RINGSIDE BITS AND PIECES: DAVIS vs WALSH

It was another packed championship night at the Copper Box and with a number of preliminaries untelevised, our man at ringside Chris Williamson brings news and views on the card from top to bottom…

Davis vs Walsh

New Malden southpaw Lerrone Richards extended an unbeaten streak to seven without defeat with a useful six round workout at light-heavy with German born Brit Anthony Fox, who drops to 1-6-2. Richards has sparred the likes of George Groves, Billi Joe Saunders and Chris Eubank Jr and won every round with the referee scoring 60-54.

Continue reading “RINGSIDE BITS AND PIECES: DAVIS vs WALSH”

YAFAI REFLECTS ON TITLE TRIUMPH AND LOOKS AHEAD

With the first defence of his WBA super flyweight title on Saturday at home in Birmingham, Kal Yafai tells Chris Williamson how it felt to win a world title

The three words every title challenger dreams of hearing have become one of boxing’s cliches; indeed, a master of ceremonies will often shorten or alter the words. Still, they can propel him through the strain and sweat of training camp and if uttered can change his life:

“And the new!”

Continue reading “YAFAI REFLECTS ON TITLE TRIUMPH AND LOOKS AHEAD”

JOSHUA vs KLITSCHKO: NOSEBLEED BITS AND PIECES

Photo: Matchroom

The bookmaker had printed separate sheets for Joshua vs Klitschko bets, with my pick Klitschko by decision and instructions from my other half for a Klitschko win of any kind. She reckoned from the weigh-in face off that Joshua is too much a boy and that Klitschko had his business face on. Money had come in on the Ukrainian since printing so the odds had narrowed slightly. An elderly gambler told me we had it all wrong. “Joshua will knock him out in four,” he said as if remembering a contest he’d already seen.

There’s a unique anticipation in the air which grows as you approach Wembley Stadium for a sporting event and a crossover event like this one attracts a broad range of fan.

The t-shirt sellers advertise “half price” shirts at £10 while touts offer to buy and sell tickets. On wembley way, a small group of Ukrainians collect for the ‘British Ukrainian aid’ charity. I’m still unsure if this was an inspired or ridiculous location to make their collections.

Photo: Matchroom

Our seats were far better than expected, on a lower tier with a good view of the action and close to the raised stage at which sky pundits watched and broadcast. A similar stage was set up for the US Showtime team to our right.

The sound system, it goes without saying, is awesome. Short videos shown to the crowd before the main event were superbly put together, but as casual voices waxed lyrical about the power of Joshua, I was struck by just how poor some of the victims being swatted around were in comparison to the formidable opponent waiting tonight.

Attending with the other half which brings a fresh and innocent perspective which can provide questions I can’t always answer. “Why do they box at night?” she asks.  Opinions are based on simpler and perhaps more valid analysis than those of us who watch hours of footage.

Photo: Esther Lin

A poor undercard finishes (or in some cases is cancelled) and Wembley falls dark. Inevitably, “Sweet Caroline” plays as MC Michael Buffer entered the ring. There were some educated voices in the crowd, one of whom informs a friend that Joseph Parker was WBO champion.

Entrances can provide a statement of intent and Wladimir’s was single-minded and purposeful. The red of his championship days was shed, apart from the familiar red hot chilli peppers music. There was little doubt Klitschko had come to reclaim his property.

If Wladimir was no-nonsense, Joshua was introduced like a music artist, with a ramp and flashing ‘AJ’ lights which brought to mind those designed for Frank Bruno for his 1995 title fight at the old Wembley Stadium. Notorious B.I.G can make a for a fabulous entrance song but this version was – perhaps like Joshua himself – heavily censored, although amusingly ‘gats’ slipped through the censorship while ‘endo’ – with the smell of weed in the cool Wembley air – did not.

Photo: Esther Lin

After a brief feeling out period, the fight turned into the rare heavyweight title fight representing the sport at it’s very best: two of the biggest, baddest men on the planet baring their souls in front of a huge, enthralled audience. Both men dug into reserves we didn’t know they had until finally it was the referee who decided the depths they were willing to go to were too brutal.

Photo: Esther Lin

With ten rounds completed I had it dead even. That the young champion entered a realm – the championship rounds – in which he was a stranger and his opponent familiar with such an intensity speaks eloquently for his courage and daring. Joshua had taken some terrific blows from one of the hardest punchers in history; he’d been floored for the first time in his professional career and still  found the courage and energy to fight savagely enough to render judging redundant.

Photo: Matchroom

Consider that neither Mike Tyson or Lennox Lewis ever won a fight in which they were floored. Joshua couldn’t know if he had the stamina to bounce back from a torrid knockdown and hard middle rounds which followed but found the fight to win in highlight-reel fashion.

A year ago Joshua won a belt and to his credit refused to become carried away. On Saturday he took a huge step towards three letters much more important than those used by alphabet bodies. He took a giant stride towards being crowned “the” as in “the champion” and “the man.”

RINGSIDE BITS AND PIECES: MURRAY VS ROSADO

Slip & Counter was ringside to find out if “Beautiful Brutality” would live up to its heady billing..

When the middleweight crossroad match between St Helens’ Martin Murray and Philadelphia’s Gabriel Rosado was announced for the 10,000 capacity Echo arena in Liverpool, cynics wondered if the show title was tagged with the same “Beautiful Brutality” title of Sky Sports’ Head of Boxing Adam Smith’s 2012 book in order to have it signed off as a main event.

Continue reading “RINGSIDE BITS AND PIECES: MURRAY VS ROSADO”

Ringside Bits and Pieces: “A New Era”

With dust settling on last weekend’s much-trumpeted ‘A New Era’ show at the Manchester arena, Slip & Counter looked for answers to the real burning questions like how to approach a ring girl and almost reveal those elusive Boxnation subscription numbers.

After promoter Frank Warren brilliantly parked a large truck advertising this event outside a Matchroom show here two weeks previously (not one week as an otherwise excellent Paul Dempsey suggested on BT Sport) and a new TV partner to impress, there was plenty of attention paid to the size of the crowd here. Proximity to the aforementioned Linares vs Crolla II show and a clash-of-sorts with the Grand National are likely to have impacted ticket sales. As it happened and to paraphrase Shoeless Joe Jackson from “Field of Dreams”: “if you build a good card, they will come”. The top tier wasn’t opened at all, but most of the lower section was full when busiest, although some level of ticket giveaways was evident from a line at the “comp” counter.

Continue reading “Ringside Bits and Pieces: “A New Era””

RINGSIDE BITS AND PIECES: LINARES vs CROLLA II

Our man provides the view from ringside in Manchester, insights from friend and former world title challenger Ensley Bingham and sources (read: a random girl in the beer line) reveal an unlikely guest hiding out in the ladies toilet…

The chants start early on a beautiful Manchester afternoon as a small group of already-inebriated fans sing “Oh, Anthony Crolla!” across busy, bustling Deansgate. Fly posters advertise a screening of next months Anthony Joshua vs Wladimir Klitschko heavyweight bout at ‘Dive NQ’, encouraging patrons to “book a booth for the ultimate boxing experience.”

Continue reading “RINGSIDE BITS AND PIECES: LINARES vs CROLLA II”

RINGSIDE BITS AND PIECES: BETWEEN BRETHREN AND HULL

Connoisseur of fistic puns Mark Butcher says that when responsible for writing the Boxing News contents page, a card in Hull would invariably attract a headline of “To Hull and back” or “The Road to Hull”. Until either Tyson or Hughie pull out of a scheduled appearance here (“Hull hath no Fury” anyone?), I doubt they can be improved on.

First up shortly after 5pm was American Jacob “Jake” Wooley who trains alongside Luke Campbell in Miami. Woolley was looking to extend an eight-fight unbeaten record at super-featherweight and promoter Eddie Hearn entered in time for the opener and keen for a look at “Jackin’ Jake”. Uninspired moniker apart, Wooley looks facially like British featherweight champ Ryan Walsh and certainly looked the part with Mike Tyson style black shorts which featured Iron Mike’s USA badge detail. In the event, the visitor was narrowly outpointed 58-57 by a busier Jordan Ellison.

Continue reading “RINGSIDE BITS AND PIECES: BETWEEN BRETHREN AND HULL”