The Harsh Reality Of Professional Boxing

The Harsh Reality Of Professional Boxing
“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.

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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.

Steven Donnell

Is It Better To Be Talented Or Popular ?

Is It Better To Be Talented Or Popular ?

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.

@DjayBoxingBlog 

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Floyd Mayweather Jnr – The Jokes Over

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.

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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.

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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.

Steven Donnell

Hughie Fury Loses Again – Levels to Boxing

Hughie Fury Loses Again – Levels to Boxing

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.

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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 .

Steven Donnell

Canelo Signs With DAZN And What It Could Mean For Matchroom USA

Canelo Signs With DAZN And What It Could Mean For Matchroom USA

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.

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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.image.png

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.

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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.

Steven Donnell

Competition Outside The Ring May Damage Competition Inside The Ring

Competition Outside The Ring May Damage Competition Inside The Ring

Every sport need’s one vital ingredient to thrive and that is competition . In boxing there is nothing that comes close to watching two evenly matched fighters battle it out to see who can find that extra something within themselves to get the victory . With competition comes rivalries and it is the rivalries that help elevate sport to a global audience . Where boxing is now tripping itself up is now we have promoters following the above blueprint of competition and it is damaging the sport . image.png

Don King is probably the most famous or infamous promoter of all time bringing us some of the most timeless fights of all time , but Don King was a big Lion in a small jungle  . King didn’t need to worry about multiple platforms and online streaming platforms as competition all aligned with different promoters all cash rich from big TV deals . Don King could make the biggest fights in boxing because he could make the fighters the most money , a very simple but effective model which no longer works in today’s game .

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In the past couple of years we have seen boxing explode across multiple platforms in the UK and the US with more TV dates to fill than the sport has ever seen . Now some people may think this is a good thing for boxing , after all competition is good right ? Well not necessarily in this instance . One major flaw is that we will now see boxers put on TV before they are ready due to the amount date that need to be filled  , which will be detrimental to their development  . All boxing fans know how important the small hall scene is to the progression of a boxer . To use an old apprenticeship term “It’s where you serve your time” and like an apprentice you will go to work for a low wage in exchange for an education in your trade . How many young fighter’s will suffer at the hands of promoters only interested in filing TV slots . It is a very real possibility that the standards of boxing show’s will drop dramatically which will damage the sport .  image.png

There is another flaw in these massive multi platform deals is that crossover fights will be pretty non-existent . The same reason that see Super fights happen few and far between we will now see fringe world level to mid-level boxers stopped from crossing over . TV dates will trump a fighter progression . What we see is certain promoters trying to corner certain division and keep everything in house which is not healthy . With fighters not being allowed to the cross a divide it will inevitably lead to more one sided fights .

Right now there probably isn’t a better time for a boxer to be a free agent .

Steven Donnell

Immortality vs Morality

Immortality vs Morality

This is a tough article to write but it is something i have been thinking about continually for the past few weeks so i will put my thoughts out there and we can see where it goes. Boxing is a sport that mixes brutality with finesse , skill and technical ability with hard work and dedication , if you can get this blend right there are rewards of riches and immortality in boxing history , but what boxing really boils down to is Risk vs Reward . Although the rewards can be massive the risks can be deadly so it is pivotal that you get the right team around you , a team who are there for your well being , a team who will not hesitate to tell you when the risk’s now outweigh the rewards and that it’s time to hang them up . Now from this point i just want you to take note that it is none of my business how another man makes his money to pay bill , but as a fan of the sport there are a couple of examples that are really starting to worry me .CHEAP PPV CLICK PICTURE!!!

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Amir Khan

Amir Khan shot to fame in the 2004 Athens olympics when he brought home a silver medal . The high in which British boxing is on today all started with Amir Khan , this kid really was a fans favourite with his blistering hand speed being a joy to watch . Amir has went away and fought on some of the biggest stages in boxing and we all tuned in because as quick as Amir’s hands were he showed a vulnerability at the top level in his quest for greatness , that made his fights so entertaining. Winning some and losing others to massive knockouts Khan was always in entertaining fights . Just before his recent fight with Sammy Vargas i heard Khan in an old interview as a young prospect just after he beat Scotland’s Willie Limond back in 2007 . The young Khan speaking 100 MPH , raw with little media training it was quite funny . Then i seen Khan’s pre fight interview before the Vargas fight and the signs were there . Khan now speaks like his tongue is to big for his mouth which gives off a little slur but more worryingly he seem’s to be searching for answers . The fight itself done nothing to put my mind at ease as Khan was sent to the floor in the second round and rocked another few times in the fight . Yes Khan came out on top but rather than the boxing media/ promoters point out his punch resistance has gone and that he could potentially be showing signs of CTE , maybe put an arm round him and say you should give it up for your family they instead are trying to goad him into a fight against his arch rival Kell Brook in what would be a brutal fight . Maybe this is why Khan has went through so many trainers of late , maybe they have told him the harsh reality , who knows .

Anybody who has seen the Will Smith movie “Concussion” will be aware of CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy) which you may also know as ” Punch Drunk Syndrome ” . CTE is making headlines in the US after so many former NFL players began taking there own lives which prompted the scientific community to do extensive post mortem examinations of there brains which showed a protein clumping throughout the brain killing brain cells , this is CTE . Although CTE can only be diagnosed properly after death there are symptoms to look out for like slurred speech and memory loss .

What you may not know is that the movie title “Concussion” is misleading , you do NOT need to suffer a concussive blow for CTE to set in . A study done by Boston University say’s that any prolonged exposure to blows to the head is more Likely to be the cause . It is said that symptoms start to show in people between there late 20’s and 30’s . There is no cure , there is no treatment , study’s also say that further more head trauma can accelerate Alzheimer’s which is another symptom . Amir Khan has given boxing fans some great nights but now his career is past him . Khan is a man with a young family , he has made million’s of pounds in the ring , if there is any chance his later life is going to be permanently impaired and ended prematurely then it is imoral to keep letting him get back in the ring .

David Price

David Price is a larger than life kinda man who stands at a mere 6’8 tall . After a top amateur career Price was picked by many to take the heavyweight division by storm but as is so often the case with top amateurs things just didn’t work out for Price and after a an early career KO to Tony Thompson he regressed rapidly . Since the KO something has happened to Price mentally which has seen him look very fragile in the ring . Price is also hindered in the ring by a very poor stamina , in fact you can see him physically struggle after just four rounds of very little action , which has seen him take some massive Ko’s . Time after time we see Price wheeled out on big PPV cards being fed to guys like Alexander Povetkin which resulted in Price being brutally KO’d after he gave Povetkin a free shot , the kind of KO that can take years off your life all due to him being overmatched technically and overstretched physically . I get the feeling now that Price is allowing himself to be exploited for big paydays . The fact is David Price should no longer be in a boxing ring , especially at the level we have seen him of late and i really don’t know what it’s going to take before promoters realise that . I no longer look forward to this giant of a man fighting , i feel dread when i see he has been added to a card .

In the build up to David Price fights you have all the usual faces out telling us Price is the hardest puncher in boxing . They tell us this monster of a man always has a punchers chance no matter who he is fighting . They tell us David Price is one of the nicest guys in boxing and they consider him a friend , so why do we never hear any of these “friends” tell him he shouldn’t be in the ring anymore ? . Why don’t they tell him that now the risk’s he’s putting himself in now outweigh the rewards ? . Even though there are more tell tale signs that Amir Khan is in real danger it is David Price i worry about more as at seem’s that the people around him are not being honest with him or with themselves .

Steven Donnell