The Tyron Woodley debate – great tactician or boring?

The dust has well and truly settled from UFC 214 now. The event was a great success. A stacked card full of interesting fight delivered. Three title fights supported by competitive fights on the main card made excellent viewing. However, there is one issue that stands out further than others moving forward. Tyron Woodley overcame Demian Maia in a unanimous decision victory. Woodley performed conservatively to say the least landing only 57 strikes in the 25 minute fight. It certainly brought the relationship of implementing a game plan and entertaining the crowd to the forefront. Was Woodley right to perform the way he did?

Maia has been on a roll in the UFC scoring three submissions in his last five fights. He has put together a winning streak of seven after suffering back to back defeats in late 2013 and early 2014. the game plan was clear from the Brazilian fighter. He wanted to get Woodley to the ground and choke him out as that has been his weapon of choice for a long period of time. Taking Woodley down is not easy. The champion is a big strong man and can use this to his advantage when his opponents shoot for a take down. Maia has been able to do this to good fighters in the division. An example of his excellent ground game came when he disposed of Carlos Condit with a performance of the night award in August 2016.

Being presented with this information Woodley’s training camp almost exclusively featured drills and training on take down defence and it showed. This is something that all fighters do. They look at their opponent and their strengths and will develop a game plan which nullifies it. If the take down was achieved by Maia it is more than likely that he would have left the champion.

The issue here is that Woodley seems to have focused more on the strengths of his opponent than his own. At welterweight Woodley carries great power and striking ability. The amount of strikes he threw was well under what you would expect. The quality of the fight led some fans to shine their phones and wave them in unison with other audience members it was that unattractive to watch.

This is a similar kind of scenario the boxing world has faced with Floyd Mayweather who has one of the best unbeaten records of any boxer in the history of the sport.

The unbeaten boxer still faces critics. People say that his fights are boring and he runs from his opponents. Mayweather has unbelievable defensive skills and hardly takes any punishment. His talent is a direct representation of the mantra preached by many famous boxers and coaches to win the fight and take as little damage as possible. Here we have the greatest practitioner of this philosophy and the majority of boxing fans do not resonate with him. Fight fans ideally want to see the two fighters go toe to toe and see who is left standing. That is not the point of either boxing or MMA.

Woodley or ‘the Chosen One’ as he is known in the UFC finds himself in a similar dilemma. He was very defensive at UFC 214 and it led to a spat with Dana White who said that you have to sell tickets as well as win championships. The UFC is not comparable with boxing. The two sports are completely different due to the fighting codes. Boxing is certainly less brutal which leaves Woodley in a worse position than Mayweather. ‘The Chosen One’ is competing in a different discipline, one that fans expect more action and excitement, that is a box he is not ticking at the moment.

Before this fight Woodley took on ‘the Wonderboy’ Stephen Thompson twice after their first fight, which was awarded fight of the night at UFC 205, ended in a majority draw. Even though this fight won an award for its quality in both fights with Thompson, the champion Woodley was again conservative with his attacks. The second fight saw Woodley perform better and take the win, but again was defensive. 

It is certainly a difficult place to be for Woodley and the UFC. Fans will not buy tickets if they are not entertained. If Woodley was to headline an event would it get good numbers? It would be interesting to see, but the UFC will not take that risk. There is no need to. There are big names being linked to a fight with Rafeal dos Anjos saying he’s coming after him, which would be a great fight.

MMA is a sport that attempts to marry numerous fighting disciplines together and find out which will come out on top. Perhaps Woodley is developing his own style, designed to stop his opponents strengths and just do enough to win the fight. He is a frustrating fighter as there is so much more he could offer fight fans. But at the end of the day he is still the champion of his division and his preparation and analysis of who he faces is always spot on. He may be facing critics at the moment but his ability in the octagon is not questionable. He will silence his critics and is likely to continue to succeed.

Wladimir Klitschko – A true great!

“My heart is at peace as I pass the torch to Anthony Joshua – the next generation. Good luck little bro, I’m proud of you!”

(Wladimir Klitschko – retirement statement)

After Wladimir Klitschko was knocked out in the eleventh round of his mega fight with Anthony Joshua it felt like the end. Reports suggested the pair would meet again in Africa or America. As a boxing fan I believe it is better that this did not materialise. It was time to Klitschko to call an end to his excellent career. The above quote sums up the Heavyweight greats class. Before the fight with Joshua there were well wishes and respect. After defeat they have clearly continued. It feels like the end of an era and indeed it is.

Klitschko’s career began back in 1996 making his debut on the same card as his older brother Vitali. The younger of the Klitschko brothers was undefeated for his first two years in professional boxing. He recorded an unbeaten record after his first 24 fights with 21 of those fights not going the distance. In that time he had claimed the WBC International heavyweight title.

Then disaster struck. Wladimir, fighting as a professional for the first time in his home country of Ukraine, faced American Ross Puritty. The American did not have the greatest record and the fight had a clear favourite with the home fighter. The fight started as expect ‘Dr. Steelhammer’ dominated the early rounds establishing his jab and generally being the busier fighter. However, he did not pace himself and by the tenth round he had gassed out. He went down twice at the end of the tenth, one was ruled a slip, and was knocked out in the following round.

Klitschko was back two months later showing his hunger and determination. He scored a KO victory over Zoran Vujecic and 15 more victories followed in a four year period of dominance. A long the way the Ukrainian boxer picked up his first World title, the WBO World heavyweight title. He won the belt in Germany against Chris Byrd by unanimous decision.

After successfully defending the belt he faced Corrie Sanders a man who gave the younger Klitschko brother his hardest lesson in boxing. Sanders knocked out his opponent in the second round of the fight. Klitschko was not invisible after all. A straight left early in the second knocked down the WBO champion and after that the fight was only going to go one way. It was a harsh lesson for the heavyweight champ which changed the way he went about his business in the ring. He was a very different fighter in these early parts of his career. He was open, aggressive and easy to hit. He wanted to fight and knock opponents out and with that comes obvious risk.

The next two fights went his way and he was offered a fight to reclaim his WBO belt that had been vacated. In his corner for this title shot was the famous boxing trainer Emanuel Steward. This was a serious move from ‘Dr Steelhammer’. He was attempting to address the issues that had caused him to lose his belt. As it is with boxing – nothing changes overnight. Wladimir was unable to regain his WBO title as Lamon Brewster stopped the big Ukrainian in the fifth round. Absolute disaster for Klitschko. The loss resulted in his older brother advising him to look for a new career. This is another example of Wladimir’s determination and desire to reach the top. He knew that with Steward in his corner and the lessons he could learn from him he could go again and redefine himself in the sport of boxing.

This happened! After the Brewster defeat Wladimir and Steward masterminded 16 straight victories together before the partnership came to an end. It saw Klitschko avenge his loss to Brewster in a fight the Ukrainian fighter defended his then recently won IBF World heavyweight title. He faced British cruiserweight king David Haye. The build up was fast paced and Wladimir really showed his quality and his class which only magnified the ignorance and cheap mind games Haye attempted. The fight was a non event and the size difference really showed. He knocked out Kubrat Pulev in 2014 and established himself as one of the all time greats over this period of sheer dominance of the heavyweight division. Not always the best fighter to watch his change of style brought him tremendous success.

Asking him now if he should have retired in 2015 after his unanimous victory over Bryant Jennings he may not admit it, but a part of him must entertain the thought. Tyson Fury had worked towards a fight with the great Wladmir for some time. He got his wish. Fury did what Fury does. He made the champion uncomfortable and his awkward style saw Wladmir lose for the first time in 11 years. Then the Joshua fight came and it was a classic. A genuinely fantastic night where he went toe to toe with the young dominant man in the division. Nobody can ever say he did not show his best on that night at Wembley and it is extremely clear to see that he was one or two clean shots away from winning that bout. However, it did not happen.

You may not like his style in the ring but it is very difficult to dislike the man. He is calm, confident and helps those around him. His legacy will be great and he went on to dominate heavyweight boxing with his brother for two decades. To have such a long and successful career in a division in which it takes one clean punch to lose a fight is remarkable. Wladimir Klitschko developed as a fighter immensely over the years, he put it all on the line and he carried on even when people around him said he should quit. He is a true legend of not just the heavyweight division but the entire sport of boxing.

Has Manny Pacquiao heard the final bell after defeat to Jeff Horn?

Manny Pacquiao has lost his WBO welterweight title in Australia against a former school teacher, Jeff Horn. The fight was a battle, with both fighters giving their all and creating a brilliant bout to for spectators. Pacquiao has legendary status in the sport and that will never be taken from him. However, the standard of his performances have of late slipped. In his last nine fights he has won five and lost four. Looking at his record before these fights he was 54 wins, 3 loses and 2 draws. Now at 38 years old and having heavy involvement in Filipino politics, is this the end of the ‘Pac-Man’s’ illustrious career?

It was back in 2012 when the decline began. Two defeats in six months dented Pacquiao’s aura of invincibility. First there was a split decision defeat against Timothy Bradley JR. The result was controversial and the majority of pundits at ring side had Pacquiao winning by a some distance. Two of the judges gave the fight to Bradley 115-113 and one to the ‘Pac-Man’ by the same score. Pacquiao looked genuinely shocked when the result was announced.

The next defeat in December of 2012 had no controversy surrounding it. A rivalry that had been burning for eight years came to a head in Las Vegas. Back in 2004 Pacquiao faced Juan Manuel Marquez at featherweight. The fight finished a draw solidifying the need for a rematch. It took four years for the rematch to materialise and Manny took the fight on a split decision at super featherweight. Three years later the pair met again this time up at welterweight. The third meeting ended in controversy however, as Marquez’s fans believed he won leading to chaos in the crowd and objects thrown towards the ring. Even though this was a majority decision victory which meant Marquez did not win the fight on any scored card (two judges gave the fight Manny and one scored it a draw) there was still a feeling the pair would meet again to search for a more conclusive victory. It came. After both fighters had been down earlier Marquez delivered the conclusive end that the rivalry had been searching for. Pacquiao was coming forward deep in the sixth round and Marquez ducked and let a huge right hand go. It landed flush and the ‘Pac-Man’ collapsed to the floor. Game over. KO victory for Marquez.

Pacquiao came back from the brutal knock-out to three straight unanimous decision victories. He beat Barndon Rios 11 months after the Marquez defeat. He reclaimed the WBO welterweight title and avenged defeat to Bradley five months later and defended it seven months later against then undefeated Chris Algieri.

This run brought about the fight all boxing fans wanted to say, just a little bit later than everybody would have wished. Floyd Mayweather, the greatest technical boxer of his generation would face Pacquiao – the man widely believed to have the style to beat him. Unfortunately, for a lot of fans the fight did not reach the level they expected. Mayweather boxed Manny for 12 rounds and completely outclassed the WBO champion. Pacquiao pushed forward and attempted to put the pressure on the American superstar but the defensive brilliance of ‘Money’ Mayweather negated anything the ‘Pac-Man’ could throw at him. The fight was seen as a farce as fans believed that Floyd had held the fight off until Pacquiao was past his best. The issues surrounding the fight and it taking place were probably present on both sides. It is simply the politics of boxing that stood in the way. It is difficult to blame either side too harshly.

The next move for the legendary boxer was to complete a trilogy with Bradley almost a year after the Mayweather defeat. Pacquiao claimed his second unanimous decision against the California born fighter. The two defeats accumulated by Bradley to Manny are still to date the only loses on the American’s record. This highlights how good Pacquiao performed in the two fights were he beat him. Later in the year Pacquiao took on Jessie Vargas in a wide decision on two of the judges card. It was a fantastic fight for Manny and he defended his WBO title he won back from Bradley in the previous fight.

After the defeat to Horn regardless of the questionable nature of the result, Pacquiao must look at his status in boxing. It must be a difficult call to decide enough is enough. Especially when you have climbed through weight classes, constantly proved people wrong and achieved as much as Manny has. While his quality may still be present, his consistency has clearly left him. The hard knock-out against Marquez must have taken a lot out of the veteran and his power is deteriorating. His last stoppage victory came back in 2009 against Miguel Cotto. Pacquiao has been a brilliant fighter to watch. In his prime he was quick, powerful and his ability to come forward and bully his opponent was a recipe for success. Now it is time for the legendary fighter from the Philippines to retire and leave us with the memories he created earlier in his career.

The start of a long road towards Mayweather vs McGregor

One of the most beautiful aspects of boxing is the moment before the bell rings and everybody has no idea what is going to happen. The media tries to predict the outcome, as do the fans – realistically they have no idea. Their is always a favourite but when the fighters come toe to toe that does not matter. This August the world will be glued to an event that will attract far more than the boxing purists. Undefeated Floyd Mayweather will go up against UFC superstar Conor McGregor. Discussions will blaze on if this is good for boxing or just a money making scheme, but the reality is it is happening. So what on earth will happen?

From one point of view it is a mismatch. Floyd has a record that makes fighters envious. Whether you are a fan of the 49-0 pound for pound great is now irrelevant. His skills in the ring, on the microphone and in money making has consistently been showcased on the biggest stages around the world. Fans pay to see ‘pretty boy’ have the arrogant grin smashed off his face. Never happened and it appeared remain a dream when Floyd left boxing back in 2015 after he levelled legendary Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 record with a wide points win over Andre Berto. The fight did not sell well on pay per view and Mayweather bowed out after the fight.

The rise of McGregor has forced Mayweather’s hand somewhat. The Irishman has took over the UFC with his trash talking build ups and brutally clinical wins inside the octagon. ‘The notorious one’ had created a huge fan base which is attracted to him by his lack of caring about peoples opinions and self confidence. The boy has charisma for sure.

McGregor wanted this fight. He has called out Mayweather and questioned his willingness to fight him. With an agreement now in place Mayweather has answered all those questions and now the fight is on.

So the first mental battle began. Is this another brilliant business move from the American boxer? He will make a reported $400 million for this fight and is a clear favourite. Or has McGregor appealed to Mayweather’s greed and drawn him out of retirement by offering him his most loved prize, a ton of money? It is difficult to say as both men have got what they wanted. They will both make a lot of money and it seems like a no brainier for both men. McGregor has nothing to lose. He is expected to be embarrassed by the best boxer in the world. Mayweather should put on a boxing clinic. Even well schooled and top quality boxers have struggled to land a glove on the elusive cash king. Ricky Hatton, Canelo Alvarez and Oscar De La Hoya all tried and all failed. The performance against Canelo is one of Mayweather’s best.

As good as ‘pretty boy Floyd’ has been throughout his brilliant career, McGregor poses an unpredictable threat to the American’s legacy. The proud Irish man is a fighter. He has been in battles in his MMA career and often comes out on top. He has a tremendous will to win and the work he puts in in his training camps is unbelievable. He masters many different fighting disciplines. He only has two weapons when he gets in the ring against Floyd and those are his fists. He is strong on his feet in the UFC though so he has a fair chance.

What can McGregor bring to the table that can trouble Mayweather? It is early to make any solid predictions about strategy. However, over the years many have said that Mayweather needs to face an opponent who will be able to put it on him and make him back up. It would be a disaster for McGregor to press forward with this fight plan. The double UFC champion is not that kind of fighter, he should not abandon how he has made his name. Looking at McGregor’s fight against Eddie Alvarez shows a viewer how he could cause problems. Mayweather is not going to come forward and force the fight. He will expect McGregor to force the fight and put pressure on him. That will play into the undefeated boxers hands. If McGregor can find the accuracy and penetration he often has he will cause Mayweather massive problems. McGregor has a reach advantage which could be the key to testing Floyd more than ever.

When the bell rings on 26 August even the biggest Mayweather fans will be nervous. Time out of the ring, a powerful left hand and just the unpredictable nature of the fight game will all attribute to this. The big question is can McGregor land? If he does we have a fight on our hands. If the left hand connects clean with power can Mayweather take it? The reality is we may never find out. It will be a classic match up of accuracy and timing against a defensive master. Mayweather has made a career out of not taking punishment. If he can do so for a further 48 minutes he will continue to a half century  of victories without defeat. The fight is a spectacle, even if it is not the best boxing match up of the year. We will be tuning in and as more details emerge we will be fascinated by what happens. No matter if you are a boxing fan, UFC fan, fight fan or just a casual fan – this event will be like nothing we have seen before. Forget boxing politics and reputations and just enjoy the fight for what it is.

Dillian Whyte looking to snatch the heavyweight division

Dillian ‘the Body Snatcher’ Whyte forced his way onto the top table of heavyweight boxing at the end of 2015. It was on the 12th December when the war between him and now World Champion Anthony Joshua, but his profile had already risen before he made his ring walk. The way he had handled himself in the run up to the fight had perfectly highlighted what he brings to the division.

Prior to this fight Whyte had developed a reputation. He had won all of his 16 fights and was on a run of 12 fights he had stopped before the final bell had rung. Dominant form was not the only reason this fight was on fire from the beginning. National hero Joshua had suffered a defeat against ‘the Body Snatcher’ in the amateur ranks. Sometimes in boxing rivalries are manufactured to sell tickets and the pay per view television shows. This one certainly was not. It was genuine. Just thinking back to the Sky programme ‘The Gloves Are Off’ gives you shivers. It was 24 minutes of intense mind games fuelled by a wealth of emotions. The fight did not disappoint either. Whyte troubled the Olympic gold medallist and took him deeper into a fight than ever before. Joshua came back from an early wobble, Whyte’s shot landing while Joshua’s early assault took place, to score a knock-out victory in the seventh round. To date Whyte’s only defeat.

Whyte took time off after this fight due to a shoulder injury, something he believes effected his ability to go for the kill against AJ. He came back on the Joshua Dominic Breazeale under card where he broke down Croatian Ivica Bacurin finishing him the sixth round. Whyte followed this up with a convincing points victory over David Allen. It was pretty straight forward for Whyte and the build up again was intense, with the pair exchanging words often. A tenth round victory against Ian Lewison claimed the British title for the Jamaican born fighter. These three fights, which came over four months, began to erode the memories of his first defeat. He now had a British title and a winning streak again.

Whyte would now face one of boxing’s bad boys. Dereck Chisora. It was a World title eliminator for the WBC belt held by Deontay Wilder. The fight was once again on Joshua’s under card when he faced Eric Moilna. The build up was memorising. The pair both fond of mind games did not disappoint. Tables and glasses of water were thrown in each others direction and the trash talk was of the highest quality. Johnny Nelson looked terrified hosting the pair for a round the table chat. Like the fight that made Whyte’s reputation boom, the high quality and entertaining build up did not overshadow what happened when the fighters came face to face in the squared circle. It was a true battle. Both fighters brought everything they had and by the twelfth and final round neither man had much left in the tank. Whyte took the fight on a split decision in a fight that could have easily gone the other way. Whyte just edged it due to having superior stamina. Chisora’s work rate dropped early which gave Whyte large periods of the fight to take control and impose his style of the boxing. When Chisora backed Whyte up he looked dangerous, but Whyte hung on. It was marvellous to see both fighters earn each others respect. Even if it has not lasted that long as the trash talking started again soon after.

‘The Body Snatcher’s’ best fights in his career have come when there has been heated exchanges before the contest. This is why he is vital not just for the heavyweight division but also boxing in general. While Joshua against Wladimir Klitschko was a mega fight and the in ring action was second to non it lacked a little in build up. Both boxers are nice guys who respected each other. The needle in the build up was not present. While this may be a bad example because the pedigree of boxing talent and power of boxing’s top division sold the fight, it still felt as though something was lacking. It is hard to imagine Whyte being so polite to opponents before a fight.

Whyte’s name is being offered forward to fight for World championships. First to be called out by the London based boxer was WBO champion Joseph Parker. It was off the back of Parker’s defence against late replacement Razvan Cojanu. He won by a wide margain but many expected a short nights work for New Zealand’s heavyweight star. With the match against Hughie Fury being rearranged and announced Whyte’s hope for this fight have gone. It could be considered the best chance for Whyte to win a World title. Saying that it is hard to think that Whyte would ever back down from anyone and when he does get in the ring he pushes all of his opponents to their limits.

Talk on twitter has now shifted to Wilder. Wilder has been offered the fight but on instagram stated he wanted even more money. The offer from Matchroom Boxing would be Wilder’s biggest pay day to date. Raising the question, why is he not itching to sign the deal? Wilder is a beast in the ring holding an unbeaten professional record of 38 wins with 37 knock-outs. Why would he run from Whyte? Because he offers something completely different than any other fighter in the division. He is a bully in and out of the ring. He has an unbreakable mentality that helps him envisage victory even if the odds are stacked against him.

(@DillianWhyte – on Twitter)

Could Whyte claim the title from Wilder if they fight? Of course he could. Would he be favourite? Certainly not. Would that stop him giving everything he could in an attempt to overthrow the ‘fake champion’ (his words not ours)? Most definitely he would.

Whatever happens in the near and more long term future for Dillian Whyte one thing is for sure. It will be exciting. He does not do respect and he certainly does not do boring. While he may not be the highest rated boxer in the heavyweight division you have to give him a chance against any of the top prospects. He will never give up and will always believe his ability is greater than his opponents. He is a dangerous fight for anybody, hence why Wilder is unwilling to sign the contract to fight him. In terms of entertainment inside and outside the ring Whyte has to be one of the best in the world. Boxing needs fighters like ‘the Body Snatcher’.

Ward Kovalev take 2! Confirmation or revenge?


Sergey Kovalev is out for revenge. The Russian light heavyweight star lost his professional unbeaten record and world titles to American pound for pound king Andre Ward who will be looking to confirm he is the superior boxer. The fight was a close one. Kovalev dominating early and putting Ward down in the second. The American was lucky that the knock down came so far into the round with just half a minute remaining. Otherwise we could be sat here discussing a direct role reversal of Ward losing his unbeaten pro record to the Russian. Ward was able to get through the early onslaught from Kovalev and use his jab to the body to slow down the champions attacks.

Ward, nicknamed the Son of God (SOG), walks the fine line between cool confidence and obscene arrogance. He maintained after the fight that Kovalev never hurt him, even though he put him down for only the second time in his career and clearly had him in some trouble. Ward is a brilliant technician. His boxing ability is impossible to refute. Ward believed he won the fight clearly, Kovalev the same. This is boxing, decisions are never clear cut and fighters always believe they took the fight. In all honesty it was a close fight. Kovalev tired and the American took over the fight more and more as the fight progressed. The Russian put this down to his conditioning training and has a new regime in place for this fight. However, Ward landed consistently to the body which must have also influenced Kovalev’s fatigue.

Ward has vowed to deliver a more decisive victory in the rematch against the Krusher but how can he deliver it? Kovalev is the bigger man and has shown he has the power to trouble the SOG. Ward in the build up has been hailed for his ability top change his style and negate the strengths of his opponents. Pundits suggest he will tweak his style slightly so he can stop the Russian knock-out king. The champion needs to find something that can stop Kovalev coming forward with furious intensity. Ward could struggle if Sergey comes for the KO and puts it on him for long periods. If he can keep the pressure on Ward and not fade as drastically it could be a long night for the unbeaten California fighter.

The man who, in his eyes, unfairly lost the last fight will be coming for the stoppage. Ward has goaded the Russian star by saying he has had his chance to finish him. It is true. Not many people have Ward in trouble. The Krusher did and being such an experienced finisher you would expect him to do the job and get him out of there. As earlier mentioned Kovalev did not have much time at the end of the second to put him away. However, it would be expected that he would come out of the blocks in the third and really test Ward’s chin and powers of recovery. The SOG is extremely difficult to hit, he’s made a career out of being that type of fighter. It was not until the later stages of the first minute in the third that Kovalev threw a combination at Ward, which the challenger at the time easily covered up and avoided.

The first fight was absolutely enthralling. A stronger guy who has a massive knock-out ratio against a technical boxer who is difficult to hit. As a boxing contest it really is the best you can get. Ward was able to get through the early stages and dominate Kovalev in the second half of the fight. Kovalev felt that he was exhausted by the fifth which shows that his decision to change the conditioning training is justified.

The fight itself is a mega fight. But what is just around the corner could be even bigger. WBC champion Adonis Stevenson has stated that he wants the winner in a unification fight in the light heavyweight division. Realistically this will only happen if Ward extends the margin of defeat he inflicted on Kovalev the first time round. If the Russian can overturn the first fight and beat the unbeaten American champion there will surely be a third fight, a trilogy. Who would not want to see this again? Ward would not let his undefeated record go without having the chance to rectify the result. Stevenson is a quality operator and fight against either of the two fighters involved here would be entertaining.

The fight is on a knife edge. It is difficult to say what will happen and what will be the attribute of either fighter that help them prevail. It could come down to who can impose their style on the other man. If Ward can get behind his jab and weave away from Kovalev’s shots it could be a glorious night for the SOG. Kovalev’s style is a real test for Ward. If he can improve his stamina and fight at a quick pace for longer he will really make Ward work hard. Kovalev and Ward both had clear rounds in their favour in the first fight in pretty much equal quantities. It was the ones that were close and difficult to call that decided it. That night the judges all believed that Ward’s classy work and superior landing percentage were worthy of the victory over the Russians hard work and aggressive nature. That is not to say that the rematch will be the same. It may not even come down to the scorecards.

If the fight goes the distance it is a Ward win. Kovalev is a brilliant boxer in his own right but Ward is on another level. Kovalev must force the fight and he has to to win his belts back. The shot that put Ward down in the first fight was not a huge power shot from Kovalev. His arm was not fully extended. It was beautifully timed and Ward did not see it coming that is why it put him down. If Kovalev can land a big shot and time it as well as that one it will be good night for Ward. One things for sure, if Ward is going to win this fight, it will be a long nights work for him. He will more than likely have to go the distance as Ward does not posses the power to KO Kovalev.

It is a mouth watering clash and at S57 we are split when it comes to picking a winner. This is why boxing is great. The amount of possibilities and the lack of ability to know what style of fighter will impose themselves and make it their type of fight keeps you guessing even after the first bell has rings. After a strange week for boxing, with the announcement of a mega money fight between a world class boxer and the biggest star in UFC, it is good to have a competitive, exciting fight that involves two world class boxers.

Looking ahead to Paul Smith’s big night in Germany


Paul Smith will travel to Hessen, Germany in an attempt to achieve his dream of winning a World title. It will be the Liverpudlians third attempt at winning such a title. Entering the later stages of his career it could be his last chance opportunity to become a World champion.

Smith’s last fight was ten months ago on the undercard of the Kell Brook Gennady Golovkin mega fight in London. Smith stopped his opponent on that evening, Daniel Regi, in the fifth round of a six round contest. He outclassed and overpowered the Hungarian. Regi was older than Smith, something that Smith will not have in his favour when he fights in his latest World title attempt.

Smith will be travelling to Germany to fight Tyron Zeuge who is unbeaten. He is nine years younger than the challenger something that could make a difference. He has also been more active having already defended his WBA World super middleweight belt in March this year. He won by technical decision in the fifth round. He has won 20 of his 21 fights, drawing one. He has also won 11 of his fights by knockout.

The Englishman will be fighting in Germany for the third time in his career. The first time he did so was it was his first try at the WBO World super middleweight against Arthur Abraham. It was officially a wide decision but the result was contested. The media and pundits on the whole gave it to Abraham but scored the fight a lot closer than the three judges did. The next fight, which was in the German capital Berlin, was against the same man for the same belt. The result was no different. Abraham again won by unanimous decision in a far more entertaining fight than their first bout.

Back to back to defeats did not ruin Smith’s belief. He decided to travel to America and fight one of the best fighters of his generation, Andre Ward. The build up for the fight was negative for the travelling Englishman. Ward questioned his professionalism after Smith missed the catchweight by over four pounds. The Liverpool fighter was beaten the ninth after his corner threw in the towel. Ward was pummelling Smith and the corner made the correct decision. After the fight the defeated Smith admitted that Ward was the superior fighter and admitted he had his nose broken for the first time in his successful career. Ward is an elite fighter and a defeat to him is nothing to be ashamed of.

Since the three straight losses Smith has come back to win three fights on the spin. He has fought on three big undercards and now he will be fighting away from home in what could be his last chance to win a World title. If he can find his best form and put the pressure on the champion he has every chance to do so in Germany. Can he follow in George Groves’ footsteps in a show of determination and dedication in achieving his dream.

Smith has had to deal with set backs in his career. Coming back from three straight defeats in three of the biggest fights of his career shows he has the heart. If he can go to Germany and successfully complete a turn around in his career it will be a huge achievement for himself and another great night for British boxing.