Eddie Hearn talks Froch vs Ward II and GGG VIDEO
iFLTV talk to Eddie Hearn about a potential rematch between Carl Froch and Andre Ward, Froch fighting GGG and also Kell Brook:-
Luke Blackledge ready for Blackburn barnstormer in Commonwealth title bid
By Michael J Jones
AROUND the middle of last year, Lancashire’s ambitious super-middleweight contender Luke Blackledge insisted he was ready for a major fight. While he would end 2014 with solid distance victories over Ghanaian southpaw Philip Kotey and journeyman Konstantin Alexandrov, the requested “big fight” failed to materialise for “Robbo”.
However, his patience has been rewarded. On April 4th in Blackburn, Blackledge faces former ABA champion Liam “Cannonball” Cameron over twelve rounds for the vacant Commonwealth title. The 24 year old Luke is understandably elated to be featuring in a major title bout in his home territory as he told Livefight earlier this week.
“I’ve wanted a fight like this for a while” says Luke over the phone. “It’s a big opportunity for me against a good kid in Cameron. He’s a former ABA champion and I saw his last fight where he won a British title eliminator against Tobias Webb. It should be a great fight as we are both up for it.”
Blackledge turned pro five years ago at 18 after a stint on the unlicensed circuit. Without the usual amateur grounding, the youngster was forced to begin his pro career by taking dangerous fights from the off. The heavy-handed Luke still won all but one of his first 14 contests (one draw) which included upset wins over Phill Fury and a blistering knock-out over the vastly more experienced Mads Larsen in Denmark.
The super-middleweight prospect would then drop a decision to the naturally bigger Erik Skoglund back in Denmark to lose his unbeaten record. Blackledge would subsequently suffer defeat number two just seven months later to Liverpool’s Rocky Fielding in a fight he took on just two days’ notice.
Then Commonwealth champion Fielding would surprisingly take apart his challenger in the first though the beaten man has put the loss firmly down to a learning experience. He boxes against Cameron for the Commonwealth belt vacated by Fielding as the unbeaten scouser targets world honours.
Ironically, Blackledge has been recently engaging in regular sparring sessions with his former victor up in Bolton as both prepare for their next respective ring outings.
“People may go off my loss to Rocky but it was my own fault” reveals Luke. “I had been sparring with Carl Froch that week, then sparred four rounds with Ronnie Heffron on the Thursday so I was drained for the fight on the Saturday.”
“I hate seeing that (Fielding) fight as I think ‘is that really me in there charging in with no game-plan?’ I went in with no tactics and you can’t afford to do that at that level. Sparring is sparring but we’ve done a session a couple of days ago and I’m going back there today so I must have done good.”
While Blackledge has suffered two reverses in his 18-2-2 (6) career, his April 4th opponent Cameron can boast similar figures at 18-3 after dropping decisions to Erick Ochieng, Jez Wilson and, in his last defeat, Rod Smith. Since his last loss, Cameron has rebounded well to out-score Wayne Reed, stop mutual foe Kotey and decision Webb.
“I look at who he has fought and lost to and I feel I’ve fought a lot better people” reasons Blackledge. “The people he’s lost to I don’t believe would ever have beaten me so I think the losses were probably down to something or other. I’m not looking into (those defeats), I’m seeing Cameron is a good kid and I can’t switch off as this Commonwealth shot is my world title fight.”
On paper, Cameron has stopped mutual opponent Kotey but further inspection shows both he and Blackledge fought the African veteran just seven days apart last September. While Blackledge would pound out a ten-round decision to win the vacant WBC International Silver belt, Kotey would retire after four rounds against “Cannonball”.
“It might have given (Cameron) confidence that he’s stopped Kotey after he’d gone the distance with me but there’s no way I could have fought again just a week after a full ten-rounder. My body was still knackered so I just think Kotey was still in the country and took the fight for the money.”
While keeping tight-lipped about his tactics for his bout with Cameron, the confident puncher is promising a real tear up in Blackburn. After his last Commonwealth title shot ended disastrously against Fielding, Luke, trained by former pro Alex Matvienko, is leaving no stone unturned for his second tilt.
“I’m not going into my tactics but in this fight you have two lads who want those big fights and know they have to win to get them. Whoever wins this will be in line for the British title and won’t have to go chasing anybody as the opportunities will come to them.”
“I know what I can do and if I can bring that on the night I honestly think I’ll do the business. This won’t be any chess match its going to be a real tear up.”
Will the plan, should he prevail, be to then target a clash against British champion Paul Smith who recently lost a return match against WBO champion Arthur Abraham?
“I’m not looking past Cameron as he is my focus right now” he insists before continuing, “but I’d definitely want that fight. He’s sat on the title for two years; if a guy like me had done that they’d have stripped me in no time!”
We conclude with “Robbo” commentating on the excellent support he has received in the build up to next month’s title fight.
“The support from everyone has been amazing. I don’t think there’s ever been a Commonwealth title fight in Blackburn before so it’s extra special getting this fight at home. All my friends and family will be watching and I’ve even had a lot of people who don’t usually follow boxing wanting to come and watch me fight.”
“I want to say a big thank you to all of my fans who have supported me through my career and also all of my sponsors; AJ Wood Ltd, SAGraphics Ltd, Natural Sports Food, New Age Hydrophonics and Home Run Chicken.”
The Luke Blackledge-Liam Cameron bout for Commonwealth super-middleweight title, presented by VIP Promotions, goes ahead at the King George’s Hall, Blackburn on April 4th.
Fury and Hammer get ugly at weigh in VIDEO
Tyson Fury vs Christian Hammer tonight live on Boxnation:
Frampton vs Avalos stream of weigh in
Carl Frampton vs Chris Avalos stream:
Thompson stops Solis in rematch, promoter furious with Cuban for poor showing
By Michael J Jones
LAST NIGHT in Turkey, American veteran Tony “The Tiger” Thompson completed the double over Miami based Cuban Odlanier Solis with a retirement stoppage after eight completed rounds.
With the victory, Thompson raised his record to 40-5 (27) and claimed the vacant WBC Continental Americas title though all the talk after the fight was of the beaten man.
A year ago, the Washington southpaw had edged a deserved split decision over his Cuban rival and, despite coming off a defeat in France to Carlos Takam, Tony promised to beat Solis again in their rematch.
However, Solis entered the fight his heaviest for six years at 271¾lbs. This meant that despite giving away a chunk of height and reach, the out-of-shape Cuban was actually the heavier man by 10lbs. He had been 14lbs less for the last Thompson fight a year ago.
Unfortunately, his poor conditioning showed in the fight.
The Antalya bout opened with Solis looking to use his quicker hands to score with one-two’s. Thompson, measured and patient, stalked his foe and looked for openings. By the sixth it appeared the Cuban was edging a close fight but there was still a long way to go and “The Tiger” was ready to pounce.
With Solis slowing down, the 43 year old Tony went to work. Cuffing left hands and right hooks jolted the Cuban through rounds seven and eight. While the 6’5” American seemed in the driver’s seat, it was still a surprise when the Cuban abruptly refused to come out for the ninth round.
There was colourful scenes in his corner as promoter Ahmet Oner, who has invested countless time and energy on the listless former amateur star, angrily berated his fighter to continue. Odlanier frustratingly stuck to his guns though as Thompson once again caused another heavyweight shock.
Scores at the time of the stoppage were 79-73, 78-75 both to Tony while the third judge had it all square at 76-76. Now 20-3 (13), it’s hard to see where the 34 year old Solis goes from here. Oner said bitterly in the aftermath of the bout that he would now “feed Solis to the wolves”. At one point just before the contest was waved off, it looked like the furious promoter would physically attack the Cuban.
For Thompson, who challenged world champion Wladimir Klitschko in 2008 and 2011, another world title attempt may once more be a possibility. The man who twice beat Liverpool’s David Price in 2013, would make an interesting opponent for current WBC champion and fellow American Deontay Wilder. He mentioned Manuel Charr as a possible opponent for later this year.
Solis was an outstanding amateur who won world championships and an Olympic Gold medal but he doesn’t seem to have what it takes to make it in the pro ranks. Apart from his two losses to Thompson “La Sombra” also lost a WBC title fight to Vitali Klitschko in 2011. The Cuban was floored and injured his knee when falling to the canvas and had to retire in the first.
The gifted but lazy Solis has fast hands, good power and fantastic skills but they count for little when a man doesn’t want to train and be dedicated. A fighter of his stature should be around 225 not 271…
Could Christian nail the upset and Hammer Fury?
Big fight preview; Tyson Fury vs Christian Hammer
By Michael J Jones
SATURDAY night at the O2 Arena, undefeated heavyweight contender Tyson Fury looks for win number 24 on his march to an inevitable shot at the world championship. His opponent in London will be Germany-based Romanian Christian Hammer with the bout scheduled for twelve rounds. The British and Commonwealth champion Fury will be defending his WBO Intercontinental title as he seeks to gain a shot at either WBC champion Deontay Wilder or unified champion Wladimir Klitschko.
While Fury has spoken at length in the build-up about his title hopes, he first has to get by the little-known Hammer who is no slouch at 17-3 (10). That record includes an unbeaten run dating back to 2010 but does the 27 year old have any chance against the charismatic Englishman?
Hammer turned pro in November 2008 but his debut would go disastrously wrong when suffering a shoulder injury. He would thus lose his first bout when being forced to retire at the end of the very first round.
He would bounce back with seven wins on the bounce with four inside the distance. The wins came against mostly journeymen but at least he was able to gain some much-needed momentum. The winning streak ended less than two years from his debut defeat when matched with hulking Pole Mariusz Wach.
With a record of 7-1 compared to his rival’s 21-0 tally, Hammer was always going to struggle in the fight, especially against a taller, heavier opponent with greater confidence (sound familiar?). In the early rounds, the 6’7” Wach used his long jab to keep Hammer off balance and threw in some hurtful shots whenever his smaller opponent got too close.
The inexperienced Hammer seemed dog tired as early as the second round but hung in there until the fateful sixth. The 6’2” Romanian was actually having one of his better rounds when a Wach right-hand smashed into his face to brutally knock him out. After falling heavily, the dazed Hammer amazingly tried to rise but the ref correctly waved it off.
In his next outing five months later, Christian would again slump to a defeat to a more-experienced opponent though it was far closer than the Wach reverse. The 26-4 Taras Bidenko managed to edge their bout on a majority decision. One judge scored it even at 57 points apiece but two counts of 58-56 handed Hammer his third defeat.
Since the Bidenko loss though, Hammer has won ten contests on the spin as he has admirably turned his career around.
In September 2012, Hammer would knock out the shop-worn Brit Danny Williams in four rounds to win the WBO European belt. He would defend that title with inside distance wins over Oleksiy Mazikin and decent Leif Larsen the following year before tackling American Kevin Johnson in his final bout of 2013.
The talented but frustrating-to-watch Johnson had gone twelve full rounds a year earlier to lose a landslide to Fury but was much more competitive against Hammer. As per usual, “Kingpin” worked in spurts with only his world-class jab keeping busy. Hammer was more consistent and busy though clearly was a level below Johnson skill-wise.
After ten give-and-take sessions the home favourite would win a unanimous decision by two scores of 98-92 and one of 98-94. If the bout had been on mutual ground or in the US it might have been a draw.
Since that contest, Hammer has had to go the full route two further times. In April last year the faded Konstantin Airich navigated ten rounds before being adjudged the loser. Then, in Hammer’s last bout, Irineu Beato Costa Junior dropped a white-wash after twelve none-title rounds.
Brazilian Costa Junior was a misleading 15-0 entering the bout but lost every round. Tellingly, the beaten man would later get stopped by both New Zealand prospect Joseph Parker and, more recently, Liverpool’s David Price.
Hammer has then gone the distance in each of his last three contests; two of the opponents went the distance against expectation. All heavyweights hit hard to a degree but Hammer might not be the puncher his record suggests, especially against Fury.
The hulking Tyson has only been dropped twice in his 23-0 career and got up to win inside both times. He has also become more adept at using his height to keep opponents at bay. Last victim Dereck Chisora couldn’t get anywhere near the Fury chin (not helped by Fury boxing as a southpaw) and within a couple of rounds was mentally finished. Most had expected fireworks but it was a tame, one-sided beat down by the winner.
Many times we’ve seen Fury impress against smaller fighters who struggled with the sheer size of the unbeaten giant and it may be the same on Saturday night.
Hammer isn’t a bad fighter, a former decent amateur, he does everything OK but doesn’t seem to have the power, size or high skill-set to derail Fury. Although he has turned his career around in the last few years, most of Hammer’s best wins have come against below-par fighters on the downward spiral to Palookaville.
Christian is stocky at 6’2” and 245lbs and if he can’t find a way around that 85” reach of the taller man it could turn one-sided very quickly. There’s always that little doubt Fury may get careless and tagged but as he has matured as a fighter it seems less likely…especially against this level of opponent.
Hammer, knowing a possible world title shot can be snatched if he pulls off the upset, may well come out guns blazing as surely he’ll know a slow-paced jabbing contest will always favour Fury. He has to bob and weave inside and look to do heavy damage as soon as possible before Fury gets warmed-up and into his rhythm.
With a big world title tilt being eyed for the summer, expect Fury to be razor sharp and not to take any unnecessary risks tomorrow night. He’ll keep the smaller Romanian at the end of his lead hand for a few rounds and, when the Mancunian has busted his rival’s face and worn him down a little, will step in with the bigger artillery.
Fury by TKO in five rounds.
Action begins 7pm live and exclusive on BoxNation this Saturday February 28th.
Over the Hill? Former champ makes surprising comeback at 51 Saturday night
By Michael J Jones
TOMORROW night in North Dakota, a 51 year old former world champion will return to the ring some eight years since his last bout. Virgil “Quicksilver” Hill, a former unified light-heavyweight champion and two-time cruiserweight ruler, will face club-fighter Jimmy Campbell over ten rounds.
Back in 2007, Hill began the year as the reigning WBA cruiserweight champion, but a none-title defeat to old foe Henry Maske was followed by a title loss to Firat Arslan (both in Germany). The defeats appeared to leave the aging great in the wilderness though eight years on, and over thirty years since his pro debut, he looks set for another championship assault.
The younger Hill showed his promise in the 1984 Olympic Games where he reached the middleweight final to lose a close decision to the South Korean Shin Joon-Sup. Turning pro later that same year, “Quicksilver” raced to 18-0 in three short years before dethroning Leslie Stewart in four to realise his dream of becoming a world champion.
Ten defences of the WBA light-heavyweight title later and it would take a superb performance by the still-dangerous Tommy “Hitman” Hearns to end Hill’s unbeaten run. The smooth-boxing former champion would regain his WBA belt a short time later to begin another long unbeaten run as champion.
In November 96' he would upset German star Henry Maske by split decision to add the IBF crown to his WBA belt. Just seven months later, in a bout for the WBA, IBF and WBO titles, Dariusz Michalczewski would dominate the North Dakota veteran to win a wide unanimous decision as Hill finally started to show his age a little.
When American star Roy Jones Jr thrashed the former champion in four the following year it appeared the top-level aspirations of Hill were gone forever but back he came with one of his finest victories just two years later.
Tackling French star and former victim Fabrice Tiozzo, few gave the 36 year old Virgil much hope to dethrone the WBA cruiserweight champion in France. Hill had floored and edged a split verdict some seven years previous (while in his second reign as WBA light-heavyweight champion) but wasted no time in the return match, dropping Tiozzo on three occasions to devastate the shocked Frenchman in the first.
Throughout his long career many boxing fans have unfairly labelled the 6ft Hill as a boring jabber with no power but he has always scored the occasional eyebrow-raising knock-out. Tiozzo aside, Hill has also stopped former world champion Marvin Camel, top rated contender James Kinchen and future heavyweight danger-man Saul Montana.
After the explosive performance against Tiozzo, the new champion would lose his new belt in his first defence to another Frenchman in Jean Marc Mormeck but would cause another shock four years later when clearly beating the undefeated (and far younger) Russian Valery Brudov to become the WBA cruiserweight holder again at the age of 42.
Then came the defeats to Maske (who returned after eleven years to score his revenge win) and Arslan. At 50-7 (23) and a five-time world champion there seems little more for the returning Hill to achieve in boxing though his comeback opponent for tomorrow seems far from a threat to the hugely-experienced 51 year old.
Jimmy Campbell, no spring chicken himself at 37, is a British born club-fighter based in Brooklyn. Amusingly billed as “The British Assassin”, Campbell brings a spotty 11-7 (8) record with every defeat coming inside schedule. He has won just one fight since 2007.
Worryingly for Jimmy, most of his bouts have also come around the super-middleweight limit. Saturday’s clash will most likely be at the 200lb cruiserweight limit where Hill has campaigned since his destruction of Tiozzo in 2000.
Notable names on Campbell’s record include present WBC super-middleweight champion Anthony Dirrell who knocked him out in one back in 2010. The Brooklyn resident last boxed a year ago when 12-0 prospect Mike Jimenez blitzed him in just 56 seconds.
Even 20 years past his best Hill will start the contest as a huge favourite. Nobody should begrudge Hill an easy night at this stage after facing the cream of the 175lb and cruiserweight rankings for the best part of 30 years. Barring a miracle Campbell will do well to see out the opening round.
Hill has stated this will be his last boxing match win, lose or draw but we'll see.
Unlikely comebacks seem to be a trend on the Bismarck show as another aging fighter returns in the form of former world title challenger Tocker Pudwill. Now 43-years-old and a veteran of 47 bouts, Pudwill challenged Joe Calzaghe some 12 years ago for the Welsh legend’s WBO belt but was smashed emphatically in two rounds. He has boxed just three times since and tomorrow’s return will be his first outing in six years.
Virgil Hill’s career championships
WBA light-heavyweight champion 1987-1991
WBA light-heavyweight champion 1992-1997
IBF light-heavyweight champion 1996-1997
WBA cruiserweight champion 2000-2002
WBA cruiserweight champion 2006-2007
Heavyweight prospect Willis Meehan talks boxing, rugby…and why he'll never fight Sonny Bill
By Michael J Jones
HEAVYWEIGHT prospect Willis Meehan is evidently a talented young man. A 6’5” southpaw who recently raised his unbeaten record to 3-0 (2), the gifted puncher is also a successful Rugby League player who plays for the Sydney Roosters. All of this and he is just 19-years-old.
Even as a youngster, Willis was (and still is), a regular sparring partner for his father Kali, a top rated heavyweight contender who twice challenged for world honours. The older Meehan now guides his son and openly states the strapping Willis can become an even better fighter than he ever was.
Willis, known in Australian boxing circles as “The Hitman”, was good enough to become the National Super-heavyweight champion as an amateur and has impressed many in his brief foray into the pro side of boxing.
Last November, when his still-capable Dad was getting ready to thrash local rival Shane Cameron, Willis made his pro debut in Auckland with a points win over William Quarrie (Cameron’s sparring partner). Quarrie was 5-2 coming in but was floored and clearly beaten by the impressive debutant.
A month later Willis would see off Alofa Solitua in the first before stopping American trial-horse Freddie Miller on January 31st. Although just 3-9-1 coming in, Miller had only been previously stopped by seasoned veterans in Peter Okello and Billy Wright but was wiped out clinically in just two rounds by the heavy-handed southpaw.
Livefight managed to catch up with the busy Willis to discuss his career so far and his hopes for the future…
LF) Were you satisfied with your last victory over Freddie Miller?
WM) My last fight against Freddie Miller was a big challenge for me. He's an experienced campaigner and knew his way around the ring. Our plan was too stay long and box sharp. It sort of all went out the window when I found it hard to hit him due to his unorthodox style. In the end got a second round TKO so I’m still happy about that.
LF) Have you another fight lined up at present?
WM) Nothing is lined up in regards to fights. My plan for the year is to try and establish myself as an NRL player and then fight again at the end of the year. For opponents for my next fights I want to fight contenders. I want to give boxing fans fights that they enjoy.
LF) Have you been happy with your progress so far in the pro ranks?
WM) I'm happy with my progress since turning professional in November last year. I'd like to stay active as a fighter but I'm also a professional footy player so have commitments there.
LF) You are currently competing in two of the most dangerous sports in the world in boxing and rugby. Is this something you will continue for the next few years despite the risk element?
WM) They are two of the most demanding sports in the world I believe. If you aren't fully dedicated then that's when people get hurt in boxing and rugby league. It's been my only dream since I was young to be a pro fighter and NRL player so I'm blessed to say my dreams have become reality. I’m happy to be doing both at the moment but when it comes time to choose I know I'll pick what's best for me.
LF) Although you’ve had just three pro bouts you’ve had top quality sparring already from highly-ranked guys like Lucas Browne and Alex Leapai. How has that helped you in your development as a fighter?
WM) Sparring the country’s best has helped me a lot. It gives me massive confidence knowing I can hold my own against Lucas, Alex and also my dad.
LF) It seems many NZ and Australian rugby players are taking up boxing recently since Sonny Bill Williams started his pro campaign. Do you think this trend is a good thing for boxing?
WM) I think more rugby league/union players should try their hand in boxing as they feel the same emotion and adrenaline that all other fighters do so why shouldn't they be able to do it? They always come in great shape as well and bring viewers to Aussie boxing.
LF) Would you ever consider facing your friend and Roosters team-mate Sonny Bill? It would be a massive fight in Australia?
WM) No I wouldn't ever fight Sonny. Sonny and I have a really close relationship and just wouldn't feel right fighting. I'm sure he would say the same thing.
LF) Can you talk a little about your amateur experiences in boxing?
WM) Amateur boxing is a time I'll never forget. I learnt a lot about myself as a boxer and it taught me disciplines as a teenager growing up. I had my first amateur fight at 14 where I stopped my opponent in 45 seconds. I was a skinny little 65kg kid going for the knockout (laughs).
LF) You are trained by your father Kali, can you describe the relationship the two of you have both as father and son and trainer and fighter?
WM) The relationship me and my dad have is pretty special. He pushes me in the gym as a fighter and puts me in line at home as a son and I'm grateful for that. We both know each other inside and out so sparring sessions are pretty intense. Occasionally when one of us stuns the other with a big shot we burst out laughing (laughs).
It was such a blessing being able to fight on the same card as my father (last November). That doesn't happen much (in boxing). I know my dad didn't reach his full potential due to management issues (typical) but what I do know is what ever mistakes he made he won't let it happen to me.
LF) With your natural talent and your commitments in the NRL is it important for you to start taking the tougher fights sooner rather than later?
WM) It is important to me. I would love to fight the best in this country as soon as possible, challenge myself and start building on the legacy my dad laid the foundations for.
LF) Another fighter you will be more than familiar with is fellow NZ prospect Joseph Parker. He’s a little ahead of you at 12-0 and has already beaten name guys like Frans Botha and Brian Minto. What are your thoughts on Parker and do you think the two of you will meet in the ring someday?
WM) Joseph Parker is a very talented young fighter who is climbing the ranks very quickly. Yes I believe Joseph and I will cross paths in the near future.
LF) In rugby what are your hopes for the coming season?
WM) This year at the Roosters we have a very strong side and want to win the Premiership. We trained very hard all pre-season. I have two years left on a contract with the Roosters but I want to stay at the Roosters for a long time and can't see myself playing footy at any other club.
LF) Finally, what do you like to do away from sports?
WM) In my spare time I just like relaxing. I'm always listening to music and I have a passion for singing and playing guitar. I like hanging with my friends and I’m blessed to be in Sydney which has such beautiful beaches so I'm usually on them too.