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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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

James Toney...Lights Out!

By Peter Silkov

The lights have been dimming for James Toney for quite a while now; it’s a long time since he last shone as the great boxer, which he once was, perhaps as far back as his fight with Evander Holyfield way back in 2003.  In the decade since the Holyfield fight, Toney’s nickname of ‘lights out’ has gained a sad irony as his life in and out of the ring has become progressively darker, as his skills and health have dimmed before our eyes, with almost every fight.  Once a throwback to boxing’s ’good old days’ with his old school skills and willingness to meet anyone between the roped square, Toney has now become a throwback to all that was and is bad about boxing. Toney now embodies the stereotype, used in old boxing films, such as ’The Setup’ and ’Requiem for a Heavyweight’ where a once mighty champion or contender is reduced to scuffling in small halls for small money, against men he would have once used as sparring partners, trying to ignore the ever encroaching signs of age, and the increasing damage done to him by his profession. 

James Toney hasn’t won a meaningful fight since his controversial 2008 decision win over Fres Quendo, when he was already showing clear signs of deterioration, both inside and outside the ring.  Since the Quendo fight, Toney’s slide has become steeper and more disturbing.  While the erosion of his ring skills has become ever more profound, the most disturbing aspect of Toney’s decline has been his increasingly garbled speech.  What started with a hoarsening of his voice about a decade ago, and then developed into an increasingly erratic speech pattern over the ensuring years, has now accelerated to such an extent to render Toney almost incomprehensible. 

When Toney made his appearance on Sky TV last week, in order to promote his participation in tomorrow’s (14 Nov) Heavyweight Prizefighter, it was hard not to feel moved to pity for this once immensely gifted athlete, who now seems unable to communicate cohesively. Toney’s speech is now beyond being simply garbled, it now resembles something akin to an out of control freight train coming off the tracks, with words and sentences twisting and crashing into each other, in a mass of verbal chaos.
To see a former great champion like Toney reduced to fighting, in what is basically closer to being a side show, than world championship boxing is sad enough, but the fact that he is doing so in such a decreased state of health and athletic ability is deeply worrying.

In truth Toney has been brought into the Prizefighter fray in an effort to boost the format’s flagging appeal. Looking at the possible opponents that Toney will face in this particular Prizefighter line up, one might think at first that even a much-reduced Toney will be able to look after himself against this collection of fighters, none of whom would have been considered a decent match for him even 4 or 5 years ago.  Yet if you take a look at Toney’s performance against Lucas Browne earlier this year, then you realize, the poor conditioning, the loss of speed and reflexes, the erosion of balance and motor skills, then you should see and understand. It is no longer simply a case of the level of his opposition, it is that Toney has reached the point where any opponent is a dangerous opponent, and every punch is now a punch too many.

One of Toney’s incomprehensible declarations since arriving in London for the Prizefighter tournament is that he is still the best heavyweight in the world. It says a lot about his present state, that Toney actually seems to believe this sadly deluded boast.

Toney’s situation is all the more depressing, coming at a time when the boxing world is dealing with the joint tragedies of Frankie Leal’s death and Magomed Abdusalamov’s severe injuries, after their recent fights. Boxing fans have once more been forced to look into the dark side of the sport. Funds have been set up and wise words have been uttered, and yet nothing has really changed if someone in Toney’s condition is allowed to carry on fighting.

Last week we saw Danny Williams and Oleg Maskaev struggle through 10 rounds against each other, in a fight whose only saving grace was that neither man seemed capable anymore of inflicting any significant damage upon the other. 

Meanwhile, Roy Jones Jr., who once shared with Toney the accolade of being one of the world’s premier pound-for-pound fighters, now shares with Toney the slide into mediocrity and self-delusion, as he prepares to fight journeyman Bobby Gunn yet still talks of winning more world titles.

In a profession where sudden fatal or life changing injury can strike at any moment, it is to boxing’s shame that fighters like Toney, Jones, Williams, and Maskaev are able to continue allowing their bodies to be hit by leather bombs, long after nature has started shouting stop. Yet, these are simply the high profile fighters who have been reduced to these circumstances. How many unknown fighters are there allowing themselves to be pounded like aging meat, long after they should have found another profession.  This is part of the nature of boxing, the sacrifice of the weak and aged, and the damaged. 

Boxing is a brutal and dangerous activity; this is part of its appeal, to watch these men in physical situations that the normal man on the street could never withstand. This is not about wrapping fighters up in cotton wool or banning head shots. It is simply about drawing a line at the point where the brutality of boxing loses its special beauty, and becomes simple brutality. When it’s no longer the fit and strong risking injury or damage, but the already ring-worn and damaged, being allowed to risk further damage, or worse.

One wonders what will become of James Toney in the not too distant future, when the promoters have squeezed the last drops of light from him. Will he be somewhere in a darkened room all alone? Will he even know where he is by then?

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

Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Gennady Golovkin Wants Big Names After Dispatching Curtis Stevens

By Peter Silkov

Kazakhstan born iron man Gennady Golovkin 28-0 (25kos) took another step towards boxing superstardom in America last night (Saturday Nov 2nd), with a workman-like, yet destructive, performance in turning back the challenge of Curtis Stevens 25-4 (18kos) at the Madison Square Garden Theatre, New York.

This was a fight that had been hotly anticipated by both the fans and boxing media and managed to polarise opinion upon the possible outcome. Some predicted a short one-sided blow-out for Golovkin, while others hailed Stevens as the man who had the power to expose the over-hyped champion. In the event, both sides were wrong.  Curtis Stevens didn’t come anywhere near ending the Russian’s reign as WBA World Middleweight champion, but, at the same time, this was no simple one or two rounds walk over for Golovkin either.

The first round was close and competitive, instead of going out hell for leather, as some might have expected, Stevens was trying to use educated pressure, while at the same time, favouring a high guard to block the champion’s bombs. Both exchanged shots, with Golovkin favouring his jab and Stevens looking to land the left hook. Although Golovkin won the round, he was finding the diminutive and long-armed Stevens, an awkward target to land cleanly upon. In the second round, both boxers were looking for meaningful openings, with Golovkin landing the jab, and Stevens trying to go to the body with his hooks. Stevens then made the mistake of leaving himself slightly open mid-round and Golovkin exploded a left hook on the side of his challenger’s head.
For a moment, it looked to be all over right there. Stevens went down as if he’d been hit by a Greyhound bus and with the shocked expression of a child who has just been told that Santa Claus doesn’t exist. Many fighters wouldn’t have got up from such a knockdown; most wouldn’t have survived the round even after getting up.  Stevens managed to do both. Clambering to his feet and then surviving Golovkin’s follow up attack, even managing a few retaliatory shots of his own as the round came to an end.

In the 3rd round, Golovkin stalked and looked to put away Stevens, but the challenger showed a tight defence, which was frustrating the champion’s attempts to repeat his success of the previous round. Golovkin went through his impressive array of shots, with uppercuts, rights and lefts, and body shots all landing on the challenger, but none clean enough to drive him to the floor again. 

Rounds four and five saw Golovkin retain control of the fight, keeping his challenger for the most part backed up upon the ropes, as he unleashed a steady and unrelenting assault upon both head and body. Stevens showed a lot of heart to hang in there and more than that kept looking for ways to fight back. As Golovkin attacked, Stevens would punch back in bursts, showing surprising hand speed that seemed to take the champion momentarily out of his stride. Near the end of the 4th round, Stevens unleashed a combination from the ropes, which drove the surprised Golovkin back on his heels.  In the 5th round, Stevens scored with a sharp left and a hook to the body, which both seemed to surprise, if not hurt, the champion. Anyone with any doubt that Golovkin possesses a formidable chin would have been satisfied at this point in time.

Golovkin continued to dominate his game challenger in the 6th, with constant stalking and mixing a rapier-like jab, with a debilitating body attack. Stevens was still landing enough now and then to keep things interesting, but he was being increasingly driven onto the defence, and found himself continually covering up on the ropes. 

The seventh round saw Stevens’ brief moments of success becoming briefer, as the GGG man’s body attack began to take a visible toll. Stevens’ high-armed guard was slipping down and leaving his head more open for the champion’s attacks. 

Sensing the final weakening of his prey, Golovkin poured it on in the 8th round, driving Stevens once more to the ropes and unleashing a relentless variety of hurtful looking punches to a head and body, which the challenger was finding it harder to defend against. Referee Harvey Dock looked to be on the verge of stepping in a few times, but in the midst of the hail of leather coming down upon him, Stevens was still managing to fire off some retaliatory shots towards Golovkin, but these were now loaded more with desperation, than danger.  

With the rounds end, Stevens staggered back to his corner on weary legs, gripping the ropes rather than sitting down on his stool, followed closely by the referee. It didn’t take long for both Stevens’ corner, and the referee to agree that enough was enough, and that Curtis Stevens’ brave, but ultimately fruitless challenge of the GGG man, was at an end. 

In the end, this clash had not been the super-fight that it had been billed, but neither was it the one-sided massacre, which some would have you to believe. Instead, it was an outstanding champion disposing of a tough and dangerous, but ultimately outmatched challenger.

In registering this, his 8th defence of his WBA World Middleweight title, Golovkin was impressive, but perhaps not as sensational as he would have liked. Had Stevens stayed down in the second round, Golovkin’s win would have been sharper and more definite, as it was though, Stevens lasting as long as he did showed us that Golovkin is indeed human. 

This may actually be a positive in the long run for the Russian, as there may well be certain fighters who will take heart from this fight that Golovkin can be hit, and even frustrated at times by a fighter with the inclination to stand up under his shots, and fire back. When a fighter is being as skillfully ducked, as Golovkin is by many of his fellow 160 pounders, showing a little fallibility here and there can be a quicker route to getting big fights than scoring 1st and 2nd round knockouts.

Although he is known for his hard punching, and swashbuckling style, it is the technical ability with which Golovkin is able to use his power, that really lifts him above the ordinary fighter. It is Golovkins speed, skill, and precision that makes him such a deadly force in the ring, as much as his power.

Now Golovkin's sights are set on bigger and more higher profile fights in 2014, with his preferred options being Sergio Martinez and Peter Quillin, and of course Floyd Mayweather (the fight just about everybody bar Wlad Klitschko wants at the moment!).  With boxing being boxing and politics often steering its course more than commonsense or what is right, it is possible that Golovkin may have to look to the Super-middleweights, and fighters like Andre Ward and Carl Froch, if he is to gain his own super fights. However, for the time being, Gennady Golovkin is a super fighter in search of a super-fight.

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

Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to and

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