Archive | April, 2012

Bellew sends a message to the Valleys

30 Apr

Liverpool’s British light heavyweight champion Tony Bellew, sent a strong message to rival Nathan Cleverly with a sensational fifth round knockout against former European title holder Danny McIntosh in the first defence of his lonsdale belt in front of a packed out crowd at the Liverpool Echo Arena.

From the off the 29 year old Bellew was the stronger fighter, using his far superior boxing skills to beat McIntosh to the punch. With each blow landed by Bellew, his army of fans roared, spurring their man on to continue the pressure. On rare occasions McIntosh threatened to hurt the Liverpudlian but found little success, he came in with lazy shots and it was clear that after taking a couple of blows, McIntosh’s heart was not in the fight.

Bellew’s immaculate timing led to him catching ‘Big Mac’ several times, hurting the Norwich man. From as early as the second round, Bellew threatened the stoppage, constantly leaving the challenger on unsteady legs before finally making him touch the canvas in the last moments of the fourth.

In the fifth round, Bellew looked to continue the slick work he had so far provided for the fans. However he was caught by a clash of heads, which left him momentarily fazed. But the slow stream of blood coming down the left side of the champs face sent a shockwave through his system and he honed in for the kill. With a dip of the shoulder and a swing of the right, Bellew caught McIntosh flush on the chin sending the former European champ to the floor. Instantly the referee waved the bout off, he was clearly never getting up from the hammer blow, sending Bellew into wild celebrations.

The night proved to be a wonderful return to ring action for Tony ‘The Bomber’ Bellew. For six months Bellew wanted to end the frustration of coming off his first professional loss. In his world title shot against long time rival Nathan Cleverly, Bellew put on a clinical performance to do enough to dethrone the WBO champ, but he went home without the decision and without the belt. However Bellew has since not got the rematch he desired. Despite being promised a second crack at the Welshman, Bellew is still waiting. Instead he has had to watch ‘Clev’ make a low profile defence against American Tommy Karpency and soon to come another against Robin Krasniqi.

Post fight Bellew spoke with Sky Sports.

“We had to make a statement tonight. Hopefully that was a big performance,”

“The guy in the Valleys (Cleverly) doesn’t want to fight me. We agreed to have a rematch – an immediate rematch – if anything was close. I was promised it, but I wasn’t given it. Promises were broken.

“I want that fight. I’ll fight him tomorrow. I’ll go to Wales to fight him, I’ll fight him in his garden.”

Bellew, who is a promotional free agent, may look to sign with a promoter in order to help him secure his shot at Cleverly or another title holder. In his interview with Sky Sports, Bellew spoke of levels, saying he never new his level. Clearly he belongs with the elite. With his consistently improving boxing skill and raw KO power, Bellew deserves to hold a world title. Who he may sign with is a mystery. The fight with McIntosh was promoted by up and coming promoter Dave Coldwell with help from Matchroom to provide the television rights. Matchroom’s presence at the contest led their head of boxing Eddie Hearn being in Liverpool. Post fight Eddie seemed to be circling and has since been singing ‘The Bomber’s praises. In the last few years Matchroom and Eddie Hearn have become forces to be reckoned with, Signing up some of the country’s most exciting young and established fighters and providing them with both big nights and big opportunities. With his ambition to rule the boxing world, could Tony Bellew be the next to join the ranks?


McDonnell vacates to step up

23 Apr

Bantamweight Jamie McDonnell has vacated his European title in order to step up in class and challenge at the highest level. McDonnell, who also holds the British and Commonwealth titles, is to next take on former two weight world champion Hugo Cazares. The bout with Cazares has been made a WBC title eliminator and the contest is due to go to purse bids. McDonnell is coming off a stunning second round KO of former world title challenger, Ivan Pozo. The contest was McDonnell’s fourth defence of his EBU crown and after conquering the bantamweight division domestically is now finally time for the 26 year old to step up to the elite.

Mexican Cazares has held the WBO light flyweight and WBA super flyweight titles, but has only fought once since losing the 115 lbs title to Tomonobu Shimizu in August last year, a seventh round TKO win against Adan Garcia in November. The win against Garcia was the 34 year old Mexican’s only bout at Bantamweight and it will be interesting to see how he deals with McDonnell, a younger seasoned campaigner at the weight.

McDonnell’s decision to vacate has allowed Bristol’s super flyweight king Lee Haskins to also step up in both fight level and weight to challenge for McDonnell’s old bantamweight title. Haskin’s and McDonnell are no strangers to each other. The two shared a ring back in 2008 and the Bristolian on that occasion came out the stronger man, defeating Jamie over eight rounds and taking the bout on points.

Haskins will face Belgium’s Stephane Jamoye for the vacant European title. Jamoye is also a former McDonnell foe, losing to the Doncaster fighter back in 2011. Jamoye on that occasion lost by majority decision to McDonnell and i’m sure he is anxious to return to the ring to challenge or the EBU title once again. The bout is to go to purse bids with a deadline of May 21st set.


DeGale defends European crown

23 Apr

James ‘Chunky’ DeGale kept up his good run of form and improved his record to 12-1 (9KOs) in a routine defence of his European super middleweight title against former world title holder Christian Sanavia in Denmark on Saturday night. DeGale won with a fourth round TKO against the veteran Italian Sanavia and was never troubled on an easy night at the Arena Nord. It was the first time DeGale had fought overseas and despite the thin crowd, ‘Chunky’ never lost focused in finishing his opponent early on.

The 26 year old DeGale was able to put the former world titlist on the canvas three times in the fourth round before the referee stepped in to end the contest.

Sanavia attempted to walk down the 2008 Olympic gold medalist but DeGale was never fazed and controlled the fight at range with a slick jab and some swift combinations. The shorter Italian worked hard to attack DeGale on the inside but ‘Chunky’s defence stayed strong. In the second DeGale was pressured on to the ropes before being caught with a strong left hook by Sanavia. However his chin held strong and he replied with a sweet uppercut to faze Sanavia.

In the third DeGale looked sharp, focused and confident. He worked well of the jab, not allowing the little man inside, where he had found some success so far. The strong jab enabled ‘Chunky’ to unload some tidy combinations and weaken the challenger with body shots.

The fourth round saw the finish for Sanavia. DeGale continued to work off the jab before putting down the Italian twice in quick succession, the first most likely considered a slip. When back up DeGale landed a right hook to once again floor the challenger. He followed it up with another knockdown before finally finishing the battle hardened Italian with a clinical combination that rocked him down to his knees, rather than administering another count the referee simply waived off the fight as the Italian had clearly had enough.

Since losing his British title to long time rival George Groves, DeGale has gone relatively under the radar. Before the bout DeGale was one of the most charismatic, media loving fighters in the business. But since losing his lonsdale belt and undefeated record, ‘Chunky’ has let his boxing do the talking. DeGale went on to put in a confident performance to claim the European belt against Piotr Wilczewski and the rebuilding process has got even better. He put promotional problems behind him to deliver a sweet performance against Sanavia and open a world of options to have a great year within the sport.

After Groves withdrew from his world title bout against WBO titlist Robert Stieglitz, it is known DeGale was offered the opportunity, only to smartly decline in order to defend his EBU belt. It is not known what is next for the Olympic gold medalist, many people will want to see the Groves rematch – Some fans are still DeGale earned the victory. I would like to see DeGale step up in level and ignore Groves for the time being and build his name away from the British champion.



Sunday Sparring

22 Apr

Northern Ireland’s Paul McCloskey will now be going into his May 5th challenge against DeMarcus Corley knowing a win could potentially set up a summer megafight. Rumour has it that the Dungiven fighter is on the shortlist of potential opponents for the four weight world champion, Juan Manuel Marquez. McCloskey was hoping that a win against Corley would put him back into contention for a world title shot after his previous challenge against our own former unified champion, Amir Khan, ended in disappointment. If that was not enough to spur on the 32 year old, the potential of  fight with a future hall of famer will certainly drive ‘Dudey’ on to victory. However, McCloskey is one of many on that shortlist to face Marquez. The Mexican hopes to secure a fourth bout with pound for pound king Manny Pacquaio after controversially coming up short in their previous encounter. He was hoping to warm up for that potential clash by facing a highly rated southpaw like McCloskey. Rumoured to also be on the shortlist are Mike Alvarado and Brandon Rios.

It has been announced that the May 26th world title fight between Nottingham’s super middleweight Carl Froch and IBF belt holder Lucian Bute will be shown on Sky Sports. Initially the fight was without a British broadcaster as Froch’s Matchroom boxing promoters and Sky could not reach an agreement. The ‘Cobra’ will be hoping to get back to winning ways against Bute after losing his WBC crown to Andre Ward last December. The bout taking place in Froch’s home town of Nottingham is one of the years most anticipated contests. The Canadian based Romanian Bute is putting his undefeated record on the line along with his IBF belt as he looks to prove himself as one of the best at super middleweight.

Former British super featherweight champion Gary Sykes has secured himself a shot against WBO world champion Adrien Broner on the undercard of the Amir Khan-Lamont Peterson world title rematch. The fight against Broner has shocked everyone within the boxing community, including Sykes himself. The 28 year old recently got back to winning ways against Dean Mills after losing his lonsdale belt in a rematch against former conquerer Gary Buckland. Sykes is making a huge step up in class to face Broner in Las Vegas. He has never fought above domestic level and in facing Broner, he is against a fighter considered to be the next big star in world boxing. Broner’s incredible boxing ability combined with devastating power and charisma has got the attention of everybody involved in the sport, reminding many of a young Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Last night saw Abner Mares successfully become a two weight world champion with a classy display against Eric Morel to capture the WBC  super bantamweight championship in El Paso, Texas. The Mexican was able to maintain his undefeated record by outboxing Morel the full twelve rounds on his way to a unanimous decision victory. The only resistance to the Mares attack seemed to be the chin of the former flyweight world champion, Morel. The Puerto Rican took some brutal shots but held strong to hear the final bell. The WBC belt only became available due to former champion Toshiaki Nishioka being elevated to Emeritus champion status.

The Lonsdale belt goes back to Liverpool

22 Apr

The boxing revival taking place in the north west of England took a huge leap forward last night as Liverpool’s lightweight ‘Dirty’ Derry Mathews realised a life’s dream by conquering Anthony ‘Million Dollar’ Crolla to snatch away the British title from the Manchester man. Mathews won the title in superb fashion, flooring the champ early before stopping the Mancunian in the sixth. The performance from Mathews was clinical in a fight where it was literally win or bust for the challenger.

Derry was considered a massive underdog against the reigning champion and few foresaw the nights events. The Liverpudlian was coming off a devastating loss to Emiliano Marsili for the IBO crown back in January. The loss had led Mathews to question his future in the sport. In the other corner, Crolla was in tremendous form. He had remained undefeated for three years on his road to claiming the vacant British lightweight title and had looked outstanding in doing so.

Both men started strongly, Derry reeling off the light combinations while Crolla’s defence held solid and the champ settled into his jab. As Crolla tried to stalk, the 28 year old Mathews used his feet and movement well to avoid the attack. Late in the first Crolla’s strong start showed as Mathews achilles heel once again resurfaced and blood was drawn from the nose of the challenger. Mathews suffered a badly broken nose in his 2011 technical draw with Gavin Rees and since then the challenger has suffered because of it. The weakness has affected his training and cost him in the loss to Marsili. The champion continued to walk down Mathews in the second, however he had more success in making Crolla miss and was able to return his own punches. Unfortunately the champ continued to have the better of the fight, controlling the pace and fighting his way.

Derry was able to finish the second the stronger fighter and finally found great success in the third, putting down the champion early in the round with a heavy right uppercut. Crolla was made to feel the canvas for the first time as a boxer, amateur or pro. Derry followed up firing, there was long left in the round and Mathews was hoping to finish the night early. Crolla survived the round, but his confidence surely took the biggest hit. He came out for the fourth re-settled and clear. The champ came out firing, unloaded the combinations, he wanted revenge. However the aggressiveness of Crolla worked in favour of the challenger as Derry cut the 25 year old above the left eye, the older man landing a sweet right straight to do so. The bad was cut and was clearly affecting Crolla, he was squinting throughout the round, which left the referee calling in the fight doctor to inspect the injury.

In the fifth, Mathews continued to have great success with the uppercut, landing the stunning shot multiple times as part of his swift combinations. The champ however kept coming, fighting all the way and giving Mathews as good as he was receiving. Later on in the round Crolla appeared to weaken Mathews slightly with a nice body blow. Once again in the sixth Mathews got through the strong defence with a series of uppercuts, but the champ was never giving up easily as he replied with shots of his own. The major breakthrough came when Mathews landed a left hook right on the chin of Crolla to leave the champ stumbling to the ropes. He managed to stay on his feet but he kept taking shots. He was simply in survival mode going into the last ten seconds of the sixth when referee John Keane decided to step in and stop the contest.

The result was massive for Mathews, he could barely contain his exciting as he went celebrating around the ring. A career of trying and falling short, but he finally had his night in securing a first lonsdale belt.

Before the bout, Mathews called the bout his last chance saloon. A loss would have surely left ‘Dirty’ Derry to consider his future within the sport but now the Liverpudlian has a new lease of life as a pro. The option’s the 28 year old has in the strongest division in the country are incredible. Should Gavin Rees not secure a world title contest, surely a rematch of their 2011 draw will be on the cards. Crolla now must unfortunately return to the drawing boards. But he’s young and he has a lot left to give. He’s lost in the past and returned stronger and now he has to learn from his mistakes to make him a better fighter.

On the undercard, Blackpool’s cruiserweight prospect Matty Askin lost his undefeated record in what was a poor performance against Jon-Lewis Dickinson. The win means Dickinson will now challenge the winner of the rematch between Enzo Maccarinelli and Shane McPhilbin for the British crown.



Two big blows to British boxing

17 Apr

Today the British boxing community was hit by the announcements that not one, but two world title fights involving British fighters were to be called off due to injury and illness.

Firstly, this morning it was announced that undefeated British and Commonwealth super middleweight champion, George Groves, has been forced to withdraw from his second straight bout due to suffering an injury in training. The 24 year old was due to challenge German super middleweight king, Robert Stieglitz, on May 5th in Erfut, Germany. So far the exact details of the injury Groves suffered during training camp in Northern Cyprus, have been kept unknown.

In a statement released by promoters Hayemaker boxing, Groves stated “We tried to work through it, but soon realised I wouldn’t be able to perform the training needed to prepare for this fight,”

“After immediately coming back to London and seeking medical advice, I hope this problem will be quickly sorted and cause only a short delay.

 “I am truly sorry to everyone who will be affected by this. This is without doubt the toughest decision I have ever had to make, and I am gutted, but nothing worth having is given away.””It has only made me more determined to achieve my goal of becoming world champion.”

Groves hasn’t stepped in the ring since his two round demolition of former lonsdale belt holder Paul Smith on November 5th. Groves was due to defend his British and Commonwealth titles against former victim Kenny Anderson last month, but once again he was forced to withdraw due to an unspecified injury. Rumour has it, Groves will once again face Anderson in his ring return at the end of June.
Today’s other important announcement was that WBO light heavyweight title holder, Nathan Cleverly, has also been forced to withdraw from his next contest due to falling ill with a virus. The undefeated Welshman was due to defend his 175 lbs belt against Robin Krasniqi at the Royal Albert Hall, London at the end of the month. The virus has left Cleverly bed ridden and unable to train properly. The champion today spoke with Sky Sports,”I’ve been unable to train because I’ve been laid up in bed with a viral infection and there’s not enough time to make up what I’ve missed in training to make sure I’m fully fit,” he said.

“I’ve taken the advice of my doctor and been told to fully rest before attempting to start training again.

 Cleverly was due to bring back professional boxing to the world famous Royal Albert Hall. An honour that Cleverly felt proud to put his name to.
“I’m really disappointed because I was looking forward to being the first fighter to bring boxing back to the Royal Albert Hall in over a decade and the first of the century.”
The April 28th bill will now be co-headlined by the 2008 Olympian, Billy Joe Saunders’ vacant English middleweight challenge against Tony Hill and the British light middleweight title eliminator between Sam Webb and Matthew Hall.

Rogan meets Tyson’s fury

15 Apr

Undefeated British heavyweight Tyson Fury, claimed the Irish heavyweight title with a stunning fifth round stoppage of veteran Belfast fighter, Martin Rogan, in front of 6000 fans at the Odyssey Arena in the Northern Ireland capital. Rogan, the winner of the inaugural Prizefighter series, simply could not handle Fury’s power as he was knocked down in the third before being finished off in the fifth.

Fury made big changes to his style for the bout, adopting a new southpaw stance hoping to counter previous problems. In his last contest Fury was open to the overhand right, being caught several times by Neven Pajkic and eventually floored. However the former British title holder rallied back to stop fellow undefeated fighter Pajkic in the next round. By leading with the right, Fury was hoping it would negate Rogan’s attack, a fighter who comes charging in swinging the big rights.

After struggling in the opening rounds to get used to the new stance, Fury was being forced back by the veteran heavyweight. In the second 40 year old Rogan put Fury against the ropes, bullying the 6 foot 9 Mancunian into an unknown position.

However the success was to be short lived. As Fury got into his zone and comfortable with the southpaw stance he started to land the clean shots. In the third, Fury found his range, landing the big one-two to put Rogan on the canvas for the first time. Rogan was able to reach the end of the round, and his face started to show the scars of battle. Rogan fought back in the fourth, but he simple could not trouble the bigger, younger, fitter man and was subsequently stopped in the fifth.

A sharp right hook up top, forced Rogan on the defensive allowing Fury to focus in on the body. A stunning left hook to the right side of Rogan sent shockwaves through the Belfast fighter and he crumbled to his knees. Rogan, who seemed to be in severe pain made his way back to his feet to beat the count, unfortunately his trainer had seen enough and he rightly called off the contest. Despite some protest, deep down Rogan must have agreed with the decision. His warrior instinct wanted to continue, but his body clearly could not take further punishment.

For Fury it was another stop on the road to the jewel in the crown of world boxing, the heavyweight championship. The undefeated fighter is currently ranked eighth by the WBC, is only a few fights away from a title challenge, however the 23 year old still has to answer questions about his championship credentials. Fury, the former British and Commonwealth title holder, was in line to defend his titles against fellow 6 foot 9, undefeated heavyweight, David Price. However due to boxing politics, British fight fans were denied a mouth watering domestic match up. Until Fury answers the calls to fight Price, few will believe he is good enough to challenge on of the Klitschko’s.

Few believe the fight with Price will happen soon, in the meantime Fury has a number of options of fighters with challenges against Robert Helenius and Alexander Povetkin being rumoured. For Rogan, it is hard to see him having a future within the ring. At 40 years of age, Rogan has little more to offer and he can retire with a proud pro career behind him.