Josh Taylor Confident Ahead of World Boxing Super Series Debut
By: Michael Kane
The World Boxing Super Series rolled into Glasgow today for a press conference ahead of their November 3rd show at the SSE Hydro Arena.
Ryan Burnett (19-0, 9 KO’S) defends his WBA ‘Unified’ championship against former multiple division world champion and legend of the sport Nonito Donaire (38-5, 24 KO’s)
However all eyes today were on a boxer, in which Scottish hopes of another world champion rest on, Prestonpans Josh Taylor.
Taylor (13-0, 11 KO’s) takes on American Ryan Martin (22-0, 12 KO’s) in a quarter final tie, with Taylor defending his WBC Silver Super Lightweight Title.
Taylor will be returning to a familiar venue having fought his last two fights at the Hydro, beating Winston Campos by 3rd round TKO in March and then an unanimous decision over former world champion Viktor Postol in June. Taylor also won gold at the Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow in 2014 as an amateur.
When asked about appearing at the Hydro Taylor said, “Its brilliant, I feel the Hydro is now my home, I’ve had such great success there since 2014.
“My biggest victories as a professional have been in the Hydro as well, so it definitely feels like my home. Looking forward to get travelling, going around the world as part of this tournament and seeing different places.”
What does Taylor expect to face from Martin?
“I’ve only seen bits and bobs of him, I’ve studied enough of him to know what I need to watch for.
“I know he’s a very well rounded fighter, got fast hands, good defensively. Good variation of punches and knows his way around the ring. He’s obviously got power as well although his record doesn’t say, only got 12 stoppages in his 22 wins.
“I know he’s going to throw punches and be strong and I’ll have my hands full. I’m fully confident I’m going to come out on top.”
Taylor continued to say how he feels great in training and more settled.
“The way I’ve been performing in the gym, I’m more settled now, got myself my own place down in London. So I’m settled, happy and I’m firing in the gym.
“I feel this is the best shape and condition I’ve been in since I turned professional, so feeling really confident.”
Taylor went on to say how he feels invincible fighting in front of his own fans.
“I think it’s brilliant, I don’t think there is anybody that will beat me in front of those fans at the Hydro.
“The atmosphere they make, the noise they make and the support they give me, they throw every single punch with me. So there is no way anybody will beat me in the Hydro, definitely no!”
There are a host of quality Super Lightweight fighters in the tournament, Regis Prograis, former world champion Terry Flanagan and WBA champion Kiryl Relikh. Does Taylor fear any of them?
“I’m not really fussed about any of the opposition. I feel I can beat every single one of them that’s in this competition.
“With that being said, they’re all good fighters, with good amateur careers and very tough fighters. They’re all undefeated, I think. Yeah it’s stiff opposition but I’m fully confident I’m going to come away with the trophy.”
With the World Boxing Super Series being a tournament, Taylor already knows who he could face in the semi finals should he over come Martin. He will face the winner of Ivan Baranchyk v Anthony Yigit who are fighting for the vacant IBF world championship.
Does Taylor have a preference?
“I don’t care. I think Baranchyk will probably get through that and if so I’m confident I can win that.
“And if Yigit wins it I know I will win that fight as well. I’ve had experience of him in the ring as a professional and experience of him in the amateurs as well. So I’m fairly confident of winning that fight so I’m not bothered who I face.”
With all indications pointing to a packed Hydro Arena backing Taylor, few would bet against him beating Martin and making it to the semi final for a chance at his first world title shot.
The hopes of Scotland rest on his shoulders to add another world champion to a list that includes Benny Lynch, Ricky Burns, Jim Watt and Ken Buchanan.
Scotland’s Sensational Seven
By: Oliver McManus
Scotland has a proud history of fighters and I’m not just talking your modern day Ricky Burns, the last superfluous talent hailing from north of the border to hold a world title, but look back through the time-honoured history of boxing and you’ll see, again and again, the burning blood of a Scotsman – Benny Lynch, Ken Buchanan, Jim Watt, Alex Arthur, Jackie Patterson to name just a few – so who could be next to stoke the fires of such a fiercely patriotic nation?
Well the immediate choice that springs to mind, perhaps patently obvious to many, is Josh Taylor who, for a long time now, has had, not just Scotland, but much of the world set on notice as to his sublimely ridiculous boxing ability.
The Super Lightweight has a world title of his own firmly on the horizon with his participation in the 2018/19 World Boxing Super Series potentially resulting in three of the sport’s most prestigious rewards belonging to The Tartan Tornado come the end of 2019.
One of the purest talents in boxing at the moment, Taylor’s rise to the top of the 140lb division has been as quick as it was predictable and his ability to dictate the pace of bout from the centre of the ring, utilising the full area of the canvas, ensures that he always looks in full control – even against Viktor Postol when the Ukrainian rallied forward, Taylor was able to remain calm and collected.
And, talking of Viktor Postol, that fight seemed to be a potentially defining moment in the development of the 27 year old with the bout being a perfect display of timely match-making which, whilst far from the most complete performance, produced plenty of aggressive intent – Taylor kept his left foot on the outside of Postol’s lead leg, allowing him the freedom of movement not often allowed to southpaws and, indeed, a failure to do this from Terry Flanagan saw him embroiled in a firefight with Maurice Hooker earlier in the year.
Simple things but they don’t half make life easier when done well.
Looking towards Josh’s immediate future, specifically the WBSS, then you would say it is hard to see who, from the chosen eight competitors, has the capability of beating him. Regis Prograis is the one who would come closest but you’d still put good money on the 2014 Commonwealth gold medallist to do the job and, equally, to do it in style.
From the established contender to the emerging talent and I’m actually going to double up on this category with both Willy Hutchinson and Lee McGregor already looking like a couple of classy prospects with big futures ahead.
McGregor has had a torrid time out of the ring with three family deaths last year but, in spite of all that, the bantamweight is refusing to let his motivation waver with a renewed desire to fulfil his potential and make his family proud.
With Shane McGuigan in the corner it’s not hard to see where the 21 year old gets his grit and determination from with McGregor taking his, relatively, limited amateur experience and continually learning on the job but learn he does with each fight marking a clear progression in his ring maturity.
Against Goodluck Mrema in June we saw a calculated display against a vastly more experienced competitor as Lee immediately controlled the bout with a peppering left jab from his crouched stance before piecing together some well-thought-out three, four punch combinations to stop Mrema in the fourth round – a fourth stoppage from four fights – to claim the IBF Youth title.
Evidently still in the early phase of his career, you’d like to see him cut off the ring a bit more and press the tempo a bit more but that’s something that will come when he gets in the ring with a higher of calibre of opponent so it’s more of a nitpick than any major concern but, certainly, it’s all looking good for Lightning as he looks to make a flashing impact on the bantamweight scene.
If we then move up to the light-heavyweight division you’ll find Hutchinson campaigning under, Frank Warren’s, Queensbury Promotions banner with the Carstairs-resident possessing a five and 0 record just 10 months into his career.
Having started life in the paid ranks as part of the, ambitious, Hayemaker-Ringstar platform, the move to Warren coincides with a readiness to start challenging for titles of some sort or other and, like with many, his biggest learning fight came against the experienced Adam Jones.
Jones, 7-32-6 at the time, is one of the durable, awkward journeyman in and around the division and has caused issues for more than a handful of prospects – Dan Azeez, Andre Sterling, Charlie Schofield, Fred Evans, Paul Upton, the list goes on and on – but the, relative, threat of Jonesy was nullified pretty easily by Hutchinson who swept his way to a 40-37 decision win.
Freakishly lanky for a 175lb campaigner, Scotland’s most successful amateur boxer, has the requisite skill-set to enable him to box successfully at range as well up close and in the pocket but tends to start in a blistering fashion with an immediate flurry of punches being thrown in the direction of his opponent.
Strong punch variety, mixing up the shot selection and working the angles with a ramrod left jab followed by protruding shots to the head and body, Hutchinson has the firepower to finish off many an opponent and with many years ahead of him, he’s only going to get better.
Rising up the rankings across multiple weight divisions in the women’s game is, aptly named, Hannah Rankin who has already been making huge waves just seven fights into her professional career.
A former white collar boxer, Rankin made the transition into the professional game in May of last year and has had more than her fair share of issues when it comes to finding opponents – a shot at the Commonwealth title in April had to be cancelled due to visa issues but in the back half of 2018, Rankin’s stock has risen immeasurably.
Up against Saana Turunen, for the WBC Silver title, Rankin went 10 rounds for the first time in her career and did so with ease, picking off her Finish opponent comfortably and stamping her authority on the bout.
A world title shot followed a mere seven weeks later, again going up in weight, as she challenged Alicia Napoleon for the WBA Super Middleweight belt and – outrage about it not being shown on the Fox broadcast aside – despite losing the contest by a margin of six, eight and six rounds on the scorecards, Rankin put in one hell of a fight to emerge with a bolstered reputation.
Mentored by the great, Sweet D, Derek Williams and managed by Sam Kynoch, the professional bassoonist has invigorated a whole new demographic into the women’s boxing scene and with a comparatively small pool of fighters, the 28 year old has the class and pedigree to compete at the top for a long, long time.
Always producing fireworks, Rankin may very well be the spark that ignites a whole new generation of boxers to take risks, refuse to believe supposed limitations and just take the dive into the deep end.
It is curveball time because this next man isn’t Scottish but, well, rather a Congolese heavyweight based in Airdrie and coached by “Scotland’s most successful professional boxing gym” with Billy Nelson – so whilst Martin Bakole doesn’t strictly count, I wanted to include as much for how much Nelson rates him as anything else.
Those that have seen him spar Anthony Joshua repeatedly declare that Bakole is “a handful for any heavyweight” and Dave Alllen is one of those guys that think the IBO Inter-Continental champion has the attributes to go all the way to the top.
A fixture on Channel 5’s broadcasts, Bakole has hit his stride as of late with two successive first round knockouts – over Ali Baghouz and DL Jones, namely – and whilst a fair few are quick to denounce those wins as bums, nobodies, journeyman (Twitter is a wacky place), the manner in which Bakole has dispatched of the two was nothing short of destructive.
Indeed what’s more impressive is that he managed to beat Baghouz and Jones in a quicker fashion than two of the more hyped world heavyweight prospects in Daniel Dubois and Tony Yoka. Despite that, Bakole has a distinct lack of attention being shone his way which, in part, is down to his quiet and humble demeanour.
Heavy-handed from the opening bell, Bakole comes out firing punches with bad intentions, immediately settling into a rhythm and looking to detonate the, almost, rhythmic right hook of his with consummate ease.
Martin Bakole is next out on October 13th, in London, with his proposed opponent being a former world title challenger – a chance, presumably, for Bakole to test himself against somebody of note.
Back from that minor detour to a full-blooded Scot and, quite possibly, the most Scottish boxer there is in Gary Rae and the bantamweight has found his a delightful consistency with his trainer, Mark Breslin, who has overseen his progression from an amateur all the way back in 2010.
A relationship that Gary describes as “like father and son”, the 30 year old thinks their bond is something that separates him from his rivals –
“For me it’s so important, the continuity, I need that and Mark has looked after me ever since I started… I’ve got a really good bond with Mark, there’s a mutual trust and a genuine care for each other. Not many others have that relationship with their coach, other than when they train with their dad, but I trust him completely and, hopefully, it’ll stand me in good stead”.
At 5ft9, Rae has had to adapt to punching downwards in the 122lb division but likes to stick to the basics, keeping his distance, landing some nice body shots before jumping into the inside and landing a quick 1, 2, 3. It’s this pattern of his that he uses to keep the fight flowing and in his control before the time comes to crank up the pressure.
As good as he is in the ring, for Gary the key strengths lie outside of it, in his mentality and the people around him and it’s his slightly obsessive personality that gives him the edge –
“I always want to do the best job and I will always give 100%, blood, sweat and tears. If I don’t win I want to be able to say it was by the better man not because I didn’t give everything and I will never cut corners, I need to know I’ve given myself the best opportunity.”
Fighting on October 6th, in Paisley, against Scott Allan for the vacant Celtic Bantamweight title, the full-time painter is looking to get the title under his belt in order to fulfil his aspirations of turning fully professional by the end of next year; with a desire to move through the weights and a determination stronger than iron, Gary “Bueno” Rae is the one guy you’d put your money on to deliver the goods.
And as if to bring this whole article full circle, dare we even rule out Ricky Burns? 50 fights as a professional and still going strong, in a division where one or two good wins can earmark you for a world title shot, Burns is well placed to chase those legacy-defining marquee fights as he enters the final stage of his career.
Looking at the landscape of Scottish boxing, you’d be hard-pressed to say the future doesn’t bode well with experienced wise guys and blazing young challengers carving their own paths through the divisions – some are seeking one last shot at glory, some are building to an ever-lasting legacy whilst others, well others, are just doing it for the love of the sport but every fighter starting out, winding up, has the proud blood of Scotland running through their veins with the knowledge that, win or lose, they’re giving it their all and doing a nation proud.
Josh Taylor Beats Postol in Glasgow
By: Oliver McManus
JOSH TAYLOR’s rampant rise up the rankings in the super-lightweight division showed no sign of slowing on Saturday night as he fought Viktor Postol, in Glasgow, in a WBC final eliminator.
Promoted by Cyclone Promotions and live on free-to-air television in the United Kingdom, Taylor was in the toughest fight of his 13 bout professional career and against a granite-chinned Ukrainian, The Tartan Tornado would need to be on the top of his game in order to out-box the shrewd Iceman.
Postol was performing in only his second clash over the course of the last 24 months but there’s little doubting the quality of the 34 year old – now living in California – with the former WBC World champion claiming his crown via 10th round knockout against Lucas Matthysse; against Terence Crawford he extended the pound-for-pound great to the full 12 rounds but did little to threaten the reputation of Bud. Taylor, then, represents an immediate path back to world honours as The Iceman Cometh… to Glasgow, he cometh to Glasgow.
The fight started off with the Scottish southpaw and the orthodox-stance Ukrainian circling in the middle of the ring, Taylor punching high with his right jab – against an opponent taller than him – whilst Postol searched in an aggressive fashion, looking to land lunging punches.
Postol found moderate success with some round-the-guard right hands but nothing too concerning for the fans packed into the SSE Arena, left hands from Taylor were finding the body and into the second round, Postol lost his balance from a heavy-shot resulting in him momentarily on one leg.
These early stages of the fight witnessed a plethora of aggressive intent, promising intent, but an unpolished end-product.
Footwork was good from Taylor, keeping his lead left on the outside of Postol’s foot, allowing him the freedom of movement not often allowed to southpaws and the target was clear from Taylor. He was intent on working the body.
Towards the end of round two a cut opened up on the eye of Viktor Postol but it had very little impact going into the rest of the opening third with the continuous trade of punches occurring in the centre of the ring – Postol’s jab popped out less frequently but the pair landed a flurry of good punches each.
A HUGE left jab in the third round sent the crowd into ecstasy but the impact seemed relatively minimal on his experienced counterpart.
Both fighters looked to target the inside of one another, trying to fatigue the bodies but neither boxer was extended to discomfort with both men having periods of success, big shots landed by both with styles meshing to produce an aesthetically attractive fight.
A high tempo with heavy pressure bore great success transitioning into the second stanza of the fight, scampering towards Postol, switching stances and finding considerable success with his jab.
The Ukrainian, former champion, was working well himself, though, fighting from distance and keeping the threat of the, theoretical, challenger at bay. Taylor landed a fierce uppercut, followed by a sweeping left-hook, to render Postol visibly hurt and the first real sign of power-punching came from the home-favourite.
Confidence started to flow from Josh Taylor’s corner but the fight was still being taken at a pulse-shattering pace, and Postol began to emerge back into the contest with a continual jabbing presence as well as acute angle work ensuring that you couldn’t discount the Ukrainian.
Taylor began to look a bit nervous, Postol pushing the Scot back onto the ropes and landing big right hands of his own, snapping the head back of Josh. Both fighters were showing grit, each finding pockets of success.
The final quarter beckoned and the pace didn’t slow but the better work came from Viktor, working a nice short, chipped uppercut to keep Taylor in check. Postol looked tense but had a good work-rate.
Taylor, on the other hand, seemed more relaxed his posture and stance, more patient, and when he managed to open up the body of the Ukrainian he capitalised with punch after punch.
Into the ninth round Josh Taylor resumed his role as the aggressor with a serious of shots landing to the body of Postol – thrown with the full conviction of the Scotsman who twisted his whole body into each and every punch.
An unbelievable right hand connected from Josh but Viktor took it as though it was nothing, Taylor dropped down to the body, landing two, three right hands to the liver of Postol, landing with ease in front of a home crowd and leading the Ukrainian to resort to holding.
Overhand lefts with Postol in the neutral corner got the crowd on the feet and it seemed to hurt Viktor and Josh’s movement proved far superior, toying with his opponent, forcing his man onto a huge counter-hook.
Taylor took to the centre of the ring in the championship rounds, rallying off his previous success, and controlling the pace of the bout; both fighters returned to the jab looking to gain the final rounds on the judges’ scorecards.
A gigantic left hand in the 10th round sent Postol down to the canvas for the fourth time in his last two fights and he looked shocked, his legs began to betray him as Taylor showed superior stamina – despite never having been to 10 rounds before – a straight left hand to the temple of his opponent secured a 10-8 round.
This was the Josh Taylor that British fans have got used to and with that knockdown under his belt there was an air of belief from Josh but Postol returned with solid left hooks in the 11th round before returning to the middle of the ring, pawing left hands being thrown repeatedly before exploding to life with scintillating combination shots.
Taylor started the 12th round like his life depended on it, coming out all guns blazing and looking the fresher of the two men, landing body shot after body shot towards the sides of Postol and Taylor continued to hunt his prey, despite Postol’s best efforts to get away.
The jab of Josh looked like it would be the winning component for him as we entered the final minute and with both fighters continuing to trade the bell sounded to signal the end of the fight – 12 rounds in a final eliminator sanctioned by the WBC – with the crowd fully aware that they had seen one hell of a fight.
To the scorecards we went… 117-110, 118-110, 119-108 all in favour of the new MANDATORY challenger, Josh Taylor who retained his unbeaten ledger, stretching that to 13 fights, 11 knockouts and both eyes firmly on the world title.
Scotland best keep hold of their hats because a tornado’s incoming…
The Top Super Lightweights in the United Kingdom
By: Oliver McManus
THE 2018/19 WORLD BOXING SUPER SERIES will pit together some of the best super-lightweights from around the globe – including Maurice Hooker, Kiryl Relikh, Ivan Baranchyk and Anthony Yigit – in a bid to determine just who is the ultimate number one.
But look at the scene in Britain and you could almost create a domestic version of the Super Series with eight of the best super-lightweights from this country, alone! Let’s take a look at six of the best super lightweights from the United Kingdom (not including Ohara Davies or Josh Leather because I’ve already spoke about them LOADS);
Photo Credit: Josh Taylor Twitter Account
‘The Tartan Tornado’ as he’s known, Josh Taylor is the leading Brit in the 140lbs division and is in contention to fill one of the remaining slots in the WBSS but the toughest test of his career comes on June 23rd when he faces Viktor Postol in a career-defining fight.
Taylor has already swept his way to the top of the scene by winning the Commonwealth title in only his seventh bout before a thunderous victory over Ohara Davies – to claim the WBC Silver title – sent ripples around the globe.
Four successive knockout victories have established him as the powerhouse of the lighter division with a gritty flurry of punches capable of sending even the toughest of opponents into their shells. Light on his feet and explosive in the hands, the 27 year old is undoubtedly on the route to stardom and is already heralded as a living legend up in Scotland.
That fight against Viktor Postol will serve as a final eliminator for the WBC World title and Postol will provide him with the sternest test and the granite chin of the Ukrainian – toppled a mere once by, the pound-for-pound star, Terrence Crawford – will be an acid test as to whether the Scot is set for the big time.
One thing’s for sure – Josh Taylor is THE real deal.
This time last week Terry Flanagan was SUPPOSED to be a two-weight world champion, he was supposed to be too much for Maurice Hooker to handle. Boy did we get that wrong.
Make no mistake, though, Terry Flanagan still has a legitimate claim to being an elite super-lightweight despite his only fight in the division resulting in a loss. Flanagan was poor on June 9th but showed an incredible heart to recover from a gaping cut to the forehead early on before rallying back and pressuring Hooker.
The rematch looks unlikely with Hooker set to enter the 2018/19 WBSS and whilst Flanagan may have to wait another 12-18 months there are plenty of sensational fights – not least with fellow Brits – in which he can prove his credentials.
We all knew that Terry Flanagan is superb in terms of his technical ability and whilst he came unstuck against Hooker – the American had a nine inch reach advantage – he still managed to enforce a tactically-astute game-plan with terrific timing and the knowledge of when to step up the pressure and pin his opponent to the ropes.
A proven boxer in the lightweight division, super-light is the heaviest Flanagan will be able to go and retain at the top of his game – it may be good that the Mancunian seems to run under-the-radar as the next few fights will all be about developing his style to the slightly heavier division but when he’s on his game and got everything clicking, Flanagan will be unstoppable.
Catterall was being lined-up for a thrilling all British title clash with Flanagan but, evidently, that all went awry following Terry’s failure to capture the WBO crown. It would be ill-informed to suggest the career path of Catterall was dependent of the result of his more senior stablemate.
Outright Caterall is a top-15 Super Lightweight and there’s no doubt that he’ll be banging on the door of world title holders in the not-too-distant future and El Gato has worked his way up the hard way – opponent withdrawals and injuries have hampered his development.
Under the tutelage of, new trainer, Jamie Moore, however, Jack is looking invigorated and twice the fighter from beforehand; 21 fights into his career and still at the tender age of 24, it’s inevitable that Catterall still has his best fighting years ahead of him and with Moore in his corner then there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be able to unlock all of his explosive potential.
I say explosive because the one thing all of Catterall’s opponents should be cautious of is his sickening body punches, which the Chorley resident has been utilising to maximum impact as of late.
Despite being so young Catterall is already a former British Champion having upset the odds to defeat Tyrone Nurse comfortably over 12 rounds despite many suggesting he was too inexperienced prior to the fight.
His next outing will be on June 30th as he steps in to fight Tyrone McKenna in Belfast in a battle of two undefeated fighters – with the WBO Inter-Continental Super Lightweight title on the line – who both have exciting futures. The winner will be able to push on and earn the right to call out the best of the world but what a fight we will witness that night – a barnstormer in Belfast.
You could be forgiven for thinking of Glenn Foot as the “forgotten man” but the Commonwealth Champion has been in the form of his life over the past since the turn of 2017 and has been bringing his A Game to all the big fights.
Heads turned in November of last year when he lost a narrow unanimous decision to Josh Leather in a contest that was for the IBF European title – expectations outside of the Foot camp were minimal with Leather expecting to convincingly conquer the former Prizefighter champion.
Foot took little notice of expectations, dropping Leather in the 2nd round and proving that he can NEVER be considered an under-dog; earlier this year Foot fought Jason Easton in one of the best domestic fights of all time – bold statement but I’m sticking with it – 11 actions of all-out war resulted in both fighters getting battered around the ring before a concussive crack of a right hand sent Foot’s corner into ecstasy as he claimed the Commonwealth title.
The fighter now appears to be in a partnership with Eddie Hearn and has been mandated to fight Robbie Davies Jnr for the British Super-Lightweight title and Foot, aged 30, will be looking to capitalize on the opportunity to get another big-name fighter on his record and continue his own push for the bigger titles.
Glenn Foot and “boring fight” simply do not go together.
Robbie Davies Jnr
And here we move onto the guy that Foot has been mandated to face for the vacant British belt – Robbie Davies Jnr, 28 years of age with 16 victories and the single loss. That loss, against Michal Syrowatka, came via a 12th round knockout after Davies had controlled the fight for much of the previous 11 rounds and was avenged a mere six months later via a 12th round knockout of his own, dropping his opponent in the 3rd, 4th and 12th to stamp his authority all over the fight.
A professional of five years, the next year should be the time for Robbie to push on and grab bigger titles of his own and with a world ranking it shouldn’t be too long until we see him in the colossal fights.
I’ve always been impressed by the engine on the Liverpudlian which enables him to keep the pressure up all day, every day without ever allowing his opponent the opportunity to get a rhythm; against Zoltan Szabo, in January of last year, we saw a mature performance from Davies up against a tricky, gritty Hungarian before getting the job done with a crunching body shot in the ninth round.
I think that’s what we’ve seen develop most from Davies in the last few fights – a maturity that many would lack when in the ring whilst trying to rush the stoppage whereas Davies is happy to just keep the work-rate ticking over before landing calculated shots to drop his opponent.
The only question we need to ask is “how on earth hasn’t this guy been on TV more often?”. Arguably the best fighter currently fighting out of Liverpool.
Akeem Ennis Brown
A nonchalance, an evolution of body movement and a fluid science to his punching, Akeem Ennis Brown is an art to watch providing drama, entertainment and explosivity all in one. When he claimed the English title he was the youngest champion and the first from Gloucester but that won’t be the defining by-notes of his career.
Riidy is on the road to big things and his victory over Chris Jenkins in May saw him claim the WBC Youth World title and climb one rung higher up the ladder – there’s plenty of names on Riidy’s resume to warrant the hype around him and his performance against Freddy Kiwitt in 2016 was just a sign of things to come.
Not particularly blessed with the biggest punching power, Akeem doesn’t lack when it comes to creating angles in which to unleash flirtatious combinations – against Glenn Foot last summer we witnessed a coming of age for the 21 year old as he battled to win a majority decision over the experienced fighter.
That’s the other strength Riidy has – he’s 21! Still only 21 and raking in experience like there’s no tomorrow and when you look across his fights there has been no shortage of learning – so when it comes to the EVEN bigger fights he’s all prepared for the bouts.
There we have six of the best super-lightweights from British boxing but, let’s be honest, this is probably the most exciting division in all of world boxing; six was just the tip of the iceberg, of course we’ve got Ohara Davies who I’ve discussed at length and then there’s Joe Hughes, Tyrone McKenna, Jeff Saunders, a whole gamut more so let’s just sit back and enjoy these phenomenal talents.
Warrington Wins Close Decisions Against Selby
By: Sean Crose
In the raucous cauldron of Elland Road, hometown favourite, Josh Warrington became the new IBF featherweight champion, and Leeds’ first boxing world champion after earning a split decision over ‘Lighting’ Lee Selby.
From the first bell the crowd bayed for blood, and that’s exactly what they got as, within the first two rounds Lee Selby sustained a cut to his left eye, from what the crowd presumed to be a head clash, though it didn’t seem to deter the Welsh champion from taking the centre of the ring.
Photo Credit: BoxNation Twitter Account
Selby was fighting well from distance through 4 but seemed unable to react when Warrington rushed in and fired off combinations that threw the Welshman off his stride. By the 5th round, Selby’s face was streaming with blood, but the heavily favoured Warrington crowd were loving it, as Josh landed the crowd-pleasing punches, and began to gather momentum both psychologically and physically.
Into the middle rounds, and Warrington began to dominate, but the question remained over whether the Leeds native had the power to take Selby out. The IBF champion seemed so unable to avoid Warrington’s hooks. Time and time again ‘Lighting’ Lee looked dominant from a distance but as soon as Josh piled on the pressure, there was nowhere to hide for the Welshman as he struggled to dodge the attack coming his way.
The championship rounds were upon us in what seemed like fleeting moments, this was a featherweight classic, as both fighters seemed to be going hell for leather through rounds 9 & 10. By now, Selby’s right eye was cut along with his left.
In some cases, a boxer’s face post-fight doesn’t adequately tell the story, in this case however, it probably did. Warrington began to take control over ‘Lightening’ Lee through 10, 11 & 12, though not without a fight from Selby, but it proved not enough.
The scorecards came back as, 113-115 Selby, 116-112, 115-113 Warrington, and a new featherweight champion was crowned.
Selby understandably made a quick exit from the stadium post-fight, but Warrington was more than happy to talk about tonight’s bout, and the battles to come,
‘I’ve been doubted for a very long time…I’ve always been confident throughout the build-up of this fight. Press conferences, open workouts, I’ve always massively believed I’ve had this fight won…As soon as I got into the venue tonight, it all lifted.’
‘I was doubted at English level, I was doubted at British level…I haven’t got punching power, I haven’t got the speed, I haven’t got the boxing intelligence, but I’ve just out boxed and outfought and outsmarted a brilliant champion in Lee Selby.’
When asked about future fights, the new IBF champion wasn’t shy in mentioning Frampton in his plans,
‘Carl Frampton keeps on getting mentioned but Windsor Park might be a little bit too soon. I wouldn’t mind going back to the (First Direct) Arena and defend this baby, and then possibly see about fighting Carl after that.’
Jack Catterall vs Christopher Sebire
In what would’ve been the headline act of the undercard, if it hadn’t of ended so early, Jack Catterall continued his momentum by earning a technical knockout over Christopher Sebire.
Sebire weighed 2lbs over the limit going into the bout, but it made no difference to ‘El Gato’ as he went in for the kill as the first bell tolled. The Frenchman was knocked down by a precise left-hand straight from Catterall, and he stayed down from then on. Sebire complained of an injured shoulder, but even if true, he wanted nothing to do with the British super lightweight.
Catterall now moves on to bigger and better fights. Domestically, many fans are calling for an Ohara Davies vs ‘El Gato’ matchup, which would see how far Catterall is from the best of the British super lightweights, Josh Taylor.
Nicola Adams vs Soledad del Valle Frias
In her first scheduled 10-rounder, Nicola Adams made lightwork of three-time world title challenger, and now, 13-12-4, Soledad del Valle Frias.
As expected, Nicola dominated from the first bell and looked to impress her home crowd of Leeds fans immediately, though her body shot KO came just before the end of the 1st round and left a number of the crowd confused as to whether the fight had ended or not.
It turned out it had, as the referee waved away Valle Frias, and opened the door for Adams to challenge the likes of current super flyweight champions, Linda Luca, Guadalupe Guzman, Debora Dionicius, or the German based, Raja Amasheh.
Frank Warren’s Under the Radar Prospects
By: Oliver McManus
Hall of Fame boxing promoter Frank Warren inked a new 5 year deal with broadcaster BT Sport this week, bringing the likes of Tyson Fury, Billy Joe Saunders and Terry Flanagan to an audience in excess of 7million viewers and to celebrate the agreement, with 5 being the magic number, we take a look at five of the best under-the-radar fighters under the tutelage of Mr Frank Warren.
Josh Leather – Super Lightweight
We’ll start off with the first of two Leather brothers making their mark on the British boxing scene and Josh Leather, at 13-0, has already made sizeable waves boxing out of Imran Naeem’s gym up in Stockton.
A prodigious amateur talent, Josh made the move into the paid ranks back in 2013 with the backing of Warren from the beginning – quickly repaying the promoter’s faith with a full arsenal of attacking grit and flashy punches.
Last year proved to be the making of the Guisborough-born sharp-shooter as a sixth round TKO against Philip Sutcliffe Jnr on the undercard of Josh Warrington – Kiko Martinez, earned him the IBF Inter-Continental title and wide plaudits from those within the game.
The attention of the wider public would come in Newcastle, in November, with a ferocious battle against Glenn Foot that could easily have won Fight of the Year, whilst the scorecards were questioned by some, Leather showed heart to get back up from a rocking shot in the 2nd before rallying with relentless pressure in the final quarter to earn him the points victory.
2018 will prove to be a big year for Leather as boxing looks to make a big bang up North and Josh will certainly be part of the revival – a rematch with Foot is on the cards but, regardless, he’ll be in cracking fights all over the place.
Tamuka Mucha – Welterweight
A new signing for 2018, it will be interesting to see what route Frank Warren and Tamuka Mucha go down after a scheduled fight with John O’Donnell was beset with injuries and postponed no less than three occasions.
With 17 fights under his belt – 16 victories – since turning pro in 2012, Mucha is certainly at the point in his career where he’s capable of a step-up, the Zimbabwe-born, Berkshire-resident, has already proven himself at a domestic level by knocking out Erick Ochieng in the 6th round – not an easy feat – before outpointing Tommy Tear (11-0) 99-93 in February 2016 to cement his reputation as one to watch.
Since then Mucha has stayed active and kept on improving – particularly with a nice victory over Paddy Gallagher towards the back-end of ’16 – but 2017 proved to be a frustrating period in Mucha’s boxing career.
A narrow points loss (57-56) to Serge Ambomo who, now, comes with the “can bang” warning label set him back a step before the tumultuous nature of THAT clash against John O’Donnell left Mucha in limbo.
This year will be about shaking off those cobwebs, getting back in the ring and doing what he does best – THROW BOMBS!
Harvey Horn – Flyweight
Harvey Horn brings into the professional game a quite prestigious amateur career, despite still being just 22!
The former World Series of Boxing representative, Horn hails a strong fan-base with a 300-strong army attending his first home WSB bout, with standout honours including the U22 European Championship and a WSB victory over Nico Hernandez (2016 Rio Bronze medallist).
A technical fighter who thrives on taking his opponents past their comfort zones and into the later rounds, Horn pulled off two victories in as many months between December and February by beating Denis and Patrik Bartos (no relation).
5ft2 and a southpaw, the flyweight holds all the aces when it comes to style with the young London fighter having advanced significantly under the guidance of Mark Tibbs; what has proven to be most appealing on the eye, perhaps, is his fighting stance.
Sounds a weird thing to notice but it’s always nice to see a youngster take to the centre of the ring and execute their own game-plan to perfection – I remember watching an amateur bout of his against Serge Neumann a couple years ago on YouTube and being impressed with his constant work-rate and willingness to step back for a second before landing the punch, instead of rushing.
2 and 0 as a pro, Horn has the poisoned chalice of being an imperious European talent in one of the lighter weight classes, meaning match-making will always be a nightmare, but what a fighter!
Joe Maphosa – Flyweight
Another one of those tricky flyweights is Joe Maphosa, slightly taller than Horn at 5ft4, who has maintained an exquisitely regular profile in the boxing ring with six professional fights since his debut in May 2017.
Snapped up by Warren straightaway, Maphosa has kept busy by boxing on various undercards, and has continually built up experience with four consecutive points victories – 16 rounds of vital learning for the 24 year old – with the flyweight having not lost a single round.
Again, a GB amateur squad member and WSB fighter, Maphosa has the requisite amateur experience to warrant an expedited journey up the pro ranks and the determination to reach the top is far from lacking.
Indeed the star is capable of fighting at fly and super-fly, with a delightful patience ensuring he’d be a challenge to all who enter the ring with him – a strong front foot, followed up by combinations of hooks to the body seem to be his trademark move and it was nice to see Joe turn up the heat in the fourth round of his last bout and secure the stoppage.
I think it’s safe to say Smokin Joe is on track to catch fire any time soon…
Jordan Thompson – Cruiserweight
Transitioning from the tennis court to the boxing ring certainly doesn’t sound easy but it’s a switch Jordan ‘Troublesome’ Thompson has made with relative ease – when aged 16, Thompson was in the Top 10 of British tennis but has said he “wasn’t accepted”. Well tennis’ loss is boxing’s gain, so I’m not complaining!
Eight years later, the muscular physique of Thompson has seen him home with an unbeaten ledger of eight victories and six knockouts.
The early stages of his professional career saw him drop all of his first three opponents before further punishment would see the referee wave off the contests – a troublesome right hand was earning a reputation to be feared.
Three fights in 2017 saw Thompson scheduled for 10 rounds before stopping Michael Pareo in the first round – it was a scintillating performance from the Manchester-man that saw him drop his Belgian counterpart on three occasions and showcase his power to full effect.
Mild mannered, Thompson always comes across as relaxed and calm when out of the ring and often looks relaxed in it too – tougher challenges will surely come in 2018 for the cruiser prospect but you’d back him to deal with them in his stride, as well.
And there we are with our top five boxers to keep an eye on from Frank Warren’s stable and with that five year BT Sport deal, there’ll be plenty of opportunity to keep an eye out on these guys as they make their journey to the top!
Josh Taylor Wins in Scotland
By: Oliver McManus
Scotland’s Finest were on display at the SSE Hydro Arena in Glasgow last night as Cyclone Promotions featured five title fights on their first show of 2018 with all eyes on one man – Josh Taylor.
The Tartan Tornado is a man avoided fervently at the top of the lightweight division with his impressive array of attributes being enough to scare off all bar a few plucky warriors. Having to go about things the hard way, then, Taylor was looking to force his way into a world title shot as he faced Winston Campos, of Nicaragua, for the WBC Silver title following a late withdrawal to Humberto Soto.
Having produced career best performances across the board in 2017, Barry McGuigan’s protégé was tipped to make an explosive start to this year and backed himself to deal convincingly with the threat of Campos.
Should Taylor come through this battle unscathed then a WBC world title eliminator had been provisionally pencilled in for June but the whole of Scotland knew they could look no further than the busy, gritty, South American. For now, anyway.
Dubbed a “southpaw banana skin” for Taylor, Campos was hoping the Scotsman would slip up against him and, in doing so, provide a platform for the big time.
From the outset Taylor marked his intentions by rushing to the centre of the ring and aiming a stiff jab into the face of Campos – the Nicaraguan looked rocked and was caught by subsequent hard-hitting jabs. Having said that Campos played into the hands of the South American fighting stereotype by bouncing around the ring and looking comfortable from range.
All the signs were, however, that as soon as Taylor was allowed, nay decided, to close the gap and attack Campos up close that his opponent would then succumb to The Tartan Tornado.
Big, looping, booming hooks only went to reinforce Taylor’s early dominance and despite Campos hitting the canvas at the end of the first round it was ruled merely a slip, a dubious one though.
Round Two began in an upbeat fashion with Campos firing in a few shots to the body of Taylor with, admittedly, little impact but more as if to say “hey, I’m not going to be a walkover”. Cyclone’s Champion responded however with a punishing right hook after an attempted counter-punch from the late replacement opponent, to put Campos in a world full of trouble.
Shot after shot into the body of his opponent saw El Zurdo crumble to the canvas in credit to a scything body punch – the story would be repeated mere moments later when the South American ate repeated right hooks from Taylor and fell to the canvas again.
Hanging in via sheer guts alone the 25 year old foolishly turned his back in the opening moments of the third and fell victim to a ferocious onslaught of punches from the former Scottish amateur sensation with savage left hooks draining the stamina from his legs.
Whilst managing to get up before the count of four, referee Victor Loughlin had seen enough to suggest that the southpaw was only going to suffer unnecessary punishment should the bout have continued.
A third round knockout to add to Taylor’s collection now making it 11 from 12 as The Tartan Tornado looks set to be on a destruction path of the lightweight division in 2018… let’s get it on!
The other results from the night featured Glenn Foot capturing the Commonwealth Super Lightweight title following a rapturous contest with Jason Easton – arguably domestic fight of the year – Foot landed the first punch of the night and within thirty seconds the pair were tearing into each-other from within the space of a postage stamp. Wild swinging left and right hands by Easton were countered by tight, inside body punches.
Both fighters loaded up with real vigour and spite packed into their punches and whilst neither landed clean enough to spin the jaw of their counterpart, each punch added to the sheer spectacle of the contest.
Jabs were to be the order of the day for Easton in order to be successful but throughout the opening rounds they were found to be lacking in the extreme as Foot was never disrupted from laying leather into the home-crowd favourite.
The tempo followed the same as that of Foot’s last bout, with Josh Leather, – that contest for the IBF European title – and the fighter was fortunate enough to be displaying the best performance of his career whereas Easton seemed to be hindered by emotion.
A thunderous left overhand straight into the face of Easton gained audible gasps from the paying spectators and, at first glance, looked to break the nose of the Scotsman. With both men throwing their whole weight with each punch it was a miracle, almost, that neither ended up cold but the war raged on into the second half of the fight.
An incredible bout worthy of being a headlining contest, should we see the rematch, both fighters were gutsy throughout battle with sickening body shots from Easton only being matched with equal fire from the Sunderland man.
Easton looked to exploded towards the latter stages and with each shot slammed into the head of Foot, you felt his confidence grow and, with it, his fighting began to feel all the more fluid. On paper this was a good fight, in the ring it was an EXCEPTIONAL fight and proof, if any was needed, that trading punches is always going to produce a viewing spectacle to delight the masses.
Into the championship rounds we went although you’d be forgiven for thinking the bout had just started thanks to the sheer constant barrage of shots being fired, a simply sumptuous right hook into the side of Foot’s face left the 30 year old visibly dazed, borderline concussed, and Easton began to tee off on what was, temporarily, a sandbag begging to be hit.
All that was keeping Glenn Foot up was the sheer courage in his heart and the heaviness of his legs willing not to go down but boy, did it bring out even more from the fighter, who survived only to follow up with huge right hands of his own.
The 11th round was to be the home of the crescendo as an amalgamation of all that had been before, the build-up of all the fire, resulted in one big explosion. This barnstormer, cream-cracker of a fight had a climax witnessed only before in Athenian battlegrounds but was bestowed upon a packed, salivating SSE Hydro Arena crowd; toe-to-toe action, would we expect any more, saw Sunderland’s saviour shellac the dreams of Easton into disarray with a concussive crack of a right hand sending the whole of Scotland into shock and with that final punch, the fight was over as Glenn Foot won the Commonwealth title in a fight to go down in the history books.
10 rounds of boxing scheduled for the vacant Celtic Lightweight title took place as “The Railman” Ryan Collins took on “The Mailman” Charlie Flynn. Going into the fight it was hard to tell who the betting favourite was and given that their previous fight, 11 months ago, ended in a head collision there was very little to take from that.
Flynn started off by taking to the centre of the ring and his physical superiority made an immediate impact when a huge right hand sent Collins to the canvas with just 40 seconds gone of the first round; on weak legs, Collins looked rattled and Flynn was able to land shots at will.
Almost as though he was out of his depth the expression on Ryan Collins was one of bewilderment and did well to box at range, being sensible, but Flynn’s grit and determination earned him the unquestionable better of the opening round.
A cagey round followed with Flynn controlling the distance of the bout with ease – Collins often found himself coming up short with his punches – but both men kept their legs moving as they navigated the ring comprehensively with neither fighter really wanting to ignite the contest into a barn-burner.
The most pertinent observation over the cause of the opening two rounds was the repeated near-head-collisions between the two men, giving rise to fears that this fight could be equally as short-lived as their first duel.
And so it proved in the third when a visibly wincing Flynn was struck by the head of Collins during an up-close exchange of punches. Fortunately there was no major damage and the 24 year old recovered to pressure Collins into a real toe-to-toe battle – the first real round where both boxers could lay claim to having won it.
With rounds in the bank and the tempo of the fight set, Charlie Flynn was able to establish his authority in the following round as his controlling jab continued to pop into the face of Collins followed up by varied combinations to the body of his opponent. Boxing well and securing the rounds on the judges’ scorecards.
Just at this fight was looking to kick into life there was déjà vu of incomprehensible magnitude as both boxers leaned in and smashed heads. Gaping cuts emerged on the forehead of both with oozes of blood flowing out of the gashes.
Sometimes it’s best just to put things in the past and move on – for Collins and Flynn, after their second technical draw, I think that’s the best bet for both men.
On the undercard lightweight sensation Chantelle Cameron looked to defend her IBO title over former world title challenger Myriam Dellal – the champion looked to be on an unstoppable rise but the challenger boasted the experience necessary to render this a competitive fight.
To be brutally, brutally, honest this fight provided very little to write about with the performance perhaps best described as clinical. That’s in no way to suggest that Chantelle Cameron’s fight was anything short of top-drawer, just to say that the contest followed the same pattern throughout the 10 rounds.
In truth this was probably one of Chantelle Cameron’s best performances as Wham Bam Cam proved to be technically superb with her balance and footwork being nothing short of sublime. The former GB amateur proved that it’s not all about flashy knockouts and rather her ability to dictate the pace and position at which the fight was fought was the defining aspect of her fight-plan.
Dellal was not a slouch and came to win but the sheer gulf in class was undeniable as Britain’s best female boxer dominated the rounds by out-manoeuvring the Frenchwoman before firing off rapid combination shots with incredible hand speed.
A superb performance from Chantelle Cameron if, admittedly, a little less explosive and extravagant than many had been hoping for. Who knows, hopefully the next fight will warrant more in-depth commentary.
The rest of the results were as followed; Marc Kerr knocked out Iain Trotter in the third round to secure the Scottish Area middleweight title and now goes 6-0; Lee McGregor continued his perfect record by knocking out Pablo Narvaez to move 3 and 0 and Malik Zinad goes to 11-0 thanks to a 2nd round knockout.
If that was Scotland’s Finest then roll on 2018 because what a year it’s going to be!
Cruiserweight Josh Himes Aims To “Empower The Everyday Fighter” Among Us
Cruiserweight Josh Himes Aims To “Empower The Everyday Fighter” Among Us
By: Sean Crose
“Taking it easy,” says cruiserweight Josh “The Handsome Hitman” Himes when asked what’s next in his boxing career. He’s recently won his eleventh bout, Himes has, along with the United Boxing Federation All America cruiserweight title, via a unanimous decision victory over Armin Mrkanovic. The bout was held in a state penitentiary in West Virginia (those who think good boxing can’t be found in prison need only look up the name James Scott). Fight locations and important wins aren’t the only interesting things about Himes, however. Sharp and likable, Himes, along with his wife, the singer Brynn Marie, have begun Fight2Fight, a nonprofit organization designed to, as Himes puts it, “empower the everyday fighter.”
“We’ve somehow connected with forty seven countries,” he says. “It’s been a blessing.” As Himes’ rep Tiffany Bearden states: “F2F believes that everyone is a fighter, whether you are fighting for health, faith, fitness, career, freedom or against addiction.” In other words, the organization isn’t just for boxers. For boxers aren’t the only ones who have fights on their hands. F2F is, according to its website, “encouraging everyone to come together in support of each others’ daily battles.” Needless to say, Josh and Brynn encourage people to inform them of their own fights through the F2F site: https://www.fight2fight.com/contact/
Perhaps not surprisingly, the people behind CBS’ upcoming game show Candy Crush (which begins airing July 9th) are having Josh and Brynn on as contestants. They’ll be easy to spot wearing F2F shirts. Fittingly enough, Candy Crush is to be hosted by Mario Lopez, himself an enormous boxing fan who Josh describes as a “super nice guy.”
Of course “super nice guy,” isn’t the sort of thing one would expect to hear come out of the mouth of a pro fighter, but Josh is unique. It’s not a matter of blowing smoke to claim the man has the kind of winning personality that could make him accessible to a wide audience. Most nice guys may finish last, but most nice guys don’t have winning records on BoxRec. Nor have they plowed through three opponents in a row in a matter of months. Josh, simply put, can be as nice as he wants.
And frankly, that’s a good thing, especially in a sport where the whole “bad boy” bit grows tiresome. The history of boxing is loaded, to be sure, with decent people who proved to be tougher than the tough guys (George Foreman immediately comes to mind). Josh makes it clear that he’s not interested in playing the role of villain. In fact, he likes his own unique brand of counterpointing. It’s the path he’s taken, after all. Besides, as Josh himself says: “I’ve prided myself on that path.”