Mayweather won the battle but Maidana can win the war

Society normally believes in giving sinners a second chance to right their wrongs. This is mirrored in sport where the story of someone’s ‘shot at redemption’ is a familiar and popular narrative which has resonance with the fans because they can relate to it. After all, everyone makes mistakes, everyone has regrets. Therefore the average person has an affinity with someone who has fallen from grace but is resolving to restore their former glories.

Mayweather vs Maidana

However, in the harsh and unforgiving environment of boxing you are seldom ever given a second chance. The vast majority of fighters in the sport, however deserving they may be, rarely even get one shot at major success. It can be considered a minor miracle then that Floyd Mayweather has granted Marcos Maidana a second chance by agreeing to a September rematch. Furthermore, when you take into account how much trouble Maidana caused the usually unflappable Floyd Mayweather in May it makes it even more remarkable that he has decided to do it all again with Maidana next month.

In this article I suppose I am appealing for a second chance as well because after the initial bout between the two men I wrote that there was really no merit in a rematch. Sure the 1st fight was a close, competitive contest, but the result was not controversial. Mayweather clearly deserved to get the decision. Yet I have revised my initial estimation that the rematch will be irrelevant because I now believe that the outcome can be different. In short, in the 1st fight Maidana did more to lose it than Mayweather did to win it. He had a golden chance to win the 1st fight but he ruined it by gassing out due to throwing hundreds of wild, wasteful punches that were way off target. Consequently, the second coming of Mayweather vs Maidana will only have a different conclusion if Maidana can learn from the mistakes he made in the first match up.

Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity was repeating the same actions over and over again but expecting different results. Yet it doesn’t take someone with the intellect of Einstein to predict that Maidana will suffer a similar fate in the rematch if he repeats the game plan he employed in the 1st fight against Mayweather.

Even though his strategy in the first fight yielded relative success, it was the execution that was fundamentally flawed.

Maidana must aim to set the same frantic pace and apply similar levels of relentless pressure on Mayweather. He however cannot expect to prevail against a prizefighting genius and a defensive master by simply pinning Mayweather on the ropes and swinging recklessly with his power punches. There must be more method and less madness from Maidana if he is to have his hand raised in the rematch.

In the big fight build up Maidana’s trainer Robert Garcia has been at pains to emphasise that Maidana will paint a different picture this time. Garcia insists that instead of falling victim to insanity and repeating the same actions but expecting different results, this time Maidana will be more measured in his approach. I would echo Garcia’s sentiments. When Maidana has Mayweather at his mercy on the ropes, he must make him pay by replacing his unmitigated madness with the method of launching precision power shots to the head and body.

There is no point trying to overwhelm Mayweather with reckless offensive onslaughts. Restraint and composure are the keys to victory for ‘El Chino’. Maidana has to cut off the ring and road block the escape routes of the elusive Mayweather, of course he does. On the other hand, he cannot close the distance to the point where he smothers his own punches as this will only serve to suffocate his chances of success.

Undoubtedly Maidana is lucky to get a second chance in the Mayweather lottery. Now he must use his shot at redemption to prove he is the man to decipher the ‘May-Vinci’ code.

This boxing fan now believes that Mayweather can be broken by Maidana.

 Do you?

Thanks for Reading- I look forward to reading your comments.

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Brandon Rios vs Ruslan Provodnikov: A Fans Fight

Being a boxing fan is a labour of love sometimes, isn’t it?

The paying public watches on helplessly, powerless to prevent the reputation of the sport we love being dragged through the mud on a routine basis. Boxing lurches from disarray to disaster because of bad decisions, rumours of rampant performance enhancing drug abuse, and the laughable list of world titles dished out indiscriminately like hot dinners at a halfway house.

Ruslan Provodnikov

We all know boxing is a business. Even still, it is saddening to see the credibility of boxing plummet to new depths with the news that the World Boxing Association (WBA) now has three ‘world champions’ in the middleweight division. In no way am I trying to pin the blame on the fighters, it is not their fault. They put their lives on the line to put food in the mouths and shoes on the feet of themselves and their families. Those alphabet titles pay their bills. But still, three ‘champions’ in one weight class? What is that all about?  Irrespective of who is to blame though, fight fans can be forgiven for wanting to get back to basics.

That is why we should welcome the news that a fight between Brandon Rios and Ruslan Provodnikov is in the works. Although both men personify the brutality of boxing more than the beauty of the sweet science, it is a refreshing thought that these two warriors will soon meet in the ring for a good old fashioned tear up. It is a rarity in boxing that two evenly balanced boxers are allowed to do battle. Too many times we are sold the fallacy of a fight between two men who do not belong in the same ring together.

Forget the pretence of ‘this will be a great fight’. With Rios and Provodnikov we have the promise of punishment. Their come forward, combative styles, coupled with their complete disregard for defence is a prescription for all out war. There really is no other way the fight can unfold.

Make no mistake; if and when the fight is made, it will be bloody. It will be brutal. It will be downright barbaric at times. But it will be a sweet escape from the mismatches the fans are fed shamelessly by promoters and television networks who insist what is in fact festering water is actually fine wine. We fight fans are not fools. We know fine well we are being duped on a regular basis. Yet we endure the bitter taste of the bad times because we love the flavour of the big fights.

Although there would be no title at stake for Brandon Rios and Ruslan Provodnikov fight, the real fans recognise it as a big fight. Why? Because we would finally get our monies worth instead of being blinded by a light while unscrupulous promoters and managers plunder our pockets for every penny they can pinch.

The result of the protracted showdown with Brandon Rios and Ruslan Provodnikov will be the subject of much debate in the build up to the fight. But what is beyond doubt is that this fight will be a hellacious battle from the start to the bloody, bitter end.

Will we watch it? Yes, of course.

Why? We are boxing fans.

We love it.

Thanks for Reading.

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Ryan Gauld: A champion of circumstance

When the collective gaze of the football world was firmly fixed on the World Cup, all other football related matters seem trivial in comparison.

It was hardly surprising then that the signing of young Scottish protégé Ryan Gauld, by Portuguese giants Sporting Lisbon from Dundee United, failed to send shockwaves through the football world. The transfer seemed to move as subtly as Gauld when he glides between enemy lines to decipher the code of opposition defences. Yet in my native Scotland it was seen as a hugely significant transfer. His surprise move to Sporting Lisbon is sure to have positive implications for youth development in a country that has floundered in a sea of soccer mediocrity for years.

Ryan Gauld

Many of the policy makers and coaches of professional youth teams in Scotland have long been accused of applying an antiquated approach to developing the technical ability of our young players. For far too long too great an emphasis was placed on physicality at the expense of ability. The by-product of this seemed to be an endless procession of one dimensional footballer’s devoid of craft and imagination.

The overwhelming focus on the physical make-up of players was compounded by the fact that youth team coaches, worried about losing their jobs, were forced to subordinate the development of ability and creativity of the individual in favour of focusing on the results of the collective. As a consequence, many talented prospects with great potential have become victims of a set of circumstances that seem to conspire against technically gifted young players in Scotland. Ryan Gauld, however, is a champion of circumstance. His transfer to Sporting Lisbon could result in a paradigm shift for Scottish football at youth level, the significance of which cannot be overstated.

In his international best-selling book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell argues that out of the greatest adversity arises the greatest opportunities for success. Gladwell’s theory seems to mirror the reality in Scotland. The dire financial state of Scottish football has made our domestic game a breeding ground for young talents such Gauld, who out of necessity, have been given the platform to express themselves at a professional level from a very young age.

For example Gauld made his senior debut at the tender age of 16. He has now featured in around 50 professional games at only 18 years old. Yet he is not the exception to the rule. In fact he wasn’t even the only young protégé at Dundee United. His ex-team mate Andrew Robertson is a full Scotland international at 19 years old, and will hone his craft in the cauldron of the English Premiership this season after sealing a move to Hull City this summer.

On a personal level, the proudest moment of my life came when I watched my younger brother Jack- released from Celtic for being ‘too small’ at only 14- make his professional debut at 17 for Airdrie in the final game of the season before last. Sadly he was injured all last season in what was supposed to be his breakthrough year. But he is now back and better than ever. I expect big things from my brother in the not too distant future. From Jacks age group the number of players plying their trade at all levels of the senior game in Scotland are too numerous to mention.

In some ways it seems to be more by accident than design that our country is at last beginning to develop a batch of gifted young players. There is no doubt that youth development has been injected with fresh impetus in recent years. Equally, it cannot be disputed that the influx of teenagers in teams up and down the country is due to the financial constraints of clubs in Scotland. Yet although senior teams are financially malnourished, they are not starved of talent, and now have healthy numbers of young boys who are making their mark against men on a weekly basis.

The rise of Ryan Gauld proves that the new progressive style of coaching is a prescription for the future prosperity of Scottish football.

Famous Greek philosopher Aristotle said that ‘We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.’ Therefore we must continue to place our faith in the feet of our youngsters and allow them to express their talents. While also persevering with this new progressive style of youth development so that Scotland can begin to habitually breed young players of a similar ilk to Ryan Gauld.

In a situation parallel to our independence vote in September, in a football sense, Scottish clubs must take control of their own destiny and usher in a new of era of success and prosperity instead of the ‘glorious failure’ our nation has become synonymous with.

Thanks for Reading.

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Does Kell Brook need Amir Khan to keep living the dream?

 Kell Brook is living the dream, and now that he has ended his long and frustrating wait for a world title he is going to want to live the dream for as long as possible.

It has been a long and arduous journey to the summit for the Sheffield man, but now he is at the top it will only get tougher. The glass ceiling has been shattered, and now that the ‘Special One’ can bring his shiny new IBF world title to the party he is suddenly being ushered through doors that have been previously slammed shut in his face. Who lies in wait behind those doors provides a fascinating insight into how a man quickly becomes a priceless commodity when he has a world title in his possession, especially when it is a title in the most talent rich and lucrative division in boxing.

Special K

The list of possible opponents for his next big fight includes legends from Manny Pacquiao to Juan Manuel Marquez to young, hungry contenders such as Amir Khan and Keith Thurman. The list illustrates the magnitude of the tasks facing Kell Brook if he is to continue his reign at the top.

Make no mistake, Special K’s cards are now marked by some of the most menacing men in the sport and that is why he must play his cards carefully if he wants to prolong his place in the sun.

When pondering his next opponent Kell Brook should employ the risk versus reward strategy. It is patently obvious that Kell Brook, who after tax and training costs probably only banked about $70,000 of his $200,000 fight purse for facing Shawn Porter, needs a lucrative pay day. He must maximize his earning potential while he is a world champion.

That is why, a money spinning domestic mega fight with long time rival Amir Khan, is by far and away Brooks best option. From both a financial and a fighting perspective it makes perfect sense. Out of all the big names, it is Khan who would comfortably bring the most money, yet the Bolton man is by far the most beatable opponent available to Brook. I mean Brook would probably make around 5 million pounds sterling in a showdown with Khan, and with the aid of a stacked undercard the fight could sell-out Wembley Stadium.

If you take into consideration that Marcos Maidana only made a guaranteed $1.5 million for a welterweight unification fight with Floyd Mayweather, Brook’s purse would pale in comparison to what he would pocket for facing Thurman, Marquez or Manny Pacquiao instead of Amir Khan.

Apart from the fact that Keith Thurman is just far too damn dangerous a fighter for a 1st title defence, he also brings no money to the table. The undefeated, 5ft 11in American is a monster for a welterweight and he represents arguably the most physical risk for undeniably the lowest possible financial reward. Even in victory, Kell Brook would have to ship major punishment from a force like Thurman, whereas Khan is not a power puncher at 147lb and is plagued by accusations that his chin is about as fireproof as a paper towel.

 I know Kell Brook valiantly stated in his victory speech that he would fight Thurman. But now is not the time for the Sheffield slugger to show his charitable side by granting a title shot to a bone-fida knockout artist, who is perhaps the most avoided fighter in boxing. You can bet that he is the last warrior on Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn’s wish list- that’s for sure.

Obviously the prestige attached to fighting living legends Floyd Mayweather Jnr, Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquaio is an alluring pull for any prizefighter. But Brook should look at the bigger picture and realise that Amir Khan is his golden ticket; the fight is a cash cow that he can milk for many more millions than he would get anywhere else.

Yet just because a goldmine clash with Amir Khan makes perfect sense doesn’t mean it will be an easy fight to fix. Firstly, if Amir Khan’s name is announced in the Floyd Mayweather Jnr sweepstakes then Brook can forget about a bout with Khan in the near future.

Just as importantly, Brook is clearly bitter that he has had to play subordinate to the Bolton man for many years despite the fact he feels he is, and always has been, the better boxer. So now Brook is a champion he may be inclined to make Khan ‘wait in line’ for his shot. I get the impression that the pride of both men could prove to be a major stumbling block in setting up a brawl between the two British fighters.

Neither man will want to budge in the negotiations. It seems they would each be content to cut off their own nose to spite their face rather than satiate the other’s demands.

Yet as with all rivalries, each protagonist needs the other and Kell Brook certainly needs Amir Khan if he wants to keep living the dream.

Thanks for Reading BN24 Fans.

Who do you think Kell Brook should face and why?

I look forward to reading your comments.

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Now really is the time for the Special One to Shine

Nine months ago I wrote an article entitled ‘Now is Kell Brook’s time to shine’. Within my words though was a warning that Brook would miss his chance if he allowed procrastination to steal his time. The time for deep thought about becoming a world champion was over, decisive action was required if ‘The Special One’ was to realise his dreams.

As the action unfolded  last night between Kell Brook and Shawn Porter I had the sinking feeling that the words I had written were coming back to haunt me. Instead of seizing the initiative on the biggest night of his life, I felt Brook was thinking too much and not acting enough.

Procrastination was threatening to ruin his dreams of becoming a world champion. Or so I thought.

Kell Brook

Although Brook showed from the outset that he was the better boxer, it seemed his periods of success were too sporadic to warrant him being ahead on any of the judge’s scorecards by the half way point. However, Brook’s calculated demeanour contrasted sharply with Porters careless strategy. The Sheffield mans salvation was that the clean, effective blows were coming from him. Whilst I was surprised by Brook’s relative inhibition, I was staggered by how ordinary and basic Porter looked. In the build up to the fight ‘Showtime’ Shawn Porter stated that he had many different styles he could use to beat Brook.

Yet from the opening bell it was abundantly clear that Porter’s only tactics were to try and bully Kell Brook and overwhelm him with relentless activity marinating crude attacks. After witnessing wave after wave of clumsy assaults from Porter it was hard to believe that the 26 year old was being touted as the man to solve the Mayweather riddle.

Still, however unpalatable the approach of Porter was, it looked like his recipe for success was working as the fight wore on. In between rounds the action replays on the big screens clearly showed that Brook was punctuating the action with the more classy and accurate punches. Nonetheless, you still got the nagging feeling that Brook’s bursts of quality were too infrequent to merit him winning the title against the champion in his own backyard.

Kell Brook’s case was certainly helped by how poor Porter looked though. Still the challenger was being too tentative when he should have stamped his authority on the contest when he backed Porter up. I was screaming at the screen, exhorting Brook to unleash a barrage of blows on Porter whenever he had him near the ropes, but he let him off the hook time and again. Despite showing he was the superior technician in aesthetic terms, his performance seemed more style than substance. In world title fights the onus is always on the challenger to really be the chief protagonist in the action, yet Brook’s procrastination was playing a big part in the narrative as his dream threatened to turn into a nightmare.

However, in the championship rounds the plot thickened. With both men sporting nasty cuts, the tide was turning subtly in the favour of Brook- but not by much. The frenetic pace Porter set was taking its toll on the champion. Although he was only visibly beginning to tire by the 9th, he had long since run out of ideas by that point.

As the fight crept into the closing stages, Porter’s increasing fatigue was just further proof that his bullying strategy was betraying him. Far from winning Porter the fight, his relentless but incoherent onslaughts were ineffective and only served to waste his energy and allow Brook to put him on the back foot in the closing stages of the bout. Despite all the incessant pressure applied by Porter, Brook stubbornly refused to be bullied by his bull-like opponent.

Apart from the cut, which was caused by a head butt, Brook was unblemished and was never in any trouble. Porter was never in any real danger either despite his badly marked face attempting to tell a different story.

Truth be told, Porter barely landed a clean blow on Brook throughout the entire fight. But was Kell Brook really doing enough to rip the title from the champion on foreign turf?

I didn’t think he was.

And going into the 12th round I thought Kell Brook needed to go for broke in search of the knockout to stand any chance of emerging victorious.

You can sense my surprise then when Kell Brook’s arm was raised at the end of the action.

Sure Brook may have been lucky to get the benefit of the doubt, but Porter has got no one to blame but himself. He cannot expect to always be successful against the best fighters in boxing with such an archaic approach. He must go back to the drawing board and abandon his bullying, bull-rushing style if he wants to restore his former glories.

For Brook, this was by no means a classic performance, but he will not care one little bit because his dreams have come true; he is now ‘the champion of the world baby!’

 To be sure, Brook can be better, and he will need to be because the biggest names of the best division in boxing now have the Sheffield man firmly in their sights.

Thanks for Reading BN24 Fans.

What do you think.. Did Kell Brook deserve decision against Porter?

I look forward to reading your comments.

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Ravel Morrison’s problems will never be solved

In society there are many problems that would be easier to solve than to manage.

For instance, almost overnight, global poverty could become a thing of the past, if the 85 individuals that control the world’s wealth resolved to cede some of their financial resources to the communities and populations that need them most.

131007090009_ravel_morrison_512x288_pa

The same goes for starvation. If the abundant food supplies that exist in the developed world were shared with a more equitable distribution, as opposed to being wasted with abandon, then not a single soul in the world would ever have to go the sleep at night with an empty stomach, ever again. This is not some leftist utopian view. It is simply a statement of fact.

On the other hand, there are some more trivial problems that are a lot easier to manage carefully than to solve completely.

The emotional and psychological problems that the promising young footballer Ravel Morrison suffers from, along with many others, are a classic case in point. Sadly Ravel Morrison is a product of his environment. No matter the supreme talent he possesses, or the vast wealth he acquires, in certain situations he will always revert to type. On occasion, his deep seated anger issues which have obviously distilled inside him for some time will inevitably come to the surface with destructive consequences.

His recent criminal charges for allegedly physically assaulting his former girlfriend and her mother are just the latest in a reasonably long line of incidences when he has been unable to keep his demons at bay. Yet just because these incidents seem predictable does not mean that they are easily preventable.

Although he left Manchester United prematurely in his career as a player, in my opinion he left the city a little too late in his life as a person for these problems to be completely eradicated.

This comment from Sam Allardyce seems to back up my belief. The West Ham manager stated,

“Sir Alex let Ravel go for his own benefit. Sir Alex said that if Ravel’s going to be a player he has to leave Manchester and be somewhere else in this country because he felt that Manchester was something that wasn’t helping him to develop.

Ravel Morrison, who Sir Alex Ferguson described as the ‘best young player he has ever seen’, is certainly not a lost cause. But this will not be the last time he courts controversy. His precocious temperament gives him the edge many require to be a great sporting talent. But at the same time his precocity is also a prescription for problems that will probably persist to varying degrees for most of his life.

Sure, anger management classes and a long lie in Your Majesties Prison will help him to mediate and minimise his moments of madness. But ultimately he will have to learn to manage his problems carefully, rather than solve them completely.

On the one hand I have confidence in the conviction that Morrison will be able to overcome his problems to the extent where he will still enjoy a good career. On the other, I fully believe that he will never be able to totally abandon the baggage he carries. His shoulders will always be wary from the burden. But he will still be able to conjure many moments of brilliance on a football pitch.

Unlike global poverty and starvation, the problems of Ravel Morrison are easier to manage carefully than to solve completely.

Whoever learns to accept him for his flaws will have a fantastic footballer on their hands, a priceless commodity that can punctuate the play and change the outcome of the game with a moment of pure genius.

Thanks for Reading. I look forward to reading your comments.
Question: Will Ravel Morrison conquer his demons and have a great career?
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