Life on the right hand side of the bill; Ian Bailey and the toss of a coin

First published at BritishBoxers.co.uk in November 2016.

Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. Some are shared by thousands or even millions. Others are more personal; grandfathers with ‘snap’ tins filled with medals and ribbons or a father marching for his community beneath a colliery banner. Usually, their place is earned in endeavour we believe to be beyond us or undertaken in our stead.

Occasionally, a figure enters my consciousness from an apparently innocuous encounter or anecdote or due to the most obscure or seemingly trivial of reasons.

One such occurrence happened six years ago as I witnessed a humble coin toss occur in a boxing dressing room with a potentially career changing prize at stake. The toss was necessary to select one of the two unused reserves to replace an injured finalist in the Featherweight edition of the then popular Prizefighter show and a chance to win £32,000. Continue reading “Life on the right hand side of the bill; Ian Bailey and the toss of a coin”

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Colin McMillan: The man who defied convention

First published in Knockout London

The tassels dance; folding, bouncing and exaggerating the rhythm of his purposeful, often balletic movement. Pristine white boots travel distances measured in fractions of inches, from arm’s length to harm’s length. Mesmerising hesitant opponents, rendering them inert with speed, and precision, with timing and the bluff of feints and counter punches.

His hands act as gloved rapiers, his brain analysing, identifying weakness, processing the opponents’ ‘tells’. Busy too, these assessments done instantly, conclusions drawn, punches selected to capitalise are thrown naturally, the switch from offence to defence and back again is fluid, instinctive.

This isn’t the best of Sugar Ray Leonard or a delve into the prime of Muhammad Ali, but an attempt to capture the beauty and brilliance of a British Featherweight, a forgotten jewel, Colin ‘Sweet C’ McMillan. Continue reading “Colin McMillan: The man who defied convention”

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.”

Irish eyes are smiling; McCullough fights on

WaynePrecious few combatants evoke the same swell of good will that will greet Wayne McCullough when he strides to the ring for the 35th time in a fortnight’s time. The former Super-Bantamweight world title-holder has had a frustrating Autumn to his career, with the shadow of an overturned suspension for irregular brain scans thwarting his attempts to regain momentum in his ebbing trajectory. A retirement six rounds in to a fight he appeared to be winning last June, on the back of a doctor’s intervention during the rematch with Oscar Larios, remain his only meaningful action of the past 40 months.

Continue reading “Irish eyes are smiling; McCullough fights on”

Oscar Suarez, trainer to Freitas, Hamed dies aged 47

Boxing lost a loyal servant this weekend with the unexpected death of Oscar Suarez, the trainer most widely known for shaping Brazilian Acelino Freitas. Later he would take over the most high profile job in boxing, training Prince Naseem Hamed, and though maligned for his lack of impact on the Sheffield-man his death is reason for all of us to pause and take stock. Suarez was believed to have been diagnosed with terminal cancer just over a month ago and leaves behind a wife, Marie, and children. He was just 47.

All posted comments will be directed to the Suarez family at the end of the week.

Continue reading “Oscar Suarez, trainer to Freitas, Hamed dies aged 47”

Archive: Scott of the anarchic

The sorry tale of Scott Harrison lurched to a new low this week when he was sentenced to a total of 8 months imprisonment for assaulting his girlfriend and a police-officer alongside being found guilty of driving whilst 4-times over the legal limit. Should Harrison remain at Her Majesty’s service for the entire sentence, he will emerge, squinting at the crumbled remnants of his life, a fast-approaching 32nd birthday and over 3 years of professional inactivity. Not to mention a destructive thirst he can never quench.

Continue reading “Archive: Scott of the anarchic”

Is this the bottom for Scott Harrison, or can he fall further?

The story of Scott Harrison the fighter, and he was a competent world-level operator at his best, is close to becoming a footnote in the life of the former two-time WBO Featherweight belt holder. Today, having pleaded guilty to assaulting girlfriend Stacy Gardner and an attendant police officer, the gruff former fighter was sentenced to two months imprisonment. Continue reading “Is this the bottom for Scott Harrison, or can he fall further?”

Mayweather, Lennox, Hamed, Hopkins; you can never win.

A few disparate references got me thinking this week. First it was the retirement of Floyd Mayweather, brought into sharper focus by this weekend’s Welterweight face off between Cotto and Margarito, then it was a YouTube compilation of Prince Naseem getting battered from pillar to post with super slow-mo’s to make the former Featherweight king look like a clown. And finally, it was the news Bernard Hopkins, the veteran determined not to fight beyond 40 to keep a promise to his mother, apparently signing to fight Kelly Pavlik just shy of his 45th birthday. Too early, too late, boxing fans will crucify you either way.

Continue reading “Mayweather, Lennox, Hamed, Hopkins; you can never win.”

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