Whispers getting louder, calling your name

It’s hard to understand why certain fighters become important to you as a spectator, a largely detached, anonymous observer. 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”

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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”

Boxing: Tyson Fury and the impossible search for context

Fury2True, there were those who hoped, a few stifled an instinctive inclination and one or two were willing to believe, rarely publicly for fear of the subsequent denouement of their opinion, but on the whole the consensus among the great and good of the boxing reportage was – ‘Fury is out of his depth.’ It was the obvious patter. Continue reading “Boxing: Tyson Fury and the impossible search for context”

Boxing: Frank Warren – “It would be a tough fight but even if he got beat, so what?”

I cannot think of a statement of more significance, if it is upheld, than the one Frank Warren delivered to the BBC in his attempt to substantiate the suggestion Nathan Cleverly is being primed for a ‘unification’ fight with Bernard Hopkins later this year. Followers of the noble art are well versed in the model Warren usually employs in his promotion of an unbeaten fighter like Cleverly; offer the fighter every advantage through shrewd matchmaking via the vagaries of the WBO’s ranking system and  home comforts while simultaneously tantalising the public with tales of forthcoming opponents. Continue reading “Boxing: Frank Warren – “It would be a tough fight but even if he got beat, so what?””

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: 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”

Gavin Rees added to McCloskey v Lauri card

I was interested to read that pocket battleship Gavin Rees has been added to the under card of Paul McCloskey’s encounter with veteran Italian Giuseppe Lauri this weekend. Rees has fought once since winning the Prizefighter 140 pound tournament, defeating three former European Champions in the process, and appears to be a promotional free agent in the absence of Calzaghe Promotions and his departure from the Sports Network stable. His last tune up being deep on the Harrison v Sprott under-card put together by Matchroom Sport. Continue reading “Gavin Rees added to McCloskey v Lauri card”

Ricky Hatton, Danny Williams and the search for common sense

Contrasting stories surround two of British boxing’s favourite sons this week. Firstly, and most satisfactorily, is Ian McNeily’s piece at BoxRec News dutifully reporting Ricky Hatton difficulty in summoning the will to commence training while the same site also records a summer fixture for Danny Williams on the other side of the world. News of this proposed clash comes just days after the genial Londoner promised retirement in the aftermath of his capitulation to Derek Chisora.   Continue reading “Ricky Hatton, Danny Williams and the search for common sense”

Every cloud; Timothy Bradley arrives as a major player

Contrary to some curious commentary from Col Bob Sheridan, who tried hard to make the fight more competitive than it was, Timothy Bradley delivered another complete, considered and positive performance to repel the challenge of Edner Cherry this weekend. In defending his WBC 140lb strap Bradley showed development from his victory over Junior Witter and emerged, in my eyes at least, as a world-class performer of real merit. Continue reading “Every cloud; Timothy Bradley arrives as a major player”

Boxing: Nate Campbell deserved better than Guzman, an unreliable commodity

I feel vindicated in picking Nate Campbell to prevail in this encounter despite flying in the face of popular opinion and more crucially, that the fight didn’t actually take place. However, I did comment that Guzman was not a safe pick. Despite his unbeaten record, he had a patchy level of activity and often jumped from championship bouts to magically appear a division higher. Continue reading “Boxing: Nate Campbell deserved better than Guzman, an unreliable commodity”

Is Mayweather Snr. the right trainer for Hatton or HBO?

I doubt I’m alone in being mystified by the appointment of Floyd Mayweather Snr. to training duties for Ricky Hatton’s Light-Welterweight outing against feather-fisted Paulie Malignaggi in November. He is far removed stylistically and geographically from the Mancunian ticket-seller and quite how his bombastic personality will fit with Hatton’s fiercely preserved ‘man of the people’ demeanour is equally hard to contemplate.

Continue reading “Is Mayweather Snr. the right trainer for Hatton or HBO?”

Video of Amir Khan foe Breidis Prescott in action

I’ll not be indulging SKY next month, there is no hope what so ever of the satellite broadcaster’s flashy advertising campaigns convincing me that Amir Khan is a PPV attraction. Nor will I succumb to the overt and subliminal suggestion his opponent, Colombian Breidis Prescott, is a foe of such brilliance that to miss the PPV could mean I miss Khan being beaten. Continue reading “Video of Amir Khan foe Breidis Prescott in action”

By ‘eck those Mexicans can fight; Margarito prevails

I’ve little new to add to the thousands of column inches already afforded to the outstanding contest between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito last Saturday night. A tumultuous encounter that achieved that rarest of triumphs, it lived up to its promise. Both fighters were exceptional and though Margarito emerges with maximum credit for unseating the WBA Welterweight champion I believe now is the most opportune moment to applaud the performance and courage of his vanquished opponent. Continue reading “By ‘eck those Mexicans can fight; Margarito prevails”

“No, no, just say no” Hatton, PPV and the power of one.

As fan and as a writer, purchasing pay-per-view boxing is a prerequisite these days. I’ve done them all, from Bruno v Tyson, Hamed, Lewis through to Hatton v Tszyu and everything in between. So strong is my thirst to see the stars of the fistic world that I even succumbed to the very shallow temptation of Eastman v Hopkins. A fight never likely to distract the annual visitors to the Dulux sponsored, Watch Paint Dry Championships. Continue reading ““No, no, just say no” Hatton, PPV and the power of one.”

Hatton v Witter, goes down the ……

It was painful to view. And my scorecard reflected my desire to prolong the feint hope of Junior Witter finally securing the chance to face arch-rival Ricky Hatton before both got too old or too fat for anyone to care. Placing the credit for the victory at the door of Ricky Hatton, given it was young Timothy Bradley in the ring throwing punches, would be ungracious and unfair but there was certainly a shadow of the wealthy Hitman over the split decision triumph for the American. Continue reading “Hatton v Witter, goes down the ……”

Archive: Sometimes Winning is Just The Beginning

VanzieVanzieVanzie25/06/2004

It’s hard to believe three years have already elapsed since I interviewed Bobby Vanzie for the second time – the first being shortly before his destruction of Anthony Maynard. Occasionally, the language may seem more contrived than you would anticipate but Bobby preferred to consider some of his responses and respond via email as opposed to in person. In the time that has passed, I’ve grown to regard the retired former British and Commonwealth champion as a friend. But interviewing him back in 2004 remains a great thrill.

Continue reading “Archive: Sometimes Winning is Just The Beginning”

Archive: Frank Warren, A Boxing Survivor

CalzagheCalzaghe08/09/2005

Close to two years have passed since the first widely whispered rumours of a split between Ricky Hatton and Frank Warren were heard, on the cusp of signing a new ITV contract the timing couldn’t have been worse for Warren who must have relied heavily on Hatton’s star to entice the terrestrial broadcaster. I wrote a piece at the time reflecting on this emerging news and Warren’s ability to survive. Considering he has lost Hatton, Scott Harrison and Johnny Nelson during that period Warren has juggled well to still have a chance of contract renewal. But then he always survives.  Continue reading “Archive: Frank Warren, A Boxing Survivor”

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”

Boxing: A Tsyzu Return is Gonna Kostya

Kostya2Former Light-Welterweight king, should that be tsar, is certainly not a fighter to be rushed into a comeback despite his 37 years and long sabbatical from action following the seminal defeat to Ricky Hatton in 2005. Of course, he may not come back at all – rather like Lennox Lewis does from time to time – Kostya seems willing to tease and tantalise, perhaps in a bid to promote other business pursuits or, alternatively, to pacify the element of his personality that craves the combat. Convincing himself he could comeback at anytime to paradoxically ensure he never actually does it. Continue reading “Boxing: A Tsyzu Return is Gonna Kostya”

Arturo Gatti: Must the Show Go On?

ArturoI love Gatti. One of the bravest fighters the sport has seen, the quintessential blue-collar brawler. Memorable for his clashes with Mickey Ward, Ivan Robinson and a cast of dozens of others, his last significant outings, a painful and comprehensive stoppage loss to Floyd Mayweather and defeat to Carlos Baldomir should, perhaps, have represented the final installments in the ‘Human Highlight Reel’s’ Hall of Fame Career. Continue reading “Arturo Gatti: Must the Show Go On?”

Boxing: Witter Just Wouldn’t Let It Lie

WitterThe on-going PR campaign being waged by Junior Witter’s irrepressible promotional team, Hennessey Sports  is beginning to take on a life of its own. Perpetual and persistent, the endless supply of challenges made to Ricky Hatton is slowly returning the long-overdue Hatton v Witter clash to the top of most boxing fans’ list of must-see engagements.

True, Hatton’s clash with Jose Luis Castillo takes on greater meaning for the intangible ‘legacy’ to which it seems all boxer’s attribute every matchmaking decision of their career – though precious few selections actually the deliver the validation they claim to crave – and for the lucrative American market for whom Junior Witter represents… Continue reading “Boxing: Witter Just Wouldn’t Let It Lie”

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