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Report card: Analysing the game as boxing hangs up its gloves

In this week’s column, we take a look at ‘the state of the game’ as boxing goes relatively quiet for the month of August.

Kelly Pavlik in action
Kelly Pavlik in action
Image: Mark Terrill/AP/Press Association Images

UNLIKE MOST OTHER sports, boxing doesn’t really have an off-season. Fights will continue, but with promoters now firmly of the opinion that tickets simply don’t sell in the late summer, August sees most boxers temporarily hang up their gloves and many media outlets take a wider look at the ‘state of the game’.

This column will be no exception.

Looking at the professional game in Ireland, the first seven months of this year in particular have been healthy, albeit slightly disappointing.

Matthew Macklin, Paul McCloskey and Brian Magee all lost fights for world titles – the first two in unlucky circumstances, and while the third was outclassed, his performance against Lucian Bute did at least earn him an ultimately successful shot at an interim world title against Jaime Barboza in Costa Rica last weekend.

Limerick’s Willie Casey lost his shot at an interim World title, dispatched easily by Cuban Guillermo Rigondeaux in Match, while Cavan’s Andy Murray lost out to Gavin Rees in his attempt to secure a European title.  It’s likely that we’ve never had as many Irishmen fight for as many titles in such a short period of time – had they won, it would have been unbelievable, but alas that was not the case.

It’s not been all doom and gloom.  Anthony Fitzgerald and Patrick Hyland continued their good runs by lifting relatively minor trinkets, and of our ‘up-and-comers’ Jamie Kavanagh, Stephen Ormond and Sean Monaghan were among those who maintained unbeaten runs.  Mike Perez, meanwhile, showed his potential when he captured the innaugural International Prizefighter competition.  And as for Andy Lee, the opening half of 2011 saw him record two wins, including one over Scot Craig McEwen.  He’s also signed on to fight Brian Vera in October 1st in what’s likely to be a career-defining fight.  Progress, at least.

As for the amateur game, well success has continued there.  Joe Ward and Ray Moylette captured European titles, while our boxers (particularly at underage level) shone in a host of international tournaments.  The summer break of our Elite Squad, however long it lasted, is already over however.  Next weekend sees Box-Offs at the National Stadium with places in the team for the forthcoming World Championships at stake.

Selectors will be hopeful that Ward repeats his Nationals win over Kenny Egan, and in doing so, saves them a controversial decision regarding the light-heavyweight division.


One fight which was due to take place tonight, but has been called off, was a contest between Kelly Pavlik and unheralded southpaw Darryl Cunningham.

Pavlik is not injured, but has cited problems with his promoters as the reason behind the decision.  It has, however, led some to question whether the troubled Ohio native is fully committed to boxing.  Tonight’s fight was due to be his first since a two-month rehab stint for alcoholism.


Matthew Macklin has signed a multi-year promotional contract with major American Lou DiBella.

The deal will see the Irishman likely base himself in the US for the foreseeable future, with a fight in New York in November pencilled in for his ring return.  Macklin has had trouble getting a promoter of late, so the deal is welcome.  It likely scuppers any hopes of a rematch with Felix Sturm, but puts him in pole position to fight World Middleweight Champion and now-stablemate Sergio Martinez.


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In what can best be described as a retrograde step, tonight sees the first licensed bare-knuckle fight in the US in over 100 years.  Sickening.


This Week In Boxing History

A slightly different take on this feature this week, as we celebrate the fortieth birthday of one of boxing’s last centurions.  Luis Ramon ‘Yori Boy’ Campas will mark his birthday in the way that only he would – by fighting, in his 105th contest in his hometown of Navojoa, Sonora, Mexico.  Campas, in his day, was a wicked puncher and has a staggering 77 knockouts to his name in his 98 career wins.  He turned professional before he was 16.  He won two world titles, and shared rings with some great fighters, including Felix Trinidad and Oscar de la Hoya.  He fought, and lost in unanimous decisions, to both Matthew Macklin and John Duddy (a brilliant contest).  Sadly, he fights on, for financial reasons as much as anything else, but nonetheless we wish him a happy birthday.

About the author:

Gavin Grace

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