October 27, 2016
October 27, 2016

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MARCEL CERDAN lived a life that sounds like a movie: poor boy from a humble background who rose to become world champion, had an affair with famous singer and died tragically young in a plane crash.

In fact, his life HAS been made into a movie, several times. It’s also been woven into films about Edith Piaf, the French songstress he had the fling with while married and a father.

Cerdan is the most famous French boxer ever, and his only rival as that nation’s best fighter is Georges Carpentier, who was also world champion but got to live to a ripe old age.

Marcel’s end still seems heartbreaking. Having ripped the world middleweight title from Tony Zale in 1948, he lost it to Jake LaMotta in Detroit in June 1949, when a first-round spill to the canvas separated his left shoulder and meant he was hardly able to punch. Even then, he lasted into the 10th before his manager Jo Longman threw in the towel.

A rematch was arranged for New York so the Cerdan party had to fly across the Atlantic (an adventure in those days). Their plane stopped at the Azores to refuel, but crashed into a mountain with everyone on board killed on October 27 1949. Marcel was 33 years old.

Born in Algeria, then part of France, Marcel was 18 when he turned pro in Morocco (also part of French North Africa).

By 1939 he was European welterweight champion, but the war scuppered any world title hopes, even though he continued to box, and win.

In 1947 he became European middleweight king, adding the world title when he forced Zale to retire after 11 rounds in Jersey City. The Ring named it the 1948 Fight of The Year, but three fights later he was dead, with the French going into mourning at the loss of their charismatic hero.

Marcel Cerdan was ranked No.91 in the Boxing News 100 Greatest Fighters of All-Time. Order your copy here

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October 26, 2016
October 26, 2016
Muhammad Ali

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MUHAMMAD ALI was stripped of his world heavyweight titles in 1967 over his refusal to go to war in Vietnam.

“I am proud of the title world heavyweight champion,” he said as his career ground to halt after bludgeoning Zora Folley into submission. “The holder of it should at all times have the courage of his convictions and carry out those convictions, not only in the ring, but in all phases of his life. It is in light of my own personal convictions that I take my stand in rejecting the call to be inducted into the armed services. I do so with full realisation of its implications and possible consequences.”

His name lingered in fans’ minds as Joe Frazier and Jimmy Ellis tried to fill the gap. With that duo set to scrap for the unified title, and with the former king still locked behind legal boundaries, Ali announced his retirement, and removed himself from any speculation. And just when it seemed like we’d seen the last of him, something changed.

In September 1970 the Supreme Court ruled that young men who were opposed to war on ethical grounds should be exempt from drafting into the armed forces. Suddenly, and quite unexpectedly, the biggest comeback in sport was set. Ali, despite his public assurances that he was finished, may have known for a while that a return was on the cards as it emerged that he had been sparring the likes of Frazier, Ellis, Sonny Liston and British contender, Joe Bugner. The weight he had put on during his time away started to disappear. Muscles replaced flab, and excitement grew as he prepared to slip back into his trusty gloves.

After passing his medical and obtaining a licence from the New York State Athletic Commission, Ali announced rugged contender Jerry Quarry would be the man to end his inactivity on October 26 at the Muncipal Auditorium in Atlanta. His trainer, Angelo Dundee, watched the 28-year-old Ali in an exhibition fight and was stunned by his fitness and sharpness.

“I came here expecting nothing, instead I saw it all,” said Dundee. “For any other heavyweight it would have taken six months to return from a three-year layoff. This man is a truly remarkable athlete.”

But Ali’s preparation was not all miracles. As he was winding down his camp before his comeback he sparred fringe contender Alvin Lewis and was floored, much to everyone’s surprise, including Ali’s.

“Yes, he knocked the wind out of me. I did not have my muscles properly tensed because I am out of practice,” the 28-year-old admitted before showing signs of maturity. “I have finished predicting and fooling around. That stuff was merely to sell myself on the way up. I don’t need it now. I’m dead serious about this comeback and everyone in the world is waiting to see if I am still The Greatest. After this fight they’ll see I am still the champ.”

The world was impressed. Quarry, an accomplished contender, was outgunned from the start.

Quarry had moderate success when he targeted the former champion’s body but in round three, a long right hand ripped into his skin and blood cascaded down his face. At the close of the session Quarry’s trainer, Teddy Bentham, looked at the gruesome laceration and stopped the fight.

“No, no, no,” the blood-soaked warrior pleaded. He pushed past his cornermen and told the referee, Tony Perez, he wanted to continue. In the calm of his dressing room, the loser admitted it was the right conclusion.

“I came back and did not know I was bleeding,” he said. “All that went through my mind was to get back in there because I’m a fighter. But then I felt the blood, it felt like it was gushing.”

Despite the admission that his wound – that required 11 stitches – was bad, he held back on compliments to the fighter who opened it.

“He did just what I expected,” Quarry said of Ali. “He’s just as fast but he’s not a punishing puncher. I knew I was going to lose about four or five rounds but then I was going to make a fight of it. I just never got the chance but I know he got a couple of left hooks in the belly that he’ll remember for a while.”

No matter because Ali, although a shade slower, was back. And the boxing world was a brighter place for his return.

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October 26, 2016
October 26, 2016
Anthony Yarde

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IN between knocking people out on the streets of east London, Anthony Yarde found time to have football trials for QPR, play rugby and basketball at high levels, and be trained to throw the shotput by an Olympic champion. At the age of 19, he switched to boxing and now, at the age of 25, the unbeaten light-heavyweight prospect is celebrating after scoring his eighth consecutive victory at the AT&T Stadium in Texas on Saturday (September 17).

Is it fair to say a few skirmishes on the streets of east London got you into boxing?

I was living in Stratford until I was about 13, then I moved to Forest Gate, where I stayed for my teenage years. It was around those times that I made the decision to start boxing. It wasn’t people my age either, it was older men, and that was when I got the reputation of having a big punch.
I was knocking them out with one punch. I got into altercations with a few people, but it wasn’t a case of me starting trouble. I always walked away first, but I had a very bad temper on me, so if people were putting it on me, I would defend myself. I got angry quite quick, so I would say a few words, walk away, but if anyone pursued, I’d throw the first punch.

How old were you at this point?

I’d say it was from when I was 16 to about 18, 19. It was then I realised what might happen. You’d hear about people getting hit on the streets and dying, so I knew I had to stay out of those situations. I stopped being out late at night and things like that.

At what point did you realise that you were good at boxing?

When I had my first amateur fight. People can say you’re good and this and that, but you don’t know until you get in the ring. I was training like a beast, doing all the things in the gym, but I had to remember I hadn’t had a fight yet. When it came to the fight night, I was calm, I didn’t have any nerves. I knew I’d trained for it, so unless the person had trained harder than me, they weren’t going to beat me. I’ve still got that mentality now – if your opponent is working, you’ve got to be working as well. I train for the future, now.

How did your football career fit in with all of this?

I played for Bishop’s Stortford, Tunbridge Wells a few times, and every time I played I scored. From there I got the chance to try out for QPR. In the trial game I broke my toe, but before that happened, I scored two goals. The manager was happy and said he’d take me on. But they looked at my toe, and they needed a striker right then, and they were not going to take an injured player. It was devastating at the time but now, thank God it happened.
I was 17 or 18 at that point. That was when I had a bad year and all my troubles started happening. That was when I went back to sport, and to boxing. I always had a love for boxing, but I never pursued it.

Do you think the fights you were having on the street was a reaction to missing out on QPR?

Possibly, but there were also things going on at home. I was in a place where anything got me angry, I was flipping out everywhere. It was a bad time, one I’m not proud of, but it was a learning curve. I’ve learned from the experiences and become a better person. Every move you make in life can determine your future.

You also had time to pursue a career in athletics during this period.

I used to do the shotput and I was trained by [1984 Olympic javelin champion] Tessa Sanderson. I’ve been around the world with sport. I also had trials with rugby’s Harlequins when I was 15. In athletics I also did the 100 and 200 metres. I played basketball at a good level – for London. But I love nothing like I love boxing, because you depend on yourself so much. Your team, your trainer, play their part, but on fight night – that’s my job.

It’s quite a past you have. What does the future hold?

I believe my natural weight is light-heavy at the moment, and being at my natural weight is important to perform at my best. My aspiration is to become a multi-weight world champion. In the future I can go to cruiserweight and maybe even bigger, because I have big shoulders. Mike Tyson inspired me because he was so small, and knocking out these giants. It was a David versus Goliath thing.
I have no specific route in mind to the top, I trust in [promoter] Frank Warren and my trainer, Tunde [Ajayi]. For now, my job is to focus on the fights in front of me, and take all these experiences in.

This article originally appeared in Boxing News magazine

October 26, 2016
October 26, 2016
body shot knockouts

Action Images/Andrew Couldridge

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  1. Roy Jones Jnr ko 4 Virgil Hill (1998)

Hill could do nothing to prevent a lethal right hand slamming into his ribcage in the fourth.

  1. Micky Ward ko 7 Alfonso Sanchez (1997)

Delivering his bread-and-butter manoeuvre, Ward touched Sanchez upstairs before folding him in two with a left hook to the liver.

  1. Arturo Gatti ko 2 Leonard Dorin (2004)

Rather than the gruelling affair many expected, Gatti dispatched Dorin with relative ease with a left hook.

  1. Bernard Hopkins ko 9 Oscar De La Hoya (2004)

“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d get stopped by a body shot,” said De La Hoya after Hopkins left him writhing on the canvas.

  1. Ricky Hatton ko 4 Jose Luis Castillo (2007)

The teak-tough Mexican turned away and took a knee when Hatton punished him with a left hook.

  1. Canelo Alvarez ko 9 Liam Smith (2016)

After controlling proceedings for eight rounds, Canelo produced the third and final knockdown of the night with a monstrous left hook that was audible from ringside.

  1. Gerry Cooney ko 1 Ron Lyle (1980)

The towering Cooney opened Lyle up with a brace of uppercuts before flooring him for good with a left hook.

  1. Marco Antonio Barrera ko 3 Jesse Benavides (1996)

A sharp combo ending with a particularly brutal left hook was enough to put Benavides away.

  1. Gennady Golovkin ko 3 Matthew Macklin (2013)

The Kazakh wrecking ball left Macklin gasping for air with a bone-crunching left hook.

  1. Gerald McClellan ko 1 James Williamson (1990)

A looping left hook just as Williamson was backing off instantly floored him and had him screaming in pain.

October 26, 2016
October 26, 2016
Canelo Alvarez

Tom Hogan/Hogan Photos/Golden Boy Promotions

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MY Boxing News predecessor Tris Dixon started his reign as editor imploring Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao to fight. Back then, at the start of 2010, it was the fight the world wanted to see. In the end, he got so tired of writing about it, as rumours became failed negotiations, as the fighters started to slip from their glorious peaks, the subject of Mayweather and Pacquiao lost its meaning; the only thing the two fighters exchanged during Dixon’s five-year tenure was blame as to why the contest was not happening.

In that time, MMA started its rise. The best fought the best at the drop of a hat, glorious promotions gave the fans exactly what they wanted to see. As boxing looked down on its fistic counterpart, MMA looked up and continued to teach us how it should be done. It’s not just MMA, of course. Every single sport on the planet must be defined by its leaders – leaders who have proved they are the best in their field, who leave no doubt about their supremacy by turning back the challenge of their closest rivals. While sport is indeed a business, for that business to truly flourish, those who are paying the money must be given the contests, the matches, the competitions they want – otherwise what is the point?

Six years and nine months later, boxing is in danger of falling foul of egos, demands and blame-slinging yet again. Last week, the latest elusive top-level showdown to stain the sport was in the headlines for the umpteenth time. Take a bow, Canelo Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin.

Canelo’s promoter, Oscar De La Hoya referenced the Mayweather-Pacquiao saga. “It took Mayweather and Pacquiao five years before they fought,” he said in effort to quell the frustration that we have been waiting ‘only’ 18 months for Alvarez-Golovkin. Oh, that’s okay then. But, of course it’s not.

The fans are not the only casualties in all of this. For every fight that Alvarez and Golovkin take part in that isn’t against the other, the opponent they are facing is largely disrespected. The latest case in point is Liverpool’s Liam Smith, who was drafted in as Canelo’s latest opponent when Team Alvarez deemed their fighter wasn’t quite ready to compete as a fully-fledged middleweight, despite disguising himself as a middleweight since 2013.

Alvarez was visibly frustrated in Dallas with fielding accusations about running from “GGG”, as reporters all but ignored the contest that was days away. It shouldn’t be like this. When a fight occurs, particularly one marketed as one of the biggest events of the year, the interest should be centred around that fight only. Simply, as a rule, a pay-per-view event must be a two-fighter event, an event where the outcome isn’t clear before it’s even started. There must be intrigue and excitement. Just because one fighter is a massive underdog, and therefore ‘might’ score one of the biggest upsets the world has ever seen, doesn’t make it worthwhile. It is not acceptable to have so many ‘superfights’ occurring when one of the participants is not being picked to win by anyone. When the huge betting favourite wins time and again, the magic of boxing disappears. It becomes only an exhibition of one man’s talent, and another man’s bravery.

After the beyond brave Smith was beaten, Alvarez and De La Hoya claimed they had offered Team Golovkin in the region of $10m to fight. The blame game is here again.

Thankfully, boxing is not hopeless to its core. In November, Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev collide. But there’s still no sign of the fight we want the most.

The legacies of Golovkin and Alvarez will mean nothing if they do not accept their toughest challenges. Mayweather and Pacquiao will be affected by fighting five years too late – after all, true greatness is only achieved by conquering your closest rivals when they’re at their best. Golovkin and Alvarez must take note.

This article originally appeared in Boxing News magazine

October 26, 2016
October 26, 2016
Muhammad Ali-Joe Frazier

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Trainer Eddie Futch pulled Joe out after 14 ferocious rounds of the 1975 Thrilla in Manila.


Ray was well ahead in this 1952 bid for the world light-heavyweight title when exhaustion from the New York heat forced him to withdraw.


An ageing Liston blamed a damaged shoulder muscle for his surprising decision to stay on his stool after six rounds against the young Ali in 1964.


O’Sullivan suffered an amazing 14 knockdowns in this 1950 world bantamweight title bid, before pulling out after 10 rounds.


Jake became world middle champion in 1949 when a useless shoulder forced Cerdan to quit after the 10th. 


A broken hand forced Toweel to pull out after nine rounds against bitter rival Van Rensburg in 1955.


In 1982, Castanon won the European super-feather title when the towel came into the ring during round nine – although it subsequently emerged it had been flung by a fan!


Winstone became British feather king when Spinks withdrew exhausted after 10 one-sided rounds in 1961. 


In 1980, Ali’s ill-advised comeback saw him pummelled for 10 rounds, before finally withdrawing.


Hatton became IBF 140lb champion when trainer Johnny Lewis kept Tszyu in his corner after 11 rounds in 2005.

October 26, 2016
October 26, 2016
Gennady Golovkin

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IT’S always been our plan to make Gennady Golovkin an international brand and continue to grow his brand. He’s fought in numerous places, he’s fought in Panama, he’s fought in Ukraine, he’s fought in Kazakhstan, he’s fought three times in Monaco, he started his career in Germany. That’s why we had the three fights in Monaco, one per year the last three years. Naturally the Martin Murray fight was the last one there, that was a great matchup between two top middleweights. Even though he had the unification fight against David Lemieux in Madison Square Garden, which he sold out, or the last fight at the Forum, which he sold out, the Kell Brook fight in London just had a completely different feel than any of his previous fights in terms of the fan reaction, in terms of the media reaction.

He’s a national hero in Kazakhstan. He’s really changed the perception of Kazakhstan. He’s become really their international representative. From personal experience, I know a lot of Americans didn’t know where Kazakhstan is, and now with Gennady he’s really a representative for the country.

He’s a great ambassador for his people. He’s a great representative of the country and every time he gets in the ring and he carries the flag, he’s fighting for his country. So that’s why he’s become a national hero, and that’s why he’s so marketable over there as far as companies wanting to be associated with him. He’s got so many big sponsors over there. He’s a representative of the World Expo 2017. It’s a huge event, the whole country is gearing up for it, it’s really the biggest event as far as the country’s recent history. It’s the biggest international event over there and they made him an international ambassador for it.

He did an iWatch commercial in the US, Brand Jordan, that deal’s pretty publicised. So he’s really become not only one of the best fighters in the world, but one of the most marketable fighters in the world.

Where in the US if you have a fighter that’s popular in one city or one state, they’ll usually stay in that city and continue to sell out that arena, similar to Floyd Mayweather fighting in Las Vegas. There’s a lot of different examples, Cotto used to fight in New York in Madison Square Garden. But to have a world champion from Kazakhstan being able to sell out Madison Square Garden in New York and then in Los Angeles, on the complete opposite coast, where you have a completely different demographic of boxing fans, selling out the Forum, then coming to London and selling out the O2, it’s very rare to see a boxer, whether from Kazakhstan or from any country, to sell out so many different locations.

This article originally appeared in Boxing News magazine