Chocolatito, a champion in old money

The truth is rarely pure and never simple. 

Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest (1895)

Truth has become an elusive quarry in boxing, perhaps the truth about truth is that it has always been so or that its very existence and supposed purity is, itself, merely a fable. A fantasy. Things, people, events, facts, can only exist in the perspective from which they are viewed after all. And with a meritocracy suffocated by the destructive ingenuity and self interest of those appointed to provide it, many of the old ways have been lost too.

Last weekend, Birmingham’s Khalid ‘Kal’ Yafai discovered one truth that boxing’s chameleons and racketeers, with their prisms of subterfuge and bullshit, have yet to obscure or subvert. That being; within the ropes, whatever the path to the steps, however loud the fan fare or shiny the garb, there is no hiding place and the higher quality fighter, if prepared, will always prevail. Continue reading “Chocolatito, a champion in old money”

Damned if you do, damned if you don’t; Davis to face Hugo Ruiz

In 2019, the weed of cynicism is so thickly entwined in much of what we say, read and hear that our collective consciousness is being starved of the sunshine of positivity. Clouding our days and gnawing at our nights. Social media has proved to be the artificial lighting required to fuel rampant growth of an outlook once the preserve of the few but now the default setting for millions. To stretch the metaphor further, cynicism has its dealers and users and the internet offers them anonymity or infamy, subject to preference, as well as an infinite supply of virtual street corners and under the table shadows in which it can be exchanged.

Omnipresent on every platform in which people congregate, irrigated by sarcasm and often recut and repackaged, to avoid scrutiny, as its more palatable brethren; pragmatism and realism, cynicism is far too established to unroot.  In the main, it’s origin is merely disguised jealousy. Espoused by the covetous, by those searching for meaning and popularity they cannot otherwise find and loathing those that have.

Accomplishment, effort, courage, success are met with scorn by eager detractors. Should a fighter stumble or crumble, the misfortune attracts a cackle of anonymous hyenas keen to feast on the schadenfreude of it all.

I know, because, like you, I recognise the behaviour in myself. I am trying to be better. Gervonta Davis is the newest recipient of my new, but often erratically applied, benevolence. Continue reading “Damned if you do, damned if you don’t; Davis to face Hugo Ruiz”

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”

Lomachenko the betting favourite for New York clash with Linares

By Hector T. Morgan

When he takes a break from walking on his hands or boxing tennis balls, Vasyl Lomachenko will turn his attention towards Venezuelan Jorge Linares as the Ukraine boxing superstar aims to move his professional CV to 11-1-0. The talented pair will meet over 12 rounds for the WBA lightweight world title on May 12 at Madison Square Garden, New York and the betting has ‘Hi-Tech’ hot favourite for victory.

The 30-year-old has been fast-tracked towards the top of the paid ranks following a glittering amateur career and has taken the challenge in his stride to date, losing only to Orlando Salido on a 12-round points split decision in March 2014, and that was just his second professional contest. Continue reading “Lomachenko the betting favourite for New York clash with Linares”

Joshua learns a jab is no inoculation to criticism

Like Joshua, I spent Saturday playing a role distinct from my usual casting; Joshua won largely favourable reviews for his portrayal of a cautious, pedestrian boxer loathed to engage whilst I stood against a post in the pub, nursing an almost empty pint glass, nervous at the prospect of committing to the queue between rounds. Neither of us, I suspect, gleaned the same satisfaction or contentment we would have from playing to type. He as the emotional, knockout artist and me as the thoughtful wannabe.

Though both proved prudent, these temporary alter-egos, it will be a temporary diversion for me at least, though the experience did provide several valuable and salutary lessons. I learnt much about Joshua and the perspective of those who do not need to contemplate the impact of sharing their opinions too. Certainly not in the way I do when committing them to the world beyond the pub door, however small the readership.

Joshua undoubtedly learned much from his 21st professional success too; notably the power of patience, discipline and employing a degree of pragmatism. Coincidently, a stark juxtaposition of my experience with the impatience, ill-discipline and blood lust of an evening as a ‘casual’.

Continue reading “Joshua learns a jab is no inoculation to criticism”

Magee and Confusion Reign; the WBA and the quest for ever more titles

Only those entirely immersed in the sport are able to negotiate the labyrinthine collection of weight classes, governing bodies and titles the sport has adopted to provide measure of its participants’ success or failure. But as it adds ever more tiers and layers, so the benchmarks become ever more meaningless. Even the seemingly impeachable concept of a fighter’s record is blighted by context and controversy.

There is no longer an available method for recognising a fight’s or a fighter’s place in the sport’s hierarchy. And there is the rub. The simplest, purest sport is now engulfed in unnecessary complication. Complication that serves to ostracise the general public and push boxing to the margins of the sporting landscape. Continue reading “Magee and Confusion Reign; the WBA and the quest for ever more titles”

Boxing: Harrison v Haye – why it should happen

Despite David Haye’s protestations to the contrary the prospect of this unlikely heavyweight prizefight remains the talking point of the day in the dungeons of the internet’s boxing forums. Audley Harrison has, afterall, already sacrificed the European title in the belief that he will secure the all-British world heavyweight title fight he and television network Sky Sports appear to crave. Debuting his guest column, John Cascells reflects on the fight; why it may prove to be more challenging than the cynics presume and why he is sure it will make for must-see television. Continue reading “Boxing: Harrison v Haye – why it should happen”

Boxing: David Haye in Orwellian about turn; Audley not Vitali or Wladimir next?

It was meant to be different. That was the tag-line. The sedentary waters of the heavyweight division were to be purified. David Haye wanted to fight the best heavyweights straight away, he didn’t want to procrastinate, to manoeuvre. He just wanted to know if he was the best, prove it or fail. Money was secondary. Challenge was everything. Boxing’s downtrodden masses craved the Utopia Haye was selling. He evangelised about bypassing promoters, side-stepping sanctioning bodies and the established order. Boxing is about the fighters not men in suits he might have said. He founded this alternate reality. Hayemaker. Fighters flocked to his rallying cry. Pretty girls flushed, forums hummed, fans cheered. Now, with a portion of the establishment in his possession – the WBA belt – and an unexpected level of renown that now enables him to accumulate £1-3 million pay-days for the type of rudimentary defence he once denounced, the urge to corner a Klitschko in a ring, or even at the top of an elevator has evidently subsided.

Continue reading “Boxing: David Haye in Orwellian about turn; Audley not Vitali or Wladimir next?”

Harrison, Haye and Klitschko. Among the madness, bluff and silence is there a fight to be found?

In an era before nutritionists, public relations and conditioners, during that simplistic period when heavyweights ran, hit-bag, sparred, chopped wood and often took a stiff drink or three the night before a fight it is hard to imagine how they would have viewed the flimsy media battle being contested by heavyweight trio David Haye, Klitschko and heaven help us Audley Harrison. It may be nostalgic romanticism to suggest fighters like Jack Dempsey or Jim Jeffries simply signed to fight an opponent, trained and then settled it in an often gruelling, unforgiving fight, but it is with some confidence that I propose they wouldn’t have been comfortable with the shallow misinformation all parties appear to be peddling even if avoiding opponents is an oft-overlooked aspect of boxing at the beginning of the 20th century too. Continue reading “Harrison, Haye and Klitschko. Among the madness, bluff and silence is there a fight to be found?”

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