There is a lot written about the boxing business. I know, because I’ve contributed to the digital morass over the years. The decoding of boxing’s uniquely improvised jazz chords is something I’ve grown tired of. I was happy to prove my grasp of its trills and chromatic harmony at the peak of my immersion. Approaching 50, I’m a much more weary listener.Continue reading “Do I have to understand the ‘business’ of boxing?”
We are the hollow men,
We are the stuffed men.
Head piece full of straw.
As weary eyed guests checked out of the MGM Grand hotel and post fight podcasts sieved through the detritus of the weekend like a hopeless gold rush miner searching for an undiscovered nugget, veteran reporter Lance Pugmire revealed deposed champion Deontay Wilder’s claim that the weight of his ring entrance outfit had stolen the sap from his legs and contributed to his downfall.
To the average Joe, it was a line without precedent and one met with universal dismay or good old fashioned laughter. Quite how above average Joes; Louis, Walcott and Frazier, would’ve greeted the revelation one can only speculate. Consensus might reasonably assume any responses that were printable would’ve been light on empathy.
Spare a thought for Don Rickles too, who will be fuming to have missed the chance to pen an entire 20 minute Roast at the former WBC champion’s expense.
“I can only note that the past is beautiful because one never realises an emotion at the time. It expands later, and thus we don’t have complete emotions about the present, only about the past.”
In a world of fake news, to which all facts become refutable, where opinion matters more than truth and being right is a state of mind rather than a resolved conclusion, it becomes ever harder to remain objective in our summation of fighters. Fighters like Deontay Wilder. These modern ills encourage closed thinking, nostalgia for times passed and the methods and ways that made them.
To crave that past is natural, to canonise those who loomed large within it likewise, but it is a flawed benchmark with which to measure those who swim in their wake. It is a story as prevalent in boxing as any other facet of life. The hurricane of content we are subjected to in the age of social media does tug at the anchor points of these beliefs but amid the din of those gales, we can all be guilty of becoming extremist in our view in order to be heard, clinging ever more tightly to the rigidity of our thinking. Continue reading “Deontay Wilder and his battle with truth and nostalgia”
“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First by reflection; second by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.”
Anthony Joshua’s victory last night revealed much about the character of the man, and the capability of the fighter. In a career which has seemed preordained as success followed success, endorsement battled endorsement, as millions were stacked upon millions, the ‘Stay Humble’ hashtag Joshua hung on every action and endeavour had begun to irritate rather than soothe those of us craving that defining match up with Deontay Wilder.
Last night, and in the corrective steps Joshua took in the prelude to the fight, he secured redemption for the nightmare of defeat in June, but demonstrated a humility in the process to match the much worn sound byte. Continue reading “Joshua excels, Ruiz rues excess”
As a man who often speaks in the couplets and chiasma of a Californian self-help guru and pursues enlightenment among the slings and arrows life as a prizefighter affords him, Anthony Joshua will surely embrace the truth his rematch with Mexican Andy Ruiz should provide. The British giant is likely to learn more about his mettle as a fighter this weekend than in any of his preceding encounters and, whether victorious or not, will also reveal much about his own character to those, like me, who questioned his ability to reinvent himself following such a humbling defeat.
Irrespective of the outcome of the rematch there will be a satisfaction, a solace or consolation at least, in the clarity of the result. Providing controversy doesn’t visit, Joshua’s boldness in seeking redemption when more pragmatic options were available will be lauded. For there are many fighters who would’ve sought a more circuitous route back to the top and many of us watching from the ringside or the comfort of our sofas who would have accepted the pragmatism it would’ve represented.
Saudi Arabia is the controversial theatre for the latest act in the grand old opera of heavyweight boxing on Saturday 7th December. A purpose built stadium plays host and offers an unwelcome echo from the original golden age of boxing when eager investors brought the great Jack Dempsey and Tommy Gibbons to Shelby, Montana and almost bankrupt the entire town in 1923.
The 15,000 open air arena outside Riyadh is unlikely to trouble the infinite wealth of those who built it and invited boxing to its exclusive back garden. It will be an unlikely stage for Anthony Joshua to try and reclaim the belts he lost in New York to the same American, Andy Ruiz Jnr, he faces on Saturday.
For all the historic significance of the titles the two will battle for, the fight means more than just the prizes to Joshua. It is about the restoration of the truth he still believes, that he is best heavyweight on the planet and his defeat in June was an aberration. A fluke.
Victory would certainly reassert his place among the highest echelon of the division and reignite interest in potentially defining fights with Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder in 2020. A second defeat to the previously unheralded Ruiz may prove a blemish too far and forever extinguish Joshua’s hopes of transcending the sport’s history and diminish the notion the trio could yet create a new golden era in the flag ship weight class.
It really is, all on the line for the 2012 Olympic Champion. Boxing betting sites are thankfully eager to offer markets. Continue reading “Joshua v Ruiz rematch preview and tips”
Deontay Wilder’s demolition of Ortiz, having lost the first six rounds on every score card other than those of his eight children and Terry O’Connor, proved that he is the division’s, and maybe the entire sports’, purest puncher. Wilder has the power of Zeus in his right hand and the one that pierced Ortiz’s guard, leaving the talented Cuban crumpled in a heap like soiled clothes on a wash room floor, had all the meta required for the viral age.
Wilder has become a box office fighter, just in time for the most lucrative box office era of them all. Continue reading “Wilder flattens Ortiz. Fury next for the ultimate prize”
The earthquake caused by Andy Ruiz and inflicted on the heavyweight landscape continues to reverberate more than a week on from his astonishing triumph. Contenders are renewed and emboldened by Ruiz’s exploits. For a while, there will be a swirl of belief, of daring do to enflame those endowed with a shot at the sport’s leading lights in the months ahead.
Such was the completeness of Anthony Joshua’s denouement to the speed, guile and gumption of Ruiz that practically anything now appears possible.
Could an aftershock unseat another of the would-be trio of Kings? This weekend unheralded German Tom Schwarz will be the first to try as he attempts to fell the towering Tyson Fury at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Boxing bookmakers offer some attractive odds for those willing to dream the impossible dream. Continue reading “Tyson Fury returns for carnival in Vegas – Preview and Tips”
“The struggle is my life.”
Nelson Mandela (written in 1961)
Accepted wisdom proposes that heavyweight boxing is in rude health. The simultaneous primes of Deontay Wilder, the WBC’S champion, Anthony Joshua, recognised by the WBO, IBF and WBA and Tyson Fury, the somewhat contested custodian of the lineal championship offer the promise of a new golden age.
Were there a PowerPoint presentation to pitch this notion to investors, it would suggest, repeatedly, that Heavyweight boxing is stronger now than it has been at any other point in the past 20 years.
Graphs, pie charts and slick video clips of vast crowds and packed football stadiums would be used to convince the doubting audience. And boxing wouldn’t be short of salesman capable of taking up this thread, but as a summary of the sport’s blue ribbon division, it does host an obvious omission. Continue reading “Joshua and the pursuit of undisputed”
German-born American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, or Mies as he was widely known, gilded the phrase ‘Less is more’ while writing in the New York Herald Tribune in 1959. A phrase that informs much of the modernist movement of which Mies was a pioneer in his works in Germany, Spain and the United States and may predate his seminal use in his essay on Restraint in Design. Robert Browning, the great poet and playwright, may also contest the origin, but it was Mies who substantiated the philosophy in bricks, mortar and steel.
Mies celebrated the beauty of the necessary and the restraint required to resist all but that which is essential for the building to function. Every single structure he was commissioned to design in America remains in place and in use.
In the present era, in which boxing’s beauty is obscured and disfigured by the posturing and politicking of promoters and champions, with the rampant virility of sanctioning bodies’ influence tugging and displacing the sport’s very foundations, there was a refreshing simplicity to Saturday night’s action. In the contrasting displays of Wilder and Inoue, much that is great in boxing, that which enthrals us, entwines itself about our spirit and soul was available to see.
More was taken from less. More enjoyment. More progress. More clarity.
Continue reading “Less is more. Wilder glorious. Inoue imperious.”
“I am a shadow of my former shadow. My day was decades ago.”
Ian Holm as Gilliam, Snowpiercer 2013.
The competitive chasm that yawns between the trio of heavyweight champions; Fury, Wilder and Joshua, and their respective guests in the next few weeks has served to anithetise fans previously stirred by Fury and Wilder’s fight back in December.
Back then optimism flowed freely. Fury’s boldness had holed the dam of pragmatism risk averse advisors use to contain the adrenalin and fervour good fights create and suppress the inherent courage of their fighters. Continue reading “Age isn’t just a number. It remains a deadline.”
“Any fool can tell the truth, but it requires a man of some sense to know how to lie well.”
Samuel Butler, Novelist – 1835-1902
The vacuous melange of bullshit, fabrication and bluff boxing fans endure grows more tiresome by the day, the month, the year. However ‘casual’ or ‘steady’ you define your own relationship with the old show girl, ‘it’s complicated’ is likely the most apt summary of the connection.
Where certainty should be available, in the places most sport’s host facts and truth, black and white, boxing has only grey, caveats, asterisk. It is a tired rumination. A frayed thread tugged on by good writers and bad ones. Despite the magnatism of the ‘modern problem’ narrative to this unwelcome reality, boxing has always been a cocktail of the bewitching and bewildering. In 135 years of the gloved era, since John L Sullivan fought Dominick McCafferty, a fight the ‘Boston Strong Boy’ won in the seventh round of a six round fight, and that isn’t a typing error, sport’s ultimate prize has rarely existed in the nirvana our nostalgia insists it did. Continue reading “Boxing fans must guard the gate to heavyweight history”
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.
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 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”
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”
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.
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’”
“when you stare into an abyss for a long time, the abyss also stares into you.”
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”
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”
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.
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”
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”
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”
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”
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”
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.
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.
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.
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”
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”