UK Pound-For-Pound Rankings 2018
By: Ste Rowen
It’s been another great year for UK boxing following a successful 2017. From heavyweight, Anthony Joshua to flyweight, Charlie Edwards, the UK pound-for-pound lists are being collated.
From 10 to 1, here we see who – this writer at least – ranks as the best to ply their trade from Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 2018.
10…Kal Yafai 25-0 (15KOs)
It was a rough end to Yafai’s 2018. The WBA super-flyweight titlist fought and stopped David Carmona in Fresno in May and it all looked setup for the former Olympian to take on either future hall of famer, Roman Gonzalez or IBF champion, Jerwin Ancajas. Neither fight materialised. Instead Kal laboured through 12 rounds with Israel Gonzalez in a bout many observers felt he lost. The scorecards were nothing short of a disgrace, returning as 117-111 and 116-112 (x2). Yafai is going to need a massive 2019 to make up for that performance.
9…Charlie Edwards 14-1 (6KOs)
A new entrant from 2017’s list (https://bit.ly/2Ad2cgp), is newly crowned WBC flyweight champion, Charlie Edwards. 14-1 (6KOs), Edwards started his year with a stoppage victory over Ricky Little, then four months later he finished off Anthony Nelson within three. Just last week, the losing challenger to John Riel Casimero’s IBF title in 2016 scored a unanimous decision win over Cristofer Rosales to become the newest champion at 112lb.
8…George Groves 28-4 (20KOs)
Riding high after finally becoming a world champion in 2017, ‘Saint’ George Groves started the year as the WBA super-middleweight champion, and heading into an all British World Boxing Super Series semi-final with Chris Eubank Jr. It was a fight he was to dominate on the scorecards, and all though he had a few hairy moments late on due to a dislocated shoulder, Groves made it out with another defence under his belt and a place in the WBSS final to face Callum Smith.
It was to be where ‘The Saint’s’ winning run ended as, in the unusual surroundings of King Abdullah Sports City Saudi Arabia, the London-native was to fall to a 6th round body shot KO defeat to the unbeaten Liverpudlian. His impressive showing earlier in the year keeps George in the top 10 for now.
7…Ryan Burnett 19-1 (9KOs)
Ryan Burnett, of Belfast may now have to call himself a ‘former’ world champion, but it was all to do with injury than skill when he took on Nonito Donaire in the Bantamweight WBSS quarter finals. Burnett was the WBA champion as he entered the Super Series in November, having defended it once with a dominant decision victory of Yonfrez Parejo back in March.
It was competitive while it lasted in Ryan’s November bout in Glasgow but late in the 4th, Burnett threw a right hand that triggered the back injury. He recently assured fans that it’s not career-ending so here’s to a 2019 that sees Ryan take on the losers and eventual winner of the 118lb tournament.
6…Dillian Whyte 25-1 (18KOs)
The Body Snatcher’ did his best to maneuverer himself into a world title shot and despite failing on that count, Whyte has undoubtedly had a successful twelve months. In March, Dillian viciously knocked out a lethargic but unbeaten, Lucas Browne. Four months later he took a step up by stepping in with the recently dethroned, Joseph Parker. It was rough going and although Whyte dropped the New Zealander twice, the former WBO champion rallied late on to knock his British foe down and almost out in the final few seconds of the fight. Dillian survived the assault to earn a unanimous decision.
Then to see the year out, he put a sure conclusion to his ongoing domestic rivalry with Dereck Chisora thanks to an 11th round, left-hook knockout of ‘Del Boy’ in the rematch of their controversial 2016 bout. Whyte’s only defeat continues to be at the hands of heavyweight king, Anthony Joshua and a rematch of their 2015 fight is the front runner for AJ’s April Wembley Stadium date.
5…Josh Taylor 14-0 (12KOs)
Scottish southpaw Josh ‘Tartan Tornado’ Taylor is getting better with every performance. After a fantastic 2017, Taylor had his eyes firmly set on the big boys of the super-lightweight division. In March, after veteran, Humberto Soto dropped out late, Josh made easy work of replacement Winston Campos. Then came the big test three months later when he went up against former world champion, Viktor Postol; dropping the Ukrainian en route to a 12-round unanimous victory.
In November, Josh entered the World Boxing Super Series quarter finals where he looked levels above unbeaten American, Ryan Martin. Forcing ‘Blue Chip’ into a 7th round TKO loss. 14-0 (12KOs), it’s Josh’s performance as well as the opposition he’s facing that puts him up at five in this list.
The Scot’s next fight, though it still has no date, will be against Russian and IBF champion, Ivan Baranchyk. A place in the WBSS final awaits the winner, as well as the IBF strap.
4…Tyson Fury 27-0-1 (19KOs)
What more can be said about the return of Tyson Fury? After nearly three years out of the ring and his well-publicized mental health issues, Fury stepped back into the ring, twice against ‘walk-over’ opponents before going up against arguably the biggest puncher in boxing, WBC champion Deontay Wilder, at the start of December.
It was a bout that saw Fury dominate the American for almost every round, but the Brit touched the canvas firstly in round 9 and then was almost wiped out in the 12th where he inexplicably rose in a way that The Undertaker would be proud of.
Knockdowns or not, it was clear to anyone with eyes and a basic understanding of the rules that Tyson won that fight, and although officially he didn’t, his performance was fantastic and earns him a spot back in the top 10.
3…Josh Warrington 28-0 (6KOs)
What a year it’s been for IBF featherweight champion, Josh Warrington. In May, he headlined in his home city at Leeds’s Elland Road Stadium, and defeated long-time rival, Lee Selby to rip the belt from the Welshman. Josh then, in his first defence, was a clear victor over 12 rounds against two-weight champion, Carl Frampton. A fight that included a ‘Round of the Year’ contender from the first bell.
Warrington said recently he’s open to the idea of WBO champion, Oscar Valdez being his next fight. Considering the calibre of his opponents this year, it’s not difficult to believe the Leeds native when he speaks.
2…Callum Smith 25-0 (18KOs)
Entering the 168lb World Boxing Super Series has revitalised Smiths career that was crying out for a legacy fight and as a result, ends 2018 as the WBA and Ring Magazine super-middleweight world champion. ‘Mundo’s’ only fight of 2017 was his decision victory over Erik Skoglund in the WBSS quarter finals, then early this year he was set to face Juergen Braehmer until the German was forced to pull out due to illness. In came kickboxing world champion, Nieky Holzken and after an underwhelming 12 rounds in Germany, Smith dominated the Dutchman to a unanimous points win.
It turned out to just be a taster of what Callum could do. The unbeaten Liverpudlian entered the ring in Jeddah as the underdog but forced his fight onto Groves early, with his power clearly effecting his fellow Brit with every power shot. It all accumulated in a dominant 6th round for Smith where he let loose and fired off the killer body shot that ended the bout.
If not a unification bout next, a matchup with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez could be up for the champion but with a fairly inactive 2017, the 28-year-old will surely be looking for the biggest fights as soon as possible.
1…Anthony Joshua 22-0 (21KOs)
Tyson Fury may have taken some of the shine from Joshua’s 2018, but the WBA, IBF & WBO heavyweight champion – a non-mover from 2017’s list – still had a successful year with only the failure to make the Wilder fight, as the black mark on his last twelve months.
‘AJ’ firstly added the WBO strap to his collection of championship belts in April with a points win over Joseph Parker, and then took out a very game challenger in Alexander Povetkin three months ago with a six round stoppage victory.
The current #1 in the division, if he fails to make fights with Wilder or Fury next year, Anthony could soon be pipped for the top spot by the Brits behind him on this list.
James DeGale – The IBF super-middleweight champion fought twice in 2018 but can you name his second opponent? ‘Chunky’ regained his IBF belt in April with a decision victory in the rematch with Caleb Truax and then KO’d Colombian, Fidel Monterrosa Munoz inside three, five months later. He may be a world champion, but he has no place in this year’s list.
Amir Khan & Kell Brook – It seems only right to group these two together. Will they fight? Who knows? People seemingly do care though, but neither has fought anyone worthy of ascending into 2018’s top 10. Khan made lightwork of Phil Lo Greco & slightly harder work of Samuel Vargas. Brook called out Jarrett Hurd and the recently deposed, Jermell Charlo at the beginning of the year but ended up taking on and beating Sergey Rabchenko & Michael Zerafa.
Carl Frampton – ‘The Jackal’ decisioned future hall of famer, Nonito Donaire at the start of the year, stopped Luke Jackson in the middle, and was a competitive, but clear loser when he fought Josh Warrington to end 2018. The Belfast man’s future is still undecided but having already achieved world titles at super-bantam and featherweight the 31-year-old has very little left to prove if he were to retire.
Billy Joe Saunders – If it weren’t for his collapsed fight with Demetrius Andrade the now former WBO middleweight champion would’ve been in the top 10, but with the situation regarding his failed drug test still up in the air and his only fight of 2018 being a 4th round stoppage over 32-13, Charles Adamu (where he weighed in at 178.5lb), it’s hard to find a place for him in this year’s list.
Five UK Based Fighters Who Need a Big 2019
By: Oliver McManus
12 months can be a long time in the sport of boxing – it can see you go from the cusp of retirement to the brink of a world title and for these next boxers, they’ll be hoping that 2019 is the year for them because these are five fighters in need of a BIG 12 months.
Photo of Jay Harris and Kristian Touze
Andrew Selby – Flyweight
There was a time, not so long ago, that we thought we had seen the last of Andrew Selby when he announced “I’m not fighting anymore”, quite understandably this prompted confusion because for a long time he had been scheduled to fight for the European title – indeed a clash with Vincent Legrand was postponed back in June – and Selby was deemed, by many, far good a talent to be allowed to go to waste.
Last month, at last, there was some good news as Jamie Sanigar won the purse bids for his challenge to, Frenchman, Legrand and set a firm date for the Welshman’s return – October 27th at the Newport Centre. Since then there has been mixed signals about the fight with no official confirmation save for the European Boxing Union website who, incidentally, have assigned officials for the contest but the good news is that Selby is back in the gym with fire in his belly, once more.
Further to that, consider the former Team GB member has been mandated to fight Julio Cesar Martinez Aguilar in a world title eliminator with the winner set to face, WBC Champion, Cristofer Rosales – a man who Selby comfortably outpointed last May – and you start to see the makings of a sensational 2019 where, if all goes well, we could see the crowning of a new British world champion.
Anthony Yarde – Light Heavyweight
With one sharp intake of breath we get reminded that Yarde is the number 2 ranked challenger with the World Boxing Organization and, swiftly after, it is explained to us that he’s still not ready for a world title because he’s learning the trade.
Now there’s nothing wrong with either of those statements but the constant juxtaposition of the two leave me crying out for Yarde to have a monumental 2019 and this is nothing to do with Anthony Yarde, not at all, because he is a genuinely nice guy and rather this frustration is born out of a desire for him to do well and prove critics wrong – at least, attempt to prove them wrong.
Since fighting Nikola Sjekloca on December 9th, Yarde has seen his stock fall with the 27 year old facing, less than inspiring, Tony Averlant and Dariusz Sek in the meantime; that performance against Sjekloca was a top quality, high energy, explosive performance against a respectable opponent whilst against Averlant and Sek it is almost as though he’s dropped down to their level.
Next out on October 20th Yarde, now 16 and 0, will face the Argentine national champion Walter Gabriel Sequeira who steps up to the plate after, it is believed, Sean Monaghan priced himself out after initially accepting the fight – regardless, the whole boxing world wants to see Yarde get in the ring with an opponent will provide him with a solid test and there are plenty of British light-heavies that would be gunning for the fight.
Hopefully, for him and us, 2019 will see Anthony Yarde start to really make his mark on the 175lb scene.
Lawrence Okolie – Cruiserweight
British, Commonwealth, WBA Continental Champion with only 10 fights under his belt, things are going pretty well for Okolie from a belts point of view and you certainly can’t criticise Okolie for the guys he’s been willing to face – Isaac Chamberlain, Luke Watkins and Matty Askin in only his eighth, ninth and tenth fights.
That’s all fine and dandy but his much-hyped contests against Chamberlain and Askin, in particular, have failed to live up to the expectations as Okolie imposed a largely physical, holding game-plan much to the irritation of those watching.
Far be it from me to criticise a professional boxer unnecessarily but Okolie himself admits his performances were disappointing and, yes he got the win, but he’s in a situation where he needs to start letting his hands go and relaxing through the bout in order to become a big Box Office attraction.
With strong amateur pedigree, Okolie was always going to take a hastened route to the top but the cruiserweight sensation needs to go back to basics and work the jab to tee up openings that he can exploit in order to look every bit as good as we know he can be.
Plenty of domestic challengers are salivating at a potential fight with the Hackney-man and I like Okolie, I really like him, but time is a friend not an enemy and, having smashed his way through his first 10 fights, he can afford to be patient for 2019 in terms of names but the performances need to be big.
Okolie needs to be seen as adaptive and exciting otherwise people, having seen what they have, will be inclined to switch off – I’ve little doubt as to the quality and desire of the cruiserweight prospect so he should be able to take it in his stride!
Joseph Parker – Heavyweight
Returning to the ring on December 15th having been subjected to back-to-back losses against Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte, respectively, Joseph Parker is in danger of becoming the forgotten talent of heavyweight boxing.
Making history by becoming the first New Zealand heavyweight world champion, you’d be hard pressed to suggest that Parker looked impressive in the fight that saw him crowned WBO king – against Andy Ruiz – or indeed in his subsequent defences over Razvan Cojanu and Hughie Fury and, actually, that fight against Dillian Whyte is, arguably, the best we’ve seen Parker.
That sounds weird to say given that he was on the reverse side of a unanimous decision but when Parker really got into his rhythm he was able to control the tempo of the fight, force Whyte into hot water and he looked like a physically imposing roughhouse fighter as opposed to the technical man we’ve got used to seeing.
It raised questions of WHY haven’t we seen this fire and aggression from the Kiwi before and whilst I can’t answer that question, I look forward to seeing how it impacts the 26 year olds fight plans going forward.
Parker gets the benefit of being in a comparatively weak heavyweight pool of talent than in years previous with a distinct gulf in quality even ranging throughout the top 15 and that should, on paper, ensure that Parker gets back into the world title mix sooner rather than later and, certainly, there are relatively few challengers that you wouldn’t tip Duco’s main man to topple.
The rebuild starts on December 15th, the climb back to a world title shot continues into 2019.
Now this is the slightly left field option for this article because who said I was going for the obvious? Jay Harris is a fighter who has had a frustrating year thus far with the Commonwealth flyweight champion scheduled to defend his belt – won via unanimous decision over Thomas Essomba back in February 2017 – against Dexter Marques back the first quarter of the year before visa issues put that fight indefinitely on hold.
He would fight for the first time in nine months when he entered the ring at the Llandarcy Academy of Sport on August 11th and eased his way to a 60-55 points decision over Critisan Narvaez and with those rounds under his belt he quickly set about establishing a date to defend his coveted belt.
That fight, against Ross Murray, was scheduled for this month but pushed back ever so slightly to November 3rd at York Hall; Mo Prior, the man behind British Warriors, has taken the Welsh flyweight under his wing and is already on a mission to provide Harris with regular fight dates for, put simply, the 28 year old is a sumptuous talent.
With one on the winner of Ryan Farrag vs Sunny Edwards – that bout for the WBO European Super Flyweight strap – Harris has already been mandated for the British Super Flyweight belt as well as the EBU-EU title so there are plenty of opportunities available for the Swansea-man, and that’s without even considering the permutations of the CBC!
By no means is this an exhaustive list of fighters who require a big one next year nor, for that matter, is it the five fighters who need it the MOST but they are guys who, in my opinion, should be hoping to leave a mark over the course of the next 12 months.
For guys like Jay Harris it is through no fault of their own that they are in the frustrating situation that they are and, certainly, there are plenty other candidates for this article – Kell Brook, Amir Khan, Liam Walsh, Roman Gonzalez to name just a handful but keep an eye out on these five fellas as they look for a career-best 2019.
Tyron Zeuge vs. Rocky Fielding Preview
By: Ste Rowen
This Saturday night in Germany, WBA ‘Regular’ super middleweight champion, Tyron Zeuge, 22-0-1 (12KOs) takes on, Commonwealth and recently-vacated British champion, Rocky Fielding, 26-1 (14KOs) at Offenburg’s, Baden-Arena, for the fourth defence of his secondary title.
Zeuge, fighting in Germany for the 24th time in his 24-fight pro career, defended his WBA strap just over a year ago when he took on Fielding’s fellow Brit and Liverpudlian, Paul Smith Jr, dropping the 3-time world title challenger, along the way to earning a dominant 12-round decision, and though from the 1st bell the victory never seemed in doubt, Tyron’s lack of power left the crowd wanting something more from the man hoping to emulate fellow countrymen, Arthur Abraham and current trainer, Juergen Braehmer by making big waves in the 168lb division, but he had the opportunity, in his first bout since the Smith fight, to prove to the German fans he had the ability to finish opponents when he took on Isaac Ekpo for a second time in March this year.
Photo Credit: Rocky Fielding Twitter Account
The first time the German met Nigerian, Ekpo it ended early when Zeuge suffered a cut near his right eye and the bout was called a Technical Decision victory to Zeuge in the 5th round. So, there was unfinished business for the two fighters heading into the March event. This time the WBA strap holder made lightwork of Isaac, dropping his opponent once at the end of the 1st and then landing a multitude of huge right hooks in round 2, dropping Ekpo again and forcing the referee into ending the bout.
Speaking to German website ‘BOXSPORT’, Tyron is confident he’ll still be unbeaten after Saturday,
‘I’m not too concerned with my opponent. Juergen (Braehmer) took a close look at Fielding and analysed him… He is a fighter, this will certainly be a good fight.’
And whether Fielding is his toughest opponent to date?
‘Hard to say, the next opponent is always the hardest.’
Three months ago, Fielding was apparently in talks to face another champion in Mexican, Gilberto Ramirez, the current WBO champion, but instead finds himself fighting for a lesser belt in, some would say, an even more hostile environment in Germany, as opposed to a US showdown with Ramirez.
But speaking to ‘Boxing News Online’ the former British and current Commonwealth champion is confident in his own ability to silence the crowd, and if it goes the distance, win over the judges,
‘It’s an opportunity that’s been presented to me and I have to take it, wherever it is I’ll go…The pressures on him to keep that belt in front of his home crowd.’
‘Zeuge is a good fighter, he does everything well, but I think I’ve boxed the better opponents…and I think I punch harder.’
Rocky is on a 5-fight win streak since he was knocked out in one round by current World Boxing Super Series finalist, Callum Smith back in 2015. The Liverpool native has earned completive, split 12-round decisions over Christopher Rebrasse and John Ryder, as well as 3 stoppage victories, the most impressive coming against Scotsman, David Brophy in November last year when Fielding took less than 60 seconds to wipe out then, 19-1-1, Brophy, whose only other loss came at the hands of current WBA ‘Super’ champion, George Groves.
It’s power that could be the real gamechanger if Fielding is to win. He’ll have the slight height advantage when the two meet, but arguably Zeuge’s best asset is the ramrod jab he’s displayed in his biggest fights, most notably when he took on Smith last year and no doubt from the 1st bell on Saturday it will be the German who attempts to immediately establish himself in the middle of the ring behind a constant throw of his piston left hand.
But as mentioned, it will be interesting to see, if and when Fielding lands his first significant punch, whether his opponent has the chin to withstand the shot, despite being the man heading into the bout with a KO loss on his record, Rocky has certainly come up against a consistently higher quality, and bigger punching calibre of opponent.
Whoever emerges victorious, the super middleweight division is packed with interesting matchups, from the WBSS finalists, Groves & Smith, to fellow belt holders Ramirez, Benavidez and recently crowned Uzcategui, and the broader string of challengers in the two Calebs, Truax and Plant or Eubank Jr. The list goes on for the 168lbers.
Five Fights to Look Forward to in the United Kingdom
By: Oliver McManus
At the top level of the game there are plenty of great fights taking place with Britain blessed to have world champion after world champion but take a step backwards to appreciate the full scene and you’ll find a whole host of tasty match-ups happening at levels of the game –
Jason Welborn vs Tommy Langford
Welborn vs Langford has all the ingredients for a scintillating rematch as the “Battle of the Baggies” moves onto round two (well, technically, rounds 13-24) in Birmingham on September 8th.
First time round in Walsall, Jason Welborn took to the centre of the ring right from the off with an incredible work-rate, targeting the body of Langford whilst the champion, Langford, looked to establish what he believed was his technical superiority.
Both fighters were fast on their feet and willing to trade punches with neither afraid of taking a shot in order to land a flurry of their own and even though Welborn came into the fight the, large, betting underdog, he showed no signs of relenting as went into the championship rounds, staying busy and landing an accumulation of punches.
The fight was up for grabs and in a genuine domestic thriller, Welborn emerged the victor via a narrow split decision (114-113, 114-113, 113-115) and claimed the British Middleweight championship from his rival.
This time round on the undercard of Khan-Vargas, Welborn will be looking to go one step even further than he manged in May and stop Langford within the distance – let’s not forget that Langford was counted in the 2nd round after the ropes had held him up –, enhancing his position as a genuine contender in the packed middleweight scene.
Tommy, on the other hand, will be looking for redemption and bounce back from his second loss in the space of 13 months – the first, a fifth round TKO loss to Avtandil Khurtsidze – with a dedicated, technical performance that, prior to these potential hiccups, had seen him being targeted for an all-British showdown with Billy Joe Saunders.
Indeed Langford wasn’t on his A Game when the first fight occurred, not that we should take any credit away from Welborn, and you could argue that he adapted a little too much to the game-plan of his challenger – stick to the basics, work the jab and that’s when Langford really hits his stride.
Jeff Ofori vs Jumaane Camero
Has this fight been mentioned enough recently? Spot the sarcasm because this fight is, put simply, A FIGHT. One better than that, it’s a fight that you genuinely cannot pick a winner from.
It’s a fight that you don’t want to HAVE to pick a winner from, either, both of these guys are genuine, humble people who haven’t forgotten where they come from. Ultimately, though, on September 15th one of these lightweights will emerge as the Southern Area champion – Camero having defended it successfully or Ofori having mounted a victorious challenge.
Stylistically the two are vastly different with Camero having, typically, been the more patient and measured boxer who likes to control the fight at his own tempo and has quite a unique style but, make no mistake, is capable of packing a whack so you do not want to be on the end of one of those big punches.
As Jumaane says, himself, he is “freakishly long limbed” and possess a style that makes dealing with him incredibly awkward – Ofori, on the other hand, is much more of your typical aggressor, seeking to take each and every fight with a high-tempo, guns-blazing style of boxing.
At the end of June, Ofori faced a tough journeyman, Luke Fash, in full knowledge that this Southern Area fight was to follow and Jeff looked imperious, cutting off the ring really well and attacking the body of Fash with vim and vigour – speaking to Ofori afterwards, however, he said he wanted more rounds to get used to the longer distances, as opposed to his fourth round knockout.
This will be Ofori’s first ten round bout but with both men talking as though they expect it not to last the scheduled distance there is no doubt that September 15th will see fireworks aplenty – Ofori needs to keep up his aggression, work the short uppercut when he’s on the ropes whilst Camero should look to use his awkward style and height advantage to the best of his ability, the styles will mesh and produce a sumptuous bout so all that’s left to do is buy the tickets because you do not want to miss this.
Cello Renda vs Luke Cowcroft
Cello Renda is a man who, for a long time now, has always promised much and whilst he has achieved one hell of a lot – current Southern Area champion, challenged for the English and British belts – there’s been a distinct feeling that, actually, he could be coming into the best years of his fighting career.
A win against Leon McKenzie, last year, re-established himself on the map and look at his record, you’ll see he’s fought Liam Conroy, Jack Arnfield, Sam Horton, Martin Murray, Danny Butler, Tom Doran, Paul Smith and these are not names to be sniffed at by any stretch of the imagination.
But, as mentioned, it was that fight against McKenzie that really seemed to, on paper, ignite something within him as he demonstrated his power, precision and sheer toughness to an absolute tee – Renda was in a war and he came out on top. Since then he’s been targeting the English title that Darryll Williams holds and this fight against Cowcroft is serving as an eliminator for that belt.
Cowcroft, on the other hand, is taking a huge step in quality but Stefy Bull clearly thinks he’s talented enough to carry off an upset and the mood around the Doncaster light-heavyweight is distinctly upbeat and it’s clear to see that he’s improved significantly in the three years that he’s been out of the ring.
Not so much of a power puncher as Renda, Cowcroft has an absolute engine within him and will be looking to out-work Cello, tiring the Southern Area champion, before mounting a late surging attack as he, to boot, looks to prove any doubters wrong.
This fight has all the makings of an absolute classic, Cello Renda looked the best he’s ever looked up against Leon McKenzie, punch-perfect stoppage, and Luke Cowcroft is constantly developing, constantly learning and not just in training but in the ring, too, up against Renda he will need to have learnt an awful lot but if anyone can secure such an upset, surely, it’s the man from Doncaster.
Jazza Dickens vs Martin Ward
A rematch for the vacant British super-bantamweight title, made possible by Thomas Patrick Ward withdrawing from the scheduled fight and opting to fight for the IBF European belt instead.
Jazza Dickens has had a frustrating last couple years following his loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux, a fight that resulted in a broken jaw for Dickens, and was unfortunate last year to suffer a cut above the left eye against Patrick Ward that forced the contest to go the scorecards early – Dickens was trailing but had momentum and the fight was shaping up to be a real pick ‘em with everything likely coming down to the final three rounds.
Since then the Liverpool fighter has looked crisp in training, arguably in the shape of his life, and against Martin Ward, on July 27th, there’s every expectation of a better, more convincing performance than the last time they fought (in 2015).
Three years ago this duo fought the full 12 rounds before a split decision rendered Dickens the winner and, in turn, the British champion – Dickens was the fighter pressing the case and working the angles but a split decision was probably accurate.
With Dickens there is little doubt just how talented a fighter he is and the southpaw possess all the technical traits that could see him go all the way, on top of that he has a brilliant energy, work-rate and stamina that marks him out as a complete fighter just waiting to get tested.
Martin Ward, former British and Commonwealth Champion, is not to be underestimated and the experienced fighter relies on a patient game-plan, looking to take the fight at a constant, comfortable pace, often fighting at distance.
Past performances would suggest that Ward has peaked at around the British level with his previous step up to European level resulting in a second round knockout loss to Abigail Medina – not the greatest of opponent but no-one to discredit – and this fight in Houghton Le Spring will be seen as the 30 year old’s golden opportunity to really propel his name back into the talking.
Dickens would, you assume, prevail in this contest especially if he is to reach the heights he is expected but, as happens time and time again, you can never assume anything in boxing and the winner of this contest, Dickens or Ward, will have a couple of cracking clashes in the offing.
Kyle Yousaf vs Tommy Frank
Stefy Bull has been announcing some really good fights as of late – Atif Shafiq vs Andy Townend, Robbie Barrett vs Matty Fagan – and Kyle Yousaf vs Tommy Frank is part of the stellar card taking place in Barnsley on October 5th.
An application has been made to the BBBofC for this bout to be for the English belt and when you look at the domestic shake-up then there can be no qualms about the fight having such status.
Having the poisoned chalice of competing in the lower weight divisions, Yousaf and Frank have had a criminally small amount of media attention throughout their careers despite them both being absolutely phenomenal fighters.
Yousaf, the more experienced with 13 fights, beholds an impressive fighting brain with his ability to pick punches marking him out at an early stage of his career. Not many fighters, when they first turn pro, are mature enough to identify periods of the bout when they don’t need to come out swinging but Yousaf, still only 25, has frequently shown incredible maturity during the ring.
Against Gyula Dodu there was a punch-perfect display from the Golden Kid as he used his left jab repeatedly to keep on top of his opponent before dropping down to the body with some telling right hands to the body. A superb right to the head of Dodu, launched with exquisite timing and precision, finished off the fight and even though the bout lasted 118 seconds, the talent on show was mouthwatering.
Tommy ‘Super Frank’ is the current Central Area Super Flyweight champion and against Craig Derbyshire, in Frank’s seventh fight, the Yorkshire boxer impressed with his fight pace, going 10 rounds but looking comfortable throughout, and his commanding presence at the centre of the ring enables him to cut space off for his opponent, shortening the distance and letting Frank work the inside of his opponent – something he does particularly well.
When the hands get loose, they don’t half pack a punch and with a strong preference for targeting the body, he knows to pressure the opposition onto the ropes before unleashing with a series of alternating shots to the body.
In terms of power Yousaf probably has the upper hand, that should be evident from his superior knockout rate, but this is a fight you don’t see getting stopped early, it’s an enthralling battle between two young, hungry, undefeated fighters and it has all the ingredients of being an absolute barnstormer.
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!
The Top Super Lightweights in the United Kingdom
By: Oliver McManus
THE 2018/19 WORLD BOXING SUPER SERIES will pit together some of the best super-lightweights from around the globe – including Maurice Hooker, Kiryl Relikh, Ivan Baranchyk and Anthony Yigit – in a bid to determine just who is the ultimate number one.
But look at the scene in Britain and you could almost create a domestic version of the Super Series with eight of the best super-lightweights from this country, alone! Let’s take a look at six of the best super lightweights from the United Kingdom (not including Ohara Davies or Josh Leather because I’ve already spoke about them LOADS);
Photo Credit: Josh Taylor Twitter Account
‘The Tartan Tornado’ as he’s known, Josh Taylor is the leading Brit in the 140lbs division and is in contention to fill one of the remaining slots in the WBSS but the toughest test of his career comes on June 23rd when he faces Viktor Postol in a career-defining fight.
Taylor has already swept his way to the top of the scene by winning the Commonwealth title in only his seventh bout before a thunderous victory over Ohara Davies – to claim the WBC Silver title – sent ripples around the globe.
Four successive knockout victories have established him as the powerhouse of the lighter division with a gritty flurry of punches capable of sending even the toughest of opponents into their shells. Light on his feet and explosive in the hands, the 27 year old is undoubtedly on the route to stardom and is already heralded as a living legend up in Scotland.
That fight against Viktor Postol will serve as a final eliminator for the WBC World title and Postol will provide him with the sternest test and the granite chin of the Ukrainian – toppled a mere once by, the pound-for-pound star, Terrence Crawford – will be an acid test as to whether the Scot is set for the big time.
One thing’s for sure – Josh Taylor is THE real deal.
This time last week Terry Flanagan was SUPPOSED to be a two-weight world champion, he was supposed to be too much for Maurice Hooker to handle. Boy did we get that wrong.
Make no mistake, though, Terry Flanagan still has a legitimate claim to being an elite super-lightweight despite his only fight in the division resulting in a loss. Flanagan was poor on June 9th but showed an incredible heart to recover from a gaping cut to the forehead early on before rallying back and pressuring Hooker.
The rematch looks unlikely with Hooker set to enter the 2018/19 WBSS and whilst Flanagan may have to wait another 12-18 months there are plenty of sensational fights – not least with fellow Brits – in which he can prove his credentials.
We all knew that Terry Flanagan is superb in terms of his technical ability and whilst he came unstuck against Hooker – the American had a nine inch reach advantage – he still managed to enforce a tactically-astute game-plan with terrific timing and the knowledge of when to step up the pressure and pin his opponent to the ropes.
A proven boxer in the lightweight division, super-light is the heaviest Flanagan will be able to go and retain at the top of his game – it may be good that the Mancunian seems to run under-the-radar as the next few fights will all be about developing his style to the slightly heavier division but when he’s on his game and got everything clicking, Flanagan will be unstoppable.
Catterall was being lined-up for a thrilling all British title clash with Flanagan but, evidently, that all went awry following Terry’s failure to capture the WBO crown. It would be ill-informed to suggest the career path of Catterall was dependent of the result of his more senior stablemate.
Outright Caterall is a top-15 Super Lightweight and there’s no doubt that he’ll be banging on the door of world title holders in the not-too-distant future and El Gato has worked his way up the hard way – opponent withdrawals and injuries have hampered his development.
Under the tutelage of, new trainer, Jamie Moore, however, Jack is looking invigorated and twice the fighter from beforehand; 21 fights into his career and still at the tender age of 24, it’s inevitable that Catterall still has his best fighting years ahead of him and with Moore in his corner then there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be able to unlock all of his explosive potential.
I say explosive because the one thing all of Catterall’s opponents should be cautious of is his sickening body punches, which the Chorley resident has been utilising to maximum impact as of late.
Despite being so young Catterall is already a former British Champion having upset the odds to defeat Tyrone Nurse comfortably over 12 rounds despite many suggesting he was too inexperienced prior to the fight.
His next outing will be on June 30th as he steps in to fight Tyrone McKenna in Belfast in a battle of two undefeated fighters – with the WBO Inter-Continental Super Lightweight title on the line – who both have exciting futures. The winner will be able to push on and earn the right to call out the best of the world but what a fight we will witness that night – a barnstormer in Belfast.
You could be forgiven for thinking of Glenn Foot as the “forgotten man” but the Commonwealth Champion has been in the form of his life over the past since the turn of 2017 and has been bringing his A Game to all the big fights.
Heads turned in November of last year when he lost a narrow unanimous decision to Josh Leather in a contest that was for the IBF European title – expectations outside of the Foot camp were minimal with Leather expecting to convincingly conquer the former Prizefighter champion.
Foot took little notice of expectations, dropping Leather in the 2nd round and proving that he can NEVER be considered an under-dog; earlier this year Foot fought Jason Easton in one of the best domestic fights of all time – bold statement but I’m sticking with it – 11 actions of all-out war resulted in both fighters getting battered around the ring before a concussive crack of a right hand sent Foot’s corner into ecstasy as he claimed the Commonwealth title.
The fighter now appears to be in a partnership with Eddie Hearn and has been mandated to fight Robbie Davies Jnr for the British Super-Lightweight title and Foot, aged 30, will be looking to capitalize on the opportunity to get another big-name fighter on his record and continue his own push for the bigger titles.
Glenn Foot and “boring fight” simply do not go together.
Robbie Davies Jnr
And here we move onto the guy that Foot has been mandated to face for the vacant British belt – Robbie Davies Jnr, 28 years of age with 16 victories and the single loss. That loss, against Michal Syrowatka, came via a 12th round knockout after Davies had controlled the fight for much of the previous 11 rounds and was avenged a mere six months later via a 12th round knockout of his own, dropping his opponent in the 3rd, 4th and 12th to stamp his authority all over the fight.
A professional of five years, the next year should be the time for Robbie to push on and grab bigger titles of his own and with a world ranking it shouldn’t be too long until we see him in the colossal fights.
I’ve always been impressed by the engine on the Liverpudlian which enables him to keep the pressure up all day, every day without ever allowing his opponent the opportunity to get a rhythm; against Zoltan Szabo, in January of last year, we saw a mature performance from Davies up against a tricky, gritty Hungarian before getting the job done with a crunching body shot in the ninth round.
I think that’s what we’ve seen develop most from Davies in the last few fights – a maturity that many would lack when in the ring whilst trying to rush the stoppage whereas Davies is happy to just keep the work-rate ticking over before landing calculated shots to drop his opponent.
The only question we need to ask is “how on earth hasn’t this guy been on TV more often?”. Arguably the best fighter currently fighting out of Liverpool.
Akeem Ennis Brown
A nonchalance, an evolution of body movement and a fluid science to his punching, Akeem Ennis Brown is an art to watch providing drama, entertainment and explosivity all in one. When he claimed the English title he was the youngest champion and the first from Gloucester but that won’t be the defining by-notes of his career.
Riidy is on the road to big things and his victory over Chris Jenkins in May saw him claim the WBC Youth World title and climb one rung higher up the ladder – there’s plenty of names on Riidy’s resume to warrant the hype around him and his performance against Freddy Kiwitt in 2016 was just a sign of things to come.
Not particularly blessed with the biggest punching power, Akeem doesn’t lack when it comes to creating angles in which to unleash flirtatious combinations – against Glenn Foot last summer we witnessed a coming of age for the 21 year old as he battled to win a majority decision over the experienced fighter.
That’s the other strength Riidy has – he’s 21! Still only 21 and raking in experience like there’s no tomorrow and when you look across his fights there has been no shortage of learning – so when it comes to the EVEN bigger fights he’s all prepared for the bouts.
There we have six of the best super-lightweights from British boxing but, let’s be honest, this is probably the most exciting division in all of world boxing; six was just the tip of the iceberg, of course we’ve got Ohara Davies who I’ve discussed at length and then there’s Joe Hughes, Tyrone McKenna, Jeff Saunders, a whole gamut more so let’s just sit back and enjoy these phenomenal talents.
Five Fighters to Watch in the United Kingdom
By: Oliver McManus
British boxing has got it GOOD at the moment, you’d go as far as to say we’ve never had it any better but it’s not just at the top with Anthony Joshua, Dillian Whyte and Tony Bellew in which we’re excelling, there’s talent across the board and here are five of the best lower weight class fighters you’d be a fool not to keep an eye on.
*DISCLAIMER* Lower weight = Super lightweight and under
QAIS ASHFAQ – Bantamweight
Gold medallist at the 2011 Commonwealth Youth Games, Silver in the 2014 Commonwealth’s and 2015 European Amateur’s and a bronze at the 2015 European Games, Qais Ashfaq left a mark on the amateur scene and there’s no doubt he’ll do the same in the pro ranks.
Initially signing a deal last year with Hayemaker Ringstar, Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing announced the signing of Ashfaq in February of this year and quickly set him to work against a durable Brett Fidoe.
A comfortable points victory put the bantamweight on the path to glory. Now 2 and 0 – thanks to a victory over Ricky Starkey in April – the 25 year old has already shown over the course of eight rounds just why he is such a hotly tipped fighter.
Fast with the feet, his game is all about dominating his opponent with superior movement, bouncing around the ring, before landing some crushing counter-punches. The style has brought him incredible success and being a pressure fighter with lightning fast hand speed, Ashfaq is always going to be one of those fighters you just love to watch.
JEFF OFORI – Super Featherweight
King Jeffy, as he’s known, Ofori made his debut in May of last year and has notched his way to five victories without defeat since – his 6th bout will come this weekend (May 19th) and in only his second bout at Super Featherweight he’ll be looking to send some statements.
A dominant third round TKO victory over Aleksandrs Birkenbergs in April saw Ofori display expertly the sort of power needed to mix it at the top but most impressive was his temperament to deal with an awkward opponent who came to duck and weave.
Ofori, himself, was critical and said he thought he tried too hard in the first couple of rounds to get the stoppage and whilst that may be true, the Tottenham-fighter kept a cool head when it came to crunch time to lay it on the Latvian and give, referee, Mark Bates no choice but to stop it.
Targeting a Southern Area title by the end of the year, there’s no doubt in my mind that Jeffy is just going to keep better with every fight he has – who knows where he can end up…
RYAN GARNER – Super Featherweight
It’s not hard to understand why Ryan Garner is known as The Piranha given the ferocious way in which he attacks his opponents in the ring.
With seven fights under his belt, the 20 year old is already learning more than you do at University and the maturity developed within the ring is clear to see since he initially turned pro back in the summer of 2016.
A patient fighter, the former junior European amateur champion, is already experienced enough to know when to step on the gas and punish his opponent but, equally, when to take a breather and just play the waiting game.
An enforced sixth month absence from the ring, due to personal issues, has only made the Piranha even hungrier and his display against Lesther Cantillano on February 24th was a perfect example of a boxer looking to go places – he showed in that fight that not only does he pack a really solid flurry of punches capable of stopping his man but, more importantly, he has the technical ability to outbox opponents.
When you can whack, dance, and out-work those who step in the ring then you’re very unlikely to taste defeat and, luckily, for Ryan he has all of that. Let’s not forget he’s only 20, too, so he’s going to get so much better as the years progress… it’s almost scary!
ARCHIE SHARP – Super Featherweight
Dubbed “the best kept secret in British boxing” by his promoter Frank Warren, Archie Sharp is a super featherweight on a mission and at 23 years of age there’s plenty of time, for the 12 and 0 Super Feather, to create his legacy.
Nine years in the amateur ranks saw him pick up nine national junior titles and Sharpshooter has wasted no time in racking up win after win in the professional game.
A clever fighter with fluid movement, Sharp takes to the centre of the ring from the outset in an attempt to draw his opponent into a proper fight and against tough, durable, journeyman Sharp has found considerable success when targeting the body of his opponent – often sending them crumpling to the canvas. Seven of his triumphs have come via knockout.
Having stepped up to eight rounds for the first time last year there can be no question marks about his stamina with Archie having the energy of a puppy throughout his eight round points victory over Rafael Castillo back in December.
Indeed the young whipper snapper isn’t far away from competing for his first title and with the widely held belief being that the classier his opponent, the better Sharp will look, he really is Hollywood.
BRING IT ON, that’s all I can say!
SAM MAXWELL – Super Lightweight
Now Sam Maxwell *just* makes the upper limit for this list and that’s not something that happened on purpose, it was a decision made beforehand that only fighters up to Super Lightweight would be included and, boy, what a decision it was because Sam Maxwell is of the most exciting boxers building a profile in the United Kingdom at the moment.
Having turned pro in October of last year the MTK Global fighter has shot to seven victories in double-quick time with the former Great British Lionhearts fighter recording six knockout’s along the way.
Already having fought on the undercard of a world title fight – that between Manuel Charr and Alexander Ustinov – Maxwell is no stranger to the big stage and, indeed, when thrust into the limelight at the SSE Arena on April 21st this year he blasted out Michael Isaac Carrero in less than sixty seconds.
The bruising super-middle is causing a stir in the domestic scene, he’ll be next out on June 9th as part of Frank Warren’s Manchester promotion and there’s a very real chance that the 29 year old Liverpool-resident will send a thunderous statement as he looks to gate-crash his way to the top of an, already bustling, British super lightweight division.
I’m only allowed five main fighters to pick but I can’t let this finish without mentioning two classy, classy fighters in Osman Aslam a 12-0 super bantamweight who brings a whole new definition to the word “technical fighter”, his movement is sublime and his shot selection incredible; and Ukashir Farooq the Scottish Area Bantamweight kingpin waiting for his postponed title tilt against Josh Wale, at just 22 Farooq still has a lot of learning to do but with experience under his belt he could well live up to his nickname – Untouchable.
NOW that’s just scratching the surface of lower weight fighters that should be in the spotlight but we’d be here all day if I was to talk about everyone with bags of talent so I implore you to get down to the small hall’s, see boxing at its purest and discover someone worth talking about because, I can’t say this enough, British boxing is having the time of it’s life!
UK Pound-For-Pound Rankings
By: Ste Rowen
When I sat down to write something this week, I was struggling, and then it came to me.
In a quiet few weeks for boxing what better way to create unnecessary arguments about a popular but ultimately irrelevant subject?
So here goes, this is my Top 10 Pound-For-Pound UK Boxers.
*I also feel like I have to say, the views expressed in this article are that of the writer and do not represent those of other writers at BoxingInsider.com…. Phew!
10 Tony Bellew 29-2-1 (19KOs)
Despite only fighting once and winning in peculiar circumstances, Bellew keeps a spot in the top 10. Still riding high on his first heavyweight fight, and victory over David Haye, the WBC Cruiserweight Emeritus Champion – no, me neither – was hoping to prove his March 2017 victory over Haye was no fluke but an inevitable injury to the Hayemaker has forced the rematch to take place in May next year instead.
9 Khalid Yafai 23-0-0 (14KOs)
Kal Yafai began 2017 as a world champion, superbly outpointing Luis Concepcion to a unanimous decision in December 2016 for the WBA Super Flyweight title. Aside from Ryan Burnett, featured later, Yafai has perhaps had the quickest ascent, and in an especially stacked division has made his mark. In his two fights of 2017 he earnt unanimous decision victories over former Japanese Fly and Super Flyweight champions Suguru Muranaka and Sho Ishida respectively. If Kal is able to get a place in the upcoming HBO SuperFly 2 card, he would be making the perfect start to 2018.
8 Chris Eubank Jr 26-1-0 (20KOs)
Round about this time last year Chris Eubank Jr was still receiving grief for deciding to dodge the Golovkin fight and nobody quite knew where his career was going. Twelve months and three fights later and Eubank is now one of the biggest players in the super middleweight division. He holds a version of the world titles, the IBO; is less than two months from fighting for the WBA Super belt and, in the UK at least, is now a PPV fighter with the help of ITV. Stand out performances against Arthur Abraham and Avni Yildrim have solidified his status with most bookies as the favourite for his February 17th WBSS semi-final against George Groves.
7 Josh Taylor 11-0-0 (10KOs)
In stark contrast to his former stablemate, Carl Frampton, Josh Taylor has had a fantastic year though it did start off with an awkward win over Alfonso Olvera on the Frampton v Santa Cruz undercard in Vegas. He kicked on by dominating Warren Joubert and then humbling the unbeaten and outspoken Ohara Davies, forcing Davies to quit in the seventh. He finished the year in a risky bout vs Miguel Vauzquez but proved yet again he is well worth the hype by knocking out the former lightweight champion with a killer body shot in the 9th. He’s now at number 9 in the Ring Magazine Jr welterweight rankings, and 5th with the WBC.
6 Lee Selby 26-1-0 (9KOs)
It was difficult to place the IBF Featherweight Champion. Despite a busy 2017, fighting three times with wins that included a 9th round stoppage over Andoni Gago, and dominant displays over Jonathan Barros and an overweight Eduardo Ramirez, the level of opposition and an inactive 2016 have harmed Selby’s standing amongst British fans. However, his long-awaited bout with Josh Warrington has been all but confirmed. If he comes through that with the W, and fights at least once more against Carl Frampton or one of the other title holders, we should see Selby shoot up most rankings.
5 Carl Frampton 24-1-0 (14KOs)
It’s been a bad year for Frampton. Twelve months ago, the two-weight world champion would’ve been top of the list but he started 2017 with a defeat to Leo Santa Cruz in an immediate rematch of their July 2016 bout. Then he split with long time promoter Barry Mcguigan and his son, 2016 trainer of the year Shane McGuigan after his return to Belfast fight fell apart the day before the fight. Ending the year with a, closer than the scorecards suggest, decision win over Horacio Garcia and past victories over Santa Cruz and Scott Quigg keep credit in the bank for Frampton who’ll be hoping for somewhat of a comeback year in 2018.
4 Billy Joe Saunders 26-0-0 (12KOs)
The WBO Middleweight Champion has found himself as a late entrant into the top five of this list after a superior display over former IBF Champion David Lemieux. Even the unanimous scorecards didn’t do justice to the way Saunders played with the Canadian in his own backyard. Billy Joe also scored a unanimous decision over fringe contender Willie Monroe Jr in September. Both victories, but more so the performance in Quebec, see the middleweight in the 4th spot.
3 George Groves 27-3-0 (20KOs)
After re-establishing himself as one of the best super middleweight contenders in 2016, Groves, on the fourth time of asking, became a world champion in April 2017 stopping a durable Fedor Chudinov to win the WBA ‘Super’ World Super Middleweight belt – the proper one. Not only did the win get him his first world title, but also counted towards his number 1 seed into the World Boxing Super Series. His second fight of 2017 saw him body-shot KO unbeaten Jamie Cox to seal his place in the WBSS semi-final, there to face number 8 on this list, Chris Eubank Jr in early 2018.
2 Ryan Burnett 18-0-0 (9KOs)
What a few years it’s been for the WBA and IBF bantamweight champion. Since winning the vacant British title back in November 2015 Burnett has fought six times and in his two bouts this year, he firstly won the IBF title in a dominant decision win over Lee Haskins and then four months later unified the bantamweight division by defeating Zhanat Zhakiyanov in Belfast, in a great display of skill and heart. Already viewed as a standout talent of the lighter weight divisions, a win in 2018 against the likes of Zolani Tete, could boost Burnett into the an overall P4P player.
1 Anthony Joshua 20-0-0 (20KOs)
Almost inevitably, Anthony Joshua tops the list thanks almost completely to his fight of the year contender and almost certainly event of the year, vs Wladimir Klitschko in a bout to unify the IBF and WBA heavyweight belts. 90,000 people packed into Wembley to see the unbeaten Brit drop and get dropped on the way to an 11th round stoppage victory. Then in October he came through a rough test against Carlos Takam to earn his 20th straight victory and stoppage. With a Tyson Fury return looking imminent and potential unification bouts with Deontay Wilder and Joseph Parker in 2018, this time next year AJ could either find himself near the top of the World P4P rankings or pipped to the top of the UK rankings by a fellow Brit.
Kell Brook – Consecutive stoppage defeats to Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence, a bout which lost him his IBF title, have forced the Sheffield welterweight to drop out of the rankings. Moving up to 154 will hopefully kickstart Brook’s career.
Anthony Crolla – The Manchester native may have defeated an outgoing Ricky Burns recently but the former WBA Lightweight Champion was also dealt with twice in pretty dominant fashion by Jorge Linares. Whichever weight he decides to fight at he’s got a big job to get back to the heights he reached in 2016.
Terry Flanagan – One decision victory over Petr Petrov and a move up but, as yet no fights at light welterweight make for a disappointing year for Flanagan who was talking about unification fights with any or all of the champions at lightweight that never materialised.
Jamie Mcdonnell – An overlooked fighter whose two victories over Tomoki Kameda back in 2015 seemingly never got the praise they deserved but the Doncaster native has fought just three times since September 2015, and his one fight in 2017 was a technical draw with Liborio Solis after a clash of heads put an end to their rematch.
Liam Smith – The former WBO Jr middleweight title holder fought twice against the same opponent in 2017. His controversial stoppage of unbeaten Liam Williams in April, and then a majority decision in the rematch weren’t enough to see him reach the top 10.
Callum Smith – The youngest Smith brother undoubtedly had the toughest fight of his career in the first WBSS super middleweight quarter final when he earnt a unanimous decision win over Erik Skoglund, dropping the Swede in the 11th round. Unfortunately, it was the only time we saw ‘Mundo’ all year. 2018 could be a career definer, especially if he gets past Juergen Braehmer to reach the final of the super series.
Crolla and Burns set for “Battle of Britain”
By: Thomas B Nicholls
British Lightweight stars Anthony Crolla and Ricky Burns are set to do battle at a packed Manchester Arena on October 7th.
Matchroom chief Eddie Hearn announced the bout earlier this week and Sky Sports will broadcast the crossroads clash.
Both Crolla & Burns have been relieved of their world titles in 2017 and with their careers in jeopardy, it’s a simple “must win” for both men.
48 fight veteran Scot, Ricky Burns was convincingly beaten in his unification fight with Julius Indongo back in April, the Namibian southpaw outclassed Burns with a slick performance and is now set to tackle P4P star Terence Crawford.
Similarly, Mancunian Crolla lost his rematch with Jorge Linares in March as he had no answer for the Venezuelan’s s elite and elusive fighting style. Linares is now set to defend his world honours against British Olympian Luke Campbell at the end of September.
Burns will no doubt be backed by the partisan “Tartan Army” as he bids to find his former glory. Burns is Scotland’s first and only three-weight world champion and at 34, he knows he must win if his career is to get back on track.
Burns said “It’s going to be a great fight, there was a lot of talk in recent weeks, the response we got was unbelievable. People want to see it and now the deal is done I’m looking forward to it.”
“It doesn’t bother me where I fight, there will be a good crowd coming down from Scotland. It’s a fight the fans have been getting up for and I’m sure they will turn up in their numbers.
“When I held world titles at super-featherweight and lightweight, Crolla’s name was always mentioned but it never happened.
“He’s a great guy and a great fighter, I don’t think you’ll get much trash talk in the build-up. The best man will win on the night.”
Bookmakers SkyBet have installed Crolla as the pre-fight favourite, perhaps favouring the youthfulness of the Manchester man. Both fighters will be desperate for the win as a defeat could determine the end of their career.
Speaking of the importance of the fight, Crolla said “All I want to do is be involved in big fights and Ricky Burns is a three-weight world champion. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. He’s a great fighter and only lost to the very best.”
“I’m looking forward to going to battle and putting on a display for the fans. Camp started a few weeks ago and I’m in a good place. “It’s at a good time for both of us. A win puts us back in the mix for titles. I’m not going to say the loser has nowhere to go, but it’s going to be a tough road back. We’re both coming off losing our world titles and the incentive is to win the fight and get back in the frame.”
Despite there being no title on the line, this has the foundations to be a fight for the ages. Both men conduct themselves impeccably outside of the ring and there was little trash talking in the press conference, it’s clear to see that their energy will be channelled in to resurrecting /prolonging their careers.
If I was to give my prediction, for whatever it’s worth, I predict Ricky Burns the victor in a barnstorming 12 round war.
The Rise & Fall of Tyson Fury
By: Thomas Nicholls
Tyson Fury has once again announced his retirement, but only this time I feel it is for good.
Tyson, is quick to remind the world and rightly so about his status as the “lineal” heavyweight champion, the holder of the Ring Magazine belt which is by far the most desired and prestigious amongst the world’s fighters. Since his crowning night against WladimirKlitschko in November 2015, before his impressive rendition of Aerosmith, he spoke of how he’d love to be half the champion that Klitschko was – it becomes more apparent with each passing saga, unfortunately that will never be the case.
Before that night in Dusseldorf, where let’s not forget, Boxing’s “experts” never gave Fury a prayer, he was establishing himself as somewhat of a pantomime villain, an enigma and an uncompromising controversial rising star that hailed himself “The Gypsy King”. Fury enjoyed his role as the outlaw, he took great pride in swimming against the tide, in a world where sportsmen and women are under such media scrutiny, they very rarely speak their mind – instead they just say the things that people want to hear. Tyson is different.
At 6ft9, Fury is a giant and a giant with an equally enormous sense of vulnerability about him, a vulnerability which in previous times has captured the hearts of the nation i.e Paul Gascoigne & Ricky Hatton, but despite all of his successes, he never got the praise, respect & recognition he felt he deserved. A British Heavyweight that conquered the unconquerable, a new world champion from the British shores was jeered at the Sports Personality Of The Year Awards. People campaigned for him not to be allowed through the doors. Britain’s most successful sport’s star from the year 2015 and without a shadow of a doubt the biggest personality, was being ousted by the media & frowned upon by the public.
Laughably, Andy Murray was handed the trophy. Time to rethink the name of the competition perhaps?
Fury has been fighting from day one, a premature birth resulted in him being born weighing just 1lb, as he battled on to stay alive, his father John saw a fighting spirit that earned his son the name Tyson. Born into a family with a deep history of bare knuckle fighting, Tyson’s path in life was to emulate those before him and make a stir in the heavyweight scene. In a recent interview with Gareth A Davies, Tyson highlighted how he’d always wanted to become the most controversial sports star on the planet. Whilst, he’s certainly made a good attempt of it, it seems his career is coming to a close.
Two schoolings against the then highly regarded Dereck Chisora, a knock out win over the accomplished Steve Cunningham and a convincing win against Christian Hammer had propelled Fury into the mandatory position for a shot at Klitschko, but he was certainly made to wait. Team Fury had always said they had the formula to stop Klitschko and to do a number on him in his own back yard where many men had failed, most notably David Haye – who incidentally postponed two scheduled bouts against Fury which has since left an extremely bitter taste in the mouth.
Recently, it’s seemed the rebirth of Tyson Fury was in effect, a number of social media posts of him in the gym, a training camp in Marbella with old pal Billy Joe Saunders and a detail of his hunger to derail the Anthony Joshua “hype train”. Yet, in a surprising twist yesterday, Peter Fury & promoter Mick Hennessy were present in the HayeMaker gym, laying down the foundations for a possible fight next year should Hughie beat Parker in September. Peter, Tyson’s coach & uncle, has often stressed his dislike to the Haye camp following the two postponements which left Tyson in a world of lost time. Tyson clearly had no idea about this surprise rendezvous and after seeing the pictures online, he took to twitter to announce his retirement.
In reference to the picture of Peter & Mick Hennessy, Fury took to Instagram –
“Can’t believe you’re in that pr***s gym & even considering doing business with that piece of ****. I’m totally disappointed in you both #JUMPINGINBEDWITHTHEENEMY “
He followed that post with an upload signaling his retirement, “Been very blessed in my life & career to achieve the utmost in Boxing, was an epic journey along the way. Thanks to all the fans that supported & believed in me along the way, Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. THE END.”
Fury, is still in the middle of a UKAD investigation into doping dating back to 2015, he has claimed he has been taking cocaine since being out of the ring, he has a battle to get back to fitness should he ever wish to lace up the gloves again, but now most hurtful of all, he feels betrayed by coach & uncle Peter.
Previously, I’d been confident that he would return to the ring, there was a glint in his eye as he bid to silence all his critics and reclaim what he believes is his – the status as World’s number one. Now, however, It seems he may have fought his last fight in the ring, but certainly not out of the ring, by his own admission Tyson has been plagued by depression, he’d previously stated “I’m seeing psychiatrists. Everything. They say I’ve got a version of bipolar. I’m a manic depressive.”
“I’ve not been in a gym for months. I’ve not been training. I’ve been going through depression. I just don’t want to live anymore, if you know what I’m saying.”
“I’ve had total enough of it. They’ve forced me to the breaking edge. Never mind cocaine. I just didn’t care. I don’t want to live anymore. So cocaine is a little minor thing compared to not wanting to live anymore.”
“I am seeking help, but they can’t do nothing for me. What I’ve got is incurable. I don’t want to live. All the money in the world, fame and glory, means nothing if you’re not happy. And I ain’t happy. I’m very far from it.”.
For all the controversy, all the foul-mouthed rants, all the social media slurs, Boxing needs Tyson Fury and Tyson Fury needs Boxing.
Tyson climbed his Everest when he beat Klitschko in 2015, he had hit his peak at just 27 and now it seems we may have the seen the last of him as a sporting entity and if we don’t see him in the ring again, let’s just hope he wins his most important fight of all.
United Kingdom Boxing Round Up
By: Thomas Nicholls
As the British Boxing scene continues to grow from strength to strength, this new weekly feature will highlight all the news, views and fight previews from the Great British circuit. Enjoy!
On Saturday night, the enigmatic Chris Eubank Jr defended his IBO Super-Middleweight crown against German veteran “King” Arthur Abraham at the SSE Arena in London. Many had foreseen the outcome of the fight as the cocky, charismatic Eubank dominated his way to a landslide points decision as the weary Abraham had no answer for the Brit’s speed and punch volume.
In victory, Eubank (27) has now confirmed his place in the forthcoming World Boxing Super Series otherwise known as the “Muhammad Ali Trophy”, a mouth-watering eight-man tournament starring some of the main players in the 168lbs division. As third seed, Eubank will have home advantage against unbeaten Turkish prospect Avni Yildirim. Eubank is one of four Britons who will feature in the tournament, alongside Jamie Cox, WBA Super Champion George Groves and pre-tournament favourite, Callum Smith.
Muhammad Ali Trophy Quarter Finals –
George Groves (GB) vs Jamie Cox (GB)
Chris Eubank Jr (GB) vs Avni Yildirim (TUR)
Callum Smith (GB) vs Erik Skoglund (SWE)
Jurgen Braemer (GER) vs Rob Brant (USA)
Elsewhere in the UK, WBO Middleweight Champion Billy Joe Saunders is set to defend his crown against American southpaw, Willie Monroe Jr. Monroe Jr is in the process of resurrecting his career after a defeat to GGG back in May 2015. In the press conference on Monday, Saunders hailed Monroe a “quitter” in reference to his evident surrender against the hard-hitting Kazakh, Golovkin.
Billy Joe Saunders has been concerningly inactive since he was crowned champion in 2015, his solitary defence coming in an unconvincing display against unknown Russian, Artur Akavov. Saunders has frequently vowed to unify the division and promoter Frank Warren has twice come close to finalising a fight with either GGG or Canelo, but Billy Joe’s repeated injury setbacks have for now scuppered those plans. London’s CopperBox arena will play host to the fight with Monroe on September 16.
September is due to be a busy month for Britain’s fighters as the Heavyweight clash between Hughie Fury and Joseph Parker is now back on after a cancellation earlier in year. Originally, the fight was due to take place in New Zealand, but the Manchester Arena is the new venue for the Heavyweight showdown.
Hughie, cousin of Tyson, is a slick point scoring fighter who possesses an impressive 20-0 record at just 22 years old. WBO Champion, Parker will enter the fight as favourite, but the Fury camp are certainly no strangers to the underdog status and they will take courage from Parker’s most recent bout as he failed to topple the uninspiring Romanian, Razvan Cojanu.
Manchester based Hughie has this week claimed that he, for the first time in his career, feels at full fitness. Plagued by health issues throughout his teens, Fury is looking and feeling healthier and is convinced it’s his time to make his mark on the Heavyweight scene and bring the WBO strap back in to the Fury family. “It doesn’t matter where I fight Parker in the world, I know my ability and what I’m capable of achieving and I know I can win the world title.”I don’t like to count my chickens, but the obvious incentive to beat Parker is the big fights out there like a unification against Joshua or Wilder.
“This is what boxing is all about, the best should fight the best and the best fighter will come out on top.”
“Tyson will be coming back and he’ll be out to reclaim his position, we’ll never fight each other, but we’ll rule the division together.”
Meanwhile, we still await confirmation of Wladimir Klitschko triggering his rematch clause with Anthony Joshua, but Eddie Hearn and his Matchroom staff were in Vegas last week looking at potential venues for the fight. Let’s hope we have an announcement in the coming weeks!
Jesse Valdez from the 1972 Olympics Was a Special Boxer
By: Ken Hissner
It was the summer of 1972 when this writer was watching the Olympic boxing from Munich, Germany. Who would know that the USA team would only win a total of 4 medal’s one being a Gold and three Bronze medals?
The one boxer on this team I always wanted to talk to was a Bronze medal winner Jesse Valdez out of Houston, TX. I started writing ten years ago and during that time I tried making contact with him but never was able to. Finally a week or so ago I saw an article by Rick Wright a Albuquerque Journal Staff Writer in New Mexico entitled “Boxing star Valdez still counting his blessings”. I was able to contact him and he gave me Jesse’s phone number and I took it from there.
“The Lord gave me a gift,” said Valdez. His first coach was Charles Cord.
There was one Gold medal winner on the 1972 team and it was “Sugar” Ray Seales from the Tacoma Boy’s Club that Joe Clough was coach. Seales would go into the professional ranks and end up with a 57-8-3 record with 34 knockouts.
Also on the team gaining a Bronze medal was future two-time world light heavyweight champion Marvin Johnson, 43-6 (35).I contacted him and he said “why would you want to do a story on me?” I said “you were an Olympian and a two-time world champion”. He agreed to do a story. I love it when they are as humble as Marvin was.
Another Bronze medal winner was Ricardo Carreras, of NY, representing the Air Force. After failing to make the 1976 Olympic teamhe turned professional in 1978 and went 2-0 (2).
Three other team members of the eleven turned professional who were Duane Bobick, of the Navy, 48-4 (42) who I did a story on, Reggie Jones, 16-9-1 (8), of the Marines, Louis Self, 3-2 (2), of the Air Force and Davey Lee Armstrong, 24-3 (6) who was also a team member of the 1976 team that I did a story on him and teammates.
Not turning professional were Raymond Russell, of the Marines, Louis Busceme, Louis Self of the Air Force and Tim Dement. “I love Jesse Valdez,” said Dement. Getting back to the other boxer representing the Air Force was Valdez who was the one boxer that stood out to this writer. My two favorite Olympians of all time were him and Chuck Walker from the 1976 team.
Walker said of Valdez: I was one of those glued to the TV in 1972 watching boxing in the Olympics at Munich. Everybody knows Jesse was THE guy. He was the darling that year. I was 14 and just started boxing. He was one of my early heroes. Never noted at all for power but could that guy box, very slick, clever and effective. I believe he won the Bronze but should have won the Gold. I got to know Jesse well when he was the assistant coach at the 1975 Pan Am Games in Mexico City. We (team) trained in Durango, Colorado for several weeks, then got outfitted in Dallas and then onto MC. Jesse was a great pal and coach. He related well with the guys since he was more our age. I remember one time we were riding a taxi to the coliseum for the fights. I was fighting and Michael Dokes was fighting that night. Jesse was trying to find a radio station in English and finally happened on a song by Barbara Streisand. Dokes acted like that was pure anathema and went for the dial. Jesse slapped his hand away and said “Look man….we finally found something in English. Let it be. You’re not going to find any soul music in this city. Dokes said “I don’t know what’s worse….no music at all or Barbara Streisand!!!” Jesse and I used to walk around the Pan Am village together just out of boredom. We went to a few musical acts just outside the pavilion on the grounds. Often we had lunch together in the big cafeteria. Jesse was the one that took me to the USA medical building in the village when I got my lip split by Clinton Jackson in a freak accident in sparring. He looked out for us because he had been there and knew what it was like. He knew it was a tough business and he tried to make it less so.
Valdez was also instrumental in calming what could have been a horrible situation when Tommy Sullivan won 100 bucks from Michael Dokes betting on pinball in the game room. Tempers flared and the two almost went together for real, but Jesse talked them out of it. Later that night 100 bucks came up missing from Tommy’s locker. Jesse, along with “Sugar” Ray suggested to the other fighters that we all put in a few bucks to get Tommy paid back. And then again the situation was controlled. I haven’t talked to Jesse in probably 35 years but have thought of him often and I’m glad to hear he’s doing well. If you talk to him give him my best and tell him I’ve had Burton Gilliam (from Dallas, TX) in several of my movies. Burton and Jesse fought several times back in the amateurs.
Valdez said he had about 200 fights but never kept track of his record. It was in 1964 that the then 16 year old Houston native won the National AAU welterweight championship upsetting Olympic Bronze medalist Quincy Daniels of the 1960 Olympics. Valdez would qualify for the 1964 Olympic team as an alternate. In that same year he toured as a member of the US team in Africa.
In 1967 Valdez won a Bronze medal at the Pan-American Games and was also the Golden Gloves champion. In 1970 he won the National AAU light middleweight title. In 1972 he won the Golden Gloves again and qualified for the US national team by defeating future world light heavyweight champion Eddie Mustafa Muhammad. “He cold cocked me and dropped me to a knee in the first round. I would return the favor in either the first or second round,” said Valdez.
At the Olympics in 1972 Valdez defeated KolmanKalipe (Togo) 5-0, Carlos Burga (Peru) 4-1 which I thought was a tougher fight than with the Cuban but Valdez disagreed, David Jackson (Uganda) 4-1, Anatoly Khohlov (Soviet Union) 5-0, before losing in the semi-finals to Emilio Correa (Cuba) 3-2. This writer thought Valdez won without any doubt.Correra also won the 1971 Pan-American Games and participated in the 1976 Olympics.
Valdez was in the Air Force never turning professional but even fought until 1980 at age 32 as an amateur. Junior Robles had him box on an amateur show against a Marine who outweighed Valdez by 40 pounds. “When I saw how big he was I moved and boxed him,” said Valdez. Robles also had him compete for the CA state amateur title in Sacramento where Valdez came out victorious.
“He gives boxing a good name because he was so kind hearted yet capable of destroying his opponents while staying calmly in control. Good manners are special and Jesse is someone worth writing about. Many years after the 1972 Olympics Jesse told me something to the effect that, I made an impression on him seeing me reading my Bible when we were teammates. What a great guy my brother Jesse is….he loves our Lord,” said Tim Dement. (1972 Olympian at 112)
“I heard about him before I met him. He was like a legend. Everybody talked about Jesse. In 1967 or 1968 I saw him fight Joe Cokes, brother of world champion Curtis Cokes whom he out boxed.He was a gentleman, smart and a classy fighter. I was in the Air Force five years and knew him for about three years. Jesse touched a lot of boxers lives in a very positive way. He is a good friend, mentor and was an inspiration to me. I was proud to be his teammate. When he boxed he was sweet, hard to hit and he could punch…..hard. Jesse coached all the 1972 USAF boxing team in the National AAU,” said Nick Wells.
Valdez was asked to go to Poland on the USA team by Robles whose father had a gym that Valdez was helping with the kids. “The Holy Spirit said why do you need to go. Also veteran USA team official Bob Surkant who was a father figure to me advised me not to go. So I told Robles I wasn’t making the trip. I almost fought Robles at the 1964 Olympic Trials,” said Valdez. Other boxers who claimed to be asked but didn’t make the trip were Jimmy Clark, Marvis Frazier, Bobby Czyz, Robert Hines and Davey Armstrong. The plane went down in Warsaw, Poland, killing all 87 aboard which included Robles.
“My wife Jackie and I got down on our knees and prayed thanking God that I didn’t go. My whole life changed after that, my faith became my way of living,” said Valdez When he told me they were living in San Diego I told him we had a Calvary Chapelchurch there (Harvest Christian Fellowship) where Mike MacIntoshwas the pastor. Valdez couldn’t believe it for he attended that same church. Pastor Chuck Smith was the founder of Calvary Chapel. I’ve attended three of their churches on a week-end in 1989 after starting in Philadelphia. He and his wife Jackie (originally from Buffalo, NY) now attend a Calvary Chapel church in Albuquerque where Skip Heitzig is the pastor. They have two sons James (42) and Jeremy (40).
“My oldest brother (Steve) was on the Air Force team with Jesse and we met at numerous tournaments and went overseas together. He was the greatest amateur of all-time. He could beat you many different ways. I was in awe of him. We were roommates at the Olympics. He met my family. He was like a brother and really humble. He came back from Italy and gave a picture of him and the Pope to my father. He was someone you looked up to and wanted to be like. He was a real role model,” said Tim Dement. (1972 Olympian)
Valdez told me “in 1972 I would spar with 156 pound team member Reggie Jones and I felt he stayed that heavy to avoid meeting me in the Olympic trials,” said Valdez.He said he worked with the Spinks brothers in 1976 and almost had to bring them home.
After leaving the Air Force, Valdez became a TV cameraman, first in Houston and then to San Diego. I told him I had notes that in 1974 he worked on the prison siege at the Huntsville, TX, State Prison. “I was sent to Huntsville where 5 prisoners were holding 5 guards as hostages,with (now well-known writer) Cal Thomas who was the reporter,” said Valdez. In 1976 Valdez working with the Spinks brothers and almost had to take them home.
In 1979 I was in Philadelphia at the Joe Frazier Gym where “Sugar” Ray Leonard, Marvin Stinson (1976 Olympic Alternate) and Leonard’s cousin O’Dell would be fighting in Philadelphia. The name Valdez came up and one of them informed me he was the one who started the bowing to the four corners prior to his fight. “I think I saluted but Correa did bow after that to the four corners. I would also go to my opponent’s corner after the fight before then returning to my corner,” said Valdez.
“Jesse Valdez, David Martinez and Mark Tessman were (boxers) who I wanted to be like,” said Termite Watkins. I got an email from him due to contacting the Texan boxers I had articles with and all Christians. Termite was 61-5-2 (42), and from Houston who fought for the WBC super lightweight title. He has a book called “Termite” about his experiences in Iraq as a pest control exterminator which is well worth reading. He’s a great friend and one of the most genuine and humble boxers I ever met. I’m honored to call him my friend today. We keep in touch on the phone. He may be the greatest amateur fighter I ever saw.
Valdez was kind enough to answer some questions.
KEN HISSNER: The first time I saw you was in the 1972 Olympics and was immediately impressed with your style of boxing. Was your coach Charles Cord responsible for that?
JESSE VALDEZ: In the long run I would say yes. I had him as my coach at a younger age.
KEN HISSNER: You winning the National AAU championship at 16 in 1964 defeating Quincey Daniels who was on the 1960 team did that qualify you as an alternate for that Olympic team?
JESSE VALDEZ: I lost to Maurice Trilot of the Marines and was an alternate.
KEN HISSNER: Did you get involved with making the 1968 Olympic team?
JESSE VALDEZ: I lost to Armando Muniz in the finals.
KEN HISSNER: What period of time were you in the Air Force?
JESSE VALDEZ: 1969-1972
KEN HISSNER: In 1972 you defeated Eddie Gregory (Eddie Mustafa Muhammad later) to qualify for the Olympic team. Was defeating him and Daniels two of your biggest wins prior to going to the Olympics?
JESSE VALDEZ: If I win I win but never think of who I fought.
KEN HISSNER: Were you still pretty active from 1972 to 1980 between your coaching at the 1975 Pan Am Games and still having some fights?
JESSE VALDEZ: I was an assistant at the 1975 Pan Am Games.
KEN HISSNER: Do you still stay in touch with any of your 1972 team members or have any re-unions?
JESSE VALDEZ: I don’t really except “Sugar” Ray Seales.
KEN HISSNER: Getting ripped off in the 1972 Olympics against the Cuban was that a deciding factor in not turning professional?
JESSE VALDEZ: I had two offers. One was to stay in Air Force as the boxing coach and from Bill Daniels owner of the Denver Rockets.
KEN HISSNER: How did the terrorist attack at the Olympics in Munich affect you and your teammates?
JESSE VALDEZ: We heard the gunfire. It was quite alarming.
KEN HISSNER: Not going to Poland in 1980 when their plane went down killing all aboard did that end your boxing career?
JESSE VALDEZ: It totally did. I was 35 at the time and figured at that age I was too old. Junior Robles convinced me to go but I changed my mind. He was among those killed on the airplane.
KEN HISSNER: I know you go back to Houston for some of the Golden Gloves tourneys. Are you completely out of training boxers now?
JESSE VALDEZ: Unless you’ve been in the ring it is hard to teach someone to box.
KEN HISSNER: I want to thank you for taking the time to answer questions and I have to tell you it is so rewarding to finally catch up to you.
JESSE VALDEZ: It was nice going back in time with you.
After Conquering The United Kingdom, what is the Next Move for Errol Spence Jr.?
After conquering The United Kingdom, what is the next move for Errol Spence Jr.?
By: Kirk Jackson
He came, he saw, he conquered.
Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr. 22-0 (19 KO’s) delivered on his promise, dethroning IBF welterweight champion Kell “Special K” Brook 36-2 (25 KO’s) in a thrilling, competitive bout across the pond in Sheffield, Yorkshire, United Kingdom this past weekend.
Displaying what Spence described as “True grit,” the newly crowned champ accomplished the same feat a few high profile, contemporary American fighters accomplished – traveling to the United Kingdom to win their first world title.
— SHOWTIME Boxing (@ShowtimeBoxing) May 28, 2017
Terence Crawford, Timothy Bradley and Marvin Hagler won their first world titles in the United Kingdom. Pretty good company.
After eating a few of Brook’s “Chocolate brownies,” Spence dissed out his own punishment, stopping the brave Brit in 11 rounds.
“I watched some of his fights and he likes to fight at a certain pace,” Spence told Showtime’s Jim Gray after winning the title.
“And once you pick up the pace on him, he kind of breaks down a little bit, and he can’t throw a lot of punches. So I decided to press the action, make him fight at a pace that he didn’t wanna fight at. Then he started breathing hard and he started slowing down, and I knew that I had him.”
Spence stated in his post-fight interview, the goal is to fight all of the top guys in the division. He wants to unify all of the belts and specifically called out unified WBA and WBC welterweight champion Keith “One Time” Thurman 28-0 (22 KO’s) and WBO welterweight champ Manny “Pac-Man” Pacquiao 59-6-2 (38 KO’s).
“I’ve been calling Keith Thurman out for a long time,” said Spence. “Now it’s time. You say I have to prove myself and I haven’t fought anybody. Well, I just beat the so-called biggest welterweight in the division – Kell Brook. So now, Keith Thurman, you know, come-out. It’s time to fight.”
— Keith Thurman Jr. (@keithfthurmanjr) May 27, 2017
Thurman appears to be game. Whether these fights occur remain to be seen. It’s been suggested Spence has been avoided in boxing’s toughest division.
It will be difficult to avoid Spence now that he has championship stake in the division. If he can unify, then all championship welterweight roads must be traveled through him.
“The goal is to unify the titles,” Spence told Sky Sports following Saturday’s fight. “I wanna fight Keith Thurman next, you know, Manny Pacquiao next. I wanna fight the champions next, unify the division and become the undisputed champion of the world.”
Danny “Swift” Garcia 33-1 (19 KO’s) and Thurman played their part in the unification process earlier in March and it will be great for boxing if the trend continues throughout the year.
With Pacquiao facing relatively unknown contender Jeff “The Hornet” Horn 16-0-1 (11 KO’s) in July, time to will tell if he wants to participate in this unofficial, welterweight-tournament styled unification process.
Spence appears to have a bright future and it will be interesting to see the challenges in store for him next.
Five Keys to Victory for Kell Brook
Five keys to victory for Kell Brook
By: Kirk Jackson
Kell “The Special One” Brook 36-1 (25 KO’s) aims to defend his IBF welterweight championship for the fourth time facing Errol “The Truth” Spence 21-0 (18 KO’s) May 27th, at the Bramall Lane Football Grounds arena, in Sheffield, Yorkshire, United Kingdom.
In a battle of welterweight supremacy, this bout may shape out to be a career defining fight for Brook or a coming out party for Spence.
Each fighter is highly skilled and holds certain advantages. What are some factors determining the outcome?
One of the unique elements regarding Brook is his versatility. Brook has the ability to throw punches from different angles and can effectively throw a variety of punches with precision and power.
Possessing an excellent right hand lead and a right uppercut, Brook will have to emphasize landing these types of punches against Spence.
Brook also possesses one of the best 1-2 or (left jab, straight right hand) combinations in boxing. His jab will be crucial in regards to establishing range, locating his target and finding his comfort zone early in the fight.
Facing a southpaw,right hand proficiency is crucial. Although Spence has the edge is reach 72 inches compared to 69 inches for Brook and is the slightly taller man standing 5’9 ½” – Spence likes to fight on the inside to attack the body.
To ward off Spence’s pursuit and eventual attack, Brook may aim uppercuts down the middle, in between Spence’s high guard as he enters up close.
Alejandro Barrera 28-3 (18 KO’s) landed occasional right uppercuts and right hand lead punches when he fought Spencein November of 2015.
Brook may aim to do the same.
Is Brook the bigger man? Fellow welterweight Danny Garcia believes so talking to Boxingscene.
“I think the timing favors Spence a little bit because Brook just fought Triple-G [Gennady Golovkin]. All that weight, saying he couldn’t make the weight, to come back down, we don’t how he’s physically gonna feel.”
Brook however, altered his diet in preparation for his return to welterweight.
“First, we put him on a strictly-controlled keto diet for a couple of weeks which burns fat,” said nutrition expert Greg Marriott.
“If he spars in the morning, he’ll wake up at 7am and eat slow-release carbohydrates like a bowl of simple oats. An hour before he spars at 10am he has a fast-release carbohydrate like white bread with jam or honey,” Marriot continued.
“In the evening he’ll have a low-glycemic carbohydrate like sweet potato with lean fish.”
Diet and recovery is imperative to maintaining strength. This will allow Brook to fight at full effectiveness; he can fight on the inside and use his frame to keep Spence off balance and attempt to clinch whenever Spence tries to work inside.
Brook can nullify the inside attack like he did in route to defeating Shawn Porter for the IBF title back in August of 2014.
Brook’s power ties into his size and overall strength; he is considered a large welterweight and is rumored to walk around up to 180 lbs or higher when not preparing for a fight.
Brook not out of shape however, possessing the physique of a body builder.
Lead by nutrition expert Greg Marriott and his comprehensive dietary plan, Brook should maintain his strength leading up to his fight with Spence.
With 25 KO’s in 37 bouts, Brook boasts a KO ratio of 68%. He stopped two previous opponents, Kevin Bizier 25-3 (17 KO’s) and Frankie Gavin 24-3 (14 KO’s) prior to facing middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin this past October.
His stoppages against high quality opposition may be questioned, but even against the bigger man Golovkin, the reigning middleweight championwas rocked a few times.
At the very least, Brook possesses enough power to keep opponents honest. Those very weapons, Brook refers to as “Chocolate Brownies.”
For those believing Spence will easily walk through Brook,must think again.
“The Special One” has an underrated skill set and can do many things; inside fighting, slipping punches, effectively maneuvering on the inside and pushing off with his shoulders to create separation and different angles, pull back counters, etc.
Brook is crafty in the trenches, can disguise punches effectively and it can be argued he is more fluid – from a punch combination aspect compared to Spence. Brook also looks a shade quicker in regards to hand speed.
Brook has been here before, participating in five world championship bouts. He is the reigning IBF welterweight champion and held his own against the current unified middleweight champion of the world.
He has experience fighting in front of his hometown fans in Sheffield, Yorkshire. Brook has familiarity fighting in front of a large, ruckus audience, as he fought in front of 19,000 at the O2 Arena in London. Last thing he wants to do is loose in front of the hometown crowd for the second time.
Brook may want to use the elements at play to his advantage and jump on Spence early to create a level of doubt in his mind. Establish himself as the champion and control the fight. This will be key in defending his crown.
Why Is America Missing Out On Joshua-Klitschko?
Why Is America Missing Out On Joshua-Klitschko?
By: Sean Crose
A public workout was held Wednesday. In Wembley Stadium. In front of a significant, loud and very energetic crowd. With Michael Buffer introdrucing the fighters before they actually, you know, worked out. This, friends, was something special. And little wonder. For the first time since Mayweather-Pacuiao, the days are winding down to a legitimate superbout. For, in case you haven’t heard, rising British Star Anthony Joshua will be throwing down against former longtime champion Wladimir Klitschko on Saturday in a battle for heavyweight supremacy. They fact that the two men will be fighting in front of 90,000 people – that’s 90,000 people – gives some indication as to just how big this match is.
While the fight is indeed finding itself onto sports’ pages in the states, it leaves this Yank feeling a bit sad that Joshua-Klitschko isn’t getting the attention it deserves here. Not sad for the fighters. Not sad for boxing. Sad for my countrymen. No kidding, I feel a bit down about this. For one of the single biggest sporting events of 2017 – if not THE single biggest – is happening this very weekend and few Americans are even aware of it. Oh, the fight will be there for us Amerians to watch – live on Showtime and later Saturday night on HBO – but how many of us will even know it’s on? And why are so many of us missing out on a major international sporting event?
First off, it helps if we face facts here. Boxing isn’t that big in the states anymore. Not when the name of Floyd Mayweather isn’t somehow involved. Boxing has done much of this to itself, of course, thanks to ridiculous management and a plethora of poorly judged fights. The American media has much to do with it, as well, however. The truth is, those who are supposed to get “the scoop” aren’t interested in the scoop when it comes to professional boxing (unless, again, Mayweather is involved). It’s hard for people to know about a major fight if the general media isn’t really discussing it…or it isn’t informing people of the sheer scope of the event.
Yet it’s not just the media who is to blame here. Americans interested in boxing can be an oddly indifferent bunch. “They both suck,” an individual training a young man on the pads in a local gym told me today. He was speaking, of course, about Joshua and Klitschko. Without giving another second of his time, the giver of that flip comment went back to work. Perhaps he just didn’t want a pain in the ass reporter in the gym…but I know of others with their fingers on the pulse who aren’t exactly jumping up and down over this bout, either. Is it because an American fighter isn’t involved? Maybe, but Alabama native Deontay Wilder is waiting in the wings with what seems to be intense interest. Wouldn’t that make American fans at least somewhat intrigued? Apparently not all of them. Unfortunately, America’s jaded boxing fans may have become way too hard to impress…suffice to say, we can forget about word of mouth spreading any kind of interest in this weekend’s bout.
Then, of course, there’s the issue of this weekend’s American television broadcasts Showtime has been doing a wonderful job with it’s boxing programing lately (while HBO seems too disinterested in boxing to even let subscribers know how disinterested it is), but this fight would have been perfectly suited to air on network television Saturday afternoon. It would then have gotten stray eyeballs from general sports, fans who would undoubtedly be impressed by the sheer size of Saturday’s event (it’s hard to keep 90,000 people from being noticed) and hopefully from the action inside the ring itself (both fighters can hit, after all). Sadly, though, the world’s newest superbout will be aired on the channels that give us “Shameless” and “Game of Thrones.” People will tune in, of course, but not as many as could or should have.
If anything, Joshua-Klitschko shows that boxing is far from dead. Too bad the American public isn’t being given the chance to realize it.