The Monday LunchBox

George Foreman flattens Ron Lyle in 1976
Photo by boxeotuesquina.com

With life as we know it temporarily on hold due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a suspension of all mass sporting activities this may be one of the few times in life where you have time on your hands (family permitting) and an opportunity to reflect. For those of us who love the sport of boxing there is a multitude of great moments that can be revisited at the click of a mouse.

The YouTube catalogue is rich with some of the greatest moments of the sport (Muhammad Ali verses almost anyone, Sugar Ray Leonard v Thomas Hearns I, Mike Tyson destroying Trevor Berbick in 1986 and ‘showing plenty at 20’ to gain the title and many other websites provide a platform for reminding ourselves of the beauty of gloved combat and its fistic history.

Just as a starter for ten why not try what Reg Gutteridge described as “Three rounds of absolute mayhem” – Marvelous Marvin Hagler v Thomas ‘Hitman’ Hearns in 1985. Similarly, my personal favourite, George Foreman v Ron Lyle in 1976 or, Azumah Nelson v Jeff Fenech I in Las Vegas, 1991. These will show you how beautifully brutal and ‘edge of your seat’ the sport can be.

For those who appreciate the finer arts of ringcraft, try Pernell Whitaker’s schooling of Julio Cesar Chavez in the San Antonio Alamodome in 1993 or on the flipside the drama of Chavez prevailing over Meldrick Taylor in 1990. The first great fight of that decade.

There are also the back and forth struggles of Dwight Muhammad Qawi v Evander Holyfield I in 1986, the trilogies of Arturo Gatti v ‘Irish’ Micky Ward, Marco Antonio Barrera v Erik Morales, Manny Pacquiao v Juan Manuel Marquez, which went to a fourth defining fight, and, the changing of the guard fights like Eusebio Pedroza v Barry McGuigan at Queens Park Rangers’ football ground in 1985.

Add to the mix Diego Corrales v Jose Luis Castillo I & II and a more recent vintage Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez v Gennadiy Golovkin I & II. All great toe to toe battles that will stand the test of time in any era.

In the course of my years sitting ringside and back to my earlier days in the ‘nosebleed’ seats below are some of my personal favourites which I witnessed live and are well worth a visit:-

Marvelous Marvin Hagler v Sugar Ray Leonard – April 6, 1987

Nigel Benn v Chris Eubank I – November 18, 1990

Nigel Benn v Gerald McClellan – February 25, 1995

Steve Robinson v Naseem Hamed – September 30, 1995

Kostya Tsyzu v Ricky Hatton – June 4, 2005

Joe Calzaghe v Jeff Lacy – March 4, 2006

Joe Calzaghe v Mikkel Kessler – November 3, 2007

Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez v Srisaket Sor Rungvisai I – March 18, 2017

Anthony Joshua v Wladimir Klitschko – April 29, 2017

Regis Prograis v Josh Taylor – October 26, 2019

All great fights and great nights. Hopefully they will tide you over in these unprecedented times and keep the boxing juices flowing to a safe and healthy return for all. Enjoy !

This regular weekly feature is to also raise awareness of the registered boxing charity Ringside Rest and Care.

The Friday Faceup

The eyes have it !

On a day of unprecedented sporting cancellations in light of the Coronavirus outbreak it was refreshing to look ahead to when times will hopefully be safer and more certain. In a respectful press conference in Central London lunchtime today Matchroom Boxing and K2 Promotions announced the contest between top five ‘pound for pounder’ Olexandr Usyk and Londoner Dereck Chisora.

The heavyweight bout which ironically has greater likelihood than when it was originally scheduled for the end of March, will now take place at London’s O2 Arena on Saturday 23rd May.

Former undisputed world cruiserweight champion Usyk (17-0, 13 KO’s) will have only his second fight at heavyweight against a seasoned Chisora (32-9, 23 KO’s ) after a debut victory over Chazz Witherspoon in Chicago in October. Whilst the Londoner has a number of defeats on his record he’s competed well at the elite level, is on a winning streak and, will be fighting in his backyard.

‘Del Boy’ Chisora is big box office at the O2, coming off a four round blow out of David Price at the venue last October, and with tickets ranging from £40 to £800 VIP is sure to have a large, vocal following. Tickets went on general sale today and the bout will also be aired on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and DAZN in the US.

In the presser, Usyk’s manager Egis Klimas made no bones that the ultimate target for the Ukrainian is to take a route to Anthony Joshua opening with “..we know this island holds all the heavyweight belts right now, that’s why we’re here, digging !” and the camp later namechecked AJ.

Both fighters showed total respect for each others abilities, unique in this era, and Chisora thanked his opponent for taking the fight and building on comments from ex-WBA world heavyweight champion David Haye explained in detail his current excellent condition and training regime.

Usyk through his promoter Alexander Krassyuk said “He’s really a big guy and he hits hard. I will train hard and will be in the best shape for this fight”.

This is an intriguing ‘crossroads’ fight with major consequences for the currently convoluted heavyweight division. Either, the 33 year old London Olympic champion Usyk will move onto challenge one of the champions, as current WBO mandatory challenger, or Chisora (36) will throw his large frame into the melting pot with a victory against a stellar opponent.

One thing it surely wont be is boring. Look for the hype to build over the next ten weeks and fireworks on the night.

The Monday LunchBox

Scott Quigg
Photo by Snipview.com

When a fighter just knows..

On Saturday night in Manchester, England former WBA world super-bantamweight champion Scott Quigg just knew.

He knew from the fourth round onwards, like Barry McGuigan knew against Jim McDonnell, like Lloyd Honeyghan knew when being pushed around the ring by a young brash Adrian Dodson and like Ricky Hatton knew against Vyacheslav Senchenko in 2012. Quigg knew that the zip, the timing, the strength and inevitably the desire were no longer there.

That Quigg (35-3-2, 26 KO’s) went through ten completed rounds with this seemingly in his mind for most of the fight, before being rescued by the compassion of long term trainer Joe Gallagher after 2:14 of the eleventh round was testament to his pride, professionalism and bravery.

The 31 year old Quigg from Bury, north west England who had previously made five defences of his world super-bantamweight (8st 10lb) title before losing on a split decision to Carl Frampton in February 2016 was always a fighter who was willing to come forward, engage and, also when required, use his array of skills to box his way to victory.

No more was his bravery in evidence than in losing a brutal fight to Mexican-American star Oscar Valdez in March 2018 in an aborted WBO world featherweight challenge. After failing to make the weight, with the title not on the line, he opted to go through with the fight and endured a bloody beating in a gallant ‘toe to toe’ losing effort, testing Valdez bravery and ‘cojones’ throughout.

Going into the Carroll fight the word on Quigg was the gym wars when relocating to the famous Wildcard Gym in Los Angeles after the Frampton loss had taken their toll, that his history of breaking his jaw and repeatedly his nose was becoming a problem and his conditioning was not what it was. All of these things may have been true on reflection, but most importantly for a fighter in the latter part of his career, his heart was still there to see it out on the highest stage, a big televised show at the Manchester Arena against a seasoned but still young and hungry fighter.

The victor, Jono Carroll (18-1-1, 4 KO’s)was simply outstanding. From the opening bell he dominated the fight with supreme strength and technique, showing an array of boxing skills to befuddle the ex-champ at times. He boxed on the front foot, on the back foot, darted in and out and used power shots to emphasise his point. Quigg try as he may was simply not in the fight and arguably lost every completed round.

Carroll, despite not carrying a high knockout record and only four years younger than his opponent looked fresh as a daisy. This was by far his most impressive performance to date and bodes well for future championship fights.

Scott Quigg meanwhile was reluctant to officially announce his retirement immediately after the heat of battle on Saturday, despite being repeatedly given the opportunity by the Sky Sports interviewer. He showed the correct respect and credit to the excellence of his opponent and explained if this was to be the end then he’s achieved all he wanted. Rightly so; the man from Bury scaled the heights, won a version of the world title, successfully defended it and went onto compete at championship level in a higher weight class. He can be proud of this.

In the chief support on the Matchroom Boxing card Manchester’s young heavyweight contender Hughie Fury (24-3, 14 KO’s) stopped an outclassed Pavel Sour (11-3, 6 KO’s) after 24 seconds of round three. The cousin of current WBC world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury puts himself in position for further tilts at the elite level after respectable defeats against Kubrat Pulev and Alexander Povetkin.

This regular weekly feature is to also raise awareness for the registered boxing charity Ringside Rest and Care.

The Monday LunchBox

Roman Gonzalez wins WBA super-fly title.

‘Chocolatito’ back on top

A virtuoso performance from Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez ripped the WBA world super-flyweight title from Britain’s Khalid Yafai in Frisco, Texas at the weekend. The Nicaraguan three-weight world champion and future ‘hall of famer’ dominated from the opening bell and eventually stopped the brave champion with a stunning right hook 29 secs into the ninth round.

Former ‘pound for pound’ king Gonzalez (49-2-0, 41 KO’s) was back to his best and displayed all his skills and undoubted class. Yafai , making his sixth defence in a three year reign, at times stood toe to toe with Gonzalez rather that adopting his usual cautious jab and move technique. This proved to be his eventual undoing.

Gonzalez was simply punch perfect with his infighting and ability to throw punches from all angles finishing off with heavy head shots. In many ways it was reminiscent of a peak Roberto Duran. The Nicaraguan, clearly in the latter stages of his stellar career, on this evidence still has a lot left and can look towards unification fights in the 115lb (8st 3lb) division.

Should he hold onto this title through several defences ‘Chocolatito’ will further add to the legend that should have already secured him a first ballot place in the Canastota International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Yafai drops to 26-1 (15 KO’s) and will learn a lot from this exposure at the elite level.

Garcia wins Mexican-American shootout

Four-weight world champion Mikey Garcia (40-1-0, 30 KO’s) beat fellow Mexican-heritage fighter Jesse Vargas (29-3-2, 11 KO’s) at welterweight (147lbs) on the Frisco card. The California-based Garcia used his superior technical skills to control the majority of the fight dropping his opponent in round five and eventually winning on a unanimous decision 114-113, 116-111, 116-111. The fight was always competitive but Garcia clearly won the key moments.

This was Garcia’s comeback fight after suffering his sole defeat in March 2019 to Errol Spence Jnr. In the post fight interview he pledged to remain at welterweight and looks forward to a possible fight with legend Manny Pacquiao.

Also on the Frisco card WBC world flyweight champion Julio Cesar Martinez (16-1, 12 KO’s) successfully defended his title after a brave showing from Wales’ Jay Harris (17-1, 9 KO’s). The Mexican won on a unanimous decision in an action packed fight.

Wilder v Fury III

As expected, former WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder has invoked the rematch clause following his loss to Tyson Fury in Las Vegas last weekend. This means that a ‘trilogy’ fight is likely to take place in July and delay the potential unification fight against three belt champion Anthony Joshua.

Joshua v Pulev

Earlier today (Monday 2nd) Anthony Joshua tweeted his mandatory IBF world title defence against Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev will take place on Saturday 20th June at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. This despite Pulev, in the last few days through his promoter Top Rank, expressing an unwillingness to challenge in the UK due to expected unfair treatment, and the fight looking to go stateside. This is an insult to the British Boxing Board of Control and fight fans to say the least. It will be interesting to see the resulting fall out and reception Pulev will get in the build up to the now confirmed fight date.

Matchroom Boxing have subsequently confirmed the event will be promoted by them in association with Top Rank and Epic Sports and Entertainment. Watch this space for subsequent updates.

This regular weekly feature is to also raise awareness for the registered boxing charity Ringside Rest and Care.

The Friday Faceup

WBA super-fly world champion Khalid Yafai
Photo by automaticblogging.com

After all the hype and drama of the heavyweights in the last week and the wait for how and when the title will be unified, this weekend in Frisco, Texas, it’s the turn of the ‘little guys’. British-born WBA world super-flyweight champion (115lbs/8st 3lbs) Khalid Yafai puts his title on the line against Nicaragua’s future hall of famer Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez.

The undefeated ‘Kal’ Yafai (26-0, 15 KO’s) makes the sixth defence of his title against a man who was not so long ago The Ring magazine’s ‘Pound for pound’ king – regardless of weight class, the number one fighter in the world.

Three divisional champion Gonzalez (48-2, 40 KO’s) world came crashing down when losing a tight majority decision in a WBC super-flyweight title defence to Thailand’s Srisaket Sor Rungvisai in Madison Square Garden back in March 2017. He subsequently lost the rematch by a devastating knockout. Since then, and now 32 years old, he could be there for the taking. Yafai, two years the younger man needs this stellar name on his resume to take the next step in his career. The little men age quicker in a professional boxing sense and he will need to make a move to achieve future big fights.

The Nicaraguan with a 90% knockout ratio poses a big test to the Brit. This is both in his superior elite level of competition and also big fight experience. Yafai will have to use all his guile and recent success to prevail. Look for a very close fight where the experience of Gonzalez may just see the title changing hands and further adding to Chocolatito’s legend.

The fight will be televised live on Sky Sports Arena in the early hours of Sunday morning. It is also available on DAZN.

Home defence for Taylor

Yesterday (Thurs 27th) it was announced by Bob Arum’s Top Rank and Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions that Muhammad Ali Trophy winner and unified WBA and IBF super-lightweight world champion Josh ‘Tartan Tornado’ Taylor (16-0, 12 KO’s) will defend his titles against Thailand’s Apinun Khongsong (16-0, 13 KO’s) in Glasgow, Scotland on 2nd May. The Thai looks on paper to provide a very stiff test for the Scot World Boxing Super Series winner. This could be another one to savour.

Mandatories and rematches

Finally, much has been mentioned across media platforms over the last week but the journey to heavyweight unification looks to be firstly; a mandatory defence for Anthony Joshua of his IBF world heavyweight title against once-beaten Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev on June 20th, followed by; a trilogy ending fight between The Ring magazine’s newly re-instated champion and WBC world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury, and Deontay Wilder.

It is thought most likely that the American ex-champion will invoke the rematch clause in the remaining 24 days of the contract stipulation. Both headline items still have to receive official confirmation from respective promoters and managers, but this looks to be the immediate heavyweight landscape. This leaves, assuming both Brits retain their titles, a heavyweight unification fight towards the back end of 2020, but more realistically mid-2021.

The Monday LunchBox

New Champ Tyson Fury

When all came to pass it wasn’t even close. Tyson ‘Gypsy King’ Fury simply destroyed Deontay ‘Bronze Bomber’ Wilder in Las Vegas on Saturday. It was left to Wilder’s corner to throw in the towel and referee Kenny Bayless to rescue the former WBC champion at 1:39 of the seventh round. Over the course of nearly twenty completed minutes the Alabaman had been dropped twice, staggered around the ring like a drunken cowboy leaving a saloon and had his ear pummelled to a bleeding mess.

The British contender had taken the centre of the ring from the opening bell and systematically picked Wilder apart behind a ramrod jab and follow up sledgehammer counters. All from a man that Wilder referred to as having “pillows for fists”. The only successes the American had were a few solid counters and the deduction of a point from Fury in round five for clinching. Dubious to say the least.

So where does this take us ? Fury 30-0-1 (21 KO’s) now holds the WBC world heavyweight title, is still the ‘lineal’ champion (being the man, who beat the man…by virtue of his 2015 victory over Wladimir Klitschko) and is recognised by The Ring magazine as the Heavyweight Champion of the World. The latter possibly the highest honour in boxing.

The ‘Morecambe monolith’ quite frankly delivered arguably (Lennox Lewis aside) the greatest performance from a British fighter, certainly as a heavyweight, but possibly across all divisions, on the other side of ‘the pond’. The American ex-champ entered the ring with a near perfect 42-0-1 (41 KO) record, having been champion for five years and in his eleventh title defence. His 95% knockout rate and punching prowess was being compared to some of the greatest in heavyweight history. All leading pundits and ex-champions could only see two possible outcomes – a Wilder win by KO or Fury on points. Your website The Undisputed questioned whether Tyson could back it up, and in finally picking a Fury win was circumspect on how early. We suggested Fury had the power to finish the fight early, and that this power was underestimated. Close the show he undoubtedly did.

The rematch clause in the Saturday’s pre-fight contracts has been regularly quoted in the last thirty six hours. That the defeated Wilder has reputedly thirty days to invoke the losers clause for a third fight between them. But, who really wants to see this ? The log should read 2-0 to Fury, and the rematch was so emphatic that it’s going to be a hard sell. In addition, and on the other side is Anthony Joshua the WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight champion – so to the unfamiliar we have TWO heavyweight champions of the world. An uncomfortable and inconvenient truth that needs resolution as soon as possible.

A fight between the two Britons is the defining fight out there, in many ways the only fight. It’s the only one that will deliver what the public crave for – a unified/undisputed champion – the first since Lennox Lewis in 1999. It will take a gargantuan effort contractually and logistically to deliver, but this Messrs Arum, Warren and Hearn will do. The only questions that will remain for sometime are when, where and for how much ? And, maybe one other key question – who will win ?

Bring it on !

This regular weekly feature is to also raise awareness of the registered boxing charity Ringside Rest and Care.

Return of the King

Tyson Fury wallows in the glory

Las Vegas, Nevada – 05:45 GMT

“The King has returned to the top of the throne”. The post-fight words of Tyson ‘Gypsy King’ Fury who won every minute of every round in stopping Deontay Wilder on a technical knockout at 1:39 of the 7th round to gain the WBC world heavyweight title tonight.

Taking control from ring centre at the opening bell the Brit bludgeoned the American champion from pillar to post scoring knockdowns in rounds 3 and 5 before referee Kenny Bayless stepped in to stop the fight as Wilder was penned in a corner. This was as emphatic a heavyweight victory as witnessed without the humiliation of a knockout. Fury, dominating with powerful jabs and following up with concussive blows, quite simply took the undefeated ex-champ apart.

Post-fight Fury praised his saviour and then gave credit to the heart of the American who showed immense courage to remain in the fight. This was followed up by a rendition of American Pie joined by promoter Bob Arum and the thousands in attendance.

Fury 30-0-1 (21 KO’s) moves onto immortality in the heavyweight division and the ultimate showdown with fellow Brit Anthony Joshua. Wilder drops to 42-1-1 (41 KO’s).

Let’s fight !

Tyson Fury (right) lets champ Deontay Wilder know what’s in store.

As ex-referee and district attorney Mills Lane used to say “Let’s get it on !”.

The training is done, the hype is almost history and the weights are in. At the MGM Grand Garden, Las Vegas last night the ‘lineal’ heavyweight champion of the world Tyson ‘Gypsy King’ Fury weighed in at a massive 273lbs (19st 7lbs). This being over one stone heavier than the previous encounter with WBC champ Deontay ‘Bronze Bomber’ Wilder in December 2018. The American champ on the other hand tipped the scales at 231lbs (16st 7lbs), a career high and again over a stone up on the previous encounter.

But what does all this mean ? In the heavyweight division generally very little. They don’t have to make weight and usually weigh ins are a last opportunity to sell the fight and get a psychological edge on the opponent. Not this one. The scale tipping showed us the training camp both protaganists have had, one of sacrifice, diligence and hardship. Both, although significantly over recent fighting weights looked physically imposing (despite Fury keeping on his sweatshirt) and both continuing an aura of supreme self-confidence.

Fury’s legs and biceps looked impressive and an indication of the training camp that he’d endured. Wilder meanwhile looked his excellent toned and cut ‘Adonis-like’ self. You would expect the excess poundage has been focussed on his pencil thin legs to offer greater root and purchase on his power shots. The 6 foot 9 Brit meanwhile will maximise his extra body mass in the clinches, but the test will be on his usual excellent mobility. The Gypsy King relies on speed and his ‘Nureyev-like’ fleet of foot to evade and slip power punches. How will this extra poundage affect that ?

These are all unknowns until that opening bell, and specifically, should the fight go deep into the ‘championship rounds’ (10 through 12). The additional poundage on Fury indicates he will attempt to bully the American from the onset, a proclamation he’s been promoting now for a good month. Wilder although has the lower poundage will not change type and become fleet of foot. He invests in power and will be ready to cash in from the opening bell.

The whole scenario bodes well for an excellent contest with both fighters meeting each other ring centre in the early rounds. Boy we need a fight of this magnitude and excitement to re-ignite the sport after a very quiet start to the year. If the fight we all hope for happens then history beckons for the victor; Anthony Joshua lays in wait and world domination is finally within reach.

If both boxers can back up their pre-fight boasts we’re in for a humdinger of a contest. Don’t blink and book your ringside seat. Fireworks await !

The fight will be televised live Sunday morning on BT Box Office and ring walks are expected from 5am GMT. The fight is also available live and exclusive on talkSPORT.

Can the Gypsy King back it up ?

Well, two days to go and the most anticipated heavyweight fight in many a year is almost upon us. The predictions and pre-fight shenanigans are racking up as we approach the Wilder-Fury date with destiny. The ‘Gypsy King’ Tyson Fury has certainly been raising the bar with the pre-fight predictions and his supreme confidence he’s going to ‘do a job’ come Saturday night. But, is this pre-fight bravado, insecurity or, a supreme confidence borne of his superior (minus two knockdowns) in the first fight ? We will only know come fight time and that in essence is the beauty of this matchup.

Can WBC champ Wilder extend his KO resume by rendering Fury comatose ? The power is certainly there, which Dominic Brezeale and Luis Ortiz will testify, but, the boxing ability and ring smarts are significantly inferior to the Brit. What most pundits believe is if Wilder lands cleanly, and possibly early, Fury will go. The first fight doesn’t back this up. Fury rising from the canvas twice, en route to a split decision draw. Fury in reality, despite his knockout boasts will try to box his way to victory. He knows he’s the superior ring technician and will intend to maximise this advantage. However, IF the knockout opportunity comes, likely late in the fight, Fury will take it.

The Undisputed sees this as the most likely outcome. Fury’s power, though not on the scale of Wilder is underestimated. We see most of his power in this fight coming from his boxing IQ and ability to get in position to land the defining punch. Wilder will be dangerous early, but if the Gypsy King can navigate his way through the first six rounds look for him to take control down the stretch.

Fury, despite his proclamations that it will be a Hagler-Hearns esq fight, and inviting Wilder to meet mid-ring from the opening bell, will not go anyway near this scenario. For the first four rounds he will exercise caution and then attempt to pick the American apart through the mid rounds to stop a fatigued champion late in the fight. He’s set himself up to eat his words over fight week, but look for the Brit to back it up on the night and remain the ‘Lineal’ and new WBC heavyweight champ. We can’t wait.

The Monday LunchBox

Promo courtesy of Top Rank inc.

Welcome to fight week ! The long awaited rematch is only five days away between WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay ‘Bronze Bomber’ Wilder and Tyson ‘Gypsy King’ Fury, in Las Vegas. Both undefeated, both with a claim to the heavyweight championship, the latter being the ‘Lineal’ champion (i.e. the Man who beat the Man who beat the Man) dating back over 100 years to John L Sullivan.

It’s a fight that BT Box Office and others are claiming is the biggest heavyweight fight in twenty years. This takes us back to Lennox Lewis second fight against Evander Holyfield in November 1999 when the heavyweight championship was finally unified and we could call one man the champion. Saturday’s fight will not achieve that, with Brit Anthony Joshua holding three of the straps, but it certainly will move the division onto hopefully a climax and division settling fight. Should we have an outright victor, which we failed to get in December 2018, then they’ll be a public clamour for an immediate Joshua fight.

But what can we expect on Saturday ? The smart money is on two possible outcomes; a Wilder victory by KO or a Fury points win. The American champ Wilder, continues to talk up his devastating power (41 KO’s) and that Fury won’t escape this time (Fury surviving two knockdowns in the first fight, including ‘the resurrection’ early in the 12th round). Wilder’s KO record and recent destruction of Cuban Luis Ortiz certainly points towards that.

The Brit Fury meanwhile has regularly stated his dominance and clear victory in the first fight, but on account of not getting a decision in Las Vegas, knows he has to KO the American this time round. His switch to the world famous Kronk Gym in Detroit has backed up his claim for a more aggressive approach.

It’s going to be a fascinating week and look for the hype to continue and build to a crescendo with the final press conferences and weigh in at the back end of the week. Also, see if The Undisputed can be swayed from it’s current prediction of a Fury late stoppage victory over the next five days.

Enjoy the week and watch this space.

This regular weekly feature is to also raise awareness of the registered boxing charity Ringside Rest and Care.