Tuesday, 17 September 2013

My open email to the Nevada State Athletic Commission following Mayweather vs Alvarez

Dear Sir/Madam,

By the title of my letter I think you will already be aware of why I am writing to you today, and I hope I am one of many to write to you on this topic.

This past weekend the boxing world saw a fantastic event which pitted boxing's pound for pound superstar Floyd Mayweather Jr. against young champion Saul Alvarez. The undercard was a bit special too!

Sadly, as with many weekends, we saw yet another disappointing effort from a high profile judge. I am, of course, talking about the 114-114 score dealt out by Cynthia Ross.

Thankfully her scorecard did not affect the decision of the fight (although her scorecard of 115-113 certainly helped out Timothy Bradley last year in his fight against Manny Pacquiao).

However, we fans certainly didn't let it pass by unnoticed.

I do appreciate that Keith Kizer and Bill Brady have both stuck up for her since, and I think that is a good trait (as I would hope my boss would also stick up for me).

I suppose it might be an idea to point out now that I am not one of these so called "Flomos" (fan addicted to Floyd Mayweather); in fact, if you wish, here is a blog I wrote issuing a strong rejection that he is superior to Sugar Ray Robinson: ENJOY!

I understand thoroughly that the scoring of fights is very objective (I, for example, felt Lucas Matthysse just about edged his fight against Danny Garcia this past weekend; which was lamented by fans of my boxing page).

I also understand, and vehemently object to, judges scoring "sympathy rounds" in order to keep a fight interesting. We see this all the time. For example: Guillermo Rigondeaux vs Nonito Donaire. Rigondeaux CLEARLY won eleven or twelve rounds, however judges scored it by the slightest of margins (How John Stewart scored it 114-113 is beyond belief. Maybe I should email the NYSAC next?!). Or how about my fellow Briton, Carl Froch, in his effort against widely recognised super middleweight king Andre Ward. Froch won at best three rounds. He lost by just two points on two scorecards; John Stewart was also a judge in that fight (I really think I should email the NYSAC!). Or how about the utterly outrageous scoring in the Pernell Whitaker-Julio Cesar Chavez classic where the great American dominated his Mexican rival throughout (winning a minimum of ten rounds) only to be handed a majority draw.

I understand "the game", of course. I've been watching boxing since I was a child: No matter how easily "boxer A" gets beaten, he must not be allowed to be beaten by too large of a margin as it affects both his promoter's usage of said boxer (e.g. who wants to see a guy who got dominated in his previous fight?), as well as affecting an org's ability to make money (e.g. boxer who cannot fight at elite level cannot pay sanctioning fees). Let's not beat around the bush; we all know how it works.

However, we are all fans and we all continue to watch. What is utterly intolerable though, is judging which is so lenient it allows a boxer who has been thoroughly "taken to school", so to speak, to be allowed to claw his/her way back into a fight. Forget what the promoters think, forget what the orgs think, and simply get judges to score fights properly. Obviously this would all be easier if there was an international governing body (e.g. FIFA in soccer), but there isn't, so we must soldier on as we can.

Boxing is becoming more and more bogus by the day, and anybody at the higher echelons who can help would be very much appreciated.

Yours Faithfully,

No Holds Barred

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Floyd Mayweather Jr is NO Sugar Ray Robinson!


After Floyd Mayweather Jr's victory over Saul Alvarez last night, the comparison of Mayweather to the all time greats of the sport (e.g. Robinson, Armstrong, Tunney, Louis, Ali etc) is again inevitable. I'm not going to dwell on Mayweather's career, but instead focus on Robinson's career which is perhaps somewhat forgotten, shamefully, as time moves on.

I will look at a few of the comments that get thrown the way of those who claim Robinson is the greatest and i will also analyse his accomplishments.

"Robinson never won world titles at five weight classes whereas Mayweather has".

Nowadays plenty of fighters have some form of title, whether it be a "genuine" world title, or an interim belt, or "super world title". There are at least four world titles per weight class and that doesn't include the Ring Magazine title (which many claim should be the real lineal world title), or upcoming orgs such as the IBO or WBU, or the titles the more prestigious orgs create just in order to charge sanctioning fees.

Back in the 1940s-1950s when Robinson was in his prime, numerous weight classes didn't exist. The weight classes which exist today, but not back then, include: cruiserweight, super middleweight, light middleweight, light welterweight (returned in 1959), super featherweight (returned in 1959), super bantamweight, super flyweight, light flyweight, and minimumweight.

This means Robinson had no chance of winning titles at a few weights where he possibly could have (i.e. super middleweight, light middleweight, light welterweight). Had they existed, he'd have been a five weight world champion.

More to the point though, back in those days it was less about money and more about prestige. Having some cheap leather strap around your waist, which you can buy online nowadays, was not considered a great thing to do. Beating the best was considered the way to become great. The best back then inevitably held the world title in each division as there was only one widely recognised world title per division.

"Robinson's opponents weren't all very good".

Have people forgotten, or do they just not know? Robinson defeated ten hall of fame fighters and often did so multiple times (e.g. La Motta five times). He also beat sixteen former, reigning, or future world champions.

Fighters he beat included: Jake La Motta, Bobo Olson, Kid Gavilan, Rocky Graziano, Randy Turpin, Carmen Basilio, Gene Fullmer, Denny Moyer, Sammy Angott, Robert Villemain, Fritzie Zivic, Henry Armstrong, Tommy Bell, George Costner, Jose Basora, Charley Fusari, Ralph Dupas.

If fans nowadays haven't heard of these fighters, this doesn't affect Robinson's record in any way. It just means fans have not done the research necessary to offer up an unbiased approach to his place in the history books.

"Fighters back then lost all the time and were bums, whereas Mayweather is 45-0".

That old chestnut. A lot of people don't realise that back in the day fighters barely sparred; at least not as much as they do now. When fighters would sign up to fight as much as twenty or so fights in one year, a large quantity of those would essentially be what we would now call "sparring sessions"; although obviously, they had a competitive edge.

Boxing was also not as much of a business as it is today. There was a business edge to it (people like to earn money), and there was a corruption angle (i.e. the Mafia/Mob influence), but overall there was a much greater sporting and prestige feel to the sport. Boxers wanted to beat the best, end of story. Getting paid to do so was a very nice added incentive but the world title, the ONLY world title, was what it was all really about.

"Robinson ducked Charley Burley".

Whether he "ducked" him or not is debatable. But, what is certain is he didn't fight him. Why? I don't know the answer. One reason i suppose i might consider is that perhaps the fact Burley was black and not too well established (perhaps?) or in the right "crew", this made it easier for Robinson to not have to face him. The same way heavyweights in the late 19th/early 20th century could avoid black challengers if they wished as the black fighters (e.g. Sam Langford, Joe Jeanette, Sam McVey, Harry Wills), had "no right" to be challenging for the world title.

Burley was a part of the infamous "Murderer's Row" of the era; a group of feared black fighters that were "avoided" by many. Alongside Burley were Lloyd Marshall, Holman Williams, Herbert "Cocoa Kid" Lewis Hardwick, Jack Chase, Eddie Booker, Elmer Ray, Aaron Wade and Bert Lytell.

Robinson fought just one of them, Aaron Wade, and it was Wade's very last fight. It must however also be remembered that Robinson didn't make his pro debut until 1940 and fought until 1965 (after a couple of brief retirements). Robinson fought for his first world title in 1946. By this time most of the Murderer's Row fighters were coming to the end of their careers. By that time, the only real credible opponents for Robinson would have perhaps only been Charley Burley and Bert Lytell.

So, i think it's plausible to say Robinson perhaps wasn't keen on fighting Burley or even Lytell, but it isn't plausible to say Robinson outright ducked the Murderer's Row the same way some other fighters did, as their careers were coming to a close when Robinson was making strides in the mid-late 40s.

"You can't know what you haven't seen".

Like gravity, i suppose?

This is a reasonable point, i suppose. It's a known fact that almost no footage of Robinson as a welterweight exists. Some people point to this as a reason to discredit some of Robinson's accomplishments. My problem with it, however, is that it essentially tells us that because we haven't seen a specific fighter, we have no right to say how good he was.

This argument sounds like this: "I have never seen the Loch Ness monster. I therefore don't believe in it." Fair enough.

What about science, though? Have you ever seen any other galaxies from your window? According to scientists there are in excess of two hundred billion of them. Nasa has also been taking photos of outer space for decades. What about dark matter and dark energy? Scientists claim these are key elements of life in the Universe. These aren't 100% proven, as such, but they are "accepted hypotheses" because of the evidence provided. There is no evidence for the Loch Ness monster, despite people certainly looking.

Of course, you could prefer to live in a barn and say things like a "theory is just a theory", thus completely misunderstanding the definition of a "scientific theory", but that's your problem and the world will move on without you.

Scientists accept evidence from those who came along before and this represents my opinion of this argument. I trust boxing historians, i understand how to read records, and i trust those who came before me. If historians say, that without doubt, Harry Greb was the best middleweight of all time. I will certainly look into it, but i don't mind saying "you're right!".

"Fighters weren't as fit back then. They'd never survive in today's era".

Okay, this argument is paraded around every sport. Let's analyse it.

Nowadays, we have fighters pulling out of fights at a week's notice because of a "back strain", or an "elbow problem", or a "hand injury" etc. Should we complain? I say no. After all, this is a dangerous sport and i think it's good to give them the benefit of the doubt. Are all of these injuries genuine though? I'd say possibly not. I think boxers, like all well paid athletes, now have a dollar value on their head and for that reason they need to, to some extent, be wrapped in cotton wool (at least until they get in the ring).

Some people might argue that Wladimir Klitschko's perfect specimen of a body is a result of his hard work in and outside of the ring. He no doubt lives a clean lifestyle and is clearly a consummate professional. On the other hand, we might say Jack Johnson was known for his love of life, especially women. Perhaps a case could be made that if Johnson had fought during this era, he'd have been more professional and even better. But, can't a case also be made that he'd have actually suffered more injuries and such nowadays? Is the training used today actually causing injury? After all, more and more athletes complain of injuries than ever before. Or, is this just a case of human right's kicking in and people feeling a lot more open to asking for help as they know they will receive it, compared to yesteryear when they were told to "get on with it"?

It is also worth mentioning that using this argument is full of bias. If fighters today have better training and are healthier, then it must also be noted that if fighters of the past fought in the current era they too would benefit from such training. The same way if fighters today fought in the past, they would have the same training standards as those back then. This is a very biased argument which favours the view that you want to put across. In my opinion, it is not a good analytical approach.

Let's look at it from another sporting angle: Football (soccer).

The world's most popular sport is riddled with injury complaints ranging from very serious (e.g. broken leg) to very minor (e.g. bit of a cold).

For those who love British football, have a think about this: From 1955-1985, during the golden era of British football, British clubs won a combined 29 European trophies.

This era was not only known for its golden era on the pitch, but also off it too. Players like George Best, Jimmy Greaves, Frank Worthington et al. were as well known for their footballing skill as they were for their love of alcohol and women.

This era of alcohol and drug use went on until the mid 1990s when no-nonsense managers like Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger helped stomp it out for good. Other managers soon followed suit.

If today's athletic era is without doubt better than any before, then why have British teams not had anywhere near the level of success that they once had? Are we to believe that teams nowadays are simply more competitive or better than British teams? Were other teams simply easier to beat back then? Surely nobody actually believes the great Ajax, Bayern Munich, AC Milan or Real Madrid teams during that era were worse than their teams since then?

The same can be said of boxing. There is no direct link to be made between modern healthy living and success. The same way there is no direct link between shenanigans away from the ring/pitch and failure.

Performance-enhancing Drugs

Let's also throw in the performance enhancement drugs topic, which has blighted sports for decades. Although the use of PEDs has been around for over two thousand years, and amphetamines were first used by athletes in the 1950s, the modern epidemic of highly evolved drugs is a more recent phenomenon. Fighters in the 1960s and before were most certainly not using any form of PEDs. So, we should make the important statement that boxers of the past, who are still held in a lofty position by modern day fans and historians, were most certainly not on any form of PEDs. Compare this to the modern era where many greats may very well be using PEDs (in fact, many have actually been caught out), but we conveniently sweep their usage under the carpet as to not admit our favourite sports are inundated with PEDs. Take American football, baseball, and cycling as prime examples of sports riddled with drugs, but where fans refuse to accept the truth.

Robinson's stats.

- His amateur record is usually listed as 85-0 with 69 KOs (40 in the first round) but Robinson lost to Billy Graham and Patsy Pesca under his given name, Walker Smith Jr.
- He was undefeated in 91 fights at one stage of his career.
- His record read 128-1-2 before suffering his second loss.
- Robinson retired with a record of 131-3-2 in 1952, having failed to dethrone light heavyweight champion Joey Maxim, but returned to the ring three years later. He retired for good in 1965 with a record of 173-19-6.
- Named Fighter of the Year for 1942 and 1951 by The Ring Magazine.
- Named Fighter of the Year for 1950 by the Boxing Writers Association of America.
- Named Fighter of the Decade for the 1950s by The Ring Magazine.
- Inducted into The Ring Magazine Boxing Hall of Fame in 1967.
- Inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990.
- Named Welterweight Fighter of the Century, Middleweight Fighter of the Century, and Fighter of the Century by the Associated Press in 1999.
- The Ring Magazine ranked Robinson as the best fighter of the last 80 years in 2002.
- The Ring Magazine ranked Robinson as the 11th greatest puncher of all-time in 2003.
- Historian Bert Sugar ranked Robinson #1 in his 2006 book Boxing's Greatest Fighters.
- ESPN ranked Robinson as the greatest fighter in history in 2007.

Mayweather vs Alvarez; Garcia vs Matthysse: What i learnt from last night

Things i learnt from last night:

1 - Floyd Mayweather is obviously the best fighter of his generation: Yep, his record is open to criticism for sure (have you ever spoken to me before?!), but his skill alone makes him the obvious best talent.

2 - The dangers of taking paper titles and money: Alvarez will bounce back from this (he's only 23), but he was handed a paper title too young, he made paper title defences, and he took the huge payday. Back in the day, Alvarez would not have been a significant fighter; does he compare to Hearns, Norris, McCallum, Benitez, Trinidad, De La Hoya, Hope, Ayule, Boudouani, Wright, Mugabi, Vargas, Mosley....? No.

3 - Danny Garcia has more than 1% chance of victory: Yep, i said this (oops!). I seriously didn't expect Garcia to have any chance of victory. Matthysse is a genuine p4p star and huge puncher, yet Garcia took his shots well, threw the better overall shots, threw much better combos, and even did a number on Matthysse's eye.

4 - Lucas Matthysse is not a "bum": Just because he got beaten by the better fighter on the night, this doesn't mean he's now finished. It was an uber-close fight, which could have gone either way, where he suffered a seriously swollen eye. Matthysse has already lost two fights like this before. Garcia beat a prime and in condition Matthysse.

5 - There is no such thing as a dead-cert: Matthysse was odds-on favourite to win. Although i actually had him winning the fight 115-112, the reversal of scorecards is easily done. Before i'm taken in front of the thought-police was expressing my views, let me explain: I gave Matthysse rounds 1, 2, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12. I gave Matthysse a 10-8 score for round 12, but didn't give Garcia a 10-8 score for round 11 as he hit Matthysse whilst his head was stuck in the ropes which is illegal. A judge would probably give Garcia a 10-8 round, which changes my score to 115-113. Give Garcia the very close first two rounds (which i gave to Matthysse), and my score becomes 115-113 to Garcia. It was a close fight and certainly not a Garcia landslide victory. It also reiterated the obvious: there's no such thing as a dead-cert!

Monday, 12 August 2013

Anthony Hardy Exclusive Interview: "My pro debut went to plan"

No Holds Barred: You made your pro debut on the 7th of July in Sunderland against Matt Seawright. How did your fight go?

Anthony Hardy: More or less to plan, really. Obviously I’d done the research on Matt before the fight so I knew what to expect. I knew he liked to come in low, throw the big right hand over the top, and try to get forward a lot, so I just counter punched him a lot and made him miss.

No Holds Barred: Was Matt as tough as you expected?

Anthony Hardy: Yeah, he was tough but I was well prepared. I won the fight three rounds to one. They gave him the third round because he landed with a good shot, but aside from some good stuff from him in that round, I was in control throughout; I was never hurt or anything. It was a tough debut but I think I came through well.

No Holds Barred: Did you have to adjust at any point?

Anthony Hardy: Well, after losing the third round, I put my foot on the gas in the fourth round. I nearly had him out of there late on in the fight; he held on for dear life.

No Holds Barred: Will you be making any changes to your game plan in the future?

Anthony Hardy: I think it’s just all about improving what skills I’ve already got. I would have liked to have been a little bit sharper on the night, but I just put that down to debut nerves. I think in my next fight I’ll open up a bit more and throw more combinations. I just wanted to be safe and win the fight at the end of the day.

No Holds Barred: Do you know if your fight or the event was filmed?

Anthony Hardy: Somebody was there filming. I’m going to get in touch with the person who filmed it to see if I can get a copy. Not sure if I can put it on YouTube, but we’ll see.

No Holds Barred: Your debut was at welterweight but when we last spoke, you told me you can make light welterweight. How did you feel at the weight?

Anthony Hardy:  I felt really comfortable at the weight on the night. I was actually going to fight lighter on the night, but a week or so before the fight we were told that Matt would come in anywhere from 10.7-10.9 stones so I adjusted my dieting a bit and worked on my strength some more. I walk around at about that weight anyway so it’s not hard for me to make welterweight.

No Holds Barred: Is a drop down in weight on the cards in the future or are you staying at welterweight?

Anthony Hardy: I’d be happy to fight at light welterweight, no problem. I’ll make whatever weight I’m told to. I’m good at getting the weight off so I don’t mind which weight I fight at.

No Holds Barred: Will the weight for your next few fights be decided by who you’re fighting in your opinion?

Anthony Hardy: I think me and the coaches will sit down and have that discussion. We've got a good diet, strength and conditioning program at the gym. We've got a new strength and conditioning coach and she works everything out for us.

No Holds Barred: What did your trainer Peter Cope think of your performance?

Anthony Hardy: He was really happy with it. Like he said, Matt Seawright is a tricky opponent. I know some people think pro debuts aren't all that important, but with the way I’m so tall and with him being a lot smaller than me, it was quite difficult for me to get my shots off accurately and time them correctly.

No Holds Barred: I think people underestimate how difficult pro debuts can be. Juan Manuel Marquez, Bernard Hopkins, Henry Armstrong, and countless others, all lost their pro debuts.

Anthony Hardy: Yeah, exactly. It can be difficult.

No Holds Barred: Do you have a second pro fight lined up yet?

Anthony Hardy: Yeah, it looks like I'll be fighting on the 19th of October at Rainton Meadows Arena. I'm really looking forward to it. I was meant to be scheduled to fight on the 13th of September in Newcastle but it doesn't look like it will happen. I think they had a full bill or something. 

No Holds Barred: What are your immediate future plans?

Anthony Hardy: I’d like to go and spar at the Ingle Gym in Sheffield soon. Aside from that, it’s all very much just keep on with what I’m doing; sparring with Bradley Saunders and training at the gym.

No Holds Barred: Have you changed your goals at all?

Anthony Hardy: I just want to keep busy as much as possible really. I want to keep winning as well, obviously, and then hopefully knock on the door for some small titles soon and then reevaluate my goals as time goes by.

Be sure to follow Anthony on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anthonyhardyboxing and on Twitter:  @Anth_Hardy11

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Deontay Wilder - Let's be cruel to be kind

Deontay Wilder is coming off of his biggest named victory to date last night against Siarhei Liakhovich, who he stopped in one round. A tremendous knockout victory for sure but does it simply gloss over a record which has barely any positives to it?

I'm going to analyse Deontay Wilder's career in this article from top to bottom and you can judge for yourself.

I thought the KO over Liakhovich was very good and it was a decent-ish win (i'll get onto that a bit more later). I also think Wilder could well be the most powerful guy at heavyweight outside of the Klitschko brothers. So, already we have to consider Wilder a threat in the division as power is arguably the most important attribute at the weight.

His skills and chin will always come into question, of course, up until he actually fights a live opponent, which up to now he hasn't done. For me, it's a 50-50 chance whether those skills are up to the job as there is no evidence yet to suggest one way or another. For example: Would Edwin Valero's power have been able to beat Manny Pacquiao or Juan Manuel Marquez? I am absolutely of the opinion that Pacquiao would have bludgeoned Valero and forced a stoppage, and i am certain Marquez would have countered him all night long and embarrassed him. Would that have been the end of Valero? Check out his record. Aside from the DeMarco win he didn't have much else on there.

So, my assessment of Wilder's win last night and his overall talent can be put like this: If he was to be put in the ring with one of the Klitschko brothers right now, it would be Lennox Lewis vs Shannon Briggs II - Wilder obviously playing the part of Briggs, and having only a few early rounds to win before being outclassed and stopped.

Now, i think it's appropriate to look at why a win over Liakhovich was only "decent-ish", in my opinion. One - Liakhovich hadn't fought in close to 18 months. Two - His last two fights were 9th round losses to Bryant Jennings, and Robert Helenius, and were his only in-ring performances in three years. Three - Liakhovich's last wins were against mediocre opposition in Evans Quinn and Jeremy Bates in 2010 and 2009 respectively. Four - His last decent performance was arguably his 12 round UD loss to Nikolai Valuev in 2008. Five - His last good win was over Lamon Brewster in 2006, which was also the night he won the lightly regarded WBO heavyweight title; which he subsequently lost to Shannon Briggs in his next fight.

So, all in all, i think a win over Liakhovich isn't all that great for a guy who already had 28 fights under his belt. So, i'd call it a "decent-ish" win, but certainly not a good win.

It is that "28 fights" thing which bugs me the most; aside from maybe the hype from all the knockouts he's scored. Have people never heard of Billy Fox, Lamar Clark, and Don Steele before? A man who has already fought 28 times should not be still fighting guys like Liakhovich or Audley Harrison. Those are the sort of opponents you fight after a dozen fights; He's four years too late to be doing this. Bryant Jennings fought Liakhovich in his 13th fight, Tyson Fury fought Dereck Chisora in his 15th fight, Kubrat Pulev fought Dominick Guinn in his 9th fight.....

And, for those who endlessly tell you that Wilder "never had many amateur fights", make sure you tell them that a) He had 29 amateur fights (24-5-0), won two domestic titles, and an Olympic bronze medal, and b) Peter Quillin is three years older than Wilder at 30, only had 15 amateur fights (half the amount that Wilder had) and he is currently the WBO middleweight champion.

Tell them to stop making excuses for Wilder all the time as it isn't helping his career.

Now we should look at Wilder's earlier fights to see why it took him 28 fights to "step up" (in the loosest possible terms) against perennial no-hoper Audley Harrison.

In his first 20 or so fights, his handlers contented themselves with throwing him in there with less than mediocre opposition.

Guys like Ethan Cox, Shannon Gray, Richard Greene Jr, Joseph Rabotte, Kesley Arnold, Travis Allen, Jerry Vaughn, Ty Cobb, Dustin Nichols, Shannon Caudle, and Reggie Pena barely had any fight experience between them.

Many of the fighters he has fought have also either been morbidly obese or just plain obese: Richard Greene Jr (352 lbs), Joseph Rabotte (264), Ty Cobb (254), Alvaro Morales (291), and Damon McCreary (262). Or how about Dustin Nichols at a whopping 398 lbs !!!

On the occasions where Wilder has fought known journeymen, they have also been incapable of taking a punch - something which good journeymen are famous for being able to do. Let's look at some of them and their current records: Charles Brown (8 KO losses from 16), Harold Sconiers (13 from 27), Marlon Hayes (6 from 12).

Heck, DeAndrey Abron (5 from 10) wasn't even a heavyweight! He was a career light heavyweight who had only once moved up above light heavyweight when he fought at cruiserweight against Valery Brudov two and a half years previously. He moved up from light heavyweight for the Wilder fight and then back down to cruiserweight afterwards.

The only two journeymen who seemed to buck the trend of losing by KO and actually managed to make it the distance sometimes were Alvaro Morales and Dan Sheehan. Morales' record currently stands at 4-14-7 and he has only been stopped on two occasions (by Joe Hanks and Deontay, himself), whilst Dan Sheehan has only been stopped 9 times from 39 losses.

Most of the guys Wilder has fought have had no punch resistance, in fact. Almost all of the fighters he has fought have lost more fights by KO than they have over the full distance. This explains why he has 29 KOs from 29 fights.

We still see this in his later fights as he has stepped up in the last two years:

Damon Reed, Dominique Alexander, Owen Beck, and Matthew Greer can all be described as journeymen nowadays as their careers come to a close. They too have very little punch resistance compared to some other journeymen who notoriously have chins of steel: Reed (10 KO losses from 17), Alexander (14 from 16), Beck (10 from 12), and Greer (7 from 11).

Even when Wilder has fought opponents who may have seemed fairly decent on paper, their in-ring showings showed they were no different:

- Daniel Cota: 17-3-1 at the time, had fought nobody known, and lost three times already.

- David Long: 11-1-2 at the time, had also fought nobody known.

- Jesse Oltmanns: 10-2-0 at the time, had also fought nobody known.

- Kelvin Price: 13-0 at the time, had also fought nobody known, and looked fat too.

- Audley Harrison: 31-6-0 at the time, had a lot of in-ring experience, but let's face it Harrison was a perennial no-hoper with no chin.

The one fight i actually give Wilder full credit for (let's not get carried away here; it's one fight out of 29!) is his win over Kertson Manswell. He was 23-5-0 at the time, and definitely Wilder's best opponent to date. Manswell had been the distance with Ruslan Chagaev, Cedric Boswell, and Mike Perez in the year prior to fighting Wilder.

My overall conclusion of Wilder's career is that he is an exciting fighter who is a MUST to watch. He could very well go far and he could be "the next big thing". However, if he is indeed the "next big thing", we have yet to see any evidence of this. Again, refer back to my comment about Billy Fox, Lamar Clark, and Don Steele. Check out their records. Wilder's 29 KOs are no more impressive than those of Fox, Clark or Steele and to think they are is buying into the hype a little bit too much. He is going to need to step up and prove his power against guys with some punch-resistance and solid chins. Personally, i don't think he CAN be pushed into the mega-fights too soon as he simply doesn't have the rounds under his belt (49 rounds from 29 fights). This means his stamina might not be all that.

I think he needs another 18 months of fighting against top notched low-level contenders followed by good contenders to see how he does against guys with better chins and see how his stamina checks out. I suggest he fights the likes of Dominick Guinn: 45 fights, 10 losses, never been beaten inside the distance; Fres Oquendo: 43 fights, just 2 stoppage losses, the last of which was 9 years ago; Michael Sprott: 57 fights, plenty of in-ring experience, and despite 10 of his 20 losses coming inside the distance, he has made the final bell against many of Europe's top heavyweights.

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Dereck Chisora vs Malik Scott: The Aftermath

My opinion on Dereck Chisora-Malik Scott fight from last night:

What actually happened:
- Scott seemed to be winning going into round six.
- Chisora floored Scott at the end of round six.
- Scott hit the canvas at 0.17 seconds on the clock. Count down yourself (ignore the ref), and you can see he doesn't stand up until 9.5 seconds of the count. Most boxers stand up around the 8 mark.
What might have happened:
- Scott might have steadied himself, got back into the fight, and boxed Chisora's head off.
- Chisora might have just as likely stopped Scott in the next round; especially when you consider the shot which put Scott down was the first big punch of the fight.
Different interpretation:
- Scott was listening to the REFEREE and not looking at the clock (obviously), and the ref clearly says "Nine" which is when Scott got up. Reasonable thing to do perhaps, even though it is certainly more common to get up by the count of eight.
- Some have pointed towards corruption. Why not? This is boxing afterall; plenty of it about. In this case, i think that's a bit of a trigger happy reaction. Not that i don't think it can happen, because i've seen plenty of fights that made me think something fishy was going on. But in Britain i think you need to know about the safety rules and regulations.
British Referees:
- British refs are notoriously quick to end fights compared to say those in the USA. Take a fight like Brandon Rios vs John Murray; that fight would have been ended by round six or seven in the UK. Or take Guillermo Jones vs Denis Lebedev in Russia recently; that fight would have ended at the first sight of a bad eye over here.
- Is this a bad thing? It's certainly debatable. Personally, i think it is always important to go for safety first and "too soon" rather than "too late". On the other hand, there is a fine line between protecting a fighter from himself and taking away a fighter's big opportunity too soon. I remember saying to somebody once: "I suppose if referee Micky Vann had stopped the fight when he SHOULD have [early on] in the Graham Earl vs Michael Katsidis fight, we wouldn't have seen a Fight Of The Year contender, and Earl wouldn't have made a name for himself." He replied: "Yeah, but look at Earl now." Earl is a bit punch drunk now, supposedly.
Safety in UK:
- This is the bit we need to really concentrate on. Both British and American fans (and any others reading this), need to understand that the British Boxing Board of Control cannot be compared to any American commissions. The BBBoC is in charge of boxing in the whole of the UK; What they say goes. And they must listen to what the government tells them. In the USA, there are multiple commissions, with multiple bosses, and multiple rules and regulations. Trying to ban boxing in the USA would be impossible as there are fifty States, all with their own legislation, mayors and senators etc... Boxing in the USA is fine because if it gets banned in New York or Boston, you can go fight in Philadelphia or elsewhere. If it gets banned there, you can go to California. If it gets banned there go to Texas, where it will never be banned. This is why you need to compare British boxing to single European sovereign states. For example, boxing is banned in Norway, Iceland, and until recently Sweden. And the calls for it to be banned in the UK have been immense in the past.
- The British Medical Association has called for a ban on boxing for years. Every time there is a bad incident in the ring in boxing in the UK the calls for a ban come around again. In my opinion, and i'm pretty sure it's true, British boxing had to get squeaky clean after the Nigel Benn-Gerald McClellan fight in 1995; that was the big turning point. There had been other famous tragedies such as the Eubank-Watson rematch, or the Barry McGuigan-Young Ali fight but the Benn-McClellan fight was the turning point. That was the one which brought boxing into a serious national discussion. It was shown live on TV, the calls for boxing to be banned afterwards were deafening, and it has never been shown on TV since. For a country with just ONE commission, you can see how this would be a problem.
- Now take a country like the USA, where there are anywhere up to fifty boxing commissions, presumably. The following fights all ended in tragedy: Sugar Ray Robinson-Jimmy Doyle, Emile Griffith-Benny Kid Paret, Lupe Pintor-Johnny Owen, Leotis Martin-Sonny Banks, Davey Moore-Sugar Ramos, and many more. How many of these fights caused serious debate about boxing being banned in the whole of the USA? None. The reason being it cannot be banned over the whole country for reasons previously explained.
- Does the former paragraph make American spectators a little more lustful for blood than their European counterparts? I'm not sure if that's the case, but what i do know is that boxing has culturally been one of America's big sports. Before American football, basketball, and ice hockey came along, it was all about baseball, boxing, and horse racing. So when you think of a sport like boxing in the USA, for a long time it was a huge business. Could that business mentality have obscured the safety regulations slightly, especially when you take into account the multiple commissions which mean fights can always be made elsewhere?
- Meanwhile, in Great Britain during that same era, it was all about football, cricket, rugby union, horse racing, and probably boxing coming in fifth place. Not to say it wasn't popular, because i've been told by one notable expert that boxing was hugely popular in Britain back maybe a century ago. But, let's not forget, British boxing has never had as many superstars as the USA had meaning it would have never been as easy to sell to the masses on a continuous scale. Also, throw in the fact most of Britain's finest fighters would travel to the USA for months at a time to fight in an era where information and results weren't available at the touch of a button.
- I wanted to write this to make sure people know the difference between fighting in Britain and fighting in more lenient places like the USA. A lot of people might not realise this but Britain had to clean up the sport big time as banning boxing in the UK has been debated multiple times over the years.

Monday, 1 July 2013

Anthony Hardy Exclusive Interview: Pro Debut On 7th July In Sunderland

No Holds Barred: At what age did you get into boxing?

Anthony Hardy: I went down the gym a few times when I was really young, at about seven or eight, but they kept telling us to come back when I was about nine or ten so I wouldn't lose interest. So I went back year after year, and at about the age of ten after a short space of time they said I was ready to fight. So after a few months down the gym I turned eleven and had my first fight. 

No Holds Barred: Can you tell us about your amateur career? 

Anthony Hardy: Basically there was no more than about eight fights a season. I think in my first season I had eight fights and won five. The season before last I think was my busiest; I think I had thirteen fights. All in all I had fifty-one fights and won twenty-nine. I fought all across the country; London, York, Sheffield, Birmingham… I had a good amateur career with no regrets aside from a few bad decisions from judges which knocked my confidence a bit and made me want to turn pro more.

No Holds Barred: Why did you decide to turn professional now at twenty-one? Did you not think about aiming for the next Olympics in Rio, for example?

Anthony Hardy: For me, it was a pretty easy decision to make. In the senior ABAs - where you go through the process of trying to get picked for England - I had a few unlucky decisions go against me. There was also some discussion over whether I was fighting at the right weight class and stuff like that. Like I remember losing a really bad decision in a fight I had for the area belt and just thought I wasn't getting any decisions go my way so I’d might as well turn pro instead of wasting another year or whatever in the seniors at amateur level and get a few pro fights under my belt and earn some money.

No Holds Barred: Would you say you’re more suited to the professional ranks than the amateur ranks?

Anthony Hardy: Yeah, I would. I’m really naturally fit and feel I’m better over more rounds than I am in shorter fights like those at amateur level. I like to counter a lot, I’m slick, hard to hit flush, quite slippery. I’m definitely a boxer’s boxer rather than a fighter.

Anthony sparring Olympian
Savannah Marshall
No Holds Barred: Did you try any other sports before boxing?

Anthony Hardy: I was captain of all the school teams when I was younger in junior school; I excelled at every sport back then. But once I started boxing that was it; that was the only sport I was interested in. I found I had more focus and drive for boxing than any other sport. I knew from a young age this is how I wanted to make a living.

No Holds Barred: You're trained by Peter Cope. Does he think you need improving on many things or does he think you just need to gain some professional experience? 

Anthony Hardy: I think mainly it’s the experience side I need. In terms of skill, I’d say I just need to fight slightly more positively like working my shots more, leaving less gaps in between shots, and sitting down on them more. I’m working on things like my movement, making opponents miss, and countering shots.

No Holds Barred: You make your professional debut on 7th July at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland. How is your preparation going?

Anthony Hardy: It’s going brilliant. I’m the fittest and strongest I've ever been. My trainers Peter Cope and Alan Temple have really been working on my strength and conditioning and my diet is good too. I’ve been doing a lot of sparring with the likes of Bradley Saunders; He’s a really good boxer and it’s been really good for my preparation. I’ve also been sparring Gary Fox; he held the lightweight Northern Area title. I’ve also sparred Mark Clauzel; he fought James DeGale in the amateurs.

No Holds Barred: Have you sparred in other gyms across the country?

Anthony Hardy: No, not yet. But I’m planning on going to Sheffield to the Ingle Gym at some point in the near future.

No Holds Barred: Are you a Sunderland fan?

Anthony Hardy: No, I’m a Newcastle fan. [Laughs]

No Holds Barred: Would it not have been nicer to make your pro debut at St James Park?
Anthony Hardy: Honestly, a few people have asked me that. But to be honest, I’m really happy about it. It’s a good stadium to make my pro debut in. I’m just looking at it from a boxing perspective and just happy to be making my debut in such a big venue and in front of so many fans. I’d love to fight at St James Park one day though; it would be a dream come true.

Click on photo for ticket information
No Holds Barred: Does the Stadium of Light host many boxing shows?

Anthony Hardy: It’s the third one I know of in recent years. I went to the last one and it was a really good show.

No Holds Barred: Do you know who your opponent will be?

Anthony Hardy: Yeah, Matt Seawright.

No Holds Barred: I always do my homework. Matt is a tough guy to make your debut against. Fought 86 times, been 377 rounds as a pro, and been in against a lot of known fighters in Britain. Are you anticipating a tough debut?

Anthony Hardy: Yeah, he’s fought a lot of good lads along the way. I won’t be taking him lightly. He’s rarely been stopped too. But I see it as a case of me having the attributes to beat him. I don’t take any opponents lightly.

No Holds Barred: You don’t have a Boxrec page yet, so what are your fighting attributes e.g. height, reach etc.?

Anthony Hardy: I’m about 5ft11 and a half, I’ve got a long reach, and a strong jab.

No Holds Barred: What weight will you be fighting at, are you comfortable at the weight, and do you think a move up in weight could be on the cards sooner rather than later? 

Anthony Hardy: I’ve been growing into a welterweight but I’m going to try to make light welterweight for this fight. I do have to work really hard to make it to this weight [light welterweight] but I enjoy the hard work and feel better with myself making the weight. To be honest, there’s no rush to get to welterweight but at either weight I feel strong.

No Holds Barred: Why do you think it’s better for you to fight at light welterweight with your big frame rather than perhaps trying a heavier weight class?

Anthony Hardy: I’d rather be a giant at one weight really and have an advantage rather than be an average size fighter at a heavier weight. As long as I can keep making weight it makes sense to keep competing there for me.

No Holds Barred: Do you know many other professional boxers and have they given you any advice?

Anthony sparring Bradley
Anthony Hardy: Well, I spar with Bradley Saunders every week. I can’t really say he gives me any advice exactly but he gives me a lot of tips when we’re sparring. Sparring him gives me a lot of motivation because he’s a top fighter and has already achieved a lot at amateur level and looking good at pro level too. Peter Cope (jr.), who I train alongside, is also undefeated. Simon Vallily won Gold at the last Commonwealth games; he’s just made his debut this year. We just all banter with each other and it’s all good motivation. I’m good friends with another welterweight called Paul Archer. We grew up together in the same gym.

No Holds Barred: How many more fights would you like to have this year and have you set yourself any short or long term goals? 

Anthony Hardy: I’m looking to fight about six or seven times a year ideally. In terms of goals, I’d say by the time I’m twenty-five I want to be challenging for decent titles; the likes of the British title, English title, Area title… Obviously the British title is the big one. If I could be challenging for that in four years’ time I’d be very happy.

No Holds Barred: What are the main differences between the amateur and pro game in your opinion? 

Anthony Hardy: I’d say you have to be really tough as a pro. I think a lot of amateurs rely a lot on technique whereas in the pro game it’s all about toughening up your body and your shots. Like I’ve had to really sit down on my punches a lot more as a pro. In the amateurs I’d say I was sharp but I’d get caught with shots which I think I would be trying to avoid more now as a pro. I also have to sell my own tickets now. It’s a tough game to get into.

No Holds Barred: Do you feel any pressure to succeed or do you just feel that you can take everything one step at a time? 

Anthony Hardy: I’d be lying if I said there was no pressure. I did well in the amateurs and I’ve turned pro to succeed and I think people expect that from me, so I’ve got to deliver. I think people know my ability and that I can deliver if I try. So I feel I have to achieve that top standard of boxing every time. It’s good pressure in my opinion. It’s pressure that I turn into positive energy in fights. 

No Holds Barred: Do you have a boxing nickname? 

Anthony Hardy: Yeah, ‘The Hitman’. I was given that nickname at the age of ten.

No Holds Barred: Do you watch boxing away from the ring?

Anthony Hardy: Yeah, I always watch Ringside on Sky Sports and any boxing that’s on when I’m at home.

No Holds Barred: Which fighters do you like? 

Anthony Hardy: I’m a big fan of Floyd Mayweather Jr; he’s got everything. I’d say my main inspiration for wanting to be a boxer was Prince Naseem Hamed. I used to love watching him fight when I was a kid. I didn't know exactly what he was doing because that was early days for me, but I just loved the way he boxed and his whole persona. Mike Tyson was another one of my favourites.

No Holds Barred: Which fights are you looking forward to?
Anthony Hardy: Off the top of my head, I’d say I like the look of Mayweather-Alvarez. I think Mayweather wins but Alvarez could make it tough for him because he’s got that Mexican grit and determination. I still think Mayweather will have too much for him though just because we all know how good Mayweather can fight.

No Holds Barred: What is the worst part of being a boxer in your opinion? 

Anthony Hardy: You've got to make a lot of sacrifices. For example, when the lads go away on holiday I can’t go with them, and I don’t get to see my girlfriend all the time. But you make up for it with the success and the pride you feel when it all works out for you. It’s not really bad though because like I say you make up for it by being successful. I’d say the worst thing is making weight; that can be difficult.

No Holds Barred: If you had not become a boxer, do you know what you would have done? 

Anthony Hardy: I’d have tried my best at football. I quit playing football when I decided to go pro really to avoid getting injuries and stuff. I enjoyed playing football and would have given it a go.

No Holds Barred: Do you have a message for the fans?

Anthony Hardy: Keep following my progress. I’ll make sure I always entertain my fans because I’m that sort of fighter, and I guarantee them good fights. I appreciate all the support and you can follow me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/anthonyhardyboxing and Twitter: @Anth_Hardy11

No Holds Barred: Thanks for talking to us Anthony and best of luck with your career.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Seth Mitchell Interview: I'll make sure i'm victorious on June 22 against Johnathon Banks

No Holds Barred: You had an unorthodox entry into the world of boxing. You actually graduated with a degree in criminal justice and security management. 

Seth Mitchell: Yeah, I went to Michigan State University in 2001 to do a degree in criminal justice with a specialisation in security management and graduated from there in 2005.

No Holds Barred: Why did you choose that specific course?

Seth Mitchell: I was actually undecided when I went there, and when you're undecided, you take a lot of different courses. I had a criminal justice class that really intrigued me. Then I took another class and that intrigued me too. That helped me decide that [criminal justice] was going to be my major. So that's why I chose that as my major.

No Holds Barred: Had you planned to use your degree in a more appropriate environment than boxing such as becoming a lawyer?

Seth Mitchell: Well, I didn't have any specific plans, such as becoming a lawyer. But maybe working in the criminal justice field like becoming a probation officer, working with youth, something like that. That was my plan at the time.

No Holds Barred: You were also a top football linebacker in high school and in college at Michigan State. Why did you decide not to follow either of these paths?

Seth Mitchell: Ultimately I wanted to follow that path. I was an All-American at high school but when I arrived at Michigan State, I had problems with my left knee and was out injured a lot of the time. But I still played when I was fit and was a standout level player at collegiate level. I believe I'd have gone far if it wasn't for the injuries.

No Holds Barred: I read that your high school retired your jersey.

Seth Mitchell: Yes, I was the first person to have his jersey retired at my high school.

No Holds Barred: Could nothing be done about your injury?

Seth Mitchell: Well, I had seven surgeries to try to correct the ailment, but it just didn't work out for my football career.

No Holds Barred: Has it affected your boxing career in any way? 

Seth Mitchell: It doesn't really bother me too much. It's amazing and I thank God that I'm still able to compete in boxing. Boxing and football are two different sports. In football, you got a lot of abrupt stops, you push against 300 lb players, you got to lift a lot of weights, do a lot of squats, and things of that nature. I don't have to do any of that to become successful in boxing. Even though I can compete and train to be a top boxer, I don't believe I could train and achieve my full potential in football right now.

No Holds Barred: I've been told by many Americans that one reason the American boxing scene is lagging behind other countries now is because big American athletes are preferring to take up American football which pays a lot more. Do you have any thoughts on this?

Seth Mitchell: Yes, I can definitely agree with that. When you're in college and you're seeing these big contracts handed out to players in football, basketball, and baseball, it's an obvious decision to want to go play in those sports. Boxing is a tough sport, and it's much harder to work your way up the ladder.

No Holds Barred: You turned to boxing when you were twenty-four, after being inspired by another American Football player, Tom Zbikowski. What was it specifically about Tom which inspired you to take up the sport, rather than perhaps a more familiar route, like watching Mike Tyson fights?

Seth Mitchell: I was a casual boxing fan before, and of course, a big Mike Tyson fan. With Tom Zbikowski, it was just the simple fact that he was a football player like me, at the same time as me. He played for Notre Dame, I played for Michigan State, and we played against each other. He was a collegiate athlete just like me so when I saw him take up boxing I was like 'if he can do it, so can I."

No Holds Barred: You only had ten amateur fights, nine of which were knockout victories. Why did you think it was necessary to turn pro within only one year of taking up boxing? Would it not have been better to have a longer amateur career?

Seth Mitchell: I wanted to see if I could make the Olympics [in 2008] but I only had one year to achieve that so it wasn't a realistic target. Also, I had a pro-style of fighting, rather than an amateur one. Age was against me too because I was twenty-four years old. I thought it was best to just have my amateur career at the early stages of my pro career. That's how it's worked out for me. I signed with Golden Boy Promotions, and have a good team around me, so it's been a good idea to go pro.

No Holds Barred: You fight Johnathon Banks in a hotly anticipated rematch on June 22 in Brooklyn, NY. Were you frustrated that the original rematch date was pushed back to this date due to Banks injuring his thumb in sparring, or was this just one of those things that happen?

Seth Mitchell: Obviously it's frustrating, especially happening so close to the fight. I've already peaked, I'm in great shape, excited and ready to go. I mean I wanted to still fight on that date or close to that date, but things didn't turn out that way. But you can't let it overwhelm and consume you. After a few weeks, I just forgot about it, and stayed focused by going to the gym, but didn't kill myself training. Everything happens for a reason, I just have to deal with it, sharpen up my skills, and be better in the rematch.

No Holds Barred: Your loss to Banks was considered one of the biggest shocks of last year. Do you think you could have done anything in that fight to avoid that loss, or do you think Banks was just the better fighter on the night?

Seth Mitchell: I think I was winning the fight, until I got knocked down. Naturally, I'm very aggressive in the ring, and when I looked at the fight, I did a lot of technical things wrong that night like lunging in, or overreaching. My eyes weren't in the right place either and he caught me and I wasn't able to recover. When you don't see shots coming, they tend to affect you more. I'm not taking anything away from Johnathon Banks though. I'm not one for making excuses. He did what he was supposed to do on that night. He didn't get lucky in the fight, he just did what he needed to do.

No Holds Barred: You insisted on an immediate rematch with Banks. Did you not think having an easier bout in between might have been more useful?

Seth Mitchell: That's just the sort of fighter I am. Like I said, I think Banks benefited from me not fighting my best fight on that night. If Banks had boxed my head off for five or six rounds, and then stopped me, I would've still wanted a rematch, but not an immediate one. That wasn't the case though. It was a learning experience for me, and I'm a better fighter because of it. I can't wait to show the world that I'm the better fighter.

No Holds Barred: What have you changed about your fighting style that makes you think you will be victorious this time around?

Seth Mitchell: Without giving away my game plan, I'm just a smarter fighter now. I'm blessed with power in both hands, I have a great jab, I have great athleticism. We just have to put all of these things into play in the rematch.

No Holds Barred: Before the loss you were touted as the best heavyweight prospect in American boxing but now your name seems to have slipped off the radar somewhat. Has that loss affected your momentum at all and how do you plan to get your name right back out there again?

Seth Mitchell: Taking care of business on June 22! I'm in a great situation right now. I'm very fortunate and blessed to be in the position I'm in. Despite coming off of a loss, I'm still on a major network, like Showtime, so I really haven't fallen off the radar. I still have a lot of support from people and a lot of people still want to see me fight. I'm not fooling myself though. I know this is a big fight for me. I mean it's one thing to lose twice, but it's another thing to lose twice to the same person. This is the business I chose though, I'm up for the challenge. I'm very confident, not nervous at all, and i'm definitely going to come out victorious from this fight. I'm going to show a lot of people I'm one of the best heavyweights out there and my title opportunity isn't far away.

No Holds Barred: Do you know where you are currently ranked by the orgs and do you think a win could realistically bring you a world title shot? After all, in the current heavyweight division, many boxers are able to secure a title shot after just a few good wins.

Seth Mitchell: I actually don't. You know I don't read all that stuff. Usually, I just leave that to my manager, and he can tell me where I'm ranked.

No Holds Barred: Aside from your one loss, how would you say your progress has been so far? 

Seth Mitchell: I think my career has gone great so far. Early in my career I fought guys like Zack Page, and Jermell Barnes and even though they have horizontal records - like they might have had a record of 19-26 at the time, they had fought everybody and had rarely been stopped. Even my pro debut was against a guy who had fought a lot of tough opponents and only been stopped once. More recently I've fought some good opponents like Johnathon Banks, and Chazz Witherspoon, so I definitely think I haven't been babied at all.

No Holds Barred: In five years, you've fought twenty-seven times and have a seventy percent KO ratio. I presume you're happy with that?

Seth Mitchell: Yes, sir. Like I said, I've taken the proper steps as I've progressed and my team has helped me a lot.

No Holds Barred: If you successfully get by Jonathon Banks, who do you want to challenge in the coming year, or do you not want to plan too far ahead?

Seth Mitchell: I don't think too far ahead of any particular person, but it wouldn't really matter who I fought next. But my main focus right now is Johnathan Banks on June 22. Once I take care of that business I'll concentrate on my next fight. As long as it makes financial sense, I wouldn't care who I fought next.

No Holds Barred: You've fought a lot of times in your home state of Maryland, as well as California, Nevada, District of Columbia, and New Jersey. Where have you preferred fighting?

Seth Mitchell: I believe out of my twenty-seven fights,  I've fought about thirteen fights here. The last time was against Zack Page in 2010. Fighting in front of your home fans is great. I even consider Atlantic City to be a home away from home for me. I get a lot of people coming up to support me when I fight there. When I fought on the Lamont Peterson vs Amir Khan card in DC, the atmosphere was crazy. I loved fighting in Vegas too. I am really looking forward to fighting in New York [against Banks].

No Holds Barred: American heavyweight prospects have yet to go toe-to-toe in recent years with guys like yourself, Joe Hanks, Deontay Wilder, Malik Scott, and Bryant Jennings going down seperate paths. Do you think there could be some big American bouts between you all in the future and why do you think they haven't happened yet?

Seth Mitchell: I think there's a lot of politics involved and I think as American heavyweights, we're all trying to rise to the top, but backs are going to be against the wall in the next year or so and we're going to have to fight each other.

No Holds Barred: Tony Thompson and Deontay Wilder have recently put their names out there on the world scene with big knockout victories over British fighters David Price and Audley Harrison, respectively. Do you think you could benefit from a big fight in the UK to showcase your talents? 

Seth Mitchell: I think that could definitely be a possibility. A win over a big name like that will always look good on your record, whether it's over there or over here. Those are fights I like.

No Holds Barred: Tony Thompson also has an important rematch coming up soon when he fights David Price on July 6. Who do you think wins the rematch?

Seth Mitchell: I think this is a dangerous fight for both guys. Obviously, nobody expected Thompson to win in the second round like he did. But I knew going into the first fight that Thompson was going to be a tough fight for David Price. I've been sparring with Thompson ever since I was about six months into my pro career. It was a big step up in experience for Price. If you'd have asked me before the fight who would win, I'd have predicted Thompson by decision. I just thought he brought too much experience. But we'll see what happens in the rematch, because David Price has a lot of power and a big right hand. It's an intriguing rematch.

No Holds Barred: Talking of British fighters, what did you make of Tyson Fury's knockout victory over Steve Cunningham recently, and the return of David Haye to the ring?

Seth Mitchell: I think the return of David Haye is good for boxing. I respect David Haye. I think he's one hell of a fighter. He has power, he has the legs, he has athletic ability, and he he's a good boxer. I think he's good for boxing. As for Fury, I wanted Cunningham to win their fight, but I didn't predict he would win. I thought Fury would just be too big. It surprised me that Fury got knocked down the way he did, and got hurt numerous times, but the fight went the way I thought it would.

No Holds Barred: At 6ft2, surprisingly, you are actually one of the smaller big name heavyweights out there today, as height seems to be one of the key advantages of this post-Lennox Lewis era. Do you think your height could end up costing you in a key fight, or are you confident enough in your ability to adapt in the ring?

Seth Mitchell: That's a legit 6ft2 though. With shoes on, it's more like 6ft3. You know, I've fought fighters who are listed at 6ft3, and I go to the weigh-in, and they're more like 6ft1. I'm definitely confident of my ring ability to adapt to any fighter. I just got to use more of my attributes in the ring. I have power in both hands, I have a great jab, and great legs. I'm an athlete, but a big athlete with skill.

No Holds Barred: How would you describe your style to a person who may not have seen you fight yet? 

Seth Mitchell: I'm a boxer-puncher. I suppose when you look at me fight you might think of me more as a brawler with a jab. I need to work more on being a boxer-puncher though because those are my best attributes.

No Holds Barred: Are you a fan of past heavyweight eras? Who is your favourite heavyweight of the past? 

Seth Mitchell: Before I started boxing, my favourite boxer was Mike Tyson. I just loved the excitement he brought to boxing, the power he brought to the ring, the speed he brought. As I got more involved in boxing, more interested in the science of the sport, Muhammad Ali became my favourite. He was the best for sure.

No Holds Barred: What do you think of the dominance of the Klitschko brothers, do you think they are worthy heavyweight champions and how do you see the heavyweight landscape once they retire?

Seth Mitchell: I think their dominance and what they've accomplished is remarkable. I don't necessarily think they're exciting fighters, but I definitely respect them. I mean if I was them, I'd probably do the same thing. Use what God has given you: The height and the power. They do well using their height and power advantages and keep their distance well. As for the second part of your question, I think there are a lot of heavyweight fights to be made that the public want to see because the fighters will mix it up more.

No Holds Barred: So do you think the next heavyweight era doesn't need a Lennox Lewis or a Klitschko brother, and could just contain plenty of fighters on the same level as each other? 

Seth Mitchell: I wouldn't necessarily say that. I mean Lennox Lewis was an exciting fighter. He was a big fighter, but he'd mix it up, he used his jab, he used his big right hand, threw body shots, and had great athleticism. He just didn't look as robotic [as the Klitschko brothers]. If you have a heavyweight like that who is dominant you'd still get a lot of fans watching because he's exciting to watch.

No Holds Barred: You have the backing of a top promoter in Golden Boy Promotions, you have the opportunity to right your only loss to date, and you have big ambitions. Is the sky the limit for your career?

Seth Mitchell: Definitely. I mean I started boxing when I was almost twenty-five years old and i only had ten amateur fights. But I still signed with Golden Boy after just my second pro fight. I knew then that I had put myself in a position where all I'd have to do is win and the sky's the limit for me and I could go on to achieve things I'd dreamed about since I was twelve years old. But I'm not naive. I know that as a professional athlete you're walking a tightrope. You could be on the verge of greatness and then suffer a couple of losses and you're right back down to the beginning again and have to climb all the way back up. The stakes are high for me right now but I'm in a great position where a lot of people would want to be in right now. I'm just very grateful and willing to go out there and give it my all.

No Holds Barred: Do you have a message for your fans?

Seth Mitchell: I appreciate all the support. Tune in for the June 22 rematch with Banks because it's going to be a great fight. You can follow me on Twitter @SethMayhem48 and on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/seth.mitchell.5).

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Losses mean nothing.... well and truly.

One of the biggest shames in modern boxing is the obsession that many boxers and fans have with undefeated records. An undefeated record in today's era is like music to the ears of many promoters, TV executives, and fans alike. The retention of the "0" is of tantamount importance in today's era of divisions over-saturated with world titles. How can fans possibly know who the best fighter is when every fighter holds some kind of title? Simple: Don't lose a fight!

A week doesn't go by without reading somewhere that Floyd Mayweather Jr is not only the greatest fighter of all time but that he would easily beat Sugar Ray Robinson (as well as Henry Armstrong, Willie Pep, Joe Gans, Pernell Whitaker et al.). I, of course, disagree. I don't think Robinson or Armstrong (or 90% of other all-time greats) would have a problem beating Victor Ortiz, Robert Guerrero, Shane Mosley, Diego Corrales or any other Mayweather opponent. Very few of his opponents will make it into the Hall of Fame, let alone beat a Hall of Fame fighter.

But, this isn't about him. This is about fighters who have plenty of losses on their records yet who, despite fighting in this era, have managed to carve out a career for themselves which in some cases included world title victories.

Here is a list i've compiled of current fighters who have done just fine despite their multiple losses:

- Michael Sprott: 37-20-0 - Recently went the distance with Robert Helenius and defeated Edmund Gerber before that. Has fought all of the top European fighters yet has rarely been stopped in his career. Wins over Danny Williams and Audley Harrison secured his place as one of the top British domestic heavyweights of the past decade.

- Matt Skelton: 28-8-0 - He never made his pro debut until he was thirty-five years old due to him having previously been a kickboxer. Despite this, within six years he had beaten every domestic British heavyweight and won English, British, Commonwealth, and European titles as well as the lightly-regarded WBU title.

- Glen Johnson: 52-18-2 - One of the toughest fighters in history; A modern day Archie Moore. Only stopped once - by Bernard Hopkins in his first ever loss - and has been one of the top light heavyweights throughout his career.

- Firat Arslan: 33-6-2 - Only has six losses in a sixteen year career so not a bad record really. But, i've added him here because he seems to have suffered a bit in his career from bad luck. Last November he arguably beat WBO cruiserweight champion Marco Huck whilst many thought he should have been given the win against Alexander Alekseev in his fight before that which ended in a draw. His other two losses this past decade were against world class foes.

- Silvio Branco: 62-11-3 - In his twenty-five year career, he has fought from middleweight up to cruiserweight and yet despite being forty-six years old is still one of the top contenders out there. He tends to fall short against the best fighters, but he has challenged a lot of them.

- Ovill McKenzie: 21-11-0 - McKenzie continues to rack up wins at British and Commonwealth level. He's coming off of three good domestic wins and gave Tony Bellew two very tough fights before that.

- Gabriel Rosado: 21-7-0 - Has had his fair share of defeats, but many of which were against world class opposition. For example, his only two knockout losses were at the hands of two heavy-handed fighters in Gennady Golovkin and Alfredo Angulo. Has some good wins on his record too though, against Kassim Ouma, Saul Roman, Jesus Soto Karass, Sechew Powell, and Charles Whittaker. Many people also thought his split decision loss to J'Leon Love recently should have been a win on his record.

- Carlos Molina: 21-5-2 - His record doesn't look too spectacular until you look closer. He defeated Cory Spinks last time out (albeit a past-his-prime Spinks), and was robbed of a victory over James Kirkland a year ago. A win over Kermit Cintron plus draws against Erislandy Lara, and Julio Cesar Chavez are impressive too.

- Randall Bailey: 43-8-0 - Eight losses in seventeen years isn't bad at all but to the untrained eye perhaps it seems a lot. A year ago he was a big underdog against Mike Jones, who only had to win to set up a big world title showdown with Kell Brook, but he won via an eleventh round stoppage over an exhausted Jones. His career has also included a brief reign as WBO light welterweight champion in the late nineties.

- Kendall Holt: 28-6-0 - He is considered the sort of fighter who can upset the favourite. He went the distance with Danny Garcia and Timothy Bradley, and also had two classic bouts against Ricardo Torres - the second of which resulted in him dethroning the WBO light welterweight champion.

- Jesus Soto Karass: 27-8-3 - Another warrior who hardcore fans really appreciate. Had two close fights with undefeated welterweight Mike Jones which he only marginally lost, has wins over Selcuk Aydin and Carson Jones, and rarely gets overawed in the ring.

- Zab Judah: 42-8-0 - I have written this guy off so many times yet he keeps coming back. After his losses to Joshua Clottey and Amir Khan i thought he was finished yet he's managed to remain on the scene and has gone on to defeat Kaizer Mabuza and Vernon Paris, and gave Danny Garcia his toughest fight. He also has a very controversial win over Argentinian puncher Lucas Matthysse.

- DeMarcus Corley: 39-20-1 - To look at that record you'd think he was a journeyman. He held the WBO light welteweight title in the early 2000s briefly but his only significant performance back then was his win over Randall Bailey. Since then he has given countless champions tough fights and even sprung a surprise win a year ago over Paul McCloskey in Northern Ireland.

- Derry Mathews: 32-8-2 - Derry is a very dangerous fighter. He always brings the fight to his opponents and has big wins on the British domestic scene against the likes of Anthony Crolla, Stephen Jennings, Scott Lawton, Matthew Marsh, John Simpson, and Stephen Foster.

- Gamaliel Diaz: 37-10-2 - Hardly the record of a world champion yet that's what he was until recently. He dethroned WBC super featherweight champion Takahiro Ao in Japan via a unanimous decision but lost it to another Japanese fighter, Takashi Miura, last month. Also has wins at featherweight over Robert Guerrero and Elio Rojas.

- Rocky Juarez: 29-10-1 - His ten losses have come in the last eight years, yet despite this he gained a victory over Antonio Escalante last time out. During this time he went the distance twice with longtime champion Chris John, and twice with Mexican legend Marco Antonio Barrera, as well as reaching the final bell against Juan Manuel Marquez, Jorge Linares, and Humberto Soto. He also has wins over several good fighters and has never been stopped.

- John Simpson: 25-9-0 - Simpson is one of those British fighters whose record means absolutely nothing - nine losses or twenty losses, it doesn't matter. The guy always enters the ring with the same enthusiasm. He's notched up wins against very good domestic opposition in Paul Appleby, Martin Lindsay, Paul Truscott, Andy Morris, and most recently Choi Tseveenpurev.

- Jhonny Gonzalez: 54-8-0 - The losses on his record are deceiving, as four of them came in the first three years of his career whilst the other four are spaced out over eleven years. He has beaten some very good fighters including Elio Rojas, Tomas Villa, Hozumi Hasegawa, Fernando Montiel, and Marc Johnson.

- Orlando Salido: 39-12-2 - Another fighter whose record fails to flatter him. Eight of his losses came in the first five years of his career. In the past eight years he has beaten some great featherweights and at one point was the number one featherweight in the world.

- Robinson Castellanos: 18-9-0 - His record looks very poor until you look closer and see that he hasn't lost in three years and is on a ten-fight win streak which includes a win over former WBA featherweight champion Celestino Caballero last month.

- Takalani Ndlovu: 33-9-0 - Not the greatest fighter, but always willing to try again. After two unsuccessful attempts at dethroning IBF super bantamweight champion Steve Molitor he was finally victorious third time around. Also had a trilogy of bouts with fellow South African Jeffrey Mathebula.

- Genaro Garcia: 39-10-0 - Not a world beater by any means but a durable opponent. He lasted the distance last year against power-punching prospect Julio Ceja and even has a win earlier in his career against future world champion Rafael Marquez.

- Tomas Rojas: 40-14-1 - Like many Hispanic fighters he has several losses on his record from his early days. Despite racking up more losses in the past seven or eight years, he still managed to win a world title and was considered one of the better fighters in the weight classes he has fought in.

- Rey Megrino: 19-20-3 - More losses on his record than wins but plenty of those losses were against top quality Asian opposition. He defeated the legendary Pongsaklek Wonjongkam last year which threw his name out there. Perhaps it was more a case of "right place at the right time" but only time will tell.

- Muhammad Rachman: 64-11-5 - Has only been stopped once in his career - by Denver Cuello - and held the IBF minimumweight title in the mid 2000s.

- Kohei Kono: 28-8-0 - Despite having no impressive big wins on his record, he was handed a world title shot against the very competent WBA super flyweight champion Tepparith Kokietgym last year and won.

- Sonny Boy Jaro: 34-12-5 - A year ago Jaro, a total no hoper, stopped long reigning flyweight King Pongsaklek Wonjongkam to win the WBC title. It was a massive shock at the time. He has since lost both of the fights he has had.

- Edgar Sosa: 48-7-0 - Five of his losses came in the first three years of his career. Since then he has wins over world class opposition which includes Brian Viloria, Luis Alberto Lazarte, Gilberto Keb Baas, Sonny Boy Jaro, Pornsawan Porpramook, and Ulises Solis.

- Gilberto Keb Baas: 35-22-4 - Baas is to the lower weight classes what Glen Johnson is to the higher weight classes: A tough gatekeeper of the division. Despite racking up his fair share of losses, he has still had some success of his own including defeating Omar Nino Romero for the WBC light flyweight title in 2010 and successfully defending it once against Jose Antonio Aguirre.

- Chris Edwards: 17-15-4 - Another good British fighter with a record that doesn't reveal the true story. American radio host Bill Calogero said on his show "Talking Boxing with Billy C" ahead of Edwards' clash with British champion Paul Edwards in 2011 that "it is fights like this that prove why the UK carries the sport of boxing." He was making the point that British boxing is so competitive that records mean nothing. Chris was victorious over the undefeated Paul.

- Katsunari Takayama: 25-6-0 - Won the WBC minimumweight title in his sixteenth bout, then had a shaky six year period, before winning the IBF title against Mario Rodriguez this year in Rodriguez' hometown.