Ramabeletsa calls for justice after Kennedy controversy "I beat and hurt him badly"
By Michael J Jones
SATURDAY NIGHT AT York Hall, Folkestone prospect Josh Kennedy faced durable Michael Ramabeletsa for the vacant English super-bantamweight title on a stacked Goodwin show. At 8-0, ten years younger at 25 and coming off an impressive knock-out of Jamie Speight, there was no question the well-supported Kennedy was the pre-fight favourite but the fight didn't quite go to plan for the Kent puncher.
At the end of ten thrilling rounds, Kennedy sent his many supporters happy when collecting a split decision by scores of 96-94, 95-94 while the third judge Lee Cook scored for Ramabeletsa by 96-93. Just two days after the contest, Mike Ramabeletsa contacted Livefight.com to talk about the fight and his disbelief at the decision rendered by two of the three scoring judges.
The Preston-based South African is no stranger to having the spoils go against him but openly calls Saturday's outcome the worst of his entire 31 bout career. He now demands a rematch or for Kennedy to vacate the English belt to enable “The Trouble Maker” to contest it once again in the near future.
“It's the name of the sport unfortunately, these bad decisions, but I feel Saturday's decision was very unfair” Ramabeletsa tells Livefight earlier this week. “I knew the fight would be easy as Kennedy had no experience and, unlike me, had never fought anyone. I felt before the fight he thought he was facing a journeyman or something but I showed what I could do.”
Livefight has not been able to watch the fight in full but the 35 year old is positive he did more than enough to register a resounding victory. Livefight asks why he feels so sure he did enough?
“In the fight, I found it easy to do exactly what I wanted to do while he struggled and couldn't do what he had planned. I should have won the fight clearly on the score-cards even without me knocking him down in the seventh round.”
Livefight has seen footage of the knock-down via mobile footage posted online. A big over-hand right lands but Kennedy walks onto another moments later. He backs into a corner but takes three more head shots to send him down on his knees.
“I hurt him very badly. They think I don't have power (only six knock-outs in 31 contests to date) but I can hit very hard. He was tiring...I knew my experience and skills were vastly superior to his and it told in the fight. I also dropped him in the ninth with a body-shot but the ref just helped him up without a count and then said I had been holding.”
“By then he was just trying to survive and nothing else. I don't know what else I could have done in the fight. It won't get posted onto YouTube as they'll want to protect (his reputation) but if it does everyone will be able to see what happened.”
“He's not a bad kid, he admitted I'd shocked him and there was no ill-feeling after the fight, I don't dislike Josh Kennedy but I just want what is mine. That English title is mine not his. He should give me a rematch if he is a proud man and, if not, vacate the title and let me fight and win it again.”
“I beat Kennedy so he doesn't deserve that title. No bad blood between us but he knows he lost.”
Kennedy sold nearly 300 tickets ahead of his English title bout and was noisily supported by his fans throughout the ten rounds. Having the crowd behind you can sometimes make a huge difference to judges' scores as a rapturous crowd will scream for any modicum of success while often staying silent when the opponent lands better.
Ramabeletsa had this to say about Kennedy's supporters...
“He had many supporters and they tried desperately to lift him when he was losing but that just meant all the pressure was on him. They lifted him a little but overall didn't help him and they even ended up being on my side when the decision went the wrong way.”
“After the fight had ended, many, many of his fans came up to me and said it was a terrible decision and that I should have won by three or four points at least. Many others have since been messaging me, people I have never met and don't know, saying it was a scandalous decision and that I deserve an immediate rematch. Nobody I have spoken to since the fight even said it was close. I should have not only have won but won clearly.”
The plucky South African had his first nine fights in SA before moving to the UK in 2011. He has mostly been thrown to the wolves in his British campaign often only getting fights at late notice against men often in their own backyards. Now 15-16 (6), the youthful puncher has shown grit to keep his career alive with several upsets along the way.
With no favours or “home-cooking” being offered to him, he has beaten men of the calibre of Ross Burkinshaw, Ash Lane and Paul Economides, all who went onto to lift major titles after suffering defeat to Ramabeletsa. The SA veteran was also riding a three-fight winning streak entering Saturday's title fight.
“I've been robbed so many times man but this fight honestly was the worst one in my whole career. You expect no favours but this was just another level.”
Ramabeletsa isn't angry during our chat, he isn't spewing insults or trash talking about Josh Kennedy. He simply wants justice after giving his all in a fight and coming away with nothing bar another notch in the loss column.
The Oliver Harrison-trained “Trouble Maker” is now 35-years-old but looks no older than a teenager. It may be with his conditioning, confidence plus access to the fountain of youth, Ramabeletsa could some day be the UK's answer to American legend Bernard Hopkins.
“Ha ha yeah maybe. You know I really look after myself, I live good; no drinking, partying. I'm a family man. I want to achieve everything I can and I know what I can do. Before this fight I said to Josh Kennedy 'you're talking a lot but I'm going to show you why nobody wants to fight me' and I did.”
Livefight would like to reiterate we have not seen the fight and all the above opinions were from Michael Ramabeletsa alone. If Josh Kennedy would like to give his opinion or if anyone can supply good footage of the fight for us to score independantly please get in touch.
Fight pic credit Simon Downing.
Kell Brook vs Errol Spence set for May 27
Kell Brook will defend his IBF World Welterweight title against US star Errol Spence at Bramall Lane in Sheffield on Saturday May 27, live on Sky Sports Box Office and on SHOWTIME CHAMPIONSHIP BOXING in the US.
Brook makes the fourth defence of his beloved IBF strap he landed in the States in August 2014 with a career-best win over Shawn Porter, and blitzed Jo Jo Dan, Frankie Gavin and Kevin Bizier before stepping up to Middleweight to face fearsome Kazakh Gennady Golovkin at The O2 in September – and now the Sheffield star welcomes another unbeaten superstar into the ring.
Undefeated Spence became the mandatory challenger for Brook’s belt when he blasted Leonard Bundu inside six rounds in August, the eighth straight stoppage win for the Texas-based New Yorker who went into the fight after destroying Chris Algieri inside four rounds two months earlier.
Brook and Spence now clash in the biggest fight in the 147lbs division, and the elite pairing are promising to deliver an electric night at the home of Sheffield United FC.
“I’m so excited about this fight and also about making history in my city,” said Brook. “It’s long been a dream of mine to fight outdoors at Bramall Lane and I’m pleased to do that in the biggest fight in the Welterweight division. I saw many people talk about how I would avoid Errol Spence - they don’t know me, they don’t know what I’m about. All I’ve ever wanted to do is to give the fans the fights they want and they have it right here on May 27 – I’m going to show the world that I’m the best Welterweight on the planet and I’m going to do it right before my people’s eyes.”
“I’m happy I'm finally getting an opportunity to accomplish a lifelong dream of becoming a World champion,” said Spence. “I feel that this is one of the best and biggest fights in world boxing and I am 100 per cent focused and determined to bring the belt back home to the USA – on May 27 I will be more than ready.”
“This is one of the best fights in world boxing,” said Brook’s promoter Eddie Hearn. “Many believed that Kell Brook would look to avoid Errol Spence but he is a proud man who never ducks a challenge. Coming off the fight with GGG this is an extremely tough fight to come back to but I believe Kell Brook is the best Welterweight in the world and he will have the chance to prove it on May 27. It's ‘The Special One’ vs ‘The Truth’, a historic event at Sheffield United's Bramall Lane – we are planning an unforgettable night.”
“This is great news for Kell and Sheffield United,” said Sheffield United director Scott McCabe. “We have been working with Matchroom for some time to bring this high profile fight to our Bramall Lane stadium where we have exciting plans to stage further significant events utilising the high standard facilities that have been developed by the Club in recent years.”
Brook and Spence come face-to-face at a press conference this week where Hearn will announce the ticket details for the event.
Leak, Gomez and Massey all progress
It was another packed weekend of boxing in the North West. On Friday night, PBE returned to Bowlers Exhibition Centre and the following evening the VIP Promotions roadshow pitched up in Buxton. The weekend’s results won’t have a significant impact on any rankings and there were no shock outcomes, the ‘home’ fighters completed a clean sweep over the two nights, but for those who attend shows in the North West regularly there were plenty of points of interest.
Anybody whose interest was piqued by the attention Anthony Leak (3-0, 2 KO’s) has recently been generating may well have googled his name and been greeted with a list of news articles rather than his BoxRec page. The 26 year old middleweight has had a troubled past but is finally attempting to settle down and make something of himself. “We are what we are,” said Leak as he got changed after his third round stoppage of Georgi Valevski on Friday night.
Much has been made of Leak’s amateur victories over fighters like Callum Smith and Tommy Langford but they are distant specks in the past and should be treated as no more than pointers to his potential. Eight years away from the ring is a long time and Leak has a lot of ground to make up but he is still young enough to have maintained two extremely important aspects of his style; speed and timing. A nervy debut last November was followed in February by the type of explosive appearance that can catapult a fighter to the forefront of minds.
Earlier on Friday afternoon I perched myself on the edge of the ring at the Finest Gym watching Steve Maylett talk his fighters through a technical sparring session. Maylett was preaching the benefits of the exact body shot that began Valevski’s demise on Friday. Leak also seems to be grasping the ‘in and out’ style that fighters from The Finest Gym are renowned for, making opponents fall short before stepping back in with fast, straight punches. When Leak cuts loose on the pads, he is a site to behold. The challenge for Maylett will be getting him to control the fire that is clearly driving him on and continue to remember the technical skills he possesses. That fire burned a little too fiercely at times on Friday night - Leak hit Valevski while he was down and picked up a warning for pushing him over – but if he can use it to his advantage, it could become a potent weapon.
Francis Warren is clearly taking a keen interest in Leak’s development. He has been at ringside for his last two outings and and feels that the best way to help Leak settle into his new life is to keep him busy. Leak will feature on the big BoxNation bills but keeping him active on lower profile bills like Friday evening’s event will serve a dual purpose. They will get Leak physically accustomed to the rigours of training day in, day out and also build his fan base.
Away from the ring, Leak is confident and friendly and seems to appreciate that he is fortunate to have been given another opportunity to make the most of his talent. That gratitude will inevitably translate itself into an over eagerness to impress. “Was that alright, Steve?” asked Leak as we made our way back through the rundown venue to the changing room, past the stage scenery and sci-fi character mannequins that get wheeled out when Bowlers converts itself into a rave venue.
Once he relaxes into the routine of being a professional fighter and learns to deal with the new positive attention that is coming his way, Leak should develop into a serious problem for anybody on the British middleweight scene.
I’ve been ringside at all but one of Michael Gomez Jnr’s professional fights. It is almost three years since the 22 year old turned professional with plenty of hype and a stoppage victory and since then, he has in turn disappointed and frustrated. Gomez has fought only seven times (all wins, two early) and has been unable to settle on a gym, a trainer, a promoter, a weight class or a style of fighting. Quite a quintet.
A few months ago, Gomez’s tour of the Manchester boxing scene saw him pitch up at Anthony ‘Arnie’ Farnell’s gym in Failsworth. Maybe stung by past experiences with high profile fighters, Farnell simply won’t entertain fighters who aren’t willing to match his level of dedication and Gomez had the law laid down to him immediately.
So far, so good. Gomez has knuckled down at Arnies and has become a popular member of the gym. Some high class sparring with mystery flyweight ‘Phil’ [more of whom soon, hopefully] seems to have bought him on in leaps and bounds and he clearly enjoys being treated like just another member of the team rather than “Gomez’s son.”
For some fighters, entering the ring seem to provide a few minutes of calm from their whirlwind private lives and there was some typical ‘will he - won’t he?’ rumours surrounding his participation during fight week but, when he did make it to the dressing room, Gomez was as sharp and relaxed as I’ve seen him and seemed surprised himself about just how good he felt at featherweight. “I’m sharp as fuck. I feel different than I have for all my other fights. I’m gonna smash him. Arnie, you might as well stay stood on the ring apron. It’s gonna be quick.” he said in between simple but correct and quick combinations on the focus paddles. He also looked different, decked out in a pair on off the peg shorts and a plain black cap. The famous family sombrero nowhere to be seen.
Gomez didn’t “smash” Ignac Kassai but he hurt him early with his short, snappy punches and continued to walk him down until the fight was stopped in the third round. He wasn’t perfect but he seemed comfortable with what he was doing and showed some much needed menace when the chance to finish the fight presented itself.
Gomez may well look back on Friday night as a pivotal moment in his career. Rumours swirl around the Manchester fight scene that Gomez’s heart isn’t really in the sport and doesn’t want to test himself but on Saturday night he seemed extremely happy with his lot. Following his victory he called out former stablemate Artif Ali (who boxed his way to a safety first six round decision on the same card) and declared that he is no longer “Just Michael Gomez’s son, I’m my own man.” A statement that drew shouts of support from Michael Snr who was stood with the fans, far enough away to give his son his own space but close enough to offer his support. Gomez is extremely unpredictable and the possibility always exists that he changed his mind about his future in the sport as his car left the venue car park but, hopefully, the penny has dropped.
On Saturday night, Buxton’s beautiful Devonshire Dome converted itself from ornate tourist attraction to seething bear pit (ok, that maybe a bit of a stretch) for local hero Jack Massey’s latest outing. The Grade 2 listed building has become one of the more unique and popular venues on the local calendar and this was the fourth consecutive time that Bobby Rimmer trained Massey has packed it out.
If you live outside the spa town, you may not have heard too much - if anything - about the cruiserweight hope, but the unbeaten 23 year old has been forging quite a reputation for himself. Buxton’s isolated location has helped Massey (12-0, 6 KO’s) bring an event style atmosphere to the town and a series of knockout victories have helped ‘One Smack Jack’ to capitalise on his captive audience. A well-heeled Devonshire Dome fight crowd is treated to opera singers, a three course meal and clean toilets.
Understandably kept safe whilst learning his trade and building his fan base, Massey stepped up slightly when he faced Russell Henshaw on Saturday night. Don’t paint me as a Brexiteer for mentioning this but for prospects that have made it to Massey’s level, British is best. Henshaw may not be a world beater but he was a known commodity with a winning record. There is much more to be gained from impressing against an opponent like Henshaw than there is from knocking over a non descript Eastern European.
Massey was too quick and too clever. The first punches he threw established his range and rather than adopting a safety first attitude, he chose to close the show. Henshaw was on his feet but unable to defend himself when the fight was stopped as the bell sounded to end the very first round.
Massey is part of a flourishing north west cruiserweight scene. BoxNation viewers will soon be able to monitor his progress and compare and contrast his development with that of Manchester’s exciting 6ft 7in tall knockout artist, Jordan Thompson. Sale’s unbeaten Sam Hyde [who scored a second round knockout on Friday night to move to 9-0-1, 4 KO’s] should also be in the mix by autumn.
This weekend, the show continues. On Friday night, Black Flash Promotions stage the English light middleweight title fight between Matty Ryan and Sonny Upton and VIP Promotions have Adam Ismail defending his Central Area welterweight title against Andy Colquhoun in Wigan. On Saturday, attention turns to the Manchester Arena and the eagerly awaited world lightweight title rematch between Jorge Linares and Anthony Crolla.
El Tornado Goodjohn Plots comeback “Two Warm ups then I want Connor Benn & titles”
By Michael J Jones
FOR WELTERWEIGHT Tyler Goodjohn, boxing has been something of a roller-coaster ride in the last seven years or so since he made his pro debut aged 18. There’s clearly been some moments of magic from the Ely contender throughout his seventeen-bout career, though nearly always followed by some sort of derailing catastrophe.
Never has the 25 year old been lacking in the talent or heart department through his career but, as many fighters who are reading this will surely know, sometimes skill and graft alone doesn’t bring the promised glory many expect to be able to bask in.
“To be honest, my whole career has been up and down and the last year or so even more so” Goodjohn tells Livefight this week. “My last fight against Johnny Garton, I nearly retired for good when I injured my hand and the fight got cancelled. When I eventually fought him I was boxing for the first time in almost a year and coming off injury so it was far from ideal.”
Thankfully, “El Tornado” has decided to resume his promising career in 2017. Now 12-5 (4), the Cambridgeshire fighter has only lost to good boxers in his pro campaign and has also taken some decent scalps such as Danny Cassius Conner (twice) and the big-punching Ricky Boylan.
The latter win came in October 2014 and saw Goodjohn crowned as the new English light-welterweight champion at the O2 Arena with a gritty display of box-fighting. The slight underdog going in, Goodjohn withstood some hard body-shots to out-box and out-think the previously-unbeaten Boylan to claim a deserved majority decision.
Unfortunately the two subsequent years after arguably his finest victory would be less successful…
“Go back a couple of years and I felt I was on top of the world as the English champion and scoring one of my biggest wins over Ricky Boylan” reflects Tyler. “I’m also proud of my fights with Danny Connor but, in terms of how I boxed, the Boylan one was probably my best fight.”
“The truth is I had always struggled with getting down to 10 stone. I had to lose half a stone (7lbs) for Boylan the day before the weigh in. I kept (crashing the weight) and thought I could keep getting away with it but people kept looking at what I was doing and saying ‘there’s only so many times you can go to the well’…and that’s exactly what happened in the John Wayne Hibbert fight.”
Three months after his fight-of-the year candidate with Boylan, Goodjohn squared off against the Essex contender for the WBC International title back at the O2 Arena. From the start of the contest though, something wasn’t quite right with Goodjohn…
“It was a WBC title fight so they did check-weigh-ins before the fight. I was 23 and eager to impress and I just thought I needed to do what I had to do. Two days before the weigh-in I had to lose eight pounds to make the check-weight, then another eight for the actual weigh-in so I ended up losing 18lbs in only two days.”
“Looking back, I feel really lucky to still be here after taking those kinds of risks.”
The match quickly turned one-sided, with Hibbert boxing sharply and Goodjohn catching almost everything as he waded in repeatedly. The Ely man gamely hung in there but it came as no surprise when the fight was halted in the eighth with Goodjohn tired, marked up and way behind on the cards.
“My camp had been superb for the fight; the sparring and everything had been brilliant” comments the 25 year old. “I got in the ring and I was just there plodding forward like a walking punch-bag. It just wasn’t me and obviously the weight problem had caught up with me big-time.”
Following only the second inside-schedule loss of his career, the humbled contender immediately moved up to the welterweight ranks to continue his career. Ten long months after the Hibbert defeat, Goodjohn made his 147lb bow with a decision over journeyman Ivica Gogosevic to pave the way for a fight with English champion Johnny Garton.
With the fight set for early 2016, “El Tornado” would suffer a hand injury to scupper the clash. Not wanting to waste any time, on his return, he thus went straight in with the dangerous Garton having to fight ring-rust as well as an in-form opponent.
“There’s no excuses from me, Johnny Garton was the better fighter on the night and beat me fair and square. It was so frustrating getting injured I just wanted to walk away from boxing. Then people were saying I needed a couple of six-rounders beforehand to sharpen up but I just said I didn’t want to fight someone I know I can beat. So I just went straight into the title fight.”
While Goodjohn entered the fight in far from ideal conditions, the 17-1-1 Garton had hit the form of his life after resounding knock-out victories over Martin Welsh and Ryan Fields. The self-styled “Pexican” recorded a wide unanimous decision after a hugely entertaining bout to retain his English belt though Goodjohn was far from disgraced and played his part in a thriller.
“The first few rounds there was absolutely nothing in it but he caught me with a great shot in the fourth and it just changed the whole course of the fight. My whole camp I’d practised over and over to avoid that looping right-hand he’s got but I stupidly dropped my hands, got rocked and never came back into it until about the seventh.”
“He was clever, when he saw me recovering he just got on his bike as he knew he had it in the bag. I always said I wanted to fight the good guys in the best fights so it’s all good experience. With my career now I’m just starting over again but I’m not going to rush myself like I have done I’ll take a couple of six-rounders, maybe aim for the Southern Area title and go from there.”
Are there any boxers out there at present the come-backing contender would like to face in the near future?
“Yeah I’d like to fight Connor Benn. I’ve sparred him before and he’s a good, aggressive fighter but I just think I’ve got the beating of him. The way he’s going, he’s going to have to step up and face someone like me at some point and I think it’d be a really good, entertaining fight.”
“My plan is to return about June or July with a six-rounder, then have another after that and hopefully go for a title. Me against Connor Benn for the English title would be a logical fight for both of us.”
Benn, the son of the legendary "Dark Destroyer" Nigel Benn, is currently 6-0 (4) after turning pro last year. He came in for heavy criticism recently when appearing to mock Robin Deakin in a video clip posted online.
“That was a bit naughty but really, why is he targeting a fight with Robin Deakin? I know Robin but I can’t understand why that fight has even been mooted as it’s a nothing contest and won’t gain Connor anything.”
I have to ask, after sharing a ring with Danny Connor on three occasions to date, will there possibly be a fourth fight at some point in the future?
“Well at the moment I seem to be going up in weight and he’s moving down (to lightweight) so it’s not making any sense now but maybe in the future we can do it again. Me and Danny are actually good mates and we talk all of the time and we always promised we’d do it again so you never know.”
For the record, Goodjohn is currently leading the series 2-1 with all fights going the distance. The last contest occurred just over three years ago with Goodjohn winning a clear decision over ten rounds.
“I’m looking forward to coming back. I know I’ve had a frustrating career and people are probably sick of me dipping in and out of the sport but it’s really hard. I run my own gym to make a living and doing that for seven or eight hours a day and then training, dieting etc to get the best out of it is so demanding. Especially when you’re boxing good lads who are full time pro’s and don’t have to worry about anything like that.”
“If I had a sponsor who could help me out and assist me to get to where I want to be that would be brilliant. Then I could concentrate fully on the boxing.”
To find out more about Tyler’s ‘El Warrior’s Gym’ click here http://eakb.moonfruit.com/about-me/4557836064
El Tornado is also on Twitter @tornadotyler or Facebook ‘El Tornado Tyler Goodjohn’
Anyone who is interested in becoming a sponsor to Tyler Goodjohn can contact him either on Twitter or facebook.
Live to Fight Another Haye; Bellew Shocks Boxing World with Clinical Upset Win
By Michael J Jones
TONY BELLEW DID it. He beat David Haye in his first official fight at heavyweight and in doing so set himself up for some potentially mammoth pay-days. At 34-years-old and having just scored the biggest victory of his career, the out-spoken Scouser deserves all the verbal accolades he receives after putting on a boxing master-class to make a mockery of the pre-fight odds.
Bellew was the best he’s ever been last night at the O2 Arena; almost punch-perfect. Now, 29-2-1 (19), the Liverpool underdog started the fight as many had predicted. Wary of the power his 36 year old opponent still carried, Bellew started cautiously behind his jab but was sharp with his counters to show he meant business.
Haye tried some wild swings but hit mostly air as the reigning WBC cruiserweight champion skipped away from trouble and usually responded quickly with a quick right or left hook. The pattern rarely altered in the first few rounds but frustration seemed to slowly creep into Haye’s work as he began realising his bitter foe was boxing smartly and taking few clean punches.
By the fourth, Haye was gritting his teeth to try and unload power shots but still lacked accuracy as Bellew rapidly grew in confidence. After five completed rounds, I gave three to Haye with one to Bellew and one even.
Then came the shocking sixth…
With Haye starting to tire, Bellew opened up with instant success. The fight got a little messy before the two collided together to hit the canvas in a heap. When he stood up; something was clearly wrong with Haye’s balance. Twice he fell to the canvas unaided but, then, Bellew could smell blood and poured the heat on his limping foe.
Lefts and rights were suddenly crashing into Haye’s static head before a final barrage sent him to the floor for a count. The visibly-shocked Haye sluggishly got up but had to soak up more leather before the bell came to his rescue.
From that moment on there was only ever going to be one victor…
From rounds seven to ten, Bellew alternated boxing and slugging cleverly. Haye offered little as he was constantly stationery on the ropes. Credit to the Londoner for continuing when he often appeared in agony as Bellew punished him up and down repeatedly.
Haye was warned for a low blow in the 9th while his Scouse tormentor also got a ticking off in the next for hitting on the break. That aside, and considering the heated build-up, the two men boxed a gentlemanly fight and conducted themselves impeccably the whole night.
In the eleventh, Bellew was in control when he landed a powerful right-hand which drove Haye to the ropes. Four meaty shots followed to send “Hayemaker” clean through the ropes. Although he bravely scrambled through and up, compassionate trainer Shane McGuigan had seen enough and threw the towel in.
At the time of the stoppage, Livefight had Bellew up by 97-93.
Bellew’s tactics had been spot on in boxing a defensive fight to take the sting away from Haye’s fists before stepping up his work-rate to take over in the second half of the fight. Haye fans will point to his Achilles injury as the reason he lost but before the fateful sixth he was already struggling mightily to make an impact on the vastly under-rated Bellew.
A lucrative rematch in Liverpool would be a must in the summer but, for now, let Bellew bask in his success at proving 99% of the boxing world wrong. He didn’t get knocked out in the first minute or first round like many had scoffed; the kid boxed a dream and won in style.
For Haye, who drops to 28-3 (19) in his first defeat in six years, there were many jarring indications of his relaxed view to the fight beforehand. It may be that after some 17 years as a professional fighter his body may have just started to break. Maybe he really does prefer to be a celebrity than a fighter. Time will tell but massive respect to him for his part in a great domestic dust-up. Many wouldn’t have kept going for five tough rounds while barely able to move.
Weights were Haye 16st 1/2 lb Bellew 15st 3½lbs.
Haye-Bellew: The Five Big Questions plus Prediction & Odds
By Michael J Jones
AN UNLIKELY GRUDGE match which has divided opinions in the boxing world in more ways than one. When WBC cruiserweight champion Tony “Bomber” Bellew faces former two-weight world titlist David Haye next Saturday at the O2 Arena, it will conclude a long, bad-tempered build-up which has been rolling on for some six months.
Both men have their fans and detractors in their respective droves, but neither (the seemingly endless) trash-talking, tension or mud-slinging between the two men can get away from the fact this is a good fight between two of the UK’s most successful pugilists of recent years.
Most of the boxing community point to Haye being the bigger man with an edge in speed and power and hint at an early, explosive victory for him. Bellew has been stopped before and by a smaller man in Adonis Stevenson; but is that the foregone conclusion people are saying?
Here Livefight asks five big questions ahead of the non-title heavyweight clash which will be screened on Sky Sports Box Office in just a handful of days.
1. Does Tony Bellew actually believe he can win this fight?
If a man becomes hell-bent on making a fight in boxing it’s usually for one of two reasons; either he firmly believes he can win or he’s taking it for the inflated purse. To this writer’s knowledge a contest between the two punchers had never been even vaguely suggested until that chaotic moment after Bellew knocked out long-time Haye sparring partner BJ Flores last October.
Haye was sat ringside as the WBC cruiserweight champion screamed abuse from the ring in heated scenes. Just days later the fight was getting forged together by the respective teams but, if anything, the hatred has spiralled since that night between the two bitter rivals.
The 34 year old Bellew is long-known for his fiery nature ahead of fights but he seems to be especially loathsome towards Haye, often suggesting the “Hayemaker” has been pampered throughout his highly-prolific career.
Hate rarely means genuine confidence though but in this case I believe Bellew is coming to win. He’s younger, has been far more active in recent years and is in the form of his life after wiping out both Ilunga Makuba and BJ Flores in style. The out-spoken Scouser has hinted at a suspected decline in Haye (“he’s not the fighter of six or seven years ago”) and may be confident from the infamous sparring session from several years ago in which he claims he clearly got the better of the Bermondsey man.
2. The weight issue; will it matter?
The fight has been set at the heavyweight limit (i.e. no limit), which at first glance favours long-time heavyweight Haye. Since knocking out Enzo Maccarinelli in two rounds back in March 2008, Haye has been a fully-fledged heavyweight so while Bellew makes his debut at boxing’s highest division, Haye has been there for nine long years right?
OK so the above is true but it’s not as cut-and-dry as appears. Bellew was a strapping amateur who was an ABA heavyweight champion on three occasions before slimming right down for his pro debut nearly ten years ago.
The Liverpool fighter made no secret to the fact he struggled mightily every camp making weight but continued until he was hammered in six by Adonis Stevenson three years ago. Since moving up, Bellew has gone 8-0 with six knock-outs in decent company.
Plus, is it really that bad getting stopped by one of the biggest punchers in the 175lb division while severely weight-weakened? Nobody has wanted to mention incidentally, Haye got knocked out by a 40 year old who was supposedly shot…or that he was floored heavily early in his career against blown up super-middleweight Lolenga Mock.
Both men are 6’3” and Haye for most of his fights has weighed around 210lbs; just 6lbs above the cruiserweight limit. For his last two comeback contests, the 36 year old Haye has been nearer 224 and may be that again come Saturday night. Bellew has said he will come in at under 220 so there probably will only be a few pounds between them come fight night.
I expect Bellew, after top-class sparring with the likes of Dereck Chisora, will be comfortable at the (slightly) higher weight and will be sharp. Don’t be surprised either if the “Creed” star looks the bigger man on the night as he usually boxes tall while Haye fights in a slight crouch.
Worth noting also is the fact Haye has the longer reach by some four inches.
3. Has Haye taken this fight seriously?
It’s always hard to gauge what’s on Haye’s mind but some of his behaviour recently has been rather baffling. Just before a major fight it’s simply not usual for a fighter to praise his training camp as if it’s been a holiday and then go out with celebrity pals to fashion shows.
Does the former cruiserweight and heavyweight champion see this as an easy fight to the point he’s not at all worried about what Bellew brings to the fistic table? Haye hasn’t been in a competitive bout for nearly five years and encountered little resistance in the pair of Mark de Mori and Arnold Gjergjaj in his two return fights.
Many have started calling Haye “Boxrec man” as whenever his opponent gets announced we all have to search Boxrec as we have no clue who it is (funny).
Although the Londoner seems mostly relaxed, I feel he is experienced enough to know any fight is dangerous and he will have trained hard for this. Trainer Shane McGuigan will have put him through a gruelling camp and Haye will be all business on the night.
4. Will Haye’s inactivity bite him on the ass?
The brash Haye was a revelation as an amateur and a young pro and seemed fearless as he cut through the pro cruiserweight ranks with a string of explosive knock-outs. Only Carl Thompson bested Haye in the under 200lb cruiserweight division, out-lasting his much-younger opponent before dispatching him in five torrid rounds.
After returning to win the European title, Haye would stop Frenchman Jean Marc Mormeck on away turf to become the WBC and WBA world champion. To top an excellent campaign at the weight, Haye would blitz Welshman Enzo Maccarinelli in two to add the WBO belt to solidify his status as one of the best men to compete at the weight.
The “Hayemaker” would then move up to heavyweight in search of a match with world number one Wladimir Klitschko. First he out-boxed the far bigger Nicolai Valuev to become WBA heavyweight champion in Germany.
He then followed up with another solid display in stopping former champion John Ruiz in nine rounds six months later. After one more defence (that awful farce with Audley Harrison) Haye got his wish and fought Wladimir Klitschko in Germany for the unified heavyweight titles.
Haye lost the decision that night but vowed to return which he did…after a year off. Twelve long months after his loss to Klitschko, Haye knocked out Dereck Chisora in five at Upton Park but then wasn’t seen again in a ring until three-and-a half years later.
Fights with Tyson Fury (twice) and Manuel Charr all fell through as many questioned if Haye actually still wanted to be a fighter anymore.
The Londoner, now 28-2 (26), has had those two comeback fights last year (three rounds of action) since that Chisora fight. In that same time Bellew, with a similar over-all record of 28-2-1 (18), has boxed thirteen times and has been in tough, competitive matches not just easy one-sided, blow-outs. If this fight goes over the four-round mark, Haye will be in a position he hasn’t been in for a long time.
If Bellew is planning a cagey start to the fight, Haye could struggle in a physically-gruelling fight (especially if he hasn’t caused any significant damage to his foe). It’s bound to play on Haye’s mind if the going does get tough.
5. Will emotions affect the fight on the night?
The build-up has been one of the most heated in recent memory between two fighters who genuinely seem to despise one another. Could things get so heated on Saturday night something crazy may happen?
Bellew has been very animated in build-ups before yet boxed conservatively on the night (the Edison Miranda fight springs to mind). As a light-heavyweight he often disappointed fans by talking the talk but on the night fall short of walking the walk.
Since he has moved up the careful boxing has evolved and Tony has been more attack-minded in his cruiserweight campaign. Against Makuba to win his WBC title, Bellew was formidable. Dropped in the first, Bellew fought back hard and went all-out in the third to end matters.
A massive final left hook took everything out of the South African on the ropes for a clinical stoppage and Bellew was equally business-like in stopping Flores five months later.
Haye has seemed increasingly uncomfortable as the build-up has progressed. Bellew has undoubtedly gotten under his skin at various times but I doubt Haye will be anything but controlled on fight night. In Haye’s mind; Bellew can’t take his power and he only needs two or three good shots for the fight to be over.
Expect Bellew to behave too as he will be trying to execute a carefully-constructed game-plan and won’t want to give Haye any advantages by being silly.
Haye will start the fight the huge 1/6 favourite with Bellew 4/1. For a Haye KO it’s 1/3 while Bellew is far wider at 7/1. Points victory to Haye is 5/1 with Bellew 14/1. The draw is 33/1 with a victory inside three rounds to Haye a very short 15/8. The same bet for Bellew is a whopping 18/1.*
*Odds courtesy of William Hill.
It’s a tough fight to call as we don’t quite know what Haye has got left at 36 after barely fighting for half a decade and it’s hard to say what will happen when they both start to land their respective bombs. I wouldn’t be totally surprised to see a slow start as both try hard not to make any mistakes and walk into a big shot early.
For Bellew, he will try to keep an air-tight defence and take the fight into the second half whilst keeping a strong, busy jab into Haye’s face to break up momentum before cranking up the pressure from round four or five.
With Haye it’s simple; he’s going to jab, feint and try to set up a big right-hand or left hook and when he sees a weakness he will try to seize his moment and end the fight there and then.
I see Bellew falling early but rising to make it through the first few rounds. Just as the gutsy Scouser starts to make some ground back I envision Haye finding an opening for a massive shot; probably a booming right-hand. That moment will change the fight irreversibly. A following barrage will bring the referee’s intervention and give victory to David Haye.
Haye by KO in five rounds.
To book the big fight with Sky Box Office go to http://www.skysports.com/haye-vs-bellew/news/34770/10770257/1
Dale Evans talks Mike Towell heartache, S4C title clash, Eggington-Malignaggi, more
By Michael J Jones
IT’S EVERY boxers worst nightmare; something that is always at the distant back of a fighter’s mind. They know it can (thankfully rarely) happen and simply pray that it doesn’t happen to them or an opponent. Boxer’s block it out the same way a motorist blocks out a potential road accident but now and again, tragically, we realise the devastating consequences that can occur in our beloved sport.
Facing the promising “Iron” Mike Towell last September, Welshman Dale Evans was eager to put in a good performance to set up a British title shot. The welterweight bout saw the two men go to war in Glasgow before the away fighter prevailed via fifth-round knock-out. Towell was subsequently rushed to hospital and, with his family and the boxing community praying for his swift recovery, battled his last ever fight.
Just twenty four hours after his contest with Evans, the brave Scot sadly passed away. He had just turned 25-years-old.
Days later, the family and friends of Mike Towell consoled the emotional Dale at the funeral in tear-jerking scenes as everyone joined together to celebrate the life of the brave young boxer who gave his life to the sport he adored.
Speaking to Livefight last week, Evans painfully relives the heart-breaking moments following his tragic last contest five months ago.
“I one hundred percent see boxing as vastly different now” begins the St Clears contender. “After my last fight with Mike I questioned everything and was ready to leave the sport completely. You step back and see boxing and think ‘so people are paying to see two men fight each other and that (tragedy) could happen?’ I wondered what it was all about and what I was a part of.”
“Obviously, my thoughts have constantly been with Mike’s family but now what I want to do is carry on Mike’s dream and become British champion in his memory. What happened to Mike is always in the back of my mind and I’d hate for my family to be put through what his family have had to deal with.”
“When I turned pro I had dreams of becoming a world champion but I’m realistic that’s unlikely to happen but I know I can become British champion for Mike.”
Firstly though, the 25 year old returns on March 25th against fellow Welshman Tony Dixon with the Welsh welterweight title up for grabs. The ten-round bout sees a return for boxing to Welsh TV channel S4C after a lengthy absence. Dixon is 8-1 (2) and most people know him for a one-round stoppage defeat to talented Belfast puncher Paddy Gallagher on the Lee Haskins-Ivan Morales undercard last May.
The Mountain Ash prospect gave some experience away in that contest and could be far better than he showed that night.
“That’s the only fight I’ve seen him in to be honest” comments Evans of his co-challenger’s sole loss. “A while ago he came down to spar (former gym-mate) Liam Williams one day and Liam was bigger and technically a lot better so it’s hard to take anything from that.”
“He seems a strong, game lad but I feel my experience and punching power will tell against him. I’m no fancy boxer but I’m physically strong and hit a lot harder than my record says. My record doesn’t do my power justice. I feel I’m one of the biggest punchers in the (147lb) division.”
Evans at 12-3-2 (4) hasn’t got the numbers of a huge hitter but can clearly punch with either his right-hand or thumping left hook. Since leaving Prizefighter as the runner up four years ago, he’s boxed at mostly title level and has shared the ring with quality opposition such as Sam Eggington (twice) as well as (eventual PF champion) Glenn Foot, former British title challenger Adil Anwar and the slick Larry Ekundayo.
During his Prizefighter bid, Evans would out-point Eggington in a crowd-pleaser before the two men would engage in a return with the British and Commonwealth belts on the line some three years later. On that occasion, Stourbridge’s Eggington would recover from an early knock-down to sweep most of the middle rounds before navigating some late trouble to retain by a clear, unanimous decision.
With the first bout being a three-round fight in Prizefighter and the second match occurring with Evans receiving just ten days’ notice, there seems ample reason for the two great rivals to have a decider down the line.
“It would be interesting if we could go at it again with me having a full camp with a title on the line and I think we’d both be interested. I think right now he’s a little further along than me so he’s got to do what’s best for him and his career but it definitely could happen in the future.”
“In the second fight, I had to cram eight weeks training into ten days so I was doing long sparring sessions in the week of the fight. When I dropped him in the first I had two choices; go hell for leather and risk gassing out or try and ease off and wait for my next chance. I picked the latter and it didn’t work out but I did my best.”
“The difference was he was in twelve round shape and I wasn’t.”
The tough and relentless Eggington faces veteran Paulie Malignaggi next week on the Haye-Bellew bill. I ask Dale how he sees his former opponent doing against the brash and out-spoken American in their WBC International clash.
“It’s a very good fight for Sam and I think he’ll stop Malignaggi later on. Whereas Malignaggi’s best days are probably behind him, Sam gets better with every fight and I just think he’ll be too strong for him at this stage.”
Back to his own career, I touch on Evans’ inactivity which has plagued him since his pro bow nearly six years ago…
“It’s very annoying to me as I’d like to fight every month if I could” the Welshman tells Livefight. “It’s frustrated the life out of me for years. There’s usually only a handful of shows in Wales in a year which means I’ve got to sell rucks of tickets to box out of town to get anywhere and have my fans travel miles to come and see me.”
“I’m hoping to be nice and busy in 2017 and I’d like to thank my new sponsors Castle Scaffolding Wales who have been so generous in helping me focus on boxing full-time.
Their help is much appreciated so I want to give big thanks to Jason and Wyn for all of their support.”
Final thoughts on his Welsh title bout next month against “Welsh Terrier” Dixon?
“It’s very good for Welsh boxing that the sport is returning to S4C. It’s going to be a great fight between me and Tony Dixon and a chance for terrestrial viewers to see the Welsh talent coming through.”
“Camp has gone great with my new trainer Tony Borg*, I get great sparring there including (IBF featherweight champion) Lee Selby. I won’t go in against Dixon with a big game-plan or expecting a knock-out. I’ll take it as it comes and if the KO is there great, but we’ll see what he does first and go from there.”
*Evans’ former trainer Gary Lockett is still part of the team as Dale’s manager.
“If all goes well I’m looking to either face Bradley Skeete for the British title or anyone for the vacant belt if he vacates. Whoever I need to beat I’ll face to win that British title for Mike Towell.”
RIP “Iron” Mike Towell 1991-2016
Dale “Big Boy” Evans vs Tony “Welsh Terrier” Dixon goes ahead at the Rhydycar Leisure Centre, Merthyr Tydfil on March 25th. Ten rounds for the Welsh welterweight championship. The contest marks a return for boxing to Welsh terrestrial channel S4C and features a solid undercard featuring some of the best talents in Wales.