Mikkel Kessler is preparing for his Saturday, May 25 pay-per-view showdown against IBF super middleweight world champion Carl Froch by sparring against WBO light heavyweight incumbent Nathan Cleverly and Froch’s promotional stalemate George Groves.
IBF super middleweight titlist and 35-year-old Nottingham native Carl Froch (30-2-0, 22ko) has joined Premiership footballers such as Darren Bent and London 2012 athletes to appear in an HIV awareness campaign launching this month in East London.
The Saving Lives Avengers will feature in posters and leaflets across The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel to promote an innovative offering of routine HIV testing to all patients having blood tests taken in the emergency department. The campaign is a collaboration between Barts Health NHS Trust and Saving Lives, a national HIV awareness charity which enjoys the support of many sporting stars.
The Saving Lives Avengers aim to educate patients and raise awareness about the importance of HIV testing and IBF super middleweight champion Froch thinks the role is an important one: “If people like me who are in the public eye can attract attention to a topic which people might otherwise ignore, that can only be a good thing,” he says.
Among the Saving Lives Ambassadors is London-born England and Aston Villa striker, Darren Bent. “You hear a lot of silly claims about taking a test damaging your chances of getting insurance or a mortgage, but it’s not true. Saving Lives is raising awareness about HIV, how we can control it, and how people can live a long and happy life.”
Nationwide, one in four of those with HIV are unaware they are infected, and the area served by The Royal London has an estimated HIV population five times higher than the national average (6 in every 1000 people). The new effort is designed to diagnose the undiagnosed.
“HIV can be symptomless for a long time,” explains Dr Chloe Orkin, the Barts Health HIV Consultant behind the routine testing plan. “That means it’s very easy for people not to be diagnosed until it’s too late for today’s life-saving treatments to have their best effect. People are still dying of HIV in the UK – but only because they test too late.”
The offer of routine testing is unusual, and aims to show that in high-prevalence areas wider HIV testing can have an impact on the numbers of people living with undiagnosed HIV. Currently, patients and their doctors must specifically request a test.
“There’s still a lot of stigma around HIV,” explains Dr Steve Taylor, HIV Specialist at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital and Medical Director of Saving Lives. “One of the things our campaigns and sporting advocates help do is correct some commonly-held out-dated myths that perpetuate this stigma which make the lives of people living with HIV very difficult.
Getting tested, looking after your sexual health, education and prevention are what it’s all about. If people have taken risks and by that I simply mean having unprotected sex; then there is every reason to get tested it could save your life.”
London 2012 medal-winning hockey player Sally Walton adds: “Without the test, you run the risk of passing on HIV to your nearest and dearest, and even to potential children through pregnancy. Today’s treatments can help you live a long, healthy life – so there’s no reason not to get a test done.”
A similar campaign conducted at the end of 2012 in Birmingham was cited by 16% of 1800 clinic attendees as part of the reason for taking the test – half of those respondents had no other exposure to sexual health messages in the previous 3 months.
Dan Hartland, Director of Operations for Saving Lives said “We would like to make our Saving Lives Avengers resources available to every City council and Hospital in the country. In this way the hugely expensive costs of such a multimedia campaign featuring stars such as these could be shared and lessened at a time when NHS budgets are very tight, but there is still an urgent need for a new HIV awareness campaign.”
The pilot campaign runs throughout the month of April at The Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel.
Alan Dawson – London
Chris Eubank Jr extended his undefeated run as a professional on Saturday, December 1 at the Odyssey Arena with a referee’s decision verdict over a tough Bradley Pryce. Eubank Jr showed good reflexes, decent defence and fast hands. The Brighton-born technical boxer emerged unblemished from the fight and will likely stay busy by fighting again next week, at the Bonus Arena in Hull.
Official verdict: Eubank Jr by referee’s decision (80-73).
“I’m the real deal,” Eubank Jr asserted to Channel 5. “Sure I can look for the knockout… the haymakers. But I want to learn and just get rounds under my belt.”
Chris Eubank Jr has not been mollycoddled as a professional. No. Since abandoning the headgear and fighting for pay, Eubank Jr went skipped four round fights and straight into six round tests. Against cage fighters. Against undefeated Scotsmen. Against durable journeymen and now, this weekend in Northern Ireland, against a domestic-level name with 33 victories recorded on his ledger.
In a similar fashion as to how he approached the aforementioned tasks, Eubank Jr – with Ronnie Davis in his corner – went about his business calmly in the opening stanza. The 23-year-old, easily one of Britain’s most famous prospects (undeniably because of his famous father, but also because of his skill-set), used his athleticism to deny Pryce passage to his flesh while pumping out single-fire artillery.
Eubank Jr double-jabbed well in the second round. He used canny movement in order to keep Pryce off of him and, in between motioning around the ring, landed a left glove on his chin. To vary his jabbing attack, Eubank Jr added uppercuts and straight rights, however, his two and three punch combinations were seldom used, despite their fast and ferocious success.
With the knowledge that he needed to up his output in order to win rounds, Pryce looked to slip the jab and counter in the third, however, Eubank Jr responded well and began to flurry with increased regularity. For the majority of the round, though, Eubank Jr’s pace slowed and thus allowed Pryce to bang his way into contention for points. If Pryce tied the third, he surely had a shout for the fourth as he staggered Eubank Jr with his punch of the night and wisely focused attention to his enemy’s body.
Eubank Jr reasserted his authority in round five and, in the sixth, had enough swag to showboat. In the seventh stanza, Eubank Jr posed in a variety of styles. With a left arm guarding his body he had clearly been inspired by Floyd Mayweather Jr’s defence system. And, in a slow-motion style stalk attack, he may have been watching a documentary where a shoulder-hunched tiger was ready to attack.
The boy clearly is a fine technician… especially for a fighter in just his eighth fight, yet there is still room for improvement when it comes to a: his power and b: his vulnerability in defending his body (he seemed to leak more shots to the midsection than he did the mush). His cockiness, while entertaining…maybe polarising… also got the better of him in the climactic round as, while he was goading and waving Pryce onto him, he ate a number of pounding punches.
“I saw progression,” said Chris Eubank Sr. “Absolutely! He is schooling them [sparring partners] in the gymnasium. He really is.”
The margin of the referee’s decision was generous to Eubank Jr but the actual result was just.
Alan Dawson – London
Carl Froch‘s first defence of his IBF super middleweight world title was as swift as it was brutal as he knocked American challenger Yusaf Mack out with an acute body punch in the third round of their confrontation at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham on Saturday, November 17. Froch’s promoter, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sports, wants only the elite for Froch in 2013 and spoke of potential rematches with Lucian Bute, Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward.
Official verdict: Froch by 3rd Rd TKO.
Boxing with the Stars and Stripes on his trunks and adopting his trademark slick style with his left mitt low, Mack (31-5-2, 17ko) appeared unfazed at the rowdy reception provided by the partisan English crowd. However, like Lucian Bute in May, Mack had no answer when he was bum-rushed by Froch (30-2-0, 22ko) and suffered a flash knockdown in the first round before looking unsteady and ready to fall a second time mere moments from the bell.
Upon replay, though, the knockdown may have been aided by leg entanglement, but Mack’s body language when on his stool between rounds was that of a man who was shocked at the effectiveness of the bombardment he was forced to endure in the opening three minutes.
In the second round, Froch, 35, varied his jabbing to the mouth and to the gut. Midway through the stanza, he threw combinations to the sides of the Philadelphian’s body and, when Mack had his back to the ropes, there was a fan-friendly kerfuffle as both men swapped heavy leather, explosive bombs and egotistical smiles. While Froch got the better of each argument, Mack was no slouch when it came to retaliation and enjoyed most of his success with his left cross.
Froch worked behind his under-rated jab in the third round and his focus was mostly upstairs as Mack’s adapted Philly-Shell guard prevented access to the body. When Mack let his hands go, though, he left his body unprotected and this became his undoing as he was felled for a second time with a tortuous blow just above the belt-line. The decisive flurry included a right to the rib cage, a left to the body and a left to the skull before Mack submitted to his knees and required paramedic attention – perhaps due to broken, or at least severely battered and bruised, ribs.
“I get my body in A-level condition,” said the ageless Froch to Sky Sports 1 following the official announcement of his win. “If anyone comes in below par – that is what happens to them. Physically I feel at my best, I’m smashing my personal bests in training. Mentally, I’m dealing with these opponents. He didn’t come out sharp, I found my range early and them body shots would have hurt.”
Promoter Hearn spoke of Froch’s future: “[Bute and his management have] got to decide whether they want the fight. We’re contractually obliged to go over there [but] I don’t think there is one super middleweight out there – Andre Ward included – who can beat Carl Froch in Nottingham. Bute, [Mikkel] Kessler and Ward. That’s who we want in 2013 and the more fights in Nottingham the better.”
On The Beak – Admin
InterBox and Lucian Bute met with media representatives at the Cage aux Sports restaurant in the Montreal Bell Centre earlier this week. Team InterBox revisited Lucian’s last bout on May 26 and revealed the future plans for Lucian and Carl Froch. Below, is a detailed resume of declarations by Lucian Bute, InterBox president Jean Bedard, Matchroom Boxing president Eddie Hearn and head trainer Stephan Larouche.
- That was not the real Lucian Bute in that Nottingham ring last May, 26. I spent the last few weeks reflecting about what went wrong, what happened, and the only thing that is crystal clear in my mind is that I want my rematch with Carl Froch as soon as possible.
- I am convinced the loss was due to critical errors on my part and that I will beat him.
- I did not use my primary weapons of speed and my jab at all during the fight. I fought Carl Froch’s fight instead of dictating the pace and forcing him to fight my fight.
- It was a bad night for me in Nottingham. A nightmare, really. I lost my IBF belt, my perfect record and I suffered a hard loss.
- I cannot wait to step back into the ring. I am already back at the gym training. I feel fresh, in good spirits, my health is very good and my goal and motivation is to prove to myself and to everyone that [my] last [fight] was just a bad day at the office.
- I do not want to take anything away from Carl Froch’s accomplishment. He was the better man that night. He was hungrier and more motivated and he won. But now I have to look ahead. My promoter Jean Bedard, my coach Stephan Larouche and I have had numerous serious discussions and we have established a plan that I am very comfortable with. In the next two fights I will erase the bad memory from my mind and from the minds of my fans.
- There is no hiding the fact that the result was hard on everyone. But even in defeat, in the locker room after the fight and the days following the loss, I still felt Lucian had the fire in his belly to come back stronger and demand his rematch with Froch.
- Lucian was in my office the morning after his return from Romania to reaffirm his intentions. He looked me straight in the eyes and asked me to set the plan we detailed with him and Stephan in motion.
- In all likelihood Lucian will box in Montreal or Quebec this Fall. However, it is also not out of the question that Lucian make his November ring return in Romania. We are already in discussions with an opponent and have sent them an offer.
- We do have a rematch clause with Matchroom Boxing, which could have been a direct rematch bout no matter the outcome. Matchroom Boxing is a great organisation to work with and I have been speaking to Eddie once or twice a week since [the defeat]. I almost know his number by heart. We decided together that in the interest of effectively promoting the rematch, Lucian and Carl would fight in separate events and that we will coordinate our efforts for both to fight on the same day, in November. We agreed the Bute/Froch rematch would take place on March 16th or March 23rd at the Montreal Bell Centre.
- The Carl Froch v Lucian Bute fight has already gone down as one of the greatest fights in British boxing history. It generated record audiences and a sold-out arena that were treated to what many respected pundit and fighters have described as one of the greatest atmosphere’s ever.
- Carl put in an incredible performance and against all odds recaptured a world title. Both Carl, I and the people of Great Britain have the utmost respect for Lucian for first accepting the challenge to come to England but also the manner in which he accepted defeat.
- Like any fighter, I’m sure Lucian would like an opportunity to avenge this defeat as per our agreement he has the opportunity to try and make that happen. Together with Jean Bedard we have agreed in the interest of both fighters that we will have an ‘interim’ fight and then look to rematch in March 2013. I’m sure this will build into another huge fight and will do record numbers in Canada.
- Team Bute has been analysing all factors and circumstances pertaining to the May 26 bout, including Lucian`s preparation.
- As Lucian confirmed earlier, he is already back in the gym. We want to make sure he stays in great shape.
- We will not be “starting from zero” with Lucian. I want to make it clear to everyone that Lucian did not lose the fight because he was over trained, or not ready. He lost that fight because of several small mistakes that combined gave all the advantage to Carl Froch.
- We are not looking for an “easy touch” for the November fight. We are looking for, and have possibly found, an opponent that will test Lucian and give him a difficult fight. I want Lucian to be tested, to work, and to step out of his comfort zone as well.
Words: Robert Delgado – Los Angeles
Photos: Stacey Verbeek – Maple Avenue Boxing Gym, Dallas
Super middleweight contender Kelly Pavlik, 30, is on the cusp of career rejuvenation having successfully rehabilitated his personal life and takes on Scott Sigmon, 25, at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas later tonight, Friday, June 8. Both Pavlik and Sigmon scaled in at 167lbs at the weigh-in yesterday, June 7 and, Kelly, if successful, could have a choice of bigger fights…
Having relocated from Youngstown, Ohio to Oxnard, California, Pavlik (38-2-0, 33ko) is taking instruction from Robert Garcia, developing his left hook to the body and enjoying gym-life with Robert Garcia Boxing Academy stable-mate Brandon Rios. The 30-year-old is about to engage in his second fight of the year – and his comeback – having already dispatched of Aaron Jaco in two rounds in March. Sigmon (22-3-0, 12ko), though, is regarded to provide as much competition as Jaco, as Pavlik is matched with journeyman-level opposition that will restore his confidence as he aims to land a fight of significance later in the year, or in 2013 against Adonis Stevenson, Lucian Bute or Carl Froch.
Words: Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
Photo: Photo Wende
Technically-skilled 30-year-old super middleweight Robert Stieglitz, who has reigned over the WBO as 168lb champion since he stopped Karoly Balzsay in 2009, will make a seventh defence of the world title belt on Saturday, August 25 at the 02 World Arena in Berlin, Germany, against former middleweight ruler King Arthur Abraham. Stieglitz has vowed to slay Abraham in order to prove he is a legitimate champion at the weight.
“That’s my belt and we are going to battle for it – in the end it will still be mine,” said Stieglitz (42-2-0, 23ko) during a photo opportunity inside the stadium.
Despite Stieglitz’s lengthy incumbency, he has faced censure for the lower level quality of opponent he has been matched with, especially when compared to other champions in the division such as Andre Ward and Carl Froch, both of whom met in the final of the groundbreaking Super Six World Boxing Classic tournament last year.
“I will prove that my championship is legitimate, no matter of the opposition, time or place.”
Abraham (34-3-0, 27ko), meanwhile, is not in as good form as Stieglitz, but is hoping to turn the clock back by replicating his performance from 2009, when he halted American Jermain Taylor. He said: “I’m happy that this fight will take place at o2 World.
“I was hoping for another chance to show my skills in this incredible arena in front of as many fans as possible. I am looking forward to entertain them again, like I did back in 2009 with my last round knockout against Jermain Taylor.”
Alan Dawson – London
Fast-rising super middleweight novice Frank Buglioni never stopped going forward against journeyman Jody Meikle at York Hall in Bethnal Green, East London on Friday, June 1 and won a six round decision – the first time he had gone beyond four. Buglioni demonstrated a predatory instinct, an improved head movement and produced a performance that delighted his fans, his head coach – Mark Tibbs – and promoter; Francis Warren of Queensberry Promotions.
Official verdict: Buglioni by way of referee decision (60-55).
“We worked on a lot of things in the gym, it’s a long slow process and I’m in it for the long haul,” Buglioni (5-0-0, 3ko) said to Box Nation following his points victory. “It’s a brilliant experience to know you can do six rounds at a good pace, keep your head and not get caught up with the crowd. Mark and Jimmy have kept me fit. I don’t think I took many good shots, obviously I took a couple, this is boxing. He’s very tough, with a nasty cut, to go the distance.”
Walking out to a reception befitting a world champion, four-fight prospect Buglioni had the home crowd in his hands all the way to the opening stanza and beyond. A famed power puncher, Buglioni went to work occupying the centre of the ring, stalking Meikle and making his opponent uncomfortable.
For the majority of the second round, mobile Meikle managed to elude Buglioni’s biggest shots with constant ring movement around the outside. Buglioni largely walked with him, instead of cutting the ring off – a trait that highlights his relative inexperience at this stage in his career – however, the Anglo-Italian scored well with a flurry prior to the third minute of the round, battering Meikle with his back to the ropes. Much to the crowd’s delight, Buglioni finished the round with an Ali shuffle.
In the third round, Buglioni’s greater power began to take effect as he clubbed right hands into Meikle skull, forcing claret to begin pissing out of an eyebrow laceration that would require multiple stitching. Even as he lost rounds, Miekle showboated and played up to Buglioni’s 300 fans on the balcony as Frank attempted to catch him in the fourth. While Meikle landed with solitary right hands, it was Buglioni who landed the more telling blows – with greater regularity – including orthodox jabs, short-range shots tucked into the midsection, uppercuts from the inside and three straight right hands one after the other… bosh, bosh, bosh.
Despite obvious defensive insufficiencies in Buglioni’s approach – a common negative in come-forward aggressive fighters – Buglioni did show good upper body intuition as he ducked below Meikle’s shots in round five, as well as solid parrying as his gloves diverted Meikle’s lighter shots. This was noted by Tibbs post-fight, who said: “[Buglioni] boxed fantastically. His defence work was fantastic and when you watch the replay you’ll see what I’m saying.
“I want to see him go up a gear, faster promotions, that will come. It’s hard to pin [Meikle] down, he knows what I mean. I’m over the moon and elated by his performance tonight. Beautiful.”
In the concluding brace of rounds, eyebrows were raised over Meikle’s punch resistance as his titanium skull appeared undented despite a barrage from Buglioni as the crowd favourite rushed Meikle, clubbed him with heavy shots and even rocked his head back with worrying ease.
“I thought that was a very accomplished performance,” mused Warren. “I want to give a massive, massive shout out to Frank’s fans. They make a huge noise. Long may it continue.”
On The Beak – Admin
A light heavyweight world championship showdown between two young fighters in their prime has been confirmed for Saturday, August 11 at Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada, when undefeated IBF world champion Tavoris Cloud (24-0-0, 19ko) defends his title against popular hometown favorite and former WBC light heavyweight titleholder Jean Pascal (26-2-1, 16ko) on SHOWTIME.
Cloud is known as a no-nonsense power puncher, who comes right at his opponents with few frills. Pascal may not equal Cloud in work rate, but his footwork and explosive combinations make for a compelling match-up between ferocious punchers. Both men will be coming in to not only win, but to make a statement as the best puncher in one of boxing’s glamour divisions.
The 5-foot-10, Cloud will be making the fifth defense of the then-vacant 175-pound title he won via 12-round unanimous decision over Clinton Woods on Aug. 28, 2009. The hard-hitter successfully defended against Glen Johnson (unanimous decision, June 7, 2010), Fulgencio Zuniga (unanimous decision, Dec. 17, 2010) and Yusaf Mack (TKO 8, June 28, 2011) before winning a controversial split decision over Gabriel Campillo in February.
“First, I want to thank Tavoris Cloud for giving me the opportunity to fight for his IBF light heavyweight belt and to prove who I really am in the ring,” said Pascal. “He has shown true class seeking out the best challenger in the division and for this he has my full respect. Our styles make for the best, most explosive and spectacular fight possible in boxing. Having been away from the ring for more than a year, I am hungrier and more determined than ever to get back on top. Don’t miss it August 11 in Montreal. I am going to get back on the throne for good.”
Throughout a career that began in August 2004, Cloud has been a road warrior. He’s fought only three times in his native Florida. Pascal, conversely, has had all but two of his fights in Canada.
The co-feature will match budding Canadian knockout artist Adonis “Superman” Stevenson, (18-1-0, 15ko) of Montreal, against an opponent to be announced in a super middleweight bout.
Stevenson has notched 15 knockouts in 19 professional fights in his climb up the rankings. The Canadian southpaw super middleweight is currently ranked number two with the IBF, three with the WBC and seven in both the WBO and WBA charts.
“I am so proud to be making my Showtime debut fighting in this major event in Montreal,” said Stevenson. “I am on a mission to destroy anybody that has the courage to get in the ring with me. I am not looking for any favors or compassion. My goal is to show the world that I truly deserve to be on a major network fighting Carl Froch for his IBF belt. Watch me make a major statement August 11.”
Trained by the renowned Emmanuel Steward, Stevenson got a late start in the professional ranks with a 2006 debut at the age of 29. Now a six year pro, Stevenson has maintained his penchant for knockouts as he’s stepped up the class of competition. In his last five starts, against opponents with a combined record of 107-8, he has overwhelmed them all, winning four of five inside three rounds. The lone exception is a ninth-round KO of Aaron Pryor Jr.
In all, 12 of his 15 knockouts have come inside three rounds.
The 5-foot-11, 34-year-old Stevenson won a WBC Silver belt with a second-round TKO over Noe Gonzalez (27-1 going in) in his most recent outing last April 20 at Bell Centre.
Alan Dawson – London
Carl Froch silenced his doubters – yet again – as the unfancied Cobra, whose venom was not expected to provide such a sting against the previously unbeaten Lucian Bute, killed off the IBF super middleweight champion’s chances within minutes of their duel at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham on Saturday, May 26. Froch fired in an abundance of shots from all angles before stopping Bute on his feet in round five to become a three-time world champion at 168lbs.
Official verdict: Froch by way of fifth round TKO.
“It’s still sinking in, the support has been fantastic,” said a euphoric Froch to Sky Sports One. “After the Andre Ward defeat I was deflated but I was beat by the better man. Tonight, I did right. I listened to Rob McCracken and he never gets it wrong. When I listen, I get it right. Tonight, I was switched on, focused. I came to do a job. I was just on it tonight. Let me tell you, [Bute] can punch, I’m elated though, so happy.”
Froch’s performance was dominant but it was the awkward stance of jittery southpaw Bute that appeared to confound Froch early on as the hometown challenger looked crude in comparison to the more refined champion. The Englishman, though, took heart from his ability to land but, more importantly, his ability to hurt Bute as, in the first round Lucian was cronked with a left hook and in the second Lucian had to clinch in order to recover following a number of shots absorbed upstairs.
While much was said pre-fight about Bute’s portside jab, the orthodox lead left from Froch was the most reliable asset of the two. It continuously found the Canadian-Romanian’s nose in the second but he neglected the jab in the third round as he sent an absolute bombardment of blows to Bute’s bonce, establishing a dominant 10-8 round despite scoring no knockdown. Froch was fierce, unrelenting and Bute was vulnerable and wobbled back to his stool after combat had momentarily paused prior to the fourth.
Froch’s legion of supporters were rallied and raucous when Froch abandoned sweet boxing and opted to lunge in wildly – where he surprisingly had far more success than when he tried to box his way toward openings. In the fourth, he again pounded Bute, landing uppercuts and short-range straights. After 12 minutes of fists, Bute was cut by the eyebrow and a stoppage seemed inevitable as Bute failed to handle the strength, the power and the swarm of shots from a battling Englishman.
That stoppage arrived in the fifth… amid peculiar circumstance as Froch pierced Bute’s guard with a punishing shot. Bute required the ropes to prop himself up and the referee sent Froch to a neutral corner. The crowd and promoter Eddie Hearn, however, believed the fight had been stopped and Hearn rushed in to lift Froch aloft despite the referee giving Bute a count which could normally result in a disqualification.
Bute, though, was not allowed to continue. By the count of ten, the referee believed he was not in a fit state to continue and even trainer Stephen Larouche entered the ring with the white towel over his shoulder, ready to pull his ward out of combat.
Considered the underdog even by bookmakers in his home country, Froch – now 29-2-0, 21ko – did the unthinkable by not only defeating Bute, but doing so emphatically, by stoppage, before the fight had even reached the halfway stage.
“He boxed fantastically well,” said head trainer McCracken. “Maybe down the line we can put [the Andre Ward result] right. Froch is a fantastic specimen, he doesn’t gain weight. When he’s [on it] he delivers.
“He’s one of the best boxers we’ve produced on this land.”