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October 23, 2014
October 23, 2014
David Price

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I WOULD like to see Michael Sprott fight Anthony Joshua but feel a better fight would be with Kevin Johnson.

Why do I like to Sprott for Joshua? It’s because he’s been a great servant to boxing, and if he turns up as the determined Sprott he can be, he would give Joshua a lot of trouble, as he has done over the last few years to opponents in Germany.

Although he has only lost four of his last 10 fights, the class of opponent has not been at the better level although he went nine rounds with Kubrat Pulev – who takes on Wladimir Klitschko in November – and lost a 12-round unanimous decision over 12 rounds for the European heavyweight title to Alexander Dimitrenko. It would be good for Sprott’s pension as there can’t be too many fights left in those old bones, and he deserves one final chance in a big British fight.

But Johnson would be the better option. Although he has only won three of his last eight fights, his class of opponent has been up there with the best. He lasts the distance, he went 10 rounds with Manual Charr, 12 rounds with Derek Chisora and 12 with Tyson Fury. He is a tall fighter with a great deal of durability, which Joshua is in urgent need. We need to see how the old cardio is after a few rounds of pressure and maybe taking a couple of shots on the whiskers.

I see the Boxing News readers’ favourite is David Price but they should forget about. He still is a world class heavyweight following the losses to Tony Thompson, and as far as maturity is concerned, Pricey was not far in front of Joshua before those defeats. He has also been blighted with injuries, and I feel his confidence needs a boost after his last performance (going the full 10 with Yaroslav Zavorotnyi) and at the moment he won’t get it fighting Joshua.

After a quiet weekend for some last week (I was in Slovenia refereeing and mountain climbing with former Perugia soccer player Matteo Montella), this week looks tasty. There are shows in Monaco, Hull and the Echo Arena at Liverpool. Stuart Hall is in with Randy Caballero for the IBF bantamweight title in Monaco.

Tommy Coyle against Michael Katsidis is my pick on the Hull bill, and if Katsidis has still retained some of that old fashioned blood and guts, combined with out and out courage that was a trademark of this warrior, then Coyle is in for a tough fight. I see the fight as similar to when Coyle fought Derry Mathews. Coyle was masterful, but one lapse in concentration, and it’s Goodnight Vienna.

Lastly we have the Liverpool show where Paul Butler risks his unbeaten record but the fight that stands out for me is Mathews in with Adam Dingsdale. I expect Hall and Derry to come through as winners, but wonder about Coyle if the old Michael Katsidis turns up.

October 23, 2014
October 23, 2014
Hatton Promotions Wiagn Show June 2011 Weigh In

Hatton Promotions Wiagn Show June 2011 Weigh In Martin Murray (Commonwealth and WBA intercontinental middleweight champion) and his oponent Nick Blackwell who fight for the vacant British middleweight title on Saturday 18th June @ Wigans, Robin Park Arena. 16th June2011 Picture by Mark Robinson.

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SOMETIMES there isn’t much a boxing writer can do to make his own work as good as the quotes given to him by the man on the other end of the phone.

You may have prepared diligently and attempted/pretended to be intelligent with your questions, but on some occasions all you need to do is sit back and let the fighter make your task a bit easier.

Take Nick Blackwell for example. Boxing News Online caught up with the 23-year-old, 15-3 (6), middleweight contender last week ahead of what may be one of the six-round contests of the year when he faces Sergey Khomitsky, 29-11-2 (12) this weekend in Monte Carlo.

There was the usual talk of camp, preparation and the opponent, but if the answer was initially predictable then what followed in the next few sentences occasionally had nothing to do with the question.

So when we asked: What are you expecting of your new promoter (Mick Hennessy) and yourself over the next 12 months? Blackwell’s answer began with “Obviously I want that British title shot but the main thing is to keep busy.”

And then a few lines later we somehow got onto Max Bursak, a former European middleweight champion that Blackwell gave plenty to think about when dropping a 12-round unanimous decision to him in Ukraine last year.

“I was offered the Max Bursak fight again,” said Blackwell. “And I said ‘Yeah that’s the fight I want’. I thought I beat him in Ukraine and it’d be good to settle it in Monaco or on a Channel 5 (Hennessy’s TV platform) show but they wanted it at 74kgs (163lbs) and I said ‘Yeah that’s fine’. They knocked it back thinking I’d say no so they didn’t want the fight in the end.”

Anyway, back to Khomitsky. A 40-year-old Brit-slayer in the making. Frank Buglioni will testify. That bad night at the office went six rounds for Frank, before referee and corner had had enough, despite it being scheduled for 10. Sat’s fight is scheduled for a 6x3s because….?

“I think it’s because of the casino we’re fighting at,” Blackwell answered. “I think they want to get the show done as early as they can. I’m the first fight on. They’re squeezing me on.”

You gotta love boxing.

Six-round fights never spark much of a flame in fight fans but this one will and it most certainly has for the Brit hoping to be the ace in the pack at middleweight.

“I’ve never trained as hard as I have for this fight against Khomitsky,” said Blackwell.

“I was there when he fought Buglioni and I wanted the fight with him straight away. I had a fight called off early October so I’d been training for 12 weeks solid when it got called off so I’ve had about a 16-week camp for this fight. I’d be fit for a 15-round fight. When the Khomitsky fight was offered I took it straight away.”

“He’s a world class fighter,” he added. “I know he’s 40 years old but he’s Felix Sturm’s sparring partner. Some people think I’m stupid taking this fight. It’s a fight that’s made for me. He’s a strong come-forward fighter like myself. I know I’m quicker than him. I’ve showed in sparring that I’m on a different level to what I was and I’m getting better all the time. I just want to show that to everyone. I want to put a statement out to the other middleweights in fighting Khomitsky. People in sparring will tell you how good I am.”

And that was a good 180 words on the recent world title challenger. Then in the same breath, Nick shifted the conversation to Adam Etches. That prompted some no holds barred honesty.

“I went over to watch Adam Etches (when he fought Samir Santos Barbosa in Sept). I stood there thinking I’m 100% confident I’d beat him.”

Okay. So what do you think about what the unbeaten big punching crowd pleaser is doing with his career?

“Financially, fair play to him but when you’re kicked in the deep end and you’re not in your hometown and you’re fighting someone who will punch back then he’s going to be in a situation where he’s never been before. I’ve been kicked into the deep end so many times in boxing so I’m used to it. He doesn’t know what it feels like. He’s wrapped in cotton wool. When I was watching him, Mick Hennessy asked me what I thought of him and if it was a fight I fancied and I said ‘In my honest opinion he’s rubbish. Get me the fight in December’. His manager, Rich whatever his name is, doesn’t want none of it. He’s saying they’ll go their own way to get a world ranking. Etches said he’d fight any middleweight in Britain. I saw him after his fight, I was polite to him and shook his hand and said ‘Good fight mate’ but he didn’t want none of me, you could see it in his face. You’re a boxer, take the fight. I want to be involved in massive fights.”

On a more traditional route of writer interviews fighter, it was noted – as it would be by many reading this – that at just 23, Blackwell has fought Martin Murray and Billy Joe Saunders as well as Bursak. Three defeats but three nights of boxing education which so much has been learned from. And as the following quotes delved into some recent sparring, it can only be hoped that gym form is turned into fight form beginning on Saturday.

“In my mind I didn’t have an amateur background, those three fights were my apprenticeship in my boxing career. People said I shouldn’t have fought Martin or Billy Joe but I’m glad I did because I learned so much in those fights and I’ve came on so much from those fights that it’s made me the fighter I am now.

“A lot of people would’ve gave up and there’s been times when I wanted to give up because of money, I was getting paid rubbish money and was getting messed about. They say Khomitsky is a hard fight to come back to but I’ve fought people like Murray, like Saunders and like Bursak. They’re the fights I should be involved in.

“I’ve improved a lot, even Billy Joe tells me that when we’ve sparred, we’re quite good mates now. I managed to fight him for the British once but they don’t wanna fight me now. Billy Joe says he doesn’t want to fight me, he’s got Eubank. He’s got me to step aside so he can fight Eubank. I’m going to fight the winner next year so I’ve accepted they pay me outright to step aside and I fight the winner. I don’t think Eubank’s gonna win anyway, Billy Joe will vacate the belts and I’ll fight [John] Ryder. If Eubank wins he’ll have to fight me but he doesn’t want to fight me either. I’ve improved a lot, I throw a lot more punches and I’m a lot more confident in myself. I never believed in myself because people always used to put me down. I sparred [Matthew] Macklin and gave him a good hard spar. [James] DeGale was out watching me, he’s bigged me up quite a bit. He thought I’d brought Macklin in as a sparring partner for a fight of my own! So all that’s been a big confidence booster with everyone praising me up. I used to do alright against people in sparring now I beat them up and knock them out. I’m feeling good in myself and I hope I show that in my fight against Khomitsky.”

October 22, 2014
October 22, 2014
Jamie McDonnell

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THERE’S just a month to go until Tony Bellew faces off against his bitter rival Nathan Cleverly at the Echo Arena in Liverpool. However, on the undercard one fighter knows that one slip up could cost him dearly.

Jamie McDonnell defends his WBA ‘world’ bantamweight title against the little known Walberto Ramos in Liverpool and a win will set up a big unification fight with Tomoki Kameda, the WBO champion, should he come through his fight with Alejandro Hernandez next Saturday.

McDonnell said: “There’s a month to go, but I’m already fit and strong as I’ve been sparring 12 rounds with my brother Gavin, who fights this weekend in Hull [against Vusi Malinga].

“We’ll step up the training and bring in specific training partners, after the weekend, so I can leave no stone unturned. I don’t know much about Ramos, in fact we can’t even find any footage of him, but if I train hard, then I can’t see me losing that fight.”

The Doncaster bantamweight has had a whirlwind 12 months including getting the IBF title stripped from his grasp at the end of 2013, but he recovered to win the WBA title against Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat at Wembley Stadium in May.

But the Kameda fight is the big fight that McDonnell has been desperate to be a part of and, all being well, they are lined up to fight in next February or March, possibly in Las Vegas.

McDonnell stated: “The Kameda [fight] is all lined up and all the terms are more or less agreed. We’ve held talks with them, so if we both win our next fights, it’s on, which is a massive motivation for me.”

It would be nothing less than McDonnell deserves, having been a big victim of boxing politics. However, he feels this is where he should be at this stage of his career, despite the setbacks.

Jamie said: “I’m a year behind in my career and it’s been really frustrating at times. But it’s all worked out and I’ll keep chipping away until I beat Kameda, then the big pay-days will come my way.

“I’ve not got long at bantamweight before I move up, but I’m only going to go up for the big fights. I want to be an established name, so I can get the big pay-days, but I can’t secure those big fights because my name isn’t big enough yet and the other names have nothing to prove.

“I’ve grafted my way to the top, doing everything the hard way. I don’t get the recognition I feel I deserve, but I’m getting there. I’ll get this next one out of the way and then it’s the big unification fight, which is going to be the catalyst to taking my career to the next level.”

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October 22, 2014
October 22, 2014
Scott Quigg

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Scott Quigg will defend his WBA World Super Bantamweight title against Japan’s Hidenori Otake at the sold-out Echo Arena in Liverpool on November 22, live on Sky Sports Box Office.

Quigg defends his title for the fifth time against Otake, ranked at number three with the IBF and coming to England off the back of four successful defences of the Japanese title he claimed in August 2012.

The Bury star saw off the spirited challenge of Belgium’s Stephane Jamoye with a trademark body shot in the third round of their clash in Manchester in September, and the 26 year old is looking for another explosive performance to close a great year in the ring.

“I can’t wait to defend my World title in Liverpool on November 22 on a huge night for British boxing,” said Quigg. “Otake represents the toughest fight of my career and I’m working hard to put in a scintillating performance. He is highly ranked and highly respected with an exciting style – I’m on a big run of KO’s and I don’t intend on stopping.”

Quigg’s clash with Otake is part of a sensational line-up of Britain’s biggest stars in Liverpool, topped by the rematch between bitter rivals Cleverly and Bellew, with promoter Eddie Hearn set to announce a huge addition to the bill on Thursday.

James DeGale faces Marco Antonio Periban over 12 rounds as he hunts down a World title shot in the Super Middleweight division, which is where unbeaten Liverpool sensation Callum Smith meets Nikola Sjekloca in a WBC World title eliminator, with his brother Stephen Smith in action in the Super Featherweight division.

Jamie McDonnell defends his WBA World Bantamweight title against Walberto Ramos and Heavyweight sensation Anthony Joshua MBE defends his WBC International title against Michael Sprott in an eliminator for the British title.

October 22, 2014
October 22, 2014

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BOXING, more than any other sport, produces great literature. It also produces some average writing and some dreadful writing, but that merely reflects the various strata of the sport itself, with its champions, contenders, journeymen and bums.

This truth was brought to mind last weekend when I attended the annual Memorabilia Fayre in a social club hall a few streets away from London’s Euston train station. The event is well organised by Chas and Kymberley Taylor, with a number of stalls offering not only books and magazines but also progammes, signed photos and gloves etc.

I will freely admit it’s the books that interest me the most. After all, they add a layer of permanence to a pleasure or thrill that can be fleeting when it happens. One can watch classics like the Rumble in the Jungle, or Hagler-Hearns, as often as one wants, but the significance of those matches – what they meant for the sport as well as for the boxers – is captured best by works of literature.

And writers can pick out important themes rather than fights or individual fighters. At this year’s Fayre author Mark Turley was selling his new work Journeymen: The Other Side of the Boxing Business/A New Perspective on the Noble Art. This tells the stories of those boxers without whom the professional sport simply wouldn’t exist – fighters who provide the opposition for prospects, often at short notice and giving weight.

Also on Turley’s table was The Road to Nowhere: A Journey Through Boxing’s Wastelands by Tris Dixon, the Editor of Boxing News. In this one Tris travels all over the USA to track down the “coulda-been-contenders and cult heroes” from the 1950s to the 2000s.

I bought a copy of each of these two works, and very much look forward to reading them, probably when I’m on a train or plane en route to my next boxing event; sometimes you need a change from Jack Reacher or Dave Robicheaux. And often real-life boxers are more fascinating than any fictional characters created by writers.

The Memorabilia Fayre also offers plenty of old-time stuff; not to everyone’s taste, but there is plenty there for the discerning fan of boxing’s glorious history. Last year I picked up works on three-weight world champion Henry Armstrong and Willie Toweel, the colourful South African from the 1950s.

This time it was Mickey Walker: The Toy Bulldog’s Life and Times, the autobiography of a man (pictured above) who held the world welter and middle titles in the 1920s (and who was a pretty good light-heavy and heavyweight too, once weight problems forced him up the scale). A few hours after the Fayre was over, Gennady Golovkin continued his impressive KO streak by walloping Marco Antonio Rubio in California. Would the power-punching “GGG” have beaten the relentless Walker – or vice versa? Now I think of it, that’s just given me the idea for a book…

October 22, 2014
October 22, 2014

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IT’S only weeks away.

Tony Bellew’s date with destiny against long-time nemesis, Nathan Cleverly, is quickly approaching on British boxing’s vast horizon and the Liverpool man has relocated to the Yorkshire base of trainer, Dave Coldwell. With the hard weeks of camp currently in full swing, Coldwell is adding more to his charge each day as the confident Liverpudlian aims to make do with an itch that has provided a nuisance for over three years.

It was October 2011 when the pair last exchanged nastiness as the cruiserweight pair, then campaigning at 12st 7lbs, put on a superb battle that saw the Welshman edge a narrow contest. Since then, both fighters have experienced different journeys which ultimately culminated in world title setbacks and the appointment of new trainers. It was Coldwell who got the gig of guiding Bellew to the top of the cruiserweight pile and the former Sheffield fighter believes his man will make a massive statement at the Liverpool Echo Arena on November 22.

“Listen, I don’t want to sound like I’m running through clichés but I can’t wait for you to see Tony Bellew on fight night,” buzzed Coldwell. “Every single training session he’s showing me something different and I can’t believe the amount of effort he’s putting into this fight. His sparring is going well, his fitness and conditioning is where it needs to be, and his hunger to achieve and improve every session is second to none. A lot of people have got this down as a real close fight and it has the potential to rival the first one but if Tony does what I believe he can do then he’ll end this fight in devastating fashion.”

Bellew’s sessions at Coldwell Boxing HQ are a long way away from the comfortable environment the popular Scouser is used to at home. Uprooting from his family comforts to relocate at Coldwell’s Rotherham base will no doubt play on the fanatical Evertonian’s mind but Coldwell believes the sacrifices made by Bellew will be handsomely rewarded just over four weeks from now.

“The career for a boxer is a relatively short one when you look at it so the chance for huge glory may only come around once or twice and that’s if you’re lucky. Tony has got the chance now and he’s doing every single thing in his power to make sure nothing stands in the way of him getting what he wants on November 22. I’d taken a back seat training fighters due to my promotional commitments but watching Tony in training every day convinces me it was the right decision to give it another go. The kid does everything asked of him and then some so it’ll take something extremely special to stop him getting revenge on fight night. I don’t think Nathan Cleverly can handle what’s coming his way.”

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October 21, 2014
October 21, 2014

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TOMMY COYLE is in the best shape he has ever been in, according to his trainer Jamie Moore, as he readies himself for the biggest test of his career.

The Hull lightweight, whose record currently stands at 19-2, will defend his IBF International lightweight title at the Hull Ice Arena on Matchroom’s “Point of No Return” show.

Coyle will be back at the venue where he fought Daniel Brizuela in a “Fight of the Year” contender in February, but Moore says any mistakes he made in that fight have been well and truly ironed out.

Moore said: “Tommy made a few mistakes against Brizuela, but we started to put them right in training and this has quite honestly been the best camp we’ve had.

“He’s been doing everything I’ve asked of him and he’s been a completely different class this time around. Before Tommy lacked a bit of discipline going into camp and in fights, which you could see as he was dragged into a fight too often.

“But, this time he really is spot on. He was in a much better shape going into the start of camp and he’s given himself the best possible chance of winning on Saturday.”

It will also be an important night for Moore as he continues his recovery from his injuries from the summer, when he was shot in Marbella whilst training Matthew Macklin.

But Moore said that he is now ready to start leading the corners once again and is well on the way to recovery.

He said: “I’ve made sure I haven’t rushed back and taken my time, but I’m ready to get back in there. We’ve got a young fighter called Andy Colquhoun and I ran his corner at the weekend to see if I was ready to be jumping up and down into the ring.

“He was only in a fou- rounder, but it was my little test drive ready for Tommy’s fight. I passed it with flying colours though and come Saturday with Tommy it will be all guns blazing.”

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