Tag Archives: lightweight

World class brutality – Manchester’s John Murray

It’s easy to knock British boxing sometimes – the American scene has more money, TV coverage and hype around its up and coming fighters certainly. But for anyone that was watching boxing this weekend in Britain you had good cause to feel very good about what we are producing – Stateside in the heavily touted light middleweight contest between Paul ‘the punisher’ Williams and Kermit Cintron turned out to be an appalling snooze fest at best, and that was until Cintron tripped and fell through the ropes and the fight was waived off! This was prize fighting at its worst.
 
By contrast John Murray’s decidedly more low-key fight in Widnes against Gary Buckland provided eleven brutal rounds of blood, sweat and heart. There wasnt even a world title at stake here, Murray’s British and Lonsdale titles were on the line and the European title was up for grabs but both fighters gave far more than required in the brutality stakes for mere belts or money.
John Murray

John Murray

John Murray’s career has been at times a slow burner, at 25 he has suffered from inactivity over the last year and has seen proposed opponents fall by the wayside. Such obvious frustrations have masked the real talent Murray possesses though – he is a throw back fighter, a tough, brawling hard man who comes to the ring with a look of pure concentrated intent to break apart his opposition. Murray reminds me often of Ricky Hatton – there is something in the way he goes about his business, the come forward attacking, the body shots the rough and tough style that has many a shade of Hatton about it. Murray trains at Hatton’s old Manchester gym too – under new owner Joe Gallagher, but with the Hatton glory days conditioner Kerry Kayes. 

World title honours await Murray if he continues to dismantle his foes in the style of his recent fights, I personally feel he has been dreadfully promoted – he has the style and fan base to really become a popular hero from that home of heros Manchester, but all too often he has languished on small shows in far-flung Northern places. Murray has brought us some fine nights of boxing though – he retired Jon Thaxton, wrecked Lee McAllister on a body shot (see the video above) and has won all 26 of his fights inside the distance.

Here is hoping Murray can continue his winning streak and move into world title contention. The lightweight division is packed with talent at domestic and world level – from Juan Manuel Marquez to Kevin Mitchell, but I believe Murray can shine. One thing is for certain as long as Murray turns up you can guarentee a cracking fight. For Manchester fighters Ricky Hatton has blased the path for brawlers, perhaps John Murray can follow in such popular footsteps over time.

John Murray

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World-class in waiting – Kevin Mitchell

The road to world title honours is a long one in boxing, Kevin “the hammer” Mitchell knows this perhaps as well as anyone prize fighting today.

At 31 straight wins (23 by KO) and no defeats you could argue rightly that he should have had his day in the sun quite some time ago.

Kevin Mitchell

Kevin Mitchell

Overshadowed by his previous stable mate – the chinny wonder Amir Khan, Mitchell did things the hard way – grinding out win after win against tough opposition. He didn’t always make it easy for himself though – always keen to have a war when a fight would suffice, Mitchell frequently traded power shots in the center of the ring and relied on brute strength and a concrete chin to get him through. Those of us that saw his 2008 fight against fellow Brit Carl Johanneson can perhaps recall just how difficult Mitchell could make a fight.
 
Mitchell really came of age though in his fight against Breidis Prescott – the teak tough Colombian knockout artist that destroyed Amir Khan in the opening seconds of their fight. For every opponent Khan has called out since you never hear him mention for a moment a rematch with Prescott. Mitchell was clearly making a statement with this fight and what a statement it was. For every minute of every round Mitchell resisted his previous form of storming in and banging a win out, instead he boxed beautifully – the sweet science in full flow. He went out and kept to the game plan his new trainer Jimmy Tibbs had designed and it worked in spades for him.

Kevin Mitchell Bredis Prescott

Kevin Mitchell dismantles Amir Khan's conqueror the Colombian brawler Breidis Prescott

Mitchell could always box though – I saw him way back when at York Hall, Bethnal Green and despite his obvious power and chin he had all the skills in raw form – more often than not he just chose not to use them! In his last outing Mitchell took apart another Colombian fighter – Ignacio Mendoza, lifting him off the floor with a sharp right hand in the 2nd round to close the show. Mitchell’s throws punches with ‘bad intentions’ as Mike Tyson used to call it and in boxing that’s an asset if you can back it up with real power, which Mitchell has.

On May 15th 2010 Mitchell will finally get his world title shot, on home turf at Upton Park. His opponent is seasoned brawler and tough man Michael Katsidis. Katsidis is genuinely world-class – he’s been in with Juan Diaz and Joel Casamayor and although losing to both he was by no means a walk over. Katsidis is guaranteed to come out guns blazing but I’m picking Mitchell to have far too much for the Australian and I see him stopping Katsidis to take the title. This is going to be a sensational fight – I’m going to be there to see it and I can’t wait.

For now he is in his last outing against Mendoza:

Julio Cesar Chavez – El Gran Campeón Mexicano!

Picture a moment in time if you will: it’s the final seconds of the 12th round of a WBC and IBF  light welterweight championship title fight in Las Vegas, 1990.  

Julio Cesar Chavez

El Gran Campeón Mexicano

Eleven savage rounds have already passed and Julio Cesar Chavez is losing the fight, the judges, everyone watching and Chavez himself knows it. All his opponent Meldrick Taylor has to do is remain standing and he wins the belts and more importantly takes Chavez’s unbeaten record of 68 wins away from him.  

With 20 seconds left on the clock Chavez who has been stalking his man doggedly throughout the entire fight connects the right hand he had been waiting to land all night and wipes Taylor out. When Taylor staggers to his feet the referee Richard Steele waves the fight off with Taylor in no state to continue.  

Controversial as the referees decision was, for me Chavez showed the virtues in that fight that he had displayed throughout his ring entire career – aggression, pressure and a mindset of coming to battle – to walk through all that was thrown at him and destroy!  

Chavez finally retired in his twenty-fifth year as a professional boxer with a record of 107 wins, 6 losses and 2 draws, with 86 knockouts. He holds records for most successful defenses of world titles – 27! and most title fights – 37! 

Chavez also has the longest undefeated streak in boxing history. His record was 89-0-1 going into his first loss to Frankie Randall and had an 87 fight win streak until his controversial draw with Whitaker. 

For those keen to know more about Chavez track down Diego Luna’s recent film: 

Sweet as sugar, Ray Robinson the greatest fighter of all time

Think of boxing superstars and you probably think of Muhammad Ali. When you think of Ali what is it that sticks in your mind? The Ali shuffle? The public persona? It’s no secret that Ali took more than just a touch of inspiration from a certain Walker Smith Jnr, better known as Sugar Ray Robinson calling him “The king, the master, my idol”. 

So what is so special about Sugar Ray, why all the fuss? 

Sugar Ray Robinson

Sugar Ray Robinson

Put simply he personified the sweet science  – knockout power in both hands, dazzling hand speed, stunning footwork, brash super confidence, he knew every punch in the booking text-book and could throw them all, from any angle at any time with explosive power. 

He was so good the whole notion of a pound for pound best boxer was created just for Sugar Ray – that’s how special he was. 

If you have seen the great film Raging Bull you may remember Robinson’s epic battles with Jake laMotta, they actually fought six times, with Sugar Ray winning five of the six battles. 

Robinson retired from boxing with a record of 175-19-6 with 110 knockouts in 200 professional bouts. If you compare that to todays great fighters who tend to retire after around 50 professional fights that will give you some context to this achievement. 

I genuinely struggle to put into words how good Sugar Ray Robinson was, to watch him in action is to see something that perhaps only comes around once in history. 

Words like genius and legend are banded around so often these days that they have lost their impact, but Sugar Ray really personified both traits. 

Watch this video – really do watch it – if you’ve never seen him in action before you are in for something very special indeed:

Edwin Valero – an introduction to the Venezuelan knockout artist

Edwin ValeroPerhaps the most devastating force in world boxing today, Edwin Valero stands on the cusp of mainstream success despite career setbacks that would have derailed lesser fighters.  

In 2001 Valero riding a motorbike without a helmet was involved in an accident that resulted in a fractured skull and surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain. Cleared by a Venezuelan doctor to fight, in January 2004 he failed a brain scan for an upcoming fight with American network HBO and was banned from fighting in the US.  

Forced to fight wherever would take him – and he spent much of his early career fighting in Japan. His southpaw stance, ultra aggressive style – walking his opponent down, cutting the ring off combined with his disregard for boxing basics – he keeps his guard low, head straight up and his chin exposed, mouth open as he punches, continues to bring a raw charm to this fighter.  

A few facts and figures – he has won all 27 of his fights by knockout. 19 of those knockouts in the first round. That is devastating power.  

In his last outing Valero added previously hidden boxing skills to the power and aggression that are his trademark – forcing the highly regarded Antiono De Marco to be pulled out by his corner at the end of the ninth round. Valero suffered a deep cut to the forehead in this fight (caused by an accidental elbow) – the WBC in its infinite wisdom has now made him “Lightweight champion in recess” while he recovers. A rumoured move to light welterweight – the territory of Amir Khan, Ricky Hatton and Timothy Bradley could and should propel this fighter to boxing mainstream.  

Edwin Valero

Edwin Valero

If he could carry the power up two weight divisions to  welterweight – as Manny Pacquiao has done, then big pay days in Vegas could lie ahead. Texas has now cleared Valero to fight there – a US audience and following is vital in today’s market. 

So what are your thoughts? Does Valero have the boxing skills to compete in the hardest weight classes in boxing? Will his explosive power move up with him? Will the brain scan scupper mainstream US fights? Is there anyone out there better? 

Here’s a little taste of him in action: