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We’re edging closer every day to the rematch between heavyweight champion, Tyson Fury, and the man he deposed in November 2015, the then long-reigning heavyweight kingpin Wladimir Klitschko.

This fight has been a long time in the making, and then subsequent remaking, but as we edge closer there will surely be a lot of crossed fingers that the event actually takes place.

Originally scheduled for July 9th 2016, the bout had to be postponed due to Fury turning an ankle in training. The announcement of the injury came unfortunately coincided with a report that Fury had failed a drug test – prompting many to speculate that the ankle was a ruse to deflect from a pending drug ban. There were also suggestions that the ankle injury was down to Fury having been out partying following an England football match.

Such is the way with all things Tyson Fury related – there’s a lot of speculation, nay-saying, and flat out detracting from the man’s achievements that even if all reports of the ankle injury occurring during training were 100% true, many people would still be looking for an alternative.

Fury has always been a fighter that people either love or hate, there is no middle ground with him. Given his size, reported to be 6’9”, he’s not really a man who can easily hide away and do his work. Add to that his larger than life personality – whether just a public show or legitimate character trait – and his propensity for making statements based on whatever is on his mind, Fury has been a controversial figure during his career.

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Whether it’s making sexist remarks during award season, homophobic slurs in his tweets and press statements or comments about pedophilia or abortion – controversy and retaliatory attacks seem to follow the man around everywhere he goes.

All the while, Fury has done exactly what’s asked of a professional boxer in the ring – and that is win. Undefeated in 25 professional fights, and in possession of the WBA, WBO, IBO, The Ring and lineal world titles (it was also the IBF, of which he was stripped due to honoring the rematch clause with Klitschko instead of facing a mandatory) there is little else in the ring Fury could have done to silence his critics.

Those critics, who still feel the man is lucky to win every time he steps in the ring, will sadly never go away. Whether knocking the fact that he just happens to be bigger than most of his opponents, or taking aim at the fact that given his size he doesn’t put everyone to sleep with one punch, there just seems to be no way to win for the guy.

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Fury earned a shot at Klitschko by fighting his way to the top of the contenders list. He beat everyone placed in front of him, most with relative ease. Not bad for a guy who admitted that he really didn’t begin dedicating himself to his training until he’d already been a professional for a number of years. Not bad for a guy who openly admits a distaste for training and a propensity to “pork up” between fights.

In Klitschko, Fury took on a fighter who had not been defeated in over 11 years and had brushed aside the majority of his opponents with relative ease.

I can’t remember many people outside the Fury camp who favoured Fury to win in the build up to the pair’s first meeting. Such had been the manner in which Klitschko had dispatched his opponents, and the numerous question marks people raised over Fury’s ability that it seemed to be a forgone conclusion to most that the Ukrainian champion would continue his reign – and that retirement may be the only opponent capable of taking his titles away.

Instead what we saw was just the opposite. While the fight was no blockbuster, action packed bout the fans crave, it ended with a victory for the underdog. Fury had obviously studied the mechanical precision with which Klitschko fights.

Without detracting from Wlad’s fighting ability and incredible title reign, Fury saw a man who liked to fight in straight lines behind a strong jab and looked for a way to unsettle him. Using the old boxing philosophy that you can’t hit what you can’t see – Fury set about a fight of frustration for the champion.

Throughout the fight Fury moved, at times with a frenetic madness, but all the while not allowing his opponent to settle into any type of rhythm behind his strong jab. Fury’s head, shoulders, body and feet bobbed, twisted and jerked around the ring and left Klitschko’s jab flicking out at nothing but air. All the while he did just enough to win rounds – flicking out jabs here and there and some sideways shots as he twisted around the side of the champion.

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Fury planned to frustrate Klitschko and use his superior foot speed to simply stay away from danger. It worked and it gave Fury the belts he had sought and claimed were there for the taking throughout his career.

Now they’re finally ready for taking center stage again in a long awaited rematch and I, for one, can’t wait to see what happens.

Klitschko will undoubtedly have drilled to find a way to land punches should Fury decide to twitch and jerk his way around the ring again. Should Fury adopt similar tactics we could see a more sustained body attack from Klitschko in an attempt to slow down the new champion so he can begin trying to wear him down. If he is successful in this, slowing Fury’s movement would effectively allow Klitschko to begin working the jab and setting the pace of the fight.

The big question comes about how Fury will approach the fight. Will he go with similar tactics to the first fight, or will he go looking for a fight to show everyone that he can beat Klitschko based on his boxing skills?

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Fury took a good shot from Klitschko in the closing rounds of the last fight and was not troubled by the shot. Given that he’s felt his foes power before and feels confident he can take more risks, there is a chance we will see a more open and fighting Tyson Fury in this bout.

The fans will surely be looking for a fight with more action than their first meeting. While many can surely appreciate Fury’s reasons for playing it safe last time around given that he was fighting on the champion’s home turf, there was definitely an air of frustration that they didn’t see any significant shots being thrown or landed until the fight was coming to its conclusion.

With home field advantage this time around, the belts already around his waist and the fact that in the past Fury has seemed to relish getting into a good old scrap, I think we may see a more open fight this time with both fighters looking to impose their will and land some heavy shots.

Neither man will be hoping for a scorecard decision in this fight, nor may it come down to who can take the other’s punches the best. There have been questions raised about Fury’s chin after he was put on the canvas by Steve Cunningham – although if you watch that fight back, Fury was more interested in mugging for the crowd than he was in fighting and he got caught by a consummate professional.

Then there is Klitschko, who has been stopped 3 times in his career as well as being put on his seat 3 times in his first fight with Samuel Peter.

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So, while there have been question marks raised about Fury’s chin in spite of the fact he’s never been stopped, or appeared close to being stopped, his upcoming opponent has a history of being stopped in fights where he opened up and attacked. So much so that it took the late, great, Emanuel Steward coming into Klitschko’s corner and shoring up his defense to allow him to embark on his long championship reign.

Since Steward’s death, Klitschko has primarily adopted the same style laid out for him by his old trainer. However, in arguably Klitschko’s best performance in several years he did adopt a more aggressive approach in his fight with Kubrat Pulev – putting Pulev down 3 times before ending the fight in the 5th round with a huge left hook.

Challenger Bulgarian heavyweight boxer Pulev lies in the ring after being knocked down by Ukrainian WBA, WBO, IBO and IBF heavyweight boxing world champion Klitschko after their title fight in Hamburg

In the build up to the fight Pulev talked a lot about not letting Klitschko win ugly by tying him up constantly as he did with Alexander Povetkin, then also missed one of the pressers. Did he anger Klitschko to the point that the champion decided to open up and unload on him? If so, will avenging his loss to Fury bring a more aggressive Klitschko out from the opening bell?

A more aggressive Klitschko means a more aggressive Fury and with that combination we are all winners.

 

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I logged in to write a piece about the fight this weekend between Gennady Golovkin and Kell Brook, which turned out to be a very interesting fight for several reasons I’ll get to later and I noticed it’s been roughly a year since my last post on here. New job, things going on at home – good job I’m not being paid for these posts otherwise I would have long ago been fired.

The Year That Was

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So, the last year or so in boxing has seen a lot of things change. Floyd Mayweather retired, then teased about fighting Conor McGregor in a boxing match. Manny Pacquiao retired, then un-retired. Carl Froch called it a career and was out showing off his new nose during presser interviews before the Golovkin-Brook fight. Andre Ward stepped up to light heavyweight and actually fought in a bout, and is now scheduled to take on Kovalev in a salivating matchup. Oh, yeah, I almost forgot this one – Tyson Fury took the heavyweight titles from Wladimir Klitschko, then was immediately stripped of a title for signaling his intent to honor a rematch clause with Klitschko before talking smack about everyone he could think of and angering the governing bodies of every title he now holds.

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So, even with just the major movers in boxing, it’s been an interesting year and the Donkey’s Mouth has stayed closed throughout. Well, now it’s open and flapping again so I hope to be a little more active once again.

Golovkin vs Brook

So, for the past couple of years now there’s been a gathering storm behind Gennady Golovkin (GGG to friends). The man has been a wrecking ball in the middleweight division, so much so that nobody seems to want to fight him.

The aura of fear GGG’s knockout streak has created is similar only to the aura that surrounded Mike Tyson prior to the Buster Douglas loss. I’ve read numerous articles over the years that said that Tyson had won many of his fights before the opening bell had even been rung, such was the fear his power and ruthless reputation had built in his opponents – and I witnessed this several times when watching a prime Mike Tyson blitz his trail of destruction.

GGG is right up there. The manner in which he’s brushed aside solid competition has made him look invincible – and even the most durable fighters he’s taken on have wilted under his power, and it’s not just the power that intimidates so many. Along with the crushing power GGG has in his hands, he also has a killer instinct to go after a wounded opponent and finish the fight. If he smells blood you’re going to be hit with even harder shots than you’ve already been hit with.

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As a result, there seems to be a stream of middleweight fighters who feel that a bout with GGG is not worth the financial reward. They feel they know they are going to lose and with that in mind, no amount of money will allow them to put themselves through the kind of torture he will undoubtedly inflict upon them.

Sure, many still use his name as an opponent they’re angling for, but few even get as far as negotiations with the mans team to iron out a fight. For a short time it looked like Chris Eubank Jr. was going to step into the ring with GGG – but that didn’t materialize. Much like his father before him, Eubank Jr. is intent on doing things his own way. He’s trying to bring more power, more money and more control back into the fighters corner and you have to commend him and his father for doing so.

At the end of the day, it’s the fighter who steps into the ring, puts their life and career on the line and takes the shots that all fighters will take. It makes sense to fight for their dues on the other side of the fence as well and not be bullied or railroaded into decisions by promoters or television companies that don’t make sense for them. By the same tokens, they may miss out on some big fights in doing this – but again, it’s their career and their life on the line so it is what it is.

Then you have Canelo Alvarez, who outweighs most of his Jr. Middleweight opponents by a good 25 pounds by fight time, and who stepped up to middleweight with strict weight structures as he feels he’s not quite ready to face guys who’ve fought in the division for years. In spite of this, after taking out Amir Khan earlier this year after Khan jumped up in weight to face the red-haired Mexican, Canelo called out GGG.

FINALLY thought many fans, we’ll get to see two of the biggest names in boxing step in with one another. No longer will either man be facing either much smaller foes or overmatched guys who know they’ve lost before the bell rings. Alas, it came to nothing. There was some kind of muddled announcement that GGG and Canelo would fight in 2017 – so it could be well over a year before that bout even looks like happening – and there are several bouts in the middle that could curtail their ever meeting in the ring if one, or both, lose fights in between.

So, Golovkin’s opponent, much like Canelo’s last one, became a guy who jumped two weight classes to face him in Kell Brook. Brook, the reigning IBF Welterweight champion, made the decision to jump to middleweight to take on the guy nobody wants to fight in GGG. You have to take your hat off to the guy willing to not only fight GGG, but to jump two weight classes to do so.

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As a result, Brook’s chances for victory were completely written off by just about everyone but Brook himself. Smaller guy, a decent but not concussive puncher, fast but not lighting fast, durable but with question marks over how durable, stepping in the ring with a knockout machine. How could Brook win?

Well, when it came down to it, he didn’t, but their fight from September 10th should have made many people – boxers and media alike – step up and take notice. Brook didn’t come to lay down, he came to fight and he gave GGG his toughest challenge to date – in spite of what GGG said afterward, but we’ll get to that.

The fight started like many expected with GGG looking to make his size and power tell. On the size difference, it was minimal at best. Brook didn’t look like a blown up welterweight, he looked like he belonged at middleweight. GGG is an inch or so taller, but as far as their physiques, both men looked on equal footing. Brook flicked out some range finding jabs early and found his mark a couple of times. GGG did the same, but looked to follow up with some more aggressive shots early on.

GGG mixed up his body and head attacks early on, no doubt part of the gameplan with his corner to try to slow down Brook so he would be primed for the picking later in the fight. These body shots led to a huge left hook from GGG that badly rocked Brook in the opening round. Credit to Brook, who shook off the big shot quickly and ended the round with some nice shots of his own, including a tasty uppercut that snapped GGG’s head back.

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The second round started much like the first had with GGG flicking out jabs and trying to move into range for bigger shots. Brook alternated between standing and throwing quick combinations to moving laterally around the ring while occasionally stopping to flick out shots of his own. The round was pretty even until Brook landed a couple of nice lefts – an uppercut to the body followed by one to the head, again snapping GGG’s head back. Incredibly to many, Brook clearly won the second round.

This, for me, was where the fight took an interesting turn. We’ve seen GGG be very rigid with sticking to his gameplan of gradually wearing down his opponents by trapping them against the ropes and ripping body and head combinations early on then taking them out in the mid-later rounds of the bout. This time around, however, GGG started rounds 3, 4 and 5 like a buzz-saw.

In each round he stormed Brook from the opening bell and started ripping big shots. Some connected, some Brook circled away from. All the while, Brook kept dabbing at his right eye, seemingly injured in the second round although it was tough to tell whether this was from a left hand by GGG or an accidental clash of heads.

What we started to see was frustration coming from GGG. Clearly upset by the fact that Brook had been able to take his best shots and not only keep coming, but land good shots of his own and win rounds, GGG started to open up and throw more than we’re used to seeing. The more he threw without the desired effect, the more frustration built.

Then there was the most interesting part. This fight was starting to show a similar script to the Sugar Ray Leonard vs Marvin Hagler fight. GGG, like Hagler, was starting each round like he was looking to end the bout with huge shots. Brook, similar to Leonard, was sticking and moving throughout the first 90 seconds to 2 minutes – doing just enough to not look like he’s being over-run before exploding at the end of the round and taking over.

The “bigger” Golovkin renowned for his punching power was having little effect on slowing his “smaller” opponent and being able to take over the fight. Frustration was evident on the face and in the mannerisms of GGG.

Then, sadly for all watching, the bout was brought to a premature end by Brook’s corner making the smart decision by pulling their fighter out. The damage to Brooks eye, that tuned out to be a broken eye socket, from the second round was building to the point where Brook himself said after the bout that he was seeing up to 5 GGG’s in front of him. If the corner left it up to Brook, there’s no way he would have allowed himself to be pulled – but they did their job in protecting their fighter who has at least another 6 years of his career still to fight.

The sad part for the fans is that Brook’s tactics were working. He was frustrating GGG and making him open up in a way we’ve not seen before. For the first time since GGG’s rise to prominence he looked beatable. He looked like a man who felt pressure rising and it caused him to get a little reckless. He looked like he was gassing himself out each round and leaving openings for his opponent to take advantage of.

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Now, this is where the aftermath of the fight gets to me. Brook admitted that GGG had a lot of power, but that it wasn’t more than he could handle. This was echoed in the manner in which Brook shook of the HUGE left hand from the first round to finish the round strong, and also in the way that he weathered the blitzkrieg attack from GGG at the start of the 3rd and 4th rounds to come back in the final minute and take the round. There’s no doubt in my mind that Brook was up after 4 rounds, and the way the fight was shaping up there didn’t look like there was any way that would change barring a huge punch from GGG that changed the momentum of the fight.

Golovkin, on the other hand, has spoken in a different tone to what we all witnessed in that fight. I’ve read several reports in which Golovkin has been quoted stating that Brook was out of his depth at middleweight, and that the fight was like a sparring bout for him. I’ve watched boxing for a long time, and I’ve never seen a fighter who felt like he was in a glorified sparring bout get frustrated and ragged in the manner Golovkin did.

Golovkin fought well, but he fought like a man who felt the longer the fight went the more chance there was it would get away from him. He seemed to feel the need to change the course the fight was taking and tried to use his power as the decider. However, unlike in so many fights before this bout, Golovkin had not effectively softened up his opponent with measured attacks for 4-6 rounds that took the edge of his foes speed and power.

He started attacking and looking for a finish much sooner than he normally does, and it left a fresh opponent with the ability to get out of the way the opportunity to weather the storm and fire back.

Had the fight lasted several more rounds, there’s all the chance in the world Brook would have started to slow, become more flat footed and stand in front of GGG more often. Such is the power GGG has it could have taken its toll. But with the way he decided to attack, he obviously felt he needed to assert his dominance over his “smaller” opponent in order to stack the deck in his favor.

Moving Forward

Brook definitely enhanced his reputation in this fight. He stepped in the ring with the most feared fighter on the planet and showed no fear. He showed that any man has a chance if they play the right game, and he forced struggles out of GGG that we’re not used to seeing.

Whether Brook decides to move back down to welterweight to defend his belt remains to be seen. He’s often spoken of how depleted he is making welterweight, and his physique in this bout didn’t suggest he forced any weight gain on his body. He looked natural and comfortable at middleweight, and that may make up his mind that any drop in weight he undergoes in the future doesn’t drop below the Jr. Middleweight limit so he isn’t sapping his strength and stamina to make 147 pounds for welterweight.

Brook spoke of wanting to face the winner of the upcoming Canelo Alvarez vs Liam Smith bout, and judging by his performance in this fight I think that would be a mouthwatering affair. Alvarez will be the likely winner in that bout, and he’s about the same height as Brook but a little stockier. Brook is the more fleet footed of the two, and Alvarez has accumulating, but not thudding, power so it would be another battle of wills.

For Golovkin, he’s at a crossroads in spite of extending his stoppage streak. For me he struggled in his biggest test to date. He failed to light up the show against a fighter nobody felt had a chance against him. I didn’t think I’d be saying this so soon, but it’s time for GGG to put up or shut up. He needs to find a way to either line up a middleweight unification bout, or step up to super middleweight.

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Alvarez is still considered the lineal middleweight champion, as well as being The Ring’s middleweight champion. Then you have Daniel Jacobs and Billy Joe Saunders holding the other middleweight crowns. Jacobs holds the better resume, coming of 2 victories over Sergio Mora, as well as stopping former champion Peter Quillin. Jacobs holds the WBA regular title, while GGG holds the WBA Super title and given the recent push by the governing bodies to lessen the number of belts in each division, they’re seeking bouts between regular and super title holders – so this fight makes the most sense, and Jacobs seems to want to face Golovkin.

Saunders doesn’t have the resume Jacobs does, but holds victories over Eubank Jr. and defeated Andy Lee for his WBO crown – albeit both by slim margins. Saunders is an awkward southpaw who moves well and carries deceptive power in his shots. He’s a volume puncher rather than a concussive knockout puncher, and as we saw by Brooks gameplan GGG can be frustrated by fighters landing combinations on him.

If GGG decided to step up to Super Middleweight, I would expect immediate title challenges against either Babou Jack – who holds wins over George Groves, Anthony Dirrell and was handed a draw against Lucian Bute in a fight most felt he won – or James De Gale, another tricky southpaw who beat out the other Dirrell brother (Andre) for his IBF title and then outpointed Bute in his first defense.

If I was a betting man, I’d say that GGG stays at middleweight and takes on Saunders as that is the most winnable bout on paper for a man who does seem to often take the easiest track.

 
Every fan of a sport has a moment or a personality they can look back upon as a main reason for the love of the respective sport. For football fans that can often be fond childhood memories of bonding moments with their father. For boxing fans it’s often something else. For me it began with a book of all things.

As a child my father worked night shifts and often fell asleep on the couch during the middle of the day on weekends. Being a man with a temper, especially when awoken from his mid-day slumber, my brother and I as small children didn’t want to risk a beating by waking him and often went searching for things to occupy our time. 

Television only managed to take up small portions of time as we couldn’t channel hop because the different sounds or light flickers created by changing channel would wake the man. Board games were too noisy because of dice rolls. Going outside wasn’t an option because the door opening and closing would certainly interrupt sleep.

The answer was usually going upstairs to search out things to do. On one search I found a book about boxing. This book was the authors favorite heavyweight fights throughout history, and it was old. I believe the most recent fight noted in the book was the “Rumble in the Jungle” between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman. 

In this book I read about the bout noted above. I read about the battles between Ali and Joe Frazier, Floyd Patterson’s series with Ingemar Johansson. Of all the fights in the book, there were two that captured my attention to the point that every chance I got I would go back to read them again. The first was Jack Dempsey’s rematch with the man who had taken his title, Gene Tunney – the bout forever remembered for the “long count”.

The other bout that forever stayed with me was the undefeated heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano taking on the grizzled veteran Archie Moore in what would ultimately prove to be Marciano’s last fight. Reading about how the challenger had spent years developing his solar plexus counter punch and took his time to wait for Marciano to leave him an opportunity to use it. Reading how the underdog put the champion down face first with a perfect counter, only for Marciano to get back to his feet to stop his challenger gave me a thirst to watch boxing.

  
Since those early days as a child reading that book in an attempt not to wake my father and face the wrath that would bring boxing has been in my blood. I sought out and watched each and every fight written about in the book and was not disappointed with a single one. 

I then moved on to find active boxers to cling to immerse myself in. Growing up in England in the 80’s I was introduced to Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn, two fighters whose paths crossed in two of the most entertaining bouts I’ve ever seen. First at Middleweight when the unfancied Eubank dug deep to dethrone the champion Benn, then a second time when both fighters left everything they had in the ring and fought to a draw in their super middleweight contest – a draw that saved both men from becoming Don King fighters.

  
There have been many more over the years whose careers I’ve watched develop from their first bouts on fuzzy YouTube videos captured on phones from the crowd to their debuts on televised and PPV broadcasts. In spite of all I’ve seen since, that book is where it began for me. What put boxing in your heart?

I’ve read some articles and watched some Youtube videos blasting Danny “Swift” Garcia for facing “The Magic Man” Paulie Malignaggi in his next bout on August 1st. I must say that at first glance I felt the same way, but the more I’ve evaluated it, the more I feel this is the right move from the Garcia camp.

Garcia had two magical years in 2012 and 2013. Over that 24 month period he scored a decision win over the legendary Eric Morales, recovered from a slow start to decimate Amir Khan, destroyed Morales in a rematch. He then went on in 2013 to score impressive back-to-back decision victories against the always dangerous Zab Judah and in outclassing the big punching Lucas Matthysse.

After five highly impressive fights in a two year span, Garcia was the toast of the town and his name was entered into every discussion as a potential opponent for Floyd Mayweather – even though Garcia himself refused to be drawn into that kind of speculation, instead declaring that he would leave the matchmaking in the hands of his team and face whomever they put in front of him.

During that same time period, Malignaggi’s trajectory was a little different. He went on the road to win a world title in Ukraine, via a very rare-for-Malignaggi stoppage win over Vyacheslav Senchenko. Senchenko was unknown to many at the time, but was an undefeated world champion who would go on to gain more fame in his next bout by stopping the comeback of Ricky Hatton as quickly as it began.

Malignaggi then went on to defend his title once before following up with a loss to Adrien Broner and a victory over Zab Judah. Three wins and a loss, with only one win coming against a fighter who could be held in the category of above average in his victory over Judah. Unlike Garcia there weren’t hordes of reporters throwing superlatives in Malignaggi’s direction.

Since then, both fighter have fallen from grace to a degree. Garcia followed up his stellar two years by struggling to a victory against Mauricio Herrera, destroying a very undersized Rod Salika and then being lucky that Lamont Peterson chose to start their bout earlier this year very slowly. Had Peterson fought throughout the way he did in the last third of their bout he would have been the first fighter to hand a loss to Garcia. All of a sudden the fighter many thought would be a legitimate threat to Mayweather looked to be very, very beatable by very average fighters.

Malignaggi fared no better. His only fight since 2013 ended was when he stepped in the ring with newly crowned champion Shawn Porter 15 months ago. Porter walked all over Malignaggi that night, dominating him from the opening bell and landing with ease. The elusive nature with which Malignaggi has fought in the past deserted him and Porter forced the ref to step in to stop Malignaggi from being seriously injured.

Now these two fighters who have fallen in public estimation will take on one another. For Malignaggi it’s a chance to play spoiler and gain what could be a nice final chapter to his career. For a fighter with brittle hands and little power to achieve what Malignaggi has is admirable and points to a great deal of skill. He’s won world titles in two weight classes and shared the ring with some great fighters. A win over Danny Garcia would open the door for a couple of big money bouts for Malignaggi to end his fight career on before moving full-time into his glittering future as a colour commentator.

The threat of loss for Malignaggi is high, but given that most feel he is being sent in to be beaten means he has nothing to lose. If he loses, hey it was inevitable. If he finds a way to win he’s overcome the odds once more and impressed the world yet again.

For Garcia it’s a completely different kettle of fish. He is expected to win, and win handily, which brings its own problems. Garcia has struggled in two of his last three fights, and those he’s struggled against have been boxers with good movement and the ability to slip punches. That’s what The Magic Man has made a career of doing.

Sticking and moving all the way to victory is how Malignaggi plays the game. He doesn’t have the stinging power to stop fighters in their tracks, or even to back up most guys he faces. Instead he has to fight at a high tempo, hit and move and then hit and move some more. When Peterson began fighting with a slick style in his bout with Garcia, Garcia seemed to have no answer.

The fact that Garcia has been struggling against slick boxers, while he outclassed and out-boxed wild swinging fighters like Matthysse and Morales has many feeling he is a one dimensional fighter who can use the wild aggression of punchers to his advantage but can’t control the pace or position of a fight against slick fighters. The only way Garcia can truly get that stigma off his head is to take on a slick boxer and dominate him throughout the fight, no matter how long it lasts.

If Garcia chases Malignaggi around the ring and manages to eek out a points victory, it’s only marginally better than a loss. If Garcia chases Malignaggi around and lands one telling blow that leads to a stoppage, it’s not much better than a loss. Only dominance will raise peoples heads for long enough for them to believe the hype surrounding Garcia a couple of years ago was justified.

It’s really a big gamble by Garcia’s team. They have likely looked at Malignaggi and see a fighter with a style that has caused trouble for their man in the past, but a fighter who is past his best and whose reflexes have slowed just enough to not be obvious, but to give Garcia the chance of landing hard and often.

They are gambling on a few things. They are gambling that Malignaggi has truly lost a step rather than simply being overwhelmed early by Porter with no chance of battling back into the bout because of the then champions freight-train like style. They are gambling on the 15 month break from the ring for Malignaggi leaving ring rust to add to the shop-work body. For some fighters at the end of their career, the extended breaks allow old injuries sustained through both fights and back-to-back intense training schedules to heal.

As I said earlier, at first glance I felt this was a huge mis-match with Malignaggi being used as a sacrificial lamb. Upon closer evaluation I see the danger of Malignaggi coming in rested, refreshed and having nothing to lose. With the pressure off him in every way, shape or form Malignaggi has the potential to cause a huge upset. Garcia, on the other hand, has many ways in which he could win this bout, but only one that will truly make him look like a victor. His back is up against the wall if he wants to enter discussion as an elite fighter again, and against a fighter with nothing to lose that’s not a position you want to be in.

I’m not making a prediction here and now as the purpose of this piece is simply add a different viewpoint to a bout that many have already written off.

Before I get into the meat and ‘taters of my reasoning behind this article, I would first like to congratulate UFC champion Ronda Rousey for her Best Fighter win at last weeks ESPY Awards. Rousey has been thoroughly dominant in the UFC to the point of making many of her fights look easy. It takes dedication, focus and a drive to constantly improve to achieve what Rousey has achieved, so my hat off to her for a thoroughly deserved victory.

It is in part the ESPY awards, and in part this article I read on Yahoo News that leaves me scratching my head about a level of hypocrisy from Rousey that I find tough to understand.

After beating Boxing’s Pound-For-Pound kingpin Floyd Mayweather to the best fighter award, Rousey said “I wonder how Floyd Mayweather feels being beaten by a woman for once” in an unveiled jab at Mayweather’s conviction, and subsequent jail time, for domestic violence back in 2012.

Fair play to Rousey for speaking her mind on a matter that many feel strongly about. I have no problem with what she said as she is a spokesperson who can exact change and bring awareness to a variety of topics. She has also spoken in the past about the fact that in spite of feeling she can defeat many of her male MMA counterparts in a bout she would not promote or participate in a bout sanctioning a man hitting a woman.

This is what leaves me scratching my head. The article referenced above details the day former Boxing Heavyweight Champion Mike Tyson spent at Rousey’s gym watching her prepare for her next title defense. In the article Ronda is reported to have spent several minutes chatting with Tyson, to have left the gym wearing an Iron Mike T-shirt, and quoted saying “It’s very humbling, and I was just honored that he would go through the trouble or go out of his way to watch me train. I’m really glad he was able to come…”

In case anyone reading this is missing the point I’m trying to make I’ll explain now.

Mike Tyson is a convicted rapist, sentenced in 1992 for 10 years (6 incarcerated and 4 suspended) for the rape of an 18-year-old college student – which was just one in a string of accusations against Tyson of aggressive sexual behaviour against women.

Catching Up? Ok. My problem with the whole scenario behind Rousey playing pal with Tyson is the hypocrisy it creates. She has been outspoken about domestic violence, she has vilified Mayweather over his domestic violence yet she makes no mention regarding Tyson’s past history of violence against women.

Given Rousey’s well publicized viewpoint about men committing violent acts against I would have expected her to have a convicted rapist removed from her gym, instead she’s hanging out, chatting and even advertising for him.

Cue the inevitable arguments that Tyson’s conviction was a long time ago, even the arguments that he was falsely convicted, maybe the “everyone deserves a second chance” argument. Sure, all of those can be applied, but if you take that stance from one you have to take it from all.

Tyson argued his innocence, and has maintained since his release from prison that he was innocent. Mayweather has done the same. In matters of belief and feelings about things like domestic violence I don’t feel you can simply pick and choose which offenses warrant verbalization and vilification and that others can be pushed aside once they are over.

British welterweight boxer Amir Khan has spent the better part of two years chasing a high profile fight with reigning pound-for-pound kingpin Floyd Mayweather, but recent comments now make me wonder if he’s given up on that fight.

Khan was slated to face Devon Alexander in a welterweight world title bout in December 2013. In the months preceding the proposed fight with Alexander, Khan’s name was mentioned as a possible opponent for Mayweather. Khan decided to abandon negotiations for the bout with Alexander, who subsequently lost to Shawn Porter, in favor of chasing the dream of fighting Mayweather.

Mayweather posted polls for the public to vote between Khan and Marcos Maidana, who in spite of having a prior loss to Khan had come to prominence again with a rousing victory over Mayweather wannabe Adrian Broner. Khan came out ahead in the poll, but ultimately lost out on the bout with Mayweather.

Khan went on to dominate the dangerous Louis Collazo, rearranged the bout with Alexander and won a landslide decision, and most recently recorded a points victory against the last fighter Manny Pacquiao faced before landing the Mayweather bout he craved in Chris Algieri.

Pundits and fans raved about Khans displays against Collazo and Alexander and once again Khan entered discussions as a potential opponent for Mayweather. Again that fight failed to materialize, but Khans vocal proclamations that he is the only man out there who could beat Mayweather persisted.

Even as recently as little over a week ago, in fact in the immediate aftermath of his victory over Algieri, Khan called out Mayweather. Declaring in his post fight interview that he was the number one contender for one of Mayweathers titles, Khan said he wanted to face the undefeated champion in what could ultimately prove to be Mayweathers final outing.

Yet now that all seems to have changed. Khans is now speaking of taking over as the top ranked pound-for-pound fighter after Mayweather retires. He’s discussed facing the likes of Manny Pacquiao, Juan Manuel Marques, Timothy Bradley and Keith Thurman to cement his own legacy as the best fighter around.

So why the change? Maybe Khan has received word about who Mayweathers team is speaking to regarding his farewell fight and it’s not him. Maybe he watched a replay of the Algieri fight and saw that he still leaves too many openings for counters and realized that if he gave a fighter like Mayweather those kinds of opportunities he will be obliterated.

Whatever the cause for the apparent change of heart it is good news for boxing fans. Whether you are a fan of Mayweather or not, it’s undeniable that he is simply so far ahead of his peers in in terms of his fighting ability as well as his ring IQ that he would most likely nullify every skill set Khan has and make him look foolish while cruising to an easy victory.

If Khan really has decided to drop the idea of facing Mayweather and goes out searching for fights with the top guys around we will all be in for some fireworks. Khan is an incredibly talented fighter, chinny or not, whose speed and movement will be a handful for most of the guys at the top of the division. Bradley would turn a fight with Khan into a toe to toe war. Pacquiao and Thurman would go hunting to test Kahns chin. Marques would try to force Khan into over committing so he could counter. All fights would be action packed and all would be tough to predict.

I, for one, hope Khan has decided to seek out the fights he speaks of in favor of his endless campaigning for Mayweather. Khan is a throwback to an older time of boxing in that he’s a guy who wants to take on the best around whatever the risks and I cannot fault that mentality.

Amir Khan has broken his training schedule to return to the UK to spend a few weeks with his family

I guess I’ve told it all right there in the title. I’m not into being cryptic about things like this and tire of reading teaser headlines that force you to click to read the story to find out what their ultimate view is. If you’ve clicked to read this article then you are looking for my reasoning behind stating right off the bat that I don’t feel Amir Khan has what it takes to defeat Floyd Mayweather should he be successful in becoming Mayweather’s final opponent.

I’ll start by saying that I am not an Amir Khan hater. I’ve watched Khan’s career since long before the knockout loss he suffered at the hands of Breidis Prescott back in 2008. What I’ve always seen in Khan is a very talented, and gutsy, fighter who has all the tools to become one of the best fighters of his era, but for some reason isn’t able to pull everything together every time he fights.

SPT_GCK_100512_Boxing feature LA, Freddie Roach Wild Card boxing gym. Amir Khan  with Freddie Roach during a work out, after finding out that the rematch with Peterson is off.

Khan picked up the pieces after the Prescott loss by aligning himself with Freddie Roach and going on to capture two world titles in the light welterweight division. Roach focused on improving Khan’s attack to utilize the natural hand and foot speed advantage Khan held over many other fighters. The results were immediate and impressive, for the most part.

Worrisome aspects of Khan’s fight game were the fact that he left openings that were exploited by Marcos Maidana and Danny Garcia leading many evaluating Khan to feel that Roach had done nothing to improve his defense. Khan obviously came to the same conclusion as those in the media as he parted ways with Roach and aligned himself with Virgil Hunter, trainer of the defensively sound super middleweight champion Andre Khan.

The Mayweather angle for Khan has gone on for years. While under Roach’s tutelage and making waves through the light welterweight class, Khan spoke often of his desire to step up in weight to challenge Mayweather. Khan felt his speed would be a critical factor in a bout with Mayweather and lead him to victory. That belief has not changed even through the losses to Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia, nor with the change in trainer and fighting style.

This change in fighting style has me, and no doubt many boxing fans, watching closely to see if it gives Khan any chance to seriously challenge Mayweather if he gets his wish and is able to share a ring with the pound-for-pound king. My evaluations of Khan’s progression under Hunter make me feel that while Khan will have a longer and more successful career under Hunter’s guidance, he actually has less chance of beating Mayweather.

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This belief has been compounded by Khan’s last three fights under Hunter’s guidance. Hunter has done exactly what Khan needed for his career. He’s taught him how to be patient, how to stay within range but without increasing risk of being hit all so he can capitalize quicker on mistakes. He’s also taught Khan tricks for how to better protect his chin, not that I agree it’s a weak chin but more that simple errors Khan made he is now avoiding.

One such error, and one reason he will not beat Mayweather, is Khan’s inside game. This is the worst area by far of Khan’s fighting ability and is clearly one Hunter has worked hard with Khan on.

LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 13:  Amir Khan (L) hits Devon Alexander in the fifth round of their welterweight bout at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on December 13, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Khan won by unanimous decision.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Against Louis Collazo and Devon Alexander in 2014, Khan was widely praised for his victories and rightly so. Khan faced dangerous opponents and made relatively easy work of them. He did so by avoiding any and all fighting on the inside. Every time either man closed the distance, Khan grabbed hold. As Khan’s style is not about slipping and ducking punches (he tried that technique earlier in his career and Willie Limond and Michael Gomez almost made him pay) fighting on the inside is dangerous. While Khan can land heavy punches on the inside, he cannot avoid them and being there is a mistake.

This plays into the portion I was talking about with having a longer and more successful career but being less likely to beat Mayweather as a result. Being able to avoid inside battles will reduce the risk of knockout losses, or being staggered by heavy shots. However, Mayweather is equally adept on the inside as the outside and can often draws people in close to land on the inside while slipping their shots. Mayweather would invite Khan in, and Khan would come feeling Mayweather doesn’t have the power to hurt him. He’d be wrong and be bullied on the inside.

Against Algieri I saw a glimpse of what could happen if Khan faced Mayweather and was suckered inside. Late in the fight, Khan showed he’s worked a little on his inside skills as he went in and fought Algieri up close. Khan landed a very nice uppercut, but ate two shots in the process. He showed that while he’s added some punch selection on the inside, he still cannot read punches and slip them. False confidence in being able to now punch on the inside could lead to willingly battling it out in close quarters with a man who can land and slip from all angles. Mayweather would stop Khan if they fought on the inside with one another.

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The next worrisome part from Khan’s standpoint should he get the bout with Mayweather is the ease with which right hands can tag him. While Hunter has worked with Khan on getting his hands up after combinations to limit counters, he seems to have missed on critical aspect that could be Khan’s undoing against a fast handed, ring aware fighter. It should have been his undoing against Algieri save the fact that the native New Yorker didn’t exploit the opening as he should have and made the wrong selection when he did.

Hunter has Khan circling closer in than he used to, staying in range for exploiting mistakes his opponent makes as well as eliminating the need to dart in and out in a straight line. In spite of being in range more often, Khan is actually tougher to tag with clean shots with this movement. However, Algieri saw a repeated mistake Khan made that he tried to capitalize on but didn’t have the right punch selection to do so.

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 29:  Chris Algieri punches Amir Khan during their Welterweight bout at Barclays Center of Brooklyn on May 29, 2015 in New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

When Khan finished circling and steadied for an attack he stopped, planted his feet, dropped his left and readied to attack. Sometimes the attack was instant, forcing Algieri to block and parry. Other times he left enough time for Algieri to fire a shot over the low right that was sitting below the shoulder line and leaving his chin open. Algieri rocked him in the first round taking advantage of this, and tagged him a few more times throughout the fight. When Algieri threw a shot over Khan’s low right he through a swinging hook. Some landed, others Khan saw coming and avoided or blocked. Algieri has the hand speed and reach to have thrown a straight right that would have been a faster and harder to see punch, thus improving his accuracy and troubling Khan more often.

If Floyd is contemplating fighting Khan he would have watched this bout and have seen the low left already. While Floyd doesn’t watch much tape of his opponent while training to face them, he would already know that Khan will leave him a low left often throughout the fight. If you’ve watched many of Mayweather’s recent fights one of his favourite attacks is to wait for the gap he’s seen, snap out a straight right then duck under the return fire and spin away. Another HUGE advantage he would hold in a bout with Khan.

For me a bout with Mayweather is something Khan will not win. Mayweather’s fighting style is to adapt during the fight to his opponents strengths and weaknesses. In the past, Khan had a relentless, speedy attack that Mayweather would have had to weather while watching for holes. He would have seen the low hands on retreat and looked to counter there, but he would have also seen a pattern in when Khan darted in for a flurry and simply beat him to the punch.

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Fast forward to now and Khan has simply moved the weaknesses over to other areas rather than fixing them. Mayweather would spend the early rounds letting Khan circle around him and then popping him with the straight right then spinning away to do it again. Frustrated, Khan will lose composure and resort to his old type of trying to bull-rush Mayweather, which will leave opportunities for Mayweather to hit Khan as he rushes in and then be gone when Khan looks back up. Hunter will calm his man down and help him regain his composure and they will look to press Mayweather late to see if his age is catching up to him and he’s tired down the stretch. Mayweather will see this and sit on the ropes, inviting Khan in. Khan will feel Mayweather is tired and there for the taking and will try to use his new in-fighting punches. Mayweather will slip them, land a few hard counters and look to stop Khan late in the bout.

Putting it simply, a bout with Mayweather will make Khan a very rich man, but would not be a bout he could win. As a result all of Khan’s bluster about how his speed is too much, how Mayweather has avoided him and how Mayweather’s father has supposedly told Khan in person that he is the only man who could beat his son will make Khan look incredibly foolish. While many fighters suffer no ill from losing to Mayweather, all Khan’s preamble could turn into the beginning of the end for him as a top-level fighter when he loses.

 

 

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I read an interesting article today on the International Business Times website about one Mr. Floyd Mayweather Jr. and his place in discussions about the greatest boxer of all time. Like it or not, Mayweather is firmly entrenched in these discussions and it is a detriment to his achievements in the sport that he is often so flippantly written off – not that the author of this particular article did such a thing.

Mayweather’s achievements in boxing have surpassed many who have ever stepped foot in the ring. He’s won world titles in five different weight classes, with his first coming within two years of his professional debut at just 21 years of age. Across those five weight classes, Mayweather has won 11 world titles. Having never lost in a professional fight, the only loss of title has come from Mayweather moving up in weight class and the short-lived retirement he went into after beating Ricky Hatton in 2007.

Staying with title talk, there’s also one method of world title that some boxing fans hold in higher esteem than others, that’s the “lineal” championship. Going back to the days of each weight having just one belt, analysts have traced that belts journey through history. Of the five weight classes Mayweather has possessed a title within, he has been the lineal champion in 4 of those weight classes.

When you look at achievements like these then Mayweather seems to be in good standing to at least be entered in to discussions for the greatest fighter of all time. Yet for some reason he is discounted time and time again. Could it be the level of opposition he has faced? Lets take a look.

Mayweather won his first world title in 1998 in his 18th professional bout. In the 30 bouts since that initial title victory only six of his fights have not been either in defense of a title or challenging for a new one. So in 17 years and 30 bouts Mayweather has been involved in a title bout every year except for 2004 and 2008, and during the 2008 year without a title bout Mayweather was technically retired.

So, during that incredible run of title bouts, did Mayweather have a “bum of the month club” of the likes of Joe Louis, a fighter who DOES get traction in discussions of being the best of all time? No. In that time, Mayweather fought a string of existing champions, top contenders and recently deposed champion, not to mention a number of future hall of fame boxers – many likely to be first ballot hall of fame fighters.

Oscar De La Hoya, Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Castillo, Gatti, Judah, Baldomir – all highly capable, respected and quality fighters who themselves have competed against some of the very best of the modern era. Hatton was an undefeated champion, De La Hoya a multi-weight champion (and a guy Mayweather stepped up in weight to face), Marquez and Mosley legends of the sport. Ortiz, Guerrero and Maidana were young, hungry recent or current champions upon stepping in the ring with Mayweather. Cotto was a rejuvenated champion Mayweather stepped up in weight once more to face. Alvarez is seen by many as the future of the sport, and a man naturally much larger than Mayweather. Most recently is another living legend of the sport in Manny Pacquiao.

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In spite of such a glittering resume, and a level of dominance displayed over such high-caliber fighters in one of the deepest talent pools in the boxing weight spectrum, Mayweather is still pushed out of discussions about who is the greatest ever.

For me this instant dismissal of Mayweather is baffling. He has the record in terms of the quality of opponents he’s faced, the stacked competition level he’s dominated, the undefeated record in spite of 17 consecutive years at the top, the defensive excellence he’s displayed. He has titles in multiple weight classes, including the aforementioned lineal title in all but one of the divisions he’s won a strap in.

I think the problem lay in nostalgia. Given that the majority of fighters spoken of in regards to the greatest ever come from a bygone era, and nobody is thrown into the hat as a possible from anything resembling the modern era (save for the fact Ali fought too long and had a couple of bouts in a more modern time) nostalgia for the greatest of all time could go a long way toward providing an explanation.

Muhammad Ali

Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson and Joe Louis are three fighters constantly looked upon as the greatest ever. Ali declared himself as the greatest, but over the years he visibly struggled at times against middle-of-the-road fighters. Was he unable to motivate himself to the necessary degree when not facing a high-caliber opponent? If so, why is he still considered the greatest when Mayweather retained focus and dedication even when facing the likes of Victor Ortiz or Robert Guerrero, both of whom are regarded as weaker opponents in spite of coming into the bout as young, hungry fighters who had both achieved world titles.

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Joe Louis, often spoken about as the greatest of all time, held the heavyweight world title for 140 consecutive months (or a little over 11 and a half years) and competed in 26 consecutive title fights. An incredible achievement, however during that reign was the infamous “Bum of the Month Club.” A somewhat derogatory title given to a spell of about two and a half years in which Lous defended his title on 13 occasions. Given the frequency of the fights, and the relative ease with which Louis went through his opponents, the general belief was that he was fighting lesser opponents to pad his resume. Right or wrong, it is a tag that has stuck for all these years, but a tag that has never been placed upon the caliber of opponents Mayweather has faced.

Sugar Ray Robinson Punching Bag at Training

On to Sugar Ray Robinson. Other than a loss to Jake Lamotta in Robinson’s 41st professional fight, Sugar Ray went close to 90 more fights without suffering defeat, including winning 5 bouts out of 6 against Lamotta. Sugar Ray, like Mayweather, faced all styles in the ring and found a way to overcome every one. During a career spanning 200 professional fights there were definitely bouts against poor opponents as well as bouts long after the inevitable decline had set in, but based on the sheer body of work, Robinson does at least stack up better against Mayweather’s record than the two men above him.

This is where the problems lie. These three fighters are seen as so good that all who came after them are automatically discounted as not being as good. This logic, however, is flawed for a very simple reason. Boxing, like all sports, relies upon studying mistakes in technique made by other fighters and finding ways to correct those errors. Be that a different style of fighting, be that adapting on the fly to counter any particular style. Be it learning to create angles to increase the accuracy of your punches while avoiding others the fact of the matter is the same. Modern fighters study those from the past and try to include the good they see with eliminating the bad.

When you put it in such a way, then by default you also have to say that a modern fighter, right, wrong or indifferent, has to essentially be better than a fighter from a bygone era because they’ve learned from their mistakes. I mean, do we not get smarter as we age and encounter a slew of problems to adapt to through the years? Do any of us feel that we get dumber as we age?

To counter that line of thinking, writers love to conjure up theoretical fights pitting one fighters skill sets against common beliefs about how the older fighter would fare with the same knowledge and new training. In that matter we simply don’t know and thus any hypothetical fights are immediately incorrect. We can base assumptions that talented fighters from decades ago could apply their skills, athleticism and understanding of the sport to adapt their style any way required. But we don’t know for sure.

I think I’ve rambled enough, so to pull it all together and bring back around the original point that Mayweather deserves to be considered for the greatest fighter ever I think I’ve drawn my line in the sand. He has the achievements and titles, he has the resume of defeated fighters, he has the longevity at the top, he has a level of dominance over a talented division and stacked era of great fighters. He deserves to at least be in consideration for the discussion rather than discounted simply because there’s no way a modern-day fighter could possibly be as good as those who competed against one another in a different era.

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Do I have a personal opinion? I actually have two. One I mentioned earlier. We age, we learn, we adapt and we develop new methods for stopping things repeating themselves. Therefore our future selves are better than our past selves. With that line of thinking, Mayweather by default is the greatest fighter of all time. However, things are not always as black and white, so I go this way. All the fighters mentioned have merits and demerits for contention, but two stand above all others. Based on the sheer volume of work and the ability to take on all styles and find a way to not only win, but dominate, I have a tie between Robinson and Mayweather – although that’s just when evaluating his place against the 3 fighters mentioned in this dialogue!

Froch-vs-GGG_poster

That’s right. According to reports in the Mail, Carl Froch is trying to make the decision whether he will take one final step with his boxing career and take on the Kazakh born beast Gennady Golovkin, or whether the time has come to hang up his gloves for good.

Carl Froch

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Froch has all but reached the end of a career that has seen him become a four time world title holder at Super Middleweight. In an era in which the media like to tell boxing fans that this fighter is ducking that one, Froch is certainly not a fighter that accusation can be hurled at.

Even before signing up to participate in the Super Six tournament, Froch took on dangerous, top tier, opponents to achieve his goals. His boxing style, punching power and ability to box or brawl as the situation requires has led Froch to become a fan favourite the world over. Add to that the dramatic late stoppage of Jermaine Taylor in 2009, two back and forth battles with Mikkel Kessler in 2010 and 2013, and picking himself up from the mat in 2013 against the unheralded George Groves and Froch has created a legacy that will be remembered for a long time. Froch never says die, he never stops trying and he fights to the last bell. When Carl Froch fights there’s usually excitement.

Froch has now reached a crossroad that all fighters reach. He knows how close he came to losing to Groves, and he sees that it’s because he felt Groves was undeserving and no threat. That belief led him to take Groves lightly, and was almost his undoing. After having to pull himself out of the fire in his first bout with Groves, Froch went on to prove to the world that he was the better fighter without a shadow of doubt with an excellent stoppage victory at a packed Wembley stadium.

Gennady Golovkin

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Golovkin, the man who Froch may decide to delay retirement to face, is another fan favourite, all action fighter (albeit on a lower scale). The reigning middleweight kingpin is a ferocious puncher who has stopped 30 of his 33 bouts early, including 20 in a row with his knockout victory over Willie Monroe last weekend. Fans love to see action and knockouts and Golovkin brings both in droves.

Having spoken often of his desire to be considered the best fighter around, Golovkin is missing marquee bouts and high caliber opponents from his resume. He holds a string of victories against capable fighters and title contenders but he knows that is not enough. Being able to blow away every contender on the planet will sell fight tickets and pad your resume, but Golovkin knows it won’t put your name in talks about who was the greatest ever fighter.

That puts Golovkin in an awkward position. He needs to take on a big name fighter and impress to push his career to the next level, but he cannot find a big name fighter ready and willing to get in with him. Golovkins lack of name recognition makes him a low reward fighter for the big guns to take on, while his punching power and boxing prowess make him a very high risk opponent. So Golovkin stays busy, fights more contenders, knocks them out and builds more of a reputation as a fearsome puncher, thus making him higher risk than before. Given his age, at 33, Golovkin cannot sit idly by and wait for the right opponent, he must stay busy.

Froch vs Golovkin Smart for Both Sides?

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For Golovkin this bout makes perfect sense all around. Froch is a big name fighter, holds victories over a number of high profile fighters and has lost just twice in his career – once to Mikkel Kessler who he beat in a rematch, and once against Andre Ward, a puzzle nobody has figured out to date. Add to that the fact that to face Froch, Golovkin would have to step up in weight and show his class against a bigger fighter and there’s is a huge upside to a victory over Froch.

Even a loss to Froch wouldn’t be that devastating for all the same reasons listed above. Froch is bigger. Froch has more experience in big fights. Froch has that never say die attitude to his fighting. For a middleweight to step up against such an opponent and not be able to better him it’s not going to spell the end of the road for the man, although obviously losing won’t be the desired result.

For Froch, the only thing he truly has to gain from fighting Golovkin is a sense of personal satisfaction.  Froch has achieved more in his career than many would ever dream of. The lure of a fight with a guy like Golovkin is to see if he can figure out the puzzle. At the very end of his career, Froch is still looking to challenge himself. He could no doubt take an “easy” bout and have one final payday to add to his earnings. However, the warrior heart and the reason he got into boxing was to face challenges head on and try to find a way to be victorious.

Golovkin is a beast of a puncher, a guy who hurts everyone he faces and stops most of them in their tracks. All fighter, however, have a weakness and Froch wants to search for that weakness and see if he can exploit it.

For Golovkin this fight has a huge upside for his career, his future and his place in history. If he defeats Froch then other top fighters can no longer use the excuse that he’s not stepped up to take on a top fighter. They have to then be willing to give him a shot at them and it opens the door for some blockbuster bouts. Froch is looking for personal satisfaction. To go out as the man who was able to defeat such a feared fighter as Golovkin would be one hell of an achievement.

Who Wins?

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Froch said in the Mail article that if he fought Golovkin he would attack him, and that’s something we’ve not seen happen much to date. Much like Mike Tyson in the 80’s and 90’s, Golovkin already has a partial victory before most of his fights even begin. His power and knockout percentage has opponents planning on surviving early before trying to attack late. Because of that he’s able to dictate the early portions of the fight.  In Froch, Golovkin would find an opponent who is not intimidated by his power and will look to take the offensive and see how Golovkin fights off the back foot.

A bout between the two, for just that reason, would be very intriguing. Curtis Stevens tried briefly to attack and landed a couple of decent punches before taking his foot off the gas and allowing Golovkin to dictate the tempo. Martin Murray sat and tried to counter punch and though he was on the losing end of the fight, he landed some nice counters on Golovkin and showed us that Golovkin’s defense is not always as solid and precise as his offense.

Froch’s chin, as we all know, is not too tough to hit. He carries his lead hand low and has a tendency to lean in when attacking. He also squares up way too much when throwing combinations, leaving him open to knockdowns when hit cleanly as was the case against Groves.

When Froch attacks, and we know he will, how will Golovkin respond when moving backward? Will he have accurate and precise counter punches? Will he go into a defensive shell and hope Froch punches himself out? Will he try to spin away and go immediately on the attack himself?

This is a tough bout to call. Golovkins power will always leave him in with a chance of stopping the fight at any second, but Froch is no slouch in the power department as his knockout of Groves at Wembley showed. This is a head vs heart decision for me. My heart will always be with Froch whenever he steps in the ring. The passion he brings with him to his fights means I always want him to find a way. However, in this case my head disagrees. Logic takes over and my brain tells me to remember how easy Froch is to hit, how he can often be caught flat footed and how quick to pounce on a weakness Golovkin is. Add the tremendous power of Golovkin to the killer instinct he carries and he goes in as the clear favourite.

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I pick Golovkin to win this bout, but it will end his knockout streak. He will put Froch down in the middle of the fight, but Froch will battle on to the end and the last 2 rounds of action will be all Frock looking for a late knockout. Ultimately, Golovkin will have done enough to secure a points victory.

Keith-Thurman-vs-Robert-Guerrero-Getty-Images-594x356

Professional boxing made its long overdue return to network television over the weekend (Saturday, March 7th to be precise) thanks to Premier Boxing Champions and NBC Sports with two bouts featuring high profile boxers. Adrien Broner, long touted as the eventual successor to pound-for-pound kind Floyd Mayweather, stepped in first to take on John Molina in a junior welterweight fight. Closing out the night was the highly ranked welterweight contender Keith Thurman taking on grizzled veteran Robert Guerrero.

The stage was set. The names on the bill were about as big as you’re going to get outside of pay-per-view events and the evening was ready for mass public viewing. After the leather had flown, blood had been spilled and winners had been announced, the only question remaining was whether the evening was a success.

From the standpoint of the level of competition involved in the bouts shown, the event was a success. In Broner-Molina you had one fighter who has been highly touted for years, won world championships in various weight classes and gained a reputation as a tremendously skilled fighter from a young age. Putting him in against a powerful and unpredictable brawler like Molina, who pushed the dangerous Lucas Matthysse to the limits in their bout last year, Premier Boxing Championships aimed to recreate something similar to the electrifying bout between Broner and Marcos Maidana in December 2013. Maidana’s pressure, power and brawling style had Broner in trouble throughout, although credit where it’s due Broner fought his way back into the bout to make it an entertaining spectacle for all.

Adrien Broner v Carlos Molina

In the second bout of the evening we were treated to seeing one of the fastest rising stars of the stacked welterweight division in Keith Thurman taking on the dangerous and exciting Robert Guerrero. Thurman has been touted by some as the main threat to divisional kingpins Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, bringing speed, power and boxing ability to back up his hype. Thurman himself has struggled so far to land high-profile, legitimate contenders who were willing to face him. Enter Robert Guerrero, a man who will not shy away from a challenge. Guerrero himself had set his sights on Mayweather years ago and worked through the divisions until he managed to secure the bout he wanted. In spite of losing to Mayweather, nobody else had been able to better Guerrero for nine years. Thurman had the legitimate opponent he sought.

Competition level, therefore, on paper, was high and the fights were legitimate in the standings of each fighters respective weight classes. Did the fights live up to their potential? Yes and no. Molina proved to be overmatched in his bout with Broner as Broner for once decided that he was going to ignore the thoughts and feelings of the crowd and fight to his strengths. Broner is has fast feet, faster hands and great boxing skills. He danced in and out of range and landed almost at will throughout all 12 rounds. Other than a brief flurry in the 3rd round, in which Molina tried his best to turn the bout into a brawl, Broner stayed focused and dominated. The one-sided nature of the bout led to the no comment before, but the yes was born out of the fact that we were treated to seeing a very good fighter make a bout his own. Broner used his ring smarts, speed, power and accuracy to give himself an easy night out and put himself back into the spotlight. The only negative from Broner was that he chose to dance around all through the 12th round to secure the points win when many feel marquee fighters should always be looking to close the show.

Thurman-Guerrero started slowly but turned out to be the barnstormer everyone hoped for. Both men boxed from the outside until Thurman caught Guerrero with a great shot in the second half of the fight and put the veteran on the canvas. After that Guerrero woke up and stepped up a gear, pushing Thurman hard over the final few rounds and leaving everyone watching wondering how the fight would have gone had Guerrero pushed that hard from the start. Thurman showcased his power, his ring generalship and his accuracy as he landed many hard shots throughout the bout. Guerrero was never truly out of the bout, landing counters throughout and then pressing Thurman hard at the end, giving us a glimpse at Thurman’s ability to absorb pressure and retain control.

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So far we have the debut of Premier Boxing Champions on NBC being a success with the matchmaking and the actual in-ring activity. On the part of the promotional company behind boxing’s return to network television we have a success on our hands. The last piece of evaluation of the evening is to look at the network who took the step toward putting boxing back on for the general public. How did NBC do?

The show was tidy and neat, with all presenters and announcers being astute and ready. Laila Ali, daughter of the legendary Muhammad Ali, became the first female boxing analyst and did herself and her family name proud. NBC also brought in an American legend in Sugar Ray Leonard to be part of the commentary team. Great start, respected figures of the boxing world bringing an end to a hiatus of the sport being brought to the masses.

The night started well with insightful comments from Leonard throughout the Broner-Molina fight. Bringing knowledge that can only come from somebody who has competed in the sport, Leonard helped explain why and how Broner was able to turn a dangerous fight on paper into an easy day at the office.

That, unfortunately, is where the network as a whole stopped being a success. Throughout the Thurman-Guerrero bout the level of bias shown by the commentators and the evenings producer was sickening. Thurman is seen by many as the future of the welterweight division, and NBC made a point of trying to ensure that the public got as much of him as possible. Every round break was centered around either shots of the Thurman corner or highlights of shots Thurman landed during the previous round. Add into that the fact that until the last 3 rounds the words coming from the commentators would have led somebody listening but not watching the action to believe that there was only one man fighting.

Without any disrespect to Thurman, who did enough to edge the majority of the opening rounds, it was far from the one-sided affair that the Broner bout was. In spite of this, there was almost no word whatsoever of any positive work put in by Guerrero in those opening rounds. As an example, in the first rounds Thurman started the faster of the two, pushing forward and landing a couple of jabs. During this spell the commentary team were saying that Thurman was swarming all over Guerrero while in truth both men were cagey from the outside and Thurman was using his reach advantage to set his range. Later in the same round, Thurman landed a hard right that was immediately countered by a left. Guerrero stood firm from Thurman’s right, but Thurman was forced to take a backward step from the counter. The NBC commentators gushed over the right Thurman landed, but said nothing of the reply from Guerrero. Later in the same round, as Thurman sprang forth looking to land a right, Guerrero countered with a short right of his own and pushed Thurman back a step or two. Again nothing from the commentators. In fact in spite of Guerrero spending the opening rounds primarily countering whenever Thurman tried to step in, Leonard chimed in sometime in the 3rd or 4th round to tell us that there were counter punch opportunities available to Guerrero because Thurman left his hands low when coming in. No praise for Guerrero having already landed several counters.

The rest of the bout followed suit. Although Thurman rightly won, and would have even without the knock down, it was competitive throughout. I, for one, was disgusted by the bias shown toward the obvious favorite for the fight and when the next Premier Boxing Champions on NBC event occurs I will likely watch with the television muted.