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”

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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”

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?”

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: Tyson Fury will topple a Klitschko first – BoxingWriter Reader’s Vote

Three years ago the audience of BoxingWriter.co.uk plumped for young Tyson Fury in a poll which asked the question; Who will one of the Klitschko’s lose to first? Time moved slowly in between and it seems a life time ago in retrospect; both Povetkin and Thompson were, at the time, the Klitschko’s next two opponents. Continue reading “Boxing: Tyson Fury will topple a Klitschko first – BoxingWriter Reader’s Vote”

Boxing: Tyson Fury career lightest at 245 pounds

If Tyson Fury is to be taken seriously as a heavyweight contender it is always implied that it will only happen when he adds stamina to his natural gifts of hand-speed, confidence, height and gumption. The latter he has already demonstrated in abundance. The pre-amble to his fight with Martin Rogan has centered on two things, Fury’s Irishness and his claim to the ‘crowd’ at the Belfast event and bold proclamations about previously unheralded fitness for his clash with the 40-year-old veteran. Weighing in at a lean 17 stone 7 pounds 12 ounces, or 245 pounds to our American cousins, Fury suggests he has employed some much needed discipline in preparation for this Irish Heavyweight title clash. Continue reading “Boxing: Tyson Fury career lightest at 245 pounds”

Boxing: Heavyweight Poll – Who will one of the Klitschko’s lose to first?

There are precious few negative descriptives left unemployed  by those who try to define the current heavyweight scene. From the shallow to the lamentable, to the drab and forgettable the current crop of heavyweights and those still clinging to credibility from the last generation have largely all been exposed or dismantled at the hands of the Brothers Ukraine. Those thought to have the tools to upset their duopoly; Povetkin and Haye have proven lacking in the ability or willingness to execute the required strategy. So who will find a way to beat them? Continue reading “Boxing: Heavyweight Poll – Who will one of the Klitschko’s lose to first?”

Boxing: In form and active; the path less trodden to the Klitschkos

Fifty-five thousand people gathered at the weekend to watch Wladimir Klitschko render the once proud Cruiserweight Champion of the World, Jean Marc-Mormeck, even more ineffective than those with some foresight believed he’d prove when the fight was signed. Size is not the only currency in the heavyweight division, it is important to remember Jess Willard, at 6ft 6 inches and 235 pounds, was pounded to defeat by Jack Dempsey and later Primo Carnera who weighed 270 pounds and was of comparably lofty perspective when Max Baer inflicted a similar drubbing. At nearly 40 years of age, inactive for 15 months and struggling to stretch the tape even to six feet, Mormeck was however, spectacularly unqualified for the adventure he signed up for. Continue reading “Boxing: In form and active; the path less trodden to the Klitschkos”

Boxing: What a tangled web we weave. Tarver and Fury practice to deceive

There is a hierarchy to everything. Whether it be a pack of wolves, heavyweights or journalists. No demographic or social organism exists without either a class system or a distinct pyramid of significance or achievement. In the wild, the theory of evolution demands this hierarchy is structured upon one simple principle. ‘Survival of the fittest’. Thus, the alpha animal remains so while ever he has the strength to repel younger aspirants. Continue reading “Boxing: What a tangled web we weave. Tarver and Fury practice to deceive”

Boxing: Tyson Fury 270 pounds for McDermott rematch

Big Tyson Fury was bigger than ever ahead of the much-anticipated rematch with John McDermott. Weighing in at 19 stone 4, eclipsing his debut weight 18 months ago and 23 pounds heavier than in the first contest. McDermott looked more trim despite a characteristic weight of 18 stone 2, or 254 pounds. Surprisingly Fury, who attended in typically jovial mood seemed in reasonable shape but the weight doesn’t suggest his preparation for this fight has been as intense as it should have been. McDermott certainly appears fixated on victory this time and with McDonnell in his ear, may yet find the resolve and self-belief to make the final step. Continue reading “Boxing: Tyson Fury 270 pounds for McDermott rematch”

Maloney: “As far as we know, Tyson Fury is OK for the fight”

Throughout Tyson Fury’s embryonic boxing career he has embraced and wrestled with more media attention than his exploits in the ring have thus far merited. In part due to his eye-catching name, part due his back-story as a 6 foot 7 inch giant from travelling stock and in no small part to the potential he showed. On the surface, Fury has revelled in the attention and seemed naturally quotable whenever a camera was pushed in his face. Youthful charisma or an arrogance waiting to bite him on his not inconsiderable posterior? Depends how you like your fighters, respectful and humble or brash and loquacious? In the run up to his much required rematch with John McDermott the normally omnipresent Fury has been uncharacteristically quiet. A cause of some concern to Frank Maloney, who has to sell tickets for the clash and for fans, who want to buy them. Continue reading “Maloney: “As far as we know, Tyson Fury is OK for the fight””

Larry Olubamiwo to face Big Dave Ferguson on June 25th

Likeable, affable heavyweight Larry Olubamiwo announced overnight that his opponent on the big Maloney bill later this month, June 25th at Brentwood, will be the North East’s Dave Ferguson in a cracking contest that serves as a title Eliminator for the British and Commonwealth titles. Great news for both fighters and a boom for Frank Maloney who now manages or promotes a crop of the division’s most viable talents. Continue reading “Larry Olubamiwo to face Big Dave Ferguson on June 25th”

John McDermott: “I don’t want any favouritism, just whoever WINS, wins!”

I met John McDermott once. He was standing at the back of the press rows the night David Haye got beaten by Carl Thompson. An evening more notable for him because he saw Mark Krence flattened by an imported journeyman that looked likely to rule the boxing butcher out of their proposed Eliminator, a contest, John lamented, for which he’d already sold £10,000 of tickets. And that snatched conversation typifies the kind of circumstantial misfortune he has laboured under for his entire professional career. In his forthcoming rematch with Tyson Fury I have a growing suspicion the genial giant may yet have his moment in the sun and overcome that sense of never being in the right place at the right time once and for all. Continue reading “John McDermott: “I don’t want any favouritism, just whoever WINS, wins!””

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