welcome to THE Jungle exclusive CARL FROCH INTERVIEW
A BOXING MAGAZINE about the testament of one man’s will against another
brought to you FROM THE MAKERS OF LIVEFIGHT.com
Welcome to THE JAB
A BOXING MAGAZINE about the testament of one man’s will against another
warm welcome to the first edition of The Jab Magazine, a labour of love by a bunch of boxing fans just like you, the reader. Firstly, please enjoy our spelling mistakes! Content is king as far as we are concerned and you’ll be pleased to hear that this first ever edition is packed with a host of interviews with the men-of-the-moment. It’s hard to believe that almost six months has flown by since that fateful November night and that we are only a fortnight away from the Froch vs Groves rematch. So much has gone down across the forums and social media since their first clash and boxing fans really have been divided as to whom they are supporting. There are very few neutral onlookers in Great Britain for possibly the largest televised all-British fight in history. Also, with the recent signing of James DeGale, you cannot but help think that a further all-British super middleweight clash awaits us all towards the end of the year. Whether DeGale fights the winner or loser will likely depend on his own fight against the unbeaten Californian Brandon Gonzales. Elsewhere we speak to the Welsh Trojan Gavin Rees ahead of his Cardiff swansong, big Aussie powerhouse Lucas Browne and plenty of others. Finally, and forgive our boxing magazine etiquette here - but rather than dive back in time to tell the story of some 1930’s flyweight from Chicago - we have been panning for gold around the boxing forums and social media for what people are actually talking about right this very moment - and you’ll find some gems towards the back of the magazine as a result.
The Team EDITOR: Alex Gomez CREATIVE DIRECTOR: Mark Gillman WRITERS: Alex Gomez Nate Williams John Evans Michael J Jones John MacDonald John J. Raspanti Andrew Wake Contributing PHOTOGRAPHERS: Justin Downing (Sky) Lawrence Lustig (Matchroom Sport) Matt Frost (Channel 5) Alan Cummings Mark Robinson
So what are you waiting for? Box on folks! The Jab Mag Team
THE JAB CONTENTS
70 PLUS MUCH MORE! 23 FEATURES IN TOTAL! CARL FROCH Exclusive interview!
96 pages of exclusive boxing content!
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THE P4P dvds
THE JAB looks at some of the best boxing DVDs to keep you entertained during those long weekends when there is no fight night.
Night of the Fight - Hatton’s Last Stand Run Time: 60 minutes
Five-time world champion boxer, Ricky Hatton, defined an era in British boxing. However, after a major loss in 2009 his greatest fight was yet to come: the battle against himself. Alcohol fuelled depression, personal scandal, rehab and suicidal thoughts dogged him for over three years until ‘The Hitman’ decided enough was enough. It was time to step back into the ring. Bonus features: Contains 3 previously unseen deleted scenes and trailer.
Ving Rhames stars as one of the most brutal heavyweight boxers of all time: Sonny Liston. A young Liston found himself in jail and facing a life of crime until he was persuaded by the prison priest to take up boxing. A year later he was a free man and a professional heavyweight boxer with one of the most powerful and feared punches in the sport. Rising to fame and fortune with his viscous fighting style that lifted him up the world rankings, Liston battled through run-ins with the law and the mafia to eventually claim the most important title of them all, the World Heavyweight Champion. His greatest challenge was against Muhammad Ali and the most famous knockout The Phantom Punch.
Klitschko tells the captivating story of the boxing world’s most famous brothers: Vitali and Wladimir Klitschko. From the socialist drill of their childhood in the Ukraine, and their first successes as amateurs, to their move to Germany and subsequent rise as international stars holding the championship titles of all five boxing federations. Along the way they experience defeats and setbacks, low points and triumphant comebacks as well as conflicts with each other. This is a heavyweight documentary at its best.
Howard Winstone, was fast making a name for himself with his knock out right hand. Then disaster strikes, an industrial accident results in Howard losing the tips of three fingers on his right hand. Through determination, Howard develops a dynamic new style and begins boxing his way back. Guided by new trainer, Eddie Thomas, Howard becomes the Champion of Britain and Europe. With the hopes of an entire nation on his shoulders, he is stood poised to challenge for the crown of Featherweight Champion of the World.
Run Time: 1OO minutes
Run Time: 117 minutes
Run Time: 121 minute
Bonus features: BBC behind the scenes documentary, deleted scenes, Chris King Nights of thunder music video and theatrical trailer.
THE P4P FIGHT songs THE JAB list some of the best songs to keep you pumped for that all important training session. This is fight music. 1. Eye of the tiger Survivor 2. Mama said knock you out LL Cool J 3. We will rock you Queen 4. Stronger Kanye West
12. Eat the rich Aerosmith
16. Welcome to the jungle Guns N Roses
20. Can’t stop Red Hot Chili Peppers
14. All Of The Lights Kanye West ft. Rihanna
17. A Warrior’s Call Volbeat
21. Take you higher Wilkinson
18. Take me out Franz Ferdinand
15. BTSTU Jai Paul
19. It’s a fight Three 6 Mafia
22. How do you like me now? The Heavy
13. Sinister kid The Black Keys
23. Intro The XX
5. I won’t back down Tom Petty
24. The Pretender Foo fighters
6. Road to destruction Endeverafter
25. Not Giving In Rudimental ft. John Newman & Alex Clare
7. Thunderstruck AC/DC 8. Not afraid Eminem 9. Ain’t No Stopping Us Now McFadden and Whitehead 10. No easy way out Robert Tepper 11. Roll with it Oasis
26. I Can’t Stop Flux Pavilion 27. Gonna fly now Bill Conti 28. Check yo self Ice Cube 29. Firestarter The Prodigy 30. Iron man Black Sabbath
All the songs listed in this feature are available to purchase in MP3 format from
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THE P4P YEARS 2009 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 2009.
Manny Pacquiao VS Miguel Cotto 14/11/2009 12 Rounds WBO Welterweight Championship MGM Grand, Las Vegas, USA In round one Cotto appeared to have the edge, however from the second round onwards Pacquiao picked up the pace and tenacity. He knocked Cotto down in round three with a right hook, and then again in round four with a left uppercut. In round twelve Pacquiaoâ€™s onslaught, prompted the referee to stop the fight. Pacquiao became the first boxer in history to win seven world titles in seven different weight divisions. Manny Pacquiao WIN TKO 12
Floyd Mayweather Jr VS Juan Manuel Marquez 19/09/2009 12 Rounds Welterweight MGM Grand, Las Vegas, USA After a two-year layoff from boxing this fight served as a return to the ring for Mayweather after his KO victory of Ricky Hatton in December 2007. Mayweather proved with a shut out display that he was still the P4P King and backed up every boast with impressive jabs in a great victory. Marquez came back from a knock down in round two to see out the fight to the final bell. Floyd Mayweather Jr WIN UD 12
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Cleto Reyes Kidney & Foul Protector White Cleto Reyes kidney & foul protection cup, made of leather with latex foam padding, double velcro for custom ﬁt. Sizes S/M/L/XL
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All of our Custom Shorts are made exactly to your speciﬁcation and to the highest quality. You can send your designs to email@example.com or design them over the phone with a member of our sales team on 0844 8000 655 who will make sure your shorts get made exactly how you want them.
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Flywire technology supports the foot and ankle. Design provides strategically placed support. Forefoot strap creates lockdown support. Mesh upper provides needed breathability. Herringbone traction provides optimal traction. Fits just like a regular training shoe. Sizes 5 to 12 UK
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THE P4P products Complete your training set up with our list of the top fight wear. Fighting Sports Pro Punching Hook & Jab Boxing Mitts Super soft, extra thick wrist cover and support. Comes in two colours black and white. The pads measure at 10” Tall, 8” Wide and 2” thick. Price: £90 Official Muhammad Ali Yellow Face by Joe Petruccio T-Shirt 100% Cotton. Officially licensed Muhammad Ali clothing. Colour: Black Sizes: S, M, L, XL Price: £18 Cleto Reyes Traditional Pro Fight Boxing Gloves Hand finished in the world famous Cleto Reyes factory in Mexico. Available in 8oz and 10oz. Made with quality goat skin. Colour: Blue Price: £179.99 Adidas Combat Speed IV BOOTS The sock-like fit meets uncanny support, and internal webbing support. Colour: white, red, blue Sizes: 5-12 (half sizes included) Price: £54.99 Geezers Elite Pro Boxer Kitbag Tough and durable, this is ideal for carrying all your equipment needs. Price: £30 Fighting Sports Tri-Tech Full Training Headgear Black Durable and smooth inside liner with precisely padded cheeks. Sizes: Medium, Large Price: £110
All products listed in this feature are available to purchase from geezersboxing.co.uk
K S P R O M O T I O N S P R O U D LY P R E S E N T
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THE P4P books
Going on holiday soon? Have a long commute? THE JAB looks at some of the best books to keep you captivated.
Undisputed Truth: My Autobiography Hardcover: 564 pages
Love him or loathe him, ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson is an icon and one of the most fascinating sporting figures of our time. In this no-holds-barred autobiography, Tyson lays bare his demons and tells his story: from poverty to stardom to hell and back again. In this, his first autobiography, ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson pulls no punches and lays bare the story of his remarkable life and career. This book is a story of a man born and raised to brutality, who reached the heights of stardom before falling to crime, substance abuse and infamy. Full of all the controversy and complexity from a man who delighted as much as he shocked, this is a book that reveals a fascinating character beneath the exterior of violence.
Marvelous: The Marvin Hagler Story
Hardcover: 224 pages
The Hate Game: Benn, Eubank & British Boxing’s Bitterest Rivalry
Marvelous Marvin Hagler is often seen as one of the best middleweight boxers of all time. He held the world title for 12 defences, including bouts with Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns and Roberto Duran. Brian and Damian Hughes trace the blazing trail of Hagler’s career: the controversial defeats subsequently avenged, a riot-scarred title win in London, and his unification of the middleweight crown. Hagler a fan favourite, took on all comers while never taking a step back. Named by The Ring magazine’s “greatest round of all time” against Tommy ‘The Hitman’ Hearns, Marvelous tells the story of Hagler’s life, separating truth from myth to get to the heart of a complex and charismatic man.
Chris Eubank, with his jodhpurs and cane, who lisped in his posh accent about his distaste for the business of ‘pugilism’, could not be more different from Nigel Benn, ‘The Dark Destroyer’, the Essex boy who had battled with his demons to reach the top of the boxing world. Their first bout was for the WBO world middleweight title, in Birmingham in November 1990. Eubank emerged victorious over Benn, the people’s champion, and immediately fans called for a rematch. But, for three years, the two men circled each other before coming together again in front of over 40,000 fans at Old Trafford and a global TV audience estimated at 500 million.
Hardcover: 352 pages
Ricky Hatton War and Peace: My Story Hardcover: 320 pages
On 24 November 2012, four-time World Champion Ricky Hatton dropped to his knees, felled by a sickening body punch in his comeback fight after three years. Down and out, it was then that something extraordinary happened: 20,000 fans began to sing his name. Ricky Hatton: War and Peace is the story of one of British boxing’s true icons. From a Manchester council estate to the bright lights of Las Vegas, Ricky Hatton experienced incredible highs, including one of the greatest ever wins by a British boxer, over Kostya Tszyu. But defeats to the P4P best, brought him to face a new set of battles against depression, drink and drugs. Hatton is a man who has survived a lifetime of wars.
Words Alex Gomez Photography Justin Downing
CARL ‘THE COBRA’ FROCH
verything for a reason ... Mandated... Six.... ” tweets George Groves with one hand, whilst he probably fiddles with a Rubik’s cube with the other. You have to hand it to the Hammersmith man, it’s a clever and completely different approach to use psychological warfare to such an extent. He thinks there is a chink in Froch’s mentality, one that he can exploit by using the power of Twitter, Facebook and public opinion. As I hit the call button to try Froch for the third time this morning, I wonder what frame of mind the Nottingham man is in. Agitated, chaotic, emotional and even prickly were words that would have described a man who was being pulled in several directions at once last time we chatted. Holding down a spot in a televised dance competition, whilst doting on his brand new baby girl would alone fill the diary of most ordinary people – but Carl Froch threw in a training camp to defend his world titles against an unbeaten home-grown gunslinger called George Groves. It was no wonder he sounded emotional and shattered on the phone when we last spoke. Since our last call, Froch has endured a torrid fight in which he was heavily floored, a controversial stoppage which was debated worldwide for weeks, if not months – and a poisonous public backlash which would have crushed the average man’s mind set. But Carl Froch is no mere mortal folks, he should have been called the Honey Badger and not The Cobra. Any talk of Carl being mentally weak is a nonsense. Carl may even
“My approach is completely different this time around – it’s all about thinking rationally and not emotionally.”
The facts Carl Froch (age 36) Super Middleweight Stance: Orthodox Nickname: ‘The Cobra’ From: Nottingham, UK Fights: 34 Won 32 (KO 23) Lost 2 (KO 0) Drawn 0 Rounds Boxed: 240 KO%: 68 Last Fight: George Groves 19(15)-0-0 W TKO 9 12x3 IBF Super Middleweight & WBA World Super Middleweight titles Phones 4u Arena, Manchester, UK
CARL ‘THE COBRA’ FROCH
The wins George Groves W TKO 9 WBA & IBF Super Middleweight titles Mikkel Kessler W UD 12 WBA & IBF Super Middleweight titles Lucian Bute W TKO 51 IBF Super Middleweight title Arthur Abraham W UD 12 WBC Super Middleweight title Jermain Taylor W TKO 12 WBC Super Middleweight title Jean Pascal W UD 12 WBC Super Middleweight title
question himself , but even if he doesn’t realise it or even portray it, his mental fortitude is as sturdy as his fabled chin. Within a few moments of talking to him, it’s apparent that he is unaffected by the previous six months. If anything he sounds almost galvanised by it. “It’s lovely to hear from you. How’s life and the family?” he genuinely enquires “Yeah, no
complaints this end.” We chat openly about nonboxing matters for a short while and he is almost Zen-like in his demeanour. Hell, Yankee Candle could bring out a calming scent with his name on it. I get the feeling that there will be no scripted ‘big talk’ or selling the fight this time around if our opening small talk is anything to go by.
Conscious that he was soon to be heading up to train at his base in Sheffield, I move quickly onto the rematch and begin with his thoughts on the cryptic words that his current nemesis has been tweeting and how he feels about it. “I don’t feel anything at all. Nothing.” He says. “There came a point one day in the aftermath where I just
“He is constantly complaining and playing the sympathy card. You can sense that his needy attitude has begun to grate on a lot of people.”
found it repetitive and boring and I think people now are starting to find him a bit tedious. He is constantly complaining and playing the sympathy card. You can sense that his needy attitude has begun to grate on a lot of people. “That approach works only for a short space of time, but the mask is slipping a bit now. He’s got what he wanted but he
can’t change his tune. He has no other angle. He talks about the split from his trainer, how this time it will be an even better performance. “I agree, he probably might do better – but that will be tempered by my own improvements. “Right now he should be thankful that he is getting another fight, with a payday
and huge exposure. But he can’t enjoy the moment and move on - and I think that’s down to him being immature. “He portrays this man who oozes confidence, but his mask is slipping. He is uncomfortable and won’t review his shortcomings in the first fight like I have. He keeps saying ‘tick tock’ but that’s music to my ears. It’s like a xmas feeling for me, that I get to go and right a wrong. “He probably thinks that he is funny and clever, like some criminal genius. He dresses like Dr Evil in the Austin Powers movies – the dodgy grey suits and the bald swede. But that’s where it ends. It’s not big, it’s not clever and it’s of no significance when the bell rings. I ask Froch for his opinion of Groves mantra, ‘Everything For A Reason’. “It’s plain to see that he is trying to get a rise out of me, to get me bull-rushing in. But I’m in a relaxed place mentally. I sleep better than I have done in ages in fact. But my approach is completely different this time around – it’s all about thinking rationally and not emotionally. It’s a sport and
CARL ‘THE COBRA’ FROCH
that’s how I’m going into the rematch – as a boxing match and not an angry street fight. There is no ego, no chip on the shoulder like last time– just a calculated and well-executed job to do now. “It’s going to be such a huge event in British boxing history – it would be a shame if the bad feeling that Groves constantly brings to the table, the way he poisons people’s minds, ends up being the focus of people’s attention when we have this truly immense sporting occasion that we should be celebrating. “I bet his fans are hoping that he is training as hard as he is tweeting? A quick scan of both fighter’s respective Twitter accounts underlines Froch’s comments, with the challenger tweeting 71 times during April at the time of writing - whilst the Nottingham man tweeted just twice, a good luck message to promoter Eddie Hearn ahead of his London marathon – and a big picture of himself proudly holding all the world titles he has collected during the course of a 12 year long professional career. “Everyone keeps asking me what I think of George’s tweets and to be honest, I don’t even care. If fans enjoy reading them , well that’s absolutely fine. “But I will debunk some of these things he keeps tweeting. I will give you a couple of examples and then we leave it there. “When he got the nod from the IBF that he was being granted the rematch, he sent me a private message. “Now remember, this was around the time we was offering a 75/25 split to him. Anyway after the IBF had made their ruling and agreed him another shot, he wrote something childish like ‘Ha-ha Mandated’ on one of those direct messages. “So I just pulled a quote from the old comedy flick
Kingpin – and I wrote back to him ‘Nice one George. 85/15 split then. Looks like you have been Munsoned?’. Which if you look the word up on Google it basically means a guy who had the world at his feet... and then blew it. “I bet you could feel the blood draining out of him as he read it and I also will tell you this about the negations.... it only got much worse for him. “So anyway, I then flew the family over to Dubai for a nice
holiday. I’m laying around the swimming pool, the sun beating down and the fruit cocktails were going down a treat. I was like Ray Winstone in Sexy Beast, where he’s laying there in his Speedo’s without a care in the world. “And the phone rings and it’s Fast Eddie, and I think he was concerned that I was going to kill the fight dead with George by nailing his bollocks to the IBF ruling on the split. “I says ‘Eddie, I couldn’t care less if Groves accepts the terms or not. In fact right now the only thing on my mind is whether I should put factor 50 on my face or factor 30? What do you think Eddie?
“You see at that point in time I couldn’t have cared any less about the needs of George Groves, he either took the offer or he walked. “If George had been a gentleman, we could have come to some kind of financial compromise – but he behaved like an idiot and so after a little bit of back and forth whilst I was on holiday, I basically said take it or leave it – and I absolutely meant it.” We ask Carl what actually was the split that was finally agreed between all the parties involved. “I’m apparently not allowed to divulge the split, but lets just say Groves has cost himself the equivalent of a shiny new Ferrari for turning down the first offer. Never mind eh? Everything for a reason and all that. “Twitter seems to be a big significance to him, but retweets don’t pay the bills do they? So yeah, I think we can both agree how that worked out for him. “Someone like Adam Booth would have reigned him in and undertaken the negotiation – and the other fella, erm Fitzpatrick, he is just the pad man with a gym in Swindon. We interject and question Carl about the importance of the number six that he keeps tweeting? “Pass... no idea...” said Froch as he clambered into his car and conversation switched to hands-free. “All I know about the number six, is that after round six he had no sting in his punches. Watt kept saying in round seven ‘Groves is so relaxed’ and Nick Halling was chiming in saying ‘His timing is breath taking’ which was a joke because the guy was beginning to crumble. His shots were slapping and I was happy to eat a couple of slaps to land my own heavy shots. “He had hit a brick wall, there was no second wind coming – he was a big sack of lactic
“All I know about the number six, is that after round six he had no sting in his punches.”
The match FROCH VS GROVES II You can see the eagerly awaited rematch on Sky Sports Box Office on Saturday May 31st 2014.
CARL ‘THE COBRA’ FROCH
“As we entered the ninth round, with a full third of the fight left to go, he was running on empty.” acid, his legs were in the mud, he was turning away, he was complaining – and I just wanted to get stuck in – and I did do. “If the commentators were on their game and not still revved up by the knock down, they would have shown more neutrality - and spotted that the wind was gone from his sails and he was putty in my hands. “As we entered the ninth round, with a full third of the fight left to go, he was running on empty and yes, we would have all liked it to go a bit longer – me more than anyone – but his legs were buckling, he was sagging down and in a blur. At best during that moment if it was not stopped he would have turned his back on me and the ref would have intervened and warned him and I would have nailed him twenty seconds later anyway when the fight was waved back on again. “I’ve read the comments about him trying to hit back, but there was absolutely nothing in his punches at all. I’d hit him a few times and he was now making this little noise when I got through and hurt him. I think it was the round before, but when he sat down on his stool I was
watching him and I knew he was pretty much done. “So as far as the significance of Six goes to me, Carl Froch it’s basically how many rounds he can fight for before the wheels come off.” I ask Carl about his older brother Lee Froch, whom has gained quite a reputation for posting pictures of clowns and all manner of Viz style humour towards his brother’s nemesis. Lee, a former amateur boxer himself whom couldn’t consider a professional career on account of astigmatism in one of his eyes, has been a vociferous and loyal presence throughout his younger brother’s entire amateur and professional boxing career. From competing in amateur shows himself, alongside his brother – to shouting support for Carl and amateur team mates such as David Haye across numerous European tournaments – Lee Froch has always been a constant presence – but largely unnoticed until recently, when his profile shot through the roof as him and Groves had plenty of postfight ‘banter’ across twitter. “Our Lee is just a wind-up with it all. He doesn’t take any of it seriously and just loves winding people up with pictures of his pleather jacket, his WWE sunglasses. There’s no malice in Lee although saying that, not even I would tangle with him.” Froch chuckles. “Again, all those conspiracy theorists who think all of that nonsense on twitter means anything – like I keep saying, it’s all nonsense and means absolutely nothing at all when that bell rings. “As a blackspot disconnects our telephone conversation for five minutes, when I finally get back through I pick up on the training. I ask Carl about his approach to training last time and how it compares to this time. “To be honest, I was hardly
even training last time by my own standards. I would be doing the dance show, then after practising the routine with Rach I would then go for a jog around London. Says Froch. “It was a laugh but the show ate into the training camp at the front end. I was twisting my body around doing stuff I don’t normally do. I pulled my shoulder and elbow. “Having bounced Groves off the canvas in sparring, moved him around and dominated
Photography Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom Sport
him – it was almost like it was another Yusaf Mack fight. But the catch was it was a fellow Brit. A stay-busy job before we maybe took a big one Stateside. “Some days it was raining, Natalia had just been born and interrupting everyone’s sleep. My shoulder and elbow was sore - Boxing I have to admit, had taken a backseat. “Anyway, I’d look out and see the rain and think yup – I’ll just chuck in half an hour on the treadmill tonight. Even at 50%
I’m convincing myself I’d have too much for Grovesy boy and you kind of talk your way into taking short cuts. The strange reality is that even when I was just at 50% I still took Groves undefeated record. “But this time around it’s so different.” Say’s Froch intently. “I will tell you now, the sheer shit that went down since Manchester... It’s provided the fuel that wasn’t there before. When the rematch was wrapped and a done deal, it was literally
like a switch flicked on. “I was absolutely relishing day one of camp. Before it was a chore, a bit ‘Do I have to?’ and now it’s like I can’t get enough of it. But not just pounding bags and chucking in the mileage – the speed, the technical training, the thinking processes – things that have been dormant. I’m in a good place now mentally and physically. “I stay up in Sheffield now through the week days, promotional obligations aside.
CARL ‘THE COBRA’ FROCH
Photography Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom Sport
“I am putting in the type of shifts in the gym that I did ahead of the Lucian Bute fight.”
So that’s Monday to Friday all I do is run, spar, do dead lifts, swim, technical training. “Then in between all that I rest and feed properly. I have got the same nutritionist as Andy Murray and Wayne Rooney going through my food, a great chap called Lee Curtis – and he tells me what I eat and when I eat it. Timing is everything. “I’ve got a great arrangement with NRG fuel who sort out all of my supplements and have done for many a year. Except this time I’m eating them for nutritional ingredients and at specific times in the day – and just not for that fine, smooth chocolaty taste! Hey am I allowed to advertise NRG fuel supplements? Decent roast dinner, feed the ducks – stuff to be honest. (you just did you name it. I don’t watch any Carl, twice) boxing, I don’t read any social “I am putting in the type of media and it’s all about doing shifts in the gym that I did normal stuff with the family. ahead of the Lucian Bute fight “It’s gone old skool again. – and I know that’s a really Boxing is what got me here scripted answer but it’s the and it’s all about readdressing truth. Then after a solid day of the balance once and for all. training I will either get my head I’m maximising every minute of down for a good rest in the digs, camp. I’m living it and breathing or if there isn’t a room available it. It’s not just about pounding I will stop in a local hotel that’s myself, as I’m getting older I’ve used many times and is like – the mental and physically a home from home. recuperation is as big a part “I will relax with a bit of now as the graft. reading or maybe get my iPad Froch has brought numerous mini out and watch a bit of styles into camp over the Netflix. I’ve done the Breaking twelve years as a professional. Bad series recently – just got the From the early days of sparring headphones in and then caught Howard Eastman in his pomp, to a few shows per night and had a the likes of Cuban defector Luis really deep sleep. Garcia over in Ireland ahead of “Grafting leaves me tired and the Pascal fight. To prepare for it sounds a bit selfish but being the Jermain Taylor fight, Carl away from home allows me even flew himself over to spar to have a good night’s sleep with Jean Pascal in Canada only without the kids coming into 3 months after defeating him for our bed or wanting a drink and the vacant WBC title. so on. It’s not over the top to say “By the time I get that Carl Froch has had home at the weekend fights behind closed Follow I’m bursting to see doors with top Carl Froch the three of them, to names that could on Twitter. spend some quality probably fill its @Carl_Froch time and just fill my own DVD. days with fun things. Ahead of the first Whether that’s a big Groves fight, Carl
sparred the likes of 15-2 Luke Blackledge and 10-4 Jahmaine Smyle. Whilst they were game fellas, you have to wonder how far they could push Carl Froch from a technical point of view. A brief knockabout with Darren Barker for the sky cameras was another nights sparring – and that was basically it. All done, it’s a wrap fellas. But was that enough? “I’m not going to go on record with the all people I have been sparring this time around, but we have tailored it a bit better with fighters who are a better fit to George Groves. “Chris Eubank Jr is who I am sparring tonight for example. He is alright actually, obviously I have a little bit more size and experience on the kid, but he has decent skills, fast hands and he has a decent dig on him too. He has given me some things to think about in the ring and I’m more switched on and focused, thanks to his input. “Elsewhere in the gym I have done a bit of training with Anthony Fowler and Warren Baister, whom went up and won the middleweight and heavyweight ABA’s last week. Baister’s picked up a nasty cut – but there is no doubting how good they are. “Fowler came away from the worlds with a bronze and would have took the gold in my opinion if not for a hand injury. Then there are some of the lighter guys in the gym whom have helped with the speed that George brings in the early rounds. We touch on the topic that Carl has got a sports psychologist on the case, to give his mental game a tune up and an overall service. “A service, yeah I suppose that’s a good way of putting it. I’m interested in that side of the game anyway, as I studied it at university. So to liaise with one of the best in their field
CARL ‘THE COBRA’ FROCH
was interesting and beneficial. He just rationalises things, puts certain elements of the mindset in their correct order. He’s not a hypnotist and won’t make me walk over hot coals. He just railroads the non-productive stuff to the side and this allows the mind to concentrate on the things that matter. “It also helps to rationalise the things that you’d previously waste time thinking about, are actually not worth thinking about even for a split second. So in closing, we ask Carl what he thinks of the occasion and how the fight will pan out. “The venue is fantastic and it’s an honour to step foot in front of so many boxing fans. Groves keeps chiming on about it being in his home town, but what he fails to realise is that the venue has no bearing on the fight. Also I have boxed in and around London 11 times now in comparison to his 6 or 7 times. I made my professional debut there, I trained there and I lived there in the week for several years. I am great friends with a lot of boxing fraternity down there myself. “Myself and Kessler sold out the London 02 arena in minutes, and I forecast 20,000 heading down from Nottingham alone if not more at the very least. He says it’s his home town and that’s fair enough but it shall not make a blind bit of difference. So when Groves says ‘Another round to me’ when destination is mentioned, well that is a fallacy. “The first fight was so close because I was at my worst, and he put in the shift of his entire career. I completely underestimated him and I give him all the credit in the world from a boxing perspective inside the ropes. He fought a courageous and spirited fight. He put me down, he outboxed and outfoxed me until my head began to clear. “But despite all of that he fell
“The venue is fantastic and it’s an honour to step foot in front of so many boxing fans.” apart and lost his shape. He’ll come out like a million dollars, he will have success but he cannot sustain the power and speed, because he withers with every round. He will try to be economical with his punches, because he knows now where his shortcomings are. “Whereas I am a constant force from start to finish, George is an ever declining force. But the difference is that I will be a stronger force this time around, I will be vigilant and focused on what Groves is doing for every second of every round.
We can box in an empty room as far as I’m concerned – I shall only hear Rob’s advice. I shall be patient not clumsy, I will be tighter defensively and will not be swinging until range and openings present themselves. There shall not be any mistakes for Groves to capitalise on this time. He shall have his successes and he may win early rounds – this fight could even go to points if Groves looks to play it nice and defensive. But if the opportunity arises where I can possibly close the show early, then I will be taking it without fail.”
P R O P E R T Y O F G R E AT B R I TA I N
Spring /Summer Colle c tion 2014
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Words John Evans Photography Justin Downing
george ‘saint’ groves
The facts George Groves (age 26) Super Middleweight Stance: Orthodox Nickname: ‘Saint’ From: Hammersmith, London, UK Fights: 20 Won 19 (KO 15) Lost 1 (KO 1) Drawn 0 Rounds Boxed: 104 KO%: 75 Last Fight: Carl Froch 32(23)-2-0 L TKO 9 12x3 IBF Super Middleweight & WBA World Super Middleweight titles Phones 4u Arena, Manchester, UK
The match FROCH VS GROVES II You can see the eagerly awaited rematch on Sky Sports Box Office on Saturday May 31st 2014.
ast November, George Groves walked to the ring for his WBA/IBF super middleweight title fight with Carl Froch as the cocky upstart who would inevitably fold once the reality of facing a true, world class fighter hit him. He left it as one of the world’s most exciting super middleweights. A brave hero, robbed of the chance to prove his mettle by Howard Foster’s decision to halt the fight in the ninth round. Maybe, by praising Groves’ performance so much, we are actually doing him a disservice. The common view seems to be that Groves performed at the peak of his powers six months ago and much of the pre-fight debate has centred around what Froch did wrongly last time and how he will approach the rematch. Make no mistake, ‘The Saint’ announced himself on the world stage with his performance last November but as well as he fought, the 26 year old’s performance threw up as many questions as it did answers. He too has plenty of room for improvement. Power If you get a spare ten minutes, go to YouTube and check out Groves’ stoppage of Francisco Sierra from July 2012. The fight received scant attention as it took place on the undercard of Robert Guerrero’s decision
victory over Selcuk Aydin in San Jose, California. Sierra is a big, strong, aggressive Mexican and had Groves badly cut as they headed into the sixth round. The right-left-right-left combination that floored Sierra was perfectly timed, devastatingly quick and dangerously accurate. The sequence highlighted everything good about Groves. It may or may not have been this very finish that persuaded a certain semi-skilled boxing writer to place a sizeable bet on Groves to knock Froch out in their first meeting. In the fight before he met Froch, Groves landed another perfectly judged left-right on the onrushing Noe Alcoba. Again, the punches spelled the end for his opponent. The way Groves timed Froch in that unforgettable first round and connected with his left and right was reminiscent of the Alcoba fight but different in one crucial regard; Froch recovered. Groves supporters will undoubtedly claim that the bell saved Froch but during the sixth round, Groves gave a tired, hurt Froch a sustained beating and landed numerous full blooded shots yet, again, Froch managed to survive them. In his first fight at genuine world level, Groves proved that he possesses the power to hurt world class opponents but can he hit hard enough to dissuade the iron chinned Froch? Patience When Groves is in the zone and comfortable with how a fight
george ‘saint’ groves
they are craving, it is easy to see Groves capitalising on the advantages he holds in hand and foot speed and versatility and running away with the fight. Big word, if.
is progressing, he is the Martin Lewis of professional boxing. It may not take him a month to do his weekly shop (thanks to @ walksgloves for that particular line) but Groves is every bit as frugal as the self styled ‘money saving expert.’ He is extremely economical with his punches and clearly hates wasting a single shot. Obviously the fight with Froch was by far the most important night of Groves’ professional career. I have never spoken to Groves about this (George, if you’re reading this, believe me we tried!) but the fight with James DeGale must have meant an incredible amount personally. During those twelve rounds, the then inexperienced Groves was able to stay perfectly calm and resist the urge to get involved in a give and take battle. For us onlookers it is perfectly understandable that a fighter should get carried away in the heat of battle but - at the highest levels of the sport - a fighter who is able to be drawn away from his gameplan is a beatable fighter and during the first clash with Froch, buoyed by his success, Groves got involved too much too early. Elsewhere in this issue of The
Jab, Groves’ trainer, Paddy Fitzpatrick, reveals that he likes his fighters to remain on an even keel and be able to either hand out or receive a beating without showing any sign of emotion. On the biggest stage imaginable, time will tell if Groves is able to detach himself from the mayhem going on around him and carry out the plan he and Fitzpatrick have concocted. If he is willing to risk the wrath of 80,000 paying spectators and a huge television audience by refusing to give them the war
Resilience It is almost impossible not to have strong opinions heading into such a big fight and the controversial conclusion to the first fight means that one of the questions posed first time around will be debated even more fervently this time. Does George Groves possess the robustness to beat Carl Froch? There are two schools of thought. Did Groves’ fights with Kenny Anderson and Paul Smith illustrate his fragility or prove he has the desire – and balls – to come through gut checks against two of British boxing’s hard men? Put me firmly in the second group. Yes, those who predicted Groves would crumble under the pressure of a world class fighter will claim they were proved right but I would be willing to bet that those predicted his demise didn’t expect the 25 minutes and 33 seconds that preceded it. He didn’t fold during those final few seconds, the punches were flying back at Froch. Maybe they were the punches of a tired man but they were punches nonetheless. Resilience is a crucial part of a fighter’s mental make up and Groves has proved his heart and desire plenty of times. The major criticism of Groves – and as vigorously as he may contest it, the official result of the first fight bears it out - is that down the stretch of a hard world title fight, his mind will be willing but his body unable to follow. Groves has asked Froch to admit to a lot of faults since that first fight but should accept that although he proved his critics wrong about a hell of a lot of
Follow George Groves on Twitter. @StGeorgeGroves
Photography Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom Sport
things with his performance last year, like it or not, he needs to prove them wrong in one more vital area. Mentality Groves seems to be the type of person who lives by the adage ‘the truth hurts’. Blatant insults and X-rated rants aren’t his style. His method of calmly spelling out exactly how and why he is going to beat them seems to drive his opponents to distraction. His televised encounters with Froch and DeGale have attracted millions of views and but it’s safe to say that he will never receive an invitation to a dinner party at Kenny Anderson’s house either. On the face of it, Groves isn’t dominating the build up to the fight in the same way he did the first meeting. Maybe he feels that the hard work has already been done. That by forcing Froch to seek the help of a sports psychologist he
has already wormed his way far enough into his brain and that trying to come up with a new angle of attack would be a waste of energy. Six months on, I don’t believe anything has changed at all. Froch still hates Groves and his manner, he is just doing a much better job of hiding it and will refuse to get drawn into any major confrontations until the first bell. The big question is whether or not Groves will care. He was a huge underdog ahead of the fight with DeGale and the sight of him turning up at Manchester’s Phones 4u Arena alone and then facing down the entire Froch entourage from centre ring illustrated his self confidence. That wasn’t a case of clever photography by the way, he stood bolt upright staring Froch out for a good 90 seconds. Will the lone wolf mentality work against him? Groves is an extremely determined, single
minded character and how will he react if Froch is able to make it to May 31st in good mental shape and is once again able walk through his best efforts? Will his mind wander back to 23rd November 2013? Another important factor to bare in mind is the lengths Groves went to to secure an immediate return. There may well have been initial, informal discussions but when he took his case for a rematch to the IBF, he had no guarantee that the fight would be held at Wembley and be financial bonanza. He was resigning himself to a much smaller percentage purse split than he would have been entitled to had he gone away, picked up a different world belt and then campaigned for a unification match with Froch. The sense of injustice he feels must be huge but it genuinely seems to be matched by the belief that he will beat Froch this time around.
Camp Groves comments are â€œirrelevantâ€? to the result of the rematch. Rob McCracken speaks his mind. Words Nate Williams Photography Lawrence Lustig Matchroom Sport
arl Froch’s trainer Robert McCracken has branded statements from George Groves and his team as “irrelevant” before the two rivals clash again at Wembley Stadium on Saturday May 31. The pair first fought in Manchester on November 23, where Froch retained his IBF and WBA world super-middleweight titles with a controversially premature stoppage by referee Howard Foster in the ninth round. At the initial press conference for the highly anticipated rematch, the 26 year-old from Hammersmith said, “Carl doesn’t want this fight because he knows he can’t win.” Groves was in Froch’s face all day until the four-time world champion shoved his challenger off the Wembley turf during a photo call. However, McCracken believes that all the mind games Groves is playing have not affected Froch as he is calm, focused and confident he can retain his titles. “They’re all irrelevant,” Rob McCracken said. “Our job is to get Carl ready to defend his title as he has done so successfully over the last six years. “Carl’s been in massive fights before with big pressure situations against top class fighters. This is no different. Groves is a good, young fighter who is hungry for success but Carl has got just what he needs to see him off.” Froch has only lost two of his 34 fights to Mikkel Kessler and the number two pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Andre Ward, but Groves’ new trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick isn’t impressed. Fitzpatrick, who stepped in the place of Adam Booth, has also weighed in with his prediction of the rematch after the post-fight press conference on November 23. Fitzpatrick said: ““If we fight Carl again, he’ll go in three rounds.” When asked about that comment, McCracken replied: “How can anyone make a statement like that
The match FROCH VS GROVES II You can see the eagerly awaited rematch on Sky Sports Box Office on Saturday May 31st 2014.
about a fighter of Carl Froch’s calibre? It’s nonsense. “It’s about the fighters where Carl Froch, a great world champion, fights George Groves, a tremendous prospect and British boxing will be the benefactor. Both fighters will give everything in a great fight. “Carl had a bad night by his standards in the fight with Groves last time but he still came through. This time, he’ll be ready, at the races and really confident.” In their previous meeting, the 10-years younger Groves was the better man as he beat Froch to the punch and dropped the 36 year-old Nottingham fighter with a sharp right hand in the opening round. The former unbeaten British champion with a record of 19-1 was also ahead on all three judges’ scorecards at the time of the controversial stoppage. McCracken said that dealing with Groves’ speed will be a factor in their rematch at Wembley. He added that it reminds him of when a 40 year-old Bernard Hopkins, who is now world champion at 49, fought a 25 year-old Jermain Taylor in 2005. “If you’re fighting someone 10 years younger than you then speed is always going to be a problem,” he said.
Photography Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom Sport
“Our job is to get Carl ready to defend his titles as he has done so successfully over the last six years.” “Bernard Hopkins is recognised as a brilliantly defensive fighter but if you watch his first fight with Jermain Taylor, he couldn’t get out of the way of his right hand because Taylor was quicker than him. So we’re just working on the speed of punches that will probably come at him in the first four rounds and learning to be smart with it. That’s what we’re working on. “Everything’s got to be done right with precision and there will be no problems this time. Carl will enter the ring in tremendous shape, he’ll win the fight and successfully defend his title.”
paddy Fitz patrick Words John Evans
â€œTo me, the ultimate warrior is the man who can hand a beating out or take a beating himself and show no emotion of it.â€?
very round of sparring, every session of padwork and every run has a function. Every interview, every video and every press conference has a purpose. Everything for a reason, you might say. It may be the biggest night in recent British boxing history but for Paddy Fitzpatrick, the rematch between Carl Froch and George Groves is just another fight. Groves is his fighter and therefore it is the Irishman’s job to ensure he enters the ring with the best possible chance of avenging last November’s controversial ninth round defeat. Froch vs Groves 2 will officially get under way once the first bell rings on May 31 but what takes place during the hour that follows will be the culmination of months of physical and mental preparation. “The only reason I’m being more vocal this time is for a deliberate reason,” Fitzpatrick told The Jab. “If I wait until a week before the fight to be vocal, the things that I want to get across won’t be as effective. I’m not doing it because I like to hear my own voice because I couldn’t care less if anybody calls me for an interview or not but the fact of the matter is that I didn’t say much before the first fight because I had nothing to say. Nothing I could have
said would have made any sense or had any reasoning. People would have been asking who I was anyway. People will give me the benefit of the doubt and listen this time because they know that George and I showed up and that whatever we did collectively as a team, George portrayed on the night. People do have to pay more attention. “Going in to this fight, everything that I want constantly to be in Carl’s face, I will talk about. Therefore, when people read these interviews they’ll go back and talk to Carl and Carl will be sick of hearing them. It’s a simple as that.” Groves has attracted equal amounts of praise and vilification for the way he has mentally dominated Froch. Some see it as disrespect whilst others see it as simple self confidence. Fitzpatrick is adamant that Groves hasn’t reinvented the wheel - imposing yourself on your rivals is a tactic employed by the greatest fighters in history. Getting a mental edge over an opponent is extremely useful but it is only half the battle, though. Fighting at the highest level requires constant concentration and the ability to survive. In refusing to show any sign of intimidation, Groves hasn’t displayed arrogance or disrespect. He has simply demonstrated the single mindedness required of a truly elite fighter and expected by Fitzpatrick. “I think if you look at the very best men in history a fight begins when you cross paths with anybody that you think is ever gonna be in your weight division, period. Every single guy - whether he’s a weight above you, at your weight or below you. I spent time with James Toney when I worked with Freddie Roach. There wasn’t anybody who could
“Carl hanging the basis for the second fight on what happened in the first fight is very naïve. I actually think that Rob McCracken is still lying to Carl and I have no problem in saying that.”
come in that gym anywhere close to James’ weight division that he wasn’t gonna let know someway or somehow – even if it was a back handed compliment – that if they ever came across him, they were getting it. This is the fight game and nothing can happen unless the brain and mind tell the body what to do. All the physical attributes a man has are laid to waste until the mind activates and tell the body what to do. If you can mess with a man and get inside his head and cause that to malfunction, you’ll cause everything to malfunction. “A perfect performance to me is when a fighter is able to constantly make adjustments. Boxing is the only sport in the world where when you watch the two best men in the world fighting, you see them constantly make mistakes. We watch boxing because guys get hit. We don’t watch it to watch them miss each other. We want to see who has the greater resolve and who can come through it. The only time you get hit in boxing is because you made a mistake. Not because the other dude did something right but because you made a mistake. You forgot to get your hand up, move your head or shift your feet. Boxing is never about perfection. It may be what you train for but know matter how perfectly you throw any punch, it has the ability to be countered. Therefore, no matter how perfect your performance, there’s always the possibility to counter it. The ideal fighter for me is the one who can constantly make adjustments, not the guy that never makes mistakes. “To me, the ultimate warrior is the man who can hand a beating out or take a beating himself and show no emotion of it. Even though Miguel Cotto has a few losses on his record, emotionally he is very close to being the perfect fighter. It doesn’t matter whether you see him taking somebody apart or receiving punishment like he did in his fights with Margarito or Pacquiao, he doesn’t change his composure. That’s very important. It doesn’t
Photography Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom Sport
mean you’ll find all the answers because you might be up against another man who can keep himself composed and can technically do more than you but what I’m saying is that emotionally, the perfect fighter will give it or take it with the same composure.” Froch has already had a “road to Damascus” moment of sorts by belatedly admitting that Groves got the better of him mentally before their last fight and accepting the help of a sports psychologist. Providing he is fully open to the idea, the doctor [believed to be Dr Chris Marshall] should be able to help Froch accept the fact that Groves is a worthy, dangerous challenger and allow him to relax and focus purely on the task we have in hand. Of course, despite our best attempts, the machinations of the
human brain are still something of a mystery. Making positive and permanent changes to the mind is an incredibly difficult thing to do and, with such a short amount of time to work with, the worst case scenario sees Froch stuck in some horrible halfway house, fully aware of the reasons why Groves is able to have such an effect on him but with scant time to work on them. “I can tell you because I have first hand knowledge of this,” Fitzpatrick says. “The only way that a psychologist can become beneficial to the patient is when the patient lays himself bare. Only then, when the patient opens himself up completely, can the psychologist step in and have a hope of doing something. It still doesn’t mean they’ll be able to help. It just means that the patient will admit, ‘Yes, I’m broken. Something isn’t
working here. I need help.’ It’s only then that the doctor has a chance of helping him. “You have two things going on here. Number one; unless Carl lays himself bare, the doctor has no chance of helping him and, let’s keeps it right, it is a doctor. If he does lay himself bare, then weeks before he’s about to get into the biggest fight of his career he’s having to lay himself bare and admit that, on his own, he’s not the man that can handle this situation. That’s a horrible position to be in. “Emotionally he’s starting from scratch. Not technically, he’s got what he’s got. He’s saying, ‘Doc, rebuild me. You’ve got twelve weeks.’ “You’ve also got to think of this. When you finally lay yourself bare you’re very vulnerable because what you’ve done is admit that something
“I have full respect for Carl and his team. They’re just in a fight they don’t want to be in. My job as coach is to serve my fighter and whatever I have to do, I will. If people get a little upset this time then it shows that it works.” external to you can have an effect on you. When you finally accept that the doctor might be able help you, what you’re actually doing is admitting that somebody external to yourself can have an influence or an effect on you. If somebody else steps in there, now that his mind is open, then his mind will accept that too.” Froch has sought help on the advice of his trainer, Rob McCracken. The partnership has reaped rich rewards since ‘The Cobra’ turned professional back in 2002 and Froch trusts Team GB Performance Director, McCracken, implicitly. Fitzpatrick fully respects the pair’s achievements but feels the first visible crack in the seemingly rock solid relationship may have appeared before the first fight when – despite having a sports psychologist as part of his incredibly successful Team GB amateur setup - McCracken claimed to have no knowledge of the mental side of the sport and suggests it may have been widened further by his sudden switch in direction on the topic. He also feels that the pair are too far down the road to engage in a full, honest debate about what went wrong last time. Something he and Groves did within a week of the first fight. “I said to George before the first
fight, ‘Rob McCracken has just told his first lie to Carl. He’s told Carl that he doesn’t know anything about mind games.’ Now Rob McCracken is the head of the most successful amateur team in British boxing. They have a sports psychologist on their books. Rob McCracken has always known about mind games but he lied to Carl because he couldn’t tell him the truth. “The coach lied to his fighter. You could say that a lot of coaches do that because it’s not the right time. I don’t care. My job is not to support Carl Froch. It’s not to prepare Carl Froch. My job is to prepare George Groves and lay the path the best I can for him to put on a performance. If that includes telling the truth because it’ll interfere with another man then that’s what I’ll do. But I’m not lying, I’m telling the truth. “Carl hanging the basis for the second fight on what happened in the first fight is very naïve. I actually think that Rob McCracken is still lying to Carl and I have no problem in saying that. George came back in to training a week after the first fight and we spoke about the first fight. I asked him for a grade out of ten on how he performed in the fight. I believe he gave himself a 6.5 and I believe that I had said 5.5 so we settled on 6. Then I asked him what he did positively and he told me. I asked what he did negatively
and he told me. I then said that I was going to tell him what I thought he did positively and negatively. We discussed it. I didn’t pat him on the back. He didn’t say, ‘Oh, your plan was great.’ There was none of that. It was what he did right? OK, we know that works. What did he do incorrectly? What did he do that was blatantly wrong? What did he do that was maybe too soon? We did too much of some things. We lost a little composure at times. There were a few things that we pulled out of the bag that we shouldn’t have pulled out at that time. We analysed the performance in order that we could have a truthful base to prepare for the rematch because we always believed that there would be a rematch. “Now, let’s be a fly on the wall up in Sheffield when they got back in. Carl and Rob have the same conversation. What’s the difference? ‘OK, George owned FROCH VS GROVES II the jab exchanges. George’s footwork You can see was better. George’s the eagerly power was better. You awaited were probably both as rematch on Sky Sports strong as each other. Box Office George’s hand speed on Saturday was better. George May 31st 2014. won the combination
exchanges. OK Carl, what did you do well?’ ‘I showed I’ve got an iron chin. I showed I’m a warrior and I showed that, er, well that was it.’ ‘OK. We’ve got to change your hand speed, your footwork, your hand position, the fact that you aren’t as quick as him and that he’s more powerful than you.’ “Do you think they had that truthful conversation?” Although Fitzpatrick and Groves have taken every opportunity to point out holes in the strategy of ‘Team Froch’, the amount of time they have spent pressing their case in the media pales compared to the number of hours they have put in away from the public eye making sure that their own plan is watertight. This, remember, will be only their second time working together. Last time around, the late nature of their union meant that Fitzpatrick was only able to focus on the tactical and technical side of the battle. This time, with Groves suitably impressed by the way he dealt with the situation last year, Fitzpatrick has been able to put his stamp on the entire process. “If George does 100% of what he was capable of doing in the last fight in this one, I’ll be very disappointed. Not only do I expect him to get everything that we had for the last fight correct, I expect him to get the other two things we’re throwing into the box correct too. George Groves did not perform to the best of his ability last time. People can say that Carl didn’t either and maybe emotionally he didn’t. Going into the fight for a second usually helps you because you know about the opponent. This time, that will be a hindrance to Carl and a benefit to George. “Going in to the second fight I’m confident that you’ll get a better
performance based on quite a few things. Firstly, before the first fight I walked into the gym on a Monday morning and met Barry O’Connell his physical trainer for the very first time. That was the very first day that George had been in the gym with Barry too. Barry has a gym where George’s wife goes training to keep fit. Barry didn’t know George except to say hello to. George didn’t know what Barry’s work was like. I didn’t know Barry. Barry didn’t know me. Three of us walked in to that gym and we had nine weeks to get ready. “Some of the things I wanted to do to get George ready for that fight I didn’t do and didn’t go anywhere
near. I asked George how he was with his runs and he said he was confident in them so I told him to take care of that. I asked how he was doing with his weight. He told me he was good with that so I said I didn’t want to hear anything about it unless he wasn’t where he normally would be. I didn’t want him to constantly hear my voice talking about ten different things. I wanted to talk about one or two specific things and when he heard my voice, it’d be related to those things and what he heard would be gold. “You’ll see a totally different physical specimen and you’ll see a man who’s been through more. Me and him have been through more
together and we know each other. You can work alongside a man in a factory for 20 years and then find out something about him that you never knew. When you know somebody, it isn’t based on time. It’s based on experiences together and George has been through the biggest situation of his life with everything going wrong at that time. He had a new coach, was managing himself and was going through board hearings. He went through all of that the first time and gave the performance he did. Me, George and Barry went through that together. We’ve been through the IBF appeal and everything I’ve said that he should do, he has done and they’ve paid dividends so we’ve got more trust in each other. “You’re only going to see a better performance from all three of us. George has to improve, I have to improve and Barry has to improve. There are three of us in that corner executing the plan that night. George is the man that carries everything out. He deserves the glory at the end of it because he’s the one putting it on the line. His performance is based on the efforts of three men though and if one of us messes up it’ll all show up on George. Three of us have to come correct and we will. “I have full respect for Carl and his team. They’re just in a fight they don’t want to be in. My job as coach is to serve my fighter and whatever I have to do, I will. If people get a little upset this time then it shows that it works. I hope both men come out of this healthy but it’s going to be a hell of a fight. Carl truly has no idea what he’s in for. I don’t mean what he’s in for from George Groves. He truly has no idea because, if he did, he wouldn’t be seeking psychological help.”
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With the recent Matchroom signing of James DeGale, you canâ€™t help but think that a further all-British super middleweight clash awaits towards the end of the year. Words Alex Gomez LIVEFIGHT.COM 47
ged just 22 and with a gold medal swinging from his neck and an MBE pinned to his chest. James DeGale turned professional in 2009. He was as brash and cocksure of himself as you could imagine. Appearances on chat shows, magazine covers and Radio One were the norm for the new darling of British boxing. Meanwhile, languishing in the shadows was his nemesis and former gym mate George Groves. Groves turned professional without any exposure or fanfare, an almost shy appearance on Steve Bunce’s Setanta boxing show where he announced his signature with Haymaker Promotions being his only real exposure before he slipped away into the back of our minds. In stark contrast to DeGale’s long list of offers and admirers from these shores and America, you’d have to imagine that the promotional offers available to Groves were at best, thin on the ground. Meanwhile, DeGale’s talk of buying himself a new Range Rover Sport and hanging out in Marbella set the tone for his debut. Entering the ring to his own ‘Chunky’ backing track before turning in a lacklustre performance garnered the Harlesdon Olympian a round of boos from the fickle boxing fans in attendance and took the youngster by surprise. Going from being the nation’s amateur darling to a professional villain in the space of one ring walk shook DeGale to his boots more than any punch. He knuckled down and began to produce the goods that his interviews promised.
That hard work culminated at gunning down Charles Adamu Liverpool’s Echo Arena a couple on the David Haye vs John Ruiz of years on from that hostile undercard. George’s fire power debut. DeGale entered the ring putting the African down three to the vociferous screams of times en route to a sixth round thousands of angry scousers. stoppage. They wanted cockney blood A further shoot-out with and they hoped their charge Glasgow tough guy Kenny Paul Smith would spill it. Anderson saw Groves’ power Sadly for Smith, DeGale put in evident once again, as he forced an almost flawless performance the referee to intervene for as he drilled him with jabs and another 6th round TKO victory. combinations until the referee But Groves also showed frailty intervened in the ninth round. after being floored in the 3rd Smith protested and would have round – and that slip up was gone out on his shield but it was likely the sign that promoter DeGale’s night to shine. He left Frank Warren needed to see Liverpool as the British super before he decided to bring middleweight champion. Groves and DeGale together With his stock as high as it for that epic night almost three had ever been, both fans and years ago to the day. critics were in agreement that We don’t need to carry out DeGale had matured from a post mortem of DeGale’s a boy into a man. The early performance. He let himself criticism had galvanised the down throughout the press young fighter, it had forged tour and never quite got going him in readiness for that hostile during the actual fight but Liverpool ring walk. He was public opinion would say that beginning to look the real deal. Groves verbal victories in the But, like any good roller Ringside studio were probably coaster ride, the highs are more conclusive than his victory quickly followed by the dips and on the night. Many still think - following a pedestrian stay there is a case that DeGale was busy fight against Alpay Kobal the rightful winner, but that the north of the border in Glasgow way he carried himself in the - the downward curve was build-up to the fight meant that set to begin. And his old foe not many people felt the urge was ready and waiting to take to protest his razor thin loss on advantage. his behalf. George Groves, whose The story moved on. Groves stock had risen dramatically and DeGale swapped places at in tandem with DeGale’s, now Frank Warren’s side, with the stood in the opposite corner latter leaving under a cloud and the former friends were after capturing the European pitted against each other for title in a torrid fight with tough domestic bragging rights. Sure, Pole Piotr Wilczewski. DeGale this was a fight that could cited several reasons for the have been massive split but was obviously in the future – but somewhat dismayed Follow Frank Warren was that his arch rival James Degale confident his was being brought on Twitter. charge could in alongside himself @jamesdegale1 dominate Groves and decided to seek and take his pastures new. Commonwealth Hennessy strap in the process. Sports bridged the Groves had won the Olympian’s career belt in sensational fashion, from that point until now,
Photography Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom Sport
affording DeGale a terrestrial platform of potentially millions on Channel 5, including interesting bouts with Sebastien Demers, Stjepan Bozic and Fulgencio Zuniga which improved his world ranking but failed to grab the public’s imagination. The spark that we saw in the Paul Smith performance has been lacking. A troublesome knee has been cited as the reason behind DeGale’s tendency to lay on the ropes but the team claim that has now been successfully remedied. With all super middleweight roads leading to promoter Eddie Hearn, the older and wiser James DeGale has decided to return to Sky. He has been rewarded with a prime spot on British boxing’s night of the year. He will fight a world title eliminator in front of 80,000 people immediately ahead of the rematch between Carl Froch and their common enemy, George Groves. Should he win, he will face the victor. Standing in the way of those huge nights is a Californian with an eye on the headline winner himself, his name is Brandon Gonzales. Gonzales, 29, is a year older than DeGale and holds a respectable amateur record of 56-7 (in comparison to DeGale’s 79-16) and a similar but unbeaten professional record of 18-0-1, with the draw coming against the extremely tall South African Tommy Oosthuizen. At 18-1 himself, DeGale is pegged professionally on fairly level terms with the visiting American. With a busy, crouching style – Gonzales is an aggressive handful and victory is not assured for DeGale by any chance. A quick glance at Gonzales’ record reveals that a points decison over the platinumrated bogeyman Darnell Boone (who dropped Andre Ward,
“With all super middleweight roads leading to promoter Eddie Hearn, the older and wiser James DeGale has decided to return to Sky. He has been rewarded with a prime spot on British boxing’s night of the year.”
Sergey Kovalev and completely poleaxed Adonis Stevenson) is perhaps his most notable victory to date. Elsewhere the names are the usual club level opponents found on most prospects resumes. In DeGale’s favour, the visitor has only competed ten rounds on two occasions and is yet to go the full twelve-round distance. A quick refresher of DeGale’s record on Boxrec.com reveals that he has done the full twelve round distance five times so far and has passed the ten round mark in his last fight, stopping Gevorg Khatchikian. I forecast that the former switch hitter will stick to a full southpaw stance and circle Gonzales from the outside, spearing him with the jab in the opening rounds before trying to step in to assert himself and possibly close the show in front of what promises to be a British record live gate and a pay-per-view audience of possibly millions. DeGale is entering the third stage of his career. He knows that a shot at the Froch vs Groves winner and those coveted world titles is within touching distance. In short, the fight is not only a chance to secure himself a shot at a world title and achieve a childhood ambition; It is also a chance to redeem himself in the minds of the boxing public. Of course, if Groves manages to upset the odds and defeats Carl Froch, the path is clear for the pair to renew hostilities. If Carlsberg did rematches………… It’s impossible to say what will happen in DeGale’s future, but - whether it is his destiny is to be world champion by the end of the year or not – we can confidently predict one thing. On May 31st James DeGale will be looking to put on the performance of a lifetime to keep those world title (and revenge) dreams alive.
Words John MacDonald Photography Lawrence Lustig Matchroom Sport
his time last year, Jamie McDonnell had just enjoyed the best night of his career by defeating Julio Ceja to claim the IBF Bantamweight title in front of a home-town crowd. Little did he know that the next twelve months would be his hardest to date in the sport. He discusses the lows of the past year and optimism for the next with John MacDonald. The Jab: How is preparation going for your fight with Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat on the Froch-Groves II undercard? Everything is going good. I’ve got plenty motivation; fighting for a world title on such a big bill. Been back in to it, [for] the last four weeks now, plenty of sparring, a little bit of core work but it’s mainly been pad work and sparring. We’re absolutely flying, just looking forward to it now. The Jab: Who have you been sparring for this fight? We’ve got Josh Warrington coming in, Rendall Munroe’s trainer [Jason Shinfield] has brought a young kid in but I can’t remember his name. I think Gary Sykes is coming in for a few [rounds]. We’ve got plenty of tough kids in who are strong because this kid [Na Rachawat] comes forward and he can bang. He’s not technical, skillwise, or owt like that, he just comes for a fight and chucks the kitchen sink at you. That’s the sort of sparring we are putting in with heavier kids so I’ll be ready for him.
The Jab: Have seen much of your opponent to allow you to prepare for his style? Just what’s on YouTube. He looks tiny, he’s thickset, he’s a stocky geezer but we think he’ll
be about 5’ 3”, he might even be a little bit smaller than that. My legs are bigger than him! He comes forward, if he thinks he’s got you hurt he’ll rush in and start winging away. He looks like he has decent dig on him but I’m just going to keep him on that jab and hit and move like I did with [Julio] Ceja. He’s not half as good as Ceja and he’s not half as aggressive, I did it against Ceja so I’ll do it against this kid. I’m not going to stand there and let him smash me to bits. The Jab: Was it difficult to motivate yourself for 8 rounders against Bernard Inom and Agbigail Medina after fighting for a world title? It got a little bit hard. I’d just won the world title, got stripped, my life got turned upside-down, and you’re getting chucked in with nobodies. Medina, he were good, he were tough. When I came out of that ring I said: “That could have been a banana skin.” You go in there thinking you are going to do a job on these kids like I did with that Inom, or whatever his name is, in the fight before, that were an easy touch. Then this Medina kid, my mind weren’t on it properly, it was just about getting back in the ring and doing something but he were tough so I could have slipped up. Me head weren’t on it, all me fights in the last three or four years have been title fights: British, Commonwealth, European, final eliminator and a World title. They’ve all be for something. Then to go to 8 round fights against a bum, it were hard to get motivated but it’s what I had to do, take one step back to take two forward. That’s what I did and we are there now, we’ve got a WBA shot. Hopefully win this and look at unifying it [the division]. We offered Stuey Hall the fight anyway but I don’t think that fight will happen while he’s with
Dennis [Hobson, McDonnell’s former manager]. I beat him once and I’ll beat him again. I’ve come on leaps and bounds, I’m younger and fresher, I think I’d do an even more impressive job on him next time. They don’t want to lose their title but I’ll win this and go and chase the WBO champion [Tomoki Kameda]. The Jap[anese] kid, I think he’s Japanese, you know the WBC champ[Shinsuke Yamanaka]? He’s shit-hot so I’m not too fussed about going there really, unless the money is right and anyway he doesn’t fight out of China or wherever he’s from! It’ll be hard to win over there so we aint too fussed about that. Randy Caballero will have to fight whoever wins out of Stuey Hall and Paul Butler, he’ll dust whoever has that belt. He’s a really good kid. If I have the WBA and Caballero has the IBF I’ll unify against him. The plan is to win this WBA belt, unify it, then maybe move up in weight. Plenty of options out there but I have to nail this kid first then I’ll have a bit of pulling power in negotiations and get paid a bit better and stuff. The Jab: Having spent most of your career fighting on small hall shows, off TV, how does it feel to be fighting on the biggest British card of the year? This is where you want to be, for Eddie [Hearn] Follow to pick me to Jamie McDonnell be on that bill on Twitter. is a privilege @JamieMcdonnell1 because he has that many fighters to choose from. I’ve won the British title twice, defended the Commonwealth once, defended the European four times, won a final eliminator and a world title but it’s only now I’m starting to get on these big show and
my name is starting to get pushed out there. When I won the British title it should all have started then, it didn’t, it’s only starting now. Being on this show with Eddie is just going to boost my profile massively. If I can win this world title, with American TV tuned in and everything, it’ll be world wide, my name will be out there. As a two-time world champion, people will start to know me. The Jab: Many don’t consider the WBA regular title a genuine world title as there currently is a “Super” champion in Anselmo Moreno, how do you feel about this? If you win do you consider yourself a world champion? It don’t really matter to me, it’s a World title. Carl Froch, he has the same title, are people saying he’s not a World champion? It’s
catch 22. They have a “Super” champion but I don’t know why. Do you have to defend it so many times or hold it for so long to become a “Super” champion? It’s a load of bollocks but at the end of the day it’s a world title, even if it’s only the “Regular” one. WBC, they have Silvers and stuff like that, it don’t really matter. At the end of the day it’s a world title and I’m going to go out and win it, regardless of if it’s a “Regular”, even if it were an “Interim” it’s still a belt. I aint fussed. The Jab: Is a fight with Moreno, to unify the WBA belts, something that interests you? Definitely. We’ll take that fight. I said to Dave [Hulley, his trainer] when it got mentioned about the WBA fight: “We’ll take that Mourinho [Moreno].” I think I’ll lick him anyway, he’s good and
he’s strong but I do think I’ll dust him anyway. If I win this belt and he wants to get it on, we’ll get it on, no problem. I’ve beat the best out there in Ceja, a young banger, [who] came in and honestly thought he were going to win and I did a job on him. As long as everything goes right in training and in camp, I’ll beat anyone out there. The Jab: You lost your IBF title due to politics outside of the ring, how difficult was that experience for you? I was on top of the world. For years I’d worked hard, won and defended British, Commonwealth, European titles, won a final eliminator. There had been a long build up. Then I fought Ceja, who is probably the best out there. Then to get stripped, it were pretty shitty really. I went from being on top
Photography Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom Sport
“Being on this show with Eddie is just going to boost my profile massively.”
of the world to being gutted. I’d got the World title, had a few holidays, enjoyed me rest and then got stripped. People don’t know the ins-and-outs but it were a disgrace why they stripped me. It weren’t my fault, I’d gone and earned this World title, I was about to have a few paydays that would change my life then I were stripped. It were pretty depressing really. I were expecting to come back from holiday and earn some life changing money, money you can do something with but then I get the call saying I’ve been stripped. They said I didn’t sign a contract [to face mandatory challenger, Vusi Malinga], I didn’t even know about a contract! I weren’t to blame for getting stripped. I’d worked hard all my career. I’ve been a pro ten years, it took me ten years but I’d finally got there. You can’t
really afford to train fulltime when your starting out, it’s only when you make it that you get sponsors and stuff and I’d just finally got there and then they [the IBF] go and take your life away just by taking your belt. It’s wrong what they did. Look at Stuey Hall now, he’s getting an extension on his mandatory, Randy Caballero, so he can fight Butler. Why couldn’t they have given me an extension of a couple of months? I’d just won that belt but people who know people didn’t want me to have that title and that’s why I fell out with Dennis [Hobson]. I wanted to fight on Sky Sports and he wanted to sign with Boxnation. I aint to blame but it’s took me a full year to get back to getting a World title shot. A full year of my life with no money, well little bits of money, but not what I should have been getting. It’s been horrible, it’s been depressing but all you can do is just get one with it and that’s what I’ve done. I’ve got on with it and I’m back on [the] biggest show in British boxing history, I’m going to be a part of it and I’m going to win a World title. I’m back! The Jab: The biggest beneficiary of the IBF’s ruling has been Stuart Hall. How does
it feel to see a man you’ve beaten, holding a title you never lost in the ring? It were hard at first but I spoke to Stuey since then and he’s decent. He said he wants us to fight, I said: “We should have had this fight at Wembley.” He said he would have, he wanted the fight but obviously he’s signed with Dennis and is with Boxnation so they are not going to let it happen. He took his chance like I would have. It weren’t him who stripped me. It weren’t him that got himself ranked where he was ranked, well it were in [the] ring but people helped him out to get him up that ranking and get him where he were. He took his chance and now he’s got that belt. It would be nice to get the fight on but I don’t think the fight will happen. Stuey wants it and I want it, it’s a good fight. I’ve beat him once so he wants to get one back over me and I just want me belt back. I wish him all the best against Paul Butler, I hope he beats him. I still want the fight, I want him to keep hold of that belt but if I’m honest, if he has to face Randy Caballero, I think he’ll lose that fight. It is what it is, you just have to get on with it, that’s why we’ve gone down another route. I think the IBF said we couldn’t fight Randy Caballero. I were even going back to have a hard fight with that Randy Caballero to get a shot at him but boot got put in [the] works there. The IBF said: “You can’t fight him ‘til you sort yourself out with your manager, with Dennis because it’s all ongoing.” But it don’t mean owt! I’ve determined me contract, discontinued it over certain grounds which he’s breached, so that contract doesn’t stand. That’s how I’m still fighting now. When they say it’s a business, it really is a business and I’ve learnt [the] hard way. I don’t care about anyone now, you
have to look out for yourself in this game like everyone else does and put yourself first. You do come across good people like Eddie and Matchroom, they are the best out there. They aren’t in to penny pinching. The first thing he [Hearn] said to me was: “I’ll pay you the most I can, as a business. I’m not going to pay you chuffing stupid money and lose money but I’ll pay you the most I can.” And they do. They [Matchroom] do their best to help you out, they get you sponsors, they do everything for you. You do come across nice people but there are a lot of not very nice people in this business and you don’t want to be associated with those kinds of people. At the minute everything is going good so fingers crossed I win this belt and things are back on track.
The Jab: While your life in boxing has been turbulent over the past year your personal life seems to be going well with getting engaged and you first baby on the way. That’s it. At the minute me life is back on the up. I’m having a kid, I’m having a baby girl and I’m getting married. Two week[s] after the fight I’m off to get married and I aint going unless I win this. Well I am going but I want to be there as a champion. It’s a funny story, when I fought Ceja for [the] World title I was going away with me brother [Gavin, British super bantamweight champion], pal and bird, two days after the fight. All I kept thinking about through that camp is that I want to be sat on that beach with a nice cold beer as a World Champion, to sit there with me brother and go: “We’ve fucking
done it!” Now, it’s the same. I’m getting married in Mexico and I’ve said to my brother: “We can sit there again bruv and say we’ve fucking done it again.” That’s what I want to do and I’ve got so much motivation. I will win that title, there’s no two ways about it. I need it. I need it to change me life. I want to set a life up for me daughter and me wife. I don’t want to go back plastering, I want to win this World title and make it an easier life for everybody. The Jab: If you are getting married two weeks after the fight you’ll have to keep a tight defence otherwise you’ll have a black eye in your wedding photos. Listen, the game plan is to hit and move, the kid aint going to get near me. I aint having no cuts and bruises on me wedding
“Listen, the game plan is to hit and move, the kid ain’t going to get near me. I ain’t having no cuts and bruises on me wedding photos.”
Photography Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom Sport
photos. I’ll be hitting and moving the best you’ve ever seen me. Our lass will be jumping in going: (in a high pitched voice) “Don’t you be hitting him!” So it’ll be hit and move all night long. The Jab: When your brother, Gavin, won the British title, you made history by becoming the first identical twins to both win the Lonsdale belt. That must have been a proud moment? It were. We’re both flying. Me brother fights two weeks before me [against Josh Wale], I’ve said to him: “You just keep that belt bruv, I’ll win the World title and we can party in Mexico.” It’s unbelievable. There weren’t a big enough fuss made that we were the first identical twins to hold British titles, ever, in history. We have banter me and r’kid, it’s only me and him in the gym training so it’s good motivation.
We push each other. He wants to do what I’ve done and he says he can do it. I never thought I were going to do what I’ve done and I’ve done it. If I can do it, he can do it, anyone can do it. You’ve just got to knuckle down, dig deep and you will get there. Me coach [Dave Hulley] says I’ve got natural talent because I only knuckled down in [the] last year or two. I’ve got to where I’ve got with pure talent. When you do knuckle down, it comes and r’kid seen that. He’s just starting his journey with the British title. Hopefully he can win that outright before he moves on and then we’ve got [the] full set; English, British, Commonwealth, European and World title belts, We’ve got them all. If I can win this WBA, I’ve got two World titles, we’ve only got two more, WBC and WBO, to get and then we’ll have every major belt you
can win between us. Apart from your Intercontinentals and all that bollocks but the main ones, we’ll have ‘em. Hopefully we’ll have a big mansion each, with a games room and a cinema before we’re done. When I won that World title, you get a little taste of a different life; people know you more, you start seeing bigger money and I like it. When me title got took away I felt I were starting from [the] bottom again but it gives you more drive to get back there and prove all them, who’ve done what they’ve done, wrong. I’ll get back there, I need to get back there. I want a better life, I aint going back plastering. I’m going to knuckle down and get that belt. I do think I’m the best out there at bantamweight. I think he’ll give me a tough fight, the Jap kid [Yamanaka] but all the rest of ‘em, I think I’d lick ‘em.
J os h ua
Words Nate Williams Photography Lawrence Lustig Matchroom Sport
The facts Anthony Joshua (age 24) Heavyweight Stance: Orthodox From: Watford, UK Fights: 5 Won 5 (KO 5) Lost 0 (KO 0) Drawn 0 Rounds Boxed: 8 KO%: 100 Last Fight: Hector Alfredo Avila 22(14)-15-1
Photography Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom Sport
W KO 1 6x3 Scottish Exhibition Centre, Glasgow, Scotland, UK
T He beat the defending champion Roberto Camarelle on countback to claim Olympic gold in only his 43rd contest.
here are some moments in life where you just feel like nothing is going your way and you feel like calling it a day and giving up. However, there are some special people that come along at any moment in time who refuse to believe in such days and work through the tough times until they achieve their goals, no matter what situation they are in. These people are known as champions. Five years ago, not one reporter in the fight game had uttered the name Anthony Joshua until he stepped into a ring for the 18th time in 2010 and became ABA champion. Within 18 fights, the 6”6 heavyweight from Watford had achieved something that most young boxers work years for to add to their trophy cabinet. For his efforts in the ABA’s, Joshua was offered £50,000 to turn professional early but he knew more success was to come as he rejected the offer and joined the Great Britain squad. And after losing by one point in the World Championship final to Azerbaijan’s Magomedrasul Majidov a year later, Joshua regrouped and became the crowning jewel in a glorious summer for Team GB at the London 2012 Olympics. He beat the defending champion Roberto Camarelle on countback to claim Olympic gold in only his 43rd contest. Now the 24 year-old Olympic champion reflects on his journey to the paid ranks, which he said hasn’t been a quick and easy ride to fame and fortune as he first had to learn from his early setbacks. “I moved into London from Watford where my cousin (Ben Ileyemi, 2-0-1) was training as a boxer at the Finchley Gym. I
didn’t have many friends at the time so I was hanging around with him. When he went to the gym, I went along and watched at first and then one day, I bought my first pair of boots, I trained hard every day and I got my first bout and then couldn’t stop boxing. I carried on from there. “I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. It hasn’t been straightforward but I’ve learnt a lot through the discipline of boxing and I’ve been blessed to be a part of this sport. “I lost my third bout, bout number 28 and the World Championship final and I’ve learnt from them all. I know the mistakes I’ve made but you just have to keep progressing and move on. I used to rely on power and getting people out of the ring with one punch but GB has helped me become a smart boxer and figuring out my moves ahead of a fight.” It certainly wasn’t an easy route to the top of the ExCel Arena podium. Joshua’s first hurdle was Erislandy Savon, the nephew of Cuban great, Felix, where he won by a single point. And after knocking down giants like China’s Zhang and Kazakhstan’s Ivan Dychko, He battled his way through a tough final round to reach the pinnacle of amateur boxing. “I always knew I had the ability to win gold and when I
was knocking down the guy in the semi final, it showed I was growing in confidence as the tournament went on. I’ll always be proud and happy of what I achieved in London,” said Joshua. There was a lot of speculation about whether it would be the right time for Joshua to turn pro after the Olympics. After considering seven options from promoters’ abroad, he finally decided to team with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom who gave him a heroes return debut at London’s O2 Arena on October 5. “Training facilities and the amount of fights I could get was important when it came to making a decision,” said Joshua. “From two years ago, I’ve improved bit by bit so we’ll take it one step at a time and rack up those wins before titles.” After dispatching a doughy Italian Emanuele Leo inside the first round with a series of sharp jabs and devastating combinations, there were instant comparison arguments to Britain’s heavyweight stalwarts of Lennox Lewis, Frank Bruno and Audley Harrision. From a personal point of view, I’ve had the privilege to follow Joshua’s career and watch him spar from 2011. In my opinion, this sensational fighter who has all the ingredients of a future champion but still has more
“I’ve had a lot of ups and downs. It hasn’t been straightforward but I’ve learnt a lot through the discipline of boxing and I’ve been blessed to be a part of this sport.”
to learn with each fight, does not fit into just one of those heavyweight brackets. Joshua is a combination of all three. He has the height, strength and stature of Bruno, the incredible jab and all round fighting skills similar to Lewis and the positive attitude of A-Force Harrison. However, in his first postfight press conference, Joshua prefers to stay grounded, disciplined and shows willingness to learn from past greats. He said: “I’ve got so much time for what Audley’s done for the sport with his medal.
Photography Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom Sport
I look up to Lennox as well but when I look in the mirror, I don’t see Audley or Lennox, I see Anthony Joshua. I have to reach my own expectations first before being compared to them. I have to look at what Anthony Joshua’s good at first before I’m compared on that level. “It was great to enter the ring in front of ten thousand fans. All I had to do was take what I do in the gym everyday into the ring and that’s why I was victorious in the first round. I wanted to take it round by round and not rush things but I could see as I was hitting him, I was hurting
him. It was a natural reaction when I caught him and he went down. The great thing about the O2 for me was that I was surrounded by familiar faces of my family and friends so in that ring, it felt comfortable and it felt like home. I would be happy to box at the O2 again.” From his first fight onwards, Joshua likes to study the greats and their historic fights. He added that he wanted to fight more like his idol Evander Holyfield and win in style rather than going for a quick knockout. “I’ve learned how not to get
sucked into a trade off. You know like when you watch Holyfield tuck up and counter? That’s how you win fights. If you get caught in trade off at heavyweight you will lose and I don’t want to lose.” But more knockouts followed in Sheffield against Paul Butlin and Croatian Hrvoje Kisicek at the famous York Hall. In attendance at London’s iconic boxing theatre were the two legendary figures of Michael Watson and former heavyweight champion of the world, Larry Holmes. The 64 year-old Pennsylvania
great, who beat Muhammad Ali expressed how important it is for the WBC world heavyweight to give something back from title in 1980, passed on this boxing, even if it means hours of advice to an inspired prospect: his own time. “Don’t rush and don’t run before “For me the dream is to seize you can walk. You have talent my opportunity that I’ve been and the potential but you have a given in boxing. I think boxing lot of work to do.” has helped me be a better After missing out on the person. In my area, it has Froch-Groves card in inspired some people Manchester due to a including the kids in Follow bicep injury, Joshua Anthony Joshua my gym so what I can had to wait until give back to them on Twitter. February 2014 until @anthonyfjoshua from boxing is very his next fight and important. I need this time he was the to stay disciplined, away fighter. earn respect out of Joshua went up something I love doing against rugby-loving and to give back and Welshman Dorian Darch in inspire people. That is my dream the Welsh capital of Cardiff from boxing.” on February 1. After a few six Next stop on the AJ Tour was round scraps with the likes of Glasgow in Scotland to face Hughie Fury and Ian Lewison, seasoned veteran Hector Avila. it was hoped that Darch would Again, it was hoped that Avila frustrate Joshua and give him would give Joshua some tough the rounds he craved. rounds but after a clean shot on However, Darch was dazed by the jaw in the opening round, it a thunderous left hand in the was another early night’s work second round as Joshua’s tally for Joshua. of knockout victories continued. However, Joshua said even Joshua was disappointed that though he would like tougher he did not get to display the full challengers, it was good to get extent of his skills to show his the travelling experience as an appreciation of support from away fighter under his belt for the Welsh public that flocked future reference. in numbers to see him at the “We had to tour the country weigh in. and go to different places Prior to fight night, I witnessed because it’s important just how popular Joshua had to experience different become in such a short time atmospheres and all of the across the UK. The nation’s UK boxing fans. I can’t say I’m Olympic hero spent over an happy with performances at hour after the weigh in taking the minute because a couple of pictures, signing autographs rounds are too short to judge. and talking to his fans about I’m still working on a lot of anything from football and things that I’ve picked up from rugby to which celebrity he the last few fights. I can only would like to meet. Even when beat what is in front of me.” the doctors were calling him So as Joshua stands with an for a check up, he would not unbeaten 5-0 record going leave until he had met everyone into his next fight on May 31 who wanted to meet him. I have at Wembley Stadium, where never seen anything like it and does Anthony Joshua go from that is what star quality is. here? After looking at all the When asked about his evidence, his promoter Eddie commitment to the public Hearn strongly believes he is “12who come to support him, he 18 months away from a big clash
with Tyson Fury.” Joshua said he feels no pressure at all as he has been used to fighting with expectation from his amateur days and adds that the comparisons between him, Fury and David Price are tough to judge. “I’ve been doing this since the amateurs so I think the pressure has been there from day one. I just want to keep my feet on the ground, keep training, learning and let no one put me on a pedestal as I take each fight step by step. “You can’t judge Tyson to David Price and you can’t judge either of them against me because in my opinion they are two completely different fighters and my story will unfold in time. There’s no need to rush these opponents because I’m fit enough to go the full six rounds at the moment and do it in style but when opponents start getting tougher, that’s when I’ll go the distance. For now, this is exactly what I should be doing if I have any chance of progressing to the next level.” Whether any of these British heavyweights will share a ring is uncertain at this point in time but one thing is certain for sure in all of Joshua’s future fights. He will keep the same positive and humble attitude that has already helped him achieve so much in just five years. In a recent interview with IFL TV’s Kugan Cassius, he said: “Things haven’t changed since the Olympics. Whoever you are, your character doesn’t change but desires do. For me, I’ve gone from wanting to be ABA champion to Olympic champion and now I’m working towards being a world champion. So my desires definitely change but my attitude has always remained the same. I’m hungry. As long as I keep that attitude, I’ll always achieve the things I set out to do in my life.”
The match FROCH VS GROVES II
Photography Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom Sport
You can see the eagerly awaited rematch on Sky Sports Box Office on Saturday May 31st 2014.
“I’m hungry. As long as I keep that attitude, I’ll always achieve the things I set out to do in my life.”
Gavin Rees talks “Dynamo” rematch and future. Words Michael J Jones Photography Lawrence Lustig Matchroom Sport
gavin ‘the rock’ rees
ast February at the Cardiff Motorpoint Arena Welsh gladiators Gavin Rees and Gary Buckland put on a scintillating twelve-round battle in their British lightweight title eliminator. At the end of an absorbing contest former British super-featherweight champion Buckland took a debatable split-decision. The two rivals are now set to engage in an immediate rematch on May 17th with Rees looking for revenge as well as his first victory in nearly two years. After a fifteen-year career which has seen him prevail at every level in boxing, the near 34-year-old Rees hasn’t had the best of luck in his last few fights. While a stoppage loss to an in-form Adrien Broner for the WBC lightweight title can be
accepted, the last two reverses to Buckland and Anthony Crolla have been painfully close points defeats which have divided fans and experts equally. In an exclusive interview with The Jab, the diminutive Welshman reveals he is training harder than ever for the Buckland return. “Training is going good, there have luckily been no injuries in this camp so far touch wood” Gavin tells me from the Gary Lockett gym in South Wales. “It’s been great training with all the boys in the gym, the weight is always hard but it’s been that way for fifteen years now so no surprise.” The former WBA lightwelterweight champion admits injuries have plagued him for the last few years; his own trainer Lockett even labelling him ‘injury ravished’ at one point last year. The Newbridge veteran fully admits that he has greatly
reduced the volume of sparring he does these days as he seeks to protect his fragile body. “I only spar once or twice a week now” confirms the 5’4” Rees. “I’ve been sparring (gymmate and namesake) Lewis Rees and (11-1 Yorkshire prospect) Maxi Hughes who are good young fighters and some other lads in the gym. I don’t see the point of travelling all over the country to spar these days. I just hope my training continues like this up to the fight.” The Jab: The said injuries, often occurring to his hands or wrists, would clearly hamper him during the Anthony Crolla fight last June, were they a major factor during the Buckland thriller? “I wasn’t quite 100%” admits the Matchroom-promoted Rees. “I was in a lot better condition than the Crolla fight though and I think you could tell in my
hard twelve rounder but I’m fully confident of winning this time.” The Jab: Is it a psychological barrier that he boxed well the first time but still came away with a defeat? “Yes it is but deep down I know I can perform better” says the 37-4-1 (18) Gavin who was for a long time in the Enzo Calzaghe stable. “I’d be silly to predict I’m going to knock him out as he took a wicked amount of punishment in the first fight so we’re preparing for another hard twelve rounds.”
Photography Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom Sport
Follow Gavin Rees on Twitter. @gavtherock
(respective) performances.” The February Buckland clash saw Rees pile up the points early before “Dynamo” fought back hard in the middle stages of the bout. By the later rounds it appeared Rees had regained control though the Tony Borg trained Buckland never let up the pace. It set up a frenetic finale as both Welsh warriors tore into each other for the last three minutes after which Buckland gained victory by scores of 116-113 and 115-114 against a 116-113 vote for Rees. The Jab: Did the beaten man think he did enough to claim victory? “I thought I definitely won though it was close but they gave it to him obviously. I didn’t score it but I felt I won the first few rounds, dropped some of the middle ones but won the last three clearly. It was a good fight for the public and a good,
The Jab: Did you feel you hurt the younger and taller Buckland in fight one? “I hurt him loads of times” states Rees matter-of-factly. Buckland was coming off a knockout loss to Liverpool’s Stephen Smith but took all of Rees’ best punches without visiting the canvas though Gavin is adamant he hurt his fellow Welshman. “I winded him badly to the body and was bringing up the shots to the head. I don’t know how he took some of those punches but I know many lesser men wouldn’t have been able to stay standing.” “I don’t see the fight being much different from the first” Rees continues. “He only knows how to box one way and that’s to be a come forward slugger. He’ll never be jabbing at range, I think he’ll come straight at me again and it’ll be another exciting distance fight.” The Jab: Former Rees victor Anthony Crolla scored his best win to date recently by defusing and then stopping former world title challenger John Murray. As I turn my attention to Rees’ future I ask whether he saw that Manchester derby? “Yes Anthony Crolla did brilliant” praises Gavin. “He weathered the storm early before taking
“It was a good fight for the public and a good, hard twelve rounder but I’m fully confident of winning this time.” over late on. It was a great performance.” I ask whether the Crolla rematch is something Rees will be looking for should he get by Buckland. The Welshman hesitates before giving me his answer… “It’s hard to say really as I don’t think I’ve got too long left in boxing. I don’t want to be going on too long, I’m nearly 34 now so we’ll see what happens after this next fight and how I feel.” Although Rees has lost his last three the names Broner, Crolla and Gary Buckland are all at or above British title level but the former world champion seems set on leaving in the near future regardless of the Buckland outcome. “I’ve got many interests outside the ring now to keep me busy” Rees explains. “A lot of the outside (the ring) pressures are gone now and I know I’m not the fighter of a couple of years ago. I don’t want to be known as the guy who lost his last three or four fights; I want to go out a winner.” “I’ve had a good career being world champion, British, European, so I’ve got nothing to be embarrassed about but I’ll get through the Buckland fight and see how it goes.”
“I’ve not spoken to one person who had it scored for Gary Buckland” Welsh trainer Gary Lockett weighs up stable. Words Michael J Jones
t may seem cliché but success has never seemed to change Gary Lockett. From a fast-rising amateur star to power-punching pro; Lockett has seen and done almost everything in his twenty-five years in boxing but has always remained grounded. Since retiring six years ago, the 37-year-old Welshman has used his extensive boxing knowledge to good use by raising a talented stable of fighters at his gym in South Wales. In a solid 30-2 (21) pro career of his own, “The Rocket” held the WBU middleweight belt before challenging WBC and WBO champion Kelly Pavlik in his last fight in 2008. Making a swift change to training upon hanging up his own gloves, the former pro has built up a highly respectable reputation in his relatively short time as a chief second. Known for his gruelling training methods and intelligent corner advice, Gary has earned respect for resurrecting the careers of former world champions Gavin Rees and Enzo Maccarinelli as well as guiding top Welsh prospects such as Liam Williams and Lewis Rees to unbeaten records. Lockett has already had an explosive start to the year with all his pro fighters in key contests. Several of his boxers are in action in the big Cardiff show on May 17th and The Jab was lucky enough to catch a word with the Welsh trainer ahead of the Matchroom bill. The Jab: How is Gavin Rees looking ahead of his rematch with Gary Buckland on May 17th? “He’s looking good, he had a little set back a couple of weeks ago with a small injury but it didn’t hold us up too much. It’s over three weeks until the fight and he’s already sparring ten rounds comfortably.”
The Jab: Many have questioned the decision although it was close; how sure were you your fighter had won? “Well I’ve not heard one person yet who has said they thought Buckland won. Twenty five ringside journalists all scored to Gavin so I think that speaks for itself. Absolutely no disrespect to Gary Buckland though he was a tough kid and it wasn’t his fault.” The Jab: Tactically is there anything you’re going to try and change with Rees’ game-plan for the return? “No we are going to box the same way again but Gav’s got to move his feet more. He lost his legs in the first fight after a few rounds. I think it was because he was trying to shift weight the week of the fight by running and I think he probably ran too much in the end and weakened his legs.” The Jab: Rees has hinted heavily he may retire win, lose or draw after the Buckland rematch. Do you agree with his decision should he call it a day? “You don’t often see boxers walk away on their own terms do you? He doesn’t want to go out on a loss so if he beats Buckland and sails off into the sunset I think it would be a fitting way to end his career. If he wins and looks great though he may get the bit between his teeth and change his mind but hopefully he retires and sticks by it.” The Jab: Big Enzo Maccarinelli has just been beaten on injury in a WBA light-heavyweight title fight in Germany; is there a possibility of a rematch with Juergen Braehmer in the foreseeable future? “We are currently waiting to hear from Frank Warren (Enzo’s promoter) as the talks are ongoing but hopefully it comes
off. I think there was something like 3.4 million viewers on German television and with the unfortunate ending it makes good grounds for a return. I’m not saying Enzo would have definitely won but with two eyes it would have been a lot more competitive. Even with his facial swellings he caught Braehmer with some good shots and gained his respect.” The Jab: Two of your other fighters were also on the card, let’s talk firstly about Lewis Rees. He boxed a draw with French brawler Renald Garrido over eight entertaining rounds. How do you assess his performance? “The Lewis Rees I know and who I see in the gym would have absolutely toyed with that guy (Garrido). Lewis learned the lesson that you can’t play at boxing and I read him the riot act afterwards. He was looking great in camp but was eating rubbish and had too much weight to lose in the last week of the fight. He looked a shadow of himself last time out but he realises what he did wrong and hopefully he can react in the best possible way now.” The Jab: Also in action was your light-middleweight Liam Williams who knocked
out Spanish opponent Yuri Pompilio in eight good rounds. Were you happy with his showing? “What you saw in that fight was probably 30% of the fighter Liam is. Early in the fight he caught (Pompilio’s) elbow and broke his hand. He told me about it in the corner and I just said “don’t think about that for now”, he never mentioned it again through the rest of the fight. This kid for me is already in the top five lightmiddleweights and he’s not only talented but very dedicated too. He gets regular sparring with Nick Blackwell and I think he’ll be British champion in the next year to eighteen months. He’ll be out a while with his fractured hand though.” The Jab: What can you tell The Jab about your other boxers that have they got contests coming up? “Yes as well as Gavin Rees, Dale Evans will be on the Cardiff show. We have been told after this fight he’ll be boxing in a British title eliminator. Dale is a good kid who hits very hard and I think very highly of him. (Note: Evans is 8-1-1 (3) as a welterweight and beat Erick Ochieng on the undercard of the first Rees-Buckland fight.) Alex Hughes is also on the card making his pro debut. Alex signed with me a couple of years ago but failed a brain scan so wasn’t licenced by the British boxing board of control. It took a long time but now he’s been passed fit by the neurologist and he’s had the all clear from the board. Alex is a very good fighter. I won’t mention the word special but he could definitely be just that. He was a five-time British junior champion in the amateurs. Obviously it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to fulfil that promise but he’s a very talented kid.”
Travis Dickinson ready to win 175lb tournament before moving on to world honours Words Michael J Jones Photography Matt Frost ÂŠ Channel 5 Broadcast Limited
“I don’t believe anyone can beat me when I’m at my best and this tournament is bringing the best out of me.”
n March of this year, Channel Five launched its light-heavyweight tournament featuring eight young British contenders at various stages of their respective careers. The MaxiNutrition Knockout tournament has certainly provided plenty of drama in its opening contests and none more so than Travis Dickinson who blasted out Danny McIntosh in three rounds to lift the English belt. It raised the 26-year-old’s record to 16-1 (6) in what was arguably his most impressive performance to date. Considered a pick em’ fight beforehand, Dickinson showed a granite chin and punching power to walk through the former European champion’s best shots to secure an early victory. Speaking exclusively to The Jab, Dickinson is clearly pleased with his performance of two months ago… “I think that was probably the best I’ve ever boxed” Travis tells The Jab. “Just my fitness and everything was spot on and my mind was 100% on the job. I don’t believe anyone can beat me when I’m at my best and this
tournament is bringing the best semi-final action on May 17th. out of me.” Clarkson made a successful The vacant English title defence of his Central Area title bout was short and brutal. on the same bill as Dickinson’s The heavily-muscled McIntosh destruction of McIntosh. talked a good fight in the build While Dickinson would impress up and seemed very animated with his stoppage victory, before the contest. I ask “Tasty” Clarkson would struggle to whether this may have been a subdue the tricky Lee Duncan sign of nerves in hindsight. before emerging the winner by “I think he was genuinely 97-94. It’s a performance the confident before the fight” 6’4” Travis is dismissing as not a muses Dickinson who twice true reflection of his semi-final beat George Groves in the opponent’s capabilities as Travis amateurs. “He thought he explains… Dickinson he had the power to “I know everyone vs knock me out but was saying after Matty Clarkson as soon as the first that performance Live on round unfolded he that Clarkson was changed. If you look crap but that fight at his face in that had a lot to do with Saturday 17th first round you could Duncan’s style and May tell he was shocked a few other things. I at how hard I hit. He don’t like hearing anybody didn’t realise how hard I punch; calling any fighter ‘crap’ and I everyone says to me in the gym know that wasn’t the best Matty after sparring they can’t believe Clarkson in that fight and he the power I have.” was just a bit flat. For our fight McIntosh would fall once in I’m expecting him to be in top the first before two further form and at his best.” trips to the canvas, courtesy How does the English of Dickinson’s heavy right champion see the Clarkson fight hands, ended proceedings in playing out? the fateful third. Following his “I’m just aiming for the win and quarter final triumph, the onceit doesn’t matter whether it’s beaten puncher next faces on points or a knockout. Having Preston’s Matty Clarkson in said that, I just don’t think he’s
Photography Matt Frost © Channel 5 Broadcast Limited
physically strong enough to beat me. He’s got some skill but I don’t think he’s got the strength and I think I’ll end up wearing him down for a late stoppage.” In the other two quarter final matches (fought a week before the other two), Bob Ajisafe edged veteran Dean Francis over twelve tough rounds to claim the vacant British crown while Leon Senior made it through after opponent Tony Hill was ruled out with a bad cut following a clash of heads. Ajisafe and Senior will face each other in the other semi on the May 17th Leeds show with the two winners to meet in the final at a later date. Back in December 2012, the then 13-0 Dickinson would face the awkward Ajisafe over ten rounds with the English belt at stake. After what Dickinson describes as “the worst camp of his life” Ajisafe won a clear unanimous decision over the younger man, both are unbeaten since and the confident Geordie is eager for revenge over the Yorkshire-man. “Look, I’ll fight whoever in the final” says Travis. “In an ideal world it would be nice to face Ajisafe in the final and beat him to avenge my defeat but for now I’m concentrating on Clarkson.” How did Dickinson rate Ajisafe’s performance against a still-game Dean Francis? “He deserved to win but he kept getting hit with big shots by Francis. Dean Francis is a good opponent but for me (Ajisafe) just took far too many shots in the fight.” The former Prizefighter champion (and brother of British cruiserweight champion Jon Lewis) tells me his training camp has been “spot on” for the Clarkson fight. After boxing McIntosh just eight weeks ago, the Birtley fighter has been careful not too over-train ahead of the Clarkson test. I ask if he’s a fighter who
studies opponents before facing a few times and by then I won’t them in the ring? be far from a world title fight. By “I try and watch all of my then I’ll be ready to step up, as opponents before I fight them” a British champion I’ll have the the 26-year-old replies. “I leave ranking to get that opportunity.” the game-plan to (manager and Travis would like to thank the trainer) Ronnie Roe. He’ll following people for their study the opponent continued support; WM and put it into work Utility services, Blast Follow in the gym so by Travis Dickinson Nutrition, Gateshead fight time it comes College, Amy Lew on Twitter. @TravisDickinso2 hot and cold foods, natural to me. Then we just see what Strength and Shape my opponent does gym and strength in the first round and conditioning and adapt to what coach Martin Regent. ever tactics they are employing.” Travis Dickinson vs Matty I close our interview by asking Clarkson and Bob Ajisafe vs about Dickinson’s ambitions Leon Senior. The MaxiNutrition beyond the MaxiNutrition Knockout tournament semi-final tournament? takes place at the Town Hall in “We’re going to get this Leeds on May 17th and will be tournament out of the way, shown live and exclusive hopefully defend my British title on Channel Five.
Words Andrew Wake Photography Mark Robinson MDR Photography 74 LIVEFIGHT.COM
n recent years a number of boxers have attempted to make their mark in mixed martial arts, but few fighting men have gone the other way and swapped the cage for the ring. Lucas “Big Daddy” Browne is part of the rare breed that has made a successful transition between the sports. The Aussie heavyweight won six of eight MMA contests before turning to the sweet science in 2009 and he’s not looked back since. Few expected anything from the Sydney-native when he squared up to fellow debutant Jason Kier at the Manly Leagues Club five years ago, but he soon had tongues wagging with a fourth round knockout. Since then he’s racked up a further 19 wins and collected a number of titles including the Australian and Commonwealth crowns. “I realised that I wasn’t much of a kicker or a wrestler and I was basically knocking people out like a boxer in the cage so moving sports was an easy thing for me,” Lucas recalled. “The amount of boxers that have failed when they’ve tried MMA hasn’t surprised me. They’re totally different sports and there’s so much to learn in MMA. The fitness levels are different because of the wrestling side of it and unless someone has experience at wrestling, they will suffer. “I was 30 years old when I realised I’d be better at boxing and it was a case of now or never. Boxing is the ultimate sport so I think I made the right move.” Lucas is the first to admit that he does not have the skills of many upcoming boxers, but he has dynamite in his fists and just two of his opponents have managed to hang in until the final bell. “There’s a lot of boxers that
are better technically than I “It was good to be back in am, I know that,” he said. “I just England again and it almost felt feel I can win a fight with one like I was the fighter the crowd punch. That’s all it takes in the were behind,” Lucas said of his heavyweight division and if I fifth round TKO win. hit someone on the chin I can “Myself and Richard were knock them out.” friends out of the ring so it With the exception of a flash wasn’t really the fight either knockdown against Northern of us would have chosen, but Ireland’s giant Scott Belshaw, it was an eliminator for the Browne breezed through his first Commonwealth title and it was 11 contests on home soil before business. he was offered his first overseas “I saw the way the referee fight on the undercard of the had saved him in his last fight British lightweight title fight against Gregory Tony so I knew between Anthony Crolla and if I caught him I had to put it on Derry Mathews in Oldham. him and get him out of there. The unbeaten heavyweight Thankfully, that’s what I did.” didn’t think much of the weather Browne closed out 2013 with in the North West, but loved the a second round KO of Clarence reception he received from fans Tillman in Melbourne before following his four round blitz of being told that he’d been Melton Mowbray’s Paul Butlin. returning to the UK to get his Browne was back in Blighty Commonwealth shot against just two months later and Canada’s hard-hitting Eric needed just 44 seconds to put Martel Bahoeli. Hastings Rasani to the sword. With no Aussies having held Those two victories immensely the former British Empire crown impressed four-time world at heavyweight since Peter champion Ricky Hatton and Jackson back in 1892, the stakes ‘The Hitman’ moved quickly were high and Lucas did the to sign the Aussie to his business in a fight that may have promotional stable. lacked finesse but was brimming “Being promoted by Ricky is with excitement. awesome. The distance we’re Things were a little pedestrian away from each other and the in the opener until Bahoeli time difference gets in the way rocked Browne back on his sometimes, but it’s been a good heels with a heavy right hand. experience. Browne himself came out firing “Because he beat Kostya in the second and dropped Tszyu, Ricky is well known in Oz the Canadian, but it was in the so it’s been good exposure for third when things got really me over here and he’s keep his interesting. word about getting me fights in An accidental clash of heads the UK as well.” left Lucas with a gaping wound Quite possibly the fight about his left eye and it seemed Browne is best known for on that the fight was going to be these shores is his November ended by the doctor. Sensing 2013 tussle with Hatton stable time was against him, the Aussie mate Richard Towers in Hull. upped the pace and scored The fight, promoted by another knockdown in the Matchroom Sport, was televised fourth before finishing the job a live on Sky Sports and round later. showcased Browne’s He said: “I was prepared awesome punching to give him the first five power to a wider rounds so winning Follow Lucas Browne audience than ever the second with a on Twitter. before. knockdown was
Photography Mark Robinson/MDR Photography
“I realised that I wasn’t much of a kicker or a wrestler and I was basically knocking people out like a boxer in the cage so moving sports was an easy thing for me.”
very pleasing. The cut changed things, though. “The referee told me I had just one more round after the fourth so I had to speed things up and I managed to get him out with an uppercut.” The victory broke a 122 year Aussie jinx and Lucas is now looking to add more belts to his shiny new Commonwealth strap. Australia has never had a recognised heavyweight champion of the world and, ranked number 11 by the WBC, Browne is keen to press towards a shot. “Every heavyweight wants a shot at [Wladimir] Klitschko and he’s my ultimate goal too. I’m not stupid enough to think I’m ready now as I know I still do little things that he’ll be able to exploit, but I think I’ll be prepared after maybe four or five more fights. “I think ideally I’d like to fight people like Dereck Chisora and Tyson Fury before looking at Klitschko, but I’d also be interested people like Chris Arreola or Bermane Stiverne. “I know the winner of those two is supposed to fight Deontay Wilder, but if they want to make a defence against me at some point, I’ll be more than ready.”
B y z a r C e Th f O d l r o W h c o r F e Le Words Alex Gomez
oxing, like all combat sports is full of characters that don’t step inside the ring but bring both plenty of debate and controversy to the table. From Mike Tyson’s famous sidekick Steve ‘Crocodile’ Fitch to the silent but ever present Gingerbread Chan whom shall be present in George Groves dressing room come May 31st. But those who have seen Danny Garcia’s dad in full flow will testify, it’s family that makes the most noise. Seemingly out of nowhere since that fateful night in November, when his brother Carl beat George Groves in controversial fashion, the rise to prominence by Nottingham’s Lee Froch has been nothing short of astonishing. He has almost become a supporting role to the biggest fight in British boxing history. Originally languishing with about 150 twitter followers, the older, bigger, bearded and pleather-jacket clad roguish anti-hero now has 6,000 extra boxing followers and probably double that figure in people that refuse to follow him, yet check on his profile daily to see what outlandish Photoshop pictures he has to unleash on the ‘Clowns’ as he calls them - that me and you call diehard George Groves fans. From photographs of his own gonads wearing a pair of shades (yes like true saddo’s, in the interest of *ahem* journalism we had this confirmed), to various pictures of him flexing his muscles in the mirror – Lee Froch is a cross between Jackass’s Steve-O and wrestling’s Big Boss Man. Lee has always been at his brother’s side both amateur and professional – but it’s not until him and Groves both went at it across social media, did thousands of people tune in to
the arguing between the pair. The Jab: So Lee, what is the story? “It’s all banter and good fun” belly laughs Lee down the phone, who is about 6’2 and 17 stone “We don’t involve the wives and girlfriends, but otherwise anything goes as far as I’m concerned. At first though, people thought I was like the anti-christ, but now people are starting to ‘get’ it. “The thing is with all the ginger clown bollocks, is that I know Groves, he’s come to the gym many a time and he is a great fighter that gave my brother all he could handle in the first fight – but when he started posting his silly videos and pictures – I decided to even the score a little.” The Jab: Ah yes, those videos (One of Groves friends has a channel on YouTube, pretty much dedicated to trolling Team Froch constantly. From planting Lee and Carl in a Right Said Fred Video – to Lee dubbed in as a stripper on stage alongside The Terminator.) “Exactly, to be fair some of them videos are hilarious, like the one with Arnie in it. So it’s just me getting a few cheap shots back in.” The Jab: I gather you boxed amateur yourself, can you tell us a little more about that? “Stylistically I was different to Carl, he was a lot more of a boxer coming through – whereas I just liked to smash my opponents. But the issue I had was with my eyesight. You see I have what they call astigmatism in my right eye. Basically the sight is what they rate a minus five, so whilst I love to fight and still do to this day in the gym, a proper professional career wasn’t ever going to get off the ground due to my eyesight.”
The Jab: Did you have many fights then when you were younger? “Yes I had 13 fights at light heavy. I fought a couple of names who turned professional. One of them was that lad, Danny McIntosh – I lost on points as I pissed around and he was quite busy, throwing lots of punches. But in the last round I hit him that hard he fell halfway through the ropes. I think another 20 seconds and I would have done him. “Then I was really struggling to make the weight and went up to cruiser, or heavy as the amateurs call it, not the super heavy division but the one below. Yeah so I went up and I had three more fights and all three I won by knockout. It really suited me at that weight but my sight was shocking, it got to the point I could barely see the punches on my blind side and knocked it on the head. The Jab: Do you still do any sort of training or do you just support Carl nowadays and leave the fighting to him? “I still train and spar about twice a week. In fact last week down at the Bronx gym in Nottingham, we had about twenty or so down from the army team, the para’s etc. Tony Richardson comes with them, he’s from Middlesbrough and he actually won the super heavyweight ABA’s last year I think– he is about 6’4 and we did a load of rounds. It was great fun and I think someone filmed us going at it. The army boxing team come down regular for sparring because we have some tough lads in our gym. “But as far as going professional, it was never going to happen – so now I work full time with my building company, spend time with the Mrs and my two little gals – and the rest of the time I wind up the Groves fans or go brawling down
the Bronx! “ Lee bellows with laughter down the phone. The Jab: Has your new found notoriety led to any encounters, good or bad ? “Funnily enough I took the family to the seaside, this little caravan resort and we were in a takeaway – and this guy looked at me and did a double take. Then he came back with the food and as he handed it over, he said ‘excuse me but can I ask you question?’ and I said go for it, ‘Are you Lee Froch?’ and I just laughed – my Mrs said to him, his heads gonna be massive now – thanks ! “And the following night I went to get some drinks at the bar, and this fella comes over and asks me the same question, are you Lee Froch? – and both guys bought tickets for the Wembley show from me. One actually said ‘I thought you would be a right trouble maker, but your just having a big laugh with it all’ and that’s the top and bottom of it. The Jab: so to wrap this up Lee, how do you see your brother doing in the rematch? “Look, Groves is a good fighter and good luck to him – but he’s going down between rounds six and eight and proper too. Our Carl is going to put him down and he won’t be getting up. My bro had all sorts of silly nonsense during the last one. His mind wasn’t on the job – he thought it was, but I’ve seen him train since we were kids and his mind wasn’t on it – and he had double athlete’s foot, a frozen shoulder and all sorts of crap last time. Loads of niggly stuff. Six months on and a Follow long rest and a Lee Froch good holiday on Twitter. and he’s brand @LeeFroch new again. Trust me the Ginger Clown is going down!”
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 boxers 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. The Carl Froch and George Groves saga has divided opinion and provoked heated debate since the pair signed contracts for their first battle and their eagerly awaited rematch is set to be the most talked about event in recent British boxing history so who better to put forward the ‘Twitterati’s’ view of matters than the scourge of Matchroom, Brian King, and self admitted ‘Hearniac’, Matt Bowes. The pair are two of British boxing’s most prolific, controversial and amusing ‘tweeters’ and generally have polar opposite opinions on the matters making the headlines. Both were asked the same questions and I would like to say they were given free reign to say exactly what they wanted. I would like to say that but it would be a lie.
TALE OF THE TAPE
RED CORNER Matt Bowes @Mattbowes80 Tweets – 40K Followers - 961 The Jab: Firstly, what did you make of the first fight? @brianking80: I thought the fight was amazing and it was the total opposite of what I thought was going to happen. Me and @MarkMcFarlane29 had loads of conversations over this fight and he was certain that Groves was all wrong for Froch. Personally, I thought Mark was on the crack pipe and didn’t give Groves a chance. Groves’ tactics where spot on and Froch was all over the place. It was a mirror image of any time Matt tries to debate with me. He always needs to be bailed out by the ref. @Mattbowes80: The first fight was quality, for me mainly because I thought Froch would walk right through the lad. I
BLUE CORNER Brian King @brianking80 Tweets – 84.1K Followers - 916
have to give credit to Groves, he made Froch look shit in all honesty. I do, however, think that Froch under estimated him badly. We all know what happened then [with Howard Foster’s controversial stoppage]. I read a lot of shite about it being a Matchroom stitch up etc, are these people for real? The simple answer is that it was a great fight ruined by a very bad decision by Foster. I thought Groves would have won comfortably on points. The Jab: When the fight was first announced, who did you want to win? Did your opinion on either fighter change as the promotion went on? @brianking80: To be honest, I wasn’t bothered either way. When it was announced, I said
that Froch would stop Groves within three rounds. But, like most people other than the maniacs of Nottingham, I eventually sided with Groves in a big way. The attitude of Froch and his entourage made me hate them more than my ex when she gave me an STD. @Mattbowes80: I always wanted Froch to win, mainly because I instantly bet on him to win but also because I didn’t like Groves’ ties and C&A suits. I disagreed with the people that thought Groves was winning the war of words, I thought he was pretty limited as a talker. Plus, I didn’t want Froch to lose the fight. I think he deserves a big fight in Vegas. He’s fought everybody and done well on the world stage for years.
The Jab: What do you make of Wembley being chosen as the venue for the rematch? @brianking80: It’s a terrible venue for the following reasons. Typical of most things in the UK, all roads lead to London. 1. It’s in London. 2. The city is a rip off for absolutely anything. 3. The stadium is an open arena. 4. The Millennium Stadium would have been perfect. 5. It’s in London. 6. Max Fucking Branning! @Mattbowes80: It’s obviously the biggest venue possible. It should be a great atmosphere but I honestly think boxing is better out of London. The Millennium Stadium or Old Trafford would have been my picks and both would have made it more affordable too. At least it wasn’t in Scotland though….. The Jab: Will you be attending the fight? What do you think of the way the fight has been priced and the ticketing process? @brianking80: I’m going to Las Vegas to see the ‘American Scotty Cardle’, Floyd Mayweather, so I’m not going to the fight and at no point was I considering it. Stadium fights don’t interest me because unless you get a ticket for near the front, you have more chance of seeing a pair of titties than viewing the fight. In an open air stadium the atmosphere suffers which is why I thought the Millennium Stadium was the best choice all round. On a whole I think the pricing is fair other than the most expensive tickets. For this size of fight most of the tickets are reasonably cheap
but to have the ringside seats more expensive than Floyd Mayweather vs Marcos Maidana, Manny Pacquiao vs Tim Bradley and Miguel Cotto vs Sergio Martinez is a pain in the brain I think we’re going insane. The ticketing process was a shambles. I personally don’t believe for one minute that everything was above board with ticket touts getting a hold of so many, so quickly. Real fans are now going to miss out on being at the biggest fight of the year because of the ‘greed is good’ Thatcherism that is rife with this fight. @Mattbowes80: No, I won’t be attending I’m afraid. I have been to a stadium fight before and - unless you’re ringside - the view isn’t great. With ringside tickets being around £1,500 I couldn’t justify three grand on one event. I think the prices are fair but I would certainly benefit from a loyalty scheme. Matchroom have mentioned this before and it’s a good idea to get this in place quickly. Again, we had the idiots moaning, ‘Oh they have sold X amount to touts,’ which is utter nonsense. Look at every big event, be it a concert or sporting event it happens every time. The actual official tickets sell out within minutes and five minutes later they are on Stubhub or Viagogo for extortionate prices. The last time I checked, the £500 floor tickets were for sale on Stubhub for £4,000. Crazy money. The Jab: Who do you want to win in the rematch on the 31st May and why? @brianking80: That’s easy, George Groves. Carl Froch, with the help of his brother Lee, is now even more hated than John Terry, Ashley Cole
and Michael Barrymore put together. Maybe it’s growing up in the rough gangster ghettos of Nottingham that sees them have such a honking attitude towards everything but Lee Froch has done more damage to his brothers #Warrior #IronChin #GeneticallyGifted #InternationalSuperstar #Legacy than ‘Chemical Ali’ did for Saddam. Groves on the other hand has held court amazingly well. I don’t know whether David Haye or Adam Booth got George media training when he was younger or whether he’s just naturally a good and confident talker. Either way, he’s done great and he’s done it all on his own. @Mattbowes80: I keep changing my mind. Lee Froch makes me dislike Carl. It’s Carl that fights and earns the money etc, yet Lee carries on like a virgin that looks the double of the Big Boss man. On the other hand, Groves is still moaning about things constantly on Twitter - all this mongoose stuff is shite – and that makes me change my mind again. It’s not often that I dislike both fighters but it’s getting that way. The Jab: Now, how do you see the fight playing out? @brianking80: Even after the first fight I haven’t changed my opinion on this. I pick Froch to win and by late stoppage. I didn’t want the rematch because some times a rematch isn’t kind to the person that was robbed. We’ve seen that lately with Julio Chavez Jnr vs Brian Vera and, in my opinion, if Danny Garcia rematches Mauricio Hererra it’ll play out the same way. The underdog normally needs to get the break in the first fight.
Froch won’t be as lazy as he was in the first fight and he won’t be so arrogant as to think he can just walk down Groves. He knows what to expect and the element of surprise won’t be there……. or can I be accused of being sucked into the same stereotypical hashtag hype about Froch that I slag everyone else about? @Mattbowes80: I’m pretty sure Froch will stop Groves. I just don’t see Carl being that bad again and I’m not convinced George can be as good in the second fight and I doubt Carl will be caught cold again. Groves is really quick and uses the jab well but I just think Rob McCracken will have a game plan that Carl will stick too. I hope its as good a fight as the first. The Jab: This will be the biggest fight Britain has staged for years. Should there be a long competitive undercard or do you think of Froch vsGroves 2 as an ‘event fight’ which is big enough to carry the card by itself? @brianking80: A fight of this size, and with the budget and ticket prices on this scale, should always - Swiss Toni are you listening? - ALWAYS carry a stacked undercard. The magnitude of the main fight doesn’t matter. Yes, people are basically paying for that but it’s the promoters job to put on the best and most competitive card possible. There should be a minimum of two big name sellers on the undercard. Just because a fight sells out doesn’t mean you just say “fuck the fans we’ve got the money so let’s spend as little as possible and bank the rest.” The card should have been something along the lines of this;
Carl Froch vs George Groves Shawn Porter vs Kell Brook - Porter should have been offered big money instead of taking the Paulie Malignaggi fight. Kevin Mitchell vs Miguel Vasquez - Even though Ricky Burns has wanted that fight for 18 months and got screwed over constantly. I don’t believe the excuse about Vasquez not being able to fight in time because of a cut. More than likely they didn’t want to pay the money. Rocky Fielding vs Paul Smith and Anthony Joshua vs Ian Lewison. @Mattbowes80: People pay the ticket prices and PPV for the main event. Your £15 quid for the PPV is paying Carl Froch and George Groves. Of course people want to see decent undercards but it’s less important than some would have you believe. Take the Floyd Mayweather card (that Brian will no doubt have mentioned he’s going to). Floyd against Marcos Maidana and Amir Khan vs Luis
Collazo are the competitive fights. Adrien Broner will walk through Carlos Molina and that’s your lot. I think it’s more important to have a deeper undercard on non-PPV events. The Jab: Who would win in a fight between Matt Bowes and Brian King? @brianking80: I’d fucking kill Matty if it was one on one. I did a crash course in ‘Mortal Kombats’ at Christmas. Knowing Matty though, he’d bring the so solid crew of Paul ‘Anger Management’ Smith, Scott Quigg and his army of 150 fans, Eddie ‘Giving The Fans The Fights They Want Rather Than The Fights They Ask For’ Hearn and Kugan ‘The Holiday Inn Ripper’ Cassius. Peace out bitches. @Mattbowes80: I only want to kiss Brian, as you can see by the photo accompanying this story. Obviously, I would though. He would be too busy slagging Kugan and Eddie off and he’s Scottish. They cannot beat Englishmen.
The determination of Sean McCarthy Words John J. Raspanti
n the history of sports, a number of athletes have competed with a disability. Natalie Du Toit was the first swimmer to participate in the Olympic Games with most of her left leg missing. Baseball’s Jim Abbot advanced all the way to the major leagues, pitching with one arm highlighting his career with a no-hitter. Now, there’s Sean McCarthy, a 43-year-old amateur boxer from Boston, Massachusetts. McCarthy has compiled an 8-0 record. Impressive for someone over forty. But more impressive is the fact that McCarthy was born with cerebral palsy, a malady that weakens muscle coordination. His hands and legs shake. He can’t stand in one place for very long for fear his limbs will stiffen. Despite the physical limitations, the man can fight. The sweet science is all about coordinated moves and perfect timing. How does McCarthy manage? “I haven’t lost a fight,” McCarthy told this writer during a recent telephone interview. “Unfortunately, I can’t go pro because of my disability. I have sparred with a couple of pros without headgear.” Pugilism can be a dangerous sport. It takes courage to step inside the ring and face another bent on beating you. McCarthy understands the risks. He not only has the mettle to fight, but the heart to battle a debilitating disease. Boxing, which he took up twelve years
ago after being told by a doctor that mixed martial art (MMA) was out of the question, has been his saving grace. “I usually get up about fourthirty to five o’clock in the morning,” said McCarthy. ”I then go to the gym to work with a trainer and a pro boxer. I train for about two hours. “I used to run, but the medication I was taking for my condition was really kicking my butt.” McCarthy has fought the negative perceptions of his disease most of his life. “I have CP (cerebral palsy), but I can walk and talk” McCarthy says with no bitterness. ”I don’t have any regrets. The tricky part is the gait with my walk.” Cold weather poses a problem. But McCarthy, who trains at the TNT Boxing Gym in Boston, confronts frigid northeastern winters like he does everything else in his life - head on. “Warm weather helps,” he says, with a chuckle. When McCarthy steps inside the ropes, he can feel a change. But first he has to get there. “My biggest problem is getting into the ring, the ropes, you know.” said McCarthy. ”In the ring, I’m different. As soon as I get in the ring, things change.” After getting the go ahead to box from his doctor, McCarthy wasn’t sure what to expect when he wandered into a gym in 2002. “They told me my disease affects my hands and feet,” McCarthy said. ”But with me throwing fast punches – I don’t
know how I can have that. Jimmy Farrell was the man who taught me how to box. I came to his gym. Jimmy was in the ring working with someone. I told Jimmy that I was interested in boxing. “I asked if he would train me. Jimmy said sure. I said great and started to walk away. He asked me where I was going. I looked at him. He told me to get a pair of gloves on and get in the ring.” “He pushes me,” McCarthy said of his trainer.” That’s what makes me a better boxer. Nobody is going to mess with me. I don’t come off as a boxer. I leave that all in the ring.” Sparring with professional fighters has become part of the normal routine for McCarthy. His determination and drive inspire others in the gym to improve. “People think you have a disability,” McCarthy said in a hushed tone. “So what, you just have to train a little extra.” McCarthy understands who he is. Hard work doesn’t faze him. “Instead of being a regular a guy, I train five or six days, instead of three or four,” he says. His gritty resolve to fight did cause some consternation with his late father. “My dad was on his deathbed,” said McCarthy. “He didn’t like me boxing. He was afraid I was going to get hurt. Stuff like that is understandable. So, I went into his hospital room. We (his family) used to call him ‘Chief’ because he was the man of the house. “I walked into his hospital room and said, ‘Hey,Chief’. He
Photography Alan Cummings
smiled and said, ‘Hey, Champ.’ “I kept that name.” McCarthy’s mother was also worried about her son. “She didn’t like me boxing at first, but she’s excited for me. She still gets nervous, but I know she’s proud.” McCarthy fights out of the southpaw stance. His left hand can be lethal. His style is aggressive. “I tend to chase people,” said McCarthy. “My fights last two rounds. When I land, you can feel it.” As a youngster, McCarthy didn’t follow boxing. It was only after he began to compete that the sport became allconsuming. One of his favourite programs is ESPN’S Friday Night Fights. He imagines being
“Unfortunately, I can’t go pro because of my disability. I have sparred with a couple of pros without headgear.” in the ring with some of the professional he sees on the screen. “I watch boxing very close,” said McCarthy. “I honestly believe I can beat some of those guys. I challenged Kevin Rooney Junior. We would have donated
whatever money was made to charity.” With all his success, McCarthy is keenly aware that he can’t fight forever, although he’s hoping to have two or three more fights. He has a hunch what he’ll do next. “I was offered a job teaching some kids how to box. “It’s something for me to do. It’s educational.” A few years ago McCarthy was told by a trainer that if he had started fighting earlier in his life he could have captured the Golden Gloves. But he’s already won. McCarthy has defeated not only his disability, but the naysayer’s who told him he shouldn’t fight – and that alone makes him a champion.
ne week after Carl Froch and George Groves settle their differences in front of 80,000 fans at Wembley Stadium, Sergio Martinez and Miguel Cotto will contest the true middleweight championship of the world in one of the planet’s most unique and hostile atmospheres. And they say boxing is dead. Cotto has made Madison Square Garden his second home and the best moments of his illustrious career have taken place in ‘The World’s Most Famous Arena.’ His victories over Zab Judah, Paulie Malignaggi and – perhaps most memorably – his revenge fuelled beating of Antonio Margarito will live long in the memory. It is often said that a fanatical support act as a football team’s twelfth man and Cotto’s fervent supporters give him the equivalent of an extra fist every time he fights in New York. Cotto, now 33 years old, is
a Puerto Rican folk hero and it isn’t inconceivable that his bid to create history as the first Puerto Rican to win four world titles in four weight classes will also be his farewell appearance at the Garden. To throw more pitorro on the fire, it is something of a tradition that Cotto’s New York fights take place on the day of the annual Puerto Rican Day parade. Martinez will walk out into a hugely combustible atmosphere. It will be a complete role reversal of Martinez’s previous ring appearance. Last April, ‘Maravilla’ returned to Argentina to defend his WBC title against Martin Murray in Buenos Aires and was roared on to a close – and I, for one, say controversial –decision victory by a football stadium packed with adoring fans. A knee injury has kept him on the sidelines since but rather than easing back into action with a routine defence, Martinez has decided that, at 38, time may be short and the money and prestige offered by the Cotto fight was too much to resist.
Martinez will be reminded of the task he faces every time he steps on a set of scales or sees a poster for the fight. He may be the recognised middleweight champion of the world but the fight has been made a pound inside the divisional limit of 160lbs and the event has been billed as ‘Cotto v Martinez’. Martinez’s mental toughness will be tested every bit as much as his physicality. Martinez has spent his career successfully globetrotting but facing a fired up Cotto in his home from home will be a new experience even for him. There is a big difference between vociferous support and out and out hostility. Many fighters have loud, vociferous bands of support but few have a set of fans who hate the opponent as much as they love their hero. The Jab decided to catch up with a couple of British fighters who had to walk directly into the Lion’s Den in pursuit of glory. Michael Jennings knows exactly what Martinez can expect when he arrives in New York. After enjoying a successful
The Jab looks at the daunting prospect of boxing in another boxers backyard. We speak to Michael Jennings and Andy Holligan. Words John Evans
career at domestic level, the former British welterweight champion was handed a dream shot at the vacant WBO world title. That it came against Cotto in the Madison Square Garden bear pit was of little concern to Jennings. Despite being written off in the press beforehand, he went to New York intent on winning. Things didn’t go to plan on the night but Jennings gritted his teeth and acquitted himself fairly well before being stopped in the fifth round. The man from Chorley famously said afterwards, “If boos could kill, I’d be dead.” “I kind of knew what to expect from the fight and the night because I’d boxed on Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe cards. The difference in press conferences really opened my eyes though. The press conferences over in America are like events in themselves and when I went over there and got the vibe of what everybody was talking about, that was daunting because nobody was giving me any chance whatsoever. If Cotto would have gone in there with a broken leg, they still wouldn’t
have given me a chance! “On the actual night, of course there were nerves but it was just another fight really. I don’t care what anybody says; I went there to win. I wasn’t going there to lie down or make the numbers up. As far as I was concerned I was going to win. Obviously, when I came out everybody was booing but you don’t really hear that. I had my own music on and I was just concentrating on getting to the ring. “I heard more about it from third parties and the people that actually came to watch me. My brother came over and had a scuffle in the crowd with some Puerto Ricans because of what they were saying. They told me how bad it was and that they’d never seen a place so hostile. There were about fifteen thousand people there and I’d guess only about ten of them were supporting me! For them it was like going into a dragon’s den. “There was a complete change afterwards. I had Puerto Ricans coming up to me to shake my hand and say that I did well and that they hadn’t thought I’d last
a round but afterwards they had respect for me. “Honestly, people think I’m stupid for even thinking it but I didn’t go there for the money. I did it to win. When I look back on it, it was a fight I got beaten in so it’s not something I look back on and think, ‘Oh, it was brilliant.’ I felt exactly the same way after the fights I lost to Young Muttley – although I and a lot of other people thought I got robbed in that one – and Kell Brook. I look back on them as bad nights and I look back on Cotto in the same way. “Don’t get me wrong, to fight in front of all those people and box in Madison Square Garden was a big experience and for me to be able to look back and say I’m one of a few people from Britain to top the bill there is good. The actual thing itself though? No, I didn’t enjoy it. Not because of how good he was or anything but because I got beaten.” If lifting a world championship belt is the boxing equivalent of scaling Mount Everest, Andy Holligan’s summit bid was akin to making the climb in a pair of
hob nail boots and a cagoule. His shot at the WBC light welterweight title came against one of the sports all time greats, Julio Cesar Chavez in Mexico. At the time, pound for pound king Chavez was a three weight world champion with an incredible 88-0-1 slate and although former British and Commonwealth champion Holligan was a quality fighter and entered the ring with his own 21 fight unbeaten record, the gulf in class was perfectly illustrated by the fights the pair undertook before their meeting. Three months earlier, Chavez had fought to a disputed draw with another Hall of Fame entrant, Pernell Whittaker, in San Antonio’s Alamadome. Holligan’s last appearance before entering the ring in Puebla came at Mansfield Leisure Centre against one Lorenzo Garcia. Holligan was stopped in the fifth round but the exciting scouser refused to be intimidated into changing his style to suit Chavez and earned plenty of respect for his performance. “I could never, ever say no to fighting somebody like Chavez. I’d only had 21 fights at the time but even if I’d had five or six I’d have said yes. My two favourite fighters ever are Roberto Duran and Chavez. I loved their style of fighting with no messing around, just getting right into it. When Frank Warren phoned and asked if I wanted the fight, I just said, ‘Yeah, go ‘ed! I’ll have it.’ “I think there were four or five world titles on the bill and when I came out of the dressing room and looked around I thought, ‘God, what am I doing here.’ I was there though so thought I might as well just go for it. About two weeks before the fight I got my nose broken in training. It’s not like football where you get paid every week so I had a choice of going on
“There were about fifteen thousand people there and I’d guess only about ten of them were supporting me!” and getting paid £80,000 or going home with nothing. I loved every minute of it. The spars [in Mexico] before it were brutal. I started wearing one of the headguards that protect the nose and I should have worn it from the start because I was on the back foot from day one with my nose being that bad. It looked like a pig’s nose it was that swelled up. “When I got in there I sort of knew I wasn’t going to win but I was getting in there with somebody I loved and that’s what it was all about for me. There’s no disrespect getting beaten by Chavez so it really was a no lose situation for me. It’s like being a footballer and being asked if you fancy a kick about with Pelé. “I was walking to the ring and was probably about six yards away and I hear this scouse voice, “Come on lad! You can fucking do it!’ I looked around and it was Robbie Davies [the Birkenhead Olympian]. I was giggling to myself, wondering how he got that ticket. Somebody must have bought him it. “I thought it wasn’t worth
changing my style and I always liked to go forward. In the first round, he hit me with a hook around the side and then - with the same hand – come right up the middle. He caught me with a right hook to the belly and then came up and caught me right on my nose. I was just thinking, ‘Not the first round. Please not the first round.’ I wanted to do as well as I could and go out on my shield but to be honest I knew it was all over after that first round. Without my nose getting broken before the fight, I think I could have done a lot better than I did. I thought he was more dangerous when he was on his front foot, coming at you so I decided to go forward and see what happened. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to push him back and I felt a lot stronger than him but I was walking on to shots. “Don King bought him over to our hotel the day after the fight and he kept saying, ‘Mucho, mucho balls!’ He gave me a cuddle but we couldn’t have a conversation because he can’t speak a word of English.”
The secret life of a web writer Words John MacDonald
h, the life of a boxing writer; front row seats, media lunches, world champions on speed-dial, trips to Vegas, paid accommodation and you get a good wage for it. For many that may be the case but on the internet there exists a different breed, the web writer. It’s not glamorous, it rarely pays and the closest you’ll come to recognition is a verbal pat on the back from your latest interviewee but like depraved addicts we can’t kick the habit. Interviews can be fantastic, some fighters are a pleasure to talk to and will always provide a good story. Others would refuse to give anything other than a monosyllabic response, even if subjected to interrogation tactics from Guantanamo Bay’s finest. For the most part, the interviews themselves are a pleasure, arranging them can be a different experience entirely. Fighters give us a lot of their time, which is precious during a training camp, and it’s much appreciated but at times it would be easier to get a hold of Barack Obama. Over the
years we’ve heard it all, “can’t mate, going on the sunbed”, “I’ll call back in half an hour, this guy has been knocking off my missus so I’m going to kick his head in”, or the -then- 3-0 prospect who “doesn’t give out his number”. In the defence of the former, he’s paler than an anemic, gothic, recluse so I can excuse that one. Perhaps the best response I’ve heard is “yeah, if you pay me £xx” For argument’s sake let’s call the sender of this message Malcolm. Now he is not a legend of the sport, nor is he even a World champion. No, Malcolm is a perennial under-achiever. In some parts of the country I could have a damn good night on £xx and it certainly wouldn’t involve talking to Malcolm, it may involve contracting antibioticresistant gonorrhea but at least it’ll have a happy ending. Most of us work nine-tofive, have children to raise
and a wife to attempt to keep satisfied. Each of these a full time task on their own, managing all three is akin to juggling chainsaws on a unicycle. Being gluttons for punishment, web writers throw a fourth chainsaw in the air and set the wheel of the unicycle alight for good measure. Once you’ve used your hostage negotiation skills to secure an interview, turned amateur psychologist to coax coherent responses from a man with a lesser grasp of the English language than a Neanderthal, it’s time to write the article. With the responsibilities of the “real world” taking up most of the day, that leaves the hours during which the rest of the world sleeps. Transcribing at midnight can be peaceful but as the eyelids feel heavy and the mind becomes weary there is only one answer; coffee. Having developed a tolerance over the years, I now brew a cup of such strength that it possesses the effects of amphetamines. As the caffeine battles the sleep deprivation, the results can be interesting: I once described Tom Stalker as the Olympic “Caption”. Merely semantics. Press row is a time portal
that transports you back to high school; with teenage angst replaced by middleaged cynicism. The front row is occupied by the nationals, some of whom - not all – look on upon those sat behind them with contempt. The next two rows are a combination of local media and the web’s finest who judge those in front - sometimes wrongly - as “only being interested in the main event”. Whilst writing for one of the minnows of the internet, I once had a seat in the Echo Arena so high in the stands I was closer to God than the ring. Any further back and I would have been in Anfield. So began a nomadic existence for the next five hours as I took squatter’s rights in any available seat, in the vicinity of ringside, until its rightful owner arrived to evict me. A test of mental fortitude and physical fitness, both of which I fail miserably at. If you only cover fights in your local area then the expense of travel is a manageable cross to bare, certainly less than purchasing a ringside seat. However, if you make pilgrimages to the length and breadth of the country, it’s a different story. With the
“It sometimes appears that the small gym contained 300 people all of which “swear blind” they were there and can confirm the champion got “dropped quicker than a slapper’s knickers!” money I spent on travel and accommodation last year, I could have had a week long holiday in a plush apartment in Hawaii, getting softly woken by the sound of waves breaking on the shore and birds singing on my windowsill. Instead I found myself in Bethnal Green Travel Lodge, awoken by a chorus of trains rattling by and police sirens, at an ungodly hour. Over time these long journeys, interviews and late night typing marathons begin to reap rewards; you forge relationships and make contacts within the sport. These contacts give “off the record” information, some of which is solid, others dodgier than a post-pub kebab. Sparring stories are by farand-away the most interesting but often have to be taken with a pinch of salt. For the
most iconic tales of gym wars, it sometimes appears that the small gym contained 300 people all of which “swear blind” they were there and can confirm the champion got “dropped quicker than a slapper’s knickers!” Then there are the rumours of fighters’ personal lives, ranging from a fondness for putting keys in a bowl in suburbia, to hoovering more white powder than a Z-list celebrity in the toilets of the latest “in” nightclub. Now these can’t possibly by true otherwise they would be subject of a Channel 4 documentary: ‘Boxing, Birds & Blow’. Actually that has a ring to it. At some point every internet writer will have a “what’s the point?” moment, swear that there must be more to life, decide to hang-up the keyboard and take up a less time consuming hobby, such as discovering the true meaning of life. Then the itch starts once more, the good times get romanticised in the mind, the bad times wiped from the memory, the compulsion grips us once again. We are hopeless addicts, consumed by the drug of boxing and we bloody love it.
THE UK CONTENDERS
Photography Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom Sport
We list the UKâ€™s top boxing talent and possibly future world champions.
1. TYSON FURY 2. KELL BROOK 3. CARL FRAMPTON 4. JAMES DEGALE Disagree with our list? Feel free argue it out 5. PAUL BUTLER onto the Livefight Forum. 6. FRANKIE GAVIN 7. Billy Joe Saunders 8. lee selby 9. Kid Galahad 10. Stephen Smith 11. anthony joshua 12. CALLUM SMITH 13. brian rose 14. Chris Eubank Jr 15. JOE COSTELLO
(To be considered for the list, each boxer must of not had one world title fight attempt yet.)
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. Sergio Martinez 12. Nonito Donaire 13. Bernard Hopkins with our 14. Danny Garcia list?Disagree Feel free to argue it out Livefight 15. Tim Bradley on theForum. LIVEFIGHT.COM 95
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