My July Top 10 ‘Pound For Pound’ Rankings

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A slight reshuffle towards the end of the list this month with GGG moving up one after his impressive body shot KO win over Matthew Macklin, Broner moving out after his under performance against Malinaggi, leaving room for Wladimir Klitschko to just edge back in.

Other close contenders that miss out on the top 10 for me would include Timothy Bradley, Canelo Alvarez and Bernard Hopkins. We really are spoiled for choice at the moment in world boxing with top class fighters, and even better – more and more of the fights people wan’t to see are now finally being made.

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Kell Brook vs Carson Jones – The Rematch

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Kell Brook vs Carson Jones - The Rematch

In a fight that Brook struggled in a year ago, this Saturday’s rematch with Carson Jones should act as a decent barometer for measuring how far he has come since then

What a difference a year makes. Since the last time these two young pugilists fought in Sheffield over a year ago, it seems a lot has taken place in the world of boxing, with regular high level world title fights getting consistently made month after month. However these two men have not been as fortunate due to inactivity and both have been blighted by consistent injury problems.

Kell Brook was scheduled to fight for the IBF welterweight championship against Devon Alexander this year, only for the fight to be called off three times, the first time due to an injury on Alexander’s part and the second two been on Brook’s end. It must be incredibly frustrating to go from fighting for a world title to not doing anything. Now he must refocus and set his sights firmly on the challenge that lies in front of him, a man who pushed him to the limit this time last year.

Carson Jones came into the first encounter with Brook as a relatively unknown quantity, this time round he won’t have that same luxury. I feel this could play heavily into Brook’s favour in terms of putting right mistakes from their first encounter. In the first fight Jones pushed him to the limit, even breaking his nose in the 8th round. It was apparent that Kell Brook’s stamina in their last fight was detrimental to his performance. That coupled with a broken nose of course will make it tough for anyone to breath. I for one thought he showed a lot of heart in those later rounds to battle on through the injury and obvious fatigue.

One thing I will say this week that impressed me about Carson Jones and could be cause for concern for Brook, is that he is doing a lot less talking this time around. He seems to be just focused on the brutal task that lies in front of him and is content to stay quiet in the build up to this one in contrast to last year when he was vocal to say the least.

This time around Kell Brook has a totally new nutrition and strength and conditioning team on board. I have been watching interviews of Brook this week, and more than anything I get the sense that he’s really looking to unload some frustration on Saturday night. He admitted during the week that there was times when he fell out of love with the sport in the last year because of all the problems but he is now looking to put that all behind him by taking out Jones inside the distance.

I remember I was one of those who had Carson Jones down for a relatively straight forward win for Kell Brook the last time the two fought, but this time around I think Brook will have made the adjustments needed.

This coupled with a spitefulness about him this week should be enough for him to get the win by KO/TKO.

Spike O’ Sullivan ready for Billy Joe Saunders challenge – My Interview with Spike

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Recently I had the privilege to catch up with Spike O’ Sullivan ahead of his upcoming fight with Billy Joe Saunders.

It was a pleasure to have had the chance recently to catch up with WBO International Middleweight Champion and fellow Cork man Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan ahead of his biggest fight to date when he defends his title against Billy Joe Saunders on July 20th at the Wembley Arena.

Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan (16-0-10KOs) will put his WBO international middleweight title on the line on Saturday July 20th when he takes on Billy Joe Saunders (17-0-10KOs). This is a massive fight for the Cork native which Spike acknowledges is “the biggest fight of my career without doubt.

“He’s a very good fighter. He’s a big name in Britain, British champion, Commonwealth champion, Olympic medallist in Beijing, he’s undefeated, so it’s definitely the biggest fight of my career no doubt. It’s a big scalp for me.”

Touching on the fact that the last time Spike fought in the UK was when he took on Matthew Hall last summer at West Ham, he mentioned that this time around he has had a full training camp as opposed to taking the Hall fight on late notice “This is the first time I have had this much notice for a fight. I believe you will see the best of me for this one”.

Last month Spike had a fight cancelled in Liverpool against Joe Selkirk and is absolutely chomping at the bit for this fight against Saunders “It’s very frustrating when stuff like that happens, especially after being away from the family due to training. That’s why I’m looking forward to getting in there now, I’m looking forward to this one big time”.

Spike has been performing extremely well in training in the run-up for this fight and his form is ominous for Billy Joe Saunders. He has been hurting his sparring partners in preparation for the fight and even knocking some of them out. This form comes with Spike and his opponents wearing head guards and the bigger 18oz gloves, sending a stern warning to Billy Joe Saunders as on the night Spike will be wearing the 10oz gloves and will be punching much harder than he is at present.

I mentioned that Billy Joe has signed to take another fight already after he takes on Spike in September against John Ryder, and asked Spike did he think Saunders could be looking a little too far ahead “Maybe, maybe. He could be, hopefully he is. It would be a big mistake.”

Looking at Billy Joe Saunders himself I alluded to the fact that he probably represents a step up in quality of opposition and Spike agreed but was quick to point out that “I’m by far the best opponent he’s ever stepped in the ring with too”.

A very good point made by Spike as when you look at Billy Joe’s record, other than Matthew Hall and Nick Blackwell, there are no real big names as such. Spike who also fought Matthew Hall dealt with him in better fashion than Billy Joe did in my opinion.

Should Spike get past Saunders he was asked how he thought the win would propel his own name in the media and take him to a higher level: “Absolutely, I’d be 17-0  after beating Billy Joe Saunders. Who knows what would come next. I’d be willing to take any big fights out there.”

Of the domestic fighters out there (Andy Lee, Matthew Macklin, Darren Barker, Martin Murray etc.) , Spike said he has no favoured opponents out of the bunch: “I’d fight any one of them. There’s no one I’d favour over the other as such. I’d rather fight a world champion”.

WBO champion Peter Quillin was mentioned as a potential future showdown considering Spike’s no.4 ranking in the WBO, and Spike admitted he was very interested in facing ‘Kid Chocolate’, “I’d like to fight him.

“He’s a more realistic target for me given my ranking in the WBO. He’s from New York also, so I might get the chance to fight him at Madison Square Garden. Being Irish too there would be a lot of interest there, it would really be one that would sell.”

“He said on Twitter to me recently to make sure that I keep doing my training right. When I’m standing above him while he’s on the ground at Madison Square Garden I’ll tell him to keep doing his training right!”.

We discussed that although Quillin is certainly an impressive fighter, there was still no reason why Spike could not beat him considering the power of the Celtic Rebel’s punches.

Spike was asked how over the last two years or so, as his star began to rise and more people began to take notice of him within boxing, whether media exposure and obligations rose at the same speed.

“I got a lot of press coverage for the Matthew Hall fight. Since then really I have gotten a good enough amount of media attention I suppose. I suppose coming up to the (Billy Joe Saunders) fight there will be a bit more. There has been a few approaches to me to do documentaries and stuff so it’s been good.”

As the interview began to wind down, Spike was asked how he thought the fight with Billy Joe Saunders would play out, and the answer was a definitive one.

“I’m going to knock him out, that’s my prediction. Definitely. It’s going to be a knockout. I know I’m fighting a British Olympian in London, so he will have the home advantage. I believe if it goes to decision I don’t think I will get it. So I’m training to knock him out.”

Although Saunders will indeed have the home support on the night, it’s obvious that everyone back in Cork will be cheering for a Spike victory. It will certainly be a good fight on the night, given the fact the two exciting fighters are both unbeaten.

It should be an absolute cracker on the night, and this interviewer will be very much hoping Spike O’Sullivan gets the win to help him en route to potentially becoming Cork’s first ever professional world boxing champion!

Saturday’s Big Fight Preview – Golovkin vs Macklin

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In a clash of two murderous punchers this weekend who contest a version of the middleweight title, the fans are sure to be the real winners in this fascinating match up between Gennady Golovkin and Matthew Macklin

Ah yes, a fight Irish boxing fans have been waiting on for months is almost here. Matthew Macklin challenges the brick fists of Gennady Golovkin for the WBA and IBO middleweight titles in Connecticut this Saturday.

On paper you’d have to say Macklin will be going into this as a fairly decent sized underdog, but when has that ever meant anything in boxing anyway? Matthew Macklin can punch as hard as any middleweight in the world on his day and has proven this countless times in the past. He can box and brawl but more than likely the first option as opposed to the latter would be the more wise move against Golovkin.

Golovkin is a man riding the crest of a ridiculous wave having knocked out incredibly all of his last twelve opponents. He has developed quiet the reputation as a ferocious puncher in recent times, and will fancy his chances again of winning inside the distance against Matt Macklin. For me Golovkin is at his most dangerous when he gets on the inside, when he’s near enough to do his most damaging work.

Macklin has shown in the past that he can be very effective at range, which I think he should try to do here against Golovkin. Use the jab and combinations to full effect, and I think early on in the first two or three rounds he should put the pedal to the metal right away to get Golovkin’s respect, a man who sometimes can be a bit of a slow starter.

Stylisitically both men are virtually the exact same height with only an inch in the reach to Golovkin’s benefit. Both are orthodox and big punchers who have massive hearts. These ingredients have all the makings for an absolute barn storming tussle. I think Macklin really needs to resist the urge to get involved in a toe to toe battle with Golovkin. If he can somehow stick to his boxing like he did against Sergio Martinez (in the first half of their encounter), I think he could potentially get a points win.

I feel it’s also important to remember that Golovkin with all his vicious knockouts , has never actually been the full twelve rounds in his entire career. Matt Macklin has on many an occasion. Maybe if Macklin employs a game plan of wearing Golovkin down as the fight progresses with calculated attacks from the outside and then when Golovkin is tired in the 11th or 12th go for the finish.

It really is a very hard fight to call. My heart says Macklin on points, my head says Golovkin inside the distance.

Nothing would give me more pleasure than seeing Macklin pull it off though. Maybe he’ll be third time lucky (Sturm, Martinez) in world title shots.

Come on the Macklin!

What next for Adrien Broner?

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(Image from wikimedia commons)

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After a less than stellar performance at the weekend at welterweight I wonder will Adrien Broner be making swift return to the lightweight division

I watched the Broner vs Malinaggi fight with great interest Sunday morning Irish time only to feel a little disappointed in what I saw from Broner, but at the same time was left feeling very impressed by what Paulie Malinaggi displayed.

Having said that I was disappointed in Broner I suppose I can’t recall a time (at least in recent boxing history) where a world champion moved up two entire weight classes at once to challenge for another champion’s belt. I predicted a stoppage win for Broner like a lot of people but to be fair I probably underestimated the significance of someone moving from lightweight to welterweight, even if he was fighting a very light puncher in Malinaggi.

It was clear to me right from the first few rounds that Broner’s power (which is his main asset at lightweight in my opinion) had not travelled up very well with him to the 147lbs limit at welterweight. The first couple of rounds I thought Malinaggi would get off to a quick start which he’s known for, and to no surprise he did and used the jab beautifully against Broner who appeared to be a little flat footed.

I was expecting as the fight progressed that Broner’s power would begin to become more prevalent and wear Paulie down, but it just never seemed to happen. Paulie showed great heart, determination and hand speed throughout the entire bout. Broner did have his moments and certainly landed some hurtful shots that left Malinaggi’s face in a mess at the end. But they were not the type of shots that carried one punch knockout power that we had been used to seeing him detonate on his unfortunate foes in the past.

I don’t mean to be over critical or disparage Adrien Broner in anyway at all, I still believe him to be a very talented future with a bright future ahead. At the end of the day he is still only 23 years old and still has plenty of time to learn and improve. He is also still undefeated and is now a three weight division world champion, which is a credible achievement in anyone’s books, especially at the age of just 23.

Having said all that he really needs to stay focused these next few years on the sport and not let certain factors outside the ring effect him. Maybe a bit less trash talking too, to be honest I don’t think he comes off well when he starts talking trash. For me some guys can do it and some guys can’t. He has more than enough talent and boxing style to develop into an big commercial level pay-per-view star over the next few years and should focus on nurturing and developing this gift.

I would also like to see him matched with stiffer opposition should he go back to lightweight or even light-welterweight. We have yet to see really does he have a good chin at light welterweight or welterweight, as Paulie Malinaggi’s power was never really going to trouble him. You can tell that he does need to work a fair bit on some basic things like footwork and head movement that were a little bit foul wanting at the weekend. I only state these facts as a lot of people have been comparing him to being the next Floyd Mayweather, but for me he has a very very long way to go to get anywhere near that level or match those claims.

I think now more than ever is the perfect time to make the Adrien Broner vs Ricky Burns fight at lightweight. Both men are coming off poor enough performances, both have a point to prove.

Fight Preview: Broner vs Malinaggi – The Problem vs The Magic Man

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This weekend at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn New York Paulie Malinaggi puts his WBA Welterweight belt on the line as Adrien Broner attempts to become a 3 weight world champion at the age of 23

Since this fight was made a few months back the trash talk that has gone on has been on a level perhaps as entertaining as any fight in recent years. On one hand you have the New York slickster Paulie ‘The Magic Man’ Malinaggi who is a man never lost for words and in his spare time regularly commentates for HBO. On the other you have a young, brash, gifted product of the American ghetto in Adrien ‘The Problem’ Broner.

The combination of these two highly extroverted and opinionated fighters has certainly made for an entertaining couple of months in the build up to the fight. Everything from Malinaggi labeling Broner a Floyd Mayweather wannabe, to Broner bringing up a previous girlfriend relationship that Malingaggi had in the past. It certainly has got a bit personal between the two, which makes me wonder could it play a factor in the fight.

If it’s to favour anyone I would tend to think it would favour Broner. He strikes me as a young guy who has genuine confidence (as much as some people don’t like him) and having watched yesterday’s press conference, I thought Paulie looked a little rattled if I’m honest. He seemed at times to be almost trying to convince himself of what he was saying and his body language to me suggested he was quiet nervous, in particular when it looked as if he was responding to people shouting at him from the gallery.

What of the actual fight itself? Well Broner is moving up two entire weight classes which is no mean feat in it’s own right. He has proven his power at lightweight but to step up to welterweight certainly takes considerable courage. He looks to have put on a lot of bulk for the fight which sometimes can be counter productive in terms of slowing a fighter’s speed down. Having said that he has chosen to fight a fairly light punching welterweight in Paulie Malinaggi, who let’s face it is not known for his power.

Malingaggi is however a very talented technical fighter and Broner has shown in the past that he can be hit fairly easily. I’d imagine Malinaggi’s plan will be one of getting behind the jab and boxing on the outside which at the same time, might be Broner’s plan too. You could see a bit of a stale mate in the early rounds, but I think after about round 3 you might see Broner starting to let go his big bombs which inevitably I see Malinaggi not being able to withstand.

Personally I think Broner is a bit special, and I think his youth, gifted ability and power will move up with him to the 147lbs limit and result in a stoppage of a Magic Man who may be coming to the end of a great career in the ring.

My prediction – Broner TKO between rounds 6-8.

Despite Weight Problems Mikey Garcia Impressive in 4th Round KO Win

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Although Mikey Garcia was stripped of his world title for not making weight on Friday, he certainly put on a show with an excellent display last night over Juan Manuel Lopez

It could be fair to say that last night Mikey Garcia had a bit of an unfair advantage due to the debacle that ensued on Friday’s weigh in. Garcia came in two pounds over the featherweight limit to weigh in at 128lbs while his opponent Juan Manuel Lopez weighed in at a ready 125.5lbs. After watching the fight I think this added weight certainly played a factor in Garcia being the much stronger fighter but having said that it was still an excellent boxing display from him.

Straight away right from the get go it was evident that Garcia’s jab was going to be a key component in breaking Lopez down. It looked to me that Garcia knew that he had to keep the fight at range and any chance Lopez might have in landing a big punch would realistically only come if he managed to get inside on Garcia. Mikey simply didn’t let this happen and stuck to a great game plan of keeping Lopez at Bay with the jab.

Right in the first round the work Garcia was doing with the jab marked up Lopez who already bore bruising under his eye. In the second round Mikey dropped Lopez for the first time would a vicous right hand and at this point the writing was on the wall for Lopez I felt. He was just in with a much classier and much stronger operator in Garcia. Garica’s dominance continued in the third and was consistently beating Lopez to the punch. The finishing blow came in the 4th when Garcia hurt Lopez with a short chopping right hand that looked to land on the temple of Lopez who was badly wobbled and Garica followed up with  a thunderous left hook which closed the show.

A very dominant performance by Garcia who easily won all four rounds on route to the KO victory. The main question I think that will be raised coming out of this though is one of weight I feel. Garcia clearly had an edge in strength due to his weight advantage. Sure he got stripped of his belt but is there an argument that boxing should return to the old days where fighters weighed in on the day of the fight? Same day weigh in’s could be a lot better in terms of fairness and more importantly a fighter’s health. It seems it is now common place for fighters to absolutely kill themselves to get down to a certain weight just so they can re hydrate the next day to in some cases up to 20lbs which they might perceive to be an advantage, when in reality it often turns out to be a disadvantage and can lead to terrible stamina problems. Also the long term of effects on a fighter’s health of doing this can’t be good. I’m all for returning to same day weigh in’s anyway.

As for Mikey Garcia he said after the fight that he would like to stay at featherweight and feels he is the world champion at the weight. When in reality I think although he might feel he can still make the weight he clearly showed that it is a severe task for him. More than likely I think we’ll see him moving up to super featherweight next time out, with a potential world title showdown against Roman Martinez being muted as a very exciting match up.

Weekend Boxing Preview: Garcia vs Lopez

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This weekend’s action in Texas promises fireworks when undefeated WBO featherweight champ Mikey Garcia puts his belt on the line against Juan Manuel Lopez

By Niall Doran

Moving to Dallas Texas this weekend in a fight that is being touted by many as a potential fight of the year candidate. A clash between two big hitting pugilists will ignite the always passionate boxing rivalry between the two countries of Mexico and Puerto Rico.

On one hand you have a rising global boxing star in Mexican/American Mikey Garcia, who to date has built an impressive resume of 31-0 with 26 KO’s. On the other hand you have an equally impressive puncher but a southpaw in former two time world champion Juan Manuel Lopez of Puerto Rico who also has a massive punching record of 33-2 with 30 KOs.

For me momentum plays a big part in big time boxing and I just feel the momentum is slightly with Garcia, who is the younger and possibly more hungry of the two. Don’t get me wrong I think Lopez will be up for this one though. I think he’ll be looking to put on a devastating performance to try to establish himself again as the top dog at 126 lbs. He also comes into the fight in good form coming off the back of two impressive stoppage wins. He’s also a quality southpaw, which for any fighter, will cause problems.

Mikey Garcia for me is the fresher of the two, and a young man who seems to be very under rated in world boxing, given his achievements thus far. It’s almost as if he’s gone under the radar in becoming world champion. He is coming off a very good win in his last fight against Orlando Salido, a man we must remember that actually beat Juan Manuel Lopez by 10th round TKO back in 2010. Perhaps this might give Garcia a slight psychological edge in knowing this going into the fight, who knows?

Stylistically looking at both fighters you would have to say that although Lopez probably has a slight edge in power that he is probably the slower of the two. Garcia needs to use his speed advantage and in my own opinion superior boxing skills to his advantage, and not get drawn in to a real toe to toe (which inevitably will probably happen at some stage).

For me it’s all about skills which ‘pay the bills’ as they say in the sweet science. From what I have seen from both fighters, and taking into account recent form and opponents, I’m going with Garcia by unanimous decision in a tough grueling encounter for him that should leave everyone in attendance.

It promises to be another classic battle in the long standing tradition and boxing rivalry between Mexico and Puerto Rico!

Tyson Fury: The Boxer people seem to either Love or Hate

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By Niall Doran

Ah Tyson Fury, the man that takes to Twitter whenever he has something on his mind, gotta love him really. I think he’s fairly comical most of the time and get the feeling that behind all the trash talk, controversial tweets and at times outrageous claims, that in fact he’s a fairly good guy just trying to promote his boxing career in the most extroverted way possible.

A lot of people don’t seem to like him, which I suppose is to be expected by some of the things he says from time to time. But for me the sport of boxing needs characters like him that speak their mind and try to create exposure for themselves, as let’s face it if everyone did what they were supposed to do all the time and say the right things – the world would be a fairly boring place!

What of his career thus far though? Well at the age of 25 he’s certainly built up an impressive record for a heavyweight, who at 25 is still incredibly young with most heavyweights not maturing usually until around 30. He’s gone 21-0 with 15 KOs and has survived knockdowns and adversity which for me shows he has a lot of heart.

He started off his career with wins over decent domestic opposition in John McDermott and Dereck Chisora and lately has beaten established Americans like Kevin Johnson and Steve Cunningham. Sure he got the fright of his life against Cunningham when he was floored in the first round. But he did get up and go on to knock Cunningham spark out. What a lot of people also don’t realise is that his mentor, uncle and trainer Peter Fury could not travel with him to New York for that fight due to visa complications, and I feel this was a huge contributory factor into Tyson’s under performance. Considering prior to that I thought he put on arguably his best boxing display to date against Kevin Johnson.

What of all this talk with a potential mega Irish and British showdown with him and David ‘The Hayemaker’ Haye. I know Froch vs Kessler was big, but bloody hell, if this fight were to happen it would certainly be the biggest fight on our side of the Atlantic this year, if not for the last decade. I mean, just imagine the entertainment and value for money fight fans would not just get in the ring (two guys with serious punches and at times can go down) and outside the ring (perhaps two of the best trash talkers in world boxing alongside Floyd Mayweather). Figures of £5m each are been thrown around at the minute but I can’t help but think both fighters could stand to earn a lot more in this potential box office extravaganza.

Talks are said to be very positive as of late between the two fighters managements teams, here’s hoping us fans will get another mega fight this year!