Archive for April, 2012

By George Ogier

During the 1980s many young children had their heads buried in the popular ”Choose Your Own Adventure” books. The premise was simple, readers assumed the role of the book’s protagonist in a fantasy world of wizards, maidens and dragons.

As the story progressed you were offered choices on how best to take the tale forward. The resulting decisions generally culminated in a glorious victory against the forces of evil or an ignominious demise at the teeth of a terrible monster.

Imagine carrying this idea over to the world of modern day boxing. Our hero, or perhaps anti-hero in this case is a man called Tyson Fury. Against a tide of mostly mediocre opponents and public brickbats Fury has risen to claim the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles. In the face scorn and derision Fury has labelled himself a “fighting man”. A champion who would take on all-comers.

With that in mind, place yourself in the role of Fury and decide how you would like this adventure to progress. You can fight David Price, the mandatory challenger for both the British and Commonwealth titles. This will be hard but it’s an ideal chance to prove doubters wrong and cement your claim as Britain’s premier heavyweight.

Alternatively, you can vacate both titles to avoid Price and claim that you’re chasing bigger fights. That first big contest, who will the opponent be? Martin Rogan, an over-the-hill Belfast cab driver who hasn’t fought for 18 months and who hasn’t beaten anyone of note for over 3 years. You decide!

In a fantasy world many observers would opt for the first choice. Sadly we do not live in such a magical place and as a result Tyson Fury will face Martin Rogan this Saturday for the Irish Heavyweight title.

There is another side to this story and in fairness to Tyson Fury it isn’t just about running scared, well, not completely. Fury’s deal to fight on Channel 5 is dependent on the erstwhile champion’s success. As it stands, Tyson remains unbeaten and it makes no commercial sense to fight a dangerous opponent like Price.

Tyson Fury has been mentioned as a possible world title contender for a while now. The majority of those claims have come from Fury’s promoter, Mick Hennessy. Whilst Hennessy’s tall talk isn’t particularly shocking, it has raised a few eyebrows to see Fury’s name being used by the Klitschko brothers.

In an era when credible heavyweight challengers are few and far between it should come as no surprise that Fury is on the radar of Wlad and Vitali. Tyson brings a 17-0 record to the table. He has also beaten Dereck Chisora, a man who put up a great showing against Vitali.

The Klitschkos are running out of people to box. There are only so many blown up cruiserweights for them to knock out. It is up to Tyson Fury to keep himself in the best possible to position to hit the big time against either of the Ukrainian brothers.

As we are told time and time again by promoters, boxing is a business. There can be no doubt that Tyson Fury versus David Price would sell out most UK arenas. However, that sort of money would pale in comparison to money that Fury would get for a world title fight.

By remaining unbeaten Fury keeps himself near the front of the queue for such a payday. With a young family to look after it is hard to begrudge him that choice. Avoiding David Price does damage British boxing’s integrity but perhaps Tyson Fury is a little bit smarter than people are giving him credit for.

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Why supporting Britain’s most talented fighter can be a chore…

By Martin ‘the Brain’ Potter of the One More Round podcast

Many British boxers in recent history have polarised the opinion of the public. Chris Eubank’s English gent act – complete with cane and monocle – delighted some but was derided by others, whilst David Haye’s potent combination of trash talking and bravado brought him love and hate in almost equal measure. The often extreme behaviour of both men ensured big box office and a firm direction for supporters to take – you either loved what they were about or you didn’t, yet the behaviour of the current marquee name in British boxing – Amir ‘King’ Khan – leaves me, and many others, with a strange dilemma; do I get behind him or not?

Amir Khan is without doubt an extremely talented (although still highly flawed) fighter. As a young Olympic medal winner Khan’s talent aligned to his seemingly humble and likeable nature shone through. Aside from the case of a few mindless racist idiots, Amir was the British Muslim fighter who could unite communities and was loved by Brits of every conceivable denomination (over 6 million viewers tuned into to watch his final amateur fight following the 2004 Olympics). Although Amir was confident – you have to be to be successful in the fight game – he didn’t display the arrogance of his hero Prince Naseem Hamed. At the outset of his professional career I was behind Khan all the way. But then things changed…

As Amir has risen through the boxing ranks he has retained only some of the charm that initially endeared him to the public, usually coming across as amiable in pre-planned interviews. But on a number of occasions – certainly within the past two years – he has also shown a hot-headed immaturity (in and out of the ring) alongside a burgeoning arrogance and strangely contradictory moral compass that has led many British fight fans to turn against him.

The most recent example of Amir Khan’s rash behaviour centres around potential British rival Kell Brook – the talented Sheffield welterweight who is on the verge of cracking the world scene. Kell realises that at this stage Amir is a level above him in terms of fame and achievement and, as talented ambitious boxers do, he has made it clear that he wants to fight Khan – nothing wrong with that. Khan though seems to be strangely affronted by the challenge from Brook and rather than answering him in the ring or even engaging in a bit of standard trash talk, such as ‘I’d knock him out’ etc, he has taken to trashing Kell Brook’s character.

On Twitter recently Amir Khan stated that he would not fight Kell Brook because he alleged that Kell had taken illegal substances recreationally (not of the performance enhancing type) and had been involved in out of ring altercations. Amir stated that this behaviour was undisciplined and unprofessional and as such he would not fight him. If Amir’s claims were true – I note he has now removed these comments from his Twitter feed and there does not appear to be a shred of evidence to support them anyway – then perhaps you could applaud Amir for making such a noble moral stand. However, in the next message Khan was naming Floyd Mayweather – the man who is shortly to begin a jail term for domestic violence – as a potential future opponent. I’m confused Amir, is discipline and professionalism outside of the ring a prerequisite to fight you or not? (It should also be noted that Amir stated that Brook fights at 147, whereas he was still at 140, meaning they couldn’t fight anyway. Last time I checked Floyd was due to fight Cotto at 154!)

In addition to Amir’s Brook bashing, the manner in which he took defeat to the humble, hard-working Lamont Peterson was hardly sporting. Although there was some debate about the outcome (it was a close back and forth fight with a couple of questionable decisions), the fact is that Amir Khan fought an extremely poor tactical contest in which he allowed his heart to rule his head. Although Freddie Roach has acknowledged this, Khan himself has laid the blame for his defeat on men in hats and conspiracy theories. He should have taken defeat like a man, let others draw their own conclusions and then proved himself again in the ring.

The truth is that Amir Khan should be one of the most loved sportsmen in Britain at the present time. He has undoubted boxing ability, charisma and an audience who he held in the palm of his hand following Olympic success. It’s a huge shame that boxing fans in Britain are turning against him. Perhaps Amir has been badly advised following his split from Frank Warren, perhaps Amir will mature (he is still only young), but more than anything hopefully Amir Khan will learn that sometimes it’s better to keep your mouth shut and let your fists do the talking!

To hear more of my ill-informed views on a wide range of subjects from sport to Stallone you can tune into my new show, the One More Round podcast on iTunes (search ‘One More Round podcast’) or at www.onemoreroundpod.com You can also contact me on Twitter @theboxingbrain or @onemoreroundpod or via email at onemoreroundpod@gmail.com.