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”

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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”

Despite the sadness, Golovkin knew the score

I thought Gennady Golovkin won the first fight with Saul Alvarez. People, hipsters usually, partially convinced me there was a case for the draw that the three key observers conjured between them in September 2017. I also thought Gennady Golovkin won on Saturday night in the rematch. Again, I was willing to indulge those who felt it a draw too and more readily than I was the first time around.

However, in twenty four rounds, I’ve awarded Saul Alvarez a total of 7, with 1 even round, a possibility more readily accepted in British rings than for fights occurring in Las Vegas I concede, but nevertheless one which I couldn’t argue were it ticked for the 28-year old ‘Canelo’ as opposed to Golovkin. Still only makes 8 rounds from 24. Continue reading “Despite the sadness, Golovkin knew the score”

Spike O’Sullivan offers value for money to fight fans

Article first appeared at Gambling.com on 31st August.

Death, taxes. Few things in life are certain. Never more true than in the unnecessarily complex world of professional boxing. A humble concept, boxing has become increasingly obscured by a parade of oxymoronic titles conjured by the various bodies charged with her stewardship.

Occasionally, boxing, the brave old show girl that she is, wrestles free from this lecherous embrace to remind fans just how simple it all ought to be.

The middleweight clash between contenders David Lemieux and Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan on Saturday 15th September 2018 is one such example and there are a host of bookmakers eager to offer boxing betting markets on a fight almost guaranteed to be a classic. Continue reading “Spike O’Sullivan offers value for money to fight fans”

Boxing, drugs and the complicity of the apathetic

I wonder where it is all going to end don’t you? You, we, I sit and watch from the sidelines as the events of the day unfold, beyond our control, beyond, at times, our understanding. The sense of helplessness, the difficulty of arriving at a balanced opinion without wondering whether you are merely adopting a promotional message from one side of the argument or the other, is hard to elude.

In the shadow of larger issues like Syria, the friction and/or collusion between military super powers and people dying in hospital corridors or in the street, the reporting and regulation of PEDs in boxing can appear a trivial point on which to muse. Nevertheless, the pursuit of justice, sanction and clarity suffers the same distortion of facts and an ensuing disengagement which is as dangerous as the problem itself. Continue reading “Boxing, drugs and the complicity of the apathetic”

Canelo, Golovkin and the luck of the draw

“To me judges seem the well paid watch-dogs of Capitalism, making things safe and easy for the devil Mammon.”

Maud Gonne, Irish philanthropist (1865-1953)

Sunday was a long day. Tired from the all-nighter that stretched between my back row seat at the CopperBox Arena in London, where I saw Billy Joe Saunders retain his WBO bauble in a soporific engagement with a subdued, and at times motionless, Willie Monroe Jr., through to 5am back on the sofa for a thudding, if not exhilarating, bout between Gennady Golovkin and Saul Alvarez for the real Middleweight title.

I’d risen after three hours sleep, sought comfort in tea and the balm of contemplating Adalaide Byrd opening her eyes, and blinking her way in to a morning of regret. Perhaps permitting herself the hint of a smile at the word play of her husband Robert, a decorated boxing referee, asking if she wanted him to draw the curtains.  Continue reading “Canelo, Golovkin and the luck of the draw”

Nerves; Golovkin, Canelo, Dodge and Laight…

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

On Saturday night, most eyes will be on on the seminal, potentially era-defining bout between Gennady Golovkin, the piston-powered champion from Kazakhstan and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, the quiet, scowling Mexican, his number one contender. A few more will be keeping abreast of the preceding middleweight clash between Billy Joe Saunders and Willie Monroe Jnr. from London, and Callum Smith will pique interest against the Swedish heft of Erik Skoglund in the first of the World Boxing Super Series Super-Middleweight tournament too. Continue reading “Nerves; Golovkin, Canelo, Dodge and Laight…”

Golovkin v Alvarez: Boxing returns to its Middleweight touchstone

“Every man’s got to figure to get beat some time.”

Joe Louis –  (1914-1981)

The weekend super-fight between Gennady ‘GGG’ Golovkin and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez from the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas returns the sport of boxing to the bosom of those who embrace it through the good times and the bad. The type of ardent disciple who nods and purses lips at the mention of James Toney or smiles and rub his or her hands together at the memory of Smokin’ Bert Cooper or Paul ‘Scrap Iron’ Ryan*.

*Other ‘win some, lose some’ brawlers are available. Continue reading “Golovkin v Alvarez: Boxing returns to its Middleweight touchstone”

Boxing: The Truth? You can’t handle the truth. WBC, Hatton and Alvarez

The truth has always been an elusive quarry in the world of boxing. A paradox given the earthy honesty which surges through those who lace up the gloves. Their virtue has always attracted the righteous wordsmith and the devious chancer. Continue reading “Boxing: The Truth? You can’t handle the truth. WBC, Hatton and Alvarez”

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