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”

Khan, Brook and Buncey’s fear of regret

Many small brooks make a big river.

Swedish Proverb

The boxing podcast from the BBC, presented by Mike Costello and Steve Bunce, is an essential listen and has grown warmer and more meaningful as it has evolved. Such is Steve’s omnipresence across almost every conceivable platform and medium around, his yarns about the loveable rogues and lost souls he’s encountered along his voyage through the boxing world have become ever more entertaining and vital.

Beneath the repartee he clearly enjoys with Mike, there is a genuine care for the sport as a viable and healthy entity but also, and most keenly, for the men, and women, who climb between the ropes. In their discussion of Amir Khan’s future, which has been widely distributed by the BBC website, there was yet more evidence of the duty of care they feel to those who punch for pay and for our entertainment regardless of how well received that opinion might be by those about whom it is aired. Continue reading “Khan, Brook and Buncey’s fear of regret”

Boxing: March of Time for Light-Welter and Welterweight veterans

It strikes me as strangely poetic that three of the most significant fighters of their generation should all be pursuing relevance and redemption this weekend. Erik Morales, Jose Luis Castillo and Zab Judah all hope to eek one last hurrah from their respective careers. Most notable is Morales’ attempt to defend the WBC’s Light-Welterweight belt, followed by Judah’s eliminator bout with Vernon Paris and lastly Castillo, who looked jaded 5 years ago against Ricky Hatton, mixing it up with Jose Miguel Cotto. The oldest among them, Castillo, will be furthest from the top of the bill. Continue reading “Boxing: March of Time for Light-Welter and Welterweight veterans”

Boxing: Judah back to Brooklyn; but a ring is a ring is a ring

I read today Light Welterweight contender Zab Judah is promoting his next fight on the notion it represents his debut in his native Brooklyn and is therefore, publicity implies, likely to evoke a return to the glories of his past. Like many 34-year-old pugilists before him, Judah is attempting to invert the natural course all fight-careers take; decline, by reaching for the placebo effect fleetingly afforded by trainer change, managerial move or in this case a fight in his home town.  Continue reading “Boxing: Judah back to Brooklyn; but a ring is a ring is a ring”

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: Reassembling a defeated fighter, Kevin Mitchell begins to convince

The winning of a prizefight is decided by a complex equation. Combining as it does the unquantifiable x and y’s of the scientific and the visceral, the physical and the emotional. Each aspect of a fighter’s make-up contributes to his equilibrium and the tipping point between winning and losing. These variables are infinite and even at a fight’s conclusion, the outcome can remain subjective and the underlying building blocks for success and failure only ever partially revealed.

Continue reading “Boxing: Reassembling a defeated fighter, Kevin Mitchell begins to convince”

Boxing: Old school, new school? Cleverly and Bellew spat

For those of a certain antiquity, the increasingly ubiquitous press conference rumpus between world-class Light-Heavyweight contender Nathan Cleverly and champion of the Commonwealth Tony Bellew will have proven distasteful. Others of more recent vintage will be torn. Nurtured as we were on the polarised demeanours of the ever urbane Lennox Lewis, the pantomime charm of Frank Bruno and the caustic atmosphere of all things Benn and Eubank, it is hard to either embrace or condemn the two ‘headline’ novices. I’m caught between the conflicting etiquettes I grew up with. Continue reading “Boxing: Old school, new school? Cleverly and Bellew spat”

Manny from Heaven set for fair-weather Floyd

So the scene is set. Boxing has risen from the canvas to offer the viewing public a fight of such dramatic potential it already draws comparison with the magnetic contests boxing was once able to supply from a position of long forgotten significance on an annual basis.

Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino with the smile and an entire people in his corner, neutralised Miguel Cotto with such aplomb last weekend he is now widely projected as the sport’s pound for pound number one. That most unhelpful of yardsticks. And in Floyd Mayweather, he has an opponent of equal brilliance and renown against whom to push his abilities to their limit and in doing so, just maybe, entice and ignite a whole new generation of prize fight followers.

Continue reading “Manny from Heaven set for fair-weather Floyd”

Boxing: Bottom of the 9th, One Last Swing for Morales

NostalgiaSaturday’s bout between weary veteran Erik Morales and Lightweight belt-holder David Diaz has failed to cause much of a stir on either side of the pond. Lost in the post fight fog of the Hopkins victory and the hubbub of the Hatton v Mayweather announcement, the fight pitches chunky champion Diaz versus the world’s oldest 30 year old. Setanta are airing the fight free to subscribers in the UK. To paraphrase Victoria Beckham; “That’s Major!” Continue reading “Boxing: Bottom of the 9th, One Last Swing for Morales”

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