Category Archives: Blog

July 21, 2017
July 21, 2017
Qais Ashfaq

Greg Woodward/GB Boxing

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I always said from the start I didn’t want to follow the mould, doing what everybody else did. It just seemed like the perfect opportunity. The fact that I personally wanted to be able to box in England and America and the perfect opportunity came.

On top of that, even before I knew about the whole Hayemaker-Ringside set up I wanted Ismael Salas as my coach. I had a meeting with him. It all came together. It’s like it’s meant to be. With all the lads it’s like a big family environment and that’s just what I wanted.

I’ve got the best coach, amazing supporters, David Haye being the promoter as well, he’s got all the experience in the boxing game, so it’s perfect for me. I can see the difference already. Ismael Salas is amazing for me, he’s the best coach in the world.

I’m not sure the exact date for my next fight but around September hopefully.

Qais Ashfaq

It’s good to be in a close-knit team. It’s like a boutique, all the best in one shop and that’s how it’s working out.

Knowing Amir Khan is good for me turning pro now, not to follow in his footsteps but to have someone I can go to. But if I need advice I can also go to David so I’ve got a lot of people here to help me. I think the only way is up.

Joe Joyce discusses his pro move HERE

July 21, 2017
July 21, 2017
boxing

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THE world keeps shifting under my feet and it is all just too much for my aging mind to deal with. We have a guy who has never been in a professional boxing match getting paid millions to fight a former pound-for-pound champion. We have a new boxing series which offers prizes huge enough to convince some of the best in the world to stop avoiding each other and fight. It has actually allowed the “seeded” fighters to hand pick their opponents-but from a very tough list- and in doing so leaves the four main sanctioning bodies sitting on the sidelines helpless whilst their titles are rendered superfluous and they suffer the loss of sanctioning fees. There are also changes I relish and despite the egos we can look forward to one of the most anticipated fights for years in Gennady Golovkin vs. Saul Alvarez and if Anthony Joshua and Wlad Klitschko can make their minds up whether they are going to agree the date of the last Saturday in November in Las Vegas we will also be getting the most eagerly anticipated return fight in the heavyweight division since….hell it’s been so long since there was one I can’t remember when.

The drums have been beating for Conor McGregor vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr and the stories have been trotted out about McGregor being floored in sparring and that the odds against a McGregor win have shortened dramatically etc. but in the end it will signify nothing. Whoever wins on August 26 it will mean nothing. It won’t change a single thing in the boxing world or prove anything. It is a manufactured spectacle of no long term significance to boxing but it will be a huge spectacle and by fight time I am going to be sick of people asking who I think will win. I will give them an honest answer – I don’t care.

boxing

The World Super Series Boxing (WSSB)  Is a different matter altogether as it will provide lots of fights in a relatively short time that would either not have happened at all or taken years to put together. There is no obvious down side to it although kicking the series off by clashing with the Golovkin vs. Alvarez fight is not a good start but it will certainly provide us with some top class matches and that has to be good.

There was a lot of criticism in Germany over Arthur Abraham’s performance against Chris Eubank Jr or the lack of it. His long time trainer Ulli Wegner said that Abraham no longer had the heart for boxing. This performance and Abraham’s effort in April last year against Gilberto Ramirez where he lost every round have convinced many that at 37 he should retire. The title winning efforts of the Armenian born Abraham made him a millionaire at 27 and he has invested wisely in car dealerships and real estate so he does not need the money but he may not want to go out on such a humiliating loss.

There has been a war of words going on between the WBC and the AIBA. It really is a waste of time. The AIBA will not stop dabbling in professional boxing and as long as they have the stranglehold on Olympic boxing they have a strong position. Setting up alternative amateur competitions or threatening sanctions against boxers if they fight in any AIBA events is futile. If AIBA really think they can shove their way into professional boxing and become a player then let them. They will be no match for the big pro promoters and will just become a sanctioning body that crosses the red line on conflict of interest by also being a promoter line and they will find things different when they try to play with the big boys.

An indication of how things are changing is that just recently a Russian Boxing Federation has been formed from what were previously two separate bodies and they will control both amateur and professional boxing. The world keeps on changing.

Despite his June 3 fight against Fres Oquendo for the vacant secondary WBA title being cancelled after he tested positive for high testosterone levels Shannon Briggs is talking about resuming his quest for a shot the heavyweight title in October. Only in boxing could someone with two positive tests be talking about taking part in such a high profile event just four months after he gave a positive test. Hopefully it is only Briggs blowing wind but if he does fight Oquendo in October for the vacant secondary WBA title it will be a 45-year-old Briggs having his first fight for 17 months against a 44-year-old Oquendo who has not fought for 40 months. This should cause even the WBA to cringe with embarrassment.

Money matters in boxing so for those interested these were the reported purses for the fights at the weekend: Miguel Berchelt $250,000 Takashi Miura $195,000 Jezreel Corrales $75,000 Robinson Castellanos $50,000 Sullivan Barrera $120,000 Joe Smith Jr $160,000. So for a non-title ten round fight Smith took home more than Corrales and Castellanos earned between them for a title fight. It was also interesting that more money was paid out for the non-title show in Uniondale New York than in the title show in Inglewood. In Uniondale the purses were $250,000 each for both Omar Figueroa and Roberto Guerrero, $250,000 for Sean Monaghan $100,000 for Marcus Browne, $150,000 for Artur Szpilka and $100,000 for Adam Kownacki. So some big numbers but at the other end of the spectrum Top Rank won the bidding for the IBF welter eliminator between Konstantin Ponomarev and Carlos Ocampo reportedly with a bid of $30,000 which seems low. The winner of the eliminator will be the mandatory challenger to Errol Spence.

There must have been a time when Robinson Castellanos thought that appearing on a big show or being paid $50,000 for a fight or fighting for a world title were all impossible dreams. After turning pro in 2002 he went 10-10 in his first 20 fights including five losses by KO/TKO. From there he went 14-2 in his next 16 fights and ended up fighting Corrales for the WBA title-quite a turn around.

Sullivan Barrera’s win over Joe Smith Jr on Saturday has seen the two fighters now heading down very different paths. Barrera is being mentioned as a prospective opponent for both Sergey Kovalev and Nathan Cleverly and Smith is facing surgery for a fractured jaw he suffered in the second round of their fight. Boxing can be cruel and kind and this is a prime example of the way the pendulum can swing.

Whilst Barrera seems to be making progress Artur Beterbiev is finding banana skins. His proposed IBF eliminator with German Enrico Koelling was to be the main support to Mikey Garcia vs. Adrien Broner on 29 July but has had to be cancelled. It has been suggested that with Beterbiev being a Muslim from Dagestan the tighter visa restrictions introduced by the USA have caused both an application and an appeal to be refused but to complicate matters further there is a dispute between Yvon Michel and Beterbiev over the status of their contract and he still has a past manager going to the courts. The IBF have asked for purse bids for the fight by 25 July but even then nothing is certain. Will Andre Ward want to fight the winner or will he move up to cruiser, will Beterbiev fight if Michel wins the purse bidding, will Beterbiev solve his visa problems-too much uncertainty.

With their No 1 Callum Smith opting for the WSSB tournament the WBC have given a date of 28 July for purse offers for the match between Anthony Dirrell vs. David Benavidez for their vacant super middle title. On 18 August in Mendoza Argentinian Juan Carlos Reveco faces Thai Komgrich in a final eliminator to find a challenger for WBO fly champion Donnie Nietes

Good to see Billy Joe Saunders getting back into action. For a variety of reasons the WBO middleweight champion has made only one defence of his title in the 19 months since he won it. His challenger Willie Monroe was crushed in six rounds by Gennady Golovkin in 2015 but rehabilitated himself with a victory over tough Gabriel Rosado in September. In the division eliminators are already set with the WBC mandatory challenger coming from the winner of the fight between Jorge Sebastian Heiland and Jermall Charlo and the IBF from Tureano Johnson and Sergey Derevyanchenko. Neither Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam or Ryota Murata are likely opponents so if Saunders beats Monroe his list of top quality opposition is limited but things can change quickly in boxing.

The Firat Arslan vs. Goran Delic fight was not a classic. Arslan was much too good for the carefully protected Delic. The promoters missed out on a great ticket selling line-both fighters work as lawyers and I am sure there a lot of people who would gladly pay to see two lawyers beat each other up.

The “Super Series” tournaments are proving popular. Rodney Berman has already run a couple and now he is launching two more in October at super middle and super bantam which will feature both high profile fighters such as Simphiwe Vetyeka and also give some promising fighters their chance.

Two South African fighters will face Filipino fighters in world title bouts. Gideon Buthelezi will put his IBO super fly title on the line against Filipino Ryan Rey Ponteras in East London and Hekkie Budler heads out to Cebu City to challenge Milan Melindo for the IBF light fly title. It will a toughie for Budler as Melindo will be making the first defence of the title he won with a shock first round stoppage of Akira Yaegashi in Tokyo in May. Budler will be aiming to become a three division champion so won’t be fazed by travelling into the lion’s den.

One title fight per show is never enough in Japan and there will be two titles on the line in Osaka on 13 September. IBF super bantam champion Yukinori Oguni puts his title up against Ryosuke Iwasa and WBO light fly champion Kosei Tanaka defends his title against Thai Palangpol.

I can’t believe there is an outfit aiming to re-introduce bare knuckle fighting. The sport has enough of an image problem without someone taking us back to the bare knuckle days. They claim to already have acceptance from some States for this but I know that some countries will never legalise it. If someone suffered a serious injury it is difficult to see how a judge could view it any differently to a street fight and if someone if badly injured in a street fight the law offers no protection to any participant.

Unbeaten Isaac Dogboe continues to be a big draw in Ghana. He fights this weekend against Argentinian Javier Chacon in the first defence of his WBO International title. Chacon is his toughest test yet as the Argentinian went the distance in a challenge against Anselmo Moreno for the WBA bantam title in 2014 and challenged Jamie McDonnell for the secondary WBA title in 2014 when a dislocated shoulder forced him out of the fight. As for the eliminator status of the fight with Chacon not currently in the WBO top 15 that is not a final eliminator but another step along the path for the former Olympian.

Another important fight for a Ghanaian boxer will see Emmanuel Tagoe defending his IBO title against former IBF super feather champion Argenis Mendez. The Dominican was looking a bit like damaged goods after back to back losses to Robert Easter and Luke Campbell but last time out he scored a good win over Ivan Redkach and he is the highest profile fight the 30-year-old Tagoe has faced in his 13 year career.

So sad to read of the death of Paul Ferreri. The Australian was a truly talented boxer and a genuinely nice person. He was Australian champion at bantam, feather and super feather and Commonwealth champion at bantam and super bantam. His one world title shot came in 1976 against the great Carlos Zarate and he was stopped in twelve rounds. He was 17-2 in Australian title fights and 11-3 in Commonwealth title fights in a 78-13-5 record and was one of the greatest little men produced by Australia.

We also lost Eddie “The Animal” Lopez. The Californian heavyweight never reached the heights with a draw against Leon Spinks his highest profile achievement. His four losses in his 25-4-2 record were to John Tate, Gerry Cooney, Marty Monroe and Tony Tucker. Unfortunately Eddie was one guy boxing could not save as he was a member of one of the biggest gangs in East Los Angeles and was no stranger to jail or drugs.

Once again from my soapbox. The weekend saw more flapping glove tapes. Why can’t they tape the gloves up as normal and then just wind a band of good quality Velcro on top of the tape-or is that too simple?

Historically the usual reason for a no contest was when the referee decided that one or both boxers were not giving their best and threw them both out. That was the stigma associated with a No Contest. That’s a sensible and valid use of No Contest. However If a fight ends inside four rounds due to a cut it and is not a win a loss or a draw then no decision is rendered so why do we not call it a No Contest when there was a valid contest but an unfinished one and no decision was rendered. Whoever came up with No Contest did not think it through. Here endeth the lesson!

July 20, 2017
July 20, 2017
Conor McGregor

Action Images/USA TODAY Sports/Noah K. Murray

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LAST week saw the four-day Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor world tour.

Social media went mental; I can’t remember boxing fans ever hating a fight or an event this much since I started boxing in 1996.

It baffles me, I’ve been involved with boxing as much if not more than anyone in the last 22 years and I absolutely love this fight with no hate towards it whatsoever!

I don’t understand all the negative vibes towards it. People need to realise this is great for boxing. The sporting world and media are discussing boxing.

We have for me one of the top five greatest boxers of all in Floyd Mayweather fighting one of the top three greatest MMA fighters of all time in a boxing match.

Conor is known as the best striker (boxer) in the UFC, and he is fighting our pound-for-pound king, what is there to hate about that? Why is this bad for our sport? I don’t get.

The worst thing about this fight is the timing… Now a real 50-50 fight between two of the best, Canelo Alvarez vs Gennady “GGG” Golovkin, has been put aside in the media, which is a shame as this fight has the potential to be the greatest of the decade. Hopefully it gets the attention it deserves after August 26.

I did a poll on twitter to see which fight people would rather watch: Conor v Floyd or GGG v Canelo … HERE are the [perhaps surprising] results.

Honestly, if I had to choose and could only choose one of these fights to watch, I am 100% watching Conor v Floyd. I said this on twitter and got a bit of hate for it. I think this fight, show, event, whatever you want to call it, is a once in a life time boxing match, why would I want to miss it?

I keep getting asked about when Conor came to my gym Box ‘N Burn, and sparred Chris Van Heerden, and how it went when the camera wasn’t on. I think just about everyone has seen the footage of that spar now, and Conor has trained in my gym Box ‘N Burn a few times now too. I’ve seen him box closely, and really think he’s way more skilled than people think, I talk about this on my latest podcast (Box ‘N Life).

Conor McGregor

I  get into detail about what I think Conor’s game plan needs to be, the four day build-up and my fight prediction, and not many people think the same as me on this.

Click HERE to listen to the latest episode.

Conor McGregor

July 18, 2017
July 18, 2017
professional boxing

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IT’S great to see the new crop of Olympians coming through the pro ranks right now.

It seems like two minutes ago when James DeGale, Billy Joe Saunders, Kal Yafai, David Price, Frankie Gavin, Bradley Saunders and Joe Murray, and myself, got back from the 2008 Olympics. We were all thinking about signing professional. I would spend a lot of time with James, Frankie and big Pricey talking about who we were going to go with, what deals we were being offered. It was very exciting.

All of us were about to come into money we never imagined we would have had, even though after I medalled I only got a fraction of what I thought I would have got. I was expecting a 200k signing on bonus and around 30-50k fight, after coming back from the Olympics with a medal… That was the rumors, because before 2008 the only Olympic medallists we’d had for a long time were Audley harrison and Amir Khan who both became millionaires. But in 2008 this was the year when the country was bad in the recession, people were not going to boxing shows as much, TV networks where not paying the promoters what they once were (or at least I got told from all the promoters at the time).

So the offers were not what I was hoping but still I ended up getting 40 grand signing on bonus, with guarantees that all my fights would be televised. Plus 12k a fight and 20k a fight when I fought in my home town of Sunderland which was guaranteed to be at least twice a year, six fights in the first year, then that went up going into year two and three.

Prior to the Olympics every weekend I was working in a catering trailer outside of the Stadium of Light, flipping burgers, then on the nights I was working night club security, I was doing whatever I could to earn money while I trained for the Olympic Games.

So when I turned pro with Frank Maloney who was contracted with Sky Sports, it was amazing. I went from fighting world class champions of different countries for England in venues with hardly anyone there for free, to fighting journeymen in packed out arenas live on TV broadcasting to millions. This was amazing!

I was very smart with my money, I had 10 fights, and every time I had two fights I’d put a deposit down on a house. I own five houses in the UK now that all have got tenants in them, and having retired from boxing in 2012 I now co-own two seven figure gyms in Los Angeles called Box ’N Burn, and a six figure education program called the Box ’N Burn Academy.

professional boxing

I know how these new Olympians turning pro now are feeling, like Josh Kelly, my friend from Sunderland, Josh Buatsi the light-heavyweight bronze medallist who I’ve been speaking to quite a lot before he turned pro and the rest of the boys.

Its exciting times for them boys. In the next four years I’m expecting a few of them to be were DeGale, Billy Joe and Kal Yafai are now as they are very talented boys.

If I could give advice to them it would be, stay grounded and never forget where you come from, pay taxes, invest your money into property and enjoy every minute because you never know when it will be over.

I recorded a podcast after the RIo Olympics on “8 things Olympians should do after the games”

If they use this advice they can be extremely successful.

I know just about all of the GB Olympic boxers listened to it as well as a lot of other Olympians about the world…. have a listen here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/box-n-life-podcast-life-in-out-of-the-ring/id924241760?mt=2&i=1000374499219

Get in touch with me with any questions on Twitter.

July 15, 2017
July 15, 2017
Chris Eubank Jr vs Arthur Abraham

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July 15, 2017
July 15, 2017
America's next top boxer

Prime 360 Photography/PBC

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ALI, Leonard, Tyson, De La Hoya and Mayweather. Boxing’s biggest star has always been an American, but, circa 2017, that might no longer be the case. Mexico’s Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Britain’s Anthony Joshua are vying for the mantle Floyd Mayweather left behind. Don’t sleep on the US, though. America’s got talent, but who will captain this new order? Who will be America’s next top boxer? Whoever he is, he’ll almost assuredly emerge from this list below:

THE FRONT RUNNERS

Keith “One Time” Thurman (Age: 28) / WBC, WBA World Welterweight Champion / 28-0, (22)

Thurman’s “One Time” moniker is a little hyperbolic. Perhaps “Once Upon a Time” would be more fitting. Still, his style is usually fan-friendly. And with his ponytail, idiosyncratic speech and ill-fitting suits, he’s got the WWE heel role down. Thurman has enough talent around him at 147lbs to propel him toward rare air, particularly if he impressively defeats Errol Spence Jr. That means avoiding the injuries and inactivity that is beginning to plague his career.

Errol “The Truth” Spence, Jr. (Age: 27) / IBF World Welterweight Champion / 22-0 (19)

There’s something Leonard-esque about Spence. Like “Sugar Ray”, the Texas native is amiable outside the ring and carries a mean streak into it. None other than Mayweather himself has appointed Spence as the next king of the welterweights. King of boxing too? We’ll soon find out.

Gervonta “Tank” Davis (Age: 22) / IBF World Super Featherweight Champion / 18-0 (17)

“Tank” oozes superstar potential. The entire combat sporting world will get a firsthand look at that potential when he’s co-featured on the Mayweather-McGregor card. Davis’ neck-tats and mid-Atlantic state drawl could transform him into boxing’s version of Allen Iverson, bringing a new generation of fans to the sport.

Deontay “The Bronze Bomber” Wilder (Age: 31) / WBC World Heavyweight Champion / 38-0 (37)

Personality plus power usually equals popularity. Wilder’s star power is increasing, evidenced by the 2.5 million-plus that watched each of his last two bouts. What’s missing is a signature performance—and opponent. The Stiverne win feels like eons ago and subsequent opponents were forgettable. But if Wilder can secure a showdown with Joshua, he’ll need only one right cross to make everybody shout, “Bomb Squad!”

Andre “S.O.G.” Ward (Age: 33) / WBA, IBF, WBO Light Heavyweight Champion / 31-0 (15)

He’s too old, he’s too P.C. and he’s not exciting. He also thrives on your doubt and he was 14. What if Ward moves up and defeats a Tony Bellew? What if that set up a match versus Anthony Joshua? I know, I know. McGregor’s got a better chance of outboxing Floyd. But hey, stranger things have happened (well, maybe not).

IN THE MIX

Joe Smith Jr. (Age: 27) / Light Heavyweight Contender / 23-1 (19)

Smith upset the odds versus Andrzej Fonfara and Bernard Hopkins, but the sturdy Sullivan Barrera could be his toughest opponent when they square off July 15. Another highlight-reel KO win sets Smith up for a title shot. That, coupled with his working-class background, should make him an easy sell to the general public.

Terence “Bud” Crawford (Age: 29) / WBC & WBO World Super Lightweight Champion / 31-0 (22)

Larry Merchant says Crawford and Ward will never be superstars, but he once said the same of Mayweather. Crawford is like an aggressive Pernell Whitaker. His surly attitude could translate well paired against the right opponent, like how Marvin Hagler’s served as a good foil.

Mikey Garcia (Age: 29) / WBC World Lightweight Champion / 36-0 (30)

Garcia’s record and technical prowess screams “star” but his clean-cut image hasn’t captured the public’s imagination. The July 29 battle versus Adrien Broner is the perfect opportunity to separate himself from the pack. Many perceive Broner as a villain, or at least a knucklehead. Those same people would love to see him get his comeuppance (again), and will tune in hoping good-guy Garcia can administer that via KO.

The Charlo Twins (Age: 27)

Jermall Charlo / Middleweight Contender / 25-0 (19)

Jermell Charlo / WBC World Super Welterweight Champion / 29-0 (14)

Jermall has a leg up on younger twin Jermell. The former 154lbs champion is poised to make a Hamed-like entrance at 160, where Canelo, Golovkin and Danny Jacobs reside. As for WBC 154lbs champion Jermell, if he can thread through that talent-rich division, and face a Spence or Thurman moving up, he’s got as good a chance as his brother to become the game’s top dog—not that you’ll have an easier time telling them apart.

 America's next top boxer

THE WILDCARD

Adrien “The Problem” Broner (Age: 27) / Super Lightweight Contender / 33-2 (24)

Broner is as much “The Problem” for himself as he is for opponents. Nevertheless, some insiders believe he possesses the tools needed to be a dominant champion. Plus, his personality and TMZ go together like biscuits and gravy. What’s missing is the discipline that made “Big Bro” Mayweather his generation’s finest. Still, Broner is only 27. The Mikey Garcia bout could be the start of a new chapter—or the end of a tragicomedy.

ON DECK

Erickson Lubin (Age: 21) / Junior Middleweight Contender / 18-0 (13)

Lubin is closing in on a title shot at 154, but he’s got a lot of competition before becoming the man in that division, let alone in boxing.

Regis Prograis (Age: 28) / Junior Welterweight Contender / 20-0 (17)

Prograis turned heads with TKO of Joel Diaz in June. A title shot could occur later this year. He’s doing his part outside of the ring as well, hiring a team to put up billboards in his hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana, with his face and the phrase, “Who got next?” Maybe Prograis does.

David Benavidez (Age: 20) / Super Middleweight Contender / 18-0 (17)

Benavidez will likely face Anthony Dirrell for the WBC title later this year. If he can produce another cartoon-like KO combination, like the one that fried “Porky” Medina, he’ll gain the support of the sport’s large Mexican-American base.

Robert Easter Jr. (Age: 26) / IBF World Super Lightweight Champion / 20-0 (14)

IBF 135lb. champion Easter is a hot ticket in Toledo, Ohio and been matched tough so far. If he continues to win, his Hearns-like frame should allow him to easily go up to welter. His star power could follow suit.

Jarrett Hurd (Age: 26) / IBF World Super Welterweight Champion (20-0 (14)

Like Lubin, Hurd must first survive the 154lb. gauntlet. Whoever does that is in great position to become America’s fistic head honcho.

From Ward to Hurd, the possibilities are endless. Who will it be?

July 14, 2017
July 14, 2017
Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor

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THE Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor roadshow has been touring the world. They’ve had media stops in Los Angeles, Toronto and New York, with tempers growing increasingly frayed. Now they are in London.

Their sequence of press conferences has seen McGregor exhibit the confidence that has made him such a star, going nose to nose with Mayweather and hurling profanities at the finest boxer of this era.

Mayweather is hardly the shy and retiring type, he’s draped himself with an Irish flag and even flung a bundle of cash over McGregor.

It’s hard to know what’s left to be said. We shall see.

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