Frank Warren’s Column – 02.10.15
Ovill McKenzie is a such delightful guy, which is why I will be among the many in boxing on our feet applauding if he becomes the IBF world cruiserweight champion in tonight’s BoxNation-screened title fight against Argentina’s Victor Ramirez in Buenos Aires.
Here is a real trouper of the ring, never out of training, always ready to step in at a moment’s notice – one of those bags-packed, have- gumshield-will-travel pros who are the very backbone of boxing.
Ovill may be among the sport’s great unsung, but he is on a great run of form and has been superbly schooled by manager Martin Bowers, who also trains him and has the 36-year-old in tremendous condition.
This is a wonderful opportunity for him and well deserved, coming comparatively late on in a career which initially saw him labelled as a bit of an opponent. But he has improved remarkably to become an obvious contender for Ramirez after the Argentine’s original opponent Yoan Pablo Hernandez was ruled out.
The German-based Cuban, who beat Steve Cunningham to win the belt in 2011, has been relieved of the title by the IBF after failing to make a defence in 13 months and interim champion Ramirez promoted to full champion.
He is known as El Tyson de Alabasto, after a district in Buenos Aires. The 31-year-old’s record is 22 wins (15 KOs), two losses and one no-contest. He previously held the WBO World Cruiserweight title but lost it in his first defence to Marco Huck in 2009.
He is a useful, obviously can punch as his nickname implies, and will, be hard to dislodge in his own BA backyard; but he is not unbeatable. Another Brit, Ola Afolabi, took him to a close 12 rounds decision at the same venue, Villa La Ñata Sporting Club, in April, for the interim title and might have won had he not been deducted two points for a low blow.
When the call came Ovill took the fight like a shot. Last week he was a worthy winner of the Dennie Mancini Award at the BBBoC dinner and jokingly said that he was pleased to have had 11 days’ notice for this fight – because he usually only gets one!
He knows it could be a tough ask for him because very few foreign fighters win in Argentina whose fighting men are invariably tough hombres, gauchos in gloves, like middleweights Sergio Martinez and the late Carlos Monzon, one of the greatest-ever world champions.
Ovill is up against it, but is quite capable of winning. For one thing, he can bang and he’s used to being the underdog. Boxing on the other guy’s doorstep won’t faze him one bit.
As I say, he’s a really nice bloke, always has a smile on his face, loves boxing and is a credit to the game. A lot of other fighters could take a leaf out of his book in terms of his dedication.
Indeed, if dedication, fitness and determination become crucial factors then he’ll win it.
In some ways he is a bit like Johnny Nelson. If you look at Nelson’s in-out record before he won the world cruiserweight title it is very similar – then he came good and reigned for eight or nine years.
Derby-based Ovill, who was born in Jamaica, may be in his mid-thirties but in boxing terms he is still a spring chicken.
He has been in some thrilling dust ups in recent years and though he lost six of his first 11 fights he has emerged from relative obscurity to carve out a notable career, revelling in his reputation as The Upsetter, collecting a hatful of titles along the way.
He has won six out of his last seven in his 25 wins, 12 losses ring record and holds the British, Commonwealth and WBA-Inter-Continental belts.
A journeyman he may once have been, but the short-notice journey he has made to South America this week could define the career of one of boxing’s most endearing, and enduring, characters.
Buglioni’s badge of honour
Unfortunately, valour was not enough for Frank Buglioni to win the world title he craved. We always knew it was a case of rolling the dice, but he certainly didn’t disgrace himself against the talented WBO super-middleweight czar Fedor Chudinov at Wembley.
The Russian was savvy and a good boxer with a great jab who fights in that old Eastern block style that is so hard to penetrate. I thought it was a brave performance from Frank and a chance well worth taking.
We had that highly controversial incident when Chudinov was knocked down after the bell at the end of the sixth round. I’ve watched the replay several times and, while I’m not saying it may not have made any difference, I don’t think anyone at ringside heard the bell.
I certainly didn’t and obviously neither did Frank. You couldn’t hear it on TV either, and they were exchanging blows at the time.
I really do think the deduction of two points, which referee Terry O’Connor only clearly indicated to the judges before the next round started, thus giving Chudinov more time to recover, very severe.
The one thing about Frank is he can punch – and he clearly hurt him. Having said that, Chudinov boxed really well, very cool and correct especially with his great jab. From Russia with glove, you might say.
I estimate he connected with 70 per cent of the punches he threw – which is a good ratio.
Where does The Wise Guy go from here? I’ve spoken to him since and he clearly wants to fight on, which is his prerogative. I’ve told him to take a rest, at least for the remainder of this year because he’s had some tough fights, but boxing is in his blood and while he could have an excellent job in his surveying business outside of the ring, boxing is what he wants to do.
We’ll have another chat once everything has died down and the emotions are all out of it. In the meantime at least he can say that he fought valiantly and honourably for a world title and that will mean a lot to him.
Chris’s senior moment
Who is the bravest man in boxing? My vote goes to Adam Booth, who has taken on the task of training Chris Eubank jnr, no doubt with more than a little help from Chris’ ever-present pater.
I wish them well. Booth is a first rate trainer and I have always said that young Chris is an great prospect. Yet I am astonished that Chris snr reckons his son is now ready to face Gennaday Golovkin. That was a fight I offered him and he was pretty quick to turn it down so it seems rather stupid to say he would want it now.
The Eubanks also declined to fight Sergey Khomitsky, Jamie Cox and Billy-Joe Saunders in a return – matches that were all there for him. So it will be interesting to see what he does.
Snr recently asked me if I would be his paid ‘advisor’ but he is too high maintenance and I would probably have done my commission in aspirins.
I hear the old man no longer wishes to be referred to as Chris Eubank snr. He wants to be called simply ‘English’ because that’s what his father was known as and he thinks it will “avoid confusion” with his son. Christopher English? The way he carries on is more in character with Johnny English.
Last year I wrote an in-depth column on hand injuries suffered by modern day boxers and how many of the top fighters are having their careers hampered because of their choice of gloves.
Another of our top fighters damaged his hand last weekend at the SSE Arena, Wembley, because of the gloves that he choose to wear and will now have to sit out until next year because of the severity of the injury.
The trainers of the fighters in question are vastly experienced in wrapping hands so these injuries must be attributed to their preferred choice of gloves.
On many occasions, boxers are choosing to wear the gloves worn by some of the worlds top fighters rather ones that may be offer better protection.
The problem seems to be the padding with glove manufactures moving the cushioning away from the knuckle part and more towards the wrist with subsequently less protection.
It was a fantastic night for the famous fighting Walsh brothers at the SSE Arena with Ryan winning the British Featherweight title by defeating Hull’s Samir Mouneimne to carve out a piece of British boxing history.
Ryan joins brother Liam, the current British Super-Featherweight Champion, as the first ever twins to hold the prized Lonsdale belt simultaneously.
There have been many boxing brothers over the years, the McKenzies, Coppers, Finnegans, Hattons, Eubanks and more recently the Smiths, but it’s an incredible feat for the Walshes to be the first ever twins. Congratulations.
A great weekend for Argy-bargy
It is another huge weekend for BoxNation subscribers with Ovill McKenzie’s world title challenge (live transmission from Buenos Aires starts 2am Saturday) followed by another Argy-bargy involving a Brit later that evening at the Wolverhampton Civic Hall where Tommy Langford, one of the nation’s finest young unbeaten prospects, puts his unbeaten record and the WBO Intercontinental middleweight title on the line against southpaw Cristian Fabian Rios, a vastly experienced former Argentinian middleweight champion who has never been stopped in 30 bouts.
The last time 23-year-old Barnstaple – born Langford, now Midlands based, was seen on BoxNation screens, he won his Inter-Continental belt from Mexican after a fourth round TKO in his 13th pro fight.
He is among that burgeoning breed of brainy boxers win a university degree (in sports science) and is also qualified nutritionist. So he has no trouble beating the count- the calorie count, that is.
A former England international, his amateur pedigree consisted of 106 contests which included 86 victories including one over Callum Smith and Anthony Fowler. He also had Chris Eubank Jnr in trouble in sparring earlier this year.
I think he has terrific ability and is ready to establish himself as a potential marquee fighter of the future. Definitely one to watch in every sense.
This bout tops an exciting card which features former IBF world bantamweight Champion Paul Butler and hot prospects Ryan Aston, Ricky Summers and Macaulay McGowan.
It also precedes an action-packed international bill a few hours later when BoxNation exclusively parades yet another example of prime Argentine beef with Lucas Matthyse, aka ‘La Maquina’ (The Machine), facing Ukraine’s 27-0 Viktor Postol for the vacant WBC world light-welterweight championship from California’s StubHub Center.
Matthysse has become a BoxNation favourite after being involved in some colossal wars, including a memorable showdown with Ruslan Provodnikov. The two-fisted banger from Buenos Aires has flattened 34 of his 40 opponents and couples explosive power with a granite chin. You’ll love watching him.
Postol, 31, is a cool and clinical operator, with great technical ability and canny ringcraft, which could make this the outstanding brawler-boxer clash of the year.
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