Johnston Brown

O2 Arena stage another British Heavyweight Showdown

Once again the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London will host a British Heavyweight title fight between two of our hottest prospects.

Rewind to December 2015 to when the same venue staged a brilliant domestic heavyweight dust up between the former unified heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, 14-0 at the time and Dillian Whyte for British title.

The comparisons are uncanny as both were still inexperienced with undefeated records, a bit rough around the edges and had a tasty rivalry that made it an absorbing encounter.

This Saturday night is very much the same with Daniel Dubois (11-0) being tipped by many experts to have a bright future in the glamour division, just like AJ. He’s opponent Nathan Gorman (16-0) has not had the same exposure as his domestic rival which was exactly like Whyte who had an identical pro record in 2015.

It’s been a tough three and half years for the South-Londoner since his sole defeat to Joshua with many boxing fans and pundits hoping that he finally can get that crack at a world title. Next Weekend he takes on Oscar Rivas in the same venue that he now calls home. Where as Anthony Joshua had gone from strength to strength following his victory that night until his recent fall from grace in a horror show against Andy Ruiz Jr only last month.

Whether the Greenwich lad Dubois and Nathan Gorman can follow in the same footsteps remains to be seen but we will find out if they have the minerals necessary to take that next big step. This one fight will not define their careers, although it will determine which route either fighter will take once the result becomes a reality.

The British heavyweight title is as prestigious as they come with the likes of Henry Cooper, Lennox Lewis, Joe Bugner, Tyson Fury and many other great fighters all holding that strap at some point in their careers.

Although the bookies do have Dubois as a 4-7 favourite for the bout, Gorman will have the advantage with Manchester boxing legend Ricky Hatton guiding the 23-year-old through the fight. With the greatest of respect to Martin Bowers – of the Peacock Gym – who will be in the opposite corner, it’s hard to not favour the advice of Hatton over Bowers. Due to the fact that both fighters are babies in terms of experience their corners will play such a vital part in the outcome of the fight.

Dubois has shown a vulnerability with his stamina while Gorman has been able to clock up some much needed rounds in only 16 pro fights so far, 76 to be exact while Dubious only 33. Of course, this is rightfully being billed as the boxer verses the puncher and we all know that one punch can make all the difference in the heavyweight game. With that being said a better boxer will normally prevail over a puncher and Gorman has shown to have the better boxing ability.

At 21-years-old Dubois is still very raw and needs more time to develop before the can fulfil his potential. It may only be a 2-year age gap but those extra miles on the clock at such a young age makes all the difference. Because of that fact and with a guy like Hatton in his corner, it’s difficult to see past a Gorman points victory or even a late stoppage due to Dubois running on empty.

Whatever happens and whoever wins we must not forget about the kid that’s picked up his first loss. It is important, vital in fact, that we as boxing fans do not forget the guy who picks up his first defeat. We are talking about two young men that have shown courage and a lot of bollocks to take a fight that they didn’t need to take for our viewing pleasure. Let’s hope they can both do themselves justice and produce another exciting night of boxing, like what we experienced in 2015.

Seconds out…

The Weekend to Finally Kickstart 2019?

So far 2019 has been a bit of a slow burner with big fights failing to deliver but this Weekend’s action has the potential to really get this year underway with a bang!

Starting at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow, Scotland we have two World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) semi-finals on the same bill that will really whet your appetite.

In the Junior Welterweight division, the newly crowned IBF champion Ivan Baranchyk (19-0, 12KOs) makes his first defence against Britain’s rising star Josh Taylor (14-0, 12KOs). The home crowd favourite finally gets his first crack at a major world title against the tough Belarusian that was born in Russia but resides in Miami, USA.

This fight has all the ingredients to be compelling and absorbing viewing for those watching at home and for the pro-Taylor crowd in attendance. Baranchyk overcame a southpaw in the quarterfinals and will be full of confidence that he can repeat that feat and retain his title on Saturday night;

“I am very confident of winning,” said Baranchyk. “I am going to beat Taylor by beating him again and again and then beating him some more.

“I know that Taylor is a talented fighter and that the fight is in his backyard, but I am looking forward to putting on a spectacular performance and defending my title. The boxing fans in Glasgow can expect me to beat up their hero.”

While the 26-year-old will be in confident mood he has not yet faced anyone that can compare to the skills that Taylor has at his disposal. Victories over Russian Petr Petrov and Anthony Yigit of Sweden were good scalps, but the high-flying Scotsman has already proven that he is a level above after just 14-professional fights.

‘The Beast’ as Baranchyk likes to be known has a combined opponent record of 168-47-13, which is pretty good reading especially considering that he has also fought ten opponents with undefeated records. To contest that, Taylor has a combined opponent record that is slightly better of 239-68-14 in less bouts and rounds completed. The 28-year-old also has the better knockout ration of 80 percent plus a 2-inch height and reach advantage which could make the difference depending on the challenger’s approach.

Taylor’s best victories came against Ohara Davies in 2017 who was an undefeated British prospect at the time and a former world champion at 140-pounds Viktor Postol in the summer of last year. In both fights Taylor showcased his excellent boxer-puncher skills and the ability to adapt when in a spot of bother. That adjustment was demonstrated when he got hurt by the Ukrainian in the seventh-round, although it did also identify chinks in Taylor’s armoury that the champion will look to exploit. The late addition by Baranchyk of Hall-of-fame coach Freddie Roach could assist his chances if he does decide to press Taylor but it could also hinder his chances if too many changes are made in such a short space of time.

There were two different sides shown in the Davies and Postal fights that will contribute to the outcome on Saturday night and that is how Taylor will react to a strong partisan crowd in full voice that will be completely behind the Scot. Will he thrive like against Davies or will he be nervous and tentative like against the ‘Iceman’?

Taylor said: “I’ve never felt so relaxed and confident heading into a fight. I’m ready to do the job.

“Baranchyk is strong, he comes forward but i see a lot of flaws in him, a lot of mistakes and I’m going to exploit him.

“I cannot wait to get in and fight him. Having the fans behind me will be great and it will lift me.

“The best man is going to win and it’s going to be me.”

As long as Taylor does not allow the occasion to overwhelm him or get involved in a war of attrition then Taylor should have more than enough ability to see off Baranchyk and claim the IBF strap in front of his adoring fans. If he decides to go hell for leather then the fight will be decided by mental and physical toughness which will make it a lot closer but a great watch for the fans.

Whoever does come through will face the WBA champion Regis Prograis (24-0, 20KOs) in the WBSS final for the right to be called a unified world champion which is set to take place in the summer of this year.

In the co-main event of the evening Japanese sensation and WBA Bantamweight Champion Naoya Inoue (17-0, 15KOs) takes on arguably the second best 118-pounder in the world and the IBF holder Emmanuel Rodriguez (19-0, 12KOs).

The Bantamweight division has four world class operators at the moment but unfortunately the other two stars [Ryan Burnett & Zolani Tete] have succumbed to injuries although veteran Nonito Donaire who awaits the winner in the final is a welcome addition.

At least we do get to see a mouthwatering fight between the slick and highly rated Puerto Rican Rodriguez and Inoue who is also known as ‘The Monster’ due to his concussive punching power. We will learn a lot more about both men come fight night but what ever happens the result will have huge significance on not only on the division but the pound-for-pound rankings to.

With the strong possibility that Josh Taylor can pick up a world title for Britain there is also a very good chance that Billy Joe Saunders (27-0, 13KOs) can become a two-weight world champion on the same night. The 29-year-old has had another one of those barren spells outside of the ring due to his own stupidity but he will fancy his chances against Shefat Isufi (27-3-2, 20KOs). With the opportunity of picking up the WBO Super-Middleweight title – which was vacated by Gilberto Ramirez because the Mexican decided to move up to the 175-pound division – A victory for Saunders would put him right back in the mix amongst the best in the division.

Although never a guarantee but a win at Stevenage Football Club, Lamex Stadium, could be the catalyst to guide the former middleweight champion onto massive fights this year and beyond.

Lastly, in the Heavyweight division WBC holder Deontay Wilder (40-0-1, 39KOs) puts his ‘Sophia’ on the line against fellow American compatriot Dominic Breazeale (20-1, 18KOs).

In the build-up Wilder has made some rather disgusting statements;

“This is the only sport where you can kill a man and get paid for it at the same time,” said Wilder. “It’s legal.”

“Dominic Breazeale asked for this. I didn’t go seek him. He [sought] me. So if it comes it comes. This is a brutal sport. This is not a gentleman sport.

“We don’t ask to hit each other in the face but we do anyway. And you can ask any doctor around the world, he will tell you, your head is not meant to be hit.

“On this particular time we have bad blood against each other. This is the only sport where you can kill a man and get paid for it at the same time. It’s legal. So why not use my right to do so?”

Those comments are bad for boxing but also shows the lengths that Wilder has to go to just to get publicity, no mater if that’s good or bad. If a British or Irish fighter made such disgraceful comments he or she would be fined heavily and severely warned, no question. It’s fair to say that Deontay ‘Halfwit’ Wilder is an olive short of a pizza, what a joke of a man!

Seconds out…

Don’t forget to listen-in to the Talkin Boxing with Billy C Show this Sunday! Also don’t forget to subscribe, hit that like button & follow me on Twitter@JohnnoSE23

Fruitful Week of Boxing – Bad Apples, Potential Banana skin, Sour Grapes, A Durian card and a couple of Peaches

Jarrell Miller should be preparing for a showdown against unified Heavyweight Champion Anthony Joshua in the ‘Big Apple’ but instead he has become another drug cheating ‘Bad Apple’.

The 300lb ‘Big Baby’ submitted a dirty piss and blood sample to the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association (Vada) not once, not twice but three times. Miller tested positive for GW1516 (High endurance), HGH (muscle rebuilding and reducing) & EPO (Enhances exercise performance) with the last one being the most concerning as it can only be injected.

Subsequently, Miller’s New York State Athletic Commission license cannot be revoked because it has expired but they can of course refuse him a new license. The ridiculous loophole could mean Miller escapes a lengthy ban and could apply for a license from another commission although due to the publicity of the scandal you would think it would be impossible.

Social media has been in a frenzy with some hilarious pictures and videos that have surfaced over this past week mocking the American following his failed drug tests but there is a serious issue here that needs to be addressed. The fact that Miller would have weighed-in 70lbs (5 stone) heavier than Joshua come fight night with the added advantage of Performance Enhancing Drugs (PEDs) in his system the result could of have had a catastrophic conclusion.

Boxing is also known as the “hurt business” for good reason but with the addition of PEDs it could become the “killing business”. You play most sports; you don’t play boxing. The solution for such blatant cheating can only be a life suspension – wishful thinking I know – but considering the possible consequences, would that not be man slaughter?

With Miller now out of the picture, attentions quickly turned to who will replace the fraud? Luis Ortiz – another drug cheat – was the first to be identified by fans but the Cuban lefty turned down the offer of $5m and a shot at 3-world titles, calling it a “low-blow” offer. Prior to the initial offer ‘King Kong’ issued this statement, “I’ll fight you for just about any money you offer me so if you can’t work out the Miller fight, I’m here and ready.” It’s quite clear that the 40-year-old (cough, cough) was never interested in the first place.

The three frontrunners have now been identified as American-based Adam Kownacki of Poland, Mexican-American Andy Ruiz Jr and former Cruiserweight Michael Hunter. The real-life looking ‘Big Baby’ Kownacki would be the ideal candidate considering his style which is very similar to Miller, but Ruiz Jr is also a come forward fighter but has more hand speed, both would be tailor made for Joshua.

Hunter on the other hand could be a potential ‘banana skin’. The 30-year-old has only ever lost once which was against Cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk. The Californian had an excellent 2018 with credible victories over Iago Kiladze, Martin Bakole and Alexander Ustinov. AJ has struggled against smaller fighters and Hunter comes in at 6’2” plus he is a well-crafted and tricky opponent that could cause problems.

In the Welterweight division Amir Khan lost to WBO champ and pound-for-pound supreme Terrence Crawford by TKO in the sixth following a very low-blow. Khan felt that he was unable to continue after a shot in the ‘grapes’ although replays suggested otherwise, citing a public reaction that the Bolton-fighter quit.

Referee David Fields allowed Khan time to recover from the blow, but Khan decided he was unable to continue. Speaking in a post-fight interview Khan said David Fields told him he has 5 minutes but then immediately contradicted himself when asked why you didn’t take the full five, Khan replied, “I didn’t know I had 5 minutes to be honest with you”.

Since the defeat many pundits and fans have wondered if Khan quit or was even caught in the goonies for that matter. Kell Brook went on record saying that he thought Khan quit, his Sheffield rival said, “He just looked for a way out, he was getting beat in every department.” Khan dismissed the quit claims as ‘sour grapes’.

After almost a week’s reflection here’s an analogy that may help with the quit claims;

When you go to the boozer with your mates, there is always one that will keep going until the drink inevitably floors him (Khan against Canelo & Garcia) but this one night he decides he’s had enough even before you go “out, out”. He blames it on a dodgy onion bhaji from the curry house earlier (low blow) but you allow for it because of his previous history. Trouble is, he is also the feller that dishes out stick to everybody else when they jack it in early. He also took it too far when one of the squad drunk himself into an oblivion even though we could clearly see – excuse the pun – that he was in no fit state to continue (Brook against Spence).

So, do we give him a pass because of his previous history, or does he deserve to be ridiculed? This loss will not define Khan’s career and nor should it, but the quit banter should continue until it’s run its course.

Moving onto the ‘Durian card’ on Saturday night at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, South-East London. If you have never heard of a durian it’s probably because it can only be found in Southeast Asia – why a durian – well because of its distinctive strong odour that smells like anus which pretty much sums up another sh*t Matchroom card. This is slowly becoming a common feature on these shores.

At least the beautifully timed liver shot on Lucas Browne from David Allen in the third-round of the headline act and the polished display from lightweight Joe Cordina gave the show some substance. Other than that, don’t waste any time on YouTube recapping on a ‘Durian card’.

News of Joe Joyce and Daniel Dubois agreeing terms to fight for the vacant British heavyweight title which was ordered by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) is music to many boxing fans ears. A date and location are still to be determined but with Joyce signing with BT Sport and Frank Warren this week these sorts of negotiations should be ironed out without too much of a fuss.

Sticking with Queensbury Promotions and the other top prospect in their stable, Anthony Yarde is close to agreeing terms with WBO light-heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev for a showdown in Russia. If this fight can also be completed, then we really do have a ‘Couple of Peaches’ this year!

Seconds out…

Don’t forget to listen-in to the Talkin Boxing with Billy C Show this Sunday, there’s a big announcement this Weekend so please subscribe and hit that like button. Also don’t forget to follow me on Twitter@JohnnoSE23

The Lineal Heavyweight Championship Timeline ‘A Loss of Credibility & A Period of Uncertainty’ from ‘1990-2016’

“The mission I set out on in the beginning – to become heavyweight champion of the world, undisputed, lineal champion – you could say that mission is complete.”

That quote by Lennox Lewis not only summed up his brilliant career but nicely concludes the journey of this six-piece timeline from 1885 to 2016. Before the official end but by no means the definitive ending lets jump all the way back to 1990 when Evander Holyfield dethroned Buster Douglas to collect the lineal title.

It wasn’t until April of 1991 that Holyfield made his first defense and it was in a fight billed as a “Battle for the Ages” against 42-year-old George Forman who had returned to the ring in 1987 after a ten-year lay-off. To many people’s surprise Foreman managed to last the full twelve and even knocked the champ off balance in the seventh but Holyfield outpointed his much older challenger.

Everyone in world boxing wanted to see one fight and that of course was Holyfield verses Mike Tyson. The fight was initially signed in November 1991, but the colossus bout was first delayed due to Tyson getting injured before the former champ was eventually sentenced to six years in prison for rape. The next logical opponent for Holyfield was WBO champion Francesco Damiani, but that fight was scrapped due to the Italian picking up an injury. In the end Holyfield stopped Bert Cooper in seven-rounds after receiving his first ever standing eight-count.

In 1992, Holyfield defeated former lineal champion Larry Holmes by unanimous decision before agreeing to fight the 1988 Olympic silver medallist Riddick Bowe on November 13. It was a gruelling fight that Bowe won by unanimous decision in Las Vegas, Nevada, the tenth-round in particular was one for the ages.

Bowe was now the new undisputed – discounting the WBO version – and linear heavyweight champion. The first defense of his titles was supposed to be against Olympic rival Lennox Lewis who had just stopped Donovan ‘Razor’ Ruddock in two-rounds. All four originally agreed to fight the winners from each bout but after a dispute over financial splits – sound familiar? – Bowe famously held a press conference to announce that he will relinquish the WBC title and threw it in the dustbin.

Riddick Bowe famously throws the WBC title in the bin after a disagreement about financial splits with Lennox Lewis.

Although Bowe was no longer the WBC champ, he was of course still considered the linear. He successfully defended his titles in 1993 with two knockout victories over Michael Dokes and Jessie Ferguson. Almost a year to the day on November 6, Bowe and Holyfield signed for their rematch to take place in Caesars Palace, Las Vegas. Holyfield won by majority decision, but the fight was more famously remembered for when parachutist James “Fan Man” Miller landed in the ring during the fight.

Holyfield became the third man in heavyweight history to regain the lineal title after securing revenge against Bowe. In his first defence in April 1994, he took on another undefeated fighter Michael Moorer, who was also a former WBO light-heavyweight and heavyweight champion. Holyfield knocked down Moorer in the second-round, but the challenger recovered well to become the first-ever southpaw heavyweight champion winning by a majority decision.

By November 1994, the lineal title changed hands once again when ‘Double M’ lost his unbeaten record to the now 45-year-old George Forman by a tenth-round knockout. Moorer was ahead on all three judges’ scorecards until he was caught by a short right-hand that knocked him down for the ten-count. Forman became the oldest fighter ever to win the world heavyweight title and the fourth to regain it.

George Foreman became the oldest fighter ever to win the World Heavyweight Championship when he knocked out Michael Moorer who was 19 years his junior, which was also a first.

Foreman’s second reign was an fantastic achievement but the fact that he decided to fight low-ranked opponents rather then top contenders showed flaws within the linear timeline. The new champion was stripped of the WBA title before he could defend it because he refused to fight their number one contender Tony Tucker. Instead Foreman fought the IBF mandatory, German Axel Schulz which he won dubiously on points. The IBF ordered an immediate rematch in Germany but Foreman once again refused to cave in to yet another governing bodies demands so was stripped of his remaining title.

Without a recognised version of heavyweight gold Foreman was still considered the lineal heavyweight champion. In 1996, he defeated Crawford Grimsley in Tokyo on points before winning a close decision in a tough encounter against Lou Savarese in 1997.

While Big George’s second reign began to discredit the ‘linage legacy’ there were credible champions holding world titles; Holyfield was the new unified champion holding the WBA & IBF versions following an eleventh-round stoppage against a returning Mike Tyson in 1996 before the famous ‘Bite Fight’ in 1997, while two Brit’s Lewis and Herbie Hide held the WBC and WBO titles respectively. At the ripe age of 48-years-old Foreman agreed to face Shannon Briggs in an “eliminator bout” for the WBC strap. Briggs outpointed Foreman in a controversial majority decision to become recognised as the new lineal champion.

On March 28, 1998, Lewis defeated Briggs by a technical knockout in the fifth-round to retain his WBC title and claim the lineal championship giving its standing credibility once again. Following a unanimous decision victory against the awkward Zeljko Mavrovic, Lewis and Holyfield battled out a controversial draw in New York City in 1999.

The first Lennox Lewis & Evander Holyfield fight didn’t quite live up to expectations, but the second encounter was much more entertaining

Due to the contentious decision in the first fight it was inevitable that a rematch would follow to decide who would be considered the undisputed heavyweight champion. Sequels are rarely as good as the first but in the case of Lewis verse Holyfield their rematch was a lot more entertaining. The British-Canadian showed his class by outpointing Holyfield unanimously in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Lewis reigned supreme by the turn of the millennium with wins over Michael Grant, Francois Botha and David Tua, albeit without the WBA title that he was stripped of following the Holyfield victory which was just another sanctioning body flexing its ego. By 2001, the boxing fan and his mother were shouting from the rooftops for Lewis and Tyson to finally share a ring but before that fight could happen Lewis had to deal with Hasim Rahman in Brakpan, South Africa. In a shock result it was Rahman that knocked out Lewis in five-rounds to collect all the marbles. Seven months later Lewis secured revenge with a fourth-round knockout of Rahman to become the fifth man in heavyweight history to regain the lineal title.

Finally, to everyone’s delight Lewis and Tyson took to the ring on June 8, 2002 at The Pyramid in Memphis, Tennessee. In the highest-grossing event in pay-per-view history Lewis knocked out Tyson in the eighth-round to cement his legacy as one of the greatest heavyweights of not only his era but of all time.

Lennox Lewis cements his legacy after his eighth-round knockout of Mike Tyson in 2002

A year later at the Staples Centre, Los Angeles, Lewis fought his last professional bout against Ukrainian Vitali Klitschko. Although, behind on the score cards at the time of the stoppage due to a severe cut Lewis was awarded the victory by technical knockout. Lennox Lewis announced his retirement in February 2004 creating another break in the lineal championship timeline.

Many boxing fans consider the lineal heavyweight title as vacant from the point that Lewis decided to hang up his gloves, but the historic title was in fact put on the line when younger brother of Vitali Klitschko, Wladimir fought Uzbekistani Ruslan Chagaev in 2009. The then unified heavyweight champ Klitschko beat Chagaev into submission in Gelsenkirchen, Germany.

Know body can discredit Wladimir of his lineal status after a decade of heavyweight domination. The Ukrainian was a formidable force for six-years defeating the top contenders of his generation such as; Eddie Chambers, Samuel Peter, David Haye, Jean-Marc Mormeck, Tony Thompson, Alexander Povetkin, Kubrat Pulev and Bryant Jennings as well as others.

It wasn’t until November 28, 2015 that Klitschko was finally defeated by Britain’s Tyson Fury in Dusseldorf, Germany. In an unexciting and uneventful clash of styles Fury outthought and outwitted the former champion to become unified and lineal heavyweight champion by unanimous decision.

Tyson Fury dethrones the King of the division Wladimir Klitschko in November 2015

Following months of failed negotiations for a rematch, a failed drugs test, relinquishment of the titles he had won and in the end retirement from boxing, the lineal championship title became vacant in 2016.

Even though Fury has since come out of retirement and claimed to be still the lineal heavyweight champion history suggests otherwise. None of the former champions from yesteryear ever returned as champion but merely the challenger.

When James Jefferies buckled under public demand to return to the ring against champion Jack Johnson, we did not ignore the five-year gap following Jeffries retirement in 1905. That would discredit a chunk of Johnson’s reign and the champions before him. The same goes for when Muhammed Ali was unfairly stripped of his title after refusing to induct himself into the armed forces for the Vietnam War. Both came back as challengers to the throne, never a champion.

Some say the lineal title can only be lost in the ring, hence “the man that beat the man” but unfortunately that is unrealistic if you take into consideration the former champions who retired undefeated. A new man will always rise to the top eventually, whether that man will be Fury again, Anthony Joshua or Deontay Wilder remains to be seen. The only way to clear up that argument is quite simple, they need to fight eachother.

The other problem with Fury’s claim is the acceptance of the failed drugs test, which has never happened in the history of the lineal title’s existence or at least been proven. To vacate and be stripped of your titles because you decide to retire is one thing but to fail a drugs test is nothing short of scandalous. Some suggest that there are certain politics involved and the case isn’t as open as shut as some may think, but Fury’s acknowledgment and acceptance of the ban would make even his most loyal fan question that decision.

However you want to perceive the current status of this historic title is your personal opinion, but my conclusion is the lineal championship will continue to remain vacant until we have an undisputed heavyweight champion once again. Let’s just hope that the current heavyweights can follow in the same footsteps as the linear greats.

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“Take up the mantle of change. For this is your time.”

In the summer of 2016 British and Irish boxing had an unprecedented 13 recognised world champions, spanning across 10 different weight classes.

Within the last couple of years, we have managed to maintain double figures across 9 weight classes but since November 2018 there has been worrying decline to just 6. As we head into the next couple of weeks where two of our former world champions Anthony Crolla and Amir Khan attempt to defy the odds against the two-best pound for pounders in the world today, I can’t help but wonder if we will ever reach such dizzy heights again?

There is no doubt that the recent retirements of David Haye, Tony Bellew, James DeGale and George Groves have impacted on our recent fall from grace so to quote Sir Winston Churchill, who has the ability to “Take up the mantle of change. For this is your time.”

Scheduled Challengers…

To kickstart our resurgence we have two very realistic chances of world championship glory starting with a 24-year-old that was born in Ghana but made in Britain, Isaac Dogboe. The former WBO Super-Bantamweight champion is on a revenge mission against Emanuel Navarrete on May 11 at the Convention Centre in Arizona, USA. If the talented youngster has prepared correctly, he should have more than enough quality to produce the goods and reclaim the title he lost last year.

Exactly one week later in Glasgow, Scotland another talented youngster gets his first crack at a world title in the semi-final of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS). Super-Lightweight Josh Taylor will be rubbing shoulders with our homegrown elite in the future but first he will need to capture the IBF strap from undefeated Belarusian Ivan Baranchyk. Come the end of May we should have 2 more world champions.

On June 15 at the First Direct Arena in Leeds, England, IBF Featherweight champion Josh Warrington faces mandatory challenger Kid Galahad. The ‘Leeds Warrior’ will unusually be the favourite to prevail, whether that will make any difference remains to be seen. Either way Britain will still have a World Champion after this domestic dust-up.

Except for Crolla and Khan we have no more Brits currently scheduled to challenge for world honours so with nothing else but speculation and rumours, the question remains who else can stake their claim.

Genuine Challengers…

This week news circulated that Light-Heavyweight Anthony Yarde had agreed terms to fight WBO champion Sergey Kovalev this summer in Russia, according to Top Rank promoter Bob Arum. There has been no official announcement but with the continued speculation in recent months this fight looks like it could happen. With the Russian approaching the end of his career and Yarde heading into his prime this could be perfect timing for ‘The Beast’. His chances are realistic even though he is stepping into uncharted territory.

Former WBO Middleweight Champion Billy Joe Saunders is a genuine world champion without a title due to his own stupidity after failing a drugs test and being subsequently banned for 6-months. Following his suspension being lifted, Saunders has now moved up to the 168lb division and will fight Serbian Shefat Isufi on May 18 at Stevenage’s Lamex Stadium. Victory will hand Saunders the interim WBO Super-Middleweight title due to Gilberto Ramirez moving up to Light-Heavyweight. If the Mexican decides to remain at in the 175lb division then the interim title would become full champion.

Sticking with the 168lb division Chris Eubank Jr who recently captured the lesser IBO title when he defeated James DeGale in February must fancy his chances of picking up the more recognised title. Not to discredit the current IBF and WBC title holders, Caleb Plant and Anthony Dirrell but Junior is more than capable of dethroning either champion if he could produce a similar performance to the one, he put in against Degale. Who knows maybe Eubank Jr and Saunders could cross paths once again in a unification come the end of the year?

Northern Ireland’s Ryan Burnett had the misfortune of losing for the first time in his career after succumbing to an unfortunate injury in the WBSS quarter-final against Nonito Donaire which cost him the WBA strap. The classy Bantamweight should be preparing for a unification fight against the WBO king Zolani Tete, instead he is in recovery and searching for a way back in amongst the elite of the division. Rather than wait for the WBSS to be completed, Team-Burnett should be looking at negotiating with WBC champion Nordine Oubaali? The 26-year-old has the tools necessary to defeat the Frenchman which in turn could put himself in position to fight the WBSS winner come 2020.

Possible Challengers…

When browsing through all the current world champions across 17 weight classes and to not disrespect any of the current holders there are clear targets our British and Irish boxers must have identified.

For instance, I’m sure Eddie Hearn would be keen to get his top 2 Light-Middleweights Kell Brook and Liam Smith a shot at Tony Harrison’s WBC title. Although, it does look like Jermell Charlo will get first dibs for his chance to recapture the belt he lost in a rematch but Brook and Smith would still fancy their chances against either.

In the glamour division Shawn Porter is the current WBC champion but the likes of Khan and Brook – if he came back down to 147 – would definitely be confident of picking up a victory against the durable American.

At Lightweight Richard Commey holds the IBF version and would clearly have his card marked by our experienced former world champions Ricky Burns and Lee Selby. If any of those 2 could successfully secure a fight with Ghanaian Commey they wouldn’t only be in with decent shot of victory but they could also set-up a huge payday against the kings of the division Vasyl Lomachenko and Mikey Garcia, just like their fellow Brit Crolla.

While there are plenty of options for our homegrown fighters the likelihood of any of these fights coming to fruition is only hopeful at best. We do still need our current champions to hold onto their straps with the ambition of unifying. The target of matching or surpassing the class of 2016 come the end of this year is hardly unlikely but our chances of reaching double figures once again is certainly possible. Who knows maybe Crolla and Khan can achieve the impossible dream but if we’re being honest, a chance will be a fine thing.

Seconds out…

Fitzgerald-Fowler: A New Groves-DeGale Rivalry?

While watching an excellent fight between two unbeaten prospects in Scott Fitzgerald and Anthony Fowler at the M&S Echo Arena in Liverpool, England on Saturday night, I couldn’t help but be reminded of when George Groves met James DeGale in 2011.

Going into the fight Fowler was (9-0, 8KOs) with the highly decorated amateur career and the favorite to prevail, just like Olympic gold medalist DeGale who was (10-0, 8KOs). Groves had a record of (12-0, 10KOs) and was the slight underdog, a lot like Fitzgerald (12-0, 9KOs).

Groves and DeGale had a rivalry that stretched back to the amateurs with a clear disliking for one other, exactly like Fitzgerald and Fowler. While one was fought at Super-Middleweight and the other at Light-Middleweight, both were close technical affairs that were eagerly anticipated on the domestic scene. The difference was the Groves points victory over DeGale was over shadowed with controversy while Fitzgerald’s tenth-round knockdown of Fowler cemented his win.

Like 8-years ago many fans and pundits have expressed their desire to see a rematch especially considering how close the fight was leading up to the knock down in the last round. If Fowler had managed to stay on his feet than it would have been the Liverpudlian who would have had his hand risen by referee Steve Gray if you take the judges’ scorecards into consideration of 94-95 twice in Fitzgerald’s favor and 96-94 in Fowler’s.

One thing missing from this integrin match-up was the British title which is currently held by the third man in the domestic 154lb triangle Ted Cheeseman. The British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) did originally sanction Cheesman vs Fowler but following his defeat the stewards have withdrawn ‘The Machine’ and installed Fitzgerald. Both camps have until April 10 to agree terms.

If the Preston fighter decides not to challenge for the beautiful Londsdale belt than a rematch with Fowler would create even more excitement. Considering the quality of the fight between two guys that are only at the early stages of their pro careers a second bout could easily be a headliner of an event in the summer.

Speaking of headliners, Liam Smith’s comprehensive victory over Sam Eggington was no surprise. ‘Beefy’ demonstrated once again why he is currently the only fighter in the 11st division that could potentially dethrone Kell Brook for the No.1 slot in Britain. Trainer Joe Gallagher signalled his desire to target unbeaten EBU European champion Sergio Garcia before attempting to mix it with the worlds elite once again.

While Eggington should probably consider stepping back down to the Welterweight division were his power is clearly more effective. ‘The Savage’ is still only 25-years-old and has plenty of time on his side to reserect himself on the domestic and possibly European scene at 147lbs.

Also on the Liverpool bill there was a fight to sink your teeth into, quite literally between Kash Ali and David Price. Ali was disqualified for persistent biting after Big Pricey landed a big shot in the fifth-round that clearly hurt his Birmingham opponent.

After the Liverpool giant’s 24th victory he called for a showdown against the winner of Dave Allen and Lucas Brown who face-off on April 20 at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London. There is of course the option of taking on the winner of Dereck Chisora or Senad Gashi who also feature on the same bill.

To conclude, the next question would be will Fitzgerald and Fowler be able to fulfill their potential and follow in the footsteps of Groves and DeGale? Let’s hope that a rematch will follow or at least happen sometime down the line, unlike their predecessors. Of course, only time will tell but I’m sure a certain Mr Cheeseman will have something to say about where they’re futures will end up. One thing is for sure, the British Light-Middleweight division has become a whole lot more exciting and it will be fun watching how each fighter develops.

Seconds out….

Liverpool Card set to Rescue Matchroom Boxing from the Doubters

Matchroom Boxing has been rightly criticized in recent months for their below average fight cards in Britain but the Saturday night show at the M&S Echo Arena in Liverpool, England has the potential to keep the doubters quiet and the broadcasters at Sky Sports relatively happy, for a while at least.

After all the success in the last few years and endless recognition for playing their part in the British Boxing boom, it’s been a poor start to the year by their standards. I’m sure Eddie Hearn would have to admit that the quality has slipped since the launch of DAZN in America.

Matchroom Boxing’s stand-out show so far was last Weekend at the Copper Box Arena which was headlined by WBC Flyweight champion Charlie Edwards alongside a strong London association of fighters including the new British champions in Cruiserweight Lawrence Okolie and Light-Heavyweight Joshua Buatsi.

Matchroom clearly over shadowed the Queensbury Promotions night over on BT Sport which incidentally was on at the same time, even though Frank Warren went on record at the start of the year stating that these kinds of clashes would not happen. The only silver lining is at least they weren’t pay-per-view. With so many events scheduled this calendar year, it’s inevitable that fans will be torn between shows.

Getting back to this Weekends action, Matchroom’s new signing Liam Smith (26-2-1, 14KOs) will headline against Sam Eggington (24-5, 15KOs) alongside a strong Merseyside connection with every fight involving a Liverpudlian. This should add a bit spice to the atmosphere with clear fan favorites to support.

Starting with the main event, Light Middleweight Smith is coming off the back of a defeat to Mexican sensation Jaime Munguia in the summer of last year. The 30-year-old makes his long-awaited home return after almost a three-year absence. ‘Beefy’ is the former WBO champion at 154lbs and has only ever failed against the world’s elite but has excelled at domestic level.

Sandwiched in-between his defeats to Canelo and Munguia, Smith overcame Liam Williams twice winning the first inside nine-rounds due to a serious cut and the second by majority decision. With a combined opponent record of (396-383-2) the British No.2 will be the overwhelming favorite against his younger and tough Brummie opponent.

Eggington is a former EBU European Welterweight champion who featured in two prize-fighter tournaments early in his career before finding his feet in the professional ranks. ‘The Savage’ has claimed some decent scalps throughout his career with excellent wins over Frankie Gavin, Glenn Foot and Ceferino Rodrigue but his eighth-round knockout of a faded Paulie Malignaggi is a clear highlight so far.

Since moving up in weight Eggington has won 3 out of 4 but holds a combined opponent record of (355-271-25) which indicates the number of guys he has fought with winning records.

This probably shouldn’t be a headliner, but it is a decent fight, nevertheless. Smith has shared the ring with some real quality operators and has all the fundamentals necessary to beat Eggington convincing although, he is five-years his senior so youth may play a part. Eggington’s come forward style will suite Smith if he picks his shots wisely and keeps him on the backfoot.

In Eggington’s last defeat against a natural Light-Middleweight Hassan Mwakiny he was stopped in the second-round. Eggington will stand toe-to-toe and take unnecessary shots when in trouble. His instinct is not to clinch, get out of danger or even cover up for that matter therefore Smith will be too strong and clever for Eggington. I’m going with a mid-round stoppage, possibly a liver shot by Smith.

There is a tasty domestic encounter on the undercard also in the 154lb division between two unbeaten and untested fighters Anthony Fowler (9-0) and Scott Fitzgerald (12-0). Whoever gets the win will be in line for a shot at the British title against Ted Cheeseman so there is a lot at stake. It’s great that both have decided to take this fight so early in their careers, a gamble that both will learn more from in this one fight alone. I’m going for a Fowler victory.

The once upon a time darling of Matchroom boxing David Price (23-6, 19KOs) makes his long-awaited return to the Echo Arena after almost a six-year absence. The last time big Pricey made his walk to the ring in the same venue was on July 6, 2013, in the rematch against Tony Thompson. The 6’ 8” giant was originally tipped for stardom in the Heavyweight division at that point but as we all know those plans never materialized.

Price’s opponent is a 27-year-old unbeaten but untested Heavyweight Kash Ali (15-0, 7KOs) from Birmingham. I have a feeling this could be the last time we see Price in a boxing ring if he was to lose. Personally, I hope he gets the win and decides to call it a day on a positive note in front of his beloved Liverpudlians, rather than become a stepping stone for our young British prospects.

The last time David Price fought at the Echo Arena it ended in disaster. Will there be a repeat against Kash Ali?

In the 140lb division EBU European champion Joe Hughes (17-3-1, 7KOs) defends his title against the British champion Robbie Davies Jnr (17-1, 12KOs) in another excellent domestic tear-up. In the same division Commonwealth champion Phillip Bowes (19-3, 3KOs) defends his strap against Tom Farrell (16-1, 5KOs).

Also, on the card is Cruiserweight Craig Glover (9-1, 8KOs), undefeated Jr Welterweight Gerard Carroll (9-0, 0KOs), Bantamweight Paul Butler (27-1, 14KOs), Jr Lightweight Natasha Jonas (6-1, 5KOs) and debutant Thomas Whittaker Hart.

Enjoy the fights ladies and gents & Don’t forget to listen-in to the Talkin’ Boxing with Billy C Show this Sunday, you can also follow me on Twitter@JohnnoSE23

The Lineal Heavyweight Championship Timeline ‘The Rise of Tyson and the Brainless Governing Bodies’ from 1979-1990

“My power is discombobulating devastating. I could feel his muscle tissues collapse under my force. It’s ludicrous these mortals even attempt to enter my realm.”

Those famous words were uttered by one of the most feared and ruthless heavyweights gloved boxing had ever seen in its 133-year existence. ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson was an intimidating figure with destructive power that dominated the late eighties.

Before the rise of Tyson, heavyweight boxing had a difficult 16-months following the retirement of Muhammed Ali with no recognized world number one and the lineal title rightfully vacant. It was also the first time since 1970 that the WBC and WBA world titles were separated.

The WBA waited for the official retirement announcement from Ali before ordering a fight between two undefeated fighters in John Tate and South African Gerrie Coetzee which the American won by unanimous decision.

While the WBC kicked off the first brainless act in 1978 when they stripped Leon Spinks for agreeing to have a rematch with Ali rather than face their number one contender Ken Norton. Controversially they awarded Norton their title for his victory over Jimmy Young the year before. In Norton’s first defense he lost against undefeated and number one contender Larry Holmes by split decision in a classic encounter.

Although there were effectively two world champions at the same time during the next four years, it was the WBC title that intertwined with the Lineal championship.

Holmes retained his title against Alfredo Evangelista in 1978 and Ossie Ocasio in 1979 by knockout before hard fought wins over Mike Weaver and Earnie Shavers, both were stopped late after putting the champ down.

At the turn of the new decade, ‘The Easton Assassin’ recorded three more knockout victories over Lorenzo Zanon, Leroy Jones, and Scott LeDoux before Muhammad Ali came out of retirement in an attempt of becoming a four-time heavyweight world champion.

On October 2, 1980, Holmes won every round of a one-sided dominant display before Angelo Dundee pulled out the ‘Greatest of all Time’ in the tenth-round. After the fight the new lineal world champion emotionally said, “I fought one of the baddest heavyweights in the world today, and you cannot take credit from him.”

Larry Holmes defeats Muhammed Ali to become the new Lineal Heavyweight Champion

Even though Larry Holmes had beaten a clearly faded Muhammed Ali to be identified as the lineal champ, there was no doubt that he was now the numero uno of the division, irrespective of Mike Weaver collecting the WBA title from Tate a few months earlier.

Holmes continued to dominate the division for the next few years with eight consecutive victories, four by stoppage against top contenders like Trevor Berbick, Leon Spinks, Gerry Cooney, Randell Cobb and Tim Witherspoon from 1980 to 1983.

After the fifth-round stoppage of Scott Frank in September 1983, the WBC flexed their muscles by not sanctioning Holmes’ next fight against Mavis Frazier – son of Joe Frazier – instead they ordered their number one contender Greg Paige. Following Holmes first-round knockout of Frazier he decided to relinquish the WBC championship and accepted recognition as the first World Heavyweight Champion by the newly formed International Boxing Federation (IBF).

From 1984 to May 1985 Holmes clocked up three more title defenses against James Smith, David Bey and Carl Williams before stepping into the ring with the hope of equaling Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 career record against Michael Spinks, the brother of Leon Spinks. On September 21, 1985 Holmes missed the opportunity to make history losing by a contentious unanimous decision to ‘Jinx’ who became the second fighter after Bob Fitzsimmons to win both light heavyweight and heavyweight titles.

History makers – Holmes v Spinks

In 1986, all three major governing bodies agreed to allow their fighters to participate in a heavyweight unification series which was created by Don King and HBO Sports president Seth Abraham, with the hope of crowning an undisputed champion. The rematch between Holmes and Spinks was added to the series which Spinks won by a fifteen-round split decision on April 19.

Spinks retained the Lineal and IBF titles with a knockout win over Norwegian Steffan Tangstead in four-rounds but was later stripped by the IBF half way through the tournament because he chose to fight Gerry Cooney instead of his mandatory, Tony Tucker. While, Spinks retained his lineal status with a fifth-round knockout of Cooney there was a young superstar that was emerging from the series.

Mike Tyson was only 20-years-old with a record of 27 wins and 25 knockouts before he brutally destroyed Trevor Berbick in two-rounds to collect the WBC title in 1986, becoming the youngest heavyweight champion in history. Next up for Tyson was WBA champion James Smith who managed to take the young starlet the entire distance using grappling tactics but lost by unanimous decision in 1987.

Later that year Tyson, now a unified champion defended his titles with a sixth-round stoppage over Pinklon Thomas before becoming the first ever heavyweight to hold all three major titles when he collected the IBF strap with a unanimous decision victory over Tony Tucker in the series final, dubbed ‘The Ultimate’.

Rather than rest on his laurels and wait for Spinks to cave in to public demand to identify the true champion ‘Iron’ Mike knocked out Tyrell Biggs in seven, Larry Holmes in four and Tony Tubbs in two-rounds.

Finally, on June 27, 1988, Tyson faced Michael Spinks for the right to become the official number one heavyweight in the world. Tyson had plenty of his opponents already beaten before they even entered the ring, but none looked as terrified as Spinks did that night in Atlantic City. Tyson finished the job in just 91 seconds to retain the WBC, WBA, IBF and become the new Lineal world heavyweight champion.

Tyson becomes Lineal World Heavyweight Champion after a first-round knockout of Michael Spinks

Tyson defended his titles twice in 1989, a fifth-round stoppage over Frank Bruno and a first-round destruction of Carl Williams seemed to secure his status as the unstoppable force. While Tyson was still knocking people out a brand-new boxing organization was created that same year. The World Boxing Organization (WBO) became the fourth governing body awarding Italian Francesco Damiani their heavyweight title after a third-round knockout victory over Johnny DuPlooy.

By the start of the new decade the champ’s personal life was beginning to fall into disarray but in what should have still been a standard defense against Buster Douglas turned into one of the biggest upsets in boxing history. On February 11, 1990 in Tokyo, Japan, James ‘Buster’ Douglas survived an eighth-round knockdown to knockout the ‘Baddest man on the planet’ in the tenth to become the new heavyweight champion but not quite undisputed.

In the aftermath of the victory the IBF recognized Douglas immediately as their champion, but the WBA and WBC refused to do so following a protest from Tyson for the length of the referees ten count in the eighth-round knockdown. After Tyson officially withdrew his appeal Douglas was finally recognized as the undisputed champion.

However, Douglas’ reign was short lived when in his first defense against the former undisputed cruiserweight champion Evander Holyfield – who was promised a title shot against Tyson before the Douglas fight – ended in a third-round knockout loss in October 1990. There was a new heavyweight king in town by the start of the nineties and it was the 31st Lineal Heavyweight Champion Evander ‘The Real Deal’ Holyfield.

Check out the next installment of The Lineal Heavyweight Championship Timeline from 1990-2016. Don’t forget to listen-in to the Talkin Boxing with Billy C Show and follow me on Twitter@JohnnoSE23

The Lineal Heavyweight Championship Timeline ‘A Golden Era’ from 1967-1979

“What we saw in Quezon City, capital of the Philippines, in midweek represented a shining flood of that purity. To say so is not to claim that the third and last meeting of Joe Frazier and Muhammed Ali would leave all who witnessed it ready to embrace the values of the prize-ring. Those 40-odd minutes of unremitting violence must have had the opposite effect on many. They would recoil from the thought that two men who were formidable in so many ways should seek to express themselves through an exchange of suffering, and especially they would wince at the sight of Frazier, his marvellous body reduced to a dilapidated, lurching vehicle for his unyielding will, reeling blindly in the murderous crossfire of the world champion’s final assaults.”

That beautifully crafted piece of writing described the extraordinary spectacle of the ‘Thrilla in Manila’ by The Guardian’s greatest sports observer, Hugh McIlvanney, who we sadly lost this year. Before we arrive to that unrivalled heavyweight duel, we must first straighten out any confusion that was left behind following Muhammed Ali’s exile from boxing in 1967 for draft evasion.

As mentioned in previous articles before there were breaks in the linear timeline but what makes this hiatus, so scandalous is Muhammad Ali was stripped because of his views away from the ring and not because he was calling it a day due to father-time. Robbing us of his prime years.

Both boxing governing bodies decided to remove Ali as their recognized heavyweight champion which effectively meant that Ali was no longer the Lineal Champion.

The WBA arranged an eight-man elimination tournament which included all the top contenders to the throne, except for Joe Frazier who turned down the opportunity.

On August 5, 1967, Jimmy Ellis (23-5, 11KOs), beat Leotis Martin (24-1, 14KOs) by a ninth-round knockout while Thad Spencer (31-5, 14KOs) outpointed Ernie Terrell (39-5,18KOs) on the same card in Houston, Texas.

Hard hitting Argentine Oscar Bonavena (30-3, 25 KO’s) traveled to Frankfurt and outpointed German Karl Mildenburger (52-3-3, 19KOs) before Jerry Quarry (24-1-4, 14KOs) won a close split decision against Floyd Patterson (46-5-1, 35KOs) in Los Angeles, California.

In Louisville, Kentucky, it was the home fighter Jimmy Ellis that produced a career best performance to win a unanimous decision against Bonavena, while in the other semi-final Quarry beat Spencer by a twelfth-round stoppage. On April 27, 1968, Jimmy Ellis won the vacant WBA heavyweight title by majority decision over fellow American Quarry in Oakland, California.

The WBC stated they would only recognize a fight between New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC) champion ’Smokin’ Joe Frazier – won against Buster Mathis in 1968 – and a suitable contender for their world title to be put on the line.

Like when Floyd Patterson’s trainer Cus D’Amato tried to avoid Sony Liston in the early sixties, Angelo Dundee refused to entertain a unification bout between his fighter Jimmy Ellis and Joe Frazier, but like the decade before it was just a matter of time. It took 2-years before the fight was eventually signed with both heavyweight straps and the lineal title up for grabs. On February 16, 1970, ‘Smokin’ Joe became the 21st lineal heavyweight champion when he made light work of Ellis at Madison Square Garden. Dundee refused to let Ellis out for the fifth round following two knockdowns in the fourth.

Frazier puts Ellis down in the fourth-round with his trademark left hook to finally capture the lineal title

Although Frazier was considered as the official number one in the heavyweight division the imminent return of the former champion Muhammed Ali bought his status into disrepute. In his first defense Frazier stopped arguably one of the best Light Heavyweight’s in Bob Foster after just 2-rounds, while Ali returned with two wins against credible opponents Quarry and Bonavena.

Ali and Frazier set a date for their first encounter in Madison Square Garden on March 8, 1971, budded ‘Fight of the Century’. With all the marbles on the table and their undefeated records on the line it was Frazier that won a close unanimous decision after putting Ali down in a memorable last round with his trademark left hook.

Frazier made two more successful defenses against Terry Daniels and Ron Stander before agreeing to face a 24-year-old George Foreman who had a record of 37-0 and 34 knockouts on January 22, 1973 in Kingston, Jamaica. The ‘Sunshine Showdown’ lasted only two-rounds with Frazier being knocked down six-times in the second-round before referee Arthur Mercante put an end to the one-sided beat down.

Big George’s first defense was in Tokyo, Japan against Puerto Rican Jose Roman which only lasted 2-minutes. His next defense was on March 26, 1974 against Ken Norton in Caracas, Venezuela. Once again Foreman stopped the bout in ruthless fashion, a knockout in just two-rounds ended the ‘Caracas Caper’.

Muhammad Ali would be Foreman’s next opponent who had remarkably won 13 of his last 14 fights in a 3-year period since defeat to Frazier in 1971. The former champion’s only loss came against Foreman’s last opponent Norton by split decision, but he gained revenge 6-months later. On January 28, 1974 Ali evened the score with Frazier at Madison Square Garden by unanimous decision setting up a meeting with champion Foreman.

In Kinshasa, Zaire on October 30, 1974, in a fight dubbed as ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’, a 32-year-old Ali was on yet another mission to shock the world like he did 9-years earlier against Liston. While the media worried for Ali’s health, Ali adopted the “rope-a-dope”. A tactic used to tire out your opponent while taking punishment, which seemed ridiculous and dangerous considering Foreman’s punching power but ended up being genius move. Muhammed Ali became the second man in lineal heavyweight history to retain the title when he stopped Foreman in round 8.

Ali shocked the world again when he stopped Foreman in the eighth round in Zaire

After the heroics in Zaire, Ali defended his titles against Chuck Wepner, Ron Lyle and Joe Bugner before agreeing to a third and final meeting on October 1, 1975 against Frazier, famously known as ’The Thrilla in Manila’. In sweltering temperatures of 100 °F (38 °C) Ali and Frazier produced one of the greatest 14-rounds of heavyweight boxing you’ll ever see that at times defied belief. The fight was stopped when Frazier’s trainer, Eddie Futch pulled his fighter out before the final round, despite protests from Frazier.

Muhammed Ali retained the title for six more bouts until February 15, 1978, when he lost to 6-0-1 Olympic gold medalist Leon Spinks by split decision in Las Vegas. On September 15, 1978 in New Orleans, Louisiana at the age of 36-years-old Muhammad Ali became the first heavyweight champion to retain the lineal title for the third time. After the historic victory Ali, announced his retirement from boxing leaving the title vacant once again.

Check out the next installment of The Lineal Heavyweight Championship Timeline from 1979-1990. Don’t forget to listen-in to the Talkin Boxing with Billy C Show and follow me on Twitter@JohnnoSE23

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