A BOXING MAGAZINE about the testament of one man’s will against another
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Welcome to THE JAB A BOXING MAGAZINE about the testament of one man’s will against another
elcome back to Issue Two of the ‘The Jab’ magazine, a fantastic fan-created boxing magazine. If this is your first download, then feel free to search out our maiden issue, which was a huge success that surpassed our expectations. At the time of writing today, it has passed the 14,000 download mark. Not bad for a debut issue, but it just goes to show that boxing fans are out there in force. This issue we’ve trimmed out the adverts a little and created a more dense boxing experience. We touch base with former middleweight world champion Daniel Geale, as he prepares to challenge the man of the moment, Gennady Golovkin. The middleweight sensation seemingly has bricks for fists. British-based Pole Grzegorz Proksa and Matthew Macklin both described his bone crunching power as something neither had ever felt before. Martin Murray tells us about his training and ambitions following his promotional switch. Nathan Cleverly and Tony Bellew talk to our Nate Williams. Who wins that rematch? Forum fans think Bellew has adapted better to the new weight, but Clev has walked through his two opponents too. Clev’s done it once in his backyard and he totally believes he will do it once again - Bellew thinks otherwise. We also speak to former middleweight turned super-middle Paul Smith, as he begins preparations for his shot at Germany’s Arthur Abraham. We also get a nice discussion with his brother Stephen Smith, as he’s about to get stuck into his career following a patchy spell and the birth of his son. Stephen came back with a ‘BANG’ this time last year against Gary Buckland and he tells us all about it. Welshmen Liam Williams and Dale Evans get some future prospect treatment from the The Jab courtesy of Mike Jones. We have also ran with the ‘twitter maniacs’ of last month, presenting another pair of prolific tweeters whom share their thoughts on current boxing topics. The Jab writer John Evans chats to Irishman Jamie Conlan and also pops down to Derry Mathews gym (and almost suffers a cardiac arrest in the interest of journalism.) Our American ‘doghouse’ friend John Raspanti tells us a tale of a man in the shadows, who helped out in many a legendary fight such as Castillo vs Corrales. The Jab’s John Wharton talks body punchers ... oh and Tyson Fury offers to show him his heavyweight bollocks. So what are you waiting for folks? Box On !
The Team EDITOR: Alex Gomez CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Mark Gillman WRITERS: Alex Gomez John Evans Nate Williams Michael J Jones John MacDonald John J. Raspanti Contributing PHOTOGRAPHERS: Lawrence Lustig (Matchroom Sport) Jason White (Whiteeeeey) William Cherry (Cyclone Promotions) Jeff Ellis (African Ring) John Wharton boxingwales.com
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THE JAB CONTENTS 06 PLUS MUCH MORE! 19 FEATURES IN TOTAL! Exclusive Daniel Geale interview!
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The Jab meets Daniel Geale and finds the tough Tasmanian in confident mood before he meets Golovkin. Words John Macdonald
n May of 2011, Daniel Geale travelled to Germany to challenge IBF middleweight champion Sebastian Sylvester. Against the odds the Australian claimed his first world title via split decision in the champion’s backyard. Germany is traditionally viewed as one of the harder destinations for an away fighter to get the benefit of the judge’s scorecards. To pull off the feat once was impressive, to repeat it would be astounding but that’s just what he did in September of 2012 adding Felix Sturm’s WBA “Super” title to his collection. On 26 July the man from Tasmania will face what many see as the biggest challenge of his career as he contests the WBA “Super” title he once held, against Kazakh puncher Gennady Golovkin at Madison Square Garden with bookmakers offering odds of 7/1 against him. “I probably prefer that underdog position. It’s pretty much where I’ve been most of my career and I’m happy with that,” Geale told The Jab. “The people who’ve seen Golovkin and know Golovkin aren’t expecting me to go over to win so that just adds to my motivation and makes me train even harder.” The 2004 Olympic silver medallist, Golovkin, has assembled the record of 29-0 (26KOs) as a professional. While the stats alone are impressive, the names on his resume are less so. His reputation has lead to top challengers seeking other routes towards world honours. Rather than being discouraged by “GGG’s” 16 consecutive knockouts Geale sees this as his opportunity to establish himself amongst the best in the division. “I think it’s the perfect fight for me, It’s probably for that reason, because everyone has been avoiding him, that I knew
it was the right time for me. I’ve been improving and things are heading in the right direction and this fight is the fight I need to get myself back in the position I know I should be in. “I was a little bit disappointed with my last fight in the U.S but I know this fight will lock my position in. It’s against a guy who is a little bit feared in the division at the moment but that’s exactly what I want. I want those tough fights, I’ve been saying for years that I want to face the best fighters and this is my opportunity.” His previous fight on U.S soil saw him drop his IBF title to Darren Barker via split decision in August of last year. The fight itself was considered by many as one of the best shown on HBO that year as both men fought toe-to-toe for 12 hard fought rounds. Opinions amongst spectators were divided as to who had won the fight but rather than complain over the scoring, the Australian was more critical of his own performance. “It was little bit tough to begin with but you take it on the chin, you move on, you learn and that’s exactly what I’ve done. That’s why I wanted the Golovkin fight. I’m glad I’ve got the chance to put things right I guess. There were a couple of questions marks left there with the Barker fight but now against a guy like Golovkin, I can put them right.” A bodyshot in the sixth sent Barker to the canvas. The Englishman kicked his feet out in visible agony, his face displaying an expression of pure pain. To those in attendance and viewing on TV it appeared as if he would fail to beat the count somehow he made it on his feet. Geale may have been the only one present who wasn’t shocked to see him return to his feet in time. “He went down heavily but as a fighter you don’t really have time to think too much. I was
just watching him and if he got up I was ready to go back out and do what I had to do. At that moment I didn’t really know or really care I just had my job to do. Afterwards, watching it on tape, it was a good effort for him to get back up because he looked like he was in a fair bit of pain.” Geale had been due to face Barker’s fellow countryman Matthew Macklin in May of this year until a shoulder injury sustained by Cuban heavyweight Mike Perez (who was due to fight Bryant Jennings in the main event) resulted in the card being cancelled two weeks away from fight night. “It was frustrating. It was nearing the end of training camp as well which was even more frustrating after you’ve put in 12 weeks of hard training, luckily I stayed motivated I always believed other things would come up anyway. The worst thing you can do is drop the bundle and get angry and frustrated but I knew big fights were on the way. It would have been great to fight Macklin but it wasn’t to be.” After the fight fell through, Macklin took to social media to express his belief that Perez was not injured and that the situation had been manufactured by K2 who promote both Perez and Golovkin. The Kazakh was looking for an opponent to face on the July 26 date at Maddison Square Garden. Having previously fought at the Theater this was to be Golovkin’s first appearance in the main room of the venue and as such need an opponent of sufficient stature with the belief being that Geale was one of the few who met the requirements and would be willing to accept the fight, however Geale dismisses these theories. “I listened to that to start with but when I went over [to the
United States] for the press opponents have fought with fear conference we had a chat with in the past and he won’t repeat a few of the guys over there the mistake. [from K2 promotions] and that “Obviously you’ve got to have put that theory to rest. I would respect for the guy; he’s got never duck out of any fights and good punch power but I know I’d have been very disappointed exactly where I’m headed and if it had gone that way because where I am at the moment. You they [K2] wanted to set-up a can’t respect the guy too much, different fight. you have to back your own “I would have preferred to ability and that’s exactly what fight Macklin first because we are going to do. I’m going I think that’s where it was to be doing plenty of different headed, if I’d got through things; I’m going to be getting in Macklin I’d have been fighting there, moving around, I’m going Golovkin anyway. It would have to be doing it all. I’m going to frustrated me knowing that I’d do exactly what he doesn’t want missed out on a good, tough me to do. fight with Macklin if I didn’t need “He has been able to do to. The theories were interesting exactly what he wants against to start with but we found out most of the fighters he’s faced there was an injury so I’m just but he has shown a little bit of happy I’ve got this next fight weakness in his last two fights coming up.” [against Osmanu Adama and Of all the attributes a fighter Curtis Stevens] due to that can possess, a genuine super high confidence. He knockout punch is the one that knows he’s eventually going to unites the masses. It can sellknock people out so a lot of out venues, attract viewers in the time he’s not worried about a way footwork or hand speed getting hit himself. In those simply can’t and it can bring a fights he got hit a few times and sense of childlike joy to even looked a little bit surprised, a the most hardened and jaded little shocked even that he got of spectators. From Rocky hit. You can’t respect someone Marciano to Mike Tyson via too much and up until now, Julian Jackson, Aaron Pryor whether it’s been respect or and Nigel Benn these men fear a lot of the guys he’s fought have been elevated to almost have shown him too much. unhuman status due to their “I’ll be going out there and heavy hands. thinking only about myself, Gennady Golovkin is the landing my punches and boxing latest in this lineage of the way that I box. I know I’m punchers. The Kazakh has better defensively than the been on astronomical rise to guys he’s faced before and I’ll prominence since making his be using that to my advantage U.S debut in 2012. The journey as much as I can. Everyone so far has seen him progress knows that I like to get in there from the Turning Stone Casino and fight, throw plenty of attracting 685,000 viewers punches and that’s what will on HBO against Grzegorz be happening. It’s going to be Proksa to the Maddison Square something that Golovkin is not Garden Theater with a used to, it’ll depend on viewing audience of how he reacts but I’m 1.41 million for his last going to take him in Follow U.S bout against to uncharted waters, Daniel Geale Curtis Stevens. I’m going to take on Twitter. @RealDealGeale However Geale him to places he’s believes Golovkin’s never been before.”
A rivalry reignited. The red mist once again descends on Tony Bellew and Nathan Cleverly. Words Nate Williams Photography Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom Sport
P “Overall, he’s the one who’s bitter and he’s bitter at the loss. That’s the truth.”
lenty of heated words have been exchanged between Nathan Cleverly and his Liverpool foe Tony Bellew since they both recorded their second successive cruiserweight victories in Liverpool on July 12. The two are set to reignite a bitter rematch, which you could describe as a juiced up Carl Froch-George Groves rivalry on steroids. They genuinely can’t stand each other. However, the 27 year-old Cleverly remains cool, calm and collected in anticipation of their grudge match. “I genuinely think the guy’s deluded,” he said. “I think Tony Bellew is deluded. He talks so much shit that he actually believes what he’s saying. I think I showed him too much respect at times while he was mouthing off as per usual. Overall, he’s the one who’s bitter and he’s bitter at the loss. That’s the truth. Because he lost in his hometown and I defended my world title successfully and that’s the bottom line. “The broken rib story is true,” Cleverly said about the post fight remark which seems to have infuriated Bellew. The Liverpudlian sees the excuse as a disrespectful barbed comment. “I went into the fight with an injured lower rib from sparring but it was only a couple weeks after the fight that I mentioned that because Bellew and his team were dragging it on saying they won the fight. I made it very clear to everyone that I won the fight when preparation wasn’t great. I had seven weeks notice so it wasn’t ideal. In the rematch, he wants revenge but I want repeat and next time I want to silence him once and for all.” After Bellew had knocked out Brazilian Dos Santos with a left hook, the two rivals clashed at
ringside before nearly tearing until fight night. In the rematch, Sky Sports’ Ed Robinson’s arm I’m going to settle it once and off in a slanging match with a for all. He’s been banging the microphone. drum for years but the time is “I’m not sure what he said at right now because we’re both ringside after the fight (before bigger, stronger and hitting they both entered a war of harder. The first fight went the words live on Sky Sports) distance but the second fight because he talks so much crap won’t be.” that he just blabbers on,” said However, before Cleverly Cleverly. He basically said he’s moved up to cruiserweight and a cruiserweight and that means joined forces with Matchroom’s he’s going to punch me harder Eddie Hearn to set up the big and drop me with the left hook domestic rematch, there were he landed to win the fight and a lot more changes to be made apparently that’s how I’m going and that started immediately down as well. My response was after the worst night of that I’ve already beat him and Cleverly’s career. done it in his hometown. I’m a At the end of August last little more chilled out over the year, the former WBO lightsituation because I’ve already heavyweight world champion beat him and I don’t really need sat in his locker room at the rematch for me to be happy Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena in my career. The reason I’m with his head in his hands and going to do it again is to show wondering where to go next. that the first fight was a fluke Cleverly had just suffered his and that’s all it was for Bellew.” first career loss in 27 fights as Cleverly does have some the hard-hitting Russian Sergey respect for Bellew as he Kovalev ripped his world title was impressed by his recent strap from his waist with a performances but the Cefn devastating fourth round Forest fighter said he knockout. feels like throwing a There must have Follow punch before the been so many Nathan Cleverly official bell every questions going on Twitter. time Bellew utters a through the @NathanClev word. Welshman’s head “I think he is a but he quickly better fighter and bounced back and I believe he does knew where to find hit harder and is a lot the answers. He quickly stronger but I also believe returned to the gym and I’m better with more energy at rebuilt with a new team behind this new weight. When I first him. moved to light-heavyweight, “In my nine months away I was just as fresh and had from the ring, there’s been a eight KO’s in a row and at lot of changes. I’m with a new cruiserweight, we’re both off to promotional outfit, I’ve moved a good start with two in a row. up in weight and I’ve changed “But I can only respect Tony trainers so a lot has happened,” Bellew for about five minutes he said. because when he opens his Cleverly split from former mouth and I look at him, I just promoter Frank Warren to join want to give him a smack. That Hearn on Sky Sports while he is what I would like to do at the was busy making the transition press conferences, where I’d like from light-heavyweight to to just lunge across the table cruiserweight. In addition, he and smack him but I’ll leave it also took away his training
responsibilities away from his dad Vincent and handed them to long-term friend and conditioning coach Darren Wilson. Many questioned these decisions including Enzo Calzaghe, the father and trainer of newly inducted Hall of Famer Joe Calzaghe, who knows a thing or two about father-son relationships in the corner. However, Cleverly felt that these decisions were necessary in order for him to move forward and continue his career. Cleverly came back with a bang in Cardiff as he stopped Shawn Corbin in the second round of his debut at the new weight. “There was a lot of question marks over my decision to move up. A lot of people didn’t believe I can do it but I know I can do this. I knew my recent performances at lightheavyweight showed I didn’t perform at 100 percent so I needed to move up and against Corbin I knew cruiserweight feels right. I felt more energy in my legs, more snap in my punches and I’m stronger now so I’m glad my decision has been proven right. “Me and Darren have worked hard, gone back to basics and simplified things to start over again,” Cleverly continued. “We travel around and spar, we have a good understanding and we work well together. Darren’s been part of the team for many years on a strength and conditioning role and I just felt there was a need for a fresh voice and a fresh initiative. I wanted to take the responsibility away from my dad because it’s a lot of pressure between father and son. That kind of partnership doesn’t always work but it worked well while it lasted. It worked fantastic and couldn’t have gone any better but I just needed to take that responsibility away and now me and Darren have freshened
“I think Tony Bellew is deluded. He talks so much shit that he actually believes what he’s saying.”
things up a bit. It’s a good partnership.” Cleverly was also happy to banish his nightmare memories of his loss to the “freakish” Sergey Kovalev as he said he felt a lot stronger than when he was weakening himself at lightheavyweight to feed his appetite for winning. “Initially, light-heavyweight was okay for me when I was younger but I was at the weight for seven years and I was gradually getting bigger and maturing. Eventually I started to out-grow the weight and to make the weight, I had to burn muscle tissue and I was naturally weakening myself. I felt that towards the end in my last few fights. Even when I was winning I knew there was something wrong. I knew something wasn’t right. The answer was the weight but winning is an addiction sometimes, and because I kept winning, I stayed on the weight. The loss was the trigger point and now I’m finally in the right place at cruiserweight. “It was nice to eradicate the memory of the loss to Kovalev in the same arena,” added Cleverly. “The fact is Kovalev just caught me that night and finished in good style. The guy has freakish power and is an exceptional puncher. The guy hits incredibly hard and I’ve never been hit like that before in all my boxing years. He caught me and that’s the bottom line. He caught me with a good shot and he took his opportunity to finish the fight and I just couldn’t recover so it was just unfortunate that I allowed him to land that shot. I learned by mistakes during my break from the ring. I needed the nine months to put on the mass and the muscle and now I want to build momentum and move on.” And now “Clev” has the chance to put the record straight with Bellew this winter.
The last time Cleverly crossed paths with Bellew in a defence of his former world title in Liverpool was almost three years ago and what a close 12-round shoot-out it was. Cleverly left Bellew’s hometown with a much-debated majority decision verdict and he believes even though it was a tight fight, his relentless offence and punching success rightly gave him the win. “It was a close fight and there is no doubt in that. At that level, it was a world title fight and we both gave it everything. Bellew chucked everything at me and gave it his all. If you watch the fight back and look at the shots that were landing, I was blocking a lot of his work, covering up well and bit by bit I got through with my own heavy shots and I think I landed more over 12 rounds. I think that got me the edge and my defensive work in the fight was brilliant and better than what Team Bellew expected. That’s why I got the victory when it was over.” When they reconvene in the ring, Cleverly reckons it will be as close as their first encounter but with an added flavour of upgraded arsenal and hatred, providing a tasty mixture for boxing fans to indulge in. “We’ve got history and it’s a grudge match,” said Cleverly. “We’re rivals so we clash and he’s in my way and I’m in his way of potentially going onto a fight for the world title. In one word, that is all this is aboutrivalry. I think there’s going to be a lot more fire in the second fight because we’re both going to be stronger, sharper and punch a lot harder in the second fight. There will be more energy so I think it will be a replica of the first fight but this time with added spice and a lot more firepower. I believe I will win more emphatically next time because the guy needs silencing.”
“I believe I will win more emphatically next time because the guy needs silencing.”
“We both know deep down that I was dead at them scales.” tony bellew
“I’ve already spanked you and I’m going to do it again.” NATHAN CLEVERLY
“I’ve got no malice or viciousness in me unless you’re fighting me in that ring.”
hree years ago, Liverpool’s Tony Bellew endured the hardest fight of his early career in a 12-round world title war with Nathan Cleverly for the WBO light-heavyweight crown in front of his own scouse faithful. In a nail biting, blow for blow battle that still has pundits and fans divided on the decision to this day, Cleverly retained his belt on a majority decision verdict with one card even at 114-114 and the others in favour of the Welshman by 116-113 and 117-112. Now, they have both moved up to cruiserweight after devastating world title defeats and are both promoted by Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn after Cleverly split from Frank Warren. The two rivals have similar paths set before them as they are set for a ruthless rematch before having another bite at the championship cherry. Bellew and Cleverly coheadlined the recent Collision Course bill in Liverpool and both recorded knockout victories. Cleverly sat ringside after his fourth round stoppage of tough Argentine Alejandro Valori, and as soon as Bellew floored Brazilian Julio Dos Santos with a lethal left hook in the fifth round, he immediately focused on his future opponent and the insults began to fly. Although Cleverly seemed fired up and ready for the rematch straight after Bellew’s post-fight interview on Sky Sports, the former undefeated British champion believes Cleverly is making statements like, ‘I’ll spank you like I did last time,’ out of false confidence. He said: “I had a belt over my shoulder after a good knockout win, I’m answering Sky’s questions and he says, ‘let’s do it right now.’ When the Boxing Board came to me
and told me to stop provoking things, he’s the one making all the noise but the fact of the matter is he doesn’t want to do it and it’s all a big front. If he strongly believed he could beat me again, why didn’t he agree to an immediate rematch after the first fight? Because he didn’t believe he won. He kept repeating to me at ringside, ‘one-nil mate, one-nil!’ I replied, ‘When you go home and look in the mirror, you don’t believe that you won,’ and he couldn’t answer me. “His hatred towards me is manufactured because he has no reason to dislike me,” Bellew continued. “The only reason he’s fighting me and selling the fight is so he can get a decent pay day because he has nowhere else to go. He doesn’t want this fight because I begged him for the immediate rematch and for weeks he said no. I even said that I would go to Cardiff for it and he still said no. But everyone connected with that fight just thought I was getting thrown into the slaughterhouse and I’ll sell great numbers in Liverpool. Since then, Cleverly has been matched with absolute clowns and his whole career is built on lies.” There is a particular set of “lies” that infuriates Bellew the most. Despite a lot of anger
in the build-up to their first meeting, the two warriors embraced with mutual respect and left the ring with peace declared. However, hours after the final bell had been rung, they left the press conference room as sworn enemies. Bellew has not forgotten what Cleverly said that night and after crossing paths with the Cefn Forest fighter again, his hatred has reached boiling point as Bellew has vowed to not only beat Cleverly, but to also end his career when they reconvene in the ring. “I can’t fucking stand him! I don’t like him,” said Bellew, who has 21 wins, two losses and a draw to his name. “He knows what he said after the last fight. Everyone else knows what the gobshite said so I can’t bring myself to even look at him without getting angry. He annoys me that much. After the fight, he showed me respect, shook hands, embraced and had a chat about it. The words out of his mouth were I’m the hardest fight he’s ever had and I never want to fight you again and his dad said the same. His dad said to me, ‘you’re a tough kid because we thought we were going to blow you away and you were chinny.’ Funnily enough, I get to the pressroom after the fight and my head’s everywhere.
I’ve just took punches for 12 rounds and we’re both not thinking straight but the words out of his mouth were, ‘it was easy, I done it with two broken ribs and I never got out of first gear.’ That wasn’t what he said to me in the ring so why say it in the post-fight press conference? Basically, he’s a lying scumbag who’s full of shit!” “When the rematch comes, I’ll talk more about what I’m going to do to him,” he continued. “I’ll talk about retiring him because that is all I want to do. There is genuine disdain and hatred towards him. Carl Froch and George Groves served up something that was, in my opinion, a bit manufactured because compared to me; you have no idea about how much I want to hurt him. I don’t want him to fight again after me and I genuinely mean that. I want to smash his head from pillar to post and I won’t be happy with just a win or a knockout because I don’t want to see him in a ring again.” Bellew used a sharp jab on the night, which probably earned him a few rounds and he thought he had done enough to get the decision. “A lot of people had me winning that night and that is the sad thing about it. Listen, I’m not going to cry over spilt milk because it was a close fight and could have gone either way. I thought I done enough but it was really close. I must be the only fucking fighter, who fights in his hometown, and has two close fights and doesn’t get the decision twice. I don’t know what the fuck’s up with me! Maybe it’s my attitude or the way I come across? If people got to know me, they’d realise that I’m just a normal fella and a family man who fights for a living. I’ve got no malice or viciousness in me unless you’re fighting me in that ring.” When asked if he would use
“Cleverly has been matched with absolute clowns and his whole career is built on lies.”
similar tactics again Bellew light-heavyweight no more replied: “No. I wouldn’t have because I died in that fight. to do that again because my One thing I can say about the right hand wouldn’t break in the whole episode is that now I’m second round in the rematch. finally enjoying boxing again. That’s why I used the jab so I haven’t enjoyed it for two much in the first fight and I years and I’ve hated it for the didn’t ever think of using it last two years. I was losing 16 as an excuse in the post-fight pounds through a camp and press conference like gobshite two pounds per week; I had 20 Cleverly. When your right hand pound to lose in the camp for breaks in the second round, the the Stevenson fight. In a 10only punches you can throw are week camp, you get down to a jab or a hook. My jab worked the last five or six pound and it great that night but there’s isn’t coming off. All of a sudden much more to come from me. you’ve got abs and a big guy That’s only 60 percent of what like me shouldn’t have abs! I had planned that night with We can’t all look like Anthony one hand, but I promise you’ll Joshua where we’re built like see the real Tony Bellew next fucking tanks! I shouldn’t really time. The power lies with me be like that because my physical and you’ll all find that out when frame isn’t built for it and I’m I retire Cleverly. It won’t be a not one of them guys that has success unless I retire him. And got this great big body on him. no matter what we go through At light-heavyweight I was a in that ring, I’m going to render bag of bones! I look back at the him unconscious and then I’m pictures from camp and I look going to laugh. Even if he beats like I’ve got a fucking illness! I me and I have a smashed nose do look like I’ve got a very nasty and two broken hands, I’m illness. It wasn’t good and I still going to say it’s the easiest had six pound to go when I fight I’ve ever had!” looked that ill.” “The Bomber” “People who are Follow recovered from his working with me now Tony Bellew loss to Cleverly say I only have ten on Twitter. with wins over pounds to lose,” he @TonyBellew Edison Miranda continued. and Roberto “That’s ten pound Bolonti, which would of solid Christmas eventually lead to turkey still on my arse! his second world title Light-heavyweight is an showdown in Canada with impossible task now and I the big-punching WBC king can’t do it any longer.” Adonis Stevenson. Bellew was stopped by Boiling down in weight Stevenson in the sixth round through gruelling camps was a when the Haitian-born Canadian horrible task for Bellew and at barraged him into a corner and times he said he felt ill, and he unloading relentlessly, giving admits that his motivation to the referee no choice but to fight was fading so he knew that wave it off. Even though Bellew soon it would be time for sportingly declared he lost to a change. a better man on the night, he “Boxing’s been depressing for believes that if he got to the me for the last two years,” second half of the fight, he said Bellew. would have won by knockout. “I knew after the first Isaac “I’m not making excuses Chilemba fight (that ended because I lost to an amazing in a draw) that I couldn’t do champion in Adonis Stevenson,
the premier light-heavyweight in the whole world,” he said. “He’s the man and I lost to him on the day. He’s a destructive puncher and a fantastic fighter and that’s the bottom line. “The game plan really was to avoid him for six or seven rounds. It’s just a fucking shame that I never got to round seven. I believe that once you get Stevenson past six or seven rounds, he loads up that much in the early stages of the fight that you will start getting to him in the second half, but like I said my whiskers just didn’t hold up for that fight. It’s a shame because I believe I could have made the second half of the fight and knocked him out.” “Stevenson’s an elite fighter for six rounds and an all-round great for 12 rounds,” Bellew continued. “We’ll go on from here now and I’ll make things work for me. As a person, Stevenson is a nasty gobshite but as a fighter, he is fucking exceptional! As a person, he’s a nasty piece of work. He’s a pimp isn’t he? Have you ever met a nice pimp? I’ve learned my lesson and it’s time to move on. Hopefully, one day the little fucking midget comes up to cruiserweight and I can have my own back on him.” After an impressive debut at cruiserweight with a round 12 knockout of two-time world title challenger Valery Brudov, Bellew switched his attention to his adversary’s debut at the new weight in Cardiff. Cleverly stopped Trinidad & Tobago’s 39 year-old Shawn Corbin in the second round but Bellew wasn’t impressed as he gave his analysis ringside on Sky Sports. “I didn’t say much because he beat a light-heavyweight on his cruiserweight debut and I just said it was good. He basically beat a guy who had been smashed in two rounds by Karo Murat. So what can you really
say about that? He’s a lightheavyweight isn’t he? I fought a double world title challenger at cruiserweight and he chooses to fight a light-heavyweight so everyone to their own and it’ll catch up with him in the end.” There has already been talk of possible venues for the muchanticipated rematch between Bellew and Cleverly. Bringing it back to where it all started in Liverpool is one possibility and Eddie Hearn revealed plans for a star-studded London bill at the O2 Arena featuring James DeGale, Anthony Joshua and a potential return to the ring for David Haye on October 11. However, Bellew strongly stated he doesn’t care where the fight is taking place as long as he gets to inflict punishment on his rival for the harsh words he said after their original ring war. “If there is a bigger venue set for the fight, I will go there. If it’s a bigger venue that provides more money then great but it doesn’t really matter that much to me. All I’m interested in is retiring Cleverly. I have to hurt him and I’m going to hurt him bad style! It doesn’t matter if it’s in his own backyard, in a fucking phone box or even in the street, I don’t really care.” If their second contest turns into an absolute classic for fight fans to remember, will another sign of mutual respect to end the rivalry be displayed? In Bellew’s book that is highly unlikely. “I won’t be shaking his hand after it or anything,” he said. “I will never forgive what was said. Saying that I didn’t get out of second gear, I’m not a good fighter and he beat me easy with two broken ribs. I’ll never be respectful towards him again. If he offers his hand to me, I’ll tell him to fuck off! I’m 100 percent deadly serious. He’ll get told to fuck right off and I’ll give him another belt if he doesn’t fuck off either.”
“I won’t be shaking his hand after it or anything.”
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No. 1: Be healthy. Your health is the most important thing money and doesn’t come into it. No. 2: Be right with God. No. 3: Stay out of trouble at all costs. No. 4: Be right with those who are right with you.
hose are the four rules for life, according to Tyson Fury. It was Robert Burns who once wrote ‘the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men Gang aft a-gley’, [often go awry]. Initially, the plan was to ask Fury for a breakdown of his rivals in the heavyweight division, but Fury is one fighter who can derail even the best laid plans. This proved to be one such occasion. Let’s cut to the chase and get straight to what was meant to be the main thrust of the discussion. Wladimir Klitschko: I think he’s a pussy. What can you say about him? He’s a jibjabber, safety first piece of shit. He picks easy fights and gets good money for it. That’s what I admire about him. This is what the sport is all about, there’s no disgrace in it. He’ll never ever fight me, he’s terrified of me and if we fight I’ll knock him out. Deontay Wilder: He knocks out bums. Good luck to him, if he lands that right on anyone its goodnight Vienna. I’ll fight anyone as long as they’re paying good money. If they want me to fight Ricky Hatton in his comeback fight, I’ll fight him as long as the money is good. Bermane Stiverne: I don’t care, I’ll fight him because he’s got a title. I couldn’t give a shit whether he’s good or not as long as I make money. I’ll fight anyone, whether it’s Joe Bloggs, Muhammad Ali or Bruce Lee as long as I make a lot of money. David Haye: I’d love to fight him. I’ve
nothing bad to say about him. He pulled out of two fights cost me a lot of money and cost a lot of people a lot of money too. If I fight him, I make loads of money and if he knocks me out then good luck to him. At the end of the day, if we fight we both make a lot of money so it makes sense. I’d been in the gym whilst trainer Peter Fury put Tyson and American heavyweight Eddie Chambers through their paces, in preparation for their bouts on July 26th at the Phones-4-U Arena in Manchester. Fury is facing old foe and fellow Briton Dereck Chisora in a rematch of their July 2011 bout, which the then 22 year old Fury won by a unanimous points decision to take Chisora’s Lonsdale Belt. The short session was intense and was followed by a short break and then sparring. Also in the gym was Dutch prospect GIan Carlo Liesdek, who was undertaking a light training session after sparring British light-middleweight champion Liam Smith earlier in the morning. After the session, I was invited upstairs to the living quarters of Team Fury’s new training camp at the former Robin Hood pub in Bolton. I was asked to remove my shoes before heading upstairs as a plush new carpet had been installed recently. On the TV screen, Andy Murray was finalising his metamorphosis from British to Scottish as he was unceremoniously dumped out of Wimbledon in straight sets by Gregor Dimitrov. As I sit on the comfortable leather sofa, the heavyweight contender walks in clad only in a towel and sits down on the chair next to me. There can’t be many more intimidating sights than a 6’ 7”, eighteen stone heavyweight in a towel. As the Scot trudges off centre court to the disappointing sighs of thousands, Fury points to the
screen and exclaiming ‘That’s typical of British sportsmen, fucking chokers. Murray isn’t too bad but the rest are shit, especially the England football team, overpaid shitbags. Bollocks, an absolute load of shit. Considering they’re all English, they’re all fucking dogshit and bottlers. I’m not interested in football, it’s shit. I didn’t watch the games I went the Trafford Centre with my boys and we had a few coffees and talked to some women instead. Same with tennis, you get your hopes and they let you down.’ With the unreliable nature of British sports, I asked Fury if he was someone we could rely on to light a fire under British sport. ‘As a fighter, I’m unpredictable and I just don’t give a fuck. My boxing is how I do everything, over the top or nothing. Just all-out attack and no game plans or anything. People can say what they want outside the ring, in the ring it’s my way or the highway.’ I ask the Manchester fighter what his opinion of 2012 Olympic gold medallist Anthony Joshua. Initially, he refuses to be drawn too much on the Londoner but eventually his mischievous nature gets the better of him and the coversation takes a quite unexpected turn. ‘He’s just a boxer. Let them build him up to 20-0 and let me make a shitload of money from him. Let him be a role model, I don’t want to be one. All I can talk about is money, women and alcohol now. Jagerbombs to start, whiskey to finish. It’s hard work now if I smash them Jagerbombs, I’m fucked for days afterwards! I can talk about sex, money and going out on mad benders, that’s all I want to do in my life. As I said, I don’t want to be a role model. I’m bad for it and all I can say is if you’re going the brass house, get yourself
Follow Tyson Fury on Twitter. @Tyson_Fury
two or three women and neck a load of Viagra then finish off the night with whiskey.’ Fury’s manager Asif Vali enters the room bearing a plate of watermelons. A nice touch considering Vali is himself observing Ramadan at this time. The 26 year old devours the watermelon and asks me a question I never thought I’d be asked by a heavyweight contender. ‘Do you want to see my bollocks?’ After a very short period of consideration, I reply in the negative and tell him that, luckily, I have my own should I ever wish to see a pair of wrinkled testicles. Quickly I gather my thoughts and think of a question to ask him, just in case he decides to ignore my answer and pull away his towel! Unfortunately, or fortunately, the first question that springs to mind is to ask Fury how preparation has been going for his bout with Chisora. Fury decides to ignore this and instead, picking up on my Liverpool accent, decides to enlighten me with his views on fellow scouser David Price ‘He cost me a fortune the big, silly cunt. Hopefully we can still fight because it’s big money. All he needs to do is knock out a few more lemons, Being honest, he only knocked out 15 lemons before he got beat anyway. He stepped up and got knocked out and it was stupid matchmaking. It’s not his fault, it’s his promoters that matched him stupidly.’ Eventually Fury acquiesces and adopts a more serious tone as we discuss the training camp and preparation. Previously, Team Fury had made their camp in France and Belgium, but for this bout they have trained in the less glamorous surroundings of Bolton. In May, Team Fury opened their new gym at the former Robin Hood pub on
Halliwell Road. In camp with Fury are fellow heavyweights Eddie Chambers, cousin Hughie and David Allan, as well as Isaac Lowe, Young King Fury and Gian Carlo Liesdek. ‘Training is going good. I always train well I’m a good trainer. No injuries so far and nothing to complain about. Hopefully I’ll be injury free come fight night and go in there and do a good job. I had a good camp last time and, being honest, since my 17th fight I’ve had one good camp after another. I’ve been very fit for all my fights. It’s just boxing training, it’s nice to be near home but boxing training is the same whether you’re in Africa, America or Bolton. It’s just punch a bag, keep fit then go and fight. There’s no rocket science to boxing, it’s just eat, train and sleep you get that right and you’ve won half the battle.’ At the first press conference for the bout the heavyweight flipped over a table and, despite that action, the contender insists the bout doesn’t need any antics or stunts in order to pique public interest. ‘This fight doesn’t need any bullshit. It’s a good fight between two quality British heavyweights. I’m undefeated and he’s mixed in at a good world level. It’s a fight for the right to fight Wladimir Klitschko. One of these British heavyweights is going to fight for a world title and if you’re interested get your arse down here to see, if you’re not then don’t watch it. There’s interest because it’s a heavyweight fight and anything can happen. Everyone likes the heavyweights and there’s a chance one of us can win a title. It’s good for British boxing and it’s good for Britain because it’s only British boxers who are doing their bit. The rest just let us down, as always.’
As the interview edges towards it’s natural conclusion, I ask Fury one more time what he thinks of his former and future opponent and if he’s looking forward to the fight on July 26th. ‘I’m excited for the fight because I’m going to get a lot of money after it. As for boxing, I don’t like it. Never have done, never will do, purely business. ‘I used to be a fight fan but now I can’t stand it. It’s dogshit mate. I only do it for money, it’s only making the dollars that I’m interested in. ‘I beat Chisora when I was a child and now I’ll beat him when I’m a man. He’s bullshit, he couldn’t beat me if he had a hammer in his hand. He’s shit, just like the other heavyweights. Line ‘em up and I’ll knock em down. I don’t need to be any different. I beat the shit out of him easily last time and I was only a kid and inexperienced. If that performance happens again, I’ll be happy but this time I’m knocking him out. ‘I’m not interested in being a hero, boxing is just a business. I’m not interested in being a fan favourite. I don’t care if there are ten people in there or 20,000, I’m going there to do a job and get out of there.’ The interview finishes. I shake hands with Fury and Vali and make my way down the plush, deep red carpeted stairs to put on my shoes and await the taxi to take me home. As I ponder the interview that just took place, the main thing I take from it are the Laws According to Tyson:
No. 1: Be healthy. Your health is the most important thing money and doesn’t come into it. No. 2: Be right with God. No. 3: Stay out of trouble at all costs. No. 4: Be right with those who are right with you.
‘I’m not interested in being a hero, boxing is just a business. I’m not interested in being a fan favourite.”
Photography Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom Sport
into the The ‘Real Gone Kid’ is ready and willing to take his chances for world title glory. Words Nate Williams
lot has changed and that was deemed fast since Paul progress but I was stopping a Smith turned lot of my opponents back then. professional At the time, four or five fights a in 2003 after year was the norm but the game a successful has changed. If you look at a amateur career where he good prospect like our Callum, represented England at the he’s fighting eight times a year 2002 Commonwealth Games. on bill after bill. It’s a whole There is more money to be different game now.” made and more opportunities Despite the long to fight in big arenas in front apprenticeship, Smith has of a growing audience for any worked his way up to number brand of title before a fighter three in the WBO’s official has even surpassed double rankings and has seemingly digits in his career. secured a September 27th shot For example, Paul Butler won at Arthur Abraham. He says his a coveted British Lonsdale belt recent rise in form has been due in his ninth fight before going on to the help and advice of trainer to win his first world title after Joe Gallagher, who stepped in reaching 16-0. At the same point at a time when Smith wasn’t in Smith’s career and he was enjoying boxing as much as he still fighting on bills in Everton used to in the amateurs. Park Sports Centre and on the “A lot of my recent success verge of landing a Central Area has been down to Joe,” he said. middleweight title fight with “You’ve got to be happy where Dean Walker. So why did it take you are and you’ve got to be a talented kid who had boxed doing the right training. I wasn’t for his country so long to get a happy in other places before shot at a title? I met Joe and started training “That’s how boxing was at with him. It made me happy and the time,” said Smith, who I’m a better fighter. I’m more has 35 wins in 38 fights and capable of fighting at the top is the current British superlevel now that I’m 31 more than I middleweight champion. was at 25 or 26. “Look at everyone else“I’m keen about boxing Darren Barker turned again and I’ve got my over in 2002 and I interest back because Follow think he had his first I’m learning new Paul Smith title fight at a similar things all the time. on Twitter. time to mine. When If you go to work @PaulSmithJnr I turned pro back where you do the then there were the same thing day in likes of Ricky Hatton and day out, you’re and Joe Calzaghe who not going to enjoy both had 20 something it. If you go in and learn fights before they went for a new stuff, it’s a good place to title and got tested. be because you’re happy in a “Nowadays, if you’re a good good environment with good prospect, you’re fighting for a friends and it doesn’t really feel title before you’ve even had 10 like work then. Joe has been a fights. The game has changed revelation for me and his ability and it’s a whole different level as a coach is top class and that’s now and that’s how it works. why I have this chance at a When I first turned pro, Ricky world title.” Hatton was having three fights Smith is the eldest of four in 12 months whereas I had history-making boxing brothers seven in my first year as a pro and the sport has always
been at the core of his family household. Growing up, he has good memories of watching Mike Tyson fights and the classic Rocky films before heading to the Rotunda ABC gym on Lambeth Road for his first boxing lesson at the age of nine. “We’ve always been around boxing. I remember when we were kids, we were always watching boxing, Rocky films were on all the time and I was a big fan of Tyson. I remember when my mum came into my room to wake me up when I was about seven to tell me Tyson knocked Bruno out. It was five in the morning but she knew I would be buzzing over something like that. I’ve always read the magazines and when I was around nine, I went to the local boxing gym and had my first session and then that was it. I was hooked.” As with any pair, or in this case double pairs of siblings, if one is good at something then the other is going to try and emulate his older siblings talents and use him as a role model for the future. Now that all the Smith’s are in their adult years, the eldest sibling finds himself looking up to his younger brothers to drive him forward. “It’s like any other family and my brothers do look up to me but we’re all adults now and I see myself looking up to them,” said Smith. “They are my best mates and we always go out together but I copy things they do now. They used to copy me when I was growing up. Stephen copied me, Liam copied Stephen and Callum copied Liam and that’s how it worked for a bit. Once they followed suit, they realised they had a talent for it and developed their own traits.” Smith went on to win a prestigious ABA title and travelled around the world boxing for his country before earning the opportunity of a lifetime in the early stages of
“I wasn’t happy in other places before I met Joe and started training with him.” LIVEFIGHT.COM 37
his professional career. From Liverpool to Los Angeles, Smith was drafted into the third season of knockout boxing TV series The Contender where Smith gained advice from former pound-for-pound legend Sugar Ray Leonard. “I learned a lot from that,” Smith said. “I learned that I was a good fighter and I belonged at that level if not better. Since then, Sakio Bika (WBC supermiddleweight champion) has gone onto win a world title and I’m going to be fighting for a world title soon so my talent’s been proven in a way. There was some decent fighters on there and to be around Sugar Ray Leonard all the time and to be with that whole experience has set me up with all the Americans because I love it over there. I spend a bit of time over there whenever I can and there’s a possibility of me moving over there when I retire.” Upon his return from a split-decision victory over David Banks, Smith racked up domestic success with an English title win and another split-decision verdict to claim his first British strap against fellow scouser Tony Quigley. However, the chance to claim the Lonsdale belt outright was taken from him following knockout defeats to rivals James DeGale and George Groves. Smith said he would jump at the opportunity to erase memories of those losses with victory in a rematch but insists he has to bring a WBO bargaining chip to the table first.
Photography Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom Sport
“I have to achieve the next goal and that is to win a world title.”
“I’ve always said I don’t feel real pride when I look back at what I’ve done in the pros but I do for the amateurs.” “I’d love to have the opportunity to fight them again but I can’t have them fights until I bring something to the table. With respect, DeGale and Groves are ahead of me and they both beat me for a fact. I’d love the chance to put it right and especially the Groves fight. There were so many things that went wrong for me that night- I snapped my hand in the first round so I had to box but he caught me with a perfect shot and finished me off. I’ve always said I’ve got a massive amount of respect for both of the lads, I’ve shared a ring with them, I’m not a bad person and nothing was personal against them. “I respect them and admire them both. I’d love a chance to share a ring with them again and what better time to do it than for a world title if I have a good fight against Abraham and win it. James DeGale will win a world title and it would be a travesty if he doesn’t. George Groves will have his chance again to become a world champion and if he doesn’t that is very wrong.” Some boxing fans and “experts” may not believe Smith has the ability to upset Abraham, who has 40 wins in 44 fights and has fought the number two pound-for-pound rated Andre Ward. Nonetheless,
“Smigga” is confident that his style is made for the German champion and he is prepared to give Abraham a hard night. “I can do a lot in this fight but I’m going to be respectful towards him,” Smith said. “I’m going to sit at the press conferences and be thankful for the opportunity, shake his hand and then on the night, me and Joe have got a great plan where I’ll be at my very, very best and I’ll be stronger than I’ve ever been. I’m in training for it now and we’re 17 or 18 weeks away from the fight. I’m going to make sure that people see the best Paul Smith and I do feel like I can give him problems.” Whether Smith accomplishes a dream victory and wins a world title or not, there is one achievement that no one can take away from him for a long time. Smith’s knockout victory over Tony Dodson to reclaim the British title meant he joined his younger brothers Stephen and Liam in Britain’s history books as the first family of boxers to hold three British titles at the same time. “It was a great achievement but we don’t rest on that. We want to go one better now. Callum will win the British and that makes four, which I don’t think will ever be repeated again. It’s not at the same time but it’s four British champions in one family and one household.” The talented triple were honoured by the city of Liverpool’s mayor but Smith thinks the record will be taken one level higher on the world stage. He believes Stephen, Liam and youngest brother Callum all have the ability to become world champions at some point in their careers. “It’s a challenge for all of us to reach the top and all win a world title. What a fantastic achievement that would be because it’s not beyond imagination- it’s very realistic.
I’ve got a world title shot, Stephen’s one fight away from his and I think everyone’s got Callum to get his one day and I think he will get there. As for Liam, you ask any trainer in the country and they will say he is the best out of the four of us. I rate Liam massively and his boxing brain as well as his ability will get him there without a doubt.” Behind all the Smith Brothers success is one very proud father, Paul Smith Senior, who has been there from the very start at countless training sessions and many big fight nights for his boys. No one could possibly blame him if he was supportively vocal of the triumphs of his gene pool. Having personally never met the man, I asked if he is at all boastful and Smith replied: “My dad’s mates are the type of people who will just tell him to shut up. They know about us as well as he does. He’s obviously proud and so are we as a family but we have to keep going and we have to keep winning.” Even though, Smith has undoubtedly achieved a lot in boxing over many years of dedication, he said it would take some time to sink in as he concentrates on his ultimate goal of winning a world supermiddleweight championship. “I’ve always said I don’t feel real pride when I look back at what I’ve done in the pros but I do for the amateurs. I’m always buzzing when someone mentions ABA titles because I won one and that was what I wanted most when I started boxing. That was 12 years ago and now it finally sinks in so I think 10 years after I’ve retired, I’ll sit back and think about when I won a British title along with my brothers and I’ll be proud then. At the minute, I can’t afford to rest on my laurels because I have to achieve the next goal and that is to win a world title.”
Photography Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom Sport
“We want to go one better now. Callum will win the British and that makes four, which I don’t think will ever be repeated again.”
Martin Murray picking up a world title could be one of the safest bets of 2015. The Jab meets a man who finally has a plan. Words John Evans
Photography Jeff Ellis/ African Ring
just enjoying my life a lot more now. “It’s good to have dates to work towards. They treat me with respect and treat me well and it’s good to be part of a team like Golden Gloves. I really can’t moan. My life used to be at a standstill in between fights not knowing if a fight 5 was happening or not but now I know what I can and can’t do. My mate’s getting married soon in Cyprus and I know I can go to it. On the other hand, my brother’s getting married in September and I know I can’t go because it’s abroad and I’ll € be in training camp. At least I know what I can and can’t do. It’s better than being stuck in a place where you’re always thinking ‘what if?’ “There’s already been a story out that they’re thinking about setting Follow up a Golden Gloves Martin Murray UK branch. They’re on Twitter. gonna attract some @MartinMurrayBox fighters because with these men you get properly looked after and you feel part performed well against of a team. Sturm and superbly against “I met Prince Albert. It Martinez, there was always was the first time I’ve met him. an element of the brave Brit, In fact, I did get invited over battling against the odds. for the Grand Prix but couldn’t Against Bursak, Murray go because I was focused on systematically shut down a training. His wife, the Princess, former European champion and well her dad is Michael punished him as the fight wore Wittstock and he’s the ones on. Murray has always insisted who organises all the shows that the better the opponent, with Rodney. I know Mike well the better he will perform and and he’s a cracking bloke. It’s the first time I’ve met the Prince he hopes to be on a constant upward curve from here on in. but with fighting there I guess “It was great fighting over I’ll meet him more often.” I tell Murray that the comment, there in Monte Carlo. It’s such a prestigious and high class place. “His wife, the Princess” struck It was a big event over there home to me just how far he and I was on billboards. The has come since the frustrating, weigh in and fight were actually opponent-less days of last in the casino too. Everybody summer. who came over supporting me “I know. It’s surreal.” loved it and I think we broke a Murray looked to have taken world record for the number of his game to another level people from St Helens wearing against Bursak. Although he €
oxing is the equivalent of a high stakes game of poker. Going all in at the wrong moment or being over cautious when an opportunity presents itself can result in a swift exit from the top table. Plenty of gamblers – whether through bad luck or poor play – lose. Some get lucky and win enough to return another day. Tales of a punter turning the tables and actually becoming the house, however, are unheard of. Martin Murray, 28-1-1 (12 KO’s), is that punter. Twice, the 31 year old has placed the big bet; travelling from St Helens to Germany and Argentina to take on excellent world champions. Both times, he performed with skill and enjoyed success but saw first Felix Sturm and then Sergio Martinez rake his chips away before he could cash them in. Those setbacks are behind him and last month, Murray settled nicely into his new boxing home in the gambling mecca of Monte Carlo with a twelve round decision over Max Bursak. For the first time in his career, Murray is the one with the seriously influential friends and backers. He holds the house edge. His new promoters, Golden Gloves, should ensure that the days of him facing stacked odds are over. “It feels good,” Murray told The Jab. “It feels good to be treated well and with a bit of respect. I’m out of training at the moment – even though I haven’t been out of the gym – but even now, I’m able to enjoy doing normal stuff with my family. There’s a lot more structure to my career now. In the past I haven’t known of I was coming or going so I’d be in the gym wondering whether a fight was going to come off. I’m
Photography Monaco Press Centre Photos Jeff Ellis/ African Ring
“It was great fighting over there in Monte Carlo. It’s such a prestigious and high class place.” shirts and ties! “We all loved it and the performance was better. We’re making steps forward and we’re looking forward to the future. Everything’s going well at the moment. Bursak’s good, solid and European level but honestly, if you could have seen my face when I got out of the ring there wasn’t a mark on me. The only marks I got were where he got inside and caught me on the back of my head. I didn’t get touched and we totally shut him down. That was the plan really. We wanted to totally outbox him and show we were a level above him. I
thought everything went well. We’re making steps forward and progress now. “Working with Rodney [Berman] and Golden Gloves is great. They’re singing the same song as us, on the same page as us and we all want the same thing.” Monte Carlo attracts big money gamblers from around the world and Murray will be hoping that Golden Gloves can use their power and connections to tempt some of the world’s top middleweights to the South of France to stake their silverware. New IBF champion Sam Soliman is
an attractive target for every ambitious middleweight on the plant but, understandably, it seems like the 40 year old Australian is seeking to get some leverage from his new title. “I leave everything up to Golden Gloves but from what I’ve heard, Sam Soliman’s been on but he’s asking for too much money. The WBC have always been right with us though so we’re sticking with the WBC route. The only thing I’m certain of though is my dates. I’m fighting on October 25th and I’m looking forward to getting back over there.”
s illiam eey W ate ee ds N y White r o W h grap o t o Ph
f you are a fan of boxing movies I am sure you are familiar with Russell Crowe’s portrayal of 1930’s legend James J. Braddock in The Cinderella Man. The New Jersey fighter had his licence revoked and became flat broke during the Great Depression before going on to become heavyweight champion of the world in one of the sport’s great stories. We live in different times now of course with more money and better facilities available but the principal remains the same for most fighters where boxing is the sole source they need to provide for their families. There is no better modern-day example of this than the fighting career of Liverpool’s Stephen Smith as the 28 year-old WBC super-featherweight contender closes in on a dream world title shot with Japan’s Takashi Muira after enduring a journey of trial and tribulation. After a glowing amateur career, Smith turned professional with Frank Warren and delivered knockout after knockout as he built up an impressive record. However, things took a turn for the worse in September 2011 after he suffered his first career defeat with a knockout blow by talented Welshman Lee Selby. A determined Smith went straight back in the gym as he waited for his next fight. After a few delays between bouts, Smith felt he had no choice but to leave and join Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport to reignite his career. “I’ve switched promoters now and joined Matchroom and the waiting round for fights is mainly what led me to signing with Eddie,” Smith said. “It’s a good move for my career and I’m so close to a shot at a world title, which Ifully intend on winning. If I can become world champion after all the tough times I’ve had
“Paul and his mates went to the Rotunda ABC gym and I followed in and wanted to start. They said I was too young but I came back when I was 10 and that’s how it started for me.” outside the ring, then it would be a dream come true.” The former British and Commonwealth featherweight champion, who has an improved record of 19-1 since the Selby loss, has a young family to provide for and after spending a day inside trainer Joe Gallagher’s Bolton gym, this writer realised that Smith is fighting for more than just a prestigious belt. As Smith was pounding away on the heavy bag, his one yearold son Frankie waddled in with his girlfriend Jade and after pausing to say hello, Smith’s pace quickened as he unleashed every ounce of energy he had left- spurred on by his supportive family. “Anyone who knows me will know how close I am to my son Frankie and how much he means to me more than anything in boxing,” he said. “His birth was perfect timing because I’d had my first defeat as a pro, which led to me being out of the ring for 12 months and I wasn’t really earning. My son was born August 17 and I didn’t have a fight until June 28 the following year. It wasn’t my fault because I was still in the gym training but for the first year of his life I wasn’t earning because I wasn’t fighting. It was a tough time and I was going
through a lot of stuff but it was good timing when he came along because since he’s been born, I’ve excelled and won all of my fights by knockout. It’s all because of Frankie because he gives me that extra push in training and when I see him before I leave the house, it makes me realise what I am doing this for. He gives me the drive to make sure I go out there, keep on winning and keep providing for him.” Boxing has always been a family affair for Smith and his brothers Paul, Liam and Callum who are just as successful. They always knew they were going to be huge hits in the ring from their school days as Smith recalls their many sparring contests against each other in their own living room. “We always used to run home from school and then the first two that got home would get the gloves on and then the other two would be judges. The four of us just used to get home and spar all the time and the rules were winner stays on. A lot of the fights would end up being draws and then we would have an extra round because one would go with a decision for one person, and the opposite would go for the other so we would have an extra round to decide the winner. That’s how it was in
our house-we boxed until our mum got home and soon as we heard the key in the door, we would stash the gloves behind the couch and we’d sit on the couch with red faces because we knew she’d kick off because we were boxing. That’s what we always did and it’s one of my favourite early memories of boxing.” The eldest brother Paul kick-started this talented trait, as he went on to win a Commonwealth Games silver medal in Manchester in 2002. Stephen was also boxing at the time in the Rotunda ABC gym but after Paul’s sour loss to Canada’s Jean Pascal, “Swifty” set a target of going one better
four years later in Melbourne. “I used to follow Paul round anyway when I was younger,” he said. “Paul and his mates went to the Rotunda ABC gym and I followed in and wanted to start. They said I was too young but I came back when I was 10 and that’s how it started for me. I won nine nationaltitles in boxing but one of my proudest moments was winning Commonwealth gold in Australia. It was a proud feeling to stand on top of that podium but all I could think about was when Paul lost to Jean Pascal in the final four years ago. I was gutted for him and I cried my eyes out because it hurt me that
much to see my brother lose. It was a goal I set myself to try and emulate Paul but try to go one better and win the gold so I didn’t feel like I felt that day when Paul lost. To set myself a goal and then achieve it was a very proud feeling.” Smith could have turned professional back then but he decided to stay on for the Beijing Olympic qualifiers. However, in amateur boxing sometimes decisions don’t go your way and that was when Smith decided to move on. Although, Smith said turning professional felt like a step backward at first because he went from fighting the elites of the head-guard wearing
amateurs to the likes of slow myself that night and I think I’ve and lazy journeymen. proved that in my last run of “Without disrespecting bouts- I’ve had seven fights and anyone, when I turned knocked six out and hopefully professional it was like the level people can now see that I’m a had dropped from fighting elite lot better than that,” he added. level fighters and champions “Lee’s done the same since at the World Championships that fight like I have and we both and Olympic qualifiers. Then have the ability to win world you turn pro and you’re fighting titles and hopefully, down the journeymen who have like won line, it would create a massive four and lost 30 odd fights so domestic fight for us both.” it was a bit of a shock to the Smith wasn’t de-motivated system for me and I was finding like most fighters would be after it very easy. I was blowing tasting a bitter punch like that people out of the ring early and he went straight to his team when I wanted to be stepped up for an immediate comeback- but and I won my Commonwealth he would have to get on a plane title in two years, which was to Germany for his next fight. considered as quick progress “After the fight, I said to back then.” my team that I wanted to be After wiping out every man straight back in the ring. The that stepped in front of him, bill I was supposed to be on in Smith got his first real test December got cancelled and I against Selby where everything said to the office, ‘Look, I’m not changed after a lightning quick, happy about bills falling through well-timed punch. Smith said all the time and I just want a he didn’t feel at his best leading fight.’ They said there was a up to the fight as complications bill next week in Germany so I outside of the ring led to a went out there, knocked the guy long, physically-draining camp. out in the opening round and And he hopes that he will get a started making my comeback.” chance to set the record straight Smith is a fighter who believes with Selby in a future rematch. in fate and signs of destiny and It was more to do with the fact on the night of his son’s first that I had a frustrating build up birthday he knew his luck was to be honest,” he said. about to change on August 17 “I was due to fight on July 9th 2013 in Cardiff against Gary but then the bill got cancelled. Buckland for the British superThey moved all the fights a featherweight crown. week later but Paul was getting After four fast paced rounds, married that day and I was his Smith unleashed a punch fuelled best man so I had to pull out of by so much fury and frustration fighting. They turned round and that his thunderous uppercut, said that I would be fighting the which was later named knockout first week of September, which of the year, laid Buckland out was only five weeks camp and cold on the mat. He also joined that’s not enough time to stop his brothers Paul and Liam and start again so I trained right in making British history as a through with no breaks. triple of Lonsdale belt I did like a 17-week holders from the same camp! I was burned household, which Follow out when it got to gave the celebration Stephen Smith fight night and got of little Frankie’s on Twitter. @SwiftySmith caught with a good birthday an added shot and the rest is boost to end 12 history.” months of hardship. “I wasn’t really “I’ve never threw a
punch better than that,” Smith said. “It was a great moment for me and I’ve got all the respect in the world for Gary Buckland and I still think he’s one of the toughest lads in British boxing. He’s took some great shots in his career and he has a good reputation for it so to knockout someone like him was a great achievement in itself because it was literally a perfect punch. I slipped his jab, threw an uppercut and it landed perfectly. I couldn’t have timed it any better. “It was a very personal moment as well because I made history with my brothers as British champions and it was also Frankie’s first birthday. When I knew the fight was on his birthday, it made me jump at it even more and I thought it was a real sign of change because I believe in things like that. Like I said, for the majority of Frankie’s first year, I wasn’t earning but then his first birthday comes round and I’m British champion after producing the knockout of the year so it made that night even more special.” Now that he has been progressed quickly to the top end of world rankings by his new team at Matchroom after more knockout successes, Smith has more big nights ahead of him including a possible world title showdown in Japan with WBC champion Muira. “I’ve been watching Takashi Muira and I think he’s a good world champion, he’s not there by accident but he is just another fighter who I believe I can beat and I’ll prove it if I’m given my chance.” If he does get his chance, Smith will look to cap-off his nightmarish 12 months with a Braddock-style ending by achieving his dream of winning a world championship with the support of a loving family behind him.
Post Mortem of the Wembley show. Words Alex Gomez
Photography Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom Sport
ots of hairy hardcore boxing fans that I have spoken to in the last couple of weeks seem pretty depressed, now that the epic Carl Froch vs George Groves rematch is finally done and dusted. “It feels like two days after Christmas time” one friend sobbed “You know, that feeling as a kid when you have been secretly feeling your presents for weeks and then when you’ve finally opened them all and played with them - pretty depressing!” If Wembley was all the presents under the tree, then shortly afterwards Miguel Cotto vs Sergio Martinez must have been that surprise late gift that came from your auntie a few days afterwards that nobody forecasted. I suppose that depressing mood is perhaps the biggest compliment you can give to Eddie Hearn, Sky Sports and last but certainly not least, Froch ‘n Groves. Many thought it would be too ambitious, too God damn big, that it would be torrential rain or that the undercard wouldn’t amount to much. Other critics believed it wouldn’t sell 60,000 let alone 80,000 plus. But all the naysayers were proven decidedly wrong. Straight off the bat it sold tens of thousands of tickets in every price range. The pay-per-view naysayers who ‘already pay enough for our subscriptions’ who claimed they wouldn’t cave in and buy the event, most certainly did (even if they won’t admit to it). Without the exact figures, all we can say so far is that Sky have whispered that the Wembley show broke the previous all-time highest PPV figure of 1.2m which was set by Ricky Hatton when he challenged Floyd Mayweather in
December 2007. Froch already set the nonPPV Sky Sports record for his devastating display against the then-unbeaten IBF champion, Lucian Bute. So that is a gargantuan result that cannot be argued. The overall build-up put together by all the good folks at Sky Sports literally took the boxing fans to boiling point and kept them there for days in the run up to the event itself. The Sky team worked bloody hard trying to give this momentous rematch the justice it deserved and I honestly think that they achieved it. Meanwhile online, there was practically world war across social media and boxing forums, as the both the Froch and Groves supporters locked horns and analysed every single morsel of their first encounter in the ring, looking for clues as to what went right and wrong for both fighters that November night. Even today there are social media arguments between both sets of fans, like some Miner’s Strike feud that time seemingly cannot heal. People say Benn and Eubank captured the public’s imagination and had more viewers – but that was back in the day of 2 newspapers and 4 television channels. I’d say given the low profile of boxing lately in the UK, that the success of Wembley easily supersedes anything that went previously. A single paying customer is worth a thousand free viewers in anyone’s books. The television shows like Ringside and so forth played their part well – but the reality is that it was Social Media and the Boxing Websites that truly made the fight as big as it was. The power of social media nowadays allows you to text either fighter directly on twitter, whilst sitting on the pan in the comfort of your own home
before going to work – and if you pressed the right buttons of Carl or George, you might have even received a reply (the tone of that reply would naturally depend on the tone of your own comment.) Even the last minute Froch vs Groves 2 show arranged online via Facebook.com, drew a massive live audience and the recordings afterwards saw several hundred thousand repeat-plays by internet boxing fans not just in the UK but around the globe. Whilst the ‘banter’ as people call it was mediocre between the pair, the tension was almost intolerable. When they say ‘you could have cut the tension with a knife’ I actually think you’d have needed a good chainsaw it was that dense. Whether those shows will hold any value in years to come is yet to be seen, in comparison to some of the grumpy comedy provided by Nigel Benn whilst in the company of his old mucker Eubank. But when Froch and Groves took to the air during that two week window prior to the fight, everyone was gripped. The fans expected Groves to get back into Froch’s head yet again the second time around, but the Nottingham man barely gave George anything to feed from. The less Froch took the bait, the more Groves began to choke. By the time the eagerly awaited face-off came around, boxing fans were wetting their knickers for that show alone, more than any domestic fight I can think off in the last couple of years. Such was the grip on fight fans by that point. “Don’t cry Froch !! hold it together” came the tweets thick and fast, but the Nottingham man held it down. The less that Froch would bite, the more Groves suffocated – until that grand finale handshake which saw the Hammersmith man lose his cool and try to yank Froch’s
arm from the socket over the table. Immediately the psychological analysts took to the boxing forums, with pro-Froch supporters goading their rivals that George had melted. George had previously scored himself ‘Rounds’ during each press engagement, ‘I definitely scored that round to me’ when Froch wouldn’t shake his hand and later pushed him whilst they both stood on the Wembley pitch. But the Face-Off saw The Cobra bank several rounds in one short appearance and take the lead in an out-of-thering battle nobody thought he could win. Froch won the TV confrontations but Groves fans still thought he’d not have enough to win the fight itself. The weigh in saw some more twists and turns, as Froch’s minders told of their anger when Team Groves bouncers arrived at Froch’s dressing room to turf him out because ‘George wants this room’. Later the hired meatheads tried to muscle into the final face off on the weigh-in stage, before the show’s promoter Eddie Hearn pushed them away. The intensity continued to rise. The big day arrived and the tens of thousands quickly filled into the vastly-transformed arena, including quite a few A-listers, some Royalty and even the great Max Branning. You know it’s a big fight when Gordon Ramsey is in the crowd (right Hatton fans?) Critics of the undercard were generally silenced, as one fight after another turned out to be pretty good fun and competitive. Joshua had a cameo role to play – but the likes of Mitchell and McDonnell both had to work hard for their corn. But both were rewarded with a knockout win to the delight of their supporters. The hardest test of the undercard, on paper at least, was that of
James Degale versus Brandon Gonzales. The Vigil Huntertrained American came into the arena unbeaten, but Degale gave him a sound thrashing and sent him quickly back to the showers minus his ‘O’. Dusk turned to night and the big screens showed Froch and Groves pacing their changing rooms to the delight of the thousands in the stadium. Punters flocked to grab a final beer whilst the punditry team all tried to justify their picks in the rematch. The atmosphere was electric. The lights dimmed, the ecstatic crowd all let loose with the cheering. A short delay outside the Groves dressing room - and then he finally emerged. All gloved up and looking like a man who meant business. He boarded the double-decker London bus which brought him out to the 80,000 in attendance, The Prodigy’s Spitfire pumped out from the speakers. The Froch fans booed, the Groves fans cheered – the months of waiting were now almost over. If you thought Groves meant business, then Froch was like Gordon Gecko. No bus, no magic carpet and no theatrics at all. Flanked by his brothers holding his belts aloft – he emerged to both boo’s and cheers in equal measure. It was moody and it was masculine. The sounds of We Will Rock You, gave way to AC-DC. Froch is a hardcore fan of neither band – but the music was a perfect fit. The fight was a completely different affair from the ‘Crash Bang Wallop’ of their first encounter. Froch took the centre of the ring behind compact stance and a raking jab. Groves circled and looked to ambush Froch. It sounds cheesy, but The Cobra fought exactly like a cobra – looking to sting Groves where he could with the jab and
make him second guess his own attacks. But Groves, an odds on favourite to become a world champion in the near future himself, put together lots of hard bursts that shook Froch several times. It was a nip and tuck affair with both men neck and neck throughout the early rounds. Froch had a plan, Groves was capitalising on Froch’s mistakes as he endeavoured to execute that plan. Round 7 saw George land some spiteful bursts and caught Froch with a real thundering punch, which reset his mind for a moment. But it was clear to the viewers (if not the commentators) that Carl was turning up the temperature and shortening the inches between them now. When we interviewed Froch for our maiden issue,he said categorically that he felt George’s shots lost their sting at the mid point - and as soon as he sensed that drop-off in power again, he would begin taking it to him. Round 8 was evident to that approach, as Froch opened up more than ever and afforded Groves plenty of material to work with. Groves was enjoying his fair share of the exchanges, deftly placing shots upstairs and downstairs whilst carefully evading Froch’s own heavy hands. But he made a mistake so simple, but yet so huge with 0.30 seconds of the round left, that he was completely poleaxed by a heavy right hand that Froch drilled right through his jaw bone. At first when he went down, the audience couldn’t believe or weren’t entirely sure what had just happened – and when the ref immediately waved it off you could sense a few “Oh shit” moments running through the lion’s share of the crowd. “Oh no, not another inconclusive stoppage” they thought as Groves began to leap up – but
“George’s head rung like a fairground punch bag, how he managed to stir himself and try to rise up is a testament to his guts and desire to win. Chinny? Nope, definitely gutsy.” that thought was dispelled as he almost fell over the referee. Just like the crowd, George’s mind had not registered what had happened. He was woozy but still high on adrenaline as he was assisted back to his stool. A moment passed that seemed like hours. But then the big screens lit up and if anyone had wondered what the hell had just happened, they were left with little doubt after what they were about to see. Groves was sliding left and right, but then he held his position for just a moment – the
target was right there, straight had all been put to bed with one in front of Froch and a hellish right hand. simple left-slap and a It was as perfect and as step in with the right conclusive as anyone Follow hand.. BANG. could have possibly Live Fight George’s head wished for and given on Twitter. rung like a the circumstances @LiveFight fairground punch surrounding their bag, how he first fight ending the way it did. managed to stir It was the ultimate himself and try to rise ending once and for up is a testament to all, for what I’d consider one his guts and desire to win. Chinny? Nope, definitely gutsy. of the most hostile rivalries ever settled in front of a record And that was it, the many post-war audience in British months of rubik’s cubes, television shows and publicity boxing history. 10/10
Yearnin’ Learnin’ Things are heating up for the sombrero wearing Northern Irishman. Words John Evans Photography William Cherry/Cyclone Promotions
s a sombrero wearing Northern Irish super flyweight, happy go lucky Jamie Conlan, 12-0 (8 KO’s), has always attracted attention. Over the past year though the exciting 27 year old has begun to display his talents more consistently and build a following based solely on his in ring performances. First things first though and let’s add another wrinkle to the Conlan character. The Jab can reveal that ‘The Mexican’ is a fan of - amongst others – soul legends Earth, Wind and Fire. A lot of Earth, Wind and Fire’s later lyrics were inspired by mysticism, Egyptian symbolism and, it could be speculated, a fairly high intake of nefarious substances. Luckily [or unluckily depending on your choice of pastime] you don’t need to go to anything like those lengths to imagine Conlan breaking into world class sometime in 2015. If he gets his way though, he won’t have to wait that long to make a significant impact. In fact, Conlan hopes to have his Belfast fans Dancing in September. I know, I know…….. The WBO European champion should make his next appearance on September’s huge outdoor bill at the Titanic Quarter. The card is built around Carl Frampton’s IBF super bantamweight title fight with Kiko Martinez but Conlan is hoping for a significant step up in class and an opportunity to steal the show. “What a chance it could be!” Conlan told The Jab. “I think all the local fighters would give their right arm to get on there. Imagine the atmosphere at an outdoor arena in front of 15,000 people or something and fighting a tough opponent on the undercard of a world title fight. I’d love it.” Holding the WBO European
title has given Conlan the been a great belt but look at the opportunity to get into the super flyweight’s in Europe and habit of preparing for long there’s not many great fighters championship fights but to be there. Hopefully we’ll go for a fully ready for the elite, he is different belt now. It’s moved fully aware that he needs to me on from fighting journeymen be asked serious questions in but now I feel like I need a the ring, not just the gym. With different belt. I need to go in the no European title at 8st 3lbs, direction of the Thai’s and South British fighters face a huge leap Americans who will take the from the to the tough Asian punches I’m throwing and make and South American energizer me work. That’s the progression bunnies that dominate the world I need. I need someone who’s scene. His last fight, against gonna push me more.” Hungarian Gabor Molnar is the Paul Butler has held the perfect example. Molnar was British super flyweight belt blown away in three rounds since November 2012 but his and Conlan didn’t need to be recent ascension to the IBF at full tilt. bantamweight title was perfectly “It was a weird feeling going plotted. Tough Mexicans Ruben in. I felt a bit lackadaisical and Montoya and Oreste Nieve I’ve never felt like that before allowed him to sharpen his skills in my life getting in to a ring. against hard, skilful operators. There were no nerves. It Butler successfully negotiated was like I wasn’t even the problems they posed going to fight. I got and proved his talent Follow clipped once or twice on the world stage. Jamie Conlan and woken up and Now it’s Conlan’s on Twitter. then I got the job turn. Alternatively, @JamieConlan11 done but after the there is the distinct first round I wasn’t possibility that happy with myself Butler will decide to at all. relinquish his British “I was maybe a bit belt and concentrate on overconfident. It was the world scene. If so, Conlan something they [his training could be offered a showcase team of John Breen and which would see him fight for Eamonn Magee] kept drilling in a prized Lonsdale belt but to my head. Eamonn told me would mean him remaining that some of his hardest fights at domestic level. were against guys that he was “I think Dean Powell did a supposed to blast out in a round great job with Paul Butler. He but they turned in to hard nights got him Mexican tough men because he didn’t put enough who pushed him for twelve effort in and, on the night, he rounds. He blasted everyone didn’t even acknowledge them. out at the start of his career In training I was focused but I and then he got in tough fights couldn’t really get up for it as which made him work. That’s much as I would for a tougher where he learned his trade fight. really. People like Oreste Nieva “To be honest, in the morning are great opponents who will getting up, I need a bit of fear. make you work for twelve I need to think ‘This guy could rounds. Not exactly life and knock your head off. Get up!’ death experiences but if you’re I like that bit of doubt. People gonna get clipped, they’ll clip doubting you and you have to you. They’ll take your shots and prove them wrong. keep coming. “The WBO European title has “They are gonna push me
Photography William Cherry/Cyclone Promotions
“To be honest, in the morning getting up, I need a bit of fear. I need to think, this guy could knock your head off. Get up!” down one of two routes. Whether that’ll be a British belt or a different one I don’t know. It will be a tough fight though. They are the kind of spars I enjoy and they’re the kinds of fights I’ll enjoy more.” “It’d be a tough choice! Jesus……” Conlan says when asked which road he’d prefer to be on in September. “I don’t think anyone could turn down the British title because of what it means. Everyone wants it first. Before you go on to anything else you want that British title. I’d just love it in the house to be honest. I think I’d pick the British title because of its prestige and what it means to every fighter
in Britain. Back in the day when you’d watch Sky, you’d only really see people like Ricky Hatton fighting for world titles. All the other fights were British title fights. Nowadays, the progression of British fighters means that more of them are able to fight for world title but I’d like the British title. I do think a tough, hard fight against a South American would be a delight for the fans though because he’s just gonna stand there and trade for 12 rounds!” Back to Conlan’s taste in music and I wonder if his usual poncho and sombrero ring walk outfit may well be replaced by an Earth, Wind and Fire
inspired jumpsuit and sunglasses and the Mexican mariachi music replaced by Boogie Wonderland. “I don’t know about that!” Conlan laughs. “I did get a lot of stick the other day because I did an interview in a pair of sunglasses. People were saying I looked like a Mexican drug lord because I had a beard, the hair flicked up and a big pair of sunglasses!” “I go through phases. Fleetwood Mac are actually my favourites but, yeah, I do enjoy some Earth, Wind and Fire! Once something’s on the internet you can’t take it back can you?”
welsh dragon Liam Williams ready to make his mark against Ronnie Heffron Words Michael J Jones Photography BoxingWales.com
ometimes Vassell some 18 months ago. in boxing a The confident Williams has no young fighter’s doubt who will prevail on July reputation 26th as he explains… precedes him. “People think I’m Take Clydach inexperienced but in this fight Vale prospect Liam Williams for I’ll show what I’m capable of. instance. The Welsh prospect is Heffron just plods forward and just 9-0-1 (4) after nearly three is very one-dimensional and I years as a pro but for some think I’ll beat him with my ability. years now his name has been I’ll take the fight as it comes but offered to me on numerous I feel I can stand with him or occasions as a kid to watch… box him.” especially by his trainer Gary The talented Welshman was Lockett who is always generous a star amateur winning eight in praise for his unbeaten fighter. Welsh ABA titles as well as Although most neutral fight lifting the British title on five fans have probably yet to see occasions. He turned pro at 19 the heavy-handed Williams in in November 2011 and has action thus far, the Welshman stayed undefeated since. I ask gets the chance to show the the Frank Warren-promoted general public what he’s about Liam about his key fights so far on July 26th when facing (on starting with a blistering win in paper) his best opponent to bout number four…. date in former Commonwealth After three routine fourtitle challenger Ronnie Heffron. rounders, the Welsh puncher The bout doubles as an would flatten the usuallyeliminator for the British lightdurable Paul Morby in just 21 middleweight title and takes seconds of the first. As the place on the BoxNationtwo fighters were barely out of televised Tyson Fury bill the blocks, Williams detonated in Manchester. Although the a right hand to stagger his stage will be huge and the opponent before wading in with importance great; The Jab more power shots to bring the found the 22-year-old Williams referee’s prompt intervention. in a surly mood ahead Yet Williams to this day is of his biggest contest disappointed with the to date. explosive victory. Follow “I’m not really “I guess it was a Liam Williams concentrating good performance” on Twitter. on what Ronnie he understates @LiamdullW Heffron has left” modestly. “I wasn’t Williams tells The happy with it though Jab recently. “I’ve as it was over too fast only been watching his so I didn’t get anything last fight (vs John Thain). I out of it. I wanted to get wouldn’t like to say he didn’t win some rounds in but obviously I but a lot of people thought he just caught him.” lost that fight.” After four more impressive Last March, Heffron emerged wins the Welsh prospect would a points winner over the suffer his only blemish as a previously-unbeaten Scot pro when his bout with the Thain after ten give-and-take bigger Tyan Booth was ruled a rounds. The Oldham contender technical draw following three is now 15-1 (5) as many still lively rounds. An accidental question whether he’ll be able head clash left Booth with to overcome the trauma of a badly cut eye so, despite a crushing defeat to Denton Williams having dominated most
of the exchanges, it was ruled a draw. “I felt I was clearly winning the fight but he was a spoiler” remarks Williams. “It was a rough contest while it lasted and it is a little bit frustrating to have that (draw) on my record but that’s boxing and anyone who knows anything about boxing knows that I was on my way to winning that fight.” Since then the promising 22-year-old has only fought once; pounding out an eightround stoppage over Spanish opponent Yuri Pompilio in Germany. On the same card, gym-mate Enzo Maccarinelli would lose a WBO title bout to Juergen Braehmer as the Lockett camp endured mixed fortunes. Pompilio was just 5-8-2 but a decent test showing fast hands and a busy style while the fight lasted. The Welshman remained in control for most of the bout before overwhelming the Spaniard in the fateful eighth. To underline the performance, Williams was also hampered for much of the contest with a damaged hand. “Yes I was very happy with my performance” Liam tells The Jab. “I was pleased as we brought into the fight some of the things that we had been working on in the gym. My hand went in the second but I just pushed on and got on with it. Pompilio had been in with a few good boys and took a lot of good punches but I think the sheer amount of shots just got to him in the end.” Pompilio would suffer his first inside-the-distance reverse to the big-hitting Welsh contender. After another gruelling training camp under the stern Gary Lockett, Williams is hoping to be equally emphatic against Heffron on July 26th. He tells The Jab about his camp ahead of his most important fight to date in his short career…
“We have a very good relationship me and Gary. I respect him as a trainer but we are also very good friends too.” “Training has gone really well, I’ve been in camp seven or eight weeks as we knew this fight would be coming up. I’ve had great sparring with Alex Hughes who turned pro recently and is a good kid. I’ve also been sparring Nick Blackwell which has been good work.” “Both me and (fellow camp member) Lewis Rees have been in the team GB camp as amateurs with Ronnie Heffron and to me (Heffron) hasn’t changed much in all that time. He’s fairly strong and likes to come forward but I don’t think he punches very hard. I also
think the Vassell fight might have taken something out of him.” “I don’t want to give any of our tactics away but I’ll be working my jab and putting some pressure on and just keep it simple.” As previously stated, trainer and former pro Gary Lockett has been full of praise for his fighter, insisting Williams is destined for, at the least, the British light-middleweight title. I ask about the two men’s working relationship… “We have a very good relationship me and Gary. I
respect him as a trainer but we are also very good friends too. We don’t just train together we go for a coffee sometimes and have a chat all the time. I’m lucky to be in camp with a good set of fighters and it was also a pleasure working alongside (the recently retired) Gavin Rees.” Does the unbeaten Welshman echo his coach’s prediction of becoming a future British champion? “I do think that but we’re taking it one step at a time” the former amateur star replies. “After the Heffron fight we’ll take it from there.”
Boxing is a full time job. The few fleeting moments spent in the ring are the result of endless unseen hours in the gym. The Jab travelled to Liverpool to sample a â€˜Dirtyâ€™ Derry Mathews training session. Words John Evans Photography John Wharton
have decided to ask some of British boxing’s trainers and fighters if they would be willing to spare an hour or two to put me through my paces. Until another member of The Jab team volunteers to step in, I will continue to sacrifice myself for the good of the magazine. Hopefully, it is a chance to give the fans a small taste of exactly what the fighters put themselves through and an opportunity to meet some of our most well known names in their natural habitat rather than stuck in front of a camera. Derry Mathews recently relinquished the British lightweight title when it became clear that the after effects of the ear injury he picked up when beating Martin Gethin for the belt in May would prevent him from facing mandatory challenger Terry Flanagan on the undercard of the upcoming fight night on the 26th July at the Phones 4U Arena. With time running down on his career, Mathews wants bigger challenges and more titles. Mathews hasn’t been idle whilst he waits for his ear to heal and plans to be finalised. Having built up a good membership at The Derry Mathews Fitness Centre, ‘Dirty Derry’ had no qualms about up scaling his operation once the building which housed his old gym was condemned. His new gym – The Derry Mathews Boxing Academy - is housed at the Marybone Youth and Community Association and is way more than a few bags and a ring. Mathews has high hopes that the gym can become a real community hub. The gym is a full time commitment and as he still has professional goals to achieve before he hangs up his gloves, Mathews has signed management contracts with Daniel Kinahan and the
“If any other pro fighters in Britain – or the world – want to move away from home then I’m here in Liverpool city centre with great facilities.”
Follow Derry Mathews on Twitter. @derrymathews23
flourishing MGM Marbella gym. Preparing for his future fights in Spain will enable Mathews to switch off from the day to day worries of running a business and concentrate fully on his own career. “My new gym’s five or ten minutes away from where I grew up in Liverpool. I’ve had to move facilities and I’ve taken over a building from the Marybone Community Centre. Three weeks ago, the facilities were rotten. It was in a mess. We’ve turned it around and as you can see, there’s a lot of hard work going in. The place will be flying soon. “We’ve got a 16ft ring, eleven punch bags and strength and
conditioning and kettle bell classes coming. I’ve even got spinning classes coming soon. We’re gonna have a canteen and café serving healthy food which will be run by a dietician. We’ve got a weight training and cardio room. In August we’re gonna do a big launch and it’ll be special for the community. “The gym’s open from 6.30am to 9.30pm every day. I think we’ll get other pro fighters and their trainers coming to use our gym. I’m not one of those who says that the gym is only open to our fighters or our stable; any stable can come. If they want to come and section off part of the gym for two hours then they can
use it. If any other pro fighters in Britain – or the world – want to move away from home then I’m here in Liverpool city centre with great facilities. I’ll give them a set of keys if they want to train on their own. “I’m gonna be based in Marbella for my fights but a lot of my conditioning work will start here. I’m looking forward to it. “John did alright. It was a good, hard class. The boxing bit would have been better if we’d had the ring finished in time. We’d have done some sparring. Other than that though, the circuit was a killer and he got through it.”
bit of background, I’m 34 years old, 5ft 6in tall and tip the scales at 148lbs [although, if Floyd Mayweather or Canelo Alvarez are reading this, I’m willing to go to 152lbs if the money is right]. Style wise, I think I share similarities with Yuriorkis Gamboa; We’re both probably two divisions above our ideal weight class. Derry had roped in a few helpers to apply the finishing touches to the gym and build the ring so I completed a warm up whilst dodging various pieces of equipment. After a good 10 minute jog, it was on with the gloves and into the serious stuff. First up were three rounds of pad work with Derry. Jabs, double jabs, 1-2’s and rolling under a jab to fire in right hands
and left hooks. The emphasis was supposed to be on speed. In the 30 second ‘break’ between rounds, I would do step ups. The pads were followed by three rounds of a circuit consisting of deadlifts, clean and jerks and burpees. The weights were light and the sets were short so I don’t know what this says about me, but this was the most difficult part of the entire hour. I then had the joy of three sets of 20kg kettlebell swings. Between sets, an 85lb bag was slung over my shoulder and I would trudge the length of the gym for a minute. The exercise known as the Farmer’s Walk could easily have been renamed the Farmer’s Plod. Next, were three sets of 20
weighted jump squats from the seated position before the session ended with core work. Side to side medicine ball sit ups, weighted Vee sit ups and, finally, roll outs. Again, three sets of 20. It was good to get a hint of the routine Derry expects his fighters to put themselves through although I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what it was; a hint! If you’re ever in and around Liverpool, call in to the gym and join in a class. There is a good atmosphere and, if you know Derry, you’ll know that the jokes fly around constantly. The gym is a two minute drive from the Albert Dock and will be open all day, every day. If you have a gym, put The Jab through a workout let us know!
big boy big hop e s Welsh prosp Dale Evans o ect n career so fa his r. Words Mich a el J Jones Photograph y BoxingWa les.com
elsh prospect Dale Evans has had just eleven pro bouts so far in his pro campaign yet you could argue every one has had a story. A neat boxer with solid skills and thumping power, the Gary Lockett-trained Evans has mostly impressed in his career so far but there have also been some near-misses along the way. Last time out when facing the decent Mark Douglas for example, many picked the St Clears prospect to romp home to victory off the back of his eye-catching win over dangerman Erick Ochieng. Douglas however had other ideas and proved a handful; flooring Evans in the second before the bout was called off due to a cut to Evans’ eye and ruled a technical draw. The disappointing night left the 22-year-old Evans with a lengthy spell on the side-lines while his injured eye heals. Now 8-1-2 (3), The Jab caught up with the amusingly nick-named “Big Boy” recently to discuss his career so far and his hopes for the future.
(Lockett) had watched some of his fights and in each one Douglas would come out like a bull and make things rough so we planned to counter-punch him. On the night, I was looking to land counters but he didn’t box as expected and wasn’t there to be hit. He didn’t come out aggressively like we thought he would and it threw our game-plan off. He probably won all of the first three rounds (including the second-round knock-down) and I got caught with some silly shots but I still think I’d have taken over in the fight’s second half and got the stoppage.
The Jab: How hurt were you in that second round and will you be seeking a rematch on your return? I’ve already said that the rematch is the only fight I’m interested in once I’ve healed. When I’ve got that out of the way then I’ll go towards maybe a British title eliminator. I wasn’t hurt at all when I went down. It was one of those shots where I was on the canvas thinking “what am I doing here?” To be honest I struggled to get down to welterweight which I think also played a part in my Follow performance. Dale Evans
The Jab: How is your cut eye on Twitter. healing at the The Jab: All of your @DaleEvans_912 moment? fights seem to have It’s healed quite a a story let’s start bit thanks. They did with your pro debut a good job with the in October 2011 when stitches and although it’s you stopped the usually still a little tender I’m hoping durable Matt Seawright in just to be able to get back to full 43 seconds? training soon to get on a show Yeah that was a good win to in Cardiff in December. have on my record. I only have three knock-outs on my record The Jab: Berkshire’s Mark but I’m a lot more powerful than Douglas is a tough fighter that suggests and I think I’ll stop but you were expected to win a lot more through my career. without too much trouble. What went wrong on the night? The Jab: After your excellent We knew he was tough debut you then got held to a beforehand. Me and Gary draw against fellow Welshman
Leon Findley. Was that decision fair in your eyes? Yes it was probably fair but that was possibly the worst I’ve ever boxed. I was working as a labourer right up until the day of the fight then I struggled badly to make weight and had to wear sweat suits in the sauna etc. I made weight eventually but just didn’t perform. I went all out in the first two rounds, won them but then had nothing left and he took over. The Jab: With three more wins you took your overall record to 4-0-1 and got the call to enter Prizefighter in March of last year. You beat Sam Eggington in your opening bout before facing the formidable Mark Thompson in your semi-final match. He was 24-2 and the pre-tournament favourite that must have been a daunting task yet you won to reach the final? I’d watched Thompson fight before but when I saw his first bout in Prizefighter I saw some weaknesses. He was used to the pro set up and wasn’t very clever and just kept rushing in. I said I was just going to box him and keep my hands high and I stuck to that game-plan. I just knew the three-round format would get to him. It was also good to have observant people in my corner because when I can’t see something they will pick up on it. The Jab: You were edged on a split in the final to fellow unbeaten Glenn Foot. Did you think you did enough at the final bell? I thought it was a very close fight that could have gone either way. I’ve watched it back several times and sometimes I say “fair decision” and other times I think I won it. I was obviously over the moon to reach the final as it gave me massive exposure and everyone I know was chuffed I
got to be in the tournament. The Jab: In your next fight after Prizefighter you struggled to a one-point win over slippery journeyman William Warburton. You were very disappointed in the immediate aftermath of that performance how do you feel about it now? It was my first six-rounder and started too fast. I was tired by round three from loading up on my shots too much and you can’t do that against experienced guys like that. It wasn’t a good performance but I’ve learned from it. The Jab: After eight months inactivity you took a riskylooking eight-rounder against former English champion Erick Ochieng. You won a deserved decision in Cardiff was that your best performance to date? Yes that was probably my best win, he was a recognised fighter and many expected him to win. I stepped up in class and opponent that night and I always told Gary that I wanted to face the best in my career. I was very happy with the Ochieng fight and it was another good night in Cardiff. The Jab: Where would you like your career to be in a year or so? By then I’d like to be on the verge of a British title shot. All of the boys in the top fifteen or so are in the same boat looking to climb up the rankings for their shot. I just need those 50/50 fights against the top guys to get to where I want to be. The Jab: You’ve mentioned a few times in our conversation you struggle to make the welterweight limit; do you think you’ll move up a division in the near future? There will probably come a time but for now I’ll continue at this weight. I’m not big at the
We all get the benefit from excellent sparring. Lewis Rees is a very talented southpaw and Liam Williams is a good fighter too. I think both of them are a little ahead of me to be honest.” weight, I’d have the power to move up but maybe not the size. I walk around at 12st 7lbs and it’s always hard to make weight. The last fight was especially frustrating as I’d given up work to concentrate on my fight but I even found it hard then. I’m sure in time I’ll learn to control it better. The Jab: You share a camp with gym-mates like Lewis Rees, Liam Williams and other top Welsh fighters. Does working with talented guys like them give you extra confidence in your own ability? We all get the benefit from excellent sparring. Lewis Rees is a very talented southpaw and Liam Williams is a good fighter too. I think both of them are a little ahead of me to be honest. Our sparring is just like a real fight; we get our noses busted, we come out bleeding and bruised but it’s also enjoyable and it’s good to know you’ve
had top sparring before a fight. Sparring Gavin Rees was even beyond a real fight! The Jab: Your stable-mate Liam Williams faces Ronnie Heffron soon how do you see that one going? We know Ronnie Heffron is tough but I think Liam has that extra nastiness and won’t be bullied. Heffron showed against Denton Vassell he could hit a wall and I think Liam can take over in the second half of the fight. It should be an absolute war. The Jab: How closely do you follow boxing away from the ring? My boxing knowledge is absolutely terrible. Sometimes I’ve got a fight coming up and my friends will know all about my opponent and I have never even heard of them! I might watch the big fights but I subscribe to BoxNation and hardly ever watch anything.
THE Invasion of the body snatchers ●
Joe Frazier liked to say: ‘If you kill the body, the head will die.’ The Jab finds out what it is like to land and be on the receiving end of the perfect body shot. Words John Wharton
e’ve all seen it before. A gasp as the shot thuds into the mid-section, two seconds of relief as the victim continues to move and thinks they have absorbed the punch, the sharp intake of air, a gasp and then the collapse. They slowly sink to the floor with a grimace as the realisation sinks in that the shot has landed and that the fight is more than likely over. The body shot seems like it comes in and out of fashion. A whole bunch of fighters come along who are masters of the art but then it disappears again. In Britain in the early part of this century, we had lethal body punchers like Ricky Hatton and Michael Brodie but then they disappeared. Now, however, there is a new invasion of the bodysnatchers. The solar plexus and the floating rib are areas boxing fans are familiar with. The solar plexus, known correctly in anatomical terms as the coeliac plexus, is a complex network of nerves located in the abdomen where the coeliac trunk, superior mesenteric artery and the renal arteries branch from the abdominal aorta. It sits behind the stomach and in front of the diaphragm, on the level of the first lumbar vertebra. A blow to the stomach can cause the diaphragm to spasm, which results in difficulty in breathing. This is the source of the phrase ‘getting the wind knocked out of you’. The difficulty in breathing is compounded by the nausea that can often follow because of the blow to the plexus itself. The floating ribs refer to the 11th and 12th rib pairs. These are so called because they are attached to the vertebra and not to the sternum or cartilage of the sternum. The floating ribs
are small and delicate and, when damaged, can cause serious and debilitating pain to the sufferer. The Julio Cesar Chavez v Meldrick Taylor fight in 1990 is regarded as one of the great fights of that decade, and is widely remembered for the controversial nature of the stoppage. Referee Richard Steele stopped the bout with mere seconds left on the clock after Chavez floored Taylor in the twelfth and final round. The referee issued the standing eight count and was unsatisfied with Taylor’s response, so he stopped the bout with Taylor ahead on the scorecards and two seconds left on the clock. What is less remembered is how Chavez’s jackhammer like body attack systematically helped break Taylor down. By the end of the fight, the Philadelphian’s liver was lacerated and his kidneys were so badly damaged that he was urinating blood. Chavez’s relentless body attacks saw him dispatch many of his 86 stoppage wins by breaking them down. Many fight fans will remember him sticking to Edwin ‘Chapo’ Rosario like sweaty chest hair during their 1987 WBA lightweight title fight. Chavez ripped in vicious left hooks to the body to bring down the hands of ‘Chapo’ and landed right hands to the head that left him with a badly swollen left eye and led to the fight being stopped in the eleventh round. New York based Jamaican Mike McCallum was such an exponent of body punching that he earned the nickname ‘The Bodysnatcher’. Allegedly, the nickname was given to him by the legendary Thomas Hearns after one of their sparring sessions, when the two were gym mates at the famous Kronk Gym in Detroit. The nickname became more widely known after the Jamaican defeated
former light-middleweight world champion Ayub Kalule in a clinical display. He used his superior technical skills, mixing vicious and clever body punching with a clinical display of head shots before the Ugandan was retired by the ringside physician at the end of round seven. These past purveyors of the abdominal assault looked at one point that they may well go the way of the dinosaurs, a now extinct relic of a forgotten age. Sure, there were exceptions the Mexican fighters continued to lay siege to the body and who can forget Roy Jones Jr’s destructive knockout victory over Virgil Hill with a sickening body shot. Former two division world champion Ricky Hatton was a known and proficient body puncher and his left hook to the floating rib against Jose Luis Castillo remains one of the great body shots of the 21st Century. But the body shot seemed to disappear from the armoury of many fighters as head hunting became de rigueur. Just as Justin Timberlake promised to bring sexy back, there are new kids on the block who are at the forefront of the new invasion of the body snatchers. Ellesmere Port’s Paul Butler who defeated IBF bantamweight champion Stuart Hall on June 7th is one of those new kids on the block. The fighter is nicknamed ‘The Baby Faced Assassin’ in honour of one of his heroes, and another body punching master, Marco Antonio Barrera. Butler has demonstrated his body punching ability on numerous occasions and is widely renowned as one of the best body punchers in the British game. The Ellesmere Port man believes that the essence of a good body shot owes more to technique than just raw power. ‘It doesn’t need to be a very
hard shot when you work the body. It just needs to hit the right spot. It doesn’t matter if you tap one round the back or if you really sink one in. It’s about finding the right space and also disguising what you do. In my last fight in March, against Oreste Bernabe Nieva, I just placed it around the back. I tapped him to the head a few times, which brought his arms up, and then I just sunk it in right under his elbow.’ Body punching has been in the Butler armoury ever since he stepped into the ring, and he is following in the footsteps of another Ellesmere Port native, Paul ‘Livewire’ Lloyd, who himself was a fearsome body puncher. ‘The Baby Faced Assassin’ was utilising the body shot even before he was a teenager. ‘I’ve liked using the body shot since I was eleven years old. I had it drilled it into me that no one liked body shots. I remember my dad telling me that eleven year old kids wouldn’t be able to take them kind of punches, and the amount of kids I made throw up with those shots was unbelievable.’ The body punching style hasn’t always fared well in the amateur game, and Butler feels his style often worked against him in those days. ‘The fact that I went to the body so often didn’t work for me as an amateur because of the computer scoring. It didn’t suit me one bit and it was a nightmare. I had fights where I’d be drilling them to the body and then after the second round, I’d walk back to my corner and I’d be ahead or behind by one point. I remember I’d be thinking to myself, ‘what the hell is that all about?’ So a move to the pro game was always going to suit my body punching much better.’ The shot that put Butler on the radar of body shot aficionados
was the chilling left hook to the floating rib that almost scythed John Donnelly in half, during their vacant British superflyweight title fight at Liverpool’s Olympia Theatre. ‘When I fought Donnelly I always knew I’d get him to the body but I thought it’d be somewhere around the sixth or seventh round. Obviously, I got him early and I knew when it landed that the fight was over. You can train your body all day long and you can be hit with a medicine ball as many times as you want, but nothing can train a fighter to absorb a body shot.’ So why has the body shot seemingly been out of fashion for so long? Butler’s trainer Anthony Farnell attributes it to the fact that the skill is not being taught as it should be in gyms. ‘It’s always been there, but people have been neglecting it. One of the reasons may be that it is a very technical shot to throw. It’s also a risky shot, as you’ve got to stand in the pocket, right in front of the opponent, so you need to learn not to get caught when in close.’ When speaking to fighters and trainers, there appears to be one main theme when it comes to body punching. The essence of it appears to be making sure that your opponent doesn’t see what’s coming, as Farnell explains. ‘A main factor in a body shot is definitely disguising it. I’ve been caught by massive body shots before and not been hurt because I’ve seen them coming. I’ve also been caught by little taps that I didn’t see coming and it was agony. If you see a shot coming then you can tense up and it lessens the impact, so to me it’s all about disguising the punch. People think body punching is just in-fighting, but it’s much more technical than that. Julio Cesar Chavez and Mike McCallum were two of the best at it. McCallum would thud
in those shots to the same place every time. Chavez wasn’t an out and out banger, but he’d hit you in the same place all the time as well. I remember him fighting Andy Holligan where he threw that left hook to the body and it landed in the same spot every time. It just broke Andy down and that can be so disheartening.’ On Saturday 17th May we saw a phenomenal seven knockdowns from body shots in two fights at two different venues in Britain. First up was Callum Smith, who faced off with Tobias Webb and, after the most difficult round of his career, the prospect managed to readjust and use a concentrated body assault to break down his opponent. Smith, just like Butler, believes that body punching is an art form and he looks for is the right punch rather than throwing blindly to the body. ‘I’m looking for gaps really. Joe [Gallagher] always tells me to look for the space. You see a lot of fighters now throwing body shots like they do on the pads and they end up hitting the elbows. If you land them right, you can hurt anyone with them, even great body punchers like Ricky Hatton who got stopped in his final fight with a great body shot’. Smith also stresses the importance of ensuring the opponent is not expecting the shot. ‘To me, the most important thing is disguising it and making sure you don’t go hell for leather and, again, it’s important to hit them when they’re not expecting it. It’s the punches you don’t see that do the damage. There’s an art to body punching, you have to stand in the pocket and risk being hit yourself.’ One of the aspects that delight boxing fans is the delayed reaction when a body shot lands. That split second when
it looks like they’ve dodged the bullet and survived, but then the brain receives the painful signals the nerves have sent. ‘It’s great to see them land’ explains Smith, ‘especially when you see the delayed reaction. It gives you a chance to appreciate your work. When you get hit with a good body shot, it will hurt again the next time you land there. After I landed that first left hook to the body against Webb, I switched to throwing right hooks and it allowed me to go back to the left hook again to finish him off.’ We’ve spoken to those who love to unleash the body shots and cause the pain, but what is it like to those who are on the receiving end? Obviously, not many fighters are going to be willing to talk about the body shot that defeated them, so we’ve reached a compromise and spoken with a couple of fighters who were hurt or felled by body shots but still managed to triumph despite the near disembowelling suffered. Wayne Alexander was a popular fighter in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s. In September 2005, he squared off with Takaloo for the WBU lightmiddleweight crown. After a cagey first round, both fighters opened up. Towards the end of round two, Takaloo landed a rib crunching left hook that in the same motion almost doubled Alexander up and floored him. Miraculously, Alexander stayed upright and despite the agonising pain his face and posture showed, he somehow managed to land a picture book, once in a lifetime, left hook to send the Margate based Iranian to the canvas for the full count. The shot that almost crippled Alexander was perfect, and the fighter admits it was touch-andgo as to whether he’d be able to continue. ‘The shot that Takaloo hit me with was a perfect body shot.
‘I’ve been hit with body shots in sparring before, but you get a chance to recover during training. In the ring, however, they keep coming at you.”
It caught me right under the ribs, behind the guard. I don’t know how I managed to stay up but I knew I was determined to not lose this fight, I wouldn’t go down. When the referee counted him out, the realisation of just how hard that body shot was hit home. Later on, people asked me if I was faking but I wasn’t. I was still feeling the pain ten days later. Even now when I watch the fight, I still wince.’ Alexander found a way to win and so too did Travis Dickinson. On the same night as Callum Smith battered Tobias Webb’s torso, Dickinson was having his own assaulted by Matty Clarkson. Dickinson had floored Clarkson twice and also visited the canvas once during their fight of the year candidate bout in Leeds. Entering what would be a memorable fifth round, the pendulum was swinging towards
Dickinson. In the fifth round, Clarkson landed a sickening left hook that left the English champion struggling. ‘I’ve been hit with body shots in sparring before, but you get a chance to recover during training. In the ring, however, they keep coming at you. It winds you, it takes away your legs, you can’t move and you’re totally drained. Matty hit me with a perfectly timed left hook and there’s not a lot you can do about it. I couldn’t breathe at all. I was trying to get my breath back and he’d land another. The third time I went down, I feared the worst. I didn’t think I was going to be able to get up but somehow I managed to and, thankfully, I went on to win the fight in the next round. Even then though, I was still feeling the pain.’ Kill the body the head will die.
Shadowman: The Edward Jackson story ●
Words John J. Raspanti
e’s rarely in the spotlight. His work can go unnoticed. He’s the guy with the whistle at training camp. On fight night, he watches every move. As his fighter enters the ring, he’s a few paces behind. His most famous pupil is Andre Ward. He works for former trainer of the year, Virgil Hunter. Who is he? Edward “Jack” Jackson right-hand man to Hunter and Ward for the past 11 years. Born in Houston, TX, Jackson engaged in a couple of amateur bouts. One day while in the gym, his trainers told him that he should consider a job change. “I was boxing at the time,” Jackson told this writer on the phone last week. “I was being trained by two guys. They were training me along with Frank and Thomas Tate. I had brought James Prince (currently co-manager of Andre Ward) to the gym. He told me that he was going to manage boxers and he wanted me with him.
“Then the guys that trained me said that I should be a trainer. I really didn’t want to be a trainer. They told me I was always showing other guys in the gym how to do things. They said I was good at it. So, the guys that were training me told me I should be a trainer. And that’s how it happened,” he said, chuckling. At the time, Jackson was exploring other options. When not in the gym, he was in a recording studio laying tracks for a rap album. But boxing had always been his first love. He grew up in a rough and tough neighbourhood where he learned early on how to fight. Since boxing wasn’t offered at his high school, he played football, baseball, and basketball instead. Soon after becoming a trainer, his new career blossomed. One day he heard about a kid who lived near San Francisco, California. “I was working with James Prince and his management company,” Jackson recalled. “I heard about this kid. I was at a tournament and this other fighter I was interested in told me about his friend from Oakland,”
he said, “He’s better than me. His name is Andre Ward.” I figured I better go see this guy. I went to the Golden Gloves in Colorado and he wasn’t there. “So, finally I got a number and called Virgil (Hunter) to talk about Andre (Ward). We (James Prince and Jackson) went down to Oakland. That’s how I met Virgil. I saw Andre and he wasn’t even in the gym at the time. He wasn’t thinking about boxing. We got in touch with him and said, “Hey, we heard you’re good, get back to the gym.” We told Andre we would sponsor him. We had worked with Floyd Mayweather. He talked to Virgil and returned to the gym.” Jackson has been working exclusively with Ward since 2002. He’s seen the super-middleweight champion grow from a teenager to a man. At training camp, Jackson is something of a mother and organizer for all the fighters. Not with Ward. “It’s easy work,” says Jackson. “It’s like having a remote control car that can drive itself. It’s a breath of fresh
of air when you can go to camp and a guy is pushing you. He (Ward) wakes me up in the morning to run. He’s ready. Normally, in camp, I’m always the guy to wake the fighters up. “Take Diego (Corrales), for example, I always had to wake him up. Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson, Steve Forbes. I’ve been around great guys, but this guy, there’s nobody else like him.” The co-trainer’s job may lack glamour but it’s extremely important. What does Jackson think is the most important aspect of his position? “I think with Virgil, it’s being a second set of eyes that he can bounce things off of,” Jackson said. “Same goes for with Andre. He can ask me how he looks, whether he’s sharp. They can both get my opinion to see where he might need to sharpen up. “I don’t do just one thing. I make sure I take care of everything in camp. I get everything organized. When we’re in camp the fighter doesn’t have to worry about
anything. James Prince and I have always treated the fighters like world champions,” Jackson added. In Houston, Jackson has been training Erislandy Lara for his upcoming bout with Canelo Alvarez. Other fighters under his tutelage are undefeated prospects Miguel Flores and Ricardo Williams. With so much time spent in the ring, are there any memorable moments? “I have two great ones,” said Jackson. “I worked the corner of Corrales vs. Castillo 1. I assisted Joe Gooseen that night. That was
“Jack is a great cornerman. He can do anything I ask him to do” Virgil Hunter ●
incredible. I worked with Diego from the time he came home from jail to his fatal motorcycle accident. He was my buddy. I had a great time with Diego. “My other great memory of boxing is when Andre Ward won his first world title. He was a kid that so many people were saying wasn’t going to amount to “diddly-squat”. Virgil, myself, and Prince had so much pressure on us for this kid to develop into a good fighter. When he became a world champion, it was like a house rose up off of all of us. To see him now, where nobody wants to fight him, we laugh.” Jackson travels a lot. It’s part of his job. One day he hopes to stay put. His ambition is to step out of the shadows and build a raw young fighter into a champion. “I do have a desire to get a kid and see what I can do with him,” said Jackson. “I hope to be able to do that someday. My thing is, I’m always moving. Hopefully one day.” It’s pretty clear that one day, Jackson will come out from beneath the shadows.
Battle of the Twitter Maniacs
Few could have anticipated the impact Twitter would have on boxing since its advent eight years ago. Nowadays, the social media app is an almost indispensable fight night tool with fans watching the action with their thumb hovering over their keypad, ready and willing to give their opinion on anything from the outcome of a fight to the colour of a boxer’s shorts. Posts may be limited to 140 characters but in the world of boxing, those few letters have proved more than adequate. Twitter has become the place where matches are made, promotional deals are announced and arguments start. On July 26th, Dereck Chisora and Tyson Fury were due to meet in the biggest British heavyweight fight for many a year. Chisora’s hand may have delayed any meeting between the pair but the fight still provokes debate. Elliot Foster writes for FirstClassboxing.com and has racked up over 100,000 tweets on everything from the latest inside news from Derry Mathews’ training camp to the quality of his grandad’s oven chips. No, seriously. Alex Morris is one of Twitter’s most outspoken voices and isn’t afraid of stating his views on the excellent Boxing Asylum podcast. As his Twitter profile states, he “generally talks shite.” Well, you said it Alex! The Jab invited the pair to discuss Chisora – Fury and everything else heavyweight related.
TALE OF THE TAPE
RED CORNER Elliot Foster @FreelanceFoz Tweets – 121K Followers - 1,354 The Jab: Let’s get straight to the point. Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora. Who wins and how? @FreelanceFoz: I have to go with Fury. I think he’s sharper, fresher and has more going for him than Chisora. BoxRec would say otherwise because Chisora holds the EBU belt and WBA, WBO International heavyweight belts, plus he has fought a Klitschko for the world title, but I can just see Fury edging the fight. Part of my reasoning is aided by the fact that outspoken, unbeaten Manchester man has a win over the Finchley puncher already. @KTCBoxing: I’ve softened on Fury in the past year or so, after being very critical about him pissing about with the Price fight, as well as a few less than stellar performances. He and his clan have an odd
BLUE CORNER Alex Morris @KTCBoxing Tweets – 20.6K Followers - 1,292
charisma about them, and after hearing Peter Fury speak, I sense there’s at least one light switched on. Both men can be drastically different fighters when devoid of focus, and this criticism holds true especially for Chisora. We’ve seen the rotund Del vs Avila and against Fury in their first fight. A totally different animal to the fighter we witnessed in the ring with Helenius and Vitali. With his head in the right place (and his gut) Chisora’s edge in experience and relentless pressure leads me to favour him over big Tyson. The Jab: It’s safe to say Fury and Chisora are two of the heavyweight division’s most colourful characters. Do you think their behaviour brings some much needed entertainment to the sport or are you unimpressed by
their antics? @FreelanceFoz: Tyson Fury’s a smart, articulate fellow, I think we all know that, but at times he can be distasteful to say the least with some of the stunts he pulls and some of the things, outrageous things at that, that the 25-yearold comes out with. Chisora doesn’t seem to be too interested in playing the mind games and getting involved with the needless stupidity. He looks to be a changed man, one who is taking the fight game much more seriously now and, as you can see, his change in lifestyle is paying dividends. @KTCBoxing: As a rule I’m not huge on fighters being abject wankers in this sport, unless it’s clearly fake and hilarious. The Heavyweight division in particular inspires young
fighters to bring a bit of edge in order to get noticed; while the mainstream media ignore the division, it is still close to every fan’s heart. Every young prospect is labelled as cannon fodder to K2 long before they’re ready for that fight, so it’s necessary to earn some sort of identity for themselves away from “potential heir apparent”. Fury acts like a very crude version of Ali, looking to inflame audiences with very brash and boastful comments, albeit often crossing the line into offensive. Chisora’s slapping, spitting and haranguing of his foes is shocking but likely scores tens of thousands more viewers for those respective fights. Entertainment is fine, just don’t be a wanker, and always back it up. The Jab: The winner of the fight will become the WBO’s mandatory challenger. The WBO champion is, of course, Wladimir Klitschko. Who has the better chance of defeating Wladimir and why? Fury or Chisora? @FreelanceFoz: I’d have to contradict myself here, go against the grain a little and say that the man I believe has the better ammunition to beat Wladimir Klitschko would be Chisora. Despite saying that Fury, I believe, will beat Chisora, the Zimbabweanborn Londoner has that vital experience at world title level, albeit having come up short, against Vitali Klitschko. A big part of it will be the fact that Chisora has already faced one of the brothers and it seems, to me, like they fight in a very similar way, so I think he’ll be better suited. @KTCBoxing: Neither of them? Fury has a questionable chin that would burst open on a Wlad jab, let alone that “steelhammer” right. Chisora
would end up in a wrestling match with Wlad ala Povetkin, and I don’t think any of us want to see two sweaty men entangled and grunting for 50 minutes. At a push, I’ll say Fury, purely because Wlad is not used to fighting taller men, and that might provide an interesting dynamic for the first few rounds. Similarly to Haye, he’d do his best to get under his skin in the build up too. The Jab: How do you think the fight has been promoted? @FreelanceFoz: It’s been a bit of a strange fight promotionwise. It’s a rematch, the fight for the right to become mandatory challenger to Wlad’s world title, but in the UK, as far as I’ve observed, it’s a rematch that hasn’t really captured the imagination, despite what is at stake for both fighters. But please allow me to praise the promotion, Frank and Francis Warren in particular, for the superb job they’ve done with the undercard. 50-50 fights, all interesting ones at that, and the whole concoction could make for the best British card of the year. @KTCBoxing: Shite. I give ‘Fast Car’ a lot of stick but he could sell sand to an Arab, and he’d be doing a far greater job of this than Warren. There’s been a fairly mediocre buzz in the build up, and these recent “face to face” public conferences with Buncey seem like an act of desperation to drum up interest. The undercard thankfully looks fantastic, and the main event features two top names, so there shouldn’t really be difficulty in driving ticket and TV sales. The Jab: Love him or hate him, Klitschko is arguably the most dominant champion in world boxing. That said,
how do you view Wladimir’s recent run of opposition? Nobody can criticise him for taking on then WBA champion Alexander Povetkin but Alex Leapai, Francesco Pianeta and Mariusz Wach aren’t exactly a murderers row of opposition. @FreelanceFoz: Klitschko’s in a position, just like Floyd Mayweather, where he can cherry-pick his fights, so he doesn’t have to pick the hardest opponents. The man can write his own cheques. And I’m sure he does. But credit where it’s due for facing Povetkin when he did. Pulev will provide with a test, I think. He wouldn’t be mandatory for the IBF world heavyweight title if that wasn’t going to be the case, would he? @KTCBoxing: I’ll do my best to hold off bias against the man mountain and chiselled Adonis that is Wlad Klitschko. Ultimately he’s beating who’s in front of him, and you’d be hard pressed to find a genuine threat that he’s avoided. People can levy these criticisms against certain stars of lower divisions (welterweight), where there is an abundance of talent, even dipping into a weight class above or below. Wladimir can only fight heavyweights, and in the process of holding virtually every belt, he’s subject to a few shitty mandatory defences too. There’s a crop of fighters coming through now that are obviously being labelled as heirs, but either they’re not ready or are simply waiting for the man to retire and enjoy his wife, the lucky bastard. The Jab: Which active heavyweight is currently the best equipped to take on Wladimir Klitschko? @FreelanceFoz: This one’s a real toughie. While Chisora and Fury are going at it for the right to fight the Ukrainian, I don’t
think either of those, or anyone else in the division, is equipped enough to beat the 38-year-old. I’m not trying to get splinters on my backside by saying that!
number of potentially exciting heavyweight fights to be made. If you could match any two big men, who would provide the most fireworks?
@KTCBoxing: Audley Harrison #YesHeCan I was pretty high on Mike Perez before the Takam fight, his weaker performance likely a side effect of the tragic and brutal Abdusalamov war. If he can look spectacular against Jennings then I give him every chance of causing major problems against Wladimir. He’s got Cuban training, a very strong chin, great heart - size may be a problem, but that’s the case with most Wlad foes. If not, bring back Audley.
@FreelanceFoz: I think I’d have to say Anthony Joshua, MBE and Tyson Fury. The big talk a couple of years ago was a huge clash between East Lancs rivals David Price and Fury, but after ‘Pricey’ lost twice to Thompson, signed with Sauerlands and went on a world tour, which will incidentally culminate in a homecoming (at the ECHO Arena, Liverpool) in September, the talk fizzled out but has since reared its head again. However, I’m still of the belief, although I’ll get stick for this, that Price has a lot to do and therefore I believe Joshua, who will fight in Liverpool on July 12, is Fury’s biggest threat. I say that because any potential clash involving Fury is sure to be explosive for sure.
The Jab: David Haye recently confirmed he will return to the ring later this year. Are you pleased to see the big punching ‘Hayemaker’ back in the mix and how do you see him faring? @FreelanceFoz: I still think David Haye has a lot to offer in the heavyweight division but I’d like to see him build up his comeback, regain the credibility that he lost so quickly after the two pull-outs against Tyson Fury (and the one against Charr) and then get back to world level, which, I think, is where the Bermondsey former undisputed cruiserweight champion belongs. @KTCBoxing: Boxing is merely his vessel for achieving in those areas, and folk shouldn’t be a part of it. Haye could be a poster boy for safe sex, he’s pulled out that much. Whether you think his injuries are true or spurious, a man suffering that many niggles and flaws is a danger to himself against some of the bigger boys in the division. The Jab: Whisper it, but there finally seems to be a growing
@KTCBoxing: It sounds like I’m riding him a bit too hard but Mike Perez vs Andy Ruiz jr would be a top fight. Despite looking like the Michelin Man, Ruiz has got some speed and likes to use it, and anyone doubting Perez’ credentials to survive a war need only look at the Mago fight. Other than that I’d like to see Wilder vs Browne – somebody is getting sparked out. The Jab: Bermane Stiverne’s knockout of Chris Arreola to claim the WBC heavyweight title saw Don King once again get a hand on the heavyweight title. Don King: Please discuss. @FreelanceFoz: What can I say? Don King is Don King and that’s all there is to it. @KTCBoxing: Don the promoter is undoubtedly one of the best to do the job. He was the force
behind countless champions and the catalyst for inspiring some of the greatest fights and events there’s ever been. Throughout the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s Don had his grubby little fingers in nearly every pie worth having. Don King the person is vile pondscum, a cheating, villainous, parasite of a man who ultimately used boxing to serve his own greed. His empire was built upon ruthless efficiency and even today his name alone is synonymous with boxing. The fact high quality talent still approach him is a testament to his name value, although he drags said fighters down into a pit of inactivity. For Bermane’s sake, I hope he finds a far more trustworthy man to handle his career (albeit “trustworthy” holds little value in today’s game) The Jab: One line answers. Who is your favourite heavyweight? Who is the greatest ever heavyweight? What is your favourite heavyweight fight? @FreelanceFoz: My favourite active heavyweight is Tyson Fury. The greatest ever heavyweight is a cop out, really, and I’m going to go with Muhammad Ali. His fight, the third one -- the Thriller in Manila -- with Joe Frazier, is my favourite heavyweight fight. @KTCBoxing: Favourite? My active favourite has to be Wladimir Klitschko - ruthless efficiency and phenomenal power wrapped in hunky charisma. GOAT? A little unoriginal, but Muhammad Ali - In his prime, absolutely sublime and a perfect fighter, who’s changed the world beyond boxing. Fight? Tua vs Ibeabuchi Brutal war between two insane warriors, with more bombs launched than the Battle of Britain.
The JAB GRUMBLES The Jab is a boxing magazine for the fans, by the fans. With that in mind, we decided to put down the dictaphones and let off steam – some might say complain – about a few things that we’ve noticed over the last few weeks.
GAMBOA MAKES US WEIGHT
loved the recent fight between Terrence Crawford and Yuriorkis Gamboa but was left with a real sense of frustration at the end of an excellent battle. Crawford showed he has the potential to go on and become a real superstar of the sport and Gamboa displayed skill, heart and courage to push the unbeaten Nebraskan until the WBO lightweight champion’s combination of size and skill told. What is Gamboa doing at lightweight though? I’d go as far as to say that had he chosen to stay at featherweight, he possesses the ability to have been one of the great 126lbers of recent times. Sadly, ‘El Ciclon de Guantánamo has grown and bulked up so much that he is unlikely to ever see the scales hit 9st ever again but surely I’m not alone in hoping he now drops back to 130lbs and sets his mind on showing the world just how good he can be.
SKY’S THE LIMIT
resentation style is a personal preference. Some prefer the rigid format of Sky’s Ringside whilst others enjoy the ‘anything could happen’ atmosphere over at BoxNation. My ideal set up would combine BoxNation’s studio crew of Steve Bunce, Steve Lillis and Barry Jones with Ed Robinson’s excellent reports and round ups. Commentary, however, is one aspect of a televised show which is either black or white. It’s either good or bad. And Sky’s commentary team is quickly becoming the weakest part of their package. I enjoy Nick Halling’s occasional column of Boxingscene and I thoroughly enjoyed his work as an American Football analyst but his stint behind the mic at Sky’s boxing events seems to be turning plenty of people off. From claiming that the talented Yoandris Salinas had shown him nothing to convince him he was a worthy world champion during his draw with Scott Quigg to introducing Curtis Woodhouse’s excellent British and Commonwealth title meeting with Willie Limond as an ‘interesting little fight’ and describing recent world title challenger Brian Rose as “a journeyman” (although he later apologised for that), Halling infuriates the vast majority of knowledgeable boxing fans during most broadcasts. In fact, make that most fights. His style seems to be based around a predetermined theme or idea and he then fervently sides with whichever fighter is on top at any particular moment of the fight. It isn’t an easy job but some of the calls are truly baffling. Jim Watt has been a mainstay at Sky for years and – as a former world champion – is far more qualified to call the fights than I am. Recently though, the way he sees the fights seems to be at odds with the way most people do. BoxNation plucked a diamond from the mine with Barry Jones and boxing certainly isn’t shy of big characters. Finding a young, outspoken, amusing colour commentator shouldn’t prove too difficult. Many boxing fans yearn for a return to the halcyon days of Ian Darke and Glenn McCrory and their calling of the first fight between Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera is arguably the high point of British boxing commentary. Sadly, that is very unlikely to happen but we are blessed with a number of high quality, rarely heard ‘play-by-play’ boxing commentators in the United Kingdom. We have broadcasters of the standard of Darke and Mike Costello. The excellent Alex Steedman and the sadly under used Andy Clarke. For all the slick presentation and excellent build up videos, fans spend more time listening to the commentators than anybody else. Maybe it’s time for a total change.
THE UK CONTENDERS
Photography Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom Sport
We list the UKâ€™s top boxing talent and possibly future world champions.
1. KELL BROOK 2. CARL FRAMPTON 3. JAMES DEGALE 4. TYSON FURY 5. FRANKIE GAVIN 6. Billy Joe Saunders Disagree 7. CALLUM SMITH with our list? Feel free argue it out 8. Kid Galahad onto the Livefight Forum. 9. Stephen Smith 10. anthony joshua 11. Lee Selby 12. Chris Eubank Jr 13. Bradley Saunders 14. JOE COSTELLO 15. ROCKY FIELDING
(To be considered for the list, each boxer must of not had one world title fight attempt yet.)
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THE P4P YEARS 2012 THE JAB looks back through the years at some of the P4P fights of the modern era. This issue we look at the super fights of 2012.
Amir Khan VS Danny Garcia 14/07/2012 12 Rounds WBA Super / WBC Light Welterweight Championship Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas, USA Khan boxed brilliantly on the outside behind one of the fastest jab in boxing for 2 rounds. Round 3 was much of the same until a left hook from Garcia put Khan down heavily. The rest of the round was survival mode for Khan while taking more heavy punishment. Round 4 Garica pressed the action with a barrage of heavy blows flooring Khan again. Khan tried desperately to get back into the fight with his heart but referee Kenny Bayless had seen enough. Danny Garcia WIN TKO 04
Manny Pacquiao VS Juan Manuel Marquez IV 08/12/2012 12 Rounds Welterweight MGM Grand, Las Vegas, USA Ring Magazine Fight Of The Year 2012 started off at a ferocious pace. Marquez landed a looping overhand right that floored Pacquiao in round 3. Pacquiao fought back in round 5 flooring Marquez with a straight left hand. But it was Marquez that unloaded a straight right in the final seconds of round 6 that ended the fight with the most brutal of punches. Juan Manuel Marquez WIN KO 06
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THE P4P list
THE JAB lists its top pound for pound fighters in world boxing today.
1. Floyd Mayweather Jr 2. Andre Ward 3. Manny Pacquiao 4. Juan Manuel Marquez 5. Wladimir Klitschko 6. Carl Froch 7. Guillermo Rigondeaux 8. Adonis Stevenson 9. Sergey Kovalev 10. Gennady Golovkin 11. Nonito Donaire 12. Bernard Hopkins 13. Danny Garcia Disagree with our list? Feel free argue it out 14. miguel Cotto onto the Livefight Forum. 15. Tim Bradley LIVEFIGHT.COM 93
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