Matt Bevan (@MBevs68)
March is usually a great month for boxing as the amount of fights picks up. Those that didn’t train over the Christmas break and are up there in terms of bigger scraps are usually back in action and this year was no different.
Alongside four big cards in the UK, we had others around the world, as the sport continues it’s rapid rise. With another packed couple of months coming up, make sure you’re watching as you will miss some crackers.
For the purpose of this piece, there will be no mention of the Nick Blackwell and Chris Eubank Jr fight. But I would like to add that along with many other fight fans and others involved in the sport, I was thrilled to see the news yesterday that Blackwell had come out of his induced coma. I wish him all the best in his recovery.
Terry Flanagan: Manchester’s WBO champion travelled to Liverpool to defend his title in the lion’s den against Derry Mathews in a long awaited scrap, coping effortlessly with the pressure. He withstood everything Derry threw at him early on, before taking control and easing to the win in the later rounds. From my view at ringside, it was incredible to see how far Flanagan has come since I first saw him at Prizefighter, where he was also victorious. I saw a programme on BoxNation where two greats of boxing journalism Colin Hart and Alan Hubbard had him in the top 5 of their respective top 10 British lightweights of all time. For Hart, he was only behind Ken Buchanan, Jim Watt and Dave Charnley. That is some amazing company and the more Flanagan continues to improve, his reputation will only continue to be enhanced.
Luke Campbell: Last December, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist was on his backside and on the way to losing to Yvan Mendy, in a scrap that he should have won without any issue. However, the Hull man has recovered and bounced back with a second round stoppage of Gary Sykes, a well respected fighter in the UK, to win the Commonwealth lightweight belt. A new trainer, which was needed, in Jorge Rubio and now being based out in Miami has appeared at first glance to do wonders for Campbell, who shunned the limelight for 8 weeks to get it right. He admits he shouldn’t have been in the ring in December and wants either the rematch or a shot at British champion Scotty Cardle. It was good to see him almost back to his sensational best.
Andre Ward: Frustrating and mesmerising are two words I have seen to describe Ward and it’s hard to argue with them. The former super-middleweight champion is now up at light-heavy and targeting a massive showdown with Sergey Kovalev, who is the consensus champion at the weight. Yes, even above Adonis Stevenson, who has done nothing recently. Ward dominated, knocked down Sullivan Barrera, was deducted and won a unanimous decision in his hometown of Oakland. Standard Ward result. To see him more active would be a huge coup for the sport that has seen in battle more in a courtroom than inside the ropes in recent years.
The more I sit down and think about this, the more people I come up with so I’m going to have to stop myself.
Lucas Browne: The Australian was a big underdog as he made the trip to Grozny and take on Ruslan Chagaev for a WBA World title. Despite the odds though, he pulled off the victory and was rightly applauded and congratulated for a good performance. Browne’s twitter account was even busier than it usually is which is going some. But then the news filtered out he had failed a drug test, for of all things, a weight cutting drug. He is a heavyweight by the way. Oh dear. Now he claims he was clean when he went out to Russia. Fair enough and if you have the proof let’s see it. But, then how did it happen? Was he spiked in Russia or is someone in his own team tampering? All questions that need answers. He is determined to fight his corner, but the sympathy is running out. It’s a massive shame as the Aussie is a likeable guy and someone I enjoyed interviewing. I just hope he can prove he did nothing wrong.
David Haye and Arnold Gjergjaj: These two will share the ring on May 21st at the O2 Arena. This sentence is the only time the two should ever be mentioned in the same breath, let alone putting them in a ring together. This fight is so bad, it won’t even be allowed to happen in some gyms as a sparring session. Just plain awful. Haye is looking to get back to world title level, so how does this help? He will probably stop Gjergjaj in the first round and keep shouting about how he’ll beat everyone in the division. He shouldn’t need a warm up, that was what Mark de Mori was for. Plain embarrassing.
Shannon Briggs: Is anyone else fed up of this guy yet? “LET’S GO CHAMP!”. But, people are lapping this up and encouraging it. When was the last time Briggs was relevant? He shouldn’t even be in the picture now. Just yesterday, footage emerged of him at the public work out for Anthony Joshua and Charles Martin at the York Hall, with morons bouncing around and chanting with him. This is a man who has been battered by every good heavyweight he ever faced, lastly Vitali Klitschko, who was also past his best at the time, who put him in hospital. Shannon do us a favour mate, go home and live off your one fight world title reign and let the new breed do their stuff.
David Allen and Jason Gavern: I couldn’t leave this out. This was the worst fight I have ever had the pleasure of seeing live and trust me I’ve seen some shockers. I’m not even going to advise you to watch it on YouTube, because the adverts are better. If it was a movie it would go straight to DVD and be assigned to the bargain bucket. In fact, it’s so bad Poundland wouldn’t stock it. Allen looked atrocious and Gavern is an embarrassment who should never be invited to fight in the UK again. Woeful.
Kell Brook: A win is a win, but a win over Kevin Bizier does absolutely nothing for the Sheffield IBF welterweight world champion. I know it was a mandatory, but it was just a painful example of how bad the sanctioning bodies ranking system is. Hopefully “The Special One” will get a big fight soon, either at welterweight or light-middle, as people’s patience is starting to wear thin.
Sam Eggington: First of all, Eggington’s matchmaker should be sacked and Bradley Skeete should be commended for his performance. Eggington lost his British and Commonwealth welterweight straps in his hometown to Skeete on Sky Sports in front of promoter Barry Hearn, who has built him up as a future world beater. It all went wrong and Hearn hammered Eggington in a controversial interview afterwards. Too much, too soon? Possibly. Dreadful matchmaking? Undoubtedly. Anyone with even a shred of boxing knowledge could see this was a disaster waiting to happen and it proved to be the case.