HUBBARD’S CUPBOARD – 30.1.16
By Alan Hubbard
Well, we can all dream, can’t we? Dream of matches that might have been: If only…
If only Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson could have fought each other, what a fantastic battle of brain and brawn it would have been.
As a committed Ali-phile I believe he would have won, but the exchanges would have been as frenetic and harrowing as those that thrilled us in Manila against Joe Frazier.
In the end I think, when both were at their peak, Ali would have ‘psyched’ out Tyson as he did Sony Liston when he first won the title in 1964, taunting and goading him until Iron Mike lost his rag, his composure and consequently the fight.
Yes, Ali v Tyson is my all-time dream match.
But, there are plenty of others to ponder throughout the various eras of boxing history.
To name a few: How about Sugar Ray Robinson v Sugar Ray Leonard at welterweight? Truly a classic example of just how sweet the science can be.
Or either of the Sugar Boys against Floyd Mayweather jnr, or Manny Pacquiao?
Then there’s Marvin Hagler v Roberto Duran ,an unremiiting war. Who would duck first? With the winner to meet Gennady Golovkin, eh?
Imagine Ali v Joe Louis, Jack Dempsey or Jack Johnson? In my view The Greatest would have whupped them all, but no doubt many will demur.
That’s the beauty of making matches in the mind.
How about fights that should have happened, but didn’t. The most perfect recent example is Joe Calzaghe v Carl Froch.
It would have to be Calzaghe for me, on points perhaps but I suspect he’d have dumped the Cobra on the canvas, a la George Groves, at some stage of the contest.
While make-believe matches are fun, is worth remembering that not all would have turned out to be humdingers.
One ‘dream fight’ that did eventually materialise is an example. Mayweather v Pacquiao had a longer gestation period than a pregnant elephant but in the end it was disappointing and anti-climatic.
However one putative mouthwatering modern punch-up that surely wouldn’t be, if they ever get it on, is Sergey Kovalev v Adonis Stevenson.
My colleague Glynn Evans has conducted a poll for BoxNation among ten fight figures and journos in which we were asked to pick our winner.
Remarkably, it was a 10-0 shut-out for The Krusher.
This was my reasoning: “Kovalev’s my fancy. I’ve only seen him live once but he absolutely destroyed Nathan Cleverly, a decent fighter, on his home turf in Cardiff. He’s not only a superb puncher, he’s a granite man.
Stevenson has real pedigree but he’s 38 now and let’s not forget what happened recently to Wladimir Klitschko, who was a similar age. I also happen to feel Kovalev might be the more resolute. I know he’s been over a couple of times but he always gets straight back up. I have a feeling that Kovalev is still improving. I’m not sure Stevenson is.”
Frank Warren argued thus: “Stevenson isn’t a bad puncher himself and, were they to meet any time soon, I see a very close fight. But I sway marginally to Kovalev.
“That said, I’ve always believed that a really good boxer – someone like Andre Ward, perhaps – has the beating of Kovalev but they’ll need to show balls. Nathan Cleverly begged me for the fight but didn’t really show the necessary desire on the night. It’s a fight I still feel he should’ve won.
“I always back a good boxer over a good puncher. That’s what the sport is really about. That’s why they have judges.”
I go along with Steve Lillis who opined: ”Kovalev, by far. I’m all over him, so menacing and ruthless; an absolute beast. He’s been overshadowed by Golovkin but his clubbing power is unreal. He’d knock you out if he connected with the inside of his arm.
“Stevenson’s a decent champion and you’d have to give him a puncher’s chance. I thought he was really good when he stopped (Tony) Bellew. The way he bounced back from that knockout defeat to Darnell Boone is the sign of a good fighter. Also, you have to respect where he’s come from in life – he’s overcome a very sordid past. But he doesn’t beat Kovalev.”
His BoxNation ringside partner John Rawling reckons Kovalev is ”better in every department whilee Buncey declared: “Stevenson might have the instincts but Kovalev has the grade, the history and the better boxing brain. Kovalev is a much cleaner puncher, less dependent on wild punches.”
Frank Buglioni, Barry Jones, Ennzo Macarinelli, the Telegraph’s Gareth A Davies and former Boxing News ed Tris Dixon all came to a roughly similar conclusion.
That while WBC champion Stevenson might hold the coveted Ring magazine light-heavyweight belt there is little doubt who would be the daddy at 175lbs.
If you want to see just fearsome ‘Krusher’ Kovalev is tune tonight (actually from 2am tomorrow) when BoxNation show his triple title defence return against former champion Jean Pascal in Montreal.
On paper it looks certain Kovalev will retain his IBF-WBA-WBO belts but the last time they fought in a unification bout in March Pascal, as he did against Froch earlier, put up a spirited display before being stopped in the eighth.
There is certainly bad blood between them. At a press conference last week Pascal, who is black, went to great lengths to depict Kovalev as a racist.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a new allegation against the Russian-born slugger. 2014, Kovalev made the references “negro” and “dark-skinned people”, which sparked a controversy that prompted his manager to declare,”Sergei Kovalev is not racist.”
It has added fuel to what could be a fiery night – while it lasts.
I expect at least a repeat performance from Kovalev, though Haitian-born Canadian Pascal has enlisted the assistance of Freddie Roach to help up his game.
Which brings me back to dream dates because in my mind’s eye I’ll be imaging another Kovalev fight I’d truly love to witness.
That is Kovalev against the all-conquering Kazakh Golovkin.
Ok, so he’d have to lose a few pounds and Golovkin add a couple or so so to make it a catchweight classic no-one would dare miss.
Both possess wrecking-ball power in yheir punches, so you’d best not pop out to put the kettle on when the first bell goes.
Whod win? A| hard call but I might just go for Triple G as of late he seems to have developed some canny ringcraft..
But whatever the outcome it would be a real Eastern bloc-buster.
Tomorrow catch up with Alan Hubbard’s Punchlines exclusively at frankwarren.com