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Un-Orthodox boxing blog

Lee Selby: “I can stop Gradovich if I’m at my best”

Posted by Jack Sumner on May 24, 2015

Great success stories often have humble beginnings. As the old adage goes, cream always rises to the top, regardless of the circumstances. In fact, often when that dairy by-product has endured a more tiresome and laborious process, the end result is all the more exquisite.

selby That’s certainly true in the case of Barry’s Lee Selby, the Welsh featherweight hope who has seen his career soar from small-hall defeat and relative obscurity to the brink of world title success. At London’s O2 Arena on May 30th, Selby challenges for Evgeny Gradovich’s IBF world crown as part of a stacked pay-per-view card on Sky Box Office. It’s been a long hard journey to get this far, but he’s within touching distance of reaching his dream.

“It’s all going to plan. I’ve been out to LA and Vegas (in recent weeks), getting good sparring. I had actually already been out to LA and Vegas earlier, but then they switched the date of the fight, so I had to hold back a bit,” Selby told BMM’s Jack Sumner, whilst in the midst of his fight preparations. “I was ready to fight a few weeks back but it didn’t affect my preparation, no. I just had to taper down for a week or two so I didn’t burn myself out and then I was right back on it.”

The fight was put back from it’s original date of April 25th, following James DeGale and Andre Dirrell’s super middleweight co-headliner being rescheduled to take place on American soil. But as Selby himself says, a one-month delay to his date with destiny is not going to derail his plans. Come fight night, it will be almost exactly six years to the day that Selby’s career suffered an early setback, and at that stage had looked like it was going nowhere.

On May 29th 2009, Selby entered his fifth professional fight against Hull’s Samir Mouneimne, in the moderate surroundings of the Fenton Manor Sports Complex in Stoke-on-Trent. After four rounds of the action in the Potteries, Mounemnie was adjudged to be the surprising points winner. Now 4-1, yet to record a stoppage win and without the backing of an influential promoter, you would never have foreseen the dramatic upturn in Selby’s fortunes by the time he reached his 12th professional outing, against the unbeaten Stephen Smith.

Selby had returned to fighting at the Newport Centre in South Wales, which staged most of his early fights and during which time he won the Welsh Area featherweight title with a second-round knockout of Dai Davies, recording his first win inside the distance. If that was a sign of the improving power that Selby and trainer Tony Borg had been cultivating, it was nothing compared to what the young Welshman would deliver when he stepped into the ring with Smith.

Despite being a huge underdog in challenging for the Liverpudlian’s British and Commonwealth nine-stone straps, Selby impressively outboxed his opponent en-route to a dramatic one-punch knockout in the eighth round. The British boxing community took notice and when Selby followed up by stopping John Simpson in five rounds just three months later, the potential of the boy from Barry was undeniable.

Signing with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing was then the catalyst for major exposure and since then Selby has continued to flourish as one of the brightest talents on the British boxing scene. That all comes to a head on May 30th, with Gradovich and a tough test that the Welshman believes he can pass with flying colours.

gradovich-velez“I was ringside in Nebraska to watch (Gradovich’s last fight) and he was the same as he always is really. Very aggressive, determined, comes to fight and he tries to force the pace. I thought Velez won the first four rounds but then I thought Gradovich took over and I thought he won the fight. It shouldn’t have been a draw in my opinion.”

“I am expecting a tough fight, but I believe I can stop him.” The 28-year-old then laughs. “All fighters say that, there is a little bit of bravado in there perhaps . . . But I do think I’m capable of getting the stoppage if I’m at my best!”

“And I will be.”

The O2 Arena has been a happy hunting ground for Selby to date. Two of the standout performances of his career so far have taken place at the iconic dome on the bank of the Thames.

“It’s a great venue and the fact that it’s familiar helps because I’ve won there before. I won the Lonsdale belt outright there (against Ryan Walsh in May 2013) and then I won a world title eliminator (stopping Joel Brunker last October) so two great memories. Little things like the changing rooms and even the hotel we stay in too, which is going to be the same, that will all help because they’re also familiar.”

The fight is just over a week away. A week from Selby’s chance of realising a lifelong dream and announcing himself as a real player on the world stage. The hard work won’t stop there though, even if successful. There will be fighters hot on the new world champion’s heels.

One of those will be Josh Warrington, another exciting British talent in the featherweight division. Also aligned with Matchroom Sport, it’s a potential fight that has already been mooted, and one that Selby would be keen on.

“100%, especially after being sat at ringside in Leeds and having all those p***k football fans throwing beer at me and shouting abuse.”

“I think there would be some needle there, definitely. I’d love to go up there and knock him out just to shut them up.”

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Garcia and Peterson fight for undisputed championship . . . of modern boxing’s confusing title mess

Posted by Jack Sumner on April 10, 2015

CLARITY should finally be made in the light welterweight division this Saturday, as 140lb titleholders Danny Garcia and Lamont Peterson meet in an eagerly anticipated clash at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Unbeaten WBA and WBC boss Garcia and IBF titlist Peterson have each held portions of the divisions crown for over three years now, with a unification bout between the two men an increasingly sought-after commodity. After all, in boxing’s convoluted river of politics these days, it’s often hard to tell who ‘the man’ is at any given weight.


But hold on to your horses sports fans. Hold on to your horses. A unification bout between Garcia and Peterson right now would just make too much sense, wouldn’t it? That’s why the powers that be have instead orchestrated a catchweight non-title bout between the pair at 143lbs. No titles on the line, no undisputed champion at 140. And rumour has it that Saturday’s fight will be contested over 10 rounds.

Titles in boxing are becoming increasingly devalued. Bad enough that there were often four recognised champions in each weight class, courtesy of the four major sanctioning bodies, we had grown used to that and could cope with it providing established beltholders sought to unify their titles against each other every once in a while. But now some sanctioning bodies – cough, WBA, cough – choose to recognise more than one champion in one weight class, there is the addition of ‘silver’ or ‘interim’ titles – WBC, WBO – and titleholders who do hold legitimate claims to being the real division ‘champion’, don’t actually defend their titles.

garcia salkaIt can be maddening to be a boxing fan.

Garcia (29-0, 17 KO’s) falls into the latter bracket. Since his life-and-death struggle with Mauricio Herrera in Puerto Rico just over a year ago, the 27-year-old’s solitary outing is a 142lb non-title bout in which he demolished overmatched lightweight Rod Salka inside two rounds. Prior to the Herrera fight, the Philadelphia native had actually done a pretty good job of confirming his status as the world’s number one light welterweight. His twelve-round battle with Lucas Matthysse the previous September – which Garcia won by unanimous decision – determined 140lb supremacy at the time. His wins over Amir Khan, Zab Judah and Erik Morlaes (twice) added more weight to his standing.

There can be little doubt that Garcia still deserves to be the number one in the division, but Saturday’s fight with Peterson represents his second consecutive fight above the weight limit. It’s suggested that in the not too distant future, his goal is to move up and chase gargantuan paydays at welterweight. Which is fine, but if that’s the case then stop sitting on the title at light welter, if you’re never going to defend it.

Lucas Matthysse v Lamont PetersonPeterson (33-2-1, 17 KO’s) has made three successful defences of the IBF crown he lifted from Khan in December 2011, with wins over Kendall Holt, Dierry Jean and Edgar Santana. Whether or not you think he deserved the victory that won him the title (it was a close fight, not a robbery), at the time of the Khan win he was a legitimate titleholder with a victory against a man who had been looking the dominant fighter in the division. But it’s what’s happened during Peterson’s reign since that has clouded judgement of him as a ‘champion’.

Shortly before the scheduled rematch with Khan, the Washington man failed a pre-fight drug test for synthetic testosterone that caused the collapse of the bout and the WBA – who’s title he’d also won in beating Khan – to strip Peterson and reinstate the Brit as champion, before Khan subsequently lost it to Garcia. But the IBF allowed Peterson to keep his title, despite the failed drugs test and the fact it would be a year before he returned to make his first defence against Holt. Peterson looked impressive stopping the albeit shop-worn Holt in eight rounds and has done the business with unprovens Jean and Santana since, but against the one legitimate challenger he has faced in his reign, his title was not on the line.

Peterson was brutally knocked out in three rounds by Lucas Matthysse, but could not lose his crown in the non-title bout fought at a catchweight of 141lbs. Followers of the sport however will have a hard time accepting a fighter as a ‘champion’ when they’ve just been so convincingly beaten by someone still campaigning in their weight class, whether the title was officially on the line or not.

So Peterson remains a titleholder on a technicality, while Garcia doesn’t seem to want to defend the title he occupies at all. Shouldn’t both men be stripped of their respective belts? Either that or one of them should be forced to defend against the winner of the mouth-watering battle between Matthysse and Ruslan Provodnikov a week later. Given each man’s track record regarding recent tile defences however, that’s unlikely to happen.

Many see Saturday’s fight as a contest to effectively determine boxing’s lineal champion at 140lbs, but with all that’s going on it seems to be much more complicated than that. Clarity we don’t have unfortunately. In fact, they should probably create a new belt for Garcia and Peterson to fight over. The (super) confused championship of the world. For a fee, the WBA will probably sanction it.

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Posted by Jack Sumner on April 10, 2015

In the wake of Kell’s Brook’s dominant first title defence against mandatory challenger Jo Jo Dan, BMM’s Jack Sumner spoke to Kell’s trainer Dominic Ingle about the fight, the Sheffield champion’s immediate plans and the little event that takes place in Las Vegas on May 2nd. . .

dom ingle 1

First of all Dom, an emphatic comeback for Kell last weekend and one that has been earning fantastic reviews. Where would you say Saturday’s victory ranks amongst Kell’s performances to date? Do you think it was a career-best performance?

No, I would say that would still have to be winning the world title in America. Boxing away from home when all the odds were against Kell and with the awkward style that Porter brings to the table, that night he did remarkably well. There were certain things for this fight however, like the seven months out and the leg injury that do make this performance stand out and although a lot of people will say after the fight that Dan wasn’t much, at the end of the day Kell can only beat who’s put in front of him. He was a top fighter but it’s just that Kell made him look that way.

It’s easy for people to discredit a fighter after the event . . .

Yeah it seems to happen a lot with Kell’s opponents in fact, that people say they were no good after the fight. People said it with Senchenko just because Kell knocked him out in four rounds but he was a former world champion. Matthew Hatton had gone the distance with Saul Alvarez, but it’s always after these fights that people say Kell hasn’t fought anyone because of how he makes them look.

With the IBF you don’t get any back-handers, it’s not like the WBA or the WBC where you can avoid your mandatory challenger for years! (Jo-Jo Dan) was Kell’s mandatory so he’d earned the right to be there and there’s no doubt he would have raised his game for his world title shot. Kell asked me what I thought of him as an opponent a few weeks before the fight and I said look he’s a guy you have to take seriously. And fair play to Kell, he trained very hard for twenty weeks.

Going into the bout, did you have any concerns about the possible effects of the leg injury and whether it could impact Kell’s performance?

No not at all, because I’d seen how good he looked when he started sparring. Ok, people will say sparring is different to fighting but Kell spars like he fights really, just with the venom toned down a little. He was going through sparring partners, we had to change them every 2 to 4 rounds because we needed to get the rounds in and he was bashing them all up. We’d do 10-12 rounds of sparring and Kell would be ready to go again but these guys would do two rounds and we had to change them.

kell brook

Immediately after the fight talk turned to a potential clash with Amir Khan. There are a lot of people speculating that Amir doesn’t want the fight. Do you think that’s the case?

The thing is; why would Amir Khan want to fight Kell Brook? If Khan fights Kell and loses that could finish his reputation, his career might not recover if he loses again at this stage. People say about the money they could make but for Amir it might be more lucrative not to fight Kell, he could make 4-5 million but then that’s going to be his last pay-day, whereas he could take an easier fight against a name in America and get paid 1 million to keep on winning and carry on doing that, whilst saying he wants to fight Kell and keeping people interested.

Do you honestly think the fight will happen? What’s your gut feeling?

Yeah I think it’ll happen, in the end he’ll have to take the fight. He’s already feeling the pressure, that’s why he’s coming out now with all this “winner takes all” stuff, he feels like he’s got a point to prove. But realistically who else is there that he can fight? Think about Mayweather Pacquiao. When they were talking about the fight being close this time, before the fight got announced, who else would you realistically have accepted seeing Mayweather fight?

I don’t think there was anyone really. If it didn’t happen the only fight I think people might have accepted is the Cotto rematch with Floyd going for a title at middleweight. . .

But he already beat Cotto easily a couple of years ago! There was no other fight! Realistically this is the only fight out there for Khan and even if it doesn’t happen for a couple of years people will still buy into it, like they have done with Mayweather and Pacquiao.

Speaking of Mayweather and Pacquiao, Kell has said he’s heading out to Vegas to watch the fight on his birthday weekend. It’s possible that Kell could fight either one of them in the near future, so with that being the case, who would you rather fight? Who would be a better opponent for Kell out of Mayweather and Pacquiao?

I think we’d have to go for the winner first. That would make the most sense, whoever wins the fight. I think if we had to pick one of them without knowing that, it would probably be Mayweather, because he’s the one who’s undefeated and he’s the biggest star.

Having said that, I would say style wise that Pacquiao’s the easier option. Mayweather is so defensively good, he just doesn’t get hit. Pacquiao might be fast and he can hurt you with power and his speed and combinations but he can be caught. Mayweather has mastered the game. He’s like Roy Jones Jr was when he was in his prime or Bernard Hopkins, they’ve spent years mastering not being hit.

dom ingle 1I’ve got to ask you then. . who do you see winning the fight on May 2nd?

My money would be on Floyd. You look at a common opponent in Marquez, who was a bit of a bogey man for Pacquiao over four fights but Mayweather had an easy night with him, but then people might say well look at Cotto or De La Hoya and Pacquiao did a better job with them. The reason I think I’d lean towards Floyd though is, it’s like he’s got the football. It’s his ball, you’re playing in his back garden, his mum’s the one bringing out the orange juice. He’s like one of those kids who’ll say yeah you can play in my game but you’ll play by my rules.

They’re fighting at the MGM, which is his place, he decides what gloves his opponents wears like he did with Maidana. On top of everything else he makes sure he has it all working in his favour.

Aside from Kell and Khan, there’s another potential big British fight between Scott Quigg and Carl Frampton in the pipeline. Kid Galahad is on both of their tails of course, so how are his plans looking for the rest of this year?

Well that fight looks even less likely than Kell and Amir at the moment doesn’t it?! Listen, Kid’s not going to hang around and wait to see what happens with those two so we’ll just carry on and if necessary we’ll take a different route. To be honest the fight in that division is between Quigg and Frampton, that’s gotta happen, but our goal is to carry on winning and be in a position to challenge for a world title by the end of this year.

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Brook obliterates Dan on comeback

Posted by Jack Sumner on April 10, 2015

KELL BROOK returned from a life-threatening stab-wound in emphatic fashion on Saturday night in Sheffield, wiping-out mandatory challenger ‘Jo Jo’ Dan in four one-sided rounds as he made the first defence of his IBF welterweight title at the Motorpoint Arena.

Brook (34-0, 23 KO’s), who after beating Shawn Porter to win his crown was attacked with a machete whilst on holiday in Tenerife less than a month later, chopped Dan (34-3, 18 KO’s) to pieces as he dropped the Romanian four times en-route to an inevitable corner retirement.

Kell-Brook-floors-Jo-Jo-Dan“It was amazing to be able to walk to the ring again and this is where I belong,” said the home favourite in front of an adoring audience in his home city. “It was hard to hold it together. I didn’t think I would box again, and I can’t put into words what it means to defend my title.”

It had been a long seven months since the Porter win had delivered the 28-year-old’s childhood dream and questions surrounded his mobility following the damage sustained to Brook’s left thigh during the attack. The unbeaten champion had been hit by depression; dark times as he feared he might never walk, let alone box again. But here on this special night in Sheffield, his homecoming, a partisan crowd produced an electric atmosphere. Brook must have felt invincible as he made his ring entrance, backed by the familiar melody of the Kanye West track “All of the Lights”.

And it was almost lights out for Dan in the opening stanza, who looked visibly shaken by the first right hand that Brook landed. In contrast to his opponent’s welcome, the southpaw challenger had walked into a bear pit, with 10,000 people baying for the Yorkshireman to spill his blood.

Brook would continue to land freely with his straight right and controlled the action with piston-like left jab, bagging the first round in comfortable fashion. There were no signs of any mobility or confidence issues on his return, which was a box ticked.

With the carrot of a potential summer showdown with Amir Khan on the horizon or even a clash with the winner of May’s megafight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, a headline-making performance was another box that the Brook camp wanted to check. As early as round two, it was on the cards.

Brook dropped Dan for the first time in the fight with a short uppercut that felled the 33-year-old visitor to his knees and before the round was out, had his man on the canvas again as a sharp right put him on the seat of his trunks. Dan somehow survived the round but look shell-shocked on his way back to the corner and from there the writing was on clearly on the wall.

It appeared as though Brook stepped of the gas a little in the third, but he was enjoying the occasion and by that point had established the gulf in class between the two fighters. For the best part of three minutes he was content to dominate whilst remaining in second gear, but a barrage at the end punctuated the round and reminded Dan of Brook’s power and athleticism.

The fourth round looked very much like the second; Brook landing his right hand at will and Dan having no answers. A sharp combination put the challenger down for the third time in the fight. It was late in the round, but then as the bell signalled the end of round four a left hook floored Dan heavily. He just managed to beat the count, referee Earl Brown giving Dan the benefit of the doubt despite the weary legs that attempted to betray him and before he took his stool, Dan started to walk back towards the wrong corner. He had no idea where he was.

It was no surprise then when the towel came in and the contest was ended before Dan could ship any more punishment; his experience of a world title challenge ending painfully and abruptly. Unfortunately for Dan, memories of this trip to the UK will not be fondly remembered as he now makes the long journey home to Canada.

For Brook, well as promoter Eddie Hearn remarked after the fight “the world is now his oyster”. As cliché as that sounds, it’s true. Brook is an unbeaten titleholder who appears to be hitting the peak of his powers and currently lays claim to be the world’s top welterweight outside of the ageing Mayweather and Pacquiao.

Brook’s next move? That will be a trip to Las Vegas on May 2nd for the aforementioned superfight, which also happens to be on Brook’s birthday weekend. What a twenty-ninth birthday present that will be if the winner states their intentions to fight Brook later this year.

Despite a fantastic night for Brook, the welterweight champion was saddened to hear the fortunes of his friend and fellow Sheffield native Adam Etches, who also fought on the card. The 24-year-old middleweight was brutally knocked out in the fourth round of his encounter with tough gatekeeper Sergey Khomitsky. In the process, Etches (18-1, 15 KO’s) suffered his first professional defeat.

Earlier on the night there were points wins for Frankie Gavin, Kal Yafai and Gavin McDonnell, whilst super featherweight Stephen Smith also kept busy with a six-round victory on the cards.

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Miguel Cotto signs with Roc Nation Sports

Posted by Jack Sumner on March 6, 2015

Miguel Cotto has signed a multi-fight deal with Roc Nation Sports, the promotional entity of rap mogul Jay-Z, who last year branched into the boxing business. It’s been announced that the middleweight champion will return to the ring in June for the first bout of a contract that is said to include many fights and run for many years. Cotto becomes the second high-profile fighter to join Roc Nation, after inactive super-middleweight kingpin Andre Ward.

Miguel-Cotto-meets-Austin-TroutCotto (39-4, 32 KO’s), the Puerto Rican icon who has claimed world titles in four different weight classes, was probably the one person in the world who was most unhappy with the recent news that Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao will finally clash in May. The 34-year-old had been involved in lengthy talks for an eagerly anticipated showdown with Mexican sensation Canelo Alvarez, but with Mayweather-Pacquiao negotiations stalling repeatedly and at one stage looking to have collapsed, Cotto dragged his feet in the hope of securing a lucrative rematch with Mayweather.

Unhappy with the delay, Alvarez eventually withdrew from talks and moved on, which in the wake of the Mayweather-Pacquiao news ultimately left Cotto out in the cold. But in signing with boxing’s new kid on the promotional block, Cotto is now set for an exciting career revamp. In joining Roc Nation, Cotto leaves Top Rank – who have promoted all but two of his professional fights – for the second time in his career.

“I am just finishing the last part of my career by doing what is in the best interest for me and my family,” Cotto told “We had the opportunity to work with and have nice relationships with Top Rank and Golden Boy and now we have an agreement with Roc Nation. That was the best option for us. Just like any other businessman, I am just thinking about the benefits, the money and the opportunity in this deal.”

The pairing of Cotto and Jay-Z is a match made in New York heaven; the fighting pride of the Big Apple’s Puerto Rican population and it’s Madison Square Garden home and the Brooklyn rapper who epitomises the city’s true grit, a rags to riches story from it’s mean streets. In terms of matchmaking for Cotto in the ring, there are a number of avenues that could be taken but it’s almost a certainty that the June date will see a defence of his WBC and Ring middleweight crowns.

Cotto’s mandatory challenger for the WBC strap is in fact WBA champion Gennady Golovkin, frightening in dispatching Martin Murray in Monte Carlo last month. With Cotto possessing the option of a voluntary defence however, he has the perfect opportunity not to risk taking that fight and allowing GGG to temporarily pursue other options. The most tempting options for Cotto meanwhile are perhaps found in lower weight divisions.

Welterweights Amir Khan, Brandon Rios and Timothy Bradley have all been linked with a jump to middleweight to challenge the lineal champ, whilst at light middleweight, the last man to defeat Cotto in Austin Trout has won two straight and could make sense as an alternative opponent given the revenge angle.

Cotto’s last outing was his middleweight coronation, a tenth-round stoppage of the ageing Sergio Martinez last June in which he scored four knockdowns, in one of his finest career performances and a sign of his resurgence under Freddie Roach.

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