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April 19, 2019
April 19, 2019
Boxing - Terence Crawford & Amir Khan Weigh-In - Madison Square Garden, New York, U.S. - April 19, 2019   Terence Crawford and Amir Khan pose during the weigh-in   Action Images via Reuters/Andrew Couldridge

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THERE are two types of courage in boxing. One is the type of straightforward, physical bravery we all admire. Alone when the bell goes, risking life and limb, each fighter knows that they could be pushed to the limits of their physical bravery and pain tolerance when they step between the ropes.

In short, the qualities every boxer possesses that most mortals are awed by.

Yet there’s another, more complex, type of courage that elite boxers must possess: competitive courage. At the highest level, we ask boxers not just to risk their health but to endanger their reputation and pride by choosing to face the very best in their division, i.e. career-defining fights they might well lose.

An example of these two types of courage diverting is Riddick Bowe, the heavyweight champion from the 1990s who showed superhuman reserves of physical fortitude in his trilogy with Evander Holyfield. Yet when it came to taking on the threat posed by his Olympic conqueror, Lennox Lewis, Bowe infamously dropped one of his world titles in the bin.

Understandably, Bowe’s reputation suffered and we’ve seen other cases where fans and the media have run out of patience with boxers handpicking opponents. For Roy Jones Jr, there was talk of a boycott (or ‘Roycott’) of his mismatched mandatories against the likes of policeman/boxer Richard Frazier. The idea was to force the pound-for-pound king into taking on harder challenges.

Modern issue

This problem is even more prevalent in 2019, as divided world titles and separate TV deals make it even trickier to force the best to fight the best. Yet promoters have found an ingenious solution: the no-lose super-fight.

Simply make a fight between two superstar fighters where one boxer is a clear favourite – often due to a hefty weight discrepancy – and everybody wins. TV companies can hype a fight using two names familiar to even casual fight fans, promoters can put a David vs Goliath spin on it, the underdog can speak about how energised they feel at this new weight, while the favourite will laud the guts of their opponent.

After inevitable outcome on fight night, both boxers can leave with their reputations relatively intact. The heavy favourite has another big name on their resume; the defeated underdog receives plaudits for even attempting the impossible and praise for any minor success they achieved.

What we don’t get is any further to the truth of what boxing – of what elite sport – should be about: finding out who the best in a particular division actually is.

A perfect example of this type of chicanery came in 2016. The world was baying for Gennady Golovkin vs Canelo Alvarez at 160lb while, in the UK at least, there was a huge appetite to see Amir Khan face Kell Brook at 147lb. So what did boxing serve up in the space of five months? Alvarez vs Khan, then Golovkin vs Brook.

amir khan

Two fights where absolutely everyone knew the outcome, yet all four fighters could emerge with reputations, if not health, relatively undamaged. Certainly losing to these world-class middleweights was far less damaging, less definitive, then Khan or Brook losing to a domestic rival in their own weight class.

Of course, Alvarez and Golovkin did eventually face off in September 2017, so it needn’t be a permanent problem. But for every big fight that does belatedly get made, there are many that do not. 

Garcia’s doomed quest

An obvious example in 2019 is Mikey Garcia vaulting two weight divisions from lightweight, keeping safe his world title belt (and avoiding Vasyl Lomachenko) to lose to Errol Spence at 147lbs. Such was the one-sided nature of this weight-handicapped super-fight that Garcia’s standing in the sport was probably damaged all the same. Yet nowhere near as definitively as it would’ve been had he lost to Lomachenko at 135lbs.

Indeed, weight does not always need to be involved. This weekend, Amir Khan takes on Terrence Crawford at 147lbs in a fight where the size of the participants is not the defining issue. Yet some of the same factors are at play. Khan has repeatedly stated that there was millions more on the table for him to fight Brook than take on Crawford; that he is actively taking on a harder fight for less money. The reason? To insure his “legacy” by beating one of the sport’s pound-for-pound best.

Perhaps. Another way of looking at it is that, whether Khan consciously acknowledges it or not, the loser of the Khan-Brook fight has their sporting career defined by that result. That is a contest where the result truly shapes the legacy (to borrow Khan’s word) of the pair. If Khan loses to Crawford, he can talk once again how he faced the world’s best, claim there’s no shame in coming up short and emerge with his reputation more or less as it was before.

It is perhaps harsh to single out Khan. In the ring he – as much as any other fighter – has displayed raw, elemental, primal courage. For all the occasions of him getting knocked down or hurt, what sticks is the image of how often he found it within himself to get up and try to fight back. There’s no questioning his heart.

Also, the problem is simply not with fighters alone. Just as often it’s managers, promoters or TV execs whispering into a boxer’s ear, telling them they don’t really need this 50/50 fight in their own weight division; not when there’s glory (and money) to be found elsewhere.

Yet, given how slowly 2019 has begun – admittedly after a few strong few years for the sport – it’s clear there is a problem. At least with the very best in the sport; those whose stock and reputation are so high that they have plenty to lose.

Climbing weight divisions used to be the preserve of great champions seeking out a new challenge when they’d cleaned out their own class. Now boxers are leaping around from high to low, cherry-picking matches to suit them.

To see the even-weight fights we all want (from Crawford vs Spence to Lomachenko vs Garcia and beyond), we need to be less accepting of these superstar mismatches where nobody really wins or loses. The bouts that masquerade as marquee fights, while actually standing in the way of the real thing.

April 19, 2019
April 19, 2019
Anthony Joshua

Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

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OVER the next couple of days heavyweight boxers and their representatives from around the world will descend on England to petition Eddie Hearn for a shot at the champion he promotes. Anthony Joshua is due to defend his unified WBO, WBA and IBF crown at Madison Square Garden in New York on June 1. But he is now in need of an opponent. Jarrell Miller was supposed to be challenging him but the American has failed a drug test, a doping violation that he is increasingly unlikely to be able to appeal successfully.

Hearn is looking to find a replacement and expects to be able to announce a new opponent next week. His first port of call was Luis Ortiz but there are plenty of other names (close to eight in fact) on the longlist, including American Michael Hunter.

“There hasn’t been offer made to anyone yet,” Hearn noted. “Hunter is definitely an option. I feel as though, fighting in America for the first time, it should be an American or someone who is known to the American market. So Ortiz, [Adam] Kownacki, Hunter. Those kind of guys are definitely in the mix. Ortiz was one of the first conversations… We’re talking but the initial reaction was not enough time. In the top 15, outside of Wilder and Fury, I don’t think there’s a fighter that we haven’t had a discussion with.

“The good thing with AJ is there isn’t one person I could say you’re fighting and he’d say oh no, don’t want to fight him, no.”

Miller has texted Hearn, to plead his innocence or at least deny that knowingly he used prohibited substances. Eddie did not reply. “You have to be responsible for that,” Hearn said. “Many fighters have accused Anthony Joshua of taking PEDs and they’ve all failed drug tests, the ones that have accused him. With Jarrell, I can’t believe you get this opportunity and you let it go… It’s your responsibility.

Anthony Joshua

“The one thing I will say is as disappointing as this is and as gutted as I am, it worked. I would never want Joshua to go in the ring with someone who’s cheating, who’s trying to get a physical edge. It’s dangerous… He could be injured, he could end his career, all because someone was cheating or taking illegal substances. So in that respect I’m happy that we had it in place and we found out now, rather than on the night. Something terrible could have happened on the night. You just don’t know.

“If you have better endurance than you should do, if you have more strength than you should do and all those things have been brought on artificially, you’re going to levels that could kill the sport. If something like that happened, you wouldn’t see me anymore. It would ruin me for life.”

He concluded, “Every time someone gets caught, we should all be a little bit pleased. As disappointing as it is, we should [think] good, they’re doing their job because we know so many people are cheating. Because if we don’t catch anyone, it’s not working. Because there’s a lot of people cheating.”

April 19, 2019
April 19, 2019
Terence Crawford vs Amir Khan

Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

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THE world’s leading trainer believes Amir Khan can succeed in upsetting Terence Crawford — even though he considers the American the finest fighter in the world.

Khan challenges the great WBO welterweight champion at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Saturday in what could prove to be his defining fight.

Trainer Freddie Roach is as familiar with Khan, having once trained him at his famous Wild Card gym, as he is with the level Crawford is competing at after inspiring the great Manny Pacquiao to his peak years.

Fights with Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather previously eluded Khan when he hoped to challenge one of the world’s two leading fighters, but this weekend the opportunity the 32-year-old from Bolton has desperately wanted finally arrives.

“Khan can pull off the upset if he fights the right fight,” Roach told Press Association Sport.

“I always said, if Khan goes out there and boxes and wins one round at a time, and keeps doing it, and not look for the knock-out [he can win].

“When he hurts him, don’t open up on him because that’s when he gets caught, and puts himself in harm’s way.

“He’s a very good boxer; he still has a lot left in him. His speed; his foot-speed and hand-speed are unbelievable. I remember him and Pacquiao sparring competitively, it was about even. He’s definitely at that high level; hopefully Father Time hasn’t got to him yet.

“I still think he’s young enough and fresh enough to have moments of success, but I like Crawford to win the fight.

“He’s a big underdog; Crawford’s the best fighter in the world. Pretty soon him and [fellow welterweight] Errol Spence are going to have to fight each other.”

Terence Crawford

The decorated Roach is reminded of Mayweather-Pacquiao by the rivalry between Vasyl Lomachenko and Crawford, and also believes that Khan’s task has been made even more difficult because Crawford will want to respond to Lomachenko’s destruction of Anthony Crolla last weekend.

“He does have to produce a good performance,” he said. “I’ve seen him go out and box before, he’s a very good boxer, but I’ve seen him blow guys away also.

“He can start very quickly and knock out guys in only two rounds. He can punch, too, he’s not just a good boxer but a good puncher also. He’s more of a complete fighter than Lomachenko, and for what happened last week he’s going to have to jump on Amir right away.

“You have to control your fighter and get him ready for what he’s getting ready for, and make sure he stays on that [instead of being concerned with a rivalry]. It pretty much affects everyone in camp.”

Amir Khan fights Terence Crawford live on BT Sport Box Office, Saturday April 20. For more information www.bt.com/btsportboxoffice

April 19, 2019
April 19, 2019
Amir Khan

Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

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AMIR KHAN believes his trainer Virgil Hunter holds the key to his hopes of securing victory in what could prove his defining fight against Terence Crawford.

The 32-year-old challenges WBO welterweight champion Crawford at Madison Square Garden in New York on Saturday.

American Crawford is at the peak of his powers, to the extent that alongside Vasyl Lomachenko he is considered one of the two finest fighters in the world.

Hunter oversaw Khan’s most convincing, disciplined performances when, after successive defeats, the Brit joined him and excelled in overcoming Luis Collazo, Chris Algieri and Devon Alexander.


But Hunter’s ill health meant Khan was then being trained by Joe Goosen until the Crawford fight was signed.

Khan’s victories over Phil Lo Greco and Samuel Vargas under Goosen heavily featured the vulnerabilities that contributed to his four defeats, with the unremarkable Vargas almost ending his career, but with the respected Hunter back in his corner he is confident the discipline he requires will return.

“Look at my last performances,” he told Press Association Sport.

“My last maybe wasn’t the best, a change of trainer does that. That’s no disrespect to Joe Goosen who’s an amazing coach, but sometimes when you change trainer and your style a little it’s too soon to have a good performance.

“With Virgil, we’ve been together for over six years so he brings out the best in me.

“I trust in him and I respect him. The skills come from that respect, and listening to him and not making mistakes.

“It’s great to be back in camp with Virgil. We work very hard, he’s back healthy and I’m back doing what I love doing. Training hard, being pushed. He’s arranged everything to take that pressure off me, the sparring, everything.

“It’s being smart, boxing (Crawford). I’m the better boxer. It’s being smart, boxing, being careful and not making mistakes and sticking to the game-plan throughout the fight.


“I’ve got the speed, power and size over him, and the experience as well, fighting the better class of opponents. I’ve got everything on my side going into this fight, he’s just got the title.”

Crawford’s trainer Brian McIntyre insisted this week that not even Hunter believes Khan is capable of victory.

Hunter had required persuading that Khan should previously accept the dangerous fight he lost to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, yet with Crawford was happy at the level of risk.

“It’ll be a big help to have Virgil in the corner, especially in the difficult moments that might happen in the fight,” Khan said.

“I trust that he can maybe help me not have those difficult moments, and what I should change, he knows me better than any other trainer.

“He’s been a lot more confident (than he was against Alvarez), a lot more confident. He’s been a lot calmer, that I’m not giving that weight away, and that I’m ready.”

Amir Khan fights Terence Crawford live on BT Sport Box Office, Saturday April 20. For more information www.bt.com/btsportboxoffice.

April 19, 2019
April 19, 2019
Luis Ortiz boxing results

Stephanie Trapp/Showtime

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ACCORDING to Jeff Powell of the Daily Mail, there’s a chance much-avoided Cuban heavyweight Luis Ortiz wins the race to become Anthony Joshua’s opponent on June 1 at Madison Square Garden, New York.

Powell believes Ortiz has been offered the opportunity to replace Jarrell Miller, who failed a VADA performance-enhancing drug test this week, and has until Tuesday to either accept or decline.

Ortiz, whose sole career loss came at the hands of WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, has been identified as the prime target to save the June 1 show at Madison Square Garden but many will question whether the money men behind Joshua would be willing to let him fight a man as awkward and well-schooled – not to mention a southpaw – on relatively late notice. (Joshua, by all accounts, has put Ortiz at the top of his own list.)

It’s certainly a risk. Ortiz, though 40, and presumably not the force of old, has beaten Christian Hammer and Travis Kauffman since losing to Wilder and would appear a far tougher test for the WBA, IBF and WBO world heavyweight champion than the likes of Michael Hunter and Adam Kownacki, two other names linked with the plum job on June 1.

One stumbling block for Ortiz could be the amount of time he has to prepare for the fight. Apparently, his team aren’t happy with the six weeks and this complaint is either being used as a negotiating tactic or is a genuine concern. Regrettably, not all heavyweights stay in camp between fights. Not all heavyweights are ready when they should be (even when there’s a reported $6 million up for grabs).

Luis Oriz


If there’s one thing we know about Amir Khan it’s that he will challenge pretty much anyone and that he loves a high-profile ‘money’ fight.

Having spent years chasing Floyd Mayweather to no avail, and then deciding to fight Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez at middleweight, Khan’s reputation for going after the money is by now well-established. What’s more, if Saturday’s fight against Terence Crawford is anything to go by, he has no problem taking fights some people say he should avoid and, as with Canelo, attempting to pull off the seemingly impossible.

One fight we really don’t need to see, however, is Amir Khan vs. Conor McGregor. This one, no more than a fantasy matchup, thankfully, was bandied about by Gareth A. Davies on talkSPORT and Khan, as is his custom, showed a willingness to at least entertain it once Saturday’s test against Crawford is over and done with.

“I mean it’s business, isn’t it?” said Khan. “We’re at a level now where it makes great business, like Floyd Mayweather. We all learned from Floyd Mayweather – how he makes fights happen.

“Conor McGregor vs. Amir Khan would be a massive fight. It’d be huge. You’ve got Irish vs. English so that’ll be massive.

“If that happens, I’m not one to turn away from that.”

McGregor recently announced his ‘retirement’ from mixed martial arts but has since teased a possible return – surprise, surprise – and been spotted working on his boxing in Ireland. Khan, meanwhile, has a proper fight on his hands this weekend.

If, and it’s a big if, Khan vs. McGregor ever becomes a thing, it’s not necessarily Khan who has to turn away from it. It’s a money fight, after all. He’ll be well-paid. Instead, it’s our responsibility to do the turning away. The turning over. The turning off.

Amir Khan

April 19, 2019
April 19, 2019
fights

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LIVED UP TO THE HYPE:

JOE FRAZIER vs MUHAMMAD ALI I

Date: March 8, 1971. Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York City. Titles at stake: Frazier’s WBC and WBA heavyweight. Records: Frazier 26-0 (23), Ali 31-0 (25). Result: Frazier w pts 15.

WHEN you bill a contest as Fight Of The Century, you’re under pressure to deliver. Fortunately, the first of what would become a trilogy between these two warriors delivered – and then some.

The match had socio-political ramifications way beyond its sporting significance. Even though Ali held no belt, many considered him the real champion because he had been stripped of his world title for refusing to join the US Army during the Vietnam War.

In Ali’s three-year absence, Frazier had unified the division with a formidable, all-action fighting style; a showdown with the “Louisville Lip” was a natural.

It sold out the famed Garden with 20,455 in attendance including celebrities such as writer Norman Mailer and singer/actor Frank Sinatra (famously on a photographer’s credential). Closed-circuit TV broadcast the match to an estimated 300 million worldwide across 50 nations. They saw a fight that surpassed expectations with the younger, fresher Frazier outworking Ali, who survived a last-round knockdown to hear the final bell, where he was a decisive points loser.

muhammad ali

MARVIN HAGLER VS THOMAS HEARNS

Date: April 15, 1985. Venue: Caesars Palace (outdoor arena), Las Vegas. Title at stake: WBC, WBA and IBF middleweight. Records: Hagler 60-2-2 (50), Hearns 40-1 (34). Result: Hagler w rsf 3.

HALFWAY through the 1980s, with Sugar Ray Leonard retired and the heavyweight division in an uninspiring state – Mike Tyson had only just turned pro – the meeting of Marvin Hagler and Thomas Hearns was just about the biggest fight that could be made.

Marvelous Marvin had held the 160lbs title since 1980 and was undisputed to boot. Hearns had lost to Leonard at welter but rebounded by winning the 154lbs crown and had destroyed Roberto Duran in two rounds.

Given Hagler could only outpoint Duran, and that at 30 he was the older man by six years, many fancied the elongated 6ft 2 3/4ins Detroit man to outbox the Brockton, Massachusetts southpaw.

Such was the interest that the outdoor arena at Caesars Palace was required, when that was the biggest (and most prestigious) venue Vegas had to offer. Promoter Bob Arum billed it as The War – and it turned out that way, with Hagler surviving a Hearns first-round onslaught to overwhelm him two sessions later.

marvin hagler rematches article

LENNOX LEWIS VS MIKE TYSON

Date: June 8, 2002. Venue: The Pyramid, Memphis. Titles at stake: Lewis’ WBC and IBF heavyweight Records: Lewis 39-2-1 (31), Tyson 49-3 (44). Result: Lewis w ko 8.

SURE, this happened at least half a decade after it should have done, and very near the end of the boxers’ careers: Tyson would fight only three more times, Lewis just the once.

But if, like many British fans, you wanted to see Lewis achieve a crushing knockout of the heavyweight division’s long-time bad boy, you were fully rewarded.

The two had been acquainted in sporting terms since the late 1980s, when Tyson was history’s youngest heavyweight champion and Lewis merely a promising amateur. They would become potential rivals when Lennox ascended to prominence during Tyson’s mid-1990s imprisonment.

“Iron” Mike tried hard to antagonise all and sundry, saying in one post-fight TV interview that he wanted to eat Lewis’ children – Lennox didn’t have any at the time – and then biting the Londoner’s leg in a press conference to announce the fight. That led to the pair being guarded in the ring by their own security details during the pre-fight announcements, but while the action proved one-sided, Lewis settled all differences with a big right in round eight.

AARON PRYOR VS ALEXIS ARGUELLO I

Date: November 12, 1982. Venue: Orange Bowl, Miami. Title at stake: Pryor’s WBA super-lightweight
Records: Pryor 31-0 (29), Arguello 72-5 (60). Result: Pryor w rsf 14.

ARGUELLO had already reigned at featherweight, super-feather and lightweight when matched with whirlwind Pryor in a bid to win a world title in a fourth division – a much harder achievement then than now.

The tall, stylish Nicaraguan had been a mooted superfight opponent for 135lbs king Roberto Duran in the late 1970s, but it never happened. Instead, he had to wait until 17 days past his 30th birthday for the challenge to Pryor, whose high-energy style had made him one of the sport’s most exciting performers.

The Cincinnati boxer, fighting on his 26th birthday, was at his peak and naturally the bigger man, which no doubt helped him survive the numerous gruelling exchanges in a thrilling encounter.

In the end, Pryor simply outlasted Arguello, although a shadow was cast over his victory when it emerged that late in the fight he supped an unknown liquid proffered by cornerman Panama Al Lewis (subsequently found guilty of glove-tampering in another fight).

SUGAR RAY LEONARD VS ROBERTO DURAN I

Date: June 20, 1980. Venue: Olympic Stadium, Montreal, Canada. Title at stake: Leonard’s WBC welterweight. Records: Leonard 27-0 (18), Duran 71-1 (57). Result: Duran w pts 15.

IT was the very definition of a superfight: a supremely talented young American hero against a snarling Panamanian veteran who had once supposedly knocked out a horse.

Everything opposed this pair. Leonard was a stylish 1976 Olympic gold medallist (in Montreal) who developed steadily as a pro before stopping superb Wilfred Benitez to become champion in December 1979. With American boxing booming – quality shows were frequent on free-to-air television – the smiling Leonard raked in the dollars. In contrast, Duran had turned pro at 16 and come up the hard way, holding the world lightweight title for six-and-a-half years before adding weight in search of lucrative opportunities.

He spoke only broken English but managed to insult Leonard with taunts that made him brawl rather than box, playing into Duran’s hands as the older man (by five years) outhustled Ray to win a thriller on cards of 146-144, 148-147 and 145-144.

DIDN’T LIVE UP TO THE HYPE:

FLOYD MAYWEATHER VS MANNY PACQUIAO

Date: May 2, 2015. Venue: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas.  Titles at stake: Mayweather’s WBC and WBA Super, Pacquiao’s WBO welterweight. Records: Mayweather 47-0 (26), Pacquiao 57-5-2 (38). Result: Mayweather w pts 12.

THIS was a classic example of how too much marination can let a superfight turn into an undigestible dish. Instead of an all-time classic, Mayweather v Pacquiao proved a huge letdown with the American comfortably outboxing an unusually subdued Filipino opponent.

If only they had met five years earlier, it could have been so different…

The timing would have been perfect in early 2010: multi-division ruler Mayweather had ended a 21-month retirement by beating Mexico’s Juan Manuel Marquez the previous September, while two months after that Pacquiao had completed a remarkable rise through the weights by stopping Miguel Cotto for the WBO 147lbs crown.

Yet the two could not reach agreement, arguing over revenue distribution and drug testing procedures. Each went his separate way and a shock knockout loss to Marquez in December 2012 meant Pacquiao was a decided underdog by the time Mayweather finally consented to box him two-and-a-half years later.

floyd mayweather

WILFREDO GOMEZ VS CARLOS ZARATE

Date: October 28, 1978. Venue: Roberto Clemente Coliseum, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Title at stake: Gomez’s WBC super-bantamweight. Records: Gomez 21-0-1 (21), Zarate 52-0 (51). Result: Gomez won rsf 5.

THIS battle of the little big men was huge news back when there were only two sanctioning bodies (WBC and WBA) and many of the sport’s major fights still happened in their natural locale, before Las Vegas monopolised everything.

The ingredients were certainly enticing: unbeatens from bitter rivals Puerto Rico and Mexico who in a combined 74 fights had heard the final bell just twice: a six-round debut draw for Gomez and one points win for Zarate.

Gomez, who would turn 22 the day after the fight, was a former World Amateur champion who since winning his crown in May 1977 had already made five defences (one in Japan).

Zarate, 25, had become WBC 118lbs king in May 1976 and the following year wiped out WBA counterpart Alfonso Zamora in a non-title bout.

Yet it proved a one-sided letdown. A flu-stricken Zarate struggled to make weight and was dropped twice in round four, then a third time in round five, before his corner threw in the towel.

OSCAR DE LA HOYA VS FELIX TRINIDAD

Date: September 18, 1999. Venue: Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas. Titles at stake: De La Hoya’s WBC and Trinidad’s IBF welterweight. Records: De la Hoya 31-0 (25), Trinidad 35-0 (30). Result: Trinidad w pts 12.

IF you like smart technical boxing, then you probably don’t consider this one a disappointment – but when you consider the almost universal predictions of unbridled excitement and an early ending, this contest simply didn’t deliver. After all, it was one of the rare Trinidad fights in which the Puerto Rican puncher did NOT get floored early on. Actually, Boxing News’ prediction was that it was De La Hoya who would taste the canvas early on before rallying to win by stoppage in six.

One can understand the eager anticipation surrounding this unification bout: Olympic gold medallist De La Hoya had earned world titles at four weights, adding power as he filled out, while Trinidad had cut down a string of opponents since winning his belt in 1993.

As it turned out, Oscar boxed cautiously to build a lead only to ease off in the later rounds and allow Trinidad to steal a hotly-contested decision on cards of 115-113, 115-114 and 114-114.

WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO VS DAVID HAYE

Date: July 2, 2011. Venue: Imtech-Arena, Hamburg. Titles at stake: Klitschko’s WBA, WBO, IBF and IBO heavyweight. Records: Klitschko 55-3 (48), Haye 25-1 (23). Result: Klitschko won pts 12 unan.

HOW intense was the hype for this match-up between dominant champion Klitschko and Britain’s cocky, publicity-seeking two-weight king? Well, this publication even produced a special bookazine to accompany the contest, which took place in front of a 50,000 crowd at the home ground of the Hamburg football club.

The huge publicity surrounding the event only made it a bigger let-down when Haye – contrary to pre-fight boasts – took few chances as the giant Ukrainian outboxed him for a wide points victory by 118-108, 117-107, 116-110.

In the immediate aftermath Haye blamed his sluggish showing on an injury to the big toe of his right foot, which prevented him using his smaller man’s speed to leap into range and land big punches.

The Londoner’s performance hardly fitted the aggression he had shown in pursuing the contest, including turning up at Klitschko functions wearing a t-shirt portraying a decapitated Klitschko and Haye holding his severed, bloody head.

David Haye

ROY JONES VS JAMES TONEY

Date: November 18, 1994. Venue: MGM Grand, Las Vegas. Title at stake: Toney’s IBF super-middleweight. Records: Jones 26-0 (23), Toney 44-0-2 (29). Result: Jones won pts 12 (unan).

NOT many remember it now, given how Jones would go on to become the sport’s top fighter for nearly a decade, but Toney actually came into this bout as the favourite.

Not that surprising really – he had ripped the middleweight crown from Michael Nunn before becoming champ up at 168lbs by beating Iran Barkley. Jones had followed as 160lbs belt-holder, also stepping up in weight to pursue bigger opportunities, but many purists decried his flashy, unorthodox style that relied on reflexes and extraordinary hand speed.

Both could punch but the feeling was that Toney’s old-school skills (he could lay on the ropes and deflect blows superbly) would prove the difference. Nothing doing: on the night, Jones put a count on the weight-drained champion in round three and dominated with combinations. The potential classic ended wide for Jones by 119-108, 118-109, 117-110.

RoyJonesJamesToney

April 19, 2019
April 19, 2019
Amir Khan

Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

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THE most guilty of men have litigators representing them in making a case of why they are not. Amir Khan’s crime is that he apparently is not good enough to beat Terence Crawford tomorrow night at Madison Square Garden. All the evidence is stacked against him. Crawford after all is in many peoples view the best fighter in the world pound-for-pound. A recent poll of 23 writers all had Crawford winning. And even promoter Bob Arum did not exactly endorse Khan’s chances when he said that the day after the match he will get on the phone and call Al Haymon to try and make a Crawford- Errol Spence fight.

Want more: Khan is back with trainer Virgil Hunter who is a father figure to Andre Ward. Yet as much as Ward would like to see Hunter have success with Khan, he too has politely dismissed Khan’s chances by minimizing the role his mentor will play in the fight.

Not all litigators believe in their client’s innocence, yet it is their job to give them the best representation possible. Conversely, I don’t believe Khan will defeat Crawford, feeling he will get stopped in nine rounds or so, but if a case were to be made for him it would go along the lines of what if.

We are assuming that Khan at 32, is past his best. But what if the Amir Khan who shows up at MSG tomorrow night is the same fighter who completely outclassed the likes of former champions Luis Collazo, Paul Malignaggi, and Zab Judah?

What if the Amir Khan who shows up at MSG tomorrow night is the same fighter who outboxed Manny Pacquiao enough times in the gym that the Filipino would never accept his challenge later on to do it for real?

Amir Khan

In other words we are assuming that Khan can’t turn back the clock, but no one has stepped forward and considered what will happen if he can. If a prime Khan enters the ring against Crawford then ask yourself who you would pick?

Khan will be in terrific shape and give his best effort. Maybe the best of him would never have been good enough to defeat Crawford, but then again maybe it would have. Only a victory by Amir will answer that.

This fight conjures up memories of the one between Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler. Few gave Leonard a chance to defeat Hagler considering his inactivity and how poorly he had performed in his last fight against Kevin Howard. We assumed that Leonard could not turn back the clock, but he did in scoring one of the more memorable upsets in boxing history. So too could it be with Khan, but will it?