Sir Henry Cooper passed away on Sunday at the age of 76, after a remarkable career that saw him win the British, Commonwealth and European Titles and become the only fighter to win three Lonsdale belts outright.
Only the World title was missing from his incredible list of accomplishments, which also saw him represent Great Britain at the Olympics, twice win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, land two ABA light-heavyweight titles and be awarded an OBE and a knighthood. After hanging up his gloves he became a regular face on television and was also a published author; cementing his unquestioned position as the most popular fighter ever to come out of these shores, with a legacy that will live on forever.
As a British title holder myself, it is an honour to currently have the belt that Mr.Cooper previously held and had great respect for. He was a true British inspiration for me and for all who have had the privilege of winning a Lonsdale belt – which he singlehandedly made a trophy us British boxers value so much.
He dominated the British scene over a twelve year period and, even though I was not born whilst he was in his dominance, his left hook is the stuff of legend. He floored the great Cassius Clay before losing in the next round by cuts and was seconds away from beating the greatest sportsman to ever live.
Put simply he made his family, friends, Great Britain and the entire Boxing establishment consistently proud throughout his career and was a giant among men.
Our ‘Enry won’t be forgotten – and this is a heartfelt ‘thank you’ to someone I will always hold in the greatest regard and will forever afford the deepest respect.
April has seen some big fights in the Welterweight and Junior Welterweight divisions; all of which I watched with interest as I could soon be in the ring with Marcos Maidana, Andre Berto or Victor Ortiz in big fights Stateside.
Victor Ortiz shocked the boxing world with his performance against Berto and there are some prize fights waiting for him now. I am ranked by the WBC so I am looking to keep rising higher up those rankings as I would love to challenge him.
Elsewhere, Erik Morales showed that he has much more in the tank after his loss to Marcos Maidana, whilst Maidana showed that he is just brute strength and very raw. Again I would fancy my chances against him.
I was ringside at the Amir Khan v Paul McCloskey event a couple weeks ago and, although the show wasn’t the most exciting, I was shocked by Lee Purdy’s knockout win against Craig Watson. I expected a comfortable win from Craig and it looked like a routine defence until he was caught with a good right hand which ended the fight in the middle rounds.
But it wasn’t just in the ring where the action was happening.
As everyone knows I’ve been getting ‘called out’ from all corners of Britain since winning the British title against Lenny Daws. Darren Hamilton, Peter McDonagh and Frankie Gavin have all got paper inches due to expressing a desire to fight me.
Well Frankie Gavin was ringside for the Khan v McCloskey fight. He approached me and we had a little chat and he seems like a nice enough guy. If he can win a European Title or win an eliminator for the British Title then we could get it on sometime in 2012.
Going back to the Amir Khan fight itself, it was a big letdown after all the hype from the self proclaimed King Khan. I expected more from Paul; chances like that are once in a lifetime and I feel he could have put up more of a fight. Khan didn’t look great but he did what he had to do – firing off quick combinations and winning all the rounds. I would have loved Paul to have won against Khan as I would have thrown my name in the hat to be his first defence for the WBA World title… but it wasn’t to be.
Khan will move onto Tim Bradley next and I’m not too convinced he can win; I have a feeling Tim will run him over just like he did with Devon Alexander. It’ll be one I’ll keep my eye on for sure.
As for me, I’m due to make the first defence of my British title on the undercard of the much-hyped Derek Chisora v Tyson Fury clash – a fight I am looking forward to and one which forms the first part of my plan to defend my title three times and win the Lonsdale belt outright.
I worked with Don Charles, who trains Derek, for my fight with Lenny Daws so I can assure you that Derek will be in great shape for his fight with Fury. I have never been a fan of Fury so I expect Derek to stop him anytime from the middle rounds.
I was offered an IBF World title eliminator with Lamont Peterson in Las Vegas for this week Friday but unfortunately they gave me ten days notice which I was never going to accept – and I also don’t think too highly of Lamont Peterson. I would beat him any day of the week given the necessary time to get ready.
But there’s no point fighting unprepared. Training hard for any of these opportunities is vital and it feels good to be back in the gym and sparring with my All Stars team mates. I plan on heading to New York City and finishing up my training camp with US trainers Harry Keit and Jihad Abdul-azizz at Gleason’s gym in Brooklyn, and I’m looking forward to it – especially with talk of a World title eliminator in America very soon, so watch this space.
Other than Amir Khan, no British Welterweight or Junior Welterweight has fought and beaten the level of opposition I have so 2011 is the year I am looking to step it up a notch.
Talking of ‘upping the game’, I am impressed with Hatton promotion’s rise in the boxing world and Matchroom seem to be getting back into big time boxing which is a good thing for fighters and fans alike.
As everyone can see I also have a new website at the minute and I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
Believe and you can achieve.
This Saturday Amir Khan fights Paul McCloskey in defence of his World Title at Manchester’s MEN Arena; a contest that has made the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Firstly Sky Sports dropped the fight from Box Office to Sky Sports 3, and then Khan’s team became increasingly unhappy before jumping ship altogether to Primetime TV.
I know Paul from my time in Belfast when he flew me over for two weeks sparring just before he won the European Title and he is a good fighter.
He was a world class amateur just like Amir but is yet to fight a world class opponent in the professional ring. Yet despite this he has won British and European titles and has earned his shot at Amir.
It should be a better fight than people expect and if Paul can handle Amir’s speed he has a chance.
On the same night on the other side of the Atlantic another World title fight is taking place, with WBC champion Andre Berto fighting Victor Ortiz. I would love to fight the winner or loser of this fight – and was in line to fight Ortiz last year but his team chose to fight Lamont Peterson instead.
So all in all I am looking forward to an evening of action, it could and should be a riveting night.
I am eligible to fight all four fighters and they can’t avoid me forever.
Watch this Space!