Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Andy Lee vs. Billy Joe Saunders Preview

By Peter Silkov

The middleweight division is coming alive at the moment, with the recent showdowns between Miguel Cotto and Canelo Alvarez, and last week’s Daniel Jacobs vs. Peter Quillin.  This Saturday will be Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders’s turn to contribute to a very competitive middleweight division. Lee defends his WBO middleweight title at the Manchester Arena. It is a fight that holds a lot of promise, due to the fact that both men are so evenly matched.

This is also a fight where there is a lot on the line for both men, aside from the ‘world’ title, this will be the first time that two travellers have fought each other for a genuinely recognized world title. In many ways, the ability to hold the bragging rights of victory over a fellow traveller in this match will be the most important aspect of this clash for each man.

Recently both fighters have talked about the public perception of travellers. In an interview with The Independent, Saunders said:

“Whatever anybody says, travellers don’t get the recognition for the things they do. There’s plenty of publicity about the bad things, but never the good things. I feel targeted  myself, and I feel for Tyson Fury.

Also, victory for the winner will be the possibility of a number of lucrative fights with the likes of Daniel Jacobs, Chris Eubank Jr., Gennady Golovkin, or even Canelo Alvarez, if they are willing to drag themselves down to the Mexican’s ridiculous 155-pound weight limit.

The bout was originally scheduled for September 19th in Limerick, but Andy Lee had contracted a virus and it was cancelled and rescheduled for October 10th. Unfortunately, Saunders was injured and the October 10th date was also rescheduled.

Despite Lee and Saunders being so well matched, in many ways this is a fight that seems to have slipped under the radar for many people. This might be partly due to the fact that both men have shown the utmost respect for each other during the fights build up, there has been no derogatory comments, or trash talking outbursts. Such a placid build up doesn’t tend to garner much publicity in today’s era.  Andy Lee believes the fight has sold itself, so the trash talk is a waste of time. That said, those who know their boxing, have been looking forward to this showdown. Despite the lack of ‘needle’ between both boxers, this is a contest, which seems sure to catch fire.

Both men were talented amateurs before turning professional, but Saunders looks to have the edge in boxing skill. He is a fast and mobile boxer, with good hand speed, and a useful jab. Saunders also has shown in his fight with Chris Eubank Jr., that he has grit and a good chin. When Eubank came back in the latter rounds of their contest, last November, and managed to hurt him, Saunders showed that he had the fortitude to grit his teeth, and ride out the storm. It was a tough fight for Saunders, and although he gained the victory, some weaknesses in his armory were exposed.  Eubank showed that Saunders is not so good when he is put under heavy pressure.

Andy Lee does not have quite the superior boxing technique or mobility of Saunders, yet he still has a good technique, and can make good use of his southpaw jab when he wants too. However, Lee has lately become much more of a boxer-puncher and certainly looks to be the bigger puncher of the two men, having displayed some sensational one-punch knockout power in his recent wins over John Jackson, and Matt Korobov.  In his most recent fight, when he was hurt and trailing against Peter Quillin, Lee pulled out his big punch to floor Quillin and turn the fight around, eventually salvaging a draw.

Of the two men, Lee, at 31, the oldest by 5 years, is by far the more experienced boxer. Lee has been fighting at world level for much of his career, and has had to come back from some debilitating defeats, most especially his 2012 stoppage defeat to Julio Cesar Chavez Jr.  Also, Lee had to come back from the loss of his trainer, mentor, and father figure, Emanuel Steward. He has literally rebuilt himself and his career over the past 3 years, after many people in boxing had written him off.

The result of this is that, despite his nice guy image and affable nature outside the ring, inside it, Lee is a mature and hardened fighter, who has shown in recent fights that he is at his most dangerous when he is hurt or behind in a fight.

This is a contest where both men need to perform at their peak in order to emerge with the win. Lee’s Achilles heel is that he often seems to need to make fights hard for himself in order to perform at his best. He is a notorious slow starter in fights, and can look awkward and slow, before finding himself in a contest. Against Saunders this could be a fatal flaw, as Saunders likes to take charge of fights early and start quickly. Saunders’s boxing skills and dependable chin do not bode well for Lee if he makes a slow start on December 19th.  Against someone of Saunders’s durability, Lee can not reply on winning the fight or turning the fight around with one punch.

If he is to retain his WBO world title, Andy Lee will have to make a good start in this contest. He needs to start fast and fight at a high pace, rather than allowing Saunders to try and out-box him at his own pace. One thing that Lee has in his favour is his wealth of experience, having been in many tough fights where he has had to dig deep in order to secure victory. Saunders has only experienced such a fight against Chris Eubank Jr. On the other hand, it could be said that Saunders’s boxing skills have made many of his fights easier for him than they might have been otherwise.

With so much at stake, we can expect both boxers to bring out their best form in this clash. This is a difficult fight to call, but the suspicion must be that at 26 years of age, Saunders has reached his peak and has enough maturity and experience to handle the best that Andy Lee can throw at him. Saunders has the boxing skills to out-speed and out-maneuver Andy Lee, as long as he is not dragged into the kind of toe-to-toe confrontation, which would favour the defending champion.

With the stakes high, look for Billy Joe Saunders to capture a point’s decision, after a close and hard fought fight, which may well be a contender for fight of the year.

Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to

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Sunday, December 13, 2015

Anthony Joshua Knocks Out Dillian Whyte In 7th To Win Heavyweight Brawl

By Peter Silkov

Last night at London’s O2 Arena, Anthony Joshua took another step closer to a possible all British showdown with Tyson Fury for the World heavyweight title, with a brutal dispatching of Dillian Whyte. It was a rough, exciting, and bad tempered fight between the two undefeated prospects, whose much-voiced dislike for each other in the build up to this fight was clearly not for show. In essence, it was just what people used to expect from heavyweight boxing, two big men who don’t particularly like each other, trying to knock each other out.
Joshua started fast, as he tried to dismiss Whyte with the speed that he has dispatched in his previous 13 professional opponents. It looked as if Whyte would do well to last the first round, as he came under a explosive onslaught that had him rocking on his heels for most of the opening round. Yet, Whyte showed that he has a good chin and big heart, and kept his feet, while trying to fight back with a resilience that Joshua had not yet encountered during his fledgling professional career. The 1st round ended in chaos when Joshua landed a punch straight after the bell, and Whyte retaliated with several punches of his own, even going so far as to punch over the referee at Joshua.  The ring was then invaded by several very large men, who broke up the fighters, and dragged each man back to his own corner. 

At this point, Joshua seemed to think that he had Whyte beaten, but he was in for a surprise in the 2nd round.  Showing excellent recuperative powers, Whyte seemed to have recovered his composure from the start of the 2nd round and as Joshua came in on the attack, Whyte shook him up with some heavy punches of his own.  It was the first time in his professional career that Joshua has been caught cleanly and hurt, and he seemed troubled for the rest of the round. In the 3rd, Joshua took back control of the fight, but with an air of caution now, as he knew that Whyte was still dangerous with his own punches.  Rounds 4 to 7 saw both men looking to land big punches, with Whyte showing some good boxing skills as he jabbed and countered at the marauding Joshua, who came forward with his heavy jabs, and was always looking to land a finishing punch. The main difference between both fighters was clearly Joshua’s extra strength and punching power, which is beyond doubt at this stage, truly world class.

Photo: Daily Mail
As the fight went into the 7th round, there was the suspicion that Joshua might be tiring, as his punches no longer seemed to carry the weight that they had in the earlier rounds. However, midway through the round, Joshua landed a huge right hand to Whyte’s left temple, which had the effect of making Whyte’s leg’s turn to jelly.  Sensing blood, Joshua unleashed a two-fisted barrage that had a groggy Whyte staggering into the ropes. At this point, Joshua landed a vicious uppercut that sent Whyte toppling down onto his back, with his left arm draped over the ropes. With victory, came the vacant British Heavyweight title to add to the Commonwealth championship, which Joshua already held. It was a brutal and stunning finish by Joshua, who by coming through this test showed that there is indeed substance to the hype that surrounds him. He certainly is powerful and exciting, and has now shown that he can take a decent punch and come back from not having things all his own way.  However, this match also revealed that Joshua is by no means the finished article yet, and could do with quite a bit more experience before he takes on Tyson Fury, or even Deontay Wilder. Joshua needs at least two or three more fights like this one in order to develop to the stage where he will be ready to challenge for the world title.

There are rumours that Joshua will fight Derek Chisora next, and that is probably an ideal match up for Joshua at this point in his career. With Joshua on the rise, and Tyson Fury the reigning World heavyweight champion, and both Dereck Chisora and David Haye on the come back trail, the British heavyweight scene is really alive right now, with the prospect of several all British showdowns. As for the beaten Dillian Whyte, if he can get past the physical and mental blows of his defeat to Joshua, then he can still feature in some interesting fights in the future. After his performance on Saturday night, no one would begrudge him a second chance at Joshua. 

The undercard at London’s O2 Arena featured several outstanding fights, and a number of upsets.

The lightweight division saw two of Britain’s top lightweight hopes come up short, as both Kevin Mitchell and Luke Campbell came up short against their respective opponents. While Campbell is young enough to come back from his defeat, it looks as if Mitchells dream of becoming a world champion may finally be over.

In what was billed as being for the Interim WBA world lightweight title, Mitchell was facing a largely unknown Venezuelan, Ismael Barroso, who had fought just 20 fights in a 10-year career, but was unbeaten, with 17 of his 18 victories coming via knockouts. At first glance, Barroso looked closer to 40 than his advertised 32 years of age, with the kind of face that betrays a hard life. As soon as the fight began, it became clear that Mitchell was in for a tough night, as Barroso was revealed as being a very slick and competent boxer, rather than a gung-ho puncher simply looking to land the big punch. Both men fought cautiously in the 1st round, weighing each other up, but by the 2nd, Barroso had edged ahead with an accurate and heavy, southpaw jab.  By the 3rd round, Mitchell already seemed to be wary of his opponent’s power, and was looking to counter on the retreat, while Barroso continued to come menacingly forwards, showing fast hands, and a slashing southpaw jab.

Getty Images
The 4th round saw Mitchell hit the deck momentarily as he tried to avoid a big right hand from Barroso, and seemed to have tripped over his opponent’s feet. Although Mitchell was given a count, it didn’t seem to be a genuine knockdown. Yet, it would prove to be a portent of what was to come in the next round.

In the 5th round, after stalking a retreating Mitchell for much of the round, Barroso suddenly sent Mitchell flying to the canvas with a single right hand. Although he beat the count, Mitchell was visibly shaken, and the Venezuelan suddenly went into a higher gear, driving Mitchell into a corner, where he bombarded him with a shower of punches. Mitchell bravely tried to fight his way out of the corner, but was battered back into the ropes, at which point the referee jumped in and stopped the fight, just as Mitchell was falling once more to the canvas.        

It was a brutal defeat for Mitchell, who had been hoping to win this fight and then challenge newly crowned WBA world champion Anthony Crolla.Instead it will be the hungry and dangerous Barroso who will go on to meet Crolla. Something that Crolla himself may well not be relishing.

With such an active domestic scene in the lightweight division there are still some interesting and possibly lucrative fights out there for Kevin Mitchell, but this will be a hard defeat for him to return from.

While Mitchell was experiencing perhaps a career ending defeat, Luke Campbell suffered the first defeat of his still relatively young professional career. Campbell was clearly out-pointed and in many ways, exposed by Frenchman Yvan Mendy. After making a good start with his smooth boxing style, and edging out a lead over the first 4 rounds, Campbell was floored in the 5th and from then on, Mendy held the edge in the fight.  Mendy was landing the stronger shots and dictating the fight, while Campbell tried to control things with his boxing, but was unable to make an impression against a fighter who seemed both physically stronger, and who also had the better defence. This defeat showed that Campbell is still some way from being ready for a world title shot. At this stage of his career, defeat could well be the best thing that could have happened to Campbell if he can learn from it and use it to come back a better fighter.

In a middleweight clash that was an eliminator for the right to fight for WBA world middleweight title sometime in the near future, Chris Eubank Jr. engaged in a free- swinging thriller with Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan. Both men went for broke from the start, in what was another clash, which had bad blood between both boxers. Eubank Jr. threw caution to the win as he tried to score an early knockout over O’Sullivan and came under some heavy fire himself in the process. The early rounds saw some breathtaking exchanges, with Eubank Jr.’s extra hand speed and variety of punch giving him the edge, but his disdain for defence often making it look like he was walking a tightrope between triumph, and disaster. In the 4th and 5th rounds, Eubank Jr. landed such a deluge of punches upon O’Sullivan that it seemed that the Irishman would fall under the weight of such savage attacks. O’Sullivan took the blows, including some full-blooded uppercuts that seemed to have come up from the floor, and kept fighting back. Such punishment takes its toll of even the most durable of men however, and by the 6th round, it was clear that O’Sullivan was drained by the punches he had taken, as he started focusing mainly on defence, rather than attacks of his own.

Getty Images

The 7th saw Eubank Jr. picking his punches and using his boxing skills more, in-between landing some heavy pot-shots upon O’Sullivan, whose own attacks had by now dwindled away to nothing. It still was a shock for some when O’Sullivan’s corner pulled him out after the end of the 7th round, and there was some loud and disappointing booing from some of the crowd. Yet, it was a wise decision to pull O’Sullivan out when they did as they obviously knew that he had little left in the tank, and that the only outcome if he had stayed in the fight was a prolonged beating or a knockout defeat.

It was an impressive performance from Eubank Jr., who showed by being the first man to stop O’Sullivan,that he may well have the talent to come out from the shadow of his famous Father. At times, Eubank Jr. shows flashes of the kind of talent that could make him an even better fighter than his Father. Eubank Jr. is an exciting fighter who if he can put all his talent together, looks certain to be a dangerous proposition for anyone at 160-pounds, including  Gennady Golovkin.

Photo: Kevin Quigley

Other results on the bill included.

Photo: Kevin Quigley
At Cruiserweight, Tony Bellew (25-2-1) out-pointed Mateusz Masternak (36-3) over 12 rounds, in a hard-hitting match, that featured some exciting exchanges between the two men. The win gave Bellew the European Cruiserweight title, and the hope of a world title shot sometime next year.

Former welterweight and light-welterweight world champion Paulie Malignaggi (34-7) out-pointed  (20-2-1) in an entertaining 12 rounds. While Paulie showed some nice boxing moves, he was also at times laboured, and struggled through the latter rounds. The victory gave Malignaggi the European Union welterweight title, but also underlined the fact that Paulie no longer has the speed and skills to operate at the highest level.

Photo: Skysports

Photo: Skysports
At heavyweight, Dereck Chicora (23-5) stopped the overmatched Jakov Gospic (16-13) in the 3rd round.  Chisora seems to be marking time until he gets a big fight chance, probably against Anthony Joshua early next year.

Promoter Eddie Hearn had delivered an entertaining bill of boxing. What a shame that it was confined to SKY Box Office, rather than being available to a wider audience.  The fact that this bill was on Sky box Office leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, for all those who want to see boxing made available to the wider public. Many people as possible should be able to see the action and excitement that the sport can produce at it’s best, but those days of free public broadcasting are largely gone. Hopefully, this trend of double price gouging does not continue, since many already pay for Sky, then have to pay to watch the matches.

Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes

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Saturday, December 12, 2015

Roy Jones Jr. Knocked Out By Enzo Maccarinelli as Russian Dream Crumbles

Photo: (VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images)
By Peter Silkov
Former pound-for-pound number 1 in the world, Roy Jones Jr., saw his much heralded debut in a Russian ring turn into a nightmare tonight at the VTB Arena, in Moscow.  Jones Jr’s. dream of breathing new life into his career disintegrated with every passing minute of the bout, as he was out-muscled and out-sped, by opponent Enzo Maccarinelli, before being savagely knocked out in the 4th round.

Roy Jones Jr. has recently moved to Russia and taken on Russian citizenship, and has found himself feted and fussed over by the Russian fans in a way that he has not been treated in America for at least the last decade. Perhaps it was a new beginning.

Instead, the new beginning came to a violent end.

From the start of the fight, things looked ominous for Jones Jr., who will be 47 years old in 5 weeks time. Maccarinelli looked the sharper fighter from the start, and also seemed to have the edge in strength over Jones Jr. The two exchanged punches early on, but it was the Welshman’s shots that carried more force. While Jones was trying to work off the jab, Maccarinelli was firing to the head and body, and landing with worrying regularity. The fact that Enzo’s hand speed was troubling Jones Jr. was a clear early sign that this was not going to be a happy night for Jones. After Maccarinelli won the first 2 rounds by virtue of his crisper more accurate punching, Jones came back to edge the 3rd round with some flashes of his old brilliance.  Yet, just when it looked as if Jones Jr. was working his way into the fight, he suddenly looked very old in the 4th round. Enzo came out more forcefully in the 4th, firing his punches with real venom, and after driving Jones Jr. to the ropes, he landed a brutal uppercut, which send Jones Jr. down face first onto the canvas. Surprisingly, Jones Jr. beat the count. He rose with an embarrassed smile, but the smile soon faded when Enzo was upon him again, driving him back to the ropes with a two-fisted barrage, then a vicious uppercut, and right hook to the head that saw Jones Jr. drop forward onto the canvas again, where he landed with a sickening thud. Happily this time, there was no count and the medics rushed to Jones’ aid with impressive quickness. This was a bad knockout which ever way you looked at it, but for a soon-to-be 47 year old, with a long line of amateur and professional contests behind him, a knockout like this can be fatal.

There is a limit to how much the human body can withstand.  At his best, Jones Jr. was an all-time great with talent to burn. He had the kind of speed and elusiveness that you usually don’t see in the ring. But, that was a long time ago, and with his reflexes and speed robbed from him by age, Roy Jones Jr. is no longer able to dodge the punches that he once would elude with an almost embarrassing ease.  Part of Jones Jr.’s problem is he still tries to fight the way he did in his prime, but he just can’t.  

Against Maccarinelli tonight, Jones Jr. at times looked almost defenseless, against a man who at 35, is hardly in the first flush of his career either. 

Maccarinelli declared before his fight that Jones Jr. was his idol in years gone by. The affable Welshman’s celebrations were muted after the fight, as he seemed genuinely upset at what he had done to Jones Jr., but Maccarinelli just did his job, and deserves credit for performing so well after his own recent career setbacks and inactivity.  Jones Jr. came into this match on a 8-fight winning streak, but Enzo was the first fighter he had faced in a long time who held a dangerous punch.

Once Jones Jr. would have out-sped Maccarinelli with ease, but the fact that it was Maccarinelli, not Jones Jr. who was the faster and sharper fighter tonight, shows beyond doubt that it really is over for Roy Jones Jr. 

Perhaps Enzo Maccarinelli did Roy Jones Jr. a favour today by knocking him out so brutally and embarrassingly in front of his new Russian fans. Hopefully he has shown Jones Jr. that his place in the ring now is that of a trainer, not a boxer.

Let’s hope so.

 Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes

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Roy Jones Jr. Vs. Enzo Maccarinelli: Can Jones Find His Youth In Russia ?


By Peter Silkov

In a curious match this Saturday, Roy Jones Jr. (62-8) takes on Wales’s Enzo Maccarinelli, (40-7) at the TVB Centre Moscow.  At one time, Jones Jr. was seen as the pound-for-pound number one fighter in the world, but that was more than a decade ago, and now as he approaches his 47th birthday, many of Roy Jones Jr.’s former skills are simply a memory.  Indeed, over the past decade, many people have called on Jones Jr. to retire, amid fears for his safety and health.  There was a point, when he suffered knockout defeats to Danny Green and Denis Lebedev, that Jone Jr. looked in real danger of getting hurt. Since then, the former multiple world champion has been careful who he has faced in the ring, fighting mainly mediocre opposition, and putting together a run of 8 fights. 

On Saturday, Jones takes on Enzo Maccarinelli, a former WBO World Cruiserweight champion, who at 35, is himself quite some way from his peak.  Ironically, Maccarinelli himself was also subject to calls for him to retire a few years back when he suffered a string of inside the distance defeats.  Like Jones Jr., Maccarinelli salvaged his career with a run of victories, even moving down to light-heavyweight and winning the Commonwealth title, before challenging unsuccessfully in April 2014 for Juergen Braehmer’s WBA Interim light-heavyweight title, where he was stopped in the 5th round with a swollen shut eye. 

Even in his reduced state, Jones Jr. still looked to have too many skills and guile remaining for Maccarinelli to deal with, especially seeing as he is himself some way past his best.  However, Maccarinelli has a punchers chance, he is known as a big puncher, and this gives the fight its intrigue.  Jones Jr. has been shown to be vulnerable to a decent punch in recent times, and should Maccarinelli land cleanly with his right hand, an upset of sorts may occur.  Unfortunately for Roy Jones Jr. at 47 years of age, almost anything can happen to you in a boxing ring, and there is no such thing as a ‘safe’ fight.

Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes

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Friday, December 11, 2015

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Boxing Bonanza at the O2 Arena in London Saturday Night

By Peter Silkov

On Saturday, London will host a boxing bonanza at London’s O2 ARENA. Top of the bill is the heavyweight clash between Anthony Joshua (14-0) and Dillian Whyte (16-0) for the British, Commonwealth, and WBC International Heavyweight titles. Both men are unbeaten, and this fight contains some personal history, as the two men fought twice back in their amateur days, with Whyte winning both. There seems to be plenty of needle between the two heavyweights, and this is a genuinely intriguing heavyweight showdown.  Beyond the hype, when both men are compared against each other, there looks to be only one winner, and that is Anthony Joshua. In a career that has yet to see him have to go past the 3rd round, Joshua still has a long way to go and many questions to answer, but there is little doubt that he is a world class fighter with considerable punching power.

Whyte on the other hand, while being a good fighter, has the look of being a level below that of Joshua. Everyone knows that anything can happen in heavyweight boxing, it only takes one mistake and one punch, when the fighters are so big. This is certainly Joshua’s most dangerous opponent yet, and it will be interesting to see what might happen if Whyte connects with a solid punch to Joshua’s rather untested chin.  Barring any mishaps, Joshua should ease his way past Whyte, with a knockout win in the first 5 rounds.

Also on the bill Saturday night is the WBA world middleweight championship eliminator between Chris Eubank Jr (20-1) and Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan (22-1).  This is another grudge fight, with both men seeming to truly dislike each other. The ironic thing about this fight, as in the Joshua vs. Whyte fight, is that it doesn’t need a feud and a build up of animosity to make this match up interesting.  Both Eubank Jr. and O’ Sullivan have the kind of extrovert personalities and fighting styles that could make this clash one of the most entertaining fights of the year.  Again, it is a question of levels. Eubank Jr. seems to have the superior skills, and during his most recent contests, he has shown some breathtaking skills.  Eubank’s Achilles heel seems to be his lack of experience and a complex personality. While coming across as supremely confident, Eubank Jr. seemed to freeze for the first 5 rounds of his fight with Billy Joe Saunders, before ‘waking up’ in the 6th round, and taking over the fight to such an extent that many thought him unlucky not to get the decision against Saunders.  Eubank Jr. has come back with two wins since his only career defeat, and positive changes seem to have been made in his corner since the Saunders’ fight, most notably his Father’s role in the corner during a contest.  Against Dmitry Chudinov in February, Eubank Jr. was especially impressive, showing a mix of sublime boxing skill and vicious offense. There was also that impressive hand speed. On the minus side, Eubank Jr. also showed a tendency to a porous defence, and gives the impression of taking his opponents too lightly at times. Yet, there is no doubt that Eubank Jr. has the raw talent that could one day find him emulating his father and winning a world title, if he is guided properly and learns how to put it all together in the ring. So far, we have flashes of what might be in Eubank Jr.

Photo: Irish Post
The most intriguing thing about his match with O’Sullivan is that, this is the type of fight when we could see Eubank Jr. put everything together for the first time in the ring, and really show the kind of fighter that he can become. O’ Sullivan is a talented fighter in his own right, but does not have the depth of talent that Eubank Jr. has shown. Also, O’Sullivan’s aggressive style is suited to Eubank Jr.’s counter-punching skills. The biggest danger for Eubank Jr. in this contest is that he becomes too confident and allows himself to be drawn into a toe-to-toe encounter, rather than using his boxing skills to pick apart O’Sullivan. This could be a fiery contest with some good toe-to-toe action, but it will be Eubank Jr’s extra speed and boxing skills, which will be the difference. These should take him to a point’s victory over Sullivan, after a clash that may well be the fight of the night.

Photo: WBAnews
Kevin Mitchell (39-3) takes on Ismael Barroso (18-0-2) for the Interim WBA World Lightweight championship. Britains are having a golden time at 135 pounds at the moment and a win in this fight will put Mitchell in the mix for a string of big domestic showdowns against the likes of Terry Falagan, Luke Campbell, Anthony Crolla, Derry Mathews, and Ricky Burns.  This is a fight where Mitchell cannot afford any slip-ups. In his last contest seven months ago, Mitchell lost in a WBC world lightweight title challenge to Jorge Linares, after a brave performance that had seen him take an early lead, before Linares caught up with him and stopped him in the 10th round.  Barroso is an unknown quantity from Venezuela, who is unbeaten in a career that goes back to 2005. His 17 knockout wins indicate that he is the kind of fighter that Mitchell does not want to underestimate. Mitchell should have the skills and experience to handle Barroso, and put himself in line for another world title shot.

Tony Bellew (25-2-1) takes on Mateusz Masternak (36-3) for the vacant European Cruiserweight title, in what looks like being another interesting fight.  For Bellew this is a chance to work his way towards a possible world title shot at cruiserweight, after having failed to win a world title at light heavyweight.  However, Masternak is a tough opponent, and looks set to give Bellew his most challenging test since his move up to the cruiserweight division.

sky sports
Luke Campbell takes on Yvan Mendy for the WBC International Lightweight championship, in what is another step for Campbell towards an inevitable world title fight. Also on the undercard, will be Dereck Chisora, who is still rebuilding after his one sided defeat to Tyson Fury in November of last year. Chisora’s opponent has yet to be announced, but will not be anyone too dangerous as the possibility of a match up between Chisora and the winner of Joshua vs Whyte, is obviously something that promoter Eddie Hearn is looking towards.

All in all, it looks to be an exciting night of boxing, its just a real shame that promoter Eddie Hearn and Sky have decided to put this promotion on Sky Box Office, therefore limiting the fans access to one of the most attractive promotions of the year. You’d think that both Sky and Hearn were already getting enough from there shows so as not to need to dig even more money out of the viewer by using Sky Box Office. Apparently, there is no end to the thirst for new revenue, even if it’s at the long term cost of the sport itself. 

Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes

Monday, December 7, 2015

Remembering Joe Velez: An Inspiration to the Sport of Boxing

By IDran James

Remembering….Joey Velez June 23, 1925 - December 7, 2002

The Joey Velez story is one of those epic American tales of a boxer who, despite many obstacles in his life, emerged as one of the most determined and talented boxers to come out of the Pacific Northwest. Velez was a lightweight and a featherweight contender who became very popular in the Spokane, Washington, area in the 1940s and 50s.

Born on June 23, 1925 in Seattle, Washington, Velez would have to face many difficulties in his life. When he was a toddler, ‘Lil’ Joey Velez would contract polio at 17 months. As a result, his left leg was deformed and it would not be until he was five years old that he would be able to walk with crutches, and at 9 years old, he was able to walk unassisted. This was not the end of his health problems. At the age of 10, he would catch pneumonia, and then tuberculosis. He would spend 18 months in hospital, missing more of his childhood that had already been mostly taken away because of his childhood illnesses. Despite this adversity, Velez would go to the gym and overcome his health issues through physical training, which included boxing at the local YWCA.

Like most people that were affected by the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, Joey tried to sign up for the armed services, and do his duty for his country. When the Navy and Army turned Velez down at the start of WW2, he would turn to boxing. As an amateur, he would fight many times on military bases and was driven by the anger he felt because of the rejection from the armed forces. He had a very successful amateur career and turned professional in 1947. He would adopt the name ‘Lil` Joey Velez’ in the Pacific Northwest and because well known and respected in boxing circles. His physical disability never was a problem in the ring, and for a man that had so many health problems as a child, his reflexes, and skill did not reflect any of those problems of the past.

Velez would go on to fight such fighters as Joey Dolan, Buddy Washington, Harold Dade, Henry Davis, Pinky Cowan, and George Dunn. Velez would fight until 1953 with a final record of 33 (14kos)-5.

Photo: Jodi Velez-Newel
After he retired from boxing, Velez was successful as a teacher, boxing instructor, graphic artist, and entrepreneur. On December 7, 2002 he died of natural causes. His daughter, Jodi Velez-Newell, has created a wonderful tribute to her Father that is one of the best tributes we have seen. Please check out her site, it is very informative, creative, and a great chronology of the life of a boxer.We could have gone more in depth about his life, but nothing could top her tribute. Please follow the link to her site:

Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Daniel Jacobs vs. Peter Quillin: The Miracle Man Breaks Kid Chocolate in One Round

Photo credit: Esther Lin/SHOWTIME

By Peter Silkov

Daniel Jacobs arrived last night as a serious force in the middleweight division.  Although he has held the ‘regular’ version of the WBA world middleweight title for over a year, there was always a question whether Jacobs had real merit as a world class fighter.  Quite simply, he had not fought anyone of note at world class level, until last night, when he faced Peter ’Kid Chocolate’ Quillin.

The fight turned out to be short and explosive. Both men started off cautiously, probing with jabs as they each looked for an opening. It wouldn’t be a long wait. A sudden over-hand right rocked Quillin, and Jacobs wasted no time jumping upon his fellow Brooklynite.  Jacobs unleashed a vicious two-fisted barrage, which drove Quillin across the ring, and into the ropes. The best Quillin could do is cover up and vainly try and ride out the storm. Those hopes crashed down when Jacobs landed a right hand flush upon Quillin’s temple. Kid Chocolate reacted to the punch as if he had been given an electric shock, jumping up in the air, before staggering across to the other side of the ring with his hands down at his sides. It looked as if he was going to fall, but somehow he didn’t. Instead, Quillin came to rest against the ropes, with his legs still giving a weird hop-like stagger, as referee Harvey Dock looked at him for a tense moment or two, before decisively stepping forward and calling a halt to the fight.

Photo: Rich Schultz/Associated Press
It was all over in less than 90 seconds. The stoppage was controversial for many in the immediate aftermath of the fight, but when looked at for a second or third time, it seems clear that Quillin was in no condition to defend himself, and referee Dock stopped the fight at just the right time. 

After a fight with such sudden, yet brief brutality, the post-fight interviews were almost as shocking for the friendship, and sportsmanship of both men.

“I told him I love him. Me and Peter go back to the Golden Glove days. I respect him to death, but I knew this fight would be my night. There are no lucky shots in boxing.  Obviously, I caught him with a shot. Once I knew I had him hurt I kept going,” Jacobs said at ringside after the fight.

Quillin was equally magnanimous in defeat, as Jacobs was in victory.
“This is a time you sit with your family and figure out what you have to do. I have a lot of options, maybe a rematch is the best option. I can’t think of a better person to lose to than Danny Jacobs.”

Both fighters have a lot of options now, especially Jacobs, who as a genuinely proven world class fighter, has finally arrived. His next fight looks set to be against the winner of the December 12 showdown between Chris Eubank Jr. and Spike O’Sullivan. Jacobs is also looking at attractive future matches against the likes of Andy Lee, Billy Joe Saunders, and of course, Gennady Golovkin, and not forgetting, Saul Alvarez, unless he decides to restrict himself to fighting ex-light-middleweights at 155-pounds.

Photo: Esther Lin/Showtime
For Quillin, his first career defeat will be a huge blow, but if ever a fighter has emerged from defeat with a huge increase of respect, then that man is Peter Quillin. 

There are many ways to prove you are a champion, sometimes even in defeat, but Saturday was Daniel Jacobs’s night, and the middleweight division suddenly exploded. 

Watch the post-fight conference here:

Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes

40 Years Ago Today: John H. Stracey Defeats Jose Napoles To Capture the Welterweight World Title

 By Peter Silkov

When Tyson Fury sensationally captured the World heavyweight championship from Wladimir Klitschko last week, with a performance and victory that quite literally shook the boxing world, it was rather apt that he did so almost 40 years to the day that John H Stracey beat Jose Napoles for the Welterweight championship of the world.  It was a victory, which still ranks alongside the greatest performances by a British boxer abroad.

The date was December 6, 1975, when Stracey separated Napoles from his beloved welterweight crown.  Stracey made his challenge in the Monumental Plaza De Toros, in Mexico City, Mexico. The match was in a Mexican bullring that housed 40,000 people, and was so full and fiery, that it looked as if at any moment that the crowd was about to rush forward, and swallow up the ring.

Napoles was already a ring legend, who had dominated the welterweight division for over 6 years, and was considered one of the greatest boxers ever to hold the 147-pound title. He had been a number one contender for many years, at lightweight, and then light welterweight, before finally receiving his title shot at welterweight. Born in Cuba, Napoles had fled to Mexico in the early 60s, when Castro outlawed professional boxing, and was soon gladly adopted by the Mexican boxing fans as one of their own. Napoles’ nickname was ’Mantequilla’, which in Spanish means butter, a description that alluded to Napoles’ smooth effortless boxing style. He was a masterful technician, yet beneath the silky skills, Napoles was also a devastating puncher when he chose to be.  With such ability, it was hardly surprising that it took Napoles so long to secure a world title shot.

By the time he defended his title against England’s Stracey, ’Mantequilla’ was 35 years of age, although some guessed that he might be at least 5 years older. Whatever his age there was no denying that the old maestro was not quite the fighter that he had been when he first won his world crown. The speed and reflexes had become dulled by age, and years of making the 147-pound limit, while the legs were no longer the nimble tools they had once been, and above both eyes there was the scar tissue of almost 20 years of ring warfare. 

When he stepped into the Mexican bulling ring that day, Stracey was a well-respected boxer, the reigning British and European Welterweight champion, but no one expected him to unseat the legendary Napoles.

Despite his age and ring-wear, Napoles had produced an impressive display in his most recent title defence, to outwork, and outbox arch rival Armando Muniz. 

Although his speed and skills may had diminished with age, it was generally agreed in boxing circles that Napoles would have too much for the likeable Stracey, who was a good boxer, with a decent punch, but didn’t seem equipped to beat a legend of Napoles caliber.  After all, Napoles had just beaten his number one challenger Muniz, just five months earlier.

The fight began with both men showing that they meant business. Stracey, known usually as a slow starter, was coming forward, using his solid jabs, seemingly determined to set the kind of fast pace, which the 35 year old Napoles would not enjoy. Meanwhile, the champion was setting a high-pace of his own as he swung away with both hands, looking for an early stoppage victory. Mid way through the 1st round it looked as if an early victory was within the champion’s grasp, as a dynamite combination of punches, which showed just why Napoles was known as ‘Mantequilla’, put Stracey onto the deck. As the crowd howled and cheered with premature jubilation, Stracey beat the count, and weathered the storm of leather that Napoles then through at him in a desperate attempt to land a finishing blow. By the end of the round the challenger was fighting back, and there was already a weariness about Napoles when he returned to his corner at the bell. 

In the 2nd round Stracey continued to put intelligent pressure onto the champion, working mainly behind his excellent jab, while also looking to land his damaging right hand. Napoles was seeking to control matters with his combinations, and jabs of his own, yet there was a glimmer of panic in the champion’s fighting, and a suspicion that he had already shot his bolt in that 1st round.

In the 3rd round, it became clear that the 40,000 plus fans, weighing down the bullring that night, were watching the crumbling of their champion and idol. The fight was still being fought at a frenetic pace, but while Stracey was growing in confidence and strength with every passing minute, Napoles, was beginning to look like a wound up toy that was suddenly slowing down. Although he continued to valiantly fight back, Napoles couldn’t get away from Stracey’s precise punches, especially that pole like left jab. Napoles was already cut over the right eye and his left eye was swelling.

The beginning of the end was signaled near the end of the 3rd round, when Napoles briefly hit the canvas after taking a Stracey left hook. Although he beat the count, amid cushions being thrown into the ring by the suddenly stricken Mexican crowd, Napoles fate had been set. Stracey would not be denied on this night. For the ensuring rounds, Napoles was no longer trying to defend his title, he was simply trying to survive, as Stracey landed upon him at will, only the courage, and guile of a great champion was keeping Napoles standing.

By the 6th round the fight had become a massacre, with Napoles’ face now a mask of swollen flesh and blood. Unable to see the punches coming at him from his inspired challenger, Napoles tried to bob and weave as he had done so often in the past, but instead resembled a drunk staggering down a rain soaked street. As Napoles teetered on unsteady legs, Stracey stepped up his attack, raining blows upon the wilting champion, and driving him about the ring. Finally the referee had seen enough, and stepped between Stracey and Napoles, while signaling the end of the fight. It was a merciful stoppage that saved Napoles the indignity of being beaten into an even more devastating defeat. Napoles went out like the great champion he was, bloodied and battered almost beyond recognition, but still on his feet.

John H. Stracy was the new Welterweight champion of the world. His celebrations with his corner, which included his father, were jubilant, while a wave of sadness and despair swept over the beaten champion and his corner men. The Mexican crowd stood on its feet, not quite sure what to do as they looked on in a mixture of shock and horror at what had happened to their treasured ’Mantequilla.’

Yet, there was respect too for the Englishman who had come over and beaten the champion into defeat. Stracey was Britain’s first World welterweight champion since Ted ‘Kid’ Lewis, and one of the few British fighters to win a world title abroad.

Even today, with a multitude of world titles available for a diluted supply of contenders, very few British fighters win their world titles abroad, let alone somewhere as hostile as a Mexican bullring.

John H. Stracey’s victory over Jose Napoles still stands as one of British boxing’s greatest nights.  The night when a boxer from Bethnal Green beat a Cuban born, Mexican legend.

Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to

Watch the fight here:

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Stephan Johnson: A Light Middleweight Contender Gone Too Soon

By Peter Silkov

Stephan Johnson was a tough light middleweight, with good boxing skills, who began his professional boxing career in 1987, at the age of 19.  Johnson would mix with a long line of the world’s top light-middleweights and middleweights during his career.  Johnson was certainly not one of those fighters who was babied along in his career. The names of his opponents include fighters such as Kevin Pompey, Willy Wise, Roy Jones Jr., Vincent Pettway, Anthony Jones, Darryl Lattimore, Wilfredo Rivera, Andrew Lewis, Sam Garr, Fitz Vanderpool, and Paul Vaden. 

In those 12 years there were a lot of tough fights for Johnson, and along with the ups and downs, the wins and the losses, he would compile a record of 27(18koes)-9-1.  Yet Johnson was a fighter and he continued, returning from setbacks again, and again.  Like all fighters, he held onto his dream.  Even the most cynical and battle worn of boxers still has a dream.  This is one of the most fascinating aspects of boxers for the normal man (and woman) in the street, the fact that they are following a dream, the kind of dream that normal people reserve for private flights of fantasy.

For some, Stephan Johnson was just another fighter, just one of many tough and talented fighters trying to make their way in what has often been called ‘the toughest game’ but is in reality, not a game at all. Outside of the ring, Stephan worked as a boxing fitness trainer at an Equinox Fitness Centre in Manhattan, while continuing his dream to be a champion, and earn that one pay-day.

On September 24, 1998, he stopped Sam Garr in the 5th round to win the IBU world light-middleweight championship. Despite being one of the lighter regarded titles, this was the kind of win that could have opened bigger doors for Johnson, who was now 30 years old.

However in his next fight, on April 14, 1999, Fitz Vanderpool, in a fight for the WBF world light-middleweight title knocked out Johnson in the 11th round. Johnson had been stopped before in his career, but this was what people call a bad knockout. Johnson was taken from the ring on a stretcher and spent time recovering in hospital. 

Johnson was placed on a suspension list after his loss to Vanderpool, but that fight was in Toronto, Canada.  Johnson was soon back in the ring, winning fights in Georgia and South Carolina, two states renowned for such a lax attitude to the safety of fighters that they are often used by fighters who are unable to get a fight almost anywhere else. 

In an effort to have his name removed from the Association of Boxing Commissions suspension list, Johnson underwent a number of tests to measure motor skills and memory, as well as a CAT scan.  Only the CAT scan was submitted in the end, and although it passed, it was later described as being ‘borderline.’

Johnson was only removed from the suspension list 5 days before his 2nd comeback fight on October 2, 1999, when he stopped journeyman Calvin Moody in the 3rd round.  Both Johnson’s Mother Ira, and his manager Kenneth Woods, wanted him to quit the ring, yet Johnson wanted to fight on, still feeling that he was just one fight, one win, away from the kind of big pay-day that all fighters dream about in their careers. Even if he didn’t quite get to that big pay-day, Johnson wanted to earn enough to be able to take his mother out of the projects in Queens, New York.

Some may wonder why Johnson’s manager Kenneth Woods didn’t stop him from fighting anymore, if he felt that he should quit.  The truth is, in boxing, just as in life, generally things are never so easily black and white.  The chances are that if he really wanted to continue boxing, Stephan could just have found himself a new manager. 

Seven weeks later on November 20, 1999, Johnson was fighting former world champion Paul Vaden for the vacant USBA Light-Middleweight championship in Atlantic City.  After building up a lead on the scorecards, Johnson was knocked out in the 10th round, his head hitting the bottom rope as he fell.  He would never wake up.  Suffering from a subdural hematoma, Johnson was treated at the Atlantic City Medical Center, and had two holes drilled into his head in an effort to relieve the pressure upon his brain. Stephan Johnson fought for his life for two weeks, until the final blow was delivered upon him when he contracted pneumonia.  He died on December 5, 1999, at 31 years old.  

Stephan’s death, like all such fatalities in boxing, caused a ripple effect of anguish through all of those that knew him, including both family, friends, and noot forgetting Johnson’s opponent, Paul Vaden.  Too often the opponents in tragic cases like this are overlooked.  Being involved in a fatality or a serious injury has irrevocably changed many fighters’ careers and lives.  Vaden would fight just once more after his match with Stephan Johnson, losing on point’s 5 months later to Jesse Flores.  He never fought again, and has struggled ever since Johnson’s death with feelings of guilt.

We will probably never know how much Johnson’s previous fights impacted upon his tragic final contest.  Had the back of his head not hit the bottom rope in that fateful 10th round would things have turned out differently?  Then we look again at the Vanderpool fight we can see the warning signs.  It is a fact that many fighter who are either severely or fatally injured in the ring have often suffered some form of injury in a previous fight, an injury which has gone either unnoticed or has been ignored.

Stephan’s story is another example of a boxing fatality that could have possibly been avoided with more stringent medical guards, and a unified boxing commission.  Fighters should not be expected to be the ones to say when enough is enough. While boxing remains splintered with dozens of different commissions and world bodies, no central commission keeps control of them all. With a central commission, the safety of the boxers, whose sweat, blood, and sacrifice breathe life into a brutal sport, sometimes at the cost of their own lives, would stop senseless deaths.

Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to

Daniel Jacobs Vs. Peter Quillin: The Miracle Man Takes On Kid Chocolate at Barclays Center

 By Peter Silkov

Daniel Jacobs (30-1, 27koes) defends his WBA world middleweight title against Peter Quillin (32-0-1, 23koes) on Saturday night, in a fight that fans are hoping is a early step towards the middleweight division gaining a unified world champion.  The situation with the world middleweight titles is confusing to say the least.  Jacobs is the ‘Regular’ WBA world middleweight champion, while Gennady Golovkin is the ‘Super’ WBA world middleweight champion (in addition to being the IBF title holder.)  Then you have Saul Alvarez who holds the WBC middleweight title. His future opponents have not been addressed, whether he will face Golovkin, or what weight he will be allowed to fight, is still a mystery. Most people view Golovkin as the world number 1 at middleweight already, but an official unified title with all the belts remains Golovkin’s goal.  

Both Jacobs and Quillin have so far kept away from any path that would lead them to a fight with the GGG man. The winner on Saturday night will have the option of finally going ahead and taking part in a series of fights, which will conclude with an undisputed World middleweight champion. There are already plans for whoever wins Saturday’s fight to take on the winner of the upcoming clash between Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders, on December 12, for Lee’s WBO world title. Before that will happen, Jacobs and Quillin have to sort out their differences on Saturday night, December 5, at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.

Aside from the question of the world ‘title,’ which Jacobs is defending, this is a genuinely even contest between two well-matched middleweights, who may well deliver one of 2015’s better fights.  Quillin and Jacobs are evenly matched in height and age, and have similar boxer-puncher styles. They also both reside in Brooklyn, New York, although Quillin originally hails from Chicago.  One of the biggest differences between the two boxers is experience, while it is Jacobs who is the defending title holder, Quillin, who formerly held the WBO title before vacating it, has fought at the higher level.  Having already faced fighters such as Antwun Echols, Roland Wright, Hassan N’Dam N’Jikam, Gabriel Rosado, and Andy Lee, with his only career blemish coming with a draw against Lee in April this year.

Jacobs’s biggest test so far has come against Sergio Mora in his most recent contest.  Unfortunately that fight was cut short in the 2nd round, when Mora was unable to continue due to an injured ankle, but not before both men had hit the deck in the 1st round.

This is one of the reasons why this fight has the makings of a good scrap, both Jacobs and Quillin have been floored in previous fights.  Quillin, most recently in his fight against Lee.  With each man possessing a dangerous punch, this is a fight that could break out into a slugfest. With the recent big middleweight match-ups of Gennady Golovkin vs David Lemieux and Miguel Cotto vs Saul Alvarez falling short as competitive attractions, fans will be hoping that in the case of Jacobs vs Quillin, the fight will surpass its rather muted build up.  This is one of those fights which could end early or go into the later rounds. Both fighters are likely to start off using their boxing skills, before going for the power punches. We may see a chess match for a couple of rounds before things get really interesting.

Daniel Jacobs has a compelling life story after recovering from cancer and winning his WBA middleweight title, but the odds seem to be against him this Saturday.  This is certainly a fight that either man can win, but with both men so well matched, Quillin’s extra experience against higher quality opposition is likely to be a crucial advantage.

The Boxing Glove’s pick for this fight is a Quillin win either by points, or a late KO.

Also sharing the bill with Jacobs and Quillin are featherweights Jesus Cuellar (27-1) and Jonathan Oquendo (26-4) who will be fighting for Cuellar’s WBA World Featherweight title.  This is another evenly matched fight, which might steal the show.

The under card to Jacobs vs Quillin, has some interesting fights, including the returns to the ring of former world champions, Chris Algieri (20-2) and Yuri Foreman (32-2.) Algieri, having his first contest since his competitive defeat at the hands of Amir Khan, takes on Eric Bone (16-2) at welterweight, while Yuri Foreman returns to the ring after a two year absence, against Lenwood Dozier (9-9-1.) 

Watch the weigh-ins and face-offs here:

 Copyright © 2015 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to