Tag Archives: Joe Frazier

Fight Report: York Hall, London, April 27th – Weaver, Marston And Poetsh Impress In Style

1 May
As featured on NewsNow: Boxing news

Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro – London

Chris Goodwin versus Oisin Fagan, for the vacant WBF Inter-Continental lightweight title, was due to headline the Dave Murphy promoted ‘Thunder and Lightning’ event, that took place at the famous York Hall, in Bethnal Green, London, on Saturday night. However, following Goodwin failure to make the championship weight of Friday, as well as an agreed catch weight on Saturday, the organisers were forced to cancel the Championship bout.
With Goodwin versus Fagan off the card, the headline status moved instead to eagerly awaited professional debut of European Silver and Commonwealth Boxing Championships Gold medalist Iain Weaver, against Poland’s Damian Lawniczak. Weaver entered the arena with the largest entourage I have ever seen take part in a ring walk at York Hall, amongst the twenty strong team were Southern Area Champion Bradley Skeete as well as many of Weaver’s gym mates from Al Smith’s iGym.
Right from the opening bell Weaver determinedly stamped his authority on the fight, landing some superb sharp jabs and crisp lefts. Weaver’s amateur pedigree shined through, his movement and ring craft was nothing short of poetry in motion. You couldn’t help but feel for Lawniczak, who responded whenever the opportunity arose – which wasn’t as often as I’m sure he would have liked. Each time the young Pole had any success, Weaver would respond in kind with double handed flurries, forcing Lawniczak to go back on the defensive.
Round two saw Weaver step up the pressure, unloading a multitude of shots, to both body and head, from every conceivable angle possible. His seriously quick hands were virtually a blur as he unloaded a barrage of double handed shots. About midway through the round, Weaver changed tactics and started throwing hard right hand jabs, often followed with sharp left hooks to the body.
More of the same followed in the third, although the savvy Lawniczak used holding tactics a little more, to keep the barrage of shots reigning down on him to a minimum. In the final stanza, Weaver played to the crowd, keeping his distance to prevent the Pole from holding before stepping in and picking his shots and weaving to prevent any return shots from landing.
To describe Weaver’s performance as excellent is one of the understatements of the year, it was an awesome display from the Dorset youngster, as such it came as no surprise to anyone, when world class referee Micky Vann’s scorecard was read out, it showed a shutout 40-36 points win for young Weaver.
Main support saw another professional debut, this time it was Marianne ‘Golden Girl’ Marston, the protégé of legendary Heavyweight Champion of the World Smokin’ Joe Frazier. Marston, who faced a late change of opponent in Hungarian Gabriella Roman, who stepped in after Aleksandra Jasjukevica pulled out just a few days previously, was intent on enjoying every single second of her well overdue professional debut.
Marston breaks Roman. Credit: Mike King

Marston breaks Roman. Credit: Mike King

On entering the arena, Marston played to a legion of chanting fans, many wearing identical red BoxFit t-shirts to her own, each emblazoned with the legend ‘Team Golden Girl’ as well as sponsors TRAD TKO Boxing Gym, BoxFit, Optimax and Winkball, and more significantly a dedication to the memory of her legendary mentor Smokin’ Joe Frazier, before standing and shadow boxing to her ring walk track ‘Move’ by Thousand Foot Crutch.
About a minute into the track Marston slowly began her ring walk, bumping gloves with the many admirers that lined the route. Soaking up every moment of the occasion Marston finally entered the ring and once again acknowledged the highly vocal and appreciative crowd until the final chord of the emotive ring walk track.
Once referee Ken Curtis had completed his pre fight rule talk it was time for action. Marston lithely prowled her way across the ring to meet her opponent head on with a massive right hand jab, closely followed with a big left, Roman was clearly stunned by the massive early assault, but still managed to cover up just as a second double handed barrage was thrown, closely followed up with a big left to the head sending the Hungarian girl to the canvas.
Roman recovered sufficiently to box defensively against the ever forward moving Marston, however after about twenty seconds or so Marston corralled the Hungarian in her own corner, with nowhere to go Roman covered up in preparation for yet another double handed assault.
As the seemingly never ending barrage rained down Roman succumbed to the inevitable and went down for a second time. With barely enough time to catch her breath Roman once again was forced to cover up, as Marston continued to throw massive double handed barrages. The onslaught proved too much for Roman, who had let her hands drop enough for Marston to land a big right to the head, followed by an equally vicious left to send her reeling against the corner post.
Marston could smell blood and pounced in for the kill, first landing a massive overhand right closely followed by another wicked left hook, which shook Roman to the core. Then, on the one minute forty seven second mark, just as Marston was about to throw yet another big left to the head of the clearly disoriented Hungarian, referee Ken Curtis jumped in to save the now virtually defenseless Roman from further punishment.
As soon as she realised it was over and she had won, an ecstatic Marston turned towards the legion of fans to her left and made an emotional statement, dedicating her victory to the memory of her mentor Smokin’ Joe Frazier.
Prior to the mid-event break Ideh Ockuko faced Brendan Bean. The first round started quite edgily, as both men played a waiting game, but soon livened up about midway through, first to go on full attack was Ockuko who first backed Bean up before letting rip with a solid right. Bean stepped up to the plate and went toe to toe with Ockuko for the final quarter of the round.
Second round started as the first ended with both men in centre ring with big exchanges, Ockuko decided to mix things up a bit, slipping in a series of big shots to the body followed by a wickedly quick sharp uppercut, which if it had landed would surely have knocked Bean out cold. Throughout the round both men fought their hearts out, but it was Ockuko who was landing the better shots.
Round three was more of the same, again Ockuko landed the best shots throughout, including a sweet left uppercut. Both men slowed the pace in the final round, but as before it was Ockuko getting best from each exchange.
When referee Paul Thomas’ score card was read out it rightly showed Ockuko as the victor, but by a surprising 39-37 points margin, whereas I had it as a shutout 40-36 points victory for Ockuko.
Third fight of the night pitched Chris Rackley against the Hjag Gill. It was a quick start by both combatants, although most shots from either man failed to penetrate the others guard in the early exchanges. First clean shot came from Gill, who landed a peach of a body shot. From then on it was Gill totally dominating the round, leaving Rackley to go more and more defensive, with the odd counter to the body of the elusive Gill.
Throughout the second round Gill’s superior movement caused Rackley to miss way too often, which in turn left openings for Gill to pounce and rough Rackley up.
However as the second round came to a close Rackley had started to get a little success, landing a succession of clean shots in the final seconds. Round three see Rackley start to take control of the fight, forcing Gill onto the back foot. Gill fought well defensively but by the end of the round Rackley was well in control.
With the fight in the balance it came as no surprise that both combatants came out hard and fast in the final round. Almost right from the start the crowd were on their feet, as a true toe to toe Battle Royale ensued.
Both men enjoyed success throughout, however it was Rackley that landed the more meaningful shots, enough to win the round, which in turn proved to be enough to secure the contest, by a close 39-38 points victory.
The second fight of the night pitted Scrappa Smith against Lewis van Poetsh. Right from the off Poetsh pressured Smith, who kept trying to get his jab going to try and stymie the relentless forward coming attacks from Poetsh without much success. Poetsh was getting more and more success, landing vicious left and rights to the body.
More of the same in the second, although Smith was getting some good success when working on the inside, problem was Poetsh was getting more! About midway through Poetsh landed a scintillating left-right combination which clearly hurt Smith, so much so that Scrappa became more defensive minded, which left Poetsh opportunity after opportunity to showcase his excellent boxing skills.
The pace slowed in round three, Smith used his jab effectively in the early part of the round, but by the midway point Poetsh had once again began to exert his authority and was able to pick of Smith at will.
Realising he was behind, Smith went hard on the attack in the final stanza, leaving Poetsh no option but to counter, which he did rather effectively, so much so that once again he had landed the more meaningful shots.
Even before referee Mickey Vann’s scorecard was read out it was clear an upset was on the cards, so no surprises then when the result showed a 39-37 points victory in favour of Poetsh.
Opening up the show was Mark Douglas versus Dmitri Kalinovskij. Douglas shot out of his corner like an Olympic sprinter, when the bell rang to start the contest, quickly closing down Kalinovskij and landing a storming overhand right that had clearly stunned the Lithuanian visitor. Douglas then went to work, throwing bomb after bomb to head and body, Kalinovskij tried to counter at any given opportunity but the pressure from Douglas proved too much and around the two minute mark, Douglas sent the Lithuanian to the canvas with massive right.
Douglas kept up the pressure in the second, pounding Kalinovskij’s body with big left and right hands, around the one minute mark the Lithuanian found himself backed into the corner, Douglas stepped in and started letting rip with big left and rights. After about ten to fifteen seconds of pounding, with nothing coming back from Kalinovskij, referee Paul Thomas had no option but to step in to save the Lithuanian further punishment.
Have to say it was so refreshing to attend a small hall show where there fights were properly matched, something lacking on the British scene for a long while, where instead so called prospects are getting ridiculously easy fights way too far into their career.
Dave Murphy and his crew deserve a big slap on the back for keeping the show on track, not an easy task with not only the loss of the Goodwin-Fagan title fight, but also the loss of the proposed main support bout, Dean Byrne versus Jay Morris for the vacant International Masters Welterweight title just days previously.
The reason Byrne-Morris failed to materialise is very different to that of the headline bout, in this case the British Boxing Board of Control told BBBoC license holders taking part, stating that if they take part in the event it will be deemed they have resigned their license with the board or at least put their license holding in jeopady. Hmm, that sounds familiar, didn’t they do the same prior to David Haye versus Dereck Chisora back in July last year!
In addition to the loss of the two main fights, just ten days before the event Murphy and his crew also had to find new sanctioning, following the Luxembourg Boxing Federation, who sanctioned the infamous Haye-Chisora event at Upton Park last year, pulled out after pressure exerted on them by the Luxembourg Sports Ministry, following the BBBofC contacting the Luxembourg Embassy in London to complain about the LBF sanctioning another event in the UK.
However, after some nifty negotiations with the extremely efficient German Boxing Association (GBA), which was only finalised on the preceding Monday, the show was back on track.

As I said the show was of a much higher standard, bout matching wise, than we are used to here in the UK. Hopefully that means all future events, sanctioned by the GBA in the UK, will be to the same high standards, if it is that can only be good for the sport.

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Nonito Donaire can be my Joe Frazier, my Muhammad Ali – Robert Garcia

12 Jan

Robert Delgado – Los Angeles

Famed Mexican-American trainer Robert Garcia, who owns a flourishing boxing academy in Oxnard, California, has heralded a fighter from his stable as boxing’s next superstar. Two-weight world champion Nonito Donaire can be “my next Joe Frazier, or my next Muhammad Ali,” a kindled Garcia stated this week. Donaire is on the cusp of transcending his popularity due to a highlight-reel knockout win over a previously unstoppable Fernando Montiel last year.

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Donaire will hope for improvement upon New York performance. Credit : Chris Farina - Top Rank

A ferocious puncher in the lower-weight classes, Donaire (27-1-0, 18ko) has two stoppage victories that are regarded to be the best of the years they were triumphed in. In 2007, against teak tough Armenian, Vic Darchinyan, Donaire did the unthinkable and forced a fifth round technical knockout win over a fighter who still, to this day, has gone the distance with every other fighter he has been in the ring with. Four years later, Donaire repeated the feat against Fernando Montiel, crashing the resilient Mexican onto the canvas inside two rounds.

This brace of knockout wins punctuates other solid wins over Luis Maldonando, Moruthi Mthalane, Hernan Marquez and Vladimir Sidorenko, however, Garcia believes that the 29-year-old, who has won full world championships at flyweight and bantamweight, has “unlimited potential”.

Speaking to The Ring, he continued: “Nonito is very strong and talented. He’s so fast, so powerful when he gets into the ring that he could be my next Joe Frazier, or my next Muhammad Ali but that’s only something that we’ll see in the next few years.

“Nonito has had a great year this past year, but it’s only the beginning. No one knows what he can bring yet. Nonito’s got dreams. So there is nothing that can stop him. Nonito has all of the talent and the potential to be among the greatest. That would be something great for my career as a trainer. There is no telling what honour he can bring to himself and to me, as well.”

Donaire, though, fought just twice in 2011 and his most recent performance, a decision win over Omar Narvaez, was underwhelming, largely because of the stringent door-bolt defence employed by the Argentinean. The Filipino Flash wants to box at least four times in 2012 and already has his next bout booked, against Wilfredo Vazquez Jr, a Puerto Rican prizefighter who formerly championed the WBO super bantamweight title.

The WBO belt at 122lbs is now vacant and will be awarded to the winner of February 4 fight, staged at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas.

Garcia believes fans will be able to see the Donaire of old – the switch-hitting, made-for-TV, headhunter – rather than the one who was unable to score a knockout over Narvaez in October, 2011. Whilst admitting Vazquez would represent a “tough” challenge, Garcia said: “This will be a fight where I think that you will see the best out of Nonito, and that he will succeed in. He’ll come out with a win.”

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P4P star Giovani Segura fights in Manila on Dec 11, marking another historic day in Philippine boxing

7 Dec

JM Siasat – Metro Manila

In the world of boxing, the Philippines is widely known for hosting the event some regard to be the most brutal fight in pugilistic history; the ‘Thrilla in Manila’, a global event where two American fighters: Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, gave it all they had inside the squared circle. It was a non-stop bout full of action where Ali triumphed as the late Smokin Joe retired in his corner at round 14 leaving Filipinos and boxing fans all over the world with an unforgettable fight…

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Fast forward to April 19, 2009 and another historic day in Philippine boxing was marked as it held its first ever double world championship card with Nonito Donaire fighting Raul Martinez as a main event with Brian Viloria’s fight with Ulises Solis the co-main event.

The fight gathered mass media attention, the fans were all over the event and gathered in the same arena where Ali and Frazier met. The Araneta Coliseum was packed with thousands of supporting fans who Donaire and Viloria showed their token of appreciation for as they both won their respective matches by stoppage.

The next day, the fight results were on the front page of almost every local newspaper in the Philippines.

This coming December 11, 2011 will mark yet another historic day in Philippine boxing as Brian Viloria (29-3-0, 16ko) defends his WBO flyweight world title for the first time against the hard hitting Mexican southpaw, Giovanni Segura (28-1-1, 24ko).

Viloria, coming of a hard-fought unanimous decision win in Hawaii against Julio Cesar Miranda, will be in no doubt the crowd favourite as they fight in the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City, Philippines.

Viloria will need all the cheer and support he can get from his Filipino fans as he is to face the biggest challenge in his boxing career – fighting the former WBO light flyweight world champion and number nine ranked (The Ring) pound-for-pound fighter in Giovani Segura.

It’s not often the Filipino fans will get to see a pound-for-pound fighter set foot on Philippine soil and fight for a world title against a home fighter. To add more reason to come, boxing legends: Marco Antonio Barrera and Julio Cesar Chavez Sr will be at ringside to commentate for the Mexican TV broadcast.

This is an event Filipino boxing fans can’t afford to miss. From VIP tickets being sold at 530php ($13), to ringside: 427php ($10), courtside: 267php ($6) and bleachers: 107php ($3) there is no reason for a boxing fan to not come and watch.

I invite all the Filipino fight fans to bring live support for our fighter and take this opportunity to grace a pound-for-pound boxer fighting in our homeland.

They rarely bring this good of an event in the Philippines, after this we don’t know if there will be another one.

For comments, suggestions and feedbacks you can email jm1boxing@ymail.com or join our boxing community here.

Related article: Exclusive: Rising Filipino star Laurente targets Senchenko, warm to Mayweather

Related article: Pacquiao addresses doubtful Filipino fans but leaves bad taste in the mouth

Related article: For local Philippine boxing scene to thrive, it needs to emulate foreign methods

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Fight Photo: Muhammad Ali and Ken Norton celebrating Thanksgiving together

28 Nov

Iceman John Scully – Hartford

“With the recent passing of [Joe] Frazier and [Ron] Lyle I thought this photo was right on time. Thanksgiving, 2011 (from Hana Ali’s collection),” wrote friend of On The Beak, Iceman John Scully in an email to editor Alan Dawson. Pictured below are Muhammad Ali (left), who endured one of boxing’s most famous fistic trilogies with Frazier as well as an 11th round teekayo win over Lyle, and Ken Norton (right), who went 1-2, 0ko with Ali in three bruising bouts.

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From Hana Ali's collection, courtesy of Iceman John Scully

Related article: Boxing community united in support for cancer-stricken Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali in disbelief

Related article: My personal memories of the late, great Smokin’ Joe Frazier

Related article: International Boxing Hall of Fame remembers Ron Lyle

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Fight Photos: Tecate girls, Thierry Henry and Pacquiao and Marquez’s wounds of war

14 Nov

All Pictures: Stacey Verbeek – Maple Avenue Boxing Gym, Dallas

On The Beak‘s fight photographer Stacey Verbeek was on site, at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, and caught all the action of the weekend’s marquee contest between decorated Filipino champion of eight weight classes, Manny Pacquiao, and his Mexican nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday, November 12. Pacquiao edged it on the judges’ scorecards, but JuanMa again walked away convinced he had won (full report here)…

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Tecate girls brighten up a city already known for it's lights

The late, great Joe Frazier received the ten bells salute

Chivas forward Juan Pablo Angel and New York Red Bulls striker (and Arsenal's all-time record goalscorer) Thierry Henry

A prepped and ready to go Pacquiao on the big screen inside the Arena

After 12 hardcore rounds, Marquez believed he had done enough to win

The hordes of the fight game's media gathered at the post-bout press conference

Pacquiao said after the fight that it 'was very clear' he was the winner

Marquez explained it was only three people (the judges) who saw a Pacquiao win, 'Viva Mexico!'

Dinamita fans expressed their distaste with Manny's majority decision win with angry chanting

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Lynes beats Purdy to become two-time champ, rising stars Ryder and Ochieng shine

10 Nov

Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro – London

Former British, European and IBO world champion Colin Lynes added a second Lonsdale belt to his collection after comprehensively beating defending champ Lee Purdy in a storming war at York Hall, on November 9. The scintillating British title battle was a fitting finale to an evening of top class boxing from some of the best young prospects from the UK, headed by the likes of the sensational pairing Erick ‘The Eagle’ Ochieng and John Ryder, and beyond.

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Victorious Lynes with the Lonsdale belt. Credit: Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro

Prior to the start of the Purdy-Lynes British title fight, a standing ten bell was sounded in honour of legendary heavyweight champion of the world; Smokin’ Joe Frazier, who had passed away on Tuesday.

With a chorus of Lyno, Lyno, Lyno, echoing around the hallowed York Hall, the opening bell rung. In an instant, defending champ Purdy and challenger Lynes moved in unison to meet centre ring, no hanging around or feeling out with this pair. Lynes threw the first shot, a stinging stiff jab… Purdy went to counter but Lynes moved out of range before returning another powerful jab.

Throughout the first three rounds Lynes totally dominated, having neutralised Purdy’s game plan with his world class ring craft, the aforementioned exquisite jabbing and lightning quick combinations. That’s not to say that Purdy never landed a shot – he did, but Lynes would respond each time with a flurry of shots to outscore Purdy three or four to one and, as such, I scored each of these rounds to Lynes.

The fourth round was a much closer affair, as in the early rounds Lynes calmly stayed on the back foot to pick off the forward coming champ, however, Purdy started to get a little more success on each foray and so I scored this round a draw. The fifth started with Purdy getting some good success, after about thirty seconds or so he landed a cracking right, Lynes just shock it off and returned a big left-right of his own. Normal service then resumed with Lynes controlling the proceedings right up to the final few seconds when Purdy again managed to get through Lynes’ defense to land another solid right. Lynes had landed not just the biggest numbers but also the most meaningful shots throughout to win the round in my book.

Purdy stepped-up the pressure in the sixth, but no matter how hard he pushed, he couldn’t seem to find a way past the excellent Lynes defense or jab. As every round before it was non-stop action and, as before, the vast majority of the point-scoring work was coming from Lynes, who as we headed into the seventh, I had ahead by five clear rounds. Now, as I said, each previous round was action packed, however, in the seventh, somehow these warriors managed to pack even more in. This round had to have been one of the best rounds of the year so far. Purdy was clearly aware his hopes of retaining the coveted belt were fading so he changed to an even higher gear and really went for it. However, Lynes seemed fully prepared for this change in tactics and had also increased his own work ethic.

The assembled crowd, as well as those watching live on Sky Sports, were treated to three minutes of pure pugilistic heaven. Both protagonists reached deep into their well stocked arsenal of punches as the toe-to-toe battle raged on. Once again, Lynes out-boxed Purdy… no matter what ‘Lights Out’ tried, Lynes did it better. Purdy would land a big right, Lynes would return with an even heavier right, followed by a left or a hook to the body, so much so that again, I scored it in the Hornchurch man’s favour.

Somehow these two prizefighters kept up the same pace for the eighth round. Purdy initially had some success and got through with a couple of solid rights, however, Lynes was in the zone and just plain out boxed Purdy. Late on in the round, a cut appeared over Purdy’s right eye whilst Lynes had landed a fair few solid punches in the round. In all honesty, I feel it was just the high level of solid jabs Purdy had absorbed throughout the bout that had caused the cut. After three minutes of explosive action Lynes again took the round in my book.

Now bear in mind that I said round seven was probably one of the best rounds of the year, and round eight was not far off, well… they were surpassed as the ninth was nothing short of sensational. It was a bloody slugfest of almighty proportions. For virtually the whole round, the pair went at it hammer and tongs. Purdy was beginning to get desperate, throwing wild shots that Lynes avoided with ease and, to make matters worse, the cut over his eye was gushing blood.

As we headed into the tenth, I had Lynes a clear eight and half rounds up, plus Purdy was badly cut. Purdy needed a knockout as a couple of knockdowns would not have sufficed. The tenth started at the same pace as the ninth although, this time, Lynes was on the front foot chasing down the wounded Purdy. Again, it was a sublime round as Lynes was boxing sensationally, Purdy got more ragged as the round goes on and, with about fifty seconds to go, Purdy was sent crashing to the canvas. I have to say that I didn’t actually see what punch did the deed as it came during a wicked high-paced exchange between the two.

When the bell sounded to end the round, Purdy’s supporters started leaving in droves. Whilst I am used to seeing this at football (soccer) matches, I’ve never seen this at a boxing match. As we started the first of the championship rounds, Lynes’ supporters, who had been vocal throughout, raised the decibel levels as all we could hear was a chorus of ‘Lyno, Lyno, Lyno!’ as the fighters engaged.

A virtual replay of the ninth round ensued, sensational toe-to-toe slugging sessions interspersed with back and forth action, in the final seconds Lynes made yet another massive attack and backed Purdy up with another double-handed flurry of heavy shots. As before, Lynes again dominated the majority of the time to secure yet another round.

Purdy was clearly aware he needed a knockout to stand any chance of retaining his crown and came out strong in the final round, to no avail though, as Lynes was in sensational form and countered everything Purdy threw at him. With just over a minute of the bout remaining, Lynes instigates yet another toe to toe exchange much to the horror of his coaches Jimmy and Mark Tibbs… Mark started screaming from ringside at Lynes to not take any risks and to get back to the jab and keep it long, but the warrior inside Lynes was in control and the phone-box barnburner more or less continued to the final bell.

Whilst there was no doubt in my mind, or anyone else’s at York Hall come to that, that Lynes was the new British welterweight champion, it wasn’t until the judges scorecards were read out that the celebrations could start in earnest. The look on MC John McDonald’s face when he glanced at the scores indicated that they may not be as clear cut as the fight was, then when he decided to check with Southern Area chairman Mick Collier, I feared that this could be yet another contentious result. Sure enough there was something very wrong with one of the judges scores. Whilst two of the judges scored the bout in Lynes’ favour – Richard James Davies who scored it 119-110 and Mark Green who scored it 117-112 – the third judge, Ian John-Lewis, scored this heavily one sided bout a 114-114 draw – incredible!

Chris Evangelou v Joel Ryan

The reason I had made the comment ‘yet another contentious result’ is that the result for the preceding bout  – between Chris Evangelou and Joel Ryan – was more than a little dubious. Evangelou started strong but Ryan soon got to grips with the normally slippery customer and started to control the bout from around the mid-point of the first round. Evangelou, who is used to having it all his way, was denied any room to work, Ryan kept ‘Flash’ on the back foot and picked him off with double handed flurries of shots.

I scored the first round a draw, even though Ryan had done the majority of the work, as well as thrown more shots, the couple of shots Evangelou had landed were exceptional. In my book, Ryan easily earned the second and third rounds. The 21-year-old from Walsall outworked ‘The Flash’ throughout, he not only worked harder but also threw, and landed, far more shots than the designated ‘home’ fighter.

The final round was all Ryan… he plain out boxed Evangelou – who barely threw a meaningful punch all round. Midway through the round, Evangelou’s normally highly vocal fans, who had been silenced by Ryan’s dominating performance as early as the second minute of the first round, came to life screaming at their man to do something, Evangelou responded but Ryan shrugged it off and returned with a big flurry of his own to silence the crowd once more. Imagine my surprise, as well as that of the majority of the crowd, when the result was announced as 39-37 in favour of Evangelou.

Mike Perez v Zack Page

Prior to the Evangelou-Ryan bout was an international heavyweight contest between Ireland-based Cuban; Mike Perez, and Ohio, USA’s Zack Page. It’s always good to see the heavyweights in action, to have two heavyweight bouts on the same show is a real treat, especially when one features such a talent as Mike Perez.

Perez set out his stall early, he was looking for a big knockout finish – that’s for sure. Virtually his first big shot shook the durable Page, but the American wasn’t gone to just roll over, after all, he’d come to fight. Page used his ring savvy, to stay out of range as much as possible, as well as his jab to good effect. Perez wasn’t deterred one iota and just kept walking his prey down before launching forward with big shot after big shot.

Throughout the bout Perez looked dangerous, you couldn’t help but feel that Page would end up on the canvas, it really was a matter of when, not if. Page’s first visit to canvas came early in the third, but was rightly waved off as it was more a comedy of errors than a punch that sent the off-balance American back-stepping across the ring, before landing on his ass. A short while later, Perez takes a visit to the deck but, again, this was waved off as it was a slip.

Page’s second visit most definitely was a knockdown, again this was in the third stanza. Perez launched himself forward and connected with a solid left to the body to send the American down. Both fighters settled down in the fourth to put on a great show of boxing for the crowd. Perez was by far the more effective but you can’t take anything away from Page. He resisted the urge to stay on his toes and took the fight to Perez at times. One really good exchange saw Page mirror Perez’s southpaw stance and the instant result saw the pair simultaneously land solid right hand jabs. Perez kept pushing forward and let off a lightning quick right-left.

Perez started to pile on the pressure in the fifth. The pace may have been slower but the big punches really started to fly. When the round ended, no-one was left in any doubt on just how durable Page’s chin was. I mean, he took four thunderously heavy lefts and just shrugged them off.

There was another trip to the canvas for both Page and Perez in the sixth, Page seemed to slip and in doing so dragged Perez down with him. The final two rounds saw Perez pressuring throughout and was clearly intent on adding another stoppage finish to his record. Page really did a great job avoiding each exocet Perez fired in his direction and made the final bell. After an excellent and highly entertaining eight rounds referee Richie Davies scored the bout 80-71 in favour of Perez, exactly the same as I did.

John Ryder v Luke Osman

The preceding bout saw Islington’s John Ryder destroy Luke Osman in under 6 minutes. Ryder was on fire right from the opening bell and systematically walked down Osman before letting rip with big body shots, often followed with a follow up to the head. On various occasions, both in the first and second rounds, it looked like Osman would be headed for a trip to the deck, so there was no surprise when yet another vicious left to the body that Osman dropped to one knee to take the count.

Osman showed massive heart as he rose to his feet, deeming attack to be the best form of defense, he took the fight to Ryder. After about fifteen seconds or so, Ryder backed Osman to the ropes and started another foray, with a huge double handed attack. Luckily the referee spotted Osman was not defending himself and jumped in, on the two minute and fourteen second mark, to stop the fight before Ryder could inflict any further damage.

Ryder looked everything a true prospect should be, he’s climbed to the top half of my list of ‘ones to watch’ following this performance, that’s for sure.

Erick Ochieng v Dee Mitchell

Talking of my list, one of the perennial front runners, the supremely talented light middleweight prospect Erick ‘The Eagle’ Ochieng was also in action, against Birmingham’s Dee Mitchell.

Ochieng was hoping for an English title shot on the show but when that didn’t materialise, he quite happily decided to stay busy with a six rounder. Throughout the rounds, Ochieng showcased his full arsenal of punches, as well as demonstrated his defensive ability to the full. The early rounds were played out in centre ring mainly, with some cracking exchanges from both men.

As the bout progressed, Ochieng played to the stands, happily positioned with his back to the ropes he would dip and sway, avoiding everything that was thrown at him, before picking off Mitchell with crisp clean lefts and rights. It was another cracking bout, Ochieng confidently controlled the rounds with his superb skills. Don’t get me wrong, Mitchell fought his heart out, but a classy operator like Ochieng can make anyone look average.

The crowd, which had been chanting ‘Eagle, Eagle, Eagle!’ throughout, turned the volume up another notch when John McDonald announced Ochieng the victor by a 59-55 points margin.

Ryan Taylor v Graham Fearn

The second bout of the night see Upminster’s Ryan Taylor take on York’s Graham Fearn. Taylor boxed superbly thoughout the bout and easily controlled the lively Fearn, except for an aggressive attack early in the second when Fearn let rip with a fourteen punch flurry.

Throughout, Taylor used his jab to good effect as well as occasionally pulling some excellent uppercuts and hooks from his locker. Taylor really kicked it up for the last thirty seconds of the final round and landed some big shots that shook Fearn to the core. No surprise that when the referee’s score card was read out, Taylor has secured his first win by a 40-36 points margin.

Albert Sosnowski v Hastins Rasani

The opening bout of the night see former world title challenger, Albert Sosnowski, against Birmingham’s perennial entertainer Hastings Rasani in a six round heavyweight contest. What a cracking opening bout, both fighters came for a scrap that’s for sure as, throughout the duel, the pair traded fierce heavy leather. Rasani has a bit of a reputation as an upsetter and to be honest, showed that form against the former European champion.

It was Rasani that took the high road to pressure his younger opponent, often letting rip with massive rights that tested Sosnowski’s chin to the max. Mind you, Sosnowski tested Rasani’s resilience on almost as many occasions each round.

In one way I was quite pleased the referee scored the bout a draw, even though I had Rasani ahead by a single point on my scorecard, as both men really did put on a excellent show, one that set the tone for the top class night of boxing.

Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport really did pull out all the stops with this midweek event, it was first class. It was great to see Colin Lynes back in championship action and, of course, securing another title. It was also great to see some of our best young talents getting an outing on a televised show. My only disappointment on the whole event was some of the decisions and poor scoring, but that’s not down to Eddie or Matchroom.

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Current heavyweight kingpin Vitali Klitschko releases statement on Joe Frazier’s passing away

8 Nov

Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen

Vitali Klitschko, the current holder of the WBC heavyweight world championship – the same title Smokin’ Joe Frazier defended four times between 1970 and 1973, has, upon learning of his predecessor’s death earlier today, Tuesday, paid tribute to a man, a fighter, whom he deems to be “one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all time“. He, along with younger brother Wladimir, expressed their sadness over the passing of a true fighter.

Direct link to article.

Vitali with the belt Frazier once held. Credit: KMG/Dmitriy Abramov

“My brother Wladimir and I are very sad to hear that Joe Frazier has passed away.

“He was one of the greatest heavyweight champions of all times. I am very proud to have the same title that Joe once had. His three fights against Muhammad Ali are classics in sports history. Joe has done a lot for the sport of boxing – as a champion as well as through his social involvement.

“Our thoughts are with his family.”

Vitali Klitschko, WBC heavyweight world champion.

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My personal memories of the late, great Smokin’ Joe Frazier

8 Nov

Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro – London

I was deeply saddened to hear that Joe Frazier (32-4-1, 27ko) passed away earlier today, like I’m sure most of the boxing world was. He was a living legend and right up to his passing was so dedicated to the sport that bought him fame and fortune.  Whilst most people will remember Joe for his trilogy of fights with Ali, I remember him with deep affection for a totally different reason

Direct link to article.

Joe demonstrates to Marianne reflex bag technique.

It was Joe and his son Marvis that first got me involved in boxing. In late 2005, whilst I was recovering from a serious illness, I traveled to Philadelphia to spend some time with my fiancee Marianne Marston, who was there on an extended business trip.

The day I arrived in Philly, Marianne was particularly buoyant, not because I had made the trip but because that afternoon she had accidentally met with Joe in a coffee shop opposite our hotel. Marianne, who had recently started boxing training with Choleton Senior in London, was recounting the story to me of how they met, before saying that Joe had invited her to try out at his North Philadelphia gym.

The very next morning we grabbed a cab and made our way along Broad Street, we passed the famous Blue Horizon – which also sadly is no longer with us, well as a boxing venue anyway – and continued north to a rather run-down part of Philly.

When we arrived at the gym we were greeted by Joe’s son Marvis. Marianne showed him the card Joe had given her and told him that Joe invited her to try out at the gym. Marvis welcomed us both with open arms and sent Marianne to get changed.

About half an hour later, whilst Marvis was taking Marianne on the pads, a dapper older gent arrived and stood by the side of the ring observing. At the time I was sitting on one of the sofas in the waiting area reading, for some reason I kept stopping and looking over at the new arrival, he was intently watching the session but never spoke a word. When Marvis had finished the session the older guy called Marianne over, Marianne looked nervous as she spoke with him and it was then that it dawned on me that this was the legendary Smokin’ Joe himself.

Joe got Marianne to climb out of the ring and personally started working with her, adjusting her stance before getting her to work on the heavy bag, speed bag and uppercut bag. Marianne was clearly nervous, but Joe was a patient teacher and he gave her nearly two hours of his time, during which he actively demonstrated virtually everything. After they had finished and Marianne had got changed, Joe summoned us to his office, where he promptly told Marianne that she is very good, technically a bit rough but has a lot of potential and that he would like her to become part of Team Frazier.

A training schedule was set there and then for the six weeks Marianne would be in Philly this trip. For the rest of the stay we were at the gym at 9 am sharp, I would sit reading while Joe, or when he wasn’t there Val Colbert or Marvis, would work with Marianne. After about a week or so Joe decided Marianne was ready to spar and called over a lad named Sean and told him to glove-up. Marianne soon learned that sparring in Philadelphia is different to London, it’s not about learning it’s about surviving.

Throughout the session Joe barely spoke, the only time he did was to instruct Marianne when to let rip with a big left hook – something that confused me at first so I turned to Marvis and asked why Joe kept encouraging Marianne to throw her left hook, he simply told me to watch Joe’s face when she throws it, so I did and each time Joe’s face would light up.  It was then that I realised just how much Joe loves passing on his boxing skills and the thrill he gets when a student effectively uses a particular aspect he has taught.

He was the king of the left hook so Marianne being a southpaw he’d put a lot of work into developing her left hook. After the first six weeks training were over we flew back to London and tried to find a gym for Marianne to train at in London, it was a joke All Stars being the only one to even entertain any form of training, although they offered her Boxercise!!!

Joe’s secretary Barbie kept in touch, by email, with instructions from Joe on what training he wanted Marianne to do as well as checking that she was okay. After just three or four weeks Marianne was getting so frustrated that she decided we were to return to Philly for another month or so in order to train properly.

As before, I would just sit and read while she trained. Joe and the rest of the team would chat with me occasionally but that was the total level of our contact for about six months or so during the back and forward traveling for Marianne’s training.

It didn’t matter if you were a novice or pro,

Frazier supported everyone in the gym

About a day or so into our September visit Marvis came over to speak with me and asked if I could help get some of the youngsters in the gym, as well as the gym itself, some media exposure as he and Joe were impressed with the levels Marianne received after I had put out a press release on her being trained by Joe.

Of course, I did and the next thing I know I became the publicist for the gym and worked alongside Marvis and Barbie on raising the profile of the gym in order to attract more fighters, as well as started approaching sponsors as the gym building was in very poor condition and Marvis had a vision to develop it into the Joe Frazier Boxing Museum.

We were still only spending a month or so at a time in Philly, however this was set to change. When we returned in November, Joe called Marianne in to the office to discuss her pro debuting the following spring. Joe then added that he wanted her to move to Philly for six months so he could fully prepare her for the proposed debut full time.

In January 2007 we made the move and now being fully a part of the team I started to spend more and more time with Joe, he’d often call me into his office to just chat. I found these times nothing short of awesome, I mean there I am sitting with one of the greatest boxers of all time… when Joe talked about his career, it was with such enthusiasm and affection.

It was also not unusual for Joe to reenact aspects of past fights. I’m not talking sitting there throwing punches I’m talking about full enactment, bear in mind how frail Joe was at this time yet there he was moving about like a man half his age and throwing punches from every conceivable angle, including his fearsome trademark left hooks.

Joe, Marvis and Barbie were wonderful to work with, their enthusiasm for the sport and the gym was utterly contagious, I would be at the gym from 9am through to the gym closing around 8pm, except when the gym closed early for us to go to a pro show at the Blue Horizon or, as a team, we went to support the gym’s amateurs at an event.

This was something else I found particularly wonderful about Joe, it didn’t matter if you were a novice amateur or a pro, he would support everyone in the gym. If a gym fighter had a fight he would move heaven and earth to be there to support them and actively encouraged everyone to do the same, which they did after all they were Team Frazier and proud of it.

Being full time at the gym I also started to discover other elements of this great man: even though he barely had two halfpennies to rub together, he was an extraordinarily generous man who would help anyone in need. One example of Joe’s generosity and willingness to help anyone was when a young lad was involved in the gang scene in LA and had been shot and seriously injured.

A trainer friend of Joe’s called him to tell him about the youngster, saying that if he doesn’t get away from LA he’ll be dead within the year. Joe didn’t hesitate and soon arranged for the lad to move to Philly and train at his gym. The youngster soon became one of the stars of the Frazier gym amateur squad. In return, the lad repaid Joe’s faith in him by giving his time willingly and helping the younger lads at the gym prepare whenever he could, as did all the Frazier fighters – they knew that’s what Joe did with them.

Marvis Frazier, Marianne Marston and Smokin’ Joe. Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro

In early February 2008, Joe asked me to arrange a fund raising event for one of his fighters, Faatimah Balmer, who had just made the regionals of the Golden Gloves. Joe said that he would attend and personally sign gloves etc. for those that attend.

Unfortunately on the night Joe was unable to attend, but supplied various pairs of signed gloves to auction on the night.  The following morning Joe being Joe, felt so bad that he hadn’t made it on the night, asked me to contact the bar, that had given over their premises for the fund raiser, to let them know that he would be coming there that evening to personally thank them.

That’s Joe for you… here we are on the 15th February, just a few days before he goes into hospital for a major operation, and he felt it was the honourable thing to go and make a personal appearance. He didn’t just pop in either. Joe, Marianne and myself were there for almost two hours, during which Joe spent almost every second talking with, as well as signing autographs for, everyone there that evening.

Even during his time in hospital Joe kept his finger on the pulse, metaphorically speaking, and would ring up to find out how the fighters were doing, as well as check everything was okay with myself. There’s us worrying about his health yet there’s him worrying about us!

Just over a month after Joe came out of hospital a decision was made by Joe and his personal manager to close the gym, due to the mezzanine that housed the changing rooms partially collapsing. Despite the fact that Marvis managed the gym, Joe personally rang all the fighters and staff to inform them of the closure. I can’t speak for the others but when he rang me he was so apologetic, he was clearly choked up and thanked me for all I had done for him, the fighters and the gym.

We had kept in regular contact until Marianne and I returned to the UK in 2009, but since then we had only spoken occasionally. These are just a few of the fondest of memories I have from the time I spent with Joe, Marvis and the rest of Team Frazier.

Joe, and Marvis, inspired both Marianne and myself. But it was Joe’s belief in us, as well as his encouragement, that has seen us both pursuing boxing-based careers. Finally I would like to say, my fond memories of Joe and the kindness and support he showed Marianne and myself will stay with me until the day I am also laid to rest.

God Bless and Rest In Peace Joe.

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Boxing community united in support for cancer-stricken Joe Frazier, Muhammad Ali in disbelief

7 Nov

Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen

On The Beak is saddened to learn that former heavyweight world champion Joe Frazier, who was king of boxing’s premier weight class from 1970-1973, is seriously ill with advanced liver cancer and is receiving hospice care. The news has traveled swiftly throughout the fistic community and a number of the sport’s leading figures have issued their support for the 67-year-old.

Direct link to article.

Frazier receives Daily News Front Page Award earlier this year. Credit: ToonariPost

A source close to Frazier (32-4-1, 27ko), who enjoyed a trilogy of fights with Muhammad Ali (56-5-0, 37ko) and a brace of bouts with George Foreman (76-5-0, 68ko), explained to the New York Post: “He’s in serious shape, we’re looking for a miracle. We need to have as many people as possible praying for Joe right now.”

Ali was one of the first to declare his prayers. The renowned former heavyweight said on CBS News: “The news about Joe is hard to believe and even harder to accept. Joe is a fighter and a champion and I am praying he is fighting now. My family and I are keeping Joe and his family in our daily prayers. Joe has a lot of friends pulling for him, and I’m one of them.”

Don King, the prominent promoter who set-up the Thrilla in Manila – the concluding bout between Frazier and Ali, said: “He was a great gladiator and a great fighter. When Smokin’ Joe came to the ring you knew you had someone who was coming to fight. He edified himself and qualified himself as a champion among champions in his fights with Ali. My prayers are with him.”

Floyd Mayweather Jr (42-0-0, 26ko), currently one of modern boxing’s pound-for-pound greatest prizefighters and the champion of the WBC welterweight title, added: “May God Bless an all time great – Joe Frazier and his family. The Money Team loves you. Hang in there Smokin Joe.”

One of the finest super lightweight campaigners of all time, Aaron Pryor (39-1-0, 35ko), pleaded: “Please pray for my friend and hero Smokin’ Joe Frazier. He was diagnosed with liver cancer and is in hospice.”

Lennox Lewis (41-2-1, 32ko), a three-time heavyweight champion and undisputed ruler of boxing’s big men in the late 1990s and early 00s, commented: “My prayers are with Joe Frazier and his family as he fights the toughest battle of his life. God Bless a warrior.”

Britain’s top promoter Frank Warren, added in The Sun: “I was very sad to hear the news, it’s a tragedy. He’s one of the greatest fighters of his generation and one of the best heavyweights in history. It’s a sad thing and I know everyone in boxing will be wishing him well. He beat Ali once and was part of a great era, probably the best heavyweight era.”

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Barrington’s Blog: WBC and WBA add more stock to the ‘alphabet soup’

24 Feb

J.G Barrington – New York

I don’t want to sound like a crabby nostalgic geezer harping on about how things were better back in the day, but things really were better back in the day. Just not my day. A bit before that. When the awards for prizefighting meant something. When there was just one belt per weight-class so the champion of each division was clearly defined. Not like today. Not when the various associations, councils, federations and organisations have completely flooded the market with silver, gold, platinum, regular and super world champions.

I never boxed pro. I hardly ever boxed amateur. There was a run in the 60’s and 70’s when I fought in unlicensed bareknuckle matches… in dimly-lit warehouses, car-parks, even in back-alleys with a hollering crowd packing out the metal staircases leading up to the roofs of apartment buildings. That was fun.

There was a time when I had a fight in a card staged during the middle of the day, in a gypsy field in an actual ring, not a square canvas. It was a throwback to the old days when fights lasted for hours… when there were multiple knockdowns… when a crowd would collect around two men carving away at the chins and temples of each others faces, they edge closer to the sluggers forming a ring of fight-thirsty folk getting their money’s worth out of two bad mother-fuckers with their pride on the line.

That was me. Right there. Yea, I was mean man. I took my wins but I took my losses. The first time with the gypsies I put on such a good performance that I was brought back the next week. I still had a black eye from the weekend before, a crooked nose that whistled when I breathed and bruised forearms from blocking non-stop blows, but return I did. That was a mistake.

They brought in some brute who they must have had caged for an age while they poked him with a tyre iron that had been held over a campfire for 60 seconds. He had some serious rage on him. He was the kind of guy you’d like to see fight because he came out swinging from the off and wouldn’t care if he ended up with no wind in his lungs.

I was a decent heavyweight by weight standards back then; fluctuating between 190 and 200lbs. But this guy… this guy was no mere man. He was a chest-thumping primate. I ducked and slipped most of his power shots early, trying to counter and send in some of my own damage. Yea, it worked, until he – or so I’m told – butted me right on the beak, breaking my nose before sending me crashing because of a couple of hulking blows on the chin. I ended up yammering like Serene Branson for two damned days. Still, I got my bills; 50 nicker. But that was the last time I fought in England.

I did think about having a pop at the pros. If I could stand strong against the majority of bareknucklers for up to two hours then, in theory, I could pass a 15 round test against a fading heavy or a rising upstart who was in need of a serious smack-down. This was the time when Cassius Clay – later known as Mo Ali – was the holder of both the WBA and WBC World Heavyweight titles.

The WBC had only been around for a matter of years, with Sonny Liston the champ before Clay/Ali. Despite there being two belts, most of the time throughout my pomp it was just one badass who held both. Clay in 64, Smokin’ Joe Frazier from 70-73, George Foreman in 73 and 74 then Ali again till 77 or 78 or something.

Now look at it: WBA, WBC, WBO, IBF, IBO, WBU, WBF… I’m sure there’s more. If that’s not bad enough the WBA split their premier award into three: the interim titlist, the regular champion and the super champion. I like The Ring belts, though. The only time they dish out the prizes are when no.1 faces no.2, then the vacant belt is on the line. Trouble is, there’s only like three current holders. The majority of divisions have a missing champ because we hardly ever see the best take on the best.

The true champ at 160lbs, Sergio Martinez, held two alphabet titles last year but was stripped of them both by the WBC… the 154lb title because he wanted to defend his 160lbs strap instead, but after a defence against Paul Williams they go and strip him of that too! Fuck me… no wonder people are turning toward mixed martial arts to watch white guys kick the spit out of each other.