Friday, July 31, 2009

Bradley vs Campbell & Witter vs Alexander Predictions

Showtime has a good looking night of boxing in store for us on Saturday with with a couple of intriguing junior-welterweight match-ups.

Leading off is veteran southpaw Junior Witter taking on talented youngster Devon Alexander, followed by what promises to be a terrific main-event featuring up and coming star Timothy Bradley going up punishing body puncher Nate Campbell.

The Boxing Bulletin writers give their thoughts after the jump...

Make sure to check back in with us at 9PM EST Saturday for our live blog round by round coverage of this event.

Timothy Bradley vs Nate Campbell

Very tough fight, should be an inside battle. Nate is a harder puncher. While Timmy is physically strong he really doesn't have anything to hurt Campbell with. Bradley does have a very strong will, but I think Nate takes a razor close decision that could go either way.

- Mark Lyons

Great fight. I think Nate has the edge on the inside, while Bradley has a more definitive edge on the outside. Nate's more likely to hurt Bradley than the other way around, but I don't think that'll be a determining factor. I don't see a knockout or either man being in serious trouble.

Timothy's jab and footwork is a little bit better and I see him using both to win the close rounds. In the end, I think he'll come away with a close, but clear victory.

- Michael Nelson

Check out Michael's preview: Timothy Bradley vs Junior Witter

I really like this fight. I hope it's as good on canvas as it is on paper. Tim Bradley is in great condition and has tremendous will, but Nate Campbell is also determined as he advances in age. If Campbell carries most of his power to his first (official) junior welterweight bout, Bradley is going to have problems. Not only is Campbell more experienced, he's also a flat-out better boxer.

Bradley might have an advantage in speed, and he was able to quickly recuperate from a first-round flash knockdown against Kendall Holt. Bradley was also wobbled in the final round and received a standing eight in that fight, though he won nearly every other round. Campbell is a different beast than Holt. He's just better than Holt, and he'll probably be too much for Bradley at this point of the younger boxer's career.

Nate by late-round stoppage. Campbell TKO10.

- Joseph R. Holzer

Check out Joseph's blog: Pugilism 101

I'm looking forward to what could be a great fight. For me it comes down to just how much damage Campbell will do with his bruising power. I'll take Nate to do more damage, while Tim grabs more rounds. 7-5 sounds right.

- Lee Payton

I've been looking forward to this fight ever since it was rumored to be in the works. With Campbell's penchant for bringing the heat on the inside matched up against Bradley's tenacity, there's really no way this won't be a very good fight.

As Lee mentioned, Nate's a bruising fighter, but I think he's in with a man this time that can take everything he dishes out without wilting. Bradley's quite a bit younger, naturally bigger, and quicker as well, and I think were going to see Nate struggling to impose his will in close and that's the only area he's got an edge in. I like Bradley by 8-4 type scores.

- Andrew Fruman

I think Bradley will win quite comfortably. I’ve never rated Campbell that highly and believe Bradley should be able to outbox him on the outside and match him on the inside. I like Bradley by a wide decision around the 117-111 mark.

- Dave Oakes

Junior Witter vs Devon Alexander

I'd be lying if I said I've seen Witter since the Bradley fight, so I'm not extremely comfortable in saying Alexander by 8-4ish decision. If Junior has slipped a bit, it will be wider.

- Mark Lyons

While Devon may very well outwork Witter, I'm not sold on his defense. Corley showed that he's not a difficult man to counter, and it's very easy to land clean, hard body shots underneath his guard.

If Witter doesn't knock Alexander out early, he'll likely fade late as he does against his best opponents. But I think he'll win most of the first eight rounds, and I have a hunch he'll get a knockdown or two in the process. I like Junior by close decision.

- Michael Nelson

Check out Michael's preview: Junior Witter vs Devon Alexander

While he's untested at the world class level, Alexander's overall skills are impressive, and Witter's getting on in years. Generally in these type of match-ups, when I think it could go either way... I side with youth, so I'll take Alexander in a close one in what should be an interesting fight.

- Andrew Fruman

It’s hard for me to gauge just how good Alexander is, he’s looked a classy operator in the few fights I’ve seen of him but I haven’t seen enough of him to form a solid opinion of him. Witter has been looking great in sparring but he’ll be up against it fighting away from home against a young, undefeated prospect. I’ll take an educated guess and say Alexander will sneak a split decision.

- Dave Oakes
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Junior Witter vs Devon Alexander Preview

Michael Nelson previews this Saturday night's junior-welterweight showdown between Junior Witter and Devon Alexander.

Photo © Justin McKie

Junior Witter has been here before. The crafty southpaw from Sheffield, England took on an undefeated, young prospect by the name of Timothy Bradley last year. Bradley was the underdog, as Witter represented the type of leap in competition that an untested fighter usually falls short in.

Bradley defied the odds by going to Nottingham and snatching Witter's WBC belt. On Saturday, Witter looks to regain his belt - which Bradley vacated earlier this year - against another relatively untested, undefeated fighter. This time, Junior's the underdog; nearly 2 to 1.

Make sure to check back in with us on Saturday night for our live blog coverage of this event

The dominance his opponent, St. Louis native Devon Alexander, has flashed during his path to a title shot is one of the reasons why the former champ isn't the betting favorite. Alexander has scarcely lost a round in his career. And he delivered a more consistent and even performance against DeMarcus Corley than Witter did, though it can be argued that Witter fought a younger and hungrier version of Corley. Their fights against Demarcus highlighted the contrast in styles - Witter was playful, often looking bored as he waited for Corley to give him counter opportunities; Devon was completely professional, always working out of a tight guard behind a persistent jab.

Nevertheless, besides the shopworn Corley, Alexander's competition has been completely nondescript. His last fight was against journeyman Jesus Rodriguez, who was a mild step up from Christopher Fernandez and Sun-Haeng Lee, a fighter with a 9-3-1 record. It makes you wonder what exactly he did to deserve a title shot. That is, until you remember his promoter's Don King.

But earned or not, Alexander has been looking forward to his title opportunity since his teenage years spent admiring fellow St. Louisan Cory Spinks.

"We would bring Devon to the title fights, and when Cory became world champion, Devon would walk out with the belt," said Kevin Cunningham, longtime trainer for Spinks and Alexander, in an interview with

It helped keep Devon motivated for a day Cunningham knew was coming. His volume punching, combined with a sharp jab and a deep reservoir of energy, looks to be the ingredients that could give Witter fits. Witter faded noticeably in his bouts with Lovemore Ndou, Andriy Kotelnik, and Bradley; a dip in energy against Devon's steady stream of punches can lead to him getting outworked down the final stretch.

What Witter can hang his hat on is that a high workrate equals a high number of openings for a counter. The accomplished sharpshooter will have plenty of spots to display his advantages in speed and power, especially to the midsection, an area that Alexander often leaves exposed while keeping his high guard. The durability of the 22 year old prospect is a question mark that will undoubtedly be answered by the withering uppercuts and slashing right hooks Witter throws from unorthodox angles. If Devon's ability to take a shot is anything less than world class, he won't be seeing 12 rounds.

At 35 years old, Witter is getting up there in age. This may be his last opportunity to gain a stronghold in the division. The victor is a natural candidate for a fight against the winner of the card's main event between Timothy Bradley and Nate Campbell.

But standing in his way is a student who understands that history tends to repeat itself. If Witter wants to avoid another crushing defeat, he'll have to use his guile and power to teach the young man a lesson. Otherwise, he risks being relegated to a stepping stone for aspiring champions.

Make sure to check back in with us on Saturday night for our live blog coverage of this event

e-mail Michael Nelson Read more!

Monday, July 27, 2009

How I'll Remember Vernon Forrest

by Lee Payton

Photo © Ray Kasprowicz

As you know, Vernon Forrest was murdered on Friday night. This summer has been hard on the boxing community as we have now tragically lost Arturo Gatti, Alexis Arguello and Marco Nazareth.

I just want to go over some of the memories I'll always have of The Viper.

Vernon Forrest will be forever known as the guy who had Shane Mosley's number. He was the one who kept Shane from heading to the 1992 Olympics, and years later he would violently snatch Sugar Shane's welterweight title.

I remember the negotiations for the first Forrest-Mosley fight. Shane was looking for another showdown with Oscar De La Hoya, but wanted too much money so the Golden Boy turned down the offer. There were two guys left to fight- Vernon Forrest and Winky Wright.

As a huge Mosley fan I didn't want to see either of those opponents. Rather than go up in weight to face Winky, Shane chose to defend his championship against Forrest.

I was a nervous wreck before the first bell, for I knew Vernon Forrest was a tough customer. He had the physical tools, a great amateur pedigree, and he was undefeated as a pro. But the scariest thing about him was his hunger. I knew he was starving. Shane... I wasn't so sure about anymore.

Forrest got the opportunity because he had been on HBO a few times before that, standing up to some heavy right hands from Vince Phillips and winning a belt on his second try against Raul Frank.

The first fight with Frank ended early because of a clash of heads. They did it again, and Forrest looked like he hadn't taken a day off in months. He weighed in very light and had put on almost nothing by the time they got into the ring, indicating that he may have been over-trained.

It didn't matter. After a rough 12 rounds Forrest was declared the winner. He finally had the title belt he wanted so badly. It was just the thing he needed to get bigger opportunities that were hard to come by for him.

I was depressed for over a week because of what he did to Shane, so I was jumping for joy when wild man Ricardo Mayorga stopped him with a right hand club to the temple. I actually thought the stoppage was a little premature, but hey...

They fought again and in a contest that could have gone either way Mayorga's crazy aggression won him the majority decision.

Mayorga is thought of as a bit of a joke these days, but in his prime he was obviously a load. He had big power that came from putting 100% of himself into every shot, deceptive quickness, brutal strength and a granite chin. Forrest just couldn't back him up or get him to sit still, which messed with his cool, technical long-range style.

Even getting back into the ring with the only man to ever knock you out takes a lot of guts.

After that his career was slowed to a halt by injuries. No one really knew if we'd see him in the ring again. He had money and unlike a lot of fighters, had no problem finding something to do when he wasn't fighting. He was deeply involved with a group called Destiny's Child, which helped disabled adults in their everyday lives.

Of course, he came back at less than 100% to beat Ike Quartey and Carlos Baldomir. He lost a very close decision to Sergio Mora in 2008, but dominated the rematch 3 months later.

I'll always remember Vernon Forrest as a good guy, even after what he did to one of my all-time favourites. He was a helluva fighter at one point. The type of guy I think many of the great welterweights would have had real trouble with. He had a very long, hard, quick jab that he really believed in. He could also punch like Hell when he sat down on his shots. In fact, Forrest is the only guy I have ever seen hurt Shane Mosley.

As far as boxing goes, he'll probably always be underrated, but his good deeds are far more valuable than anything he may have achieved in the ring. Rest in peace, Champ. Your legacy as a man is secure.

e-mail Lee Payton
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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Can Jermain Taylor Pull The Upset?

By Lee Payton

Photos © Justin McKie

The Super-Middleweight tournament is set. Showtime has picked 6 of the top 168lb fighters in the world to duke it out in a round-robin format that will eventually produce a top dog in the division - although the eventual winner might have to face Lucien Bute when it's all said and done to validate their claim. In the first round former World Middleweight Champion, Jermain Taylor, will be taking on undefeated Arthur Abraham, in Germany.

Most see this as another disastrous KO loss for the Arkansas native, and it very well could end up that way, but I think the fight deserves more than a 5 second analysis.

A lot of fans tend to underrate Jermain Taylor. Maybe it's because he was an HBO darling for so long. Perhaps they didn't like the decisions he got against Bernard Hopkins and Winky Wright. Or maybe they just have no faith in him to really win it.

That's all fair, but as we find out so very often in this sport, every fight is special, so I think it's a mistake to believe that Abraham is just going to flatten him because Carl Froch (pictured taking a right hand from Taylor) and Kelly Pavlik have done so in the past.

One thing that stood out to me when I took my first look at this fight is the fact that the conventional opponents Taylor has had the most trouble with were all his height. Froch, Pavlik and Hopkins are all 6' or a little better. Abraham is listed at 5'10. Usually I'm hesitant to put too much stock into a couple of inches, but in this case I think they can be significant factors in the match-up.

Those other guys were able to reach Taylor with shots when he thought he was out of range. With Abraham, he actually will be safe at that distance because of the extra inches in height and reach. That half a step back he's been criticized for will actually be an asset here, in my view.

Having watched all of his televised fights, I can tell you that a shorter, orthodox fighter who isn't likely to apply consistent pressure is right up Taylor's alley. He won't have to think as much, which would help him conserve some of the nervous energy he tends to burn. I feel that he will be more comfortable with this opponent than against any of the other 4.

Another advantage Taylor has going into this one is punch output. While Arthur's defense has proven to be quite reliable, the high guard means his hands are busy. If Taylor has the discipline to use his stick all night (which is easier to do against a shorter, steady target than shifty guys like Hops and Froch), he should be able to keep Abraham's gloves pasted to his face for the majority of the fight. I think it's a pretty sure thing that Jermain will get off first and throw more punches against this guy. That's not to be overlooked.

Neither are his athletic gifts. This will be a rare occasion for Arthur in that he is going up against someone who can match or possibly exceed him in some important physical categories.

Of course, fighting in Germany, where Abraham is dearly loved, isn't going to make pulling off the upset any easier. Those cannon balls in Art's gloves could also erase any good work that has been done. However, I think the equation is slightly more difficult than "Abraham's heavy hands + Taylor's chin and stamina = Arthur by KO", and I believe we'll see that when they step into the ring.

Given his history it would be kind of amazing to see Jermain Taylor in the finals of this awesome tournament, but don't count him out just yet. He's got the tools to make things very interesting. Any way you look at it, he's the most proven fighter out of the bunch, which makes me wonder why so many are picking him to fall apart, and not Ward or Dirrell, who have never come close to competing on this level.

His next fight will either temporarily silence Taylor's critics, or it'll just be another big fight "he could have won". We'll find out which, October 17.

e-mail Lee Payton
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

My Take on Manny Pacquiao vs. Miguel Cotto

By Lee Payton

Anyone who comes here already knows that the World junior-welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao is fighting Miguel Cotto at a catchweight of 145 lbs. Whether or not Cotto's strap will be on the line is unclear at the moment.

Here are my thoughts on the fight and the weight...

First off, congrats to Bob Arum for getting the deal done. As promoter of both fighters, he stands to make a killing. He may get another meaningless belt for his biggest client, while keeping the other one happy with a juicy paycheck.

It's not a fight I would have asked for as I don't think Cotto has earned the shot and I'm fairly certain he'll lose by KO in what should be a painful affair.

I thought Cotto lost to Clottey in a close one, and I find the excuse that he brings more money to the table than the other possibilities in Vegas quite lame. The venue would have been sold out either way and Shane Mosley has been in more big PPV fights. This isn't New York where Cotto has some pull. Mosley was never really in the running for this fight. The haggling over weight made that abundantly clear.

Cotto is a top 5 welter in the world, and if the Pac-Man blasts by him, that's enough of an accomplishment on it's own. There's no need to staple a trinket to it, and in 20 years I won't remember this fight as the night Manny Pacquiao won his 49th belt, I'll just think of it as the time he beat Miguel Cotto at 145 lbs.

The fight itself should be an entertaining one, though I think it will turn into a bloodbath after 3 or 4 rounds. How is Pacquiao going to miss? He's way faster, and a full level above as a total package. It will be another example of how overrated a size advantage can be. Skills, speed and style will nullify the difference in weight for this one.

As far as 145 is concerned, I can see both sides of the argument. After some time and practice I was able to train myself into totally ignoring the alphabet titles. Cotto is a welterweight contender in my eyes, so I don't have a huge problem with a catch-weight. If you do care about the belts even a little, or see Miguel as the top guy, I get why you might find 145 annoying. Title fights with made up weight limits are kinda silly, but so are the sanctioning organizations.

I think Miguel can make the weight and still be what he is. Cutting the extra pound or two won't do him any favours, but he's young enough to recover from what will probably be a 12-14 lb dry-out/re-hydration process. No matter what they weigh-in at, the difference will be around 10 lbs in the ring. I'll guess 148 for Manny and 158 for Miguel, give or take a lb.

It's just a fight. Neither the weight nor the title will matter to any of your friends who will want to see it. Should be fun.

e-mail Lee Payton
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Timothy Bradley vs Nate Campbell Preview

Michael Nelson previews the upcoming Timothy Bradley vs Nate Campbell junior-welterweight clash.

Photo © Justin McKie

Timothy Bradley (pictured landing a booming right hand to the chin of Junior Witter) had his sights on unifying all the major titles in the Jr. Welterweight division. WBC shenanigans have since soured him, and a man well familiar with the cynical politics of the boxing game tried to warn him a year ago.

"Timothy oughta be the maddest guy in the world," Nate Campbell said in a Leave It in the Ring podcast with Bradley three weeks ago. "Me and Timothy met after he got my main event when that boy Guzman wouldn't fight me... Timothy had the same WBC belt that Manny Pacquiao had. I remember Timothy said 'well, this is the big belt, this is the one everbody's after'. I looked at you Timothy and told you right in your face 'look here man, they're all the same when it's all said and done. You're gonna find out, they're all full of doo doo'. They were gonna stick it in him eventually."

Make sure to check back in with us on Saturday night for our live blog coverage of this event

Stick it in him they did. Prior to his WBC and WBO unification bout with Kendall Holt in April, the WBC announced that the winner would have to quickly relinquish one of the belts, making Bradley's goal of unifying every title a seemingly impossible one. Timothy chose to reject the mandatory fight with Devon Alexander - a promising, but untested Don King fighter - and drop the WBC strap in search for more significant bouts and paydays.

With the ambitious schedule he's been on, it's hard to doubt the undefeated Palm Springs native when he says he only wants to fight the best opponents. In addition to Holt, Bradley has defeated Miguel Vazquez (who soundly outboxed Breidis Prescott last weekend), Junior Witter, and Edner Cherry within the last two years. Now he's facing a tenacious veteran that he admittedly looked up to, a man who held three of the Lightweight titles before struggles to make weight forced him to move up a division.

A man who believes being undefeated is overrated and prides himself in proving it.

Nate Campbell's title winning effort against Juan Diaz in March 2008 was one of the more memorable upsets in recent years. Juan was 33-0, having just mowed down fellow titlists Acelino Freitas and Julio Diaz. The 37 year old Campbell was seen as more grass to be shredded.

But young Diaz quickly found out how unrelenting that foliage was. Campbell painted the 23 year old with right hands and left hooks to the midsection until Diaz' sides were shades of red and purple. Further, rough inside work mixed with pinpoint counter punching resulted in a nasty gash over Diaz' already swollen left eye. Throughout the second half of the bout, Diaz, now with compromised vision and a battered rib cage, got thrashed by a reinvigorated fighter who had finally gotten his title shot after years of faux eliminators and empty promises. Campbell took Diaz' belts and earned his long sought-after recognition as an elite pugilist.

His time at the mountain top, however, was a frustrating one. His efforts to goad Joel Casamayor into a rematch of their closely contested 2003 bout went unanswered. Then after finally locking down a bout with Joan Guzman last September, the fight was scrapped when Guzman couldn't make weight and decided against performing because of health issues. Ironically, Campbell himself would fail to make weight in his following encounter against the freakishly tall Ali Funeka. Stripped of his belts, he went on to battle through heavy fatigue in the middle rounds to gut out a close decision, fatigue that he claims resulted from a total of nine hours in the sauna the previous day.

Campbell can't afford to spend too much time struggling to make weight before August 1st, as fatigue would likely result in a loss against the energetic Bradley. Timothy fights the championship rounds as vivaciously as he does the beginning rounds, bouncing in and out with combinations and alertly countering lazily thrown punches from a weary opponent.

Unless age is finally catching up to him though, Campbell's stamina issues with Funeka was an aberration. He showed boundless energy in breaking down Diaz. And he is known for his relentless bell-to-bell beatings, including the frightening one in 2007 that overwhelmed Ricky Quiles. Teddy Atlas was heard screaming at referee Jorge Alonso to stop the fight during a 12th round that was hard to watch.

The bludgeonings revolve around his cruel dedication towards punishing his opponent's body. Launching uppercuts into the sternum and mixing in left hooks to the sweet spot, Campbell has hurt nearly all of his opponents with body shots. Sometimes they recover. Many times they don't. Bradley's going to have to deal with a body attack he hasn't come close to dealing with before.

Bradley's no slouch when it comes to body punching himself. It was his primary mode of attack against the length of Kendall Holt. But Campbell has the decided edge on the inside; it's where he's most comfortable, and even inside of a clinch, he's constantly hitting his opponent with his free hand and bumping him with his shoulder.

Timothy will have to do his most effective work on the outside. Although some think he doesn't have much more than a high work rate, his ring IQ may be his greatest strength. You rarely, if ever, see him get handled in all three minutes of a round because he makes adjustments on the fly. That awareness, combined with head movement and a constant, pesky jab, makes him a difficult man to corral. One moment, he's on his back foot looking to slip a jab and counter with a left hook to the liver; the next, he's pushing forward with jabs to the gut, looking to land an overhand right.

Nate's an astute counter puncher that loves to shoot right hands over his opponent's stick. But he's right hand happy from the outside, rarely throwing a lead left hook or a hook off a jab. The slippery Bradley is one of the best in the game at rolling away and underneath rights. He's far more susceptible to getting touched with his opponent's left hand - either being clipped with a left hook or knocked back by a stiff jab. Holt, a significantly bigger man than Nate, flashed a heavy, well-timed jab and a sharp counter hook that gave Bradley fits. While Campbell has a busy up-jab and a solid left hook thrown on the inside, Bradley won't have to worry about Nate's left hand as much.

What he will have to worry about is Nate matching his work rate, something that Holt didn't come close to doing. How Bradley will react to a skilled fighter who isn't easily discouraged is yet to be seen. Although the Desert Storm has been 12 rounds three times before, Nate can take the young man to unfamiliar waters and attempt to drown him if he sustains a punishing body attack, even if he loses rounds in the process.

It promises to be explosive, no matter who comes out on top. Both men have been jaded by high-jinks born from sanctioning bodies attempting to squeeze every last drop out of the cash cows while discarding those on the peripheral of stardom. The only option for the ignored is to continue to face the best possible fighters until they can no longer be denied. Ultimately, when hungry fighters seek recognition and respect, boxing fans are well fed. The collision course on August 1st was naturally set.

Somebody's getting wrecked. Hopefully the impact resonates beyond just the hardcore fanbase.

e-mail Michael Nelson Read more!

Photo Gallery: Nathan Cleverly vs Danny McIntosh

The past Saturday night at the York Hall in Bethnal Green, Nathan Cleverly and Danny McIntosh slugged it out for the vacant British light-heavyweight title. Also at stake was Cleverly's Commonwealth crown.

Photographer Justin McKie was ringside to capture all the hard hitting action.

Nathan Cleverly vs Danny McIntosh

Photos © Justin McKie - Click on the images to enlarge.
A confident looking Danny McIntosh raises his arms to acknowledge the crowd before the start of the contest.

The 29 year old light-heavyweight from Norwich brought a perfect 10-0 record into the ring.
Young Welshman Nathan Cleverly slips a jab in the early going.

The highly regarded 22 year old Commonwealth champion came in looking to add the vacant British title to his growing list of accomplishments.
The opening 3 minutes featured a number of heavy exchanges, as both fighters came out with an aggressive mindset.

The champion didn't back down from the challenger's aggressive start and his commitment to working the body set the tone early. He hurt McIntosh with a combination to the midsection late in the second - and a follow up barrage sent the underdog to the canvas.
Having not fully recovered from the first knockdown, McIntosh was put down again by a right to the chin. With the challenger flat on his back, it looked for a couple moments like the fight might be over very early, but the resilient McIntosh surprised everyone by launching himself to his feet in one swift motion.

Still feeling the effects of the final moments of round 2, McIntosh was sent down yet again early in the 3rd round.

In a gutsy display, McIntosh managed to get himself back in the fight over the next couple rounds, but was still getting the worst of the exchanges.
Down big on the cards, McIntosh kept throwing, and connected with his share of punches.

Here he catches the champion with a crunching right hand.
Fighting in an aggressive but controlled manner, Cleverly continued to land the cleaner, harder punches.

Here he catches McIntosh with a hard right hand to the side of the jaw.

Early in round 7, a right hand behind the ear from Cleverly sent McIntosh down for the fourth time in the fight. Upon rising, the game challenger had little left to offer and after a follow-up flurry had him in more trouble, referee John Foster stepped in to end it.
Still the Commonwealth champion, and now holder of the Lonsdale belt, Nathan Cleverly now a perfect 17-0 celebrates his empathic win.
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Monday, July 20, 2009

British Scene: Cleverly Stops McIntosh

It was a very busy weekend in British boxing, and while most of the attention was focused on Amir Khan's winning effort, the most impressive performance by a British fighter may just have been the one put forth by Nathan Cleverly at the York Hall.

Photos © Justin McKie

Matt Chudley has the recap.

Check out Dave Oakes' round by round coverage of the Khan vs Kotelnik show.

Saturday, July 18

Cleverly Stops McIntosh; Thaxton Upset by Glover

By Matt Chudley

Nathan Cleverly impressively added the British Light-heavyweight title to his Commonwealth belt in crushing the game but overmatched Danny McIntosh over seven rounds at the York Hall on Saturday. The older and physically stronger McIntosh was successful in goading and baiting the highly skilled Welshman into a scrappy brawl with his posturing but Cleverly's ever improving power and accuracy proved too much for the tough Norwich fighter.

Aware of McIntosh’s strength and athleticism and also his technical deficiencies, Cleverly targeted his opponent’s midsection from the start. After being warned for straying a little too low in the opening round, the strategy paid dividends in the 2nd, when a crisp left hook to the body immobilized McIntosh, who was then dropped by a follow-up right hand.

Still winded, McIntosh touched down again moments later after being caught with another right hand while backing away with his hands down and chin exposed. In act of bravado, he flipped back up onto his feet, but his continued attempts at machismo left Cleverly intent on proving his own mettle and unwilling to accept that McIntosh might be the grittier fighter.

McIntosh was down from another right in the 3rd but still appeared relatively clear headed and beckoned the younger fighter in again. Fighting his opponents fight and now exchanging verbal jibes in the clinch, Cleverly was now visibly tiring but still producing the better work.

Facing an insurmountable deficit on the cards, McIntosh began to fight with his hands down by his waist in an attempt to draw Cleverly in and catch him with a big punch. It was a gamble worth taking, but one that didn't pay off as Cleverly landed a right hand behind the ear that sent McIntosh down again in the 7th. On this occasion, McIntosh was slow and hesitant to rise, and referee Howard Foster took a long look at the man from East Anglia before letting the bout continue. Cleverly was quick to pounce with a flurry of unanswered punches, giving Foster little choice but to jump in and stop the fight.

Next on the agenda for Cleverly while he looks to get in line for a European title fight or World title eliminator is likely to be a rematch with crowd pleaser Tony Oakey or possibly a dual title defense against former Olympian Courtney Fry. Damien Francis is another possibility if he returns to the 175lb division.

On the under-card...

In a big upset, Jonathan Thaxton was narrowly out-pointed by bricklayer Tom Glover. Referee Ken Curtis, the sole arbiter for the 8 round contest, called it 77-76 for Glover with the difference being a point deduction against Thaxton in the 7th round for persistent holding.

Enjoying a 5 pound weight advantage, Glover used his size to full advantage as he managed to out-muscle the somewhat lackluster Thaxton in overcoming the former European lightweight champion's more polished skills. The underdog from Maldon gave early warning it would be a tough night for his more renowned opponent by landing a number of clean shots in the second round.

With the win, Glover improved his record to 9-5, and after previous upsets over the 22-1 Nadeem Siddique and the 14-2 Chas Symonds, has now earned himself an English welterweight title challenge against Adnan Amar in October. Having lost to a welterweight, it remains uncertain as to whether Thaxton will be given the opportunity to fight for the vacant British lightweight title against John Murray later this year.

Also in action, an out of shape Tyson Fury punished a woeful and fleshy Aleksandrs Selezens (3-6) for three rounds before Selezens corner threw in the towel to stop the one sided contest. With the win, Fury extends his perfect record to 7-0 with all victories coming early.

After letting himself go, Fury will now have to prepare for the toughest test of his career so far in September when he takes on John McDermott for the English Heavyweight title.

e-mail Matt Chudley
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Sunday, July 19, 2009

U.S.S. Cunningham Targets Rematch with Adamek

Joseph R. Holzer had a chance to speak with Steve Cunningham, after the Ring Magazine #1 ranked cruiserweight contender's winning effort last week against Wayne Braithwaite.

Photo © Marty Rosengarten /

Seven months after losing it, Steve "U.S.S." Cunningham set sail on a tour to regain the IBF title. His first mission: successfully withstand the barrage of the hard-hitting Wayne "Big Truck" Braithwaite in Sunrise, Fla., on July 11.

Mission accomplished.

Throughout the course of the 12-round title eliminator, the 6-foot-3-inch Cunningham was content on trading with the diminutive Braithwaite on the inside, most times landing cleaner punches at a higher frequency. All three judges had Cunningham winning by a wide margin: 119-109, 117-111 and 118-110.

"I wanted to rough him up a bit, just give him different looks," Cunningham said of his willingness to mix it up with a dangerous opponent.

One win closer? Check.

It was Cunningham's first bout with Naazim Richardson as his trainer. Richardson -- who also trains Bernard Hopkins and Shane Mosley, among others -- gained recognition in January for discovering a foreign substance in Antonio Margarito's hand wraps minutes prior to entering the ring against Mosley. His keen eye led to a one-year ban for Margarito.

New trainer? Check.

Next on the U.S.S. log is reclaiming what Cunningham (22-2, 11 KOs) feels is rightfully his: the IBF belt, along with the then-vacant RING cruiserweight championship Adamek won in their epic December slugfest.

"I feel like a champion," Cunningham said. "A champion without a belt right now. I'm looking for my belt, and I found it. I know where it's at, so I'm going to go get it."

With his win, he might not have to look far. Barring interference from fellow-Philadelphia fighter Hopkins, Cunningham and Adamek are on another collision course.

Also in action in Newark, N.J., on July 11, Adamek had too much ammunition for Bobby Gunn. Referee Earl Brown and a ringside doctor called a halt to the bout after the fourth round. It was Adamek's second win in as many fights since defeating Cunningham.

Though separated by more than 1,200 miles, Adamek and Cunningham were linked by I-95 and a memory of a first meeting.

Adamek (38-1, 26 KOs) floored Cunningham three times in December. Still, Cunningham's resolve and relentless will were enough to impress judge Clark Sammartino to score it for him 114-112. At 115-112 and 116-110, respectively, Shafeeq Rashada and John Stewart favored Adamek, a testament to how closely the two competed considering up to three extra points could have been deducted from Cunningham's scorecards due to the knockdowns.

It's no wonder why Cunningham is vocal about a rematch and deserving of such.

"I'm the No. 1 mandatory and hope to get (a rematch) sometime in '09," he said.

Not only is Cunningham not looking past Adamek, he also isn't seeing anything else in his scope. Adamek is the only blip on his radar.

A move to heavyweight doesn't entice Cunningham, either. In a fairly deep weight class with a lack of household names, he wants to be the face of the cruiserweight division. Evening the score with Adamek on a stage set by HBO or Showtime is the first step, as well as one toward closure.

"After Adamek, I'm going to get them belts," Cunningham said. "Then it's the whole cruiserweight division. (By beating Braithwaite) I wanted to send a message, let them know that I'm still the man in the cruiserweight division. Man up."

And the U.S.S. Cunningham won't dock until the mission is accomplished.

Check out Joseph's blog for his current cruiserweight top 10 rankings: Pugilism 101
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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Live Blog: Amir Khan vs Andriy Kotelnik

Welcome to The Boxing Bulletin's live blog coverage of the junior-welterweight clash between Amir Khan and Andriy Kotelnik.

Updates will start from the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester with the first televised under-card bout at 4 PM EST (9 PM GMT).

If you've been with us before for a live blog, welcome back. If this is your first time, thanks for checking us out. Feel free to participate by giving your scores and comments.

Coverage starts at 4 PM EST (9 PM GMT)

Amir Khan 139.6 lbs (20-1) vs Andriy Kotelnik 140.0 lbs (32-2-1) - 12 rounds

Sky is listing the under-card as Matthew Hall vs Anthony Small, along with the 3 Olympians, James DeGale, Frankie Gavin and Billy Joe Saunders. Hopefully we'll get to see at least some of Kell Brook vs Michael Lomax and Enzo Maccarinelli vs Denis Lebedev.

If you are here early, check out our recent stories including a preview of tonight's show:

Amir Khan vs Andriy Kotelnik Preview... by Dave Oakes

For fans of boxing history, check out Carlos Acevedo's story on Max Baer's 1937 bout with British Empire champion Ben Foord at the Harringay Arena in London - Dark Mirror: When Max Baer met Ben Foord

We've also got a preview on the other UK show happening tonight: Cleverly vs McIntosh Preview... by Matt Chudley

Plus Lee Patyon's thoughts on some up the upcoming big fights happening in the next few months: Vitali Klitschko vs David Haye, Floyd Mayweather vs Juan Manuel Marquez, etc...

Refresh this page often as updates will be frequent

19.45 We're now less than 90 minutes away from the start of our live blog. Let's hope we're in for a great night of boxing.

20.30 Thirty minutes to go. It's time to get the snacks and drinks ready!

21.05 Sky's coverage has just begun. We've got Johnny Nelson, Glenn McCrory and Nicky Piper joining Dave Clark.

21.08 Jimmy Lennon is our MC tonight. He's just begun the intros for Hall v Small.

21.10 Small is wearing a suit for his ring entrance and is looking very confident as usual.

21.12 Hall is now on the way to the ring.

21.15 The introductions are complete and the first fight of the night is about to begin.

21.18 The first round is over with very little action in it. Small looks scared to death whenever Hall gets close and seems to be more interested in clinching than fighting. Small recieved a warning from the referee late in the round for taking to Hall when in the clinches. Hall's round 10-9.

21.22 Small starts this round better and is landing some accurate punches. Hall responds with a hefty left hook to the body. Small lands a nice uppercut midway through the round but Hall comes back with another good body shot. A much more entertaining round with Small landing the better punches. Small takes the round. It's 19-19 on my scorecard.

21.26 Small is frustrating Hall with some slick movement and switch-hitting. Hall is not backing down and continues to chase Small around the ring. Small is still clinching on the inside a lot and has recieved another warning from the ref. Even round. 29-29

21.30 Small lands a fast left hook at the start of the round. Hall has a small cut by his left eye, it looked like a left hook caused the cut. The round was very similar to the last but Hall did a bit more work to take the round. 39-38 Hall.

21.34 The fight seems to have settled into a pattern of Small hitting and moving and Hall chasing him down. The referee has warned both fighters during the round about clinching close up but in truth, it's mainly Small doing the clinching. Small has landed a couple of flashy shots in this round whilst Hall is srtuggling to land clean. Small edges the round. 48-48.

21.38 Nothing much is happening in the first half of the round. Small seems happier dancing and clinching than he is fighting. Small has a storming last minute to the round, catching Hall clean with some nice uppercuts and flashy combinations. Hall is running out of ideas. Smalls round. 58-57 Small.

21.42 A clash of heads early on has left Hall with a bad cut above his right eye. Hall is trying desperately to land a big shot but Small is countering him and catching him clean with some hard punches. A right hook by Small seems to have an effect on Hall but he responds yet again. This is Small's best round of the fight, he's starting to tee off on Hall, who seems unable to avoid the slashing punches. 68-66 Small.

Hall's cut looks a bad one. Blood is streaming down his face.

21.46 Small is really turning up the pace now. He's landing to head and body with real venom. Hall is taking punches clean and is starting to unravel. Small has got him going, a big right hook has hurt Hall badly, Small jumps on him and is landing with every punch he's throwing. Hall is going to get knocked out here. Hall's been stopped just before he was about to hit the canvas. What a stoppage by Small, he started cautiously but turned up the pace the longer the fight went on. A great performance by Small.

Next up is Olympic hero Billy-Joe Saunders, who for me, is the Olympian who has made the best adjustment from the amateurs to the pro ranks.

Saunders is making his way to the ring. He's getting a big intro, there must be a lot of pressure for such a young fighter with so much attention on him.

His opponent is Matt Scriven, who's a decent pro but nothing special. Hopefully he'll take Saunders a few rounds.

22.04 Scriven lands a nice right hook at the start of the round but Saunders takes it well. Saunders is the aggressor and has bloodied Scriven's nose with a stiff jab thrown from his southpaw stance. Saunders is looking impressive, he's bullying Scriven and is really rattling punches into Scriven's ribs. Saunders takes the round in very impressive fashion. 10-9 Saunders.

22.08 The start of the round is delayed a few seconds due to Scriven forgetting to put his gumshield in. Saunders is taking his time a bit more in this round but is still hammering away at Scriven. He's got Scriven trapped in the corner and is landing some classy hooks to head and body. The referee has stopped it, Scriven wasn't hurt but he was taking far too many punches and wasn't throwing anything back. Saunders remains unbeaten and looks like he's going to provide us with some exciting fights over the next few years.

Next up is another Olympian, Frankie Gavin. Gavin is the only Brit to ever win the World Amateur Championship.

22.17 Gavin is in the ring, as is Graham Fearn his opponent.

22.23 Gavin is taking a look at Fearns early on, he's picking his punches well and has landed two well timed left uppercuts and a perfectly picked right hook. Fearns caught Gavin with a decent hook towards the end of the round but Gavin seemed unbothered by it. Gavin's round 10-9.

22.27 Gavin's working well behind a stiff looking jab. Gavin lands a hefty bodyshot that sends Fearns dipping to the canvas, all credit to Fearns who has picked himself up with the count at 7. Gavin's looking for the stoppage, he's putting together some lovely combinations. A right hook, straight left combo sends Fearns to the canvas yet again. Fearns gets to his feet but the fight is waved off.

Olympic gold medalist James DeGale is the next man in the ring. It'll be interesting to see what kind of reception he'll get from the fans. He's been a target for the boo boys so far in his career.

DeGale is making his way to the ring. Thankfully there aren't that many people booing tonight.

Jimmy Lennon is introducing De Gale and his opponent, Ciaran Healy.

22.42 DeGale is looking to land hard punches straight from the bell. He's already landed some hard hooks and looks like he's hurt Healy numerous times in this first session, Healy is looking like he's not enjoying this one bit. DeGale lands two heavy body shots and Healy is down. He's up but isn't going to last long, and he hasn't, DeGale has caught him to the body again and Healy is going down again as the bell rings. The corner have thrown the towel, the fight's over.

DeGale is starting to adapt to the pro game and is putting a lot more power into his punches than he was in the amateurs. Healy was never going to provide him with a tough test but DeGale did what he had to by stopping him in the first round.

The main event is next. This is make or break time for Khan.

Sky have just interviewed Naseem Hamed, he's picking Khan to win.

Khan is making his way to the ring. He's getting a huge reception from the 20,000 fans packed into the M.E.N Arena.

Kotelnik is now making his way to the ring. He's getting booed but the few proper boxing fans in attendance are applauding him.

Khan starts as the 1/4 favourite. I think he'll win but I wouldn't put a penny on him at those odds.

The introductions are over, the fight is about to begin.

23.07 The bell sounds for the first round and starts with a quick jab followed by a straight right. He's using his jab well and isn't rushing in, he's also keeping his hands up better than he has in the past, he still looks open at times though. A good first round for Khan, he's boxing in and out of range well and took that round easily. 10-9 Khan.

Freddie Roach warns Khan about leading with the right.

23.11 Kotelnik is struggling to match Khan's hand speed. Khan's moving well and is boxing very well so far. Kotelnik lands a good straight right with a minute of the round remaining, Khan took it well but wouldn't be advised to take many more like it. Khan is still in charge and takes the round. 20-18 Khan.

23.15 Kotelnik lands a good body shot at the start of the round that had Khan looking disorganized. Khan responds well though and is using his jab masterfully. Khan is boxing well but Kotelnik is looking dangerous. Kotelnik is being the aggressor in the fight with Khan moving around the edge of the ring picking his punches. A close round but I think Khan edged it. 30-27 Khan.

23.19 Khan lands a good left to the body early on but Kotelnik trhows back immediately. Both fighters are looking to land to the body. Kotelnik is blocking most of Khan's punches in this round but isn't landing that many of his own. Another close round but I think Kotelnik just edged it. 39-37 Khan.

23.24 Khan starts with two left hooks to the body again, the ref tells him to keep his punches up. A right hand from Kotelnik lands flush and has an effect on Khan, to his credit, Khan comes back well and lands some sharp punches himself. Khan lands a nice three punch combination towards the end of the round. Despite Kotelnik landing a big punch earlier in the round, he didn't do enough after that and allowed himself to get outworked by Khan. 49-46 Khan.

23.28 Kotelnik is throwing some desperate looking punches at the start of the round, I think he's becoming frustrated at not being able to pin Khan down. Khan's jab is still his best punch and he's followed it up twice with fast left hooks that landed flush. Kotelnik lands a nice right hook towards the end of the round but Khan answered it with two stinging hooks of his own. Khan is outworking Kotelnik and takes the round. 59-55 Khan.

23.32 Kotelnik is trying desperately to pin Khan down and land a big shot but Khan is boxing exceptionally. He still needs to keep his gloves up, you always get the feeling Khan's defence could let him down at any minute. Khan's defence has been very good tonight though. Khan's speed is still giving Kotelnik trouble, Khan is having great success with straight punches and is landing the heavier looking shots. 69-64 Khan.

Freddie Roach tells Khan to stay focused and keep his chin down.

23.36 Kotelnik looks like he's slowing down a touch and is throwing desperate looking punches again. Kotelnik lands a nice left hook to head and body combo but it doesn't have any effect on Khan, Kotelnik follows up seconds later with a good right hand. Khan's not landing that much in this round but he's avoiding most of Kotelnik's big punches. He bobbed and weaved out of the way of a combination beautifully towards the end of the round. Kotelnik slightly edged the round though. 78-74 Khan.

23.40 Khan lands a nice body punch at the start of the round before moving out of the way of Kotelnik's attempted reply. Kotelnik lands two left hooks clean on the chin midway though the round but Khna takes them well again. Khan's jab is still working well and he's still landing more punches than Kotelnik. Khan's stamina is holding up well but he's still got be very careful defensively. Kotelnik caught him with a few hard punches in that round but Khan still won the round on workrate. 88-83 Khan.

23.44 Khan's fast straight punches are working well for him again. Kotelnik is giving it everything but just can't find that jackpot punch he needs. Khan's landing with fast punches that Kotelnik can't block. It must be really disheartening for Kotelnik, everytime he lands a good punch Khan comes back with three or four. 98-92 Khan.

23.48 It's another fast starrt by Khan but he has to take a clubbing right hand before coming back with his own punches yet again. Khan throws a blistering five punch combination halfway through the round but Kotelnik comes back with two hefty looking hooks that land high on Khan's temple. Khan's getting involved a bit too much in this round but is holding his own when trading punches. Kotelnik just edged the round for me. 107-103.

Roach is telling Khan to be careful and stay focused. He's three minutes away from being world champion.

23.52Kotelnik lands a big right at the start of the round, Khan's got to be very careful here. Kotelnik is really pouring the pressure on. A huge right whistles past Khan's chin as Khan pulled back from a punch with his hands down. Khan's trading instead of moving but is still holding his own. 10 seconds to go, the bell rings. Khan's definately become world champion. I gave the last round to Kotelnik but Khan takes the fight 116-112 on my card.

I've got a feeling the judges scorecards will be a touch wider than mine. The rounds I scored for Kotelnik were very close rounds.

The judges scorecards read: 120-108 and 118-111 twice in favour of the winner and the new WBA champion of the world... Amir Khan.

I've got to say that the score of 120-108 is very harsh on Kotelnik. To not give him a round is scandalous. There was no doubting who the winner was though, it'll be interesting to see whether Khan stays at light-welterweight or drops back down a division. Based on this performance I think he should stay at this weight, he looks very comfortable there.

That concludes tonight's blog. Thanks to everyone who was reading.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Early Thoughts on Bradley vs Campbell, Dawson vs Johnson 2, Marquez vs Mayweather, Klitschko-Haye...

By Lee Payton

Photo © Marty Rosengarten /

Some very intriguing and significant fights have been made recently so I thought I'd touch on the ones that stick out to me. Here's my best guess as to how they will go down once the bell rings.

Can Campbell turn back the clock? Is Dawson all that? Does Marquez have a chance? Can Haye take down Big Brother?

Timothy Bradley vs Nate Campbell

It seems pretty clear on paper, doesn't it? Bradley has advantages in age, size and quickness. He's also a very good fighter, so he should take this thing, right? Not so fast. While "Dessert Storm" obviously has a lot going for him, the fighting grandfather has some weapons of his own. His favourite of those is a nasty right hand, which can be devastating up top or to body. He's also been around the block a time or two. The man flat out knows how to fight, and coming right to him, as I believe Bradley will, has not always turned out well for the opponent.

I think the keys to this fight for Bradley are head movement and punches in bunches. He showed that he's not exactly easy to nail clean even while pressing the fight against Kendall Holt. He keeps a tight, high guard and throws nice short punches on the inside. You need to only look at him to get a sense of his strength. Marvin Hagler would be impressed.

Can he hurt Nate? Probably not. Can Nate hurt him? He has to.

If Campbell can't put a dent in this kid, it's going to be a long night for the former Lightweight Champion.

I'm one of those guys who thinks size is a little overrated in boxing. Punchers don't lose their ability to punch because they added weight, as long as they are in or close to their prime years. They may lose something because they are hitting bigger guys, but most of the time when it seems like a fighter fell off after moving up a weight class, it has much more to do with the opponent than anything else. At this point, 140 is his weight.

Will Nate be able to get the KO he may need to win this fight? Well, he's hurt just about every fighter he has ever faced, so I see no reason to believe he can't make Bradley wince with a solid shot. That said, he's never really been a knockout artist, and if Tim has any trouble absorbing punishment it hasn't surfaced yet.

All things considered, I'm going to take Tim Bradley to walk through Hell on his way to a painful decision win. It should be a great fight.

Chad Dawson vs Glen Johnson II

When these two light heavyweights did battle in April 2008 most expected "Bad" Chad's amazing physical gifts to be too much for the 40 year old war horse. I guess no one told Glen that he was supposed to be content with collecting his final decent paycheck. He pushed young Dawson to the brink, forcing out all the inside stuff the young man never really needed up to that point in his pro career. Dawson grabbed the close decision that not everyone agreed with so they will do it again.

We might be looking at a replay of the first fight. Glen is still going to march forward. He'll still be hard-headed. And he'll still have the same arsenal that was responsible for tearing Dawson out of his comfort zone n the first fight. It's up to the man many call the future of pound-for-pound to make the kind of adjustments great champions are capable of.

That could mean stinking it out a little. Chad has the legs to move for 12, but the way he delivers his offense (bursts of punches at full speed) seems to take something away from his stamina. When he slows down that little bit in the second half, Johnson is going to give him no choice but to fight his ass off again.

I'll take Chad by another hard-fought 8-4. He'll get the win. That's about the best anyone can hope for when they fight "The Road Warrior".

Floyd Mayweather vs Juan Manuel Marquez

Call me crazy, but I am really looking forward to this fight. Forget about the difference in size. These guys don't fight in a way that depends on being the bigger man. Truthfully, even though Mayweather is called a welterweight, there would be a bigger (and more significant) size advantage if he were to fight Shane Mosley.

This fight isn't about weight, it's about two of the most skilled fighters of the last 10+ years going at it. Floyd has the edge on defense, while Marquez' accurate hands give him the offensive advantage.

We've been waiting years now for the great Juan Manuel Marquez to get old. Some will tell you the proof of his decline can be found in the amount of punches he has taken over the last 5 years. I personally think the wars have more to do with the massive step up in class he has taken during that time. When ya fight quality opponents, yer gonna get hit. This guy lives clean and is always in shape. I don't expect to see him fall off at all.

Mayweather is also a gym rat. He was sighted working out throughout his retirement from boxing, but the fact remains that he hasn't been under the lights in a very long time. There's bound to be some ring rust. As gifted as he is, I'm not sure anyone can afford to be even a little off against JMM's lethal attack. Based on all the ingredients I get the feeling that he's going to get touched up more than we've ever seen before.

I think it's a distance fight with "Money" getting a close decision. He'll probably win, but way more people will start believing in Pacquiao's chances against him.

Vitali Klitschko vs David Haye

When Haye dropped out against little brother, I was gutted for a week. Finally, Wlad was fighting someone with a chance. Unfortunately it was not to be. So now "The Hayemaker" is set to take on the bigger, tougher, older brother, who many feel is the real #1 heavyweight out there.

It is my opinion that this Klitschko is the more difficult assignment given that he can actually take a good shot to the mouth. What made the fight with Wlad so appealing was the knowledge that it could end on one punch either way. This fight appears to be a more grueling affair.

Vitali has had it easy since during his two fight comeback, having taken out hopeless Sam Peter and a chubby Juan Carlos Gomez. They could just never reach him. Those two played right into his strengths by slowly plodding forward all night while offering virtually nothing for the 6'7 Klitschko to worry about.

In his current opponent "Dr Ironfist" will be facing an physical dynamo who goes out to put on a violent show. This will be no athletic contest. It's gonna be a fight.

I believe Haye has the tools to do the job, but does he have the discipline to stick to a fight plan for as long as it takes? And how will his chin hold up? I think he's got to stay all the way outside and use his gifts to explode into punching range to have any chance. Bang that body in the clinch until the ref breaks it up. Vit will have no defense for such a tactic other than to hold or grapple. He's going to need focus more than anything in order to resist a slugfest.

It's a tough call. Haye's physical advantages stand him in good stead, but perhaps his whiskers will let him down in the end. I probably have to take Klitschko to gut it out somehow after a monumental struggle. Of course, we don't know how much he is willing to take these days either...

e-mail Lee Payton
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Amir Khan vs Andriy Kotelnik Predictions

Making his first start at 140lbs, Amir Khan headlines tomorrow night's Sky Box Office show at the M.E.N. Arena in Manchester against veteran junior-welterweight Andriy Kotelnik. Can Khan build on the performance he gave last time out against Marco Antonio Barrera, or is the German based Urkanian fighter too big of a test for the youngster's questionable durability?

The Boxing Bulletin writer's give their thoughts after the jump...

Check back with us at 4PM EST (9 PM GMT) Saturday for our live blog coverage of this event.

Khan's talented, until he proves he can take a punch though, I'm picking him to be stopped by any good fighter around his size. No, Kotelnik's not a banger. But his punches are short and accurate, which I feel will be more than enough to hurt and ultimately stop Amir. If one needs to be reminded how easily Khan can be hurt, they can just review the Prescott fight and see how he got rocked by the first jab that landed. The same Prescott that couldn't hurt Humberto Toledo.

Kotelnik by knockout.

- Michael Nelson

I agree with Michael, Amir doesn't have the defense or the mentality to stink it out and Kotelnek has a granite chin. I think Khan will have a lot of success in the first two rds and then get ground down. Kotelnek by late stoppage.

-Mark Lyons

I'm taking Khan to move a lot and land a little on his way to a boring UD. I don't think he'll let Kotelnik get close enough to land much.

- Lee Payton

I think Khan will be too quick for Kotelnik to cope with. Freddie Roach's gameplan will be for Khan to be in and out of range before Kotelnik has a chance to catch him with anything substantial. Kotelnik is a good all-rounder but I can see him struggling to get into this fight early on, his best chance may come in the latter stages of the fight depending on how Khan's stamina holds up in his first major fight. I'm picking Khan by UD with all three cards around the 118-110 mark.

- Dave Oakes

Check out Dave's preview: Khan vs Kotelnik

It's a tough fight to call. Khan's overall skills are clearly superior, and he's got the hand and foot speed to beat Kotelnik to the punch while getting out of harm's way quickly. But Kotelnik throws straight accurate shots and unless Khan fights the perfect fight, you have to feel he's going to get hit clean a bit... and what happens when he does?

If I was a gambler, I think I'd sit this one out.

- Andrew Fruman
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

British Scene: Nathan Cleverly vs Danny McIntosh Preview

This Saturday at the York Hall, rising unbeaten prospects Danny McIntosh (pictured landing a right hand on the jaw of Steven Spartacus, photo © Justin McKie) and Nathan Cleverly clash for the vacant British light-heavyweight title. On the line as well will be Cleverly's Commonwealth title belt.

The under-card features former European lightweight champ Jonathan Thaxton taking on tough Essex fighter Tom Glover. Tyson Fury is also scheduled on the show, although an opponent for the young heavyweight has yet to be named.

Matt Chudley has the preview.

Make sure to check out Matt's recap of the show on Monday.

Saturday, July 18

Nathan Cleverly vs Danny McIntosh (ITV4)

By Matt Chudley

Unbeaten light-heavyweights Nathan Cleverly (16-0) and Danny McIntosh (10-0) headline this Saturday night's show at the York Hall. Cleverly will be putting the Commonwealth title that he won from Tony Oakey last October on the line for the 4th time, while the vacant British crown will also be up for grabs.

While both fighters hold low hold knock-out ratios, both have come into their own recently and responded to a higher level of competition with more conclusive victories. McIntosh's last four fights have all ended early, including a picture perfect one punch KO of Rod Anderton on the undercard to Froch-Pascal.

Fighting out of South Wales and a former Enzo Calzaghe pupil, the 22 year old Cleverly has shown great improvement over his last five fights and has began to sit down on his punches more. A Mathematics graduate from Cardiff University, he has also shown a large amount of ring savy in capitalizing on his skill set and impressive height at nearly 6'4. Proving to be one of the brighter prospects in the UK, Cleverly is heavily favoured to claim the coveted Lonsdale belt.

Danny McIntosh - the house fighter after promoter Mick Hennessy won the purse bids - got a late start to the pro game at the age of 25. He's made up for lost time by moving through the pro-ranks quickly, establishing himself as a British title contender after only 8 fights by capturing the English title with a stoppage win over local rival Steven Spartacus in a heated contest last October.

Against Cleverly, he finds himself as the underdog for the first time out and will undoubtedly need to show more than he has to date in order to overcome the slick accurate work of his taller and arguably faster opponent.

On the under-card…

Jonathan Thaxton (pictured against Juan Carlos Diaz Melero, photo © Justin McKie) takes on Tom Glover in his return to action for the first time since losing his European title to Anthony Mezaache back in February.

Now 34 and having engaged in many memorable all out wars with the likes of Ricky Hatton and Eamonn Magee, Thaxton will be looking to stay sharp of a possible clash with John Murray for the vacant British Title this autumn.

Glover is on a 3 bout winning streak, having scored narrow points victories over Scott Wolford, Chas Symonds and claiming a DQ win over Nadeem Siddique in his last outing a little over a month ago. Given the styles of the two men, this could very well be the most entertaining of the night’s contests.

Heavyweight prospect Tyson Fury also gets another outing against a short notice opponent. With an English title showdown with John McDermott in the works, Fury will be looking to continue his impressive knock out streak and unleash some more headline grabbing sound bytes.

e-mail Matt Chudley
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dark Mirror: When Max Baer Met Ben Foord

Carlos Acevedo takes us back to 1937, for the match-up between heavyweights Max Baer (pictured) and Ben Foord at the Harringay Arena in London.

Photos courtesy of Antiquities of the Prize Ring

After fraying American purse strings on an outlandish “comeback” tour against an assortment of bindlestiffs and saloonkeepers throughout the Great Plains and Badlands, Max Baer, former heavyweight champion of the world, sailed for England in 1937 in an attempt to jumpstart his stalled career and took on tough competition for the first time since his battering at the hands of Joe Louis in 1935.

Baer, whose brittle hands forced him into refereeing wrestling matches and conducting a music orchestra (“I already got,” he said, “one of them wands a leader uses.”) began his comeback away from the bright lights of Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City. If his performances against Jim Braddock and Louis earned Baer the kind of press normally reserved for rainmakers, his barnstorming tour, with its vaudeville connotations, brought him even greater condemnation.

Baer fought an incredible twenty-two times over four months in 1936. He knocked out pugs in Pocatello, Coeur d’Alene, Provo, Casper, and Twin Falls. He fought a Cowboy, a Soldier, a Cyclone, a Bearcat. In San Antonio, Baer was practically booed out of the ring for his antics against Wilson Dunn, a full-blooded Native American who entered the ring 50 pounds lighter than Baer. In Oklahoma, he headlined a card that also featured a battle royal. To top it all off, in Platteville, Wisconsin, Baer lost a decision to hapless Willie Davis, 1-9 entering the ring, because he mistakenly thought the fight was a no-decision contest.

Many of these bouts, as odd as they were, should have been labeled exhibitions; most of them, despite the fact that Baer scored sixteen knockouts, were harmless workouts, not legitimate fights. In addition to making a hard living easy, these bouts allowed Baer to practice his trade without some of its bleaker consequences.

Nat Fleischer, aghast at the dubious result of a bout against Harold “Dutch” Weimer in Toronto, one called a “fake, fiasco and disgrace” by Canadian Premier Mitchell F. Hepburn, fulminated in the pages of Ring Magazine: “Baer has been in the sport only for what he could get out of it financially, and his so-called comeback, likewise, has been a travesty on the game that brought his fame and fortune.”

His fame and fortune, however, came with a price. After killing Frankie Campbell in a San Francisco ring in 1930, Baer, a kind-hearted man whose mere presence in a bloodsport seems paradoxical, gave up training diligently and lost the precious edge important to all world-class boxers: ferocity. “Nothing that ever happened to me, nothing that can happen to me, affected me like the death of Frankie Campbell,” he said. When angered or inspired, as in his cruel destruction of a showboating King Levinsky (in an exhibition bout, no less) or his annihilation of Max Schmeling, Baer could still compete at the highest levels. But the man who once glumly admitted, “I clowned away the title” no longer had the unfailing spark needed to reach his full potential. “After Frankie Campbell the clowning started,” his brother, Buddy Baer, told Sports Illustrated. “It was something to do instead of fighting.” And clown he did during his comeback streak. With the press mounting its attack and the mudflats of America no longer receptive to his sideshow act, Baer was like a fugitive on the run.

Enter British promoter Sydney Hulls, who supplied a timely exit strategy by offering Baer $20,000 to face boxing booth alumnus Tommy Farr overseas. Baer arrived in London on March 10, 1937, to flashbulbs and hubbub. “I want to get down to work at once,” Baer claimed. “Everyone is wanting me to do film and cabaret work, but I have turned down all offers.” Even so, Baer was mobbed practically everywhere he went.

His unique mix of brawn and bunk drew a crowd of over 14,000 to Harringray Arena, where dour Farr slapped him around over twelve rounds and left the happy-go-lucky Baer unusually grim. “I’m all washed up,” he said. “I’m going back to my ranch in California and retire.” The press, no longer amused by his antics, agreed with him. Even his friend, idol, and sometime promoter, Jack Dempsey buried him. “Max is all washed up,” he wrote in his syndicated column, “and the best thing he can do is save his money...and turn to some other livelihood.” It took only a week or so--along with another hefty guarantee--for Baer to put off stirrups and halters indefinitely. Hulls signed Baer to meet Ben Foord on May 27, 1937. For Baer, it would be like looking into a dark mirror. In it he would see Frankie Campbell. And in it, perhaps, he would see himself.

Ben Foord (pictured left), perhaps the most tragic figure in the history of South African Boxing, was born on January 21, 1913, in Vrede and grew up in Ladysmith. As a teenager, Foord was a gifted athlete, excelling in rugby, swimming, and track and field. He also had a pronounced daredevil streak and it was this, perhaps, that led him to dabble in boxing. After ditching a humdrum career in, of all pursuits, hair styling, Foord found adventure as a lifeguard in Durban. His next career choice--prizefighting--suggests just how much Foord enjoyed being on the dangerous edge of things. At nearly 6’ 3” and 208 pounds, Foord had the kind of physique even the Great Sandow might have admired, but South Africa offered little in terms of sparring and training for an aspiring boxer.

After an unexceptional amateur career, Foord turned pro in 1932 and soon moved to London in order to get bigger fights and bigger thrills. In addition to the hazards found between the ropes, Foord regularly accepted wagers on risky feats outside of the ring, like high diving from bridges. Once, Foord swam the Thames River from Windsor Bridge in under a minute. Two auto wrecks in three years--including one that left a passing cyclist dead--underscored his recklessness and his practical jokes (Foord, like Baer, was an incorrigible prankster) often included firearms as props.

For all his size and athleticism, Foord cared little for the austere rigors of training. He preferred golf to the speedbag and donning a smoking jacket to slipping on mitts. “As far as I am concerned,” his brother, Stephen Foord, told Chris Greyvenstein, “Ben regarded even boxing as just an easy way to make money and a good way to impress the fair sex.” Impress the fair sex he did; Foord was soon a-man-about-town and his gallivanting kept gossip columnists sleepless with overwork.

From 1932 to 1934 Foord was considered a raw but promising talent, one whose powerful right hand and sheer athleticism made some observers rhapsodize. “I regard Foord as the best prospective candidate for heavyweight honors this country has seen for years,” wrote former flyweight champion Jimmy Wilde. Foord was erratic, certainly, but his potential box office appeal could not be underestimated; powerful, dapper, and with matinee idol looks to boot, Foord resembled a marquee heavyweight. In fact, he resembled Max Baer, and crowds flocked to see the debonair South African.

Although Foord had earned a measure of fame on the society pages, his career was largely unremarkable. Still, he was undefeated during his campaign in the UK and after pounding out a decision over future British Heavyweight champion Jack London on November 6, 1933, he was signed to face dangerous Jack Petersen at Royal Albert Hall. On March 8, 1934, Foord fought courageously against the talented Welshman in a sadistic brawl before succumbing in the thirteenth round. Foord cut Petersen early in the fight and rocked him with several overhand rights. Petersen dropped Foord twice in the fourth round, but Foord, despite the beating he was taking, responded with spiteful blows of his own. Finally, after several more rounds of pitiless give and take, Foord was knocked out of the ring in the thirteenth round. Somehow he managed to beat the count, but the fight was stopped after Petersen began teeing off on his defenseless opponent.

“No words of mine can tell of his enormous courage,” Petersen praised Foord after the match. “No man can ever put up a gamer fight. I felt sorry for Foord, and could scarcely force down the lump in my throat as I helped him back to his corner. If the day comes that I must take a beating so terrible, may I take it like he did.” Foord showed incredible resilience and courage during his breathtaking bout with Petersen. It was enough, in fact, to make him a star. His performance electrified the crowd and left Trevor Wignall, reporting for the Daily Express, sounding like a minor Edwardian poet: “Watching Foord I was thrilled as never before by a heavyweight bout and felt nothing could stop him but death.”

Over the next year his popularity grew even as the quality of his performances diminished. Foord captured the South African Heavyweight title in Cape Town in June 1934, but returned to London as casual as ever and lost dreary bouts to Gunnar Barlund, Maurice Strickland, and Roy Lazer. In 1936, however, Foord, spurred on by marriage to a beautiful socialite, momentarily discovered ambition and ran off a string of victories. Among the fighters he defeated were Larry Gaines, Roy Lazer in a rematch, and former light heavyweight champion Tommy Loughran. He capped off a dramatic year by annihilating Jack Petersen in only three rounds on August 17, 1936, to win the British Empire and British Heavyweight titles. This would prove to be the peak of his career, as Foord went on to lose decisions to Walter Neusel and Tommy Farr. By the time Foord signed to fight Max Baer he was hoping to reverse a losing streak.

A crowd of over 8,000 watched these two idiosyncratic boxers meet at Harrringray on May 27, 1937. Foord entered the ring with a record of 35-9-4, while Baer, coming off of his loss to Tommy Farr, was 61-11. The Sunday Times all but sniffed at the bout: “And because one has no confidence in the true fighting fitness of either, however much they may have “trained” in camp, it seems a waste of energy to attempt a reasoned estimate of their respective chances on this occasion and in the future.”

After the fight, however, the British press was a little more feverish. “If ever a man came near to meeting his death in the ring,” wrote Peter Wilson of The Daily Mirror, “Foord did at the hands of Max Baer, who seemed to turn, in a twinkling, from a strutting, grimacing playboy to a snarling wild beast.”

The opening bell rang and the fighters met at centre ring. Barely a minute into the first round, Foord landed his fearsome right hand on target, but Baer, with a chin as sturdy as a dolmen, shrugged it off and ploughed forward with short hooks in the clinches and looping punches from outside. In the second round, Baer dropped Foord twice with crushing rights and hammered Foord against the ropes. Somehow the woozy South African managed to survive until the bell.

For the next few rounds Foord utilized his jab while Baer alternated between punching and capering. The crowd chuckled as “Madcap Maxie” barked, hitched up his trunks, and tossed the kind of haymakers typically seen in slapstick comedies. In between routines, however, Baer went to work and whacked Foord around the ring like a shuttlecock. Nearly every blow he landed shook Foord to his boots, and, to the delight of the crowd, even referee Jack Hart took a clout from an inaccurate Baer.

By the eighth round, Foord, undertrained to perfection, was through. Disoriented, exhausted, and bloodied, he staggered to the wrong corner after the bell and plopped onto his stool. Baer, sensing blood, stormed out at the start of the ninth. Two quick rights and Foord was down. When he rose, another bombardment dropped him again like an anchor thrown from the side of a deck. He listened to the count flat on his back before using the ropes as a ladder and hauling himself, nearly knock-kneed, to his feet. Baer, determined to show the world that he was still a contender, moved in for the finish. A vicious combination sent a wobbly Foord sprawling for the last time with blood dripping from his ear.

As soon as the fight was stopped, Baer rushed across the ring and knelt by his stricken opponent. He cradled Foord in his arms like a baby. “I have rarely seen a man more genuinely moved in the ring,” noted Peter Wilson at ringside. Perhaps Baer saw Frankie Campbell in the ring that night; or, perhaps, with the incredible similarities Baer shared with Foord, he saw himself.

Ben Foord continued his disappointing career with little success but lots of bruises following his loss to Baer, finally retiring in 1938 after being knocked clear out of the ring by George James in White City. Foord then shocked the British public by confessing that he had suffered from amnesia after his last few bouts. “Looking back,” Foord wrote in a syndicated article, “I know it was Max Baer who started the trouble. He was by far the hardest hitter I ever met. Dimly I remember him pillowing my head on his lap after he had knocked me down for the last time. He hit me on the chin with punches I felt for days, but I stuck it.”

Less than a year later, despite concerns about his health, Foord returned to the ring in South Africa before quitting to join the army. Home on furlough in 1942, Foord played a prank on his wife, Phyllis, that ended tragically. After sneaking up on her with a pistol and pretending to be a desperado, Foord twirled the gun Old West style and accidentally shot himself in the face. He was 29 years old when he died.

As for Baer, he returned to America, but never fought for the title again. Lou Nova, who defeated Baer twice in those last years, noted that Baer let him off the hook in the fourth round of their 1941 rematch. A right hand shook Nova to his toes, but, for some reason, Baer did not press his stricken opponent.
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