After much bad-blood, Stephen Simmons finished his bitter rivalry with Wadi Camacho by scoring what would have been a satisfying knockout victory in the tenth and final round of his Braehead Arena battle with Canning Town cruiserweight Wadi Camacho in Glasgow on Friday, June 27.
Signing with South African promoters may have been regarded as a gamble by some within the UK, but Martin Murray, 31, rolled the dice and found himself competing outside of England for the fourth time in his last seven fights, taking on Max Bursak in the illustrious surroundings of Le Casino, James Bond territory, in Monte Carlo, Monaco earlier this evening, Saturday. So… is his gamble paying off?
Absent from the ring for one year, exciting boxer Yuriorkis Gamboa makes his long-awaited return on June 28 when he challenges Terence Crawford for the WBO lightweight world title at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, USA. A 50-Cent fighter, Gamboa has a lot at stake in a fortnight’s time… he puts his unbeaten record on the line, can become an outright champion of a second weight class (barring interim belts) and is desperate to claim victory in order to become the first champion under the SMS promotional banner.
In the global boxing landscape Sergio Martinez vs Miguel Cotto for the lineal middleweight championship at Madison Square Garden in New York City on Saturday, June 7 is perhaps not as huge an event as Floyd Mayweather vs Marcos Maidana was for the lineal welterweight championship last month but, in Argentina, they’ll take your knees out for uttering such talk. They’ll play keepy-uppy with your knee-cap in the Buenos Aires streets before striking it back toward your spaghetti legs like a Gabriel Batistuta power goal.
This bout was huge – you better believe.
A Maravilla victory would have propelled him to a massive sporting legendary only currently awarded to footballing magician Lionel Messi, as the diminutive Barcelona attacker – who was responsible for a Champions League goal or assist once every 70 minutes on average this past season – looks to take his exemplary club-form to the international circuit with the FIFA World Cup tournament hosted by Argentina’s bitter neighbour; Brazil, next week.
He’s been a late bloomer but now, in his twilight years, Martinez had been enjoying a pugilistic idolatry previously reserved for Carlos Monzon and Nicolino Locche but instead of reaching Messi-levels in terms of stardom, Maravilla was beat down, embarrassed, out-classed and bullied by Cotto…
Stuart Hall and Paul Butler provided a main event British bantamweight classic at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle on Saturday, June 7 and, while the scoring of the fight split the ringside judges, there was a winner – and a new world titlist as Butler was crowned IBF champ by way of majority decision.
Polarising middleweight Chris Eubank Jnr, who skipped a press conference with Billy Joe Saunders earlier in the week, beat Stepan Horvath in six rounds at the Metro Radio Arena in Newcastle on Saturday, June 7 to take his record 16-0-0, 11ko.
British heavyweight prospect David Price defeated Ukrainian opponent Yaroslav Zavorotnyi at the Sport and Congress Center, Schwerin, in Germany on Saturday, June 7. Primarily renowned for his power, Price beat Zavorotnyi by instead utilising boxing technique, a variety of jabs and a generally cool, calm and patient repertoire.
Forget the Sky Sports hyperbole regarding the biggest fight of British boxing history – there have been fiercer rivalries (Nigel Benn v Chris Eubank) and bigger fighters (Lennox Lewis & Joe Calzaghe) – but none of them ever had this… 80,000 voices providing a drunken cacophony of noise for elite-level, home-grown athletes. In the national stadium, Wembley – a ground the England national football team had just slayed Peru 3-0 in the night before on the road to the World Cup in Brazil next month, no less.
Pre-fight, the combatants had drawn comparisons to their intentions mirroring that of The War, a three-round 1985 middleweight championship battle between two slug-happy maniacs; victor Marvin Hagler and kayoed Thomas Hearns. If anything, it would have been a 168lb version of the Mexican shoot-out between Alfredo Angulo and sixth round TKO winner James Kirkland, who triumphed in Cancun, three years ago.
Whatever the parallel, these tough, promotion-heavy Brits did not disappoint. It was a slow-burner, yes, but this time there was finally an explosive clear-cut finish.
Result: Froch via 8th Rd KO.
Froch applied his signature low guard from the opening round. Unencumbered by the small ring, Groves jabbed and moved – an effective technique against a super middleweight who has struggled against disciplined boxers – like Andre Dirrell and even Jermain Taylor, to an extent. Groves doubled up on his useful jab. Froch had his own lead shots, but when it came to game-planning, Groves was the one effectively carrying it out, beginning each passage of play and able to exhibit a tidy enough defense.
Froch primarily targeted the noggin’, while Groves was more at ease when varying the attention he’d give the Nottingham man’s flesh. Bonce or body; Groves wanted to box. He wanted to bruise Froch’s midsection with jabs and catch his temples with clubbing left hooks whenever the opportunity presented itself – as he had warned him during fight week.
Considering the bad intentions that had been pledged at the weigh-in, Wembley Arena, yesterday, it was no surprise to hear crowd dissatisfaction in the middle of the third, when the audience began booing. Nobody paid for a tactical jab-and-go! What they paid for was a finish. A blood-soaked, balls-out, power-punch crazed slug-off. Or at least the equivalent of when a marlin impales a fisherman but the body is not found until weeks later, when bait is crawling out of an eye-socket on a rotten ship.
There’s to much tension and nerves, once they settle in we will get a war. #whatdoiknow
— Oscar De La Hoya (@OscarDeLaHoya) May 31, 2014
After four rounds, Amir Khan claimed George Groves was in control. He said from ringside: “The only times he gets caught is when he stands there, at the moment I have Groves ahead on points. He’s boxing a great fight and sticking to a game-plan.”
In round six, the small ring came into effect. In truth, the best chances Froch had were whenever Groves was backed against to the ropes. In this position, Froch could peel-off a four-punch flurry to the body with Groves only able to block from short-range whilst taking one or two. When in the ring centre, if Froch attempted similar combinations, the Saint had the space to maneuver his arms into parrying position whilst having the necessary range to say ‘f*ck off‘ with his defensive jab.
Groves lost the fifth and sixth but showed a big response and demonstrated an effective method of mugging Froch even when he had his back to the ropes in the next round. Groves tagged the champion with his prophetic left jab-hook; a punch the Cobra strutted straight into and so was legitimately stunned momentarily afterwards. What made the shot even sexier, was that Groves’ right hand was kept tight to his cheek, in order to protect any countering effort from Froch. Don’t sweat the technique.
While Groves appeared to have all the momentum, his concentration and poise were interrupted by the Cobra who pounced unexpectedly in the eighth round to switch off the Londoners’ light-bulb, out cold before the count could even be fully administered. Groves required at least three minutes to eventually come up from his stool – with both men finally touching gloves after much bad blood.
What a victory for Froch.
Having trailed behind due to Groves’ strategy, Froch fainted then came in with a hook right-hand, which kept Groves’ eyes away from the clean landing big right. This was a definitive finish – he knocked Groves cold.
What a victory for Froch.
Having had to come out the pantomime villain due to the nature of the first fight’s ending last year, Froch had to take the boos despite holding super middleweight gold around his waist, something he retained with this win, on a grand stage, with ticker-tape exploding all over his sweat-soaked frame – the jeers were now cheers.
Froch had a world title before he even progressed all the way through the Super Six gauntlet, coming out second-best in the tournament’s final. He lost versus pound-for-pound candidate Andre Ward, but produced a career-best punch-off with Lucian Bute in his come-back, fighting possessed against a Canadian who has never been the same since. He’s out-gunned Jean Pascal, came-from-behind to flip Jermain Taylor’s lid, bullied Arthur Abraham and got the better of Mikkel Kessler in their do-over last year.
But this topped the lot.
Froch retained his IBF and WBA world title belts and can continue an already accolade-laden career.
“I’m feeling elated, this is the best moment of my boxing career,” said Froch. “I’ve been involved in terrific fights with great champions but I’m proud of this event and so George Groves should be. It was neck and neck in there with me and George, it was close, it was stand-off and sometimes it only takes one punch.
“When you’ve got a punch like I’ve got, unfortunately for George he was on the end of a right hand from a seasoned champ like myself.”
Groves said: “I’m fine, this is boxing. Fair play to Carl, he caught me. I went down… I felt I was doing well in the fight, I was in my groove, Carl caught me… I’ll come back and I look forward to that.
“I feel I’ve let myself down,” the 26-year-old added. “Congratulations to Carl, he’s got the punch. I wish him all the best.”
Froch noted: “Groves is quicker than me but I have more range and height. Timing beats speed. He hit me with the jab at times but the main adjustment was my focus, I stuck to my boxing and I timed my right hand – I knew it would only take a few on his chin. Last time, I was rushing it and I went into one, round one.
“Me and Robert McCracken had a game-plan and that was executed perfectly tonight. I had been working on it for three months in the gym. I’m amongst it in the elite – and that’s who George Groves has been in with.”
Promotor Eddie Hearn stated: “Everything in Froch’s career came down to tonight. George is a great fighter, it was a pleasure working with him, but time and time again Froch has done it and he is one of the greatest British fighters ever.”
Concluding, Froch – now 33-2-0, 24ko said: “I could never top this, thanks to the British fans. To put boxing in the limelight like this, we’ll look back. But I want to fight in Las Vegas. There is James DeGale, who looked good earlier. And there is Sakio Bika. I have had an unbelievable career.”
Stylish super middleweight James DeGale outclassed Brandon Gonzales in four rounds in a bout scheduled for 12, while undercardding the Carl Froch – George Groves main event rematch at Wembley Stadium on Saturday, May 31. The stoppage will be lambasted for it’s alleged earliness, yet DeGale was on a fast-track to electric.
Result: DeGale via 4th Rd TKO.
Londoner DeGale is an awkward operator, some may find him hard to watch, but he does is technically unique. Few Brits box quite like he does and, clearly buzzed by the atmosphere, DeGale rose to the occasion to force a referee’s stoppage in the fourth round, after knocking Gonzales down in the same round. His trainer, Virgil Hunter, was apoplectic and contested the verdict to all who would listen.
DeGale was on fire from the opening bell, cleaning Gonzales’ clock with a left hook so spiteful it staggered the 30-year-old early. The visiting prizefighter was barely given enough time, or space, to fight his way into a rhythm, as DeGale commanded the ring from the off.
In rounds three and four, DeGale was able to assert his physical strengths from long range and picked him off with unorthodox leads and straight lefts to the lips. Whenever Gonzales attempted to steal the initiative, the home favourite’s speed of hand was telling.
Sharp-shooter DeGale showed off his versatility and adaptability in the fourth stanza as Gonzales managed to maintain an inside position but, while he was able to sneak in short-range punches on occasion, DeGale’s strength and glove cushioning position saw him deflect any threat and then force his own attack – which was destructive.
A precise three-punch combination felled Gonzales and, while he comfortably beat the count, he was deemed to shook to continue after a subsequent barrage from the Englishman. He won in four.
“Exactly what I wanted to do, was put on performance,” DeGale said, choked up post-fight. “I’ll watch it back Ed, I hit him with clean shots and he was hurt. He was hurt. Am I ready for a title shot? 100 percent! Final eliminator – mandated. The left hand, bolo to the chin, right hooks – everything. That was a good fighter. I’m just happy. I’m ready; Froch – Groves, I’m ready. I don’t care who wins. Hopefully Groves get’s knocked out but if he don’t, I’ll do him next.”
Jim McDonnell concluded: “Loyalty and trust – two words in boxing and James has absolutely 100 percent stuck to the game-plan. What you see tonight is the beginning of a superstar-in-the-making.”
Anthony Joshua, Olympic gold medalist from the 2012 games, enhanced his professional boxing record to 6-0-0, 6ko on Saturday, May 31 as he stopped heavyweight Matt Legg in the opening round of the introductory Wembley Stadium card, main-evented by Carl Froch and George Groves. Legg gave no competition to Joshua, who is in desperate need of a step-up in terms of opponent.
Result: Joshua by 1st Rd KO.
Legg versus Joshua was somewhat of a local derby for the two British heavyweights as Joshua, from Watford, took on Legg, repping Milton Keynes, a 38-year-old who came out looking to unload with wild power.
Legg heard the opening bell, but failed to box to the end of the first round as Joshua scored with a hadouken uppercut, a rehearsed punch from earlier in the round, which forced the Buckinghamshire boxer out for the count.
A first round knockout highlights a complete lack of competition and a match-up where one fighter is considerably more skilled and/or physically far more impressive than the other, which was the case in West London as Joshua banged Legg out in just 83 seconds.
A fight against Michael Sprott or Matt Skelton would have given Joshua the necessary rounds – and calibre of opponent – to impress, when the world’s boxing media were watching what was/is a historic night for British boxing.
“That was brilliant,” said Joshua post-fight. “I went in there to enjoy it. I saw it’s small ring and knew he’d come out swinging. You can only do that three rounds maximum and if I didn’t get tagged then I’d be able to take him down.”
On being under-matched, he said: “Potentially I feel like I could step up, but experience wise I haven’t gone past two rounds. I’ve come off injury and my next opponent will be July 12.”
Head of Matchroom Boxing, Eddie Hearn, said: “We’ll look to fight Matt Skelton [next].”