Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
Having dropped a hard fought tenth round technical knockout defeat to Andy Lee in a classic Celtic war earlier in the year, Scottish southpaw Craig McEwan was tasked with the potentially daunting prospect of tackling undefeated American; Peter Quillin on November 5 in his comeback, however, the 29-year-old has alleviated any trepidation before it had a chance to build up as he has been buoyed by hard sparring sessions with Mexican power puncher Alfredo Angulo.
“McEwan is facing a great middleweight prospect with an undefeated record – Peter Quillin,” said Golden Boy Promotions honcho Oscar de la Hoya of the bout scheduled for ten rounds at the Centro de Cancun in Cancun, Mexico this weekend.
Whilst McEwan (19-1-0, 10ko) is coming off the back of what is his only defeat as a professional, Quillin, conversely, is on great form having knocked out all four of his past four opponents, with one of the most notable in April; a third round stoppage of former world title challenger Jesse Brinkley.
Acknowledging that a match-up with the Kid Chocolate represents a step-up in class for him, McEwan believes he has gone through ideal preparation having sparred with Angulo on a daily basis. The spar served good purpose for Perro, also, as he headlines the Cancun card in a super welterweight bout with James Kirkland in a contest set for 12 threes.
“I’m very well prepared and I think this is the biggest fight of my life,” said McEwan. “I’m excited to be on HBO again – it’s fantastic. I’m looking forward to the fight, it’s a great opportunity. I have been getting ready sparring with Alfredo Angulo six days a week. This fight is a leap for me, it’s a big step up but I am ready.”
Quillin (25-0-0, 19ko) commented that McEwan is not the only fighter in the ring who will be facing his toughest opponent to date: “I respect any fighter I step in the ring with and Craig is going to be a step-up for me. We’ll both bring it all to the ring.”
Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
Juan Manuel Marquez is in trouble, according to David Rodela who is one of the sparring partners currently aiding the training and preparations of boxing’s only octuple world titlist; Manny Pacquiao. The Filipino fighter defends his WBO welterweight belt on Saturday, November 12 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas and the consensus opinion amongst Pacquiao’s spar partners is that the 32-year-old is focused and training like never before…
“He’s very fast!” said Irish lightweight Jamie Kavanagh (8-0-0, 3ko) in front of the mp8 crew during a typical day at Hollywood’s famed Wildcard Boxing Gym, owned by renowned trainer Freddie Roach and the Los Angeles home of Pacquiao (53-3-2, 38ko).
In a mutually beneficial partnership, Kavanagh explained that working with an experienced champion like Pacquiao can only enhance his own fistic repertoire, something that could help his own training as he readies himself for a fight on the undercard of Amir Khan’s WBA/IBF unified super lightweight championship defence against challenger Lamont Peterson.
“I fight at 135,” Kavanagh said, before adding: “On December 10, I’m fighting in Washington DC on the Amir Khan undercard. It’s great experience y’know, [Pacquiao is] the best you can come up against so it’s good to get in, do some rounds and mix it up with him.”
David Rodela, a journeyman lightweight from Oxnard, California said: “It’s always tough [sparring with Pacquiao], nothing’s ever easy with Manny.
“First day of sparring today [Thursday]. I’m really excited… when you spar with Manny you get to learn so much. I get to act like Marquez so it’s cool, it’s fun.”
There have been increasing murmurs coming out of the Wildcard – from the coaching staff to gym-mates – that for Pacquiao, this fight with Marquez (their third) is personal. Such talk is compounded by Rodela who proclaimed that the popular Pinoy pin-up will be the first boxer to stop Marquez inside the distance.
“Manny is out to prove a point and I think he’s gonna knock him out,” Rodela (15-5-3, 6ko) said. “I think early… I think first six – he’s gone. In sparring today [Pacquiao] looked tough and he finished strong. [Marquez] is in trouble. Good luck to him, but he’s in trouble.”
One of Pacquiao’s most reliable training partners, Mexican lightweight contender Ray Beltran (25-5-0, 17ko), also stated that it had been a long time since he had seen Manny so fired up. He told ESNewsReporting: “I’m training with him right now. I see Manny really, really focus on this fight, compared to his last five fights, he’s on the game, he’s aggressive.”
When pressed as to whether Pacquiao had hurt him in sparring recently, the technically-skilled prizefighter smiled tellingly and said: “Let’s not talk about that!”
Ibrahim Harb – Birmingham
Responding to claims that he was bettered by Kell Brook in sparring and that his countryman would knock him out, Amir Khan – champion of the WBA and IBF super lightweight world titles – has called on anyone with video footage to release it the public as, Khan stated: “I used to slap him around the ring“. Furthermore, Khan would be loathe to give Brook a payday because of the disrespect he’s shown to the 140lb king.
“The only big [welterweight] names in the UK are Matthew Hatton and Kell Brook,” Khan (26-1-0, 18ko) explained to Fight Hype.
When it comes to being matched with one of the two Englishman Khan, from Bolton, would veer more towards Matthew Hatton (42-5-2, 16ko) as he says he is the more experienced of the two fighters, has mixed it up with greater opposition and questioned the validity of Brook’s status as a future superstar.
“Matthew is a really good boxer, a warrior… if he gets a title at welterweight then yea, it would make sense and be a good fight for England – especially Manchester. Kell Brook has not fought anyone to be honest, Hatton has fought better opposition. Brook has not fought one good guy or one I’ve heard of. For my 26th fight I fought guys like [Marcos] Maidana, topping the bill in Las Vegas.
“They say Kell is the next superstar and the guy to beat Amir Khan but what is he doing? He’s fighting some old guy [Rafal Jackiewicz] who’s got 9 losses in a 1,000 seater in Sheffield.”
Khan believes the statements made by Brook (24-0-0, 16ko) to be less than savoury. Brook recently praised Khan for his speed but regarded his timing to be the factor that would negate Amir’s fast hands. This, on top of past comments that he would – like Breidis Prescott did in 2008 – kayo Khan.
“I tell you now, I wouldn’t want to give Brook a payday,” said the 24-year-old silver medal Olympian with key victories over Marco Antonio Barrera, Andriy Kotelnik, Maidana and Zab Judah as a professional. “It’s similar to Ricky Hatton and Junior Witter. Witter went about that the wrong way as he disrespected Ricky who was the man at the time so why is Ricky going to give you a payday when you struggle to sell out small arenas. Same goes for Kell.
“He doesn’t deserve a payday from me,” he reiterated. “In the UK, people want it, it’s the local scrap but nobody in America knows who Kell Brook is. He’s using my name to become a star. The welterweight division is packed like never before. There’s so many names: [Paul] Malignaggi, [Andre] Berto, [Victor] Ortiz, Mike Jones, Shane Mosley, [Floyd] Mayweather, [Manny] Pacquiao… they’re all up there but he don’t want any of them. He’s not yet on that world stage. It’s too late for him, I think he’ll lose.”
On the notorious sparring sessions, the ones where Brook said he enjoyed superiority, Khan countered: “The England coaches know what happened in sparring… I was lighter than him and used to slap him around the ring. I know I’m too fast and too accurate for him. He was having problems in his last fight so I heard he’s got a lot to learn. He could develop into a good fighter, maybe one of the best we have had but the way he’s going off, his attitude to the sport, the way he slags me off, I’m not sure.
“I’d beat him,” he added. “I’d beat him easy.”
Alan Dawson – London
Roy Jones Jr remains sharp, fast and strong despite his recent run of elite level defeats, according to the former pound-for-pound mainstay’s sparring partner; Andres “Taylor Made” Taylor – a Pennsylvanian prospect who is fast climbing the global cruiserweight ranks. Taylor spoke exclusively with On The Beak about his regard of Jones Jr, the level of ability the former heavyweight champ retains and their sparring sessions together.
“I met Roy Jones last year when he co-promoted his first show in the Pittsburgh area,” Taylor reflected when speaking with On The Beak editor Alan Dawson. “My most recent fight on August 15 was the third time I fought on one of his shows. Roy obviously spends a lot of time in Pittsburgh, so he also trains while he is here at my gym.”
Known for his forceful hook shot with either fist, head-bound hookercuts cannon-balled from his right hand, his ability to out-work opponents together with his fun entrances that have – in the past – consisted of his own rendition of Michael Jackson’s Thriller (complete with a dance team splattered with ghoulish make-up)… likable American prospect Taylor (19-1-2, 7ko) is certainly one to keep an eye on.
He receives his boxing education at the World Class Gym in Ambridge – a town north-west of Pittsburgh – and can also rely on Jones Jr (54-8-0, 40ko) imparting his wisdom and ring nous as the two regularly spar.
We chatted about Jones Jr’s ascent in the 90′s: “I grew up watching Roy, like yourself. I remember watching the Jones [versus John] Ruiz heavyweight title fight in 2003,” Dres said, before admitting that it was the unorthodox and athletic Floridian fighter who gave him the motivation and inspiration required to dedicate himself to boxing.
“At that time I was 24 and only had five amateur fights over a period of three years. I was in and out of the game and unsure which direction to go. I had no trainer and there was no boxing gym in my area. Watching Roy dominate that fight, coming up from middleweight and win put things into perspective for me… I realised if you want something out of life you have to take it!”
Taylor Made was no slouch in the amateur scene for the Johnstown native won the PA Golden Gloves, was ranked number three by 2007 and represented Team USA – all in just 32 fights (or three years). He fought for pay for the first time in April, 2008, not long after Jones Jr rewound the years to retire Jeff Lacy in the tenth round where he was completely dominant throughout.
Prior to Jones Jr’s fight with Lacy, much had been said in and outside of the industry, about Junior fighting on. Oscar de la Hoya sent a message to Roy in The Ring at the time, stating: “I say win this fight and then call it a day because you’ve accomplished everything you wanted to accomplish.”
Taylor, though, insists that, having sparred with Jones Jr, it is clear he still has key attributes: “I feel like Roy didn’t lose a beat [when we sparred], hes fast and sharp. Roy was blessed with extraordinary gifts that made him who he was. Roy never had to worry about his defence because he was so fast and had cat-like reflexes. Now at 42 hes just adding to his arsenal.”
I pointed to Jones Jr’s three recent losses (Danny Green – 1rd ko, Bernard Hopkins – UD and Denis Lebedev – 10rd ko) acting as fuel for critics to feel vindicated in their assessment that he should call the curtain down on his career: “Yes, Roy had some recent loses. This game is rough, its basically every man for himself – this isn’t the NFL,” Taylor riposted. “A Professional Boxer doesn’t come with health insurance, a salary and a retirement plan. You gotta fight for everything you have.
“Who’s to say what his situation was in the last couple of fights he lost. Without putting Roy’s plan out there, I believe in the very near future you will see Roy’s comeback. To all the armchair “haters”, I’m sure they will be watching Roy’s next fight from that same armchair.”
On how sparring with Jones Jr has specifically enhanced his own fighting style, Taylor said: “It’s good work sparring with Roy – he makes you respect his speed. When I’m in the ring with him I’m not a fan, we are both fighters.”
Dres rarely takes a break from training camp because, at 32-years-old, he is determined to pack as much action into his career – like he has done since turning professional. He explained: “I’ve had 22 pro fights over the past three years so for the most part I don’t take too much of a break form training. We do spar often. You need to put all your training to practice and you need to have a variety of style of fighters to spar with to prepare you for different styles in the ring.”
Taylor, who has turned the sport-proud city of Pittsburgh into his fighting home of late, is tentatively slated to return to the AE Stage in November, either before or after Thanksgiving.