FROM THE CONGO TO CANNING TOWN
HOOKS & JABS
The latest in our weekly fighting talk feature on what’s said and done inside – and outside – the ropes
By Richard Hubbard
GREAT HEAVYWEIGHT HOPE Daniel Dubois earlier this week enjoyed what his trainer Martin Bowers describes as ‘the best sparring available in Britain’ when Martin Bakole ventured down from Scotland to trade some friendly fire in Canning Town.
Of course, it is not the place of a privileged onlooker to offer a blow-by-blow account of the six rounds or suggest who might have got the better of it, but what can be said is that it made for compelling viewing and the combat was conducted in a tremendous spirit by two gentlemen of the ring.
Bakole, for his part, continues to be impressed by Dubois’ development – as it is not the first time they have shared a canvas – and tips him for the top, but understandably backs himself to get there first.
“He is a very nice guy, who is tough and has got talent,” said the 9-0 heavy (although Boxrec says 8-0), who hails from The Congo. “He has had just four fights and has a long way to go, but you can see he has got a good team and will be a good boxer.
“He is a tough guy – like Joshua is tough – and the way he is going is good after four wins by knockout. Boxing has changed, if you work hard like he does, one day he can be a champion.
“I can say everyone has their own style in boxing, he has his and I have mine. Mine is about speed and I have more than any heavyweight in the world.”
Bakole caused a big stir in heavyweight circles at the end of July in Manchester when he poleaxed the former Southern Area champion Dominic Akinlade, who had not previously been stopped, in less than two minutes of the first round.
It was a big statement of intent, but one that is not likely to see fellow heavies queuing up around the corner to fight him.
“It is a big problem in the heavyweights and I don’t want to talk a lot because I still have a job to do in my gym and I still want more training. I believe in myself and my coach – Billy Nelson – who believes in me, that not just one day, but next year, I will fight for a world title. I have the speed and everything about me is good.”
The quietly-spoken and engaging Bakole has an interesting backstory, having arrived in Airdrie via The Congo and Gauteng in South Africa. He happened upon these shores by way of keeping his brother – Ilunga Makabu – company during his visit to Merseyside to challenge for the WBC cruiserweight title against Tony Bellew, with MTK promoter and trainer Johnney Roye helping out in the corner.
“It is very strange, I am Congolese and the reason I went to South Africa is because of my brother Junior (Ilunga) Makabu because he was there and called me to join him.
“I went there but Boxing in South Africa is down at the moment in the heavyweights. I decided to come here because my brother was fighting Tony Bellew for the WBC world title, which he lost in 2016.
“I told him then that I wanted to stay because, for me, boxing is now here in the UK. After the fight I was supposed to go home because of having a six-month visa but I asked Johnny if he could find me a fight here.
“I won my first fights and then I was sent up to Scotland for sparring and I met Billy Nelson. After sparring he did something I will never forget – he gave me new gloves.
“I was like, ‘oh’, I have never met anyone in my life in boxing who has given me new gloves and is supporting me. He will be surprised when he reads this.
“I was given a contract as my visa expired so I said I would go home and let him know if I was happy with the contract or not. I got home and it was not right for me so I got in contact with Billy and asked if he would like me to come and work with him.
“He sent me everything over, I applied for my new visa and now I am here.”
Remember the name.
YARDE FLEXES HIS MAXIMUSCLE
The irony will not be lost on fight fans who know who punches for which team when they see the chiselled features of Anthony Yarde during the frequent ad breaks on Sky Sports boxing.
The reason being is that the light heavy is the face of the fitness nutrition company Maxi Muscle, who sponsor the boxing broadcasts.
Yarde, of course, is a BT Sport and BoxNation poster boy, so does he think that it irks Sky at all to be showcasing someone who punches for the other side?
“I hope they don’t care because that would be a negative thing if they are upset that it is me there because I am a MaxiMuscle ambassador and athlete,” reasoned the WBO European champion, who faces the unbeaten Ryan Ford next time out on September 16 at the Copper Box.
“If they have any hard feelings that I am on there and not a Sky or Matchroom fighter, that would be a bit sour.
“I am not saying they have, but there has been word of it. Business is business though.”
WHO SAID WHAT?
“Every time my name is mentioned to other fighters they don’t want to know.” 7-0 super bantamweight Lucien Reid on attempts to find domestic opponents to take up his challenge
“The guys he’s fought the last few fights have looked scared of him. I’m not that guy. I’m not scared of him.” Anthony Yarde’s next opponent Ryan Ford insists he is not fazed by the prospect of taking on his fellow 12-0 light heavy