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June 20, 2018
June 20, 2018
roberto duran

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JUNE 20, 1980 was the date for the first in a trilogy of fights between Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Leonard. The fight was nicknamed the “Brawl in Montreal” and attracted more attention worldwide than any other non-heavyweight contest in history, with the exception of Sugar Ray Robinson’s middleweight match-up against Carmen Basilio in 1956.

THE Olympic Stadium in Montreal was the venue for the fight, the same place that Leonard was crowned Olympic champion in the 1976 Games, capturing the hearts of the American public in the process.

LEONARD was defending his WBC Welterweight belt having earned the title in the previous November, beating Wilfred Benitez on a technical knockout with just seconds remaining in the 15th and final round. He then successfully saw off Dave Green of Great Britain three months prior to arriving in Montreal.

DURAN had struggled with his weight, which fluctuated between fights and made it difficult for him to continue defending his title at lightweight division. He stepped up to welterweight to face the fresh-faced Leonard, with a guaranteed purse of £650,000, the largest amount ever for any non-heavyweight challenger.

BOTH fighters were admired by the watching public, but for very different reasons. Leonard was young, smart and well-groomed, whereas Duran embodied the working class hero; a well-versed brawler who was both rugged and fearless. The media dubbed the contest “boxer vs fighter, youth vs experience, fast hands vs stone hands.”

EXPERT opinions were heavily split leading into the fight. Many believed that Leonard’s speed and guile would be too much for the Panamanian, whereas others preferred Duran’s endurance and ability to wear his opponent down before capitalising in the latter stages.

DEFENDING champion Leonard made the mistake of fighting on Duran’s terms. The American fought toe-to-toe with the heavy-hitting challenger, negating his superior height and reach advantage and playing to the veteran’s strengths. The Panama icon was able to pin Sugar Ray to the ropes and unleash and array of powerful shots to his head and body.

DURING the second round, Leonard was caught with a strong right hand to the head which left him staggering. A flurry of punches helped him to limit the onslaught, but not for very long as Duran forced the 24-year-old back against the ropes and continued to rough him up.

LEONARD fought back well and gained the upper-hand between the fifth and eighth round, but the smaller, more aggressive Duran responded by bullying his way back into control in the ninth, cutting his opponent’s right eye in the process.

THE fight went the distance with Leonard taking the final round, but it was too little too late. Duran had caused enough damage and earned a close but unanimous points decision over the American puncher. The pair would go on to clash two more times, with Leonard winning on both occasions against a lacklustre Duran who was in significantly worse shape than he was in Montreal.

June 19, 2018
June 19, 2018
George Groves vs Chris Eubank Jr weigh in

Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

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SPARRING with both George Groves and Callum Smith inspired Kody Davies to move all the way down to super-middleweight. As an amateur the Welshman was a 91kgs heavyweight. Hardly fat before, he’s shed an astonishing amount of weight and muscle mass to weigh in at 171lbs for his last fight, a four round points win over Eric Mokonzo last Friday at York Hall.

“His record suggests he’s a journeyman, so to speak,” Davies said of a determined opponent. “I missed out on a few little opportunities.

“But it’s learning at the end of the day. I’d say I’m 70% happy with my performance.”

“My fight previous to this I boxed a guy with a winning record [Przemyslaw Gorgon]. He had six fights, two losses, from Poland. He came to win but I got him out of there with a body shot. Broke two of his ribs as well but he definitely came to win. With Eric Mokonzo, he definitely came to win. His record doesn’t do him justice. He’s a strong guy but I feel that I’m ready to move on from this sort of level now and start to show what I can really do,” Davies continued. “I’m not particularly gunning for anyone, I’m just gunning for titles.”

George Groves

He describes sharing a ring with both Groves and Smith, who will contest the final of the World Boxing Super Series later this year. “I was sparring George Groves when he was training for Jamie Cox, a southpaw. So I was going up to London doing eight to 10 rounds three times a week with George. Then Joe Gallagher gave us a message, I was sparring with Callum then for his fight against [Juergen] Braehmer, who unfortunately pulled out and they had a replaced. Nevertheless I was their chief sparring partner for that as well. That was the encouragement really for me to drop down to super-middleweight, sparring with the top guys at super-middleweight and sparring well. So it encouraged me to drop the  extra few kilos and get down to the weight and see what I can do in the real ring at fight time,” Davies told Boxing News.

He compared the two fighters, saying, “They’re both very good with their attributes. I think George’s main attribute is his boxing brain and his range. He’s really good at nullifying attacks and things like that. Callum Smith is very good with text book punching, one-two, always very textbook. All the punches are spot on they’re methodical. He gets his bodyweight into this shots.

“I think Callum’s going to be on the front foot. George is going to be nullifying his attacks and that’s where I’m going to leave it…”

June 19, 2018
June 19, 2018
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Video: BT Sport

June 19, 2018
June 19, 2018
Liam Williams

Action Images/Lee Smith

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WHAT tends to follow a defeat is a divorce, a change, a reshuffle. This is true not only in boxing but also in other sports and other walks of life.

The latest boxer to shake up their back-room staff in order to see some progress is Welshman Liam Williams, 17-2-1 (12), who today announced he has split with Gary Lockett, his long-time trainer, in favour of relocating to Sheffield and hooking up with Dominic Ingle.

The decision comes following a win for Williams, back in April against Darryl Sharp, but was likely motivated by an inability to defeat Liam Smith at the back end of 2017. This isn’t Lockett’s fault, of course, nor is it ever really the trainer’s fault, but evidently Williams, still only 26, believed a change was needed and has gone about sprucing things up.

In addition to his stellar work with former welterweight champion Kell Brook, Dominic, son of Brendan, is now also the man charged with keeping Billy Joe Saunders’ head in the game. Indeed, he cornered Saunders the night the WBO middleweight champion put it all together and produced a career-best display against David Lemieux last December.

Safe to say, the Ingle dynasty, despite the passing of its leader a couple of weeks ago, remains as strong as ever.

Brendan Ingle

On the day the World Boxing Super Series announced their bantamweight tournament it was assumed, by almost everybody, that the champion conspicuous by his absence, Ryan Burnett, would end up being the number one seed.

The Irishman, after all, was the one with the profile and the fans. He was the one who once held two of the four belts.

Since then, however, we’ve seen Naoya Inoue stake his claim to the number one seed with a devastating one-round stoppage of Jamie McDonnell. We’ve also come to the realisation that this tournament – which also features IBF champion Manny Rodriguez and WBO champion Zolani Tete – is about as hard to call as anyone could hope. The seeds, therefore, could either mean everything or nothing.

As for WBA champion Burnett, 19-0 (9), he just wants to fight close to home.

“I definitely want to have the first fight in Belfast,” thee 26-year-old told Sky Sports. “I put bums on seats and everyone in the city will be buzzing for such a massive tournament, so I’ll be pushing to get my opener back home.

“It’s incredible really. I grew up watching fighters who inspired me and wanted to be like them. Now I’m up there and leading the way so to speak.

“The fans want to see the best vs. the best and that’s exactly what will happen in this tournament.

“I haven’t really thought about who I’ll face. All the lads in the tournament are incredible fighters, so any of them (will do).

“I don’t really have one I’ve picked that I want to face. I’m just confident of beating whoever.”

That another’s thing the bantamweight top four have in common – confidence. Stick it alongside obscene amounts of talent and every one of them has a right to believe they have what it takes to lift the trophy at some point next year.

It’s Burnett, though, who has Ireland behind him. Let’s not forget that. In the boxing business, an edge like that, an edge like Ireland, can be crucial.

Ryan Burnett

June 19, 2018
June 19, 2018
Michael Venom Page

Action Images/Adam Holt

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MICHAEL VENOM PAGE, an MMA star two contests into a nascent boxing career, is not going to adapt his herky-jerky, madcap style. He believes his methods are going to change boxing.

“I feel a lot of the boxing community are so based on the traditional elements, which are massively effective. But I just think you can do that bit more. You can be way more creative. Look at the likes of [Vasyl] Lomachenko and the stuff that he’s doing. The movement elements make him that much more dangerous. It’s nothing to do with how powerful he is. He frustrates the hell out of people because, similar to myself, you can’t land shots and he’s constantly hitting you. It’s the volume and how accurate he is. It’s a very frustrating game. I’m surprised that more people aren’t adopting that kind of style. I understand the general fundamentals of boxing are absolutely amazing and you’ll never get a harder puncher in any combat than a boxer. But I think you can just develop a little bit more,” Page told Boxing News.

“I’m doing everything wrong but, like I said, I’m playing on a different guitar. It’s more about the speed and the movement. A lot of people are saying when you get in harder competition you know you’re going to have to put your hands up. I say actually it makes it easier. When I say easier, obviously they’re way more developed, they probably won’t go down as easy. But it makes it easier in the sense that because they’re so well drilled, their movements tend to be that much more predictable. Anyone that’s a bit more wild and scrappy tends to be a harder fighter to work out initially and you’ve got to be that much more cautious. But any time I’ve sparred the more senior competitors in boxing, I actually find it a lot more easier to handle, to have my style deal with them.”

Michael Venom Page
Michael Venom Page [pictured] is bringing his own methods into boxing

In his most recent outing Michael Venom Page, as he’s known in the MMA world, swayed like a ‘drunken’ kung fu master, showboated, switched his footing and totally bamboozled journeyman Michal Ciach at York Hall last Friday. “Fighting for me is the most relaxing thing. I love dancing, fighting, both of those things I like to combine when I’m in there. It just adds to how relaxed I’m going to be in there,” he said. “I’m an experienced fighter in the sense of combat, even before I did the MMA stuff. Just because I’ve been fighting since I was five years old, my first competition in kickboxing. So I’m not new to combat. There’s no pressure from being in front of people and doing combat. It makes it that much easier to relax.”

Describing his style, he said, “That is a little bit Drunken Master. I like to add different elements. I’m inspired by just random stuff. It could be Drunken Master, it could be basketball. I’m inspired by movement and they’re so many different ways to move your body.

“Power has zero meaning if you can’t find your target and this is what I am. I’m a person that moves a lot so you are not able to land your shots. But then I’m able to cover a lot of ground and find my shot like a sniper every single time.”

June 19, 2018
June 19, 2018
Josh Taylor vs Viktor Postol

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SATURDAY’S (June 23) fight between Josh Taylor and Viktor Postol is so good I’ve spent every one of the 54 days since it was announced fully expecting it to be cancelled.

This sounds pessimistic and might not reflect well on those involved with the promotion, but it’s not meant to be taken this way. Instead, it is a testament to the surprise element of it all and says more about the regard in which I hold boxing and its ability to deliver the goods than anything else.

When announced, Taylor vs. Postol was, to me at least, something akin to the white lie a parent tells a child when trying to cajole them to the dentist. “We’re going to McDonald’s,” they might say. You believe it the first time. You go with it. But once burnt, once allowed to salivate only to feel the vibration of a drill, you’ll never make the same mistake again.

Boxing fans have been promised Happy Meals and delivered shock fillings for years (frankly, it comes with the territory). Which is why whenever a fight like Taylor vs. Postol comes along, it’s easy to assume legs are being pulled and that rugs will later be pulled from beneath these legs. You wait for the inevitable withdrawal. The injury. The doctor’s note. The replacement. You wait to read the small print detailing myriad ways disgruntled punters can get back their money. “All part of the wonderfully unpredictable nature of boxing,” they say.

Bill subject to change.


Saturday’s fight between Josh Taylor and Viktor Postol is so good I felt moved to write this article despite the fact I’ve just used a thousand other words to explore its undeniable greatness in this week’s Boxing News. Evidently, more needs to be said, and more attention needs to be given to what represents the best – bravest, craziest – bit of matchmaking seen in Britain so far this calendar year.

Whereas some previews drain the brain and require artificial enthusiasm, a fight like Taylor vs. Postol, this surprising little gem delivered to us at the year’s halfway mark, can’t be discussed enough. It deserves it. It has earned it. Moreover, because of the dynamic at play, and the unnerving sense of risk involved on the part of Taylor and his team, there’s so much to talk about, so much to admire.

Too good to be true. That’s another way of looking at it. Only it is true. With 54 days having passed, and only four more to go, it really does seem as though Josh Taylor, the Scotsman with just 12 pro fights, will actually be fighting Viktor Postol, a former WBC champion whose only loss was against Terence Crawford, at The SSE Hydro in Glasgow, live on Channel 5.

Touch wood.

Josh Taylor

1) Josh Taylor has only a dozen pro fights

Josh Taylor turned professional in July 2015, which, according to my calculations, is not even three years ago. Since then, of course, he has emerged as one of the finest talents in the country and his progress has been accelerated as a result. He’s now three years and 12 fights deep.

On his resume you’ll find a few scalps – the likes of Miguel Vazquez, a former IBF lightweight champion, and Ohara Davies – that serve to strengthen those paltry numbers, but, make no mistake, Taylor’s more than entitled to splash about in the shallow end for another 12 months if he was that way inclined.

2) Viktor Postol has 30 pro fights

Viktor Postol, 34, turned professional all the way back in December 2007. That’s over a decade ago. Not only that, he has done the rounds, competing in his native Ukraine, Bosnia, Spain, Russia, Georgia and the United States of America.

That’s not to say the sight and sound of a Glasgow crowd won’t haunt Postol’s dreams for the rest of his life – the likelihood is, it will – but what it does emphasis is the back catalogue of the man and the ease with which he has travelled and performed at the highest level. He might be ‘The Iceman’, but he won’t freeze.

Viktor Postol

3) Josh Taylor hasn’t been 10 rounds, let alone 12

The furthest Taylor has gone as a professional is two minutes and thirty seconds into the ninth round of a fight against Miguel Vazquez in 2017. That’s it. He’s never done the 10 rounds, much less 12.

In contrast to this, Postol has done the full 12 rounds on six separate occasions and boasts a style – patient, poised, all lateral movement and well-picked punches – that suggests a distance fight is often at the forefront of his mind.

4) Viktor Postol has stopped Lucas Matthysse

Postol is far more than a patient poker and prodder. With just 12 knockouts from 29 wins, it’s tough to argue the virtues of his one-punch power, but, if you look at some of his big wins, Postol undoubtedly has the timing, accuracy and spite to break the heart and will of an opponent down the stretch.

The greatest example of this, perhaps, is Postol’s breakout 11th round stoppage of Lucas Matthysse in 2015. That night Postol, the underdog, did a lot of boxing and a little brawling before eventually beating his heavy-handed Argentine opponent, a man known for violence and KO power, into a kind of wave-the-white-flag submission.

Interestingly, a similar thing happened to Selcuk Aydin, another macho man who believed he’d march forward and whack a skinny Ukrainian around the ring only to find himself slowly dissected and finished in round 11.

5) Josh Taylor is awesome

That’s the word on the street anyway. It sounds strange – Josh Taylor is awesome – because, unlike the other points raised, it lacks hard, tangible evidence and is no more than opinion at this stage.

That said, the whole reason this Postol fight is happening is because Josh Taylor is awesome and seemingly different to all the other British prospects and contenders out there. His talent is different, his composure is different and apparently, based on the bravery of his matchmaking, his ambition is quite a bit different, too.

Admittedly, though, such is boxing’s unforgiving nature, a man who appeared awesome against the likes of Ohara Davies and Miguel Vazquez can just as easily appear awful against someone of Viktor Postol’s ilk. It’s why you go to the efforts of finding out. It’s why fights like this, generally, don’t get made at this point in a young fighter’s career.

Ohara Davies

6) Viktor Postol has a four-inch reach advantage

Unlike Miguel Vazquez, a decent champion at lightweight (read: undersized as a super-lightweight), Viktor Postol is a tried and tested super-lightweight, one of the biggest boys in the playground.

It’s another aspect of the fight that warms the cockles, for the matchmaker’s code usually dictates that a prospect-cum-contender will fight a dangerous or decorated opponent only if they agree to move up in weight, thus relinquishing a lot of their danger.

Taylor, however, has taken the opposite approach. Within his rights to beat up a geriatric from the weight below, all out of ambition, Taylor has instead ignored the warnings, broken through the fence, and prised open the crocodile’s jaws in order to place his head between them. He’s gone for the experienced former champion yet to show signs of being faded, let alone shot, and, crazier still, plucked one from his own weight class.

It would be a decision deemed ridiculous if it wasn’t so damn refreshing and exciting.

7) Josh Taylor isn’t Terence Crawford

Just so we’re clear, Josh Taylor isn’t Terence Crawford.

Josh Taylor’s from Scotland, for starters. He’s pasty white. He’s new to all this (relatively speaking), and has yet to win a world title, let alone a few of them. He has 12 fights to Terence Crawford’s 33. He is, at 27, three years Crawford’s junior. He’s learning while Crawford is perfecting and is hoping to do everything Crawford, arguably the most gifted American boxer on the planet, is currently in the process of doing.

For now, Terence Crawford is the only man to get the better of Viktor Postol as a professional.

This is a line that needs repeating should Josh Taylor join the exclusive club. It also needs repeating if Josh Taylor gets it all wrong.

Terence Crawford

June 19, 2018
June 19, 2018
Carl Frampton

Action Images/Jason Cairnduff

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CARL FRAMPTON will defend his WBO Interim featherweight title against Australia’s Luke Jackson at Windsor Park on August 18.

Former WBO, WBA and IBF heavyweight champion Tyson Fury will also continue his comeback on the undercard in Belfast.

Frampton, 31, had long spoken of his ambition of fighting at Northern Ireland’s national football stadium and his promoter Frank Warren revealed he is planning a further fight with IBF champion Josh Warrington before the end of the year.

Frampton had previously expected to fight Lee Selby before a defeat by Warrington ruled the Welshman out, and of fighting at Windsor Park he said at a press conference streamed by BT Sport: “I thought it was probably never going to happen, but Frank’s done a good job and it’s finally happening.

“I’ve dreamed about it for a long time now. The atmosphere created at Windsor Park for a football game can’t be rivalled anywhere in the world – it sounds like there’s 80,000 people in there. We’re hoping to have 23,000, 24,000 in there. To have Tyson Fury on any undercard is amazing – he’s a bill topper.

“I respect anyone who’s willing to come to Windsor Park and fight me. There’s bigger fights on the horizon but I can’t overlook Luke Jackson. Windsor Park deserves me to put on a top quality performance. If he beats me it can change his life and it’s up to me not to let that happen.

“Big Fury wouldn’t beat me out there, at Windsor Park.”

The 33-year-old Jackson is an Olympian who has won each of his 16 professional fights.

He said: “My father was telling me we have some ancestors from Ireland, so this is like home. I’ve a massive opportunity here – not many would come to fight Carl Frampton in his backyard but I’m willing to. I’m looking to (change my life).

“As a fighter he doesn’t do anything great but he does everything very, very well. I’m going to have to be at my best.

“I’d just got back from a holiday in Bali (when I was asked about the fight) and I took it with both hands.”

Fury, 29, has won each of his three previous fights in Belfast. The most recent came against Kevin Johnson in December 2012, and he said: “Last time I boxed here was six years ago, and it’s always been very welcoming. It’s going to be even more welcoming as a returning world champion.

“I hope this time I’m going to get someone who’s going to have a fight with me, punch me in the face a couple of times, give me a busted nose and a busted mouth.”

Tyson Fury
Tyson Fury eased to victory over Sefer Seferi in Manchester earlier this month (Nick Potts/PA)

He was unconvincing when he returned against the little-known Sefer Seferi in Manchester earlier this month, and Warren added: “He’s still got weight to come off. He was training to come back, now he’s going to train to fight. That’s the difference.

“If Carl comes through, one way or the other, that fight (against Warrington) – if they’re both winning fighters – will happen next year. If he wins, he’ll fight Warrington next. I’m meeting Josh tomorrow.”

Also on the undercard, Ireland’s Paddy Barnes will challenge for a world title for the first time. In only his sixth professional fight, he faces WBC flyweight champion Cristofer Rosales, from Nicaragua.