Carl Frampton reborn but relieved

CFrampton


Carl Frampton returned to competitive action after 10 months away from the sport. It was also his first fight since his unblemished record was tarnished, losing to Leo Santa Cruz in a majority decision. In the build up Frampton spoke of how he did not obviously show his disappointment obviously in the ring after the fight the defeat had seriously affected him. If you thought he might ease himself back into action to dust off some ring rust with a lower level fighter you would have been mistaken.

Frampton took on experienced Mexican Horacio Garcia. At 27 years of age he had fought 37 times before his encounter with Frampton. While recent fights had not gone his way he remained a threat to the returning former 2 weight champion.

‘The Jackal’ got the better of Garcia over the distance the fight could have been completely different if it was extended by 2 rounds.

Looking sharp early Frampton found his range almost instantly and landed big shots on his opponent. He was on his toes and moved away from the Mexican, who had Canelo Alvarez at ringside to cheer him on. Frampton looked good, as if he had not been away. Making Garcia follow him around and making him look sluggish and flat footed at times.

As the fight moved on into the middle rounds things began to change. Frampton slowed down and started getting pinned up against the ropes, exactly where he did not want to be. Garcia started letting flurries go and Frampton’s legs were unable to move him out of trouble. It was not a case of ‘the Jackal’ wanting to get into a war, he had no choice. He knew it was turning into Garcia’s type of fight and he did not have the energy to do anything to stop it.

Jamie Moore now in Frampton’s corner emphasised the importance of moving and using the jab to the body but in the later round the Northern Irish fighter had to rely on instincts. And he certainly delivered. Parts of Frampton were tested that we rarely get to see. His ability, preparation and game plan are usually so tight that he does not have his engine and desire tested. He dug in and when the chips were down he hung on for the win.

His temperament was also thrown under the microscope. In the 7th round he slipped but due to a punch being landed on the way down it had to be scored a knock-down. He initially threw his hands up and claimed he slipped but that was all. Soon he was back to his feet and trying to steady the ship. It felt that this may make the fight close going down the stretch but in the end it was not important. Frampton won on all 3 judges scorecards; the closest by 3 and the widest by 5. The final card had him winning by 4 points.

Coming through this will have got rid of the worries that were present after his loss to Santa Cruz. Now Frampton wants one of the champions.

“It was a good fight for the fans. I boxed well for the first few rounds but then got myself caught up in a fight. I wanted a hard fight for my comeback and that’s what I got. The rust is off, the cobwebs are gone and now I want to fight one of the big guys.” (Carl Frampton)

The trilogy fight with Santa Cruz is on the cards but there are domestic fighters who will want a piece of Frampton. Lee Selby fights next month and holds the IBF featherweight title. A fight between the pair has been predicted for some time. The one people want to see though is the trilogy fight with Santa Cruz. Another British boxing classic could be on the card if Frampton decides to take on Scott Quigg again or Josh Warrington. The other champions at featherweight are Gary Russel Jr and Oscar Valdez who hold the WBC and WBO respectively. While all those fighters have fights scheduled another possible opponent Abner Mares could step in to face Frampton.

This fight answered a lot of questions for Frampton. He is back and looks great. A changed of team and promoter could be exactly what the 30 year old needs to reinvigerate his career. Coming back in such a tough fight will advance his preperaton for a title fight greatly. 2018 is set to be a huge year for ‘the Jackal’.

Also on the card Jamie Conlan was stopped by Jerwin Ancajas in the 6th round as he attempted to win the IBF World super flyweight title. Paddy Barnes moved to 5-0 and recorded his first professional stoppage to claim the vacant WBO Inter-Continental Flyweight title against Eliecer Quezada.


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Bisping St-Pierre showdown in New York

BisGSP


UFC legend Georges St-Pierre will return after a 4 year absence to attempt to snatch the middleweight title from English fighter Michael Bisping. The fight will see Bisping defend the belt for the third time after winning it from Luke Rockhold and defending it in Manchester against Dan Henderson. It is an interesting match up and the returning GSP, who says he is back to stay, has numerous questions over his head.

St-Pierre ,the former welterweight champion, has not fought since 2013 when he defended his title against Johny Hendricks. Later he vacated the title and said he was not going to compete for a while. GSP informed fight fans that he needed some time away from the sport so he could recharge. He was one of the best fighters in his time in the UFC and had a strong following. He will be hoping to return to glory with a victory over Bisping.

Can GSP step back in and be as magnificent as he was? It is a tough ask for the Canadian as no matter how hard you train and how much you spar nothing replicates being under the pressure of fighting in the octagon. Bisping has been active in the 4 years GSP has been away. The champion has fought 5 times and won all of his bouts while GSP has been away. The sharpness of GSP will be vital and if he cannot settle quickly Bisping will be able to take control.

The key to this fight is who can implement their style. Bisping is happier on his feet and if he can stop GSP taking the fight to the ground it will be a successful night for the Englishman. Bisping has relentless stand up skills and will not stop until he lands a knockout shot. If GSP can get the fight to the ground it will be a different story. Bisping struggles when taken down and with his opponents elite ground game he could be in serious danger.

While GSP weighed in at 184.4 pounds to Bisping’s 184.6 size is a huge factor. GSP is moving up from 170 to middleweight and it shows. Bisping is slightly taller but is comfortable at the weight. It is the champions natural weight and the challenger is moving up. Again GSP can negate this by securing a take down which would remove all of Bisping’s strengths.

The build up has been a good watch. Bisping has been outspoken and verging on arrogant. Instead of respecting what GSP has done he has questioned why he has come back and why he has returned at a higher weight. His game plan is to get under the skin of the returning fighter and put him on the back foot before they come face to face on fight night. GSP has been relaxed, nothing has angered him to any extreme and, as you would expect with all his experience, he has taken everything in his stride.

When it is all said and done fight fans are being treated to a truly unique encounter. A legend returning to competition against a fighter with a great record and will be regarded as one of the greats when he does call it a day.

Who will win? Bisping is the favourite. Everything is in his favour physically and momentum is with him. But anything can happen. Especially with a fighter as special as GSP in the octagon. If he can take Bisping out of his comfort zone he could cause an upset.


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Michael Bisping should retire if he beats GSP



Arguably the most exciting card of the year is upon us. UFC 217 is here and it is stacked with huge clashes. 3 title fights will be taking place with fighters who come with a reputation of entertaining fights! Watching the prelims and under card match ups can be extremely entertaining as they can be much more engaging than the pre-main event fights in any boxing match up.

So on to the main event of the evening. The huge middleweight match up between long time veteran and current middleweight champ, Michael Bisping and former welterweight champion George’s St-Pierre.

This has all the qualities to be the fight of the night, even when you include the Gardbrant vs Dillashaw feud and all the bad blood that goes with it.

If you are a GSP fan then this blog is not going to be for you! Bisping has had a colourful career and his story is an interesting one. It is good to see that he has not only won the belt but successfully defended it against many tough opponents. He will win this fight, it will not be easy but he will win and not via a decision. But via a brutal knockout.

Watching Bisping fight is like watching a Rocky film, he keeps getting put down but just wont stop getting back up. The heart this guy has is colossal and we have seen him overcome adversity time and time again.

The only way GSP can win this fight is a submission which given GSP’s huge success in take down attempts is not impossible.

So what if Bisping wins?

Retire, he needs to retire. Why? Here is your answer.

Age

He is 38 years old and the type of fights he finds himself in do not exactly embody the art of ‘hit but don’t get hit’. He is in some absolute wars and why would you want to take on that kind of punishment any further as you approach your 40’s

What more does he have to prove? 

He has had a very good career and can finish it on his terms whilst at the top of the pile. This is a great match up and besides a Tyron Woodley fight there is not much more out their for him and given that Woodley’s last 3 fights have been the equivalent of bed time stories. Do not bank on that fight being made. Perhaps a third fight with Luke Rockhold or  match up against Yoel Romero but the end should come after beating GSP. Beating GSP will speak volumes a thousand decibels higher than beating any of those other fighters.

Motivation

What will wake him up in the morning so that he can endure a gruelling and punishing training regiment to fight? Especially when the fights that would seem as a step back in terms of a challenger. He definitely does not need the money, he regularly features on UFC commentary and analysis, he has a successful podcast and he also has a somewhat growing movie career.

So what happens if he loses?

He may take 1 or 2 more fights, 1 possibly being a rematch with GSP depending how good the fight is! Ultimately remaining healthy is the key along with retaining all his faculties and going out on a high. Every fighter wants to go out on top and a win over GSP would be a monumental high for Bisping.


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Wilder to handle business and move on to bigger fights

Bronze Bomber


American heayweight king Deontay Wilder will defend his WBC world title against Bermane Stiverne in Brooklyn. The pair have shared the ring before when the roles were reversed. Stiverne entered the bout the champion on the previous occasion. While Wilder was able to take the belt it remains the only minor blemish on his record. The first fight is the only fight in ‘the Bronze Bombers’ pro career he has not won by stoppage. Wilder will be looking to put the icing on the cake and stop Stivirne this time around.

Wilder has been involved in 38 professional fights and scored an incredible 37 knockouts. In fact the first match up against Stivirne was the first time the Alabama native was pushed past 4 rounds. It marked a step up in opponent for the best heavyweight in America and since then he has had more difficult nights than he did before. It is a similar scenario to his British rival Anthony Joshua. They were completely dominant in the early stages of their career but now the standard has increased their victories have been more hard fought. However, they both keep winning.

Stiverne vs Wilder I

The first fight was interesting. Wilder struggled in patches but the result was emphatic and he ran out a clear winner. Winning the fight by unanimous decision the judges scorecards read; 118-109, 119-108 and 120-107. The decision was widely based on the amount of punches each man threw.

Wilder was busier throwing 621 punches and landing 227 over the 36 minute contest. By contrast Stiverne threw 327 landing 110. The success rates were closer with Wilder landing 37% of his shots and Stiverne landing 34%. Stiverne caused Wilder some problems but the then challenger came through everything he had to and caused his opponent just as many issues.

Stiverne to be more active?

It is quite clear that if Stiverne wants to wrestle his title back from Wilder he will need to throw more punches this time around. If he can put his foot down on the accelerator if Wilder is again flustered he could win. But he has to get him on the back foot again which will be difficult.

With Stiverne aware to the fact he needs to throw more he will find himself with problems he did not last time. Stamina could be an issue if he is outputting more energy for attacks. He will leave himself more open if he comes forward more and with the power Wilder possess he could be laid out. Even though he had some success last time it needs to be a completely different game plan.

Wilder gunning for the KO?

Wilder has successfully defended his title 5 times since beating Stiverne. All have been good victories against solid fighters. The rematch with Stiverne is an interesting one for him and puts him in a different place mentally. Fighting the same man and the only man he has not been able to finish inside the distance in his pro career will test his head.

Will he over commit and go for the KO to prove himself? Will he be patient and willing to go the distance or pick him off late? He must get his stratergy right this time as Stiverne is tough and the best opponent he has ever faced. It is a good test for ‘the Bronze Bomber’ and puts new hurdles in his path.

The weigh in

Sparks flew at the weigh in as the pair came face to face. Wilder was animated and was predicting a knockout. Who would put it passed him with the immense power he carries. The knockouts on his record have stacked up and his reputation as a heavy hitter needs no explaining.

Stiverne said that Wilder was a ‘camera boy’ basically suggesting he is all talk. It is hard to see were Stiverne is going with that one but it was clear that the pair had an intense dislike for one and other.

What does the future hold?

Wilder is expected to win. Stiverne has not competed in 2 years and to come back in against an elite fighter is a tough ask. Wilder was scheduled to fight Luis Ortiz which would have been a fantastic fight and one that could have put an even bigger name on Wilder’s record. The Cuban heavyweight was forced to pull out after he tested positive for banned substances.

If Wilder does retain his belt he will feel the need to add some serious top level names to his record to emphasise his greatness. The one everybody around the world would like to see is Wilder against Joshua. Both men are dominant in their countries and hold 3 of the 4 world titles. A tough encounter to call it would be the biggest boxing match up in years.

Unlike Joshua Wilder does not have a name the size of Wladimir Klitschko on his record. But there are very few heavyweights who have that status in world boxing. A fight against a previous opponent of Joshua may wet the appetite for boxing fans as it does not feel that the time for the two to clash is right just yet. Perhaps his latest opponent Carlos Takam could go in against Wilder and see if he can push the WBC champ as far as he pushed Joshua.

An interesting fight would be Wilder facing Dillian Whyte. Whyte was beaten by AJ but really put some pressure on his opponent in the build up and in the ring. Whyte wants the fight and has made the fact he wants it public. Wilder is not as keen making ludicrous financial demands to make the fight happen. Wilder has made it clear that he wants one man from England.

View this post on Instagram

@eddiehearn bro let's not play around here, We both know who I want from England, you told me a while back at the WBC convention that your main man was next remember? So why have you been trying to throw your cocka roaches in with me. First it was Bellew and now it's your dirty cunt @dillianwhyte man come on. I tell you what… Make that offer of 3 million into 7 million and on OUR terms. Oh it's going to cost you to change my plans of what we about to do up and NO it's not on YOUR terms. How you go come with a offer of 3 million and want things on your terms too? The last time I checked I was the damn CHAMP! When I bet the horse shit out your stray doggy, (Animal Farm) I'm AGAIN not going to GAIN any credit or anything from anybody for beating his ass whatsoever; After this beat down from TTown, They will call him a Bum too let's face it and the world knows this. Fans really just want to see me back in the ring that's why they entertaining this bullshit. @dillianwhyte is a crush dummy at best, he's designed to well you know!?! "Fucking Crush" Every fighter wants to fight for titles over and over again, shit some guys never see a first time and y'all want another shot with 3M + term too? Get the fuck out of here. Hey I would love to fuck him up as bad and as bloody as I will do and take that money too EZ. So sleep on them nuts and come back with an open mind and a new heart because the CHAMP don't like this fuckery. "I SWEAR TO GOD IM GOING TO CATCH A BODY FROM ONE OF THIS CABBAGES IN THIS SPORT SOON, MARK MY WORDS"… #BombZquad #DeathRow #FixTheLeakage #IfYourRidingWithMeThenLetsRide #IfNotThenKickRocks #PutSomeRespectOnMyName #UsaVsEverybody #TheRealistChampInTheBusiness

A post shared by Deontay Wilder (@bronzebomber) on

Joseph Parker is the other man to hold a world title and his style could cause Wilder some problems if the pair fight. Parker is quick and technical and could be the antidote to Wilder’s powerful flurries.

Tyson Fury has come out and has said that he wants to get back into the mix and thinks he could cement his brilliance by beating Wilder and unifying the heavyweight division again. Fury needs to get back into shape before any fights materialise but when that happens you would not bet against him with his unique and awkward style.

There is a wealth of prospects for all the top heavyweights. It seems as if all of them are on a collision course and the boxing community is in for a real treat in 2018 and further.

First of all Wilder needs to do his job and retain against Stiverne. He cannot look beyond this opponent as he has ability and heart that could derail Wilder moving forward. If Wilder is at his best he will win and more than likely get the stoppage this time around. Any signs of complacency could cost him. If this bout is as good as the last one we are in for a treat!


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Tricky night or business as usual for heavyweight king Anthony Joshua?

AJ Heavy


Anthony Joshua’s rapid rise to superstardom has been a joy to watch. Ever since he won gold in the London Olympics in 2012 he has conquered all who have stood in his way. 19 professional boxers have stood in the opposite corner to the man mountain and not a single opponent has gone the distance. In Cardiff Joshua will face a different situation. Kubrat Pulev pulled out due to a shoulder injury and Carlos Takam takes his place. A change of opponent can sometimes cause problems but can the regular outcome continue for Joshua?

Physically all the advantages point to a hard night for the new opponent. Joshua comes in at his career heaviest of 254 pounds. Promoter Eddie Hearn suggested that the undefeated Brit would come in lighter than he did in his last fight against Wladimir Klitschko. The thinking behind the theory is that Joshua looked too heavy and when he was hurt by Klitschko it took him longer to recover due to the extra muscle he was carrying. With AJ coming in even heavier it suggests that he feels he can blast Takam out and does not expect the fight to go deep.

By contrast Takam weighed in at 235 pounds. However, he also looked in unbelievable shape. While he may be giving away 19 pounds in weight he still carries a threat. He has claimed 27 knockouts in 35 wins and only been stopped the once by Alexander Povetkin in 2014. His last defeat came by way of unanimous decision in 2016 against Joseph Parker. Styles make fights and Takam is powerful and will certainly have a go at AJ.

The difference in weight is understandable when you look at the difference in height between the fighters. Joshua holds a 5 inch height advantage. He has the option to use that in the early stages if there are any thoughts that Takam could cause him problems. Given the way Joshua usually operates he may not give his opponent that chance. At heavyweight any mistake is costly and with Joshua’s power and boxing skills he will want to get the job done as soon as possible.

Takam and Pulev are completely different fighters. Pulev is more technical due to his vast experience at amateur level. Takam is more physical and with him lacking in height against Joshua it could play into his hands. If he can bob and weave and close the distance between him and the champion he will be able to throw powerful hooks to the body and may even look for the uppercut on the inside.

There is no doubt Joshua will want to keep the fight at distance. Using his jab to set up his straight right hand to soften up Takam. Once the damage is done on the outside and Takam takes a backward step the AJ onslaught will start. That is perhaps the perfect night for the World Champion.

How much can the French challenger bring to the table? The feeling in the casual section of AJ’s fans is not much. But the pundits believe it may be more difficult than that.

“Takam has to get in close, get to his chest, throw that right hand that he’s got to land on the temple of AJ because he’s showed that he keeps that left hand low, too low at times.” (Jonny Nelson, Sky Sports pundit)

While Nelson concedes that Takam is a threat to Joshua’s unblemished record he goes on to say that the fight is more about AJ. He goes on to say that if he plays to his strengths he should win the fight. If he is sloppy and underestimates the replacement opponent it could be a difficult night for the champion.

“I know Carlos Takam quite well because we had him in for sparring on a few occasions when David Haye was world heavyweight champion, in my opinion he’s potentially more of a threat than the original opponent Pulev” (Adam Booth, trainer of Ryan Burnett)

As he says above, Booth knows more than most about Takam. He thinks that underestimating the new opponent could have horrific consequences. The point is valid. Takam will challenge and test Joshua’s chin if he is given the chance were as Pulev would look to take the fight deep and out-box the Brit.

Heavyweight boxing is at times unpredictable. The main thing to take away in the build up in this fight is that if Joshua has taken this seriously, trained well and performs well on the night – he wins. Going further than that if he ticks all those boxes he wins by knockout. Anything less than that he may find something difficult as Takam has all the attributes in his locker to cause an upset.

The card features some other good fights that will showcase British boxing talent, so the card is not reliant on the main event. Joshua’s heavyweight rival Dillian Whyte will be in action against ‘the Nordic Nightmare’ Robert Helenius. Katie Taylor features on the card attempting the win the WBA World lightweight title against Anahi Sanchez who vacated the belt after missing weight yesterday. The Irish Olympic gold medallist can still win the belt but her opponent cannot.

Also Frank Buglioni fights Craig Richards, Dave Allen is in action and will fight Lenroy Thomas and Kal Yafai goes in against Sho Ishida.


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The most exciting UFC match up of 2017

GarbrandtDillashaw


Over a month away from UFC 217 seems a little early to be discussing what could go down. The event is not even the next scheduled card with UFC 216 featuring great fights which include; the main event Tony Ferguson vs Kevin Lee and a rescheduled flyweight title match up which will see Ray Borg attempted to stop Demetrious Johnson defend the strap for the 11th time. The reason UFC 217 is the topic of discussion is not even the blockbuster main event which will see England’s own Michael Bisping go up against MMA royalty in George St-Pierre. Even though this match up is interesting there is a fight on the card that gets fight fans even more excited.

The supporting act for UFC 217 is a fight that runs way deeper than any shallow rivalry whipped up to create a few more pay per view buys. Cody Garbrandt will defend his bantamweight title against former team mate and California born TJ Dillashaw. The pair were never friends, by Dillashaw’s admission, and by the time Garbrandt came to the team Dillashaw was already on his way out. TJ believes that head of Team Alpha Male, Urijah Faber, is the reason so much annomosity remains between Dillashaw and the team. The Californian followed former Alpha Male head coach Duane Ludwig to Denver to train with him.

It’s complicated. That is for sure. But it does offer something special to the fight. It feels a lot more personal and as if there is a lot of emotion going into fight night. Such a public fall out does not often get such a thrilling finally. The build up with the fight will feature all the people who were involved and affected by the split. Old anger and bitterness will spill out. Dillashaw believes he made the correct decision leaving the team especially after The Ultimate Fighter series in which he featured.

As if TJ’s departure did not cause enough fuss The Ultimate Fighter added more fuel to the fire. In January 2017 it was announced that the two would be opposing coaches in the series. All the way through the series the two clashed and exchanged words.

Sparks flew on numerous occasions during the show and Garbrandt put his hands around the neck of his opposing coach. It felt tense and as soon as Garbrandt said the fight was going to happen excitement grew. At the end of the day we do not know exactly what has happened and how it happened between the two camps. Stories are offered from both sides but the true meat of the story will never become public knowledge. And we do not need to know. The combat sports community will be given a spectacle when the pair come face to face in the octagon.

https://twitter.com/Cody_Nolove/status/895302997600681984

So what can we expect on fight night? With any bout that involves so many raw feelings there will be the chance that the action could let fight fans down. With this one it will live up to the hype. Both men are quality fighters. Garbrandt is undefeated winning 11 fights out of 11 and 9 of those due to stoppages resulting from strikes. He had a career as an amateur boxer before switching to MMA and was a state level wrestling champion.

Dillashaw has a pretty similar skill set. Also a very good wrestler at university level his aggressive come forward style contrasts Garbrandt’s stand up game. If Dillashaw can come forward and not be overly concerned with what his opponent is throwing he may be able to put pressure on the champion like he has never experienced before.

The problem is Cody has power. He has quick hands and is an expert counter puncher so if Dillashaw is planning on getting close and being aggressive he will have to do so with care and concentration. He cannot go in there and expect to just walk him down, some method and skill must be used.

Garbrandt may be the champion heading into the contest after a career highlight win against Dominick Cruz at UFC 207 but his opponent has successfully defended the belt before. This is Garbrandt’s first defence of the title which will potentially changed his mindset. His opponent won the belt and successfully defended it twice before losing on a split decision to Cruz. So much here will come down to mentality. Who deals with the pressure of the situation more, how will Garbrandt react to being champion, can Dillashaw reclaim the belt? There is a lot to think about for both men.

When the bell rings at UFC 217 at Madison Square Garden, New York anything could happen. The circumstances surrounding the contest have deep roots and involve numerous people. The fighters themselves are two of the best and most exciting active men on the roster. Expect non stop action and both competitors to go to lengths they have never been pushed to before.

So much is at stake, pride, honour and respect. Will Garbrandt claim supremacy for Alpha Male? Can Dillashaw justify leaving the team by reclaiming the bantamweight title? It truly is up in the air. This is what the UFC is all about and it is why we love it.


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Two weight champ Andre Ward hangs up his gloves

S.O.G


He is a polarising figure in the world of boxing but he leaves an incredible legacy.

Andre Ward – ‘the Son of God’ won all of his 32 fights initially fighting at super middleweight and then moving up to light heavyweight. The American Olympic gold medallist, which he won in Athens in 2004, captured belts at both weights and was widely considered the pound for pound number 1 after Floyd Mayweather retired. Citing his lack of drive due to the toll training camps have taken on him over the years as his reason on retiring we take a look back at his career.

Before we look back at Ward’s career it is important to understand why he has retired. He turned professional in 2004 which makes it a 13 year stint in the pro game. His words after the announcement spoke volumes;

“People see what I do fight night. They see under the lights, but they don’t see the toil, they don’t see the grind, they don’t see just the pain, the physical pain that you go through, not just in the fights, but to prepare and to get ready for those battles.”  (Andre Ward)

It is true that fight fans both casual and more intense forget the hard work that the fighters put in. The preparation to get into the right shape to be able to get into the ring is intense and it only increases as bigger fights are made. The level Ward competed at for so long effects a person and it cannot last forever. In his mind he has achieved everything he has set out to do and the effort and work needed to prepare for fight night just does not seem worth it any more.

It is difficult to see why Ward is not universally loved by fight fans. He is a game fighter who has moved up weight and became a two weight world champion. His slick skills make for an interesting watch but perhaps not the most entertaining style. Issues with promoters may have had an effect on Ward’s career. A long time feud and a court case, which meant he missed some time in the sport, with Dan Goossen changed the public opinion on Ward. The boxing community turned on the fighter and the media changed their opinion because of that.

There were complaints from the critics saying that the standard of fighter Ward came up against after returning from the court case were not good enough and that he was just going through the motions. His style was also under more scrutiny. While he was never the biggest puncher it was now suggested he was a fighter set up to ruin fights. To negate the opponents strengths and edge through.

Through his career he has faced top class opponents at both weights he campaigned at. Victory in the Super Six World Boxing Classic between 2009 and 2011 saw he beat Carl Froch in the final. Froch became a critic of Ward’s style and the pair have exchanged comments in interviews since then.

His final encounters with Kovalev stands out as the exclamation point on his career. Kovalev is a monster at light heavyweight and up there in the pound for pound rankings with Ward. This was the biggest test of the American’s career. Winning the first fight even after being dropped early in the fight was not enough for most of his critics. Home advantage was put forward as the reason Ward took the victory. In all honesty the fight was a close one. Kovalev started quickly but Ward was able to come back into the fight down the stretch. The decision could have gone either way.

The rematch was an obvious one to make. Kovalev wanted another crack at Ward and for some reason the winner of the first bout had not done enough to convince the world he won the first encounter. It gave Ward the stage to make a statement and he did. The fight was competitive but Ward’s work to the body was he key to success. He was able to slow his opponent down and take the wind out of him. The stoppage may have been controversial but it was a double over Kovalev that confirmed Ward as a legend in the sport.

As Mayweather says you need something extra to be the best. Who knows what that is? It is hard to say. Ward had a great amateur career, great skills and the ambition to push himself to fight the best. Boxing is changing. To be the top draw you need a certain personality trait that makes you stand out. It is not enough to simply be one of the best boxers of your generation any more. Ward was certainly that. One of the best boxers to compete in his generation. Perhaps over time his legacy and standing in the sport will be increased to were it should be.


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