Liam Williams’ Renaissance
By: Ste Rowen
April 2017 – The bleeding right eye of Liam Williams continues to seep as the Welshman is sat in the corner, wondering whether a second wind was gonna come to him or not. But it ended up being out of his hands.
In the 9th round, of Liam’s bout with fellow Liam, ‘Beefy’ Smith, Williams’ trainer, Gary Lockett threw the towel in as blood seeped down the Welshman’s face. It was a decision that his corner seemed to live to regret. That is until the rematch when Liam Smith took Williams to a full twelve rounds and, to put it, frankly, outclassed the Welshman along the way.
It meant that Liam Williams had a rebuild job to overcome. Where did it go wrong? Was he outclassed or overwhelmed? Was he just not good enough?
Since that 2017 night in Newcastle, Williams has taken steps to re-establish himself, not just in the division above. From fighting at 154lb and falling short, Liam took the decision to shift up a division to the more prestigious division of middleweight.
After two run of the mill bouts, Williams took out the unbeaten, Mark Heffron in the 10th round, and two 2nd round maulin’s of both, Joe Mullender and Karim Achour. Those previous bouts set up a WBO eliminator against former world title challenger, Alantez Fox.
The slender man arrived into London with
all the confidence of a genuine world class contender, and not like a man who did nothing more than
a flash knockdown against current WBO world champion, and backwards fighting, Demetrius
But Williams was unafraid of the larger-than-fight, Fox, who struggled to maintain any kind of distance from the brawling Welshman.
The early rounds saw ‘The Machine’ Williams rifle his way into the subsequent fifth round stoppage, dropping the lanky American twice before a 5th round stoppage. A slightly unexpected finish, certainly not what Fox had envisioned but perhaps exactly how Williams had seen the fight going and not just hoped.
Now firmly in place amongst the top WBO ranked fighters, ranked just behind champion, Andrade and #2 Jamie Munguia, Williams, 22-2-1 (17KOs) has more than just inner belief to feel justified in thinking his first world title shot at 160lb could happen either at the end of this year or early 2021. Who knows, if not for Corona, Wales could have had its first world champion since Lee Selby claimed the IBF featherweight title in 2017, and its first ever middleweight titlist ever. But they do say good things come to those who wait.
So, can Liam beat Demetrius Andrade and
It does feel that more often than not that the Brits always go in as the underdog when facing an American, certainly in more recent times. Williams will need to defy the odds and avoid the fates of Khan vs. Crawford, Brook vs. Spence etc. But then again, Andrade, though he has his plaudits, has failed to capture the imagination or excitement that the aforementioned US boxers have done.
If all you had to go on was watching a few Demetrius bouts, you would be pretty certain he had a strong amateur background including reaching the 2008 Olympics and winning gold at the 2007 world championships. Both at the 69kg limit. It is not necessarily a criticism either and might be the perfect style to completely null the expected mauling attack that fans and pundits alike would expect to see if the two were meet.
‘Boo-Boo’s’ backwards, stick & move approach has leant itself to a 29-0 (18KOs) record, which includes victories across two divisions over the previously unbeaten Vanes Martirosyan in 2013, Jack Culcay to claim his first world title and a solid whitewash decision win over fringe-contender, Maciej Sulecki. But it leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to the viewership.
Williams may not be the top name that fans are hoping for, for Andrade when boxing fully returns, such as a previous fight on the calendar with Billy Joe Saunders, or an all-American affair against Jermall Charlo or Daniel Jacobs; but what can be guaranteed if Williams vs. Andrade happens, is that sparks will fly if, and it’s a big if, the Welshman is able to land.
DAZN Boxing Preview: Smith vs. Eggington
By: Ste Rowen
On Saturday night at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena, former WBO junior-middleweight champion, Liam Smith returns to the ring for the first time since his 2018 attempt to regain that same world title. His opponent is Sam ‘Savage’ Eggington, a boxer who made his name at welterweight and has so far had an unsuccessful time at the weight class above.
Both fighters have fallen in and out of winning ways in their most recent bouts, and both have a point to prove; that they belong in contention at 154lb.
The two men have lost two of their last five bouts but the difference in the quality of opposition is blatant. In his previous five bouts ‘Beefy’ Smith, 26-2-1 (14KOs), has been defeated by Canelo Alvarez via a 9th round stoppage and dropped a decision to Jaime Munguia. But his victories, most notably include back-to-back wins over domestic rival, Liam Williams.
It’s a very different story for Eggington. ‘The Savage’, 24-5 (15KOs), lost a surprise split decision to Mohamed Mimoune, in Sam’s first defence of the WBU welterweight title. Two fights later, he came unstuck against Hassan Mwakinyo, 11-2 at the time, in a non-title bout at 154lb.
Unlike Saturday’s opponent, Eggington’s three victories in recent bouts aren’t exactly wins to shout home about either; Two stoppages and a 4-round decision win over opponents whose pro records combined, add up to 35-36-4 (20KOs).
But, speaking at the final press-conference on Thursday, Sam was well aware of his record compared to his opponent’s,
‘‘It don’t take a genius to know I’m the underdog in this fight. I quite like it like that. Nothing to lose everything to win. With having no pressure you can just enjoy your training much more.’’
Smith, fighting in Liverpool for the first time was just as humble when speaking,
‘‘Liverpool has so many good fighters, we don’t have enough of these big nights. Sam’s style and my style will always gel for a good fight, very competitive, but I feel I do everything better.’’
The headline bout tops a card that includes fellow Liverpudlians, heavyweight David Price up against the unbeaten Kash Ali, Tom Farrell vs. Phillip Bowes for the super-lightweight Commonwealth, and Robbie Davies Jr taking on Joe Hughes for the British and European super-lightweight straps.
But the most intriguing fight to look out for on the undercard will be…Anthony Fowler vs. Scott Fitzgerald.
It’s been heating up nicely in the past few weeks in a back-and-forth war of words on social media, and it boiled over at the press conference when domestic rivals, Anthony Fowler, 9-0 (8KOs) and Scott Fitzgerald, 12-0 (9KOs) went head-to-head.
And much like their Twitter personas, neither fighter was shy in coming forward. From ‘wet lettuce’ to ‘scared little boy’ to ‘geek’, the big talk went tit-for-tat with Scott speaking first,
‘‘Me and Tony both won medals within about half an hour of each other at the commonwealth so it’s gonna be a special fight…This is the first time I feel like I’ve tried. I’ve trained harder than anyone, ever. He’s delusional. A scammer.’’
Fowler, of Liverpool, responded with just as much venom,
‘‘You’re a scared little boy, son. Come Saturday night I’m gonna bounce my fist of your face…Look at me lad, I’m gonna punch your face in.
He’s done nothing in his life to worry me…I’m gonna jab his face off, make him overreach and I’m gonna punish him every time.’’
Both men won gold in the 2014 Commonwealth games when Fitzgerald fought at welterweight and Fowler up at middleweight. Both turning pro after the Glasgow games, it seemed inevitable that, after Scott decided to fight as a middle/junior-middleweight, that the two men would have to face each other before attempting to break the European scene. The WBA ‘International’ title will be on the line, but you suspect by the way the fight has built up that the two amateur standouts care a lot more about bragging rights that the belt on the line.
Underappreciated Boxers in the United Kingdom
By: Oliver McManus
BoxRec has 1,037 professional boxers from the United Kingdom – male and female – listed as active and, regardless of how you see their rankings, trawling through the pages of boxers throws up so many names that you think “hey, they deserve more recognition” so that’s what this is about – shining the spotlight on some of the best British fighters who deserve more appreciation!
Liam Cameron – Commonwealth Middleweight Champion
Liam Cameron is first up and the Sheffield-based boxer has been in the form of his life these past 12 months, promoted by Dennis Hobson the Commonwealth Champion really upset the apple cart in October of last years as he wore down Sam Sheedy, pre-fight favourite, over the course of eight months in order to claim Commonwealth glory.
Dropping Sheedy to the canvas three times in the fourth round and twice in the seventh, Cameron demonstrated to perfection the level of destruction he has developed as he’s matured as both a boxer and man – his last three wins have come via early stoppage.
21 wins and 5 losses is the resume of a man willing to take risks and Cannonball knows everything about risk-taking having travelled to Australia in 2016 to tackle Zac Dunn and going up against Luke Blackledge in 2015 – Cameron seems to have found his grove in the lighter division having dropped down from super-middle and there’s plenty of opportunity for big fights over the course of the next 12, 18 months.
Tommy Langford, Brian Rose, Chris Eubank Jr, Billy Joe Saunders – Liam Cameron wants them all and, most importantly, he has genuine confidence in his ability to claim the victory should he meet with them in the ring.
A fighter of tremendous quality, Liam is as promising as they come and despite being 27 his best years are, surely, still to come.
Tommy Coyle – former Commonwealth, IBF & WBC International Champion
Hull’s very own, Tommy Coyle is a boxer who, he admits, is “motivated by legacy” and the work he’s doing in and around Hull in order to help young children is admirable but he, himself, is one of the most inspiring boxers Britain has produced.
Coyle’s attitude towards the game is impeccable and his desire to chase glory – no matter at what cost – is what makes him so brilliant to watch – Coyle has been in the ring with quality operators such as Derry Matthews, Luke Campbell, Tyrone Nurse and Michael Katsidis but, regardless of result, you can never say he’s put in a bad performance.
Against Sean Dodd in April he had, on paper, a tough, tough fight which people had down as a genuine 50-50 but Coyle showed that whilst he had plenty of heart and passion he also possess a boxing brain and I say that because the bout started scrappy before Coyle got into his stride, popping out the left jab and really rattling Masher Dodd in the third round, eventually stopping Dodd in the sixth to add the Commonwealth belt to his collection.
Boom Boom has always dreamed of fighting in America and, come September, that ambition will have been realised as now, having vacated the Commonwealth title, Coyle pursues bigger those big fights.
For me what I like best about Tommy is his consistency – whenever he lands a peach of a body shot you can bet your house on the fact he’ll follow through with a cracking shot to the head, it’s his trademark!
Lewis van Poetsch – unapologetic journeyman
Poochi is on the list as a representative of a vast collection of British journeyman that could have made the cut – Youseff Al Hamidi, Kristian Laight, the recently retired Curtis Gargano – but I picked Lewis van Poetsch because of his personality.
It’s hard not to love Lewis, he always comes across well in interviews, he’s a barber and just an all-round happy-chappy. 7 wins, 71 losses and 1 draw, Poochi doesn’t come to the ring with an imperious record but he brings with it a tough challenge for those up-and-coming prospects as well as a lot of flair, making his ring-walk in a dressing gown and a flat cap.
With only 10 KO losses, van Poestch is durable and a solid boxer capable of causing a shock should his opponent not turn up 100% and I’m not a fan of the way the word “journeyman” has become banded about in a derogatory term but there’s a difference between people who aren’t good boxers and journeyman. As I say repeatedly you CANNOT be a bad boxer and still be a good journeyman.
There’s an art-form to it and Lewis is a master. Let’s not forget that without this guy we would the likes of Anthony Joshua, Jorge Linares, Billy Joe Saunders. For every world champion you will be able to count 10 quality journeyman and van Poetsch symbolizes everything that is to be respected within the sport – after all he is the “nation’s favourite journeyman”.
Matty Askin – British Cruiserweight Champion
The Assassin turned professional aged 19 and in the 10 years since that first fight, a points victory over Paul Bonson, Askin has gone through the traditional route of area (Central) – English – British Champion with the behemoth of a man – six foot four – securing that British title in May last year with a convincing sixth round knockout over Craig Kennedy.
Having grown a reputation for being under-stated, Askin has come to life somewhat over the past few weeks taking umbrage with all the hype surrounding Lawrence Okolie and it is my firm belief that Askin would triumph in that fight, should it be made.
The reasoning for that is simple, Matty has stood the test of time and has pretty much seen off every other British-level fighter over the course of the last four, five years and whilst there is certainly an argument to be made that he should be pushing on for higher honours, I would like to see him in one more British battle before elevating himself to the next level.
With 15 knockout wins, it’s easy to look at his record and say “he’s got power” but it’s not as simple as that because YES, he packs power and has proven that time and time again but I’ve always been impressed with how he operates as a technical fighter and that was emphasised with his victory over Tommy McCarthy in 2016.
Surprisingly nimble on his feet for such a big man, we’ve seen Askin tested with the, vastly-underrated Ovill McKenzie and, indeed, Krzysztof Glowacki, but he’s always come back from those losses even more invigorated and determined and for sheer graft alone, Askin deserves all the success he reaps.
Natasha Jonas – WBA International Featherweight Champion
I couldn’t NOT put Natasha Jonas on this list because for such a phenomenal fighter in a relatively small pool of fighters – what with women’s boxing still being a developing sport – all the attention seems to be on Katie Taylor and Nicola Adams.
Yet, despite that, you could argue that Jonas was the first real main-stream female fighter in Britain – having started boxing in 2005, she had won five ABA Championship titles by 2010 – all in the 64kg division – and in 2009 was named as the first women’s boxer on Team GB.
The first ever female boxer from the United Kingdom to qualify for the Olympic Games, she eventually lost in the quarter-finals to, you guessed it, Katie Taylor.
Since turning pro, though, she’s demonstrated more power than either Adams or Taylor and the 34 year old is wasting no time to carve out her way to the top – last time out against Taoussy L’Hadji she faced a woman who had never been knocked out before yet Jonas controlled the tempo of the fight with ease before sending her French opponent to the floor in the seventh.
In a way you could argue it’s helped her that she’s gone, relatively, under-the-radar because it’s enabled the Liverpudlian to hone her trade without too much scrutiny and if you were to look at her first couple performances before comparing them to the most recent, you can tell distinctly that there is more confidence flowing form Natasha, she feels more at ease in the ring and the fights show that, even in a year her range of skills have developed exponentially and, for me, this all builds to her being our next world champion – a potential super-fight with Katie Taylor, even,
As you can tell, then, Britain is blessed with some incredible boxers but it’s not just at the top, with the world champions, that there’s a plethora of talent – it runs all the way throughout the divisions, throughout the level of experience and, boy, does the future look bright!
Interview with British Prospects Ryan Charles, Mitch Frearson, and Liam Dillon
By: Oliver McManus
As I’ve been shouting from the rooftops for a long time now, boxing in Britain is BOOMING and has an overflow of talent flooding through the veins at the moment – hot talents are making their debut on a weekly basis all of whom are capable of causing some serious carnage at the top of the game.
The three fighters featured below are no different – Ryan Charles, Mitch Frearson and Liam Dillon are all represented by Portobello PR and are set to make massive statement, I caught up with all three to find out more;
First up is Ryan Charles, a cruiserweight signed with British Warriors who represented St Lucia at the Commonwealth and World Amateur Championships, scheduled to turn pro last year he was beset by cancelations and will FINALLY be making his debut on the 28th;
Obviously you’re making your debut at the end of the month, how’s preparation been going, how are you feeling?
Yeah preparation has been good, I’ve been really ready for this for a while because I was due to box last year but a couple of cancellations and things meant I couldn’t but I’m training down at Miguel’s Gym with a lot of good fighters – Richard Riakporhe, Isaac Chamberlain, Chris Kongo – so yeah, it’s going well. Really well.
You were at the 2014 Commonwealth games, was it on your mind to turn pro straight away or did you always want to wait a bit longer?
Basically after the 2014 Commonwealth’s, I don’t know if you remember but I kind of got robbed really badly, I gave the guy two standing counts in the round and it was still only scored a 10-8 round by one of the judges and the guy won the fight on points, so honestly it put me in a bad place.
I kind of took a bit of a break from boxing, from 2014 to the end of 2015 I weren’t really training, I started again in 2016 and then I decided I wanted to turn pro and started the process from there – as I said I was due to box last year.
When you look back at the Games is it hard to take positives or do you just move on and change it into something positive?
It can be hard, yeah, obviously it’s the Commonwealth’s now and it’s on TV as we speak. I’m just watching some of them and thinking like “one of those medals should have been mine” but everything happens for a reason. It wasn’t meant to be so I’ve just got to treat it as a learning experience and say “ok, just move on and in the future once you’ve got someone hurt make sure you finish them off, don’t give them a chance” because if I really went for it I could have got him out of there.
When you do get in the ring on the 28th are you looking for rounds or do you want to right some wrongs and make a big statement?
You know what, either way, I wouldn’t mind getting a few rounds but the sooner the better, if I can get them out of there then that’s even better and I can make a bit of a statement, that’s good and I can move onto the next one earlier.
You’re quite a big cruiserweight, could we ever see you at heavy?
Potentially yeah, potentially. As an amateur, when I started off I boxed at Super Heavyweight, then I went down to 91kg (heavyweight) and I stayed there for a bit, then I went down to cruiserweight which is 86, then I went back up to 91. I decided, “let me get all the way down” so I went to 81kg so between light heavy and heavyweight (in the pro ranks) I can box between them. I reckon for me my optimum weight is probably 14 ½ stones, so about 91kg.
In the future I could potentially go up, it’s just the height factor, I’m not the tallest of cruiserweights so it may be a problem.
I won’t keep you much longer because it’s incredibly noisy here (I was at York Hall) but what are you looking to achieve over the next 12 months?
Definitely in the next 12 months I want to be pushing towards area titles, maybe secure an area title and then move on from there – this game is cutthroat and you’ve got a short career, I’ve got to try do as well as I can. I think all the international experience I’ve got will put me in good stead already – I think I’ve fought, 3 Olympians, Commonwealth gold medallist, world and American champs. I think that will help me in the pros as well. I just want to try and get as many fights as possible.
Mitch Frearson is next up, signed by MTK Global and making his debut on the 28th April – down to earth, humble, great fighter, he’s the real deal;
The phone rang about 5 seconds after I texted Mitch to set the interview up, immediately coming across as a great gentleman.
Your debut is coming up, how are you feeling, how’s the prep?
It’s been going well, it’s been a lot, started camp end of / middle of December really so I’ve just been working my way into it doing bits and bobs before getting serious in the New Year when everything was official and I knew I had a set date on the 28th.
Yeah and once you get the date does it become easier to motivate yourself to train or are you always up for it?
I’m always motivated regardless but, obviously, when you’ve got that date, you get that little switch that goes in your head and you know that is you the, you know you’re fighting and you have to turn it on a bit and ramp the training up a bit more.
When you’re in the ring do you want to make a big statement early on or do you want to get some experience under your belt?
I’m not entirely fussed about making a big statement, I just want to get the rounds. As long as I box well and I’m happy with myself then I don’t care how the fight goes – other than me winning, obviously – but as long as I put into play what I’ve been practising in the gym then I’m not fussed how it’s perceived on the night as long as I’m happy, my trainer’s happy.
I’ve heard it said you’re sort of “here for a good time” are you more up for having some good fights?
Nah, it’s not like I’m just here for a good time, I want to progress quickly and work my way up in the sense of like other fighters round the area who would make a good fight…
… you want to put on a show as opposed to just journeyman?
Yeah, basically, yeah I want to put on a show. You’re asking people to pay 40, 60 quid for tickets, you need to turn up and box – obviously I’m under no illusion that I will box journeyman at the beginning – but as long as it puts on a good show, that’s all I care about.
How many tickets are you looking to sell for your debut?
Probably between 100 to 150, I could sell more but where I work still, it’s about balancing time and delegating to tickets, working or training. I’ve got a few people helping me out but I’ve basically been doing it all myself, I could get more tickets out but I’m not too fussed at the minute.
Does it always add extra motivation or is it sometimes unwanted pressure?
From boxing in the amateurs I only boxed in front of about five people, well that I brought myself, there was a few others around but there is subconsciously an added pressure but I’ve been boxing long enough to deal with pressure. It’s no different to any of my amateur bouts – just a few more people!
Are you sort of taking the attitude that it is just amateur but on a bigger scene? Not overthinking it?
I’m a massive overthinker, it’s my one downfall. In this camp moving forward as a professional boxer my one thing was not overthink, just enjoy the moment, go through the process and just see where I end up instead of just overthinking and stressing myself out.
I’m training hard, I believe in myself and go from there.
In about a year have you got somewhere specific you want to be or just keep the fights coming?
I’m not going to be one of those guys that say “I wanna win this, I wanna win that”, I’m in charge, really, of how I progress and that so I want to progress quite quickly and if that’s domestic titles then yeah I’ll crack on with that but I just want to improve as boxer, fit nicely into the programme and set myself up for a good career.
Finally in this trio of interviews is Liam Dillon, a 22 year old lightweight carrying an unbeaten ledger into his sixth professional fight on the 26th May at York Hall – having secured five comfortable points victories over the four round distance, Dillon steps up to six in his next contest and the high pressure fighter will be looking to pile on the pressure at the top of the domestic lightweight division in the not-too-distant future;
Firstly, you’ve had 5 fights in your pro career so far, how would you assess them and what can we expect from you in 2018?
I’ve boxed 5 tough boys all very experienced, myself and my team have seen a massive improvement between my first professional outing and my 5th. I hopefully would like a belt around my waist by the end of 2018.
Absolutely, are you hoping to be out as frequently this year or would you rather fewer, but tougher, fights?
I’m hoping to keep active this year. Same as last year. I’m always in shape. I want the big fights. The fights that’ll move me up the rankings.
And when you talk about the big fights have you got a particular route in mind or will you just see what opportunities arise?
I’ll like take the best opportunities available. Listen to my coaches and my team as I think they know what’s best for me.
How does your relationship with your coaches and gym mates affect your motivation for fight night – do you almost want to do well for them as well as for yourself?
Yeah I don’t just fight for myself, I go out to represent my team, I believe I’ve got one of the best teams in the country around me, my coaches Steve Kipps and Bob Kipps have trained fighters at world level, Ian Wilson (who owns the gym) has put so much effort and belief in me, he’s another brilliant coach. Mathew Chanda, a boxer I train with, is the best I’ve ever trained with. I learn so much from him and after we spar or he watch me spar someone else, he always gives me advice after. Another guy I train with Patrick Sandy is a fitness coach, he gets me in brilliant shape, he puts me through old school training methods. My nutritionist Paul O’Neil from pro- nutrition does a great job helping me maintain weight and all the guys from team Sparta in Chingford. It’s a great gym to train at and there’s no other place of rather be.
Sounds like a really solid team – I was going to ask about Matty Chanda actually, does having some so experienced (Commonwealth level) in the gym make it easier to motivate yourself on the days you’re feeling rough?
Yeah definitely, it’s great to have a fighter of that calibre in your stable, it motivates me to get to that level myself, and Matty always giving his input into my training and helping me get to that level.
You’re quite well known for being a good pressure fighter but what do you think are the strongest areas of your game?
I’ve been told I’m very physically strong for my weight, I’ve hard to push back, I’ve never been good at boxing on the back foot so I just keep going forward.
Finally from me, when you fight at the end of May what can we expect from you? & at only 22 how long can you be in the sport for?
I’m in it for the long run as long as everything runs smoothly. I hope to have a long career in the sport. At 22 I hope I can have at least another 10 years in the sport filled with big fights.
And there we have it, three of the most exciting fighters to grace the “small halls” of the United Kingdom over the next month – they’ll all be looking to make explosive statements – don’t blink or you’ll miss it!
Liam Smith Defeats Liam Williams in Grudge Match
By: Oliver McManus
Boxing returned to the North East in style as Newcastle hosted its first major show since 2015 and made an immediate impact, leaving an instantaneous longing for a speedy return.
The main event saw embittered rivals Liam Smith and Liam Williams embark on a grudge match that has been in the making for the last 7 months, following the Liam Smith’s controversial victory over the Welshman back in April.
An official eliminator for the WBO World Light Middleweight title, previously held by Smith, there was plenty on the line for the winner aside from bragging rights.
The betting money was on The Machine to avenge his sole loss and in a tense opening round it was Williams who, indeed, managed to get the better of his man with several sharp jabs clipping Smith through the gloves.
It didn’t take long for the fight to ignite, however, with Beefy loosening up in a bid to enhance his record to 26-1, lucid body movement from Smith kept him in control for much of the second round and a delightful uppercut kept Williams in check – the Welshman shot back with some smooth left-hand’s of his own.
With the fight flowing into the 3rd round, the 16-1-1 fighter from Clydach Vale, Wales, stuck to the centre of the ring and landed with some eye-catching right hand shots to rock his Liverpudlian opponent.
He imposed himself for the following round too, in a bout lacking the fireworks from their previous battle, landing strong jabs and right hands, boxing on the front foot. Smith hit back with a couple of good shots that momentarily put Williams on the back-foot, a tight, edgy fight.
A flurry of combinations kept the former Champion against the ropes who had only his jab working to effect, Beefy looked to hold as the Welshman landed cleaner, crisper shots throughout the opening portions of the fight.
The halfway point marked a better round for Liam Smith, landing repeatedly with far superior jabs and engaging in a sharper exchange of punches than in any previous rounds – that body movement noted early came in to play again and was used to good effect as he forced his opponent to swipe at thin air on numerous occasions.
Williams bit back with hard uppercuts in the 7th, keeping his rival in a defensive mind-set, landing with successful shots before being jabbed around by Smith who took a measured, controlled approach to the fight.
Words were exchanged between the fighters who, despite a relatively muted crowd, were putting on a tough 50-50 display of gritty fighting – albeit without the sparks some expected – and a sharp set of short inside combinations marked the first instance of notable success for Smith who, in probability, had been controlling the fight up until now despite the more eye-catching action coming from the opposite corner.
An increase in tempo came from the man who won the last contest, perhaps gaining from a psychological advantage, doubling up on the jab before connecting with some snappy shots to the body of Williams.
Into the final third of the fight with Smith seemingly up on the scorecards, The Machine came out with an air of authority about him for the 9th round. Buoyed on by his trainer Gary Lockett, he landed long, reaching jabs in the early stages before creating opportunities for combination shots from wider angles; a short left hook that troubled Smith was of particular note and Williams’ sensed a shift in momentum to the rematch in which no-one had gained full control of.
With the fight swinging in his direction, Williams came out swinging in Smith’s direction landing a peach of a left hook that caught the 29 year old around his tight defensive guard – followed by a body-shot, uppercut combination, an avalanche of polished shots were rattled off to earn him a foothold in the contest with ever tightening scorecards.
Almost as if they decided they would only kick to life where the fight finished back in April (after the 9th round), the two fighters stood stock in front of each-other for the 11th round trading blows, with combinations snapping both their heads back. The round ends with a powerful right hand from Smith to, potentially, nab the round from the judges.
The final round saw both men attempt to go out with a bang but Smith was the more aggressive of the two, keeping his technical style going, working Williams towards the ropes with an ever-present, intrusive jab. Into the 90 seconds and the Welshman started to let his hands flow, slamming shots into the body – many of which failed to land cleanly.
Smith beckoned the onslaught and withstood the tide before pursuing his man with a mixture of stylish defensive work combined with the old one-two combination. A few wild shots missed the mark but all in all, the Liverpudlian never looked out of control.
It must be said the fight never really clicked into the classic that many of us hoped it would with the fight overshadowed by a cautious fighting nature, attempting to keep one another at bay as opposed to going all out for a knockout.
On paper it looked close but I think it’s fair to say that Liam Smith remained relatively unchallenged which is why I scored it 117-112 to the former WBO Lightweight Champion.
Going to the scorecards the judges scored it 114-114, 116-112 and 117-111 for a majority decision to Liam Smith who moves to 26-1 and guaranteeing himself a shot at the WBO World Lightweight title in the early stages of next year.
Also featuring on the card was a real domestic dust-up between two Northern fighters scrapping for the IBF Europe Super Lightweight title with unbeaten prospect Josh Leather (12-0) facing off with, experienced statesman, Glenn Foot (21-2).
At 5 years younger, Leather possessed a 3inch reach advantage over his Sunderland-based opponent and the slick puncher was looking to make The Hammer the 13th name on his burgeoning CV.
Foot, a former Prizefighter champion, had labelled the champion “a pretender” during the build-up and came out of the blocks with a bit of needle, staying low, pushing Leather to the ropes and landing a succession of hooks.
The 30 year old kept atop of his opponent with strong upper-body movement, enabling him to roll underneath the oncoming shots from Leather.
With a strong contingent of fans coming to support him, the Guisborough-man looked to fire back with some brutal right hand jabs that encouraged foot to commit to the attack – Steve Gray, the referee, had words with both fighters in the second round for some over-exuberant antics.
Foot landed some heavy punches and towards the end of the second round, dropped Leather to the canvas with a sensational right-hand to the chin. Wincing but on his feet, defensive mode set in for the pre-fight favourite.
Agitated seems an apt word to describe this bout with both fighters getting under each other’s skin. An absolutely tempestuous start from the 21-2 former English champion saw him bully his opposing man, keeping him in close quarters and fighting in the pocket.
Leather seemed uncomfortable but by no means out of his depth and kept his presence noticeable by way of solid right hands to the head and body of the ever-advancing , black and gold trim wearing, Foot.
Going into the second half of the fight, the younger man started to show glimpses of his promising quality landing with strong jabs, boxing from distance resulting in a frustrated Foot having a point taken away for throwing a punch after break had been called.
Both men kept the tempo up with shots flowing between the pair – Foot remaining the more dominant fighter going into the latter stages of the fight – with Leather trying to keep to his strength of distance boxing, to a reasonable degree of success.
The 12-0 former ABA champion seemed to adapt to the unfaltering roughhouse style of fighting that was coming his way and established his position at the centre of the ring, displaying the skills that saw him win the title against Philip Sutcliffe back in May.
I identified in my preview earlier this week that it was going to be a tough fight for Glenn Foot unless he imposed his style of fighting from the outset and it’s clear that he was reading what I had to say – coming out in a position of strength and staying there, the ease of transition between head and body attack was impressive throughout.
Into the 10th round, Leather re-established why he’s the title holder and kept the pressure up on Foot, sending the fighter staggering back before The Hammer was deducted yet another point for spitting out his gumshield. A crucial round for Leather.
Both men seemed to fatigue in the final two rounds but were determined to keep the tempo cranked firmly up, trading leather around the edges of the ring with the pair landing several slamming shots to their opponent in what can only be described as all-out war.
Declaring themselves as the winner immediately after the bell, the decision went to the judges who scored it 114-111, 113-112 and 115-110 unanimously to… AND STILL IBF European Lightweight Champion, Joshua Leather who moves to 13-0 and improves his world stature having been in a barnstormer of a fight; for what it’s worth, I had Leather winning 113-112.
Looking to defend his BBBofC Super Bantamweight title for the first time, Thomas Patrick Ward (21-0) went to war with Sean Davis (13-1) – both fighters coming to the ring at 8st 9lbs.
It was the challenger who came out fastest with Showtime looking to hassle Ward into a mistake, landing some strong left hand-jabs whilst skipping around the ring to keep Davis on his toes; a variety of shots from the Birmingham-born fighter produced measured success.
The champion on the other hand stayed true to his game with a textbook display of technical boxing, countering his opponent’s energy with patience and a series of crisp right hand shots as well as a flush left uppercut in the middle of the second round.
It seemed as though Davis was trying to fatigue the home favourite into defeat – perhaps noting that he faded in his previous fight against Jazza Dickens – but strong footwork from Ward ensured he never seemed in trouble throughout the opening stanza of the bout.
Indeed despite being the more passive fighter, it’s arguable that Tommy landed the most notable punches with his, albeit, infrequent right-hand counter shots proving to be easy on the eye and effective, to boot.
The middle rounds continued to be a boxing purist’s delight with Ward appearing relaxed amid the onslaught from Davis, producing a defensive masterclass, evading shots to head and body whilst picking the challenger off seemingly at will.
Balance was the key strength for, County Durham’s, Ward with the 23 year old keeping the ebb and flow at equilibrium, throwing in fast combinations whilst simultaneously removing himself from danger.
The 6th round saw a bad cut emerge from above the right eye of the Champion as a result of a hard clash of heads between the two fighters – despite the best work of, cutman, Michael Marsden, the cut was of a visible disturbance to Ward who seemed to be more cautious and defensively penetrable following the incident.
Big right hands from Davis heading into the championship rounds looked to rattle Ward – who kept firing back, nonetheless – and the 27 year old kept on coming back relentless with fierce, ferocious, non-stop punches being thrown towards the fatiguing body opposite him.
The deepening cut seemed to be the cause for hope of an upset but Ward remained composed in the face of adversity (and a face full of blood), landing some punishing jabs to the face of his foe in the closing stages of the fight – Davis kept up a constant stream of energy but ultimately knew he was facing a losing battle.
An embrace of respect before the start of the 12th round as well as at the end of the fight was a mark of the manner in which this fight was fought – brutal but not bitter; the fight went to the scorecards, I had it 117-113 to Ward and the people that matter, the judges, scored it in a similar manner – 117-112, 118-111 and 118-111 all in favour of the young gun from Country Durham.
Tommy triumphed on Tyneside, establishing himself as an emerging force to be reckoned with in the Super Bantamweight division but a spirited display from Sean Davis proved he’s not a fighter to be sniffed at and, surely, we’ll see him come again.
The heavyweight match-up between Nathan Gorman and Mohamed Soltby saw the two unbeaten fighters (10-0 and 13-0, respectively) weighing in at polar opposites – Gorman was significantly heavier at 18st 12oz, Soltby registering at 15st 9lbs 13oz.
Gorman was the immediate aggressor, lunging in with several left hands in the opening minute before landing a couple of successful shots to the body. Possessing the centre of the ring, Gorman was snappy with the jab and kept Soltby at bay for the vast majority of the first round.
The following round would follow a similar story with Gorman targeting the body of Soltby whilst missing with several wild wielding uppercuts – the German proving a tricky challenge for Gorman but, ultimately, the Cheshire fighter was firmly in control.
It might be harsh to say but the highlight of the opening 4 rounds was when the fight had to be halted momentarily to allow Soltby’s corner to retie his shoelace.
Nonetheless, Gorman was allowing his hands to loosen and firing some fast jabs at his opponent with a mere handful of shots being returned.
But the 5th round proved to be decisive with the Englishman looking to stamp his authority from the beginning, landing a firm right uppercut to wobble the German before dropping him to the canvas when Soltby had his back turned.
A barrage of left hooks came reigning in from the heavier fighter, bashing the body before a punishing right uppercut physically dazed Mohamed Soltby and led the referee to call an end to the fight – a one-sided 5th round TKO for the Hatton-trained protégé, moving to 11-0 and securing a World Ranking with the WBC (as well as their International Silver title).
On some of the more minor fights on the card, Jeff Saunders beat Steven Lewis on points to set up a potential clash with Jack Caterall for the BBBofC British Super Lightweight title; Mark Heffron moved to 18-0 in the super middleweight division thanks to a 7th round knockout of (19-4) Lewis Taylor; hot middleweight prospect Troy Williamson advanced to 5-0 with a shutout points decision over 6 rounds against Miguel Aguilar and, finally, 23 year old, Joe Maphosa defeated Craig Derbyshire to go 3 and 0 in the flyweight division.
A sensational night of boxing, that can’t be argued, with old rivalries put to bed and new rivalries just in their embers – Leather/Foot is surely a rematch that has to happen.
A rapturous Newcastle crowd were vocal in their enjoyment and the return of World Title boxing to the city can only be moving ever closer.
A Look into the Liam Smith and Liam Williams Rematch
By: Oliva McManus
No if’s, no but’s, this promises to be one of the most exciting nights of domestic boxing in recent memory – promoted by Frank Warren and live on BT Sport & BoxNation, the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle plays host to a night of sensational boxing on the 11th November, headlined by the rematch between Liam Smith and Liam Williams. Also on the card, and being previewed here, is Thomas Patrick Ward, Josh Leather and Nathan Gorman.
The main event has been in the works for the last 7 months following the controversial first bout between Williams and Smith – many had Williams leading on their card but with Smith coming stronger in the latter rounds. With an accidental clash of heads, that Williams maintains was intentional, and the ringside doctor considering it not serious enough for the fight to be waved off, Williams’ corner men took the decision to withdraw their fighter at the 9th round.
Since then the two fighters have been embroiled in a war of words both over social media and at press conferences to add a bitter tinge to this rivalry – which can only mean even more exciting action the second time round.
Williams (16-1-1) was born in Wales and before fighting Smith in April had an illustrious record including British, Commonwealth and WBO European Super Welterweight title’s – standing at 5”10, he has the ever so slight edge over the 5”9.5 Smith and is noticeable for keeping his head down when up-close with the opponent.
A brawler, when he lets his hands go, he has a lack of control which, in a way, is appealing. A really strong right hand hook, this was exemplified during his 11th round stoppage of Gary Corcoran – another fight of his in which there was a clash of head’s.
Don’t be mistaken though, Williams is patient in his style but when he senses a weakness, he moves quickly to exploit it. A strong left hand jab keeps the opponent at length before a useful flurry of shots softens up the opponent.
Smith (25-1-1) is undeniably the higher profile of the two fighters having held the WBO World Super Welterweight title between October 2015 and September 2016; after winning the belt against John Thompson, he made two successful defences against Jimmy Kilrain Kelly and Predrag Radosevic before travelling to America for a spirited 9th round loss against Saul Alvarez.
You can’t doubt the heart of Smith then and when he gets going, it’s hard to argue with his boxing ability either – tending to take to the centre of the ring, he is often said to “pick opponents off”, wearing them down with a constant barrage of shots before dismissing with them in the latter half of the fight.
With a tight defence, he himself is hard to breakdown but Williams exploited his lack of experience in not being the one in control but Smith will have hoped to have learned his lesson from that.
Armed with a deceptive knockout power, the Liverpudlian known as Beefy, likes to target the body of opponents with several sharp shots to the ribcage before targeting the head with repetitive jabs and then returning to the body.
The key unknown to this fight is emotion, it’s not often that you hear emotion spoke of in a boxing context but this is the first fight the two fighters have been in with a genuine dislike for the opponents so the question is, how will this change their game plan?
Next up is Thomas Patrick Ward (21-0) defending his BBBofC British Super Bantamweight title against Sean Davis (13-1) in a fight which is almost destined to go the distance – the duo’s 34 wins combined carry with them a mere two knockouts.
Ward had been a fighter that had gone very much under-the-radar on the domestic scene until May of this year – his 21st professional fight – when he fought James “Jazza” Dickens for the British title. Prior to that, his best victories were, arguably, against Robbie Turley (16-5) and Nasibu Ramadhan (17-5-1) which kind of tells you everything you need to know about the level of opponent he’d been up against.
You don’t need high class opposition to be able to show off your own high class skills, however, and Tommy Ward has impressed immensely whenever he’s been on display – easy on the eye, if you’re a boxing purist you’ll love him. Capable of withstanding attacks, his style is one where he waits for opponents to come forward before exploiting the gaps in their defence.
He’s a patient fighter – not boring though – and I think that’s highlighted by the fact that in his fight against Norbert Kalucza, last year, I counted about 20 consecutive seconds of him just standing in the middle of the ring toying with Kalucza, baiting him into an attack.
Aged just 23 years old the Birmingham-born super bantamweight finds himself already ranked 12th with the WBO and 4th with the EBU – if I were his promoter Frank Warren, I’d be targeting a scrap with European champion Abigail Medina where, were he to be successful, he would avenge his brother’s defeat earlier this year.
Davis, on the other hand, is 4 years older at 27 yet has the much shorter resume of a mere 14 fights. Despite that he comes into the bout with more prestigious victories including the likes of Jason Booth for the English title and Paul Economidies for the WBC International strap.
Showtime, as he’s known, carries the unique style of leaving his left hand hanging in front of the opposite fighter as a way of both measuring the reach but equally blind-siding the opponent before launching a hard, looping right hand – a shot that comes reigning down on the opponent from an oddly jolted knee position, allowing him to simultaneously connect and evade.
Although having never secured a knockout victory, I’d actually argue that Davis is the more powerful of the two fighters – neither laying claim to “power puncher” status, however – with a repetitive, concussive style of punches.
Against Gamal Yafai (at the time 11-0) in May, his defences were exploited as The Beast dropped the Hockley-resident on 6 separate occasions before dispatching with him convincingly in the 7th. Davis showed heart, that can’t be argued, but he was guilty of standing too square in front of Yafai and failed to maintain a sharp, astute defence with the body being a particular area of weakness.
In a real cross-roads fight, Davis will be hoping to restate his stature in the super bantamweight division – at least domestically, anyway – with the winner of this fight looking to push on for a shot at, at least, a European title. Who wins it? Tommy Ward for me but it’s a pick ‘em!
Josh Leather also features as he and Glenn Foot go to war for the IBF East/West Europe Super Lightweight Title – a belt that makes no logistical titular sense – the winner of which should receive an enhanced prestigious Top 15 Ranking with the organization.
At 12-0 Leather is already regarded as one of the hottest prospects in the super lightweight division, not just in Britain but globally – already ranked 14th with the IBF, he’ll be looking to stake his claim for a shot at the recently-crowned champion Sergei Lipinets by emphatically beating Glenn Foot on Saturday night.
From Middlesbrough, Yorkshire, the 25 year-old stands 5”10 and came into the pro ranks with a distinguished amateur record – the 2012 Lightweight ABA Champion – and whilst he hasn’t been particularly active since (averaging a mere 3 fights a year), his career has been going distinctly upwards in the last 18 months.
Armed with sudden explosivity, if he lands a right hand hook and feels it wobbled you then bam, before you know it, one, two, three, four, sharp, jading combination shots come in to both head and body.
Fighting with passion, Leather isn’t reckless, the young man is never afraid to bite down on the gum-shield and let sparks fly but he’ll do so with a degree of precision and aggressive that makes him a dangerous fighter to enrage.
Foot, from Sunderland, is an experienced domestic-level fighter having fought anywhere from the 140lb lightweight division all the way up to 161lbs (admittedly for only one fight), with most of his time spent around the 148lbs region.
Don’t let that be conflated with a lack of quality – let me stamp that out from the start – the 30 year-old has been in with some notable names such as Sam Eggington, Akeem Ennis Brown, Kirk Goodings, Adam Little, Philip Bowes and Jason Cook.
At 21-2 his losses have come against Eggington and Ennis Brown, but nonetheless Foot possess an array of impressive attributes – the most important of all being sheer grit and durability, a man that is hard to break down is always going to be a half-decent boxer and this particular man has proven to be rather more than half-decent.
A high guard compliments his ramrod territorial jabs that keep foes at bay before the Black Cats fan exploits their fatigue during the latter rounds of a fight. Slower on his feet than Leather with less firepower in his armoury, it could be a tough fight if Glenn doesn’t take control right from the early stages.
The final major fight is Nathan Gorman against Mohamed Soltby for the WBC International Silver Heavyweight Title; Gorman (10-0) was originally slated to face Nick Webb for the BBBofC English Heavyweight title and despite rumours that Webb withdrew from the fight, it has emerged that Gorman was actually the one to pull out, reasoning that they “wanted to go a different route”.
Both promoted by, hall of fame promoter, Frank Warren, the likely outcome of this fight is leaving fight fans in the lurk with British boxing diehards labelling Nathan Gorman as one of the bright hopes for heavyweight boxing and German followers backing Soltby as their man to cause an upset on foreign soil.
Neither come with particularly strong names on their resume; Dominic Akinlade and Kamil Sokolowski being the most forthcoming for Gorman – a former Central Area champion – and Laszlo Hubert and Zoltan Csala the two main names for Solbty.
Soltby, 13-0, and Gorman both come to the ring with 8 knockouts apiece and come to the ring with very similar fighting styles – both determined to go after the opposition from the first whistle in order to force the stoppage as opposed to waiting for a more natural opportunity. Gorman has faster footwork but Soltby carries a 1.5inch height advantage and often swings his head back in to keep the other fighter always thinking.
Being friends with Soltby on Snapchat (shameless plug, there), he’s literally not been out of the gym for the past few months so conditioning isn’t going to be an issue and Gorman certainly looks like he could be the real so I, for one, am absolutely ecstatic for this fight which is going to be one of two things – fireworks or bust.
In a night of packed action, the rematch between Liam Smith and Liam Williams is undeniably the one that draws the eye – with the winner looking for an immediate return to the world scene – but a complimentary undercard from top to bottoms looks set to keep the Newcastle crows, as well as viewers at home, on the edge of their seat. No if’s, no but’s.
Showtime World Championship Boxing Preview: Gary Russell Jr. vs. Oscar Escandon
Showtime World Championship Boxing Preview: Gary Russell Jr. vs. Oscar Escandon
By: Seamus McNally
On Saturday night, WBC featherweight champion “Mr.” Gary Russell Jr. (27–1, 16 KOs) of Capitol Heights, Md. makes his long-awaited home debut when he takes Colombia’s Oscar Escandon (25–2, 17 KOs) at the MGM National Harbor in Oxon Hill, Md.
Photo Credit: Tom Casino/Showtime
The bout caps the night of a split-site four fight broadcast on Showtime Championship Boxing. First up, IBF junior lightweight champion Gervonta “Tank” Davis (17–0, 16 KOs) of Baltimore, Md. travels across the pond into hostile territory to risk his undefeated record against fellow unbeaten Liam Walsh (21–0, 14 KOs) at the Copper Box Arena in London. Once that bout is complete, the televised bouts from the MGM National Harbor will commence.
The first televised fight in Maryland will be a 12-round junior welterweight title eliminator between Cuba’s Rances Barthelemy (25–0, 13 KOs), who will be moving up from lightweight, and Kiryl Relikh (21–1, 19 KOs) of Belarus. The co-feature bout is a 12-rounder for the interim IBF super middleweight title between Andre Dirrell (25–2, 16 KOs) of Flint, Mich. and Venezuelan Jose Uzcategui (26–1, 22 KOs).
Russell, 28, entered the professional ranks in 2009 with high expectations, having won numerous amateur national titles, earning a bronze medal in the 2007 world amateur championships, and making the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team.
Russell was a very active fighter early in his career, and by the end of his third year as a professional, he had accumulated a record of 19–0, 11 KOs and was named 2011 Prospect of the Year by the likes of ESPN, Ring Magazine, and Sports Illustrated.
After padding his record for a few more years against modest opposition, Russell got his first crack at a world title in June 2014 against two-time Olympic gold medalist Vasyl Lomachenko. Russell was outclassed and lost a 12-round decision.
Russell won a shutout decision against Christopher Martin that December and then got his second chance at a world title in March 2015. The outcome was different this time as Russell blitz WBC champion Jhonny Gonzalez en route to a fourth-round knockout win.
In his most recent fight, Russell obliterated the overmatched Patrick Hyland in the second round of their fight, which took place 13 months ago in April 2016.
Escandon, 32, was an Olympian himself, representing Colombia in the 2004 Athens Games. Unlike Russell, Escandon entered the paid ranks inconspicuously, building his record in his homeland save for two fights in Argentina and two in Panama before making his U.S. debut in 2014.
By the time Escandon reached U.S. soil, he sported a record of 23–1, 16 KOs. In his U.S. debut in December 2014 on ESPN Friday Night Fights, Escandon was awarded a very controversial decision over Canadian Tyson Cave that elicited an epic rant from color commentator Teddy Atlas once the decision was rendered.
Like Russell, Escandon fought only once in each of the last two years. In April 2015, Escandon lost a close split decision to the undefeated Moises Flores. In his most recent fight, which took place in March 2016 at the D.C. Armory, Escandon scored a seventh-round knockout of Mexico’s Robinson Castellanos.
For the first time in a long while, Russell will enjoy a height advantage in the fight. Escandon is one of the shortest fighters in all of boxing, standing at just 5’1″. Because of his short stature, Escandon tends to throw looping shots to try and reach his opponents’ heads. He puts constant pressure on his opponents, always moving forward. Escandon does not move his head much, as he usually just holds his gloves up, blocking and eating punches as he tries to walk his opponents down to get in punching range.
Russell has arguably the fastest hands in all of boxing, and knows how to use it. Some fighters rely too much on their speed and are not technically sound and get caught (Amir Khan), whereas Russell patiently sets up his shots, and is almost never out of position.
Escandon has one chance to win this fight. The only knock on Russell is that he always throws his punches at the same speed, never varies them up. The saying is timing beats speed, so Escandon may be able to time one of Russell’s punches and connect flush with a looping shot over the top and hurt Russell.
I look for Russell to establish his sharp jab early, and use good lateral movement to keep the charging Escandon at bay. Russell will take out Escandon in the middle rounds, as the blazing combinations will be too much for Escandon to withstand.
Boxing’s New Breed Of Fan Luxuriates In October Doldrums
Boxing’s New Breed Of Fan Luxuriates In October Doldrums
By: Sean Crose
Math. That’s right, math. I saw a comment thread the other night where several people were actually figuring out how much Canelo Alvarez earned in his pay per view fight against Liam Smith by doing math for the benefit of readers. This, my friends, is what happens when there are no major fights coming up week after week. Boxing’s new breed of fan just runs wild. Indeed, this is a perfect month for the new breeds because there isn’t much actual boxing going on. New breeds, after all, seem to appreciate the business of boxing more than they do the sport itself.
Indeed, a new breed can go on indefinitely discussing how, say, Billy Joe Saunders can make respectable money without having to actually risk getting his clock cleaned. That’s just the sort of activity a new breed would be engaged in. While, for instance, a traditional boxing fan is excited about the upcoming Kovalev-Ward matchup, a new breed is excited about figuring out how much Adonis Stevenson can still make if he avoids the winner. Needless to say, this sort of nonsense sickens traditional fans to no end, but promoters (and advisers) undoubtedly love it.
After all, when there’s a significant fan base – and, make no mistake about it, the new breeds are numerous – willing to support Danny Garcia for taking on a person no one’s heard of, the money people are very happy indeed. Why? Because the fighters they cash in on can reap rewards without any real risk of losing. In other words, the cash keeps flowing and the new breeds remain happy. Here’s the thing, though – more and more people in America are turning away from the sweet science. It’s already marginalized, and now it’s becoming even more so.
And, really, who can blame people for turning their backs on boxing during times like this? While this author clearly believes boxing will eventually regain its health, not everyone is so patient. What’s more, there’s things like UFC for fans of combat sports to engage in. Even those who like boxing better than MMA are willing to watch people fight in an octagon if the best is facing the best. The problem here is that the new breeds are on their way to becoming one of boxing’s few remaining fan bases. And, after pushing everyone else away, there’s simply not enough of them to keep boxing lucrative.
The new breeds may be numerous, but they’re not that numerous. Just how many of these people are there? I think we’ll be able to get an idea this November, when Danny Garcia fights the obscure Samuel Vargas on Spike the same night UFC stars Conor McGregor and Eddie Alvarez meet in a major pay per view event. We’ll find out who tunes in to watch Garcia earn what should be an easy paycheck. The numbers should be interesting.
About Those Canelo-Smith PPV Numbers
About Those Canelo-Smith PPV Numbers
By: Sean Crose
The trustworthy L.A. Times reporter Lance Pugmire came out yesterday and announced to the world that last weekend’s WBO super welterweight title fight between Canelo Alvarez and Liam Smith did roughly 250-300 thousand pay per view buys. Needless to say, fan reaction was fierce online. Some decried the end of boxing altogether while new breeds – those fans whose interests lie in fighter salaries rather than in the fights themselves – battled furiously over things like the difference between foreign pay per views buys and American ones. Ultimately, though, it was hard for any rational person not to arrive at a pretty obvious conclusion:
Less than 300k pay per view buys is not a good thing when the supposed “new face of boxing” is involved. Sure, Canelo packed over 50 thousand fans into a stadium. Sure, he got hundreds of thousands of people to pay to see him fight a virtual unknown, both in persona and on television. No matter. The fact remains boxing’s biggest star (and Canelo is most certainly that) is bringing in far, far less pay per view business than the sport’s previous stars did not all that long ago.
Sure enough, the point that Canelo fought an opponent unfamiliar to North American fans is essentially a moot one – for it was the decision of Canelo and promoter Oscar De La Hoya to arrange a fight with an unknown commodity in the gutsy and likable Smith, rather than with someone who could have generated real interest. Just under 300 thousand pay per view buys against a virtual unknown isn’t a testament to Canelo’s drawing power so much as it’s a testament to fan’s unwillingness to be mistreated. For, in the end, Canelo-Smith wasn’t a bad matchup. It really wasn’t. The fight simply wasn’t meant for pay per view.
Moving forward, it seems Golden Boy, De La Hoya’s promotional outfit, has to face the fact that Canelo’s pay per view star will continue to dim so long as he avoids Golovkin. Fair or not, that’s simply the reality of the situation. De La Hoya may try to pull another rabbit out of his hat by having Canelo face the likes of Kell Brook or Manny Pacquiao before Golovkin, but pay per view numbers for those fights will not, in this author’s opinion, amount to blockbuster business. In other words, there’s only one way for Canelo to be the dominant pay per view star De La Hoya wants him to be – and that’s through GGG.
Of course, more time on HBO wouldn’t harm team Canelo. Just imagine the numbers if last week’s fight had been on pay cable rather than on pay per view. Fans feel like they’re being screwed at the moment because…they are. Fights like Canelo-Smith simply don’t belong on pay per view. The best way for team Canelo to earn some much needed good will at this point is to do the right thing. And it can start by not asking fans to pay for a product that isn’t worth the price.
HBO PPV Round by Round Results: Canelo Wipes Out Liam Smith
HBO PPV Round by Round Results: Canelo Wipes Out Liam Smith
By: William Holmes
Canelo Alvarez (47-1-1) faced off against Liam Smith (23-0-1) in the main event of the night in the latest Pay Per View offering by Golden Boy Promotions and HBO.
AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas was the host site for tonight’s bout and was filled with mainly pro Canelo fans. Even though Canelo held a middleweight title, this bout was for Liam Smith’s WBO Junior Middleweight Title.
HBO hyped up their next Pay Per View offering by interviewing both Sergey Kovalev and Andre Ward before the singing of the national anthems.
The national anthem of the United Kingdom was sung first by Danny Walten. The national anthem of Mexico was sung second and was performed by Leonardo Aguilar. The national anthem of the United States was performed by Paula Deanda.
Liam Smith entered the ring to a mainly muted reaction from the crowd, and Canelo entered second to a loud ovation.
The announced attendance for tonight’s fight was 51,240.
The following is a round by round recap of tonight’s bout.
Canelo Alvarez (47-1-1) vs. Liam Smith (23-0-1); WBO Junior Middleweight Title
Canelo and Smith come out to the center of the ring and Smith immediately throws a jab to the body of Canelo. Canelo throws a jab to the body and head of Smith. Canelo with a jab and follows it with a left hook. Canelo with a good right to the body and follows it with a jab. Canelo lands a double jab. Both boxers land a jab at the same time. Canelo lands a good counter right uppercut and follows it with a left hook. Canelo with a jab to the body and head again. Canelo lands a jab to the nose of Smith. Canelo lands another jab to the face of Smith. Smith lands a short jab of his own. Canelo lands three jabs in a row. Smith misses with a wild right hook, and Canelo answers with a two punch combination that forces Smith to stumble backwards. Canelo digs a good body shot into the ribs of Smith. Canelo connects with two more hard hooks to the body. Canelo is throwing a high volume of punches already.
Canelo goes right back to his jab, and then lands several hard combinations to the body and head. Smith not really throwing much at Canelo. Canelo lands another hook to the ribs of Smith. Smith lands a right hook upstairs but misses with his follow up punches. Canelo lands a double jab, and Smith sticks a jab in the face of Canelo. Canelo blocks a hook from Smith, but Smith lands a right hand over the top afterwards. The crowd is loudly chanting for Canelo. Canelo is really putting his combinations together well off of his jab. Canelo with another hard right hand to the body of Smith. Smith connects with two hooks to the body when Canelo’s back was to the ropes, but Canelo quickly backs out. Canelo has a small cut near his left eye. Smith lands a right hand to the cut of Canelo. Smith barely misses with a three punch combination.
10-9 Canelo; 20-18 Canelo.
Canelo opens up the third round with a good left hook to the body, but Smith is starting to open up more and threw several punches in response. Smith lands a good jab on Canelo. Canelo briefly had Smith with his back to the ropes but didn’t land anything of note. Canelo connects with a good left uppercut to the chin and follows it with a right to the body. Good right hook to the body right uppercut to the chin combination by Canelo. Canelo lands a jab, and follows it with a hard right hook to the head. Canelo opening up with some good combinations. A left uppercut may have stunned Smith. Smith lands a hard left hook right hook combination. Canelo does not seem to be concerned about the power of Smith. Smith lands two good jabs on Canelo. Smith lands a good counter uppercut on Canelo after Canelo misses with a wild shot. Closer round for Smith.
10-9 Canelo; 30-27 Canelo.
Canelo is showing good head movement at the start of the fourth round. Canelo digs in a hard body shot to the body of Smith. Good crisp jab by Canelo. Smith lands a good body shot, but Canelo answers with four hard punches. Smith lands a right cross. Canelo is warned to keep his punches up. Canelo with a quick two punch combination. Canelo jabs to the body and head of Smith. Canelo again with a good right hook to the body. Smith has a small cut above his left eye. Canelo lands a jab in the middle of Smith’s face. Smith lands a hard right hook when in tight. Canelo’s back is against the ropes and he backs into a corner. Smith with a body head combination, and Canelo answers with a combination of his own. Smith lands two hard hooks on Canelo.
10-9 Canelo; 40-36 Canelo.
Canelo with a quick double jab. Canelo takes a jab to the body. Smith showing his jab more often. Canelo lands a good right hook upstairs and follows it with a hard right uppercut. Canelo with a three punch combination to the body and head of Smith. Smith lands a right to the body and head of Canelo. Smith with a right hook to the body and right to the head of Canelo. Canelo lands a lead left hook and then a lead right uppercut. Smith looks like he has a little more pep in his step than Canelo. Canelo lands a right cross to the chin of Smith. Good body shot by Canelo. Two jabs in a row for Canelo. Smith backs Canelo up to the ropes and digs in several hooks to the body and several shots to the head of Canelo. Close round.
10-9 Smith; 49-46 Canelo
Canelo is in a more aggressive stance. Smith lands two quick jabs. Canelo misses with a wild right uppercut. Smith lands a good left hook to the head of Canelo. Smith lands a four punch combination on Canelo. Smith lands a hard left hook on Canelo. Canelo answers with a right uppercut and right hook. Smith is covering up though on those punches. Smith lands two jabs to the head of Canelo. Smith takes a right hook from Canelo. Smith lands a right uppercut and Canelo answers with one of his own. Smith sticks a jab in the face of Canelo. Smith has Canelo’s back against the ropes and lands some soft short jabs. Smith sticks another jab in the face of Canelo. Canelo is short with his jab. Smith has blood coming from his eye and gets warned for landing a punch during an attempted break. Canelo lands a good body shot. This round could have been scored for either boxer.
10-9 Canelo; 59-55 Canelo
Canelo is pressing the pace and lands a hard right hook to the side of Smith’s head. Smith sneaks in a right uppercut that partially connects. Canelo whizzes a right hook past the head of Smith. Smith has Canelo’s back against the ropes, but Canelo lands several short uppercuts. Canelo lands a four punch combination and sends Smith to the mat. Smith gets back before the count of ten. Canelo lands a right uppercut on Smith. Canelo lands a jumping left hook and is stalking Smith around the ring. Smith ties up with Canelo briefly. Canelo backs Smith up to the ropes and Smith holds on again. Smith eats a hard left hook from Canelo. Smith lands a good right cross. Canelo with two hard right hooks and a right uppercut to the chin of Smith. Smith was firing off combinations in Canelo’s direction at the end of the round.
10-8 Canelo; 69-63 Canelo
Canelo lands an early jab on Smith. Canelo connects with another jab and follows it with a lead left hook. Canelo lands a clean right cross on Smith. Canelo stabs two jabs in the body of Smith. Canelo barely misses with an uppercut, but lands two consecutive hooks to the head. Jab to the body by Canelo. Smith backs Canelo up to the ropes and throws some uppercuts and body shots in tight. Canelo jabs to the body and lands a right uppercut. Canelo is very effective with the jab to the body. Smith lands a short right hook and uppercut. Canelo lands two straight jabs to the head and two uppercuts. Canelo rips a hook to the body of Smith and Smith goes to the canvas grimacing in pain. Canelo lands another shot to the body and Smith is on his bike for the remainder of the round.
10-8 Canelo; 79-71 Canelo
Canelo starts of the ninth round as the more aggressive boxer. Smith lands two quick jabs. Canelo digs another hard right hook to the body and later a left hook. Smith barely misses with a right hook. Smith lands a body shot on Canelo and a left hook. Smith lands a quick jab on Canelo’s head, and Canelo answers with a hook to the body. Canelo traps Smith by the ropes and unleashes a combination on him. Smith misses with several shots when Canelo’s back is against the ropes. Canelo lands another vicious hook to the body of Smith and he goes down grimacing in pain.
The referee doesn’t bother to count and waives off the fight.
Canelo Alvarez wins by TKO at 2:28 of the ninth round.
Canelo was asked about Gennady Golovkin afterwards and he stated, ” I fear no one. I was born for this. And even though many people may not like it, I am the best fighter right now. About a month ago, we offered him twice or three times as much to make the fight, I didn’t want to say anything, because I respect all my rivals, but about a month ago we offered him twice or three times and he didn’t want to accept.”
HBO PPV Undercard Results: De La Hoya and Diaz Win Easily, Monroe Decisions Rosado
HBO PPV Undercard Results: De La Hoya and Diaz Win Easily,
By: William Holmes
Golden Boy Promotions and HBO put on a four fight pay per view card tonight live from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, the home of the Dallas Cowboys.
Diego De La Hoya (15-0) , the nephew of Oscar De La Hoya, opened up the card in the division against Luis Orlando Del Valle (22-2) in the super bantamweight division. This bout was for the WBC Youth Super Bantamweight Championship.
De La Hoya was seven years younger than Del Valle and was taking a big step up in competition. De La Hoya was looking for his straight right counter early in the first round but was able to find range with his jab. Del Valle was knocked stumbling backwards into the corner in the middle of the round from a three punch combination, and the few punches he landed didn’t phase De La Hoya.
The second and third rounds were similar in that Del Valle would start off strong and De La Hoya would finish the roung strong. Del Valle showed he was willing to exchange with De La Hoya and held his own during their exchanges, but by the end of the third round it was De La Hoya who was winning the exchanges more frequently.
De La Hoya was tagged early in the fourth round with a sharp right cross, but he fired back with digging body shots. De La Hoya remained the aggressor for the remainder of the fourth and looked like he hurt Del Valle several times. De La Hoya also had control during the fifth round and was able to pop shot Del Valle at a safe range.
Del Valle was hit hard with a straight right counter in the first minute of the sixth round, and he remained tentative for the remainder. By the seventh round Del Valle’s right eye was showing signs of swelling. De La Hoya punished Del Valle to the body and to the head and was physically imposing his will.
Neither boxer stepped on the gas pedal in the eighth and ninth rounds, but De La Hoya was in clear control and landed the higher number of punches.
Del Valle needed a knockout in the final round to win the bout, but that knockout never came.
Diego De La Hoya remained undefeated with decision victory with scores of 100-90, 99-91, and 99-91.
Joseph Diaz Jr. (21-0) and Andrew Cancio (17-3-2) was the next bout of the night in the featherweight division.
Joseph Diaz was a member of the 2012 United States Olympic team and was four years younger than Cancio.
Diaz, a southpaw, stuck to the body in the opening two rounds and was looked very comfortable in the ring. He was able to avoid the punches of Cancio with solid upper body movement and kept his head an elusive target.
Cancio was able to get within striking range in the third round, but took a pounding from Diaz when he got in tight and got his nose busted in the process. Cancio was unable to handle the hand speed of Diaz.
Cancio was able to briefly trap Diaz in the corner in the opening minute of the fourth round and landed some solid body shots, but Diaz took control in the final two minutes and had the head of Cancio snapping backwards from several crisp punches.
Diaz really turned up the pressure in the fifth round and pounded Cancio throughout with combinations at will. Cancio looked outclassed and bewildered, and was simply out of his league.
Diaz’s dominance inside the ring wasn’t impressing the crowd as a wave broke out at the stadium in the sixth round, but at this point it was even clear to the regular fans in attendance that Cancio stood no shot.
Cancio corner was thinking about stopping the fight before the start of the seventh round but they sent him back into the ring. But this round was no different from the previous rounds and he was a punching bag for the talented Diaz.
Diaz’s offensive output dipped in the eighth round, but he still landed at a higher clip and the harder punches. Cancio’s corner repeatedly asked him if he wanted them to stop the fight, but Cancio refused and went back out for the ninth round. Hwoever, in the middle of the round Cancio’s corner wisely decided to stop the fight.
Joseph Diaz impressed with a TKO victory at 2:27 of the ninth round.
Gabriel Rosado (23-9) and Willie Monroe Jr. (20-2) met in the final bout of the televised undercard in the middleweight division.
Rosado looked like the taller fighter, but he was standing straight up while Monroe was boxing with his knees slightly bent. Monroe was able to stay out of Rosado’s range for most of the first round and boxed Rosado effectively by landing the higher number of punches, but none of them could be considered power shots.
Neither Monroe nor Rosado took many risks in the second or third round, but Monroe was landing more punches than Rosado and fought very defensively. The fans started to boo and whistle the lack of action in the third round.
The wave started again in the fourth round, and Monroe continued to safely outbox Rosado. Rosado complained to the referee in the fifth round from an apparent backhand landed by Monroe, but offered little offense after the complaint.
Monroe was sharp in the sixth round and landed several straight left crosses and quick counter jabs. Monroe was able to continue to stay out of the range of Rosado in the seventh round as Rosado was mainly landing at air when he threw punches, but he was pressing the pace and that could have factored in his favor in the eyes of the judges.
Rosado was able to land a few flurries at the end of the eighth round and may have stolen it. It was his most effective offensive output at this stage of the bout.
A cut opened up near the back of the head of Rosado in the ninth round and the referee briefly stopped it to get it attended to, but afterwards both boxers finally threw power shots and both landed heavy shots. Rosado may have scored a knockdown at the end of the round, but the referee ruled it a slip.
Rosado was pressing forward more in the tenth round, but he was not able to land any punches of note while Monroe side stepped him and pop shotted him from the outside.
Rosado needed at least a knockdown in the final two rounds in order to win the bout,but a headbutt in the eleventh round badly swelled and cut the left eye of Rosado and made it much more difficult. Rosado ended the fight better than he started, but it was too little too late.
The judges scored the bout 116-112, 118-110, 117-111 for Willie Monroe Jr.
Liam Smith Aims To Be “Elite Fighter,” Like Canelo
Liam Smith Aims To Be “Elite Fighter,” Like Canelo
By: Sean Crose
The final press conference for Liam Smith’s defense of his WBO super welterweight title against Saul Canelo Alvarez on Saturday night in Texas didn’t deliver controversy. Indeed, there were no insults thrown, no slaps, no grandstanding. Sure enough, it was a professional affair, replete with the expected grandiosity and hyperbole. Still, there were some telling things that were mentioned, statements which may offer insight into the minds of the participants involved with this weekend’s pay per view event. “He fights in the style of a Mexican,” British promoter Frank Warren said of Smith. “I believe you’re going to become great fans of him.”
Here was an old boxing hand looking to expand his fighter’s fan base to a vast new market. “Mexican style,” has become code of sorts for an exciting and honorable fighter. Warren then went on to laud AT&T Stadium, home of the Dallas Cowboys, where the match will be held. “Without a doubt,” he said, “this is the best stadium I’ve ever been to.” Some people know just the right things to say. Canelo’s trainer, Chepo Reynoso, joined football bigwig Jerry Jones in hyping the possibility that a record crowd would gather for Saturday’s matchup.
Smith’s trainer, Joe Gallagher, expressed excitement at the likeliness that the fight would indeed be something to remember. “The underlying currents for the fight are really good,” he claimed. As for Smith, he made it clear that he understands where he is in the minds of most fight fans – at least for the moment. “Now,” he claimed, “there’s world champions and there’s elite fighters.” Sure enough, the undefeated Englishman indicated he has ambition. “This,” he stated, “is a chance to see if I can step on that ladder.” He certainly will be well regarded should he pull off the upset this weekend.
Still, the skilled and popular Canelo will be quite a test. Not that Canelo is taking the fight lightly. “Many of you might not know Liam Smith,” Canelo told the crowd, “but the important thing is we know Liam Smith.” It was a keen distinction that made it clear team Canelo isn’t taking this widely unknown opponent lightly. For Smith is an aggressive fighter who isn’t lacking in talent. Those who argue Smith has a real, though perhaps limited, chance to win on Saturday are, in the opinion of this author at least, offering more than empty words. Perhaps Smith will indeed stun a lot of people this weekend.
HBO PPV World Championship Boxing Preview: Canelo vs. Smith, Monroe vs. Rosado
HBO PPV World Championship Boxing Preview: Canelo vs. Smith, Monroe vs. Rosado
By: William Holmes
On Saturday night AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys, in Arlington, Texas will be the host site for HBO’s next pay per view offering.
Golden Boy Promotions will pit their superstar, Canelo Alvarez, against British boxer and WBO Junior middleweight champion Liam “Beefy” Smith. Most fight fans were hoping that Canelo would face Gennady Golovkin instead of Liam Smith, and view this fight as mismatch for Canelo.
Two former opponents for Gennady Golovkin, Gabriel Rosado and Willie Monroe Jr., will be fighting in the co-main event of the night. Highly rated prospects Joseph Diaz and Diego De La Hoya will fight on the televised portion of the undercard in matchups that they should win.
Photo Credit: Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions
The following is a preview of the main event and co-main event of the night.
Gabriel Rosado (23-9) vs. Willie Monroe Jr. (20-2); Middleweights
The co-main event of the night will be between two boxers that were stopped by Gennady Golovkin, but remain top contenders in the middleweight division.
Monroe is twenty nine years old and Rosado is thirty, so both boxers are in the middle of their prime years. Rosado will be about an inch and half taller than Monroe, but he will be giving up about two and a half inches in reach.
Rosado has the clear edge in power. Rosado has stopped thirteen of his opponents while Monroe has only stopped six. Monroe has the edge in amateur experience as he won the New York Golden Gloves and reached the finals in the Golden Gloves in 2007. Monroe is also the son of Willie Monroe and the great nephew of Willie the Worm Monroe. Rosado does not have any notable accolades as an amateur to mention.
Monroe has been slightly more active than Rosado in recent years. Monroe fought once in 2016, twice in 2015, and three times in 2014. Rosado has fought once in 2016, once in 2015, and two times in 2014.
Rosado’s record can be deceiving. He does have nine losses on his record and has only gone 2-3 in his past five fights, but his losses have come against some of the biggest names in boxing. He has defeated the likes of Joshua Clottey, Antonio Guiterrez, Charles Whittaker, Sechew Powell, Jesus Soto Karass, Ayi Bruce, and saul Roman. His losses have come to Gennady Golovkin, Peter Quillin, Jermell Charlo, David Lemieux, Alfredo Angulo, Fernando Guerrero, and Derek Ennis.
Rosado is a warrior, but he has been stopped four times in his career. He was able to capture the middleweight crown in Big Knockout Boxing (BKB) outside of his normal career of boxing.
Monroe has defeated the likes John Thompson, Brian Vera, Brandon Adams, Vitaliy Kopylenko, Donatas Bondorovas, and won the Boxcino tournament in 2014. His losses were to Darnell Boone and Gennady Golovkin.
Rosado is a live dog in every fight he enters into, and this Saturday is no different. He would be a bigger underdog if Willie Monroe was known for his power, but he’s not and Rosado can box. This should be a very competitive fight, but this writer sees Monroe winning a decision victory.
Liam Smith (23-0-1) vs. Canelo Alvarez (47-1-1); WBO Junior Middleweight Title
Canelo Alvarez holds the WBC World Middleweight Title but will bumping down to the junior middleweight division to face Liam Smith for his WBO Junior Middleweight Title. An argument could be made that even though Canelo holds a legitimate middleweight title, he has never faced an actual true middleweight, and has only faced blown up junior middleweights and welterweights.
Liam Smith has already gone on the record to state that there will be no fight if Canelo cannot make the 154 pound weight limit. However, there is little reason to believe that Canelo won’t make weight.
Saturday will be Canelo’s 50th fight as a professional, and that’s an impressive feat for someone who is only twenty six years old. Smith is two years older than Canelo, and will have a slight height advantage.
Even though Canelo has nearly double the number of fights of Smith and is two years younger, Smith has been more active than Canelo in the past two years. Smith fought four times in 2015 and twice in 2014, while Canelo has averaged two fights a year since 2012. It should also be noted that Smith has never fought outside of the United Kingdom.
Neither boxer has an overly impressive amateur background. Smith was a two time winner of the ABA Championships as an amateur and Canelo won the Junior Mexican National Boxing Championships as a young teenager, but neither competed in the Olympics or won any medals at an amateur world championship.
Canelo’s only loss in his career was to Floyd Mayweather Jr. His list of defeated opponents is impressive, and he has defeated the likes of Amir Khan, Miguel Cotto, James Kirkland, Erislandy Lara, Alfredo Angulo, Austin Trout, Shane Mosley, and Alfonso Gomez.
Smith has never been in the ring with someone of Canelo’s talent. Smith has defeated the likes of Pregrad Radosevic, Jimmy Kelly, John Thompson, and Zoltan Zera.
The one major positive that jumps out at you when looking at Smith’s resume is that he has stopped his past eight opponents. Canelo has stop three of his past five opponents. However, Smith only has thirteen knockouts on his record while Canelo has thirty three.
Again, this will be the first time that Smith has fought outside of the United Kingdom and this fight will be held in Texas which has a large population of Mexican boxing fans. The fans will be hostile towards Smith, which is something he is not used to, and Canelo is the type of high quality opponent that Smith has never seen before.
The stars are aligned for an easy Canelo victory.
Why I’m Tuning In On Saturday Night for Canelo vs. Smith
Why I’m tuning in on Saturday Night for Canelo v. Smith
By: Eric Lunger
“Don’t buy this fight. True boxing fans won’t buy this.” You’ve seen variations of this theme on social media regarding Saturday night’s HBO Pay Per View presentation of the Canelo v. Smith fight. I understand the sentiment behind this apparently principled stand, and it goes something like this: Canelo Alvarez, the exciting middleweight from Guadalajara, who has already fought such stars of the sport like Miguel Cotta and Floyd Mayweather, had a chance to defend his WBO belt against, Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, the Kazak monster of the division, after Canelo’s brutal dismantling of Amir Khan on May 7th of this year. With Golovkin at ringside, and with a spine-tingling declaration from Canelo (in a bit of post-battle adrenalin), that “I fear no one in this sport,” boxing fans were elated at the prospect of a Golovkin vs. Canelo super fight. I will be honest: I thought, in the moment, with Oscar de la Hoya grinning deliriously in the background as Canelo spoke, that the fight was all but made, and all that remained was an ironing out of the details. The middleweight clash of our times, maybe of the century, was mere months away.
Then reality set in and the dreams of a super fight crashed to the ground. Fans of boxing are a wonderful lot. They are dreamers, and they dream of that one perfect, generation defining clash. Mayweather-Pacquiao could have been such a fight, but when it finally came, fans were bitterly disappointed, with many sensing that a great opportunity had been lost, had slipped away because of needless greed and meaningless, petty gamesmanship. And so when Canelo made his impassioned speech on May 7th, fans were ready and hoping for a transcendent Canelo-Golovkin fight which might have washed the bitter taste from boxing’s collective mouth. Not to be of course. Canelo quietly gave up his WBC belt some ten days later and promptly announced a fight against a welterweight.
Then, having brutally stopped Khan in May, Canelo inked a fight with Liam “Beefy” Smith of Liverpool, England. After all the talk post-Khan, boxing fans were, to put it charitably, disappointed. No disrespect to Smith, who has a solid British resume and an inspirational story, but it seems like a mismatch and hence the scorn poured on by some boxing fans. And so, we are back to the call for boycotting the PPV.
But here’s the thing. I am going to watch the fight. I will gladly shell out for the PPV for a bunch of reasons. I love the show, the glamour, the drama of big-time prize fighting. I want to watch the strange, stilted ritual of the weigh-in on Friday. I want to spend Saturday thinking about the fight. I want to hear that jolt from the crowd in Texas when the first blast of Mariachi music comes over the speakers, as Canelo begins his ring walk on Mexican Independence Day. I want to see the look in Smith’s eyes when he leaves his corner for the first round and its just him, his training, and his heart against a fearsome opponent with a roaring crowd behind him.
I’m going to watch the fight because I am a Canelo Alvarez fan. I love the way he deports himself in interviews, his seriousness, his pride in being from Guadalajara and in continuing the grand tradition of Mexican boxers. He has a tremendous resume already, having fought Floyd Mayweather, Erislandy Lara, James Kirkland, and Miguel Cotto. In the ring, he has tremendous power and a relentless Mexican style, pressuring his opponents, wearing them down with body shots, and then finishing with power and accuracy.
I’m also going to watch the fight because both fighters are boxers. It is who they are and what they do. Smith has three brothers, all of whom are professional boxers. Alvarez is the youngest of eight children, and all six of his brothers are pros. The pride of these two boxing families is on the line; all the talk, all the whining, all the complaining, it goes out the window when these two young men answer that first round bell. There is a purity in boxing – there is no spin, no faking it. As Canelo said in the ring after the Khan fight, “we don’t come to play in this sport.”
Of course we want to see Canelo fight Golovkin, and when we do, it will be tremendous. But come Saturday night, I will be watching Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Liam “Beefy” Smith. I can’t wait.
What Happens If Liam Smith Stuns The World?
What Happens If Liam Smith Stuns The World?
By: Sean Crose
Most people don’t think it will happen and chances are you don’t either, but since nothing is guaranteed in boxing it’s worth asking what the implications might be if Liam Smith stuns the world on Saturday when he faces Canelo Alvarez in Texas. I know, I know, since avoiding Gennady Golovkin, Canelo has decided to take fights that are safe bets…at least that seems to be the consensus among a large number of fans. This is boxing, though, where surprises are forever in the air. In the ring, each fighter is only one shot away from defeat. That’s an indisputable fact.
So, accepting the fact that Canelo should by all expectations use his experience, strength, skill and perhaps size, to cruise to a win on Saturday night, let’s ask what happens if Smith, the current WBO super welterweight champ, stuns the world. First and foremost, Canelo’s reputation would take a serious hit. Giving up a middleweight belt in order to avoid Golovkin would seem like nothing in light of a Smith victory. This wouldn’t be Marquez knocking out Pacquiao. This would be more like Douglas-Tyson, where a man casual fans were unaware of stepped right up and took out a legit star.
Make no mistake about it, Canelo would no longer have to worry about Golovkin – fairly or not, no one would again think he ever stood a modicum of a chance. He’d also be at risk of losing a hard earned legacy. Opponents like Cotto, Mosley and Khan, all of who Canelo bested, would be brought up less than Smith, who few would have heard of before team Canelo supposedly picked him as an “easy opponent.” That would be too bad, of course, but people remember Napoleon for Waterloo more than any other battle. Human nature is human nature.
Still, it’s worth keeping in mind that Canelo would most certainly get a rematch. It’s also worth keeping in mind that Smith might be far better than many believe he is. Sure enough, it’s a safe bet that Canelo could start to pick up the pieces of his career sooner rather than later should he be shocked this weekend. It’s worth wondering, though, if he would ever again be seen as “the face of boxing,” as he reportedly is at the moment. One more quick thing: A Smith victory would further add to the banner era of British boxing the world is now witnessing. First Fury defeats Klitschko, then Smith defeats Canelo?
Great Britain indeed.