Tuesday, March 28, 2017
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Boxing

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With his mouth-watering clash with tough Pole, Mateusz Masternak, approaching quickly on the horizon, Liverpool cruiserweight, Tony Bellew is under no illusions that his world class opponent is likely to be his toughest foe since moving north a division following a decorated spell at 175lbs.

Tony-Bellew-Liverpool-cruiserweight-2014_3172054The vacant European title is at stake when the pair clash on this weekend’s Sky PPV offering headlined by heavyweight rivals Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte but many within the industry are certain that this clash of powerful punchers will steal the show. Bellew, along with trainer, Dave Coldwell, has left no stone unturned in preparation for Masternak and he’s in bullish mood ahead of his latest challenge.

“It’s the perfect opportunity to send a message out to all the leading cruiserweights,” buzzed Bellew. “Masternak has a daunting reputation for a reason and it’s because he knows how to have a fight. Barring Adonis Stevenson away in Canada, this is probably my toughest assignment to date but it’s going to be the fight where I leave a lasting impression and go home with the European title. Victory here puts me within touching distance of one of the world champions and with the way I’ve been feeling in camp then I think I’m more than ready to make that step now. I’m under no illusions about the task that’s ahead of me because Masternak always gives a good account of himself but this is a fight I simply won’t lose.”

PHOTO PIOTR GRZYBOWSKI/SE/EAST WARSZAWA. MATEUSZ MASTERNAK. BOKSER, SPORT, BOKS, WYWIAD W SUPER EXPRESSIE. WIECEJ ZDJEC NA HTTP://AGENCJA.SE.COM.PL. 27/03/2013.

Masternak’s cruiserweight slate is an impressive one with defeats either coming against elite opposition or bewildering judgement. Setbacks against Grigory Drozd and Youri Kalenga were competitive ones whilst a split decision loss to Johnny Muller in South Africa saw Masternak register two knockdowns. The Pole comes into this fight trying to recapture the title he held briefly in 2012 but Bellew is adamant that his opponent will go home empty handed.

“What he’s done in the division is worthy of respect but it always shows that he’s capable of losing by a variety of ways as he’s been outfought, outpointed and he’s also been stopped. He can be hurt and he can be outboxed and I fully believe that I’ve got the skills and power to do either to him. I’ve yet to lose since moving to cruiserweight and I’ve always said that I’d make an impact in the division and this is my chance to do so against a good opponent. I’m more than ready for anyone at this weight but the immediate focus is on Masternak. Once I’ve done a job on him then we can start looking at the bigger prizes.”

 

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by James Oddy
by James Oddy

Being a journalist and a boxer couldn’t really be more polar opposite jobs. But one thing they do have in common is that many people do them for the love, in and around their normally ‘day to day’ working lives.

So due to clashes with work shifts and personal commitments, for the first time in my writing career, I interviewed somebody whilst they were out jogging.

Darren Tetley, a 9-0 (5 KO’s) welterweight Bradford born and based southpaw, barely seemed to be out of breath as I spoke to him about his career and life. Like many people, films were what first attracted him to the sweet science.

“I was watching Rocky, and I said to my Mum, I am going to do that. And they started laughing at me and said you won’t do that. They thought I’d get bored or my temper would get the better of me and I’d pack it in. But when it did get hard, I used to think about that. I proved them wrong.”

jgjhIt wasn’t long before Darren swapped a fictional hero for the real thing.

“My hero growing up was Ricky Hatton. [I liked] the way he fought and also how he is out of the ring. He’s humble… I’m humble. Of course you are completely different when you get in the ring.”

This interest soon translated its self into a real passion.

“[As an amateur] I had 71 fights. Won 60. I won the national title three times; I won a gold medal in the three nations and a silver in the commonwealth youth games”.

After turning over from being an amateur to pro, Darren has racked up 5 KO’s (knockouts), suggesting that with over a 50% KO ratio, he can mix it up with both boxing and fighting.

“I think, I’m not a one punch knockout kind of man. But with the power I’ve got, I think I can break people down. I suppose I’m a pressure fighter. The way my family are, who I grew up with, we do like a bit of a fight, so when I’m in the ring, I don’t want to dance around. I want to get stuck in for the fans. Maybe it’s in my DNA. I’ve been brought up fighting.”

At only 22, Tetley has a long way to go in his career but he remains focused, dedicated and humble.

hgsd“I say it a lot, but it’s true. I’ve got further now than anyone thought when I first started. People didn’t expect me to last a month. So, where I am now, I am more than happy. In 18 months, I’d like to have some sort of a title, whether that be an area or even an English title.

“If you get the opportunity, like all fighters, we will take that. But for me personally, I’d rather do it the right way. I’d rather fight a few more 6 rounders, and then an 8 rounder. Then when I step up for a 10-12 rounder, I’ll be used to it. If I get beat, I’ll get beat by the better man.

“Like any fighter, you want to be a world champion. But that’s a typical answer. For me, it’s a personal thing to get as far as I can. I want to get to where I can get. Where that is now, I can’t really say. I might fight somebody who lost for a British title and only just beat them, and I might think that a British title is my aim. But I have to gauge it as I go.”

In a sport where trash talking often results in undue publicity, it’s refreshing to speak to such a reflective character.

“My family stood by me and took me training. I want to make my family proud and the people of Bradford proud and I’d be happy with that. I have always said I’m not in it for the money. I’d love to walk through Bradford town one day and people ask for pictures and autographs. People saying I’ve done the city of Bradford proud. That’s my world title, once I’ve done my city proud, I’ll be happy.”

Last month, Darren beat Poland’s Sylwester Walczac by a TKO in round 4 at the Metrodome in Barnsley. His latest win follows a points victory over the tough Jamaican Mark McKray on the under card of Josh Warrington’s victory over Joel Brunker in September this year.

“It was unbelievable. When you go to the weigh-in and Martin Murray and Tony Bellew are there. It felt as though, yes I’ve made it! I sold 250 tickets myself. The atmosphere for me was just unbelievable. It was the biggest stage and fight in my career.”

For anyone who wants to support Darren as he progresses, please contact him on 07564210960 for tickets to upcoming shows. He also wanted to thank his sponsors, Tan-Tastique salon in Wibsey, Direct Building Products, Garth builders, AAskips.com and AHIGA, a Bradford based glove and fight apparel producer, who have helped support him along the way. You can follow Darren on Twitter @daztetleyboxing. The Urban Echo team would like to wish Darren all the best and we look forward to supporting him in future fights.

 

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Tony Bellew goes for continental honours on December 12th as he tackles tough Pole, Mateusz Masternak, on the Anthony Joshua v Dillian Whyte super show at London’s 02 Arena. Now an established cruiserweight following a successful stay at 175lbs, Bellew faces arguably his toughest task when opposing the hard hitting Masternak and trainer, Dave Coldwell, insists that the Liverpool man has to be at 100 percent if he’s to get the job done. 

David Coldwell
David Coldwell

“Barring Adonis Stevenson, this is the hardest fight of Tony Bellew’s career,” declared Coldwell.

“He’s big, he’s durable and he can punch early or late so it’s a major threat and a threat that myself and Tony are treating with the utmost respect. This is the fight that’s going to put Tony so close to the massive names in this division and he’s one step from landing himself a brilliant opportunity and finally getting his hands on the world title that I know he can win. The same rewards await Masternak and he’ll be preparing just as hard but I’m certain that I’ve got the better fighter and Tony will prove how good he is on December 12th.”

epa03508972 Polish boxer Mateusz Masternak (C) at the official weigh-in, in Nuernberg, Germany on 14 December 2012 before his European Championship Cruiserweight boxing match against Finnish boxer Juho Haapoja (not pictured) being held in Nuernberg on 15 December 2012. EPA/MATTHIAS MERZ Dostawca: PAP/EPA.
Mateusz Masternak

Bellew’s run at cruiserweight has been a successful one thus far with a series of wins against varying levels of opposition. Wins over Valery Brudov and long time nemesis, Nathan Cleverly, are the standout performances but a dominant win over Masternak will eclipse both those performances with a world title shot likely for the victor.

“We’re so close to where we want to be so it’s important that Tony keeps his focus firmly on Masternak as it’s a result that will speak volumes in this division. Apart from a robbery in South Africa, only the very best have beaten Masternak and if Bellew is to go on and fulfil the potential that I know he’s got then he also has to beat him. This fight comes with a lot of risk but the rewards are fantastic. This is going to be a superb fight for boxing fans to enjoy and it’s also the fight which establishes Bellew as a true cruiserweight threat.”

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by James Oddy

A lot of boxing writers and commentators are currently trying to work out who will fill the PPV (pay-per-view) and pop culture void left by Floyd Mayweather following his retirement. It’s a valid question, as boxing has always had a figurehead (almost always American) during the modern TV era of the sport.

Many seem to think it may be the likes of Gennady Golovkin, Canelo Alvarez, or Sergey Kovalev. Only Terrence Crawford, another candidate, hails from the USA.

But it’s hard not to feel sorry for a legitimate top ten pound for pound fighter currently active who has been unfortunately over looked for the vast majority of his career.

9-24-bradley-jpgTimothy Bradley has an inspiring against the odds story. He beat Junior Witter, the Bradford born southpaw, with allegedly less than $20 left in the bank, to win his first world title. He has taken on a ‘who’s who’ of the light-welter and welterweight division. He showed slick skills and athleticism against the likes of Lamont Peterson, and Devon Alexander. He was the beneficiary of a gift decision against Manny Pacquiao, but that wasn’t his fault, and the resulting fall out seemed to encourage him to show his mettle even more. He went toe to toe with Ruslan Provodnikov, a fighter who can be out boxed but few can out fight, winning a decision and suffering severe neurological problems in the aftermath. He then showed superb ring general ship to defeat the great Juan Manuel Marquez before losing his ‘0’ in a rematch against Pacquio.

timothy-bradleySince then, he has performed well against Diego Chaves and at the time undefeated Jessie Vargas. Bradley has decided to take the admirable choice to fight Brandon Rios next up, Rios fighting in a style reminiscent of Provodnikov who gave Bradley such problems before.

Boxing has paid Bradley well as he is one of top ranks marquee names and he regularly features on PPV.

Yet he has never become the cross-over star his talent and style deserve. In our multimedia age, perhaps the man who goes by the moniker ‘desert storm’ is too honest, open and self-effacing. He is not prone to the bombast that brought the spotlight onto Mayweather.

260px-Timothy_Bradley3My hope however, should he defeat Brandon Rios [on 7 November], would be for Bradley to take on either Kell Brook or Amir Khan. Particularly for Brook, the fight would raise both men’s profile in their opponents’ home country. Brook is vaunted for his defeat of Shawn Porter and a defeat of Bradley could catapult him into global stardom. Similarly, Bradley dethroning and outclassing another top name would only add to his legacy and perhaps remind those in the business that they still have a bona fide star in the spotlight who has shown no sign of hanging up his gloves.

I hope that Bradley, who has travelled for fights, taken on all comers as a champion, and continues to adopt a fan friendly style, becomes as widely known in the sporting world as his talent deserves.

 

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by James Oddy

Boxing and boxers are built on hype. Some boxers never get the publicity, money or fights that they deserve because they ultimately don’t justify the risk/reward for an established fighter. On the other hand, some boxers will continue to get big pay days regardless of how much they deserve them, because they represent guaranteed money for everyone involved.

hi-res-183178694-anthony-joshua-catches-emanuele-leo-during-their_crop_northYou rarely get many 50/50 fights these days at the elite level, which is a crying shame. The likes of Provodnikov/Matthyssee, McDonnel/Kameda are exceptions rather than the rule.

I recently read a book called ‘Road to Nowhere’ by ex-boxing news editor, Tris Dixon, in which he travels the USA meeting retired ex-boxers, mainly from the 50s to the 80s. What stands out is the amount of times boxers, from prospects to world champions, were pitched into 50/50 fights. Sometimes they won, and sometimes they lost, but either way the fans were attracted to the spectacle.

Whereas the hype of the boxing business used to be built on the quality of the fight taking place, or the proven fighting ability of the men competing, it is almost entirely revolves now around a boxers win/loss record.

54e0f09398975-JOSHUA_1822967aThe moment somebody is beaten, they are derided as being a ‘bum’ who has been ‘exposed’. Many people have written off George Groves following his recent loss to Badou Jack and consecutive losses to Car Froch. But all three fights were competitive and entertaining, and there is a great possibility that Groves could learn and grown from those experiences.

This fear of losing and therefor losing box office appeal now seems to affect people at all levels of the sport. Kell Brook proved to have elite level ability when he beat Shawn Porter, but has since underwhelmed somewhat in his choice of defences.

Similarly, Anthony Joshua’s progress is hard to judge. He is on the cusp of becoming a crossover star and has thus far been handled brilliantly. But the lack of any real 50/50 fights on his record makes it hard to judge at just what level he can attain. He certainly looks like world champion material, and matching somebody like that must be incredibly tough. But I think fans as whole would prefer to see Joshua in with an Ustinov, Tony Thompson or a Bermaine Stivernie rather than another one round blow out of an over matched opponent.

Of course, Dillian Whyte vs Joshua may prove to be just that, a fight that helps spectators understand just how high Joshua’s potential is. I expect Whyte to be a solid test for the Olympian.

Almost every boxer I’ve come across seems sincerely to be willing to take on anyone. I don’t think anyone could make it as a pro boxer, from domestic to world level, if they weren’t committed, skilful and above all, tough. I think the majority of boxers want 50/50 fights as often as possible because it fulfils their competitive instincts. As usual, it is the promoters, managers, governing bodies and ‘advisors’ who seem to complicate matters and throw up roadblocks.

 

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It was back in May that Doncaster’s Jamie McDonnell pulled off one of British boxing’s most majestic away days when he overcame the challenge of Tomoki Kameda in Texas.

1867284215This weekend, McDonnell returns to the scene of his most accomplished performance to date as he aims to oust the Japanese darling one more time to complete a memorable double over the excellent Kameda. McDonnell’s trainer, Dave Coldwell, played his part in spring’s upset and he cuts a confident pose when discussing McDonnell’s chances.

“It’s a fight the team is well prepared because we’re well aware that defeat would’ve hurt Kameda first time around and he’ll be desperate to prove a point. Just because we’ve got the job done before doesn’t mean this fight is any easier. I like to think I’ve been around a long time to be anything less than 100% professional and Jamie is exactly the same. The first result means nothing going into this one and we’re more than prepared for whatever Kameda brings to the table. This is a fight featuring two world class fighters in their prime but I firmly believe that Jamie just has that little bit more to get him over the line.”

jmac_2165667aMcDonnell’s surprise victory last time out is an accomplishment which has thus far been restricted to the boundaries of the boxing community with the performance receiving hardly any mainstream attention despite the enormity of the task. A repeat on Sunday, which is to be televised live on Sky Sports, is certain to make McDonnell a frontrunner for British Boxer of the Year awards at the calendar’s end and Coldwell is hopeful that his charge finally gets the recognition his performances merit.

“In terms of recent form, it’s hard to name a British fighter who’s done much more than Jamie. He’s been the underdog on several occasions but he keeps coming away with victories against good guys at a very high level. There was a huge buzz around Kameda before the first fight but Jamie didn’t let that get to him once as he knew what he was capable of. British boxing has been on a high for a number of years now and I’m of the belief that Jamie has more than contributed his fair share. Sunday could be his last fight at bantamweight before he sets his sights on some of the big names at super-bantam so he’s desperate to leave his mark on the division. I’m very confident that he’ll do just that.”

by James Oddy – Urban Echo Boxing Correspondent

The domestic middleweight scene is buzzing.  Billy Joe Saunders and Andy Lee are already set to clash in Limerick in the coming months. Add to that the enigmatic Chris Eubank Jr, the hard hitting John Ryder and Adam Etches, the tough Matthew Macklin and the British titleholder, the talented Nick Blackwell.

Blackwell defends his title this Saturday (25th July) on channel five for the first time against the newest entry onto the scene, Leeds born and based Damon Jones at the Derby arena.

The twenty-two year old is a slick and rangy southpaw coming in with a 13-0 record. Damon was gracious enough to take time out of his grueling camp to talk to me about his up coming fight.

James: How did you first get into the sport of boxing?

Damon: I’ve got an identical twin brother called Ben (who now boxes for the marines), we were always scrapping as youngsters. When we got to eight years old my dad took us to a boxing gym, just to stop us fighting with each other.

J: From there you went on to have a successful amateur career?

-UtoEw8eD: Since the age of 11 I’ve been to every national final. Junior ABAs, schoolboys, at 17 I won the senior ABAs, youth commonwealth games I got a gold medal, and won various tri nations tournaments as well.

J: Did you start off with current trainer, Danny Thornton (a former middleweight pro with a 25-13-3 record)?

D: No, I started off at Bateson’s ABC. When that shut down I moved over to Danny. I’ve been with him since I was 14.

J: You must have a close relationship then being together for so long?

D: Yeah, I’ve never lost a fight with Danny in my corner. It’s a great track record. He’s like family to me. I don’t think I could train with anyone else since we’ve got such a good bond.

J: How’s your preparation for the Blackwell fight going?

It’s going really well, mentally, I’ve been in the best place I’ve been in in boxing. The trainings gone exceptionally well. I’m training very hard, two or three times a day, I’m just looking to bring that title back now.

J: What are you expecting from Blackwell?

D: He’s a good, come forward fighter. He’s going to be strong; I expect it to be a tough fight. I just feel that I’ve got the tools to beat him. I’m at the right age at the right time.

J: Have you mixed things up at all in this camp?

D: We’ve been working how we’re going to beat him, tactics wise. We can’t give anything away, but we’ve been working on a lot of things. Mainly thought it’s been about mental state, I’m so switched on, I’m so hungry. I just think it’s my time.

boxing1J: The domestic scene at the minute is really exciting. Not looking beyond Blackwell, but there’s some excellent fights to be made.

D: yeah, there’s lots of good young British middleweights. It’d be great to get in the mix with them. A young Leeds lad in the middleweight division, one of the most prestigious divisions.

J: Speaking of being from Leeds, Josh Warrington (21-0 featherweight) has really caught the attention of the sporting public in the city. Do you think there’s a something happening? There’s a real buzz around the sport.

D: yeah, there is. Josh has put Leeds, back on the map. Leeds had a spell of not having any fighters with titles or anything. I’ve got to thank Josh really for getting the Leeds public back behind boxing. I’ll be hoping to jump on shows with him and getting the Leeds support behind me.

Those wanting tickets for the show, held at the Derby arena in Derby, can contact Damon on 07701359299, or alternatively from http://www.derbyarena.uk.com/events/whats-on/a-night-of-championship-boxing/

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Liverpool’s Tony Bellew returned from a nine month absence last weekend to halt experienced Croatian, Ivica Bacurin, in the last session of a scheduled ten rounder.

David Coldwell
David Coldwell

The Liverpool man dominated proceedings from the get go and after dropping his resilient opponent multiple times, he finally got the job done seconds before the final bell. Hopes within Camp Bellew are firmly attached to a third world title shot and trainer, Dave Coldwell is insistent that the time is right for his hungry charge. “We’re not far from where we want to be and I see things falling into place for Tony now,” buzzed Coldwell.

“Last Friday was our fourth fight together and the things we’ve been working on for the last eighteen months are beginning to look the part. We’re closing in on something really special after only spending such little time together but the pair of us are so desperate for it to work that we are willing to put in everything to make sure we have the best chance of succeeding at the very top level.”

Tony Bellew v Ivica Bacurin
Tony Bellew v Ivica Bacurin

Bellew’s preparations provided several nervous moments for Coldwell as the daily grind of the Sheffield trainer’s demanding workouts were accompanied by illness in the final three weeks of camp which meant Bellew was not at full potential by the time he reached the ring. This information was touched on in the immediate aftermath of the fight and Coldwell reveals that it wasn’t ideal with such big fights looming.

“We had to be patient on fight night and make sure there was enough in the tank to go the distance just in case Bacurin was a tough nut to crack. He paced himself well and controlled the fight and a lot of the things he did made me very happy. There’s still more for him to show of course but because of the build up he wasn’t able to go out there and give the fans what they wanted. That will come in time and if it arrives on the big stage then it’ll be well worth waiting for.”

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By James Oddy

Miguel Cotto is the lineal middleweight champion of the world. That alone seems vaguely ridiculous to say. The Puerto Rican is 34 and started life as a light-welter, and received some horrendous beatings from Manny Pacquiao and Antonio Margarito. He was also out boxed by Floyd Mayweather (easily done) and the relatively unheralded Austin Trout.

Miguel-cottoYet Cotto now seems to have rediscovered his zip, after hooking up with Freddie Roach. He has looked brilliant against Delvin Rodriguez, Sergio Martinez and Daniel Geale.

Yet the most ridiculous aspect of all this is that Cotto has never once weighed in at the Middleweight limit, and in his defense of the lineal title against Geale made the challenger come in under the middle weight limit.

Cotto’s defense is that he isn’t a middleweight. He is also one of the biggest draws in boxing, almost always the ‘A’ side, and he can dictate when and how he fights largely according to his own prerogative.

This explains why he seems fairly open about the fact he doesn’t want to fight WBA champion Gennady Golovkin, the middleweight Mike Tyson who has dismantled who’s who of middleweight contenders. There also seems to be little talk of Cotto fighting WBO champion Andy Lee or David Lemieux for the IBF title. Not to mention the myriad ‘interim’ and ‘regular’ champions which litter the sport.

1G-Golovkin-Stevens-Will-Hart-HBOBut whilst this is damaging the lineal middleweight title, Cotto’s use of catch weights may ultimately end up benefiting the fans. All roads for Cotto now seem to lead to Canelo Alvarez. The Mexican is in his early twenties but already seems set to have a ‘Hall of fame’ worthy career. His fantastic fight with James Kirkland, which ended with a spectacular knockout for Alvarez, only added to the growing clamor for a new chapter added to the storied history of Puerto Rico vs Mexico feuds.

An ideal scenario would involve Golovkin cleaning p the rest of the middleweight division, then fighting the winner of Cotto vs Alvarez. And if we are talking ideal scenarios, then Golovkin, win or lose, moves up to super middle to take on Andre Ward.

But catch weights aren’t all bad. One fight that could be saved by the use of catch weights is Vasyl Lomachenko vs Nicolas Walters. Lomachenko won a world title in his third pro fight- the decorated amateur is a beautiful boxer and at 26, he has the world at his feet. Walters, the Jamaican banger, is reminiscent of a smaller Julian Jackson, his power bludgeoning Nonito Donaire. They both campaigned at featherweight, but Walters lost his WBA title on the scales before his last fight, and seems likely to move up.

Lomachenko seems to be comfortable at the weight with no urge to move up, but the two could hopefully agree on a mutually beneficial arrangement and give the fans a super fight in the lighter weights.

by James Oddy (Boxing Correspondent)

Las Vegas – Boxing is a truly unique sport. Aside from its very nature, two men or women attempting to knock each other out before they get knocked out, the way it works is baffling.

Mayweather3So when the ‘Fight of the Century’ takes place this month, Mayweather vs Pacquiao, it’s unlikely almost anyone inside the 16,000-seater stadium is an average joe. At the time of writing, tickets, allegedly starting at over $3000 for the very worst view, haven’t even been printed, let alone sold to members of the public.

Inside, ringside and elsewhere, the stadium is likely to be made up of celebrities, dignitaries, VIP’s, high rollers, and gargantuan entourages from both sides. But despite the ridiculousness of the situation, Mayweather vs Pacquiao is arguably the biggest sporting event in a generation, and should be cherished by fight fans and casuals alike.

Big fights stick in the memory like no other sporting occasion – people still talk about the likes of Louis/Schmeling, Ali/Frazier and Hagler/Hearns.

nota_3_1Whilst the occasion should be great, the fight could go either way. Pacquiao is no longer the buzz-saw of a few years ago, when he cut through the likes of Hatton, Cotto and Margerito with stunning speed, angles and power. Mayweather also isn’t the fighter who KO’d Hatton and gave Manuel Marquez the run around, although he still retains the unbelievable ring IQ that has carried him to the top of the sport.

Many believe the mauling that Maidiana gave Mayweather in the open rounds of their first fight was indicative of slipping skills, but Maidiana is an awkward customer who is hard for anyone to look good against.

My prediction is a disputed Mayweather win, and a rematch later in the year. I believe Pacquiao will roll back the years and be going for a knockout, but the naturally bigger size and defensive prowess of Mayweather will prevail.

Whilst there is excitement and relief that Pacquiao and Mayweather will meet, it is undoubtedly the start of their era coming to an end. For somebody like myself, in my early 20’s, who grew up with the likes of Barerra, Morales, Hamed, Benn, Eubank, Corralles, Gatti, Ward etc, there is a sense of sadness.

Where boxing goes after these two box officer magnets is anyone’s guess. Gennady Golovkin, Deontay Wilder, Saul Alverez, Keith Thurman, perhaps even our own Amir Khan and Kell Brook, are all staking a claim to be the next big thing in the sport.

But boxing always finds a way to survive. Earlier this month, Ruslan Provodnikov and Lucas Matthysse, two of the biggest hitters at light-welterweight, met in upstate New York. There was no title on the line, just two tough, competitive fighting machines who wanted to know who was better. Provodnikov ended up cut badly on the forehead, and took some serious punishment from the ultimately classier Matthysse, yet the two embraced when the final bell sounded. With practitioners like those two, the sport will always attract spectators wanting to see bravery, aggression and above all respect between athletes.

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