Joshua and the pursuit of undisputed

“The struggle is my life.” 

Nelson Mandela (written in 1961)

Accepted wisdom proposes that heavyweight boxing is in rude health.  The simultaneous primes of Deontay Wilder, the WBC’S champion, Anthony Joshua, recognised by the WBO, IBF and WBA and Tyson Fury, the somewhat contested custodian of the lineal championship offer the promise of a new golden age.

Were there a PowerPoint presentation to pitch this notion to investors, it would suggest, repeatedly, that Heavyweight boxing is stronger now than it has been at any other point in the past 20 years.

Graphs, pie charts and slick video clips of vast crowds and packed football stadiums  would be used to convince the doubting audience. And boxing wouldn’t be short of salesman capable of taking up this thread, but as a summary of the sport’s blue ribbon division, it does host an obvious omission. Continue reading “Joshua and the pursuit of undisputed”

Gervonta Davis expected to knockout Ruiz

Article first appeared at Freebets.net

Gervonta Davis, he of the thick neck, thicker jewellery and thunderous punches, returns to action on Saturday in Carson, California in what was once the StubHub Centre, but has recently be renamed the Dignity Health Sports Park. A name lacking the poetry, grit or evocative history of the York Hall or Caesers’ Palace, but an important boxing venue these days.

Davis’ defence of the WBA Super-Featherweight title, versus late-replacement Hugo Ruiz, is his first since winning the title in April of last year. Davis, his handlers and those of us who recognise his potential all hope the bout will prove an important jumping off point from which the 24-year old builds momentum and recaptures the acclaim he was initially afforded.

Soft-featured but with darkness in his eyes, Davis is a product of Baltimore’s mean streets, having fought to survive the life of chaos his parents’ drug problems inflicted on him.

Just getting to the ‘start line’ of a professional career in 2013 was achievement in itself, and it is easy to conclude in the period where he stagnated, that the initial riches and early attention he garnered were distracting for the twenty-something. Six years on, 2019 becomes a pivotal year if he is to capitalise fully on the potency of his youth and undoubted talent. Continue reading “Gervonta Davis expected to knockout Ruiz”

Boxing, is it still a young man’s game?

I wrote earlier this week about the questions posed to boxing fans by Manny Pacquiao’s continued career. Pacquiao ploughs on at an age when the leading lights of every preceding generation were long retired, whether in good health or bad, destitute or comfortable. Where once fighters were considered ‘shop-worn’ or ripe for the plucking, we now find the perennially untested, underachievers and those still punching to prove themselves.

The volume of shows, the quantity of fighters and the plethora of platforms fans can now access to consume boxing creates a script in which the characters, and the weeks and months, are dragged across the stage with increasing speed.

In the thrall of this often breathless narrative and the surge of popularity fuelling it, certainly in the UK, themes and large scale ‘set-changes’ can be harder to notice. Pacquiao’s 40th birthday provided this observer with the necessary illumination to the shift in fighter demographics that has occurred in the past twenty years.

Fighters appear to believe their prime is an infinite or elastic resource and, as a state of mind, it can’t help to bring the best available together.  After all, ‘there is always next year’.
Continue reading “Boxing, is it still a young man’s game?”

The extraordinary and ancient Pacquiao makes accomplices of all of us

It is the way of things that the fresh-faced heroes of our youth, who once charged the ramparts of boxing’s established names in our stead, now find themselves clinging to the last castles of their own generation. A month ago, notification Manny Pacquiao’s December birthday cake now required 40 candles spilled in to my consciousness and caused momentary pause in the day’s proceedings.

For so long, Pacquiao’s dancing feet, blurring fists and relentless aggression represented the new, the urgent, the usurper of the established. Overcoming and occasionally wrecking totems of pay-per-view, Pacquiao swatted aside the Mexicans Featherweights (more often than not) and a series of champions presumed to be too big or too strong for the diminutive Philippine.

This success vaulted him beyond the vanquished, planted him in the Hall of Fame and encouraged us to overlook the fact the one time Flyweight was now into his thirties and far beyond his beginnings. [3min read] Continue reading “The extraordinary and ancient Pacquiao makes accomplices of all of us”

Pacquiao to prevail; Broner can’t be trusted

First appeared on freebets.net on 14/01/19

On Saturday night, at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Manny Pacquiao seeks to extend an astonishing career, already longer in years and bouts than those of any of his contemporaries, by beating the enigmatic contender Adrien Broner for the WBA’s Welterweight title.

It is an intriguing contest in prospect for fight fans, in part because of the contrast of the career journeys to date and in the potential for their styles to blend well as a spectacle.

Beyond Saturday, their fight also represents the ‘starting gun’ for a sequence of clashes among a generation of Welterweights within which greatness could yet be achieved.

As you would expect, their respective profiles ensure all the leading bookmakers are offering markets on the fight. Pacquiao is 2/5 with Paddy Power for the outright win and also offer a competitive 21/10 on a Broner win by any means. Continue reading “Pacquiao to prevail; Broner can’t be trusted”

Mayweather piques my disinterest still further

“Your love made a slave of me,
But the love you gave you took away from me.”

Why When The Love Has Gone,
Isley Brothers 1967

Floyd Mayweather will be 42 in February. Full on middle age. Irrespective of what he does in the squared circle from this point on he will forever remain one of the finest prize fighters to ever lace ’em up. Fast, elusive and a diligent and instinctive reader of opponent’s weaknesses and ‘tells’, Mayweather’s mastery of the conventional was so complete, so absolute, he could bend and manipulate the old standard tunes with frills and trills in the way Whitney might when faced with a number from the American Songbook. And yet. And yet. And yet.

He still leaves me cold. It is ironic, given his desire to chastise those who follow in his financial wake, that he remains entwined with the sport, however spuriously, in the pursuit of spotlight, of easy money, despite retirement and record breaking earnings. Continue reading “Mayweather piques my disinterest still further”

Glory days. Can boxing reclaim the flagship American market?

By Hector T. Morgan

Dedicated boxing fans who have stayed attentive to the sport may resent the notion that it needs restoring to its former glory, and where do we pitch these romaticised glory days in the landscape of our memories anyway? Perhaps, The Four Kings of the 1980s, Ali and his great rivals in the 1970s or perhaps the era when Boxing was America’s premier sport along side Horse Racing and Baseball? All, in truth, with flaws of their own.

Mass popularity ebbs and flows after all, but there’s still something pure about boxing that loyalists remain appreciative of regardless of ebbing TV ratings, which led HBO, for so long the ‘King’ of boxing in America to abdicate its throne. Despite the passion of it’s most ardent followers, the complexities of the sport; multiple sanctioning bodies with their myriad champions has disenfranchised the casual fan. Boxing in America lost it’s way.

Paradoxically, it remains capable of creating huge piques from the valleys of apathy inhabited by most general sports fans. The right narrative, the right mix of characters and skills and boxing still appeals more widely than almost all of its contemporaries. Continue reading “Glory days. Can boxing reclaim the flagship American market?”

Golovkin v Alvarez: Boxing returns to its Middleweight touchstone

“Every man’s got to figure to get beat some time.”

Joe Louis –  (1914-1981)

The weekend super-fight between Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez from the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas returns the sport of boxing to the bosom of those who embrace it through the good times and the bad. The type of ardent disciple who nods and purses lips at the mention of James Toney or smiles and rub his or her hands together at the memory of Smokin’ Bert Cooper or Paul ‘Scrap Iron’ Ryan*.

*Other ‘win some, lose some’ brawlers are available. Continue reading “Golovkin v Alvarez: Boxing returns to its Middleweight touchstone”

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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