HUBBARD’S CUPBOARD – 22.9.17
By Alan Hubbard
Back in 1951, as a 13-year-old schoolboy, I fell in love with boxing after experiencing my first world title fight – that between Sugar Ray Robinson and Britain’s Randolph Turpin for the middleweight championships at Earls Court.
I wasn’t there, and this was the days before live boxing on the box, PPV, closed circuit TV and all that jazz.
No, it was steam radio only, and I stayed up to listen to the broadcast of a contest that remains etched in the memory.
The commentary was exciting but totally misleading. You would have thought the great champion Sugar Ray walked it but after 15 torrid rounds it was Turpin’s hand that was rightly raised by referee Eugene Henderson. The 18,000 crowd went wild – as did the nation.
Turpin had travelled to Earls Court by tube but he returned home to Leamington a hero.
Listening in to that historic contest was an unforgettable experience. So I have decided to do it all again with this Saturday’s WBO world heavyweight title fight from the Manchester Arena.
As an incorrigible technophobe, I can’t be bothered forking out 15 quid to fathom out how to get this bout between Hughie Fury, and the Kiwi holder Joseph Parker on something called YouTube.
Instead I’ll bell be tuning in to the BBC Radio Five Live broadcast and looking forward the estimable commentary team of Mike Costello and Steve Bunce telling me how it is, as usual making the action as vivid to the ear as it would be to the eye.
And you can bet they will read it right – unlike their predecessors Raymond Glendennig and W Barrington Dalby 66 years ago.
Let’s hope we get another surprise British winner. I believe Hughie can win it and, ironically, return the belt confiscated from elder cousin Tyson to the Fury family fold.
Hughie is a smart, well-tutored boxer and while Parker is similarly unbeaten he is not an outstanding champion.
What counts against Fury is his 17 months absence from the ring in a live fight.
If he can dust off the rust he can become Britain’s second current world heavyweight champion, just five days after his 23rd birthday.
I’ll be switching on to Five Live at 10.30pm. Here’s hoping Hughie is switched on too.
WHEN COLIN HART and I debated the merits of the world’s greatest-ever middleweight champions and their fights on BoxNation’s Boxing Matters this week the name of Jake LaMotta was never far from our respective lips.
When the original Raging Bull died in a New York nursing home on Tuesday he bequeathed a legacy that is hard to match, including six brutal encounters with Sugar Ray Robinson and a life ranging from captivating charm to violent criminality that led to arguably the finest boxing movie all time.
He wasn’t the best world middleweight champion there has ever been but he was surely among the bravest and most indestructible, handing out as well as absorbing many bloody beatings.
He lived just beyond his 96th birthday and was married seven times, so boxing can’t be that bad for you.
I TEND TO agree with Frank Warren that ex-footballer Rio Ferdinand should be allowed the opportunity try his fists boxing. Just as long as he goes about it the right way, under the strictest supervision and expert tuition.
He is a fit, intelligent guy and must be made aware of his limitations whatever the ridiculous bookie talk about title fights.
A few four rounders against carefully hand-picked opposition maybe, but he will never be a champion or even a contender. Indeed, I’ll be surprised if the Board of Control grant him a licence at the first time of asking.
He may need to wait as long as Freddie Flintoff did for his one-off glove affair in the prize ring. Which is what I suspect Ferdinand’s foray into the noble art will be.
But he deserves our respect for trying, and if given the chance he will put bums on seats. In every sensed. His ’team’ will make sure of that.
Come to think of it, boxing could become a post-career therapy for other frustrated sporting superstars, too.
Wayne Rooney,for one, comes to mind. He is from a fighting family and did a bit himself as a youngster. But he’ll need to improve on his last effort, when he was infamously ko’d by Phil Bardsley in an impromptu kitchen scrap..
Keen fight fan Andy Murray has more than held his own with Amir Khan in sparring sessions. And I reckon Clare Balding would happily mix it with Niclola Adams in a catchweight contest.
APOLOGY OF THE WEEK – or any week, from Billy Joe Saunders’ seven-year-old son Stevie to Willie Monroe jnr after the Copper Box bout: “Sorry I punched you in the nuts…”
LAST WORD ON Triple G’s ludicrously drawn bout with Canelo. Ok, it did not turn out to be the fight of the decade but it was a good, exciting and brilliantly-executed scrap which I thought the marauding Kazakh won clearly by four rounds.
Those in the ring did their job splendidly but they were let down by two of those outside it – one judge who scored it a draw and the other who, quite incredulously, awarded it to the Mexican Alvarez by ten rounds (118-110).
Ten rounds? Jeez! When the gross mathematical aberration on her scorecard was revealed and rightly vilified the judge, Mrs Adalaide Byrd, burst into tears. She was immediately relieved of further big fight duties.
More importantly, she should have gone to Specsavers.