Thursday, August 6, 2009

It’s the Good Life: Intriguing Bouts Ahead (August – November)

None but an incurable optimist would dare proclaim otherwise: it’s been a tough summer for us boxing fans. All-too-frequent monetary disputes and freak injuries appeared to double their incidence, ultimately leaving the sweet science barren for the warmer months.

But as of now, I am free to hoist my writing talents, pull them over my shoulder and (from the journalistic vantage point offered by my publication) announce the wider world: “Worry not, for your suffering is at an end! (although terms and conditions do apply)”

The reader, being entitled to ask questions without censor, is bound to glance askance and ask: “But George, you prodigal son, you, what prompts you to prophesize?”

Let me lay it all out for you:

August, arguably the weakest of these four months, contains a few intriguing cards that, whilst not of mainstream appeal, will go a long way to deciding who gets the future title shots and who is ripe for retirement.

It all began interestingly enough, what with Bradley-Campbell and the Alexander-Witter undercard. Although mildly disappointing, it sets future bouts up rather nicely. Here’s what we have to look forward to:

August 15 hails the beginning of the end (or maybe the end of the end) for the great Roy Jones Jr, who is slated to face Jeff “Left Hook” Lacy. Both men were seriously mauled by Joe Calzaghe at some point, and both have encountered hard times; Jones knows that, despite being the “Fighter of the 90’s” and a perennial pound-for-pounder, he has little choice but to retire if he loses again. Being bettered by Lacy would offer incontrovertible proof of his diminishing skills and likely prompt an exit from the sport. “Left Hook”, on the other hand, needs to get past Jones in order to earn another title shot in any division. A defeat would send him spiraling into the reputation of being a gatekeeper at best, and an anonymous former champ at worst. Should be a decently entertaining scrap.

A week thereafter, on August 22, we have a similar scenario: two former champions, attempting to rebuild their reputations and jockey for title challenger positions. This time, I’m talking about Juan Diaz and Paulie Malignaggi. Diaz, the former linear lightweight champion, is just getting back into the mix after suffering two defeats in his last three outings (to Nate Campbell and the great JuanMa Marquez). Malignaggi, still reeling from the beating Hatton gave him less than a year ago, is looking for a major coup in upsetting Diaz and thus paving the way to more lucrative fights. The victor will most likely win a belt over the next twelve months. The loser will have a couple of years’ worth of work simply to ascend the ranks again. Once more, we should have a good, technical fight on our hands.

That same week, on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights season finale, we will be treated to an interesting undercard that is still being finalized, but will most likely contain Juan Urango against Randall Bailey for the IBF 140 lb strap and Clinton Woods versus Tavoris Cloud for the IBF light heavyweight belt. Don’t miss it on the 28th!

This takes us into the month of September, where we are greeted by several upcoming matches that will go a long way to resolving some in the ever-expanding list of questions pertaining to a variety of celebrated pugilists.

First up (on the 12th), we have stay-busy bouts for Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward, both of whom will compete in the Super Six World Boxing Classic, facing each other on November 21. It’s fairly safe to say that neither will encounter any serious resistance from Gusmyl Perdomo and Shelby Pudwill (the Dane facing the former, and Ward the latter). In fact, Pudwill has only defeated two fighters with a winning record in 26 bouts, while Perdomo may some day exhibit an actual pulse for Kessler to try and work against.

September 12 is D-Day for another three fairly reputable men (in underlined font):

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr faces Jason LeHoullier in the hope of proving his talent to a wider audience, and emerging from his father’s shadow. Although not an impending barnburner, the bout provides intrigue galore into Chavez Jr and the extent of his ability.

Ivan Calderon is also at a crossroads. After being held to a technical draw by Rodel Mayol as the result of a cut from an unintentional headbutt, Calderon plummeted in the mythical pound-for-pound standings, which had almost-unanimously showed him to be in the top ten. Now, he gets his rematch, and is fired up to silence his critics, who claim that, at age 34, Caledron no longer has the impeccable defensive game that has defined him for his entire career. Truth be told, Calderon wasn’t looking all that great even before his cut, so it will be interesting to see how he readjusts.

Cristian Mijares is sort of pissed off; no doubt about it. First, he gets upset by Vic Darchinyan, and loses his top ten pound-for-pound status. Then, he loses his next fight against … wait for it … Nehomar Cermeno. Never heard of him? Neither had I. In any case, Mijares got his rematch and is hoping to win his opponent’s WBA bantam title. A loss here will spell “early retirement” for the 27-year-old, who has looked nothing like his former self this past year. Tune in on September 12 to see if he gets his groove back.

Following this D-Day spiel, we get a weeklong break, before the eagerly anticipated HBO PPV card of September 19, which features Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr – a step-up in weight for the Mexican bomber and a challenging welcome back bout for the recently un-retired Mayweather. The articles on this will come flowing thick and fast as the fight draws closer, so there’s no point in detailing all of the intricacies of the situation in this article.

On the undercard, we have the rematch of Chris John and Rocky Juarez, who fought to a controversial draw in Houston (Juarez’s hometown) for John’s WBA featherweight title earlier this year; John relishes the prospect of facing Juarez in front of an impartial audience, whilst Juarez is on the precipice of the mainstream recognition that has eluded him for so long.

To fortify the undercard, HBO is also giving the ultra-talented Zab Judah a spot, either against Matthew Hatton (Ricky’s younger brother) or another welterweight contender. Judah has always been interesting, if a bit frustrating, to watch, but I suspect he has plenty of fights left in the tank, if he can keep his head on straight (which, more often than not, he can’t).

Following the pay-per-view extravaganza, boxing enthusiasts will tune in to a bizarre, if slightly comical, match-up in the heavyweight division. Cristobal Arreola will face Vitali Klitschko on September 26. *pause for laughter*

Yes – hard punching Arreola, big belly and all, up against the Zeus-lookalike elder Klitschko. It has all of the makings of a mismatch; but the Mexican slugger has a puncher’s chance against the Ukrainian monster, which is more than can be said of any non-Klitschko on the face of the planet. Hey – that’s good enough for me!

Folks – this brings us to the month of October, which (in all honesty) is more of an opening act for the jam-packed November. Nonetheless, it still contains a fair share of interest-piquing fights.

First off, we are indebted to Top Rank for a PPV event on the tenth, which, although not finalized, contains exciting fighters such as Yuriorkis Gamboa, Oldlanier Solis, Juan Manuel Lopez and Vanes Martirosyan. Statistically speaking, the night should feature a couple of good KO’s and some slick boxing; from a geographic standpoint, chances are that if you’re an inhabitant of planet Earth, then Top Rank has someone in their stable who might interest you by virtue of some ethnic/nationalistic similarity. Hence, you might just find a new pugilist to follow this October 10!

A week removed from this Top Rank event, we are treated to Showtime’s first Super Six World Boxing Classic doubleheader, on October 17. This consists of two matchups: Arthur Abraham vs. Jermain Taylor and Carl Froch vs. Andre Dirrell, which will air in close succession on Showtime.

Following this worldwide trip, we shall take a three-week break, thus carrying us into November, where we are thrown right back into the mix with two evenly-matched bouts in the first weekend. First, the heavyweight title fight of Nikolay Valuev and David Haye (which, if nothing else, will provide the audience with gales of laughter as the six-foot Haye tries to pound the seven-foot Valuev into submission). Second, we have the light heavyweight rematch between “Bad” Chad Dawson and Glen Johnson, which will likely determine the next opponent of Bernard Hopkins, for THE RING’s belt.

A week thereafter, we arrive at the piece de resistance HBO PPV event of the Fall schedule – the November 14 bout between Manny Pacquiao and Miguel Cotto! Once again, the column inches on this one will pile up over the coming weeks and months, so elaboration beyond the names of the combatants is not required here. Look for an early preview of the fight sometime in late August.

Following the fight for pound-for-pound supremacy, the first round of the World Boxing Classic will draw to a close, also on Showtime, on November 21 in a contest between Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward.

And, as the month of November winds down, we are privy to one more exciting brawl, this time between Romanian Lucian Bute and Mexican badass Librado Andrade, who will stage a rematch of sorts, following a controversial first fight for Bute, who, whilst winning handily, was dropped with a few seconds remaining in the twelfth round, only to rise after a notoriously long count, which was punctuated by referee Marion Wright telling Andrade to go back to his neutral corner. With both men seeking to bury some demons, and Bute’s IBF super middleweight belt up for grabs, we should be in for a thriller!

So, this concludes our boxing schedule between August and November. Please be sure to revisit the blog for updates on each fight, and more boxing news!

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Bradley Retains Belt Amidst Controversy; Alexander Wins Maiden World Title!

A pair of controversial stoppages ruled the night at the Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage,
California, proving the dominion of youth and power over an eternally underrated boxing virtue - experience.

Tim Bradley was given a TKO over Nate Campbell following an erroneous call by referee David Mendoza pertaining to the clash of heads that occurred in Round 3. Bradley's forehead appeared to make contact with Campbell's left eyebrow; this was followed by a short flurry from "Desert Storm" and a subsequent pause by a distracted Campbell, who was complaining of a headbutt. Mendoza, however, let the fight proceed, and Bradley remained on the offensive for the rest of the round. Once in his corner, Campbell said he couldn't see and the bout was stopped.

Chaos reigned.

The hometown favorite began to celebrate his successful defense of the WBO title, while "Galaxy Warrior" was howling about the unfairness of it all to anybody who would listen. Bradley's TKO victory was announced and the protests intensified. A subsequent interview with ref Mendoza did nothing to alleviate the situation: the third man said that there was an unintentional headbutt, but that the cut was opened by a subsequent punch and therefore, he claimed, Bradley was the true victor. The problem with his explanation? Well, replays show that Campbell covered the affected area with his glove as soon as their heads came apart. And no punch even came close to grazing the left side of his head.

The 37-year-old was taken to hospital after admitting that he was seeing spots in his eye, but not before declaring that he wanted a rematch and a reversal of the TKO loss - to a No Decision. He deserves both of these.

Bradley, too, deserves more than this: he was ahead on the cards and his performance was excellent while it lasted. He deserves a clear-cut decision, or a proper KO over a seasoned vet like Campbell, and not a gifted victory.

"Desert Storm" found a way to nullify Campbell's infighting advantage, and was using his speed and conditioning to outhustle the former unified lightweight champ before controversy struck.

Did I mention controversy?

The undercard, too, was riddled with it. Junior Witter was being comprehensively beaten by a sharp-looking Devon Alexander. Then, after eight fairly one-sided rounds, he gets up, goes over to Alexander's corner, nearly gives his trainer a heart attack, and congratulates the 22-year-old on his first title.

After the fight, he admitted to having reinjured his hand, which had just recovered from a hairline fracture. The pain, which began in the fourth round, according to Witter, prevented him from executing his gameplan and left him vulnerable.

Now, despite having witnessed a mere eleven rounds, out of a scheduled twenty-four, we can safely assume that the best men won both of the fights.

Yes, Campbell deserves another shot at Bradley. But the end result, barring some major miracle, will be the same because the champ fought like an elite pugilist tonight, and Campbell showed nothing but his age inside the ring.

Yes, Witter may have been slowed down by an injury and a cut. But he needs a lot more than a healthy body in order to compete with Alexander's boxing acumen.

If there is any justice in the world, the California State Athletic Commission will overturn tonight's decision, and erase Campbell's loss from the record books. It will not matter, though, because Bradley is too young, too fast and simply too good to be opposed by an aged warrior like Campbell.

Nate Campbell's team has already begun the appeal process and are intent on filing with the Cali State Athletic Commission soon.
Furthermore, information has emerged that the fight was actually stopped after the ringside physician decided that Campbell had blood behind his left eye - hence the cause for all the spots he was seeing. This is generally indicative of retinal damage, so let's all keep our fingers crossed in the hope that the injury is not permanent.

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Bradley vs. Campbell - Preview

After a well-deserved break, I am proud to announce the return of PureBoxingPress. On to the business of pre-fight analysis:

MATCH: Timothy Bradley (24-0-0, 11 KOs) vs. Nate Campbell (33-5-1, 25 KOs).

DATE: Saturday, August 1, 2009.

WEIGHT CLASS: Light welterweight, 140 lbs.

TITLES: Bradley's WBO belt.

LOCATION: Agua Caliente Casino, California.

TV INFO: Showtime ((live) 9PM ET / (delayed) 9PM PT)

UNDERCARD: Junior Witter vs. Devon Alexander (for vacant WBC light welterweight title).

Bradley's Advantages:

If Bradley is to hold on to his title, he will have to make full use of his speed, athleticism and conditioning. "Desert Storm" is a naturally gifted boxer, who has been blessed with exceptional hand speed and a body that is made for boxing by virtue of strong musculature and flexible joints, as well as a penchant for very thorough training that leaves no depths of the sweet science unplumbed.

His punches pack a reasonable amount of heat, even though he has never knocked out world-class opposition, and he is physically capable of roughing it up on the inside, or tying up if need be (a great weapon to use against an aggressive pugilist such as Campbell).

Bradley is also a varied, unpredictable fighter, who can combine power shots with good jab-work to win rounds - especially in the tiring latter-stages of a fight. He possesses a good chin and textbook fundamentals which will help him out in his impending scrap with an experienced man like Campbell.

Bradley's Disadvantages:

Although a solid world champion, Bradley has never faced as experienced an opponent as Campbell; he is thus liable to get caught with something huge if he treats his adversary with the aggressive, hands-down, forward-charging style he sometimes favors.

The Palm Springs, Cali native is also lacking in the footwork department, where Campbell excels and can hence negate the younger champion's superior speed and conditioning.

Campbell's Advantages:

"The Galaxy Warrior" is a powerful and veeeery-complete boxer, who has no weaknesses that are easily exploited, and a lot of tools for fighting inside and out in a smooth, aggressive style. He holds notable wins over Kid Diamond and (in his last two fights) then-undefeated Juan Diaz and highly-capable Ali Funeka. Campbell has a solid defense that makes flush shots improbable, as well as a good set of whiskers for shaking them off when they do find their way.

The Floridan also has one of the best cornermen that money can buy - defensive wizard John David Jackson, who has a useful knack for understanding other fighters' styles and helping his man adjust inside the ring.

Furthermore, Campbell boasts the reputation of an accomplished body-puncher and a versatile aggressor - meaning that he is creative with his combinations, and somehow always winds up doing damage to head and midsection alike. This is going to be crucial against a man like Bradley, whose considerable speed may be reduced as the damage to his liver and spleen stacks up.

Campbell's Disadvantages:

Someone has to do it, so it may as well be me: the man's 37 years old! His opponent is 25. 'Nuff said.

Campbell has looked average in losses to Robbie Peden (KO'd, twice) and Joel Casamayor, and should have done more against Francisco Lorenzo and Isaac Hlatshwayo, where he dropped close, split-decisions. True, he is undefeated in four years and five fights, but the end is looming for Campbell, and many are thinking that Bradley is the enforcing agent from this standpoint.

Outcome Prediction:

The press is picking Bradley for his youth and speed. The underdog is the more experienced and ever-so-slightly-more-skillful Campbell. There are some strange factors at play: Bradley is facing a steep challenge in the wily, old Galaxy Warrior - perhaps even more daunting than Junior Witter. Yet, Campbell has oscillated between greatness and mediocrity with alarming frequency (not to mention his recent difficulties in making weight, which prompted his move up to light welter). Everyone can agree on one thing: it's a difficult one to call, folks.

But I think that the time is ripe for me to go against the established boxing press, and pick Nate Campbell for the upset. Here's why:
Galaxy Warrior is motivated and wants to raid the 140-pound division for titles. I think he has it in him to make one last, great stand against the onslaught of young fighters. In a Mosley or Hopkins-esque twist, experience will trump youth and send the up-and-comers back to the drawing table one more time before the new era dawns. So here's my slight variation on an old Mayweather tune:

I'm tellin' you just so you know,
The old-man Campbell, by K.O.!

Undercard Analysis:

If ever you decide to take an extra hour or so out of your schedule in order to watch an undercard - this one's a great option! The Alexander-Witter fight will provide good value: it's basically two highly entertaining and somewhat-unpredictable pugilists going at each other for a chance at a world title. Congrats to everyone involved in making this fight!

Devon Alexander (18-0-0, 11 KOs)

Alexander is a young (only 22!) and exciting fighter, a decorated amateur and a solid technician who has power in both hands and a style that was designed to give opponents fits. But in challenging for a vacant world title, and facing a man like Witter, he may have been pushed ahead a little too soon; he has no significant victories (although he did outpoint faded former titlist DeMarcus Corley) and will have to dig very deep in order to stop his British counterpart.

Junior Witter (37-2-2, 22 KOs)

News flash: Witter has only ever lost to Zab Judah and Tim Bradley, both of whom are elite-fighters. He has beaten Andreas Kotelnik (recently dethroned WBA champ) and a whole host of contenders throughout his twelve-year career - which pretty much makes him a consistent, high-level boxer.

This is almost certainly his last chance at a world strap and good exposure in the US (a treat to which he was never privy, for some odd reason). As such, you can expect him to bring his notoriously-complicated game on Saturday night. Trust me - he won't disappoint.

Undercard Outcome Prediction:

Once again, experience will overcome youth - for now. Witter by mid-round KO.

Soooo - this is it for another preview! Do keep an eye out for the post-fight analysis and don't forget to say a prayer for the late Vernon Forrest (I'll be doing a piece to coincide with his funeral on Monday).

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jermain "Bad Intentions" Taylor - Impending Resurgence?

Jermain Taylor’s recent record (1-3) inspires a pugilistic desperation generally associated with diminishing skills and impending retirement. So why is he involved in Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic, where he will be fighting the likes of Arthur Abraham, Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward?

Well, boxing fans, difficult thought it may be to believe in mid-2009, there was a time, not too long ago, when “Bad Intentions” was undisputed middleweight champion of the world. There was a certain eighteen-month span during which the proud Little Rock, AR native beat Bernard Hopkins (who at the time was undefeated in twelve years) twice and boxed defensive-wizard Winky Wright to a standstill to retain his four titles.

In late 2006, Taylor was on top of the world. The former amateur standout, who had won a Bronze at the Sydney games in 2000, was an undefeated world champion whose major concern in life revolved around paying sanctioning fees to the many alphabet organizations whose belts he held.

Enter Kelly Pavlik, underdog extraordinaire (at the time).

Taylor boxed his ears off for seven rounds, knocking him down in the second. Then came a masterful feint, a sharp right cross and a flurry of punches from the Ohio native that sent the champ to the canvas and gave ref Steve Smoger a mandate to (correctly) stop the fight. And so Bad Intentions was champ no more and Kelly Pavlik became an instant superstar.

A rematch clause was, of course, exercised, but to no avail. Pavlik beat Taylor by unanimous decision, further confirming the doctrine that rematches will provide the same result as the first fight, only with a more substantial point-gap.

Since then, Taylor has moved up to 168 lbs in the hope of winning more titles. He beat Jeff Lacy to become mandatory challenger to the WBC belt. He was beating WBC-champ Carl Froch by a couple of points on two of the scorecards, until the Brit unexpectedly knocked a spent Taylor out in the twelfth round, apparently ending his bid to become a titlist once again.

But then Showtime (read: deus ex machina) called, offering him a place in this tournament they were putting together. It cannot have been hard for Bad Intentions to ponder this one: three matches, two titles on the line. A contract was (of course) signed, and now Taylor is up against a daunting challenge, in the form of unbeaten former-middleweight titlist Arthur Abraham.

It is tempting to write him off. But let’s think on this for a second or three…

Is it that hard to envisage Taylor schooling Abraham? After all, who has King Arthur fought that makes him look so good? Edison Miranda, Khoren Gevor and Raul Marquez? No disrespect intended to the aforementioned, but Hopkins and Wright possess boxing skills and defensive moves that these three (along with Abraham, incidentally) can only fantasize about.

The real question is this: how much does Taylor have left in the tank? At 31 years of age, after ten grueling fights against eight world champions, one does earn the right to feel drained.

Make no mistake about it: a prime Jermain Taylor would give Abraham and Kessler apoplectic fits with his skill. A prime Jermain Taylor would beat Andre Dirrell and Carl Froch on the same day. And spend the evening with his wife. A prime Jermain Taylor would be a heavy favorite to win Super Six World Boxing Classic. But this isn’t about Taylor, or his prime. It’s about the next year and a half.

May Bad Intentions find his form once more during his last chance to add to his legacy.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Pacquiao Agrees to Cotto Fight - Bob Arum Wins in Advance!

Bob Arum of Top Rank Promotions has pulled off the coup of the decade after wrapping up the paperwork for a fight between two of his most prized boxers – pound for pound sensation Manny Pacquiao and highly-rated welterweight titlist Miguel Cotto.

The stablemates (who are both promoted by Arum) have agreed to face each other on November 14 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas at a catchweight of 145 pounds. In so doing, Top Rank has put together a fight whose gate receipts will border the ten million dollar mark, and which will hope to sell well north of half a million pay-per-views. Since the bout is only for one title and involves only one promotions company, Arum has just scored a major victory in securing what is almost certain to be the biggest PPV event of the fall.

The reason I will focus on economics in this particular piece (rest assured there will be numerous follow-ups of the boxing variety) is the scenario I will put forth for your reading pleasure:

Let’s say that gate receipts total 9 million dollars (as most sell-out fights at the MGM Grand do). And that, as per Bob Arum’s estimate, PPV numbers match the Hatton-Pacman fight at circa 900’000. The calculation is thus:

(54.99 * 900’000) + 9’000’000 = $ 58’491’000

For those of us who aren’t all that great with numbers, that borders sixty million dollars, of which Arum, being the sole promoter here, keeps somewhere between a quarter to a third. Let’s call it a decent 30%. That means roughly seventeen million, all for Top Rank Promotions!

Arum has yet to announce the exact purse split, but I’m willing to bet that it’s in the ballpark of 60:40 in favor of Pacman. That means that Pacquiao, whose career earnings are close to $50 million, will make close to 25 million, regardless of the result.

Notably, the fight will be for the WBO welterweight title, which means that 3% of the purse goes to the World Boxing Organization as a sanctioning fee. This, however, still leaves Cotto with about 15 million dollars – by far the biggest payday of his career!

A number of boxing enthusiasts and journalists will blast Pacman for turning his back on “Sugar” Shane Mosley and his offer to split the purse 60:40 and fight at 140 lbs. Not I – if only for the reason that both Pacman and Arum would have been worse off, from an economic standpoint, as well as a boxing one.

First and foremost, Mosley is not as great a draw as Cotto. The latter has a huge following in New York and is idolized by Puerto Ricans all over the world. “Sugar” is popular in L.A. but was never a major PPV attraction. Pacquiao – Mosley would not have sold more than three quarters of a million pay-per-views, and as such would only have yielded about fifty million dollars, of which Bob Arum would have kept 30% of 60% (the rest would have gone to Mosley and Golden Boy Promotions, who handles the fighter’s business). By the same calculation as above, Arum would have made ten million dollars – forty percent less than by throwing Cotto into the mix.

Additionally, Pacman’s belt would have been at risk, as would his pound-for-pound status against a highly dangerous and seemingly-ageless Mosley (who, admittedly, lost to Cotto but beat Margarito after the Tijuana Tornado had pummeled the Puerto-Rican star into submission).

Of all permutations, Arum could not have come out looking any better. Whether the same can be said for both of his fighters, we will not know until after November 14.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Amir Khan - a mere con no longer!

Amir Khan overcame the odds that threatened to derail his career ten months ago and made good on his promise to win a world title by outpointing Andreas Kotelnik over 12 rounds by scores of 118-111 (twice) and 120-108.

Khan emerged victorious by making good use of his fantastic hand speed, consistently firing off three-and-four-punch combinations through the guard of Kotelnik. The Brit also exhibited good footwork and lateral movement, frustrating the more experienced fighter and finding good angles from which to throw his own barrages.

Kotelnik attempted to stage a comeback in the later rounds, when Khan apparently began to run out of steam, but by then it was too little too late, as the Bolton-based fighter stuck to the high guard that has served him so well in the past three bouts, and shook off whatever shots managed to land through it.

The scorecards correctly indicate the British bomber's dominance; but credit also goes to Freddie Roach, who has masterminded the resurgence of Amir Khan by virtue of a totally revamped defence and a style that does not employ the overt aggressiveness that defined the 22-year-old early in his career.

The newly crowned WBA light welterweight champion, Khan, said that he will decide on his course of action over the coming weeks - although speculation is already rife that he is set to face Ricky Hatton in an all-British showdown, or else fight the un-retired Erik Morales. Certain bloggers (myself included) have been screaming for a Zab Judah match, provided that the latter gets by Matthew Hatton (Ricky's younger brother) this September.

On the undercard, Olympic middleweight gold-medallist James "Chunky" DeGale pummeled Ciaran Healey to a first-round stoppage en route to a third consecutive win to start his career, whilst former Olympian Billy Joe Saunders stopped Matt Scriven in two and Frankie Gavin beat Graham Fearn, also in tow rounds. All three youngsters are 3-0 and are tipped to become top contenders in their respective divisions.

Also on the undercard, Anthony Small pulled off an upset to beat Matthew Hall by eighth round KO for the vacant Commonwealth light middleweight title in an entertaining scrap. Anthony Small turned in the performance of his career, and will now be looking for fights on the international stage.

Whilst Small was celebrating, former cruiserweight world champion Enzo Maccarinelli was left to concede that his career may have come to an end, after getting comprehensively beaten for three rounds by unknown Denis Lebedev, before the ref mercifully called off the fight. Macca has now been KO'd in three of his last four fights, and the former WBO titleholder admits that he "doesn't have it anymore."

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Khan wins Kotelnik's WBA belt!

So - Amir Khan won a clear-cut unanimous decision - 120-108 and 118-112 (twice) and thus receives Kotelnik's WBA belt. It was a fairly easy night for the lad from Bolton, who used outstanding lateral movement, along with fluid combinations and a superior workrate to consistently frustrate the more experienced Ukrainian fighter.

Full analysis of the fight, as well as the undercard, coming soon!