Tony Bellew (26-2-1, 16 KOs) has a date with destiny.
The 33 year old from Liverpool will make his third attempt to win a world title when he takes on Ilunga Makabu (19-1, 18 KOs) for the vacant WBC cruiserweight world title, at Goodison Park on Sunday evening.
Following his recent adventure in Hollywood, where he starred as “Pretty,” Ricky Conlan, in Creed the latest installment in the Rocky franchise, Bellew will be hoping he can turn fantasy into reality.
The opportunity came about as a result of WBC Cruiserweight champion Grigory Drozd being declared a ‘champion in recess,’ when injury forced him to pull out of a mandatory defence against Makabu for the second time. A fight was then put together involving Bellew and Makabu, with the winner having to face Drozd down the road.
For Bellew, a former British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight champion, European Cruiserweight champion and two time world title challenger it was an opportunity to set his record straight and get his hands on a convented emerald belt.
Bellew’s previous world title challenges came in the light heavyweight division. He lost a majority decision to Nathan Cleverley in 2011 (later avenged) and suffered a bruising sixth round stoppage at the hands of Adonis Stevenson in 2013.
Since then Bellew has won six on the bounce and moved up to the cruiserweight division. However he faces a formidable opponent in theSouth African based, Congolese born Makabu.
Despite being annihilated in thirty seconds in his professional debut, Makabu won his next nineteen fights, and developed a reputation as a dangerous puncher.
Eighteen of his wins have come inside the distance. Along the way he has beaten the former IBF light heavyweight champion, Glen Johnson, albeit a much faded version of the once great ‘road warrior,’ and the world rated, Dmytro Kucher, who coincidentally was the one opponent who managed to take him twelve rounds.
Makabu earned his world title shot against Thabiso Mchunu, when he rallied late in the fight to stop his opponent in the eleventh round. That was in May 2015 and Makabu has been inactive since as a result of his proposed fight with Drozd being postponed twice.
In contrast, Bellew has fought three times in that period.
A criticism of Makabu is that he fights square and can be caught down the middle. There is also a view that he doesn’t deal well with pressure. That said, he is no push over. Makabu is a southpaw who can punch and with Bellew having visited the canvas on at least four occasions in his career he should be mindful of his opponents power.
Although some consider Makabu the slight favourite, Bellew can certainly win this one. He carries height and reach advantages into the fight, but a win will require him to concentrate, maintain his composure, avoid any defensive mistakes and execute his plan to perfection.
Although Makabu has built his reputation as a puncher against largely unknown opposition the danger is that Bellew could underestimate his ability. The Congolese fighter is an unknown quantity, but he didn’t get to this point through sheer luck. He remains a dangerous opponent.
Bellew should aim to box at distance, utilise his overhand right and uppercut and do his utmost to avoid Malibu’s lethal left hand. A safety first performance should be encouraged.
All things considered, it would be the icing on the cake for Bellew, a life long Everton fan, if he could lift the world title belt aloft his head in front of a partisan crowd at Goodison on Sunday. It almost sounds like the end of a Hollywood blockbuster.
Liverpool’s boxing brothers the Smiths feature heavily on the undercard. Super-Middleweight Callum Smith (19-0 14 KOs) squares off against Cesar Hernan Reynoso (14-7-3, 7 KOs). Stephen Smith (28-2 13 KOs) on the rebound from his unsuccessful bid for the IBF world title against Jose Pedraza, takes on Daniel Eduardo Brizuela (28-5-2, 8 KOs) in a ten round Super-featherweight contest for the vacant WBC Silver title. Elder brother Paul Smith (36-3, 21 KOs) takes on Hungarian southpaw Zsolt Dudas (15-2, 8 KOs) in a six round contest.
Also featured on the bill is Heavyweight David Price (19-3 16 KOs) who will be looking to put the disappointment of his loss to Erkan Teper for the European title, and the subsequent revelations about Teper’s failed drugs test behind him when he takes on Vaclav Pejsar (9-2, 8 KOs).
Coverage of Bellew v Makabu is live on Sky Sports 1 from 6pm on Sunday 29th May 2016.
Ricky Burns (39-5-1, 13 KOs) is aiming to become Scotland’s first triple weight world champion when he takes on Michele Di Rocco (40-1-1, 18 KOs) for the vacant WBA Super-Lightweight title at the SSE Hydro, in Glasgow on Saturday night.
For the 33 year old Burns, a win on Saturday night would not only see him written into the history books but it would set him firmly on the road to redemption following a torrid three years which saw mixed results in the ring, the loss of his WBO lightweight title to the slick Terence Crawford, a court room battle with his former promoter Frank Warren and bankruptcy.
His opponent on Saturday Di Rocco 34, is the former European Super-Lightweight champion. Di Rocco a one time top amateur has not lost a professional fight in eight years. His sole loss came at the hands of veteran Giuseppe Lauri in 2007. Boxing fans in the UK may be familiar with Lauri a former European super-lightweight champion who was stopped by both Junior Witter in 2002 and Paul McCloskey in 2010. In the rematch, Di Rocco stopped Lauri in the first round in April 2014.
Di Rocco is an orthodox fighter, he likes to box and move using his jab to set up his overhand right. He out boxed Londoner Lenny Daws on route to a unanimous point’s decision in a European title defence in 2013. However a potential weakness in Di Rocco’s style is his defence, he fights with his left hand held low and he looks tailor made for Burns’ chopping overhand right.
It would be easy to write Burns off on the basis that he is 3-3 in his last six fights, that said those losses were to the extremely talented Terence Crawford, former lightweight world champion Omar Figueroa Jr and a tricky southpaw and potentially a world champion in waiting Dejan Zlaticanin. Even in defeat Burns managed to give a good account of himself in all three fights. It may be an exaggeration to say that he is on the slide, he is still relatively young by modern standards and he has the style to beat Di Rocco. Despite being unbeaten for eight years the general quality of opposition Di Rocco has faced has been poor. Burns has the more impressive record in that regard.
All things considered this is a must win for Burns. He has a strong jab and he will also have height and reach advantages over his opponent so the most likely verdict is a points win for the Scot.
Burns is not regarded as a puncher, but he has stopped his last two opponents. His ability to wear down opponents is perhaps underrated, a perfect example of this is his fight with Kevin Mitchell so do not be surprised if he wears Di Rocco down and forces a stoppage in the latter half of the fight either.
On the undercard, British Super-Lightweight champion Tyrone Nurse (32-2-1 6 KOs) defends his title against the former British and Commonwealth champion Willie Limond (39-4, 11 KOs). An accomplished domestic fighter Limond never lost his titles in the ring. The four losses on his record came against quality opposition in the form of Anthony Crolla, Erik Morales Amir Khan and Alex Arthur. It will be an exciting clash of styles as the unorthodox Nurse will have to contend with Limond’s pressure and experience.
Middleweight John Ryder (22-2, 12 KOs) continues his comeback following his loss to Nick Blackwell for the vacant British title in May 2015. He takes on Poland’s Robert Talarek (13-11-2, 8 KOs) in a six round contest.
Also featuring on the undercard is Undefeated lightweight Scott Cardle (19-0-1, 6 KOs) who takes on Ivan Njegac (7-1, 1 KOs)in a six round contest.
Nigel Benn’s son Conor ‘The Destroyer,’ Benn (1-0, 1 KO) takes the next step in his professional career as he goes up against Luke ‘The Nuke,’ Keleher (2-4-1) in a four round contest and former Olympic Bronze medallist Anthony Ogogo (8-0, 4 KOs) makes his long awaited return to the ring following injury setbacks as he takes on Chris Hermann (21-10-1, 12 KOs) in a six round middleweight contest.
Coverage of Burns v Di Rocco is live on Sky Sports 1 from 8pm on Saturday the 28th May 2016.
Switzerland is famed for its chocolates, cheese, the Red Cross, relaxed banking practices and neutrality. However it seems, the country is not famed for producing elite heavyweights as UK boxing fans found out on Saturday night.
It was the latest instalment of “Haye Day,” which saw former WBA heavyweight world champion David Haye 35, continue his comeback from a three and a half year lay-off, with a second round stoppage of the previously undefeated Arnold Gjergjaj at the O2 Arena, London.
The Kosovo born, Swiss resident, Gjergjaj 29, was about as offensively minded as the Swiss army were during both World Wars. He was badly exposed and visited the canvas three times before the referee Terry O’Connor intervened to wave the fight off.
It was nothing more than a tune-up fight for Haye who has former WBO heavyweight champion Shannon Briggs in his sights for September this year.
The 44 year old former champion Briggs also featured on the same bill, with a first round stoppage of Argentina’s Emilio Ezequiel Zarate. Briggs utilised his superior speed, head movement and vicious body punches to beat any resistence out of the thoroughly outclassed Zarate.
The entire bill was broadcast on the digital TV channel Dave better known for its comedy programming more so than its live sporting events. It was no laughing matter as there was a severe backlash on social media in respect of the quality of matchmaking on the card. Fans were further exasperated by the WWE-esque confrontation at ringside between Briggs and Haye after the Londoner’s victory.
Fans demand competitive matchmaking and certainly no one wants to see a fighter out of their depth and at risk of getting hurt. However one would be naive to think that business in boxing is anything other than brutal.
Poor matchmaking is not a modern phenomenon there have always been sacrificial lambs offered up to the boxing gods. There is a generation of fans perhaps too young to remember Muhammad Ali’s world title defence against the hapless Richard Dunn in 1976, or even Mike Tyson’s one round demolition of Bruce Seldon for the WBA heavyweight title in 1997.
The poor matchmaking on Saturday’s bill cannot be condoned yet at the same time the purpose of these fights were to make the fighters in question look good and build up the public interest the proposed Haye v Briggs showdown in September. That is after all the job of a promoter, which underlines the real issue with Saturday’s show.
David Haye is not just the main event but also the promoter under his own “Hayemaker Promotions,” banner. It is difficult to be both the star of the show and the director of the action. Saturday night would suggest he is a long way off from producing the Citizen Kane of live boxing shows but the 20,000 fans in attendance at the O2 didn’t seem to protest all that much.
Boxing remains an exciting spectacle at any level and Haye seems intent on taking his show into the nation’s living rooms. He signed an exclusive deal with Dave for his comeback, obviously in an effort to gain terristerial TV exposure. This creates its own problems for delivering a competitive show. The problem with modern boxing is that the Satellite stations still hold the monopoly in terms of coverage.
Matchroom Sport holds an exclusive deal with Sky Sports in regards broadcasting rights on their events. This has seen fighters scramble to get signed with Matchroom Sport in an effort to get the exposure and remuneration they desire. Most famously Scott Quigg defected from Ricky Hatton to sign with Matchroom in 2013 and coincidently both Dillian Whyte and Chris Eubank Jr have signed deals with Matchroom this weekend.
Frank Warren’s BoxNation provides a counterbalance to the dominance of Sky but boxing continues to only appear on terrestrial channels periodically. ITV the spiritual home of British boxing in the late 80s and 90s has only shown a handful of live boxing events in recent years. On a more positive note, Hennessey Sports have broadcast a number of live shows in recent years across the Channel 5 and Spike platforms, which helped build the career of a certain Tyson Fury.
In a sense Haye should be commended for trying to reignite the general public’s interest in boxing. To say it was one of the worst live shows in recent would do a disservice to fights like Markham v Mullender for the English middleweight title which featured on the undercard. It would also fail to take notice of the fact some of the top fighters in the country are not just tied in with their promoters but also their promoters respective television deal. It is becoming harder than ever to get the best fighters in the ring with each other.
Haye v Briggs may not be the fight that fans are demanding but if Haye emerged victorious it could reintroduce him as a player on the heavyweight scene and for the veteran Briggs no-one should begrudge him a big pay-day at this stage of his career.
Elsewhere in the heavyweight division New Zealand’s undefeated prospect Joseph Parker survived his sternest test to date with a points victory over dangerman Carlos Takam.
The hard punching Parker was troubled in the opening stanza by Takam’s tight defence and counter punching. After making some adjustments he went on to dominate the fight, but he showed that he can be vulnerable defensively particularly to a left hook.
Takam 35, is known as a pressure fighter but it seemed he preferred to stalk Parker round after round, only springing into action for the last minute of each round in an effort to steal the rounds on the cards. He did have some moments in the fight but he never exerted sufficient pressure on Parker to have him in any real trouble. It was a disappointing performance from Takam given the potential reward and the fact that he has been avoided by most fighters in the division. It is difficult to say whether he will get another chance like this.
With the win Parker becomes the mandatory challenger for Anthony Joshua’s IBF world heavyweight title. There are certainly question marks over the New Zealander’s defence and stamina. It will be interesting to see how he weather’s the pressure Joshua is likely to exert when the pair finally meet.
Let’s begin by taking a moment to ruminate on the age old question, “Why are boxing fans so interested in the heavyweight division?” The most obvious answer is that’s where the action is. The heavyweight division traditionally serves up adequate helpings of danger, drama and divisive characters in equal measure.
There has been no shortage of heavyweight drama in the last seven days, which began with the current WBA/WBO heavyweight Tyson Fury making a public apology for controversial remarks he made during a 57 minute clip which had been uploaded on YouTube.
A few days later Fury put himself up for sale on the online auction website eBay, allegedly fell out with his uncle and trainer Peter Fury over an incident in sparring, before dismissing the apparent bust up as a ‘wind-up.’
The champion’s erratic behaviour can hardly be described as contributing to ideal preparations ahead of his hotly anticipated rematch with Wladimir Klitschko on the 9th July in Manchester.
Elsewhere in the division, WBC world heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder was forced to postpone his title defence against Alexander Povetkin in Russia this weekend when the challenger failed a pre-fight drugs test.
Povetkin’s A-sample tested positive for meldonium, the same substance that resulted in Maria Sharapova’s ban from Tennis. Meldonium had been added to the World Anti-Doping Authority banned list in 2015, and similar to Sharapova, Povetkin is protesting his innocence saying he used the substance when it was still legal.
Wilder who had been training in Sheffield in preparation for this mandatory defence was furious and it was later reported in Boxingscene.com that Wilder is prepared to go to court to ensure Povetkin’s promoter Andrei Ryabinsky pays him the $4.6 million he is owed for the fight.
The relative stability that the heavyweight division enjoyed over the last fifteen years under the reign of the Klitschko brothers is a distant memory, but perhaps that is a sad indictment of that era. The Klitschko’s dominance to a degree stifled any genuine drama in the division.
During their prime the Ukrainian brothers were too big and skilful for the distinctly average challengers they faced. However with Tyson Fury’s upset in Germany last November there is a sense that a new era is dawning in the heavyweight division, one that could restore real excitement in the hearts of boxing fans.
The excitment begins with two significant heavyweight fights this weekend. The first involves Joseph Parker (18-0, 16 KOs) who takes on Carlos Takam (33-2-1, 25 KOs) at the Vodafone Events Centre, Manukau City. This is an IBF eliminator which will earn the winner a shot at Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight title.
Parker 24, has fought for the majority of his career in his native New Zealand. Undoubtedly, he wields genuine knockout power but he tends to overwhelm his opponents with his short hooks and angles. Parker’s technical ability and chin has yet to be tested against a top drawer opponent. The most recognisable names on his resume are; journeyman Brian Minto who he stopped in seven in 2014 and a faded Frans Botha who he clubbed into submission in two rounds in 2013.
Parker faces a sterner test in Takam who is regarded as something of a human windmill in the boxing ring. Takam 35, holds weight and reach advantages over his younger opponent. He is perhaps the better ring technician and carries an impressive record with stoppage wins over Michael Grant, Michael Sprott, Frans Botha and a points victory over former two time world title challenger Tony Thompson.
Takam’s tenth round knockout loss to the aforementioned Povetkin was regarded as one of the best fights of 2014, if not recent years. He is a genuine threat, with his movement, defence and pressure but up until most recently he has been on the comeback trail and fighting eight rounders. This will be his first step up in class against a top ten ranked heavyweight since the Povetkin loss.
Parker will perhaps enter the fight as the favourite. He will have the edge in power and the gulf in class may not be as great considering the highest profile wins for Takam were against opponents long past their prime. Still, Takam is the type of fighter who will go out on his shield and this will be a genuine test of Parkers credentials.
The other prominent heavyweight in action this weekend is former WBA heavyweight champion David Haye (27-2, 21 KOs) who continues his comeback against Arnold Gjergjai (29-0, 21 KOs) in a fight scheduled for ten rounds at the O2 Arena.
Gjergjai enters the ring with an impressive undefeated record but this has largely been built on fighting European journeymen. The most recognisible name on his record is Denis Bakhatov, who was dispensed with by Anthony Joshua in two rounds in November 2014. Bakhatov took Gjergjai the distance and even had him on the canvas at one point.
No disrespect to Gjergjai but this should be a win for Haye, who according to the rumours is set for a showdown with former WBO heavyweight champion Shannon “The Cannon,” Briggs in the near future.
Briggs (59-6-1, 52 KOs) perhaps most famous now for gate crashing press conferences and his, “Let’s go Champ,” catchphrase, will feature on the undercard at the O2 Arena and faces Argentine journeyman Emilio Ezequiel Zarate (20-16-3, 11KOs) in another ten rounder.
Coincidently, Zarate was stopped in seven rounds by Gjergjai in March 2014 so expect the veteran Briggs to make short work of him as well.
This weekend could generate some significant developments in the heavyweight division in the months ahead. The interest that has been rekindled in boxings big men should be viewed as positive for the sport. It’s also fair to say that love them or loathe them the heavyweights never fail to provide drama on the big stage.
Coverage of Haye v Gjergjai will be broadcast live on Dave (Sky Channel 111) from 8pm, Saturday 21st May. Coverage of Parker v Raman will be broadcast live on Sky Sports 3 from 11am, Saturday 21st May (repeated on Sky Sports 1 at 11.30pm).
Lee ‘Playboy,’ Haskins (33-3 14 KOs) left hearts broken in Tijuana this weekend as he retained his IBF world bantamweight title against Mexican Ivan Morales (29-2, 17 KOs) at the Ice Arena in Cardiff.
The Bristol boxer boxed supremely throughout the contest, proving much too awkward for the younger brother of four division world champion Erik Morales. Haskins won a unanimous points decision with one judge scoring it 118-110 and the other two scoring it 119-108 respectively.
Haskins won the world title on the scales last November when the American Randy Caballero was stripped of the IBF title for failing to make weight.
This was Haskins first defence and it seems to be onwards and upwards from here on. There is potential for Haskins to defend his title against domestic rival and former IBF champion, Stuart Hall. Haskins has already beaten Hall in a clash for the European bantamweight title in 2012 but it would still be considered a competitive match up.
There is also the potential that Haskins could face another domestic rival in WBA champion, Jamie McDonnell. Haskins holds an eight round points win over McDonnell from 2008, but the WBA champion has steadily improved since that setback, having beaten a number of quality bantamweights including; Tomoki Kameda (twice), Stuart Hall, and two of Haskins previous conquerors Ian Napa and Stephane Jamoye. All in all this makes for an intriguing showdown should the fight ever happen.
On the undercard, Andrew Selby (5-0, 3KOs) produced a comprehensive performance to win the vacant British flyweight title with a unanimous points victory over Louis Norman (11-2-1, 2KOs).
Cardiff’s Craig Kennedy (15-0, 8 KOs) had to get off the canvas twice to win a hard earned split decision in his clash with Joel Tambwe Djeko (9-2-1 4 KOs) for the vacant IBF International cruiserweight title. Kennedy was down in the second and sixth rounds but emerged victorious in a fight that perhaps warrants a rematch.
Belfast’s Paddy Gallagher (10-2, 6KOs) recorded an impressive first round knockout of the previously undefeated Tony Dixon (7-1, 2 KOs) to claim the vacant Celtic welterweight title.
Edinburgh’s Josh Taylor (5-0, 5 KOs) also notched up a first round knockout victory over Miguel Gonzalez (13-11, 11 KOs). Gonzalez has fought mostly as a featherweight, taking Jono Carroll ten rounds in November and suffering a fourth round stoppage at the hands of Kiko Martinez last December. However considering he was a last minute choice of opponent Taylor got the job done and will move on to the next opponent in the super-lightweight division.
Middleweight Conrad Cummings (9-0-1, 4 KOs) continued his winning ways with a last round stoppage of his opponent Frankie Borg (9-6, 3 KOs) in their fight scheduled for six rounds. The Co. Tyrone fighter is beginning to demonstrate just why he is nicknamed, “Mr Dynamite,” whilst gaining valuable rounds in the process. Most likely his next appearance will be on the undercard of Carl Frampton’s proposed clash with Leo Santa Cruz in New York on July 30th.
Bristol boxer Lee ‘Playboy,’ Haskins (32-3, 14KOs) makes the first defence of his IBF bantamweight world title this weekend against Iván Morales (29-1, 17KOs) at the Ice Arena in Cardiff.
Morales is the younger brother of former four division world champion and Mexican great Erik “El Terrible,” Morales.
Haskins won the title on the scales when the former champion Randy Caballero failed to make weight in their proposed clash in November 2015. Haskins will be keen to prove his mettle on Saturday night in a fight which has the potential to be something of a thriller.
Haskins’ opponent is part of a modern day boxing dynasty headed up by the aforementioned elder brother Erik Morales. It is difficult not to draw similarities between the siblings.
The 24 year old Iván has a similar style to his older brother. He is a tall upright boxer, with a southpaw stance, a good jab and he likes to mix it up to the head and body. He is perhaps not as concussive a puncher as his older brother and despite a high defensive guard he can be caught square and hit easily. There are also question marks over his ability to cope with pressure.
The sole loss on his record was against journeyman Edgar Ramirez in August 2015. It was a fight in which Morales was under the cosh and despite rallying in the second half of the fight he lost a ten round majority decision. It was considered something of an upset at the time but Morales has since bounced back with a stoppage victory proving that one loss does not necessarily make someone a bad fighter.
The matchup presents an interesting clash of styles. The 32 year old Haskins trained by Chris Sanigar is also a southpaw who likes to throw shots from various angles. He has a relaxed, hands down almost Roy Jones Jr-esque style which can sometimes leave him open defensively.
Haskins most recent loss came against the Belgian Stephane Jamoye for the European bantamweight title in December 2012. In that fight Jamoye piled the pressure on Haskins for round after round until he eventually forced a stoppage when a series of body shots halted the Englishman in the eighth round.
If Morales was able to match the intensity and volume of punches thrown by Jamoye that night then the crowd could be witnessing an upset. However Jamoye is a more experienced operator than Morales having mixed in the company of world champions; Scott Quigg, Jamie McDonnell, Tomoki Kameda, Pungluang Sor Singyu, Shinsuke Yamanaka and Leo Santa Cruz. Therefore there is no shame in Haskins having lost to an elite level operator.
The outcome of this fight may just be decided on experience. Haskins must be considered the more accomplished boxer, he is a former British and European bantamweight champion and a British and Commonwealth champion in the super-flyweight and flyweight divisions. He also holds wins over current WBA champion Jamie McDonnell and former IBF champion Stuart Hall.
In contrast, the most recognisable name on Morales record is that of two time world title challenger Luis Maldonado who is currently on a six fight losing streak.
It’s difficult not to favour the champion in this fight, but with the Morales name and reputation on the line the Mexican will be sure to bring his all and it should provide an entertaining spectacle for the fans.
The main event is flanked by some quality fights on the undercard. Former Olympian Andrew Selby (4-0, 3KOs) takes on the more experienced Louis Norman for the vacant British Flyweight title and Cardiff’s own Craig Kennedy (14-0, 8KOs) steps up against Joel Tambwe Djeko (9-1-1, 4 KOs) for the vacant IBF international cruiserweight title.
This event is a co-promotion between Sanigar Events and Barry McGuigan’s Cyclone promotions and it also features Irish middleweight prospect Conrad Cummings (8-0-1, 3KOs) who takes on former Welsh champion Frankie Borg (9-5, 3 KOs). Borg was previously stopped in six rounds by Chris Eubank Jr in November 2013 and will be an interesting test for Cummings.
The undercard will also feature the 2014 Commonwealth Gold medallist Josh “The Tartan Tornado,” Taylor (4-0, 4 KOs) in a contest at super-lightweight.
The full undercard for Haskins v Morales will be televised on Spike, Sky Channel 160 from 7pm on Saturday the 14th May, with coverage of the main event switching to Channel 5 from 10pm.
Amir Khan came, he saw but ultimately he was conquered by the hard punching Saul “Canelo,” Alvarez in their clash for the WBC middleweight world title at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas.
For the most part Khan boxed to his game plan. He moved well, firing off fast crisp punches in bunches to take rounds one through four. Canelo started slow, telegraphing a lot of his work and just falling out of range with his shots.
The early indications could have led us to believe that there was an upset in the works but by the sixth Canelo had closed the distance and landed a murderous right hand that caught Khan flush and almost immediately knocked him out cold.
The knockout was made all the more sickening as the momentum of the fall caused Khan to bang his head off the canvas. It was a brutal knockout reminiscent of the way in which Manny Pacquiao stopped Ricky Hatton in two rounds in 2009.
There were frightful number of seconds between the referee Kenny Bayless waving the fight over and the medical professionals entering the ring. To his credit after the knockout Canelo dropped to his knees to check on his stricken foe. It was a small glimmer of humanity in an otherwise brutal affair.
Khan regained his senses and was engaging with the press after the fight but it will have been hugely disappointing for him especially as he was ahead on points. Credit must be given to Khan for taking on Canelo, a fight in which he was always going to be the underdog. Up until the knockout he had been employing a very good strategy but he perhaps failed to utilise the jab sufficiently enough to keep Canelo off balance.
He made $6 million for his nights work but he would have surely preferred the victory. He remains the number one contender for the WBC’s welterweight title and that should is where he should campaign in the future. A domestic clash with IBF welterweight champion would be the fight most fans would like to see him in.
The next step for Canelo remains uncertain. The WBC have ordered that he now enter into negotiations with Gennady “GGG,” Golovkin for what would be a massive unification bout in the middleweight division. After beating Khan, Canelo made all the right noises about fighting Golovkin but the reality is if he decides to vacate the WBC title he is now such a big attraction that he doesn’t need a title to make the top dollar. It may be a case of watch this space.
Speaking of top dollar, Anthony, “Million Dollar,” Crolla (31-4-3, 13 KOs) pulled off perhaps the biggest win of his career with a seventh round stoppage of the hard punching Ismael Barroso (19-0-2 18 KOs) in their WBA world lightweight title fight at the Manchester Arena.
Barroso was last seen on British shores dismantling Kevin Mitchell in five rounds. He had established himself as the danger man of the lightweight division and the mandatory challenger for Crolla’s WBA title. There were more than a few who favoured him over the champion going into this fight.
Crolla and his trainer Joe Gallagher must have banked on Barroso having never gone beyond six rounds before because of the tactics they employed in this fight. Crolla effectively absorbed all of Barroso’s best work, taking the punches on his forearms while keeping his chin down behind a high guard.
Barroso did eventually punch himself out and Crolla stopped him in the seventh. It was an impressive win, perhaps one of the most impressive wins for a British fighter in recent years and it highlights that Crolla has grown into the role of champion.
In other results super-middleweight Martin Murray (33-3-1, 16 KOs) remained on track for his domestic clash with George Groves in June with a second round stoppage of Cedric Spera (12-5 2 KOs) and heavyweight Dereck Chisora (25-6 17KOS) lost a split decision to former world title challenger Kubrat Pulev (22-1) for the European title in Germany. The fight was an eliminator for the IBF title and Pulev will now be in line for a shot at Anthony Joshua’s heavyweight crown.
It’s been twenty-nine years since the unfancied Sugar Ray Leonard jumped two weight divisions to shock the world by defeating “Marvelous,” Marvin Hagler to claim the WBC world middleweight title in Caesars Palace, Las Vegas.
Fast forward to the present day and we have a similar situation playing out this weekend as Britain’s Amir Khan (31-3, 19 KOs) jumps two weight divisions to challenge Saul ‘Canelo,’ Alvarez (46-1-1, 32 KOs) for the WBC world middleweight title in (where else?) The T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas.
Speaking to The Mirror newspaper this week Khan said, “This is a huge fight, as Canelo [Alvarez] is a star in Mexico and America. I know I’m here as the underdog, but I’m ready to win and take this WBC belt back to my home in England.”
This fight represents a monumental task for Khan, who will need to rely on all his speed and guile to overcome his formidable opponent. Alvarez is physically the bigger man, holds nearly as many knockouts on his record as Khan has had fights and one loss on his record at the hands of Floyd Mayweather Jr. in 2013.
With this in mind, Khan should be given credit for taking on Alvarez and for the way in which he has rebuilt his career since his back-to-back losses to Lamont Peterson in 2011 and Danny Garcia in 2012. Khan enlisted the help of Andre Ward’s trainer; Virgil Hunter who has done an impressive job of getting him back to winning ways. He has won his last five on the bounce, albeit that he was taken the distance in four of those fights, he has demonstrated improved boxing acumen.
Often regarded as pound for pound one of the fastest punching fighters on the planet Khan will need to utilise his natural speed and movement in this fight. This one is a classic match-up between a boxer and a puncher. Alvarez is a wrecking ball of a fighter who likes to come forward, and grind his opponents down. However many people underestimate his own speed, movement and technical ability.
The best hope that Khan has is to box on the outside and avoid getting dragged into a slug fest. This had been a weakness in Khan’s armoury in the past but since his link up with Hunter he seems to be more conscious of not absorbing punishment in the ring.
In May 2014, Khan fought a brilliant technical fight against American Luis Collazo at welterweight. That fight could provide the tactical blueprint for this one. Khan utilised his jab, superior reach and movement to drop his opponent three times on route to a unanimous point’s victory. If nothing else the win against Collazo highlights that Khan has the ability to outbox his opponents.
The question is can he replicate a similar performance at middleweight?
Whether Khan has retained his hand speed as a middleweight or whether he can box to a plan for twelve rounds are questions that can only be answered on the night. He has the ability and the potential but a lot rests on how the champion performs.
Alvarez is regarded as pound-for-pound one of the best fighters on the planet. The Mexican may only be 25 years old but he has been a professional for ten years and has faced nine current or former world champions in that time.
The aforementioned loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. was his only reverse. Mayweather negated Alvarez’s aggressive tactics by out boxing him. For someone regarded as a supremely defensive fighter Mayweather boxed on the front foot, jabbing to Alvarez’s head and body and keeping him under pressure whilst maintaining his own watertight defence.
Once again, that fight provides a blueprint for how to beat Alvarez, but is Khan as slick as Mayweather?
The answer is no. Khan’s last fight was against Chris Algieri at welterweight. Algieri was the aggressor against Khan, who employed counter-punching tactics to neutralise his opponent and pick up a unanimous point’s decision. Algieri’s aggression and determination made the fight a lot closer in the eyes of those at ringside than the final scorecards suggested. He had success repeatedly in landing his punches to Khan’s body and head and although the British fighter’s punch resistance has improved it will be interesting to see what happens if a middleweight like Alvarez has similar success landing his power punches.
In his last fight against Miguel Cotto, Alvarez ran out a clear winner as his aggression and ring general-ship impressed the judges despite the Puerto Rican’s speed, movement and jab. One feels it will take a superhuman effort to outbox the Mexican in Vegas. The climb up in weight may adversely affect Khan. After a weigh in Alvarez re-hydrates well and can weigh as much as ten pounds heavier by fight night. Khan will automatically be at a physical disadvantage coming into the fight.
The odds are stacked against Khan, but perhaps not as greatly as they were when the inactive Sugar Ray Leonard fought the seemingly invincible Marvin Hagler. Khan’s speed remains unmatched in the fight game and as the old adage reminds us in boxing, “speed kills.”
If Khan can utilise the best weapon at his disposal; his speed and manages to execute his game plan to perfection then there is a possibility for an upset. It may seem remote, and arguably it would be unwise to favour him over Alvarez but there is still enough in this fight to make it intriguing and worth tuning in for.
Coverage of Alvarez v Khan is live on BoxNation Channel 437 & 491 (HD) from 1.30AM on the 08/05/16.
The former champ provides a blow-by-blow account of his career and explains why at 62 he is prepared to make a comeback against actor Mickey Rourke.
Roy Gumbs always felt he had something to prove.
As a young man he was told by boxing promoter Mickey Duff, “If you don’t sign with me, you’ll be your own worst enemy.”
In the 70s and 80s Duff and his associates were known as, “The Cartel,” and they controlled every aspect of British boxing including the fight dates, venues and most importantly the television deals.
Signing with “The Cartel,” would have provided support, exposure and opened up a world of opportunities for a young fighter. Resisting them would have been considered career suicide.
Yet, Roy Gumbs did resist the advances of the wily Mickey Duff and later went on to become the British and Commonwealth middleweight champion.
Ultimately, he may have done it the hard way, but by his own admission the point Gumbs wanted to prove ran much deeper than just winning titles in boxing.
“I wanted to prove to myself, not to the promoters, not to the world, not to the public, but to prove to myself that I was good at something.”
Born in 1954 into a single parent family on the Caribbean island nation of St Kitts and Nevis, Gumbs and his mother were one of many families from the West Indies who emigrated to Britain in the 1960s encouraged by the burgeoning labour market.
It was hard enough moving half way around the world but to make the transition even more difficult was Conservative MP Enoch Powell, whose controversial, “Rivers of Blood,” speech incited racial hatred towards the myriad of immigrant families arriving on British shores. As a child Gumbs regularly faced racist remarks and taunts. From the beginning overcoming adversity was a constant battle for him.
The family settled in the industrial town of Slough, twenty miles west of London where Gumbs mother found work and he finished his primary education. By his late teens Gumbs was figuring out what he wanted from life. He aspired to something more than the steady work of a factory in his adoptive home town.
“I always wanted to be somebody, I knew I would be somebody, but I just wanted to find my niche, something I was good at.”
“I tried everything, I would try jobs and really excel in them and then I would quit. My colleagues would always say, “Why you got to quit? You’re doing so well,” but it just wasn’t my thing.”
“I was convinced that I was good at something in the world, and when I found boxing, that was it.”
A young Roy Gumbs in his prime.
Gumbs was introduced to boxing by a close friend, who took him to a London gym when he was aged nineteen.
“My friend took me to London to a boxing club and I liked it. I smoked cigarettes at the time. I had bought a packet and smoked two and then I gave him the rest and said I want to try this boxing thing.”
Considered a late starter, Gumbs boxed for Seven Feathers ABC in London but he quickly turned professional after just nine amateur fights. He won his professional debut by stoppage in 1976 and then lost his next three outings on points. Gumbs persisted and within two years he had amassed a professional record of 10-8-1 (6 KOs).
For a prospect it was a less than stellar record, but it highlights the brutal business of boxing. Gumbs was regularly fighting on the road, all around Britain and Europe, often with short notice.
“I was one of those guys you could call at the last minute. It was usually the day before, I was like a substitute fighter I wasn’t a mainliner. When Dave ‘Boy,’ Green fought Carlos Palomino for the world welterweight title in Wembley I had two hours’ notice before fighting Greg Evans [an 8 round points loss]. My title fights were the only fights I had top of the billing. Everything else was a substitute fight.”
Despite the difficult circumstances Gumbs had to endure these early fights were extremely important in his education as a professional. He admits, “It was a learning curve for me. I never really had an amateur career. I had nine amateur fights in a year when I was 21 and then I turned pro at 22 so my first few fights were like I was still an amateur. When you look at my career five or six years after I turned pro I was fighting for the world title.”
By late 1978, something changed for Gumbs. He began an unbeaten run that would last for the next five years and he established himself as a genuine danger man in the middleweight division. He credits this change to a new found sense of confidence that he developed while working as a sparring partner.
“It was very difficult for me as a professional because I never had any support. I never had anyone tapping me on the shoulder and telling me, “Yes son, you’re on the right road.” I trained in the same gym as Bunny Johnson, Bunny Stirling, Cornelius Boza-Edwards and John Conteh. Those guys gave me belief because I was their main sparring partner and to be in that position made me think, yeah I can do this.”
In 1979, Gumbs won the Southern Area middleweight title with a seventh round stoppage of Jan Magdziarz. Gumbs dropped his opponent eight times in that fight and announced himself as a genuine contender for a British title.
Gumbs explains the significance of the win over Magdziarz, “He had beaten [Alan] Minter twice and it was good motivation for me to have put this guy down eight times. I felt I had to beat this guy in a good way and it strengthened my belief to fight.”
Gumbs was invigorated by his new self-belief but he still found it difficult to move up the ladder and get his shot at a title. Between 1977 and 1979 he fought and beat journeyman Bonny McKenzie four times.
“Bonnie was a very durable guy. He was built like a double decker bus. I kept beating him and the final time I fought him I said, “Look Bonny, if your phone ever rings and if it’s Mickey Duff or whoever, and they want you to fight Roy Gumbs, tell them Roy Gumbs don’t want to fight you no more.” He was a tough customer.”
Gumbs persisted and in 1981, he won the British middleweight title with a third round stoppage victory over Howard Mills. One would think being crowned British middleweight champion would have set Gumbs on the road to riches but it seemed harder than ever to get the fights he desired.
“When I won the British title, Bernard Hart [the owner of Lonsdale] managed me. He went over to America to set up some fights for me. When he came back he gave me my back my contract and said, “Roy, I can’t do anything with you.” I was the British champion and the number one middleweight in the Commonwealth and Europe. What does that say?”
The inability to secure meaningful fights forced him to travel to Canada and link up with George Chuvalo’s former manager; Irving Ungerman.
“Before I became British champion I had visited Ungerman and told him I’d like to fight in Canada, he told me to win a title and then come back to him, which I did. When he managed me I was living in Canada but I was coming back to Britain to defend my title. It was at that time that the British Boxing Board of Control wrote to me and said they would strip me of my title because I wasn’t domiciled in the UK. Ungerman gave me my contract back and said, “You may as well go back to England mate. I can’t do anything with you.”
Quite simply Gumbs was too dangerous an opponent for most middleweights at the time. Gumbs remained in Canada long enough to claim the Commonwealth middleweight title with a fifth round stoppage victory over Canadian Ralph Hollett.
That fight encapsulated everything that made Gumbs a livewire in the middleweight division. During the third round a sharp left hook from the champion dropped Gumbs to the canvas. Gumbs used the ropes to pull himself to his feet to face a standing eight count. Two rounds later Gumbs trapped Hollett on the ropes and unleashed a barrage of punches that battered the champion and forced the referee to call a halt to proceedings. Just to prove it was no fluke Gumbs gave Hollett a rematch, this time stopping the Canadian in four rounds.
By 1983 Gumbs was managed by Frank Warren who took him to Boston to watch undisputed middleweight champion Marvin Hagler knock Wilfred Scypion out in four rounds. The intention had been to secure a world title fight but it never transpired.
A few months later Gumbs lost his British and Commonwealth titles as well as his unbeaten run to Mark Kaylor via a fifth round stoppage in what has become regarded as a classic shootout.
“The Kaylor loss was the one that broke the camel’s back.” Gumbs explains. “That was the one that told the promoters and the pundits that it was over. I gave boxing 150% and at that point I wasn’t giving it 150% anymore. I hadn’t lost a fight in over five years, but after every fight, every manager I had would say, “Win the next one and you’ll get the big money.” I kept winning and they would say, “Win the next one, big money,” it got to a point where I just had enough.”
Following the Kaylor loss Gumbs was stopped in seven rounds by future IBF super-middleweight champion Lindell Holmes. As fortune would have it the losses to Kaylor and Holmes seemingly managed to finally earn Gumbs a shot at a world title. Ironically, he was considered as a last minute choice of opponent for South Korea’s Chong-Pal Park’s in his first defence of the IBF super-middleweight title in 1985.
“I didn’t have a manager when I fought for the world title. Mickey Duff got a call to make a match for Park, I was available so Denny Mancini was sent with me, along with my friend who introduced me to boxing. I packed my bag, the three of us jumped on a plane and went over there.”
The fight ended in disappointment for Gumbs who was stopped by the hard punching South Korean in two rounds. It seemed like the end of the road for Gumbs who promptly retired in 1985. However he made a comeback six years later against the then unbeaten American Ernesto Magdaleno. Gumbs lost a ten round decision to Magdaleno, who would later unsuccessfully challenge Henry Maske for the IBF light-heavyweight world title.
This time it was the end of the line for Gumbs who retired shortly after the loss with a professional record of 26-12-3 (21 KOs).
Life after boxing has been kinder to Roy Gumbs who now lives with his wife in Dubai.
“After boxing I became a house dad and then I ran a very successful restaurant for a long time. I got married and my wife went to med school and she’s now a doctor.”
Currently Gumbs uses his experience as a fighter to inspire confidence and promote healthy lifestyle choices as an ambassador for Club Fit for Business in Dubai.
“To stop me from being idle I teach personal training to business people. It is part of a sports orientated network, known as Club Fit for Business. We meet for breakfast, lunch, dinners and we have experts who speak to our members about finance, opening a business and how to keep a successful business going.”
“I have spoken a few times about how fitness is important in business and how being fit helps you make better decisions. Years ago it would have been unimaginable to think of me sitting in front of a group of high profile business people and telling them how to lead a successful and healthy life, but that’s how I support myself now.”
Despite making his living as a personal trainer and motivational speaker, it seems old habits die hard and Gumbs eagerness to prove himself in a boxing ring hasn’t eroded even in retirement.
He recently challenged actor Mickey Rourke, the star of such movies as Sin City, Iron Man 2 and The Expendables to take him on in a professional boxing contest. The 62-year-old Rourke, has dabbled in professional boxing and his last bout was a controversial second round stoppage of 29 year-old Elliot Seymour in Moscow in 2014.
Gumbs seems enthusiastic about the prospect of fighting the veteran actor.
“I threw out the challenge to Mickey Rourke. He’s the same age as me, we’re both 62, so I said let’s get it on Mickey. His people would like to put it on in the US, because of the pay-per-view potential but at our age there is only one State that would give us permission to fight.”
He continues, “He [Rourke] had a contract for a few fights in Russia, and I’m saying I would go to Russia to fight him. I think if I was a lesser category of opponent he would jump at the chance to fight me. I think he’s happy that the US won’t sanction us because of our age. I don’t think he fancies his chances with me.”
Even in later life it is hard to extinguish the natural competitiveness in Roy Gumbs, but for a man who always felt he had something to prove he certainly proved himself in boxing. The sport may not always have been kind or indeed fair to him but he has endured disappointment and overcome adversity to carve out a successful career in his own right.
Through it all he remains an ebullient, jovial and positive man. Far from being his own worst enemy, he is a living testament to the power of self-belief and determination.
“I’m living the dream.” -Conrad Cummings
The Irish middleweight prospect talks candidly about his career, horrific diets and explains why he describes George Groves as, ‘a big lump.’
Irish boxing has enjoyed a resurgence in recent years and one of the most promising fighters to emerge from the scene is middleweight prospect; Conrad Cummings. The fighter from Coalisland, Co. Tyrone is managed by former WBA Featherweight champion Barry McGuigan, trained by his son Shane McGuigan and promoted under the Cyclone Promotions banner.
The McGuigans believe that Cummings (8-0-1, 3KOs) has the potential to become a future world champion. However for the amiable Cummings, the road to glory began with the purchase of a certain set of weighing scales.
“I was an anxious, heavy kid when I started boxing at the age of nine, but I just fell in love with it. It allowed me to expel my aggression without getting in trouble for it. I was boxing for a year when my coach Frank Gervin told me, “You’re a great kid, talented but you’re just too heavy, but I promise, if you lose weight you’ll win an All-Ireland.”
Cummings reacted to the criticism with surprising maturity for someone so young. Inspired by the belief of his coach he purchased a set of weighing scales and watched his weight for the next twelve months. By the following year, the young boxer had lost over a stone and won his first title; an All-Ireland Medal in the boy 1 category.
“That’s the sort of person I am,” Cummings admits, “very driven.”
That determination would see the young man from Co. Tyrone become a decorated amateur with a run of schoolboy and national titles at junior level, before representing Ireland at a host of international tournaments culminating in a Gold Medal win, at the age of 18, at the Nations Cup in Vienna in 2009.
“Every time I boxed for Ireland I won Gold, the only time I didn’t was during the Olympic Test Event in 2011. I went to that tournament with a weeks’ notice. I beat the Brazilian Esquiva Florentino [the 2012 Olympic Silver medallist] in the semi-final and then lost to the European champion, Maxim Koptyakov of Russia.”
Cummings rebounded from defeat in the final of the Olympic Test Event to claim a Gold medal at the Tammer Tournament in Finland in 2012. His success in the amateurs gave way to his ambition to one day become a professional world champion. In an effort to showcase his talent on a global stage he became involved in the World Series of Boxing (WSB) in 2013 and signed for the Mexican Guerreros. The non-Spanish speaking fighter would spend over a month in Mexico training at altitude, and he describes the experience as, “life-changing.”
“It gave me invaluable experience,” Cummings admits, “I got the opportunity to box a number of European and World Champions.” The time spent sparring in Mexico earned Cummings the nickname, ‘Mr Dinamita,’ in recognition of his all-action style. The semi-pro nature of the WSB provided an ideal training ground for the young fighter, but the decision to remain as an amateur and compete in the Commonwealth Games in 2014 were dealt a blow when Cyclone Promotions offered Cummings the opportunity to turn pro.
“I was in Dublin airport with the Irish team, on my way back from Finland having just won my Gold Medal. As I was picking up my luggage I got a private twitter message from Barry McGuigan, saying here’s my number and asking me to call him. He could have been looking for anything, but I knew what he was looking for. I thought, my dreams have come true.”
The normally calm and collected Cummings struggled to maintain his composure after he had been contacted by a legend of Irish boxing. “I wanted to tell everyone, but Barry told me to play it cool. I couldn’t, two hours later I gave him a call, and I was just mumbling and not being myself. We must have talked for an hour, he told me he had been watching me since I was 17 and I thought I wasn’t even good at 17! But I knew that day Barry wanted to sign me.”
In February 2014, Cummings turned professional with Cyclone Promotions and he has no regrets about leaving the amateur game behind, “The plan was to go to the Commonwealth Games with the aim of winning the Gold medal and then turn pro. I turned pro six months before the games and my Dad said I should have waited but the deal was already there. I wanted to be a world champion and I already had a great manager and a great team. I had to make the right decision for me.”
In Shane McGuigan, Cummings has secured himself one of the most prominent trainers in the UK and Ireland to spearhead his professional development. Before turning pro he had been invited to train with Shane in his Battersea Gym to determine if they would be compatible. It laid the foundation for a solid professional relationship and Shane McGuigan’s methods have added a new dimension to Cummings craft.
“Shane’s all about trying new things, if it’s not working he’ll try something else. The way the fight game is evolving he believes the fighter should be evolving as well. My training is very intense, it’s not really long but it’s really hard. It’s basically circuit training, weight training, sprinting and very little long distance running. It’s different to my amateur training, but I feel my body is evolving and I’m enjoying it.”
The change in training methods also brought about a change in diet for the young fighter, something that Cummings admits he found difficult to adjust to, “when I first started training with Shane, I thought I had a good diet, but then he put me on a strict diet, it was horrific! Meat, fish and vegetables for two months to get my body fat percentage down. It was a bit of a shock initially but I’m enjoying it now, and I’m very grateful.”
Cummings has also benefited from being part of a stable of high profile fighters that Shane McGuigan currently trains. Cummings regularly rubs shoulders with former WBA heavyweight champion David Haye and the former British and Commonwealth super-middleweight champion George Groves.
“Sparring with George was a wake-up call for me, because I had been thinking, maybe I could be a super-middleweight, but then I saw George and I thought, no, I’m definitely a middleweight. He’s just a big lump, a big strong man and a really good fighter.”
Cummings also enjoys a close relationship with his other stablemate, IBF super-bantamweight champion Carl Frampton, “I have a good friendship with Carl, he’s at the absolute pinnacle of his career at the moment, he unified the world title, he has the best fan base in the UK and Ireland and he doesn’t believe any of his own hype. He’s one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, a gentleman.”
Frampton’s success as a world champion provides much inspiration for the young fighter from Co. Tyrone, “Carl put the work in to achieve his dreams, there’s no reason why I can’t do the same and win a world title.”
When it comes to working towards the dream of a world title, Cummings is committed to the heavy graft in the gym. Earlier in his professional career he sparred with Frank Buglioni, Andy Lee and the current WBO middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders. Cummings also sparred with the Nick Blackwell the fighter who recently recovered from injuries sustained in a British title defence against Chris Eubank Jr.
Cummings is somewhat reflective on the Blackwell incident, “Nick’s a nice guy, tough and fit as a flea. It was great to see the whole boxing world get behind him, but I learnt from his experience. I used to let people hit my gloves, but look at Blackwell, he didn’t get hurt he didn’t get knocked down but he took too many punches. Now I’ve seen the end result, and it’s a wake-up call for me. Nobody wants to see another fighter hurt in the ring so I hope he makes a full recovery.”
Despite his ring moniker, ‘Mr Dynamite,’ Cummings is keenly aware that as a professional he has a low knockout ratio but he feels that the pubic haven’t seen the best of him yet. “I don’t think the boxing world has seen my true potential. As an amateur I would get in close to opponents and hurt them, that’s how I beat two Olympic Silver Medallist’s.”
He adds, “As a professional Shane wants me to be more polished, use my jab and take a step back, we’re trying to create that distance, put them back with maximum authority and leverage and be a lot more devastating, I’m still learning and I’m still a pressure fighter, but I am more methodical.”
The dedication to his profession and the hunger for a title has seen Cummings career go from strength to strength in the last eighteen months. The sole blemish on his undefeated record was a draw with the undefeated Alfredo Meli for the Celtic middleweight title in November 2015.
The consistently positive Cummings puts the result down to experience, “I learned a lot about myself in that fight. I was top of the bill, in the Waterfront Hall, Belfast and I had jumped from fighting six rounders’ to fighting a ten rounder. I dropped Meli in the first round and I should have won, but I guess I have to learn the hard way, it’s all part of the plan.”
Cummings is also realistic about the possibility of a rematch with Meli seeming unlikely in the future, “I would like the rematch, but they don’t want it. The quote from his manager is that they have other options. So I have to move on, but I feel I would win the rematch.”
Cummings has moved on quickly from the draw with a comprehensive victory over Victor Garcia on the undercard of Frampton v Quigg in February and he has just announced that he will be fighting the former Welsh middleweight champion Frankie Borg in Cardiff in May.
The fight in May is another step up the boxing ladder with the ultimate goal of securing a world title shot. When the opportunity arises he wants to ensure that he has a certain individual in his corner.
“I’d love my Father [Patrick] to be there, even if it’s just with the water bucket. When I was 18, I was in University and there was a risk of boxing going on the back burner, so my father said to me, ‘Son, if you want to leave university, I will support you financially and every which way I can, to stay in boxing.’ My mother looked at him as if he was mad, but he had seen something in me.”
“He supported me financially, mentally and any which way you could imagine and he still does to this day. I owe everything to him.”
In a sport where so many of the young prospects are portrayed as brash upstarts it is refreshing to learn Conrad Cummings is so down-to-earth in nature. He is reflective about his life and career, serious about his ambition and grateful for the support he has received to get him where he is today.
“So many people have supported me since I began boxing a 9 years of age; my first coach Frank Gervin in Clonoe ABC taught me about discipline; then when I moved to Belfast aged 18, Harry Hawkins in Holy Trinity helped me and throughout everything my family have supported me as well. I’m very lucky to be in a good support system, I think it’s important in boxing because so many people don’t have that and they go off the radar. I’m very grateful for what I have because at twenty-four I’m living the dream.”
For the young hungry fighter, the hope is that those dreams of a world title will soon become a reality.