ALAN HUBBARD’S PUNCHLINES – 22.11.15
While he was boxing, Carl Froch carried a pretty low opinion of the fight game’s media – he made that quite clear in his book – though I must say I always found him co-operative when a fight was coming up, even if he rarely had a good word to say about his fellow fighters.
Now, of course, he is one of us, working as a pundit for Sky. But it seems he still has to learn the ropes to earn the acceptance of us mere hacks.
On Wednesday morning, the day after he received his deserved MBE from Prince William at Buckingham Palace, we were asked to join a conference call where he would impart his views on the upcoming Klitschko-Fury fight. So we dialled in. Unfortunately Froch didn’t.
We were left holding on while an embarrassed Sky PR guy explained they couldn’t get hold of him despite a firm arrangement being made. So could we please call back tomorrow.
Personally I didn’t. And I doubt I was alone.
Let’s hope someone tells the Cobra he needs to be as professional out of the ring as he was inside it.
Book this one for Xmas
Talking of professionalism, Nick Parkinson happens to be one of the best media operatives around on the British boxing scene, writing regularly for several newspapers but principally the Daily and Sunday Star. He is also an increasingly familiar face on BoxNation’s Boxing Matters and A Fight To Remember.
Nick, an industrious and knowledgeable young man, has found time to produce a unique little book which will delight boxing anoraks and aficionados alike.
“Boxing On This Day” details facts, facets and great anecdotes from a multitude of scraps dating back over the last century; a fascinating pot-pouri of pugilism, diligently researched and compellingly presented in easily digested bite-sized nuggets of nostalgia.
There are absorbing insights into great fights and fighters in a month-by-month chronology.
Some memorable quotes, too, like that from Harry Greb, aka the The Human Windmill. “Prize fighting ain’t the noblest of arts and I ain’t its noblest artist.
You learn, too, how Sylvester Stallone got the idea from a classic scene in Rocky by watching a re-run of Ken Buchanan’s world lightweight title defence against Ismael Laguna on December 13th 1971 when trainer Eddie Thomas slit the Scottish fighter’s grotesquely swollen eyelid with a razor blade to send a gush of blood spurting into the air.
Then there was the legendary Wild West Gun gunslinger Wyatt Earp, former deputy marshall of Dodge City and Tombstone and participant in the real Gunfight At The OK Corral who entered the ring to referee the 1896 world heavyweight title eliminator between Cornishman Bob Fitzsimmons and Tom ‘Sailor’ Sharkey in San Francisco wearing a six-shooter around his waist.
A police chief forced him to remove it before the fight started. Earp subsequently disqualified Fitzsmmons for an allegedly low blow in the eighth round. Earp was believed to be part of a betting ring that had invested heavily on Sharkey and such was the public outcry he never refereed again.
Fitzsimmons then went on to win the world title a year later, felling James J Corbett with a similar punch.
These are just random examples of the snippets that fill the book’s 179 pages. Buncey raved about it on BoxNation and rightly so. It makes a great Christmas prezzie for any fight fan.
Boxing On This Day (£9.99) is available at Waterstones, amazon.co.uk and WH Smith.
A science sweet on charity
No sport rises to the occasion more enthusiastically than boxing when it comes to charitable causes.
Last Friday Queensberry Promotions featured Total Combat, the new sport which is a sort of Twenty20 version of boxing, the brainchild of Francis Warren, at the London Hilton for DEBRA, the organisation that supports those suffering from the blistering skin condition Epidermolysis Bullosa (EB).
And tomorrow night the same venue sees the ever-improving Bradley Skeete defending his WBO European welterweight title for the third time against Merseysider Steve Williams on another of Frank Warren’s annual dinner shows, this time for Nordoff Robbins, a charity devoted to helping both kids and adults with a range of disabilities through music.
Then on Tuesday, more sweet charity from the sweet science when the newly refurbished Café Royal, in London’s Piccadilly, once the iconic home of the National Sporting Club, opens it plush doors again to boxing.
The Cafe Royal’s 150th anniversary celebrations include a boxing tournament involving the Royal Marines. This takes place in the aptly-named Ten Room, transformed into a boxing venue with an evening of bouts in aid of the Royal Marines Charity, which assists injured marines and their families.
The original NSC, where silence was golden and ‘nobbins’ generous, was an integral part of the fistic landscape, the Club’s founders, the Earl of Lonsdale and the fifth Marquis of Queensberry laying down ‘The Queensberry Rules’ there in 1867. It will be good to see fists flying there again, albeit for one night only.
Vitali still punching his weight
While his younger brother has been tuning up for his encounter with Tyson Fury in Dusseldorf next Saturday, Vitali Klitschko has himself been engaged in a fight, though the punches thrown were purely political.
The former WBC heavyweight champion was last week re-elected as Mayor of Kiev, capital of homeland Ukraine, winning a majority decision with 66.5 per cent of the votes.
He switched to freedom fighting to become mayor in May of last year after retiring from boxing following the ousting of pro-Russian leader Viktor Yankovych amid mass street demonstrations. Klitschko, a leader of those protests, headed the opposing party Udar, which aptly is Ukrainian for Punch.
However Mayor Klitschko is expected to be in Wladimir’s corner as usual for the Fury fight.
When my kids have trouble falling asleep, I don’t have to read to them anymore. I just play them your Berto fight. They don’t make it past round three.
Oscar De La Hoya has a few unkind words to say to Floyd Mayweather jnr.
Boxing is an act that you play. After the fight, I need two weeks to get back to myself, to get out of my role as a fighter. Suddenly you realise there are different qualities inside of you that you can call on when it is needed. I see boxing as simply as an art that I practice. Away from boxing I have a different persona.
Wladimir Klitscho, PhD, is in philosophical mode as he prepares to face Tyson Fury.
There’s nothing in the everyday world that gives the same buzz as walking into a ring with 20,000 screaming for a fight.
David Haye says missing the roar of the crowd is a prime factor in his decision to fight again at 35.
For big blockbusters fights at the Manchester Arena, Lee v Saunders is up there with the best. You’ve got the raw, tough, aggression of Lee, who’s got the power to turn things around with one punch, matched against the master boxer in Saunders who has the slick and technical ability. This is a real 50/50 fight and for once I’m stumped on picking a winner.
Ricky Hatton finds it as hard as the rest of us to decide who will be WBO middleweight champion on December 19th.
This is the fight of the year for me because in my eyes you’ve got two guys who are going to have a real fight, not like Floyd Mayweather jnr or Manny Pacquiao, who weren’t interested in offence. You know these guys aren’t going to run. It’s a 50/50 fight.
While Naseem Hamed concurs.
Tomorrow: Pro-File features the Big Interview with Paul Butler: ”Why I won’t play the waiting game.”