We have not time to stand and stare. The wonder of Vasily Lomachenko

First published by Knockout London magazine’s May 2018 issue.

In these distracted times of ours, in which life is rarely experienced through the entire sensory system, people are too often unwitting passengers in their own existence. A desire to record and share, rather than touch, smell and witness is depriving many of us of the immersion required to properly capture or appreciate an event, however expensive the opportunity to access it proved.

At some future meeting point, when these memories are called upon, where rich descriptions of how it felt to be there once thrived, embellished and enhanced by the retelling, there will remain only video clips and a gallery of vacuous self-portraits. Continue reading “We have not time to stand and stare. The wonder of Vasily Lomachenko”

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Brendan Ingle. Some things are meant to stay.

Some things are meant to stay, to remain, to defy. Offering an unconscious, if often illogical reassurance to the otherwise transient chaos of our day-to-day human experience. The things themselves, they’re different for all of us. They may be a person, a principle, perhaps a place, a truism you clutch or a collage of them all but regardless of their form or on which premise they were collected, they provide foundation for the sandcastles of our lives. When one of these tumble and succumb to the tides of time to which we thought them immune, it resonates more deeply than ever we may have anticipated it might.

A few of these manifest in the relationship I have with boxing. Some are vague, abstract concepts like my belief that the social and emotional benefits boxing’s gilded stories of redemption and salvation provide outweighs the physical damage and tragedies it facilitates, others are more tangible and, as in the case of late Brendan Ingle, an individual figure. Continue reading “Brendan Ingle. Some things are meant to stay.”

Going mainstream. Anthony Joshua, the rogue who charmed your Gran

There was a time when boxing in Britain on Saturday night meant Colin Dunne or Jawaid Khaliq and circuit pros like Rakhim Mingaleyev and Dariusz Snarski. The latter, solid, earnest little scrappers but unknown in their own hometowns, the former, World Champions as the term was cheaply distributed at the time. Heavyweight fights meant a butcher from Chesterfield or an ex-Rugby League player from Featherstone. ‘Event logistics’ amounted to twisting brass handles to lever basketball hoops from vertical to horizontal before Mike and his crew arrived to erect posts, canvas and ropes to the eyrie abyss. Nobody checked train schedules or whether U2 had left town. Continue reading “Going mainstream. Anthony Joshua, the rogue who charmed your Gran”

Exclusive: Tyson will not fight Holyfield says David Payne

I’ve consulted with my much ignored common sense, accessed with the help of a strong mug of Yorkshire tea and low-lighting, and I can confirm that this fight is not going to happen, I’d encourage you all to breathe, take stock and have a similar internal conversation. It will save you time and energy for other more credible activities, like washing the car or painting the back-bedroom. And please don’t read or believe anyone who tells you different because they’ve probably got an accomplice entering your home through the back door to rifle through your purse. In other news, Prince Naseem Hamed will not be returning to fight Justin Timberlake at catchweight,  Joe Calzaghe will not be fighting Robert De Niro (though he is old enough) at Light-Heavy and Ricky Hatton is as likely to share a ring with Floyd Mayweather again as he is to play wide-right for England on Friday.  I think my work here is done. Continue reading “Exclusive: Tyson will not fight Holyfield says David Payne”

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.”

Moore and Rhodes step out of the shadows

WAROFTHEROSES-SMTwo of  British boxing’s longest serving fighters will clash tonight for the European Light-Middleweight title, a bout which doubles as an eliminator for the WBC world title belt, or at worst a qualifier to face Julio Cesar Chavez Junior in a final eliminator for a crown held by slippery Sergio Martinez. It will also offer an opportunity for both fighters to finally step out of the shadow contemporaries Ricky Hatton and Prince Naseem Hamed threw across their respective careers and prove the old boxing truism, that styles make fights. 

Continue reading “Moore and Rhodes step out of the shadows”

Wayne McCullough far from Dunne

WayneIt is beyond the remit of any writer, no matter how well intentioned to implore a man to retire. A fighter, regardless of the date on his birth certificate, should not be prevented from earning a living if they are physically able to do so. Wayne McCullough, that most dedicated of professionals is one such example. Despite the evidence of a waning ability the Pocket Rocket refuses to relinquish his dream of once again being crowned World Champion. As a heavyweight, his 38 years wouldn’t be the millstone they are at Super-Bantamweight where speed, stamina and volume punching are more prevalent than amongst the heavyweight molasses. Continue reading “Wayne McCullough far from Dunne”

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”

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?”

Calzaghe and Warren doth protest too much; the Stockholm syndrome

There isn’t a facet of Joe Calzaghe and former promoter Frank Warren’s current activity which couldn’t be labelled, ‘old ground’. Firstly, Calzaghe next tackles faded superstar Roy Jones, 39, in a bout so out of date, so out of fashion, its almost coming back in style. Secondly, Calzaghe’s split from Warren at the peak of his earning-power and ensuing court cases and law suits has echoes of Ricky Hatton’s 2005 departure. Thirdly, the use of media columns to launch critiques of the ethics and morals of the other party is all to familiar too. None of those stir me from a long yawn, but a fourth strand to their disagreement does. Continue reading “Calzaghe and Warren doth protest too much; the Stockholm syndrome”

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”

“Nobody is invisible”, Amir Khan explains

It is hard to know where to begin a review of the shattered remnants of Amir Khan’s fastidiously constructed repute. Following 4 years of painfully cautious match-making, three trainers and a deluge of column inches, platitudes, award ceremonies and celebrity television appearances the 21-year old demonstrated holes in his fistic education large enough to drive even his ego through. In a slip of the tongue, Khan said “nobody is invisible”, he meant invincible of course, but invisible seemed to fit very well too. Breidis Prescott certainly found him easily enough. Continue reading ““Nobody is invisible”, Amir Khan explains”

Guest: In Thailand, there is no PPV

There is no such thing as bad publicity, except your own obituary.”  Irish author Brendan Behan once wrote and despite his celtic roots suggesting a pre-disposition to the noble art, I’ve no idea where he stood on the great PPV debate. However, the announcement Amir Khan is to feature on the premium format has so enraged boxing’s keenest observers one wonders whether their collective outbursts has served only to further promote the show?. In the meantime, guest writer Oliver Fennell provides a stiff retort to Andrew Mullinder’s prose of yesterday from his new home in a far more humble Thailand.

Continue reading “Guest: In Thailand, there is no PPV”

Awkward as ever, Junior Witter speaks out

Defining Junior Witter’s style has stumped greater minds than mine. Unorthodox is the ubiquitous descriptive and through generic, probably the most accurate. The former WBC Light-Welterweight champion is almost impossible to pigeon-hole, once the slippery, pitter-patter runner he blossomed into a destructive two fisted puncher but threw in enough disjointed performances to never fully engage the Yorkshire public or television audiences. Now as a former, rather than current World champion the one thing he is, without fear of contradiction, is avoidable. Continue reading “Awkward as ever, Junior Witter speaks out”

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.”

A voice from the past: Derrick Gainer

GainerTo me at least, and perhaps all boxing fans of certain age, Derrick Gainer is one of those guys Prince Naseem never got around to knocking out. I’m sure that doesn’t truly define him as a fighter, a cursory check confirms his status as a former WBA champion. But the fact he never faced the Prince, whether it was his fault or Hamed’s is my frame of reference for ‘Smoke’s career thus far. Oh, and I think he once lasted twelve rounds in a title bout without an offensive move. I’m less sure on the latter, as I may be mistaking him for Freddie Norwood. That’s the trouble with multiple belts; so many ‘champions’ fail to register in my consciousness.

Continue reading “A voice from the past: Derrick Gainer”

Archive: Big Fight Live – Boxing returns to ITV

nEWBON15/07/2005

As the first contract between British broadcaster ITV and promoter Frank Warren draws to a close and negotiations begin on a new contract, it seemed relevant to pause and remember how the news ITV were to return to professional boxing was greeted. In an article for thesweetscience.com, I took an optimistic view of the partnership’s potential and revelled in the nostalgia of hearing that famous theme tune one more time. As Nigel Benn once famously said “I preferred boxing when it was on ITV”. Continue reading “Archive: Big Fight Live – Boxing returns to ITV”

YouTube Taking Punches

HBOIt is arguably life’s most absolute truism; “nothing in life is free”. Ok, it lacks the history, popularity or endorsement from Luthur Vandross of “the best things in life are free” but its resonance is irrefutable. Your place between the two schools of thought is probably decided by your natural level of cynicism and demeanour in every day life. Is the glass half full or half empty? Continue reading “YouTube Taking Punches”

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