Gavin looks to better Amir Khan in Olympics

On July 30, 2008 by

Lightweight Frankie Gavin has stated that he believes he can win the gold medal at this year’s Beijing Olympics. The man who became Britain’s first ever amateur world champion aims to go one better than Amir Khan did four years ago.

In 2004, Khan won the silver medal in Athens and Gavin has stated that there is ‘no reason’ why he can’t bring home a gold medal for Britain. A fantastic attitude to have I must say. Normally British sportsmen or women have the ‘we’ll see what we can do’ attitude, so it’s refreshing to hear such positive comments from a young boxer.

Unlike Amir Khan – who was the only man to represent British boxing in 2004 – Gavin is part of an eight man team that have qualified for the games. Between them, they will be looking to bring home lots of medals – that’s for sure. British boxing is in a good state right now and it would be well deserved if the amateur team have lots of success in Beijing.

So why is there more representatives this time round? Why has the amateur scene improved so much? Well, Gavin believes it is down to three things.

1. Hard Work
2. Preparation
3. English Institute of Sport in Sheffield

The final point about the Institute of Sport is the key in my view. As Gavin says, the whole system has improved. It is designed to foster the talents of our elite athletes, including amateur boxers. It is led by Steve Cram and is funded by lottery money. Young athletes such as Frankie Gavin certainly value its presence.

Talking specifically about Gavin again, he believes he has two main rivals for the lightweight gold medal -Russia’s Alexey Tischenko and Cuba’s Yordenis Ugas. Other than them though, the 23-year-old certainly feels he is one of the favourites for the title and as a world amateur champion – why shouldn’t he? I’m certainly going to place a boxing bet on him bringing home the gold.

Written by Thomas Rooney – A Freelance Sports Journalist

Controversial victory for Danny Williams

On July 22, 2008 by

It was very controversial, but Danny Williams held onto his British heavyweight title after a point’s victory over John McDermott on Friday. With the fight extremely even, Williams was deducted three points and this appeared to hand victory to McDermott. However, the outcome surprised everyone – including Williams.

The 35-year-old was handed a majority decision victory, a result which outraged McDermott and surprised Williams. After a tense battle, it seemed that the Essex boxer had done enough for victory and he certainly believed he had won the fight.

It was a far from comfortable night for Williams – who once beat Mike Tyson – and it all seemed to be going horribly wrong in the fifth round. McDermott caught him with an upper cut on the chin and it was a huge struggle for Williams to make it through the remaining moments of the round.

From then on, the fight was even. In all honesty, it wasn’t exactly an enthralling contest. However, in the final two rounds Williams was deducted three points – one for a low blow, one for pushing his opponent away and one for spitting out his gum shield. At this stage, the McDermott camp thought they had done enough and so did the majority of people watching.

However, despite being close to being knocked out in the fifth round and losing vital points towards the end of the fight, Williams was handed a 114-113, 114-111, 113-113 victory. McDermott was shell shocked. Afterwards he said that ‘I thought I’d won’. Even Williams admitted that he was ‘relieved’ to be awarded the win.

Williams is targeting a World title shot soon, but as far as I am concerned – he can forget about it based on this performance. In terms of boxing betting, I wouldn’t back him to be a World Champion any time soon. I know the heavyweight division isn’t in the best of eras, but I still don’t think Williams has what it takes.

McDermott fought well, but he isn’t a world beater and he shouldn’t have tested Williams as much as he did. Is it time for Williams to give up his dream? I think so, but I wouldn’t bank on him doing so right now. He is so desperate to prove his critics wrong. It will be interesting to see what his next move is.

Written by Thomas Rooney – A Freelance Sports Journalist

Murray and Meager set to do battle

On July 10, 2008 by

This Friday night sees John Murray take on Lee Meager for the vacant British lightweight belt and it is set to be a very tense affair. Not only are both fighters desperate to get hold of the title – but they are fighting for the bragging rights in Manchester as well.

Both boxers are from Manchester, but they have differing loyalties when it comes to there football teams. Murray is a die-hard Manchester City fan and Meager is a former season-ticket holder at Manchester United. I wouldn’t say this would change the outcome of the fight a great deal, but the atmosphere inside the Robin Park Centre will be extra electric. Don’t be surprised to hear a few football songs bellowing out before and during the fight or to see both fighters in the relevant football team colours.

The relationship between the two fighters does go back some way. Murray and Meager used to be sparring partners and had some ‘right wars’ according to Murray, who hopes that the blue side of Manchester is the winner come Friday night. He also states that if the fight is anything like the Manchester derbies, it will be a very ‘feisty affair’.

Meager has also had his say on proceedings. The Salford boxer believes that the football connection adds an ‘extra edge to it’, and he appears confident that the red side of Manchester will be cheering after the fight on Friday night.

My opinion though, is that all this football talk is just normal to the pre-fight banter between two fighters. Yes, it adds an extra element of spice to the fight, but did it really need any? This is a big enough fight as it is. Both fighters are desperate to win the British title to further their careers and I’m sure that is more important than representing their football team.

As for the outcome of the fight and with reference to boxing betting, I’d say that Murray was the favourite to win. Meager has already held this British title and at 30 years of age, I’m not convinced he is as hungry to succeed as his 23-year-old opponent. Murray is confident, unbeaten and a very capable fighter. He is also in fantastic shape ahead of this bout. Probably the best he has ever been in.

Murray has eyed Amir Khan as his next opponent, but he will have to defeat the experienced Meager first – something I expect him to do within 6 rounds, to send the Manchester City fans home happy.

Written by Thomas Rooney – A Freelance Sports Journalist

It’s On – Joe and Roy from the Garden

On July 9, 2008 by

For months we’ve been hearing and Joe Calzaghe and Roy Jones Jnr. but now we can conform that…

It’s On

The fight will take place on September 20th at Madison Square Garden. The date was made available when Floyd Mayweather Jnr. retired and thus cancelled his proposed bout and rematch with Oscar De La Hoya.

HBO – the American cable network said it would only back the back as a PPV event if the fight was held Stateside, torpedoing his hope of fighting once more in front of his home fans at the Millenium Stadium. With Calzaghe having already of fought in Las Vegas, the only other place to fight was in The Garden and the undefeated two weight linear Champion is delighted that he’ll bow out in the home of Boxing on that side of the Atlantic.

Ricky Hatton had also wanted to fight in New York but chose to make his fight with Paulie Malignaggi in Las Vegas. He did this because he wanted to make it for the fans as it was cheaper to travel to Nevada than it was to The Big Apple.

So it will be Calzaghe that tops a bill at The Garden and not Hatton like everyone expected. It will be a cracking fight and one that should cement Calzaghe’s place amongst the greats should he win and it be his last fight. Jones Jnr. has had a great career and has been a great Champion. If Joe can beat him at Madison Square Garden and walk away from the sport then he’ll be able to look back and rightly say he is a true Champion and a true boxing great.

Hatton to fight twice more before retirement

On July 7, 2008 by

After his defeat to Floyd Mayweather, there has been much debate surrounding the future of Ricky Hatton. Since the only defeat of his career to date, he retained his IBO light-welterweight title against Juan Lazcano in front of 55,000 fans at the City of Manchester stadium.

Now, it seems that he has two more fights on his mind as he comes towards the end of his boxing career. The first of which has already been scheduled – Hatton will fight Paulie Malignaggi later this year in Las Vegas for the IBO and IBF light-welterweight title.

A quick on this bout would lead me to suggest that although I would bet on Ricky Hatton to win, it won’t be easy for the Manchester boxer. Malignaggi was unconvincing in defeating Lovemore N’Dou back in May on the Hatton v Lazcano undercard, with his absurd hair extensions producing more headlines than his boxing talent. However, he is a strong character and will want to prove to the world what he can do. Home advantage will play its part as well and Malignaggi will definitely test Hatton.

I would back Hatton to emerge victorious though. Presuming he does, he will only have one fight left if recent comments from the Hitman are to be believed. This fight is likely to be against either Manny Pacquiao or Oscar de la Hoya and will take place at Wembley in front of 100,000 fans. An occasion which Hatton believes would be fitting to end his career.

When this is given some thought, it does all make sense. Hatton will aim to prove his American doubters wrong by defeating Malignaggi in Las Vegas, the venue of his only career defeat. Then to finish off his boxing career, he wants to fight a big name in front of his adoring British fans to give them all a good send off as he bows out of the sport.

For me, it is just a shame that the Hatton – Mayweather rematch has never materialised. The American boxer has retired from boxing meaning this is almost certain not to happen. It would have been quite a spectacle.

It has to be said that with Joe Calzaghe and Ricky Hatton eyeing retirement, British boxing is on the verge of entering a new era. With Calzaghe and Hatton supposedly having just three fights left between them, it will be left to Amir Khan, David Haye and Carl Froch to fly the flag for British boxing in the years to come.

Written by Thomas Rooney – A Freelance Sports Journalist

Carl Froch after title fight

On July 2, 2008 by

This year could be huge for Nottingham-born boxer, Carl Froch. It is being suggested that he could be in line to fight Jermaine Taylor at some point in the coming months for the WBC super-middleweight title.

Froch is a man who believes he is ready for a World Title fight and considering he has a record of 23-0, I would be inclined to go along with this. He particularly impressed me during his last fight back in May when he stopped Albert Rybacki – who was previously unbeaten – in the fourth round. It was the type of performance that a World Champion would be putting in – he showed sublime timing, lots of power and a huge variety of shots. It was a very impressive display.

The fight against Taylor is not confirmed yet though. The pair are apparently in talks over sorting out a fight, but it is a case of wait and see for now. Froch is obviously keen for Taylor to go through with this fight. He has even labeled a potential contest between Taylor and Jeff Lacy a ‘mismatch’ in a bid to convince Taylor to step up and take him on.

Froch, of course, is actually the mandatory challenger for Joe Calzaghe’s WBC belt and after his most recent fight Froch was quoted as saying that ‘Britain wants to see Froch v Calzaghe’. He has a point there – I would love to see it. At a time when British boxing is better than ever, it would be a fantastic spectacle.

Unfortunately though, there will be long boxing odds on this happening because Calzaghe is set for one last fight in his career against Roy Jones Jr – meaning he avoids the threat of Froch.

The most likely scenario no though is that Calzaghe will give up his WBC super-middleweight title, meaning that Froch and Taylor will go head to head for the vacant belt.

Written by Thomas Rooney – A Freelance Sports Journalist