Khan, Brook and Buncey’s fear of regret

Many small brooks make a big river.

Swedish Proverb

The boxing podcast from the BBC, presented by Mike Costello and Steve Bunce, is an essential listen and has grown warmer and more meaningful as it has evolved. Such is Steve’s omnipresence across almost every conceivable platform and medium around, his yarns about the loveable rogues and lost souls he’s encountered along his voyage through the boxing world have become ever more entertaining and vital.

Beneath the repartee he clearly enjoys with Mike, there is a genuine care for the sport as a viable and healthy entity but also, and most keenly, for the men, and women, who climb between the ropes. In their discussion of Amir Khan’s future, which has been widely distributed by the BBC website, there was yet more evidence of the duty of care they feel to those who punch for pay and for our entertainment regardless of how well received that opinion might be by those about whom it is aired. Continue reading “Khan, Brook and Buncey’s fear of regret”

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Amir Khan returns, but the clock is ticking for the ‘would be’ golden Welterweight era

Amir Khan’s returned to the business of boxing at the weekend, not the virtuality of press conferences, asinine video interviews about future opponents or his new trainer, but the reality of scrapping. And scrapping is something Amir has always been good at.

True, he is an unhealthy commodity for those vested in progressing his career, either emotionally or financially; too often neglecting his natural attributes of speed and movement to indulge in fights more suited to opponents than himself. From the beginning he has been a ‘seat of your pants’ fighter and television gold too, as reports his contest with Samuel Vargas drew the largest SKY audience for a boxing event further confirm.

But for all his previous achievements, and the benefits he will glean from completing twelve tough rounds going forward, there is evidence that the modern fighter’s belief that their physical prime is elastic and can be stretched into their mid-thirties is misplaced. Even for British boxing’s Peter Pan Welterweight.

Continue reading “Amir Khan returns, but the clock is ticking for the ‘would be’ golden Welterweight era”

Amir Khan faces Vargas ahead of one last run. Betting tips

Article first appeared on www.gambling.com

Amir Khan’s emergence, the willowy man-child that he was in 2004, to capitalise on the exposure Olympic predecessor Audley Harrison brought to boxing, will one day be considered pivotal in the history of the British fight-game.

His slender frame, flashing fists and boyish face catapulted him in to the hearts and minds of fight fans across the country, and via the broader reach of terrestrial television, to their families too.

Now 14 years later, it speaks to all of the clichés about how swiftly time passes that this weekend’s fight, versus Canada’s Samuel Vargas, will likely prove to be his last before his 32nd birthday. Continue reading “Amir Khan faces Vargas ahead of one last run. Betting tips”

He who dares wins. Mikey Garcia in pursuit of Errol Spence

In the past week or so, as squinting children are wrangled back to the routines of the approaching Autumn and the sporting seasons rejoin our daily discourse, my mind has returned to boxing. As the wizened writers and commentators will tell you, boxing used to have seasons too.

Like our changing climate, boxing in the United Kingdom has evolved and there is but a breath between the last of the Stadium bouts of August and the arrival of the September schedule. The totem events need fine weather, and while Carl Frampton’s much craved fight at the Windsor Park football ground he visited as a boy endured weather that forced the darlings of ringside into 10-bob anoraks, the need for sunshine and the clamour for tickets has realigned boxing’s schedule.

Continue reading “He who dares wins. Mikey Garcia in pursuit of Errol Spence”

Tipping the scales; experts weigh in on boxing’s hydration problem

Boxing, like all things, has evolved to reflect the society it exists in. Knowledge and tragedy led to the end of 15 round bouts; the additional fatigue and trauma accrued in the longer contest determined to be contributory in the damage done to fighters while active and in their decline in retirement.

Simultaneous to this was the advent of ever more minute weight classes, devised to protect fighters from facing opponents with an advantage in heft and to encourage the notion that there was a division to suit every fighter. The net result hasn’t quite matched the lofty ambition, but in the pursuit of optimising physiology to take advantage of these marginal increments between divisions, new risks and unwelcome realities have emerged.

The extreme weight loss, achieved at least partially through dehydration, creates the voyeuristic ritual of ‘zero’ body fat freak shows on a Friday and the alarming spectacle of a fighter becoming essentially re-inflated by Saturday night. It is a fertile area for good and bad practice. Continue reading “Tipping the scales; experts weigh in on boxing’s hydration problem”

Trio of strong matches support Joshua v Parker

By J.B. Smithers

Even in these heady times of sell out stadiums, monstrous pay-per-views and a host of channels clamouring to show boxing in the UK, there remain critics of the manner with which this demand is created and served.

Increasingly, to the fringes of the swell of goodwill on which Anthony Joshua rides, there remain voices who point to a weakness in the undercards on these Matchroom events and the sense hype, and the desire to feed the ‘event-crowd’ beast, is overwhelming the need for value and legitimate supporting match-ups.

In short, if Joshua is on, the hipster hardcore – they used to be called anoraks when the world was inside a forum rather than on social media – believe too many viewers are interested only in Joshua knocking someone over and are not unduly concerned by the merits of a featherweight clash at 6.25pm. Hardcore fans don’t like that type of ‘casual’ fandom you see. Sometimes, I wonder if they like boxing at all. Certainly, whether they like that so many others like it too. Hardcore fans would, if boxing were a band, always prefer the ‘earlier acoustic stuff’.

I digress. Despite my cynicism, it is refreshing, particularly given Eddie Hearn’s sense that it was necessary to over pay Joseph Parker relative to his true commercial appeal, to contemplate a much stronger selection of undercard features for the event on March 31st in Cardiff. Continue reading “Trio of strong matches support Joshua v Parker”

The Entertainer – Bradley Pryce back at Welterweight against Bami

Bradley Pryce is arguably the United Kingdom’s best value for money fighter, a telling attribute in these austere times and he will next month return to something approaching his most productive weight class when it is reported he will tackle veteran former European champion Ted Bami at the classic 147 pound limit. Despite his less than pristine personal life as a young professional Pryce has always left everything in the ring come fight night from back in his days as a string-bean Lightweight, his fatigued victory over Gavin Down at 140 pounds, his compulsive dust-up with Michael Jennings  through to his victory over loud-mouth Anthony Small at Light-Middleweight. Pryce has dug deep countless times, snapped unbeaten records when ‘booked’ for defeat and at 29, still has time to do more with his talent. Continue reading “The Entertainer – Bradley Pryce back at Welterweight against Bami”

Manny from Heaven set for fair-weather Floyd

So the scene is set. Boxing has risen from the canvas to offer the viewing public a fight of such dramatic potential it already draws comparison with the magnetic contests boxing was once able to supply from a position of long forgotten significance on an annual basis.

Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino with the smile and an entire people in his corner, neutralised Miguel Cotto with such aplomb last weekend he is now widely projected as the sport’s pound for pound number one. That most unhelpful of yardsticks. And in Floyd Mayweather, he has an opponent of equal brilliance and renown against whom to push his abilities to their limit and in doing so, just maybe, entice and ignite a whole new generation of prize fight followers.

Continue reading “Manny from Heaven set for fair-weather Floyd”

Inevitable Mayweather comeback growing closer; July 11th or sooner

floyd3Still too early to suggest Joe Calzaghe will stay retired but instinctively I believe he will, but contemporary Floyd Mayweather Jnr was never likely to remain retired irrespective of the wealth he has accumulated, throwing hundred dollar bills from nightclub balconies has a way of dwindling the coffers. It has to be enforced doesn’t it? After all, the mooted Oscar DeLaHoya match up of last year would have earned him another multi-million purse and a thick wedge of associated earnings.  He retired not needing that pay day. Something changed. Continue reading “Inevitable Mayweather comeback growing closer; July 11th or sooner”

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”

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.”

Crack the Fig Rolls, Jennings v Cotto is live!

CottoFollowing a day of two of consternation among boxing fans, and particularly those in possession of a Setanta subscription, the now widely reported news Michael Jennings attempt to overcome Miguel Cotto tomorrow night will shown live by the Irish based network will be warmly welcomed. Whatever the reasons for the hiatus, and the fact Jennings contract with Frank Warren with regard television rights overlaps with Setanta’s contract to show Top Rank fighters (Cotto) appears to have been the crux of the issue, the main thing is nice guy Mick will be live on British screens for the biggest night of his life. Continue reading “Crack the Fig Rolls, Jennings v Cotto is live!”

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”

The Odd Couple: Oscar and Pacquaio meet Dec 6th

According to a number of reports this evening, tomorrow will bring the announcement Oscar De La Hoya is to spurn the physically bigger tests of Paul Williams, Sergio Mora and Antonio Margarito to face Filipino shark Manny Pacquiao on December 6th in his farewell fight. Mooted for several days, the clash had divided fans. The size disparity of the former Super-Flyweight (Pacquiao) and former Middleweight titlist (Oscar) bewilders cynics, but the strength of the potential PPV has proven too much to resist for both parties.

Continue reading “The Odd Couple: Oscar and Pacquaio meet Dec 6th”

By ‘eck those Mexicans can fight; Margarito prevails

I’ve little new to add to the thousands of column inches already afforded to the outstanding contest between Miguel Cotto and Antonio Margarito last Saturday night. A tumultuous encounter that achieved that rarest of triumphs, it lived up to its promise. Both fighters were exceptional and though Margarito emerges with maximum credit for unseating the WBA Welterweight champion I believe now is the most opportune moment to applaud the performance and courage of his vanquished opponent. Continue reading “By ‘eck those Mexicans can fight; Margarito prevails”

Pitt and Aniston, Charles and Diana, now Hatton and Graham…it happens to ’em all in the end

Avert your gaze from boxing for too long and the constants, the equilibrium on which your perspective of the sport was founded can quickly be disconnected and deconstructed. The notion that the gnarled, sinewy frame of gravel-voiced trainer Billy Graham will no longer be strapped into the renown body belt (pictured left) for 15 rounds of torment from Ricky Hatton is hard to believe. OK, Graham and Hatton were never Morecombe and Wise, but together they’ve moulded and tuned Hatton’s natural physical prowess and thirst for combat to make both wealthy and respected. Curious timing?  Perhaps. Continue reading “Pitt and Aniston, Charles and Diana, now Hatton and Graham…it happens to ’em all in the end”

Mayweather, Lennox, Hamed, Hopkins; you can never win.

A few disparate references got me thinking this week. First it was the retirement of Floyd Mayweather, brought into sharper focus by this weekend’s Welterweight face off between Cotto and Margarito, then it was a YouTube compilation of Prince Naseem getting battered from pillar to post with super slow-mo’s to make the former Featherweight king look like a clown. And finally, it was the news Bernard Hopkins, the veteran determined not to fight beyond 40 to keep a promise to his mother, apparently signing to fight Kelly Pavlik just shy of his 45th birthday. Too early, too late, boxing fans will crucify you either way.

Continue reading “Mayweather, Lennox, Hamed, Hopkins; you can never win.”

Guest: From boos to boohoo

Union Jack FansRegulars will notice this site has become dormant of late, a case of poor timing given the buoyancy of the sport. In a bid to maintain currency and to showcase a broader range of opinion pieces I invited submissions from those contemporaries for whom I have respect and who I believed would provide entertaining and challenging copy for the growing readership. The first of these Guest pieces is from Andrew Mullinder, taking up the thorny and topical issue of booing National Anthems. 
Continue reading “Guest: From boos to boohoo”

Boxing: Karim Mayfield Sparring Hatton

HattonMayfieldYoung American professional Karim Mayfield, presumably imported to provide a useful facsimile of Floyd Mayweather Jnr. ahead of Ricky Hatton’s seminal Welterweight clash with the pound for pound motormouth, is in Manchester sparring with the Hitman. Like, it would seem, everyone who attends the affable but dedicated Phoenix gym, Mayfield is speaking highly of the 10 stone king and imploring fans to back the tigerish Mancunian come December. Continue reading “Boxing: Karim Mayfield Sparring Hatton”

Boxing: Behind the smile, Ali Nuumbembe

First published at TheSweetScience.com

14th November 2005

AliIf it’s true that boxing sold its soul to television networks a generation ago, eagerly snatching pay-per-view’s 30 pieces of silver and prostituting itself on the behest of an array of clandestine figures and their grubby titles. The story of Ali Nuumbembe, a Namibian welterweight, and philanthropic publican Chad Parker with whom he plots a path to boxing glory from the obscurity of a refitted caravan in Glossop, England, will help remind fans that for all its faults, boxing remains the sport “to which all other sports aspire.”

Continue reading “Boxing: Behind the smile, Ali Nuumbembe”

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