Big Write Hook – May 2018

Big Write Hook – May 2018

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Click on an article below to jump to that story…

This month includes:
Editor’s Letter: Words Are Weapons
Celebrities Boxing
Behind Bars – Prison Fighters
Protect Yourself At All Times

Interview:
Mark Prince

Previews:
Linares v Lomachenko
Selby v Warrington
McDonnell v Inoue

Golden Years:
Gene Tunney vs Harry Greb (1922)


Editor’s Letter
By Lewis Calvert @BigWriteHook

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“My words are weapons.” A familiar phrase to fans of Eminem and D12. A phrase that will probably mean more to writers than fighters. A phrase that is pretty useless if somebody is robbing your house and you have to confront them.

Imagine me, in my Authentic Apparel Primark undies, shouting from the top of the stairs at the burglar in my living room: “hey mate, if you don’t put down my laptop, I’ll…. I’ll… come down there and read you a paragraph from the latest edition of Big Write Hook!”

A scary thought. But words it seem, would not help in that situation. However, that is not to say those who would prefer to meet the volatile with violence are any better off. Fan favourite Anthony Crolla almost had his life ended by the actions of cowardly thieves. Words may not be as powerful as a concrete block over the head, but much like a scar on the skull, they can have everlasting effects on the brain.

So when ESPN’s Dan Rafael is torn to shreds about his weight by Gary Spike O’Sullivan and Gabriel Rosado, the recurring conflict between fighters and writers blights the sport of boxing once again. However, that is not to say people shouldn’t be allowed to criticise Rafael.

We live in a society where there is a current tug-of-war going on between those fighting for uncensored freedom of speech and those who are want restrictions argue about what is an acceptable use of language.

It is a debate that in decades gone by had previously been reserved for the correct terminology to use when referring to people of colour. Yet it has, in more recent years, centred around a person’s sexuality or preferred gender pronoun – an interesting conflict that was played out by Audley Harrison and Kellie Maloney on Celebrity Big Brother 2014 – for those of us who have no life and watch Big Brother.

And while my disjointed ramblings may have you wondering what the point is, it is a simple one: words are important. Imagine Eminem getting away with the opening tirade in his song ‘Criminal’ these days: “my words are like a dagger, with a jagged edge, I’ll stab you in the head, whether you’re a fag or lez. Or the homo-sex, hermaph’ or a trans’a’vest’. Pants or dress, hate fags? The answer’s ‘yes.’”

That brings us coarsely onto the next point about context. Words are important and a totally dependant upon it and the theme for this particular Editor’s Letter will be boxing idioms. These terms have broken into the English language like a criminal carrying a concrete slab… for want of a better phrase.

For instance, the saying “saved by the bell” was mistakenly believed to derive from an old myth whereby people who had been assumed dead, and consequently buried, could communicate with those above ground, if they had regained consciousness that is, by ringing a bell from within their coffin. Thus they would be exhumed and saved.

On a side note, remember Screech from the popular 90’s teenage show of the same name? He resurrected his career with a short stint in pornography. Words and phrases may be strange… but nothing tops that.

As we all know, the term refers to a fighter who is close to being knocked-out or beaten, however, they are fortunate enough to have the round or fight come to a close before that happens. Search the culmination of Lucien Bute v Librado Andrade on Youtube for an idea of what that looks like.

Another term from boxing is “on the ropes”. An idiom that typifies imminent defeat from a defenceless position. In real life, it could be when you are confronted by your partner about those sexy pictures you sent to an Instagram model. All hope is gone and unless you have some Ali style “rope-a-dope” techniques in your locker, you will be on the ropes in that conversation.

“Out for the count” is a sentence that can be applied to pretty much any knock-out that renders an opponent unconscious. It can also refer to having eight pints of Guinness and falling face first into bed and sleeping through your alarm. Somewhere between these two scenarios, it is not hard to imagine where phrases like “getting slept” and being “punch drunk” come from either.

I would have perhaps liked to make a more salient point about language and context, but when I assign each and every writer a 600-800 word limit, it is only right that I follow suit. So in closing, whether you are on the receiving end of offensive words or physical violence, if you can’t fight back, just try and roll with the punches.

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Celebrities in Boxing
Written By Chris Weatherspoon @Christoph_21

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Back in the late 1990s, as Mike Tyson found himself in another stint of boxing exile and Lennox Lewis stepped willingly into the heavyweight breach, a bemusing new television show was conceived. Celebrity Deathmatch first appeared on MTV back in May 1998 and, over its four-year run, became amusingly popular across the world.

In a word it was… strange. Broadcast late at night for good reason, the show centred around animated celebrities being pitched into a wrestling ring against one another, in bouts which invariably ended amid copious amounts of blood, often brought on by the use of weapons that one suspects might not be allowed were celebrities to face off in real life.

It is doubtful that Celebrity Deathmatch served as inspiration for a proliferation of real-life famous matchups, but it did serve as the forerunner to a boon in such tussles, particularly in boxing. Since the turn of the millennium, there have been several formats whereby the world’s more renowned figures have been matched off, stepping into the squared circle and donning the horsehair gloves.

Such formats have been met with mixed reactions. FOX’s Celebrity Boxing aired in 2002, but it quickly became clear that it was little more than an attempt to return once famous figures to some form of relevance. The show bombed badly.

On the contrary, in the same year Sport Relief, Comic Relief’s biennial fundraiser, showcased its own first boxing match. The brawl (in the loosest sense of the word) between Bob Mortimer and Les Dennis aroused memories of Chaplin rather than Chuvalo, but it proved popular enough for Sport Relief to put on pugilistic parleys for each of its following three events. Mortimer even sought the undoubted expertise of Barry McGuigan in the buildup, though the sight of one half of Vic and Bob windmilling across the ring had plenty wondering just how much of the former world champion’s advice he had taken. To Mortimer’s credit, he scored a decision victory.

Whilst celebrity-on-celebrity affairs have become more frequent in the last two decades, they still remain rather novel ideas. More novel still is the notion of a celebrity facing off against a genuine, bona fide master of the art. Wags may remark that Conor McGregor’s fight with Floyd Mayweather last summer fit rather neatly into this category, but basketball star Shaquille O’Neal’s scraps with Oscar De La Hoya and Shane Mosley are standouts in what is a decidedly niche genre. That O’Neal, seven feet high and over 300 pounds deep, was on the end of comfortable decision victories for each of the two welterweights did much to confirm the ridiculousness of the idea.

Somewhat perplexing, there have been plenty who have actually turned to boxing after gaining notoriety elsewhere. Many suggest that to desire to be a boxer is to be a little bit mad, and certainly it seems so here; many get into boxing to leap out of poverty, so the idea of leaping into harm’s way once prestige and fortune have been earned elsewhere is anathema to most.

But leap some have, at varying levels of difficulty, always to wide interest. Mickey Rourke, the Hollywood film star, is perhaps not the best example, given that he had successfully boxed as an amateur prior to hitting the bright lights of L.A. Yet Rourke took his leave from such stardom to turn professional in the ring, going unbeaten in eight fights (six wins, two draws). Rourke was trained by none other than Freddie Roach, and described his return to the ring as necessary to avoid him self-destructing in the face of the fame he had been afforded as an actor. Problematically, his unbeaten record did not save him from the perils of the sport, as he picked up a bewildering number of injuries for such a short career. A return to the ring in 2014 was short-lived, lasting just one fight. Rourke won, thus retaining his unbeaten professional record.

In more recent years, one particular area of fame has lent its members to boxing more than most: football. Former Norwich City and Premier League striker Leon McKenzie turned to the ring once his playing days were over, racking up eight wins from nine before coming unstuck late in 2016. Curtis Woodhouse too, once of Sheffield United, waited until he’d finished playing the beautiful game. Declaring that he had “fallen out of love” with football, Woodhouse retired, took up boxing, won his first fight and then had his license revoked for assaulting a police officer. He promptly returned to football, signing for Rushden & Diamonds, then, once his ban expired, decided to do both at once. His most recent bout came last November, a defeat of Lewis van Poetsch on points, his 24th win in 31 fights. He remains in football, currently managing Bridlington Town.

Perhaps the most high-profile shift from football to boxing is one which has yet to occur. Former England defender Rio Ferdinand announced his decision to step into the ring last year, but his decision to do so under the banner of the bookmaker Paddy Power had plenty questioning the seriousness of Ferdinand’s intentions. He has still yet to don the gloves and, despite his protestations to the contrary, it seems likely that any forthcoming fight of his will be a show for the cameras rather than a concerted effort to transition from one sport to the next.

That certainly rang true for Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff when he fought a professional bout back in December 2012. Flintoff’s points win over the American Richard Dawson was an unsurprisingly turgid affair, and led plenty to rebuke the former cricket star for taking attention away from serious proponents of the sport, particularly one David Price, who was defending a British title some 50 miles up the road on the same night. Flintoff would not fight again, presumably realising boxing wasn’t for him.

Few who have made their fame elsewhere have made a success of careers inside the ring. It is perhaps best that celebrity boxing largely resides in the domain of comedies and fundraising.

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Behind Bars – Prison Fighters
Written By Liam Lawer @Longcountboxing

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“Bring it… you can’t hurt me no more than I’ve already been hurt. Black eye, busted lip, busted nose, broken rib… you can’t hurt me no more. You can’t!” – Dewey Bozella

Dewey Bozella spent 26 years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Incarcerated for a period in New York’s notorious ‘Sing Sing’ correctional facility, he became their light-heavyweight boxing champion. Nevertheless, dreams of a legitimate career surely began to perish with the plodding monotony of prison life, and the cruel erosion of his prime years.

With help from the Innocence Project, he was eventually exonerated, and released in 2009. Two years later, he finally made that debut… at 52 years of age.

As his words so powerfully convey, the pain of physical punishment pales into insignificance when shadowed by the long loss of freedom. The fight to prove his innocence was more arduous than any fight he would embark on in the ring. Both went the distance in the end, but both ended with Dewey raising his hands.

An extreme example, the history of boxing is nevertheless littered with tales of fighters trading the cell for the squared circle, and sadly, vice-versa. In equal measures tragic and inspirational, this uneasy relationship has unearthed some interesting and perhaps unlikely tales…

Assisting Dewey Bozella, on his path towards the paid ranks, was another man whose career is inextricably linked to his experience as a prisoner: Bernard Hopkins. Sentenced to 18 years, and ultimately serving almost 5, the man known variously as the ‘Executioner’ and the ‘Alien’ fell in love with the sport he came to dominate whilst inside. During his stint, his talent was noticed by Michael ‘Smokey’ Wilson, a prison boxing champion on a mandatory life sentence, who would become Bernard’s friend, trainer and mentor. In interviews, Hopkins credits this experience as the catalyst for his boxing success, but more importantly, as the environment that gave him the discipline to remain focussed, and the regimentation to achieve such longevity. Now a record breaking, multi-weight, multiple world champion, with a stake in one of the most recognisable sports promotion companies in the world, B-Hop is a shining example of the potential benefits of prison rehabilitation.

He is not the only fighter to learn his trade from the discomfort of such an institution. Dwight Muhammad Qawi, then going by his birth name Dwight Braxton, took advantage of the extensive prison boxing program at Rahway State, New Jersey, developing the skills that would take him to titles in two weight classes. Their Light-heavyweight champion at the time, James Scott, even managed to become a ranked contender with the WBA in the late 1970s, and ended his career after a loss to Qawi himself… all while still serving his sentence.

But perhaps the most famous prisoner ever to spend time between those walls was another boxer, Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter. Carter was incarcerated at the other end of his career, having it cut short in 1966. Spending nearly 20 years in prison, Carter’s conviction was overturned, and he was released in 1985. Whether he liked it or not, he became a symbol of racial injustice; Bob Dylan wrote a famous song about him; and Denzel Washington would eventually play him in an award winning film. Despite factual inaccuracies in both of these pop-culture hits, and the lingering doubts of innocence to this day, when Carter was freed, he appeared to be a new man. His story shares the compelling tragedy of Bozella’s, and like Hopkins’ and Qawi’s, highlights the rehabilitative prospects which prison and boxing can cultivate.

Of course, it’s not all ‘sunshine and rainbows’. Many will find relief in the reality that men like James Butler, the former Super-Middle and Light-Heavyweight contender, remain behind bars and not between the ropes. Initially serving 4 months, after brutally sucker-punching his opponent Richard ‘The Alien’ Grant following a decision loss, he is also notorious for the cowardly murder of Sam Kellerman, brother of HBO broadcaster Max. Kellerman had been kind enough to let Butler stay in his home. Sentenced to 29 years, four months in prison, it appears the more punitive measures of incarceration have their purpose.

Overall however, anyone looking for an example of prisons providing effective rehabilitation need look no further than some of our most beloved boxers. There is something endlessly captivating about these stories from the ‘gutter’ to the glamour. Mike Tyson, perhaps sporting’s most noteworthy ex-con, is now among other things an actor, yet far removed from the fear inducing ‘Baddest Man on the Planet’ role he once played. Such redemption stories are well documented.

In the end however, we come back to Bozella. For Dewey, only boxing, with its uncompromising toughness and crude fairness, was a natural fit to a man whose toughness had been forged by such wicked injustice.

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Protect Yourselves at all Times
Written By Garry White @LWOSGarryWhite

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How many times have we heard that familiar refrain? From primetime Vegas, to the bleach and sweat of the York Hall or the latest small hall show at your local leisure centre. Gruff referees mumbling robotically in a struggle to be heard above the din of the assembled crowd. Fighters shuffling distractedly; their minds elsewhere. Looking at the floor or performing the pantomime act of staring menacingly into their opponent’s eyes.

No one is listening. Yet, the words are still integral to the scene. Perhaps, a warning, or the fight games five word version of the Lord’s Prayer. An alternate message from St. Peter, disguised in the Southern tones of the growling and granite tough Mills Lane, to guide the fighter safely home.

Boxing has often positioned itself as “the manly art of self-defence.” Located at its centre the key tenet that it is all about not getting hit. A scientific theory that has been studiously ignored over the years by the likes of Freddie Mills, Mickey Ward and Brandon Rios. Yet, the truth remains that it is impossible to win without liberally striking a leather-bound knuckle into the head or body of the opponent in the opposite corner.

The sports basic requirement is for its protagonists to engage in a form of controlled violence. A natural consequence of this essential ingredient is that its subsequent bedfellows are pain, physical injury and, on mercifully rare occasions, even death. For the referee to announce: “Protect yourselves at all times” before the proceedings commence, could be perceived as an idiotic statement of the obvious. Akin to the “warning: contents are hot” that is now so often emblazoned on fast food coffee cups.

However, there is a hint of the solemn to it. A forewarning of the sports inherent dangers and a restatement of the referees paternal role as arbitrator and guardian. When a fighter ceases to be able to defend himself the referee will embrace him and lead him to safety, protecting from further needless punishment. There is a wonderful simplicity to it. If one was constructing this now with a team of lawyers, it would probably run to dozens of pages of disclaimers. One that could be crystallised into the old junk yard warning “you enter at your own risk” or “the proprietor accepts no responsibility for any loss or damage.”

When due heed is not paid to this simple algorithm the consequences can be catastrophic. Frankie Campbell was a square jawed 26 year-old contender with 32 wins and 26 knockouts on his record, when he stepped out to face Max Baer in August 1930. Baer, known as “The Livermore Larruper” went on to become world heavyweight champion, and have his memory posthumously violated, by Ron Howard’s filthy characterisation in the hit movie Cinderella Man. Conversely, Campbell didn’t live to meet the breaking dawn of the following day.

In just the 2nd round Baer swung furiously with his famously concussive right-hand, but fell short and momentarily lost his balance. As he slipped forward to meet the canvass Campbell partially grazed the top of his opponents head with a misdirected left. In truth it was a nothing punch that did little more than ruffle Baer’s coiffured hair.

But, thinking that the referee had scored the knockdown, Campbell turned his back on the action, and began to make his way to a neutral corner. As he did so, the referee motioned to Baer that it was a slip and to resume his footing. Baer seized this opportunity to rush across the ring and hammer the unprepared Campbell with three massive right-hands to the side of the head.

Campbell, miraculously managed to remain upright and see the round through until the bell. His corner man later remarked that as he sat down, he said “something feels as though it broke in my head.”

The fight staggered on into the fifth round where Baer pummelled Campbell into unconsciousness on the ropes. He was taken to hospital and died in the early hours of the following morning. The coroner’s report later disclosing that Baer’s fierce punching had separated Campbell’s brain from the connective tissue inside his skull. A medical description of Campbell’s earlier heart-breaking assertion that “something has broke.”

If only Frankie Campbell had listened and fully absorbed referee Toby Irwin’s instructions before the first bell, the outcome may have been very different… “Gentlemen. Protect yourselves at all times.”

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Interview Mark Prince
Written By Michael Prime @LFCPrime

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From a well-known guy on the streets that could ‘bang’ to a WBO World title challenger in an era of  British boxing greats Mark Prince’s story is so much more than be seen on his BoxRec record.

Growing up with a prize fighting father, Mark wasn’t always destined for the ring; homeless in his teens and struggling with alcohol and drugs while being a father to two children he wasn’t always adept at surviving his environment. Prince made a name for himself on the streets, but not always for positive reasons.

Switching the ‘road’ for the ring, gave him the moral life  that he craved and the values he wanted to imprint on his children. Singing with Frank Warren and turning pro in ‘93, he began his career with a 2nd round TKO and quickly racked up the wins and KO’s en route to collecting the WBO Inter-Continental Light Heavyweight Title.

As British boxing enjoyed a huge resurgence with Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank Srn and Frank Bruno et al lighting up our TV screens each weekend, the explosive style  that produced a 75% KO ratio, Mark soon worked is way up the rankings to challenge Dariusz Michalczewski for the WBO World Light Heavyweight Title. Mark tells me, “it should have been my career high point”, but  falling short and suffering a stoppage in the 8th round, he’s very open in admitting that there were fundamental mistakes in the build up to the fight.

“You get to the top of the mountain and then you don’t do what you’ve been doing to get to the top of the mountain. I’ve done all this good stuff, I’ve got there and then when I get there, to attain this goal, you have to do all of that and more…. and I didn’t!”

It’s a frank statement that been said many a time in boxing history. Incredibly proud of the fact he fought for a World title, Prince was keen to get back into the ring as soon as possible, but problematic year ensued soon after which resulted in no fights being arranged for 14 months. Then a brief outing after that long layoff with Kevin Mitchell lasted a very short 46 seconds. It would prove to be his final bout for 14 years due to injury. In working security with his brother, not uncommon for Mark at the time, an altercation with an unlicensed vendor resulted in Mark, tearing his knee ligaments. Taking an ambulance ride to be told the news no fighter wants to hear: “your career is over. You can’t fight again”

When asked how he coped with the loss of his career Mark confessed that he reverted to his former self: “ I turned on the same God that I was trying to live righteous for and was angry with him.

“I started to smoking more weed and lived like that. Until I kinda realised that’s not the answer to this. I gotta get back on my feet, so you gotta find that same warrior that you got in the ring. You gotta find that same warrior in or out the ring. You ain’t just a champ when your hands are up on a belt, you’re a champ in here” he spoke defiantly tapped his heart. “That’s what makes a champion.”

Seeing the conviction in his eyes, you begin to understand Mark’s passion for life and see how he manages to survive hard times. A quality that would be tested to breaking point on 18th May 2006, when his son, 15 year old  Kiyan Prince, was fatally stabbed and murdered outside his school gates, whist breaking up a fight. A gifted footballer with QPR and tipped for a major career in the sport, it was an incident that sent shockwaves through the community.

“Kiyan was a great guy, chilled, funny… cared about people and made his Mum’s heart warm.”

A model pupil and friend, it was a heinous cowardly act that resulted in a life sentence (13 years) for Kiyan’s murderer. This would be the ultimate test for Mark, as with any father it would be easy to be consumed by rage and vengeance, yet leaning on his faith like he had before, he took the noble path to try and implement change in the best way possible. In Early 2007 Mark created the Kiyan Prince Foundation, with the purpose of helping to eradicate knife crime by getting out to the youths that are impacted by, and are in danger of inflicting, crimes that tear families apart. Years have been spent campaigning and visiting schools around the capital and far beyond. The KPF has received numerous awards with Mark himself gaining an honorary doctorate for his work.

In 2013 in an aim to boost the profile of KPF Mark returned to the ring for 2 years and picked up 4 wins before conflicts with the BBBoC ended his continued return.

Mark’s life has been chronicled in his autobiography ‘The Prince of Peace’, which is now available and gives an insight into his life, that I couldn’t possibly hope to cover in a single article. An amazingly captivating man, who you compels you to listen whenever he speaks. The world is lucky that he has a powerful and positive message, that he will continue to push in a society that is unfortunately reactive instead of proactive to tragedy.One hopes that through his journey, he brings peace to others and ultimately, finds peace within himself.

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Linares v Lomachenko
Fight date:12/05/2018
Written By Ross Bayes @Rossbayesss

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Two kings will battle for the throne on May 12th when Jorge Linares and Vasyl Lomachenko go head to head for the WBA lightweight title in Madison Square Garden, New York.

Both fighters go into this fight in fine form: Lomachenko is being discussed as being the best in the world, if he isn’t already. The two-time Olympic Gold medal winner has made his last four opponents retire during their fights, declaring after his latest victory against Guillermo Rigondeaux: “perhaps I should be called No-mas-chenko.”

Linares also looked impressive in his unanimous decision victory against Mercito Gesta. His ability to throw a large range of shots accurately and powerfully makes his style of fighting very easy on the eye, that coupled with his slick footwork and ability to land almost at will mean that Lomachenko will have to be at his very best to win the fight.

Due to both fighters possessing extremely high levels of attacking flair, this bout becomes more intriguing the more you think about it. Linares and Lomachenko both like to throw high volumes of punches and regularly showboat, two things that usually make for entertaining viewing.

Lomachenko will not be used to the precision and power Linares has in his arsenal. Very rarely in boxing do we get to see a fight between two boxers who both make the sport look more like an art. Linares will go into this fight as the underdog, a feeling he won’t have experienced for a while. On top of this, he will be without his head trainer Ismael Salas, who is in London training David Haye for his scheduled fight against Tony Bellew.

Jorge will be using his brother and long-time team member Carlos Linares as his head coach for this fight. Linares insisted to ESPN that Salas’ absence is purely because the Bellew-Haye2 fight was agreed and scheduled before the negotiations were finalised with Lomachenko’s team. Salas has trained Linares for his last 13 victories, so It will be interesting to see if this plays a part in the fight. Linares is now an experienced fighter who has seen and prepared for fights of this magnitude for many years, and Salas has said he will still be in contact with Linares throughout the camp, so it may not be as big of a problem as it would be for others.

With the recent huge fights in the Heavyweight division this fight has gone somewhat under the radar, however, it will be heavily talked about in the remaining weeks leading up to the fight. Boxing is a sport notorious for having serious problems with the best fighting the best in their primes as it only happens sparingly. If it isn’t problems with promoters, it’s problems with purses and if not that, it’s the television companies. Often we see dream match-ups being avoided and delayed, which is why this fight is all the more tantalising for true boxing fans. Bob Arum of Top Rank and Oscar De La Hoya of Golden Boy have had considerable differences in the past, which has arguably resulted in a few fights not being made, but here they’re pitting two of their prized assets against each other.

Far too often fights are hyped up so much that they couldn’t possibly reach the levels that the promoters were promising, yet the lack of talk and proven quality, would suggest this fight will overdeliver. Regardless of the result, it’s hard to see how a fight between a two-time Gold medalist and a three-weight world champion can fail to produce fireworks. Perhaps crowning the winner in their inauguration as the new pound-for-pound king.

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Selby v Warrington
Fight date: 19/05/18
Written By Connor Hutton @CanvasBoxing

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Marching On Together. Echoed amongst the Leeds faithful, it is usually a football match where this chant can be heard, yet this same anthem will be blasted around Elland Road for something different on May 5th.

It will not be a normal occasion though, this is hometown hero Josh Warrington’s first taste of World title action, and it’s against none other IBF Featherweight Champion Lee Selby.

Selby will be taking his strap into the lion’s den at the home of Leeds United Football Club. 38,000 fans will be packed in with the overwhelming majority behind their home man Warrington. It is a fight that has been brewing for a long while now, but when Warrington elevated himself into that IBF mandatory spot back in 2017 it was was one that would soon become a reality.

The feud stretches back to when both men where on the books of Matchroom. Selby had already won the British, Commonwealth and European titles and vacated them. He then picked up the IBF strap in May 2015. Warrington was plodding on behind him winning all the titles Selby used to have. With these two being the same weight in the same stable, talk was always going to start but for one reason or another, the fight didn’t happen. Fast forward to 2018 both men have now moved over to Queensbury Promotions and it’s finally on. Something Frank Warren should also be credited for.

Since winning the IBF Title three years ago, through no fault of his own, Selby has been relatively inactive for a World champion. Having only five fights in that period. Due to injury issues with opponents, and even a devastating last minute pull out before his Vegas debut, Selby has not been able to gain much momentum. ‘The Welsh Mayweather’ has always impressed during his career, being one of the most technically gifted British fighters out there. He will need to be at his best if he is to outbox his domestic rival.

Warrington has excelled so far, he’s a fighter that boasts one of the biggest fan bases in the country, although he hasn’t been able to escape the shadow of Selby since they were first mentioned together. The Yorkshire crowd have been sold on there man ever since he turned professional, and he isn’t new to headlining shows. Elland Road will be rocking on the night and it will be a huge advantage tht Warrington will need, this is a fight where he is outclassed in natural skill but he makes up for that with notable hard work.

Both men aren’t known for their raw knockout power, with only 15 stoppages in 52 fights combined between the pair, it is highly likely that this will go the full twelve rounds. Something that they are known for though is their boxing ability, so if you want to see two men trying to hit and not get hit then this is the fight for you.
It’s a tough fight to predict. Selby will be the favourite. He has a better resume and is technically excellent, but Warrington isn’t a pushover, he will give 100% and with a huge crowd behind him, that could be a game changer which sways the judges in close rounds. Warren must be counting his lucky stars that these two signed for him, because it’s one of the best domestic World Title fights around right now.

All eyes are on Leeds. After years of calling each other out, these two professionals will finally enter the squared circle, shedding the blood, sweat and tears for the purpose of glory. They may March In Together back and forth for 12 rounds, but only one man will march back to the locker room as the champion.

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McDonnell vs Inoue
Fight date: 25/05/18
Written By Jake Swinburn  @jakeswinburn

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With May now upon us, we look forward to Jamie McDonnell taking on the Japanese ‘Monster’ Naoya Inoue. McDonnell will be defending his WBA Bantamweight title against Inoue on May 25th in Inoue’s home country.

Now let’s get the technical stuff out of the way, McDonnell (29-2-1) off the back of a no contest to Liborio Solis at the back end of 2017 but had won his previous five fights beforehand against good pedigree as Tomoki Kameda twice. However, at 32-years-old, there seems to be a general feeling that McDonnell’s best years are behind him.

McDonnell does carry some physical advantages into his fight with Inoue, standing at 5’10” he is by far the taller man and has a much longer reach than his opponent. He is as tough as old boots and has an incredible engine – if McDonnell is to be successful in this fight, his reputation for being gritty is likely to be tested more than it has been to date.

To win this bout McDonnell has to get the respect of Inoue from the first bell. With this in mind though, he must be sure not to leave himself open early too the body as that would spell a difficult last few rounds. McDonnell will no doubt be looking to use his natural advantages and stick Inoue on the end of a long, powerful jab, before trying to outwork him in the later rounds.

However, that will not be an easy thing for McDonnell to do. His opponent Naoya Inoue (15-0) is being widely tipped to reach the very pinnacle of the sport. Inoue clearly carries huge power, with 13 knockouts from his 15 fights as a professional.

At 25-years-old he has youth on his side and although he is giving away a great deal in height and reach, standing at only 5’5”, I do not see this being too much of a problem for the Japanese star.

Inoue, like McDonnell, has incredible stamina. He likes to make his opponent constantly have to work, creating openings to use his hand speed and knockout power. It is also worth noting that he has far more at his disposal than just looking for one big shot –  can work the body and has a great ability to up his work rate and punch output when he sees his man visibly hurt.

Like McDonnell, Inoue also has an impressive resume having already defeated numerous notable names in his short career to date.

In short, this fight does not look like one that Jamie McDonnell will win, Inoue has the advantage in skill, hand speed, he appears to punch harder and can alternate throwing shots to the head and body.

Whilst McDonnell’s relentless style gives him a chance every time that he enters the ring. Inoue is not the type to stay on his backfoot all night, looking to counter McDonnell with single shots and allowing his opponent to outwork him. Inoue will take the fight to McDonnell and put him on the backfoot, which is where McDonnell seems to be at his most uncomfortable.

Just to clarify, I am sure that there will be times in the fight that McDonnell has Inoue going backwards. The difference is though, that when the roles are reversed, Inoue’s record suggests that he has the power and punch variation to stop McDonnell.

It must be noted though that McDonnell deserves huge credit for taking this fight. A lesser man would have looked for another route and perhaps even vacated the WBA Regular World Bantamweight Title and for this reason I really hope that his bravery pays off and that he comes home victorious but logically it looks as though a late Inoue stoppage is far more likely. Though Japan has seen huge upsets before. Just ask Buster Douglas.

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Gene Tunney vs Harry Greb (1922)
Written By Jim Marshall @BoxingTriviaGuy

10

Having beaten Battling Levinsky to win the US light heavyweight title in January 1922, New York’s Gene Tunney had finally begun to establish himself as a force to be reckoned with. His opponent for his first defence was to be Harry Greb, a middleweight with a formidable reputation.

Preparation for the fight had been far from ideal for Tunney. The resurfacing of an old elbow injury and damage sustained to both hands would be bad enough but one sparring session saw him sustain a four inch gash above the left eyebrow.

In May 1922, thirteen thousand New Yorkers packed into Madison Square Garden to see their local champion defend his title.

Living up to his nickname The Pittsburgh Windmill, Greb flew at Tunney from the off. Tunney came away from the first clinch with his nose fractured in two places but worse was to follow as a right cross landed just above his left eye opening up the injury from training all the way to the bone. Referee Kid McPartland’s white shirt was streaked in blood and Tunney’s view of the rest of the fight would be through a filter of crimson.

Greb landed from every conceivable angle. One moment raining blows down from midair and the next stooping so low that his uppercuts came from canvas level. Tunney would try to keep his opponent on the end of his jab but it was to no avail, the dervish-like Greb was relentless.

As Greb continued going about his work, the hostile crowd booed and hooted imploring the referee to punish him for holding and using his head.

In Tunney’s corner futile attempts were made to stem the flow of blood gushing from the nose of the champion by getting him to snort adrenaline in the hopes it would coagulate the torrent. Instead it ran down the back of Tunney’s throat and into his stomach. After the 12th, Gene resorted to gulping down brandy and orange juice but the concoction merely served to worsen his condition.

At the final bell the battered Tunney shook hands with his attacker and said “Well Harry, you were the better man…tonight.” Though given his first (and what proved to be his only) career defeat, Gene was already plotting his revenge. On collecting his $22,500 cheque from the boxing commission the following morning he gave $2,500 back as a deposit for a return bout. He was soon in the gym working on a battle plan to gain retribution.

The second fight saw Tunney even the score, officially at least. He was given an unpopular split decision win.The rubber match was more conclusive when a body punching masterclass gave Tunney a comfortable win.

After their 5th and final bout in 1925 Greb stated, “That’s the last time I’ll fight this guy. He’s getting too big and too strong for me to handle. I could lick him at one time but not anymore. Tunney is really getting good.”

In fact so good that he went on to become world heavyweight champion. But despite his two famous tussles with Jack Dempsey, it was the 65 rounds he spent in the ring with Greb that perhaps gave Gene his greatest rivalry. When Greb died in 1926 Tunney served as one of the pallbearers.

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