The Best of…


  • November 2005

AliBehind the smile: Ali Nuumbembe

If 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.”

Read More

  • August 2008

Pugilistic Dementia: Something old, something new?

Few writers met the news of Oscar DeLaHoya intention to continue fighting with the type of disappointment expressed by Bill Dwyre at the LA Times. Is every other writer too entrenched in the hushed, unspoken agreement to keep boxing relevant, to comment objectively?

Is Bill the sole voice of reason? Recycling the last remaining superstars of the 1990’s is a tired but reliable format after all.

Read more

  • September 2007

Witter, Woodcock and the world title that never was

When Junior Witter, the WBC Light-Welterweight champion, dips his sculptured frame and no doubt intricately shaven head between the ropes at the Doncaster Dome tonight he will not be the first ‘World Champion’ to grace a ring in the South Yorkshire town. But it feels like it. Read more
  • September 2004

Old-man Carl Thompson Stops Unbeaten Haye In 5

Veteran cruiserweight Carl Thompson tore up the script last night, knocking out British boxing pin-up David Haye in the fifth round of a tumultuous, absorbing and often punishing contest at Wembley Arena, London.

The Wembley crowd loved every second of the most eagerly awaited all-British encounter of the year.  Imaginatively billed as ‘Don’t Blink,’  the contest pitted two of boxing’s biggest punchers together for the IBO belt Thompson secured with his characteristic last gasp, fight saving knockout of Sebastian Rothmann in February.

But the fight meant much more than the peripheral belt. This was a battle of generations, of styles, of pride. A crossroads bout, the gnarled old champion, the photogenic young buck. Name the cliché and you could hang it on the fight. Read more

  • August 2005

Holyfield Ignores the Lesson of King Canute

Legend states that Viking King, Canute the Great, once sat on the medieval seashores of England, resplendently robed atop his thrown and commanded the rising tide to “go back.” As the waves lapped around his ankles, Canute, a wise king and astute politician, used the exercise to illustrate that though the deeds of kings may seem great to the minds of men, they were nothing in the face of God’s power.

In modern parlance, Canute knew when to quit.

A thousand years on, Evander Holyfield, a God-fearing man from a similarly combative world, is aiming, metaphorically at least, to take up King Canute’s challenge. Holyfield (42), with just two victories in his last nine contests, seeks to repel the tide, to defy the lunar cycle and, in short, freeze time. Hell, perhaps even turn it back a little. Read more

  • July 2005

Big Fight Live: Boxing Returns to ITV

You know the feeling. You switch on the radio, you ditch the dance station you’d tuned into because the sun’s been shining and you search for the golden oldies and BANG, a tune you’ve not heard for ten, twenty years fills the car, a melodic ghost from the past. The hair on your neck stands up. Your pulse races and you begin to sing the words without any prior knowledge of learning them. It might be Dire Straits, it might be Smokey Robinson, heck it might be Bananarama, but it’s an experience that unifies us all.

On Saturday night, boxing returns to its terrestrial, spiritual home on ITV, and when the opening bars of the Big Fight Live theme chime out for the first time in a decade, men of a certain age will enjoy a similar quickening of the pulse. And ITV will implore them to re-embrace a sport essentially in the wilderness to mainstream viewers for over a decade. Read more

  • August 2005

Joan Guzman: King to a Republic

Boxing is filled with stories of troubled, rebellious kids finding hope and opportunity at obscure, dilapidated gymnasiums. The history books regale us with the triumphs of hungry young men driven to escape the slums and the poverty that created them.

Typically, these wilful, often irresistible fighters are born to the urban jungles of Philadelphia, emerge dark eyed and predatory from the ghettos of Mexico or perhaps the dusty shantytowns of Africa; but from the rough Guachupita neighbourhood of Santa Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic, boxing has unearthed another rough diamond: Joan “Lil’ Tyson” Guzman. Read more

  • July 2010

Sakio Bika, a ghost from Calzaghe’s past returns to the fore

Debate about the substance of Joe Calzaghe’s career will enthrall boxing fans for decades to come, his standing will ebb and flow with the passage of time and in all likelihood forever divide opinion thus – he was an all-time great who dominated his division for 10 years or, alternatively, he was a great fighter with a weak resume who ‘cherry-picked’ his way to retirement. When I look back on his career as Donald McRae in-depth interview with Calzaghe for Boxing News encouraged me to this morning, I don’t point to the Lacy fight, the Kessler war or the Hopkins victory as the night or nights which define Joe the fighter, nor do they provide helpful synopsis of his career. I think for so many reasons his brawl with Cameroon-born Australian hard man Sakio Bika epitomised his career more than any other single fight. Read more

  • June 2010

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. Read more

  • August 2009

“Ali wouldn’t have hit Joe Louis on the bum with a handful of rice!”

Tommy Farr said that and who am I to argue. Tomorrow will mark the 71st anniversary of his courageous but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to dethrone the newly crowned heavyweight champion Joe Louis. The humble ‘Tonypandy Terror’ is long remembered for giving the legendary Brown Bomber an arduous first defence and for the unflinching resolve he demonstrated. His effort, was so herculean and unexpected, that some of the ringside observers and those hunched around the wireless back in Britain felt he’d toppled the great champion. Read more

  • January 2007

Knowing You’re Born: A Boxer’s Tale with Alan Bosworth

Naturally, star attractions garner the most attention. Like any other business, writing is about supplying demand but in a time of waning public interest when most newspapers have discarded their boxing reporters – the headline is often the only line.

Writing for boxing fans on dedicated providers like TSS offers greater latitude; true Tyson or Pacquiao garner more clicks but fight fans consume enough daily to justify stories about fighters a little further from the top of the bill, whatever their trajectory. Arriving at the Northamptonshire home of veteran British Light-Welterweight contender Alan Bosworth two weeks before his crossroads clash with Ashley Theophane I suppressed a feeling of mild surprise at the aspiring affluence of the area. No euphemistic burnt out car, no twitching “hoodies” on the street corner or barking pit bull to report.  Read more

September 2008

Boxing: Lawrence Clay-Bey, the reluctant Olympian

I read with interest Ron Borges piece on the forgotten heavyweights of the 1980′s, the lost generation of Witherspoon, Tubbs, Tucker, Thomas, Weaver, Tate et al in Boxing Monthly last week. It was fascinating copy and provide an effective summary and analysis of what went wrong. Only Larry Holmes would emerge from the years between Ali’s loss to Spinks and the arrival of Mike Tyson with his potential fulfilled. Whenever I read about those out of shape contenders I’m always reminded of the otherwise easy to forget Lawrence Clay-Bey. Read More




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