Boxing Insider Interview with Martin Bakole and Billy Nelson: A Contender from the Congo
By: Oliver McManus
Martin Bakole and Billy Nelson aren’t, on paper, two names that you’d associate with one another but, forget paper, because the relationship that they have brings out the best in each other and it really is as simple as that with Nelson relishing the prospect of guiding his Congolese heavyweight to the very top.
Billy rang me on Monday, about 10 minutes after he and Martin touched down at the hotel in Sheffield – where they’ve been sparring Anthony Joshua – and Bakole started off by telling me about growing up in Congo, how his father used to be a boxer and that he and his brother, Ilunga Makabu, would bounce off each other trying to be the best.
There were relatively few details at this point with Bakole struggling to understand my thick Southern accent so for the duration of the interview I had to rely on Billy, kindly, relaying the questions back in his unmistakable Scottish voice.
Talking of Scotland and his relationship with Billy, the fighter told me, “Yes, I’m getting used to it (the rain), I am a vegetarian, not only in Scotland but everywhere…
… it doesn’t matter where the meat comes from Ollie, he won’t eat it, there’s actually an African shop nearby where he gets his stuff from but I do try to get him trying the Scottish stuff…
…but the relationship with Billy is a very good one, I trust him, it’s great, it’s lovely, lovely, I always listen to what he tells me and he knows what he’s doing. My career has moved on since I’ve met him, I’m getting better, I’m having bigger fights. He gets me good sparring and I’m happy”.
Billy echoed those sentiments and I asked him just how good Martin was in comparison to his former charges, “Martin is by far the best fighter I have ever trained, he is technically fantastic, naturally gifted which makes my job a bit easier but the most important part for me is just tweaking some of the areas, fight management and guiding him through, he really is a fast learner”.
11 and 0 as a professional boxer, having made his debut back in 2014, there was a refreshing honesty from Martin when it came to that first fight – against Cecil Smith, also making his debut, at Emperors Palace in South Africa – “It was scary, harder than I thought it would be, in the amateurs there are head guards and I wasn’t used to it”.
Any fears that he initially had have been long put to bed with the Airdrie resident first fighting in the United Kingdom in August 2016 and having seven fights since, his last two fights have been against DL Jones and Ali Baghouz which, whilst not the highest level of operators, Martin dispatched with quicker than Daniel Dubois and Tony Yoka, respectively, and yet there is a comparative lack of attention being shone on Bakole.
Nelson was tactful on this, insisting it was just a case of biding their time, “It’s a fair point, they are British heavyweights but I can assure you that Martin Bakole’s time will come and Daniel Dubois will not fight Martin Bakole, not in a month of Sundays, Martin is just far too good right now. As good a fighter as Daniel is, Ollie, Martin is far superior so we don’t worry about getting the hype around us, Martin does the talking in the ring”
Fighting DL Jones back in June saw Bakole drop the challenger on two occasions on his way to a 62 second knockout, including the count, but it was by far the test that the IBO Continental champion was hoping for with a, unnamed, former European challenger withdrawing from the bout –
“I was beginning to worry that we wouldn’t get an opponent, at least DL Jones stepped up to the plate but look at the difference between Martin’s first fight with me – against (Dominic) Akinlade – and a few months previously Akinlade had gone 10 rounds with Nathan Gorman who is well thought of, we’ve sparred him, but Martin destroyed Akinlade in one round. DL Jones went three rounds with Dubois, Martin Bakole broke his nose and fractured his eye socket in 62 seconds. But the thing is, if you look at the Top 12 in Britain, I’d say at least eight of them will say ‘no, thank you’.”
Martin interjected at this point, “I think that was my best fight, or the guy I fought before, it’s a difficult name to say (Ali Baghouz), but DL Jones was a good fight, I got a very good knockout and it made me happy”.
Finding opponents is an area Martin doesn’t have to worry about, with the Congolese giant saying, “I don’t mind who I fight, I will not pick, I just want to fight” but it is something that causes Nelson nightmares, “we’ve offered Dave Allen the fight two or three times but he won’t take it, he was a bit derogatory to Martin but we made up and sparred two rounds and that’s really concreted that he won’t fight Martin, after that. The thing is that Martin has been round the country to spar, he sparred Tyson Fury a few years ago, Dillian Whyte called off sparring the night before, everyone knows what Martin has done in sparring and I got a coach telling me “play the game”. I told him “we don’t play games”, we’re here to spar Anthony Joshua for the next week but Martin doesn’t seem him as a sparring partner, they both need quality sparring and you’d pay good, good money to watch the spars”.
Attention swiftly turned to Martin’s next fight, on October 13th, against Michael Hunter – former Oleksandr Usyk challenger – and Bakole seemed to relax in prospect of this fight, taking a deep breath before telling me, “I am ready to show to the world who I am, that I will be a future world champion and I’m not going to be scared, I’m going to show people how good I am with a big fight, I will stop people saying “Who is Martin Bakole?. I will make a statement, whenever I knock him out, it will be a statement.”
That confidence was expanded on when he opened up about sparring with Anthony Joshua, “it gives me good confidence, no-one else wants to spar me but Anthony Joshua and his coach know that I am the best so when I spar him it is very good sparring, high level and it keeps me focussed. Helps my intelligent and he always texts me after sparring saying thank you and it gives me confidence going into my fights”.
A much mooted fight was that of Joe Joyce, who claimed Bakole needed to bring more to the table, “Martin is fighting Michael Hunter, who knocked out Joe’s last opponent, Kiladze, so it’s hypocritical of him to say that, I think we’ll go down different routes now but we would fight him in a heartbeat.”
Despite hailing from the Congo, Bakole will be eligible for a British Boxing Board of Control License from next year, allowing him to fight for domestic and European titles, and I asked him if that was a fight (Agit Kabayel) that interested him, “I think I am better than that level, I am higher than that”.
It was pleasing to hear the quiet character showing such confidence and Billy was happy with the progress made under him, “the guys just don’t want to fight him but he’s knocked Akinlade, Baghouz, DL Jones out in one round and the only guy to go the distance under me was Sokolowski, no excuses that day because we travelled from Scotland to London at about 6.30 in the morning – I had three in title fights the night before but Martin didn’t want to go down with anyone else – and he gave that guy a hell of a beating, broke his nose, the worst broken nose I’ve ever seen and Sokolowski is one tough guy”.
This was another one of those rare occasion where Martin came in with a declaration of his own, “I will fight anyone, I will beat anybody, it doesn’t worry me who they are, I will not say this one or that one but whoever wants to fight me, I will be thankful but I will beat them. I would like to be out 4, 5 time next year.”
I asked him what he thought of fighting on TV and in his new home country of Scotland, “It is nice to be on TV, people watching me live and it makes me feel nice, thank you to them for watching and for Cyclone Promotions. I love fighting in Scotland. I like the people here, they make me feel loved and happy”.
The last word, fittingly, should go to Bakole who had a very simple, emphatic answer for me when I was cheeky enough to ask if anyone could beat him – “NO”.
The Ultimate Showdown of Boxer vs. Brawler: Fury vs. Wilder
By: Dylan Smith
The Battle of the Behemoth
Could this be it? The greatest pugilist Giants waging war to win the ultimate title of Super Heavyweight Champion of the world and could the victor be crowned as the GOAT?
Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder are the longest bodied out of the top ranked heavyweights in the world with a combined wingspan of over 5 meters and each stretching over 6 feet 7 inches tall. Tyson Fury is back in the ring and has proclaimed he wants to take back his titles, which he never lost in the ring and even go on to defend them to match the great Joe Luis’ record of number of defences. So far Fury has done what he set out to do by beating Vladimir Klitscho on his home turf against all the odds so why now, even after his 2 year lay off, should we doubt him? One of the reasons could be the climate of the heavyweight division has drastically changed with rough tough young competitors like Joseph Parker and hard hungry powerhouses like Dillian Whyte who pose massive threats to Tysons unbeaten record and dreams of a glory. The British public and the world however do love a comeback story and an underdog as they are dramatised in classic films such as Rocky. So has he got the minerals? Usually for such a large man you wouldn’t see this kind of movement however Tyson floats around the ring turning, slipping and ducking like a man half his size normally would. His technique is masterful and you can tell he has crafted his skill over a number of years, dedicated his life to boxing. Some say he doesn’t hit hard for a large heavyweight but even if he doesn’t hit like AJ or Wilder he more than makes up for it with precision, speed and timing with 19 ko’s out of 26 contests. Tyson Fury throws every punch in the book from every angle and has an awkward style where he can switch stances, fight long or up close, spoil and counter on the entry and exit from the clinch. He is used to going to the champions turf so will he be the man for the job and can he shock the world again and prove all the doubters wrong in becoming the
WBC heavyweight champion of the world?
Deontay wilder is an absolute knockout artist with a phenomenal record of 39 ko’s out of 40 contests in which he has knocked out every opponent he has ever faced as a professional in the squared circle, as in the rematch against Bermaine Stivern he managed to take him out in literally the last second of the first round. His name appropriately resonates his fighting style as he is famous for throwing wild hooks and hurtful haymakers. He started off more of a brawler and still is, however his skill set has massively improved over the years. He has honed in on his accuracy of shots and has a fantastic snappy jab, he also displays his improved boxing intelligence with the shot selections and combination punches he throws, displayed recently against Luis Ortiz where he annihilated him in the 10th round after being shook himself earlier in the fight. Still with all that skill he still loves to bang out that straight right hand and possesses that one punch knockout power that could shut anyones lights out if it touches them anywhere on the head. Wilder likes to brawl and bash his opponents, break them down and finish in fierce savage style. We can talk attributes: length; power; speed and both fighters tick all of the boxes, also both have unbeaten records. It will then be a case of who can make the other one fight their style. Fury will box and spoil and Wilder will shake him off and look for the overhand right as Tyson enters the clinch. Or will Wilder want to box long and display his pugilist skills and shock everyone like Fury did to Klitschko. The likelihood is however Fury will bob and weave and Wilder will get more and more desperate and keep firing the right hand until it finds a home on Fury’s head.
With the deal being reported by Frank Warren (Tyson Fury’s promoter) as nearly done for December we may see how it plays out. Are we going to be given an early Christmas present? Will we see these 2 colossals collide in the ultimate mammoth match of boxer versus brawler for the most prestigious title in Boxing? I hope so.
Best of the Rest: The Heavyweight Division
By: Oliver McManus
Last week we focused on the “elite” heavyweight fighters and in an ever-changing division with contenders coming and going, this article seeks to take a look at the next crop of challengers looking to force their way to a world title.
Where better a place to start than with the man who will challenge Anthony Joshua for the WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO world titles on September 22nd – Alexander Povetkin. Now if this was written three, four years ago then Povetkin would easily walk into your top 5 on any given day but a whole range of factors have seen his profile and, indeed, fear-factor cascade down.
Obviously part of that is due to his failed drugs test which, rightly or wrongly, cast a shadow over all performances both past and future and if we’re being honest the Russian superstar looked slow and lacklustre in his two fights of 2017 – namely against Christian Hammer and Andriy Rudenko – whilst against David Price on March 31st of this year he showed fragility when Price gave him a major scare in the third round.
That’s the negativity out of the way with, then, we can now focus on the positives which is, to be frank, that Povetkin is an absolute animal in the ring and despite that scare against David Price he also showed a killer instinct to get the job done in the fifth with one of the most brutal knockdowns of recent memory.
His power is frightening as too, by the way, is his icy, steely persona which remains seemingly unfazed during conflict, and that emotional detachment from the sport, his job, is something that is quite scary but clearly plays into his favour because, in a way, he does treat this like a job and it’s just something he needs to get done. And boy he doesn’t half do it well.
“Big Baby” Miller, next on our list, is, well, a huge lump of muscle and one huge brawling machine.
That’s not to do him any disservice because it’s got him the results he needs – against Gerald Washington back in 2017 he took his American counterpart to town in a brutal beatdown that lasted eight rounds whilst against Mariusz Wach he exhibited his sheer power in exploding the Polish veteran out of the ring in the ninth round.
Of course this come-forward, swing at all costs, style of fighting has it’s downsides as does, evidently, weighing near 300lbs so the natural to criticism to levy his way is that he’s not that great a mover and he’s open to get hit and, true as that may be, I’ve been impressed with his opening explosivity and hand-speed although, naturally, he does fatigue an awful lot quicker than his nearest rivals.
Undeniably being lined up to face Anthony Joshua, Miller signed with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom USA recently and has already been making noises with regards that fight, appearing at the DAZN press conference and getting under the skin of AJ already (as scripted as it looked).
Next out on October 6th, Miller is at the stage of his career where he needs to fight legitimate Top 15 contenders – Carlos Takam is a name that comes to mind – in order to prove that he’s more than first impressions would suggest and really catapult him into the top brass of this division.
The ageing Cuban who, for a long time, has been heralded as the purest heavyweight in the division knows that time is against him with the 39 year old knocking on the door of a world title for the last time.
A former interim WBA World Heavyweight champion, the power of the Cuban is undeniable – as we saw in back-to-back destructions of Martias Ariel Vidondo, Bryant Jennings and Tony Thompson in a five month period between October 2015 and March 2016.
Since then we’ve seen Ortiz look stale when up against Malik Scott and David Allen, his two fights under the promotional banner of Eddie Hearn, but in contrasting fashion his fight against Deontay Wilder in March re-established himself as a threat – it was do or die throughout the fight for Wilder with many seeing Ortiz as leading on the scorecards prior to the stoppage (though Wilder was officially ahead by 1point on all three).
Twice having failed drugs test since 2015 there will always be those who raise eyebrows when his name is mentioned but a fiery salvo in the seventh round against Wilder was all you need to see to know, “yeah, this guy’s got it”. Not instinctively fast, when King Kong turns it on then, trust me, it is ON and, like a switch, he can become dynamism personified for the round as he piles the pressure on.
In need of the big fights, Ortiz is a man who looks infinitely more polished and threatening when in with a better calibre of opposition and relies on 12 rounds (or less) of fighting as opposed to a nuanced tactical battle.
Take his fight with Anthony Joshua away from his CV and it’s easy to forget that Joseph Parker was actually WBO heavyweight champion of the world with thanks to a uninspiring victory over Andy Ruiz followed by, equally uninspiring defences, against Razvan Cojanu and “Shades of Ali” Hughie Fury.
Nonetheless he was the world champion and the first man to take Anthony Joshua to task for a full 12 rounds so we shouldn’t be overly critical and the Kiwi, unlike Ortiz, is a man that needs to have a careful, controlled fight to enable him to work the body and get his footwork into play.
At least that’s what we thought until he got in the ring with Dillian Whyte in a fight that, whilst still not superfluously impressive, answered a few questions with regards David Higgins’ poster boy – for the first time in a long time we saw the power that Parker packs as he rattled Whyte, dropping him in the process, and rallied for an absolute barnstormer of a final two rounds.
Questions answered but, simultaneously, questions raised. Namely, why on earth does Parker not show that heart, conviction and sheer fire throughout the whole fight instead of saving it for a final flurry? Only he knows the answer to that but it showed the fans that he’s certainly a class act and not someone that anyone is going to go out of their way to fight – except Whyte, of course.
The next fight is key for Parker, a win is a necessary must for him to get back into title contention.
The hardest man in boxing? Old school hard, that is. A man you wouldn’t want to meet in the back alleys of Newport on a blustery Sunday night. And that’s what makes him such a threat to this current crop of heavyweight challengers because you can never write Chisora off.
Sure he has his bad days, need we mention Agit Kabayel? But he outnumbers those, by a significant handful, with stellar fights against the likes of Dillian Whyte and, more recently, Carlos Takam. That Takam fight, let’s be clear, wasn’t all Dereck, either, but he looked cool, he looked breezy and he finished the job with a scintillating knockout in a fashion that made Anthony Joshua’s victory over Takam look, well, mediocre.
That’s another thing about Del Boy, you can’t really attempt to analyse him in too much detail because his style is, in the nicest way possible, get stuck in, throw some punches and get the hell out of there as quickly as possible. Not a brawler, for that term has so many negative connotations, but a perfectly executed FIGHTER.
Rumours murmur that he could be in the pipeline for Joshua, a $5million offer has been made to Deontay Wilder but Chisora has options for the more immediate future – a lucrative rematch with Dillian Whyte, a WBA Regular shot at Manuel Charr, maybe even Tony Bellew, who knows, but the point is that the future is looking as bright as I can remember for Steve Goodwin’s fighter and, good god, the ride promises to be exciting!
Whyte, Fury, Wilder and Chisora and the Order of the Square Jungle
By: Daniel Smith
“CRACK!” A whamming freight train of a left hook smashes against the granite jaw of Joseph Parker, as a thrash of thick, spume-like slaver oomphs from his gaping mouth, while a spattering-lash of sweat pelts from his drenched glistening crown. In that precise moment, Joseph Parker’s body is scaffolded by legs of thin splints as he falls to the canvass like a mighty oak that’s been chopped down and defeated by a burly powerhouse lumberjack in, Dillian “the body snatcher” Whyte.
The “Whyte vs. Parker” fight was certainly a brutal crackerjack of a slugfest which demonstrated the power, iron-grit and determination of Dillian Whyte. So, with the World Boxing Council President Mauricio Sulaiman, declaring that Whyte is being overlooked in place of Tyson Fury as the challenger for Deontay Wilder’s WBC world heavyweight title; it wouldn’t be hard to imagine “The Gypsy King” vs. “The Bronze Bomber” is maybe a fight Wilder would much prefer.
Let’s see why.
At 6ft 9″ and 18 stone; the former WBA, WBO, IBF, IBO and Lineal champion, Tyson Fury is a dangerous foe to any fighter within the heavyweight division and a man whose adept boxing capabilities and unorthodox, hybrid style is awkward and extremely tricky to overcome. Fury sports an impressive record of (26-0-0), with nineteen coming back way of knockout. It’s certainly clear Tyson Fury can “bang”; however, he’s not a “banger” per se – unlike the power-punching calibre of Wilder, Whyte and Joshua.
Fury (in theory) can and probably should win the bout against Deontay Wilder. Although, as we know, fights are not won theoretically and the cold reality is, Fury’s had a long hiatus from the sport and a showdown with a formidable knock-out merchant, such as Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder, may possibly be too soon for the Lineal champion. Presently, this clash favours the WBC champion – a fight with Lineal status on offer will too much of an enticement and opportunity for Wilder turn down.
Dillian ‘the Body Snatcher’ Whyte. (24-1-0)
At 6ft 4″ and 18 stone; the former British heavyweight champion and current WBC Silver world heavyweight titleholder is a bull of a man that configures a solidly-strapping, bulky-muscular physique. A lethal certified stalwart-banger who is equally equipped and capable to dance within the parameters of the sweet science as well as tearing it up in an ugly, broiling-brawl. A man whose boxing abilities have certainly slipped a gear or two in the last eighteen months. Whyte is one of the most lethal heavyweights competing right now, who’s hungry and ready to annihilate both Wilder’s and Joshua’s aspirations of becoming unified champions.
But, with no title fight this year on the horizon, it looks as though the second rumble with Derek Chisora may be likely. The two heavyweight scrappers met in 2016 and tore shreds out of one another for twelve rounds, in a dynamite exchange of heavy artillery. However, there was some controversy regarding the result as”The Body Snatcher” had seemingly “snatched” the victory in a points win. If the title-hungry fighters return for a second fight, we could well expect another 10 oz gloved straightner from two heavy-handed warriors. Plus, Chisora’s savage knockout over Carlos Takam is a testimony to his devastating, one punch- power ability and how just one beefy, chopping slog could render Whyte out cold and potentially out of the mix for a title shot.
Only time will tell.
But, whether it’s Whyte vs. Chisora or Wilder vs. Fury; one thing’s for certain: heavyweight boxing is ablaze and roaring right now with a glut of talented boxers who are revved up and raring to go – relishing the opportunity to be No 1 and King of the heavyweight division. Interesting, enticing, and exciting times are most definitely upon us within the noble art of boxing.
Joshua, Povetkin, Wilder and Whyte – Amidst the Heavyweight Jungle
By: Daniel Smith
Alexander the “White Lion” Povetkin is certainly no palooka Joe opponent for the current WBA, WBO, IBO and IBF world heavyweight champion, Anthony Joshua. The Russian bulwark and former WBA champion comes equipped with explosive hooking-bombs and an attacking ferocity that’s set to a hair trigger. A steely seasoned pro, a lethal brawling-scrapper who conducts his affairs inside the ring without pomp, pretence or pantomime grudges for that matter. A rough, tough fighter, who’s more than ready to upset the order of the food-chain amidst the heavyweight jungle!
Let’s take an analysis of the hardboiled Russian’s attributes.
Povetkin – a 6ft 2″ and 16 stone, solidly conformed, power-punching, pit-bull of a man. A heavyweight brusier who blasts out opponents from his inside fighting style and punishing combinations. Povetkin’s not a man to be tangled with, as his impressive record of 34 wins in 35 fights demonstrates his fighting caliber. The former two time heavyweight, Ring Magazine, Lineal and WBO, WBA, IBO and IBF champion, Wladimir Klitschko is only man to have beaten the “White Lion” – a win that came by unanimous decision, not before the Russian was knocked-down in round 2 from a quick left hook, and 3 knockdowns in round 7.
However, since his defeat against “Dr Steel-Hammer”, Povetkin has showcased and examplified his brutish-brawling aptitude by contiuing his winning streak in his last six bouts – his most recent victory coming by way of a chilling knockout against the 6ft 7″ heavyweight, British contender, David Price. Povetkin, prior to the knockout was staggered backwards, crashing into the ropes in round 3 before recovering and deploying a sledge-hammering hook to the chin that rendered Price out for the count in round 5.
In addtion to the hardboiled Russian’s rampart-esque attributes; Povetkin is “no piece of cake” for any fighter, including Mr Joshua. His resilience, grit, iron-determination and his rapcious pangs to be world champion once again, position him within the mix of top-tier heavyweight lions that trade leather in the squared cirlce.
AJ – some have regarded the heavyweight champion as the ‘complete boxer’. A fighter who posseses a furnished slew of a proficient pugilistic attributes, whilst equally equipped to slug it out in a gritty brawl when the chips are down. You just have to look no further than his win over Wladimir Klitschko, back in 2017.
Joshua is a boxer who appears to prefer fighting guys of similar height and weight. In his last two bouts, AJ fought Carlos Takam and Joseph Parker – two relatively smaller fighters within the division and two guys who he didn’t blast out of the ring or chin with smashing uppercuts. But that said, I feel the days of Anthony whamming fighters across the ring, maybe drawing to a close.
Nowadays, AJ seems to tread with caution, taking a more strategic chess- match enforcement; utilising dynamics, fundamental advantages, such as speed, skill, reach, knowledge and now, experience, rather than emptying his tank after six or seven rounds from firing-out a barrage of sheer velocitised power-punchers. Joshua seems to struggle slightly when figting the smaller heavyweights – his punching power becomes somewhat blunted with the shift of gravitational direction, from channelling his momentum downwards instead straight ahead or up.
But I’m confident Josh’s record will be sporting another notch come September, 22nd, 2018, for he’ll undoubtedly treat the Povetkin fight with the respect and earnestness it demands, not looking past the extremely dangerous opponent who thretens his rein. However, if he does emerge as the victor against the solid Russian; would the unfication bout between himself and Deontay Wilder be back on the cards in 2019? I have to be honest – I’m not completely sure it will come to fruition.
And here’s my thoughts as to why.
Not for a moment do I believe AJ harbors any fear or doubts in his ability to beat Wilder, nor do I believe he is ‘ducking’ the WBC champion (even though that’s how it may appear to some). However, I do believe Joshua is conscious he would be facing an opponent that is capable of destryoing his Lineal champion dreams, by sparking him out-cold. It may well in fact be Matchroom who are calculating the “risks vs. benefits” assessment of a unification battle with “the bronze bomber”, Deontay Wilder. And it’s a possibilty Hearn who’s avoidng the clash, in an attempt to have another ‘sing-song around the money tree’ or to ‘make hay while the sun shines’, as the old phrases go.
So, what are the risks and benefits of the WBO, WBA, IBO and IBF world heavyweight champion, (21-0) Anthony vs. the WBC world heavyweight champion, (40-0), Deontay Wilder?
Let’s take a look.
Wilder – a formidable powerhouse banger who dishes out brutal beatdowns like they’re going out of style. A dangerous fighter, a certified knockout merchant whose punching power detonates on impact like brass knuckles shattering a glass jaw. A man whose boxing forte is not within the parameters of pugilistic sophistication; nor could he lay claim to any proficient technique or graceful footwork. However, Wilder more than compensates and counters with a raw, brutal strength and a primal-predatory ferocity that detects fighters vulnerabilities and weaknesses, like a shark sensing a mere droplet of blood in miles of ocean before attacking its prey.
A towering 6ft 7″, 15stone 10lbs, physical heavy weight- hybrid whose lanky- skinny legs scaffold a lean and muscled statue that configures a physique that becomes a perilous weapon of mayhem and destruction, throwing a torrent of hard-solid shots, wildly swinging muscly spaghetti-like arms in a frenzied punching onslaught, demolishing and obliterating fighters into a straggled heap.
Deontay is understandably frustrated, as he’s not being given the opportunity to display his devastating punching aptitude against AJ – and I’m sure he’s rehersed the fight a million times, as he envisions himself beneath the lights of the squared circle, in the midst of a sell-out rip-roaring, blood-thirsty arena crowd, while he throws mostrous knockout shots before the ref waves off the fight and he emerges as unified heavyweight champion of the world; carving out a legacy along with the memories of career best performance within a battlegound domain that’s embellsihed with the blood, sweat and spit of a classic bout between two hard-hitting heavyweights – the best of their era.
In my opinion, Joshua would be taking the greater risk in this bout as he would be trading leather with an extremely ferocious opponent in Wilder, with an uncalibrated distribution of the belts at stake. I suppose that’s why the proposed uneven see-saw of financial spoils are being generously distributed in Matchroom and AJ’s favour.
It’s fair to say, only relevant people involved from both camps truely know what’s going on and when or if the fight will ever happen. It’s evident there are risks involved for both men, as it’s the heavyweight divsion and it the world can come crasing down with one big punch.
So there’s obviously a lot going on behind the scenes we don’t know about. However, what we do know is Anthony Joshua’s takes on Povetkin, while Wilder will probably have to defend his title to the mandatory challenger, Dominic Breazeale (19-1).
However, outside Joshua and Wilder, Dillian “the body snatcher” Whyte is the one to watch and possiblly the sleeping, unification giant of the heavyweight divsion – providing he makes an example of Joseph Parker by way of knockout. A potential cracker-jack of a fight that takes place on July 28th, 2018 at London’s O2 arena.
Fury Responds to Klitschko, Shows Respect for Joshua and Wilder
By: Ciaran O’Mahony
Former heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury has shrugged off Wladimir Klitschko’s claims that he will lose to Anthony Joshua and disappear from boxing “like a fart in the wind”.
Speaking to Michelle Joy Phelps of Behind the Gloves, Fury was unmoved by his former adversary’s words, stating “well that’s typical Wladimir Klitschko, he would never be able to give me the credit that I deserve.”
It’s no secret that Klitschko isn’t a fan of the “Gypsy King”, who constantly tormented him in the build-up to their world title fight nearly three years ago.
Fury rubbed further salt into the wound by comprehensively out-boxing him in Cologne and says “even on the night in Germany he couldn’t make the effort to say he lost to a better man and he did.”
“He didn’t just lose, he got played with. Like I’ve said time and time again, if that’s the so-called super-champion, he got beaten by a fat man so how dare he talk to me like that,” Fury says.
Klitschko says Joshua will beat Fury because he has more desire and discipline than the Manchester native.
However, Fury feels that the Ukrainian is only backing “AJ” because he has a better relationship with him and says the former lineal heavyweight champion is still bitter about losing to him all those years ago.
“I’m sure him and Joshua are chum buddies and they support each other, but in hindsight we know who gave Wladimir the hardest fight,” he says.
“Joshua won by the skin of his teeth and had to climb off the canvas, Wladimir couldn’t land a punch on me in 12 rounds,” according to Fury.
Prior to his hiatus from the sport, Fury had a reputation for trash-talking his opponents and getting under their skin.
However, he has had plenty of nice things to say about Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder recently.
“I think they’re very fine specimens of men, they’re very good looking, they’re very athletic and they’re very good boxers,” he says.
“They’ve come from nothing and I’m so proud that they’ve changed their stars, their family, everything. I’m sure they’re getting everything they’ve ever dreamed of,” Fury says.
He bears no ill-will towards either fighter and hopes that they will be set for life by the time their careers are over.
“People are talking about $50 million, I think they deserve $250 million. Any fighter that gets in there and gets punched in the face for a living deserves a lot more than they ever get,” he says.
“It’s the hardest sport in the world, not just physically and mentally, but also being away from your family, being locked away in training camps,” according to Fury.
“The public don’t understand how much pain, torture and sacrifice is needed to get to that level of success,” Fury says.
Fury believes that Wilder will prevail when they finally face each other in the ring, however, as he holds a speed advantage.
“Wilder’s very quick and very accurate and he’s very dangerous,” he says.
“Anthony is dangerous too, but I just think the speed factor favours Wilder and the fighter who gets there quicker and first will be Wilder for me,” according to Fury.
He has had a tense relationship with Joshua in the past, but Fury insists he is not biased.
“I don’t like either of them more than the other. I know Joshua, I know Wilder, and I’ve met them both face to face. I like them equally,” he says.
“It is a heavyweight bout and anything can happen while they’re in there, but if I was putting 20 quid on it, I’d put it on Wilder to win,”
If the fight materializes, Fury will certainly be watching with interest as he is likely to face one or both men in the future.
Interview: Otto Wallin is Ready to Take Home the EU Heavyweight Boxing Title
Otto Wallin (19-0, 13 KOs) is Sweden’s top Heavyweight and he is taking the division by storm. Wallin faces Adrian Granat (15-1, 14 KOs) this weekend at the Gardehov Ice Hockey Arena in Sundsvall, Sweden for the European Union Title.
How do you feel about fighting at home in Sweden?
“I love fighting at home so that is the biggest venue for me. I never had one special place except for home. When I started as a pro, boxing wasn’t really allowed in Sweden. There were a lot of restrictions, So I had my first 14 fights outside the country. It started last year, so that was when I had my first fight as a pro at home.
Fighting at home is the best. I feel a lot of support. I come from a small town, about 100 thousand people and I can just walk through the city and people are cheering me on. There is more at stake but I like it. I’ve always had my best fight at home as a professional and amateur. The support motivates me.”
Otto Wallin played other sports growing up, but found boxing around 15 or 16 and decided that was what he wanted to do.
“I played ice hockey and soccer and I wanted to be an ice hockey player as a kid. Eventually, I stopped those sports and went into boxing. I felt right away that it was for me. It was great and something that I immediately wanted to do”
Otto Wallin made his professional debut in 2013 and has been making a name for himself that extends far beyond his home country. Wallin now trains in New York City with his head coach Joey Gamache.
What do you think about life in New York?
“I was training with Joey Gamache in Denmark for four years. Last spring he moved back to New York. It is great to keep training with Joey. So, that is the most important thing.
There is so much going on here. A lot of heavyweights, great sparring – That is something that I lacked in Sweden and throughout Europe. It is great. I’m sparring with top guys, which is the most important thing for training.”
Are there any boxers or trainers (past or present) that you consider an inspiration or role model?
“My biggest inspiration is my trainer, Joey. He’s been there and done it as a world champ. I am confident with him and love training with him.”
What do you feel is the secret to success in this sport?
“If you look at the great fighters they usually have a big mentor. A trainer or someone who is by their side most of their careers. It is important to have a good team that you trust and you know you can go somewhere with. That has to be tough to change trainers. Trust. They know you and you know them. They are dedicated and serious which makes a difference.”
This next bout will be a big test for both boxers who have known each other since they were amateurs. There is no love lost between the two of them.
Otto Wallin is a gentleman by nature and doesn’t care for the Granat’s cocky demeanor.
“I think with that fight, I don’t like how he presents himself. How he says he will knock out and beat his opponents. You have to do it with class. You have to take every opponent seriously. This is business and you should respect everyone, win or lose.”
What makes you different from other guys in your division?
“I’m technically sound and I am built well and fast for a heavyweight.”
Standing over 6 feet 5 inches tall with an undefeated record, that statement is difficult to argue with. Despite being a heavyweight, Otto Wallin is conscious of his diet.
“I cook, which is good for me. There’s not much time when I’m not training. I hang out with friends. There is so much to see. It’s a beautiful city and great energy. Everyone has been very friendly.
When I have cheat days usually go for burgers. I love food. I’m in a Spanish neighborhood here. I also love ice cream.”
What has been the most difficult part of life as a professional boxer?
“Being away from family and friends. For me, that is the hardest part but it is worth it to be able to train and compete like I do.”
2018- the Year of the Vulnerable Heavyweight
By: Greg Houghton
Whether you love it, hate it, or feel indifferent towards the current state of the heavyweight division, the unpredictability of the division is such that right now you can’t take your eyes off it.
For a good decade, Wladimir Klitschko controlled the division with utter dominance over the division, at a point when boxing’s popularity took a slight plunge amongst the masses.
This period in hindsight seemed like a lull in the division as the roaring flame that was the Tyson, Lewis and Holyfield era faded to black. Regardless of relative quality of his opponents, and regardless of whether you like the style in which he did it, Wlad was the heavyweight division for over a decade. The point is, any fan of the Ukrainian Hall-of-Famer would have watched on at their man with little to no anxiety for a good twelve years of his career. The same can not be said about our current heavyweights.
Evander Holyfield stated in an interview last year that heavyweights today only start boxing when they’re physically big, and by starting out with punching power they miss the fundamentals that come with boxing from a young age. With one quick glance across the division today you would have to agree with him. All this vulnerability however could very well make for an exciting two to three years of title fights ahead of us. This is not a knock to any of the top 5 or even top 10 heavyweights in world boxing today, but stylistically, having seen all of them progress through their careers, you just get the overwhelming feeling that any one of them could get knocked out at any moment.
In 2013 Tyson Fury was floored by cruiserweight contender Steve Cunningham. Fury later went on to win the fight, and thereafter sharpen his skillset substantially leading him to the eventual dethroning of Wladimir Kiltschko in 2015. If Fury were ever to return to the top of the division this would certainly add some flavour to the mix as it is easy to visualise him doing what he did to Wlad against any of the top 5 in the division.
However, the fight on everybody’s mind right now though is Anthony Joshua vs Deontay Wilder.
If ever there has been a fight in heavyweight history with an unpredictable outcome, this has to be it. Both men get hurt, regularly. Both men possess astonishing power and can change the direction of a fight with a single shot. Both men, as any fan of both fighters will have learned the hard way, are incredibly vulnerable in the ring.
Most recently we saw Anthony Joshua win a comfortable points decision over Joseph Parker. Although this performance was not the explosive shootout that has become synonymous with the AJ logo that goes up in flames and lights up an entire stadium, I personally really liked this performance. Here we saw an AJ whose concentration span appears to have 10x’d over the last year, whilst controlling centre of the ring behind a beautiful jab that kept Joseph Parker out of the fight. Coming onto the scales at a mere 17st 4, AJ actually seemed to have more in the tank in the 12th round, something we have not yet seen of the heavyweight champion.
Is this the perfect weight for AJ? Well, based on the evidence that we’ve seen over his last three fights, you can’t help but the that an 18st Joshua struggles against Deontay Wilder.
With one of the most peculiar styles I can remember seeing in the heavyweight division, Deontay Wilder is nothing short of entertaining to watch. Putting Luis Ortiz away proves that his devastating right hand is no joke, but in this fight he appeared to accidentally employ a solid defence too. Through Wilder swinging his arms fanatically and moving in a far from orthodox way, Ortiz was largely finding it difficult to tee off on Wilder even when up close. This tactic didn’t prevent Wilder from getting hurt as we saw his buzzed badly in the middle rounds, although it wouldn’t be a Deontay Wilder fight if he wasn’t at least a little bit hurt along the way.
So how do the two heavyweight champions of 2018 fair up against each other? Two huge punchers, similar heights, both with a similar reach, same huge hearts and similar tendencies to leave themselves open.
As is the case with all great matchups, many hairdressers, taxi drivers and people on construction sites across the world claim they know exactly who will win this fight and how. The reality is, betting on any one of these men to be unified heavyweight champion is an incredibly risky bet.
With the recent cancellation of Canelo vs GGG 2, boxing needs this super fight, and as a boxing fan I really hope we see this fight soon.
May the promotion companies in question please hurry up and settle their differences and make this fight for all of us.
Joshua vs. Wilder: Who Wins?
By: Ciaran O’Mahony
Boxing fans have been spoiled over the last month with many of the heavyweight division’s biggest names in action, including Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, Joseph Parker, Luis Ortiz, Alexander Povetkin, Dillian Whyte and Lucas Browne. All eyes were on Joshua and Wilder though as they faced major tests that could derail their highly anticipated unification bout.
Of all the heavyweights in action, Joshua was the biggest winner, adding another heavyweight belt to his collection with a solid but uninspiring victory over Joseph Parker at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff last week.
Boxing purists praised Joshua’s performance as he fought a safe and intelligent fight against a dangerous opponent. He kept Parker on the end of his jab, nullified his speed advantage and landed the cleaner, harder shots, while keeping himself out of harm’s way. Parker had his moments but he never really got going, struggling to close the distance or do any damage on the inside.
Joshua has been hailed as the future of the heavyweight division for some time and his latest victory will keep that hype and momentum going, but this was not the type of performance we expected.
He came into the fight with a reputation as a knockout artist, but it’s safe to say fans felt a little underwhelmed by the fight. Many predicted that it wouldn’t go the distance and Joshua’s perfect knockout record as well as his epic war with Waldimir Klitshcko, gave us reason to believe it would be a brutal, action-packed affair. Add in the animosity between both camps and you’d be forgiven for expecting Joshua and Parker to slug it out, toe-to-toe, until only one of them was left standing.
Nonetheless, Joshua got the job done, coming through unscathed and showing another dimension of his game. It turns out he’s not just a power-puncher, he’s one of the best pure boxers in the heavyweight division.
For all the positives though, the fight also suggested that Joshua may not be able to dominate the division’s truly elite fighters the same way he did lesser opponents.
Wilder claimed the most important victory of his career against the undefeated Cuban, Luis Ortiz, at the Barclays Center, New York, just a month ago. Many felt this would be a difficult test for the bronze bomber, who had been criticised for facing weak opposition in the past.
Ortiz was avoided by all of the big names in the division due to his excellent amateur pedigree, boxing ability and knockout power. All of these attributes were evident on the night as Wilder struggled to figure the Cuban out and found himself in trouble on a number of occasions. For the first five rounds he struggled to land anything of note on the Cuban, who controlled the pace of the fight and forced him backwards constantly.
Then in the seventh round, Wilder was rocked multiple times and found himself trapped on the ropes, desperately hanging on amid a flurry of brutal shots from Ortiz. Although he survived, he seemed headed for a loss on points until he stopped the Cuban in the 10th round.
Like all great champions do, Wilder overcame adversity, patiently waiting for the opening he needed, even as the 12th round drew nearer. He didn’t panic or let his frustrations get the better of him while he was being outboxed.
The American was clearly confident that the opening he was looking for would eventually come and when it did, he made Ortiz pay. In the end, the fight didn’t tell us anything new about Wilder’s strengths and weaknesses, which boxing experts have picked apart for some time. However, we saw how he responds under pressure against top-level opposition and he passed that test with flying colours.
Strengths and weaknesses of both fighters
Wilder is a gifted 6’7”athlete with good speed for his size, exceptional strength, solid cardio and proven knockout power. But many have criticised his technique, particularly the wild, windmill punches he throws when he is chasing a knockout. They are certainly not easy on the eye and Wilder often leaves his chin out when he throws them.
His defence is also poor, leaving him highly susceptible to good counter-punchers who can cope with his attacks.
Despite his length and reach, lesser fighters than Joshua have been able to close the distance against Wilder, which is a major concern.
His weaknesses are well-documented, but Wilder uses his power and athleticism extremely effectively and few fighters are able to survive when he starts swinging at them, wildly or not. The big question mark around him was always whether his power and ferocity could also overwhelm the division’s true elite. His victory over one of the most skilled and feared heavyweights in the world went a long way towards answering that question.
Joshua is 6’6” and has made a habit of demolishing his opponents early, knocking out all but five of his 21 opponents within three rounds.
The consensus among the experts is that Joshua has better fundamentals than Wilder and his ability to control the pace of the fight is one of his biggest strengths.
His string of knockouts are not just down to his power, but also his excellent positioning and tactical awareness. He puts fighters on the back foot and in awkward positions where they are forced to commit to risky shots that leave them open to a knockout blow. This could spell danger for Wilder as ring positioning is one of his biggest weaknesses.
He allows his opponents to walk him down far too easily for a fighter of his size and he gave up a lot of ground against Ortiz. He was backing up so much that he couldn’t land a significant counter and if he does the same against Joshua, he will be in all sorts of trouble.
Joshua certainly has defensive weaknesses too. He looked quicker and sharper against Parker after weighing in 12 pounds lighter than his previous fight against Carlos Takam, but his lack of head movement is a major weakness that could be exploited.
When you are fighting someone as outsized as Parker it’s not as much of an issue, but Wilder has the length and the awkward, loopy style to take advantage of it. Joshua’s poor head movement could also leave him susceptible to Wilder’s underrated jab, which he didn’t use very effectively against Ortiz, mainly because the Cuban is a southpaw, but Joshua is an orthodox fighter. If Joshua fails to avoid the jab, he will likely be vulnerable to a straight right-hand, which could prove fatal against someone with Wilder’s power.
It’s hard to say who will win this fight when it finally happens. Joshua is certainly the favourite, but not an overwhelming one. It’s not quite a 50-50 fight, but it’s pretty damn close.
One thing’s for sure, boxing fans are eager to see these two battle it out for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world sooner rather than later.
The Current Future of Boxing’s Heavyweight Division is Bright
By: James Risoli
In the pugilistic art form of the boxing world the title of heavyweight champion has always reigned supreme. Even the term heavyweight bears a deeper unknown subconscious meaning to the sport. Those brave warriors who seek after the glory of one day having their hands raised inside the square circle and being crowned heavyweight champion bear the “heavy weighted” burden of boxing’s life force. Heavyweights have always carried the sport from its lowest of lows to its highest of highs. From the roaring 20’s and 1930’s when “The Manassa Mauler” Jack Dempsey and “The Brown Bomber” Joe Louis would become cultural icons for their aggressive fighting styles and sensational boxing power to the golden age of boxing of the 1960’s and 70’s where names like Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Muhammad Ali, and many others were spoken in every household across America and throughout the boxing world. In the 1990’s “Iron Mike” Tyson and Evander Holyfield, as well as, Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe continued to carry the torch and brought fights inside the homes of boxing fans to forever to be watched, scrutinized, awed, and watched again for years and years to come. These men and many others imprinted their legacy on the sport and cemented the idea that the man who holds the heavyweight title holds the keys to the heart of boxing and its masses.
Then something happened. Boxing fell into a seemingly dark age. An age where Wladimir Klitschko and his brother Vitali would reign supreme and seemingly freeze the heavyweight division of boxing for over a decade. Nothing against Wladimir Klitschko. The man himself is an all-time great and a future hall of famer, who achieved the highest distinctions any one man before him named could achieve, yet something was missing. The glory that was once the heavyweight division started to fade and boxing’s life blood was being diverted elsewhere as were many of it fans. The lighter divisions started to stamp their own mark on the sport of boxing with fighters like Arturo Gatti, Micky Ward, Shane Mosley, Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Floyd Mayweather Jr., and Manny Pacquiao now being where most eyes of the fans were being diverted. Why? What happened to the heavyweight division and the days where fans would flock to their televisions or to the arenas to witness these warriors that once held the hearts of the fans?
Boxing Dark Ages was not the fault of one man. It was not brought about by Wladimir Klitschko. By no fault of his own Wladimir Klitschko ruled in a time where the heavyweight division was bogged down by mediocre competition and the honest lack of quality opposition, talent and durability. Or could it have been an even deeper unsaid theory that threw the heavyweight division in a state of limbo? Could it have been the lack of an American or English Heavyweight contender for fans to get behind?
Either way all one has to do is to look at the heavyweight division as of today and see that those two questions are moot. The heavyweight division is teeming with young talent with the likes of Adam Kownacki, Dominic Breazeale, Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller, Daniel Dubois, Jermaine Franklin, and Darmani Rock. We just recently in the past 30 days got to witness four undefeated heavyweights in title bout eliminators, one of which took place at Principality Stadium in Cardiff Wales in front of 80,000 fans and viewed across the worlds by millions. The other in New York City, the mecca city of boxing, where two undefeated champions went toe-to-toe for ten grueling rounds. Americans now have their first true American heavyweight champion to get behind in decades and our friends across the pound over in the U.K. have theirs. Those of you reading this article have seen and have beared witness to the two men that now seek to release the heavyweight division from the shackles of the dark ages. Deontay Wilder and Anthony Joshua are becoming the new household names of the heavyweight division. They are battling the ghosts of the past to become the new legends of the future. It is an exciting time for the heavyweight division. One of these men wants to have his hand raised in that square circle with the same meaning the title held previously and you can best believe the competition behind will be gunning for the same. A division that has been asleep has now been stirred from its slumber and once again the warriors of the heavyweight division are on a mission to become the life force of the boxing world and take back the most important and prestigious division in boxing.
“AJ” Anthony Joshua Unifies Titles by Defeating Joseph Parker
By: Ken Hissner
The Principality Stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday was the host site for the heavyweight boxing unification title bout between WBA & IBF heavyweight champion Anthony “AJ” Joshua and WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker. This Eddie Hearn/Matchroom Boxing event had 80,000 fans in attendance.
WBA & IBF heavyweight champion “AJ” Anthony Joshua, 21-0 (20), of Watford Hertfordshire, UK, decisioned WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker, 24-1 (18), of NZ, living in Las Vegas, NV, over 12 rounds.
Photo Credit:Matchroom Boxing/Showtime Boxing Twitter Accounts
In the first round it was over two minutes before a right hand was connected by both fighters in a round of jabs. In round two Parker continued with his left low while Joshua is the aggressor for the most part. Half a minute left before the first clinch in another round of jabs.
In the third round Joshua landed the first solid jab that landed on the chin of Parker. Parker having both hands to his side gets backed up by Joshua. Parkers punches continue to fall short to the 6:06 Joshua who is two inches taller and a longer reach. Parker lands the left hook to the head of Joshua after a clash of heads. In the fourth round Parker walked into a Joshua left hook to the head. Little to choose between the two through four rounds with little action.
In the fifth round Joshua landed a double jab to the chin of Parker. Joshua landed a left hook to the chin of Parker. Parker landed a right, then a left to the body of Joshua who was scampering away from Parker. Parker landed a good combination to the head of Joshua. In the sixth round during the first exchange the referee Giuseppe Quartarone of Italy for some unknown reason jumped in to stop the action. Joshua landed a long lead right to the head of Parker. Parker ducked under a Joshua right countered with a right uppercut to the chin of Joshua. Joshua countered a Parker miss with a right to the head of Parker.
In round seven Joshua landed a long right to the head of Parker. Once again for some unknown reason the referee stepped in. Inside Parker landed several body shots before clinching. In the eighth round Joshua’s tape is hanging from his left glove and the referee even after separating the boxers hasn’t noticed it. It was two minutes into the round when he finally tried fixing the tape himself instead of going to the corner of Joshua to fix it. Joshua landed a left hook to the head of Parker. Joshua landed a combination to the head of Parker.
In the ninth round Parker landed a double jab to the chin of Joshua. Inside Joshua landed a right uppercut to the chin of Parker. Joshua landed a lead right to the head of Parker. Parker drives Joshua into the ropes with two punches to the head of Joshua. In round ten Parker landed several punches to the body of Joshua and the referee once again steps in for some unknown reason. Parker suffered a cut outside his left eye by a Joshua’s left elbow. Parker landed two left hooks to the body of Joshua. Joshua landed a countering right uppercut.
In round eleven while inside Joshua landed a right uppercut to the chin of Parker. Joshua landed a combination to the head of Parker who countered with a right to the chin of Joshua. In the twelfth and final round Joshua’s right was blocked but left landed to the body of Parker. Joshua landed a right to the head of Parker. Joshua landed a jab and shortly afterwards a right uppercut with the referee Quartarone for some unknown reason jumped between the fighters.
Judge Steve Gray of the UK 118-110, Judge Ian Scott of NZ 119-109 and judge Steve Weisfeld of the US 118-110. This writer had it 114-114 in the dullest heavyweight title fight in this writer’s memory and I’m 74 on Monday. May of 1953 at the age of 9 I watched Rocky Marciano knock out “Jersey” Joe Walcott some 65 years ago but never saw anything so dull. I’ve seen better sparring sessions in any Philadelphia ring. I gave Joshua rounds 1, 4, 8, 10, 11 and 12. Parker rounds 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 9. Even Parker thought he lost. His objective was to “go the distance stopping Joshua’s 20 straight knockout streak!”
“I am the unified champion with three titles in a fight of boxing not the slugfest that Parker wanted. I want Wilder next,” said Joshua. “I will have to work harder in the future,” said Parker.
Former WBA World Heavyweight champion Alexander “Russian Vityaz” Povetkin, 34-1 (24), of Chekhov, Russia, knocked out 2008 Olympian David Price, 22-5 (18), of Liverpool, Merseyside, UK, in the fifth round for the WBA Inter-Continental & WBO International titles.
WBA Super World Bantamweight champion Ryan Burnett, 19-0 (9), of Belfast, Northern, Ireland, won a lopsided decision over Yonfrez “El Verdugo” Parejo, 21-3-1 (10), of Anzoategui, VZ, over 12 rounds.
Scores were 120-108 twice and 116-112. Terry O’Connor was the referee.
Former WBA World Lightweight champion Anthony “Million Dollar” Crolla, 33-6-3 (13), of Manchester, UK, defeated Edson “Buba” Ramirez, 18-3-1 (8), of Mexico City, MEX, over 10 rounds by scores of 100-91, 100-90 & 98-92.
Unbeaten Welterweight Josh “Pretty Boy” Kelly, 6-0 (4), of Sunderland, Tyne and Wear, UK, defeated former IBF World Super Lightweight Mexican Carlos Molina, 28-9-2 (8), of Chicago, IL, over 10 rounds for the WBA International title by scores of 98-92 twice and 98-91.
2016 Light Heavyweight Olympic Bronze Medalist Joshua Buatsi, 5-0 (3), of Accra, GH, now out of Croydon, London, UK, defeated Bartolmiej Grafka, 20-29-3 (9), of Katowice, Poland, over 6 rounds.
Lightweight 2016 Olympian Joe Cordina, 7-0 (6), of Cardiff, Wales, stopped Hakim Ben Ali, 19-6 (1), of West-Vlaanderum, Belgium, in 3 rounds for the vacant WBA International title.
Anthony Joshua vs. Joseph Parker: A Step Towards Unification
By: Ste Rowen
Two years ago, Anthony Joshua was deep into camp, preparing for his first world title shot against the newly crowned IBF champion, Charles Martin. A shot at one of the most prestigious belts made available due to Tyson Fury being stripped of the IBF strap almost immediately after ripping it from Wladimir Klitschko, along with the WBA and WBO belts in 2015.
It’s strange to think, just 27 months ago, 3 of the 4 recognized belts were held by one man and seemed so unattainable, then within a few months, for the first time since the early 2000s they were scattered across the division. It seems even stranger now then that we’re one weekend away from one man holding the IBF, WBA & WBO once again and, in theory, one fight away from becoming the first undisputed champion since Lennox Lewis.
Photo Credit: Esther Lin/Showtime
Joshua did of course win the IBF belt that night from Charles Martin; the American who won the title by accident, after he watched Vyacheslav Glazkov tear his meniscus and ACL in the 3rd round and being unable to continue, meaning the history books will show that Martin won the IBF via 3rd round TKO. He had no such luck against Joshua though, when the 2012 gold medallist needed less than five minutes to wipe out the man who supposedly, ‘walked the earth like a God.’
‘AJ’ now, 20-0 (20KOs) will face a much sterner test this weekend in the form of WBO world champion, Joseph Parker. The New Zealander, 24-0 (18KOs) won his world title in his 22nd fight, as opposed to Joshua winning the IBF in his 16th; coming up against the Abel Sanchez trained, Andy Ruiz Jr, fighting for the vacant WBO. Parker’s earnt his straps in bouts including Joshua’s most recent opposition, Carlos Takam, winning via unanimous 12-round decision, impressive blowout victories over Alexander Dimitrenko and domestic rival, Solomon Haumono. Even when he’s failed to impress, including his most recent awkward encounter with Hughie Fury, Parker will have come away from the fight with a lot to learn from, but an accomplished trainer in Kevin Barry to enhance his style with.
Joshua has more than earnt his stripes on the road to this weekend’s unification clash. Almost eleven months ago, ‘AJ’ stepped into the ring with a future hall of famer, dropped him in the 5th, got dropped in the 6th and found an unbelievable second wind in the 11th to finish off Wladimir Klitschko, not just that night, but it was of course the prodigious man’s final bout after 66 professional fights.
It was truly one of the great heavyweight title clashes, arguably the best in terms of up-and-down action since Lennox Lewis took on Wladimir’s brother, Vitali in 2003. That night Anthony displayed more than just power, and the ability to stalk his opponent, attributes we knew he had in abundance going into the fight. The relevant clichés apply obviously, heart, determination, the will to get back up off the floor, but perhaps more importantly a skillset he hadn’t had to show he’s capable of yet in the pro ranks.
Joshua displayed the finesse to fight off the back foot from the first bell as Klitschko was the man doing the pressing early on and then almost entirely through rounds 6 to 10. Unless it’s been out of choice, never before in his previous 19 bouts had ‘AJ’ been forced into reversing, and time his counters to keep the Ukrainian away. We also saw Anthony’s chin properly and consistently tested for the first time. Of course, as proven in the 6th when Wladimir landed a wonderful straight right hand sending Joshua to the canvas for the first time as a pro, the Brit’s chin is not unbreakable, but it’s certainly not made of the soft stuff. And it’s not just the physical side of being landed on, but the mental fatigue that comes with being cleanly hit more than you have been in any previous bout.
From that ensuing fight, and an ugly tussle with Carlos Takam in October, which resulted in a dubious 10th round stoppage, Joshua, speaking to Sky Sports, believes he is the man responsible for reigniting a failing division,
‘I think I’m leading the pack and that’s the way that it’s going to stay. If I wasn’t leading the way, there would be no eyes on the division. The division was dead and we brought it back to life.’
‘One fight doesn’t define us, if it did I would be sitting back on the throne after my Klitschko fight. But I’ve got to keep on going.’
On this Saturday’s fight, Joshua isn’t shying away from the significance of the night, as he told BBC Sport,
‘This is history. This is a unification fight with two heavyweights undefeated…You know when you come here to fight myself there’s going to be blood, a fighter hurt and 20 times out of 20 I’ve been victorious so expect the same routine.’
‘He’s (Parker) a king where he comes from so he has that pride on his back as well. He has to represent the heritage and that’s important.’
Even with the rematch clause in place for Saturday’s fight, the outcome is so significant to how the next few years at the top of the heavyweight division plays out. Being a realist, if Joshua beats Parker, a fight with Wilder probably won’t happen next, but a defeat pushes it back even further, most likely into late 2019, early 2020 – that is of course as long as Joshua wins a potential rematch with Parker.
But it’s safe to assume ‘AJ’ won’t allow himself to be distracted by the potential future bouts, his trainer, Rob McCracken certainly won’t, especially when they look back on how quickly the Klitschko fight turned on it’s head.
Can Joseph Parker Surpass David Tua?
By: Ste Rowen
When you’re a promising, heavyweight boxer from New Zealand with Samoan heritage, you’re bound to be compared to David Tua. When you’re a heavyweight boxer from New Zealand, Samoan heritage and trained by Kevin Barry, the comparisons double. When you’re a heavyweight boxer from New Zealand, Samoan heritage, trained by Kevin Barry, and the WBO heavyweight champion of the world, it’d be almost sacrilege to not mention the ‘Tuaman’.
This coming Saturday, Joseph Parker, 24-0 (18KOs) headlines a heavyweight unification clash at Cardiff’s, 74500 capacity stadium, two fights removed from his unanimous decision win over Andy Ruiz for the vacant WBO belt.
It’s a height his fellow countryman, and New Zealand’s favourite boxing son, David Tua never reached. Always the bridesmaid and never the bride, David is remembered as one of the best heavyweights, never to win a championship belt.
Despite this, the question still remains over how Parker stands up when compared to the ‘Tuaman’.
In Tua’s one world title fight, he was soundly beaten by ‘THE’ man at the time, Lennox Lewis, but under the tutelage of Kevin Barry, David’s standing in boxing folklore is backed up by his victories over the men who would become champion and of course, a legendary chin.
As an amateur, Tua Campaigned at heavyweight (91kg) and achieved a very accomplished career which included winning a bronze medal in the 1991 World Championships and then bronze again in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Parker was just as much an accomplished ‘Youth’ Olympian. Campaigning at super heavyweight (+91kg), he won silver in the 2010 Youth Olympics and a bronze in the Youth World Championships of the same year, but the step up to the adult tournament proved too much as he failed to qualify for the 2012 Olympics in London, which sealed his decision to turn pro in the same year.
Parker’s most impressive professional performance to date came in a 12-round slugger with Carlos Takam, Anthony Joshua’s most recent opponent. Throwing 534 punches, landing 102/261 power shots, Joe came through his first big test a better fighter than he entered. It was also the first-time fans were able to see his chin really tested against a higher calibre of opposition.
I was lucky enough to be in Auckland to see Parker fight five months later at the 3000 strong Vodafone Events Centre. That night he came up against the limited, but well-respected Alexander Dimitrenko. 20-0 (17KOs) at the time, Parker lived up to the ever-growing hype. There was an efficient nastiness to him as he didn’t rush in unnecessarily, found range well behind a composed jab, and fired off deft right hands that seemed to shake his opposition every time they landed. It all combined for three knockdowns in the first two rounds, and an unusual 3rd round body shot finish, when the Russian already looked downed.
It was the last KO Parker scored. In his three performances since, the New Zealander has gone 36 rounds, great experience you might say, but the quality of performance hasn’t matched up with the Parker we saw clash with Takam or Dimitrenko.
To win the WBO strap (his next fight after Dimitrenko) Parker took on the surprisingly quick hitting Mexican-American, Andy Ruiz. Also unbeaten, at 29-0 (19KOs) Ruiz had built up a solid record against relatively poor opposition but trained by Abel Sanchez and entering the ring with very little expectation, the ‘Destroyer’ made a bright start and the expectation on Parker’s shoulders suddenly seemed to weigh him down.
The New Zealander won a very contentious hometown decision, lacked power in his punching but more worryingly, the accuracy that had been so evident in his previous 20 bouts. Those types of performances can occur, but after failing to impress in 12 rounds against regular sparring partner and late stand-in, Razvan Cojanu and then most recently another contentious decision victory and lacklustre display to move to 24-0, this time over Hughie Fury in Manchester, we seem to be left with more questions than answers about what Joseph Parker is capable of.
At 24-0, Tua hadn’t fought for a recognised belt yet but he had laid waste to a future world champion in John Ruiz. He also left the crowd wanting more, scoring 20 KO’s in that time, fifteen of those coming within the first two rounds. And even in defeat further on his career against Ike Ibeabuchi and Lewis, Tua threw 755 and 413 punches respectively. He was a man who always came to win, and who the people wanted to watch.
For the upcoming clash with Joshua, Parker would do well to take notes from the Tua textbook. His chin has shown durability in past bouts, but there’s nothing wrong with incorporating head movement, especially when you’re coming up against someone as heavy handed as AJ. Tua’s bob and weave technique, plus nearly constant throwing gave the likes of Hasim Rahman and Chris Byrd fits, and static fighters like Oleg Maskaev were punished when they couldn’t land the jab. Tua took out Michael Moorer and John Ruiz early through sheer ferociousness and serious cojones to come out firing from the first bell.
‘Static’ is something that’s been labelled at Joshua a few times and if you’re not afraid to put it on the WBA & IBF champion, we’ve seen already that he’s not invincible, even if he is unbeaten.
Ultimately, when comparing the two New Zealanders, the fact may be that in this era, unless Parker achieves complete supremacy; from being a contender, to unifying the division, he may just be judged as a heavyweight in a lesser generation, especially when compared to the late 90’s/early 2000’s.
Sometimes the phrase ‘you can only beat what’s in front of you’ is legit, the problem for the WBO champion is that arguments can be made for him losing 2 of his last 3 fights, and he’s about to step in with a fighter widely regarded as ‘THE’ man of the current heavyweight division.
Defeat this weekend wouldn’t be the end of the world for Joe, it never held Tua back, but the performance on Saturday night could be just as important as the result for Parker’s future at the top of heavyweight boxing.
Lennox Lewis and Showtime Wrangle Over the Definition of “Undisputed”
By: Eric Lunger
Former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis has taken to Twitter in recent days, unleashing a barrage of criticism at the Showtime commentators for claiming that Lewis was not the “undisputed” champion of the world in 1999, since Vitali Klitschko held the WBO belt at that time. Lewis, 53, has become somewhat of an elder statesman in the boxing world, weighing in on the sport with his accustomed thoughtfulness and gravitas. His recent remarks on Twitter, while critical of Showtime, show the marks of someone who believes in rational and balanced dialogue. This is rare in our hyperlinked age, where hysteria is often mistaken for passion.
So, when someone of Lewis’ stature speaks out, and speaks out in a considered and thoughtful way, he deserves to be taken seriously. Lewis took exception to Showtime’s build up of the Wilder vs. Parker fight as a step on the path to the first undisputed heavyweight champion since Mike Tyson in 1988. In a nutshell, Lewis argues that the WBO belt was, in the 1990’s, an irrelevant belt, one that fighters either vacated at will or were not interested in pursuing if better options were available. “The politics of my era, and the amount of Mickey Mouse belts made it difficult to impossible to own every fringe belt there was at the time,” Lewis wrote on Twitter, “the WBO belt was not a major or coveted belt in my days.”
.@ShowtimeBoxing The politricks of my era and the amount of Mickey Mouse belts made it difficult to impossible to own every single fringe belt there was at the time, so I only focused on fighting the best of the best and collecting the major belts of the time.
— Lennox Lewis (@LennoxLewis) March 20, 2018
Showtime did respond, trying to walk the line between standing by their original assertion and giving Lennox the respect he deserves as a great champion and hall-of-famer. Arguing that in Tyson’s time there were only three “recognized” world title belts, Showtime via their Tumbler page further said, “In 1999, when Lennox Lewis defeated Evander Holyfield for the WBC, IBF, and WBA world titles, Vitali Klitschko held the WBO heavyweight belt. At that time, the WBO was widely recognized as a legitimate world sanctioning body.”
In a further effort to smooth the ruffled feathers, Showtime concluded: “having said that, we recognize that the term ‘undisputed’ is somewhat subjective… In no way do we intend to devalue or denigrate Lewis’ accomplishments, which stand as the greatest of his era.”
So, is this dispute about the definition of “undisputed” just quibbling over words? Words do matter, definitions matter. If Showtime wants to promote their fighter, Deontay Wilder, who has a real shot at unifying the heavyweight title, we can understand going to the well of hyperbole. But Lennox has the stronger argument here. Becoming the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world is a feat unique in world sport — it’s a title that should be used accurately and with the spirit that it represents the pinnacle of boxing greatness. Adhering to the technical requirements of the alphabet soup of sanctioning bodies breeds cynicism and boredom from the broader boxing public.
Wilder? Joshua? Parker? Fury? Given the excitement over the possibility of unification in the heavyweight division, let’s celebrate Lennox Lewis as an undisputed champion, and let’s hope for another one in the near future.
Anthony Joshua: “This Isn’t About Being A Fan Favorite”
By: Sean Crose
“Preparations’ gone really well,” Anthony Joshua claimed on a Wednesday conference call to promote his heavyweight title unifier against Joseph Parker on March 31st in Cardiff, Wales. “ I do believe a happy fighter makes a good fighter.” Joshua, the 20-0, WBA and IBF world heavyweight titlist, has good reason to be happy. He’s pretty much regarded as the king of the heavyweight division and has a superfight with Deontay Wilder around the corner, provided he bests Parker. The man’s also enormously popular.
“Two hundred and forty thousand fans,” promoter Eddie Hearn bragged in reference to stadium sized crowds Joshua has been packing in throughout Great Britain. “Over two and a half million UK pay per view buys. It’s been an incredible run.” For the time being, however, Team Joshua has made it clear the focus is on the 24-0 Parker. “I’m not the one overlooking Joseph Parker,” Joshua claimed, “and I’m not the one hooting and hollering on what’s happening next.” Hearn backed up his fighter’s assertion. “We never have to worry about Anthony’s focus,” the superpromoter claimed. And besides, “he’s not really into hype.”
What Joshua is into, however, is boxing. Listening to the man for just a few minutes’ time, one gets the impression that Joshua more than just competes as a fighter. He studies the sport objectively. For instance, his opinion of former foe Wladimir Klitshcko, who he feels was a bigger threat than Parker, is quite telling. “Wladimir was a phenomenal champion,” he claimed. “He was a great champion. Ten years on top. Phenomenal.” Joshua made it clear his 2017 fight with Klitschko was an incredible growing experience. “Everything I learned form that fight was a blessing,” he said.
Not that Joshua is underestimating New Zealand’s Parker. “Parker still possesses a threat,” Joshua claimed, “but he doesn’t have half the experience Wladimir had.” Parker brings his own set of experiences, though, something that Joshua noted. “He knows how to fight,” he said of Parker. “He’s traveled the world.” To Joshua, boxing is a most serious business. He made it obvious on Wednesday that one doesn’t dominate the heavyweight division with just “a right hand and a good chin.”
“We’re talking about balance,” he said. “We’re talking about footwork…being in range, being out of range…the jab.” To Joshua, boxing mastery entails an entire litany of subjects. “Everything,” he stated. “We’re talking about everything.” Now that he’s at the top of boxing’s pecking order, the fighter intends to make the most of it. “I just realize that this is my time,” he said. Perhaps surprisingly for someone as personable as he is, Joshua makes it clear that he’s in the business primarily for himself. “This isn’t about being a fan favorite,” he pointed out. “I’m here to handle my business the best way possible.”
Despite what Joshua may want, fans are dying to see him get in the ring with WBC titlist Deontay Wilder, something Joshua is aware of, though he admits he hasn’t “thought much about it.” Not that he wants to avoid the American knockout artist. “There’s no doubt in my mind that that fight will happen,” he said, “and there’s no doubt in my mind I’ll beat Wilder, as well.” So promising does Joshua’s career appear at the moment that UFC honcho Dana White reportedly wants in on the Joshua business.
“Listen,” Joshua said, “I’m riding with Eddie (Hearn)…I’m a boxer. I’m not into the UFC. I don’t know what their plans are.” Yet White needn’t fret. “I’m interested,” Joshua claimed, “because we can work together.” Not surprisingly, the titlist puts his faith Hearn when it comes to such matters. “I’m sure Eddie has an interest in working with Dana White,” he claimed. “We’re listening and, one hundred percent, if it makes sense, we’re all in.” Not that it’s foremost in Joshua’s mind right now.
“I’m wracking up wins,” he said. “It’s been going well. I’m not focusing on anything else, really.”