The latest in our weekly fighting talk feature on what’s said and done inside – and outside – the ropes
Hooks & Jabs
By Richard Hubbard
WHILE HE IS awaiting a date to make a first defence of his British middleweight title, we asked Tommy Langford to pop on his pundit’s hat again and make a call on the night when the middlemen will be pushed to the forefront of world boxing.
First up, at the Copper Box on Saturday, Billy Joe Saunders – who holds the missing piece of the world title jigsaw – defends his WBO belt against the rated American Willie Monroe jr in what will be the second defence of his prized possession.
Later, in Las Vegas, is the fight the world has been waiting for between Gennady Golovkin – who holds the remainder of the belts – and the former WBC champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.
It would be fair to say Tommy is more certain of his choice of starter than main course.
“I think it is a fight that, as a mandatory, suits Bill really,” said the recent Interim title challenger. “If you look at Monroe’s style, he is not super-aggressive, he does not have a huge workrate, although he is quite slippery and cute himself.
“It is not the sort of style that is going to rip a title off of anybody. It will suit Bill and if he needs to creep over the line, he can do that.
“I think personally that if Bill is anywhere near back to his best he will deal with Monroe quite handily. I hope he is back to his best and full fitness and you hear things from the Ingle gym which are very positive, but until fight night we don’t really know.
“Bill has got this knack of getting over the line and doing enough on the night. I believe the same thing will happen, but will it be a classic? I don’t really know.
“Unless Monroe gambles and really goes for it. Bill doesn’t have to gamble because he’s the champion. He can do what he does and be good at it – very slick and clever, land his cute combinations and make Monroe miss.
“If Monroe comes out and tries to stamp authority on it, that is when we will get real excitement. He is not a big banger himself though, so will he have enough to really dent Billy Joe?
“I think it is Billy Joe’s to lose personally, but it depends on the condition Billy Joe brings to the ring. If he ain’t right on the night he will get pipped, but if he is right he beats him.”
Predicting a winner out of Golovkin and Canelo has divided experts across the globe.
“It is the flip of a coin,” sighed Tommy. “One day I get asked and I think Golovkin and on another I think Canelo. That tells us it is a good fight.
“It is great for boxing and it is just a shame that circus was going on while people should have been thinking about a real fight.
“I am just siding with Canelo at the moment because he is a little bit fresher and more so because of the way Golovkin performed in his last couple of fights.
“Even though Danny Jacobs was better than people like Kell Brook and others before, he didn’t show any changes to his game or make himself harder to hit. Or being really good with his distance like he has shown in the past.”
A return to the level of performance and tactics employed against David Lemieux in October 2015 is key to a Golovkin victory, according to Tommy.
“He looked phenomenal in that fight and if we get that Golovkin I will probably change my mind again. If we can rewind the clock to the Lemieux performance, I think Golovkin does it and looks very dominant doing it.
“If we get the Golovkin that fought against Brook and Jacobs, I think he gets beat. He gets hit quite a lot and if you are getting hit that much by Canelo – even though he is not a fully fledged middleweight yet – there is the potential to be stopped there.
“I think it is a real, real classic and hopefully it brings the best out of both fighters.
“I am just slightly edging towards Canelo at the moment.”
CANELO GETS JACK’S VOTE
STICKING TO THE Las Vegas leg of the big night, Jack Catterall knows where his loyalties lie when it comes to picking the winner.
The super lightweight, who challenges for the British title on October 21 against Tyrone Nurse in Leeds, is a former sparring partner of the Mexican and has nailed his colours firmly to the Canelo mast.
“Personally I hope that Canelo wins,” revealed Jack, who is a bit of a fan of the flame haired challenger. “He had that loss to Floyd when he was still quite young in the game and I hope he has learned from it, which he seems to have done.
“I wouldn’t like to call it, but I just hope Canelo can win it. I think that would be amazing.”
TO LEEDS AND BACK
WHEN ZELFA BARRETT and his forthcoming opponent Chris Conwell sidled up to each other for a face off on Monday, the chances of either of them sticking the nut in were pretty remote.
The Manchester super featherweights meet for the English title in Leeds on October 21 and the pair arrived promptly at the same time for press conference proceedings last week.
The reason for their synchronised timing? The pair travelled in the same car for the journey to Yorkshire, so a hostile stare-down was always going to be a long shot.
“Yeah we picked him up on the way here and he is waiting outside for us to take him home!” chuckled Zelfa, who admitted conversation on the journey rarely strayed into fighting talk.
“We just spoke about life – and I told him to go down in the second!”
WHO SAID WHAT?
“The minute you got cut you knew your chips were down, you spewed it! You chose to let Gary (Lockett) pull you out. You knew you’d had your moment and you were gone.” Liam Smith doesn’t hold back in telling Liam Williams his view of the first fight between the pair
“It really doesn’t matter how good of shape a man can get into in 12 weeks when compared to a man who lives the ‘in-shape’ life.” Willie Monroe jr isn’t overly impressed with the conditioning work carried out by the champion Billy Joe Saunders
“Amir was a hero so, in time, it’d be nice to pick up the reins!” Hamzah Sheeraz, who makes his debut on Saturday at the Copper Box, wants to follow in the footsteps of Amir Khan
“Unfortunately, in this age of social media sledging, Lerrone is a bit ‘normal’! He works in Tesco’s, spends his spare time bowling, at the pictures or bingo, and is the type to carry old ladies shopping bags.” Trainer Alan Smith doubts that Lerrone Richards will jump aboard the hype train