“It’s for the soul of boxing.”
This was Freddie Roach’s summation of the stakes involved in Manny Pacquaio’s upcoming fight – the most lucrative in boxing history – against Floyd Mayweather Jr at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on May 2.
“I can’t lose this fight,” he went on as we sat downstairs from Wildcard in the private gym he opened last year for the sole purpose of working with the likes of Manny Pacquaio and Miguel Cotto in seclusion.
It had been six years since my last visit to the Wildcard Boxing Club, and ten years since I’d been a regular while living in the city. The changes that had taken place in that time were immediately obvious during my initial arrival at the gym two days prior. Continue reading
Someone once described boxing as show business with blood. Joe Frazier’s take on it was perhaps more to the point. “Boxing is the only sport where you can get your brain shook, your money took, and your name in the undertaker book.”
How to place boxing as a sport in the second decade of the 21st century? Whenever we take a measure of ourselves and society today the word civilized automatically springs to mind – and yet, interrupting this smug belief in our own sophistication, up pops a sport like boxing to remind us of the uncomfortable truth that barbarism still has its place. Continue reading
The most anticipated fight in British boxing in decades is upon us. On Saturday at Wembley Stadium in London, Carl Froch and George Groves will climb into the ring in front of 80,000 spectators, with millions watching on television not only in Britain but around the world.
Not since the Eubank v Benn rematch at Old Trafford in 1993 has a domestic boxing rivalry generated this much excitement. Frank Bruno’s heavyweight clash with Lennox Lewis at Cardiff Arms Park, again in 1993, is also up there, but in terms of scale and magnitude, Carl Froch v George Groves exceeds both.
When Ricky Burns climbs into the ring at the SECC in Glasgow on March 1 to defend his WBO lightweight title against unbeaten American challenger, Terence Crawford, he will be entitled to feel like a man returning to the scene of a crime he never committed but was convicted, tried, and found guilty of nonetheless.
The trials and tribulations that Burns endured in 2013 were more than staggering they were inhuman, even for a fighter as experienced as he is. Not once but twice he was forced to reach down into that place which resides in every human being but in normal people is buried so deep after years spent avoiding risk, danger, and hardship that they don’t even know it exists; and even if they did they would have no need of it anyway. It’s called the human spirit and from it is derived the will to endure unspeakable agony in the process of prevailing against seemingly insurmountable odds.
The German philosopher, Friedrich Nietzsche, once wrote: “When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.” Continue reading
George Groves put in a performance against Carl Froch at the Manchester Phones4U Arena that will go down in boxing history as one of the most heroic, courageous, and audacious ever seen in the ring. All the way through the build up to the fight, Carl Froch had talked like a man who was going to roll over George Groves like a juggernaut, rattled by the younger man’s extraordinary confidence and belief.
Yet when they entered the ring it was Groves who appeared calm and focused, while the champion appeared agitated, nervous even. You sensed then that this was going to be special.
Groves told us he was going to come out and take the centre of the ring and he did exactly that, beating Froch to the jab again and again and countering with a right hand that soon began to find the mark. When sensationally he put the champion down with ten seconds left of the first round, it looked all but over. Continue reading
In the lead up to what promises to be a classic contest, George Groves has been impressive. In fact it’s hard to think of a fighter imbued with as much self belief and confidence as he is right now. It is even more impressive when you consider he is about to step into the ring in the biggest and most important fight of his life in front of a packed Manchester Arena with millions more watching on pay per view against as formidable opponent as Carl Froch.
Groves believes he can win this fight and so do I. He believes he has the attributes to do so and so do I.
What are those attributes?
Terrific handspeed and accuracy: power (15 KOs in a 19 fight unbeaten record tells no lies): excellent lateral movement: the ability to throw shots from different angles: ring awareness: the discipline to box to a gameplan, as demonstrated against James De Gale when he defeated him over 12 rounds in 2011. Perhaps most important of all, he is superb when boxing off the back foot. Continue reading
If the ring is where a boxer comes face to face with his opponent, the changing room is where he struggles with his emotions.
Prior to the fight, usually between one and two hours before, he arrives with his entourage, consisting of his trainer, trainer’s assistant, cut man, and perhaps a friend or two. Unless he’s the main event, he’ll be sharing the changing room with three or four other fighters appearing on the same bill. Continue reading
Sitting ringside at the Ricky Burns v Raymundo Beltran fight in Glasgow last Saturday, I was never more proud to be associated with the sport of boxing, as a writer, nor more ashamed.
Scotland’s Ricky Burns and Mexico’s Ray Beltran are true warriors, honourable men who are a credit to their respective countries and to a sport which throughout its history has regularly made headlines for all the wrong reasons. The draw that was announced at the end of the fight was not only a travesty, it was a crime. Not only was Ray Beltran denied his just deserts for the endless weeks of hard training, sparring, and sacrifice it took to get himself ready, Ricky Burns was forced to endure the embarrassment of standing in the ring with his hand raised in front of 6000 spectators and the millions watching at home, who all knew he’d lost. As a genuinely decent man, this undoubtedly hurt the WBO lightweight champion, adding to the physical trauma of the broken jaw he sustained early in the fight. Continue reading