Joshua finds more equality than expected in veteran Povetkin

You don’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might just get what you need.

Michael Jagger and Keith Richards (c) 1968

Dominance is an elusive quarry. And in boxing, I maintain, it is unwelcome. I’ve struck upon the notion that only in equality can greatness be forged; Ali needed Frazier, Holmes needed someone he didn’t have. On Saturday night, Anthony Joshua, the type of gentleman champion British fans so adore, emerged victorious from a difficult heavyweight defence with his titles in tact and most of the adoration suckled. The fight revealed a relative equality with his contemporaries that will suit his own quest for historical significance.

For those of us commenting and watching from the safe side of the ropes, his pursuit of that legacy will be all the more enjoyable for the competition. Continue reading “Joshua finds more equality than expected in veteran Povetkin”

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Fury pivots and the heavyweight division changes direction too

Francesco Pianeta played his part, the 250-pound piñata for birthday boy Tyson Fury’s party. He took his cheque and plodded home safe and well as Fury confessed he hoped he would. Pianeta seemed happy enough. Undamaged, paid and with a tale or two to tell his grandkids. It says much of the heavyweight division we’ve endured this past 10 years that the gallant, if parsimonious, German pug once fought for the title.

But then Joe Louis fought bums too. With the party complete, and with the piñata not opened up in the way one might imagine the Brown Bomber would’ve done following a similar two year absence, Fury’s big present was revealed. Continue reading “Fury pivots and the heavyweight division changes direction too”

Fury, boxing’s Northern Soul, gathers himself for improbable coup

Now my reputation has been one of the fastest men alive
So I’m gonna see how good you are when I count to five.

Archie Bell and The Drells
Gamble and Huff (c) 1969

I don’t ride on roller coasters. Never have. As a kid they terrified me, as most things of the unknown, the uncontrollable usually did. Now decades later, and as fully formed as I’m likely to become, crown exposed and eyes narrowing, the echo of that timid narrator remains as does the preference for control and for certainty. The actions of others, whether my daughter prowling the football fields of Suffolk or unwitting fighters from Feather to Heavyweight, afford me opportunity to marvel at those with the qualities I craved and in this vicarious voyeurism, experience the gnaw of uncertainty and danger without the risk.

There is something of this in my affection for Tyson Fury, the lug from Manchester, with the big heart, bigger appetite and even bigger words. Continue reading “Fury, boxing’s Northern Soul, gathers himself for improbable coup”

A boxing ring, the old truthsayer, humbles Fury on his return.

I know things that are broken can be fixed. Take the punch if you have to, hit the canvas and then get up again. Life is worth it.

Queen Latifah

Such is Tyson Fury’s unique predisposition for the sublime and the absurd, frequently embracing both within the same interview and occasionally a single sentence, we the onlookers, with our garlands of good will and ‘fag-packet psychology, shouldn’t be surprised that even in the confines of the pre-ordained he continued to defy convention.

Where speed was expected, sluggishness was found, where elusiveness was predicted, vulnerability was evident and where power was anticipated, delivery was flawed.

In preview, I’d mooted a scenario in which Tyson Fury could find simply climbing from the well of despair in to which he’d fallen, following his seminal victory over Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015, back to ground zero, back to a debut, essentially, against an overmatched Cruiserweight – which is where it all began a decade ago – could prove sufficient triumph. There was evidence enough in his return bout to suggest, however unlikely, that the possibility remains.

Continue reading “A boxing ring, the old truthsayer, humbles Fury on his return.”

Elephant in the room. Tyson Fury returns.

Throughout Anthony Joshua emergence over the past three years; in every pre-fight press conference, in every post fight interview, the chill of Tyson Fury’s often ethereal presence has persisted. Unspoken, particularly in the period in which the Mancunian candidate seemed emotionally furthest from a return, the legend of the enigmatic Gypsy King has grown exponentially and offered silent sentry to the conflicting rhythms of hoopla and humility being sold in his absence.

Continue reading “Elephant in the room. Tyson Fury returns.”

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”

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?”

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?”

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