Round up of a month of boxing and potential match-ups to look forward too

By HK123 - 06/25/2015 - Comments

golovkinBy HK: Well it has been quite a successful and exciting month of boxing, especially from a British perspective. We now have four fully fledged British world champions, who all hold the IBF version of the title. James DeGale (Super-Middleweight), Kell Brook (Welterweight), Lee Selby (Featherweight) and Carl Frampton (Super Bantamweight).

Although these haven’t all come from within the space of one month it is nonetheless extremely encouraging to see British fighters consistently challenging at world level. This coupled with the various interim and regular titles held by British fighters and British boxing could not be in a better place right now.

So let’s recap on what has been an excellent month of boxing and look ahead to some of the fights and match ups were all eager to see.

On the 23rd of May in Boston’s Agganis Arena a piece of history was made when James DeGale became the first British Olympic gold medalist to win a world title. DeGale faced off against the highly talented Andre Dirrell, whose only loss in a 25 fight professional career came at the hands of Carl Froch. The early exchanges were particularly scrappy, with neither fighter really imposing himself in the fight.

Dirrell started the second round strongly, looking the sharper and more aggressive of the two fighters, but was caught by a swinging overhand left from DeGale which dropped him to the canvas. DeGale looked to finish him quickly and scored another knockdown at the end of the second, Dirrell only just being saved by the bell from what looked a certain early stoppage. DeGale searched for the knockout in the third but Dirrell regained some off his composure and even came on strong towards the end of the fight as DeGale seemed to tire dramatically as the contest wore on. However with the two knockdowns scored and a strong display in the first half of the fight DeGale had done enough to secure a unanimous point’s victory and more importantly the IBF world title.

With George Groves fighting Badou Jack for the WBC title in early August/late September, the win for DeGale sets up the prospect for a huge British unification match (all be it only if Groves wins and even then in boxing nothing is guaranteed). The two fighters actively dislike each other and having already fought in the professional ranks (Groves winning via majority decision) a potential bout between the two would undoubtedly be an enthralling contest. Hopefully Groves gets the job done in America and after an easy defense (which I expect from DeGale as well) the two can get the fight sorted.

There was an excellent showcase of British boxing in London at the 02 arena on May the 30th with a number of standout performers. Anthony Joshua continued his perfect start in the professional ranks with a second round demolition of Kevin Johnson. He has now stopped all of his 13 opponents within the distance and will be looking to step up a level again.

Lee Selby produced an exceptional display to win the IBF Featherweight title from Evgeny Gradovich and elsewhere there was an extremely gutsy performance from Kevin Mitchell, who faced a classy operator in WBC Light-weight champion Jorge Linares. In the end Linares proved just that bit too strong for Mitchell as the referee waved off the fight in the 10th due to the substantial injuries Linares had inflicted on him.

Kell Brook defended his IBF welterweight title with consummate ease against Frankie Gavin and should now, like Joshua, look to step up the caliber of his opponents. I think Brook is an extremely good fighter, but barring his win over Shawn Porter (whom he won the IBF belt from) he hasn’t faced that stern of opposition. Brandon Rios has been touted as Brooks’ next opponent and I think that would make for an excellent fight, as well as a step up in class for Brook. Unfortunately for Brook he will not get the opponent he most wants, Amir Khan, who belligerently waits for a match up with Floyd Mayweather, which will more than likely not materialize.

Stepping away from the British perspective and there have been some equally intriguing if somewhat underwhelming match ups this past month. At the Barclays Center in Brooklyn NY, Miguel Cotto made light work of Australian Daniel Geale, who after taking a thunderous right to the body followed by a vicious left hook (which floored him) told referee Tony Chiarantano he’d had enough at the 1:28 mark of round 4.

The win for Cotto leaves upon the possibility for a number of potentially huge super-fights, with Cotto Vs Alvarez being mooted for some time in November, with (in an ideal world) the winner going on to face the fearsome Kazakh Gennady Golovkin. However according to the World Boxing Council much of this scenario depends on whether the Cotto vs. Alvarez winner agrees in advance to fight Golovkin, who as well as being the WBA champion is also recognized by the WBC as the number one challenger to their version of the world title.

WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman has also stated that he can only sanction the Alvarez vs. Cotto fight as a title bout if Golovkin is next in line to fight the winner. Cotto may instead opted to face Alvarez in a non-title bout or even relinquish his belt if he feels the WBC are forcing him into a match up with Golovkin.

As it always seems the case in boxing, negotiating the biggest and best fights are never easy (it took Mayweather and Pacquiao five years to come to an agreement to fight) but hopefully all parties will agree that this is not only the best outcome for a sport which needs another glamour “Super-Fight” but also from a business perspective, which, let’s be honest is all this really boils down too.

Failing this “ideal” outcome, there are still some very interesting bouts out there for Golovkin, most notably a potential Wembley clash with Carl Froch. Much has been made of this possible match up and I have no doubt that it would be an extremely entertaining, all action fight, but it all depends on whether Froch decides to retire and if not, can he get himself motivated and back to his best for arguably one of the toughest fights of his career?

Personally I don’t see this as the last fight Froch really wanted. He wanted Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and the bright lights of Vegas, but unfortunately, even though negotiations for a fight had progressed significantly they came to an abrupt end when Froch sustained an elbow injury. Don’t get me wrong Golovkin is a great fighter (you don’t get to have the highest KO ration in Middleweight boxing history without being a bit decent), but he’s also a Middleweight who has not really been tested.

Froch would undoubtedly provide this test, but I’m not sure the rewards outweigh the risks for him. It’s certainly an intriguing fight but I just don’t see it benefiting Froch (other than financially) that much, especially if it’s to be his last fight. Golovkin is very tough, four years Froch’s junior and has taken nowhere near the punishment Carl has throughout his career. But who knows what will happen, the only way to find out is by making the fight and I think I speak for many here when I say I’d love to see it!

So who else is out there for Golovkin? Andre Ward? Unlikely. Mayweather? Even more so. Talks of a fight between the two are highly speculative to say the least. Mayweather has spoken of his “walking around weight” being somewhere between 150 and 148 lbs. and felt confident fighting at that sort of weight, commenting “probably be a good fight for me.” According to Golovkin’s promoter he would be willing to drop to 154 lbs. (Light-Middleweight) to face Mayweather in a division in which he holds both the WBA and WBC versions of the world title. However he would not be willing to concede any more weight so a fight at a catch weight of 150 lbs. would not happen.

Floyd is of course under no obligation or even pressure to take this fight and I don’t think anyone expects him to take on such a dangerous opponent in possibly his last ever fight, but doesn’t this situation remind you ever so slightly of the Sugar Ray Leonard, Hagler fight. Leonard came out of a two year retirement to fight the ferocious, hard-hitting Hagler at Middleweight – a division he had never fought at. He went on to win the fight (all be it controversially in the eyes of some) but truly cemented his place in boxing history as one of the greatest fighters of all time.

Mayweather would not have to face Golovkin at Middleweight, but the task of defeating him at 154 lbs. would be just as daunting. If he took the fight and won, no one would dispute his claims to be “the best ever”, however a bout between the two seems extremely unlikely.

We then had the less than anticipated WBC heavyweight bout between Deontay Wilder and Eric Molina, the later proving to be slightly more game than expected, stunning a lethargic Wilder with a rocking left hook in round three, before being overpowered by the brute force of a barrage of pummeling shots laid on by Wilder in the 9th, which ended the contest. Wilder was an overwhelming favorite going into the bout and Molina did little to dispel this during the opening rounds, in which he offered nothing offensively, trudging backwards allowing Wilder to strike him at will.

Wilder however looked tentative and was less than convincing in his first world title defensive, in which he was clearly looking to impress in front of a home crowd in Birmingham, Alabama. The empathic early knock out which most of us have come to expect from Wilder seemed more than likely given the caliber of his opponent (no disrespect to Molina, but he isn’t world class), but it did not materialize and although Molina was not featuring in the fight at all he was able to land some decent shots in the 3rd which had Wilders legs slightly wobbling. From that point on though Molina had little success and was dropped four times by Wilder on route to a 9th round stoppage win.

The heavy weight division seems to finally becoming alive again, after a near decade long stranglehold had been placed on it by the Klitschko brothers. British prospect Anthony Joshua will feel ever more confident that he is capable of challenging at world level (having dispatched someone who had been 12 rounds with Vitali Klitschko) and would’ve certainly fancied his chances against Wilder had he watched his extremely nervy display against Molina. Elsewhere in the division Wladmir Klitschko looks set to hopefully go toe to toe with another British fighter in Tyson Fury sometime in September/October.

Last weekend we saw Adrien Broner fail spectacularly with his best “Money Mayweather” impression via a mauling defeat at the hands of Shawn Porter. There is no doubt Broner is a skilled fighter (he showed this with a knock down in the 12th round) but seems to be more concerned with posing in the ring rather than actually producing any effective work. His moniker “About Billions” represents his Mayweather like approach to boxing, but the thing about “Money” is, he actually comes up with the goods on fight night and wins. It’s all very well acting like an obnoxious tool, boasting how you are going to “beat him and his Dad” but if you don’t back it up with a performance you end up looking like a complete fool.

Other than that it was a good display from Porter who didn’t give Broner a second to breathe in the fight, hustling and bustling his opponent around the ring and was only knocked down via a lapse in concentration, after a relatively easy nights work. Porter is in a stacked Welterweight division, teeming with talent and although he probably isn’t a name on the list of potential opponents to face Mayweather, he’s certainly done his career no harm in winning this fight.

Andre Ward was also back in action after nearly a two year layoff. He produced a clinical display against an outclassed Paul Smith, who could do little to stop the sharp, precise shots of undoubtedly one of the best pound-for-pound fighters in the world. Ward controlled the fight from start to finish, leading comfortable with his jab and finding his range time and time again until the towel was eventually thrown in by Smith’s corner in the 9th. There are definitely some huge fights out there for Ward, who should look to unify the division or possibly even take on WBA, WBO and IBF Light-Heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev.

Finally let’s look ahead to some of this weekend’s action at the Echo Arena in Liverpool. Super-Middleweight Callum Smith takes on the durable Frenchman Christopher Rebrasse for the WBC Silver tittle, whilst Tony Bellew returns to the ring after his split decision victory over Nathan Cleverly to face Ivica Bacarin at Cruiserweight. There is also a debut at Super-Middleweight for new match room recruit Martin Murray and Rocky Fielding takes on Brian Vera in the same division.

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