UK Boxing: By Gerry Murray
Chisora Continues Winning Run with 3rd Round TKO Over Ondrej Pala
By: Gerry Murray - Ringside - November 30, 2013
Promoter Frank Warren had set his man Dereck Chisora a challenge ahead of last night’s clash with Ondrej Pala. Win in “sizzling style” and a huge fight would be delivered for the Finchley heavyweight in the first quarter of 2014. On paper, a third round stoppage of his Czech opponent appears to show “Del Boy” delivered on his end of the bargain, but not for the first time for the former World Title challenger, the victory didn’t come without raising some questions.
Pala, a replacement opponent, came to London’s Copperbox Arena with a respectable record of 32-3-0 with 22 stoppages. However, the general consensus was that early nights he’d suffered at the hands of Denis Boystov and Konstantin Airich suggested someone with the aggressive style of Chisora would eventually wear him down. Since losing the UK grudge match to David Haye by 5th round TKO in July 2012, a slimmed down and rejuvenated Chisora was on a run of three straight knock-outs against Avila, Scott and Gerber and appeared to be edging his way back up into top level contention. Despite the predictions of a one-sided affair, the short amount of action we did get were certainly competitive.
From the opening bell, Chisora unsurprisingly marched forward in an attempt to push his opponent backwards where he could begin to unload his trademark hooks at close range. The problem was that Chisora was lacking the bounce, lateral movement or any sign of a jab to accompany it. The result was that while he was having his moments of effective pressure, particularly with body shots that reddened Pala’s sides from very early on, he was having to take a fair share of punishment to get into range. The stand-out from the opening 3 minutes was a cute left hook from the Prague challenger as “Del Boy” came forward in a straight lines. It was a sign of things to come and while Dereck took the opening round, there were a few raised eyebrows as it was clear Pala hadn’t just come for a payday.
The second round delivered more of the same for Chisora. In the first meaningful exchange he attempted to land a big overhand right with little or no subtlety behind his work and a sharp left hook from his opponent landed first that had the Londoner clearly troubled. As he did in his September meeting with Gerber, Chisora was immediately on his toes and spent the next 30 seconds trying to dance away from Pala in an attempt to clear his head and avoid any further action. Chisora is many things, but a back-foot fighter is not one of them and Pala did manage to land a number of uppercuts and meaty body shots. The jog around the ring did its job though and while he’d clearly lost the round to level up the cards, Chisora did come back into things just before the bell and finally land the overhand right that had got him into trouble a couple of minutes earlier.
For not the first time in a British ring in recent weeks and certainly not the first time for Dereck Chisora, the stoppage when it came could be viewed as controversial. Both men had enjoyed moments in the 3rd, but the more telling blows were beginning to come from the Londoner. Right hooks to the body, right uppercuts as he sat on the Czech’s chest and then solid right hands over a leaky guard were starting to unsettle Pala. Two good, but seeming unspectacular shots landed mid-round from Chisora and before you knew it, the fight had been stopped with the visitor, back turned and slumped over the ring post.
Pala did turn in shock as the referee was waving the fight off, but even if he was unhurt he’ll have no one to blame but himself for giving the impression that he was in no state to continue. With his back to the referee and showing no signs of life for a couple of seconds, it certainly appeared from ringside he was out cold and only on his feet courtesy of the post that he was draped over. Chisora could count himself lucky to not have been disqualified for punching the back of his challenger’s head as he lay defenceless, but the immediate reaction from most was that referee Jan Christensen had made the right call in calling the fight off.
Chisora will be back in action at the same venue in February, however who’ll be in the opposite corner is as yet undecided. Frank Warren has won the purse bids for the Chisora v Price British Heavyweight Title fight which was recently ordered, but the smart money is on the Liverpudlian champion choosing a different route following back to back losses to Tony Thompson. A potential rematch with Tyson Fury was also raised, but with the controversial unbeaten Fury still maintaining he’s retiring from boxing following the 2nd cancellation of his domestic dust-up with David Haye, that match would not come without its issues either. Regardless of who he’s facing next year, if Warren delivers on his side of the promise and puts a name in against his man, Chisora will undoubtedly have to raise his game from the performance in which he admitted himself that he’d “drifted through.”
On the undercard, part time model and big time ticket seller Frank Buglioni stopped another Czech, Stepan Horvath in the 8th round. Buglioni was comfortably ahead on the cards when the fight eventually came to an end courtesy of two beautiful body-shots which led to Horvath’s corner throwing in the towel. Horvath had moved up from middleweight to take on Buglioni for the WBO European Super-Middleweight Title and found it difficult to get past the taller man’s effective jab and powerful straight right. Buglioni, who showed clear improvements from earlier bouts has now won 8 of his 11 outings within the distance, but still has work to do, particularly learning to get out of the way of the right hand he’s regularly tagged with. The challenge for his team will be allowing him to do this in credible fights without de-railing his near perfect career start. The popular Winchmore Hill fighter will come under pressure from his army of fans to be moved on quickly, but the Super-Middleweight division domestically is packed with depth and he’d want to have tightened his defensive flaws before taking on any of the Liverpool quartet of Callum Smith, Paul Smith, Rocky Fielding or Tony Dodson who’ll eventually come into his path.
In the other notable match-up of the evening, Penge’s Bradly Skeete won the vacant English Welterweight Title via a comfortable points decision against former two-time British champion and European belt-holder Colin Lynes. Skeete came through a tricky moment when floored by a shot to the top of the head in the 2nd round, but recovered well to dominate the remainder of the fight. Lynes, admittedly past his best days, could never find a way to negate Skeete’s rangey jab and was too often caught clean with neat upper-cuts when he did manage to slip inside his opponent’s lead. The judges correctly had it 97-93, 96-93 and 96-94 all in favour of Skeete.
Full Card Results
Dereck Chisora 19(13)-4-0 TKO 3 over Ondrej Pala 32(22)-4-0
Frank Buglioni 11(8)-0-0 KO 8 over Stepan Horvath 11(3)-2-0
Bradly Skeete 14(4)-0-0 UD (97-93, 96-93, 96-94) over Colin Lynes 37(12)-11-0
Georgie Kean 2(1)-0-0 TKO 4 over Danny Donchev 4(1)-64-1
Ashley Mayall 4(1)-3-0 PTS (59-56) over Chris Evangelou 9(1)-3-0
Andreas Evangelou 8(1)-0-1 PTS (59-56) over Mitch Mitchell 2(1)-15-1
Tom Baker 6(1)-0-0 PTs (60-54) over Kirill Psonko 11(7)-28-2
Gary Corcoran 7(3)-0-0 TKO 5 over Dai Jones 4(0)-3-1
Gary Cornish 17(9)-0-0 TKO 3 over Ivica Perkovic 20(15)-23-0
James Toney fails to light up Prizefighter as Michael Sprott wins for the second time
By: Gerry Murray - November 15, 2013
“He’s still got something left!” they said of James Toney at ringside as the bloated former middleweight star cruised to a 3rd round TKO victory against a limited Matt Legg in London’s East End tonight. In reality, their quarter final meeting at the latest instalment of ‘Prizefighter The Heavyweights’, won by Reading’s Michael Sprott, said more about the quality of opposition than it did about what the former pound for pound star had left in the tank. By the time the eventual runner-up Jason Gavern outworked the main attraction of the evening in a fight you wish you could un-see, we had confirmation of what we already knew. This wasn’t THE old James Toney, just an old James Toney.
Toney’s conqueror Gavern had opened the show at York Hall against local fighter, Larry ‘The War Machine’ Olubamiwo, in what on paper looked like a fairly even match-up. The UK vs. USA event marked the first bout for Olubamiwo since failing a drug test following his January 2012 meeting with Sam Sexton. The subsequent enquiry led him to admit to using no less than 13 different banned substances during his 4 year career and many had therefore been critical in the build-up to the tournament of the decision to let a cheat be given the opportunity to win £32k. They’ll undoubtedly have smiled wryly when he was on his back courtesy of a short right hand thrown during the first meaningful moment of action. While he was never really hurt, he did little in the following 8 minutes to convince the judges he deserved to move forward to the semi-finals and Gavern’s hand was the first raised of the night. Olubamiwo had talked about honing his skills during his enforced absence from the ring, but if that time has still left him continuously missing a target as willing as Jason Gavern, it suggests Larry O has gone as far as he will go.
Sprott, the man who eventually took home the winners cheque, began his night in against American Damian Wills. The visitor bossed the opener behind a more effective jab and appeared to have a tentative Sprott intimidated due to his considerable 18 stone frame. Sprott, a 2010 Prizefighter winner looked unlikely to repeat that feat going into round 2, but managed to turn the bout around by winning the final 2 sessions with occasional flurries of action. Being a previous champion, it’s possible the lack of action from Sprott was a result of pacing himself for later fights, but based on the evidence of the first 3 minutes, Wills will be kicking himself he didn’t keep the work rate up in rounds 2 and 3.
Wills was by no means the only culprit when it came to a lack of work-rate in a series of fights that did little to enhance the reputation of the Prizefighter series or anyone who took part. In the first semi-final, ‘Lights Out’ Toney went in as a heavy favourite against Jason Gavern, but what followed was yet another indication that the Michigan man should have hung it up long ago. It had been suggested, that as Toney weighed in relatively light at 15st 7lbs for the tournament, he’d come to London in good shape, but that myth was dispelled early in round 2 of his meeting with Gavern. The bout turned into an ugly spectacle as two out-of-shape heavies stumbled and grappled their way around the ring. Only occasionally did they interrupt their ugly dance by attempting to throw a shot. When the underdog did muster the energy to let his hands go, it was shocking to see the ease at which he managed to land cleanly on Toney. The man who was once famed for his illusive skills was never in danger of being stopped, but he did have his legs stiffened a couple of times, something we would never have seen during his prime. While it won’t be a fitting way to end his career, let’s hope Toney finally sees sense and takes this as evidence that his days as a competitive fighter are done.
In the second semi-final, Sprott was matched against Butler, Pennsylvania’s Brian Minto. Of all those on show, Minto was the only fighter to maintain anything close to a high punch output throughout his bouts. Having disposed of the inexperienced Tom Little in the quarter final (in what was disgracefully scored a split decision) he was eventually undone by another of the more experienced competitors. Sprott clearly took the opener behind an authoritative jab, which the smaller Minto just couldn’t manage to get inside and while it may not have been anywhere near the standard of ringside guest Larry Holmes’, it was the first sign of genuinely competent boxing we’d seen all night.
It all changed in the second as once again conditioning came back to bite the new favourite. As Sprott slowed, Minto managed to get past his opponent’s lead and pressure the Reading boxer, catching him with numerous clean short hooks to head and body that appeared to have his man reeling. Sprott’s experience got him through to the bell unscathed and a return to boxing at distance in the third just about squeaked the home fighter across the line with scores of 29-28 on all three cards. As with Jason Gavern, Sprott had stumbled into the decider rather than done so convincingly.
Given the state of both boxers coming into the last fight of the night and the lack of quality which had been on show, the final was a suitably dreary affair. Sprott managed to summon enough puff to get his jab going again in the first round and establish an early lead, but in a repeat of his semi-final meeting with Minto, faded badly in the second. Any hopes of a grand stand finish were however dashed by an elbow injury to Jason Gavern which appeared to intermittently affect his work. The first signs of a problem came after an elaborate grimace of pain around a minute in to the second round. Gavern did push on through and close the distance, something which wasn’t difficult given Sprott had all but stopped throwing, but when the injury noticeably worsened in the 3rd the result became a formality. With 2 minutes of action remaining, Gavern stopped punching and settled for hearing the final bell, rather than pushing on for a win. With his opponent in no position to attack and barely in a position to defend, Sprott could have been expected to look for the KO bonus on offer, but his tank was evidently empty. ‘Prizefighter the Heavyweights’, which had begun with all the hype of a big, bad and brash James Toney, ended with a quiet whimper.
Prizefighter has a history of resurrecting and launching careers with previous winners such as Martin Murray, Audley Harrison and Gavin Rees all subsequently challenging for world titles, but as well-liked Michael Sprott is, you’d struggle to find anyone suggesting the latest winner will come remotely close to doing the same. Larry Holmes, who was in the ring to present the winner’s cheque and trophy, could be forgiven for thinking he should have brought his shorts and gum shield for his trip to England and made himself some easy money.
In the main support for the night’s heavyweight fare, London 2012 gold medallist Anthony Joshua made it 3 stoppage wins from 3 outings, by beating Hrvoje Kisicek in the 2nd of a scheduled 6. Croatia’s Kisicek had recently taken Hughie Fury the distance so offered the first point of reference in the development of two of the UK’s most hyped up and coming stars. In taking his man out, something Tyson Fury’s cousin failed to do, Joshua will gain a small degree of satisfaction, but in reality the stoppage was slightly premature. Joshua was comfortably in control, had displayed improved fluidity of movement compared to his earlier bouts and threw a nice array of fast punches (a beautiful left hand to the body being the pick of shots he’d not had in his repertoire until now), but Kisicek justifiably felt the referee was premature in halting the contest while he was still clear eyed and looking to trade. The result would never have been in doubt, but a few more rounds for ‘Big Josh’ would probably have been more beneficial in the long run than gaining some bragging rights against Fury. Joshua is back out again next week on the undercard of Froch v Groves as his education continues.
Full card Results (All fighter records shown are current)
Prizefighter Quarter Finals
Jason Gavern (25-16-4) beat Larry Olubamiwo (10-4-0) pts. 29-28, 29-28, 29-27
James Toney (76-9-3) beat Matt Legg (6-2-0) 3rd round TKO
Michael Sprott (40-21-0) beat Damian Wills (31-4-1) pts. 30-28, 29-28, 29-28
Brian Minto (38-7-0) beat Tom Little (3-2-0) pts. 29-28, 29-28, 28-29
Jason Gavern beat James Toney pts. 29-29, 29-28, 29-28
Michael Sprott beat Brian Minto pts. 29-28, 29-28, 29-28
Michael Sprott beat Jason Gavern pts. 30-28, 29-28, 29-28
Anthony Joshua (3-0-0) beat Hrvoje Kisicek (5-7-0) 2nd round TKO
Ben Ileyemi (2-0-0) beat Moses Matovu (4-33-4) pts. 40-36
Quigg and Salinas forced to settle for a draw in WBA super bantamweight title slow burner
By: Gerry Murray - RingSide - October 5, 2013
England - Scott Quigg has spent the last 2 weeks consistently repeating his belief that he is not yet a proper World Champion. That the WBA, in their wisdom, felt it necessary to upgrade his Interim Super Bantamweight World Title he won against Rendall Munroe, to the full version last month was of no relevance to the unbeaten Bury man. Quigg, notoriously one of British boxing’s hardest workers hadn’t gone through the necessary pain in the ring and therefore didn’t yet feel deserving of the accolade. After a cagey, cat and mouse 12 rounds with Cuban Yoandris Salinas at the 02 Arena last night was ruled a majority draw, a bout envisaged as his official crowning, it may yet be a couple of months before he’ll really believe he’s the rightful owner of the prize currently sitting awkwardly in his possession.
Team Quigg’s game plan coming into the fight was a secret to nobody. They expected to find themselves behind on the cards early to a slick, former amateur star in Salinas before eventually escalating the pace to such a point that the Cuban could no longer cope and finally overwhelm the visitor with a late onslaught. What transpired in London wasn’t a million miles away from their prediction, except for one crucial factor: Quigg forgot to make Salinas do anything close to hard work in the early rounds and therefore left him with plenty in the tank as the pace picked up after 6.
Had somebody walked in to watch the first 3 rounds of action with no prior knowledge of the occasion, they’d likely have left thinking they’d walked in on a friendly exhibition bout rather than a World Title fight. Salinas deserved to take them all, but the reality was this was more down to Quigg’s reluctance to let his hands go as opposed to anything meaningful from the Cuban. Salinas’ sharp jab and movement would no doubt draw appreciation from purists, but as the fight had originally been scheduled to take place on the Tyson Fury v David Haye undercard in Manchester, the slow start combined with the absent local support Quigg would have enjoyed up in the North West left the arena a little subdued.
Rounds 4-7 did see an improvement in the action from both fighters, with Quigg starting to find success with well-placed body shots every so often and Salinas letting a straight right hand go which the Englishman had noted as the danger in the build up to the contest, however you couldn’t escape the feeling that both were affording the other too much respect. Almost all of these rounds could have been scored either way, but going into the 8th most at ringside had Salinas up by 2 or 3 rounds.
It was at this point that Quigg began to show what he was really capable of by taking the next 4 comfortably on the cards. Finally opting to bite down on the gum shield, he sat in on Salinas’ chest for the majority of every round and looked to tee off with thumping hooks to his opponents ribcage. While never looking in danger of going down, the challenger’s consistent complaining to the referee suggested he wasn’t enjoying Quigg’s new approach and it was noticeable he was now blowing hard every time he made his way back to the stool in-between rounds.
Having found that standing toe-to-toe with Quigg in the 11th wasn’t halting the late surge, Salinas opted to get on his bike in the 12th and boxed admirably off the back foot for most of the final 3. The crowd finally sprung into life as Quigg chased his man down, but a slip mid-round was an indication of the ragged nature of his work. Clearly knowing the scorecards were close, Quigg was trying to close the show in style, but only one of his wild hooks managed to connect and he was too often picked off by Salinas’ pot-shots to take the round.
The final score cards of 114-114 (twice) and 115-113 to Quigg left neither man happy, but following a number of contentious decisions in recent weeks, none are cards you could argue with. Quigg told host broadcaster Sky Sports that he felt he’d won by 1 or 2 rounds after the fight, a score this writer would agree with, but given the tight nature of most rounds his frustration is likely to be aimed more at himself for not pressing the action earlier than the Italian or Polish judges who failed to see the scores in his favour. Should both meet again, something by no means guaranteed, you’d expect Quigg to learn from this experience and finally do enough to feel he earned his belt. Quigg moves to 26-0-2 with 19 stoppages, while Salinas is now 20-0-2 with 13 inside the distance.
The high quality card also saw two 2012 Olympic gold medallists in action. Super heavyweight gold medallist Anthony Joshua made a successful professional debut by blowing out previously unbeaten Italian Emanuele Leo inside a round. The little we could see from Joshua, while an overmatched Leo stuck with him was that he came in tremendous shape, sent out a nice looking jab and obviously carries decent power in his 17 stone frame.
However, defensively there’s some work to do before his lack of head movement comes back to haunt him. Joshua is now 1(1)-0 and Leo 8(3)-1(1). Fellow Team GB star Luke Campbell got his second consecutive first round stoppage by stopping Darlington’s Neil Hepper with a succession of sharp and hurtful body shots. Campbell is a tall, slick and quick lightweight who most consider the pick of the Olympians to turn over and on his two outings so far looks to have settled nicely to life in the pros. Campbell moves to 2(2)-0 and Hepper drops to 5(0)-3(2).
Also in the lightweight division, former world title challenger Kevin Mitchell continued his rehabilitation since being stopped by Ricky Burns. Mitchell, a naturally talented, but occasionally frustrating boxer delivered one of his better performances by systematically breaking down Mexican Marco Lopez before stopping him in the 6th. Lopez is now 23(14)-3(3), while Mitchell, who will likely move on to face fellow Brit Derry Matthews before the end of the year for the IBF Inter-Continental title he picked up last night is 35(25)-2(2).
In the fight of the night, Tony Conquest, 12(5)-1(1) won a British title eliminator at cruiserweight by picking himself off the canvas twice in the first 2 rounds to out-point Wadi Camacho, 10(6)-2(1). Once Camacho’s high work rate dropped he was consistently taking right hands from Conquest and deserved to drop the decision despite his un-sportsmanlike attitude at the scores of 95-94 and 96-93 twice.
Lee Selby moved to 17(6)-1 by retaining his British and Commonwealth featherweight titles by way of points against Cromer’s Ryan Walsh, 16(8)-1. The scores of 118-110, 118-112 and 117-111 were about right in a match-up of two styles which never really gelled.
In the non-televised fights Tony Owen 14-2 took Danny Connor’s (10-7) Southern Area light-welterweight title 96-95 on the cards, cruiserweight Ben Ileyemi stopped Stanislavs Makarenko (2-5-1) in the second round of his debut and welterweight Glen Foot (12(6)-0) beat John Brennan (3-1-1) on points 39-37.
It’s time the networks forced officials to face the music
By: Gerry Murray - September 8, 2013
Last night as Raymundo Beltran sat down at the end of the 11th round, comfortably ahead on nearly all neutral observers score cards, the general consensus was that only a knock-out could prevent Ricky Burns from losing his lightweight WBO title in front of his home fans. Beltran had won almost all but a few minutes of the one-sided action from around midway through the 2nd round. He’d had his opponent on the canvas during the eighth, broken the Scot’s jaw and had barely broken stride when Burn’s fleetingly managed to get his jab working and land a clean shot.
It does therefore, say a lot for the state of judging in boxing that my natural reaction at exactly that point was to place a bet on a draw. I know I wasn’t alone in this. Anyone who regularly watches the sport will have had that same, ominous feeling that a bad decision was coming. We’ve been here so many times before that the shock and disbelief we should have experienced when the scores of 115-112 in favour of Burns and 114-114 were read wasn’t there. Like a late goal against your team in a game they’ve dominated, but failed to sew up, you could see it coming a mile off.
In the immediate aftermath of situations such as this, the temptation to call ‘fix’ is always there. Eddie Hearn will without doubt have received countless tweets over the past 12 hours suggesting he’d paid off officials to secure his man victory or used his influence to ensure favourable treatment against a lower profile visiting fighter and team. There is however, absolutely no evidence for this and realistically not enough reward for that size of risk with a man like Burns. Matchroom Sport have a lucrative contract with Sky that extends far beyond boxing and simply wouldn’t risk tarnishing that relationship. They also have high profile PPV shows to come which will eclipse the exposure and revenue generating potential of Burns, as well supported in his native country as he is. Bad PR before Fury vs. Haye and Froch vs. Groves take place would end up costing far more than could be gained by one more defence for their likeable, but as yet largely unknown lightweight man.
Ricky Burns and trainer Billy Nelson won’t be without their hecklers either. While accusations of bribery will be thrown at Hearn, Nelson and Burns will have to contend with the inevitable fickle calls of ‘hype job’ that follow a poor performance from a champion these days. Make no mistake, Burns did not box well. He does deserve immense credit for lasting ten rounds with a broken jaw, but that broken jaw came as a result of dropping his right hand and leaving his chin hanging in the air. That doesn’t make him a bad fighter, a protected fighter or a paper champion, it simply raises questions about his preparation and game plan that will need to be addressed. The time for that will come when Ricky is discharged from hospital where he is currently recovering from having a titanium plate inserted into his jaw, but one thing we can clear up now is that Burns is not responsible for the poor scoring on show in Glasgow either. Even Steve Feder, Beltran’s manager acknowledged none of the blame could be apportioned to their opponent saying "This country should be incredibly proud of Ricky: this isn't about him. Ricky didn't rob us."
So while the public faces of the event will feel the brunt of the fans venting over yet another black eye for boxing, what about those who we should be holding to account? Judges like Richy Davies (114-114) and Carlos Ortiz Jr. (115-112 Burns) must be made accountable for their cards when robberies occur and in the absence of a suitably powerful and well-run governing body to make this happen, only the TV networks have the necessary clout to make this happen.
As the primary funders of elite-level boxing, HBO, Showtime, Sky and the other major networks worldwide could, quite easily if they wished, force referees and judges to provide post-fight interviews to explain their scoring and decisions in contentious circumstances. Admittedly their funding is indirect, but should they decide that was a pre-condition of coverage across all shows they televised, it would at least direct attention and scrutiny where it’s most deserved. Governing bodies may whine and protest temporarily about encroachment into their affairs, but ultimately they know where their bread is buttered and would soon fall into line.
This shouldn’t be a difficult decision for networks to make either. Boxing is already a difficult sell for them with advertisers due to the lack of brands willing to associate themselves with ‘violence’. Further accusations of corrupt dealings won’t make that job easier and when fans and funders alike start looking elsewhere for clean competition, the game will be as good as up.
ESPN’s ‘boxing is dead’ narrative which drew fierce criticism this week highlights the fact that there are no shortage of people waiting to knock the sport and as we enter a period of unbelievably competitive match-ups both domestically and internationally, this simple change could at least help give the appearance of accountability and professionalism to general sports fans who we hope will be tuning in. The final few months of 2013 present the opportunity to raise the profile of boxing and put it in a positive light, so seeing as the promoters and boxers have stepped up to the plate, I’d like to see the judges and officials do the same.
Post-fight interviews won’t make all bad calls disappear as incompetence and human error will always occur. Neither does it solve the problem for small hall shows, but if we can use a bit of simple shame to make judges think twice on the big occasions, then that can’t be a bad thing. At the very least we can avoid the sport shooting itself in the foot when the spotlight is on and fighters like Beltran may take some satisfaction in seeing those who stole their moment of glory squirm.
Unbeaten Lightweight Prospect Injured in Farmland Shooting
By: Gerry Murray - September 1, 2013
22 year old lightweight prospect Martin Joseph Ward is believed to be in a stable condition having been injured in a double shooting which took place on farmland near Brentwood, Essex on Tuesday afternoon.
Undefeated, former amateur star Ward and his brother John, who is also understood to have been injured, were shot in what police are describing as a ‘neighbour feud’. Superintendent Trevor Roe said the victims are being treated in hospital under armed police guard and are in a stable condition, suffering from leg and chest wounds. A manhunt is currently taking place for 27 year old Francis O’Donoghue in connection with incident as he is understood to have been at his home on the farm when the shooting took place around 3.30pm on Tuesday.
Ward, trained by Tony Simms alongside newly crowned World Champion Darren Barker, lightweight Kevin Mitchell and welterweight title challenger Lee Purdy is a highly touted prospect with a record of 6(2)-0. The former European Junior Champion signed with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing following his omission from the 2012 GB Olympic team. Since then, he has received a number of high profile outings including a 3rd round TKO stoppage of Andy Harris on the undercard of Carl Froch’s victory over Mikkel Kessler.
Ward took to Twitter to thank his fans for their well wishes since rumours spread that he and his brother were involved in the high profile incident last week, saying "Thanks to everyone for the messages and phone calls of support for me and my brother John! Really does mean a lot! On the road to recovery now!"
He was due to next appear as a support bout for Olympic Champion Anthony Joshua’s debut on the 5th October at London’s 02 Arena.
Malik Scott Fails to Overturn KO loss to Dereck Chisora
By: Gerry Murray - August 7, 2013
Dereck Chisora’s July 20th KO victory over Malik Scott will stand after the British Boxing Board of Control threw out the American’s appeal against the decision today. Scott had requested the loss be changed to a No Contest by the board, believing that he had managed to beat the referees count following a knock-down which never appeared to have the previously unbeaten fighter in any major trouble.
The controversial incident occurred when Scott was put down from an overhand right hand by Chisora late in the 6th of a scheduled 10. Scott looked comfortable as he took a knee during referee Phil Edwards’ count, but inexplicably left it until 9 before getting to his feet, at which point the bout was waved off. Despite remaining calm and dignified about the decision on the night, Scott’s team lodged a formal complaint to the BBBofC in the following days, claiming that their man had nothing on the canvas but his feet at the count of 9.
Having reviewed the decision, the General Secretary of the Board of Control, Robert Smith, had the following response to ‘Team Scott’:
"When describing the process of Mr Scott rising, you quite correctly make reference to Mr Scott 'having nothing on the canvas but his feet' at the count of nine.
"However, under British Boxing Board of Control Rules (3.32) a boxer is deemed to be 'down' by one of four criteria, one of which is 'when the boxer is in the act of rising.' Therefore, the point at which the boxer has nothing on the canvas but his feet is not the point at which the boxer is no longer 'down.'
"Most importantly, after a boxer is 'down' boxing can only continue when the boxer 'is in a position and a condition to defend himself'."
Much was also made in the aftermath of the decision about Scott not receiving the full 10 count before being stopped, a claim Scott’s promoter Dan Goossen made on numerous occasions. Many believed referee Edwards had made an error in waving of the fight after the count of 9, as opposed to ‘eight, nine, ten, out’.
However, Robert Smith was also very clear on the board’s interpretation of this rule too:
"In the United Kingdom (like many countries) the count of the referee (having picked it up from the timekeeper) is 'seven, eight, nine, out. Ten is never called by any referee in any contest in this country."
Malik Scott will undoubtedly look to secure a rematch in the future having boxed well in the early rounds against ‘Del Boy’ and despite the failed appeal, this is something the British authorities would have no issue with. Smith was keen to congratulate the Philadelphia fighter for conducting himself in “an extremely professional manner during his stay in the UK both before and after the contest”.
Dereck Chisora will move on to face an as yet unnamed opponent on September 21st at the Copper Box Arena at the Olympic Park on the undercard of Billy Joe Saunders and John Ryder’s middleweight clash.
Dereck Chisora Becomes the First Man to Stop Malik Scott with Controversial 6th Round KO
By: Gerry Murray - RingSide - July 20, 2013
Britain’s Dereck Chisora last night contentiously became the first man to defeat Philadelphia’s Malik Scott and as a result picked up the WBO International Heavyweight Title at a strangely subdued Wembley Arena. ‘Del Boy’, who has been no stranger to controversy during his career, was on this occasion an innocent bystander as referee Phil Edwards generated the talking points with his debatable decision that Malik Scott had failed to beat the count following a 6th round knock-down which never appeared to have the American badly hurt.
The five rounds which proceeded the stoppage went as expected for both fighters and provided some interesting, if unspectacular action. The visiting Scott showcased the silky skills which he claims have led to him being widely avoided in the top weight class and boxed well off the back foot, peppering Chisora with straight shots before sliding back out of range. There were no surprises from the local fighter either, as Chisora bobbed and weaved his way around the ring, looking to apply pressure and confirm his pre-fight theory that his opponent had yet to taste professional boxing at the highest level.
Scott’s record of 12 stoppages from his undefeated 36 fights going into the clash suggested he would struggle to ever truly deter Chisora and so it proved on Saturday night. Chisora may have been KO’d by David Haye last summer, but having completed 12 rounds with Vitali Klitschko, Robert Helenius and Tyson Fury during his career, doubts over his chin were not one of his problems. Managing to pin his technically gifted opponent down and land some of his trademark hooks were though and in the early stages the Brit struggled to land anything of note. While the action was competitive, Scott’s cleaner work and classy footwork was stealing the rounds.
From the opening bell, the pattern of the fight was clear. If Scott could keep moving effectively he’d win a comfortable points decision, but should his footwork begin to slow, even a touch, Chisora would be on his chest, ready to make him pay with a barrage of swinging hooks to body and head. Chisora was getting caught repeatedly as he came in, but the eye catching uppercuts and straights were being gobbled up and appeared to have little or no effect on the Finchley man.
Round 4 saw the first signs of Chisora beginning to chip away at his opponent, as jabs to the taller Scott’s chest allowed him to get in to punching range for the first time. Scott dealt with the persistent pressure well, but there was a sense that the aggressive tactics were starting to gain Del a foothold in the fight which would make the later rounds more interesting. Chisora was probably guilty of smothering his work when opportunities came to pin his elusive opponent down, but momentum did appear to be building.
What was surprising however, is how quickly Chisora’s pressure paid dividends. The following round and a half of action largely followed the same pattern, with a beautiful uppercut from Scott in the 5th the pick of the exchanges. The opinion from ringside suggested it would be a late into the 10-rounder before Scott would begin to slow, but the night’s major talking point actually came midway through the 6th. A standard looking Chisora attack momentarily had Scott pinned against the ropes and when a glancing over-hand right caught the top of Scott’s head, it was a shock to see the Philadelphia man knocked down. He later claimed the shot had caught him by the ear and effected his ‘equilibrium’, but it looked neither clean nor particularly powerful.
Scott appeared to have regained his senses early into the referee’s count, a fact confirmed by a confident look over to his corner around the time Edward’s reached 5. However, inexplicably he didn’t attempt to get to his feet until 9 and before he could raise his hands to prove he had his wits about him, Edwards had put an end to proceedings. Television replays show Scott did just about make it to his feet in time, but in the referee’s defence he did not benefit from slow motion replays and it was undoubtedly marginal. Scott later claimed “everyone knows I beat the count “ and overall the opinion in the arena backed that up, however, for a man who didn’t look hurt, the question which will surely be asked is why take the chance and leave it so late?
To his credit, Scott made little fuss over the decision in the post-fight interviews, leaving his Hall of Fame trainer, Jesse Reid to lead the expletive filled protests at ringside. Instead he chose to congratulate his opponent on a good performance and Frank Warren on the opportunity to fight in the UK. While a rematch was discussed by both parties, it was not particularly convincing from the British side and it’s unlikely to be on the agenda for them any time soon. Chisora quickly turned his attention to Vitali Klitschko once again, saying “Me and the older brother have unfinished business”
The final fight of the evening saw a battle of unbeaten middleweights where Hatfield’s Billy Joe Saunders won almost every second of every round against Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan. What Saunders lacked in power during their 12 round contest, he more than made up for in variety of shots, footwork and work-rate, as he produced a boxing master class that stole the ‘Behind Enemy Lines’ show. Saunders, at only 23 is a boxer blessed with exceptional natural talent that the older Irishman just could not live with. Credit must go to O’Sullivan for sticking with it in what was a one-sided affair, but the gulf in class was apparent as soon as Saunders began to let his combinations flow early in the first. The scores were 120-109 twice and 119-110. Gary O’Sullivan drops to 16-1, while Saunders (18-0) goes on to fight another unbeaten middleweight, John Ryder, on September 21st when he defends his British and Commonwealth titles.
In the nights other action Bradley Saunders moved to 6-0, stopping Michael Kelly (now 8-6-1) in the 5th round of their welterweight clash. Saunders, returning from a lengthy injury layoff, was never really tested and despite Kelly not being hurt the referee’s decision to step-in was correct.
Frank Buglioni (9-0) outpointed Lithuanian Kirill Psonko (10-25) over 8 unimpressive rounds in their super-middle weight clash.
In the middleweight division, Essex’s Tom Baker (5-0) stopped Dean Walker (12-29-3) in the second round of their scheduled 4.
Also at middleweight, Russia’s Dmitry Chudinov remained unbeaten, but could only get a draw against Reading’s Patrick Mendy (14-6). The referee scored the bout 76-76 and the ‘Night Wolf’ Chudinov moves to 9-0-2.
Penge welterweight Bradley Skeete (12-0) dominated journeyman Dee Mitchell (9-39-1) over the 6 round distance, but did little to remove questions over his ability to take a man out clearly below his skill level.
Billy Morgan (now 9-0) also laboured before being given a technical decision against Ashley Mayall (2-2) at light-welterweight. An accidental clash of heads, which caused Morgan to finish with a nasty gash, brought about the early stoppage, but Morgan had taken a number of clean right hands prior to the 30-27 decision in what will have been a generally unsatisfactory evening for the Eastender.
The final fight on the card saw Steve Collins Jr. follow in his father’s footsteps for the second time. He recorded a 40-37 win over Paul Morris in a cruiserweight meeting. The extremely solid looking Collins Jr. was the aggressor throughout their 4x2s bout and moves to 2-0, while Morris drops to 5-19-2.
Tony Thompson: “David Haye’s about to beat the hell out of Tyson Fury”
By: Gerry Murray - July 10, 2013
A large proportion of British boxing fans were celebrating yesterday’s news that Tyson Fury and David Haye have finally signed the contracts for their much hyped heavyweight showdown in Manchester. As two of the sport’s most divisive, controversial and out-spoken figures, there’s sure to be as many blows dealt out in the 11 week build-up as in the ring come September 28th.
Despite their undoubted standing amongst the biggest names in the sport, unusually for a domestic match-up, there’s likely to be as many people cheering for a double knock-out than siding with either man. Love them or hate them, this fight will sell and sell well.
There is one man whoever, who won’t have been celebrating yesterday’s announcement. Fresh off his second consecutive knock-out victory over David Price, Tony Thompson is once again plotting his route to the Heavyweight Title. Having failed twice against Wladimir Klitschko, once via an 11th round stoppage in 2008 and then last year via a 6th round TKO, Thompson is well aware that a third fight with the division’s number 1 is not currently viable, but that did not stop the D.C man setting out an alternative route to the top.
“I’m not even going to mention Wlad’s name, because he’s dominated me twice. I want a 3rd shot with Wlad, but I realise I’ve got to take steps to get there.” said Thompson as we caught up with him after his 5th round victory.
Alexander Povetkin and the older Klitschko, Vitali, would be the shortest routes to the title he still craves, but with Povetkin fully occupied by his October meeting with Wladimir and Vitali seemingly more interested by politics, Thompson had identified a 3rd consecutive UK fight as the most sensible way forward.
“I need to take fights that are on Tony Thompson’s level. Meaning if I can’t get the Vitali’s or Povetkin’s, I have to fight guys that are ranked number 1 like Tyson Fury, who will get me to a title shot”
So what does Thompson feel about Haye jumping ahead of him in the queue?
“David Haye is actually going to mess up my plans! He’s about to beat the hell out of Tyson Fury. I’m not even talking to David Haye right now. I hope David stubs his toe on the bath tub somewhere and calls the fight off. I need that big bum!”
For a fighter without significant promotional backing like Thompson, a fight with Fury would provide a very healthy payday. Certainly more than he’d have earned taking on the likes of Owen Beck, Paul Marinaccio and Maurice Harris in the run-up to his latest defeat to Klitschko. And while ‘The Tiger’ thinks Haye is in for an easy night, it’s also clear how he’d have seen a Fury v Thompson showdown panning out.
“Tyson Fury is not even on David (Price)’s level. That’s a sparring match for us. I know it’s an easier fight. It’d be the same again with Tyson Fury. 5 rounds! It takes me a while to get my ugly style working, but it’s like an old car. I get that old engine purring and that mother f****r just run.”
“I think David kills Tyson Fury and I think Tony Thompson absolutely murders him. I might get locked up! David has technical skills that took me 5 rounds to come get him, but Tyson doesn’t possess that, he just wants to be the bigger guy. He’s not the bigger guy with me. He’s just tall, which leaves more room to hit”
With Thompson dismissing other American contenders such as Deontay Wilder as “not offering anything to get me to a championship fight.” and genuinely not knowing who IBF number 1 contender Kubrat Pulev was, the door appears to have shut on the 41 year old for the time being. However, for a man who’s willing to travel for the right money, there may yet be one last UK name that could bring about the third consecutive outing on British soil.
In 10 day’s time Dereck Chisora is back in action against Thompson’s countryman, Malik Scott at the Wembley Arena. A win for Chisora, which is by no means a formality, would almost certainly put the controversial big man back amongst the top of the division’s rankings and given his creditable showing against Vitali Klitschko in 2012, Chisora could offer Thompson his route back into contention. With Thompson’s profile in the UK as high as it has ever been, this is a natural fight which would appear to suit all parties concerned. From what Thompson had to say, it would certainly appear he’d have no issues in travelling to the UK once again.
“We aint turned down nothing but our collar. We want fights. We want fights in the UK! We want more! You guys are there to throw down, cuss me out, boo the national anthem. We love that. I’m from Southeast; all they do is boo people. You boo my national anthem again? Well I’m gonna f**k you up again!”
Despite shattering the dreams of one of Britain’s best heavyweight hopes and the unnecessary heckling of his anthem, Thompson was a big hit on this side of the pond. So while Fury and Haye may be occupied in the short-term, don’t bet against him being the reason ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ is booed at a British venue at least one more time this year.
No Redemption For David Price As Tony Thompson Scores A Second Consecutive KO Victory
By: Gerry Murray - RingSide - July 6, 2013
David Price’s career lies in tatters as for the second time this year Tony Thompson stopped the big Liverpudlian in front of his own fans. Celebrating his birthday, accompanied to the ring by Lennox Lewis and coming off the back of a great few days for British sport, expectations were sky high that David Price would reverse the February KO loss against the American. However, once Thompson managed to pull himself off the canvas following a heavy second round knockdown, there was only one likely winner. Price wilted under the pressure and eventually succumbed to an inevitable 5th round stoppage in a short, but action packed fight.
After a cagey and uneventful opening round, the fight burst into action in the second. Price landed a right hand to the chest in the early stages and spurred on by the reaction of his opponent, he upped the pace and the intensity of his shots. Unsurprisingly given the result in their first meeting, Thompson seemed only too happy to stand and exchange with Price and went to work on softening up the former Olympic medallist with heavy shots to the body in some good back and forth action.
Having laughed off Price’s power throughout the first fight, Thompson quickly had the smile wiped off his face when a big right cross landed flush late on. Thompson went down heavily against the ropes and but for what seemed like a painfully slow count from referee Marcus McDonnell, we may have seen the fight ended there and then. To his credit, Thompson did manage to get back to his feet and despite wobbly legs made it to the bell unscathed.
At that point, everything changed. In the post-fight press conference Thompson said of Price “He’s got a championship body, but he don’t have a championship mind” and that description seemed perfectly apt from round 3 onwards. Price went for the kill from the outset and had his opponent rocking once again with a left hook, but after failing to get the job done in these initial exchanges, he appeared to crumble. He’d loaded up and thrown his best shots at Thompson, but the Washington man was still there in front of him, firing back.
Midway through the third Price began to tire noticeably. Thompson took command of centre ring and hurt Price with a wicked right hook that had his man looking to hold-on. With very little experience of working off the back foot in his short career, Price disappeared into a shell when under fire and the partisan capacity crowd began to sense a repeat of their first meeting was once again on the cards. The alarming pace at which Price’s tank seemed to empty had everyone at ringside giving him one more round to land something big before Thompson was taking him out and those fears were eventually proved spot on.
Lennox Lewis, who’d joined Price’s camp in the run up to this fight as a ‘mentor’ blamed an over-eagerness to load up on the sudden demise of the Englishman. “All that’s on David’s mind is taking him out. He put everything into every punch and maybe he should have breathed.”
The end of the fight eventually came in the 5th round. Price had begun to take a number of clean uppercuts flush on the chin and any composure he did have had long gone out the window. His solid jab had disappeared, his footwork was that of a man on the run rather than a well-schooled amateur and Thompson was draining the last drops of fuel from the tank with heavy shots to the ribs.
Thompson eventually walked his man down into his corner and unloaded a barrage of unanswered shots to head and body. Referee McDonnell, who didn’t cover himself in glory, appeared to jump in to stop the punishment with Price slumped against the ropes, but then inexplicably began a standing 8 count. Common sense thankfully prevailed on reaching 8 and the predictable ending was confirmed.
The farcical ending completed what had been a generally surreal evening in Liverpool’s Echo Arena. Midgets accompanying Thompson to ring, a saxophone rendition of ‘Born in the USA’ and plans to present a giant birthday card to Price in the ring following his expected ‘redemption’ all seemed to pile the pressure on a fighter who was clearly unable to handle the spot light. Franny Smith, Price’s long term trainer said as much by citing his man’s lack of experience in dealing with the big occasion as the reason for the collapse.
Promoter Frank Maloney had gambled big on bringing Thompson to the UK for a second time this year and now ‘Team Price’ will undoubtedly be questioning the sense in repeating the same mistake twice. Rumours of a Price retirement briefly circulated after the fight, but that was quickly dismissed amidst talk of rebuilding at British and Commonwealth level, where Price is still champion.
Thompson was clear in where his career will be heading next. “I can’t keep taking punches like this for this level of guy. We want the title shots.” As creditable as two knock-out wins over Price are however, it’s likely Thompson will need to beat another top contender before that fight becomes a reality and having made quite the impression on the British fans and press during his two trips to Liverpool this year, don’t be surprised to see his name continually linked alongside Fury, Chisora and Haye in the coming months.
In the other notable action on the night, Bristol’s Darren Hamilton surprised the bookmakers by retaining his British light-welterweight title against former Prizefigher winner Adil Anwar. All three judges gave Hamilton the decision with scores of 118-112, 117-112 and 116-113. Anwar’s high work-rate pinched a few early rounds, but Hamilton’s fitness and determination over the 12 round distance eventually saw him pull away in the second half of the fight and nearly had Anwar out of there in the final two rounds.
Also on the bill, local lad Kevin Satchell retained his British and Commonwealth flyweight titles in a highly controversial decision against previously unbeaten Scot Iain Butcher. Satchell was generally more active throughout, but Butcher’s greater accuracy and power had most at ringside giving him the decision by a couple of rounds. Satchell had done exceptionally well to recover from a huge 2nd round knockdown, but shouldn’t have left with the nod this time. With the lack of domestic opponents of note for both men, a re-match between the pair is highly likely.
Prizefighter The Light-Welterweights III: 8 Evenly Matched Men Compete for the £32,000 Prize
By: Gerry Murray - July 1, 2013
This weekend, the next instalment of the hugely successful Prizefighter series will take place at the UK’s home of boxing, York Hall. For the third time, it’s the light-welterweights who will take centre stage in London’s East End and once again there’s a £32,000 cheque up for grabs in what promises to be a career high payday for the victorious man.
The July 6th edition sees Prizefighter revert to its original aim of offering a showcase to fighters not blessed with the backing of major promotional support. Tony Owen (14-1-0) and Matty Tew (12-1-0) provide the most experienced names on the schedule and will be joined by Danny Connor (8-5-0) and Ryan Taylor (7-1-1). Undefeated Liam Shinkwin, Chris Jenkins, Eren Arif and Charlie Rice will complete those hoping they can kick-start their careers in the absence of a more recognisable name. Much like the last cruiserweight edition, there’s no Audley Harrison’s to be found lacing up here.
Despite heading into its 6th year of competition and rarely disappointing in delivering action packed nights, Prizefighter is not without its critics. The main gripe levelled at Matchroom’s 8 fighter, knock-out tournament is it takes up too much of the limited TV airtime, money and exposure from more worthy and important domestic fights.
In a period when Jamie McDonnell, Britain’s most recent World Champion at bantamweight had to fight tooth and nail for limited TV coverage of his shot at the IBF belt, that viewpoint is not without its merits.
Importantly for those on the bill for York Hall, this isn’t a view shared by the host broadcaster Sky Sports. When star names Carl Froch and Kell Brook are taken out of the equation, Prizefighter offers them higher ratings than their usual Saturday night matchups. Add in the reduced risk from a headline fighter pulling out through injury, the lower overall outlay in purses and it’s easy to understand why the format won’t be going anywhere soon. Die-hard fans may not be happy, but you can’t argue with the economics.
So while there is no household name involved, what Prizefighter the light-welterweights lacks in prestige, it should more than make up for in closely matched action. This really will be a ‘cup-final’ for every man involved and that alone should help appease those at odds with the set-up.
Tony Owen is likely to start as the betting favourite for the tournament. The Carshalton fighter’s only loss carries little shame in being overwhelmed by the pocket-sized wrecking ball Ben Murphy in 2011 and he’ll certainly fancy his chances against a largely untested field. His only potential opponent to have reached double-digits in the win column is Matty Tew, but coming off a shock KO to novice Spaniard Santiago Bustos (4-2-1) in March 2013 there are likely to be concerns over his durability in a gruelling format like Prizefighter. Particularly considering Bustos has fought as low as super featherweight in his short career.
Outside of Tew and Owen, Danny Connor (8-5-0) enters the tournament on a role. 5 straight wins including 2 over the once highly touted Chris Evangelou suggest Connor has started to shed the ‘opponent’ tag he was destined for early in his career. His first 5 fights saw four losses and one draw, certainly not the form you’d single out as indicating future greatness, but his high work rate and recent confidence boosting performances will certainly see him keeping any opponent honest. A lack of real punching power (he’s yet to register a stoppage victory) may well be the flaw that eventually costs Connor the £32,000, but with a beneficial draw he’d expect to be in the mix.
Of the remaining fighters, it’s almost impossible to separate one from the pack. Liam Shinkwin (6-0-1) holds a close points victory over fellow entrant Ryan ‘Crash Bang’ Taylor in March of this year in the first real challenge for either fighter. Chris Jenkins of Wales has also received backing, as he has 4 knock-outs to his name in a largely untroubled seven fight unbeaten career that suggests he can punch.
Danny Connor’s good friend and training partner Eren Arif and local boy Charlie Rice are both yet to taste defeat in their early bouts and while that will breed confidence, you’d struggle to find a win amongst their opponents to date. On that basis it’s almost impossible to call their true level before the biggest test of either’s career. In his initial outings, Rice has certainly shown solid skills which could place him as a dark horse, but there is a feeling that a longer format would suit his style over the ferocious pace of Prizefighter.
So on Saturday week, 8 relatively unknown boxers will enter the ring at one of boxing’s most famous venues. Each and every one of them will go in believing they’re in with a genuine chance of taking home the trophy. So, whatever your view on the merits of tournaments such as this, even if you feel it’s diverting attention from more serious matters. Why not just sit back and enjoy 7 toe-to-toe battles where it will undoubtedly mean everything to the competitors and take some enjoyment from the fact that this is the opportunity for one of boxing’s lesser-known figures to enjoy his moment in the sun.
The Changes Froch Must Make to Get the ‘W’
By: Gerry Murray - May 24, 2013
Carl Froch v Mikkel Kessler, one of 2013's most eagerly anticipated fights and without doubt the biggest for a British boxer so far this year, is now less than 48 hours away. Having already met in a 2010 toe to toe classic in Denmark, which Kessler won via a contested decision, fans of the sport are anticipating another edge of your seat night.
The result is obviously important for the sport. Kessler may hold the victory over Froch, but inactivity, injury and a comparatively light resume since that night has led many to claim 'The Cobra' as the better man. Saturday night should hopefully end those arguments about who's the division's rightful number 2 and set-up a rematch with the peerless Andre Ward.
For British boxing though, the implications could be far more significant. Not since David Haye's tame loss to Wladimir Klitschko have we seen such a significant amount of build up to a UK event.
Matchroom Sport, the hometown fighter's promoters, have managed to convince Sky that the event is pay-per-view worthy for the first time since 'toe-gate' and to their credit they've thrown their considerable weight behind selling it to a wider audience. That it will directly follow the UEFA Champions League Final in their schedule, one of Europe's marquee sporting events, gives a huge platform to showcase a great fight to a new set of fans. The pay TV giant have invested heavily in Froch against a back drop of wider reductions in spend on boxing, so the stakes for future support are high.
Sky and Matchroom have done their job to this point. A full arena, widespread media coverage and a platform on which to shine for Britain's current number 1. Come 11.15pm Saturday, it's over to Carl to take it home.
So what of ‘The Cobra’? What does he need to do on Saturday to ensure he doesn't repeat the mistakes of Herning and come away with his third pro loss? The bookmakers may have him as favourite for the clash, but the general consensus is this will be another close encounter. Minor details and subtle changes from their first meeting will be crucial, so here's my take on what Froch must change to get the W.
1. Start fast.
A lot has been made of the effect the ash cloud had on Froch's preparations for their previous fight. It may well have taken an edge off the final week of his camp and led to a slow start, but he absolutely can't afford to repeat the mistake this time around. Kessler was ahead on the cards through 6 and ultimately this left his tiring opponent too much to do. With a partisan crowd behind him, Carl has to take inspiration from his demolition of Lucien Bute and jump on his man early. Mikkel has looked cool, calm and collected in the run-up to the bout and it’s important that Carl gets him out of his rhythm early.
2. Step in with the jab
The one aspect of the first contest which had me screaming at the TV more than any other was Froch's jab. While Kessler was jabbing to hurt, the Nottingham man seemed content to paw away. In the early stages it was, in my opinion, this which cost him the closer rounds. 'The Cobra' is the rangier boxer, has a longer reach than his Danish foe and possesses a granite chin. These three combined make it a crime for him not to step in with a more hurtful jab. Lazy lead shots against a solid counter puncher like Kessler are a recipe for disaster.
3. Don't look for the single shot
It's understandable that as the first fight descended into a war of attrition, both men would look to load up on the big shots, but once again this could play in to Kessler's hands. As already stated, Kessler is an astute counter puncher who carries real power (He holds a 74% KO ratio) and single heavy shots will afford him the opportunity to fire back. Froch isn't particularly tough to tag, so his best hopes lie in keeping the other man occupied with flurries of activity.
4. Get the Dane on the back foot
A stronger jab and more combinations will go a long way to nullifying Kessler's strengths, as they should help keep him moving backwards. A lot of talk in the build-up has focused on Kessler being the 'better boxer' of the pair, but to my mind this ignores one slight flaw. When under pressure, he moves back in straight lines and can become untidy. Getting him to do so will be no mean feat, but if Froch can impose himself like he did against Bute and Abraham, he'll be making life a whole lot easier on Saturday night. The added benefit of getting Kessler on the back foot will be the removal of one of his key weapon, the powerful body shots which put fellow Brit Brian Magee away.
5. Use the uppercut
'The Cobra' carries his hands low, a fact which will not change this weekend. Relying on his ability to take a shot may cause purists to shake their heads in disbelief, but for Saturday it could come in handy. Kessler will look to come forward with straight one-two's and then work the hooks to the body and when he does, Froch must use his under-rated uppercut. By carrying his hands so low, he’ll not only be inviting Kessler to engage, but also giving himself the opportunity to get the uppercut off quickly. The Brit may not be a one punch knock-out artist, but an accumulation of solid uppercuts like he landed in the first fight could help break his opponent down. It may be some time ago, but it was exactly this shot which took out Magee in their British title meeting in 2006 and something similar could do the trick once again.
Can Froch make the changes required to get the win he desires and give British boxing a shot in the arm? That remains to be seen this weekend, but for my money he’ll have a little bit too much for Kessler and I can see him inflicting the first stoppage on the Dane’s resume in the later rounds. The margins are small, but the fact Alan Green dropped the Viking Warrior potentially points towards a slight deterioration, while Froch appears to have improved in recent outings. In this instance though, I’ll be keeping my money in my pocket, because regardless of the result, this is a fight boxing and sporting fans in general can enjoy. With a heightened spot light on the sport for the next few days, let’s hope it lives up to expectations.
Ryan Burnett: Good Things Come To Those Who Wait
By: Gerry Murray - May 21, 2013
This coming Friday, 21 year old bantamweight Ryan Burnett will have his first professional outing when he takes on Hungary’s Laszlo Namesapati Jr. (1-3-0) in a scheduled four round bout. The fight which takes place on Steve Wood’s VIP Promotions show at Liverpool’s Olympia does not appear to be particularly unusual on paper. After all, debutant vs. a little known Eastern European challenger is a fairly common sight on the UK circuit. However, for Belfast’s Burnett, it marks something more important than just the first opportunity to box without the head guard and vest. For him simply earning the right to step into the ring represents a major victory in his fledgling career.
When he announced he’d be turning over in early 2012, big things were quite rightly expected of Burnett from his professional career. In 2010, aged 18, he took home the 48kg gold at the Singapore Youth Olympics, the only Irish participant to come home with a medal from those games. The expectation was further fuelled when he signed a deal to be promoted and trained by boxing legend Ricky Hatton, adding to a stable already stacked full of talent in and around his weight. A quick debut at flyweight or super-flyweight was being planned until the British Boxing Board of Control medical examination put everything on hold.
Burnett is straight to the point about the reason for the delay. “I had a brain problem. They said the blood wasn’t flowing around my brain as it should have been, so the British Boxing Board, they’re so cautious of any little thing, they said I couldn’t get my license.”
Having relocated from Northern Ireland to Manchester to train with Hatton, a move which Burnett openly admits is “really hard” due to being away from friends and family, it would have been very easy at that point to pack his bags and return home to Belfast. However, Burnett then displayed the determination that should hold him in good stead in the ring. “I remember lying in bed and getting a phone call and the doctor telling me that I was never going to box again. Everything was running through my head, but I just had to stay positive. I knew what I wanted and that’s to box, so I had no other choice bar going to the gym and proving to everyone that I wanted to be a boxer and I was willing to push through anything.”
Unsurprisingly that dedication has impressed Ricky Hatton, who has heaped praise on his fighter for his positive attitude and consistent presence in the gym, despite the doubts over whether he’d ever be able to put all those hours of training to good use. When many others would have sulked and gone home, Burnett carried on working on the basics required to switch from world beating amateur to successful professional.
With his medical issues now behind him (The board granted a license earlier this year following a year of work from Burnett, his father and Hatton Promotions to prove he was safe to box) Ryan is convinced the enforced layoff will stand him in good stead. “In the year and half I’ve been out of the game I’ve learnt so much about the pro game and how things work. I’ve adapted to it a lot more than what I would have done if I’d turned professional and just gone straight into the ring fighting. I’ve matured.”
Unusually for a young man who alongside his father was meticulous in his choice of Hatton as trainer, a process during which “Rick ticked every box”, Burnett knows little about his first opponent. Nonetheless, this doesn’t appear to faze him in any way. “I don’t really mind what he does. As long as he turns up on the night, that’s good enough for me.”
So it appears the essential self-confidence is another encouraging trait that can be added to the undoubted talent and determination the young Ulsterman has already displayed. On Friday we’ll start to find out how far he can go along the path which, potential fulfilled, he believes can take him all the way to being a world champion. Given what he’s already shown just by getting to this stage, expect Burnett to very quickly start replacing doctors with judges as those giving him the right decisions.
Matchroom Sport Wins Saunders v Ryder Purse Bids
By: Gerry Murray - May 8, 2013
Matchroom Sport today won the purse bids for the eagerly anticipated middleweight match-up between current British Champion Billy Joe Saunders (17(10)-0) and Islington’s John Ryder (14(8)-0). The British Boxing Board of Control expects the fight to take place by the end of July.
Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport and Ryder’s promoter announced the news on Twitter this afternoon, saying the date and venue of the proposed clash between the two unbeaten prospects will be announced shortly. The purse bids were called by the board in April following John Ryder’s 2012 TKO victory over Irishman Eamon O’Kane.
Anticipation of the victorious promoter in the purse bid has been as great as the potential winner of the fight, as it marked yet another potential flashpoint between Britain’s two largest promotional outfits. Beijing Olympian Saunders is currently promoted by Frank Warren whose boxers fight on his own Boxnation station, while Ryder is handled by Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn who hold an exclusive TV deal with Sky Sports. Animosity between the two companies are no secret and have escalated in recent months following the defection of WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns from Frank Warren’s stable to Matchroom Sport. A move which has led to an on-going legal dispute. The purse bids were therefore seen as a test of strength given both faced the possibility of seeing one of the star attractions fighting on a rival network in their biggest career match-up to date.
Stylistically the contest is extremely intriguing, with Saunders’ superior boxing skills pitted against Ryder’s perceived advantage in strength and power. Despite being the away fighter on a Matchroom card, it’s likely that Saunders, who has so far mixed at a higher level would start as a marginal betting favourite, but at the formative stages of their professional careers the fight represents as close to a 50/50 clash as you’re likely to see.
Given the promotional politics involved, the prospect of Saunders relinquishing the title to follow a different route have been speculated upon. However, Saunders himself has given Frank Warren problems in that regard by being extremely vocal in re-iterating his desire to win a Londsdale belt outright.
Saunders said "I want to be first to that from my community to do that. I am in boxing to win a world title, but right now that Lonsdale belt is the most important thing in my career. No Romany has ever won a Lonsdale belt and that is what I want to do."
Achieving this goal requires three successful British title defences and Saunders currently holds one against Matty Hall earlier this year to his name. Given how proud Saunders is of his roots and the popularity of the boxing within the traveller community, this desire should not be overlooked and therefore presents a tricky situation for Warren to negotiate.
For the sake of British boxing, we have to hope politics are set aside for now and both men get the stage they deserve to showcase their talents in one of the most anticipated British title fights of recent years.
Amir Khan: A Lack of Skills That Pays The Bills
By: Gerry Murray - April 29, 2013
The build up to Saturday’s light welterweight fight between Amir Khan and Julio Diaz was dominated by one question. How much had Khan learnt from Virgil Hunter in recent months to help him overcome his well known defensive flaws? Flaws which have cost him dearly against Breidis Prescott, Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson as well as walk the tightrope to victory against Argentinean banger Marcus Maidana. Judging by what we saw in Sheffield during his roller-coaster unanimous decision win, the answer to that question is clearly ‘not enough’.
However after the surprisingly competitive match-up, fight fans should be asking themselves a different question this Sunday. How much do we want Amir Khan to learn? It’s too much fun watching him as he is.
Make no mistake about it, Julio Diaz was a handpicked opponent against whom Khan was expected to not only win, but win convincingly. Diaz may be a 2 time world champion, but his best days are around 5 years behind him and found below light-welterweight. His previous successes may have given the promotion something to hang their hat on when selling the fight, but the expectation was for a one-sided procession towards another world title shot in December. The plan was evidently clear when with one breath ‘Team Khan’ were talking of not looking past the veteran Mexican, while with the next discussing plans of matching their man against the winner of Golden Boy’s light welterweight tournament between Garcia, Judah, Matthysse and Peterson. Khan v Diaz should not have been an exciting fight, but once again the Bolton man’s weaknesses made sure those in attendance went home getting full value for money.
Khan’s performance on Saturday was his career in a microcosm. An encouraging start, flashes of blurring brilliance, but ending with your heart in your mouth every time his opponent let his hands go. The first 9 minutes went exactly according to plan for the Brit, with Khan darting in and out unloading combinations that may have failed to hurt Diaz, but left the judges in no doubt who was winning the rounds. However, in the 4th things got tricky all of a sudden and it was once again susceptibility to the left hook that caused the problems. Two in a row got Amir’s feet in a tangle and eventually sent him to the canvas and we were back into the all too familiar situation of Khan, hands raised to convince the referee he was in a fit state to continue. It was edge of your seat time all the way to the final bell.
Khan managed to run, hold and box his way in equal measure to the victory, but the performance from rounds 4 through to 12 will have done nothing to stop the criticism of him as glass jawed. As always with the Bolton man, the positives of picking himself up will be overlooked as he’s once again written off as fundamentally flawed as an elite-level fighter. But it’s for exactly that reason why he’ll continue to get the big paydays and draw the crowds for a little while yet.
Khan’s weaknesses have been evident since Willie Limond put him on his backside in their Commonwealth lightweight title fight and now we’re 31 fights in and several levels up, it’s unlikely they’re going to suddenly disappear. Even if he has enlisted Virgil Hunter to teach him some of the skills which have made Andre Ward a top pound for pound fighter.
Ward may possess all the defensive tricks Khan would love to have at his disposal, but when it comes to pulling in the average sports fan you’d want Khan selling the sport over the Oakland man every day. He has the potential to look unbeatable for spells and at the next minute look like any club fighter could put him to sleep and that’s what people pay to see.
So while everyone else is getting caught up in whether he’s overhyped, glass jawed or the next Matthysse KO victim in waiting, I’m just going to enjoy him for what he is. A skilled fighter that brings wider interest to the sport and rarely makes for dull viewing. We’ve already got Mayweather, Rigondeaux and Ward if we want to watch technical brilliance. Sometimes I just want to watch a competitive fight where anything could happen and in that respect, I’m happy for Amir Khan to stay exactly as he is.
Macklin, Barker and Murray: Business to take care of at home?
By: Gerry Murray - April 11, 2013
Gennady Golovkin, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. and Sergio Martinez. Given these fighters make up the top three of Billy C’s middleweight rankings, it would be harsh to criticise the choice of likely opponents for Britain’s top 3 middleweights. Add to this the strong possibility that Matt Macklin, Darren Barker and Martin Murray would have to take on their respective tasks on foreign soil when historically British boxers have enjoyed limited success in doing so at the top level and you’d think everyone would be singing the praises of each man. However, while happy to commend their bravery while other boxing stars take the easier road, this particular fan is going to be harsh. For me, all three fights just don’t sit well. Yet.
Take any British boxing fan aged around 30 and I’ll guarantee I can pick the fights which kick-started their love affair with the sport. Eubank, Benn, Collins and Watson were household names fighting on terrestrial TV from the late 80’s to early 90’s and between the quartet, 9 memorable fights took place. Only Steve Collins and Michael Watson failed to meet during their careers and it’s hard to believe this wouldn’t have happened had Watson not suffered horrible injuries during his second bout with Eubank. Like Macklin, Barker and Murray today, it’s fair to say that the great quartet of the 80’s and 90’s probably had more skilled fighters in their divisions. Hearns, Duran and Leonard still featured in the earlier days, while James Toney, Roy Jones Jr. and Bernard Hopkins led the way in the 90’s. A match-up with any of these champions would certainly have captured the public imagination on this side of the pond, but quite rightly, taking care of business at home was prioritised.
Barker, Murray and Macklin have never faced each other. The closest they’ve come is a cancelled 2010 British and European title fight between Barker and Macklin which was never rescheduled and this is exactly where my problem lies. World titles have diminished in value far enough as it is due to the proliferation of governing bodies. Crowning World Champions who can’t yet claim to be the best in their own country will go no way to restoring their credibility.
Are these three the only ones guilty of the crime? Of course not, but this example is particularly frustrating because of the intriguing ingredients which would make any potential match-up sell well. Barker the boxer, Macklin the fighter and Murray the grafter, all styles would gel to provide genuinely exciting fights. Barker from London, Macklin with his Irish roots and Murray from the North West would ensure a lively atmosphere wherever it was staged. Add to these the simmering war of words, with Macklin at the centre and you should have all the respective promoters’ interest. Countless great British boxers have failed to catch the public’s imagination, partly because they lacked a credible domestic rival to bounce off. This is not a problem any current British middleweight faces which makes their failure to capitalise on the situation all the more disheartening.
I’m a big fan of all three fighters and despite my reservations, I will cheer them on against the best the division has to offer. However, the usual pride of seeing a British boxer take on the big names will also come mixed with a sense of disappointment. The saying goes “fighting is 90% mental and 10% physical”, so when you take on the best, what better preparation than KNOWING you’re the best man to represent your country. At the moment all three talk up their respective credentials in that area well, but none have proven it where it matters. They’ve all gone abroad to challenge world champions before. Whether it be Sturm for Macklin and Murray or Martinez for Macklin and Barker, each time they’ve stepped up they’ve failed to take the belts home. Maybe it’s time to try a different path? A couple of wins over top ranked domestic rivals and the army of new fans that would generate is currency, one which may help secure all important home advantage when it comes to negotiating a title shot. It’s these small margins which can mean the difference between champion or challenger.
For my money, before you step up to the elite level, there’s always a benefit in ensuring you’ve taken care of business at home.
Wilder vs Harrison: Who’s the fraud?
By: Gerry Murray - March 26, 2013
Former Olympic Super-Heavyweight gold medallist Audley Harrison confirmed via his twitter account this afternoon that he has agreed to fight unbeaten American KO artist Deontay Wilder.
Following a weekend of speculation, Harrison tweeted:
“No secrets in boxing eh! I have AGREED to take the fight with 5 weeks’ notice. We’re close, hopefully we get there on all details.”
Providing the finer points of the contract can be agreed over the coming days, which they should easily manage, the bout is due to take place on the upcoming April 27th showdown between Amir Khan and Julio Diaz in Sheffield.
Wilder’s promoters Golden Boy are currently looking to establish themselves in the UK and CEO Richard Schaefer has already made it clear he’d happily bring over big name fighters to compliment UK talent on their shows. The addition of ‘The Bronze Bomber’ to the April card is therefore a welcome indication of things to come for British fans and a timely announcement following growing criticism over ticket prices and the quality of opposition chosen for Amir Khan’s homecoming.
So what of the choice of Harrison as the man to announce Wilder to the British public? A household name, but one with a history of falling short in his biggest professional fights and more than one KO loss on his record, it would seem like the perfect opponent. Much like his fellow Olympian who tops the bill, Harrison is heavily maligned in the UK... He’s equally well known as ‘A-Farce’, ‘Audinary’ or ‘Fraudley Embarrassing’ following a timid loss to David Haye and a 1 round blow at the hands of David Price in 2012. However, regardless of his ring achievements since Sydney 2000, he rarely fails to sell a fight to the wider sports fan.
Harrison is coming off his second Prize Fighter success in February of this year, where he looked leaner and sharper than he has for some time in beating Derric Rossy and Martin Rogan on the way to victory and it will be this recent success which Golden Boy will cling to in attempting to convince boxing fans that Harrison is a viable threat to their hope for the next great US heavyweight.
Despite his perfect record so far, Wilder is not without his critics either. To say the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist, has been matched easily is an under-statement. A record of 27 KO’s from 27 fights certainly suggests he can bang, but it also says he hasn’t had the necessary tests required for a developing fighter. It’s only when placed alongside fellow big man Dereck Chisora, who has fewer pro bouts, but has already fought David Haye, Tyson Fury, Robert Helenius and Vitali Klitschko that his record really gets shown up for what it is. It’s for this reason alone that a match-up against Harrison is interesting.
The old saying goes that “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”, so maybe I am crazy for thinking anything other than an early round demolition from Deontay Wilder is possible. It certainly wouldn’t be the first time we’ve heard Harrison talk of finally fulfilling his promise before massively disappointing in the ring. However, you can’t help but admire the man’s self-belief. Being the butt of a nation’s jokes and still managing to dust himself down to re-build after each failure requires some courage. It would have been all too easy for Harrison to have walked away many times already, but he hasn’t and it’s this determination that eventually makes you want him to finally get his success.
Wilder is probably too young, too strong and punches too hard for this to be Audley’s night, but make no mistake, A-Force is not in desperate need of a big payday. A lucrative TV contract after turning pro followed recently by the Price and Haye match-ups has left him financially comfortable and this suggests he’s seen vulnerability in Wilder that’s there for him to exploit. And with that horribly padded record and worryingly skinny legs for a heavyweight, big Audley is certainly not the only one!
George Groves in-line For Abraham v Stieglitz Winner
By: Gerry Murray - March 19, 2013
If rumours circulating today are to be believed, super middleweight contender George Groves (17-0, 13 KOs) is wasting little time since making the move from Frank Warren Promotions to Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport. Having already made quick work of Dario German Balmaceda just 10 days ago on the Darren Barker v Simone Rotolo undercard, it is rumoured that Groves will be out again on the Arthur Abraham v Robert Stieglitz bill this weekend.
The agreement for all parties concerned would appear to make perfect sense. Groves is currently ranked at number 2 by the WBO, only bettered by the two men who meet this weekend for the title. His appearance as their support would suggest he is being viewed as the natural opponent for the victor. For Abraham and Stieglitz the aim is also very clear. Groves’ promoter Eddie Hearn has already promised his man chief support for the planned Froch v Kessler rematch on May 25th in London and Stieglitz and Abraham would both clearly enjoy the opportunity to position themselves as the obvious opponent for the winner of that matchup by shining on the undercard.
What makes both potential clashes even more intriguing is the close nature of the fights. Of all the current super middleweight title holders, Groves’ manager Adam Both clearly sees Abraham or Stieglitz as the easiest route to a title. Groves was scheduled to meet Stieglitz in May last year before an injury to the Brit put pay to that showdown and while Abraham would undoubtedly be a tough test, the manor of Carl Froch’s 12 round decision win against the Armenian showed an obvious blueprint to winning that fight too. Similarly, Stieglitz and Abraham would hold no fear in facing the undefeated Hammersmith man. Both would view a victory over Groves as the most direct route to a payday against Froch or Kessler, two of the division’s biggest names and would no doubt be aware of his weaknesses, visible in his minor wobbles against domestic level opponents Paul Smith and Kenny Anderson. While Groves has excited fans in his fledgling career, it hasn’t been without it’s scary moments.
At this point, there has been no official confirmation of a fight from Groves or any of his team. However, the source of the rumour is particularly well placed. Veteran British boxing journalist Steve Bunce dropped the news on his weekly boxing podcast for ESPN and is particularly well placed to have the inside track. Bunce is the main anchorman for Boxnation, the UK subscription boxing channel who will screen the Abraham v Stieglitz show this coming weekend.
If confirmed, this news would also provide context to the ongoing promotional war between Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn which has been escalating in recent weeks. While Frank Warren has issued court proceedings against Ricky Burns following his move to Matchroom Sport, the departure of George Groves in the same direction only one week prior was comparatively amicable. Warren’s statement following the announcement read “'Mr Warren would like to wish George all the best with his career and looks forward to working again with him in the near future”. What wasn’t initially clear of course was how soon that may be. Frank Warren is the major shareholder in Boxnation, the station where Groves may find himself fighting once again this weekend.
Despite having such a dominant champion in Andre Ward, the super middleweight division is continuing to throw up regular, intriguing clashes and after a frantic couple of weeks, George Groves seems determined to place himself front and centre in 2013.
Ricky Burns' Problem!
By: Gerry Murray - March 12, 2013
After a weekend of rumours and speculation, Eddie Hearn today announced his latest big name signing to his burgeoning Matchroom stable... WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns.
Following hot on the heals of George Groves' decision to make the very same move last Monday, the defection struck another major blow to Frank Warren's 'Rule Britania' show, now planned for April 20th at London's Wembley Arena. Burns had been scheduled to meet IBF title holder Miguel Vasquez in a unification fight.
The announcement has hardly come as a shock off the back of a very public fall out between Warren and Burns' long term manager Alex Morrison over the last week. Morrison made no secret of his and Burns' frustration, even calling in to question whether the scheduled unification fight with Vasquez, promoted by Warren, was ever likely to happen.
So what does this mean for Ricky Burns? Short term he has a court room battle on his hands. Frank Warren promotions immediately issued a statement saying "Ricky Burns is under binding promotional and management contracts. Following the announcement by Eddie Hearn that Ricky Burns has signed with him, W. Promotions Limited and Frank Warren are suing Burns for substantial damages.'
Longer term the deal is also potentially problematic. Burns was undoubtedly concerned by having another last minute cancellation. His December fight with first Liam Walsh and then late replacement Jose Ocampo fell through and combined with the Vasquez training camp have left him £12,000 out of pocket in sparring partner fees. However, Vasquez's team were happy to proceed with a rearranged date and it will be tough for Matchroom to find an opponent as strong for Burns first date under their guidance, planned for May 11th.
Vasquez was a tough, but winnable fight for Burns. One that gave him a shot at a second title and an all important bargaining chip in negotiating the biggest lightweight fight out there against Adrien 'The Problem' Broner. Realistically we can now expect a match up with Gavin Rees, another of Matchroom's lightweights and while this is by no means a bad fight, it's just not Broner.
Should Burns struggle against Rees, a very real possibility against an awkward opponent, his negotiating position is severely weakened in securing the high profile shot at HBO's new number one fighter. Broner, of course got rid of Rees inside 5 last month and it's unlikely Burns would be able to do the same with only 10 KO's in his career.
The other big pay day available in the near future would be a British super-fight against Amir Khan up at light welterweight, but once again Matchroom doesn't make that deal easy to make. Khan's team and Matchroom have met before for the 2011 meeting with Paul McCloskey and neither party had much good to say about the experience. Money talks, but that fight would not be without it's complications.
Matchroom Sport undoubtedly offer Burns some real benefits. Regular TV presence with Sky Sports and a home town show are not to be sniffed at, but after the dust settles on this latest drama, it will also come with problems. And maybe not the one Ricky Burns has been looking for.