Last night at The O2 arena in South London Matchroom Sports put on a pay per view event that few ever saw coming because of its mixture of the UK’s very best fighters. When the card was announced I have to say that my ears pricked up at the thought of seeing one of my all time favourite fighters Kevin Mitchell be given another opportunity at a World Title shot against a very capable & dangerous Lineares, as well as Anthony Joshua who is always entertaining to watch because he is so good heavyweight prospect that we have had for a few decades. There was also of course Kell Brook, who is without doubt one of our very best fighters and deserved world Champion. The only thing that was of a concern to me and many other British fans was that Gavin just was never going to have much of a chance. It was when I realised that this was the first Welterweight World Title between 2 British fighters in over a 100 years, so fair play to Eddie Hearn for getting this bit of Boxing history arranged. The outcome however was of no surprise.
First of all we had Lee Selby fight Gradovichm for the IBF Featherweight Title. Selby boxed beautifully for much of the fight and left the Champion perplexed at times with his movement on and off the ropes, and in the 7th round a clash of heads occurred which left the Russian with a nasty head injury and in the 8th the fight was instantly called off when the doctor was called in to check on the fighter. Britain now has another World Champion to be proud of and I am looking forward to seeing Selby’s future in the ring. The one request I would ask is to query the claim of being Wales’ Mayweather?
Next up we had Kevin Mitchell in the fight of his life for his long awaited 3rd World Title attempt. I was there at Upton Park in May of 2010 and saw live the utter disappointment at seeing Mitchell being taken apart in 3 very uneven rounds by Katstidis. It seemed at this stage that his hopes of a title had alluded him, but since being in the Matchroom camp under the wing of Hearn, we have seen a rejuvenated Mitchell that we saw in the lead up to Katsidis. The fight started with Mitchell in a commanding lead against Jorge Linares wo in the 5th round dropped the Champion and who at the count of 4 looked like he wasn’t getting up. He rose at the late count to come back at Mitchell and stood his ground. In rounds 7,8 & 9 it was looking again like a 50/50 fight until Mitchell developed one of the nastiest injuries he has received on his left eye and time just ran out as the Champion saw his window and just went to town ont the Londoner in a empthatic and aggressive finish in the 10th round. The referee had no choice but to step in & call off the fight, which was no surprise gioven the injury we were witnessing. Mitchell gave everything to this challenge and I have to say it was one of his best performances, but the 3 time Champion was too much for him.
Next up we had Nathan Cleverly in an unusual 6 rounder against Tomas man which lasted about 15 punches from Cleverly, and a 10 count from the referee. This was definitely one of the worst matchmaking exercises I have seen, given the experience and obvious talent of Cleverly. Lets just hope his next opponent can actually fight back.
(Big thanks to Ian John-Lewis for this exclusive ringside view)
Anthony Joshua was in the ring against the American Kevin Johnson, who has been 12 rounds with Klitschko and our very own Tyson Fury. There was allot of trash talking from Johnson who obviously felt his previous record of never being stopped will put him in good stead against Joshua. How wrog can a guy be? The fight started with Joshua putting together some fantastic combinations which made Johnson flinch at every punch. In the first 1 minute of the fight you can see Johnson’s face change from being arrogant to being confused and bemused at what he was facing. Joshua knocked him down at the end of the 1st round as Referee Ian John-Lewis stepped in to count and at one point it looked like something had flown out of Johnsons mouth piece. (This was not the case as I will explain in a minute) The corner grabbed their man who was didn’t really know where he was, or what had just happened to him as tis was a new experience for the 35 year old. The bell sounded for round 2 and Joshua just jumped on his man and finished him off as his cornerman jumped through the ropes to save him from any further punishment. Joshua really did arrive in the mix of world Heavyweight Boxing last night and I am intrigued to know who he will be facing next in July & September. The item which flew into the ring was apparently a pair of false teeth! I received a text from Ian this morning who told me that this was a first for him too!
In the final fight of the night we had Kell Brook take outsider Frankie Gavin 6 rounds in what was a one sided fight. Brook showed his skills of being an offensive fighter and let gavin defend for most of the fight as it lasted. Gavin did get through with some punches, but the failed to have any effect on Brook who just came forward at every opportunity. Referee Steve Gray had no choice but to step in and call of the fight when Brook took it up a gear with a flurry of well pieced together shots as Gavin was taken apart against the ropes. So what’s next for Brook? There is the obvious Khan super British fight, which I think is bigger than Froch Groves 1 & 2,but there does appear to be some side stepping on both camps on getting this together. I hope this happens as it will be a huge payday for all concerned, and is a fight the British fans will quite happily pay for.
This event was a tough one to sell, only because of the Mayweather Pacquiao ppv on May 2nd and it has been an expensive month already for all Boxing fans. It was only at 7pm last night that I made the decision to actually buy into the event, but I am glad I did because we saw some of the best of British talent at one of the best fight venues in the UK. Bring on the heavyweights for Joshua, who I believe that one day will be our next Heavyweight World Champion, but he needs a real test as Johnson promised in vein to be, no matter how much trash he said, the young Brit gave him one heck of a boxing lesson that he will never forget.
Since we are all salivating at the prospect of Floyd Mayweather taking on Manny Pacquiao on May 2nd in Vegas, I just wanted to remind all you fight fans of the last real super fight from 30 years ago on April 15th 1985. I watched this fight live as an 11 year old lad, and this is ‘The Fight’ that got me completely hooked on Boxing and took my interest to another level. The 3 rounds which was witnessed by Boxing fans around the world was like something out of a Rocky movie as, and proved to be the greatest 3 rounds in Boxing’s long history. Nothing has really come close to the excitement this super fight brought to the fight fans, but lets hope, that on May the 2nd we see something which relives this epic battle of these 2 real warriors.
Sit back, grab yourself a cold one and enjoy the Greatest 3 Rounds in Boxing history.
Great Documentary about one of the greatest Heavyweight Champions and Boxers of all time, Smokin Joe Frazier. An incredibly heartwarming film and is well worth a watch. Enjoy.
For anyone who has never watched the full fight, you will not get much more brutal than this. This contest goes down in the history of Boxing as one of the greatest ever Heavyweight fights. Enjoy!
On Saturday night, the years most hotly anticipated unification fight took place in front of a sell out 8,545 crowd at The Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City in the Light Heavyweight division. This was Bernard Hopkins toughest test and the book makers were quivering with the odds which fluctuated until the first bell as the 49 year old The Alien Hopkins once again went to war to prove he is still at the very top of boxing. Hopkins has never shunned away from any fight and we wasn’t going to duck this fight with Kovalev. With Hopkins always finding a way to win by his famous spoiling tactics, this had the makings of a very competitive fight on paper, but what was witnessed was Sergey Kovalev totally dominating 11 out of 12 rounds.
The Russian took the fight to Hopkins from the offset as he almost towered over his opponent, as he was knocked down by a punch and slipped on the canvas to be given an 8 count, and it quickly became clear from the first round that Hopkins was in for a tough nights work, . Hopkins had not many answers to the younger man’s sheer punching power, his fast combinations, heart and chin. Hopkins was unable to keep his opponent off him as he circled the outside of the ring on the back foot for most of the 12 rounds. As Kovalev began to produce some stunning offensive combinations, Hopkins was unable to answer with anything which would of caught the 3 judges attention, but the crowd was waiting for Hopkins to take the fight back. This was the first time in Hopkins long and very illustrious boxing career that he had no answer at all. At the end of round 11 it was clear that Hopkins was going to have to knock out Kovalev in the last 3 minutes, but what we saw was the younger fighter take it up one more gear and to try to take the incredibly durable 49 year old out to ensure that there was no errors on the scorecards. Kovalev unleashed one final assault as Hopkins took some brutal shots which would of knocked many other fighters clean out, but he somehow stood his ground until the last seconds as the pair finally clashed against the ropes to hear the final bell. There could only of been one winner, and the possible end to one of the greatest fighters in boxing’s career.
The scorecards read 120-107, 120-107 and 120-106 as the new champion was declared. It has certainly been an amazing journey for the new champion and for his promoter Kathy Duva & the team at Main Events They have a fighter who had not only dismantled one of the greatest boxers of possibly the last 2 generations, but who can beat anyone in his division.
Bernard Hopkins was a beaten man, but showed just what an amazing boxer he is at the age of 49. To of taken on this fight and to walk across the apron against one of the hardest hitters in the sport was simply amazing, or ‘mad’ as he described himself in the post fight interview. Whatever happens now, Bernard Hopkins is guaranteed a place in the Boxing Hall of Fame and will always have the utmost respect of every fan of the sweet science.
Anthony Joshua was last night given his first attempt at an International title, when he stepped across the apron at the 02 arena in east London. Up until this fight Joshua has had some carefully selected opponents that he has quite literally taken out in emphatic fashion. Being the new generation of heavyweight British contenders the UK fan base is hopeful of the 24 year old to take us back to the glory days of Lennox Lewis. From last nights performance against what was considered his toughest test yet, Denis Bakhtov who in fairness has a quite respectable record of 38 wins with 25 going by knock out and 10 losses, and not being stopped in 9 years as a professional fighter this could of been on paper, a potentially risky opponent for the Londoner.
The crowd at the 02 arena came out in full support of Anthony Joshua as we all wanted to see Joshua going through the paces a bit more, but what was witnessed by everyone in the arena and on sky sports, was a superb display of concentration and maturity from the young Londoner as he started the fight on the front foot and showed Bakhtov just how difficult it is to connect a punch. Joshua kept his distance and continuously threw his stiff jab into the face of the Russian and by the end of round 1 his face was already bruised and red. The bell sounded for the beginning of round 2, and Joshua by this point in the fight knew he could totally dominate and out box his opponent. He countered beautifully as Bakhtov tried in vane to go on a last ditch offensive assault. Joshua then landed a ferocious cross which nearly took the head of Bekhtov off, followed with a combination of unanswerable punches which rained down on Joshua’s truly beaten opponent, as referee Ian John-Lewis stepped in between the fighters to save Bakhtov from any further sustained punishment.
Joshua is now well and truly on his world title bid and there is further talk of his next opponent being Michael Sprott. This is a fight that the British fight contingent will be happy to watch, but after last nights performance and convincing knock out win against a fighter who travelled thousands of miles to come to London to fight and win, I believe that Joshua could very well be our genuine next heavyweight champion, and if guided right by promoter Eddie Hearn, who in fairness is doing a great job. It will be an interesting journey for all fans of boxing, and not just the very loyal British fight fans, but the world over. His WBC International title belt is most definitely the first of many to come.
George Groves won emphatically last night in his European Title fight against a tough Christopher Rabrasse in a packed Wembley Arena. Following Groves’ last fight against Carl Froch, he is now taking a different path to get the opportunity for another Super Middleweight world title fight opportunity in a WBC showdown against Direll. First of all he had to take care of the business in hand with taking apart in convincing fashion the frenchman who had a reasonable fight history record and as champion he was not going to be any kind of walk over.
The fight showed that Groves still has his superior hand speed with combinations of precise counter punching ability. His jab worked from round one whilst he was working out the champion’s offensive strategy, which appeared stiff and predictable at times. By the 3rd round Groves got his man in real difficulties as he unleashed a ferocious tirade of well executed punches to the head and body of Rabrasse, which left him in no mind of Groves’ abilities and the task ahead for the remainder of the fight. The middle rounds had Groves comfortably in front, but there was always the danger of Rabrasse connecting with a knock out punch, as he was still in the fight standing trading blows with the challenger. In the 10th round Groves stepped it up another gear to leave the judges in no mind that he had totally dominated the soon to be ex European champion. The fight ended with Groves jabbing away at Rabrasse, whilst keeping a safe distance from any punch the champion had left in his arsenal.
The judges all called it as it should being a unanimous win for Groves 118-110, 117-111, 118-110 all in favour of the Londoner, who showed he can still really dig deep against a really tough surable opponent who had only lost twice before stepping into the ring at Wembley Arena with Groves.
So what will Groves next fight be? With him firmly under the wing of his new promoters Sauerland, I am sure we will see Groves in a 3rd world title attempt, but the opportunity will be certainly not without risks, as he will be facing WBC Chamopin Anthony Direll once Durell has dealt with his next opponent after his win against another tough opponent Sakio Bika who both went 12 rounds in their brutal rematch in August. The Groves fight will certainly create a genuine interest amongst fight fans from both sides of the Atlantic, but I am sure Groves will have to take the journey to Direll’s backyard for this one.
For the past 2 years I have had the privilege of having a small part in one of the most exciting projects that I have ever been involved in. The book is about one of the worlds best boxing referee’s Ian John-Lewis. I first met Ian through my work in the police cells in one of the UK’s busiest police stations in Medway in Kent in 2011, which is where Ian works as a custody officer. No easy job, I can assure you. Having been a huge boxing fan my entire life and also rating Ian as one of the best referee’s we have in the UK and the world, it was certainly quite a remarkable meeting for me. Over my time getting to know Ian, I was able to talk to him about maybe getting involved in social media, and one day I happened to mention to him that he should consider having a book written about his life, his amateur & professional boxing career – (W13- 9 KO- L 7) as well as his career which has really put him on the world boxing map as a Star Class A WBC boxing referee. Ian is one of only 5 British referee’s who have had the honour of being the 3rd man in the ring for the greatest prize in sport, the Heavyweight Championship of the World, as well as being the 1st black British referee to do this. When we first talked about a book idea Ian happened to mention that he had met Mark Heffernan, who is a physiotherapist for Kent Police, and Mark had offered to maybe write this for Ian. Certainly another chance meeting had occurred, and the seed was well & truly sewn for the forthcoming book.
Mark was thrown into the world of boxing as he met with many people in the boxing world, from grassroots level all the way up to the WBC Heavyweight Championship of the World, with Ian’s biggest fight audience of over 13 million live viewers when he refereed Vitali Klitschko v Shannon Briggs. This followed with the historical fight in Canada with Bernard Hopkins v Jean Pascal, making Hopkins the oldest World Champion in the history of boxing dating back to the implementation of the Queensbury Rules in 1867. Mark has written one of the most thorough accounts of any boxing referee’s careers, which starts in the famous York Hall in Bethnal Green with Ian’s fight with Mickey Hughes in 1991. This was an important moment in his life, as it was here that Ian was given the golden advice for him to become a referee. Ian’s professional career as a contender may of been sadly over, but his future of being one of the most competent, engaging and well respected referee’s we have, was now in front of him.
The book launch of ‘I am the Referee’ is being held on the 12th November 2014, and will be at the fantastic venue Dickens World in Medway in Kent. If you would like to come along to support Ian & Mark for the launch of the book, please get in touch on here or at www.iamthereferee.com
Come & meet Ian and grab yourself one cracking read, which any fan of the sweet science will truly appreciate. It takes Ian from the very humble beginnings of the Medway towns in the 1960’s, all the way to travelling the globe as one of the most respected officials in world championship boxing. The greatest sport in the world.
If any newspapers, tv channels, boxing bloggers & fans want to come, please also get in touch.
You can follow Ian on twitter @IamtheReferee and on facebook & on the website www.iamthereferee.com
The MotorPoint arena in Cardiff played host to one of the best rematches we have seen in a British ring in many years, as Gavin ‘the rock’ Rees bowed out of his professional boxing career in one final tear up with his old rival Gary Buckland. Their last encounter in February set the years fight calender off as a possible fight of the year contender in what was a very close brutal 12 rounder which really could of been scored either way. Gavin’s promoter Eddie Hearn persuaded Rees to enter the ring one last time, to give us lucky fight fans another opportunity to see the pair go at it one last time to fire off some beautiful skills of the sweet science. No one could of been disappointed at what we witnessed.
The first 2 rounds were very even as each man got a round each, and it was clear that we were in for yet another war of nutrition with a knock out not being on the cards. Buckland took the fight to his opponent with some tremendous shots to the head and body of Rees, which were countered by Rees at every available opportunity. Both men traded in the middle of the ring punch for punch, but Rees was edging the score cards until the 6th round, when Buckland appeared to get a second wind as he came flying out of the corner after his team had obviously said something to inspire their man to go take the fight as at this point The Rock was ahead and about to pull away. Buckland then damaged the nose and eye of Rees in the 10th round, but began to feel the pressure from Rees as he floundered by sheer exhaustion from the onslaught he was dealing with. As the 12th round bell sounded, the 2 men came out in to the middle of the ring as everyone in the Motor Point arena were on their feet, as Star Class A referee Ian John Lewis applauded both men, and we were all set for the last round of Rees’s professional career, and what a round it was. Buckland was now fighting for survival as Rees came forward to make his last 3 minutes one to remember. He exploded some tremendous left and right crosses to the head and body of Buckland and it looked at one point that Rees could finally take his man out, but Buckland stood firm by dodging most of Rees’s shots, just to make it through to the end of the fight. As the bell sounded, the whole arena exploded into what could only be described as absolute appreciation for what the crowd had just witnessed as both men hugged in the only way 2 true sportsman who had just beaten 10 bells out of each other could out of total respect for each other. The score cards were read out as a split decision and the crowd was near silent for the first time all night. Rees was finally announced as the winner as Ian John Lewis raised the arm of Gavin Rees for the final time of his wonderful career as a professional fighter.
Rees deserved this win, albeit a close fight as one judge thought, but this confirmed how well matched both men were for each other. In the post fight interview Gavin confirmed that he has finally retired and will be opening a bar in Wales, as he walks away from the professional game. Gary Buckland spoke of his utter respect towards Rees as a fighter and friend.
Rees will always be remembered for his aggressive fighting style and long spanning professional career, over which he has earned the British and Commonwealth Titles and the WBA light welterweight world title in 2007. Gavin never shied away from any fight, as he showed when he went to the Atlantic City in the USA to fight the brash Adrian Broner, when he suffered a vicious defeat by knock out against a a very dangerous opponent. He then lost to Crolla and Buckland, but certainly got his deserved revenge last night. I for one will certainly miss seeing him in the ring, as will all his loyal fans, and I wish him a very happy well earned retirement from the hardest game.
I have found this fight on You Tube for you to enjoy.
Last night Marcos Chino Maidana went to Vegas to take on the best pound for pound fighter on the planet for the WBC & WBA unification title fight that no one gave him a chance of winning. What happened in the ring was nothing short of excitement and gave the baying fight fans a glimpse of Floyd on the ropes for much of the first half of the fight. With Maidana coming off a truly spectacular win against the brash Broner that opened up this opportunity which he couldn’t turn down. Maidana’s heavy hitting power was always going to be a risk for the Mayweather camp and a war of brute strength was inevitable in the lead up of this title fight, but Mayweathers unbeaten record was never in question at any time.
The fight began with Maidana taking the fight to Mayweather and forcing the unbeaten champion onto the ropes where he was able to unleash some brutal combinations with few landing due to Floyd’s unique style of defence which has made him the worlds highest paid sportsman of all time and without doubt the best fighter of this generation.
Maidana instigated pressure from the off and we were all in for a thrilling 12 rounds of the sweet science. Maidana kept to the middle of the ring and was able to corner Mayweather against the ropes to go the body and head with swinging over hand rights, which if connected might of seen Mayweather in trouble, but this didn’t appear to phase him at all. In round 4 the two men’s head clashed and opened up a cut on Mayweathers right eye, which was well taken care of by Mayweathers cutsman and the corner kept their man calm under the pressure which he was under. He did look rattled and angry by the cut as he sat in the corner and you could see his body language change from relaxed and calm to one of anguish and concern. However, as any fan of boxing will know that the thing about Mayweather is that he has the ability to change style and pace at a moments notice with devastating consequences for his opponent, as our very own Ricky Hatton experienced in their thrilling title fight in 2008. This was however the last time Floyd has been properly tested by such an aggressive fighter as the hitman.
From rounds 6-12 Floyd did what he does best and changed his tactics very subtly by keeping his distance and jabbing and moving which eventually was confusing Maidana with the execution of his offensive. Mayweather was elusive, defensive and showed his class by not being dragged into Maidana’s style of aggressive fighting against the ropes. His footwork got him out of trouble at every opportunity and he came back with some genius counter punching from every angle. The final bell sounded and the two men threw their hands up indicating themselves as winning the fight. The scores were read out with one judge scoring it 114-114 and the crowd at the MGM Grand fell silent as an upset might literally be on the cards. Jimmy Lennon Junior announced the other cards as 117-111 & 116-112, which no one could argue with, except Maidana who had just been through a real battle which took the best of the best the full fight distance.
In the after fight interviews Maidana claimed victory and the compu box figures showed that Maidana connected with Floyd more times than any other of his previous 45 opponents. Not a bad achievement by anyone’s standard. Then Floyd was interviewed by showtime and a rematch was talked about, which Floyd openly stated that he would be happy for this to go ahead. Floyd Mayweather showed he is still top of his game, but also there are a few chinks in the solid armour of his defence against such an aggressive fighter as Maidana. But after that performance, no true fight fan of the sweet science can argue with the fight happening again so soon, and I for one cannot wait.