Benn, Bruno and Nicky Booth, and the lost boys of 2001

Back in 2001, British boxing had meandered into a strange, uncharted hinterland. An odyssey of greed and short-termism in the preceding five years reducing it to a role in the margins, a sporting outcast. Neglected, eroded and far removed from the roaring crowds of the preceding decades. The resurgence of stadium fights had faded to black, dissolving in to the night like the thousands who shuffled, stumbled and strode from the crumbling castles of Wembley and Loftus Road.

Images still lingered in the collective memory. Plumes of warm breath and cigarette smoke drifting on the midnight breeze, the last slurred rendition of ‘Bruno, Bruno’ absorbed by the rattle of taxis and tube trains beneath. In the crowd’s wake, plastic glasses and torn betting slips, the debris of a night, were swept from the aisles. The headaches and penitence of a thousand tomorrows still to unfold for the departing revellers and the fighters they came to see.

Continue reading “Benn, Bruno and Nicky Booth, and the lost boys of 2001”

Whispers getting louder, calling your name

It’s hard to understand why certain fighters become important to you as a spectator. As a largely detached, anonymous observer the relationship has little tangible foundation. 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”

Fighters, like all of our heroes, are just people

In the relative tranquility of midweek, a peace I enforce rather than receive from boxing by default, when the memory of the preceding weekend is flushed of emotion and the fights ahead do not yet submerge them into shadow, I often grow reflective and thoughtful. Boxing’s busyness is welcome, as I’ve written before many of us remember the wilderness years of leisure centres and the WBF, but as with all things in society these days, there is barely time to pause for breath. Continue reading “Fighters, like all of our heroes, are just people”

Flying over the cuckoo’s nest for the last time? Oliver McCall defeated

Anyone with a passing interest in heavyweight boxing over the past twenty years will hold a mental image of one sort or another of heavy punching former WBC champion Oliver McCall.

Whether it be the crunching right-hand which felled Lennox Lewis, his emotional implosion in the rematch or the various drug fuelled episodes which have blighted his attempts to construct another run at the championship he lost to a grateful Frank Bruno in 1995. One of them will be reside with you.

Last night at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel he dropped a clear decision to peripheral contender Timur Ibragimov, a loss that spells the end of any championship hopes the now 45-year-old may have held.

Continue reading “Flying over the cuckoo’s nest for the last time? Oliver McCall defeated”

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?”

The three ages of boxing romance

FallenfighterRemember, remember. John Gotti was found guilty of murder, Canary Wharf was bombed, Dolly the clone sheep was born and Bill Clinton re-entered the White House. It was also the last time a fight between Dariusz Michalczewski and Graciano Rocchigiani meant something. The year? 1996. It didn’t stop them staging a 2000 rematch and it wont stop both retired parties facing off for a third time next year. Heaven help us. Continue reading “The three ages of boxing romance”

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