THE lack of movement in the protracted negotiations between Anthony Joshua (21-0, 20 KOs) and Deontay Wilder (40-0, 39 early) is frustrating fans on both sides of the Atlantic and has even prompted former world heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis to offer his take on the situation via a series of social media posts.
Taking to Twitter, Lewis wrote: “My thoughts on the Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder situation are that when I was champ, I wanted to face the best to show the world who’s the best. Period. I’ve heard them both speak on it but I’ve also seen that AJ has changed his tune. This isn’t a two year down the line thing!’
“Promoters have their own interest in making most money they can but fighters also carry weight in who they fight. If both sides wanted this fight, it would be happening. End of story. AJ taking Povetkin fight first isn’t a deal breaker for Wilder though. Just don’t like the two year talk!
“I’m not in on all the details of Joshua-Wilder negotiations but when I wanted to fight Tyson before retiring, the only thing keeping that fight away was the networks. I told my team and HBO to make it happen … end of story. I don’t want to hear about anything else!
“The way I see it AJ is the man. He gets to choose time and place for first fight. I’d make Wilder come to me also… But from what I see from Wilder, he’s willing to … and this is the same attitude I would have. When the heavyweight division finally has a pulse, we need action not talk!”
Lewis has received some support for his views as well as plenty of criticism. Thankfully, scores of UK and US armchair accountants and promoters, who know far more about negotiating big fights than Lewis, have told the former world champion why and how he has got it wrong. Hopefully this will put an end to his well-meaning if ill-informed attempts to discuss big-fight negotiations — he should just stick to boxing.
You cannot blame Lewis, though, as he made almost every possible fight he could make during his career, but it does make you wistfully recall his drive and determination to make certain fights. After unifying the titles against Evander Holyfield in November 1999, Lewis watched heir apparent Michael Grant beat Andrew Golota the following weekend and said: “Get me him!”
Five months later he was beating Grant up at Madison Square Garden as he took another step towards the long, long-awaited fight with Mike Tyson — it is good to be king. Neither Joshua nor Wilder are anywhere near Lewis and Tyson status yet — Joshua is Diet Lennox and the only difference between Wilder and Grant is that Deontay grabbed the WBC title in a weaker field — so their fight should on a par with Lewis-Grant when it comes to making it happen. Make it so.
Dudley’s Darren McDermott drew a line under his boxing career after suffering a brain injury in sparring in 2010 yet the former English middleweight titlist did not know that it would be the beginning of a long battle to find out how a medical scan failed to pick up an existing brain aneurysm.
McDermott has won an undisclosed pay out from InHealth Ltd., who conducted his annual medical and scan, after they failed to spot the potential for further, possibly fatal, damage and gave the BBBoC the go-ahead to relicense him.
Thankfully, McDermott did not make it into the ring, but the punches he accrued while sparring ruptured the aneurysm, which required surgery and left him with short-term memory loss as well as permanently ending his career.
His record remains stalled on 17-2-1 with nine KOs. Although it will be of little comfort to the 40-year-old former fighter, the healthcare company will now perform extra scans on boxers in order to avoid a repeat of this in future.
Belfast’s Sean McComb turns professional at the city’s SSE Arena tomorrow night yet the 25-year-old almost did not make it this far after becoming embroiled in a nightclub incident that nearly prompted the Northern Ireland Commonwealth Games Council to send him home after losing to England’s Luke McCormack at this year’s Games in Australia.
After the dust had settled, CCTV footage exonerated McComb by showing beyond any doubt that he was the innocent party and freeing him up to make the transition to the professional ranks.
“I’m so glad that I stood my ground and that our coach John Conlan believed in me when I said that the CCTV evidence would prove I hadn’t started any trouble,” said McComb when speaking to David Kelly of the Belfast Times.
He added: “I got frustrated with the amateurs because it seemed that nothing was going my way whether it was the draws I was getting at competitions or the decisions. I couldn’t even go away and have a pint in peace in Australia!
“The time was right to turn professional. There’s such an excitement about the professional game now with the likes of Mick Conlan and Carl Frampton doing so well — and there’s better opportunities in the pro game to show people how good I am.”
A Scottish amateur boxer and his entire family have gone on hunger strike in the hope of attracting attention to their attempt to gain citizenship. Dastan Kamil and his family have had their citizenship applications knocked back for over 13 years, prompting them to camp outside the Glasgow’s Borders and Immigration Agency in protest.
A current Youth Champion, the 19-year-old considers Scotland his home, telling Kathleen Spiers of the Daily Record and Sunday Mail that he and his family, who are Iraqi-Kurdish refugees currently residing in northern Glasgow, wish to remain in the country.
“I’ve lived in Scotland since I was five and this is home to me,” he said. “I’m the best in my category in the country yet I can’t represent Scotland as I don’t have citizenship.”
His brother, Daban, is also an amateur boxer; he believes that the Home Office have treated them badly. “I’ve never set foot in a police station and never done anything against the law,” he said. “I worked hard at Cleveden Secondary School and gained a 2:1 honours degree in mechanical engineering. An engineering firm in Aberdeen offered me a full-time job after I was picked over thousands of applicants but I can’t take it as I don’t have citizenship.”
He added: “We pay taxes and all have jobs. The Home Office can’t treat us like this any longer. We’ll starve until they listen.”
They added that the issue is related to three points on a family member’s driving licence, but argue that this should not impact on an entire household who have gone to great lengths to integrate themselves into Scottish culture.
Scottish Labour’s Paul Sweeney has been in contact with the Home Office. He is fully behind the family’s battle to remain and the Home Office issued the following short statement to the Record in response: “We are reviewing the family’s application and have invited them to a meeting to discuss their cases.”
As one family fights to remain in Glasgow and stay part of the local boxing community, the city has paid tribute to Benny Lynch, the country’s first world champion, with an exhibition celebrating his life and career at the People’s Palace.
The Glaswegian won the NBA flyweight world title by beating Jackie Brown at Manchester’s Belle Vue venue in September 1935. He also held the European title and British title. Lynch retired in 1938 with an 88-14-17 (34) record only to die of malnutrition in 1946 aged 33; he was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1998.
Speaking to The Herald (Glasgow edition), former WBC lightweight holder Jim Watt had high praise for Lynch, saying: “I’ve said it many times before, but I believe that Benny Lynch is Scotland’s greatest sporting legend. I think Benny would be touched to have a display about his life right here, in such a popular museum, not far from where he was brought up.”
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