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James Slater

Ten years ago today: Oscar De La Hoya scrapes past Felix Sturm in Las Vegas

A decade ago today, Oscar De La Hoya, the number-one star and Box Office draw of the sport, fought a then largely unknown Felix Sturm in what was “The Golden Boy’s” first fight up at middleweight.

For De La Hoya, the fight, held at The MGM Grand in Las Vegas, was supposed to be a high-level “warm up” for an assault on world middleweight king Bernard Hopkins’ belts (B-Hop defeated Robert Allen on the same card that June night in 2004), but the fight turned out to be much more than that.

Challenging the 20-0 German for the WBO belt, De La Hoya came in looking overweight and sluggish and he came within a whisker of paying the price and blowing the Hopkins mega-match. Sturm may have been unknown, but he had behind him a superb amateur career and he unveiled his skills against the 36-3 superstar who, at age 31 was six years his senior. Sturm boxed behind his superb left jab, out-punched De La Hoya, marked him up around the eye and generally appeared to boss the fight. Continue reading

Floyd Mayweather Junior’s planned June trip to U.K shelved due to visa issues

Those U.K fans who were excited about meeting superstar Floyd Mayweather Junior during his planned speaking engagements this week will be disappointed, Jeff Powell of The Mail has reported, as the series of dates, planned for this month, have had to be scrapped due to unspecified visa complications encountered by Mayweather.

Fans, who had parted with as much as £200 to meet and greet the undefeated great, were to have met Floyd in Bolton (Amir Khan’s home town), Leeds, London and a number of other locations throughout the U.K. But it’s been reported that Mayweather’s attempted flight to London has been met with the visa problems. Continue reading

Carl Froch: heading towards Vegas, a spectacular career finale and The Hall of Fame!

Carl Froch, as the saying goes, has the world at his feet. The incredible 36-year-old scored his biggest and most satisfying win last night in crushing his most annoying and emotionally testing rival in George Groves (biggest in terms of record-breaking Box Office success and huge Wembley sell-out live gate) and now, as “The Cobra” casts an eye over how he will see out the remainder of his career as one of the greatest British fighters of all time, the options are plentiful for his next fight.

In silencing Groves – a talented and gifted fighter who pushed him hard over 15 rounds in two exciting battles – Froch showed once again how good he is. Capable of overcoming just about any style (with the exception of one boxer, who I will come back to further in this article), the Nottingham man has taken on all comers: see his fantastic wins over guys named Kessler, Bute, Dirrell, Abraham, Johnson, Pascal etc, etc. And now, already worthy, without any doubt, of being inducted into The Hall of Fame when the required amount of time has gone by, Froch can pick and choose how he walks away, the finishing touches put on his fine career. Continue reading

Eight experts give their pre-fight predictions on Froch-Groves II

Photo by HBO/Ed Mulholland – One of the biggest fights in British boxing history will take place tomorrow, as bitter super-middleweight rivals Carl Froch and George Groves will go at it in front of 80,000 fans at Wembley. Currently, seemingly everyone is talking about the fight and who will win.

Here, eight figures from the boxing world give their pre-fight predictions:

Harold “The Shadow” Knight, former co-trainer of Lennox Lewis and current co-trainer of Zhang Zhilei:

“I’m going with Froch, even though I think Groves will test Froch and give him a competitive fight. Experience and the grit and toughness Froch has will see him keeping his titles.” Continue reading

Carl Froch: The best of “The Cobra”

Britain is currently bracing itself for one of the biggest fights ever to be staged on these shores, with excitement levels soaring and soaring ahead of Saturday night’s huge rematch showdown between bitter super-middleweight rivals Carl Froch and George Groves.

Indicative of how big a deal this fight is and of how the return meeting has captured the imagination of the British public is the way the man on the street is almost constantly talking about the outcome. Seen by just about everybody as a 50-50 fight, some people are making an argument for a Froch win, with just as many fans making case for a Groves win.

Everything is on the line for both warriors, and we can expect something special for the £17.99 we must part with so as to tune in live on Sky Box Office. Continue reading

R.I.P Matthew Saad Muhammad – 1954-2014

In sad news, it has been reported how Matthew Saad Muhammad, the former light-heavyweight king from the 1980s, yesterday passed away in hospital in his hometown of Philadelphia from unknown causes. Saad was just 59-years-old.

An absolute warrior in every sense of the word, Saad – born Matthew Franklin but changing his name for religious reasons in the ‘80’s – was known for taking unbelievable punishment in fights and somehow coming back to win. Turning pro in January of 1974 at the Spectrum in Philly, Saad would go on to capture the NABF 175-pound title with a 1977 stoppage win over Marvin Johnson (these two would meet again). In April of 1979, in Indianapolis, Saad TKO’d Johnson in the 8th to win the WBC crown. A number of thrillers already on his resume, Matthew would engage in plenty more.

His wars with Johnson, Yaqui Lopez and Dwight Muhammad Qawi are legendary, even if Saad was past his best a by the time of his first rumble with Qawi. Losing the WBC title to Qawi after having made eight retentions, Saad wasn’t ready to quit. Sadly boxing on way too long, losing a return to Qawi, again by stoppage, Matthew would lose 11 further bouts before finally hanging ‘em up at the age of 47 in 1992. Nothing can ever take away from Muhammad’s epic battles however. Continue reading

Who next for Adonis Stevenson? “Superman” could be in trouble if it’s Hopkins, Kovalev

Before we get into who and what might be next for WBC light-heavyweight ruler Adonis Stevenson, a few words simply have to be written in tribute to the unearthly toughness, grit and determination of Andrzej Fonfara. Last night in Canada, the Polish warrior put on a display of guts and character that at times staggered belief.

We all know how heavy a hitter Stevenson is, yet Fonfara, although hurt multiple times, to the body especially, refused to be taken out. Also refusing to quit when he had a number of occasions when he could have waved the white flag and not had it held against him, the 26-year-old instead gave us a graphic example of how mentally and physically strong boxers often are. Continue reading

Chris Eubank on Chris Eubank Junior: “He beats Golovkin now”

Tonight on Sky Sports’ Ringside show – on a Froch-Groves II preview special – former middleweight king Chris Eubank was a guest, along with his son, unbeaten 15-0 pro talent Chris Eubnak Junior. Junior spoke of his “countless rounds” of sparring with George Groves and of his hard sparring with Carl Froch. Eubank said that, out of respect for both fighters, he would not give a pre-fight prediction on the rapidly approaching May 31st rematch; but he and his father (his father mostly) were not shy when it came to making predictions on Eubank Junior’s own career. Continue reading

Floyd Mayweather will fight September 13th – opponent and venue to be announced

Some people, myself included, felt superstar Floyd Mayweather Junior would perhaps take a pass on his usual September fight due to the tougher than expected (not to mention foul-filled) night’s work “Money” had last time out, when he won a decision over a rough and ready Marcos Maidana. But such thinking has been proven wrong, because Mayweather has officially announced how he will next fight on September 13th – the venue and, more importantly, the opponent, will be announced in two weeks.

Leonard Ellerbe, speaking with ESPN.com last night, said a return meeting with Maidana, (who, along with his fans, claimed he was robbed of a deserved decision earlier this month) is a possibility, but that there is a “long list” of potential opponents according to Floyd‘s right-hand man. Continue reading

Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain: The Trainer of Champions on the three best fighters he has trained

74-year-old Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain is one of the finest boxing trainers in the sport’s long history. Almost certainly THE finest boxing trainer to have come out of the great fighting country of Mexico, Beristain has trained, at one time or another, no less than 24 world champions; from minimum-weight king Ricardo Lopez to multi-weight ruler Oscar De La Hoya.

One of the most deserving inductees in The Hall of Fame, Nacho still has more goals to achieve; most notably guiding Juan Manuel Marquez to success in “Dinamita’s” final ring appearances (starting this Saturday when Marquez will face thrill-a-minute slugger Mike Alvarado). Continue reading