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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
Below is my take on the hypothetical ranking of boxing’s elite…
- Floyd Mayweather (Previous Position: 1)
Record: 47-0 (26 KOs)
Current Belts: WBC/WBA ‘Super’ World Welterweight (147lbs); WBC World Light–Middleweight (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
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
The big British super middleweight world title clash is only hours away. Cast your vote below on the outcome of the fight…
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
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
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.
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
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…
“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
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