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.

Pascal to make long awaited return

7 Apr

Former WBC and Ring Magazine light heavyweight champion Jean Pascal is all but set to make a ring return against current IBF belt holder, Tavoris Cloud. The 29 year old Canadian had been inactive since losing to veteran champion Berndard Hopkins last May, but the former titlist hopes to back to winning ways and recapture a world title.

Currently the fight has not been finalised, however Cloud has signed the fight contract and according to Pascal’s promoter Yvon Michel, Pascal has agreed the conditions and the signature is simply a formality. Michel recently spoke with Ringtv.com

“Jean Pascal is on board 100 percent. We have an agreement. The paperwork hasn’t been finalized, but Jean Pascal is not going to back out,” said Michel. “We have the deal done, and everything has been approved, so it’s just a matter of administration. But definitely, Jean Pascal is on board.”

At this current time the last parts of the deal are being finalised such as dates and arenas. Rumours are that the bout will be taking place in Pascal’s hometown of Quebec, and that it will take place after the summer.

Since losing a WBC super middleweight title fight with Britains Carl Froch, Pascal moved up in weight to once again make a challenge for world honours. The Canadian was able to string together five successive wins in his WBC light heavyweight reign, taking the scalps of Silvio Branco and Adrian Diaconu, as well as taking the undefeated record of former world champion ‘Bad’ Chad Dawson. Pascal was in line to make his fourth defence against former two weight world champion Bernard Hopkins once again in his hometown of Quebec back in 2010. With Pascal in sublime form and Hopkins fighting at the unheard of age of 46 (now 47), many fought Pascal was in for a relatively easy night. However, you would be wrong to ever right off ‘The Executioner’. Hopkins rallied back from two early knockdowns to put in a terrific performance to effectively win the fight, unfortunately a draw was the final decision. In the rematch once again Hopkins brought his A-game. He dominated Pascal to earn himself the win and tear away Pascal’s world crown. Since that loss. Pascal has taken time out from the ring and many will be looking froward to his return to a highly competitive light heavyweight division.

 

Current IBF light heavyweight champion, Tavoris Cloud, is coming into the fight with Pascal off a fight he will be hoping to forget. In February, Cloud put his title on the line against former WBA beltholder, Gabriel Campillo. The Spainiard outboxed the champion over twelve rounds but in controversial fashion, Cloud earned the win with a split division victory.  The champ wants to prove that his performance that night was a fluke and what better way to do so than defeat the one time number one ranked light heavyweight in the world. The undefeated American will be making the fifth defence of his IBF crown and at 30 years of age he will be looking to keep moving forward and hope to secure a future unification bout.

With the 175 lbs division being a competitive as it is at this current time, the winner is certain to have many lucrative offers on their way. Current champions Bernard Hopkins and Nathan Cleverly are set to defend their crowns on April 28th against Chad Dawson and Robin Krasniqi on different sides of the ponds. No doubt should he win, Pascal will want another crack at Hopkins and a chance to restore his reputation as one of the best.

 

Stieglitz-Groves set for May 5th

5 Apr

May 5th is hotting up to be one of the biggest dates in the boxing calendar. The Saturday in spring already features big world title fights such as Cotto-Mayweather, Alvarez-Mosley and Huck-Afolabi. It has since been announced that the big match up between WBO super middleweight champion and mandatory challenger George Groves will also take place on the same bill as the Huck-Afolabi rematch in Erfut, Germany, making it one long night of fight action.

The current undefeated British and Commonwealth champion Groves will be making a huge step up in class when he challenges Stieglitz for the world crown on May 5th. So far his only real tests have come from current European champion, James DeGale and Kenny Anderson and many wonder if Groves can handle the step up. Currently with a professional record of 14-0 (11KOs) Groves is relatively still a baby in the paid ranks and this may well be too early for the 24 year old. However Groves has a vast amateur background, and has headlined a bill at the 02 arena, when he defeated DeGale in their grudge match for the British title, and the youngster from Hammersmith would not won’t to pass up the opportunity and risk never getting the fight again. A lot of people are however predicting a relatively easy night for Groves despite his lack of experience. In his fourteen professional contests Groves has looked outstanding and can certainly mix it with the best. But you would be wrong to right off the German world champion. Stieglitz has held the title since 2009 and has put on some convincing displays in his five defences. He certainly is not going to let the younger man walk all over him.

Groves getting the shot at Stieglitz is a controversial one. The British champ was due to defend his title back in March against Scotland’s Kenny Anderson in a rematch of their 2010 dust up, however Groves pulled out of the bout late on after suffering an injury. Shortly after pulling out, Groves was named the mandatory for Stieglitz’s crown and just recently the fight has been made. This led to outcry from the boxing community, many felt he had cheated Anderson out of a title shot. After all, Kenny did give George the shock of a lifetime when he put the undefeated star on the canvas early on in their previous bout and some may have thought the champ was running scared. But should Groves win? was him pulling out a blessing in disguise for Anderson. Groves will come under immense pressure to face his rival and I’m sure Anderson will be far happier for there to be a world title on the line.