March 16, 2018
March 16, 2018
Dillian Whyte vs Lucas Browne

Action Images/Reuters/Matthew Childs

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THE crunch showdown, Dillian Whyte vs Lucas Browne for the WBC Silver heavyweight title at The O2 in London on Saturday, March 24 will be televised live in the U.S. exclusively on HBO beginning at 6:00 p.m. ET/PT with a same-day replay at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.

Whyte is ranked number one in the WBC and is hunting a showdown with WBC king Deontay Wilder but unbeaten Australian Browne will be looking to hijack the Londoner’s plans and move into the world title mix once again having held the WBA strap.

The heavyweight rivals have raised the stakes in the build-up with strong words at the press conference and hostile exchanges on social media – but next weekend the talking stops and one of these two huge hitters can punch their ticket to the top table with a big win in Greenwich.

“This is a great fight and the biggest and most important in the division outside of the world heavyweight championships,” said Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn.

Dillian Whyte vs Lucas Brown

Dillian has been working his way up the rankings and now sits pretty at WBC number one – we expect the winner of this fight to be in position for a mandatory shot at Deontay Wilder. It’s going to be an explosive, violent match up with plenty of bad blood between the two – don’t blink.”

March 16, 2018
March 16, 2018
Jose Ramirez

Mikey Williams/Top Rank

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GIFTED 2012 Olympic Jose Ramirez has complied an impressive 21-0 (16) ledger as a pro and on Saturday (March 17) he comes to Madison Square Garden Theatre to fight Amir Iman for the WBC super-lightweight title.

I’m very thankful for the opportunity. It’s definitely a blessing to be able to fight here for my first world title, here at the ‘Mecca of Boxing’ here in New York City. To be able to showcase my talent to a whole different crowd, it’s part of becoming a superstar. It’s part of growing as a fighter. It’s part of growing as an entertainer. And I can’t wait to showcase my talent on Saturday against Amir Imam,” Ramirez said. Me as a fighter, I signed up to fight against the best fighters in the world. Making it through the Olympics, I know that my experience, talent, and skills are there for me to become a world champion. And not just a world champion, but to make a big statement in the 140-pound division.

“I started boxing when I was eight years old. I’ve been boxing for 17 years. I’ve had 17 years to prepare myself for this moment Saturday night. I hope to showcase my talent at my best, and I hope Amir Imam brings the best out of him to bring the best out of me.”

Jose Ramirez

Amir Imam said, “A lot of fighters don’t get to fight here, and I’m blessed and honoured to be here, fighting for the WBC’s 2,000th title fight. And I’m ready to go.

“He’s a tough fighter. I see a lot in him. I’m not overlooking him, and I know we trained hard for this training camp. I’m ready to get the WBC belt… Now it’s time to get the title.

“Tune in, man. It’s going a to be a great fight, an electrifying fight. Main event. ESPN.”

March 16, 2018
March 16, 2018
mike tyson

Action Images/Chris Dean

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CUS D’AMATO, the trainer and guru whose master-work was Mike Tyson, had his own much-quoted theory about fear. Control and use it, he taught, and it will become a weapon with which to beat your opponent, but let it get out of control and it will destroy you like a forest fire.

That, I suspect, is what happened in Frank Bruno’s mind on that Saturday night (March 16, 1996) in the hours and minutes before he left his dressing room at the MGM Grand Garden to face the most terrifying and intimidating opponent since Sonny Liston.

Bruno, making his first defence of the WBC heavyweight title, had talked a great fight during the build-up to this hugely-important match which drew a capacity crowd in the 16,000-seat arena and millions more on pay-per-view in America and Britain. But when the time came for him to leave the sanctuary of his changing room and make the long walk into the arena, he did so with the air of a man trudging towards the electric chair.

That is not said lightly, or with a view towards disparaging the immensely likeable and brave Bruno. All fighters, even Tyson, feel fear, and the man who says he doesn’t is a liar. Tyson, famously, was once filmed in tears before an amateur match, with his then-trainer Teddy Atlas having to comfort him and stiffen his resolve. No doubt Tyson, too, had his secret fears about Saturday’s rematch with a man who had hurt and dazed him when they first met seven years ago, but as he has repeatedly and regrettably demonstrated to his cost, he is a naturally violent and abusive man who, paradoxically, feels safest and most at home in the ring, in the only environment in which he is in absolute control of his own destiny.

He turned his fear into a weapon of destruction, using it to fuel the thrilling aggression which carried him to a decisive and dramatic victory in the third, but Bruno (17st 9lbs) allowed himself to be consumed by it. I have rarely seen a man more uneasy about his immediate future, or with less confidence in his own ability to determine it. The inner doubts showed in his face and in his body language and demeanour, which had none of the focused and frightening intensity of Tyson’s.

The fight meant everything to the disgraced and now rehabilitated former champion; it was what had occupied his dreams during the long months and years in jail, and the strength of his emotions showed in the unusually demonstrative nature of his reaction in the minutes after referee Mills Lane had rescued the beaten Bruno 50 seconds into the round.

Tyson (15st 10lbs) spread his arms wide with an expression of unrestrained joy and exultation, before sinking to his knees in the middle of the ring. He then walked across to the beaten and disconsolate loser, kissed him and rubbed his head in a comforting gesture while speaking quietly to him. But as he left the ring, he stopped on the ring apron and yelled in exultation, pointing to the WBC belt around his waist.

It was almost primeval, reminding me of nothing so much as a gorilla beating his chest and bellowing its supremacy in the herd. It was a rare and out-of-character display by a man whose emotions are normally locked away behind an expressionless mask, and it showed how much the victory had meant to him. He had shared Bruno’s doubts and apprehension, but now he felt unbounded relief where Bruno knew only despair.

On This Day: Mike Tyson blitzes brave Frank Bruno

The crowd, at least a third of them noisy Bruno fans, responded well to Tyson’s decisive victory and showed sympathy with the loser, who stayed in the ring long after Tyson had strode away with the belt in which Bruno had taken so much pride and satisfaction. Tyson’s victory had been so complete that there was no room for argument or recriminations, although I shudder to contemplate what might have happened had Lane been forced to disqualify Bruno for the repeated holding which had already cost a point deduction in the second.

Bruno’s fans are not, by and large, boxing fans – the number of empty seats during an undercard of ‘world’ title fights, and the shoulder-crushing crowds around the hotel bars, showed that. They roared out football songs and chants, while American tourists stared in amused bewilderment. But these were the same breed of fans who rioted after Bruno’s defeat by Tim Witherspoon a decade ago, and the threat of violence bubbled just below the surface. Their boos and whistles completely drowned the American national anthem, an appalling discourtesy to a country where anthems are scrupulously respected. Not for the first time, we cringed with embarrassment in the Press seats. It may be true that only a small percentage of the British contingent were involved, but if that were the case, they must have lung capacity which a whale would envy.

The undercard was fought in near-silence, apart from the women’s six-rounder, but when Tyson was first spotted on the giant TV screens in each corner of the arena as he left the dressing room, the noise and excitement began to build. He was dressed, as always, in black shorts and boots wearing a short poncho which he shrugged off as he entered the ring.

Bruno looked exceptionally tense and apprehensive when he appeared in camera shot, and he talked to himself throughout the long-drawn-out preliminaries – perhaps praying, or maybe taking a lead from Steve Collins by chanting a victory mantra. Tyson, as always, prowled around the ring as if straining at the leash. One of his seconds wore a jacket emblazoned with the legend “Loved by few, hated by many, but respected by all …”, and the anxiety writ large on the Bruno team showed that was no exaggeration.

Tyson did that trademark little skip before launching himself at Bruno in the opening seconds, firing overarm rights. Bruno jabbed at him, then fell short with a right as the squat challenger came inside. Bruno jabbed, then grabbed -– the first of many such offences which tested to the limit the patience of referee Lane, handling his 86th ‘world’ title fight. Bruno landed a left hook, but took a heavy right and held on as Tyson drove punches to the body. Tyson complained about the holding, then missed with a right and their heads came dangerously together. Bruno tried to jab him off and got home with a solid-looking right, but already the champion was lumpy around the eye.

Tyson missed again with the left hook but landed the right, while Bruno missed with one attempted right uppercut but seemed momentarily to shake Tyson with the second. Tyson hit back but he showed courage to stand his ground and blast back with crude but heavy blows, and Tyson glared at him before turning away to his own corner at the bell.

Bruno’s left eye was cut, a long slice just above the lid. It was not possible to see exactly how the injury had occurred, but it was not the kind of cut you would expect from a head-butt.

Mike Tyson

Whatever chances Bruno had were draining away as the cut worsened appreciably early in the second. Tyson could sense the anxiety in his man, and bulled into the attack. There was no feinting or working for openings: this was fighting, not boxing. Mr. Lane took time out to speak to them both, but Bruno kept clinging on at every opportunity. It was not the way to keep a title, and when Lane finally ordered the judges to deduct a penalty point, I wondered whether any champion in history had ever been penalized like that so early in the title defence.

Nothing was going right for Bruno. Tyson’s thudding punches were hurting, and the blood running down from the cut was hampering his vision. Surprisingly, he turned southpaw for a moment, probably more from confusion than as a tactical ploy, but quickly reverted to orthodox as the challenger caught him again.

Tyson’s elbow caught Bruno in a clinch in the opening moments of the third, but it was the champion who was cautioned, inevitably for holding. The end came abruptly half-a-minute later. Bruno went back towards the ropes and Tyson opened up with a ferocious barrage as the Englishman stood against them.

Two left hooks, a right, a left hook, two right uppercuts – one missed, one landed – and a final left hook sent Bruno into a squatting position on the bottom rope, and referee Lane acted promptly to rescue him before Tyson could inflict real damage on a hurt and defenceless target. It was a chillingly-executed finish, reminiscent of Tyson at his best, and must have sent a shudder of apprehension through WBA champion Bruce Seldon and his IBF counterpart Frans Botha, who watched from adjoining ringside seats.

Seldon would be next in Tyson’s drive to reunify for the second time.

Neither champion poses much of a threat, probably less than Bruno did, and on this vastly-improved showing the only men who can seriously test the revitalised champion are Lennox Lewis and Riddick Bowe, two huge fights down the road.

Iron Mike is back – and the business is buzzing again.

March 15, 2018
March 15, 2018
Frankie Gavin

Action Images/Peter Cziborra

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GIVE Frankie Gavin six weeks and he’ll fight anybody. Yes, anybody. That’s the message he wants to send; the message he needs to send.

He’s 32 years of age now, without a promoter, without a full-time trainer, and could do with an opportunity. Not desperate exactly, but hungry, for sure. The amateur exploits, the World Championships gold medal, were a long time ago. More than a decade ago, in fact.

Recently, Gavin was offered the chance to box Josh Kelly in Cardiff on March 31. It was the sort of opportunity he’s after; the sort of opponent he wants. But an alternative date in June, somewhere in Newcastle, is more to his liking.

I had a little chat with Eddie (Hearn, promoter) and he mentioned March 31 and a fight against Josh Kelly,” Gavin tells Boxing News. “But against someone of his skill level – given how good he is – that was too early really.

They then mentioned June and told me what I could expect financially and I more or less jumped at it and agreed it straight away. He’s fighting Carlos Molina now on March 31 and, if he wins that, hopefully I’ll be next for him. Hopefully I’ll be the one who gets the opportunity.

Some people look at me and think I’m past it, but other people, the people who see me in the gym, know I still have a lot to offer. If Josh Kelly and Adam Booth [Kelly’s coach] fancy it, this is a great opportunity for them really. Maybe they think I’m not the fighter I was. I think I am still that fighter. This would be my chance to prove it. Josh Kelly is a good name for me as well. If I beat him, I’m back where I need to be.”

boxing results

One of the rising stars of British boxing, Kelly, currently 5-0 (4), meets Molina, a former IBF super-welterweight champion, on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight title unification clash with Joseph Parker. It’s a considerable test for Kelly, on paper at least, but is one Gavin expects him to ace with little difficulty.

I can’t fault him,” says Gavin, a former British and Commonwealth welterweight champion who also challenged for European and world honours. “He’s done really well.

“Molina, though, is well past it now. I never really did rate him, to be fair. He’s just been beaten by the French kid [Ahmed El Mousaoui]. They’ve done very well to get him at this stage in his career and I’m sure Kelly will go out and make a statement against him. If he wins, and then wants to fight me in Newcastle in June, I’ll be straight up for it.”

Gavin, 25-3, has fought just twice since playing his part in a classic with Sam Eggington in October 2016. He outpointed Renald Garrido last May and then stopped Felix Matamoros less than a month later. Since then, nothing. He saw an ill-fated IBO welterweight title fight against Bethuel Ushona collapse – once because of an injury, and then because a sponsor pulled out – and is now, as a consequence, a fighter without a fight date, just as he’s a fighter without a team.

I’ll fight anyone,” he says. “I’m still ranked high. I’m two in Britain – behind Bradley Skeete, who I’ve beaten – and top four in Europe.

I’m willing to sign with people. I’ve realised now that being self-managed and self-promoted isn’t working for me. I want to get with someone and go on a run before it’s too late.”

*** A full Frankie Gavin update can be read in next week’s Boxing News (digital March 19, print March 22) ***

March 15, 2018
March 15, 2018
boxing knockouts

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TWENTY-two years ago today, a card dubbed “Night Of The Young Heavyweights” was held in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Shannon Briggs met Darrol Wilson, Andrew Golota met Danell Nicholson and a Samoan slugger by the name of David Tua met John Ruiz. The card proved memorable, for two reasons: firstly, Briggs, dubbed by some as the heir apparent to the heavyweight championship, was shocked by Wilson, being stopped in the 3rd-round.

Briggs claimed asthma problems accounted for the loss but much of the young and previously unbeaten prospect/contender’s credibility and reputation had been damaged. The other reason the card proved memorable was down to Tua’s wickedly powerful fists. Having his first title fight (the WBC International heavyweight belt was at stake) Tua, then unbeaten at 22-0 with 18 KO’s, really did showcase his talents at the expense of the 25-2 and never stopped Ruiz.

Coming out like a cross between Mike Tyson and Rocky Marciano, the 23-year-old wasted absolutely no time in hunting down his prey. With the sound of the bell still an echo, the short (5’10-inch) and solid, wickedly powerful Tua blasted Ruiz with a bomb of a left hook to the head. Instantly in trouble, Ruiz was cracked by vicious follow up hooks, a final left looking like it had almost decapitated him. Down on his back and totally out, Ruiz, know as “The Quiet Man,” was a thoroughly beaten man at just the 19-second mark.

“Nobody has ever done that to Ruiz,” said HBO’s Larry Merchant. Trained by Lou Duva and Ronnie Shields, and also a 1992 Olympic bronze medallist, Tua had made a huge impression on the U.S fight fans and experts. All smiles after his win – and after a badly hurt Ruiz thankfully recovered – Tua looked for all the world like a future world champion. Instead, quite unthinkably at the time of the savage defeat he had suffered, it was Ruiz who would go on to become a major belt holder, not Tua.

Tua would score plenty more thrilling and eye-catching knockouts, beating amongst others, Briggs’ conqueror Wilson, David Izon and Oleg Maskaev. Then, in 1997, Tua went to war with Ike Ibeabuchi, losing a great fight on points. Both men took serious punches in the modern day classic and some say neither fighter was ever quite the same again (with suggestions that Ibeabuchi’s subsequent running foul of the law was the result of mental trauma picked up in the fight). Tua would get one crack at the world title, against Lennox Lewis in 2000; losing via wide 12-round points decision.

Ruiz, after recovering from the loss to Tua, went on to fight a three-fight series with Evander Holyfield, winning the second meeting and capturing the WBA strap in the process – a title Ruiz would actually win twice. Unfortunately for Ruiz, he is best remembered today for another loss – against former middleweight king Roy Jones Junior, who made history by relieving Ruiz of his heavyweight belt in 2003.

Tua, who somewhat briefly but at the same time unforgettably lit up the heavyweight division like a shooting star, retired with a 52-5-2(43) record in 2013. He scored a number of 1st-round KO’s, but never looked quite as devastating as he did against Ruiz two full decades ago. Ruiz, who regained the WBA title in his very next fight after losing to the brilliant Jones Junior, exited with a respectable 44-9-1(30) ledger after being stopped by Britain’s David Haye in 2010.

Ruiz fought a number of big-hitters during his career, yet he is almost certain to tell you today that no-one ever hit him quite as hard as David Tua.

March 15, 2018
March 15, 2018
John Ryder

Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

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JOHN RYDER and Jamie Cox will clash in a crunch Super-Middleweight battle at The O2 in London on May 5, live on Sky Sports Box Office.

Ryder is back in action following his brilliant win over Patrick Nielsen in October inside five rounds, a win that saw ‘The Gorilla’ take the Dane’s number four ranking in the WBA and leap into contention for major title shots.

Cox will be gunning to rob Ryder of that chance and take it for himself as he returns to the ring after challenging George Groves for the WBA World title at the top of the bill that Ryder landed his big win – and both men expect fireworks in a fight that ‘opens doors’ to the winner.

“We’ve been out of the ring the same amount of time, so I’m sure Jamie is just as itching to get back in there as me,” said Ryder. “It’s been a long time coming following my career best win so I’m happy to get back in there in another big fight in my home town.

“There was talk of other fights that we were looking at, but they didn’t come off – that’s boxing. It was about picking the right fight rather than just going in there against anyone. Jamie has a good record and to beat him would hold me in good stead.

“A lot of people were writing me off before the Nielsen fight, I went in there and beat the man that was held in high regard and I beat him in good fashion. It was the best win of my career so far. The pressure was off. I was an away fighter, I just went in there and enjoyed it which was telling on the night. It was a great victory.

“Jamie had some success in the early rounds against George. He made it the fight it was but we all know how good Groves is. It only takes one shot… Just look at both my fight and his fight on the same card. Luckily my punch went to my advantage and he was on the receiving end of a peach.

“He got hit with a body shot, 9 times out of 10 you’ll take them but that one was in the wrong place at the wrong time for him and he couldn’t beat the count.

“I think our styles are geared up for a good fight, it’ll be a real treat for the fans on what’s shaping up to be a quality night of boxing.

“The British Title has evaded me for so long now, it’s a love hate relationship. I’d love to win it but I can’t build my career around the British Title. I’m taking things one fight at a time,
Jamie Cox is my full focus.

“For the winner it opens a lot of doors, the loser it could be curtains potentially. It’s a must win fight for the both of us.”

“I’m looking forward to this one,” said Cox. “Facing Groves was a great experience, I know where I went wrong and I’m ready to prove where I believe I should be.

“I had a couple of weeks off after the last fight then it was time to get back stuck into training. I’m fully back into it now and ready for the next one.

“John put on a great display against Nielsen, it was a grand finish so hats off. Obviously, I didn’t see it at the time but I’ve seen it back since. Fair play to him, he got a big win.

“I’ve always been quite tough to the body. Groves wasn’t hurting me to the head, so I didn’t think he could hurt me to the body. To be fair he landed a great shot, full credit to him. I think George will go on and win the final against Callum Smith.

“John comes across a gentleman. It’s business at the end of the day. I know what he’s about, I’m expecting the best John Ryder. I’m looking forward to mixing it with him. Beating him will put me in a better position and nearer to a World Title shot.

John Ryder

“He’s ranked across a couple of the governing bodies and it’s my goal to become a World Champion. Beating John will open more doors, especially with the tournament finishing soon. It should free up some of the fighters. This fight has come at the perfect time.

“It’s going to be a tough task, he likes to come forward and have a go and I’m always up for the fight. There will be some big shots landed, it’s a great fight for the fans. I’m looking forward to breaking it down the gym with the team and the build up to the fight itself.”

Ryder and Cox clash on a huge night of action in Greenwich as bitter Heavyweight rivals Tony Bellew and David Haye meet in a rematch and Martin J. Ward defends his European Super-Featherweight title against James Tennyson.

March 15, 2018
March 15, 2018
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Video: Showtime