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Too many encores after boxing’s final curtain

Posted on: 06 Oct 2017

Roy Jones Jr

HUBBARD’S CUPBOARD – 6.10.17

By Alan Hubbard

Boxers have rarely been the retiring sort, in any sense of the phrase. Never shy of the spotlight or refusing to quit the game when their careers are nosediving towards oblivion.

And if they do retire, then more often than not they soon com back, for better, or in the majority of cases, for worse.

It was ever thus, from the days of James J Jeffries through to Floyd Mayweather jnr.

The latest batch of retirees are the subject of BoxNation’s Boxing Matters next Monday evening (7pm) when yours truly, fellow Sunshine Boy Colin Hart and the admirable and currently ubiquitous Alex Steedman chew the fistic fat over those who have decided to call it a day in 2017.

Wladimir Klitschko, Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley, Timothy Bradley, Bernard Hopkins, Floyd Mayweather and, surprisingly, Andre Ward have all formally declared that for them the last bell has sounded..

We shall see. As I say, pugilists have a notorious habit of making more U-turns than politicians.

History is littered with the names of those great boxers who have walked way, then and walked back in again.

To name a few:

Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis. Joe Frazier, George Foreman, Larry Holmes, Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard, Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Oscar de la Hoya, Manny Pacquiao, Vitali Klitschko, Erik Morales, Roy Jones jnr.

In Britain the litany of notable ring returnees includes Frank Bruno, Joe Bugner, Ken Buchanan, Barry McGuigan, Nigel Benn, Ricky Hatton, Enzo Maccarinelli, Naseem Hamed and David Haye.

Money, or lack of it,. is frequently the overriding objective – but not always, For a few, it is the yearning to be somebody again.

They cannot resist the lure of the limelight or the roar of the crowd.

I recall Joe Frazier once remarking about his old foe Muhammad Ali: “The trouble with him, is he doesn’t know how to die.”

Smokin’ Joe did not mean that literally – it was just that Alii (like Frazier himself as it turned out) had no idea of what to do with his life once the ring lights had dimmed on his career.

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As he calls himself the Son of God maybe we should anticipate Ward’s ring resurrection around next Easter

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Andre Ward

That has been an eternal problem for fighting men through the ages for whom adulation and recognition are meat and drink.

In the past 20 years very few British world champion few fighters have retired and stayed retired. Lennox Lewis and Joe Calzaghe are two outstanding exceptions. They said “That’s it” and they kept their word.

Which makes the likes of them, Rocky Marciano, Marvin Hagler, Henry Cooper, Chris Eubank snr and (so far) Carl Froch who have left the gloves hanging on the gymnasium wall, all the more remarkable – and praiseworthy.

Lewis, for example. has had massive offers to return, as has Calzaghe. But they have commendably resisted – unlike the Money Man himself.

After trousering some $300 million for his shoddy slugfest with Conor McGregor, Mayweather says he is quitting for good.

But who is to say he wouldn’t be tempted by a similarly humongous offer to fight, say Gennady Golovkin at catchweight next year?

In boxing you never say never. Especially if your name is Mayweather.

Of those on the current list who say they have taken their final curtain call, Klitschko, Marquez, Mosley and Mayweather are all in their not-so-roaring forties while Hopkins is 52, ages when he bones become more brittle and the legs and reflexes begin to slow.

I am particularly sad to see Klitschko go, though his decision not to take up the offer of a reprise with Anthony Joshua is an eminently wise one, as befits someone of his stature and intelligence.

Dr Steelhammer PhD, like his elder brother, now mayor of Kiev in their native Ukraine,, has been an absolute credit to the game. His dignity has given boxing much credibility and eamed the respect of all,not least his opponents.

With the possible exception of Mayweather it seems unlikely that we shall see any of the retirement class of 2017 in the ring again.

Or does it? The stunning decision of the youngest on that list, Andre Ward, to quit undefeated at 33 remains puzzling, especially after arguably the finest of his 32 victories, the stoppage of Sergey Kovalev in June.

The last American male boxer to win Olympic gold (Athens 2004) the world light-heavyweight and former super-middleweight champion claims his desire for fighting has gone. But the fact that his decision coincides with the ending of his contract with HBO may have been influential.

So is it really farewell or just au revoir for the ring artist who was generally regarded as the world’s best pound-for-pounder?

The clue may be in his nom-de-guerre, S.O.G.

As he calls himself the Son of God maybe we should anticipate his ring resurrection around next Easter

TONIGHT’S BRITISH HEAVYWEIGHT championship in Edinburgh between local slugger Gary Cornish and Norwich’s seasoned Sam Sexton may not be the most illustrious in the history of the division but it has the potential to be among the most exciting, with some fiery exchanges and a knockdown or two in the offing.

Cornish v Sexton

I won’t predict the winner – but I will predict that it won’t be long before he is called upon to defend the title against Daniel Dubois.

The sledgehammer-handed Londoner (5-0) has just turned 20 and is now eligible to fight 12 rounders – not that be is likely to travel that dstance often.

I would take Double D to quickly ko either of tonight’s combatants.

Someone in boxing whose opinion I respect reckons Dubois is the hardest hitting British heavyweight there has ever been. Of course, as ever with young prospects, the big question is whether he can take it as well as dish it out.

This remains to be seen but you can understand why prospective opponents are now cocking a deaf ‘un –or putting the phone down – whenever his name is mentioned to them.

Watch Gary Cornish v Sam Sexton for the British Heavyweight Title live on BoxNation this Friday night at 7pm.

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