When you think of Oklahoma you think of a musical , or if you are a keen American historian you may know Oklahoma is the place where the native Americans where sent after being evicted from there home lands back in the 19th century , but in amongst all that Oklahoma has a proud boxing history . It was a misdemeanour to take part in prize fighting until the 1970s , an unpopular law , so the good people of Oklahoma simply ignored it . the very first Championship boxing bout took place in the city when Denmark’s Battling Dane defended his world title . Officially the next boxing bout that took place in the city was in the 1970’s but it is known that the most important Heavyweight Champion ever Jack Johnson fought in Oklahoma , the very first ever black heavyweight world champion , so has Sugar Ray Robinson and George Forman . But Oklahoma like many cities has struggled to become a relevant boxing city as it didn’t have a Boxing Commission until 1999 .
After years of struggling to find professional boxers for the city to get behind it now looks like they finally have a young talent to throw there support towards . Alex Saucedo (24) has already been compared to the legendary Arturo Gatti , a comparison that the boxing world does not throw around lightly , but if anybody happened to catch Alex Saucido’s last fight against Lenny Zappavigna you can see why he is well on his way to earning the comparisons , and the Oklahoma crowd love it .
i asked Alex what it was like to win such a dramatic fight against Lenny Z .
” This was a very tough fight because both of us wanted to win because we knew the winner would go and fight Maurice Hooker for the WBO World Title . Both of us didn’t want to go down so it became a war . Im just happy that the fans enjoyed the fight and i came through it and thats all that matter . ”
At just 24 Alex is still learning the finer points of his game but that night he proved he had the heart of a lion which means he is half way there to becoming a champion . I asked Alex if he had watched the fight back and what had he learned from that night that will push him on to the next level .
” Watching it back he caught me good in the fourth but i stuck in there and that definitely gave me experience for the next upcoming fight against Hooker . Me and my trainer (Abel Sanchez) sat down and we watched the fight back together . We where able to see what i did wrong and we also seen what i did right . Right after Canelo vs GGG fight he will be waiting for me up at Big Bear . I am already training here in Oklahoma City so when i get up there we can work on the finer things and we will be training really hard for this next fight . ”
Watching Saucedo/Zappavigna fight on TV it was astonishing the noise coming from the Oklahoma crowd , something that you don’t really hear from an American crowd . There was points in that fight where Saucedo looked to be on the brink of going down as he was hurt bad , i asked him if the fantastic home support helped him through .
” Yeah absolutely , in that fourth round i just knew i couldn’t go down in front of my people . That is why i do all this training for situations like that but the support of the crowd pushes you up , and i loved that , i loved that all those people came out to support me and i appreciate everyone of them ”
Next up for Alex Saucedo is WBO World Champion Maurice Hooker who is coming off a fantastic win against Terry Flannigan . It was widely expected that this fight would be shown on Eddie Hearn’s new online platform/partner DAZN but after Hooker/Saucido went to purse bids it was Top Rank who coughed up the money for there man with a whopping $1.6m . I asked Alex what it was like to backed by your promotion team with such a big bid to secure the fight for him in front of his home fans in Oklahoma .
” Hooker is a very good fighter , he may even be the best fighter i have ever fought and thats why he is the champion . It’s great that Top Rank and ESPN have shown this faith in me . I told them to get ready because i am going to give them some great fights .
Sometime when you interview a fighter you get the feeling it is just a job to them but with Alex Saucedo you can tell that this lad wants to go to the top . When talking about a very hard fight he had recently Alex was the one who brought up all the things he done wrong in that fantastic victory . His fight with Hooker will take place on 16th or 17 of November in Oklahoma . Here in the UK it will be shown live on Boxnation , and trust me you will not want to miss this fight .
The weekend just past had the boxing world engrossed as Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury came face to face in Belfast . The planned showdown could not have came across anymore choreographed but my god it made for good TV which finished with it being announced that the fight between the two was all but done for later this year . If this fight get’s made it is a fantastic statement of intent from Tyson Fury , but with only two fights against weak opposition since his two year absence from the ring it has to be asked , is this bravery or folly from the Gypsy King ? .
What did we learn on Saturday night about where Fury is on his comeback . We seen a Tyson Fury who has got himself into fantastic shape weighing in only 10lbs heavier than he was when he beat Wladimir Klitschko to become unified world champion three years ago . When you see the change in Fury over the past year it is impressive , but it also tell’s it own story as Fury is putting his soul into bringing his weight down and neglecting the finer points , and his boxing skills are suffering . Tyson Fury has never been a big puncher but in the past weekend he looked very feather fisted , he couldn’t hurt the tough durable Pianeta . Time after time he bent that left hook round Pianeta’s guard which really was a beautiful shot but it had zero effect .
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Tyson Fury of old probably had the best defence in the division due to his long reach , quick reactions and even quicker feet . On Saturday night it was obvious the reactions have slowed as well as the feet . On the very few times Pianeta did show a bit of ambition offensively , Fury looked slow and vulnerable . It wasn’t all bad for Fury though as he managed ten rounds relatively easy and there was moments where the Fury of old was shinning through . There is always the argument that Fury was also fighting down to his opponents level which could be partly to blame for a mediocre performance .
There has been comparisons between Tyson Fury’s comeback and that of the “Greatest” Muhammad Ali who also came back after a long lay off to regain his World Title . For me that is NOT the comparison that should be made with Ali but there is one comparison i can see . When Ali came back into the ring he found out to his horror that his famous feet had slowed , he wasn’t the same fighter that he had been , some have even claimed that we missed the best years of Ali , I am not one of these people . I think it showed how “Great” he was that he was able to take the tools he had left and mould himself into a new fighter , that is where Fury should be drawing inspiration . We are all waiting on the Fury that beat Klitschko to comeback but the truth is i don’t think that Fury exists anymore . Fury should take the skills he does have left and reinvent himself , he does still have the hand speed , very quick feet for a heavyweight and a fantastic boxing brain .
I will never criticise a fighter for daring to be great . I think Fury taking on Wilder in his third fight is a breath of fresh air to the sport and could see him become a modern day great . I also fear that Fury will not admit to himself he is not the same the fighter and if he makes the same mistakes he did on Saturday night when he’s in with Wilder he will be punished .
Just when you thought that boxing was becoming predictable the news broke that Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder are in advanced talks to make a fight for later this year , in a move that would leave the big money man and unified champion Anthony Joshua in the unusual position of being locked out of one of the biggest heavyweight fights in this era . Now right from the start I will say this story has broke from two of the most unreliable sources in boxing , Tyson Fury and Frank Warren but the reports coming out of the US is that this is more than just hot air.
It is no secret that Deontay Wilder was infuriated by how negotiations went when trying to secure a fight with Anthony Joshua for all the titles . I have listened to guys like Lance Pugmire of the LA Times say they would not be surprised if AJ/Wilder never happened and that’s what came to my mind when this news broke , Is this an attempt to cut AJ out altogether ? . There is no doubt that the biggest fight financially in the division is against AJ but the next biggest fight financially is Fury/Wilder, A fight that would provide career high payday’s for both .
This could also be a case of Team Wilder showing AJ they have other options , which might bring Hearn back to the table with the instructions from Joshua to get the fight made , which i have to admit is a real possibility .
But what if this all comes off for Fury/Wilder , where does that leave AJ ? . Well the AJ extremists will have you believe that AJ doesn’t need either , and in a way they are right as he could sell out a stadium if he was fighting me ,but these people don’t understand the sport of boxing . AJ needs competition to create a legacy and this fight would leave him rummaging through the bones of the division looking for a top fight . Chances are that Wilder would insist on a rematch clause so potentially he and Fury could be occupied for the next year .
I will go back to what i said at the start and admit this could be all hot air or a ploy to get Hearn and AJ back to the table . In a way i want this fight to come off , I want boxers to see that if a massive fight is there to be made you don’t mess around with it , you don’t play with your food ,you don’t treat fans with utter contempt and put the fight off until your advisers give you the okay .
If there is one mistake that the WBSS made it was selling the rights to the final of the Cruiserweight as they had no intention of hosting it . Now they have sold the right to the Russians and Usyk is refusing to fight in Russia due to his political beliefs
Deontay Wilder has called Anthony Joshua’s bluff and accepted there lowball deal . I am still not confident this deal gets made anytime soon as AJ and his team have never shown any signs of wanting it .
This a must fight for Jacobs as it will give him real bargaining power when talking to the Big Boys such as GGG and Canelo not to mention strengthen his hand when dealing with Eddie Hearn on a promotional deal