Canelo takes the Kovalev castle

“He has a child’s face, with brown hair and a freckled face, but his fists are just as devastating as a sailor.”

Rodolfo Rosales writing for El Universal in March, 2010

14 years on from his debut as a fresh faced 139 pounder, Saul Alvarez, now 29-years-old and boasting a 53-1-2 (36ko) professional record, holds a portion of the Light-Heavyweight crown. He knocked out a grizzled old champion, Sergey Kovalev, in the 11th round of an otherwise muted battle for the WBO’s belt.

The coupling of those sentences is remarkable. To denigrate the credibility of that achievement by demeaning Kovalev’s credentials, as some have, speaks more of the critic than Alvarez. There are those who’ve have developed a negative myopia toward the Mexican attraction because of the decision gifted to him in the first Golovkin fight or his failed drug test, the latter of which I too refuse to ignore, or are simply too lodged in their version of the past that the merits of the modern era will never be sufficient to draw praise.

I’ve been guilty of that too. But whatever the premise or subtext behind your view of the world, whether you recognise or deny its influence, I encourage you to appreciate the significance of Alvarez’s performance this weekend.

Continue reading “Canelo takes the Kovalev castle”

Podcast: Big Fight Weekend – Canelo Kovalev

Always a pleasure to catch up with TJ Rives, “the somewhat capable host” of the Big Fight Weekend Podcast. Naturally, this episode is in preview mode as the boxing world turns its attention to the sport’s biggest star; Saul Alvarez and his Light Heavyweight debut against gnarly veteran Sergey Kovalev.

Conversation always wanders a little, both into the history of the noble and not so noble art and other fights forthcoming. This particular episode was further enriched by the presence of Antonio Tarver as the star attraction and the irrepressible Marquis Johns to round off proceedings.

The very special prospect of Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis in the final of the WBSS is also covered.

Continue reading “Podcast: Big Fight Weekend – Canelo Kovalev”

Boxing: Canelo seeking greatness an asterisks may deny him

I wonder whether it is harder for fighters to etch their legend into our collective psyche these days. The saturation of coverage helps build brands, invites us to know our heroes better, to co-exist beside them. An invited voyeurism that can reveal struggle and educate fans to the risk and reasons that motivate prize fighters but also homogenise those we would otherwise propose possess special powers.

The price of this exposure, if there is one, is this puncturing of a fighter’s mystique, their sense of otherworldliness. Unfettered access has removed the robe of mythology we once wrapped our kings in. I’m not sure even Marvellous Marvin Hagler’s solemnity would have outlasted the chatter of video courtiers every pug with a pair of gloves is now exposed to.

Even the words; Hagler, or Tyson or Duran, still provide a frisson of the electricity fans once felt when they caught the first glimpse of their walk to the ring. Or when their hero’s eyes locked on to his prey.

It is harder for their modern day counterparts to leverage the same awe in their less active careers and, in the case of Saul Alvarez, one of this generation’s most gifted fighters, with the burdensome asterisks of a failed drug test forever attached to his name. Continue reading “Boxing: Canelo seeking greatness an asterisks may deny him”

Golovkin now fighting in the Autumn of a golden career

As I lay here in the post summer funk of early October, rendered motionless by fatigue and the bleakness of an approaching Winter bellowing at the windows of my afternoon, rumination is often a friend and occasionally a foe too. For reflection too easily cedes to the creep of melancholy.

The transition between seasons is a blustery reminder that the world keeps turning and the clock keeps ticking. Leaves swirl and dance on the driveway outside, like discarded ticker tape from a parade long since passed. The terror of middle-age visits us all.

Watching Gennidy Golovkin wrestle with the Autumn leaves of his golden summer as boxing’s preeminent middleweight it was hard not to draw a wry, knowing smile. Despite his ultimate success aged 37, he defeated Sergei Derevyanchenko via unanimous decision, the revelation that he is no more impervious to decline than the rest of us is both a comfort and a sadness. Continue reading “Golovkin now fighting in the Autumn of a golden career”

A muddy fight clears the Middleweight waters

Monday 6th May 2019 and boxing is a little closer to ‘home’ than it was before Saturday night. Saul Alvarez allowed Daniel Jacobs to hand over his IBF belt with out forcing the Miracle Man to delve too deeply into the reserves of energy his gigantic rehydration had presumed to afford him. The fight was a disappointment in the sense of the entertainment the two afforded those gathered at ringside or perched, as I was, on the sofa with the sparrows and starlings stirring in the background.

It shouldn’t detract from the significance of the unification Mexico’s favourite son accomplished on Saturday, placing the three most historic belts above one mantlepiece is progress after all. And in the absence of perfection, 17 weight divisions, 17 champions – for that particular status quo wouldn’t prove the hierarchical utopia fans presume it to be – progress should be boxing’s only objective. Continue reading “A muddy fight clears the Middleweight waters”

Canelo and Jacobs step into the spotlight of future history

Before the advent of the internet, specifically the explosion of available answers to every conceivable question, and the need to finesse the ensuing search results to more manageable quantities, filters, in common parlance, would only be found in conversations about car engines, or perhaps a fish tank sufficiently grand to require a pump. Not the bowling ball sized hell my own goldfish endured for a year or two but one of those with an apologetic piece of plastic seaweed or perhaps an ornamental bridge or lost ship wreck. You know, fancy ones. The type of thing people with a caravan had in their hall, those who drank coffee not tea, used sunflower spread not butter back in the seventies. Holidayed in France. You know the type.

Both applications remain relevant today of course, though you may need a safe cracker, with a sideline as a contortionist to find and replace a filter on a modern combustion engine, even a car has to ask Alexa to diagnose a fault these days. Fish in captivity do still need something to keep the flotsam and jetsam at bay too, not as much as their free swimming cousins a ‘green’ wag might suppose, but I digress. Continue reading “Canelo and Jacobs step into the spotlight of future history”

Jacobs must beat Alvarez, money and the Golovkin trilogy storyline

Occasionally boxing gets it right. The mist is blown aside, the knots untangled and a bread crumb trail through boxing’s unnecessary maze, the one too many important fights have been lost in, is scattered sufficiently to force even reluctant matchmakers to follow.

On Saturday 4th May, just such a rarity occurs. Saul Alvarez, the Mexican with the Lion King locks, contests the Middleweight title with Daniel Jacobs. Between them they will amalgamate three of the important belts available, if the oxymoron of multiple ‘world’ title belts is to be accepted. Boxing fans, impoverished by the relative inactivity of their heroes and the reluctance of their hero’s advisors to contemplate risk, will hungrily devour the competitive fare the two promise to provide. Continue reading “Jacobs must beat Alvarez, money and the Golovkin trilogy storyline”

Fielding and the liberation of defeat

When Rocky Fielding retires from boxing, which may be before you read this or at some much more distant juncture, he will, like a long sequence of British fighters before him, be able to say he fought one of the best fighters of his generation. Beyond the financial security he presumably secured in his defeat to the irresistible Saul Alvarez on Saturday night, there was something less tangible than the purse but no less essential to his story and his prospects of contentment in retirement.

Simply put, at least Fielding now knows. Like the four British fighters that fell to Canelo before him; Ryan Rhodes, Matthew Hatton, Liam Smith and Amir Khan, Fielding found a definitive benchmark against which he could measure his ability.

It is a question several of his illustrious predecessors failed to resolve before their careers were complete and one which still hangs over a number of Fielding’s contemporaries too.

Continue reading “Fielding and the liberation of defeat”

Andrade and the vacant possession

Demetrius Andrade‘s career is, thus far, defined by it’s gaps as much as it’s substance.  Four years ago, aged 26, with the WBO Super-Welterweight title slung over his shoulder, following a successful defence against the over-matched Brit Brian Rose in 2014, he was standing at the gateway to the gold and glory of his physical prime. Alas, a 16-month period of inactivity stole this momentum, and forced the return of his belt to the youngest of boxing’s four main sanctioning bodies.

On his return, in late 2015, Andrade secured the vacant International version of the same title, a pungent confirmation of the ‘two steps back’ he’d taken following the ‘one step forward’. The vacancy of the original WBO belt, the similar status of the WBA version won in 2017 belt, and the vacancy of the WBO Middleweight strap he won on Saturday against Walter Kautondokwa, undermines their value in any fighter’s quest to legitimise his standing.

And, while it is pedantry to point to it now, in light of Andrade’s performance for much of Saturday night, it is nevertheless true. Continue reading “Andrade and the vacant possession”

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