The Monday LunchBox

Photo by Jack Goodman

The Four Hombres

In recent weeks the focus has rightly been on the ‘Four Kings’ of Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran and the fortieth anniversary of their intertwined bouts which dominated the 1980’s.

However, at the beginning of the decade four boxing legends from the Hispanic community were operating in the lighter weight divisions – three of which would go onto capture multi-divisional ‘world’ titles, and the fourth would be ranked one of the greatest featherweights of all time.

The esteemed quartet were Alexis Arguello, Wilfredo Gomez, Wilfred Benitez and Salvador Sanchez.

The cover of The Ring magazine of October 1982 and rankings within would recognise the impact these fighters were having on the Latino scene and at world level. Three being organisational ‘world champions and two recognised by The Ring as the divisional king.

Centre stage was the Nicaraguan Arguello – ‘El Flaco Explosivo’ The Explosive Thin Man – who was attempting to capture a fourth world title at light-welterweight (140lbs/10 stone) having won titles from feather (126lbs) through to lightweight (135lbs). Arguello would go onto narrowly fail against Aaron Pryor in two title attempts, the first fight in the Orange Bowl, Miami on 12 Nov 1982 being recognised as one of the greatest fights of all time. Arguello would finish with a record of 82-8 (65 KO’s) and enter the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota.

Wilfredo ‘Bazooka’ Gomez from San Juan, Puerto Rico followed a stellar amateur career competing at the Munich Olympics at 15 by gaining world titles at super-bantamweight (122lbs/8st 10lbs) to super-featherweight (130lbs/9st 4lbs). In his homeland he was and remains a boxing and cultural icon.

Back in 1982 he had made 17 successful defences in the super-bantamweight division, all by knockout. A divisional record. He made a single manned assault on Mexican boxing heritage and the Mexico-Puerto Rican rivalry by beating legends like Carlos Zarate before moving up to featherweight for a first time and failing in a bid at Salvador Sanchez’ WBC world title. His first loss. It would take him some years to recover but he eventually added the two heavier titles. Gomez’ career record would read 44-3-1 (42 KO’s).

Wilfred ‘El Radar’ Benitez, also Puerto Rican but born and raised in New York, was the heavier of the fighters campaigning and winning world titles up to light-middleweight (154lbs/11st). He won his first world title at light-welterweight at age 17 (which remains a world record) from Colombian great Antonio Cervantes and would go onto beat Roberto Duran and lose narrowly to Sugar Ray Leonard in marquee fights. Benitez would finish on 53-8-1 (31 KO’s).

Finishing the quartet was featherweight great and Mexican icon Salvador ‘Chava’ Sanchez. He would compile a record of 44-1-1 (32 KO’s) making nine successful defences of his title, two against future hall of famers Azumah Nelson and Wilfredo Gomez. The historic fight against Gomez on 21 Aug 1981 would see the Puerto Rican enter the ring with a 32-0-1 (32 KO) record, including 14 world title fights. Sanchez would dominate throughout scoring an 8th round stoppage victory.

Tragedy would strike in August 1982 when Sanchez life was cruelly taken in a car crash at the tender age of 23. The October 1982 edition of The Ring would mark this sad occasion with a eulogy by Jose Torres. In the mode of James Dean this tragedy would further add to the legend of his accomplishments. Arguello’s life was also sadly cut short at 57 in 2009. Gomez and Benitez survive in difficult health but collectively define a golden Hispanic era.

Five fights that sum up the period of the ‘Four Hombres’ can be viewed on YouTube. Check out Gomez v Zarate, Sanchez v Gomez, Sanchez v Nelson, Pryor v Arguello I, and Benitez v Leonard.

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

The Monday LunchBox

Strawweight legend Ricardo Lopez

The Latino Legends

The sport of boxing has been blessed with great fighters from almost all continents of the world, from Manny Pacquiao (Asia) to Jeff Fenech (Australasia) and onto Azumah Nelson (Africa). Great fighters, but also national icons of that continents sporting history.  

However, no continent has provided more great champions than the Americas.  Arguably not the USA, but in the south of that land mass – Latin America. From Mexico through central America to the Caribbean islands of Cuba and Puerto Rico and down to the boxing hotbeds of Panama, Colombia and Argentina.

The monikers of ‘Manos De Piedra’ (Hands of Stone), ‘El Flaco Explosivo’ (The Explosive Thin Man) and ‘El Gran Campeon’ (The Great Champion) resonate out from the Latin third of the continents. Messrs Roberto Duran, Alexis Arguello and Julio Cesar Chavez are the epitome of national pride and Latino machismo.

From the pioneers of Kid Chocolate and Panama Al Brown in the 1920’s & 30’s, through Manuel Ortiz and Kid Gavilan in the 40’s & 50’s, to Pascual Perez and Jose Napoles into the 1960’s and beyond, the Hispanic two-thirds of the America’s has been bountiful with multiple champions and many multi-weight world champions – Arguello x3, Duran x4, Chavez x3, Wilfred Benitez x3, Juan Manuel Marquez x4, Erik Morales x4, Marco Antonio Barrera x3.

There have been legendary fights between these champions, sometimes resulting in trilogies – Barrera v Morales in the early millennium being the pick of the bunch – Barrera winning the series 2-1 in epic fights. Add to that Israel Vazquez v Rafael Marquez from 2007-2010 resulting in a fourth fight and final 2-2 log.

There have been the famous rivalries between countries, most notably Mexico v Puerto Rico, and the fights that epitomised that rivalry – Carlos Zarate v Wilfredo Gomez, Lupe Pintor v Gomez and Salvador Sanchez v Gomez in the 1980’s being classic examples. Into the 90’s there was the Michael Carbajal v Humberto Gonzalez rivalry at light flyweight (108lbs), their first fight being the pick of the crop.

A number of these Latin legends have been involved in the greatest fights of all time – Sugar Ray Leonard v Roberto Duran 1, Aaron Pryor v Alexis Arguello 1 the prime examples.

Many Latin boxers have been Ring Magazine fighter of the year:

Jose Napoles – 1969

Carlos Monzon – 1972

Carlos Zarate – 1977

Salvador Sanchez – 1981

Julio Cesar Chavez – 1991

Felix Trinidad – 2000

Sergio Martinez – 2010

Juan Manuel Marquez – 2012

A number dominated their divisions through a decade – Duran (lightweight), Monzon (middleweight), Zarate (bantamweight), Lopez (strawweight) and Pedroza (featherweight).

Some featured in milestone fights that marked a ‘passing of the torch’ to a younger hero – Jose Napoles v John H Stracey and Eusebio Pedroza v Barry McGuigan being examples closest to home.

Then, there are the lesser known champions who live on for their ferocity, one punch power, bravery or pure class – Lupe Pintor, Ruben Olivares, Diego Corrales, Ricardo ‘Finito’ Lopez, and national icons like Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez and Edwin Valero, from Nicaragua and Venezuela respectively.

Not forgetting the American/Mexican’s or Mexican/American’s, however you wish to put it. The Oscar De La Hoya’s, Bobby Chacon’s, and Michael Carbajal’s to name but a few. Even the recent heavyweight champion of the world Andy Ruiz reclaimed his Mexican heritage when becoming champion.

One common theme throughout this ledger is with the exception of Andy Ruiz and 1920’s Argentine Luis Firpo almost all these boxers have campaigned and enjoyed success in the lighter weight classes. Predominantly from strawweight (105lbs) to lightweight (135lbs), exceptionally up to middleweight (160lbs).

All these supreme boxers do though share a common language and fistic heritage, mainly with few exceptions, a rise from poverty to the higher echelons of the sport. All despite being individually unique, have illustrated that Latino machismo when under fire and have considerably enhanced the sport over the decades on the world stage. Viva boxeo latino !  Long may boxing in the Hispanic world flourish and may the roll call of legends continue into the future.

Many of these legends can be viewed on YouTube to get a true appreciation of their significant contribution to boxing history.

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

The Monday LunchBox

Current ‘pound for pound’ king Canelo Alvarez
Photo: Golden Boy Promotions/Getty Images

Boxing is a sport that is dominated by bar room talking points; comparisons between great fighters and the best and worst of eras. Are we in a boom now ? or, is the current crop just the best of a bad bunch ? Fight fans and the media regularly look back; sometimes through rose tinted glasses, sometimes waxing lyrical about the present generation, and sometimes, not really making a fair comparison.

We are though blessed with a sport that due to the general lack of tweaking with the original Marquis of Queensberry Rules and the fundamentals of the sport being largely unchanged (i.e. one on one gloved combat in a square, roped ring) allows us to make these personnel and era comparisons with some degree of confidence. Generally, after much debate the conclusions finally drawn are a function of personal preference or someone’s relevant generation but with some statistical back up or justification.

The golden era of the sport is said to be the 1930’s through to the 1950’s, certainly by the quality and depth of fighters that emerged from the great American depression of the 1920’s and the ending of the Second World War. But, there have been equally brilliant divisional eras like the heavyweights of the ’70’s and the Four Kings of the middleweight division in the ’80’s. These epochs can legitimately compare favourably to any era of the sport.

My guides on this have always been the depth and range of brilliant boxing literature available to compare the boxers and eras, but my ‘go to’ reference has been The Ring magazine – ‘The Bible of Boxing’ and world authority since 1922.

Over nearly a century The Ring has equally gone through ‘boom and bust’ with different ownerships and vogues, potential liquidation and now thriving in the digital era. Hopefully the additional threat of the COVID-19 outbreak still allows “the Bible” to prevail, and similarly our own Boxing News which remains the oldest world publication (predating The Ring by thirteen years) and the British authority on the domestic and world scene.

To this end, an occasional entry in The Undisputed’s LunchBox slot will be a look back at The Ring magazine’s pound-for-pound rankings (i.e. the boxers voted best in the world regardless of weight classification by The Ring panel of experts).

Let’s first take a look at the top ten in March 1990, some thirty years ago…

1. Julio Cesar Chavez, 2. Pernell Whitaker, 3. Michael Nunn, 4. Antonio Esparragoza, 5. Meldrick Taylor, 6. Buster Douglas, 7. Mike Tyson, 8. Azumah Nelson, 9. Raul Perez, 10. Virgil Hill.

Then, compare to the current top ten:

1. Canelo Alvarez, 2. Vasiliy Lomachenko, 3. Naoya Inoue, 4. Terence Crawford, 5. Oleksandr Usyk, 6. Errol Spence Jr, 7. Gennadiy Golovkin, 8. Juan Francisco Estrada, 9. Artur Beterbiev, 10. Manny Pacquiao.

So, what does this tell us about the current crop ? A number of the boxers in the rankings of 12th March 1990 have subsequently entered the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) in Canastota, upstate New York. Arguably the pick of the crop was Julio Cesar Chavez, who at the time of being ‘pound for pound’ king had a 67-0 win-loss record. He eventually finished on 107-6-2 (88 KO’s).

Compare that to the current ‘king’ – Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez on 53-1-2 (36 KO’s). On his current trajectory Alvarez will make a claim to be the greatest Mexican fighter of all time – but whether he will overtake Chavez’ popularity and accomplishments is debateable. Chavez back in 1990 was the standout ‘pound for pound’ king, with Pernell Whitaker some way behind on fights and accomplishment. However, Whitaker did in all intents and purposes win the hotly disputed draw when they finally met. Alvarez by contrast has a loss on his record and is widely regarded as losing the first fight to Gennadiy Golovkin. The numbers two, three and four in the log of 21st March 2020 – Lomachenko, Inoue and Crawford are a lot closer to Alvarez than anyone challenging Chavez in 1990.

So, does this make the present era have greater depth at the top ? It does on face value with four fighters vying for the pound for pound title. You would though have to look deeper into the respective divisions to establish this.

What is noticeable from the two logs is the greater globalisation of boxing now. The top ten of 1990 had six USA fighters, a number of them products of the legacy of the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics – Pernell Whitaker, Meldrick Taylor and Virgil Hill, plus Mike Tyson who lost in the box-offs for those Games. There were three Hispanic fighters which would be the norm of the time, and one African in Azumah Nelson – a future member of the IBHOF and the greatest fighter to come from the African continent.

The rankings of March 2020 are largely a legacy of the post-1990 breakup of the Soviet Union. In Vasiliy Lomachenko, Oleksandr Usyk, Gennadiy Golovkin and Artur Beterbiev, you have two Ukrainians, a Kazak and a Russian. All with a small number of professional fights but a lengthy and elite amateur pedigree, with substantial Olympic hardware to show. This impact has taken almost thirty years to trickle through to the elite professional level, but the amateur pedigree of these boxers allied to their pro record stands with anyone’s accomplishments in the 1990 top ten.

These are joined by a Japanese in Naoya Inoue and Fillipino in Manny ‘PacMan’ Pacquiao, giving the 2020 listing greater global credibility and reach.

A notable omission from the current pound for pound list is a heavyweight champion. Despite the current ‘golden era’ of the heavyweights neither Tyson Fury, Deontay Wilder or Anthony Joshua can break the top ten. This may show the current strength of the other divisions, or certainly that they contain elite fighters. The rankings of 1990 include a recently defeated Mike Tyson and his conqueror James ‘Buster’ Douglas, largely by virtue of that victory. It may be that the current heavyweight division is stronger but The Ring magazine thinks there are other strengths in boxing right now.

Ironically the one heavyweight to feature in the current pound for pound list is Oleksandr Usyk, purely on this basis of his accomplishments in the lighter cruiserweight division. Currently he remains an untested ‘blown up’ cruiserweight.

One boxer worthy of inclusion in the current pound for pound list is Manny Pacquiao at number ten. He is a ‘world champion’ at eight different weights from fly to welterweight and lock-in for the Hall of Fame. This in a way shows the quality in the current log compared to that in 1990. The number ten of the time Virgil Hill was an elite light heavyweight, Olympic silver medallist and undefeated 27-0, but that pales into insignificance with PacMan’s 62-7-2 (39 KO’s) record and accomplishments.

Perhaps this steers us towards the final conclusion on comparing these two lists: that the low ranking of Pacquiao and coupled with the omission of Fury, Wilder and Joshua et al, adding in boxers on the fringe of the list like Josh Taylor, Roman ‘Chocolotito’ Gonzalez, Callum Smith and Wanheng Menayothin at strawweight with a 54-0 win-loss record, shows that boxing in 2020 is in a fairly healthy state when comparing to March 1990.

Look out here for further editions of this feature.

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

The SuperFight

Courtesy of Top Rank Inc.

Tonight in Las Vegas, Nevada it is the thirty-third anniversary of ‘The SuperFight’ between ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler and ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard. 

The encounter marked my entry into covering big time boxing as a young freelancer and also the zenith of what George Kimball on the cover of his definitive 2008 bestseller Four Kings rightly referred to as the “Last great era of boxing”.

Over the course of the 1980’s the Kings of Hagler, Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran would share nine fights that defined the sport of boxing and that decade in particular.

In 1986, as a recent graduate I worked for eight months as a council cleansing operative (aka dustman) in the coastal town of Poole in England, finishing off as a clerical assistant at the University of Cambridge to raise the finances to support a trip in March 1987 bound for ‘The Superfight’.  For any boxing mad fan or correspondent of the time it was a must-go venture. With a very close friend of mine we flew, bussed, hitchhiked and walked our way to Vegas to experience all of fight-week in the company of legends like Angelo Dundee, Gil Clancy, Mike Tyson, Thomas Hearns and anyone in boxing worth their salt.

‘The Superfight’ was a confrontation and event that had taken years to ‘marinade’.  Leonard had twice in high profile announcements retired from the sport and stated the fight would never happen.  Hagler, the undisputed middleweight champion had proceeded to dominate his division through twelve defences and at 32 years old had almost given up on the fight ever happening. However, by late 1986 the planets were finally aligning and the fight might be on.

Hagler was coming off a close shave against John ‘The Beast’ Mugabi in the March of ’86 and looked like he was coming to the end of his reign, due mainly to lack of motivation but also his advancing years.  Leonard, sitting ringside on the night, saw the dimming of the flame and clear evidence that if he were to seize his opportunity it had to be soon, else Hagler might retire.

So, some months later Bob Arum with his Top Rank organisation, Mike Trainer – Leonard’s representative, and with multi-millions of dollars at stake a deal was struck with the then mecca of boxing Caesars Palace to put the event on.  It was estimated the event would be worth in excess of $300M for the local economy with $7.9M for the live gate. Mind blowing figures at the time.

On that balmy April night there was an electricity in Sin City, the 15,400 outdoor car park arena and strip beyond has rarely been repeated since, certainly not for middleweights.  The whole of the state of Nevada was blacked out from showing the fight other than special pay per view showings in casinos, a habit of a bygone era, and Vegas was a mass of boxing humanity, high rollers and Hollywood A-listers. 

The weigh-in on the morning of the fight took place in Caesars Palace Sports Pavilion before a raucous capacity crowd and in a frenzy of anticipation.  Leonard with his ships captain hat and Hagler with his baseball cap emblazoned with the word ‘War’. Leonard coming in at 158lbs and Hagler scaling half a pound heavier, both well within the 160 divisional limit.

My friend and I each bagged a ticket with hours to go on the back of social networking (way before the term was invented), ‘moody’ press experience and our English accents.  We were ecstatic.

On Monday night (5am UK time) ‘Marvelous’ Marvin entered the ring with a 62-2-2 (52 KO’s) record, a champion for over six years, having not lost a fight in eleven and, the recognised pound-for-pound king.  Also, chasing the dream of Carlos Monzon’s fourteen successful defences of the title. ‘Sugar’ Ray on the other hand was 33-1-0 (24 KO’s), had not fought for just short of three years and, had a history of eye problems.  

Although never being considered a mismatch due to Leonard’s elite pedigree and skillset the odds makers and almost all so called experts predicted a Hagler victory. Some emphatically.

But; what boxing history had shown thirteen years earlier in the jungle of Kinshasa, Zaire was that legendary fighters ‘find a way’. This, although argued strongly by some expert observers to this day, Hagler notwithstanding, was what happened on the night.  Leonard found his way in a virtuoso performance to withstand Marvin’s early pressure and pick, poke and dance his way to victory, standing his ground when needed, to land the occasional bolo punch and mainly bamboozal the advancing Hagler through the twelve round distance.

The ageing champion had sacrificed in pre-fight negotiations the traditional fifteen round distance (his right) to his disadvantage, preferring to take the bigger purse, and with so playing into Leonard’s inactivity hands and reducing the fight to twelve rounds.

On fight night, he then chose to abandon his legendary and hugely successful southpaw stance and chase the retreating Leonard, never registering enough pressure or success to take the decision. His claims that Leonard ran all night, at the time, and even now remain wide of the mark.

Sugar Ray proved, as The Ring would pronounce how sweet he still was and took the split decision 115-113, 113-115, 110-118, a full eight rounds on the last card.  There were no knockdowns but the drama was immense after a riveting opening round which many pre-fight thought Leonard wouldn’t hear the finishing bell, Sugar Ray then put round after round in the bank to the whoops and hollers of the majority in attendance. To this writer there was only really one winner on the night….Ray Charles Leonard. That, despite rooting for and clearly picking Hagler (the blue collar fighter) pre-fight.

When all was said and done ‘The Superfight’ that took five plus years to happen was a blockbuster in all sense of the world.  It sent Marvelous Marvin bitterly into retirement, relaunched ‘Sugar’ Ray and most importantly left us with a memorable event that sits comfortable in the annals of the sport. There were really no losers on that famous night.

It was bookended by eight other fights between the Four Kings and is recently celebrated in a fine Ring magazine publication to commemorate this period. This is a must read and can be ordered online at the following link: https://esolutionsmnec.ecenergy.com/eCatalog/RING

To supplement this, further articles will appear in The Undisputed over the coming months on this golden period.

The Monday LunchBox

Bob Jackson RIP

Legendary Gleason’s trainer Bob Jackson with protégé Adrian Dodson

It is with great sadness that we learned last week of the passing of legendary Gleason’s Gym trainer Bob Jackson, aged 82.

Bob was a man with utmost integrity and experience who mentored and trained many world title contenders and other fighters to come out of the world famous stateside Brooklyn, NY gym.

He was one of those unsung heroes of the sport who knew boxing and knew fighters. Bob worked for thirty plus years in the notorious New York state maximum security prison Sing Sing and at night trained fighters. He honed the rough diamonds and abundant raw material of the New York metropolitan area, and potentially saved many from a lifetime of being under his sterner command at the said correctional facility.

During his New York State Hall of Fame training career Bob would drive miles across the USA transporting and mentoring young amateurs to shows. One such champion was Britain’s Adrian Dodson who served his formative boxing years in the New York metropolis.

Adrian remembered fondly how Bob shared journeys and passed on his life experience and advice to this young impressionable fighter. “He taught me so much, about life and being the person I am”.

With Bob in his corner Adrian won the New York Golden Gloves in 1989, along with it the Sugar Ray Robinson boxer of the tournament, and on representative teams won various metropolitan games in the hot melting pot of competition that was the Empire state. Adrian would compete at two Olympic Games (1988 & ’92) and when he turned professional it was Bob who he turned to in his corner again.

Adrian recalls “I remember many things Bob passed on….he would say in that New York drawl….” – “Don’t carry any bum in dere dat don’t belong…you run ’em over”. He knew his fighters and he knew how to motivate them.

In a lengthy career Jackson would also train and work the corners of former WBA world bantamweight champion Junior ‘Poison’ Jones and perennial heavyweight contender Oleg Maskaev. He even had a stint teaching the ropes to Robert DeNiro in his preparations for playing Jake LaMotta in Academy award winning film Raging Bull.

Bob is also attributed to founding white-collar boxing in New York state, spending evenings teaching the Wall Street yuppies the fundamentals of the Sweet Science and launching competitions across the metropolitan area. This would later become a global phenomena.

On the Gleason’s website last week there was a fitting tribute by owner Bruce Silverglade – “Bob was a New York State Hall of Fame trainer who was part of the fabric of Gleason’s. He will be dearly missed by me and many, many other people”.

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

The Monday LunchBox

Modern British great Joe Calzaghe schools Jeff Lacy

Back in 2017 premier and oldest British fight publication Boxing News produced a special edition magazine titled ‘100 Greatest British Boxers’. Being the professionals they are, the staff of the paper deliberated long and hard over their election of the top hundred and then opened it up to wider scrutiny and challenge.

This is an excellent and comprehensive read and is still available online at https://www.boxingnewsshop.com/store/product-category/boxing-news-special-editions/

Spoiler alert – for the purpose of this article I have to reveal the top ten at that time read :-

10 – Randy Turpin, 9) Jim Driscoll, 8) Joe Calzaghe, 7) Freddie Welsh, 6) Bob Fitzsimmons, 5) Jack ‘Kid’ Berg, 4) Ted ‘Kid’ Lewis, 3) Benny Lynch, 2) Lennox Lewis and 1) Jimmy Wilde.

Yes; the winner was ‘The Mighty Atom’, a legendary Welsh flyweight who campaigned in the early decades of the twentieth century and compiled a professional record of 132-6-1 (99 KO’s). In doing so, winning British, European and World flyweight titles and finishing in 1921 as a bantamweight with a 75% knockout win percentage in the toughest of eras.

Wilde was in fact rated in an earlier Boxing News publication as the eighth greatest boxer of all time, across any division and era. Only being topped by the likes of Ali, Robinson, Louis, Leonard and Duran. Some accolade.

The Boxing News top ten of British boxers was dominated by boxers from a bygone era with only Calzaghe and Lewis being the modern day exceptions.

Of equal interest was the remaining ninety boxers in the log and how fighters from each era were scored and ranked. How did the modern day ‘greats’ Hamed, Benn, Hatton and Bruno fare ? You will have to purchase the special edition to find this out.

The reasoning for mention of this now is that special edition is but a mere three years old, yet, there are boxers recently retired or currently active who should force their way into the next top hundred, whenever BN choose to review – but where ?

A quick review of British boxers and fistic accomplishment since 2017 shows we now have two of our greatest heavyweights in Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, certainly since Lennox Lewis made the runner up position. Both are two-time and multiple world champions in the division and should crack the top ten. Certainly Fury who remains undefeated and deposed two champions who reigned beyond ten defences. Where they finally settle in the pantheon of British boxers will be determined by their career ending record, or at the time BN review.

In addition, we have a former Ring magazine fighter of the year in Carl Frampton (something only achieved by two other British fighters in Hatton and Fury) and arguably the highest honour in the sport. Add in two recent winners of the World Boxing Super Series – Muhammad Ali Trophy, – a three-fight elite unification tournament to determine the best in the division – in Callum Smith and Josh Taylor, both still undefeated.

Then throw into the mix double ‘world’ champion Amir Khan and former IBF welterweight champ Kell Brook who won his title spectacularly overseas against a champion in Shawn Porter whose stock has risen since that defeat.

All of these are still active so their final position will still be work in progress. What is certain is all will crack the top hundred, when the experts at Boxing News choose to update their ultimate guide to the best British boxers.

Maybe the most interesting and outstanding question is should ‘The Gypsy King’ remain undefeated, or Anthony Joshua win (if and when they meet) will it be enough to top Lennox Lewis achievements ? Or, indeed replace ‘The Mighty Atom’ further down the track. Once we recover from the present troubles and some semblance of normal service resumes it will be fascinating to see where these modern day British boxers ultimately end up in the historical roll of honour.

To be continued …….

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

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.