Joshua-Klitschko Who Wins? Over 50 Fight Experts Predict Winner of Heavyweight Clash
By Michael J Jones
IN JUST A single month’s time, fight fans around the world will witness a potential heavyweight 'changing of the guard' when IBF world champion Anthony Joshua takes on former long-time division ruler Wladimir Klitschko.
While both heavyweight titans feature similar physical dimensions in terms of height, reach and fighting weight, the two men couldn’t be any more different in terms of where they are in their respective careers. While Klitschko is now 41-years-old after a whopping 21 years as a pro, Joshua (who was just six when Wladimir made his pro bow), is still in the position of forging his reputation.
The Watford ace has certainly done little wrong so far in winning all 18 bouts by highlight-reel knock-out while capturing British, Commonwealth and IBF titles but questions still remain; can the brute strength, skills and bone-crunching power of Joshua over-come the biggest names of the heavyweight division?
On April 29th at Wembley the boxing world will find out as AJ faces by far his greatest opponent of his three-and-a half year pro career.
Livefight asked multiple figures of the boxing community, including boxers from past and present, trainers and writers, for their prediction for the eagerly-anticipated heavyweight show-down…
Peter Fury, trainer and uncle of Tyson Fury
If it goes after round four I'd favour Klitschko but if it ends before then I'd side with Joshua.
Neville Brown, former British middleweight champion
I don't think people want to see another Klitschko reign so it will probably be Joshua in three or four rounds. That's on the grounds that Klitschko has done nothing of note for the last two years and is now 41 and showed against Tyson Fury he doesn't have the heart for a real fight anymore. There's a lot of money behind AJ so he's the obvious choice.
Colin Hart, legendary boxing journalist for The Sun
All the questions that are hanging over Anthony Joshua should be answered
on April 29. He hasn't met anyone in Wladimir Klitschko's league. But there are reservations about Klitschko. He was awful against Fury and as he's now 41 and been out of action for 18 months I believe Joshua will stop him in about eight rounds. If the fight lasts longer Klitschko could be the winner.
Monte Barrett, former heavyweight contender (who boxed Klitschko in 2000)
I’m a fan of Anthony Joshua and he’s given real hope for the heavyweight division and I feel he has Wladimir Klitschko’s number. Klitschko is a picture perfect guy; he likes everything to be absolutely correct every time but this won’t be the case this time. He’s coming off a lay-off and a defeat to Fury and I really don’t think Wladimir does good against big guys.
Joshua sparred Klitschko a while back and did really good so he’ll be full of confidence and this will turn out to be the changing of the guard.
Lucas Browne, heavyweight contender
I think it's a 50-50 fight, they're both exceptional fighters and are clinical but, if I had to pick someone, I would go with Wlad.
Mal Rice, former pro heavyweight
I do not think that this will be one-way traffic, Klitschko has been around the world scene since Herbie Hide was world champion! All that experience will be needed to stall the fresh new lion in Joshua. People also seem to forget Klitschko has over 50 KO's to his name and Joshua's chin has yet to be tested. He hasn't shared a ring with a big puncher? Dillian Whyte rocked him and he couldn't make Chisora blink…
Maybe it’s the old romantic in me but I see one more great night for the old lion then he will help rebuild Joshua's career.
Richard Williams, former IBO light-middleweight champion
I think AJ wins by late stoppage in around ten to twelve rounds. I don't think Klitschko can deal with someone of similar size with a good jab and speed. He couldn't deal with Fury’s boxing and AJ, I believe, carries more power, as well as being more attack-minded.
Sam Sexton, heavyweight contender
I'm going to mix it up and go for a Klitschko stoppage in around eight or nine rounds.
Tyler Goodjohn, welterweight contender
I'm going for AJ as I think he's going to be far too quick and explosive. AJ's been a lot more active than Klitschko who's been on the side-lines far too long for a world-level fighter. As soon as Joshua lands it will be his for the taking, Klitschko will be gun-shy and take a few rounds to get going and that could cost him dearly early on.
Mick Hall, middleweight contender
Klitschko by TKO in the middle rounds.
Amir Mansour, heavyweight contender
The thing is these days they get a young fighter into the position of fighting for the world heavyweight title so they work their butts off to win it but often they never keep working hard to stay champion. I like Joshua he's very athletic and muscular and I also see some fortitude and resilience in him.
If Klitschko is to stand a chance he needs to be far better than he was for his last couple of fights. He needs to be much better to even compete. Hopefully he will find some rejuvenation for this fight and be back to where he was a few years ago.
Nick Manners, trainer and former pro
Personally I think this will determine Eddie Hearn as either the shrewdest matchmaker since “Duffy” (Mickey Duff), but I feel Klitschko has the experience and guile to hold AJ off and cause his first defeat.
Shane Thomas, trainer and former pro
My prediction for that fight is AJ needs to stop him early within the first six rounds. If he doesn't, Klitschko will beat him. I think it's a big step up for AJ and might be just a little too early for him.
Steve Bendall, trainer and former pro
Personally, I see AJ winning but having problems on the way. Yes Klitschko is older but he plays safe and he can punch! So he'll make it awkward but AJ will eventually get to him.
Rudy Hernandez, trainer, cut-man and former pro
I’m siding with Joshua and I feel he wins big. I like him as a person too it’s just Father Time.
Wayne Alexander, former British light-middleweight champion
I think Anthony Joshua wins this one on points. Klitschko will be negative and be on the defensive throughout the fight, Joshua will find it hard to land many clean shots on the back-peddling Klitschko.
Alex Matvienko, trainer and former pro
I think Klitschko has not been active enough and Joshua will beat him but Klitschko always has a punchers’ chance but has got to be aggressive. He can't afford to stand off and needs to take it to Joshua but is he still capable?
Ian Tims, cruiserweight contender
I don't know, I think it is a tricky one and depends on which Klitschko turns up, if it goes the distance I think Wlad on points.
Matty Askin, English cruiserweight champion
I think Klitschko at the minute by KO.
Travis Kauffman, heavyweight contender
I think AJ’s youth will win this fight as he's been more active. It may go twelve rounds but I wouldn’t be surprised if either guy was dropped on route.
Rick Glaser, Boxing agent and Match-maker
AJ by KO, it’s just a matter of "when, not if".
Charles Shufford, former heavyweight contender (who boxed Klitschko in 2001)
I don't really know too much about AJ and have never really watched him fight but I hear he's a bad man.
Matthew Seawright, pro welterweight
AJ by stoppage in the middle rounds. Klitschko is past it now while AJ is young, fresh and hungry.
Gary Lockett, trainer and former pro
AJ by late stoppage or points.
Paul Economides, super-bantamweight contender
It’s a great fight and AJ is taking it at the right time. It’s definitely his biggest test since Dillian Whyte and the chance to prove he’s the real deal many are saying. I still see Joshua winning a points decision but maybe it’s the first time we’ll see him really tested.
Tom Doran, middleweight contender
The timing for the fight is perfect and Joshua will be too fast, powerful and hungry and will win in six to eight rounds.
Nick Webb, pro heavyweight
Joshua will win by knockout by round seven.
Tommy Langford, British middleweight champion
Joshua by either comfortable points win or, depending on Klitschko’s tactics, possibly an early KO. I can’t see Klitschko at his age doing anything differently. If he adopts the same safety-first approach I think AJ is simply too fresh, fast and ultimately powerful and will ride out a comfortable points winner.
If we do see a different Wladimir and he really brings it, in my opinion, Joshua being sharper will get in there first and probably takes a better punch than Klitschko who has never seemed willing to trade and always seems a little gun-shy. Wlad couldn’t do anything with Fury when he was ripping his belts from him so I don’t suppose he’ll be anything different in this fight.
Dale Evans, welterweight contender
AJ wins by late stoppage or on points.
Ben Day, super-featherweight contender
I think Eddie Hearn has done an amazing job with AJ. He reminds me of Frank Bruno; great muscular body, upright style and decent fighter and he might have just caught Klitschko at the perfect time at the end of his career….yet it’s still a very hard fight.
Paul Butlin, pro heavyweight (who boxed AJ in 2013)
I don’t think Joshua will just bang Klitschko out in a couple of rounds but I do feel he’ll be victorious. Just the power (alone) doesn’t mean sh*t really as Klitschko is always fit. Who connects first too (is important) as both are big bangers. I do think it may be a late stoppage for Joshua but its dangerous waters for both I think.
Tom Little, heavyweight contender
I see this as Joshua’s biggest test by far and a hard fight to win. In the eyes of boxers and die-hard fans they will question how much ambition Klitschko has left and also point to his age and that he isn’t the eleven-years unbeaten champion now. If the right Klitschko turns up he is more than capable of beating Joshua and testing his chin as he is a great boxer with very good power and height attributes so it’s a case of damned if you do or understand if you don’t .
Obviously I hope the Brit wins but in my eyes it doesn’t matter who wins as there is only one true champion and that is Tyson Fury.
Steve Robinson, trainer and former world champion
I go for Joshua later rounds knock-out or on points.
Mark Hobson, former British cruiserweight champion
Joshua inside three rounds. It’s the dawn of a new era and Klitschko has been tee’d up perfectly for AJ to rubber stamp this victory. Anything other than a dominant victory for Joshua will be a black eye for boxing. Heavyweight boxing needs Joshua to wipe Klitschko out and in style. Get to the bookies! Joshua to win inside three rounds is 11/2.
Paul Weir, trainer and former two-time world champion
I fancy Joshua to win by either KO or stoppage as soon as he settles and finds his range. There could be a few shaky moments for Joshua early but I think youth, strength and ambition have to go to AJ. Klitschko certainly has plenty of experience but I feel he has been around a long time and sometimes the fighter is the last to know when their time has passed. Even if Klitschko loses he still could have a rematch and another pay-day against Tyson Fury.
Mickey Vann, world-class referee
I have to say I can't see any other result other than Joshua victory. I can see it finishing inside the distance late on. Joshua needs to keep it at distance or Klitschko will tie him up and frustrate him. If he sticks to his game-plan and an accumulation of jabs alone plus Klitschko's age will complete the job for Joshua.
Stuart Hall, former world champion
Anthony Joshua by knock-out.
Willie Quinn, former pro middleweight
Joshua in round seven.
Harry Langhurst, pro cruiserweight
Kevin Barry, trainer of WBO champion Joseph Parker
This is a very interesting match-up and we will find out a lot more about Anthony Joshua in this fight. This is a real step up in experience for him fighting the best heavyweight of the last decade. Klitschko will match him in size, conditioning and confidence. They have shared a ring before and know each other's strengths and weaknesses. I believe Joshua is developing well and showing a little more each time that he fights. Father time will be the biggest factor in this title fight.
I thought Klitschko looked every bit his 40 years in his last showing. His mid was willing but his reflexes and timing were a thing of the past. It is extremely difficult to turn the clock back once Father time arrives. I think the younger, faster, stronger Joshua wins a points decision and puts Klitschko into retirement.
Ed Paredes, welterweight contender
Joshua by TKO.
Montell Griffin, former world champion
Joshua to win....Father Time!
Paul Morris, pro cruiserweight
I'm going for Klitschko!
Adam Mottram, fight fan
Klitschko by TKO around the ninth.
Ian Burbedge, trainer
I think if Klitschko has something left I fancy him to win because of his power, but if they've got him just over the hill, the youth of Joshua will come through.
Robert Russo, long-time fight fan
Klitschko will have to do a lot more than he did against Fury. That said, I think Father Time has hit and Klitschko is much slower and seems reluctant of throwing punches. Joshua is a big puncher and now is the time of the changing of the guard.
David Jones, fight fan
AJ by KO.
Tim Rickson, PR man and writer
AJ by points decision.
Steve Wellings, writer
AJ's first venture into genuine world class so Klitschko for me.
John Beadnall, long-time fight fan
AJ by KO. I don't think it will come too early in the fight but sometime after the fourth Wlad will get 'impaled'.
Colin Michin, fight fan
I'd just love to write up the front-page headline the next day 'Klit gets licked'.
Jeff Thomas, trainer and former pro
Joshua by KO or corner retirement around the fifth. I think the Fury loss and subsequent lay-off will hurt Wladimir a lot. He's being very quiet in the build-up but this seems to be a cash-out fight.
Don Maidment, fight fan
Joshua in four or five rounds.
David Edwards, fight fan
This is Joshua's opportunity to rule the roost and earn the total respect of the boxing world so I can't see him messing this up. We all know he likes a quick fight so for me it's AJ round three.
Owen Gallagher, trainer and former fighter
Wladimir surely must start the favourite. AJ is jumping levels here. If he sparks Wlad then that's a huge statement and it's a real possibility. I'm leaning towards a points victory for Wladimir but I hope I'm wrong and AJ ices him though.
Adam Gomez, fight fan
I think that Klitschko may just have one more good fight left in him. Not to mention Klitschko was fighting a crazy person last time!
Michael J Jones, writer, fan and author of this article
Klistchko lost last time out to Fury but had looked less than at his best in a few fights prior to that. He's now 41, coming off a loss and lengthy lay-off so everything seems against him at this stage. To balance it out somewhat, Joshua has simply never boxed at this level against a true professional who prepares meticulously before every fight and can boast vastly superior experience.
It's a tough call when considering the factors above but the momentum is with Joshua and I believe he will prevail in around eight rounds to solidify his potential and world-ruling aspirations.
Joshua to win-37
Klitschko to win-12
Linares, Welborn and Arnfield triumph in Manchester
A right hand can take you around the block but a jab can take you around the world. It’s said in boxing that everything starts and finishes with the jab. That was certainly true of this weekend’s events.
Marcus Morrison allowed Jason Welborn to drag him into a war from the very first bell on Saturday night. Whether Morrison was so confident about beating his first truly live opponent that he had no fear about taking on Welborn at his own game or whether he was just unprepared for the prospect of somebody absorbing his punches and firing back, he quickly found himself backed up against the ropes shipping punishment. Unable to contain Welborn at close quarters, Morrison (14-1, 10 KO’s) needed to concentrate on using his superior legs and spending as much time as possible fighting at distance by pinging Welborn with a hard, accurate jab. Instead, Welborn was able to walk right in through the front door time and time again.
When Morrison was able to retrieve some composure, his jab was fast and snappy but it was nowhere near heavy enough, accurate enough or consistent enough to keep Welborn at bay. Morrison showed tremendous courage to see the final bell but we didn’t get to see any of his other qualities because he just couldn’t stop Welborn from closing the distance. As Tony Bellew said on the night, he needed to use the jab as a weapon, not a rangefinder.
Given the right fights, Welborn (21-6, 7 KO’s) may yet make it third time lucky and claim a British title. Brought in to give Morrison some resistance and a few rounds of experience, the man from Dudley produced the performance of his career. Morrison has looked like a star in the making during his rise but now needs to spend some time in the gym working on how to impose his style on a fight.
Unbeaten light heavyweight Lyndon Arthur (5-0, 4 KO’s) quietly sauntered around ringside after Morrison’s defeat. Less than five miles across town and less than 24 hours earlier, Arthur had decimated Toni Bilic with a perfect jab. Arthur is making his early professional work look easy. The 25 year old from Moston has beaten a couple of Eastern European’s but also made short work of the durable Elvis Dube and Mitch Mitchell. The key to each victory has been a thudding, razor sharp jab. The former WSB competitor is moving silently towards titles. Keep your eyes on him.
Although Brian Rose (29-5-1, 8 KO’s) and Jack Arnfield (24-2, 6 KO’s) injected some spite into their middleweight Battle of Blackpool during the final days of the promotion, the expectation amongst those who have tracked both fighters careers was that that given the pride at stake, the good friends would resort to type and engage in a fencing match.
Both men sought to establish their jabs but, whether they were unwilling or unable, neither seemed to possess the ambition or imagination to build on it. Over the first half of the fight, the number of times either man stepped in behind the shot, doubled it or varied the speed and weight of the punch could be counted on one hand.
Around the midway point of the fight, it seemed to dawn on Arnfield that there was precious little coming back his way. Apart from the odd right hand counter from Rose, Arnfield was able to get close and step up his output. He pulled away over the second half of the fight.
Rose showed a surprising lack of urgency and variety in what could well prove to be a career threatening defeat. He managed to make Arnfield miss over the first five rounds but the solid jab that has carried him further than anybody expected just didn’t have the same effect on Saturday night. In the second half of the fight it didn’t even act as a deterrent. Rose has stated that he will return but faces a tough battle to reestablish himself and avoid becoming a stepping stone.
Arnfield will move on but given the nature of Saturday’s fight may make it difficult to entice a big name opponent into the ring immediately. If Tommy Langford vacates the British title, Arnfield seems ideally placed for a shot at the vacant belt.
Anthony Crolla’s right hand hasn’t taken him around the world, it has been his left hook to the body which has created headlines and lifted him to heights he could only have dreamt of. Darleys Perez and Ismael Barroso may have been crumpled by body shots but - for me - Crolla’s jab has always been his most important weapon. Hands high, walking forward and throwing his jab on the way back up from a little bounce, Crolla has pressured some world class operators into mistakes.
Jorge Linares’s right hand is one of the most dangerous weapons in world boxing. It has put him on top of the world four times over the years. Linares’ badly hurt Crolla with a right hand through the guard in their first fight last September, but it is a credit to Crolla’s jab that the Venezuelan’s major successes against the Mancunian have come when he has fired off lightening quick combinations or tempted Crolla into the line of fire of his uppercut. He hasn’t managed to detonate his right hand over the top of Crolla’s jab as regularly as he has other opponents throughout his career or in those brutal sparring videos he shares.
Linares might just be the most stylish fighter operating on the world scene at the moment but his blazing combinations and perfect footwork distract the eye – and likely the opponent’s concentration – from a brilliant jab. He manages to stop his opponents from closing the distance on him too easily by firing a lightening quick jab to the head or stabbing them to the body. The combinations and right hands he is able to run off his jab make up his highlight reel, but he creates his space and buys his time by using his jab. He spends a lot of time flicking and feints with the jab to draw leads and create openings for his counter punches. It is exciting to watch and his technique has even the toughest critics oohing and aaahing.
Linares (42-3, 27 KO’s) implemented his jab much better than Crolla (31-6-3, 13 KO’s) on Saturday night, making it difficult for Crolla to set his feet. When he did close the distance and manage to unload more than single punches, Linares made sure to counter with hard, clean punches to force Crolla back or buy himself a few precious inches. From there, it was back to his range and his rhythm. Linares - who holds the WBA title and is recognised as The Ring magazine champion - seems destined for another title unification with either WBO champion Terry Flanagan or WBC boss Mikey Garcia.
There is no shame in losing to a fighter of Linares’ calibre but Crolla has spent the best part of two years preparing for back to back world title fights and given his style, he could do with a break. At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, a fight with Flanagan must surely be Crolla's target once he has recuperated and got back in the winners enclosure.
CROLLA: I’M IN THE SHAPE OF MY LIFE FOR LINARES
Anthony Crolla says that he’s done everything he can to make sure he’s in the shape of his life for his rematch with Jorge Linares for the WBA, WBC Diamond and Ring Magazine World Lightweight titles tomorrow night at the Manchester Arena, live on Sky Sports.
The Lightweight stars clash again following their epic battle in September that Linares edged. The Venezuelan star returns to place the straps on the line against the hometown hero, looking for a third win in the UK after defeating Kevin Mitchell in another fight of the year contender.
‘Million Dollar’ Crolla has heeded the advice of trainer Joe Gallagher and locked himself away from friends and family to get in the best shape possible – and the Manchester hero believes that will pay off tomorrow night.
“I feel fantastic,” said Crolla, who scaled 9st 8lbs 8oz, 4oz heavier than the defending champion. “I feel better than I have ever felt. Camp has gone really well and there will certainly be no excuses tonight. I have had no distractions outside of camp and everything is good. It is a matter now of showing in the ring the improvements I have been showing in the gym.
“For fight week I have been living in a hotel, no distractions. I am covering all bases. After this fight I can say I have given everything, not just in training but outside of camp too. I have had no social life for the past few months and I will walk to the ring knowing that, knowing I have prepared in the best way I possibly can. There will be no ‘what if I had done this’, ‘what if I had done that’ – I have prepared the best I possibly can.
“I understand what Joe was saying and I think in the past I have been a bit stupid. I was running around with tickets at the last minute and stressing over things. I have been told it isn’t a good thing to do and I haven’t done that this time.
“It isn’t in any way used as an excuse for last time – I was here, there and everywhere not just with tickets but with lots of other things. That is only my fault – I didn’t want to let people down but I should have been concentrating on other things. This time I am a lot more relaxed and I believe I have prepared better.”
Crolla’s clash with Linares is part of a huge night of action in Manchester where there’s a crossroads battle of Blackpool as Middleweights Brian Rose and Jack Arnfield lock horns.
Martin J. Ward defends his British Super-Featherweight title against Maxi Hughes in their third clash in the paid ranks, Marcus Morrison defends his WBC International Middleweight strap against Jason Welborn, while his Joe Gallagher gym-mate Hosea Burton looks to bounce back into title contention from his epic battle with Frank Buglioni, Irish sensation Katie Taylor fights for the fourth time as a pro, while there’s also action for Tomi Tatham, Ben Sheedy, Nathan Wheatley and Sean McGoldrick.
Tickets are on sale priced at £40, £60, £80, £100 and £150 and available from www.manchesterarena.com or by calling 0844 847 8000. VIPs tickets are exclusively available through www.matchroomboxing.com priced at £250.
Face value tickets for March 25 will also be available from http://www.stubhub.co.uk/matchroom-boxing-tickets/ . StubHub is the official ticket partner and marketplace of Matchroom Boxing and Anthony Joshua.
Photos courtesy of Lawrence Lustig
Rising talent Marcus Morrison talks Welborn showdown
By Shaun Brown
A lot of things look good on paper.
The Scottish Football team.
And sometimes a fighter’s record can look good on paper too. but what you read on Boxrec might promise one thing and then fail to deliver when it matters the most.
Marcus Morrison’s first acid test as a pro looks like it will present itself in the shape of 30-year-old Jason Welborn this Saturday night inside the Manchester Arena as part of the Jorge Linares-Anthony Crolla 2 undercard.
Welborn may, at some point, be described as a seasoned campaigner by the commentary team in Manchester but the Midlander has danced the sweet science in his own way with the likes of Frankie Gavin, Liam Smith and Matthew Macklin. Credible performances on each occasion, but Welborn can also slip on a banana skin named William Warburton as he did last May.
Welborn does hold wins over Ryan Aston, Terry Carruthers, Max Maxwell while Marcus Morrison, unbeaten in 14 starts, and quietly beginning to make strides under Joe Gallagher, only went past the second round once in six starts last year.
So, on paper…
“I think it’s a step up on paper,” Morrison told us.
“And who he’s fought, it’s a step up in class if you look at it like that. The way I look at it is it’s not a step up in class for me. When it comes down to skill and what I’m about I don’t think it is a massive step up. I think in this fight I’ll be able to show off exactly what I’m capable of and show my skills.”
A showcase is what Morrison needs right about now. The 24-year-old Mancunian has been going about his business on big shows with the Manchester Arena, where he fights on Saturday, beginning to feel like a second home for him.
The middleweight’s resume in 2016 of Istvan Kiss, Janos Varga, Jefferson De Sousa, Konstantin Alexandrov, Matiouze Royer and Harry Matthews might not exactly be sending tremors amongst his British rivals at 160lbs, but enough noise is being made so that the name is known without being shouted about. And it might not be too long before messrs Langford, Arnfield, Rose, Doran and Cunningham begin to look at Morrison as a serious threat to their own ambitions. Especially if he were to do a ‘job’ on Welborn. Something that he seems confident of pulling off.
“To be honest I’ve never took much notice of Welborn,” he remarked.
“I’ve seen fights here and there, but not kept an eye on and thought ‘Oh this is a fight that I’d like to be a part of’. I can’t say I have. But I’ve watched him since the fight was made.
“To be honest I don’t look at fighters in their worst fights, I look at them when they’re at their best when he’s well up for a fight against the likes of Macklin, Liam Smith and what not. These are fights he was well up for and had good preparation for. I’m not going to watch a bad Jason Welborn. I’ve watched a good Jason Welborn. I know he’s had a good preparation for this, a good eight weeks. I know he’s already been in camp so he’ll be fit, that’s one thing you can be sure of. He’ll keep coming forward.
“Skilful wise, technical wise I feel like I’m a lot better but he will be there for 10 rounds if I don’t get rid of him. If he does try to take me into deep waters, like he said he wants to do, then I’ve got to make sure I’m more than prepared to war in the late rounds.”
Morrison may be in his infancy as a pro but he bears all the hallmarks of a Joe Gallagher fighter, none more so when you speak to him outside the ring. There’s traces of Gallagher in what he says, you can tell he’s been schooled well in preparation for those who will question him with their firsts and those with a tape recorder. His education is daily and he loves every single part of it, whether it be in the gym staying in shape or walking the same Manchester Arena corridors as the likes of Crolla and Scott Quigg on a fight night of his own.
One particular night in February last year showed Morrison what a big British boxing night can bring you. Taking it all in, taking it in his stride so he has every base covered for when his time comes to be top of the bill.
“The Quigg and Frampton bill was huge,” he recalled.
“It was massive for Quigg and it was nice to be a part of it. Walk the same corridors as the fighters do and the workouts as well, it all stands me in good stead for bigger things to come. And although the build-up wasn’t for me, I still felt a part of the show. And like I said when it’s my time to be topping bills I’ll be more than ready because those sorts of things will have stood me in good stead.”
‘One fight at a time’ - those will be the words of most boxers when you talk to them, and Morrison is no different. Why put a timescale on something when you’re a student who is into his third year of learning? That doesn’t mean ‘ambition’ is some sacred word that should only be whispered when no-one’s listening. Boxers are only human. They may tell you they’re taking one fight at a time but in the back of their mind there is an end game objective for every year.
“I’m hoping to get right in the mix at British domestic level. Touch wood I get (March) 25th out the way, I’m pretty sure I will. I’m training hard, I’m in a good place and I’m very confident I’ll get the job done. Keep on winning, stay active and by the end of 2017 like I said I’d like to be in the mix for the British title.”
Something currently in the possession of the educated Tommy Langford. A man who steps into the depths of world level on April 22nd against Avtandil Khurtsidze.
“Tommy Langford’s a good fighter, not long become British champion and has been pro a good few years. I’ve only been pro just over two years so I’ve got a lot of learning to do, but when I feel the time is right me and Joe will put myself in the mix for British titles, but I think it’s just a case of when I feel ready.
“When I’ve got those rounds in the bank whether it’s eight months, 12 months or 18 months just as long as I’m ready and comfortable doing the rounds then that’s when I’ll be at British title level. I’m not going to put a time limit on it. It’ll just be when I’m ready and I do feel I am heading in the right direction.”
Follow Shaun Brown on Twitter @sbrown2pt0
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.