Author: Johnston Brown - My two pennies worth

Massive boxing and English football fan from South East London, England.

Patterson’s Revenge or Ruiz Repeat?

Who would of thought that former world champion Anthony Joshua (22-1, 21KOs) and the current unified king Andy Ruiz Jr (33-1, 22KOs) would be heading to Saudi Arabia for one of most anticipated heavyweight rematches since the turn of the century?

If someone can find a respectable source – preferably more suitable then the one who leaked the Joshua sparing rumours this week – that thought Ruiz Jr would have become the first ever Mexican heavyweight champion, then hand over a hat for me to feast on. To call the first instalment of Joshua-Ruiz a shock would be an understatement. The new face of snickers became the envy of every average bloke and had us all contemplating a career in boxing. Instead of carrying around a derby we all thought that the possibility of holding a world title one day was not the most daunting of tasks, after all.

Putting the sarcasm and pipe dreams to one side there is a genuine fight to address. In many people’s eyes, Ruiz Jr has become a world class operator who now threatens to ruin not only Joshua’s career but muscle his way into the top of the heavyweight food chain. Considering that he came from a hand-picked credible replacement on Joshua’s American debut to a sudden class act is a little harder to digest on a personal level.

Another explanation for the big upset at Madison Square Garden is that Joshua has been overhyped and not quite as good as we all first thought. To be an Olympic gold medallist and a former unified world champion speaks volumes about how good Joshua has been. You don’t become a bad fighter over night, remember class is permanent and form is temporary. We cannot ignore Joshua’s victories over better opponents in the mould of Dillian Whyte, Wladimir Klitschko, Alexander Povetkin and even Joseph Parker. So that analogy also seems a little far fetched.

“Class is permanent, form is temporary.”

Alternatively, and the most logical explanation would be that Ruiz Jr brought his best and Joshua was nowhere near his. The Londoner was distracted by the publicity, exposure and endorsement deals. Basically, he got ahead of himself taking his eye off the ball. Also, take into consideration the late replacement against an opponent with a completely different style to his original along with constant reminders of an undisputed fight in the horizon. Of course, these are not excuses from Joshua – who has been been the constant professional throughout – but our own drawn up conclusions and that’s even without the concussion discussion.

Historically immediate rematches are a bad idea…

When the immediate rematch was announced many observers questioned the decision. How many heavyweights over history have gone on to reclaim their title(s) following defeat? I’m sure we have all dug through the achieves to collect that information. If you haven’t then the answer is three. Floyd Patterson became the first heavyweight to lose his title against Ingemar Johansson in 1961 before regaining it in 1962. Eighteen years later Muhammed Ali retrieved his titles against a then novice pro in Leon Spinks in a shock defeat. It was a twenty-two-year gap before Lennox Lewis erased the Hasim Rahman demons in 2001.

Generally, immediate world title heavyweight rematches end in repeat. Joe Louis as the champion beat Jersey Joe Walcott in 1947 before defending it in 1948. Rocky Marciano went in as favourite – the first challenger to be so since Louis defeated James J Braddock – against then champion Walcott in 1952. It was repeat for Rocky in 1953 prior to back to back victories over Ezzard Charles in 1954.

Into the swinging sixties and Patterson was destroyed in four minutes and 16 seconds over two fights against the heavy-handed Sonny Liston in 1962 and 1963 respectively, who in turn was dealt the same blow against then Cassius Clay in 1964 before a repeat by the newly named Muhammed Ali 1965.

Muhammed Ali, Sony Liston and Floyd Patterson with Cus D’Amato

In 1985 Michael Spinks prevented Larry Holmes from equalling Marciano’s 49-0 record by creating his own history in becoming the first light-heavyweight to win a world heavyweight title, before retaining it again a year later. That was the last time an immediate heavyweight rematch ended in a repeat.

Patterson’s revenge…

History may not impact on what happens in the future, but it can influence it. We can learn, adapt and make better choices from what history teaches us. Just how badly Joshua unravelled would be the most alarming. Where exactly did it all go wrong? It wasn’t like the lottery punch that Rahman landed on Lewis which can be easily identified and rectified. It was a left hook that scrambled his senses, leaving Joshua unable to combat or resist anything that Ruiz Jr threw at him on that horrible night in New York.

The one successful immediate rematch that ended in revenge that Joshua can learn from is when Patterson overcame the big Swede Johansson. Comparisons can be drawn from the way Patterson approached that fight. He clearly overlooked Johansson as nothing more than a lay-up and had one eye on the hard-hitting Liston. The American also hit the deck seven-times in the third round but the main punch that scrambled his senses was “Ingo’s Bingo”, a shot that he was unable to recover from, just like “AJ” against Ruiz Jr’s left-hook. In the rematch Patterson was down again in the first round before finishing off Johansson with what is considered to be the best punch Patterson ever threw in his whole career.

Mind games at the weigh-in or has Ruiz Jr over indulged?

Ruiz Jr hit the scales this afternoon at 283lbs, his heaviest since his second professional fight back in 2009, while Joshua came in at 237lbs his lightest since 2014. We cannot read too much into it because who knows what the champ had tucked away in his trousers or under that sombrero? What we can assume is that Ruiz is looking to carry more pop in his punches and Joshua will look to bolster his speed and lateral movement.

What’s in that sombrero aka “shadower” Ruiz? Or are you trying to over shadow the golden boy?

Prediction time…

Ruiz Jr has incredible hand speed for a “little fat man” and will look to get underneath Joshua’s jab and unload at close quarters. The extra weight – which is probably about 10lbs less then the official reading (minus his hat, vest, trousers and trainers) has been added to increase power along with his already fast hands. Don’t let the weight gain fool you and don’t rush to the bookies to whack a wager on Joshua like many did after the Douglas-Holyfield weigh-in back in 1990, he will still have lightening hands but he has no plan ‘B’ bringing the same style that made him successful in the first fight which could be enough, although I believe it will be his eventual undoing.

Joshua is clearly looking to combat the new champs hand speed with his own in an attempt to beat him to the punch and keep his much shorter opponent at distance. Bar the knock downs in round three Joshua was able to land and put Ruiz down for the first time in his career in their first encounter. Joshua was not patient enough and instead of biding his time, picking the right shots at the right time he got clumsy and amateurish, which inevitably resulted in his own downfall.

A slimmer, hungrier and stronger mentality will be the key to victory if Joshua is to put the wrong right. Anything less will end in a second defeat on the trot. Above all else Joshua must believe in his game plan that he and trainer Rob McCracken have mustered up and not allow himself to divert no matter what Ruiz Jr throws at him.

I can see Anthony Joshua avenging his defeat and becoming the fourth heavyweight to successfully win an immediate rematch within 8-10 rounds. This could be one of the most devastating knockout victories in Joshua’s career a la Mr Patterson.

Seconds out…Don’t forget to listen-in to the Talkin Boxing with Billy C Show every Sunday, and don’t forget to subscribe and hit that like button. You can follow me on;

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From Pugilist to Rapist

The first instalment of ‘Criminals in Boxing’ begins with Antonio Ayala Jr who was once considered one of the hottest prospects in boxing but ended up being nothing more than a rapist, alcoholic, drug addict with a disturbed and distorted mind.

At just 15-years-old on December 23, 1978, Antonio (Tony) Ayala Jr was arrested for beating a girl repeatedly at a drive-in theatre toilet in his hometown of San Antonio, Texas.

While the case was pending Ayala Jr competed and won the National Golden Gloves in 1979 at the 165-pound limit.

After a 2-year wait his lingering aggravated rape charge was finally heard in court, where he was sentenced to 10-years in prison after pleading guilty to aggravated assault. Following an appeal he was released on a $10,000 bond and was given 10-days to file for a re-trial. During that period his 18-year-old victim accepted $40,000 with the agreement that she plead for leniency on her attacker. Ayala’s sentence was then overturned to 10-years’ probation instead.

Tony Ayala began his professional career in 1981, the following summer he featured in a cover story of Sports Illustrated as the rising star in boxing. Many respected experts in boxing where waxing lyrical of this tremendous young kid that will soon become a mega superstar.

Tony Ayala Jr and Ray Mancini on the front cover of Sports Illustrated in a 1982 edition

His co-manager Lou Duva once said, “Forget Sugar Ray Leonard, forget Marvin Hagler and forget Mike Tyson. Rocky Marciano and Tony Ayala were the guys. Not even Muhammed Ali had it quite like Ayala.”

Bod Arum – although he would probably deny it now – called Ayala, “The best fighter he had ever seen.”

Angelo Dundee very rarely gets it so wrong but the legendary coach once said, “There’s no telling what he can do, he is going to be a World Champion.”

Ayala was living up to his hype as he blasted his way to a 22-0 record with 19 knockouts by November 1982, during which he was scheduled to fight the former welterweight world champion Roberto Duran. The fight never materialised due to a rehabilitation programme that he enrolled in to solve emotional problems with drugs and alcohol, although his admission to using heroin wasn’t made public until years later.

During the early hours of the morning on New Year’s Day in 1983 a highly intoxicated Ayala broke into his neighbours’ home and tied up his female victim before raping her at knife point. Not done with his horrifying ordeal Ayala woke up the victim’s roommate and threatened to kill both if she called the police before returning to his victim.

The roommate escape through her bedroom window and called for help. Ayala was later found and arrested by the New Jersey state police. Within 15-days Ayala was released on a $75,000 bond and eventually convicted of burglary, aggravated sexual assault, two counts of possession with a knife and terroristic threats.

At just 19-years-old and on the brink of superstardom Ayala was sentenced to 15-35 years where he served just the bare minimum of 16-years at Rahway State Prison and Trenton State Prison.

New York Times article on Tony Ayala on March 2, 1988

In April 1999, Ayala was released on parole and able to resume his boxing career at the age of 36. In less than a year, the clearly disturbed Ayala was back in a prison cell following an incident on December 12, 2000.

Once again Ayala broke into his neighbor’s house, this time a young student that he knew from his local gym with the clear intention of sexual assault. However, what this psychopath didn’t expect was that his victim would have a gun and wasn’t afraid to use it. Anticipating danger she shot him in the left shoulder as he went to make advances.

Disturbingly, another plea deal was agreed with Ayala accepting a charge of two counts of aggravated assault and served just 90-days at home with a tag and 10-years’ probation.

It wasn’t long until Ayala was arrested again, this time in 2002 for having sex with a 14-year-old minor on two separate occasions but on January 7, 2003 all charges were dropped. The young girl was accused of lying because of a previous case where she made up charges against her stepfather due to being mad at him.

Tony Ayala Jr sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2003

Eleven months later on November 15, 2003 Ayala was pulled over by police for speeding and breaking his curfew, although was later released. One year later he was pulled over again and arrested for speeding, driving without a license, no proof of insurance, in possession of heroin and pornography. This time Ayala was finally sentenced to 10-years at a private Sanders Estes Unit for lower-level offenders in Venus, Southeast of Fort Worth.

Following the death of his father, just before his release from prison in 2014, Ayala assisted his brothers in the running of the Zarzamora Street Gym in San Antonio. It was in that same gym that on May 12, 2015 Ayala was found deceased with the cause of death confirmed as a heroin drug overdose.

They say you should never wish death on anybody, not even your worst enemy, but I can honestly say with a clear conscience that this piece of dogsh*t does not deserve to breath the same air as us so good riddance!

Part 2 of ‘Criminal’s in Boxing’ will be available next week and will feature a completely different story about another disturbed individual.

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Remember, Remember the Seventh of November

It was bonfire night a few of days ago and we celebrated Guy Fawkes Day in Britain as normal but what we didn’t expect was the fireworks we witnessed in the Super Arena, Saitama, Japan on November seven.

Before looking into the memorable encounter served up by Naoya Inoue and Nonito Donaire we must pay homage to the incredible journey boxing has taken us through the last six weekends.

Six crackers…

October kicked off with Errol Spence Jr unifying at 147 in a thrilling victory over Shawn Porter, followed by an excellent scrap between 2-time middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin and Sergiy Derevyanchenko.

Know body expected the tear-up we witnessed between Lewis Ritson and Robbie Davies Jr which currently leads the way for domestic fight of the year so far. On the same Weekend Russian Artur Beterbiev stopped Oleksandr Gvozdyk in a super unification bout at light-heavyweight.

Every boxing fan and his mother sang lyrical of the fight that Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis served up in the final of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) at super-lightweight. It was nothing short of a spectacle that topped everyone’s list as Fight of the Year.

Last weekend didn’t have the same level of action compared to five just mentioned but the stunning stoppage and historical elements make Saul Canelo Álvarez against Sergey Kovalev a special night.

Magnificent Seven…

The seventh instalment, in six blistering weeks is the one we will all remember.

On Thursday in the other WBSS final at bantamweight, there was a tale of the unexpected. Check the full fight report by Daxx Khan;

Inoue defeats Donaire in thriller to claim to claim the Muhammad Ali trophy

Nonito Donaire was not given a chance by anyone. Personally, I predicted that Donaire would give a good account of himself until the middle rounds before the inevitable knockout win for Inoue.

To everyone’s amazement the ‘Filipino Flash’ did more than we all expected and went the full distance with one of the most feared punchers in world boxing.

At the ripe age of 36 – soon to be 37 next week – Donaire showed that he still had something left to offer and cemented his claim to be a future hall of famer inductee.

Let the battle commence 

It takes two to tango and Inoue played his part in a sparkling performance from both men. The Japanese sensation looked to be in full control after the first, landing two sweet left hands but his veteran opponent came back in the second landing a left of his own which seemed to open a cut above the home fighters’ right eye.

In the next two sessions Donaire refused to allow his younger opponent take any initiative by forcing the pace with the cut clearly becoming a hinderance.

Looking dangerous in the fourth, Inoue changed the tide back into his favour in the fifth landing left hooks and big right hands but somehow Donaire survived.

Impressively the US based Filipino used his experience to seize the tide keeping the ‘Monster’ guessing by landing excellent counters.

Memorable finish

With full respect restored Inoue was measured and cautious in his approach, he connected with another left but then Donaire flipped the fight on its head with a beautifully timed right in the ninth that would have flattened many in this division.

Ahead on the scorecards but in the fight of his career, Inoue answered many questions about his chin, heart and desire. A crunching left to body sucked the wind out of Donaire who legged it to safety to spare himself some vital seconds. It looked as though the referee reached the count of ten but it continued. How on earth Donaire survived that eleventh round we will never know?

When both fighters met in the middle of the ring for the final three minutes, it would seem a matter of time before a shot to the body would end it. Yet again the Filipino legend proved us wrong by finishing the fight on his feet.

The official scorecards read 116-111, 117-109 and 114-113 to Inoue, who scoops the IBF, WBA (Super) and Ring Magazine belts by unanimous decision.

Boxing was the winner but no arguments with the verdict although it doesn’t reflect the full story of this modern day classic.

Remember, remember the seventh of November. The World Boxing Super Series never fails to deliver. Naoya Inoue is the Muhammed Ali Trophy Winner!

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Criminals in Boxing – The Prologue

Boxing has its own colourful language that is often miss-understood, it’s also the ‘most dangerous language’ as described once by legendary sportswriter Hugh McIlvanney.

It’s a language that is difficult to understand for many, we may as well be speaking in tongues or Latin when trying to explain it.

Condemnant quo non intellegunt’, translated from Latin to English means, ‘They condemn that which they do not understand’ 

True but what a load of gibberish. Unfortunately that’s what the boxing haters hear when we try to defend it and justifiably so, especially when they hear some of the horror stories within the sport.

There’s plenty of misdemeanours within boxing; corruption, drug offenders receiving unsatisfactory punishments, deaths from injuries sustained in the ring and then there are villains that escape justice because they have some rich financial benefactor behind them that simply identifies their fighter as a “Cash cow”.

Trouble is boxing will always have a bad reputation even if those shameful problems where irradiated. Other sports have the same problems, but boxing is a different breed because of its brutality and violence.

David Remnick a magazine editor and journalist explained the fundamentals of its brutality when he said;

“Boxers go into the ring alone, nearly naked, and they succeed or fail on the basis of the most elementary criteria: their ability to give and receive pain, their will to endure their own fear.”

Boxing is a religion

Many boxers will use the expression, ‘I didn’t find boxing, boxing found me’, you would hear that same statement from someone who follows a religion and describes how they discovered god.

A high percentage of those boxers will only discover this great noble art because of some sort of turbulence in their lives. Others will have been born into the sport within a family who have a long fighting history, and some will have had both, basically it’s the same as a religion, the difference is boxing’s church is in the ring.

Understanding its origin

Back in the days of when prize fighting was classified as an affray, an assault and a riot by law, many fights went underground or even took to the sea to avoid prosecution. Laws in England became more relaxed whereas, it took a little longer for the American authorities to realise its popularity and potential for financial gain.

By the 20th century boxing became a route of the less fortunate to earn some money and gain a bad ass reputation amongst different ethnic groups.

When you look through the history of the sport you will find many of the greats were immigrants. The men who fought within a tougher backdrop often prevailed because they were fighting for something more, they were fighting to make a better life for themselves and their families. If boxing didn’t work out, then the chances are it would be a life of ducking and diving to earn a quick pound note.

Not a sport for the rich

Boxing was not a sport for the privileged, why would a wealthy man want to get bashed up for pocket money?

In the peak of his career and wealth Marvelous Marvin Hagler once said;

“It’s tough to get out of bed to do roadwork at 5am when you’ve been sleeping in silk pyjamas.”

A far cry from that young boy that walked into the Petronelli gym with the hope of becoming a world champion. It was the beating he received at the hands of a guy he would go on to defeat twice, Dornell Wigfall that gave Hagler the motivation to become a boxer. Once you get to the top it must be hard to find that same determination again especially when the money is in the bank.

Boxing’s dark side

Believe it or not, modern day boxing hasn’t changed that much from how it used to be. Yes, the safety regulations have changed dramatically through the decades but the kind of competitors that want to get involved are still the ones that need a source of guidance and money. The alternative can be a life of crime and we all know where that path leads, eventually prison or death.

Most of the time boxing becomes a saviour but sometimes it doesn’t. It’s in these cases where we find the ‘Criminals in Boxing’.

There are so many stories that can be told and written, from Mike Tyson’s rape conviction to Charles “Kid” McCoy’s murder of Mrs. Theresa Mors but I will be investigating just five cases, the five I believe are the worst of the lot.

Over the course of the next few weeks I will release five stories about five different pugilists that went from the boxing ring to become the scum of the earth. My feature write-ups for Talkin Boxing with Billy C will leave no stone unturned as I delve into the darkest side of boxing.

Seconds out…Don’t forget to listen-in to the Talkin Boxing with Billy C Show every Sunday, and don’t forget to subscribe and hit that like button. You can follow me on;

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Halloween might have been last week but this week its the return of the Monster

Last Thursday it was Halloween and we had all the zombies, ghouls and witches’ out trick & treating their way through our streets, this Thursday night in Saitama, Japan, it’s the return of the ‘Monster’.

Naoya Inoue (18-0, 16KOs) takes on Nonito Donaire (45-5, 26KOs) in the final of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) at Bantamweight. The Japanese sensation will defend his IBF title against the WBA ‘Super’ champion Donaire in an exciting unification bout.

At the tender age of just 26, Inoue is already a 3-weight world champion holding legitimate titles at light-fly, super-fly and bantam. Following the first-round destruction of Jamie McDonnell last year, Inoue breezed past Juan Carlos Payano with a beautifully timed straight right hand that knocked his Dominican Republic opponent flat on his back in the first round.

That victory set-up a mouth-watering WBSS semi-final against the then highly ranked #3 Emmanuel Rodriguez in Glasgow, Scotland. The Puerto Rican was supposed to ask questions of Inoue but once again he showcased his beast mode by knocking down Rodriguez 3-times in the second-round to progress to the final.

For those that have followed boxing for the last 2 decades will be familiar with the Filipino in the opposite corner. A 5-weight world champion at fly, super-fly, bantam, super-bantam and the featherweight divisions, Nonito Donarie.

Considering that ‘The Filipino Flash’ fought at 126lbs against Carl Frampton in April last year, it’s quite incredible that at the age of 36, (soon to be 37 next week) can manage to boil down the 118lb limit.

Former WBA ‘Super’ champion Ryan Burnett was in the way of a semi-final spot. With the fight delicately poised Burnett suffered an unfortunate back injury – that has since ended the Irishman’s career – meaning the veteran progressed through to the semis.

Initially set to face Zolani Tete in the next round but the WBO champion had to withdraw due to an injury he sustained in training so Stephon Young stepped in as a replacement. Donaire proved to strong and picked up his first stoppage win at bantam since Fernando Montiel back in 2011.

Donaire needs the stars to align for a shock upset…

Nonito has been fortunate en route to the final but he has a wealth of experience and his signature left hook will still carry some pop plus he has never lost at the 118lb limit. In 45 fights he has accumulated 277 rounds and only been stopped once at the hands of another knockout artist in Nicholas Walters back in 2014.

The US-based Filipino has a slight height and reach advantage that could prove pivotal when trying to keep his distance from the dangerous punching power of Inoue. There is great respect between both fighters so Donaire will have to hope that his Japanese opponent gives him too much respect. Either Donaire’s luck will run out or a Muhammed Ali trophy victory has been written in the stars.

The Monsters power is scary…

The current IBF king is a force to be reckoned with and has that natural power that has obliterated his WBSS opponents in just 329 seconds. There was no luck involved in his devastating victories over a seasoned pro in Payano and in a classy operator like Rodriguez. In 18 bouts he has only fought 95 rounds, an average of just over 5-rounds a fight.

There is a swagger to his style and an ore of invincibility that comes from that unbelievable power he has managed to take through the divisions. He never rushes his work, is very calm and collective and will seize upon any openings that Donaire gives him.

Predication

If this fight took place in 2011 it would be a lot closer but even, then I still think the home fighter would stop the Filipino legend. This fight could be over quicker than the introductions or it may well surprise us all and go the distance.

Every boxing nut will be tuned into their phone’s tomorrow afternoon expecting the little Japanese superstar to produced yet another knockout victory. It’s difficult to see beyond that but I do believe that Donaire can make it competitive for as long as it lasts. I can see Inoue closing the show and becoming a unified bantamweight champion between rounds 4 & 6.

Seconds out…Don’t forget to listen-in to the Talkin Boxing with Billy C Show every Sunday, and don’t forget to subscribe and hit that like button. You can follow me on;

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Canelo becomes a 3-weight world champion but what next for the Mexican Hero?

Saul Canelo Alvarez (53-1-2, 36KOs) stops Sergey Kovalev (34-4-1, 29KOs) with a devastating left-right combination at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas to become the WBO Light-Heavyweight champion.

It was a cagey encounter that never really got going until the 11th round when Canelo landed a left hook that sent the Russian staggering back on wobbly legs, before the right hand of the now 3-weight world champ landed flush to put an end to the contest.

With the bout heading towards the 12th round and to the judges scorecards Canelo managed to put a halt to proceedings with a devastating finish.

Thankfully the 3 judges were not needed otherwise Canelo’s historic night would have been clouded by controversy with scores of 96-94 on 2 of the cards in Canelo’s favour and 95-95 on the other.

Many would have had Kovalev in front before the knockout so even if the 36-year-old did manage to survive a bit longer he would have still lost.

After the fight Canelo was pleased that he had executed his game plan of keeping his composure before tiring out his older opponent and knocking him out. The new WBO Light-Heavyweight title holder said:

“It was a very close fight because [Kovalev] was defensive, he was closing up his guard.

“All he was doing was trying to establish points, but we knew what was coming. Inevitably it would come, and everything came out the way we had planned.

“The plan overall was patience, that was basically it – to have patience.

“We knew it was going to be five, six rounds and it was going to take some time for me to get him. But honestly he’s a great fighter.

“I’m new at this weight, new in this division. Much credit to him, he’s a great fighter, but we stuck to our game plan. It was delayed a little bit but overall it was successful.”

Kovalev went to the hospital following the fight so didn’t get the chance to attend the post-fight interviews. Where he goes next should be into retirement but Kathy Duva did make a statement on his behalf saying he will still fight on. We will have to see if the he has anything more to offer following his 4th career defeat.

What the Mexican native does next will be of huge interest. Will he stay in his new division at 175 or does he decide to drop back down to 168 or even the 160-pound divisions?

The only fight at Middleweight would be to complete the trilogy with Golovkin. Canelo hasn’t ruled it out as a possibility and we all know the Kazak would take the fight in a heartbeat but it’s Team Canelo that hold all the cards, the Mexican hero said:

“We have to see what happens. We have to see what’s best for us and look for the best fights.”

If Canelo really wants to establish himself as an all time great and put an end to any doubters then a fight against a prime opponent like Callum Smith at Super-Middle would go along way to cementing that legacy.

At Light-Heavyweight a unification battle with the WBA holder Dmitry Bivol would make the most logical sense but if Canelo really wants to test himself as one of Mexico’s greatest ever then taking on the unified WBC and IBF ruler Artur Beterbiev would make a massive statement.

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Canelo vs Kovalev – Breakdown and Prediction

Many feel Canelo Alvarez (52-1-2, 35KOs) has already achieved a long-lasting legacy inside the boxing ring, but can the excellent small man beat a very good big man?

When Sergey Kovalev (34-3-1, 29KOs) won his first world title at 175lbs against Welshman Nathan Cleverly back in August 2013, a month later at the catch weight of 153lbs the Mexican hero lost for the very first time in his career against Floyd Mayweather Jr.

It would have been hard to fathom Canelo taking on the then destructive Kovalev at Light-Heavyweight six-years-ago but fast forward to 2019 and that’s exactly what the 29-year-old is doing.

There is no doubt that the size difference will be significant, especially because there was no rehydration clause in the contract so no weight check on the day of the fight either. Chances are Kovalev will step into the ring around the 190lb mark, giving the Russian a 10lb + advantage on fight night.

Many have dared to be great but very few are successful. Legends of the sport like Sugar Ray Leonard, Michael Spinks, Roberto Duran, Bernard Hopkins, Henry Armstrong and Roy Jones Jr all had successes well over their natural weight limit which is the very reason why they are now considered as greats.

If Canelo wants to follow in the footsteps of greatness and write a new chapter into boxing history, he will need to use all his attributes to be successful.

Canelo’s characteristics

Canelo has a wealth of skills at his disposal that will assist him against Kovalev. He is a more accomplished boxer, a masterful counter puncher and currently one of the best inside fighters in the world today.

His lateral movement is world class, and this will be a key ingredient for when he does get on Kovalev’s chest. He will need to target that body with left-hooks and get out before suffering any damage.

Canelo is also a terrific combination puncher who can expertly put his shots together in one movement in a variety of ways. If the challenger is to be victorious, he will need to implement all his assets to overcome the threat of Kovalev.

Kovalev’s Key to victory

‘Krusher’ will look to keep the fight at range by working off that jab and keeping Canelo on the back foot. The WBO Champion has one of the stiffest jabs in the business and it will be a vital ingredient to his game plan. The aim will be to fire in a strong jab to keep Canelo off balance, out of range and needing to re-set.

Kovalev’s right-hand is also a force of nature, he needs to disguise it and use it often which will keep Canelo guessing. Throwing punches regularly, moving well and staying busy to upset Canelo’s rhythm will be pivotal, especially when the Mexican retreats to the ropes which he often does in fights against the classier operators.

Path to victory….

For Canelo to become a three-weight world champion he must not allow Kovalev to dictate the pace of the fight with his jab, he has to try and take the centre of the ring and slip those jabs coming in and work the body. This will take Kovalev’s his legs away and play a huge barring into the second half of the fight.

Kovalev will be cautious of the body attacks so may leave himself exposed to the looping right-hand to the chin.

Kovalev will try to lean on Canelo’s smaller frame in hope of wearing him down when in the clinch. But he will need to be careful as that bigger frame can be exploited and could force the 36-year-old to retreat if Canelo gets a hand free to pepper his lower half.

Canelo may lack the power but he will make up for that with his speed and precision so combating Kovalev’s work simultaneously will send Kovalev onto the back foot and out of danger.

Elephant in the room…

There are so many different scenarios in which this fight plays out and the victor should be the guy who implements their game plan better then the other. But we would be naive to think that this fight will be won solely on what happens in the ring.

We cannot hide from the fact that boxing has a dark side where business comes first and it wouldn’t be good business if the money making machine of Team Canelo lose this fight. The only way Kovalev wins this fight is by knockout, anything less – no matter how well he performs – will not be good enough to retain his title.

So on that note, I can only see one man winning and that man is Canelo by a dubious unanimous decision. A judge or two may hand in a lopsided score card that will be questionable and the Mexican idol will make history at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Seconds out…Don’t forget to listen-in to the Talkin Boxing with Billy C Show this Sunday, and don’t forget to subscribe and hit that like button. You can follow me on;

https://twitter.com/JohnstonBrown82

The O2 Arena cements its status as the darling of British Boxing – Thanks to Josh Taylor and Regis Prograis

Once again, the O2 Arena in London played host to another epic fight, claiming its spot as the darling of British boxing venues.

The magic of a venue can only come from the performances of the participants in the ring which in turn elevates the passion of the crowd and this place seems to bring the very best out of fighters and the crowd, alike.

In just over a decade the ‘Big tent’ has shaken off its Millennium Dome nightmare and etched itself into boxing folklore with memorable fights that even the great MSG and MGM Grand would be envious of.

From the first ever boxing event headlined by Amir Khan – a spearhead for the sport in 2007 –  to its most recent fight night between Josh Taylor & Regis Prograis last Saturday, the O2 Arena has become a place that attracts huge knowledgeable boxing enthusiasts to the capital in their droves with the expectation of witnessing something special.

Short but Rich History…

In 33 boxing events staged at the O2 Arena most have delivered, whether that be a memorable fight, a hot prospect delivering the goods or a top-notch fighter making his first appearance on these shores.

David Haye stopped Enzo Maccarinelli in two-rounds a year after Khan won his Commonwealth Lightweight title. Three years later Olympic gold medalist James DeGale dropped a close decision to George Groves in domestic war fest.

Anthony Joshua defeated Dillian Whyte in their grudge match for the vacant British heavyweight title ahead of the formidable and feared Gennadiy Golovkin’s appearance that broke Kell Brook’s spirit and eye socket in five pulsating rounds.

American Charles Martin surrendered his IBF heavyweight strap to Joshua in a farcical of a defence but a historical moment for British Boxing nonetheless. The new face of boxing made the O2 Arena his fortress before relocating to Wembley. He made his first defence of the IBF title and last appearance at the O2 against Dominic Breazeale.

In 2017, Haye tried to rekindle his career and love affair with the Arena but ruptured his Achilles tendon in the sixth-round before getting stopped in the eleventh against Tony Bellew, and then blown away in the rematch a year later.

Whyte sent Lucas Browne to sleep with a stunning left-hook, then had an engrossing fight with Joseph Parker which also featured Dereck Chisora’s slugfest victory over Carlos Takam on the undercard, igniting the Whyte verses Chisora rematch.

However, it hasn’t been plain sailing with some good, some bad and some dam right ugly fight cards which is probably due to its increased usage of the venue, a clear indication that less is more.

One of the worst headliners was Lawrence Okolie’s win over Isaac Chamberlain in a stinker of a fight and Ted Cheeseman’s failed attempt at European glory against Sergio Garcia was bad business. Dave Allen’s knock out victory against an over-the-hill Browne was a brilliant body-shot but it downplayed this glorious Arena. Sometimes you got to take the rough with the smooth, as not every fight will produce it’s promise.

Thankfully this year has had better moments, even before Taylor and Prograis graced the ring. Rising heavyweight star Daniel Dubois stopped the undefeated Nathan Gorman in five and DeGale’s career came to a shuttering end when he lost to Chris Eubank Jr.

Whyte had another special night with a win over Oscar Rivas – even though he had failed a UKAD drugs test – before the pound-for-pound king Vasiliy Lomachenko arrived in town to showcase his ‘Hi-Tech’ skills and defend his unified titles against a game Luke Campbell.

Taylor-Prograis, O2 Arena’s greatest?

With all these fantastic and dramatic nights now firmly etched into boxing and the O2 Arena’s short history, where does Saturday night’s action sit amongst it all?

In terms of its magnitude, technicality and level of intensity this must be the greatest 12-rounder under the ‘Big tent’ in Greenwich, London. The only fight that could rival it, is when Carl Froch outpointed Mikkel Kessler to unify the Super-Middleweight Division on May 25th, 2013.

There are some interesting comparisons, with those same, ‘It’s a real 50/50 fight’ clichés which were being touted around pre-fight. Both British fighters held the IBF versions of their respective division with the overseas fighter taking their WBA straps into the belly of the beast.

Both fights were fought at an extremely high level of intensity and skill and in doing so they delivered exactly what most boxing purists predicted, twelve exhilarating rounds which could have gone either way, although Froch’s victory was slightly more convincing then Taylor’s. But what sets the Taylor verses Prograis battle apart from that excellent bout back in 2013?

Not much, but the fact that Taylor and Prograis fought in their prime, whereas Froch and Kessler were both 35 & 34-years-old respectively gives their matchup the edge.

With the Taylor-Prograis fight being the final of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) and the winner taking home the prestigious Muhammed Ali trophy, plus the addition of the WBC Diamond belt – which quite simply is a load of nonsense – and of course the addition of $10 million in prize-money increased the stakes a little more than Froch-Kessler 2.

Boxing’s dangerous Language…

Boxing has always had a black mark against it for many, many years due to its brutality and savagery. The dangers of the sport have never been more evident following the recent passing of Patrick Day.

As a fan it can be difficult to justify our love for the sport to someone who doesn’t understand the noble art, and it can become exhausting when defending it against questions of safety.

Hugh McIlvanney, explained it best with his beautiful piece for the The Observer in a tribute to Johnny Owen, following his death from injuries sustained in the ring on November 4th, 1980.

Quite a few of us who have been involved with it most of our lives share the doubts. [About Safety]

“But our reactions are bound to be complicated by the knowledge that it was boxing that gave Johnny Owen his one positive means of self-expression. Outside the ring he was an inaudible and almost invisible personality. Inside, he became astonishingly positive and self-assured. He seemed to be more at home there than anywhere else. It is his tragedy that he found himself articulate in such a dangerous language.”

It’s the dangerous language that we must all be aware of but it’s also that same language that makes the Taylor and Prograis fight such a spectacle. Their performances make it that little bit easier for us to describe the beauty of the sport of boxing.

Seconds out…Don’t forget to listen-in to the Talkin Boxing with Billy C Show this Sunday, and don’t forget to subscribe and hit that like button. You can follow me on;

https://twitter.com/JohnstonBrown82

 

Prograis-Taylor: Boxing clichés, Lawsuits & A Boxing First

The old boxing clichés have been out in full force this Weekend, as we look ahead to a big night of Prize-fighter action at London’s O2 Arena, headlined by the WBC Diamond & WBA Super Lightweight champion Regis Prograis (24-0, 20KOs) and Scotland’s Josh Taylor (15-0, 12KOs) who holds the IBF version.

Whether you see it as a ‘A genuine 50/50’ or a ‘tough-to-call fight’ there is no doubt it has all the marking to be a genuine ‘Fight of the Year contender’.

Both fighters are talented, have bright futures and are arguably the best two in the division, which is something we do not see very often in modern day boxing. How many times have we seen fights collapse due to disagreements between Promoters, rival television networks and the fighters themselves – Too many..

Fight was almost derailed…

That’s not to say that this fight hasn’t had its fair share of problems. Originally scheduled for October 5 but delayed due to a breach of contract, leading to Prograis temporarily withdrawing from the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) before filling a lawsuit against WBSS & Comosa AG, the tournament’s financial backer.

Josh used this dispute as ammo during the ‘Gloves are off’ preview show;

“[He was] trying to pull out because he didn’t wanna come over here.”

Prograis resounded;

“Now I’m gonna fight you, and I always knew I was gonna fight him. Like, it wasn’t about if I’m gonna fight [Taylor]. It was always about when I’m gonna fight him.”

Thankfully, the disagreement was resolved and is now topping the bill of a strong card including Burns-Selby, Chisora-Price and Okolie-Ngabu, plus more on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and DAZN in the US.

The resumés

When trying to pick a winner, there really is nothing between them. Both are southpaws, have over 80% knockout ratios and are ranked No.2 & 3 in the world by Boxrec, sitting just behind the unified WBO and WBC champion Jose Carlos Ramirez.

Josh Taylor has the slightly better-looking combined opponent record of 258-67-14 compared to Prograis’ 362-199-17. The ‘Tartan Tornado’ has arguably fought the better opponents in domestic rival Ohara Davies, former IBF champion Miguel Vazquez, the experienced Viktor Postol and the solid Belarusian Ivan Baranchyk, in his last outing.

In all of those victories the young Scott has showed versatility by adjusting his style, whether that be fighting on the front foot or using his height & reach by boxing at range while popping off that solid jab.

Regis Prograis has a similar record although it’s taken him a little longer to take that step-up in quality. Victories over undisputed lightweight challenger Julius Indongo, former WBO lightweight holder Terry Flanagan and his recent stoppage over Kiryl Relikh in 6-rounds has showcased the New Orleans-native’s versatile armoury. The 30-year-old has disposed of all his opponents in impressive fashion with a calm and patient approach. ‘Rougarou’ very rarely wastes his punches, and when he does let his hands go, he is accurate and spiteful while using a variety of angles.

Odds & Boxing first…

The American is the slight betting favourite by the bookies with the draw around the 20/1 mark which is by no means out of the question. In the event of a draw we will have a boxing first with the countback rule coming into play if the judges are unable to separate the fighters.

In the event of this coming to fruition, the winner of the Muhammed Ali trophy and $10 million will be decided by who won the last round. If the 12th and final round was also scored a draw, then the countback will continue to the 11th round and so on. Both fighters will keep hold of their current titles and the ring magazine belt will remain vacant.

Prediction

Where a case can be made for one, there is another for the other. Taylor has an advantage in height and reach by only a couple of inches and is 2-years younger whereas, Prograis has fought 20 more rounds and has more knockouts then Taylor has had fights. The speed is with Taylor so he should try to keep it at distance but Prograis is the better counterpuncher who can slip the jab and work the head and body in close quarters. Both are ring savvy and have the ability to adapt their styles at any time during the fight.

The early exchanges should be cagy as either fighter has the power to knock the other guy out. This fight will be decided by slight margins so whoever is marginally out of sync will pay the price. The cornermen could make all the difference with the experienced Bobby Benton in the Americans corner and Shane McGuigan in Taylor’s.

Could home advantage decide the outcome with recent sketchy judging recently or maybe it could come down to which fighter boils down to the weight better. Maybe the pro-Taylor crowd could unsettle Prograis but chances are the latter is a long shot, as any person that can take a positive from hurricane Katrina clearly has a strong mindset and there’s no doubt the American has that in abundance.

Going back to the old boxing clichés it really is ‘too tight to call’ as this fight can go either way and all predictions are plausible. It will be tight, gripping, entertaining and it will have its moments of class personified.

Josh Taylor to win by split decision – both fighters will taste the canvas in a contender for fight of the year.

Seconds out…

Don’t forget to listen-in to the Talkin Boxing with Billy C Show this Sunday, and don’t forget to subscribe and hit that like button. You can follow me on;

https://twitter.com/JohnstonBrown82

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