Tuesday, May 30, 2017

On This Day: Jack Dempsey 'The Manassa Mauler' Remembered

By Peter Silkov

Remembering....Jack Dempsey June 24, 1895 - May 31, 1983

Jack Dempsey ’The Manassa Mauler’ was one of the most colourful and popular heavyweight champions of all time and his reign oversaw a huge boost to the profile of the sport, as a whole, during the 1920’s. Born William Harrison Dempsey on June 24, 1895, Dempsey took the name ‘Jack’ from the great middleweight champion of the 1880s, Jack ’Nonpareil’ Dempsey. Turning pro in 1914 at the age of 19, Dempsey endured many hardships on his way up, and often took employment in mines, and other hard labouring work in order to get by. Dempsey was a tough fighter, with a knockout punch in both hands and an all-action aggressive style.

After a few years, Dempsey was taken on by manager Jack Kearns, and together the two men began to make waves and Dempsey was guided to a world contest in 1919. Dempsey won the World heavyweight title when he destroyed Jess Willard in 3 rounds. As champion, Dempsey became the most popular World heavyweight champion since John L. Sullivan. In 1921, Dempsey defended his world title against the Frenchman Georges Carpentier, in what turned out to be the first Million dollar gate. Dempsey also had million dollar gates in his defences against Luis Angel Firpo and Gene Tunney, to whom he lost the world title on points on September 23, 1926.

On September 22, 1927, Dempsey came close to regaining his World heavyweight title from Gene Tunney, when he floored Tunney in their rematch. However, the chance was lost when Dempsey failed to go to a neutral cover for some seconds and gave Tunney some crucial extra seconds to rest.

Dempsey retired after the second Tunney fight, and remained extremely popular for the rest of his life, and is still considered by many today to be one of the greatest ever heavyweight champions. Dempsey’s final ring record was 62(49koes)-6-10.

Watch Gene Tunney Vs. Jack Dempsey World Heavyweight Fight:

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

The Boxing Glove Big Fight Report: George Groves Fulfils His Dream As Kell Brook’s Homecoming Turns Into A Nightmare

Photo: Sky Sports

By Peter Silkov

It was a night of conflicting fortunes for two of Britain’s leading boxers at Sheffield’s Bramall Lane Outdoor Football Ground last night, June 27, 2017. While on his 4th attempt, George Groves (26-3, 19koes) finally fulfilled his dream of becoming a world champion. Unfortunately, Kell ‘The Special One’ Brook (36-2, 25koes) was deprived of his World welterweight title by Errol ‘The Truth’ Spence Jr (22-0, 19koesl) Today George Groves is looking forward to a wealth of possibilities, with a number of big money title defences ahead of him, on the opposite side however, Kell Brook is faced with an uncertain future in the sport.

Brook and Spence proved to be very well matched in their fight for Brook’s IBF world welterweight title, and the action, if a little messy at times, was tense and lively after a cagey first round. For the first six rounds Brook seemed to hold the edge, with his movement and strength giving Spence problems. The challenger showed glimpses of his speed and power, but at other times also seemed to show his relative inexperience at this level, compared with Brook. However the match began to turn sharply in Spence’s favour in the 6th, when Brooks left eye began to swell. Soon the eye was swollen grotesquely, and having suffered an orbital fracture in his other eye in his last contest (against Gennady Golovkin) it was clear that this latest injury was bothering Brook, both physically, and mentally.

Photo: Reuters
Spence now took control of the fight and doubled his attacks upon a now often retreating Brook. Yet Brook would not fold easily, he kept fighting back, just when it looked as though Spence was going to overwhelm him. However, the writing was on the wall by the 10th round when Spence floored Brook with a body shot, an area that the American had targeted from the beginning of the contest. Brook Survived the 10th, but was finding it visibly difficult to defend himself with his injured eye.

Photo: Sky Sports
In the 11th round, with the challenger putting him under heavy pressure, and constantly landing right hands upon Brooks damaged eye, Brook went down onto one knee after a flurry of shots, and took the referee’s full count, while he blinked and rubbed at his damaged left eye.

Errol Spence is already being hailed as America’s new star performer, but while his talent is not in question, he still has some way to go before he can be labelled as truly ‘special’ at world class level, especially in such a talent-laden division. Hopefully the fans will get a chance to see Spence meet the other big names in the 147 division, if so, then boxing really could see itself on a solid upswing.

Photo: The Sun
Defeat for Brook will be a bitter pill to take, especially in front of 27,000 spectators, made up largely of his home town fans. Whether he would have prevailed if his left eye had not gone in the 7th, is open to debate. Certainly before the injury, Brook seemed to be comfortable. Now, for Brook, the worry is whether he can come back from what has now been confirmed as another eye socket fracture, just as he suffered in his right eye in his previous fight against Gennady Golovkin. Such injuries are always serious for a boxer, and to suffer one to each eye must leave question marks against Brook's future in boxing. As might be sadly expected, there have been some criticisms for Brook ‘quitting’ in the fight, but surely a fighter has the right to decide that he has had enough when he suspects that his eyesight might be in danger. Brook’s decision to drop to his knee when he did, and take the full count, might well have saved him from further injury so that he can fight again. More importantly, it might have saved his eyesight for the rest of his life, long after his boxing career is done.

After the fight, Brook was clear about what had happened to him:

"I remember the surgeon saying last time after the Golovkin fight I could have gone blind if I'd had one more round so I had that in my mind.

"I had to stop. Pride was leading the way but when I got caught in the 11th and it wouldn't come back into line. He was coming on strong and I knew he is a very sharp shooter, a very good fighter and I knew it could be fatal with some of the shots he was chucking in so I went down on one knee.’

"I tried to get the eye back in line, but it wouldn't, and I knew the fight was over."

Photo: The Telegraph

Spence was happy with his victory, yet refreshingly critical of his own performance:

I came out and I tried to do my best tonight. I’m happy I won, but I’m critical of my performance. I was overshooting my left. I give myself a B minus. I had a little trouble overusing my counter left.

Brook is a great fighter, a true champion, but also a tricky fighter. He finds you from tricky angles, and he can fight.’

I came here to his back yard in front of 30,000. That’s what real champions do. I fought a real champion tonight and I proved non-believers that I can fight. I’ve proven I have a chin and I have true grit.

This fight was tougher than I thought it was going to be. I showed I can take a punch and I can throw a punch. I can face adversity and I can win.

Brook went to America to take the title from an American, like a true champion. I came here to his home town to get that title back from him. I wanted to win like true champion, and I did because that is what champions do.

He was hurt. He was tired. He came firing shots, I came firing shots. But there was a moment I realised I had to step up my game and I did.”

Photo: CBS Sports
Spence will now look towards what could be some huge fights at 147 pounds, with the likes of Keith Thurman, Shaun Porter, and Danny Garcia, and even Manny Pacquiao and Terence Crawford.
For Brook, the future is much less clear, and looks to be at 154 pounds, if he does fight again. Which is no certainty after the injury he has suffered.

While the fickle hand of fate seemed to have abandoned Kell Brook last night, earlier on the bill, George Groves finally made the break through that he has been striving for all his career, when he won the vacant WBA world super-middleweight championship after a bruising encounter with Russian iron man, Fedor Chudinov (14-2, 10koes).

Anyone who has followed Groves' career will attest to the fact that fortune has never seemed to smile upon him during his career. Despite the fact that he has done things the hard way during his career, by facing top quality opposition and scoring notable wins over top fighters, George has always been out of luck when fighting for a world title. In his previous three attempts to capture and world championship, Groves has been beaten twice by Carl Froch in two epic bouts, and then narrowly out-pointed by Badou Jack, after seemingly doing more than enough to take victory.

In his last fight Groves' career has been struck by tragedy, after opponent, Eduard Gutknecht, suffered severe injuries in losing on points to Groves, and is still struggling to recover.

Last night though, it finally all came together for Groves against Chudinov.

The match started at a fast pace, with both men landing some brutal punches from the start. Groves had entered the ring visibly keyed up. This was a fight he had said that he couldn’t afford to lose. Perhaps a last chance at winning a world title. This tension seemed to carry on into the fight, as Groves started the match fast, fighting perhaps a little too much with his heart, rather than his head. Chudinov was constantly coming forwards, with hands high, looking to drag Groves into a brawl. Over the first two rounds Groves was landing more punches, but finding himself constantly pushed onto the ropes by his tank-like opponent. By the 3rd round, the fight had developed into a toe-to--toe slugfest, with both men looking to break the other man down.

Groves better variety of punches helped him edge the 4th round, but by now, he was cut over the left eye. For the first half of the 5th Groves showed some signs of tiredness, and the old questions about his stamina started to resurface. Yet Groves finished the round strong, underlying his determination to win this fight.

In the 6th round Groves stepped up several gears, unleashing a prolonged attack of brutal punches upon Chudinov. Although the Russian didn’t go down, he failed to punch back for a prolonged period of time, and took several tremendous punches to the head and chin, until the referee had no choice but to step in and halt the fight.

Photo: Reuters
George Groves had finally done it and won a world championship. Despite the proliferation of world titles in boxing today, winning one is still an achievement, and few fighters today deserve it more than George Groves, who has proved his world class credentials repeatedly for more than half a decade. Now finally he can call himself a world champion and look towards some big fights.

Following his victory, it was an emotional Groves who declared:

I’ve got no words,” Groves said filled of joy. “It’s a lifetime’s work achieved. I’m over the moon. I want to thank everyone who made this happen, Shane McGuigan who has resurrected my career, and now I’m mature enough to admit that he brings the best out of me. In the end, I would have carried on punching until everyone had left and they kicked me out. I wasn’t going to let this belt slip. [Chudinov] was catching me around the back of the head from the start, he has really devastatingly long arms, but I found my feet.”

When asked what he would like to do next, Groves replied:

Photo: Getty Images
Who wants to fight me? I’m sick and tired of chasing people. I’m sure there’s people that want to have a crack at me now. I’m really looking forward to seeing Callum Smith win a WBC belt, truly believe he’s going to do that. Maybe Paul Smith will pick up a world title, maybe me and him can do it again but right now I’m going to savour my win and spend quality time with my family, and celebrate with my wonderful team.”

Groves victory was very popular with the crowd, and one of those cheering the loudest, and standing on his feet, was Groves' old foe, Carl Froch.

There are a number of possible options open to Groves for future opponents, but perhaps the most tantalizing fight would be a rematch with his old rival James Degale, whom he beat in 2011, and who now holds the IBF world super-middleweight title. Their first fight, for the British and Commonwealth titles, was huge, and this time, with world titles at stake, it would be even bigger.

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Friday, May 26, 2017

The Big Fight Preview: Kell Brook Vs. Errol Spence, Jr. at Bramall Lane Football Grounds

By Peter Silkov

Boxing has been threatening to make a comeback to credibility recently with some genuinely well matched big fights. Most recent of these was Anthony Joshua’s war with Wladimir Klitschko. Tomorrow we have the latest of what has been a series of encouraging matchups, both here, and abroad. Top of the bill, at the Bramall Lane Football Ground, in Sheffield, England. Kell Brook (36-1, 25koes) takes on his number one challenger, the undefeated Errol Spence Jr.(21-0, 18koes) in what will be the 4th defence of his IBF world welterweight championship. It will also be Brook’s first outing in the ring since his brave, but ultimately losing effort against world middleweight kingpin Gennady Golovkin, last September. In that match, Brook won praise for his bravery after being one of the few challengers to actively take the fight to the fearsome Golovkin. Yet, his bravery had a price, and he was eventually pulled out of the fight, battered and bloody, and with a broken right eye socket that required delicate surgery. One of the biggest questions ahead of his fight with Spence Jr. is how much of a mark has the Golovkin fight left upon Brook. Although we have been told that the eye injury has been repaired and is as good as new (albeit now with a titanium plate) there always has to be a question mark over a fighter when he is coming back from such a serious injury. The biggest question will be is the eye vulnerable to being re-injured, plus how will Brook react if the eye is injured again, even if only moderately. In facing Spence Jr., Brook is taking on one of the best prospects in boxing, a fighter who has had big things predicted for him. Spence has a similar box-fighting style to Brook, and the two should produce an interesting and exciting match. The biggest question with Spence Jr, is just how good is he, he is undoubtedly a talented boxer, but this fight will go a long way to telling us just how deep Spence Jr talent really goes.

With two fighters who are well matched, both physically and talent wise, this match has all the marks of being a very close and entertaining fight. I see this fight going the distance, with Brook winning a close and maybe controversial points decision.

The main fight on the undercard, is George Groves (25-3, 18koes) against Fedor Chudinov (14-1, 10koes) for the vacant WBA world super-middleweight title.

This will be Groves 4th attempt at winning a world title, after failed attempts against Carl Froch, (twice) and Badou Jack. This is a fight which Groves should win, Chudinov is very tough, but lacks the higher boxing skills of Groves. He also lacks the greater talent and experience of Groves.

Groves has said that this is a fight he must win, and if he can box to the best of his ability he should be able to claim a close but clear points win over Chudinov, and finally claim that elusive world championship.

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Willie Lewis Remembered…Boxer Extraordinaire

By Peter Silkov

Willie Lewis was the kind of boxer who died out with boxing’s golden age. He belonged to a time when fighters thought nothing of fighting every other week, and when the opponents were plentiful to do just that. It was a time when there were often boxing shows to be found in some club or other venue every day of the week, and only the toughest and hardest working survived what was often a hard and cruel occupation.

In an interview with 'The Ring' magazine in 1947, over 30 years after he had retired, Lewis compared the fighters of 1947 with his those of own era.

Boxing was a tough and hard-bitten business in those days, and a fighter had to know his trade if he expected to get anywhere. He had to learn what boxing really was, and he also had to know how to adjust his style to any occasion. One week he’d be fighting a 6 rounder in Philadelphia. A couple of weeks later he’s be in a marathon brawl in California, where twenty and twenty-five rounders were the usual thing, and often championship bouts were over the forty–five round route.”

Lewis continued “It was a tough schooling, but it paid dividends for those who survived. Under the same circumstances, the kids today would be as good as they were in my day. But times are different. This is an era of speed. Everybody’s in a hurry. So the fighters don’t get much of a chance to properly learn boxing, how to feint, shift, counter, and really master the trade. The public demands ‘action’ the slam-bang and give-and-take stuff. And its only on rare occasions, in championship bouts, that fighters today are asked to go more than 10 rounds."

Willie Lewis was born on May 21, 1884, in New York, and began his professional boxing career in 1901, at the age of 17. Lewis would develop into a clever and cagey boxer who could also slug it out when he wanted. Although no more than a middleweight, he often fought bigger men throughout his career, thinking nothing of giving away 20 or more pounds to light heavyweights, and even heavyweights.

Lewis certainly didn’t have an easy road in his fighting career, as he fought quality fighters right from the start. In just his 13th contest, Lewis shared the ring with a young Sam Langford, and was knocked out in the 2nd round.

For the remainder of his career, Lewis would meet some of the very fighters of his generation. Men such as, Harry Lewis, Jimmy Gardner, Joe Gans, Honey Melody, Mike Donovon, Curly Watson, Jewey Smith, Sailor Burke, Billy Papke, Stanley Ketchel, Dixie Kid, Frank Klaus, Cyclone Johnny Thompson, Jeff Smith, Mike Gibbons, Paddy Lavin, Georges Carpentier, Al McCoy, and Young Ahearn.

In an era where many white fighters drew the ‘colour bar’ when it suited them Lewis fought anyone, regardless of weight, colour or reputation.

Lewis was to become renowned for his use of the one-two, a straight left, followed very quickly by a straight right, so that the two punches landed almost simultaneously. Many of Lewis’ knockout victims where accounted for by this method.

During his career Lewis fought all over America, but also traveled to England, Canada and France for fights. He fought in France for the first time in 1908, and soon because a favourite with the French fans, due to his personality and style, both in and out of the ring. Lewis was one of the boxers who helped the boxing boom grow in France during this time.

Years after he had retired from the sport, Lewis was asked who was the best boxer he had ever fought, chose his namesake Harry Lewis.

No we weren’t related. Harry was Jewish, and one of the most skilled mechanics I ve ever seen in the ring. What he didn’t know about boxing wasn’t worth knowing. Just look over his record some day , and you’re get an idea. He specialized in knocking out guys who never were knocked out before. Harry was an artist in feinting and countering. His punches only went a few inches, but, boy, what authority they carried. Frankly I don’t know how I did as well as I did with him. He usually belted my ears off in the early rounds, but somehow I seemed to outlast him and finish the stronger. We fought half a dozen times, but never could seem to settle our differences. Two of our scraps over the 25-round route in Paris."

The two fights Willie is recalling here are his two battles with Harry Lewis for the World welterweight title, which his namesake had claimed. They took place on February 19, 1910, then two months later on April 21, both in Paris over 25 rounds. Each fight saw Harry Lewis have the early lead, but Willie whittled his advantage down, the longer that the fight went on. In the end, both fights were judged draws. Willie Lewis would never manage to capture a world title, but he came awfully close.

Lewis finally retired from boxing in 1915, after being knocked out in 2 rounds by Young Ahearn in Havana, Cuba. He retired with a final record of (56-16-8, 39koes.)

In 1920, Lewis survived being shot 3 times while making a phone call at a cabaret, which he owned. Throughout his career, he trained Joe Jeanette, and other boxers along the way. In later years Lewis worked as a bar tender at a tavern on 8th avenue New York, just a little walk from Madison Square Garden. Willie Lewis died on May 18, 1949, aged 64.

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Andre Dirrell Title Fight Erupts In Explosive Punches and Disqualification


By Peter Silkov

Last night”s scenes at the MGM National Harbour, Oxon Hill, Maryland, during the aftermath of the Andre Dirrell vs Jose Uzcategui match, were a disgrace to the sport. Uzcaregui had just been disqualified after the 8th round for landing a punch after the bell, which sent Dirrell face-first to the canvas, and unable to continue the contest. Ironically, Dirrell was also involved in a similar incident in 2010, when Arthur Abraham also knocked him out with a blow after the bell. However, on that occasion, the aftermath was not quite as controversial and violent as it turned out to be on Saturday night. Uzcategui seemed to be very unlucky to be disqualified in a fight that he seemed to be winning clearly, for a late punch, which seemed purely accidental. Uzcategui already had Dirrell hurt and backed up into a corner, and was in the midst of a throwing a flurry of punches, when the bell sounded. In the past, fighters have got away with such incidences with point's deductions, or simple warnings, but with Dirrell seemingly rendered incapacitated by the late punch, the referee had little choice but to disqualify Uzcategui.

Yet, if Uzcategui was thinking that his night had just taken a bad turn things were about to get even darker. Moments later, with both boxers now in their corners, and Dirrell quickly recovering, Leon Lawson, Jr the uncle of Dirrell, and member of his coaching team, approached Jose Uzcategui, and sucker-punched him with a brutal left hand that snapped Uzcategui's head back alarmingly. Luckily, a second punch by Lawson only clipped Uzcategui's neck, and by then, his corner-men had rushed in front of their fighter to protect him from Lawson. It was a vicious, and to be blunt, cowardly attack by Lawson, who then fled the scene, and is now being sought by the Police. Hopefully Uzcategui is unhurt from the post-fight assault that he suffered at the hands of Lawson.

This incident recalls the case of the Richard Grant vs James Butler fight in November 2001, who incidentally were also super-middleweights, like Dirrell and Uzcategui. Richard Grant had caused a mild upset by out-pointing the fancied Butler over 10 rounds. After the decision had been announced, Butler had walked over to where Grant was stood, but instead of congratulating Grant on his win with the expected show of sportsmanship and respect, Grant (whose gloves had been removed, but not his hand-wraps) struck Grant in the face with a terrible punch, which sent Grant to the canvas with blood pouring from his mouth. Grant was later found to have suffered a broken jaw and concussion. For Butler, the repercussions of his spiteful blow were irreversible. He was charged with assault and jailed for 4 months, and barred form boxing for a time.

Eventually, Butler who was diagnosed with bipolar disorder in the aftermath of the Grant fight, was allowed to return to boxing, but he remained an outcast and had just 4 more fights, winning two. Then on March 2006, Butler was jailed for 29 years for the voluntary manslaughter of Sam Kellerman (younger brother of Max Kellerman) who had been allowing Butler to stay in his house. Richard Grant himself was never the same fighter after the Butler incident, and although he returned to the ring when his jaw had healed, he went 5-7-1 in the remainder of his career. Ultimately the tale of Grant vs Butler is far darker than Dirrell vs Uzcategui, but Leon Lawson should be severely reprimanded for his actions on Saturday night, which not only could have caused serious injury to Joe Uzcategui, but also came very close to sparking off a full scale riot in the arena. Dirrell is now in line to challenge James Degale who beat him on points two years ago, but anyone who saw last nights fight up to its controversial conclusion, would struggle to find a case for Dirrell being deserving of another fight with Degale. The fairest way to sort out this mess would be a rematch between Andre Dirrell and Jose Uzcategui. Hopefully without the presence of Leon Lawson. 

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