Thursday, December 5, 2013

Guillermo Rigondeaux Fighting For Respect

By Peter Silkov

When Guillermo Rigondeaux (12-0(8kos) steps through the ropes at the Broadwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey this weekend, to defend his WBO and WBA world super-bantamweight titles against Joseph ’King Kong’ Agbeko (29-0(22kos)-4), it will be his first competitive appearance in a boxing ring since his emphatic victory over Nonito Donaire last April. After such a victory over a boxer of Donaire’s stature, a fighter rated as one of boxing’s top pound-for-pound practitioners, it would be expected that Rigondeaux would be feted and praised, and given his just due, as having proved himself one of the sport’s elite.  Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth, which is part of the reason why ‘Rigo’ has not fought since the Donaire bout, and has struggled to gain this last month of the year outing. Immediately following ’Rigo’s triumph over Donaire, in their highly anticipated unification fight, there began an orchestrated smear campaign to devalue ‘Rigo’s victory, and minimize Donaire’s defeat. Astonishingly, this campaign originated from Rigondeaux’s own promoter, Bob Arum, and was supported and encouraged by HBO. Rigondeaux had won the fight, but he was boring, was the general opinion from Bob Arum, in fact he had made both fighters look boring it seems. Arum went on to say that promoting Rigondeaux in the future would be no easy task, and that the very mention of his name to members of HBO ’made them vomit’.

This attitude from Arum has set the general tone for most of the summer; Rigondeaux had become little more than a pariah to his own promoter, his crime… winning a fight, he shouldn’t have won. Rigondeaux, with his magnificent amateur record, but limited professional career, had been brought along as impressive fodder for Arum’s favourite, Donaire. After all, how could a 33 year-old, with just 11 pro fights, beat a boxer of Donaire’s standing and experience? Unfortunately, for Arum, he didn’t share his vision of the script with Rigondeaux. Worse of all, not only did Rigondeaux win, he performed a good old-fashioned schooling of the ’Filipino Flash’.  Furthermore, Donaire did not go down fighting, but rather wincing, and on the retreat, after being caught on the eye in the last round.

If you listen to Bob Arum, and HBO, the reason that Donaire’s only notable success throughout the fight, came with a flash knockdown in the 10th round, was all part of Rigondeaux’s negative and boring tactics. Seldom has a winner of a major fight been so maligned and by the very people who are supposed to be supporting and representing him.  It has been a bitter pill for the Cuban refugee to swallow.  Rigondeaux’s success has been gained with many years of hard work and painful sacrifice. Though he has had only twelve professional contests, it would be a mistake to think of his rise as meteoric, and gained with ease. His is a success borne from many years of toil as an amateur for Cuba, and then the huge sacrifice he made when he left his wife and family behind when he left Cuba for America, in order to follow his dream of professional career, and world titles.  ’Rigo’ has now won the titles he once dreamed about, with phenomenal success for such a short pro career, but only he knows how bittersweet his triumphs have become for him. Certainly, the Donaire fight has shown him that the American dream can be a complex thing, and that the bottom line in boxing is not what you do, but how many people are willing to watch you doing it.  

Part of the problem is that there is a strong antipathy in modern boxing to almost everything that constitutes ‘the sweet science’. Any boxer who employs a jab, some movement, and semblance of a defence, is labelled as ‘boring’ and a ‘runner’ .
Floyd Mayweather, the sport’s master craftsman, has built his career and following upon his larger than life character, rather than people’s enthusiasm for his use of boxing skills that seem otherwise almost extinct. Bernard Hopkins, a self-taught craftsman and defensive genius, has had to wait until his late 40’s to get most of the credit that was due to him at least a decade earlier. In comparison to Mayweather and Hopkins, ‘Rigo’s situation is bleak, he is an outsider, both in boxing style and by birth; no matter that his defensive and technical mastery rivals that of both Mayweather, and Hopkins.

This is a sport in which a boxer like Hopkins, despite all his age defying achievements, is still the brunt of jokes about him being a cure for insomnia. It seems some boxing fans believe that the sweet science is drinking a large coke, while watching two men go toe-to-toe, with not a jab in sight.

After months of stewing about his treatment by Arum and HBO, when he has had little to do, but occasionally issue indignant arguments in his own defence, Rigo finally returns to the ring on Saturday. He must be hoping that this is the first step to moving on from the post-Donaire victory witch-hunt, he has had to endure for the past eight months.

Rigo takes on a tough opponent in former IBF World Bantamweight champion Joseph ‘King Kong’ Agbeko.  Although he has fought just once in the past two years, the Ghanaian is a clever and dangerous opponent, who can both box, slug it out, and has a decent dig. Agbeko knows the bittersweet highs and lows of the boxing game, having been a victim of some scandalous refereeing, when he lost his Bantamweight championship to Mexican Abner Mares in August 2011. In that fight, Mares hit Agbeko low more than twenty times, yet never had any points deducted by a referee, who could at best, be described as inept, at worse, perhaps something a whole lot darker. Certainly, the fight was officiated as if it were the Abner Mares’ show, from start to finish. The referee saved his best work for late in the fight, when he watched Agbeko go down in the 11th round after being hit low yet again, and promptly scored it a knockdown. The subsequent point’s verdict for Mares, was controversial, as many felt Agbeko had done enough to retain his title, especially when he was literally fighting two men in the ring that night, Mares and the referee. Had the referee not ruled a knockdown in the 11th round, Agbeko would have retained his title on points.    Although, in their rematch four months later, Mares clearly out-boxed Agbeko, but their first match still leaves a sour taste in the mouth.

Since the second Mares’ fight in late 2011, Agbeko has fought just once; a point’s win in which be beat Luis Melendez for the IBO world bantamweight title.  But despite his inactivity Agbeko is no easy fight for Rigondeaux; ’King Kong’ is a battle-hardened warrior who will be looking at this as his last chance to regain world championship status. There is little doubt that Agbeko will come to fight, and he is unlikely to go into a defensive shell, as Nonito Donaire did against the slick Cuban champion. However, against the skills and strength of Rigondeaux, ‘King Kong’ is likely to be found wanting.
This is an important fight to Rigondeaux, as he is a clear favourite, and will want to produce a good performance against a former champion, who though still dangerous, is considered past his prime.  If Agbeko tries to box with Rigondeaux, he will find himself unable to compete with the champion’s razor sharp reflexes and timing. If on the other hand, he takes the aggressive route against the champion, he will found himself picked off clinically by one the best counterpunchers pound-for-pound today.

Despite being knocked down a few times in his career, Agbeko has never been stopped, so an inside the distance win would be an impressive statement from ‘Rigo’.  With Donaire having already returned to the ring, with a rather unimpressive come- from-behind victory against Vic Darchinyan last month, there has already been talk about a Rigondeaux vs. Donaire rematch.  It is a fight that is unlikely to happen, unless Rigondeaux agrees to move up to Featherweight to accommodate the Filipino favourite. Even if Rigondeaux agrees to this, it is highly unlikely that Bob Arum will ever risk putting Donaire in the same ring with him again, after seeing one of his major cash cows so badly exposed the first time round. Talk of a second fight looks like it is just that, talk, aimed at easing Donaire’s way back, by making promises of redemption, which they will never try to fulfill. It seems more that likely that Rigondeaux will have to go a different route to find big fights in the future, and that will probably mean finding a new promoter, once his contract with Arum and HBO reaches its conclusion, after one more fight.  First, ‘Rigo’ must get past ‘King Kong’ and hope perhaps that victory this time will not be tarnished by his own promoter. 

Copyright © 2013 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and
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Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Light Heavyweight Explosion

By Peter Silkov

Last night, the Colisee de Quebec, Qubec City, Canada, played host to two explosive performances by the two premier light-heavyweights in the world, Adonis ‘Superman’ Stevenson and Sergey ‘The Krusher’ Kovalev. Both men held on to their respective portions of the world light-heavyweight championship with spectacularly explosive performances. ‘The Krusher’ lived up to his name against Ismayl Sillakh, in what was the first defence of his WBO world light-heavyweight title. After Sillakh had made a good start in the first round by using his movement, ‘The Krusher’ found his range in the second round, and tagged his challenger with a right hand that sent him sprawling to the canvas. Sillakh beat the count, but was dazed, and bleeding from the nose. Kovalev didn’t waste any time catching up with his wounded prey, rushing across the ring with an almost indecent haste. Swift and accurate, left and right hands to the head sent Sillakh down again, this time falling into the ropes, and ending up tangled up and hanging half way out of the ring. There was no point in the referee counting him out, but he did anyway. It was a chilling exhibition of power punching once more from Kovalev, who may well be the hardest puncher pound-for-pound in the world today. In fact ‘The Krusher’ could be the hardest puncher seen at any weight for some years.

Adonis ‘Superman’ Stevenson had to wait a little longer before he caught up with England’s Tony Bellew, but along the way he displayed speed and boxing skills, which would make a possible showdown with Kovalev all the more fascinating. Bellew tried to frustrate Stevenson with movement, and looked to counter with shots of his own, but Stevenson showed good stalking skills and good reflexes, to keep the pressure on, and slip Bellews occasional counters. By the 3rd round, Stevenson was landing with some good shots, and the writing was on the wall despite a gritty show by the challenger. In the 6th round, Stevenson finally cornered Bellew, and sent him down with a terrific left hand. Bellew stubbornly got up, but was groggy, and Stevenson drove him into a corner with a vicious assault; a big left hand snapping Bellew’s head back on his neck, at which point the referee jumped in with a well timed stoppage.

For Stevenson it was the second defence of his WBC world light-heavyweight championship and further evidence that he can back up his punching power with an impressive mix of speed, and boxing skills.

Everything now seems to be set for a light-heavyweight explosion, if and when, Kovalev and Stevenson meet in the ring sometime next year. Kovalev seems all for a showdown with his WBC counterpart, while Stevenson was a little more circumspect, mentioning Carl Froch and IBF light-heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins, as possible future opponents, before he takes on ‘The Krusher’. However, it is unlikely that either Froch or Hopkins would be too eager to tackle Stevenson or Kovalev. IBF champion Hopkins, at 48 years of age, is a ring marvel and still a great boxer, but he also has enough self awareness to know that a fight with either ‘Superman’ or ‘The Krusher’ would not be the wisest of moves at this point in his career. As for Carl Froch, he has enough problems at home, without having to venture to Canada, and take on Adonis Stevenson. In fact the biggest problem facing both Kovalev and Stevenson at the moment is that the big name opponents will be looking elsewhere for opponents, such is the notoriety of their respective punching-power already. The good news is that this joint problem may end up being the crucial decider in bringing both champions together in an explosive unification battle. In the end, Kovalev and Stevenson may find that they are left with each other in their joint search for a big money ‘super-fight’.

How such a clash would go is fascinating. Both men have terrific power, and good all round boxing skills. Stevenson looks to have the edge in speed and boxing technique, despite Kovalev being underrated in this area. However, Kovalev has the edge in punching power. Although Stevenson is a fearsome hitter himself, ‘The Krusher’s punch seems to be on a level of its own. It may well come down to which man can take the better punch. What is for certain is that ‘Superman‘vs. ‘The Krusher’ could be one of the most anticipated fights of 2014, and perhaps one of the most exciting too, while it lasts. It would also see a genuine ‘super fight’ taking place in the often maligned light-heavyweight division.

Copyright © 2013 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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Friday, November 29, 2013

Carl Froch at the Crossroads

 By Peter Silkov

Boxing is a savage and fickle sport, and a fighter’s career can change dramatically in a matter of minutes between those four ropes. It can change with a single punch, or a hastily taken decision. Although, officially Carl Froch retained his WBA and IBF world super-middleweight title belts last Saturday night (Nov 23rd) with a brave come from behind 9th round stoppage of challenger George Groves, he emerged from his victory battered and shaken, both physically and psychologically. In the days since, what was a marvellous shootout, the general consensus has been that the stoppage was woefully premature, and robbed Groves of a possible chance of victory. It is a view, which the 20,000 crowd in attendance voiced in no uncertain terms.  The crowd let its feelings be known very clearly in the moments after Howard Foster’s brutal interruption of what had been a classic contest. His actions provoked loud protests and derision, which at one point, threatened to spill over out of control. Froch also heard the protests and the anger, and as he raised his arms in victory as he heard the boos. It was a sound that must have hurt him more deeply than any Groves’ punch he took during the fight. Even the right hand, which laid him out on his back in the first round.  The aftermath of the fight has been almost as brutal for Froch as the fight itself. The clamour has grown for him to grant an immediate rematch to his young tormentor, while the protests and anger at the stoppage (and the scoring of the fight) itself, have grown and grown. None more so than from Groves himself, who has left no doubt bout his feelings that Froch was favoured by both the referee and the judges on the night, and his defeat was nothing short of a robbery to save a high profile champion, who had big fights awaiting him in the future. 

Froch has been left a man in turmoil. ’The Cobra’ finds himself at a crucial crossroads in his career. Always a proud man, who relishes his image as a warrior that has ducked no one during his career, Froch finds himself suddenly accused of doing just that, after his failure to follow up on his post-fight offer of a rematch to Groves.  Although Froch publicly offered his brave challenger another shot at his title, in the heated moments following the match, when both men were being interviewed at ringside, in the days since, Froch has sought to distance himself from such a promise, and asked for time to reflect. The champion knows that the path he chooses from here will decide not only the conclusion of a career, which now seems destined to end sooner rather than later, but it will also have a massive impact upon his legacy as a fighter and a champion. 

During the tense run up to their confrontation, Froch made it clear that to lose his world titles to a domestic opponent would represent the ultimate failure for him, and in his eyes at least, severely damage his legacy. Therefore, Saturday’s fight and its controversy and repercussions, must be no less than the ultimate nightmare for ’The Cobra’.  Indeed, if anything could be worse than defeat for a fighter of Froch’s mentality, it would be to hold on to his titles with an ill-gotten, controversial victory.

With talk already from some sides about a possible Froch vs. Groves rematch taking place next summer at an open air venue such as Wembley Stadium, it would seem that the call of a second fight with Groves would be both too loud and too profitable for ’The Cobra’ to ignore. However, he has other options, which may pull him in a different direction than a Groves rematch.

Before the Groves fight, Froch was talking about a rematch with American Andre Ward, in order to reverse the defeat that Ward inflicted upon him in their super six-tournament final in late 2011. Ironically, since Saturdays fight, Ward seems more agreeable to meeting Froch in the ring again. Perhaps partly due to ’The Cobra’ now being open to travelling to Las Vegas, rather than holding out for Ward to come to England. In recent days, Froch has stated a preference to facing Ward in a rematch in Las Vegas, in what would be his finale. It seems that Froch is now looking at having one more fight and calling it a career, and that George Groves may not fit into this plan. 

This option is not so clear-cut for Froch. With the inconclusiveness of Saturday’s fight still ringing in his ears, there are those who would accuse him of ducking Groves, if he were to opt for a swan song fight in Las Vegas against Ward. Though Ward is hardly an easier fight for Froch, the fact is that in fighting the American, Froch would have less to lose than if he were to grant Groves a rematch. If he lose’s to Ward again, it would be a loss to a man who is considered one of the best boxers in the world pound-for-pound. On the other hand, Groves is still a young fighter making his reputation, and a loss to Groves, a domestic rival, would be far more damaging. This is something that Froch dreads, to end his career losing his crown to Groves, would not carry the prestige of losing to a man already rated amongst the best of the world pound-for-pound.

Another option, which has been mooted these past few days, is a Froch vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fight. This would be an even harder sell with the public for Froch. Other than his huge Mexican fan-base, Chavez brings little to the table, having failed to score a meaningful win at 168, and looked very poor in his last fight against Brian Vera.  However, a Froch vs. Chavez Jr. bout would most likely still sell well in America, but there is little doubt that Froch’s British fans would be far from satisfied if he decided to go down the Chavez Jr. route.  Indeed, it would look like a case of ’The Cobra’ taking the easiest option on his way out of the hardest game. 

Perhaps one question should be whether Froch cares, as much now about how he is perceived by the fans, and the legacy that he leaves behind when he chooses to retire.  It is possible that Saturday’s experience, and hearing himself booed by 20,000 people after he had just spent the best part of forty minutes fighting for his life, may well have changed the champion’s outlook. Could Froch really be blamed if he now took the easiest route available for him to have one more big payday and then get out while he is still in one piece?  Especially when a second fight with Groves looks to be so potentially risky and damaging. 

Froch has always had a rather fraught relationship with Britain’s boxing fans. Early on in his career ’The Cobra’ was largely ignored, despite winning the domestic championships, and steadily propelling himself up into the world rankings. When he did get attention, he was usually faulted for his low held left hand, lack of defence, and slow, rather clumsy style. It was only after Froch won the World super-middleweight title in 2008, after an epic fight with Jean Pascal, in what turned out to be the first of a five-year run of exciting world championship fights, that Froch began to gain the affection and recognition which he craved. In the five years since the Pascal fight, ‘The Cobra’ has taken part in a string of high quality world championship contests, which mark him out as one of Britain’s most exciting fighters of modern times. It is a reputation that Froch has coveted up until now.

Then came last Saturday, and the phrase ‘hero to zero’ may well have run through Froch’s head at some point in the past few days. While there is little doubt that the fight was stopped prematurely by referee Howard Foster, and that the judge’s score cards have poured fuel on the simmering sense of injustice, it is also true that the treatment of Carl Froch by the 20,000 spectators post fight, and by many in the days since, has been cruel and unfair. 

While a win for Froch in a rematch against Groves would be a great asset for Froch, a loss to Groves would be potentially career ending and scupper ‘The Cobra’s’ ambitions of an Andre Ward rematch. ‘The Cobra’ must balance the risks of taking on Groves, against the long term risks of avoiding a rematch, and always having to live with that factor in his legacy.  It depends what does Froch view as the worst scenario, a Groves’ win or Froch being accused of ducking him. 

So now ‘The Cobra’ finds himself at the crossroads, as he seeks to end his career on his own terms.  Should we blame him if he perhaps decides not to give the public what they want this time, but instead to do what is best for him?  It is a puzzle to which only he will be able to find the true answer.

Copyright © 2013 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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Remembering Punches from the Past: Jim Braddock vs. Joe Louis

By Peter Silkov

When James Braddock defended his world heavyweight championship against Joe Louis on June 22, 1937, few expected him to retain the title, which he had won from Max Baer two years earlier, in a huge upset. Joe Louis was already seen by many as the best heavyweight in the world and practically invincible. But Braddock was determined to win or lose like a champion.

60,000 people at Chicago’s Comiskey Park Stadium saw Braddock come out and meet the ’Brown Bomber’ straight on, and in a spectacular twist, floored Louis momentarily in the 1st round with an uppercut.  But it was just a moment.  It was to be the defending champions only fistic success. From then on, Louis took control, and jabbed, hammered, and bloodied Braddock.  The champion wanted to go out on his shield, so, as the rounds went on, and the punishment escalated, Braddock fought back wilder and more desperately.  With eyes cut and closing, and his nose and mouth pouring blood, Braddock literally flung himself blindly towards his tormentor. Then in the 8th round it was finally over, at last.  Just a simple right hand from Louis, a full stop after so many rights and lefts, which had been thrown and landed previously.  One right hand and Braddock crashed to the canvas unconscious. When his handlers rushed into the ring and dragged him limply back to his corner, a pool of his blood stained the ring where he had laid and been counted out. Louis was the World Heavyweight champion, the first coloured Heavyweight champion since Jack Johnson.  Like Johnson, he would prove to be one of the greatest champions ever.
Braddock was not a great champion, but he had gone out fighting, throwing leather until he no longer had the consciousness to fight back.

Watch the fight:

Copyright © 2013 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Can Sergey Kovalev Crush the Challenge of Ismayl Sillakh?

By Peter Silkov

Boxing is always on the look out for new stars, and if there is one attribute that a fighter can hold, which will help him reach the status of a fan favourite, it is the possession of a knockout punch. Boxing fans can forgive a fighter for almost anything, if he can put an opponent to sleep with a touch of either hand. Sergey Kovalev (22(20kos)-0-1) can do just that, it seems, with either one of his gloved fists. However, the fans have not had to forgive much either yet, because, unlike many other knockout punchers, the Russian born Kovalev has shown himself so far to be a well- rounded boxer, in addition to having dynamite in his fists. It is a reputation that Kovalev will be looking to build upon this Saturday, when he steps into the ring at the Colisee de Quebec, Quebec City, Canada, to defend his WBO world light-heavyweight championship against Ismayl Sillakh (21(17kos)-1-0).

Kovalev’s career has steadily gained momentum since he turned professional in 2009, with 2013 looking like it will be his breakout year. In winning the WBO title from Nathan Cleverly in August, Kovalev silenced the doubters who had predicted he would be out-boxed, with a chilling display of punching power that showed just why Kovalev is known as ‘The Krusher’. Kovalev is different from many big punchers in that he does not go in for dramatic swings, or furious flurries; his punches are delivered in swift, but methodical fashion, almost low-key in appearance. The effect that they have on his opponents however, when landing, is certainly dramatic.

Also on the same bill in Quebec, is the big punching Adonis Stevenson, defending his WBC portion of the world light-heavyweight championship against England’s Tony Bellew. The light-heavyweight division is a curious and exciting place to be at the moment. There is the big punching Kovalev and Stevenson, with their respective titles, and then the seemingly, ever young professor of defence, IBF world champion Bernard Hopkins. Mix in Lucien Bute, Jean Pascal, and a possible moving up in weight Andre Ward, and you have a host of fan-friendly, possible match-ups, at 175 pounds.  For Kovalev, the future could be especially bright as he is younger, than both the ancient Hopkins and the 36-year-old Stevenson, and could well be the ultimate future of the division.
In the first defence of his WBO world title, ’The Krusher’ takes on Ukrainian born Sillakh, who like Kovalev, moved to America in order to chase his dream of boxing stardom. Ismayl Sillakh is a tall and rangy boxer, with a good jab, and respectable punching power. He makes good use of his 6’ feet 3” height, and has nice footwork.  At first glance, Sillakh has perhaps the speed and boxing skills to evade ‘The Krushers’ bombs, and hand out a boxing lesson to the champion. This was what some thought Nathan Cleverly would do to Kovalev, and that theory lasted all of 4 rounds, and several knockdowns. Undoubtedly, one of the champion’s strengths is that his fearsome punch is accompanied by very good boxing technique and ring generalship. One of the surprises of the Cleverly fight came in the first round, when the challenger Kovalev, was out-jabbing the Welshman.  Kovalev is no slouch when it comes to the finer points of boxing. 

Despite the fact that he has only gone past the 3rd round on four occasions during his career so far, Kovalev is a patient fighter, who hunts his opponent down, much like Middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin, and paves the way for his fight ending assaults with a solid jab, and debilitating body attack. Against a tall opponent, such as Sillakh, the champion’s body attack is likely to be a crucial factor.

The challenger has one defeat on his record, but it is one that may hold a clue to his fate against Kovalev.  On April 27, 2012, Sillakh was winning every round, and giving a boxing lesson to Denis Grachev, when he was caught and hurt, then cornered and pummelled, until he eventually fell to the canvas, prompting the referee to step in immediately. As stoppage defeats go, it was quite conclusive, and devastating.  Most fighters can be caught and hurt, and even stopped, but what was telling about Sillakh’s defeat, was the suddenness of his collapse, and his seeming confusion over what to do when he was hurt. Since this defeat, Sillakh has come back with four victories in a row, albeit, against moderate opposition. Sillakh has shown a tighter defence in these fights, carrying his arms higher than he generally did up to the Grachev defeat. Yet, the doubts remain about Sillakh’s durability, and his ability to act under fire. Like many boxers, whose styles are built around being elusive, and hard to hit, Sillakh seems uncomfortable when he is hit. Now in Kovalev, he faces the ultimate test of his ability to win when under fire.

Sillakh’s speed and boxing skills may take him further than most of the champion’s opponents so far, but it seems unlikely that the challenger will be able to avoid Kovalev’s bombs all night long, especially his body attack. 

This fight looks to be a showcase for the champion to demonstrate his crushing power, against a talented, but ultimately flawed challenger. We will see Sillakh make a good start, using the ring and working his jab, with Kovalev patiently following. The champion will then methodically break down his challenger with his body assaults.  The end, when it comes, may be sudden, and spectacular. 

If Stevenson also comes through his own defence against Bellew, and in some style, as expected, then the stage would be set for a unification clash between the two champions, in what looks bound to be one of the shootouts of next year, and perhaps Kovalev’s first step towards making 2014 the year of ‘The Krusher’.

Copyright © 2013 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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Monday, November 25, 2013

Remembering Hector Macho Camacho

By Peter Silkov

Hector ‘Macho’ Camacho, was one of the brightest talents of the 1980s, blessed with a flashy mixture of speed and ring-craft, which drew comparisons with Sugar Ray Leonard. At his best in the mid-80s, Camacho mixed blinding hand speed, with aggressiveness and knockout power. He was also a great showman, with great charisma, and one of the first boxers to really harness the walk to the ring as part of his act, entering the ring dressed in a series of colourful and outrageous outfits. He was also known for his fight time chant of ‘Its Macho Time!’

The ’Macho Man’ had a complicated relationship with the fans and boxing media, some being alienated by his flamboyance and perceived arrogance, while others hailed him as a great entertainer. Despite his boastful persona, Camacho always had a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face, and didn’t seem to take himself as seriously as many of those around him.

Camacho fought the best fighters of the 80s and 90s, including Jose Luis Ramirez, Edwin Rosario, Vinnie Pazienza, Ray Mancini, Julio Cesar Chavez, Felix Trinidad, Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Oscar Delahoya, amongst others. In what was probably his best career performance, Camacho out-pointed Ramirez for the WBC world lightweight title in 1985, with a scintillating display of aggressive boxing.

The 90s saw Camacho’s career go into decline and he was beaten by Chavez, Trinidad and Delahoya, but he also beat Duran (2 times) and Leonard in high profile fights.
Camacho had his last fight in 2010; (a point’s loss to Saul Duran) aged 48.
His final record was 79(38kos)-6-3... He was never stopped in his career.

Hector Camacho was reportedly getting ready for another comeback to the ring, when he was shot in the face on Nov 20, 2012, while sitting in a parked car with a friend outside a bar in Puerto Rico. His friend died at the scene, while Camacho died four days later at age 50.

When Camacho’s coffin was carried through the streets of New York’s Spanish Harlem by a horse drawn carriage, thousands of people from the ’Macho Man’s’ old neighbourhood waited to pay their respects to the man, who, despite all the fame and wealth that his talent had gained him, never forgot where he came from, and perhaps never truly left either.

Copyright © 2013 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Froch Retains World Title with a Dubious Stoppage Win Over Groves

By Peter Silkov

Carl Froch 32(23kos)-2 retained his WBA and IBF World Super-Middleweight titles against George Groves 19(15kos)-1 last night, after a epic fight that fully lived up to its billing of ’The Battle Of Britain’ and equalled the classic Eubank vs. Benn fights of the 90s for action and drama, and finally controversy.  It was a fight, which displayed boxing at its best, speed, skill, raw courage and durability, mixed together amid a mass of power punches that at times left the audience breathless.  However, as always seems to be the way with boxing, with the good comes the bad, and then the downright ugly. The fights conclusion saw the fans that had spent the best part of 40 minutes on their feet cheering on both fighters, standing in an angry state of near riot, at the fights premature stoppage.
If ever a great fight was overshadowed by a messy and murky conclusion, then unfortunately, this was one of those fights.  It was not the first, and doubtless, it will not be the last, but that will be of little solace for George Groves today. 

In the build up this clash was marked by the tension between both boxers and Groves’ public declarations of his confidence in being able to beat Carl Froch. Many a challenger over the years has come unstuck in failing to live up to their pre-fight predictions between the ropes. Groves however, lived up to all of his talk, and walked the walk on Saturday night.  Despite what the record books will say about him ’losing’.

There was much talk in the build up to this fight about Groves’ perceived lack of experience at this level, how would he react on fight night to the pressure of such a big occasion?  As the fighters took their turns to enter the ring, we saw the answer. Groves looked tense, but focused. Froch by comparison, seemed to be relaxed, perhaps too relaxed. It was a marked contrast to how Froch had been in the run up to the fight, tense and angry at his challengers remarks and ’arrogance’. Earlier, pre-fight footage of Froch in his dressing room had shown him laughing and joking, and chatting to David Haye. This was not the ultra-focused behaviour that we saw from ’The Cobra’ prior to his last outing against Mikkel Kessler.

When both men were in the ring waiting instructions, Groves stood in mid-ring, staring unblinkingly at the champion; it was the kind of look a
Prime’ Roberto Duran once inflicted upon his opponents. If Froch had expected to see Groves blinking in nervousness at this point, then he must have been at least a little surprised, and perhaps even shocked. 

At the bell for the 1st, both men moved out to the centre of the ring and exchanged preliminary jabs. Groves, known for his technical ability and footwork, was not attempting to use the ring and keep the champion at a distance; instead, he was standing his ground and coming at Froch. The champion, meanwhile, seemed slightly wrong-footed by his challenger’s early aggression, and the fast Groves’ jab, which was already beating his own left hand. Groves showed excellent reflexes, as he crouched slightly forward, his chin tucked into his chest, and slipped the majority of Froch’s jabs with neat head movement. Froch on the other hand, was being tagged cleanly by the challenger’s jab, and was already being made to reach awkwardly, in an effort to pin a shot onto his elusive opponent. 

After just two minutes, the champion’s nose was already showing signs of blood, and there was more to come. As the round entered its latter stages, Groves was trying to follow up on his jab with his right hand. The same right hand, which so many had doubted could hurt the iron-chinned champion. With just twenty seconds of the round left, Groves exploded a long, fast right, squarely upon Froch’s rock-like jaw, and the champion was down on his back, hard.  Although ’The Cobra’ regained his feet quickly, his legs betrayed the hurt he had suffered, and his eyes were glassy. Groves landed two more good right hands before the bell rang. Froch took a wobbly walk back to his corner. The 2nd round saw Groves growing in confidence by the second, as the crowd roared, and cheered, with a mixture of excitement and disbelief.  Groves was firing and landing his jab almost at will now, and following it with right hands, while Froch still seemed a little stiff-legged from the knockdown in the first, and had been reduced to simply pawing with his own jab. Groves’ extra speed was proving a key factor, and his dangerous right hand was finding Froch again and again.  Froch’s low held left hand was proving to be his Achilles heel against Groves, just as it had been against Andre Ward. To Froch’s credit, he took some right hands in this round, and indeed most of the rounds following it, that would have had most other fighters down again, probably for the full count. Froch is as tough and gutsy, as just about any fighter we have produced in this country. Also impressive in this round was Groves’ coolness with his injured prey in front of him. He showed poise and control at this point, which belied his youth and inexperience, keeping control of the fight, but not rushing in, and taking unnecessary chances.

The third round followed much the same pattern as the second, with Groves dominating with his jab, and jarring Froch with right hands. Froch was tentative to let go with his own punches because of the counters, which were coming back at him.  Groves’ aggressive boxing and ring-generalship were a pleasure to behold. Every once in a while, a boxer with already noted talent moves up in class, and produces a performance which surpasses everything he has been capable of before. The fight’s spectators, perhaps already realized, that they were watching something very special on this night. In the fourth round, Froch took more of the same, as Groves used his reflexes and movement to slip what shots the champion was getting off, and replied with jabs and two, and three right hands at a time. Froch, who has never been known for his footwork, was at times being made to look clumsy, and downright slow, by the nimble and quick-footed challenger. 

There was an added urgency to Froch’s work in the 5th, as he began forcing himself forward more, perhaps realising that he was being simply picked off at a distance. 
However, while he landed some shots of his own, Groves replied with counters, which seemed to do more damage, and stop Froch in his tracks at times. Again, the champion just seemed unable to deal with his challenger’s superior speed and perhaps most surprisingly, Groves’ punches were having more effect on Froch, than Froch’s were having on him.  

The 6th round was one of epic proportions, in terms of actions, excitement, and violence metered out by each man. Froch was marauding forward now, and trying to unleash his awkward looking, but usually effective, two-handed attacks at Groves.  Trying to force his way inside the challenger’s tormenting jabs and right hands.  Groves replied to Froch’s attacks with some brutal shots of his own, which again, edged the champion’s punches, for not just speed and accuracy, but also venom.  Near the end of the round, Groves seemed to lose his focus for the first time in the fight and allowed himself to be maneuvered onto the ropes, where he lowered his hands, and taunted Froch to come at him. In the ensuring exchange, punches were swapped each way, as Froch let loose with both fists, and Groves replied with his own shots. It was the first sign that perhaps the challenger’s impetuous youth could be his undoing.

In the 7th, Groves was back to using his jab and beating Froch to the punch again and again, but every now and then Froch landed something of his own, as he simply walked through some terrific counters from Groves. While the challenger was still winning the rounds, it was becoming more a question of endurance. Could Groves continue to fight at such a level and pace, and could Froch continue to endure the left and right hand bombs that kept coming his way from his challenger?

By the 8th round, Froch found more success, as Groves neglected his jab, and seemed content to slug it out with the champion. Faced with the kind of fight in which he thrives, Froch was looking to rough up the challenger with wicked punches on the inside, mixed in with shoulders, and forearms. Groves, however, seemed to be relishing the brutality, and was still landing plenty of punches of his own. By electing to go toe-to-toe with the champion, Groves was giving up the advantages of speed and technique, which had gained him the upper hand through most of the previous rounds.
As the action became rougher and rougher, from both sides, the warnings from referee Howard Foster were becoming more frequent. At times, it seemed he was struggling to control the fighters and cope with their physicality.
Groves closed the 8th round by going back to his jab and the difference was clear immediately. When using his jab, Groves’ superiority over Froch was palpable.

The 9th round continued where the eighth left off, with both men swapping heavy shots, and again, Groves happy to go toe-to-toe with the champion. Both men seemed intent on knocking the other man out, for Froch this seemed to be a necessity, in order to retain his title, so far did he seem to be behind on points, for Groves it was a matter of macho ego. Honours in this round were even to start with, as both fighters bounced swinging haymakers off the other, but then, a Froch right hand visibly shook up Groves, who held on. Froch followed up with some punches to the back of the head and a forearm. Groves seeking to regroup, moved back, pursued by the champion, who drove him onto the ropes with a two- handed barrage, some of which missed, others that landed glancingly. At this point, Groves flailed away with both hands to fight his way off the ropes, but as he did so, Referee Howard Foster grabbed hold of Groves by the waist, and then waived the fight over, much to the shock, and disbelief of Groves and the crowd. 

There is no doubt that Groves was hurt at this point in the fight. His legs looked wobbly and he had lost his coordination, but this was a world title fight and Groves had been in control for much of it. In addition, Froch had taken a huge amount of punishment through much of the contest and had been dropped in the first, and visibly shook by Groves punches in just about every round after that.  For Groves to be stopped at such a point in the fight, was really quite ludicrous.  Groves immediate reaction at the referees action showed clearly that the challenger was in charge of all his faculties.

In the immediate aftermath of the fight, the sense of injustice was overwhelming throughout the arena.  It also has to be said that Froch was favoured throughout the contest by the referee, who allowed the desperate champion to get away with some very dirty tactics, including hitting on the break, rabbit punches, and forearms. None of which, to his credit, Groves complained about, either during or after the fight. Foster’s whole manner in the course of the fight was that of someone struggling to contain it and control the fighters. Perhaps, just as worrying, as the premature stoppage itself, is the fact that at this point in the fight, Froch was only one point down on two of the cards! Despite the knockdown in the first round, which would have given Groves a two point round.

With this in mind, if this match had gone the distance, there is no guarantee that Groves would have got the decision, despite his seeming dominance through most of the fight.  Few would dispute that Groves was winning this fight handily, easily even, up until he elected to slug it out, and then he was still holding his own, until a brief moment in the 9th, at which point the referee took it upon himself to end the fight.

Keeping in mind the judging fiasco of the Raymond Beltran vs. Ricky Burns World lightweight title fight of a few months ago, where Beltran was held to a draw despite seemingly dominating Burns all night, it does seem that Matchroom’s world champions are rather hard to beat on points, no matter what occurs within the ring.
Of course, thanks to the efforts of Mr. Foster, this fight didn’t need to go to the scorecards.

There will be an argument from some that a fight is better stopped too early than too late, however, this is also a convenient argument behind which to hide injustice.
Boxing is a very hard life for those involved and so to see a man robbed of the chance to achieve the pinnacle of his career, after many years of hard work, is a bitter pill to swallow. Groves is young and has hopefully many years and many fights ahead of him, but he should not have been robbed of his chance to achieve last night, what he will now have to try and achieve in the future. If he is given the opportunity.
As the smoke clears and the arguments go on, we are left with a battered and bruised champion in Carl Froch, who did not deserve the boos which he heard at the end of last night. It is worth remembering that while Groves was robbed of possible victory and was the victim of some harsh scoring by the judges, Froch was also denied a chance to score a conclusive victory over Groves, one that would have been ranked amongst the best come from behind performances of his career. Instead, Froch walks away still with his belts , but also the whiff of controversy, and perhaps mulling over the fickleness of fame and popularity, and how one hour in boxing can transform cheers to boos and boos to cheers.

George Groves entered the ring on Saturday night to the loud boos of about 20,000 people. One hour later, he exited the ring a loser for the first time in his career, but now to the cheers of 20,000 people. Putting the various controversies aside, the challenger showed on this night, that he is not only a world-class fighter, but an extremely good world-class fighter, who can hopefully learn from this bittersweet experience, and come back even better. A rematch between these two warriors looks like being a guaranteed classic and it is hard to imagine the proud Froch not wanting the chance to put the controversies of this fight straight in a second match with Groves. Get ready for Battle of Britain 2!

Watch fight:

Copyright © 2013 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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Thursday, November 21, 2013

Carl Froch vs. George Groves… Can The Cobra Eliminate The Saint?

 By Peter Silkov

On Saturday, (November 23rd) Carl Froch 31(22kos)-2 will put his WBA and IBF world super middleweight titles on the line against fellow Englishman George Groves 19(15kos)-0, at the dubiously named Phones 4u Arena, Manchester, England.  Putting aside the tacky venue name, this ‘Battle of Britain’ clash has captured the imagination of the British boxing fans. When the fight was announced, the 20,000 seat Manchester Arena was sold out in a mere 11 minutes, bringing back memories of the great middleweight and super-middleweight rivalries of the 80s and 90s. 

In addition to the domestic connection between the two men, there are also a number of other ingredients within this pairing that makes it such an intriguing fight. It has the stereotypical angle of the young challenger taking on the older established champion, who at the peak of his career, is also at an age where he could suddenly slip overnight. Then, there is what seems to be genuine bad blood between the two fighters, which goes back to when they sparred together almost five years ago.

Froch and Groves do not like each other, and the build up to their fight has been tense and confrontational. Trash talking is almost inevitable in pre-fight build-ups now, but the unease displayed between these two when they are together indicates a very real antipathy, that each one feels for the other.

The champion sees Groves as a young whippersnapper who has failed to show him the respect he deserves as a long-standing world titleholder, who will be taking part in his 11th world title fight in a row on Saturday.  Groves, meanwhile, finds Froch’s perceived superior manner as champion tiresome, and has gone out of his way to demonstrate this clearly in their joint interviews. The challenger has emphasized how he is not intimidated or in awe of ‘The Cobra’, and that furthermore, he is confident of victory.    

‘The Cobra’ enters this fight riding on the crest of a wave, and enjoying the greatest success and highest profile so far of his career. Since losing to Andre Ward in the final of the Super Six tournament almost 2 years ago now, Froch has bounced back with a vengeance. First there was emphatic wins over Lucian Bute and Yusaf Mack, and then in his most recent bout, a thrilling revenge victory over the only other man to have beaten him, Mikkel Kessler.  These victories have gained Froch the WBA and IBF world super-middleweights, as well has solidifying his reputation as one of Britain’s best ever world champions in recent years.  Froch has secured himself the clear position of the second best super-middleweight in the division, with only his former conqueror Andre Ward rated above him.

Froch’s reputation is now the highest it has ever been, and ‘The Cobra’ is very conscious of his legacy, and how his boxing career will be regarded, after he retires.  Groves is not the fight that ‘The Cobra’ would have wanted at this point in his career, but the champion faced the prospect of either taking on mandatory challenger Groves or else relinquishing his titles, and so the biggest domestic clash for some years was made. 

’The Saint,’ is  Froch’s first domestic opponent since he held the British title, he will also be fighting a significantly younger man as well, at 36 years of age, and eleven years older than his challenger.

With his sights set on international super fights, including a rematch against Andre Ward, ’The Cobra’ has had to alter his outlook for this ’Battle of Britain’. In fighting ‘The Saint‘, the champion has far more to lose than he has to win. This should be Froch’s main motivating force in this fight, the realisation that to lose now to Groves, would be a huge setback to his career momentum, and inflict perhaps irreparable damage to his boxing legacy.

Groves is largely untested at world level; his biggest win previously was a point’s defeat of archrival James Degale in 2011. Against Degale, ’The Saint’ proved that he could withstand a big fight atmosphere, and showed himself to be a clever technician in the ring.  Since the Degale victory, Groves has beaten further opposition at British and European title level and fought some tough fringe world-class fighters. With  these fights, Groves has shown that he is developing into a very useful boxer-puncher, with good range and speed, and a healthy dig in his punches.   

There have been times in this fights buildup, where Froch has looked uncomfortable beside his confident challenger; is this simply part of the normal pre-flight nerves, or else is there something about Groves, which makes Froch uneasy? Perhaps he see’s glimpses of himself in Groves.  

‘The Saint’s’ preparation for this fight has been disrupted by him splitting from his long time trainer and manager Adam Booth. Groves has said that this split will only serve to make him even more determined to beat Froch on Saturday, 

When looking at how this fight will turn out, we can expect Froch to be his usual fiery self in the ring. Indeed, Froch seems to have found another higher gear of intensity since his loss to Andre Ward. What he may lack in boxing technique and speed, he makes up for with a high work rate, piercing punches, and a rock-like chin.

One crucial question in this fight is just how good is George Groves? This will be the highest level at which he has ever fought, and we will see the true depths of his ability against Froch. We know Groves has good speed and good boxing technique, along with a decent punch, but how will his boxing technique stand up against the pressure, which Froch is bound to put it under. There are also questions surrounding Groves’ lack of experience at this level and his suspected lack of durability? Groves is rumoured to have been floored badly by Froch in sparring five years ago. While such incidents are part of boxing and often meaningless, Groves has also been visibly hurt in a number of his fights, most notably by Kenny Anderson.  However the fact that he has come back from these incidents suggests that ’The Saint’ has the make up of a true fighter.

In looking at who will win this match, we must balance the experience of Froch, with the youth, and relative inexperience at world level of Groves. How much of an advantage will Groves eleven years of youth be against Froch, despite ’The Cobra’ claiming that he is still at his physical peak, 36 is a funny age for a boxer, especially one whom has had as many wars as Froch.  Fighters of that age, and with such mileage, can suddenly fall apart overnight, and often it will happen when they face someone considerably younger and fresher than themselves.   

Groves best chance of causing an upset in this fight is to use his boxing skills and range and try to outbox and frustrate the Cobra, but the crucial moments for ‘The Saint’ will be when Froch lands his big punches, as he will inevitably do at some point during the match, and whether the challenger has the durability to withstand them. If Groves proves to be able to take Froch’s best shots, yet avoid most of them, then this could be a very interesting fight indeed.

This is, in all probability, most likely to be a distance fight, with Froch’s extra power and experience seeing him to a close decision win over a game and awkward challenger, who will surprise many with his performance, but still come up a little short of victory, in this battle of Britain.

Copyright © 2013 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights

Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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