This weekend sees the unification match betwee David Haye and the Ukrainian Wladimir Klitschko, in a world title fight we haven’t seen the likes of since Mike Tyson v Lennox Lewis.
Mike Tyson was washed up then but many people still gave him a chance. This is a fight between two heavyweights in their prime and I am looking forward to it – just like millions are worldwide.
David Haye has had his greatest victories on away soil and is a fighter who travels well and doesn’t get overawed by the occasion.
He first proved how good he was with a terrific with in France over Mormeck when, despite getting floored, he fought back to win by stoppage. Then he went over to Germany to beat Valuev for the WBA World title.
David loves being the underdog and I expect him to win by knockout come Saturday.
Perhaps his media image leading up to the fight has not been ideal but let’s not forget one thing here – he is not running for President. He is a boxer focused on the task at hand. When a fighter steps in the ring, they put their life on the line and some fighters mentally prepare
I have known David since the mid-90s as his old amateur club Fitzwell Lodge used to have team matches against my amateur club, so I got to know him through there. He was confident even back when he was sixteen and I remember him boasting about his power and skills.
I never got to see him fight until he won the London ABA championship against Courtney Fry and he looked spectacular that night – and was an inspiration to me. I was very proud of him when he won the heavyweight title against Nicola Valuev.
David Haye has breathed life into the heavyweight division and Americans come up to me in the gym and ask what I think about the fight; they are hoping that David can win as he has, and is, making the heavyweight interesting again.
The last dominant heavyweight was British-born Lennox Lewis and if David Haye changes his mind about retirement he too can dominate the division for the next few years.
David Haye, along with Carl Froch, Amir Khan and myself, are the only Brits who are fighting, and beating, world-ranked fighters abroad – I just now have to join them as a world champion.
It’s a good time for British fighters, with the new breed of British promoters willing to let their fighters take chances abroad and prove just how good they are.
My British title defence against former European champion Jason Cook is now three weeks away. I know Jason will be up for it and fight till the very end but, just like Lenny Daws, heart and fitness can do so much for you.
I’ve fought and sparred ‘power-punching’ welterweights and junior middleweights, and have spent the last month in New York City training and sparring NYC’s best fighters, so I can’t see Jason troubling me. It will be an entertaining fight but he will be taken into deep waters and ultimately drowned.
I won my British title at Wembley Arena five months ago and I’m very happy to be making my first defence there.
I’m a proud British champion and I refuse to lose my title.
BIG FIGHTS, BIG NAMES
Last weekend was a big night for fight fans worldwide as Kell Brook, Matthew Macklin and Devon Alexander were all in action.
Kell Brook fought a former IBF World champion in Lovemore Ndou – an opponent who is touching forty but one who has fought a ‘who’s who’ of world boxing; including Miguel Cotto, Saul Alvarez and Junior Witter.
Kell was always going to win but the intrigue lay in the matter in which he would triumph. Kell had stated beforehand that he wanted to be the first man to stop Ndou and there were times he was on the verge of doing that but Ndou’s experience got him through the twelve rounds.
Kell boxed nicely and showed his talent but welterweight is a deep division with Manny Paciquao, Floyd Mayweather Jr.,Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto all campaigning at that weight. How far Kell can go is open to question but he can definitely beat World IBF champion Jan Zaveck and World WBA champion Vyacheslav Senchenko in my opinion.
Elsewhere, Matthew Macklin proved he deserves to campaign regularly on the world scene with a dominating display against world champion Felix Sturm in Germany. Macklin stormed away to an early lead but a late surge from the champion saw him regain his world title. I had Matthew winning by two rounds but in Germany that would never be enough; when you go into the lion’s den you have to leave no doubt that you are the winner. The two judges that scored it to Felix Sturm by four rounds on the scorecard were a joke but Matthew will be back; he put up a great performance and he can be proud of himself.
From a media point of view, Sky Sports put on a great show involving British boxers on the international scene and I hope that this can be a regular thing.
he other big fight of the weekend featured former world champion Devon Alexander against Lucas Matthysse over in the States. Alexander is a great talent but, as we say in the UK, I think he ‘bottled it’ against Timothy Bradley; complaining about headbutts when in fact Timothy just bullied and ‘out-muscled’ the younger man.
I thought that Devon Alexander showed great heart in this fight – getting floored and still coming back to fight – but in front of his hometown fans in St. Louis I guess he had to. The judges gave him the decision over ten rounds but I feel Lucas Matthysse won this fight. It was another case of the away fighter getting robbed on his opponent’s turf, just like with Macklin.
Lucas Martin Matthysse beat Demarcus ‘Chop Chop’ Corley in his fight before Alexander and I beat Corley three years ago just before Alexander beat him on points – so I have Corley in common with both fighters.
These guys are the fighters that I want to fight. All I have to do is keep winning and they will happen soon enough.
On the undercard of the Alexander v Matthysse fight, Tavoris Cloud (light heavyweight champion) retained his title with a win over Yusaf Mack. I was in a training camp in New Jersey three years ago with Yusaf, as he was trained by British trainer John Tandy back then and John helped me get ready for my Corley win.
The opponent for my British title defence has been announced as former European champion Jason Cook and, having got a draw with Lenny Daws 18 months ago, he will be looking to go one better and snatch the title away from me.
I will be Jason’s hardest opponent in his career and he will need one of those ‘close your eyes and swing for the fences’ punches (similar to how he won his European title 6 years ago) to beat me.
Jason Cook has never fought a world class opponent and I will show him why I was IBF world number four last August, come fight night.
It will be a great fight and I’m looking forward to showing my talent live on Channel Five.
FIVE MORE WEEKS…
Darren Barker has got a dream shot at defeating the world middleweight number one, Sergio Martinez, on October 1st in America; in a fight broadcast live on HBO across the US and an unbelievable chance for him to showcase his talent.
I sparred with Darren in 2006 at the West Ham amateur club and even back then his hand speed and skills where something worthy of a world champion. Not only would I certainly not write him off against the likes of Martinez and Pirog, but I would also give him a very good chance of beating the other world champions in Sturm and Chavez Jr.
If Darren and Matthew Macklin can pull off wins against Martinez and Sturm in their world title challenges then a unification bout with them would be a great attraction for the UK boxing fans.
Whatever happens, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom has shown that he is intent in making big moves in the world of boxing and it is refreshing to see. At the moment far too many British fighters play safe and fight in the UK, instead of fighting the best and seeing what their true capabilities are.
On Saturday, Ryan Rhodes ventures out to Mexico to fight Golden Boy’s Saul Alvarvez for the WBC 154 lbs world title. Ryan sports a very nice record of 45 wins and 4 losses and has been a British, European and world champion.
Ryan needs a knockout to beat Alvarvez in Mexico but he is under no illusions; he knows what he has to do and I think he can do it.
I wish Ryan the very best and I’m looking forward to his fight.
It seems a great time to be a British fighter on the world scene at the minute as we are involved in some of the biggest fights.
It also seems to be having a multiplying effect across British boxing and former fighter, and now rising promoter, Spencer Fearon is a perfect example of this. He is making remarkable strides with his Hard Knocks promotional company and is responsible for some of the best value for money shows in the UK.
It is only a matter of time before we see his entertaining shows on television and, as he says, “every fight on his show is a main event”.
I’m very sure one of his fighters will be pushing for a British title in the very near future.
Back to my punishing training schedule in NYC, ahead of my title fight next month, it was nice to see former world champion Yuri Foreman at the gym this week. I sparred with him a couple of years ago and I knew he would win a world title. He congratulated me on my British title win, which was nice.
I also sparred with Francisco ‘El Gato’ Figueroa this week and it was great to see him again too. We met in January 2008 when I was in a training camp up in the Catskill mountains with Delvin Rodriguez. Legendary Manager Stan Hoffman (manager to over 30 world champions in his career) had got me a fight in the States as he believed I had attributes of a world champion – and he wanted to help me make that become a reality.
El Gato was brought into camp to help Delvin get ready for his fight against Troy Browning and he helped me out with sparring when he could.
My British title defence is now five weeks away and I am looking forward to it. I have been sparring with the best fighters in New York City and everything is coming together.
I am weighing 149lbs – which is within schedule as I tend to drop 2lbs a week on average whilst in camp.
Next Thursday I am sparring with the WBC number three, which I am looking forward to, and the majority of my sparring has been with southpaws in this training camp.
My opponent will be announced next week but it is a great attribute I have that fighting a southpaw or orthodox doesn’t bother me. I think sparring with the WBC number two super lightweight (and former African, Commonwealth and British champion) Ajose Olusegun for ten years has probably helped me.
But once again my trip to the US has been a resounding success. I’m now half way through my training camp in New York City and I can already feel the sharpness and focus coming together at the right time.
It was definitely worth the journey.
My first full week of camp in New York City has been one full of hard work and positive news, as I step up my training in the blistering heat.
I’m alternating my time between Gleason’s gym and Paerdegat Gym in Brooklyn and this NYC heat, combined with all the hard work, is helping the pounds fly off my body.
I had my first sparring sessions this week and this is the stage when the hard work really starts to pay off; quality sessions with brilliant boxers to hone and polish the technical work with my trainers Harry and Jihad.
I love coming over to the States, as I have said many times before, and once again it is proving to be of pivotal importance in my entire training schedule.
I was asked on Rope-A-Dope Radio earlier in the week (if you missed it check it out here on www.ropeadoperadio.com) as to why coming to the US is so important for me and what it’s like being a British boxer coming over here to train.
The answer is simple. This is what I dreamt of as a child – campaigning in America, being the reigning British champion and testing myself against the best in the world. When I was young I admired those that came to the USA to ‘up their game’ and took the step from good to great.
I would love to be where Amir Khan is in 12 to 18 months, and with hard work anything is possible.
Talking of taking ‘the next step’, Carl Froch scored a big win Stateside over the weekend; showing a rock solid chin and great boxing skills again the old warhorse Glen Johnson.
Although David Haye and Amir Khan are England’s other World champions, what Carl is doing is ‘superstar-worthy’. Don’t get me wrong, David and Amir are not far behind, especially given the feeling I have that David will knock out Klitschko and Amir will add the IBF title to his WBA championship when he beats Zab Judah (on the same night I defend my British title).
Like myself, now is that time of extreme focus for David and Amir; the calm before the storm where the noise starts to increase and distractions need to be put aside.
Whilst in camp I intend to drop 10lbs through eating healthy and training hard. My normal training regime at home is pretty intense anyway but this week has seen NYC reach 100 degrees and it has been that much harder.
Over the next two weeks I have my diary full of sparring in New York City, with sessions in Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx. There is a competitive environment here and I really enjoy it as everyone wants to see how good they really are.
There was also a little surprise this week as one of my current favourite fighters, Joan Guzman, is back training in Gleason’s gym. It is always a pleasure to be in his presence and I thoroughly enjoyed sparring with him a couple years ago.
On Tuesday I was offered a slot on the undercard of Floyd Mayweather Jr’s long awaited comeback fight against WBC World champion Victor Ortiz.
Floyd announced his comeback fight on his Twitter page at 12pm and a few hours later I was notified that Golden Boy Promotions had enquired if I was available to fight on September 17th, as part of the televised portion of the show.
It was a huge opportunity and I was hoping for a big name – but when I was told Jessie Vargas, I turned it down instantly. To me it felt like it could have been the Danny Garcia fight all over again, with Vargas not having a world ranking and me having nothing to gain from a win, but everything to lose.
The fight is over eight rounds and that was not appealing to me.
But just to get the call that they wanted me on the show was a good feeling, as the event will be televised in one million homes across America. Unfortunately that alone does not make it a fight that I simply cannot refuse.
I was offered a fight with Victor Ortiz back in September 2008, when I had just beaten former World champion DeMarcus Corley. The timing then also wasn’t right as I was only given two week’s notice.
It all goes back to that focus again. Sometimes you have to resist the temptation to take fights which look extremely tempting.
My opponent for my British title defence on the 23rd July will be announced next week and the four fighters I would like to see put in the hat for this voluntary defence are former European champion Colin Lynes, former World champion Junior Witter, former British champion Barry Morrison and Commonwealth champion Lee McAllister.
And whilst all of this is happening, European champion Jason Cook and English champion Nigel Wright will be contesting in a British title eliminator by October to earn the right to be my number one challenger.
It’s a hard one to call but I edge towards Jason Cook winning as Nigel Wright seems to fade badly in championship fights due to poor conditioning.
But all of these fighters would provide the next few fights with that little bit of extra incentive for me, as all involved have something to ‘give’.
Talking of that ‘little extra’, Gavin Rees fought on the same night as Carl Froch in Wales and scored a win over Andrew Murray for the European Title. Gavin started sharp and looked like a class act but he started to tire and Andrew won a few of the late rounds. Conditioning is an important part of being an elite boxer. You can have all the skills in the world but if you slack or cut corners in the gym, you will get found out at top level.
When I first came to the US to train I was completely unknown, and people were queuing up to spar with me and beat up the ‘fresh meat’. You have to earn your stripes, work hard and prove yourself to gain respect.
It has been a valuable lesson for me over the years and I still keep the mentality that nobody is going to do me any favours. It keeps you sharp.
I’ve sparred Andrew Murray a few times over the years and I felt that Gavin would be too experienced for him and that proved to be correct.
Elsewhere, Yassine El Maachi won the Welterweight Prizefighter on Tuesday evening at Bethnal Green. I know him from All Stars boxing gym, who recently staged a charity gig featuring top indie band Razorlight.
The 90-minute benefit concert for 250 fans raised £4,000 for the club, which faces closure unless it can raise £100,000 due to rent arrears.
Mr. Akay, who set up the club in 1974, has always been there for me and he is a great inspiration in my life. He received a MBE from the Queen in 2000 for his work at the gym and the club has produced amateur and professional champions throughout its thirty years.
There will be events over the next few months as we fight to save the club that we love.
Back to Yassine, we are also both trained by Don Charles at MyGym in Finchley.
Don Charles has had three British champions in Derek Chisora, Ajose Olusegun and myself – and has now added a Prizefighter winner to his stable. He is definitely a rising coaching talent in the world of boxing.
Yassine beat two possible opponents for my July 23rd British title defence (in former European champion Colin Lynes and former WBC World champion Junior Witter) to win the 32K prize money.
Before the event everyone was talking about the former champions but I have sparred with Yassine and knew that they would need more than three rounds to work him out.
Congratulations to Don Charles and Yassine El Maachi.
They both know how to win. And I’m no different.
And with it all eyes are now turning to the 23rd July and I can’t wait to get back in the ring.
Tickets are now on sale for my British Title defence at Wembley Arena on Saturday 23rd July – buy them now online at http://ashleytheophane.com/tickets/
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
My first British title defence was announced at the Derek Chisora v Tyson Fury press conference by Mick Hennessey on Tuesday, and this is great news for me as now I can step my training up and go to my training camp in New York City for a month , and work with my US trainers Harry Keit and Jihad Abdul-Aziz.
Harry Keit has been in all my big US fights against DeMarcus Corley, Delvin Rodriguez and Danny Garcia and it was a great boost to get him flown over for my British Title win over Lenny Daws.
I can box on the outside and fight on the inside when need be.
Jihad and Harry have added to my fighting style and I have trust in them when we are in the corner, which you need to have as a fighter. If you can’t trust your trainer’s eyes then it is all on you and you cannot see everything whilst fighting your opponent. Your trainer may see elements from outside the ring that you can’t whilst in the thick of the battle.
So I am now beginning my month-long training stint at Gleason’s gym in Brooklyn throughout June and will get some world class sparring and training before coming back to the UK and finishing off with my UK team.
Gleason’s gym has had a string of boxing greats come and go – from the likes of Muhammad Ali, Mike Tyson, Mark Breland and Riddick Bowe, through to Mike McCallum, Pernell Whitaker, Emile Griffiths and Julio Cesar Chavez, to name but a few.
I have sparred with great fighters like Elio Rojas, Yuri Foreman, Raul Frank, Dmitriy Salita, Joan Guzman, Chris Smith and Luis Carlos Abregu whilst at Gleason’s. I have also sparred with former world No.3 Frankie Figueroa and world title challenger Delvin Rodriguez whilst in New York; it is a great place to be and I have felt the major improvements that I have made in my time here
I wouldn’t be in the situation I am now in if I had never made the move six years ago. Being in New York City helps me to focus, as I’m away from my family, friends and just ‘normal stuff’ that distracts you at home. My days in NYC are spent in the gym then home resting – your body needs time to recover after intense sessions in the gym and in your normal surrounding sometimes you cannot get that.
I will be putting in 25 hour week training sessions on average which will include: boxing, strength conditioning, yoga, pilates, spin sessions, swimming, kettlebell and bootcamp circuit workouts, long distance running and sprint sessions.
There is one particularly hard session that I enjoy doing in Brooklyn; I run up a twenty floor project tower block, ten to twelve times. It gets your heart rate going and builds strength in your legs.
Whilst I’m here I will also take some time out to look after my body and get a spa treatment – facial, pedicure, manicure and massage. My body is my Ferrari so it needs to be looked after to get the best results out of it.
There is a big Irish presence in New York City, which resonates with me as my Grandma is from Ireland and is still living in Dublin. I get to meet a lot of Irish people in NYC as boxing still tends to be a big pastime in Ireland, and maybe it’s the Irish in my blood that led me to boxing in the first place.
I have been coming out to NYC for the past five years now. When Amir Khan made the move a few years ago, I knew it was the best thing for him as he was boxing on his natural talent whilst in the UK. Being in LA added a whole new dimension to his game.
Amir Khan has just signed to fight Zab Judah on the same night I defend my British title. I will be looking to fight the winner as I am currently ranked in the WBC, IBF and IBO World rankings.
I’ve had three fights with Zab Judah fall through in the past. 8th November 2008, May 21st 2009 and 6th November 2010. I have never pursued him but the promoters Square Ring, and his current promoters Main Events, have been interested in matching us two through the years and his team have avoided me like the plague.
It is understandable as it is a ‘win-win’ situation for me – with Zab having everything to lose; kind of like the reverse situation with Frankie Gavin and myself. If fights don’t make dollars, they don’t make sense.
Getting to mandatory status is my aim as I know Timothy Bradley, Zab Judah or Amir Khan will not make a voluntary against me.
I am underrated and on my day I can hang with the very best of them.
Back to the US and David Haye has been coming to the States for years, and it is obvious what it has done for him. I am glad that David brought George Groves to Miami for a training stint before his fight with James DeGale, as sparring with Andre Dirrell must have been a big confidence boost for George. If George could handle the slickness of Andre Dirrell then James DeGale would be no problem.
George stuck to a great game plan and he got the result – even if it was razor thin. In the past I have been in the same place to where James is now, when I lost by one round in a split decision to Danny Garcia.
I came back to beat the World number three in Delvin Rodriguez so sometimes a loss can be beneficial if you don’t let it eat you up. Let it motivate you instead.
Frank Warren jumped in and put Frankie Gavin’s name in the hat to face me when Mick Hennessey said my opponent is to be confirmed. English champion Nigel Wright also mentioned my name on Sky Sports last weekend as a man he wants to fight. Southern Area champion Darren Hamilton is another to have name-dropped me after winning his title a couple months back.
Nigel Wright has lost 6 times in 30 fights. He has lost to Olusegan, McCloskey and Daws in the past and has had many chances. Unfortunately he has shown that perhaps he is not good enough to win a major title.
I sparred with Darren Hamilton in the lead up to my British Title win over Lenny Daws. He is okay but, like Frankie Gavin, needs to earn the right to fight me or win something that I want – as right now they are in the ‘win win’ situation I mentioned earlier. Beating the above will do nothing for my career.
If it is up to me I will make my first defence against former British champion Barry Morrison, as he ducked me four years ago to fight Colin Lynes. I owe him a beating. Talking of Colin Lynes, he was a European champion and also Junior Witter is a former world champion – so these three top my list for my British title defence.
Witter and Lynes will be in Prizefighter this weekend so I will be tuning in from Stateside, where I plan to stay entirely focused on the task ahead.
My trainer Harry Keit says, “The key to being a successful boxer is hard work and discipline”, whilst Jihad Abdul-Aziz says “The art of boxing is not a tough man’s sport. The art of boxing is to hit without getting hit”.
These are my mantras for my time in NYC.
The O2 centre is a great boxing venue and Frank Warren did a very good job of promoting last night’s feast of boxing.
It’s a shame that Nathan Cleverly, who is now World WBO champion, was reduced to co-main event status but James DeGale and George Groves had also done a great job promoting their fight. The media interest was hyped up expertly and the fight did it justice in the end.
I was sitting between former World champion Enzo Maccarinelli and European champion John Murray, when English champion Tyson Fury and British champion Derek Chisora got into a scuffle ringside.
Fury was bare-chested and looked more like a man who just came out the pub than a future world champion but make no mistake about it – this fight is good for British boxing; let’s just hope it happens this summer.
Of course hype and bravado are a pivotal part of the boxing fabric. Frankie Gavin keeps calling me out and be careful what you wish for young lad – you might just get it.
I have watched only two of Frankie’s fights and he hasn’t impressed me. But having said that, Prizefighter winner Michael Lomax and former British Champion Young Mutley should be ashamed of the performances they offered against him. They seem like they just turned up for a pay cheque.
I have fought all over the world and beaten world-class fighters on their promoter’s show, so if Frankie and I were to fight in the future on a Frank Warren show, I am very sure I would beat him.
But at this minute in time I am not looking behind me, I am looking in front and fighting the European or world champion is my focus.
Frankie can get to the back of the queue as I have a voluntary fight due and then the winner of the Steve Williams v Nigel Wright fight – who are due to battle it out for the mandatory spot.
I will defend my British title three times to win the Lonsdale belt outright and then move on.
Frankie called me out on Sky Sports during his interview and then Frank Warren TV interviewed us after he was finished with Sky Sports. But Frankie’s fight against Young Mutley was a ‘snooze fest’ – he needs to add some flair to his game as right now as he is boring to watch.
He has nothing to bring to the table and I have no desire to fight him until he wins a world or European title.
Nathan Cleverly didn’t look amazing last night either but that is understandable after the week he has had and not knowing who he was going to fight.
Even so, I just don’t see Cleverly beating the world’s best light heavyweights at the moment; the likes of Bernard Hopkins, Travis Cloud, Chad Dawson and Jean Pascal.
But you never know. Stranger things have happened.
In the main fight, there was huge support for George Groves in the Arena – which might have been significant in the decision against James DeGale. James seemed to be the stronger of the two and rocked George on occasions but I was right near George’s corner and they were telling him to box and move and not to engage. These were great tactics and they worked, as when George stood and traded he usually ended up on the wrong side of the exchange.
Everyone ringside didn’t know who was winning as there were many close rounds and I would have agreed with judge Richard James Davies and scored it a draw – that would have been fair.
James can, and will, come back from this. As I said in my last blog, Nigel Benn lost to Michael Watson when he was the favourite and he went onto win two world titles afterwards.
The 168lbs Division is hot right now; George should move on from this win and target a European title shot and then a world title shot. George had the Arena chanting ‘Georgie Georgie’ and he most certainly came out of this ‘The Star’.
Like I also said previously, I felt DeGale was the favourite but I wouldn’t be surprised if George won. I wish him the best as he’s a nice kid; it is always nice proving the experts wrong so I know how he currently feels – I have pulled that feat off with beating DeMarcus Corley, Delvin Rodriguez and Lenny Daws.
John Murray and Kevin Mitchell were in attendance to hype their 9th July fight and I had a chat with John ringside. He seems like a good guy who just wants big fights. Whoever wins will also go on to challenge for a world title so it’s a good time for British boxing, and I’m looking forward to making my mark in the next year.
Hats off to Frank Warren for putting on a very good evening’s entertainment despite the only real fight being Groves Vs DeGale, and it was also good to see former WBU, European, British and Southern Area champion there – Wayne Alexander.
A lot is going on with me in the coming months, both in the ring and out, so expect to see plenty of activity on my blog and Twitter feeds.
Media-wise I’m in the current issues of Undisputed Fight magazine and Food Secret magazine, which have a great interview and article on me respectively, and I will be writing a column for them both in future issues as well – which will be fantastic. I will also shortly be posting up an interview with me on Primetime TV during their coverage of the Khan v McCloskey fight.
On the boxing front, last week Hennessey Sport won the purse bids again for the Tyson Fury v Derek Chisora British Title fight in July. It’s one to look out for and should be a good domestic clash and I’m happy that I am due to be defending my British title on the same bill.
It is two months away so I am just keeping in shape but last week I had two quality sparring sessions with Commonwealth titlist Liam Walsh and WBO European champion Dmitriy Nikulin.
I cannot wait to get back into the ring to defend my title and until then I’ll be keeping my eye on the other big fights on the horizon.
Saturday sees Commonwealth champion George Groves go up against British champion James DeGale at the O2 Centre, in what will be a grudge match with all the ingredients of being a great fight.
Will James walk over George with his amazing talent or will George shock the doubters and beat the Olympic champion?
Yet despite the intensity of the fight, they are both at the start of their careers so whoever loses can comeback stronger.
You just need to look at Michael Watson and Nigel Benn’s classic encounter twenty years ago to see that even though Benn lost that fight he came back stronger to win the world title twice. Nigel was the favourite in that fight and many thought he would walk over Watson, just as most experts expect James to.
I have seen George spar and he is a talented fighter. A couple years ago he came down to the TKO gym and did some rounds with the then 175lb British champion Tony Oakey. He had obvious talent and this fight with James is where he has a chance to show people what he is made of.
George seems the more polite of the two but James with his ‘Floyd Mayweather’-type persona sells tickets and looks like a future world champion.
Elsewhere in the super-middleweights, there are three good fighters out there at the moment in Lucian Bute, Andre Ward and Carl Froch. The winner of the DeGale v Groves fight will be twelve months from fighting one of the three in my opinion.
Boxing is filled with great rivalries. The ‘fabulous four’ comes to mind particularly; Marvin Hagler, Sugar Ray Leonard, Roberto Duran and Thomas Hearns. They all fought each other in some great fights which inspired me as a young child.
I would love my own rivalry as great careers are made of that. Fights with Devon Alexander, Timonthy Bradley, Joan Guzman, Andre Berto and Victor Ortiz are what I am focused on at the moment, and in the coming years I will be in some great fights.
British fighters like Carl Froch, Amir Khan, and a few years ago Ricky Hatton, had success in America after dominating Britain and their blue print is the one to follow.
James has said he hopes George comes to fight instead of boxing him, as he wants to stop George by the fourth round, so George has to fight to his own game plan to get a victory.
Staying calm and composed in this fight will be hugely important.
They were ex-teammates at the Dale Youth in Ladbroke Grove and this is fuelling the fire for James as he feels he was at the end of a controversial decision in the Northwest divisional finals many years back.
I was present and tend to agree with James but with that loss he went on to win an Olympic gold, which may not have happened had he won. George went onto win two National ABA titles.
I think James DeGale will have too much for George Groves but as I’ve said in previous blogs, at top-level boxing the underdog can always win as I have shown many times.
It will be an entertaining fight and I’m sure both the winner and loser will go on to have good careers.
Nathan Clevery also challenges Juergen Braehmer for his WBO 175lbs world title on the same bill. Frank Warren has stated that he would like to see Nathan fight the great and ageing Bernard Hopkins and Jean Pascal, who fight on the same night in Canada, after their controversial draw which happened last year.
I don’t know if Nathan is ready for the world’s elite just yet but he has time on his side so I’m sure Frank won’t be in a rush to send his Welsh star ‘to the lions’ just yet.
Whatever happens, Frank Warren has put together a big show and I’ll be watching the festivities ringside.
It’ll be one not to miss.
Manny Pacquiao vs Sugar Shane Mosley
The big fight is upon us, Manny Pacquiao vs Sugar Shane Mosley.
Saturday night in the US will see two future ‘hall of fame’ fighters go head to head and Shane Mosley has one of the best records in the fight business.
He has fought a boxing ‘who’s who’ in his career – starting in the late nineties when he was blowing fighters away in the lightweight division, from which he skipped Junior Welterweight and went straight to Welterweight to seek big fights with the late Vernon Forrest, Miguel Cotto and Oscar De La Hoya.
The man has never backed away from a challenge and at the age of 39 is looking to shock the boxing world the same way he did when he was an underdog against Antonio Margarito.
But Shane Mosley is not in the best of form at the minute, with his last fights resulting in a draw against Sergio Mora and a loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Yet Shane has been amongst the elite level of the sport for 14 years now and has speed, skills and a rock solid chin. He is up for this and he is not coming for a pay cheque – I would never write Shane Mosley off.
I’ve been an underdog for majority of my career and I have beaten Corley, Rodriguez, Daws and Bosworth when I wasn’t supposed to have a chance.
In boxing at the top level, the underdog always has a chance. David Haye is seen as the underdog when he travels to Germany to fight Wladimir Klitschko but I am confident he can walk away with the Ukrainian’s titles.
Back to Saturday’s fight and despite everything I have said about Shane, Manny Pacquiao is the man of the moment. He is an inspiration to many people all over the world.
He has come from poverty to achieve his much-deserved success and now has a seat in Congress in the Philippines. He has even had success as a pop and movie star in his homeland – everything this man touches at the minute turns to gold.
He has won his last thirteen fights going back to 2005 and last lost to Erik Morales, who has just come out of a candidate for ‘fight of the year’ with Marcos Maidana.
In that time Pacquiao has beaten Miguel Cotto (who beat Shane Mosley) and walked through Joshua Clottey, Ricky Hatton, Oscar De La Hoya and Antonio Margarito.
If you look at common opponents, such as De La Hoya, Margarito and Cotto, you would have to side with Pacquiao as he stopped two of the three. Mosley stopped Margarito in a fight where Mosley seemed to turn back the years but two wars with De La Hoya and a close decision defeat to Cotto doesn’t seem to give Mosley too much hope for this fight.
But let’s not forget Mosley fought Cotto, De La Hoya and Margarito in their prime, whereas Pacquiao got them when they had seen better days.
Mosley is 39 years old and is perhaps on his last legs but even if he was to lose this fight I could see him fighting Victor Ortiz or Andre Berto in the future.
Pacquiao is only 32 and with a record of 57 fights he clearly has a few more years in him. It now begs the question, “Who else is there for Manny to beat?”
Floyd Mayweather is the last man out there but that fight is nowhere near happening as Floyd has outside problems going on with court cases taking up his time.
Mosley and Pacquiao both have big fight experience so nobody will have the edge here. Mosley is the bigger man but Pacquiao has beaten bigger men in the past so that will not be a problem.
Pacquiao ‘s style may frustrate Mosley at first as he has the better hand speed but Mosley has the edge in power so that levels the playing field.
Freddy Roach is widely seen as the best trainer in the world and you can see that in evidence with what he has done with Amir Khan. Manny trusts Freddy with his life and their relationship seems rock solid.
Naazim Richardson is also a good trainer and maybe a future great trainer; what he has done with Bernard Hopkins is amazing. He is a straight-talking man and honest as well – I feel Shane has a lot of respect for him and he will have Shane in great shape.
But Shane has been sparring with former World champion Demarcus Corley, who I beat three years ago in New York state, and I’m not sure if I would hire Corley as he has seen better days.
I’m just not sure Richardson will have a back-up plan as he seemed lost when Floyd Mayweather started to play with Shane in the latter rounds of their fight.
It’s going to be a fascinating contest.
Shane Mosley will be motivated to show he is not past his best and has something more to give boxing, whilst Manny Pacquiao is incredible.
I went to Los Angeles for a week in 2009, after spending a month with Dmitriy Salita up in the Poconos mountains, whilst training for a fight with Zab Judah at Madison Square Garden which fell through. I train hard, as anyone who knows me will tell you, but Manny was on another level when I saw him first-hand. He would go to war with his sparring partners, which included WBA World champion Amir Khan, and afterwards would hit the bag or hit pads.
He was jumping around like an energy bunny after twelve hard rounds in a hot, packed Los Angeles sweat box gym. Roger Mayweather and Bernard Hopkins think Manny Pacquiao is using some sort of performance enhancing drug but he has consistently passed all drug tests so has to be assumed to be clean.
I was inspired watching him and on my return home, I upped my training regime.
It’s this that has helped me with wins over world number three Rodriguez and British champion Daws.
Personally I don’t know if Shane Mosley can keep up with Pacquiao ‘s energy through the twelve round fight. Maybe Manny will wear Shane down but I just can’t see Shane being knocked out; maybe the corner will throw in the towel as Mosley is a fighter and certainly won’t quit.
Money is not a driving force for Manny Pacquiao but he gives out millions to his people in his homeland which will be hard to keep doing when he leaves boxing. Shane Mosley also has different motivations as he has gone through a nasty divorce with his ex-wife, who has demanded some of Shane’s World title belts. Floyd Mayweather commented in a press conference that Shane had fallen on hard times since his split with his wife so who knows where Shane’s mind is.
He has recently met Cuban bombshell Bella Gonzalez and their relationship seems to be going well so Shane is probably in a happy place at the minute. He is also fighting the best in the world, so what more could he want?
Shane Mosley can win because he believes in himself, has power, speed, skills and big fight experience.
Manny Pacquiao can win because he has amazing fitness levels, brilliant speedy combinations and everything that Shane has.
Pacquiao has to have the edge in this fight but he has been knocked out in the past and I wouldn’t be shocked if Shane won.
But… If I had to choose, I’d go with Pacquiao as he is the man on form.
Watch this space, because for whoever wins this contest, Floyd Mayweather Jr. will be the only fight out there.
Sir Henry Cooper
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.