By: Sean Crose
“Lennox is a clown. I don’t respect Lennox.”
The Lennox being mentioned above is none other than former undisputed, and all time great, heavyweight champion of the world, Lennox Lewis. The man speaking poorly of Lewis is none other than Anthony Joshua, Lewis’ fellow Englishman and former heavyweight kingpin. Joshua was being interviewed by Sky Sports when the subject of Lewis came up. His response seemed to catch Anna Woolhouse, who was conducting the interview, off guard.
“So am I,” Joshua responded when Woolhouse countered that Lewis had built himself quite a legacy. “It’s nothing compared to what Lennox is doing,” Joshua continued. “Nothing. Me and Lennox aren’t the same. My legacy is to sit back and enjoy the younger generation coming up. And not to really be involved, just appreciate what it takes to get there. Lennox is a liar. Me and Lennox are cut from a different cloth.”
Lewis himself responded to Joshua’s words in a tone that was less combative.
“Disappointed in AJ’s words,” Lewis tweeted, “but I understand that this ‘jealousy’ narrative was only fabricated AFTER I criticized them for Wilder negotiations. All of the sudden I’m a hater.” Lewis then went on to suggest that Joshua wasn’t the one behind the controversy. “Ask who benefits,” he wrote, “from such a simple minded narrative. Not AJ. Not me.” Clearly, the indication was that Joshua’s team was behind it all.
“I don’t blame AJ as much,” Lewis tweeted later, “as I blame the ppl around him that stoke the fires. I have remained at an arms distance from AJ to respect that he wants to make his own way. I’m sure he also gets sick of the constant comparisons to me over his entire career.” Lewis stated the reason there is an issue to begin with is because he felt team Joshua didn’t do enough to make a fight with Deontay Wilder before Joshua was stunned by Andy Ruiz last June at Madison Square Garden.
Yahoo’s Kevin Iole has stated that “Joshua’s comments toward Lewis are out of character, as he’s always carried himself professionally.” Joshua, however, has unquestionably been under a considerable amount of stress since losing to Ruiz, who most people simply saw as a tune up for the man on the road to major bouts against Deontay Wilder and/or Tyson Fury. Now that the express train has gone off the rails (at least temporarily), one could only expect Joshua to not be his best (at least until if or when he were to best Ruiz in a rematch).
Speaking of Ruiz, the toast of the heavyweight division is reportedly unhappy that the scheduled December 7th rematch between he and Joshua is set to go down in Saudi Arabia…something else that may lead to Joshua not being in prime form. No matter. Many are taking to their keyboards to claim it’s disrespectful for Joshua to go after Lewis – who has never seemed to have particularly sharp words for anyone since retiring from the sport ages ago.
Appearing willing to let bygones be bygones, Lewis offered the following tweet:
“AJ has my number if he ever wants to clarify what is being said in the media or show me where I’m wrong about something. My doors remain open to him, but just know that disrespect is not answer to his frustrations. Gotta go catch a flight now. Bless!”
By: Patrick Mascoe
Anytime you create a list like this you are really just asking for an argument. So let me apologize right now. Judging fighters from different eras is extremely difficult and highly subjective. For example, I have only seen two of the fighters on this list fight in the ring. The others fought well before I was ever conceived and are known, not from what I have witnessed but from what I have read regarding the history of boxing. It can also be argued that most of Canada’s greatest boxers are not even Canadian. So, for the purpose of this list, the definition of a Canadian boxer is anyone who was born in Canada or moved to Canada at a young age and has called Canada home. This means one of two things: Canada as a nation has not produced a lot of home grown talent or Canada is a land of opportunity for those who wish to pursue a career in boxing. Let’s go with the second option.
If you are a Canadian reading this list, you will notice one glaring omission. George Chuvalo, who is easily Canada’s most famous boxer, was not necessarily one of our greatest boxers. Chuvalo twice challenged for the heavyweight title but lost both times by decision. In 93 professional fights, Chuvalo was never knocked down and that includes fighting the likes of Muhammad Ali (twice), George Forman, Joe Frazier, Cleveland Williams, Jimmy Ellis, and Buster Mathis. What keeps George Chuvalo off this list, and makes him an honourable mention, is that unlike all the other fighters on this list, he was never inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. However, any man who went fifteen rounds with Muhammad Ali and then bragged, “When it was all over, he was the guy who went to the hospital because he was pissing blood. Me? I went dancing with my wife” deserves to be mentioned when talking about Canadian boxers.
Without further ado, here is my countdown of Canada’s 5 greatest boxers of all-time:
5. Arturo Gatti (1972- 2009): Arturo Gatti was born in Cassino, Italy, but moved to Montreal as a child and eventually competed as a member of Canada’s National Boxing Team before deciding to turn pro. Gatti was known as a blood and guts fighter who possessed power in both hands. He was also extremely resilient and absorbed incredible amounts of punishment before coming back and winning fights he had no right to win. To say that he had a fan-friendly style is an understatement. Gatti was not great in the traditional sense. He did not have Pernell Whittaker’s defence. He did not have Ali’s speed. Nor did he have Mayweather’s technical skill. What he had was a warrior’s spirit and an entertaining style that made fans love him. He was a fearless all-action fighter. He held the IBF Jr. Lightweight Title from 1995-1998 and the WBC Super Lightweight Title from 2004-2005. He retired with a record of 40-9. Gatti was involved in the Ring’s “Fight of the Year” on four different occasions. Arturo Gatti may very well have been the most exciting fighter of his generation.
4. Jimmy McLarnin (1907 – 2004): McLarnin was born in Ireland and moved to Canada at the age of three. He took up boxing at the age of ten. Three years later he caught the eye of a former professional boxer named Charles Foster who believed McLarnin would one day be a world champion. McLarnin started his professional career fighting in Vancouver but was dissatisfied by the low pay and decided to pursue his craft in the United States. His youthful appearance was a hindrance, so he had to lie about his age. However, once in the ring there was no mistaking his power. It was for that reason he was known as the “Baby-faced Assassin.”
In 1928, he had a title shot against world lightweight champion, Sammy Mandell, but lost the fight by decision. Despite the fact that he beat Mandell twice in the following two years, as well as knocking out Benny Leonard, one of the greatest fighters of all-time, he was made to wait five years before getting another shot at the title. This time, when his opportunity came, he made the most of it by knocking out Young Corbett III in the first round to win the world welterweight title. He would lose his title to Barney Ross, then win it back again in a rematch, only to lose it again in their third match. Unlike many boxers of that era, McLarnin decided to retire while still at the top of his game. In his final two fights, he defeated hall of famers Tony Canzoneri and Lou Ambers. Despite many generous offers, McLarnin refused to come out of retirement. He certainly didn’t need the money as he had invested wisely and was a very wealthy man.
3. Tommy Burns (1881 – 1955): Tommy Burns is the only Canadian-born boxer to ever hold the world heavyweight title. He was born in Hanover, Ontario in 1881. Burns was an extremely small heavyweight, standing only 5 ft. 7 in. tall and weighing 175 pounds. In 1906, Burns was a 2 to 1 underdog when he faced heavyweight champion Marvin Hart. Not only did Burns win the heavyweight title, he went on to defend it eleven times.
Tommy Burns was a man well ahead of his time. Historically, his legacy should be far greater than it is. He is known as the boxer who was defeated by Jack Johnson, who became the first fighter of African descent to win the heavyweight title. As much as history recognizes Johnson’s feat, Burns also deserves a great deal of credit, as he was the first white boxer willing to put the heavyweight title on the line against a fighter of colour. At a time when boxing was almost completely divisive and no white fighter wanted anything to do with Jack Johnson, Tommy Burns had fought half a dozen bouts versus black boxers. He hired and worked out with black sparring partners, and was married for a time to a black woman. He claimed that he would defend his title against all comers and that no one was barred. “I propose to be the champion of the world. If I am not the best man in the heavyweight division then I don’t want the title.” Without this attitude of inclusion, Jack Johnson might not have been given the chance to make history. Johnson said as much in 1909, when he addressed an audience in Vancouver, saying that Burns deserved credit for being the only white heavyweight fighter willing to give a black man a chance to fight for the title.
Although Tommy Burns retired from boxing a wealthy man, he lost everything in the Stock Market Crash of 1929. He ended his career taking jobs as an insurance salesman and security guard. He died at the age of 73 of a heart attack.
2. Samuel Langford (1883 – 1956): According to ESPN, Sam Langford was the “Greatest Fighter Nobody Knows.” Born in Weymouth Falls, Nova Scotia, Canada, Langford started his pro career fighting out of Boston. This explains why he was known as the Boston Bonecrusher, the Boston Terror, and the infamous Boston Tar Baby. Despite standing only 5 ft. 7 ½ in., Langford fought from lightweight to heavyweight. Even though he always gave up either height or weight, he only lost 29 times out of an alleged 300 professional fights. The legendary, Jack Dempsey, once described Samual Langford as the greatest fighter we ever had.
One year after turning professional, Langford defeated World Lightweight Champion Joe Gans in a 15-round non-title fight. On April 26th, 1906 Langford fought future World Heavyweight Champion Jack Johnson. Langford gave up 30 pounds to Johnson and lost a 15-round decision. Apparently, Langford showed enough skill in that first fight to make sure that there would never be a rematch. Throughout his career, Johnson repeatedly refused to fight Langford, even though he was considered by many to be Johnson’s most dangerous challenger. Battling Jim Johnson, a man Langford had beaten nine times and had never lost to, was given a title shot against Jack Johnson, while Langford was left waiting. Langford never did get a rematch against Jack Johnson. When Jack Johnson, the baddest man on the planet, avoids you like the plague, then you know you possess greatness.
1. Lennox Lewis (1965 – Present): Lewis was born in London, England and moved to Canada at the age of 12. He represented Canada at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, winning a gold medal. He defeated Riddick Bowe in the final. After winning his first 22 professional fights, he was once again slated to fight Bowe, this time for his WBC Heavyweight Title. Rather than face Lewis, Bowe vacated the title and Lewis was declared the new champion. After defending his title three times, he suffered an upset loss to Oliver McCall. On February 7th 1997, Lewis got his revenge by stopping McCall in the fifth round and regaining the WBC Title.
On March 13th, 1999, Lewis faced WBA and IBF Heavyweight Champion Evander Holyfield. Lewis clearly won the match, out landing Holyfield 348 to 130, but somehow the match was declared a draw. A rematch was immediately ordered and this time the judges saw what everyone else in attendance saw – a clear unanimous decision victory for Lewis. He defended his titles three more times before again being upset by an underdog named Hasim Rahman. He fought Rahman again in an immediate rematch and won back his titles by way of 5th round knockout. He fought twice more after that, knocking out International Boxing Hall of Fame fighters Mike Tyson in 8 rounds and Vitali Klitschko in 6 rounds. Lennox Lewis retired with a 41-2-1 record and rebounded to defeat the only two men to ever beat him. Lewis, along with Ingemar Johansson and Rocky Marciano, are the only world heavyweight champions to retire with victories over every man they ever faced as a professional.
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.
Ronda Rousey Returns After “Biggest Upset in Combat Sports History”? Not By a Long Way
By: Matt O’Brien
Friday night sees the long-awaited comeback of“Rowdy” Ronda Rousey following her shocking defeat to Holly Holm last November, in a result infamously described by UFC commentator Joe Rogan as, “the biggest upset in combat sports history”. Prior to her defeat,Rousey had demolished a string of 12 opponentswith only one of them making it out of the first round – a devastating record by any standard, and there’s no doubt that Holm’s knockout was a truly enormous upset, with the challenger overcoming odds of up to 12-1 against her.
That being said, it takes two people to make a fight, and the bookies’ published odds are not the only ingredient that goes into a big upset – the wider context of the underdog’s role is also vital. Ronda’s record was indeed formidable, but keen observers had noted that it could be a far more difficult task than anything she had faced before, with Holm being a former world-boxing champion and arguably the first bona fide world-class striker “Rowdy” had faced off against.
So while Rogan’s assertion that it was the “biggest upset of all time” might be right as far as UFC or even MMA history goes, once we include the sweet science the scale of Ronda’s defeat falls a few rungs down the list of “greatest ever upsets”. Here are five of my favourite shocks in boxing history that eclipse Holly Holm’s upset victory over Ronda Rousey:
1. James Douglas KO10 Mike Tyson, Undisputed World Heavyweight Championship, February 1990
This is the grand-daddy of upsets: not just the biggest upset in the history of boxing; not even the biggest upset in the history of combat sports. This one is arguably the biggest upset in the history of sports, period.
The reason for the scale of Douglas’ shock was twofold: firstly, “Iron” Mike was a destructive force the like of which had rarely, if ever, been witnessed before. Carrying an undefeated 37-fight record, all but four of Tyson’s victims had been knocked out, 17 of them in the first round. Tyson made a habit of making accomplished world-class boxers look like bunny rabbits caught in the headlights of a freight train. Secondly, Tyson’s awesome aura was set against Douglas’ far less-than-fearful persona. A competent yet unspectacular heavyweight, Douglas’ physique was rippled rather than ripped andhis style plodding rather than punishing.
Weeks before the contest though, Douglas’ mother had died, providing him with the kind of motivation and discipline he’d previously lacked. Meanwhile Tyson had fallen into the age-old trap of believing his own hype; his preparations consisted largely of hosting Japanese women in his hotel room and he was knocked down in sparring by Greg Page.
Even so, a listless Tyson was able to floor the challenger and almost pulled off a knockout victory in the eighth round. Douglas beat the count and continued to pummel the champion with a solid jab and powerful right hand. In the tenth, “Buster” unloaded a vicious combination punctuated by a huge right uppercut that sent Tyson sprawling. As he scrambled to put the gumshield back into his mouth, referee Octavio Meyran waved the finish and signaled the greatest upset in history, as the 42-1 outsider stunned the world.
*To his credit, Joe Rogan later admitted that this was actually a bigger upset than Rousey-Holm.
2. Evander Holyfield TKO11 Mike Tyson, WBA Heavyweight Championship, November 1996
It is a testament to Tyson’s fearsome aura and the magnetic grip he held on the public consciousness that six years after the Douglas defeat and following three years of incarceration, he was yet again considered invincible – despite Douglas’ evidence to the contrary. Tyson had demolished four challengers in just eight rounds since his release from prison, though he had yet to face anyone offeringmuch resistance. Frank Bruno looked scared stiff as he walked to the ring and Bruce Seldon put forward probably the meekest capitulation in the history of heavyweight championship boxing, surrendering in just 109 seconds. Evander Holyfield was a different proposition altogether, though few credited him with this distinction at the time.
Once again, the monumental scale of Holyfield’s upset was not just a measure of how highly Tyson was regarded – it also came from a foolish under-estimation of what “The Real Deal” had left to offer. A glut in recent performances in the ring, including a KO defeat to arch nemesis Riddick Bowe and a health scare regarding a heart condition had effectively erased memories of Holyfield’s fighting skills and warrior spirit.Many pundits argued that Holyfield was not just going to lose, but that he was in danger of being seriously injured.
The former champ opened as a 25-1 underdog, but his ironclad self-belief, granite chin and counter-punching strategy troubled “Iron” Mike from the outset. When Holyfield took Tyson’s vaunted power punches, retained his composure and kept firing back, it soon became evident that “the Baddest Man on the Planet” had no back-up plan. They say a picture tells a thousand words, but when Tyson was lifted off his feet by a left uppercut in the sixth round, far less than that were needed to describe the look on his face. Holyfield proceeded to administer a beat down until a dejected Tyson was finally rescued by referee Mitch Halpern in the eleventh round.
3. Hasim Rahman KO5 Lennox Lewis, WBC/IBF/Lineal World Heavyweight Championship, April 2001
Lennox Lewis had been knocked out before, but going into his fight with Hasim Rahman he was in the process of establishing himself as one of the most dominant heavyweight champions in history. He’d already made 12 defences over two reigns as WBC championand was making the fourth defence of the lineal and unified title he won against Evander Holyfield. He had also cut a swathe through potential heirs to the throne, blasting Michael Grant in two rounds and thoroughly outboxing dangerous New Zealander David Tua.
Unfortunately, Lewis had also spent time during preparation for his title defense schmoozing on the Hollywood film set of Ocean’s Eleven, while unheralded challenger Hasim “The Rock” Rahman grafted in the intense heat and high-altitude of a South African boxing gym.But while Rahman was a motivated and respectable contender, he’d done little in his career to indicate he posed a serious threat. Indeed, two years prior he had been brutally knocked out by Oleg Maskaev.
In the ring though, the difference in each man’s preparation showed, as a complacent Lewis blew heavily and struggled to assert himself. In the early rounds, there were warning signs that Rahman’s overhand right posed danger, but even so the end came suddenly and unexpectedly in the fifth round, as Lewis backed against the ropes and the 20-1 outsider unleashed a haymaker that landed flush on the jaw. The champion crumpled into a heap and minutes later was still in disbelief about what had occurred. To his credit, Lewis returned the favour when properly focused for the immediate rematch, knocking out Rahman in the fourth round to reclaim his title.
4. Muhammad Ali KO8 George Foreman, World Heavyweight Championship, October 1974
The 4-1 odds on Ali for this fight really don’t do justice to the monumental scale of the task he overcame on this momentous night. Foreman – much like Tyson years later – was considered to be an unstoppable force that had brutally manhandled some of the most dangerous heavyweights in the world. Joe Frazier, the undefeated heavyweight champion, conqueror of Muhammad Ali and one of the finest fighters the division had ever seen, was bounced around the ring like a rag doll and brutally stopped in two rounds.Ken Norton, a fighter who’d also taken Ali to the wire on two occasions (going 1-1 with The Greatest) was similarly dispatched by Foreman in less than 6 minutes.
In contrast, Ali was 10 years removed from his initial title-winning effort against Sonny Liston, had barely squeezed by Norton in their second fight, and looked sluggish in a dull rematch victory over Frazier.
A 32-year-old Ali offered his usual, charismatic, confident predictions before the bout, but few took him seriously, and even his own camp appeared to fear the worst. Norman Mailer described the atmosphere in Ali’s dressing room as, “like a corner in a hospital where relatives wait for word of the operation.” The dark mood failed to stop the irrepressible Ali, who boxed one of the most brilliant, bold fights ever witnessed to recapture the Heavyweight Championship and cement in his place in history with a truly unbelievable upset of epic proportions.
5. Ray Leonard W12 Marvin Hagler, WBC Middleweight Championship, April 1987
In 1982 “Sugar” Ray had retired following surgery to repair a detached retina, returning to the ring in 1984 in what should have been a routine victory over Kevin Howard, but announced his retirement again following the fight after suffering his first ever career-knockdown. Now, having only boxed once in five years, Leonard was moving up two weight classes from his favoured welterweight division to take on one of the greatest middleweight champions of all-time. It looked liked Mission Impossible on Viagra.
“Marvelous” Marvin Hagler hadn’t lost a boxing match since dropping a majority decision to Bobby Watts over a decade earlier, had won 13 consecutive middleweight title matches, and was ranked as the No.1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world by KOMagazine. It’s therefore a testament to Leonard’s star power that he opened only as a 4-1 underdog, and had even shortened these odds to 3-1 by the time of the fight. Among the “experts”, few gave the challenger a chance though, with 18 in a poll of 21 writers picking Hagler to prevail.
The eventual split decision in Sugar Ray’s favour is still bitterly disputed to this day. While there is a strong argument that Hagler did enough to win, there is no denying the success of Leonard’s psychological games, and the fact that he pulled one of the greatest examples of mind over matter in the history of boxing.
The fights above comprise my personal favourite selection of huge boxing upsets greater than Holm’s defeat of Ronda Rousey, though there’s arguably a host of others than should make the cut. Here’s a brief selection of the best of the rest…
Randy Turpin W15 Ray Robinson, World Middleweight Championship, July 1951
Englishman Turpin probably caught the original “Sugar” Ray at the perfect time, as he came to the end of a busy European tour. Still, defeating arguably the greatest pound-for-pound fighter of all time was a stunning achievement.
Cassius Clay TKO7 Sonny Liston, World Heavyweight Championship, February 1964
On paper the 8-1 odds were even steeper than when the older version of Clay [Ali] defeated George Foreman, as the Greatest “Shook up the World” for the first time in his amazing career.
Frankie Randall W12 Julio Cesar Chavez, WBC Super Lightweight Championship, January 1994
Chavez was lucky to escape with a draw against Pernell Whitaker four months earlier, but was still officially undefeated after 90 fights, 27 of them for world titles, and he entered the fight as a massive 18-1 favourite.
Max Schmeling KO12 Joe Louis, June 1936
The young, undefeated “Brown Bomber” was widely perceived as unbeatable, but the German had studied his style and exploited his weaknesses to great effect. A more experienced Louis destroyed Schmeling in a single round in their famous rematch two years later.
Lloyd Honeyghan TKO6 Donald Curry, Undisputed Welterweight Championship, September 1986
Curry was considered one of the elite fighters in the sport and was being groomed for super-stardom, but he was struggling desperately to make the weight limit. Meanwhile Honeyghan paid short shrift to the champion’s undefeated record and bet $5,000 on himself at odds of 5-1, shocking the bookies and the boxing world in the process.
More Boxing History
How Will Frampton Compare to his British Counterparts on American Soil?
By: Jordan Seward
In 17 days’ time Carl Frampton (22-0-KO14) will be facing off with Leo Santa Cruz (32-0-1-KO18) for the WBA Super world featherweight title in the Barclays Centre, New York.
This will be ‘The Jackal’s’ first world title fight up at featherweight after he vacated the WBA and IBF world super-bantamweight titles. The highly rated 29-year-old’s prompted move up to featherweight came after he convincingly beat bitter rival; Scott Quigg (31-1-2).
The Northern Irishmen displayed superior ring intelligence and punch prowess to defeat Quigg and claim the WBA and IBF world super-bantamweight titles. His journey so far has been a fruitful one, but his only previous experience of fighting in America didn’t go according to plan.
Prior to the domestic dust-up with Quigg, Frampton defended his IBF world super-bantamweight title against Alejandro Gonzalez Jr (25-3-2) with a unanimous decision victory, at the Don Haskins Convention Centre, El Paso, Texas.
Despite getting over the finish line, it undeniably was not the American debut Frampton would have dreamt about. He struggled to perform and was forced to climb off the canvas twice in the first round. Sometimes a champions grit, willingness and determination is called upon and Frampton duly responded, unfortunately it just wasn’t the ideal setting for that moment.
This time round, in the ‘Big Apple’, Frampton will be eager to set the record straight and show his true talents to the American boxing fans against Santa Cruz. Hitting America as a boxer is like becoming a partner at Nike, it’s like reaching the top of Machu Picchu, it’s like vacationing in Bora Bora. It’s the big time.
And for years, some of the best British boxers have crossed the Atlantic in an attempt to conquer America. Some of Frampton’s British counterparts have succeeded, some have failed. The undisputed heavyweight king, Lennox Lewis (42-2-1), initially struggled to win over the American public until he put on a dominant performance in the controversial draw with Evander Holyfield in 1999.
Out of the 44 professional fights Lewis had, 22 of them were in the United States. It was not until he became undisputed champion in Las Vegas against Holyfield that he reached superstar status alongside with the likes of Mike Tyson.
Another Brit that took America by storm was ‘Prince’ Nassem Hamed. His American debut; similarly, to Frampton but with a whole lot more drama, was a thrilling encounter that made him an instant hit. Hamed climbed off the canvas three times before stopping fan favourite Kevin Kelley in Madison Square Garden, New York.
In more recent times, Kell Brook and James DeGale have tasted success in America both winning world titles against homeland opponents. Carl Froch experienced the highs and lows of America, he was on route to a points loss to Jermaine Taylor before sensationally knocking him out in the last round, but was outclassed on American soil by Andre Ward two years later.
British hero Ricky Hatton, has hurtful memories of Las Vegas as he suffered two career-damaging losses to Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. So how will Frampton compare to his British counterparts on June 30?
The Northern Irishmen made his professional debut as a featherweight and he was always a big super-bantamweight. There were strong rumours that Frampton often struggled to make the 118lb limit and there was obviously some truth in those rumours, so weight shouldn’t be an issue.
The Tiger’s Bay boxer is in with a shrewd customer in Leo Santa Cruz though, his style is bullish and aggressive and he is yet to taste defeat. It’s proven that Carl can be hurt, Gonzalez put him down twice and he isn’t renowned for being a massive puncher. ‘El Terremoto’ is the bigger fighter, standing two and a half inches taller and has an 18cm reach advantage. It’s a menacing task. Cruz’s style is problematic, Frampton will be cautious to fight on the inside, but his opponent is rangy as well.
However, Frampton has the mental attributes to stick to a game plan and possess’ the boxing tools to pick the Mexican apart. Providing the mental scars of the Gonzalez fight have healed – which they should have after the Quigg fight, he will be filled to the brim with confidence and certainly has the skills in his locker to do the job.
‘The Jackal’ prides himself on his ring intelligence and footwork and he will need to implement these skills if he is to win. His trainer Shane McGuigan is one of the hottest and most sought after trainers in boxing right now and he will be fundamental to Frampton’s chances.
Despite Britain being the desired location for the biggest fights right now, highlighted by the super-fight between Gennady Golovkin and Kell Brook, America is still the place boxers want to make a name for themselves, mainly for the financial prosperity.
In recent times, the success of British boxers in America has been auspicious, although that all goes out the window at the Barclays Centre in 19 days’ time as far as Frampton’s concerned. it’s his moment now, to put his name in the spotlight and become a two weight world champion and create more British success on American soil.
Fury – Joshua | The Great and the Glorious
By: Courtney Riley
Fighters work their whole lives, shedding gallons upon gallons of bodily fluids, to make their ascension to the summit of the sport by becoming the champ – the man who sits above the pile of hungry contenders who are steadily vying for their own chance at glory. Glory, however, comes from a victory in a title fight whereas greatness is attained from the actions that are taken thereafter. For instance, will the likes of Charles Martin (23-1, 21 KOs) be remembered as a ‘great’ after being dethroned in only his first title-defence to Anthony Joshua (16-0, 16 KOs)?
Tyson Fury (25-0, 18 KOs) is the lineal world heavyweight champion. In short, he is ‘the man’ in the sport’s ‘glamour division’. He was crowned king after traveling to the champion’s backyard in Germany to claim three of the four major belts. However, it is the new titlist, Anthony Joshua, who is basking in the adoration of the public. History has shown us that winning the belt alone does not automatically win over the hearts of the public. In fact, many losing fighters have transcended to become the ‘people’s champ’. Look at Frank Bruno (40-5, 38 KOs) for example, he lost three world title challenges to Tim Witherspoon, Mike Tyson, then Lennox Lewis before finally winning the coveted WBC belt from Oliver McCall in 1995; only to lose it in his very first defence to a post-incarcerated Mike Tyson in a rematch 6 months later. Frank Bruno was (and still is) one of Britain’s favourite ever boxers – the people’s champ. So what’s the trick? Is there a secret to unlocking hearts?
Tyson Fury is the fighter who took the hard road. He claimed the English, the British, the Commonwealth, then the European titles before taking on the undisputed world heavyweight champion in Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 53 KOs) to challenge for the World WBA, WBO, and IBF titles. He dared to be great but his glory was somewhat dampened when the IBF placed an order for him to fight their mandatory challenger in Vyacheslav Glazkov (21-1, 13 Kos). Fury was contractually bound to fight Klitschko in a rematch so could not fulfil his mandatory obligation to defend of the IBF belt. He was stripped of the title as a result. The IBF then mandated that their mandatory and their next-ranked challenger would fight each other for their vacant belt. Thus ‘Prince’ Charles Martin was born. He claimed the belt after Glazkov was forced to retire because of a twisted knee. Martin will receive no plaudit in this article for that victory.
Martin then proceeded to ‘call out’ the sweetheart of British boxing in Anthony Joshua for his first title defence. We all saw how that ended; the paper-champ flew into London and was torn to shreds inside two rounds by the same counter right hand that had floored him a few seconds earlier. He failed to beat the count after sitting down on what he proved himself to be – a bum. No credit is being taken away from Joshua though. The lad is immensely talented and has all the attributes to go on and dominate the division like a Lennox Lewis or a Wladimir Klitschko before him. He won the title in only his 16th fight after destroying all previous challengers via knock-out. The boy is a beast and is a specimen of a man. His good looks has wooed the women and his humility has resonated with the public. His events are always a sell-out and soon enough, even your momma will know his name, I can bet that your sister already does. The boy is fast becoming a household name under promoter Eddie Hearn’s guidance, but no one can justifiable call him a hype-job. It is true that he has yet to fight anyone of note, and even his world title victory was against what is quite possibly the worst heavyweight world champion that I have ever seen. But the 2012 Olympic Gold medallist can fight. He is still a learning his trade in the professional game and he has already claimed a world title after only 16 fights. That is a noteworthy achievement. Tyson Fury is a veteran in comparison even though he is only a year older than Joshua. Fury has fought much better opposition and has claimed the right to be called the legitimate world champion after his victory over Klitschko. He has a chance to banish any idea that the public may harbour about his victory in Germany being a fluke when he meets Klitschko in a rematch in July. This should pave the way for a massive unification bout for the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world against the winner of the WBC title fight between Deontay Wilder (36-0, 35 KOs) and Alexander Povetkin (30-1, 22 KOs). Those big high-profile fights would generate more than enough coin to line the pockets of generations of Furys, as well as solidifying his credentials as a great among the pantheon of boxing legends. He could then go out by having an all-British showdown against Anthony Joshua to win over the hearts and minds of the British public. Joshua on the other hand, should he continue his winning ways, will have the chance to claim all the belts and turn all of is glory into greatness.
It is a fantastic new era to be a boxing fan. And I, for one, I am loving it.