Heavyweights beware, Time is Gonna Pass You By

Tobi Lark, aka Tobi Legend, once sang, ‘Time is gonna pass you by, so quickly and it waits for no man‘.

Not a theme exclusive to the songwriter, John Rhys, of course and, tangentially, it was serendipitous to learn Rhys was born in the sleepy Suffolk town of Saxmundham, a place a Sunday afternoon drive from my own adopted home, particularly given the sophistication and significance of the song. Rhys moved Stateside as a youngster and would become a distinguished music producer in Detroit and Los Angeles I discovered. Perhaps the influence of Michigan’s blue-collar ‘Motor-town’, historic home of the Ford motor company and Motown Records of course, as opposed to the coastal market town of his birth, explains the soul and beat in the tune and is why it resonated so deeply with a generation of British youngsters.

The thumping cocktail of melancholy and triumph in the Northern Soul anthem embedded Rhys and Legend’s sentiment deep into the psyche of a receptive audience in the 1970s. Tracks like ‘Time is Gonna Pass You By’ entranced a communion of working class kids; coal miners, steel workers, bakers and candlestick makers, longing to escape Lowry skylines, and the drudgery of daily life to converge, via all-night pilgrimages, to clubs and dance halls across the North of England.

Continue reading “Heavyweights beware, Time is Gonna Pass You By”

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Fury, Wilder and Joshua; the normality of avoiding risk

Coincidences can prove jarring, awakening us from the mundanity of our rituals, sometimes they’re not evident without the spectacles of hindsight and occasionally the happenchance of concurrent events or unexpected meetings of people, things, occurrences pass by unnoticed. Just such serendipity brought together two different eras in the heavyweight division for me today and in doing so offered a salve to my throbbing suspicion that Tyson Fury’s alignment with Top Rank and ESPN will steal away a heavyweight era barely rediscovered beneath a layer of Ukrainian dust. Continue reading “Fury, Wilder and Joshua; the normality of avoiding risk”

The Heavyweight soap opera welcomes ‘Two Ton’ Jarrell Miller

The heavyweight picture has always been more of a long running melodrama than a feature film, a truth we sometimes ignore but a truth nevertheless. Great actors have graced the stage and there have been plotlines, rivalries and performances to enrapture us. A few of us remain loyal through the leaner periods when the script dries up and the leading men exit stage left.

Despite the romantic montage we conjure when we think back to by-gone seasons from our formative years, whether Mike, Muhammad or Joe were playing the male lead, not all the episodes were Rumble in the Jungle or The Long Count. For every award winning production there was a Two Ton Tony or The Lion of Flanders episode too. Continue reading “The Heavyweight soap opera welcomes ‘Two Ton’ Jarrell Miller”

Kownacki – simplicity strikes back

There is much to love about the big Polish-American bruiser Adam Kownacki, in every sense. With a puffy squint borrowed from Harry Greb or Carmen Basilio and the heft of a thirties strike breaker, Kownacki is fast becoming my favourite heavyweight. Tyson Fury not withstanding.

At the Barclays Centre last night, Kownacki further enhanced his reputation in the evolving heavyweight division by destroying Gerald Washington in two thunderous rounds that you suspect old Carmen would’ve loved to witness. Continue reading “Kownacki – simplicity strikes back”

BoxingWriter.co.uk Fighters of the Year 2018

It is said that time feels increasingly fleeting with the passing of every year. A lament often aired during the Christmas frivolities, as the day itself ‘cannonballs’ in whilst our minds are still fresh from collecting spent rockets and eating the last of the Halloween Haribo. Certainly for those of us wrestling with middle life, the sticky toffee that holds the melange of children, grandparents and other assorted acquaintances together, the reflection brought on by year end arrives all too quickly.

Add in an interest in the world of boxing, a niche within the Venn diagram of human existence once obscure and peripheral but now experiencing a population boom, and the pace is quickened still further. No weekend in the boxing fan’s diary is ever clear, perhaps save the one forthcoming, and the platforms and mediums for indulging their passion grows by the day. There is barely time to pause for breathe between a Spring time heavyweight showdown in a football stadium and a Featherweight dust up on the brink of New Year.

But, just as the charity pleas that interrupt our Christmas viewing and draw us back from the excess of our indulgence and before we dare to complain, gratitude should be our only sentiment.

Continue reading “BoxingWriter.co.uk Fighters of the Year 2018”

‘The kid got heart’

Article first appeared in Big Write Hook Magazine: Round 2

Heart. Every successful fighter must have it. Not the pumping organ of all human kind. The intangible version; heart as the metaphoric adjective for the invisible and yet essential.

Other terms are coined to define this unquantifiable asset; courage, guts, balls. Words you will read and hear in the tumult of a boxing match and in the aftermath, when the cups and broken dreams are swept away. Beneath the spotlight of a more dispassionate scrutiny ‘heart’ proves an elusive quarry. What is it? How can it be proven, can it be measured, developed, lost or restored? Continue reading “‘The kid got heart’”

Fury returns from the abyss

“when you stare into an abyss for a long time, the abyss also stares into you.”

Nietzsche, 1886

As the thick black oil of sleep flooded through Tyson Fury’s gigantic body, the crackle of nervous energy that had powered his wit and reflex silenced, his senses immersed in unconsciousness; time, possibility and life all fell silent too. His body and mind in a temporal abyss, a place he had travelled close to in the darkness of the past three years, a destination boxing, until that moment, at the fists of her purest puncher, had saved him from.

In those moments, those precarious and precious seconds, Jack Reiss’ two palms and six digits casting a pale shadow over his blank, peaceful expression, something inside the 30-year old former champion stirred. Defining or quantifying the force or personal quality that drew Fury from the depths of the slumber Wilder’s right cross and left hook had plunged him in to is as close to impossible as the act itself. Continue reading “Fury returns from the abyss”

Wilder v Fury: How Tyson Fury can beat the odds

By Hector T. Morgan

The wait is almost over, anticipation has grown steadily since the fight announcement and with the drama of the final press conference fresh in the mind, fight fans are just a day or two out from seeing undefeated heavyweight behemoths Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury trade leather in their WBC title fight in Los Angeles on Saturday night.

Wilder is the odds-on betting favourite to claim his 41st career win and, if he is to fulfil that expectation, it is assumed it will be inside the distance and Fury will become Wilder’s 40th knockout victim too. Anyone counting out the self-styled “The Gypsy King” would be greatly underestimating the giant Brit, his penchant for the improbable and a host of advantages he has going into the fight. Continue reading “Wilder v Fury: How Tyson Fury can beat the odds”

Fury disappoints

There was a cut, he’s young, he was away from home, his opponent is a wily veteran. All true. All verifiable reasons Hughie Fury’s attempt to secure a mandated shot at Anthony Joshua failed. Those protecting their interest or adopting an especially thick monocle of pragmatism through which to view the result will point to the experience gained, the rounds navigated and the narrowest of the three cards.

It would be understandable and, as the days turn in to weeks, that narrative may well take hold and become the hazy recollection of a bout otherwise willingly forgotten by those that endured it. For Fury to succeed on the world ‘stage’, rather than merely exist as an awkward facsimile of his more talented cousin, the flaws that run much deeper in his performance than the cut eye lid he sustained last night must be addressed.

Must.

Continue reading “Fury disappoints”

Pulev surely too wise and too sturdy for Fury the younger

First published on Gambling.com on 10th September 2018

There is much to like about the heavyweight clash between Bulgaria’s Kubrat Pulev and Britain’s Hughie Fury. Scheduled for late October in Sofia, the match brings together two big men at different ends of their respective careers and will clarify much about their prospects in a weight class rich with possibilities.

As with all prize fights there is a sense of a ‘crossroads’ for both fighters, a study of the usual metrics can inform those looking to invest in the outcome. Continue reading “Pulev surely too wise and too sturdy for Fury the younger”

Joshua finds more equality than expected in veteran Povetkin

You don’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you might just get what you need.

Michael Jagger and Keith Richards (c) 1968

Dominance is an elusive quarry. And in boxing, I maintain, it is unwelcome. I’ve struck upon the notion that only in equality can greatness be forged; Ali needed Frazier, Holmes needed someone he didn’t have. On Saturday night, Anthony Joshua, the type of gentleman champion British fans so adore, emerged victorious from a difficult heavyweight defence with his titles in tact and most of the adoration suckled. The fight revealed a relative equality with his contemporaries that will suit his own quest for historical significance.

For those of us commenting and watching from the safe side of the ropes, his pursuit of that legacy will be all the more enjoyable for the competition. Continue reading “Joshua finds more equality than expected in veteran Povetkin”

Joshua v Povetkin – betting preview

Article first appeared at Freebets.net on 20th September 2018

Something has changed in the heavyweight division. The lucrative ecology Anthony Joshua created in his ascent to the throne has been disturbed. The indicators are not oblique or explicit, but to this observer the equilibrium of his characteristically jocular temperament registered a first tremor of anger and discomfort this week. Fight fans that note these shifting plates could enjoy some benefits with the best bookmakers.

As the consensus, if not unanimous, king of the sport’s blue ribbon division, Joshua is no longer the leader of the ‘rebellion’. He is the establishment. This has helped motivate many who marvelled at his rise to voice misgivings about his intentions. The memory of his conquering of Wladimir Klitschko and subsequent unification victory over Joseph Parker have quickly become obscured by the passage of time and the shadows cast by the returning Tyson Fury. Continue reading “Joshua v Povetkin – betting preview”

Fury pivots and the heavyweight division changes direction too

Francesco Pianeta played his part, the 250-pound piñata for birthday boy Tyson Fury’s party. He took his cheque and plodded home safe and well as Fury confessed he hoped he would. Pianeta seemed happy enough. Undamaged, paid and with a tale or two to tell his grandkids. It says much of the heavyweight division we’ve endured this past 10 years that the gallant, if parsimonious, German pug once fought for the title.

But then Joe Louis fought bums too. With the party complete, and with the piñata not opened up in the way one might imagine the Brown Bomber would’ve done following a similar two year absence, Fury’s big present was revealed. Continue reading “Fury pivots and the heavyweight division changes direction too”

Fury, boxing’s Northern Soul, gathers himself for improbable coup

Now my reputation has been one of the fastest men alive
So I’m gonna see how good you are when I count to five.

Archie Bell and The Drells
Gamble and Huff (c) 1969

I don’t ride on roller coasters. Never have. As a kid they terrified me, as most things of the unknown, the uncontrollable usually did. Now decades later, and as fully formed as I’m likely to become, crown exposed and eyes narrowing, the echo of that timid narrator remains as does the preference for control and for certainty. The actions of others, whether my daughter prowling the football fields of Suffolk or unwitting fighters from Feather to Heavyweight, afford me opportunity to marvel at those with the qualities I craved and in this vicarious voyeurism, experience the gnaw of uncertainty and danger without the risk.

There is something of this in my affection for Tyson Fury, the lug from Manchester, with the big heart, bigger appetite and even bigger words. Continue reading “Fury, boxing’s Northern Soul, gathers himself for improbable coup”

A boxing ring, the old truthsayer, humbles Fury on his return.

I know things that are broken can be fixed. Take the punch if you have to, hit the canvas and then get up again. Life is worth it.

Queen Latifah

Such is Tyson Fury’s unique predisposition for the sublime and the absurd, frequently embracing both within the same interview and occasionally a single sentence, we the onlookers, with our garlands of good will and ‘fag-packet psychology, shouldn’t be surprised that even in the confines of the pre-ordained he continued to defy convention.

Where speed was expected, sluggishness was found, where elusiveness was predicted, vulnerability was evident and where power was anticipated, delivery was flawed.

In preview, I’d mooted a scenario in which Tyson Fury could find simply climbing from the well of despair in to which he’d fallen, following his seminal victory over Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015, back to ground zero, back to a debut, essentially, against an overmatched Cruiserweight – which is where it all began a decade ago – could prove sufficient triumph. There was evidence enough in his return bout to suggest, however unlikely, that the possibility remains.

Continue reading “A boxing ring, the old truthsayer, humbles Fury on his return.”

Elephant in the room. Tyson Fury returns.

Throughout Anthony Joshua emergence over the past three years; in every pre-fight press conference, in every post fight interview, the chill of Tyson Fury’s often ethereal presence has persisted. Unspoken, particularly in the period in which the Mancunian candidate seemed emotionally furthest from a return, the legend of the enigmatic Gypsy King has grown exponentially and offered silent sentry to the conflicting rhythms of hoopla and humility being sold in his absence.

Continue reading “Elephant in the room. Tyson Fury returns.”

Joshua v Parker; follow the crowd but don’t follow the crowd

By T. R. Lewison

Those who followed boxing in its formative, freewheeling and unregulated years were afforded the collective sobriquet ‘The Fancy’, a title bestowed by Pierce Egan in his seminal studies of the noble art; Boxiana, published in the early part of the 19th century. Despite its evolution over the ensuing century or two, boxing remains more closely preserved to its original form than modern reportage would encourage you to believe. A sprawling metropolis of hope and deceit, today as ever it was then, the sport still attracts interest across the social spectrum irrespective of demographics or political persuasion.

The new ‘Fancy’ enjoy the reverie as much as their forebears and for those who attempted to secure a taxi following Anthony Joshua’s last bout in Cardiff there will be a kinship for the travails of earlier followers who traipsed across ploughed fields to find secretive venues in the morning mist.

Yes, much remains the same. Betting on the outcome of bouts was at the heart of those early encounters and events, like the forthcoming unification between Joshua and Parker, and only in the availability of a battery of sophisticated markets to tempt punters and investors is  a distinction to be found. While the fight itself draws yet another enormous sell out crowd to the Principality Stadium on the 31st, it is wise not to follow them in the betting market if you seek to profit on the outcome.  Continue reading “Joshua v Parker; follow the crowd but don’t follow the crowd”

Bronze Bomber proves his mettle and greatness may yet await

Greatness is a product of many things, without a degree of innate talent the journey to such status is hard to even begin. It is a status that requires resistance, friction. Without a compilation of experiences that burnish and test the qualities of those who chase it, the talent beneath remains undiscovered or unresolved; an intangible or immeasurable ore.

In beating Luis Ortiz, beautifully described as the Cuban ogre by Kevin Mitchell at the Guardian in his preview, the WBC Heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder finally, belatedly, took the opportunity to step toward the greatness he craves. Victory polished his record to a pristine 40-0 with 39 knockouts and the seventh round proved he was more than the sum of those shiny statistics. Continue reading “Bronze Bomber proves his mettle and greatness may yet await”

Wilder not taking Ortiz too lightly

The news Deontay Wilder weighed in at 214 pounds and the weight of his pants and socks for the 7th defence of his fight with Cuban Luis Ortiz drew a raised eye brow or two. In the modern era, which consensus seems to determine began when Mike Tyson knocked out Trevor Berbick in 1986, or alternatively, when Lennox Lewis overcame Tyson’s nemesis Evander in 1996, we’ve grown accustomed to heavyweights of gigantic dimension.

Beneath the greatness of Lennox and the longevity of Wladimir Klitschko, a procession of giants from the four corners of the globe have tried to impose their own dominance on the division and prove the boxing truism; ‘a good big un always beats a good little un.’

Continue reading “Wilder not taking Ortiz too lightly”

Beauty is only skin deep, yeh, yeh, yeh. Gorman and Dubois win again

My first look at Nathan Gorman last year led me to reminisce about Big Bad John McDermott sitting in the back of a Range Rover eating chicken legs out of Tupperware tubs. Whilst it is clear the young heavyweight has been working hard and improving under the tutelage of Ricky Hatton up in Manchester, his physical definition remains below that associated with a professional athlete.

When viewed in the same ring as Daniel Dubois, a physical specimen of Marvel dimension, it is easy to be dismissive of the fleshy 21-year-old. However, to reach such superficial conclusion is to fail to understand the nuance that exists in the making of a good fighter and the attributes that fighter may possess, i.e. boxing isn’t a beauty pageant. Continue reading “Beauty is only skin deep, yeh, yeh, yeh. Gorman and Dubois win again”

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”

The 5 biggest fights of 2018?

Only the most faithful narcissist could conjure reasons why the current buoyancy of the sport, particularly in Europe, is not unprecedented and, seemingly, irresistible. These mole-eyed killjoys are often compelled to remind the frothy new members of the ‘Fancy’ that stadium fights are not a 21st century invention. Further, they point to different periods of the 18th and 19th century when champions of the prize ring were feted and known around the globe long before their image and actions could be bounced from a satellite or appear in miniature and unfathomable immediacy in your hand.

There was, after all, a John L Sullivan, before there was a Johnson, or a Dempsey or a Louis. An Ali and Tyson before a Joshua, though all too obvious and too topical to reference given the frisson the die-hards feel at confounding the sport’s ‘tanked up’ new casuals with tales of the more obscure and obtuse credentials of Langford and Wills, Briscoe or Lopez. Continue reading “The 5 biggest fights of 2018?”

Heavyweight David Price on learning from loss, his comeback and Tyson Fury

“I don’t like this myth that I’m a fucking head case!”

Wisdom oft proves an elusive asset. Remaining invisible to subjects unwilling or unable to recognise and embrace the lessons life uses to swaddle it in. These lessons are typically more conspicuous, more tangible, in the loneliness of failure, when your senses are exposed, when life, or, in a heavyweight prizefighter’s case, a seventeen stone opponent, has knocked you down and stripped you of much of what you thought you were. If you pause long enough in that stillness, when the roar of the crowd fades and the platitudes and sycophants dissolve in to the night, wisdom can come flooding forth.

In conversation with former British and Commonwealth Heavyweight champion David Price, I was struck by how much more content and at ease he sounded following a period of soul searching in the aftermath of his stoppage defeat to Christian Hammer in February. He confesses, he contemplated retirement. Continue reading “Heavyweight David Price on learning from loss, his comeback and Tyson Fury”

The grip of nostalgia, the theft of perspective. Fury v Joshua could be Ali and Frazier.

Although age usually brings a degree of wisdom, to those of us blessed sufficiently to accumulate the years and decades, it also brings with it the inherent risk of becoming a nostalgic. A condition without physical pain, but one that can effect your eyesight and reason. Too often we, the royal we, because I’ve succumbed as much as the next man, unless the next man is dear old Colin Hart, apply a rosey exaggerated hue to all things by gone, to the events of history and the heroes and villains who acted in them. This is most virulent around instances and characters we bore witness to in our formative years, but not exclusively so.

Boxing, like every other aspect of life, suffers from this phenomenon. I’ve seen the argument for Harry Greb being the best Middleweight of all time, and read the case for Jack Johnson being the finest heavyweight who ever graced the squared circle to name but two examples. Opinion with merit of course, but based almost entirely on still photographs and a precious few seconds of actual recorded action. More commonplace among those of us with grey at the temples is the summary dismissal of any fighter active today if matched with their historic forefathers. Continue reading “The grip of nostalgia, the theft of perspective. Fury v Joshua could be Ali and Frazier.”

Can Wilder really beat Joshua?

By T.R. Lewison

2017 already feels like a watershed year in the world of boxing, and with discussions underway to conjure further big fights in the New Year, 2018 may yet surpass even the high points of the past twelve months. The best are beginning to realise the commercial benefit of fighting each other; from flyweight to the new generation of giants contesting belts in boxing’s blue riband weight class, the heavyweights.

The rise of Anthony Joshua has been the story of the sport’s heaviest division in recent months, as the Briton has stormed to prominence and sporting superstardom with his efforts in the ring and likeability factor outside of it. AJ’s defeat of legendary fighter and future Hall of Fame world champion Wladimir Klitschko, and the drama contained in the 11th round victory, gave him the platform he needed to propel himself beyond the confines of boxing and become a transcending ambassador for the sport. Continue reading “Can Wilder really beat Joshua?”

Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years

“Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years.”

James Todd Smith (aka LL Cool J)

Since I began to write about boxing again, I’ve taken note to appreciate how much has changed and how much has remained the same. The reflection this affords to my own life; the realisation of how much time has lapsed since I was immersed in boxing; attending shows, buying magazines, pay-per-views and inhabiting forums is an uncomfortable one. Representing, as it does, a decade of neglect for my love of the craft of writing and the sport itself; the characters, the light and dark, the sepia past and the high-definition future.

The recurrence of names of similar vintage to my own, those who were pertinent that decade ago, and the realisation so many of them are still pursuing purses and chasing dreams provides a touchstone which is both comforting and disturbing in equal measure.  Continue reading “Don’t call it a comeback, I’ve been here for years”

Yes M’Lady. Parker retains title

Joseph Parker, the World Boxing Organisation’s World Heavyweight Champion – a top-10 contender in old money, secured a Majority Decision against Hughie Fury at the Manchester Arena tonight.

In a turgid affair, the Kiwi champion was rewarded for landing a mere handful of heavier right hands and forcing the pace throughout. The scorecards, which included two 118-110 returns, one from the same Terry O’Connor Parker’s team had rejected as the appointed referee, appeared unduly wide. Continue reading “Yes M’Lady. Parker retains title”

Saunders remains unbeaten. No more, no less.

Billy Joe Saunders confirmed his status as a leading contender in the middleweight division tonight with a unanimous decision victory over Willie Monroe Junior at the Copperbox Arena, London.

By keeping his unbeaten record and custody of the World Boxing Organisation’s version of the 160 pound division title, Saunders maintains his leverage in the race to face the winner of tonight’s Golovkin v Alvarez super-fight in Las Vegas. Continue reading “Saunders remains unbeaten. No more, no less.”

Boxing: Can we really expect ‘vanilla’ role models from boxing?

Fury2George Foreman once said; “Boxing was the sport to which all others aspire.” Oh how the sport’s followers love to trot that line out. The average fight fan yearns for boxing to meet Foreman’s validation. On occasion it does, too often it is merely wistful nostalgia.

Tyson Fury’s ascension to the throne in Germany rekindled that debate once more as boxing was pushed to the front of the news agenda. Continue reading “Boxing: Can we really expect ‘vanilla’ role models from boxing?”

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