We have all been in that near intolarable position when we have been completely caught off guard. A time when a situation has you completely rattled and searching your brain to find you a way out. Now anyone who has found themselves in this position will tell you it is your immediate reaction that will make or break how you recover from it. Some take it in their stride never really letting anyone know the panic and dismay hidden behind their poker face whilst others get flustered, ramble maybe even get a little embarrassed as the situation gets the better of them. This week we seen Anthony Joshua may have just found himself in one of the afore mentioned kind of situations.
In the crazy world of boxing the top fighters may only fight three times per year so it is imperative that fans are kept entertained in the long spells between fights. With the help of technology and fans thirst for instant information we have created a kind of WWE type soap opera which keeps fans in the loop and entertained. The emergence of personalities like Eddie Hearn has seen boxing revitalised in the UK. Hearn is a master at exploiting social media and instant news outlets in a way that no other promoter can, but over the past few months we have seen Hearn take a few L’s in the boxing the media with his lies leaving poor old AJ in a tough position.
Anyone who has seen a deposition on TV or a police interview tape will know once something has been recorded it cannot be taken back. We have all seen a courtroom drama where a witness or a suspect may say something which contradicts a previous statement, this is usually the final nail in the coffin in the movies where the the tower of lies come crashing down. In boxing terms it isn’t the the final nail in the coffin, it’s much worse for a promoter, it means fans will now scrutinise every word you say on the situation past, present and future and that’s something no salesman wants.
For the last year the AJ/Wilder saga has played out in the boxing media. At the start it was entertaining seeing all these big characters go at it on a daily basis but as it became clear that no fight was not forthcoming it became more of an annoyance trying to keep up with the who said what. The more time past the more it seemed to me that Eddie Hearn was on the back foot starting with him banning Wilder from entering the ring to call out AJ after Joshua had beaten Parker, then we had him shouting about proof of funds when Wilders team made an offer of $50m after Joshua had publicly demanded that sum. Team Wilder played their ace card when they agreed to fight former unified champion Tyson Fury. Once announced Hearn said the fight would not happen, he said it would be a snooze fest and as it turned out he was wrong on both accounts. Wilder vs Fury was a great fight and ended up doing well commercially and will more than likely do even bigger numbers in the rematch which looks like it could happen next year, leaving AJ locked out.
This week we have seen Anthony Joshua appear on US TV in an attempt to regain the initiative in the AJ/Wilder saga, but with one hand tied behind his back I think he failed miserably. The problem Anthony Joshua had was that his team have made so many contradictory claims in the past that he didn’t really have anywhere to go. For the first time I thought AJ looked frustrated and a little out of depth. In the interview when talking about a unification with fellow Brit Tyson Fury, Joshua says he has never heard anybody talk about being lineal champion and that people when starting out wanted to be IBO,WBA,IBF,WBO and WBC Champion, which is a bizarre statement to make especially when he used the IBO title to discredit the Lineal title. He also said something along the lines that they had booked Wembley for the Wilder fight, but again that just isn’t true as only a couple of months ago Team AJ set a deadline for Wilder to sign to fight AJ at Wembley, the deadline was BEFORE Wilder fought Fury in the biggest fight of his a career.
I have to admit I did feel sympathy for AJ as his trip to the US seemed like a forced attempt at damage control for the AJ brand. He came across very transparent on US TV and it looked to me like his team that have turned him into a superstar have really let him down on this instance. Where could Joshua go after the countless Eddie Hearn IFL interviews with different claims and counter claims each week. What could he say that wouldn’t see him dig an even bigger hole and be dragged into the abyss of contradictions. I have said time and time again that I have no doubt that Anthony Joshua the man, the fighter wants to fight the best. The problem AJ has is that he is commodity with many shareholders who are not willing to risk there asset in a fight…..not yet anyway.
There is a saying “In life nobody and nothing will help you until you start to help yourself.” On Saturday night boxing again refused to help itself. We all watched on as Deontay Wilder defended his WBC Heavyweight Title against Tyson Fury in LA’s Staples Centre. This was the biggest fight in the heavyweight division for years and as far as both fighters are concerned they delivered a great fight but, once again a big fight night ended with a sour taste in most spectators mouths but This time it was something we were willing to swallow. This got me thinking, are we now immune to the shock of poor judging ?
There really is no feeling like the build up to a big fight night for boxing fans. Your hardcores will lose sleep going over every possible outcome of a fight whilst your more casual fan will get caught up in all the media hype and pre fight banter which sets us all up for nicely to come together and enjoy the show. These big fights become social events, an excuse to meet up with friends and gather round a TV casting aside our football rivalries and other divisions for one night and have everyone talking about boxing. We will have drinks and food, we will fire our superior boxing knowledge about the upcoming fight and pass it as fact in discussions and if the fight is in the US we will sit up to 5AM (In the UK) waiting on the main event to start, drinking all the while i might add. What makes big fight nights special is that it’s something for everyone to enjoy. There really is no other sport like it.
During the Fury vs Wilder fight I found myself second guessing the judges all the way through the fight. I was saying things like “Judges in the US usually give the guy on the front foot the nod in close rounds” and “Its hard to get a decision boxing off the back foot in the US” but when you step back and think about it that is all rubbish. Yes the points I made were valid but it isn’t as simple as that. All judges around the world use the same criteria for scoring a bout which are Ring Generalship, Effective Aggression, Clean Punching and Defence. Now i do understand that due to human nature these judges will have preferences to to certain styles but if they stay true to this criteria they should never be too far away from the correct result, so can anyone tell me how one judge could have seen 115-111 for Wilder on Saturday ?. We are now seeing incompetent judging creeping in at more and more big PPV Fights. It is now becoming clear that some of these score cards are a deliberate attempt to sabotage fights. In recent years we have seen very questionable score cards at Ward vs Kovalev I, GGG vs Canelo I as well as Fury vs Wilder, and that’s only the cards that we have needed there have been plenty more blushes saved by a fighter taking it out of the judges hands and win by KO.
On big fight nights gone bye the house would have been in uproar, the rage of seeing a judge rob someone of a clear victory would stay with you. The sense of betrayal would go with you to work in the days that followed, even leading to a rage driven declaration of “I will never buy another PPV again.” Things seem a little different now. When the score card of 115-111 Wilder was read out, it was met with smirks and the odd lighthearted “No Way”. When the decision was announced as a draw it wasn’t met with shouts of rage but more a little laugh which suggests most never even doubted this would happen.
Both Wilder and Fury deserve massive credit for the show that they put on as it was a great fight. I have been a long time critic of the Heavyweight Division but now I have found optimism has replaced scepticism. Now we have some top Heavyweights who could all trouble each other and all are young enough to carry the division for some time yet, but this kind of judging will take away from these potential super fights when they are finally made. Nobody likes to see fights being scored wrong but what is more worrying to me is that without an outcry from fans there is very little chance that this will ever change.
“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place and I don’t care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.”
We have all heard this epic speech from the sixth instalment of Sylvester Stallone’s Rocky Movies. This speech features in countless motivational videos on youtube, every few months it appears then reappears on social media and time and time again we will sit back and listen to every word and adapt it to our own lives. I doubt when Stallone wrote this famous scene he knew he was telling the story of the struggles so many fighters endure to chase their dream.
Since I started this website around three years ago I have had the privilege of meeting and interviewing some great characters within boxing . I have been a guest in Boxing Gym’s around the country which has gave me the opportunity to see what the life of a boxer is away from the plaudits and bright lights. Yes, i have always known that these guys are finely tuned fighting machines, but i had never seen the sacrifices and dedication to the sport boxers have up close. I had never sat in a gym and watch these guys do two hours of drills before they go to work and then again after work. I had never looked into a fighters eyes and seen their chilling determination to reach their goal. I had also never seen the pressure applied on a boxer to sell tickets, pay for training camps and the work that goes in behind the scenes to try and secure sponsorship.
On Saturday night I came across a post on social media by IBF European Champion Ronnie “The Shark” Clark saying he had put his IBF belt up for sale on eBay. On closer inspection Ronny says that due to his fight being cancelled for a third time he was in financial trouble and with Christmas just around the corner he had decided to sell his belt to raise cash for his kids Christmas presents. The night Ronny beat Zelfa Barrett to win that title he also won me over as a fan. He was brought in to test an up and coming prospect in Barrett but ultimately he was meant to lose, but Ronny tore that script up and wrote a whole new one. That night in the ring Ronny won over a country. After serving time in prison it looked like this guy had got a second chance at life and took it, but boxing again proves it is no Hollywood movie.
We hear from media outlets like Sky Sports and BT that British Boxing is booming but sadly this just isn’t the case. Just like in society the vast majority of wealth stays at the very top of the sport. The sad facts are that small hall boxing is living hand to mouth and it’s to the detriment to its boxers all over the country. I know for a fact there are small hall promoters who pull fights on the day of the event because a fighter hasn’t sold his quoter of tickets. I also know there are some promoters who pay fighters a low flat rate when they have sold well over there quoter by thousands of pounds. I have spoken to fighters who have fell into depression due to the sheer pressure that is put on them before they have even laced up a pair of gloves. I know boxers who have decided to work a 9 to 5 and settle down with their family rather than deal with extra burden that comes with the professional game.
Now here is a scary thought for you to ponder on. How many boxers with the god given talent and potential right to the very top of the sport lose heart and give up the sport due to the stress and constants battles just get in the ring.
Living and working back home in Bonnie Scotland I have a lot less time to write but a hell of a lot more time to think about things due to the prehistoric public transport system. Going just 10 miles up the road takes 1 hour minimum and 2 trains. Now some would see this a negative but the truth be told I have always found trains relaxing, a place where I can tap into my thoughts and even iron some things out internally. The other day this took this to a new level when I had an inner debate which saw me miss my stop and add 20 minutes onto my commute home after a long days work. Sitting there watching the world go by I got thinking about Dave Allen and asked myself the question, is it better to be talented or popular?
This is not a new thought to me, it is something that I have asked myself from my school days. Seeing the bright kids in school who take academical work in their stride but just never really fitting into social circles. Then you had the kids who maybe never excelled in the class room but loved school as it was the original social network, a place to go hang around with friends and get a laugh, I was of the latter of these two groups. I have no doubt in my mind that I had the ability to achieve more in the classroom but i made a choice that my life in the short term would be better being one of the popular group, and even to this day I’m not convinced I made the wrong choice.
Dave Allen is a boxer with very limited skills, yes there is a solid foundation to make a good boxer, but without 100% dedication to this sport there is very little anyone can do with a good foundation ……or is there?
What Dave “The White Rhino” Allen lacks in talent he makes up for with a more sellable asset “popularity” and “Likeability” two assets which have seen Allen get multiple slots on big PPV shows and manoeuvred into commonwealth title positions. We hear Allen tell us time and time again that he has performed poorly because he hasn’t been training right, We even heard that for his last fight he didn’t do any sparring. The Doncaster man has had multiple chances to push forward as a pro athlete, opportunities to enhance his career and see where he can go in the sport but instead chooses to “Play” at boxing.
I have met Dave Allen once and that was on the night before he fought on a PPV show. He was in a kebab shop in London and the next night he went out and picked up his best win to date against Nick Webb so there is something to Dave Allen. Still only 26 years old I still believe Allan has time to screw his head on, knuckle down and bring the best version of himself to the ring, but I don’t think we will ever see it happen. Just like in school hardworking kids are overlooked whilst others just seem to breeze through on their popularity and people skills. I am not suggesting for one second that the skills Allen does possess are not important to make a successful fighter in todays game but they should be used to elevate an already dedicated fighter, It should never work the other way.
The funny thing is that I actually like Dave Allen as he is a nice honest young man and I hope he is making a lot of money because he is taking more and more punishment as time goes on. This article wasn’t really about him and more about the short sighted popularity contest that opens doors for him. Going round gyms for interviews and seeing guys like David Brophy and others go to hell on a daily basis hoping to get in position to maybe get an opportunity at the big time, whilst others have it handed to them because they are good on twitter that is where i have a problem.
We all have that one uncle who always tells the same joke at every family function. A joke that when heard the first couple of times is met by laughter but as time goes on the laughter downgrades to a smile and before long it starts to grind on you. This unoriginal act will start provoking a reaction other than laughter, It will bring no joy whatsoever to the point you cannot really class it as a joke anymore, It’s more an attack on your state of mind.
There is not a boxing cliche left that hasn’t been used to describe Floyd Mayweather Jnr’s career. With multiple World Titles at five different weight classes, with plaudits from every major sports outlet on the planet as well as generating over $1B in revenue in his career he truly is one of the all time boxing greats. The only thing that comes close to Floyd’s elite level skills is his elite level ego. From crazy demands to outrageous temper tantrums Floyd Mayweather has brought the best and worst out in fans of boxing. His ego mania was last seen whilst boxing fans were gearing up for one the biggest fights in years between Canelo and GGG back in 2017. With a fear and loathing of being forgotten about it was announced that Las Vegas based Mayweather would fight Superstar UFC Champion Conner McGregor in a boxing a ring the week before the Middleweight super fight. A fight aimed at stealing the casual fans PPV buys from Canelo/GGG this was like dog marking his teritiory. This really was classic Floyd, not yet ready to pass on the torch to the guys now carrying boxing he looked to damage them and the sport by taking potential revenue away by fighting a zero fight novice.
More recently Floyd’s former foe Canelo Alvarez signed the most lucrative deal in boxing history and fired a gloating shot in Mayweather’s direction. Now any normal Multi Millionaire adult would laugh off Canelos dig, i mean after all what else do you have left to prove? Well for Floyd it seems letting go of the constant lime light has been his biggest struggle so we all knew what was coming.
Whilst in Japan a well choreographed “chance meeting” between two of boxings modern day greats Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather had words and left both claiming that these now old and diminished versions will meet again for the rematch, a rematch nobody wanted, but everyone will buy and that is power Floyd Mayweather has over boxing…….He sells
News has just broken that former boxing five weight World Champion Mayweather will fight Japanese kick boxer Tension Nasukawa with the rules yet to be disclosed. Now lets just get this out in the open right away, there is no way that Floyd will fight a Kickboxer at Kickboxing, no way does this ego maniac give away any advantage. Floyd was famous for making every opponent dance to his tune in negotiations whilst he was an elite level boxer so that will never change.
How many more time will this joke be retold? How much money and attention will be diverted away from real boxers before someone puts your uncle is asked to leave and put in a taxi and is sent home, or better still when will we stop inviting him in the first place?. People think that Floyd Mayweather with his 50-0-0 record is risking his legacy, I would argue otherwise, i would say Floyd is already damaging it with these freak show fights.
Go away and enjoy your life, boxing doesn’t need you.
In boxing We hear the term “levels” chucked around by fans on a weekly basis, but what does it actually mean?
Well, it is quite simple really. It’s a way of looking at talent in context, a bit like how football separates the best teams by divisions. Where boxing is different from football is that when we see a top prospects it’s not always practicle to promote them up through the aforementioned levels (or leagues if you prefer) gradually.
Although this is something we as fans like to see it does leave so much room for presumption that certain skills are already possessed by a prospect, and as an intelligent woman once said
“Evolution has long been the target of illogical arguments that use presumption”
On Saturday night we seen Hughie Fury learn the hard way that sometimes a presumption of talent can damage and ultimately derail a prospects career.
Praise was heaped on Hughie Fury when he took the fight that Dillion Whyte didn’t want when he signed to fight Kubrat Pulev in the veteran fighters homecoming in Bulgaria. Hughie, the younger cousin of former Unified Heavyweight World Champion Tyson Fury, seemed ready to be fast tracked through the sport. On Saturday night we learned that it is individuals that are special, not their DNA .
It was clear from early on that Hughie Fury just didn’t have the experience, the skill set or even the heart to beat an awkward but ordinary opponent in Pulev. From early on it was clear that although Hughie Fury was the far bigger man in the ring he was being bullied by the vastly more experienced Pulev. Fury picked up a cut in the second round, something every boxer will go through in their career but this seemed to throw Fury’s concentration and a couple rounds later you could see the confidence and heart start seep out of a ever more defeated Fury. The longer the fight went on the more ordinary Pulev looked with his storm in style, but the more Fury looked like a fish out of water. Kubrat Pulev would have been coming into the ring on Saturday expecting a tough fight, what he got was an easy road to Anthony Joshua.
Now i am not trying to be nasty about Hughie Fury after all he is still a relatively young man but this was his second time being fast tracked up to world level ,the first being a close fight with Joseph Parker in which Fury also failed. In both fights i have seen nothing that would suggest that Hughie Fury should be fast tracked through the levels for a third time. On Saturday, I seen a young fighter try to implement his usual style and it didn’t work he couldn’t change as he had nothing else in his armoury to call on. For me Fury has used the Surname for all it is worth to get a world title fight, and more recently a shot at a final eliminator, now he must step back down the levels. He has to go and learn his trade and see where his talent will get him, not his name . If he does that and gets back to world level he will find himself a lot more equipped to deal with what’s in front of him .
There are not a lot of constants in boxing, it is a sport where things inside and outside the ring are constantly evolving but the one thing the sport will always retain is its power to shock. Today we woke up to the news that boxing’s biggest superstar had signed a five year deal with newly launched (in the US) streaming app DAZN, a deal worth $365m. DAZN may be the new boys in the US market but they are cash rich and look to be throwing everything at cracking the market to becoming one of the world’s biggest online sport’s platforms.
For years Canelo Alvarez has been the face of HBO boxing, the pinnacle of boxing in terms of super fights. A platform steeped in boxing history. A few weeks ago HBO announced it was pulling out of boxing leaving the superstar without a home. Although DAZN are cash rich this deal came as a shock to most as DAZN already have a $1B eight year deal in place with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom and Golden Boy promotions who look after Canelo Alvarez have stated publicly “We are not interested in Co-Promoting Canelo”. As more details have emerged about this deal it has became clear that this deal is between Golden Boy and DAZN, separate from the Matchroom USA deal. This looks like a moment of genius from John Skipper, the Executive Chairman of Performance Group, the owners of DAZN. Skipper looks to have rekindled and relationship with Oscar De La Hoya after both knew each other from their time working together for ESPN, not just bringing in Canelo but also securing a home for Golden Boy and their stable.
So what does this mean for Eddie Hearn and Matchroom USA ?
Well as it stand it is impossible for us to tell for sure. It was reported that on DAZN Apps launch night which featured AJ vs Povetkin fight, that subscription numbers were particularly poor, in the low tens of thousands if some reports are to be believed . This could mean one of two things for Hearn in my opinion. When DAZN announced their $1B deal with Eddie Hearn it was clear from early on that Eddie had targets to hit. Any fighters signed to the new deal was only offered a short term bumper deals, which most declined and any decent names were co-promotion deals. With HBO pulling the plug on boxing this could be a sign that DAZN may have decided to go another way, i mean its not everyday that the biggest star in boxing becomes a free agent. I’m not saying DAZN will ditch Matchroom USA completely, i am saying that DAZN are looking to build a platform on the back of Canelo and not Matchroom, maybe in the next quarter Matchroom USA will find their budget for putting on shows dramatically cut as DAZN have already secured the rights to stream Anthony Joshua fights from the UK along with Canelo’s fights, It doesn’t get much bigger than that.
We could also look at this another way. Eddie Hearn has worked with performance group now for over five years, together they have signed some massive deals outside of the US market so we know that there is a good working relationship between both parties. This may well be DAZN telling Eddie Hearn that they know they had given him a near impossible task to crack the US and this is their way of pushing things along. There can be no doubt that this deal puts matchroom USA in a significantly stronger position as subscribers will buy into DAZN in massive numbers to see Canelo, but these people will still be viewing the platforms other shows putting Hearn in a great position to build his own star.
One thing is for sure, this deal isn’t bad for boxing. The way in which boxing is evolving on the business side of things i think it actually makes sense for a platform NOT to be exclusive to one promoter. Any sort of negotiations between Matchroom and Golden Boy just became a hell of a lot easier.