyweight division were to be purified. David Haye wanted to fight the best heavyweights straight away, he didn’t want to procrastinate, to manoeuvre. He just wanted to know if he was the best, prove it or fail. Money was secondary. Challenge was everything. Boxing’s downtrodden masses craved the Utopia Haye was selling. He evangelised about bypassing promoters, side-stepping sanctioning bodies and the established order. Boxing is about the fighters not men in suits he might have said. He founded this alternate reality. Hayemaker. Fighters flocked to his rallying cry. Pretty girls flushed, forums hummed, fans cheered. Now, with a portion of the establishment in his possession – the WBA belt – and an unexpected level of renown that now enables him to accumulate £1-3 million pay-days for the type of rudimentary defence he once denounced, the urge to corner a Klitschko in a ring, or even at the top of an elevator has evidently subsided.

Continue reading “Boxing: David Haye in Orwellian about turn; Audley not Vitali or Wladimir next?”

Harrison, Haye and Klitschko. Among the madness, bluff and silence is there a fight to be found?

In an era before nutritionists, public relations and conditioners, during that simplistic period when heavyweights ran, hit-bag, sparred, chopped wood and often took a stiff drink or three the night before a fight it is hard to imagine how they would have viewed the flimsy media battle being contested by heavyweight trio David Haye, Klitschko and heaven help us Audley Harrison. It may be nostalgic romanticism to suggest fighters like Jack Dempsey or Jim Jeffries simply signed to fight an opponent, trained and then settled it in an often gruelling, unforgiving fight, but it is with some confidence that I propose they wouldn’t have been comfortable with the shallow misinformation all parties appear to be peddling even if avoiding opponents is an oft-overlooked aspect of boxing at the beginning of the 20th century too. Continue reading “Harrison, Haye and Klitschko. Among the madness, bluff and silence is there a fight to be found?”

John McDermott: “I don’t want any favouritism, just whoever WINS, wins!”

I met John McDermott once. He was standing at the back of the press rows the night David Haye got beaten by Carl Thompson. An evening more notable for him because he saw Mark Krence flattened by an imported journeyman that looked likely to rule the boxing butcher out of their proposed Eliminator, a contest, John lamented, for which he’d already sold £10,000 of tickets. And that snatched conversation typifies the kind of circumstantial misfortune he has laboured under for his entire professional career. In his forthcoming rematch with Tyson Fury I have a growing suspicion the genial giant may yet have his moment in the sun and overcome that sense of never being in the right place at the right time once and for all. Continue reading “John McDermott: “I don’t want any favouritism, just whoever WINS, wins!””

Old? Check. Fat? Check. Unambitious? Check. Brian Nielsen next for Vitaly?

Did you hear the one about Vitaly Klitschko and the hungry, young contender? No, nor did I. Admittedly, Vitaly Klitschko hasn’t fought during a particularly glowing period for heavyweights. His tenure, interrupted by a now mysteriously cured knee problem, as the leading heavyweight began when Lennox Lewis retired and has continued through soporific contests with Danny Williams, Kirk Johnson, Corrie Sanders, Sam Peter, Juan Carlos Gomez, Chris Arreola and latterly Albert Sosnowski. So maybe, the revelation Danish pastry Brian Nielsen is making a comeback aged 45 will be welcome news in the Klitschko castle if nowhere else. Continue reading “Old? Check. Fat? Check. Unambitious? Check. Brian Nielsen next for Vitaly?”

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