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12
Sep

Floyd Mayweather TKO10 Ricky Hatton, December 8th 2007

An edited version of this article was published on TheFightCity.com website on December 8th, 2017: https://www.thefightcity.com/dec-8-2007-mayweather-vs-hatton-boxing/ 

“My heart will explode before I leave him alone for one second,” Ricky Hatton had promised prior to his December 2007 showdown with Floyd Mayweather Jr. In the event, far less was required to inflict a first defeat on the determined challenger, though no one could ever accuse the Englishman of not giving everything he had that night in Las Vegas.

Billed as “Undefeated”, the MayweatherHatton superfight pitted the flashy, cocky and sublimely skilled American champion against the down-to-earth, crowd-pleasing British brawler. They entered the contest with a combined record of 81-0 as Hatton, the lineal light-welterweight champion, stepped up to challenge for Mayweather’s WBC welterweight crown.

In a mega-media tour that had taken in Los Angeles, Grand Rapids, New York, London and Manchester, Mayweather had done his best to rile the Englishman, mocking and clowning him on stage and spouting incessant trash-talk into his ear each time they faced off. Hatton responded mostly by laughing off the insults, even wearing a pair of industrial-strength ear protectors at one point before, finally, taunting the American with a foul-mouthed tirade on live TV at the Manchester press-stop, to the amusement of his local supporters.

HBO’s 24/7 series lapped up the contrast between Hatton as the everyday-bloke-down-the-pub versus Mayweather the obnoxious, pseudo-gangster. And while the roles felt overly scripted at times, there was no doubt that Hatton connected with his fan base like few athletes before or since, and in a way that Mayweather could only dream of.  

It was estimated that more than 30,000 travelled to Las Vegas to support the Mancunian, and at the weigh-in 8,000 raucous Brits crammed into the MGM Grand Garden Arena, booing the champion loudly on his home turf. The fighters went nose-to-nose for several seconds and then pushed their faces against each other, almost sparking a melee before they were separated and a fired-up Hatton took to the mic, roaring out, “Let’s fucking have him!” to his baying fans.

Team Hatton were confident, though they were under no illusions as to the scale of the task before them. Mayweather was, after all, already a five-weight champion, had competed at world title level for eight years longer than Hatton, and was universally acclaimed as the pound-for-pound No.1.   

That being said, there was a good argument to be made that the Hitman’s swarming style and relentless body attack just might be the one needed to knock Mayweather off his pound-for-pound perch. An emphatic fourth-round stoppage of Jose Luis Castillo six months earlier – the same Mexican who many still swore had beaten “Pretty Boy” Floyd handily in their first encounter – did not do the challenger’s case any harm. Ricky’s signature win over Kostya Tszyu also gave him a more impressive name on his record that anything in Floyd’s long career – with the exception of his most recent victory over Oscar De La Hoya, that is. In other words, while the champion was rightly the bookies’ favourite, there was serious potential for the match to be Floyd’s toughest ever.

A roll call of Hollywood A-listers sat ringside, from Sly Stallone and “Brangelina” to David Beckham and Tom Jones, who sang God Save the Queen to the delight of the thousands of rambunctious Brits in attendance. By the time the fighters were introduced the Hatton faithful had reached fever pitch, and the American was, once again, loudly jeered in his own backyard.

As battle commenced Hatton immediately went on the offensive and within seconds they clinched for the first time. The action resumed and again they clinched, this time referee Joe Cortez warning them to “watch the holding guys”. 14 seconds had elapsed in the fight.

Cortez called “break” a further 11 times in that first round alone, with Jim Watt, commentating for the UK broadcast, noting as early as the first minute: “Already… I’m spotting Joe Cortez is a little bit too busy. He was jumping in there before he knew if they were gonna throw punches. Hope he’s not gonna be too busy and ruin Ricky Hatton‘s chances here.”

Halfway through the first stanza Hatton surprised Mayweather with a well timed left that sent him reeling backwards on his heels; the crowd went crazy, though he was more off-balance than hurt. The challenger’s foot speed and the intensity of his assaults were troubling Mayweather, but he also showed poise under pressure, countering Hatton‘s rushes with some crisp lead rights and left hooks. By the end of the round, the pattern for the remainder of the fight had been firmly established: Hatton pressured relentlessly forward while Mayweather threw stinging pot shot counters, with lots of mauling for position in between, and far more involvement than necessary from Joe Cortez.

The challenger’s raw determination and fast, leaping lefts again had Mayweather looking flustered in a good second round for the Brit. Unfortunately, Cortez’s poor start went from bad to worse, as he repeatedly broke the fighters apart and gifted Mayweather the breathing space that Hatton was working so hard to eliminate, separating the boxers 13 times – an average of once every 14 seconds – in both rounds two and three. At one point in the third, Cortez broke them four times in a 16 second period, barely leaving room between each shout of “stop, break it out clean,” before beginning the command over again.  

On HBO, Jim Lampley questioned whether Cortez was stifling Hatton’s chances of victory, noting that, “It’s Mayweather who’s holding, there’s no question who’s doing the holding. If points were to be deducted you would have to think it would be Floyd who’d be giving them up.” Meanwhile, an incredulous Jim Watt yelled in disgust, “I’ve never heard such a refereeing piece of nonsense!

As the rounds progressed Cortez’s overzealous calls to break did die down somewhat, but his constant badgering formed an almost continuous backdrop even when he wasn’t physically pulling the fighters apart.

As for Mayweather, he showed that as well as being one of the most skillful boxers in the world, he could rough it up with the best of them, too – repeatedly shoving his forearm into Hatton‘s face to create punching room, despite several warnings from the referee. Taking advantage of the extra leeway, the champion peppered Hatton with some eye-catching right hand leads, opening a cut over the Englishman’s right eye. “Keep doing what you’re doing, that’s all you gotta do,” instructed a satisfied Roger Mayweather between rounds. “That motherfucker can’t out-fight you no way.”

The fifth was probably Hatton’s best of the fight, as he managed to push Floyd to the ropes and finally gain some momentum, though “the Hitman’s” trademark body shots were still few and far between. Twice in the last 20 seconds of the round Mayweather pushed his elbow forcefully into Hatton’s face in full view of the referee; yet again Cortez warned him but took no points.

Going into the sixth, both Harold Lederman (scoring for HBO) and Jim Watt (scoring for SKY) now had the challenger in a 48-47 point lead – a very unusual situation for Mayweather to find himself in (though we learned later the official judges were not giving Hatton’s aggression nearly as much credit). Early in the round they traded inside, with Floyd ducking and catching Hatton’s face with another elbow as he turned his back away. Hatton pursued and threw an overhand right, grazing the top rope but barely making contact with the back of Floyd’s head. This time, Cortez called “time out” and deducted a point.

As they resumed, Hatton turned his back on Mayweather and bent over in the centre of the ring, mocking Cortez’s ruling. He found sympathy with the crowd, but the frustration cost him as his work became more ragged. Floyd was countering Hatton’s rushes with growing regularity and started to look more and more comfortable, perhaps sensing some of the fight finally beginning to drain out of the Englishman.

The eighth was all Floyd, as the champ went through his full repertoire: stiff jabs to the body, lead right hands to the head, hooks to both sides of the midsection – it was vintage Mayweather in full flow. At one point he sidestepped and landed a beautiful counter “check hook” as Hatton charged at him in a corner, before unleashing a barrage of spiteful, accurate shots to head and body. To his great credit, somehow Hatton found the resolve to come firing back at the end of the round, but he was taking a real pummeling now.

Hatton marched forward again in the ninth, but Mayweather simply took his time and picked him off with stiff, single jabs. Sensing their hero needed an extra lift, between rounds the terraces broke out into a hearty rendition of their favourite tune and Hatton responded positively, pressuring and looking to work in some body punches early in the tenth. Boxing is a game of extremely fine margins though, and by now Mayweather had established permanent access to the extra inch of space he had sought all night.

Sure enough, a minute into the tenth Hatton leapt in with another left hook only to find that Mayweather had already taken half a step to the side and thrown his own perfectly timed counter check hook to the jaw – a carbon copy of the move in the eighth round, except this time an exhausted Hatton’s momentum took him forward head first into the turnbuckle, before bouncing off and lying flat out on his back. He rose unsteadily and tried desperately to hold and clear his head, but the damage was already done. As Mayweather unloaded a series of grazing shots Hatton’s legs betrayed him; he stumbled sideways and fell, with Cortez immediately waving the finish.

An elated Mayweather ran to the corner and jumped onto the ropes, crying tears of joy as he looked to the heavens. At the time of the stoppage, the judges had him leading by scores of 89-81 (twice) and 88-82 – cards which failed to tell the story of just how fiercely contested those early rounds had been. There was also no telling just how much Joe Cortez impacted the final outcome, though it’s unquestionable that his performance benefitted Mayweather far more than it did Hatton.

Moving back down to chase the big fights at 140lbs, “the Hitman” successfully reclaimed a version of the world title before being brutally knocked out by another all-time great, Manny Pacquiao, and finally called it quits in 2012. He will go down as a two-weight world champion who went 1-2 against three of the best pound-for-pound fighters of the modern era, as well as being one of the most popular British athletes in living memory.                                                                                

As for “Money” Mayweather, after a two-year self-imposed absence from the ring he also returned to reclaim his position at the top of the sport, becoming the highest grossing fighter in history. He will almost certainly be remembered as the greatest boxer of his era, and while there are other more significant victories on his ledger than the Hatton win, there are few where he displayed his ability to box and fight so completely, and none that were accompanied by the electric atmosphere when 30,000 Brits invaded Las Vegas.

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12
Sep

Wilder vs. Ortiz & Boxing’s PED Problem

An edited version of this article was published on TheFightCity.com website on October 5th, 2017: https://www.thefightcity.com/wilder-vs-ortiz-drugs-boxing/

Last month boxing fans were treated to the news that WBC heavyweight champion, “The Bronze Bomber” Deontay Wilder (38-0, 37 KOs), would defend his title against one of the most feared contenders in the division, Luis “King Kong” Ortiz (27-0, 23 KOs). In what has already been a stellar year for the sport of boxing, this promised to be yet another excellent contest, with sharply contrasting perceptions of champion and challenger providing the backdrop for an intriguing clash of styles.

Wilder has had the World Boxing Council’s shiny green and gold belt wrapped around his waste since defeating Bermane Stiverne in January 2015 and owns an awesome 97% KO ratio. And yet, the American has struggled to gain the wider respect commensurate with such a record from the hardcore boxing community. Many have been heavily critical of the lack of top-notch opposition on his CV as well as the apparent lack of finesse in his punching technique. There’s a common perception that Wilder’s powerful yet novice-like “windmill swings” will be exposed once he meets an experienced, world-class boxer with a decent chin and solid fundamentals.

Meanwhile, Ortiz sits as an honoree member of the “Who Needs Him?” club: a 6’4”, 240lb southpaw, he also happens to be a well-schooled Cuban with top amateur pedigree and, not surprisingly, has struggled to entice the division’s biggest names into the ring. Possessing an awkward, technically sound style and heavy hands, Ortiz hasn’t always set the world alight with his performances, but the combination of his size and skillset has seen him recognized as one of the most dangerous heavyweights in the world for several years.

At a press conference held in New York on September 20th, Wilder had a blunt warning for the Cuban: “Luis Ortiz, don’t fuck it up! Stay clean, because we’ll be checking. Stay clean. Don’t fuck this up for me, nor you, because I’m gonna prove to the world that I am the best.”

The WBC champion’s fears were not unfounded. In September 2014 Ortiz scored a first-round knockout over Lateef Kayode to collect the WBA’s interim heavyweight championship. On the cusp of competing for big bucks against the division’s elite, Ortiz was stripped of his belt and the result declared a “no contest” when a pre-fight urine sample returned a positive result for the steroid Nandralone. He was fined a meager 10% of his fight purse and banned from boxing for eight months.

Ortiz’s history of PED problems was not Wilder’s only cause for concern, though. On two previous occasions the American was scheduled to face opponents who failed pre-fight drug tests. In May 2016 he was set to make a mandatory defence in Moscow against Alexander Povetkin – a challenger widely considered to be by far his toughest assignment. Less than two weeks before the bout, the Russian tested positive for a banned substance, the bout was scrapped and Wilder was forced to seek recourse in the courts over the lost multi-million dollar pay-day.

Then in January of this year, Polish heavyweight Andrzej Wawrzyk also failed a test five weeks prior to a title fight with Wilder. This time, the defending champ was able to arrange a replacement to step in at short notice, with a fifth-round stoppage of Gerald Washington helping to quell the disappointment of yet another cancelled bout due to his opponent’s flagrant disregard for the rules.

Given his prior experiences and the warning personally issued to Ortiz about ruining the fight, Deontay was understandably furious when news emerged last week that his opponent had again failed a pre-fight VADA test, with his samples returning a positive result for two banned diuretics. In a video posted following news of the adverse test result, a visibly distraught Wilder lambasted the Cuban for scuppering the bout:

“I don’t understand, bro. I don’t understand why these fighters don’t want to fucking fight me fair! …They do all this fucking talking. But you supposed to be the ‘boogeyman’ of the motherfucking division – you a bitch. That’s what you is. A straight bitch.”

The American also indicated that his team had an inkling that this could occur, and that he believed the diuretics detected were best explained by Ortiz attempting to mask other performance enhancing substances in his system:

“Let’s keep it real. Keep it real to all the people – you’re not on blood pressure medicine, you was just at the hospital putting IV’s in your system trying to flush that shit. That’s why you didn’t make it to the press conference. We was on it.”

The story did not end there though. In the ensuing days, Ortiz’s team fired back with their own explanation for the failed test, insisting their fighter was taking prescription medication for a legitimate blood condition that they had simply neglected to declare on the VADA forms. If you were of a mind to view such an explanation with extreme cynicism, you would not be alone. But then support for Ortiz’s position came from a respected and, in many ways, unlikely source.

Victor Conte is one of the most highly regarded experts in the world of sports nutrition and performance enhancing substances. Previously embroiled in the notorious BALCO scandal and found guilty of aiding numerous athletes to evade doping regulations, he has since become one of the most respected voices in the battle to combat drug cheats. Rather than taking Ortiz’s VADA violation at face value, Conte dug into the specifics of the case and began tweeting his analyses, writing on Sunday:

  • Important 4 boxing 2 understand that Luis Ortiz had a valid prescription 4 the two BP meds & should have declared 2 @vada_testing @wbcboxing
  • Also important 4 boxing 2 understand that if Luis Ortiz HAD declared he was taking the two blood pressure meds, then THERE WOULD BE NO CASE!

Asked whether or not the blood pressure medication could in fact be used as a masking agent to shield detection of other PEDS, Conte replied:

  • Caffeine is a diuretic. Yes, there’s lots of diuretics could possibly push out water and PED metabolites

In a video later posted online, Conte explained his position more thoroughly, pointing out that the letter from VADA containing the test findings showed that according to every other parameter (such as carbon isotope ratio testing and T/E ratio) Ortiz’s results were all “perfectly normal”. He went on to explain that of four athletes in other fields who had previously been found to be taking the same combination of medication as Luis Ortiz, one athlete received a public warning, one received a three month suspension, and in two of the cases the athletes were ruled to be at “no fault”.

Conte’s conclusion was that it would be, “an absolute disaster for anti-doping in boxing as well as for all boxing fans” to cancel the fight simply because of a mistake in filling out the VADA testing form. “Do I have any indication from all this evidence that’s been submitted that there was any intent to cheat? The answer is ‘no’”.

But while I bow to the superior knowledge of Conte, I disagree with his assessment that cancelling the fight over the form-filling violation is analogous to “a murder charge for jaywalking”. It would be more comparable to Ortiz getting banned from driving for a DUI, then later getting caught for speeding and simply claiming he “didn’t see the road signs”. Another ban from driving, while harsh, would not seem entirely unreasonable in that case.

For his part, Wilder insisted that he still wanted the fight to go ahead, regardless of the test results. “I’ve already put in the request [with the WBC] that I still wanna fight him no matter what. Because, y’know, these motherfuckers gonna do these PEDS, they just gonna do it. So, if you need some help with me fine, let’s make this shit happen”.

The problem the WBC faced was that even supposing Ortiz had not intended to cheat and had gained no unfair advantage, the cloud hanging over the contest would be impossible to shake. In a scenario where Ortiz won by knockout and Wilder or his team complained afterwards about the test issue, the mainstream media would have a field day with the controversy. It was no surprise then that WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman announced in Azerbaijan on Wednesday that his organisation were withdrawing their sanction of the contest due to Ortiz’s test result. Instead, mandatory contender Bermane Stiverne would step in to rematch Wilder on the November 4th card.

It goes without saying that the cancellation of such an intriguing contest is a serious disappointment to boxing fans. However, even accepting Conte’s argument that there was no evidence of intent to cheat on the part of Team Ortiz, the fact is that they were preparing to fight for the biggest prize in the sport, they had previously been found guilty of doping offences, and yet they still broke the rules. If boxing regulatory bodies want to maintain the integrity of the sport, fighters must be penalized for that kind of neglect. The onus, quite rightly, should be on competitors to disclose any relevant medical information when asked – not for the regulatory bodies to decide whether the use of those medications can be retrospectively justified only after they have been detected.

In that sense, the WBC should be applauded for their ruling. Perhaps it will encourage boxers, and their teams, to be far less “forgetful” in declaring their prescribed medications in future – and that can only contribute to a cleaner sport in the long run.

12
Sep

“Who’s The Champ?” Well, That Depends…

An edited version of this article, with the title “Undisputed Chaos”, was published on TheFightCity.com website on September 25th, 2017: https://www.thefightcity.com/undisputed-chaos-title-belts-boxing/

This past weekend witnessed a special event in boxing, as WBO/WBC 140lbs belt-holder Terrence Crawford swept aside IBF/WBA ruler Julius Indongo to become just the third man in history to unify boxing’s “Big Four” sanctioning belts. With each of the four governing bodies naming a minimum of one titlist across seventeen weight categories – not to mention various pointless distinctions between “super”, “regular”, “interim”, “diamond” and “emeritus” champions – the anointment of a truly undisputed king, albeit in a single division, provides a welcome reprieve from boxing’s messy landscape.

Sadly, the ideal scenario of crowning an undisputed champion in every division is a virtually impossible task. In practice, the requirements of each governing body set against the promotional and contractual obligations inherent to the business of boxing almost always prevent a single fighter from capturing all four belts, with multiple titles fragmenting far more easily than they are unified.

Bernard Hopkins, who became the first man to unify all four belts following his blockbuster clash with Oscar De La Hoya in 2004, managed a single defence before losing to Jermain Taylor, who was promptly stripped by the IBF before rematching Hopkins. Now joined by Crawford, they are the only men in history to achieve the feat of simultaneously holding all four belts, although the late 1990s and early 2000s saw Lennox Lewis, Roy Jones, Kostya Tszyu, O’Neil Bell, Winky Wright, Cory Spinks and Zab Judah widely recognized as “undisputed champions” of their divisions, despite only holding the WBC, WBA and IBF titles.

Whether these men were ever truly “undisputed” is debatable, though. For while it’s now accepted that there are four bona fide world championships, it’s far less clear precisely when the WBO gained recognition as a member of this group. When Pernell Whitaker unified the WBC, WBA and IBF lightweight titles in 1990, for example, the WBO existed but was not yet widely viewed as a genuine world title. By the time Kostya Tszyu performed the same feat at 140lbs a decade later, the WBO was much more widely respected, with a plethora of modern great fighters – including the likes of Johnny Tapia, Marco Antonio Barrera, Naseem Hamed, Joe Calzaghe, Dariusz Michalczewski, Oscar De La Hoya and Winky Wright, to name a few – having already established themselves as legitimate world champs by virtue of their WBO status.

In other words, aside from Hopkins, Taylor and now Crawford, how long the list of undisputed champions from the modern era really is depends on which source you read, and on whose definition you accept at a given point in history.

With the relative dearth of fighters successfully able to navigate the minefield of boxing politics in order to become the “undisputed” ruler of their weight, fans and scribes also appeal to the notion of a “lineal” champion to resolve the issue of divisional supremacy. The lineal championship functions much the same way as a royal bloodline: you are “the champ” by virtue of the fact that you beat the champ, who beat the champ… all the way back (in theory) to the original champ.

The advantage here is that it circumvents the political chicanery of the alphabet bodies. The drawback though comes packaged with the lack of tangibility: since lineal status is conceptual rather than concrete and depends on historical linkage rather than “official” recognition, sooner or later it diverges from the sanctioned titles. And though the lineal championship carries more historical value, it lacks the visible force that comes with wearing a big shiny belt.

Muddying the waters further still is the fact that situations arise where rival lineal and undisputed champions exist at the same time. A classic example of this occurred in the late 1980s, after Michael Spinks defeated IBF and true heavyweight champion, Larry Holmes. Later, Spinks was stripped by the IBF for refusing to fight their No.1 contender in favour of a more lucrative bout, leaving the bizarre situation whereby the man holding the most legitimate claim as heavyweight champion didn’t own a single one of the official belts. Meanwhile, a new force by the name of Mike Tyson blitzed his way through the rest of the division, collecting the WBC, WBA and IBF titles in order to become “undisputed” champion – the paradox being that Tyson’s status as undisputed champ was legitimately disputed by the lineal champion, Spinks.

Fortunately the mess was resolved when the two rival claimants met in the ring in June 1988. In an event billed as “Once And For All”, Tyson knocked out Spinks in ninety-one seconds to settle the argument; though in more modern times we haven’t always been lucky enough to witness such a conclusive resolution.

The situation in the light-heavyweight division over the last twenty years provides a case in point. In 1999, WBC/WBA belt-holder Roy Jones Junior defeated IBF counterpart Reggie Johnson to unify their three titles, and in 2002 The Ring magazine presented Jones with their inaugural light-heavyweight belt. Commentating on the Crawford-Indongo telecast for Sky Sports on Saturday, former middleweight contender Matthew Macklin recited a popularly held misconception when he stated, incorrectly, that Roy Jones “was undisputed champion for many, many years.”

In fact, Macklin’s description and The Ring’s designation of Jones as their champion both ignored the stronger lineal claim of German-based Pole, Dariusz Michalczewski. Two years prior to Jones, Michalczewski had also unified three belts, adding the WBA and IBF to his WBO crown by defeating Virgil Hill, in June 1997. Michalczewski immediately dropped the WBA and IBF belts that Jones subsequently acquired, but successfully defended the WBO and lineal title a further fourteen times, finally losing to Julio Gonzalez in 2003.

Jones’ supreme talent and almost universal recognition as the best pound-for-pound fighter during that time led many observers to simply overlook Michalczewski’s earlier fine achievement and more valid claim as the true light-heavyweight king. For years a potential bout between the pair was one of the hottest in world boxing, but with Michalczewski content to defend his lesser-regarded WBO belt in Germany and Jones refusing to contemplate travelling to Europe, sadly unlike Tyson-Spinks the matter was never resolved between the ropes, and the mess left behind still resonates today.

In April 2008, Bernard Hopkins and Joe Calzaghe fought for the same Ring 175lbs belt, in a bout widely described as being for the lineal championship of that division, by virtue of the fact that Hopkins had defeated Antonio Tarver, who had defeated Jones. This was only true though if you were willing to ignore the less glamorous claim offered at the time by Zsolt Erdei, whose lineage stretched back to Michalczewski, via Julio Gonzalez. In the end, both Calzaghe and Erdei vacated their championships without ever losing in the ring (Calzaghe retired while Erdei moved up to cruiserweight), and almost a decade later we find ourselves pretty much back where we started.

Today, Andre Ward effectively sits in the position previously occupied by Roy Jones: widely regarded as the world’s pound-for-pound No.1 boxer, he also holds the WBA, IBF, WBO and Ring 175lb titles, though crucially, rival WBC belt-holder Adonis Stevenson owns the stronger claim as lineal champion. Following his first-round demolition of Chad Dawson in 2012, Stevenson became known as “the man who beat the man”, but much like Michalczewski before him, a lack of ambition in his choice of opponents has made it easier for the fight fraternity to overlook his status. Having initially been recognized as The Ring champion, in November 2015 the magazine stripped Stevenson due to a lack of top-level opposition, awarding their vacant title to the winner of the Ward-Kovalev rematch instead.

Regardless of The Ring’s decision, ultimately – as with the Jones-Michalczewski situation – they cannot re-write history. Ward may correctly be viewed as the more talented boxer and deserving champion, but until he meets Stevenson in the ring he cannot claim total supremacy over the division.

Meanwhile the current situation at heavyweight has echoes of the Tyson-Spinks episode, with IBF/WBA titlist Anthony Joshua’s status as the numero-uno effectively hinging on Tyson Fury’s return to the ring. Whether Fury still considers himself to be an active boxer seems to depend which way the wind is blowing, though should he return anytime in the near future his 2015 victory over old king Wladimir Klitschko at least gives him a legitimate claim to being the true ruler of the heavyweight throne.

At middleweight, thankfully things are moving in the right direction as triple belt-holder Gennady Golovkin finally gets his shot at the lineal crown held by Saul Alvarez, whose 2015 WBC title victory over Miguel Cotto links him directly back to the original undisputed king, Bernard Hopkins. Somewhat annoyingly, technically the winner of the GGG-Canelo mega-bout will still need to capture Billy Joe Saunders’ WBO belt in order to reclaim true undisputed status, but at least the consensus No.1 and lineal positions will be consolidated again.

Unfortunately for boxing fans, identifying a single, incontrovertible champion in every weight class is likely to remain a pipe dream for some time to come. The lack of a centralized governing body means that controversy will continue to surround differing interpretations and competing interests, and a consensus view of who “the real” champ is from within the fight community may be about the best we’ve got. The only solution and route to clarity, really, is to ensure that the best fight the best as often as possible, so that we resolve the question of supremacy more like Tyson-Spinks, and less like Jones-Michalczewski. Terrence Crawford now sits as the WBC, WBO, WBA, IBF [undisputed], Ring and lineal light-welterweight champion. Here’s to hoping we don’t have to wait another twelve years for the next boxer to attain the same status.

12
Sep

Super Flyweight Super Card #2

This was a preview of the Superfly 2 card, published by Boxinginsider.com on September 8th 2017: https://www.boxinginsider.com/columns/super-flyweight-super-card-2017-just-keeps-giving/

“I think 2016 should go down as one of the worst years in boxing history, maybe the worst.” – Oscar De La Hoya, October 2016.

The Golden Boy’s sad assessment of the state of boxing almost a year ago may have been somewhat of an exaggeration, but it’s fair to say 2016 was not exactly a banner year for the sport. Still recovering from the stench of the Mayweather-Pacquiao mega-letdown in 2015 and facing the prospect of being usurped as the world’s No.1 combat sport by a surging UFC, boxing was certainly in need of a serious shot in the arm. Read more

25
Aug

Mayweather-McGregor: A Reflection of the Times

post-truth adjective

relating to a situation in which people are more likely to accept an argument based on their emotions and beliefs, rather than one based on facts

Conor McGregor is an interesting character. If you listen to him in an interview, he can be witty, polite and genuine. When he forwards an outlandish prediction, he does so with calm and conviction. Speaking in front of a large audience, McGregor is often animated, fiery and profane, yet manages to maintain a sense of humour. He has charisma. He knows how to captivate the public’s attention. Regardless of setting, he always emanates a cast-iron certainty in his own ability to bend reality to his will – a quality shared by some of the most successful people in history, most notably the greatest boxer ever, Muhammad Ali.

UFC boss Dana White was recently quoted on Twitter as saying: “If you sit in a room with @TheNotoriousMMA for two minutes, you’ll believe him too.”

Many people don’t even require that long. Read more

25
Aug

Ranking Wladimir

This article was published by BoxingInsider.com on August 10th, 2017: https://www.boxinginsider.com/columns/ranking-wladimir-klitschko/

With the recent announcement that Wladimir Klitschko is officially retiring, a page was turned to end an era of heavyweight boxing. And while many would have gladly viewed a return of last April’s gripping contest with Anthony Joshua, few would have predicted a different result. At 41 years of age and following such a tremendous effort, now would seem the perfect moment for the Ukrainian to call time on his illustrious career. Which begs the question: where does his legacy rank in the annals of heavyweight history? Read more

26
Jul

The Troubles with CompuBox

This article was published by Boxinginsider.com on July 8th, 2017: http://www.boxinginsider.com/columns/the-troubles-with-compubox/

Boxing is a notoriously difficult sport to score. Although the brief a fighter must follow is simple enough – hit and hurt your opponent more than he does you – deciding who completes this task more successfully can be a complicated affair. Witness the myriad of disputed decisions that litter boxing history as evidence of the above. In the wake of Manny Pacquiao’s defeat to unfavoured Australian Jeff Horn last weekend, another contentious result can be added to that list. Read more

3
Jul

Re-Visiting the Ward vs. Kovalev I “Robbery”

This article was published by Boxinginsider.com on 17th June, 2017: http://www.boxinginsider.com/columns/re-visiting-ward-vs-kovalev-robbery/

In the immediate aftermath of Andre Ward’s unanimous victory over Sergey Kovalev in their first fight last November, emotions from both sets of fans were running high and the controversial nature of the decision elicited some intense scrutiny of the judges’ scorecards. Cries of “robbery” flooded the web, with a deluge of fans enthusiastically taking up the “boxing is crooked” narrative. With the immediate rematch looming, here I take a look back and re-examine some of the perceptions, misconceptions and post-fight reaction to their first encounter. Read more

16
Jun

Errol Spence Jr. TKO11 Kell Brook & George Groves TKO6 Fedor Chudinov

The Brook-Spence fight report was published on TheFightCity.com on May 28th, 2017. Thanks to Michael Carbert for his help in editing and publishing the final version: http://www.thefightcity.com/fight-report-brook-vs-spence-boxing/

As they made their way to the ring, the American challenger looked confident and relaxed, as he has done for the duration of the buildup to his biggest ever fight; meanwhile the champion wore a tense but focused expression throughout the pre-fight introductions. Read more

16
Jun

Ward Skips HBO Face Off: Prima Donna or Pre-Fight Gamesmanship?

This article was published on TheFightCity.com on May 11th, 2017. Thanks to Michael Carbert and Zachary Alapi for their help in editing and publishing the final version: http://www.thefightcity.com/andre-ward-skips-hbo-face-off-prima-donna-or-gamesmanship/

It’s fair to say that Andre Ward is not every fight fan’s cup of tea. In fact, it would be more accurate to say the reaction his name elicits online tends to be fairly scathing. Whether it is vitriol directed at the judges’ verdict awarded to him over Sergey Kovalev or scorn heaped on his “diva-ish” behaviour at the negotiating table, it seems few people have a positive word to say about the man these days. So with the news that he failed to show up for a planned HBO Face Off segment opposite his Russian rival this past weekend, it did not take long for the critics to once again come out in force. Read more

19
Apr

The Battle of the Planet: Hopkins vs. Calzaghe

Author’s Note: This article was written on 17th April, 2008, and was my first ever attempt at a full-length boxing article. I’d like to extend a huge thanks to Thomas Hauser and T.K. Stewart, who kindly took the time to read it and offer feedback and words of encouragement.

After a combined total of 44 world title fight victories including two of the longest title reigns in the history of boxing, culminating in both fighters becoming undisputed champions in their respective divisions and one of them a two division champion, finally Bernard ‘The Executioner’ Hopkins and Joe ‘The Pride of Wales’ Calzaghe will meet in the squared circle. The fight will determine not only who can call himself the best light-heavyweight in the world, but which man can claim supremacy over an entire era. Most likely niether fighter will remain in the sport of boxing long after Saturday’s contest, regardless of the outcome. So as another of boxings era’s draws itself to a close – with the likes of De La Hoya, Roy Jones, Mosley, Trinidad, Barrera and more all likely closing out their hall of fame careers in the near future – so two more legends of the modern era duke it out to decide just who can ride off into the sunset with his pride in tact; his will executed. Read more

19
Apr

Sor Rungvisai W12 Gonzalez: Great Fight, Wrong Result

This article was published on TheFightCity.com on March 24th, 2017. Thanks to Michael Carbert and Zachary Alapi for their help in editing and publishing the final version: http://www.thefightcity.com/srisaket-sor-rungvisai-boxing-roman-gonzalez/

Srisaket Sor Rungvisai may well have the most deceptive record of any world champion currently in boxing. The story of where he came from in order to become a champion may also be one of the most remarkable in the sport. Read more

7
Mar

David Haye vs. Tony Bellew: Beneath the Bluster

This article was published by BoxingInsider.com on March 3rd, 2017: http://www.boxinginsider.com/columns/haye-vs-bellew-beneath-bluster/

“Of course, to try to learn from boxers was a quintessentially comic quest. Boxers were liars. Champions were great liars. They had to be. Once you knew what they thought, you could hit them. So their personalities became masterpieces of concealment.” – Norman Mailer, The Fight.

David Haye is a self-confessed play boy from south London who enjoys partying it up in Miami and posing on yachts in his spare time; Tony Bellew is a straight-talking, proud Liverpudlian and consummate family man. It would be an understatement to say they are different characters. What they share is a competitive zeal that has taken them both to professional world title honours and helped set up a meeting inside a 20ft ring on Saturday night at London’s O2 Arena in front of thousands of baying spectators. Read more

18
Feb

Kell Brook Serves the Haters Some Humble Pie

This article was published by BoxingInsider.com on February 14th, 2017: http://www.boxinginsider.com/columns/kell-brook-serves-haters-humble-pie/

Boxing is a tough sport, and boxing fans are a hard bunch to please. Opinions dished out from die-hard behind-the-keyboard fans are usually harsh, though often these criticisms are eminently fair and promote the better values and traditions of the sport (the backlash against Canelo Alvarez and Golden Boy for dropping his WBC middleweight belt like a hot potato in order to avoid facing Gennady Golovkin, after publicly stating they would do no such thing, would be one example). Often times though, the messages spouted on forums and over social media cross the line into the unreasonable, unnecessary or just plain nasty. Sometimes, it seems, a fighter can do no right – even when they’ve already exceeded expectations and dared to achieve far more than most fans ever believed they would. Read more

18
Feb

Britain & Ireland’s Super Six

An edited version of this article was published on TheFightCity.com on February 13th, 2017: http://www.thefightcity.com/super-middleweight-super-six-boxing/

Since being established by the major sanctioning bodies in the mid-1980s, the super middleweight division has produced some classic contests. I was fortunate enough to be growing into an avid boxing fan in the midst of the division’s heyday for British & Irish boxing, during a wonderful era in the 1990s. James DeGale didn’t quite manage to emerge victorious in his recent IBF/WBC unification fight against Badou Jack, but he nevertheless earned a rightful place in the discussion alongside Britain and Ireland’s best 168lb fighters. Looking at each man’s achievements in the sport, as well as why they earned a special place in my heart as a boxing fan, here’s my personal Super Six: Read more

30
Dec

Ronda Rousey Returns After “Biggest Upset in Combat Sports History”? Not By a Long Way

This article was published by BoxingInsider.com on December 30th, 2016: http://www.boxinginsider.com/columns/ronda-rousey-returns-biggest-upset-combat-sports-history-not-long-way/

Friday night sees the long-awaited comeback of “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey following her shocking defeat to Holly Holm last November, in a result infamously described by UFC commentator Joe Rogan as, “the biggest upset in combat sports history”. Prior to her defeat, Rousey had demolished a string of 12 opponents with only one of them making it out of the first round – a devastating record by any standard, and there’s no doubt that Holm’s knockout was a truly enormous upset, with the challenger overcoming odds of up to 12-1 against her.

That being said, it takes two people to make a fight, and the bookies’ published odds are not the only ingredient that goes into a big upset – the wider context of the underdog’s role is also vital. Ronda’s record was indeed formidable, but keen observers had noted that it could be a far more difficult task than anything she had faced before, with Holm being a former world-boxing champion and arguably the first bona fide world-class striker “Rowdy” had faced off against.

So while Rogan’s assertion that it was the “biggest upset of all time” might be right as far as UFC or even MMA history goes, once we include the sweet science the scale of Ronda’s defeat falls a few rungs down the list of “greatest ever upsets”. Here are five of my favourite shocks in boxing history that eclipse Holly Holm’s upset victory over Ronda Rousey: Read more

30
Dec

Five Myths About Judging Fights

An edited version of this article was published on TheFightCity.com on December 22nd, 2016: http://www.thefightcity.com/five-myths-about-judging-fights-kovalev-vs-ward/

In the aftermath of the unanimous decision for Andre Ward over Sergey Kovalev, a lot of attention has been focused on the scorecards turned in by the 3 ringside judges, with the usual barbs being tossed around on social media about “corrupt officials” and a so-called “robbery”. While the decision was certainly a controversial one and everyone is entitled to their opinion, there’s several scoring clichés that could do with a healthy dose of reality. Here are five of the most common to be aware of: Read more

30
Dec

Why the Conor McGregor Hype Train Can Be Good for Boxing

This article was published by BoxingInsider.com on December 4th, 2016: http://www.boxinginsider.com/columns/conor-mcgregor-hype-train-can-good-boxing/

With the recent news that UFC star Conor McGregor was granted a professional boxing license in California, the media hype about a potential fight with Floyd Mayweather has gone into overdrive again – although this time, there is at least an element of substance to back it up. Reaction in the boxing world has been, quite reasonably, largely cynical about what seems to be a calculated publicity stunt on McGregor’s part. It’s hard to begrudge him though for piggybacking on the boxer’s name and modeling the brash persona that brought Mayweather unparalleled sums, and if the Irishman wants to sprinkle some of his star power in the direction of boxing, that can hardly be a bad thing. Read more

22
Nov

Who Should we Believe in the Ward-GGG Saga?

An edited version of this article was published on thefightcity.com on November 17th, 2016: http://www.thefightcity.com/golovkin-vs-ward-gennady-golovkin-andre-ward-kovalev-boxing/

As former super middleweight ruler Andre Ward prepares for his upcoming challenge against WBA/WBO/IBF light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev, a phoney war between his camp and that of another Eastern bloc pound-for-pound star, Gennady Golovkin, continues to rumble on. The latest round of the back and forth battle-by-media occurred when Triple G’s trainer, Abel Sanchez, recently stated that his star pupil has the beating not only of Ward, but 175lb champions Kovalev and Adonis Stevenson, too. Read more

16
Nov

Super Fight 2016: Sergey Kovalev vs. Andre Ward, “Pound-for-Pound”

This article was published by BoxingInsider.com on 15th November, 2016: http://www.boxinginsider.com/columns/super-fight-2016-sergey-kovalev-vs-andre-ward-pound-pound/

On November 19th at the 20,000-seat T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, two of boxing’s most highly rated fighters meet in a battle for the WBA, WBO and IBF light-heavyweight world championships. While the bout has not quite captured mainstream media attention in the manner of a Mayweather-Pacquiao type mega event, it is nevertheless a rare meeting between undefeated, elite talents in the prime of their careers. The fighters enter with a combined record of 60-0-1, with 41 knockouts. Below, I analyse the case for each man’s prospects of victory. Read more

12
Nov

Time for the Pacman to Call it a Day

This article was published by BoxingInsider.com on 11th November, 2016: http://www.boxinginsider.com/columns/time-pacman-call-day/

Following a short-lived “retirement” from boxing, Manny Pacquiao returned to action on Saturday night and reclaimed a portion of the welterweight title for the third time. Once again the Pacman demonstrated that he is levels above the vast majority of 147lb boxers in the world, dominating and widely outpointing a respectable, ambitious world champion 10 years his junior. Read more

10
Nov

Five Memorable “Psych Jobs”

This is an updated version of an article that was originally published on Eastsideboxing.com, November 22nd, 2013: https://www.boxing247.com/boxing-news/boxing-five-memorable-psych-jobs/21212

Boxing is an inherently psychological undertaking. It is an activity that exposes the contestants to far more than the simple prospect of defeat: the potential combination of public humiliation and genuine physical harm percolate in a fighter’s mind to a degree that few who have not lived the experience can reasonably quantify. Far from being a mere test of physical skills then, boxing is perhaps one of the purest tests of human will power. Some of the biggest contests in boxing history have therefore been won or lost through cunning, bravery and fortitude as much as they have speed, strength and stamina. Read more

31
Jul

Santa Cruz vs. Frampton: Are the Bookies Underestimating the Ulsterman?

An edited version of this article was published on TheFightCity.com website, on 29th July 2016. Thanks to Michael Carbert, Editor-in-Chief, for his help in producing and publishing the final version: http://www.thefightcity.com/carl-frampton-leo-santa-cruz-preview-boxing-odds-underdog-showtime/

Following two less-than-scintillating performances in his most recent bouts, Carl Frampton goes into his featherweight title fight against defending champion Leo Santa Cruz on Saturday night as a clear underdog, according to most bookmakers. UK’s Sky Bet, for example, currently have Frampton as a 2/1 outsider, while a bet on a Santa Cruz victory will get you odds of 4/9. (That is, a winning £10 bet on Santa Cruz only pays out £4.44, while the same amount on Frampton would net you a £20 profit). These seem to be wide odds indeed, considering that the fight features two undefeated, finely matched world-class boxers, both in the prime of their careers.

Read more

21
Jul

Kovalev Less Than Convincing

This article was first published on TheFightCity.com website on July 12th, 2016: http://www.thefightcity.com/kovalev-less-convincing-sergey-kovalev-isaac-chilemba-andre-ward-russia-boxing/

In a tougher-than-expected defence of his WBA, IBF and WBO light-heavyweight titles, Sergey “Krusher” Kovalev unanimously out-pointed Malawi-born challenger Isaac Chilemba on his home-turf in Ekaterinburg, Russia. Although prevailing widely on the official scorecards, the judges’ tallies of 117-110, 116-111 and 118-109 were perhaps a tad disingenuous to the African challenger and certainly didn’t tell the story of how difficult a contest this was for the defending champion.

Read more

7
May

Canelo-Khan: A “Super” Fight, Not a “Superfight”

An edited version of this article was published on TheFightCity.com website on April 6th, 2016. Thanks to Michael Carbert, Editor-in-Chief, for his help in producing and publishing the final version: http://www.thefightcity.com/canelo-vs-khan-not-a-superfight-canelo-alvarez-amir-khan-golden-boy-floyd-mayweather-miguel-cotto-manny-pacquiao/

When Amir Khan’s May 7th bout with Mexican boxing icon Saul “Canelo” Alvarez was announced, the reaction among the world’s fight media was, almost universally, one of “welcome surprise”. Outside of the fighters’ camps, few had anticipated a match-up between the newly crowned WBC middleweight belt-holder and Britain’s former 140lb world champion being made. The shock of the announcement was coupled with a healthy dose of enthusiasm though, for what promises to be an entertaining meeting between two of the sport’s most recognizable names.

While I share the sense of excitement for what is undoubtedly a fantastic piece of matchmaking on the part of Oscar De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, amidst the fanfare I would also caution against exaggerating what the fight means in the wider context of the sport. Canelo-Khan may well be a fascinating meeting between two world-class, world-renowned boxers, but it nevertheless falls short of the vaunted “Superfight” status that many media outlets labelled the contest with.

Read more

7
May

Pacquiao-Bradley I Scoring Re-Visited: Heist or Hyperbole?

This article was published by TheFightCity.com on April 8th, 2016, prior to the third Manny Pacquiao vs. Tim Bradley fight:  http://www.thefightcity.com/pacquiao-vs-bradley-i-heist-or-hyperbole-manny-pacquaio-timothy-bradley-robbery-boxing-las-vegas/

On Saturday night, the MGM Grand Garden, Las Vegas, sees the third installment of Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley’s welterweight trilogy, in what is likely to be the Filipino legend’s final outing in the ring. While officially the fight serves as the rubber match in their three-fight series, many would argue that in reality Pacquiao should be entering the “decider” with a 2-0 lead, owing to the controversial nature of their first meeting. In June 2012, Bradley was awarded a split points victory over Pacquiao, relieving him of his WBO world title. Here, I take a look back at one of the most high profile, contentious decisions in modern boxing history, and question whether the judges’ verdict that night was deserving of the widespread outrage it caused.

Read more

2
Apr

Eubank vs Blackwell: Brave, Brutal, Blameless

An edited version of this article was published on TheFightCity.com on April 1st, 2016. Thanks to Michael Carbert, Editor-in-Chief, for his help and patience in producing and publishing the edited version: http://www.thefightcity.com/eubank-vs-blackwell-chris-eubank-nick-blackwell-tyson-fury-billy-joe-saunders-boxing-great-britain/

“Boxing is the magic of men in combat, the magic of will, and skill, and pain, and the risking of everything so you can respect yourself for the rest of your life.” – F.X. Toole

Over the course of 10 ferocious rounds of boxing, Chris Eubank Jr. and Nick Blackwell’s titanic battle for the British middleweight championship epitomized the very best and very worst aspects of the sweet science. Two men who went into the contest as loathsome enemies ended their struggle with a newfound and heartfelt respect for each other, enthralling and finally sickening their audience, encapsulating how this sport is at once so compelling and yet, at times, so disturbing for even its most ardent followers. Read more

7
Feb

The Heavyweight Championship: Dawn of a New Era

An edited version of this article was published on TheFightCity.com on February 5th, 2016. Thanks to Michael Carbert, Editor-in-Chief, for his help and patience in producing and publishing the edited version: http://www.thefightcity.com/dawn-of-a-new-era-joe-louis-rocky-marciano-muhammad-ali-mike-tyson-larry-holmes-tyson-fury-heavyweights/

Boxing is a cyclical sport. No matter how dominant, fearsome or skilled a reigning champion may seem at the height of his powers, sooner or later the old guard is forced to make way for the new. Once great kings are swept aside by the challenge of bold young pretenders; years later the new ruler will inevitably be usurped by a similarly brash, younger upstart. As we make our way into a new year, the transition into a new heavyweight era is upon us. Read more

14
Oct

Who Wins: Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith vs. ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley?

After Liam Smith’s fantastic victory for the WBO light-middleweight world title last Saturday night, the new champ suggested that the likes of former pound-for-pound stand out and American legend ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley should now “be calling me out” – igniting a brief back and forth between the pair on Twitter.

Read more

9
Sep

Mayweather’s Final Opponent? Berto Ain’t So Bad

On the 12th of September boxing’s biggest star, Floyd Mayweather Jnr., will step through the ropes for the 49th and – if his retirement promise is to be believed – final time. The selection of Haitian born Andre Berto as his supposed last ever dance partner is a choice that has induced stinging criticism from large sections of media and fans. But while the disappointment of not seeing boxing’s premier operator test himself in a more high-risk encounter justifies the criticism to a certain extent, all things considered, Berto really isn’t that bad of an opponent. And before you condemn me as a fully-fledged member of the Floyd “TBE” Cheerleading Society, hear me out. Read more

28
Jul

Who is the best ever 168lb fighter from the UK: Joe Calzaghe or Carl Froch?

This is an extended version of an article published on thesweetscience.com, on July 27th 2015: http://www.thesweetscience.com/news/articles-frontpage/21225-better-uk-168er-froch-or-calzaghe

With the recent retirement of British super middleweight Carl Froch, one topic that has received much attention is his standing among former British greats in a division that has produced some of the finest ever champions from these shores. Below I analyse the respective careers of arguably the top two British 168lb legends and give my take on who stands higher in the all-time pantheon. Read more

2
May

Mayweather-Pacquiao: Big Fight Preview & Prediction

Part I: The Case for Pacquiao

“We thought Manny Pacquiao was great”, exclaimed Larry Merchant, as referee Kenny Bayless crossed his arms to signal the end of the Filipino phenom’s twelve round hammering of Miguel Cotto in December 2009, in what was arguably his greatest victory to date. “He’s better than we thought”. Perhaps no one has managed to encapsulate so incisively Manny Pacquiao’s unprecedented and at times terrifying rise through boxing’s elite ranks. Read more

2
May

Mayweather-Pacquiao: the Biggest Fight Since…? Part 2

In this two part article, I look at ten of the biggest boxing events from the last twenty-five years and consider their “super-fight” credentials against Mayweather-Pacquiao.

Part Two: The 90’s

Oscar De La Hoya vs. Felix Trinidad, 18th September 1999, WBC/IBF Welterweight Championship

In terms of a high quality, evenly matched, perfectly timed contest between two great rivals, this one was, hands down, easily the best in my years following the sport. A boxing purist’s dream and a fan’s delight between two undefeated icons at the absolute peak of their powers, it was a match made in heaven. A reported 1.4 million PPV buys made the event the biggest selling non-heavyweight fight ever – a record that stood until De La Hoya-Mayweather eight years later. Read more

2
May

Mayweather-Pacquiao: the Biggest Fight Since…? Part 1

Depending on the news source and the size of the hyperbole employed, the super-fight between Floyd Mayweather Jnr. and Manny Pacquiao is variously described as “the biggest fight in history” or else “the biggest fight since [insert 80’s super-fight]”. In one sense, of course, such statements are undeniably true: barring a catastrophe the May 2nd event will smash every box-office record in the book. In another sense though, basing our assessment of the bout’s “super-fight” status purely on its ability to generate dollar signs may be misguided, for a number of reasons. Read more

21
Mar

The “Pound-For-Pound” Puzzle

What exactly do we mean by the best fighters in the world, “pound-for-pound”? And how do we decide who gets to be on the list?

Back in the earliest days of pugilism, weight divisions as we know them today simply didn’t exist. By the early 20th century, boxing’s traditional eight weight classes began to crystalize, and later in the century these grew to the now seventeen recognized divisions we see today. For a fighter operating within the lower weight divisions though, no matter how far he excels himself beyond his peers, it is the heavyweight champion who nevertheless retains the title of ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’. He is the guy on the street who stands aside for no one; he is the bouncer where the buck stops; he is the true ‘King of the Jungle’. He is, after all, the only boxer who can claim the beating of “any man in the world” – in the literal rather than figurative sense. Read more

3
Mar

Boxing’s Top 10, Pound-for-Pound

Below is my take on the hypothetical ranking of boxing’s elite…

  1. Floyd Mayweather (Previous Position: 1)

Record: 47-0 (26 KOs)

Current Belts: WBC/WBA ‘Super’ World Welterweight (147lbs); WBC World LightMiddleweight (154lbs)

Surely, this is still the only position in the rankings not up for debate. There’s no doubt that at 38 years old Mayweather appears to have lost half a step, but until he surrenders that incredible undefeated record or else looks truly atrocious in the ring, he will remain in the top spot on pretty much any list you can find. With the Pacquiao fight FINALLY being set for May 2nd of this year, Mr. Money faces the man with a higher chance than anyone of finally knocking him off of his pound-for-pound perch. In doing so, he has also managed to silence some of the “Ducker” jibes levelled against him over the previous few years (at least temporarily). Realistically, then, there are only two people with even a faint hope of achieving the feat of dethroning Mayweather: it’s either Manny Pacquiao or Father Time. Read more

13
Apr

Pacquiao-Bradley I Scoring Re-Visited: Heist or Hyperbole?

On Saturday night, boxing will see the rematch of one of the most highly contentious decisions in recent memory. Although Timothy Bradley relieved Manny Pacquiao of his WBO title via split decision almost two years ago, it has been called a “terrible, bogus decision” (Jim Lampley), “a crime” (Harold Lederman), a “stain on boxing” (Lennox Lewis), one of “the worst decisions in boxing history” (Dan Rafael), “a highway robbery” (Jeff Mayweather), and the result of “incompetent or corrupt officials” (Teddy Atlas). Read more

24
Nov

Who Wins Froch vs Groves?

The big British super middleweight world title clash is only hours away. Cast your vote below on the outcome of the fight…

24
Nov

Carl Froch vs. George Groves: Who Wins?

Who wins Froch-Groves?

A few weeks ago, I would’ve confidently picked Carl Froch by early to mid rounds KO. Now, I’m not so sure – but I’m still leaning towards the Cobra.

Groves has done a fantastic job of getting under the champion’s skin; refusing to play the respectful ‘happy to get my opportunity against a great champion’ role and consistently confronting the WBA/IBF belt holder with a series of flaws – or ‘truths’, as Groves likes to call them – that he has found in the Cobra’s résumé. Read more

23
Nov

Five Memorable “Psych Jobs”

Boxing is an inherently psychological undertaking. It is an activity that exposes the contestants to far more than the simple prospect of defeat: the potential combination of public humiliation and genuine physical harm percolate in a fighter’s mind to a degree that few who have not lived the experience can reasonably quantify. Far from being a mere test of physical skills then, boxing is perhaps one of the purest tests of human will power. Some of the biggest contests in boxing history have therefore been won or lost through cunning, bravery and fortitude as much as they have speed, strength and stamina.

With George Groves and Carl Froch recently providing a fascinating insight into the pivotal role that pre-fight mind games can play as their super middleweight title showdown approaches, here I take a look back at some classic examples of when fight-psychology played an important part in big championship fights. Read more

9
Nov

Boxing’s Top Ten, “Pound-for-Pound”

Below is my take on the hypothetical ranking of boxing’s elite…

1.     Floyd Mayweather

Surely the only position in the rankings not up for debate. Incredibly, Mayweather’s opposition seems to be getting better the older he gets. This is likely due to the big bucks thrown at his feet by cable TV company Showtime’s expensive drive into the boxing market, but let’s not complain. Mayweather already has fifteen years as an undefeated world champion behind him. There is little chance of him being knocked off this perch until that run ends.
Read more

14
Oct

Floyd Mayweather Jnr. Critics Keep Moving the Goal Posts to Greatness

For any boxer starting out his career, to become a champion is the ultimate goal. For those that succeed in becoming a champion, the next step is to become a great champion. Boxing enthusiasts are a hard bunch to please though, and the “great” label is a tough nut to crack. It is a label made even harder for fighters to attain by critics who choose to move the goal posts, even when a champion has excelled above and beyond his peers in those aspects typically used to define “greatness”. Floyd Mayweather is one such victim. Read more

21
May

Froch-Kessler: 50/50? Let’s Find Out

It’s being billed as a true “pick’em” fight, and yet it seems few are going out on a limb to put their money on the great Dane. Let’s see if a boxingphilosophy straw poll can clear things up a bit…

21
May

Carl Froch: “I’ll Make You Famous”

“Are you gonna give me a ring about this training then or what?” called out the coach, across the noisy gym through the swinging bags.

“You give me a ring – and I’ll make you famous” shot back the fighter, over his shoulder as he strolled nonchalantly by, without breaking a step.

It was 2001. The boxing club was Nottingham’s Phoenix ABC; the trainer was Dale McPhilbin, and the fighter was Carl Froch. He was about to turn professional. Read more

16
May

‘Boxing Philosophy’ Makes a Comeback!

Following a two-year reprieve from being bombarded with random musings about the world of boxing, prepare to be “in-boxed” once more by your favourite source of all things fight-related.

After a year back in the UK buried in books, and another eighteen months or so in China buried behind the Great Fire Wall, I’ve finally gotten around to writing down some of my ponderings on The Fight Game once more (and investing in a connection which will allow me to, erm, “hop” the Wall). Read more

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