Saunders arrives at the moment of truth. Canelo on Cinco de Mayo

First published on January 29th 2021

British Super-Middleweight contender Billy Joe Saunders has landed a fight with boxing’s premier star, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, to coincide with Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican celebration of the nation’s victory over the invading French forces in 1862. It is a day now synonymous with boxing and, specifically, whoever is the nation’s biggest star in that calendar year, headlining a US based show.

Saunders’ challenge to Canelo will bring joy to those hipsters who revel in the possibility the Hatfield rascal will prove to be slippery Kryptonite to boxing’s newest and seemingly invincible Superman. For those to whom Saunders is merely a crass irritation, their joy will be found in the presumed evisceration of such a fanciful idea.

The fight offers the Mexican superstar an opportunity to substantiate his status as the division’s king. A crown he earned beating Callum Smith last year. Saunders holds the WBO belt. In truth, it is a decoration. Saunders won the vacated title by beating unheralded Shefat Isufi in May 2019. Two subsequent defences, both abject in their significance and the entertainment provided, added negligible kudos to his reign and the belt stubbornly remains little more than a curio.

Nevertheless, without it Saunders would probably not have landed the fight and be facing his moment of truth.

Continue reading “Saunders arrives at the moment of truth. Canelo on Cinco de Mayo”

Liam Williams secures his place in a gallery of the gallant

Explaining the status of any individual fight, the sense of the significance it should be afforded in the wider boxing landscape, is an undertaking for only the boldest and most patient among us. This intractable maze also makes it impossible to define fighters in the way they once were. Any argument about a fighter’s world class credentials must first be preceded by agreement on what world class actually means.

Is losing a world title fight enough or must you win one? Ken Norton never did but would give any heavyweight in history an argument. What is a world title anyway, if there are four available and others competing to be recognised? The WBA routinely acknowledge three of their own in a single weight class and list ‘champions’ few have even seen fight.

As Demetrius Andrade distorted Liam Williams’ face on Saturday night, in the way a potter might when throwing wet clay on a wheel, the notion of what makes a world class fighter, or how such status is earned, ebbed and flowed. A WBO title fight is rarely the platform for greatness, though exceptions exist, and the organisation’s mandatories, of which Williams was one such example, are not typically drawn from a consensus top 10.

Continue reading “Liam Williams secures his place in a gallery of the gallant”

Time waits for no man, can weight add time for Frampton?

Carl Frampton, a 34 year old former champion at Super-Bantamwright and Featherweight, will attempt to win a portion of the world title at his third weight this weekend when he tackles Jamel Herring for the American’s WBO 130 pound belt. History presents little precedent for the challenge.

Fighters at the smaller weights don’t tend to prevail chasing their youth. Reflex, punch output and speed are necessary qualities simply to compete in the lands beneath, perhaps, Welterweight, where single shot power, fight ending power tends to be rare. There are exceptions, one of boxing’s biggest superstars, Naoya Inoue, has been cracking heads from Flyweight to Bantamweight in the last few years and there were others before him, but the fights are usually won and lost with technique, busyness and the cumulation of punches.

As the old boxing adage suggests, ’34 is old for a Featherweight”.

That is the truism Frampton must dispel if he is to succeed.

Continue reading “Time waits for no man, can weight add time for Frampton?”

Undisputed Heavyweight Championship clash close to becoming reality

By Hector T. Morgan

Fantasy fights have long been a source of debate among boxing fans. Cross generational contests divide followers; Ali and Tyson, Mayweather and Leonard, the idea never ages, the passions evoked never cool. In the modern era, a time of fewer fights between the sport’s great and good, boxing fans are often left with only the fantasy debate to decide who is the best between two fighters who co-exist. Politics, money, broadcast platforms, sanctioning bodies, fear, they all play their role in keeping the best prize fighters apart.

The news Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, the best two heavyweights active today, are on the brink of signing to box each other this summer is, therefore, a subject of both excitement and cynicism among those same boxing fans. Excitement about the contest, the all too uncommon clarity it will provide for the heavyweight division duels with the enduring suspicion that fate or politics will intervene once more.

It is a tantalising fight, but dare we believe?

Continue reading “Undisputed Heavyweight Championship clash close to becoming reality”

Saunders stays outside the velvet rope

Saunders is still unbeaten. Murray is still 38 years old. The sense of frustration stole the breath from the arena. Belief ebbed. Dwindled. The tiredness of the narrative slowed the clock, clouded to a fog the air beneath the lights. A spectacle without spectators. A fight without a fight. A world title in name alone. No more than a hollow promise. A ticket-stub for a gala ball you can’t attend.

Continue reading “Saunders stays outside the velvet rope”

Usyk, the smiling assassin, targets Fury and Joshua

By T. R. Lewison

A Halloween night victory over heavyweight gate keeper Dereck Chisora substantiated Ukranian Oleksandr Usyk’s claim to a place in the division’s top 10. Many observers remain confident Usyk can depose the belt holders above him despite greater than expected problems overcoming the veteran Brit. 2020 has been a frustrating one for Usyk. In his career this far, he has been eager to progress and boasts an appetite for challenges and a willingness to say “Yes”, too few of his contemporaries can match.

The kudos accrued in beating Chazz Witherspoon and Chisora represent a below par annual return for Usyk. Having carved through the entire Cruiserweight division in sixteen bouts to become undisputed king, he has become accustomed to faster progress. Within a complex heavyweight title picture, he may need to develop the virtue of patience in 2021 too. At 33 years old, 34 in January, despite the division traditionally extending a fighter’s prime a little longer, Usyk may prove to be past his own peak when his opportunity finally arrives.

Continue reading “Usyk, the smiling assassin, targets Fury and Joshua”

He fat, Shefat, Billy Joe Saunders seeking momentum

First published on Freebets.net

This Saturday night, in the inauspicious surroundings of Stevenage Football Club, Billy Joe Saunders seeks to inject much-needed momentum into a boxing career that has wandered, sometimes aimlessly, from the path to riches and renown it once promised. His opponent, a curated choice from the gallery of obscurity the WBO specialises in, is the unheralded German, by way of Serbia, Shefat Isufi.

A prohibitive underdog with most leading bookmakers, 18/1 with Bet365 the widest, Isufi offers precious little hope or opportunity for investors. Continue reading “He fat, Shefat, Billy Joe Saunders seeking momentum”

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”

MyFightTickets.com Fighter of the Month: August

Almost five years to the day since his professional debut as a starry eyed 18 year old, the supporting bout to a one round knockout win for Swiss Lightweight Nicole Boss, as obscure a beginning as I can recall, Isaac Dogboe flattened Hidenori Otake to defend his WBO Super-Bantamweight title last month.

The victory was a devastating one and the now 23 year old, who has led a nomadic life thus far, emerged with his reputation enhanced and new international interest in his future. Continue reading “MyFightTickets.com Fighter of the Month: August”

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”

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”

Froch rolling with the big guns

frochOriginally, the news Carl Froch was to feature in a six man round robin over two years on American network Showtime was met with little more than pithy sarcasm at BoxingWriter towers but now, two days later, it seems the proposed Froch, Taylor, Kessler, Abraham, Dirrell and Ward tournament is genuine and will begin with Froch v Dirrell in October – a twin venue double bill with Abraham v Taylor live from Germany. Continue reading “Froch rolling with the big guns”

Guest: Wladimir doth protest too much; Dr Steel Hammer indeed

andrew-mullinderRegular visitors will be accustomed to the acerbic analysis of Andrew Mullinder, our resident correspondent in Moscow. I’m sure Andrew has all the usual creature comforts we enjoy in the West but I prefer to adapt the usual visual triggers employed by third rate cold war thrillers to conjure an image of Andrew huddled over an ageing type writer, all fingerless gloves, one bar fires  and cheap vodka, manically venting on the issues of the day from his down trodden apartment block in some mafia run ghetto. Why? Well it just makes sense of his withering contributions, and the latest, a deconstruction of the most artificially created ring moniker in boxing must have come after a slurp or two of the strong stuff. Continue reading “Guest: Wladimir doth protest too much; Dr Steel Hammer indeed”

Boxing relies on Don King and Terry Dooley for sense and integrity!

donking2For a man accused of just about every sin possible within the parameters of boxing and capable of bamboozling writers with quotes and sentiments drawn from Twain to Churchill it says a lot about the sport he inhabits, that veteran promoter Don King is the sole voice of reason in the aftermath of the Khan v Barrera contest. Well, alongside Terry Dooley at BritishBoxing.net at least. Dooley is a fearless, if slightly dishevelled, writer who can always see through the mist,  and is unafraid of running against the grain. Dooley titled his review of the fight; “Say what you like but Khan should never have won”. Continue reading “Boxing relies on Don King and Terry Dooley for sense and integrity!”

Silent Assassin Nuumbembe back on track

namibian-flagNamibian Welterweight Ali Nuumbembe became something of an iconic figure during his six years in the hilltops of Derbyshire. His wandering life story, from war torn Africa to sleepy Glossop warmed the hearts of the entire town and all those who met him. His return to Namibia didn’t bring to an end his fighting career and I’m pleased to report Ali added his 21st victory to his professional slate over the weekend. Continue reading “Silent Assassin Nuumbembe back on track”

Lamon Brewster wants Marty Rogan next!

oldglovesNow I’m not a regular over at Eastside Boxing, but young James Slater is a dedicated servant to the site and now and then puts together some interesting thoughts. A recent interview with Lamon Brewster – another of my favoured fighters – provided further evidence of just how far the big Irishman has come. The former two time world-title belt holder is eager to move from Michael Sprott to the current darling of the British fight scene. Continue reading “Lamon Brewster wants Marty Rogan next!”

Guest: Barrera’s bloody mess obscures the true worth of Khan’s victory

khanvbarreraHaving clung tight to my £14.95 last weekend, Amir Khan is not presently a pay-per-view attraction regardless of the affection with which I hold his opponent – in this case Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera, I’m delighted to provide a forum for guest writer Ben Carey’s view of the contentious clash between the aspiring Khan and the jaded Barrera. Continue reading “Guest: Barrera’s bloody mess obscures the true worth of Khan’s victory”

Not to be or not to be, Jennings falls to Cotto in 5.

cottowallIt is a while since I’ve perched on the end of the sofa to watch a fight, a while since I’ve felt the rush of a heart-felt connection to a fighter but on Saturday night, as 31-year-old Michael Jennings strode to the ring, that familiar surge of anxiety raced through me. I recall this was a feeling I had when Frank Bruno retreated toward the ring for his rematch with Tyson and I felt it when Dennis Andries kept rising from the canvas against Thomas Hearns. When Brian Hughes asked between the 4th and 5th rounds if the twice floored Jennings was okay, Mick’s response of “Sound, yeh” it just warmed this fan’s heart a little more. Continue reading “Not to be or not to be, Jennings falls to Cotto in 5.”

The Great Guzman and the WBA’s weight of responsibility

It might be the stiff wind from the Urals which makes guest writer Andrew Mullinder such a cantankerous observer of the noble art. Mullinder is not implored to write by the science or the beauty of boxing, only the muck, the politics and the fractious infrastructure of the sport evoke his withering invective. His latest target is the WBA, for whom the dietary plans of Joan Guzman appear to have been but a distant theme from a distant land. Mullinder thinks its time governing bodies started, well, governing. Continue reading “The Great Guzman and the WBA’s weight of responsibility”

Calzaghe and Warren doth protest too much; the Stockholm syndrome

There isn’t a facet of Joe Calzaghe and former promoter Frank Warren’s current activity which couldn’t be labelled, ‘old ground’. Firstly, Calzaghe next tackles faded superstar Roy Jones, 39, in a bout so out of date, so out of fashion, its almost coming back in style. Secondly, Calzaghe’s split from Warren at the peak of his earning-power and ensuing court cases and law suits has echoes of Ricky Hatton’s 2005 departure. Thirdly, the use of media columns to launch critiques of the ethics and morals of the other party is all to familiar too. None of those stir me from a long yawn, but a fourth strand to their disagreement does. Continue reading “Calzaghe and Warren doth protest too much; the Stockholm syndrome”

“Nobody is invisible” Amir Khan explains

It is hard to know where to begin any reconstruction of the shattered remnants of Amir Khan’s carefully constructed reputation. Following four years of cautious match-making, three trainers and a deluge of column inches, platitudes, award ceremonies and celebrity television appearances, the 21-year old demonstrated holes in his fistic education large enough to drive even his own ego through.

In a slip of the tongue, Khan suggested, by way of earnest explanation, “nobody is invisible”. He meant invincible of course, but invisible seemed to fit very well too.

Breidis Prescott certainly found him easily enough.

Continue reading ““Nobody is invisible” Amir Khan explains”

Archive: Scott of the anarchic

The sorry tale of Scott Harrison lurched to a new low this week when he was sentenced to a total of 8 months imprisonment for assaulting his girlfriend and a police-officer alongside being found guilty of driving whilst 4-times over the legal limit. Should Harrison remain at Her Majesty’s service for the entire sentence, he will emerge, squinting at the crumbled remnants of his life, a fast-approaching 32nd birthday and over 3 years of professional inactivity. Not to mention a destructive thirst he can never quench.

Continue reading “Archive: Scott of the anarchic”

Harsh home truths for Alex Arthur

Until Alex Arthur starts beating world-class fighters instead of simply being trained by them his tenure as WBO Super-Featherweight champion will never be widely regarded as anything other than opportunistic. It isn’t that Arthur is without ability, nor I suspect, is it because the Edinburgh man fears the division’s elite contenders, but with the long-shadows of Jim Watt and Ken Buchanan falling across his achievements, he will need to beat someone like Joan Guzman or Juan Manuel Marquez to be taken seriously alongside his predecessors. Continue reading “Harsh home truths for Alex Arthur”

Paul Williams covers every base to land big shot

“Starvin’ Marvin”, as one or two insensitive souls have dubbed Paul “The Punisher” Williams, today featured in a new press release from Aceves PR, one of the busiest promotional houses around in the boxing business. For those who love stats, this was the 62nd I’ve received since October. So if you’re an aspiring promoter or fighter, consider Aceves, they’re busy on your behalf. Someone once asked me, where I was when JFK was shot, I said I wasn’t sure but I bet I was reading a release by Aceves.

Continue reading “Paul Williams covers every base to land big shot”

Is this the bottom for Scott Harrison, or can he fall further?

The story of Scott Harrison the fighter, and he was a competent world-level operator at his best, is close to becoming a footnote in the life of the former two-time WBO Featherweight belt holder. Today, having pleaded guilty to assaulting girlfriend Stacy Gardner and an attendant police officer, the gruff former fighter was sentenced to two months imprisonment. Continue reading “Is this the bottom for Scott Harrison, or can he fall further?”

Hope grows for Froch v Pascal

A quick note to connect up the stories and theories currently swirling around the Super-Middleweight division. Interesting to record Jean Pascal has withdrawn from the purse process for his proposed fight with Karoly Balzsay for the Interim WBO title – the belt Calzaghe is porbably keenest to remain custodian of. As mentioned in conversation on Steve Bunce’s boxing hour on Setanta, Pascal is the next most likely opponent for Carl Froch if the much maligned preference of Lou DiBella and HBO to match Jermain Taylor with Jeff Lacy comes to pass. Continue reading “Hope grows for Froch v Pascal”

“World title belts, get ya belts ‘ere, fiver a pair!”

Boxing is a cruel enough sport for fighters without crass sniping from commentators like me but the news Alex Arthur has been awarded full world champion status by the WBO left a sour taste. I’m sure it did for Arthur too, a proud fighter and one who, publicly at least, yearned for a shot at the genuine big time. Not the pretend big time, but the real, genuine big time. His proposed fight with now abdicated champion Joan Guzman would have been just such an opportunity. Continue reading ““World title belts, get ya belts ‘ere, fiver a pair!””

“Is that you Arthur?”, Arthur and Guzman await purse decision

OliveLife in the world run by the World Boxing Organisation must be a curious experience. Most of us operate only on the periphery, interested and bemused bystanders to the WBO’s alternative and parallel universe. For those dependent on the Puerto Rican sanctioning body for clarity, objectivity and consistency it must be an entirely frustrating and perplexing existence. Talented and affable Scotsman Alex Arthur is one such subject. Continue reading ““Is that you Arthur?”, Arthur and Guzman await purse decision”

Ruiz, the uncherished heavyweight

RuizRuizRugged former belt holder John Ruiz is arguably the most criticised heavyweight of his generation despite twice being the possessor of a world championship belt and holding victories over Evander Holyfield, Hasim Rahman and Andrew Golota. True his victory over the giant Pole was widely considered contentious but I think a little respect for Ruiz’s willingness to engage with tough opponents and overcome the humiliation of his defeats to Roy Jones and David Tua to compile a mixed but worthy record is overdue. Continue reading “Ruiz, the uncherished heavyweight”

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