RIP Sid Waddell

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

The geordie classicist who made the darts about more than drunk men with bellies throwing things; he mystified it and made them conquerors and gladiators and sorcerers. Surely Sid Waddell is example enough that a professional level of skill at a game is no qualification to commentate on it. Commentary is an art all of its own - in the right hands any game can be a transcendent experience, made of more than the mechanics of technique and application. Sid Waddell's bravery in using such high-minded analogies and metaphors in a definitively working-class sport paid off to make him utterly untouchable as the voice of that sport for decades. He was an original. He'll be missed.


Vitali Klitschko: Victim of Circumstance

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Saturday the 19th of March, 2011 saw a defining chapter in the sad career of Vitali Klitschko. His victory over Odlanier Solis was one of the most disappointing displays of the sweet science ever to take place. Vitali and his brother, Wladimir, have had to contend with a depressing number of such disappointments, but I will forever argue that they are not to blame.

Even before the fight started there was a frisson of anticipation, as anyone who has seen Solis fight knows that he is a serious puncher, a surprisingly fast mover and an excellent technician. With only 17 fights to his name, it was perhaps too early to put him in with a Klitschko, but he could present genuine competition.

The fight itself started promisingly, with both men stepping in and landing blows with accuracy and power. Vitali looked like he was gearing up for a more open fight, like the classic he had with Lewis eight years earlier; he was headhunting and had clearly decided to take a punch or two so he could land his own. Solis was moving well, though too often backwards. Perhaps he wanted to bring Vitali forward and overbalance the giant Ukrainian, or perhaps it was dawning on him what a massive man he had in front of him.

Then, after an apparently innocuous exchange with seconds left in the first round, Solis fell on his backside clutching his knee. The referee counted; the fight was over. Vitali was incensed; the crowd booed; Solis was sat on his stool while the doctor checked him over. Later, the reports came in that Solis had ruptured a cruciate ligament in his knee.

So: it was nobody's fault. But these champions fight twice a year; the next time we shall see Vitali it will be autumn, against another challenger with dubious credentials.

David Haye, a blown-up Cruiserweight, will most likely lose on points to the cagey Wladimir and Vitali will have to face someone like Alexander Povetkin. What would you ask of Wladimir? That he lose? He will keep the fight at long range, Haye's face will become well acquainted with his jab and the fight will drag to the inevitable conclusion.

But Wladimir will win, and Vitali will beat whoever else they put in front of him and the world will yawn at two of the greatest fighters to ever step in the ring.


Sunday, 23 May 2010

Alex James reveals that Beetroots, to a man in his forties, are indeed more exciting than girls ever were.


Klitschko: The Inevitable Happens

Saturday, 20 March 2010

I came home from spending a couple of hours at the pub, playing pool and slowly nursing my pint. You'll be pleased to know that when I finally got onto the table after about an hour's wait I destroyed all comers and retired undefeated. I also had people desperate for me to teach them to play like I do - something I perhaps should consider as a serious way of making mickey-mouse cash.

Having completely slipped my mind, I was surprised to find that the Klit v nobody bout had taken place, with the inevitable having inevitably happened. Of course, I found this out on the BBC website, on which Boxing is very much a minority sport. The report, however, reflected my previous comments worse than I could have imagined: "Klitschko jabbed his way through a largely dull fight, with Chambers mainly trying to limit the damage." it said. The knock-out may have been exciting, but coming five seconds from the end of a fight Wlad had long since won, I might quibble that the viewers were not spared this less than edifying spectacle by its ultimately brutal conclusion.

Still, good for Wlad, good for David Haye and good for 'Pay day' Eddie Chambers, who got his check (I presume, nay, hope). For the love of god: it's the heavyweight championship of the world. That used to mean something more than the next fight and a fat check - or am I being baselessly nostalgic?


Bernard Hopkins vs Roy Jones jr. II: Confused Geriatric Squabble

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Oh no. Jones, at 41, having been knocked about like a pinata in his last few bouts, most recently eviscerated in one round by the thoroughly average Danny Green, is set to make money against Hopkins (45) in Vegas on the third of April. I find it interesting that the weight has not as yet been set. That's usually one of the first things you know about a fight. That the announcement of the fight came without this detail (presumably to be agreed on later when both men can find the scales they think they might have put in the loft, or maybe the shed - don't bother them about it now, they're having a nap) underscores how unimportant and meaningless this money-making venture is to both men, to the boxing commission sanctioning it and to their public. Hell, maybe they'll set it at heavyweight so they don't have to worry about any middle-age spread they might be lugging around. I'm joking, of course, I know they're both in great shape. I am shocked at RJJ's lack of self-respect. Mate; it's over.


Drugs in Boxing

Friday, 29 January 2010

'Victor Conte Slams Professional Boxing's Drug Testing'

Isn't it incredible that the most widespread sport where it is the object to inflict injury on another human being has such easily circumvented doping rules? Pro-boxing needs to clean-up or lose support. It is in no-one's interest to have fighters damaged by cheating meatheads 'roiding it up through training. Boxing isn't pro-wrestling - I don't tune in to watch something I don't believe in - honour among fighters should run thicker than thieves, but when you have specimens like RJJ and James Toney being caught with needles in their butts and still allow them to bludgeon men regardless you are turning people off - off boxing, off becoming boxers, off the PPV and out of the town hall.


Klitschko: The Stinkening

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

I have always thought that the Klitchko's get bad press, in the main, because they're intelligent, educated, good-looking Ukrainians who carry around Phd.s and world championship belts, winning a lot of fights simply by being better than the other guy.

This is, I feel, certainly a valid point.

They are, however, the first fighters I saw to use the tactic of hitting their opponent's lead arm so as to nullify the jab. Sure; they look for the right through the middle to follow, but this makes for a lot of pawing and a spectacle not unlike two 6 year old girls having a mild tiff. They aren't the most exciting fighters you've ever seen, though I rate Vitali's loss to Lewis as the best fight of last decade (sure it was ended on cuts, and Lewis was flagrantly out of condition, but what a fight! And, if you look at it in a historical context, it's clearly the most important heavyweight contest - though no-one knew that at the time - of the last three decades. I will argue about this some other time - maybe write a book on it).

The Klitschko related news is: Wladimir will be facing 'Fast' Eddie Chambers in Duesseldorf on the 20th of March. Now, as you can imagine, my first thought was 'I have to be there - I'll save up all my money, book a hotel for the week, soak up all the Klitschko magic before the fight, and join the wild celebrations afterwards. I want to have BEEN THERE when Wladimir Klitschko outpointed 'Fast' (only a moniker - he's actually pretty sluggish) Eddie over twelve dull rounds of pawing, colliding, passionless heavyweight boxing'.

I rushed to youtube to look-up 'Payday' (suggested new moniker - more apt) Eddie to find some inspiring knock-out fare - some sign that David Haye is not the only fighter in the heavyweight division who you wouldn't have to pay me to watch. What did I find? A numb-skulled outpointing of a fat Samuel Peter - who any contender should be licking their lips to face. Think of the press they'd get for convincingly knocking out a former world champ! A fat Samuel Peter is like a fattened calf or a Larry Holmes to the Tyson slaughter.

I put up with that for two disappointing, lethargic, unambitious rounds before flicking fights to his latest against Alexander Dimitrenko. Here, Chambers showed that peculiar recent American disease of expecting the decision after twelve without putting in the work to earn it. They just seem to expect the win for making it to the end. Carl Froch has benefited handsomely from this tendency, as Calzaghe did before him.

Dimitrenko is one of those upright, gangly, ridiculous fighters (see Mario Veit, who always looks like they're about to fall stiffly to the canvass. The sort of fighter you feel shouldn't be allowed to box until he learns to roll with the punches because it's too painful to watch. It's like you can see his brain bouncing around his skull like some kind of extraordinarily badly conceived shock absorber, while his rigid head carries a pained expression on its face... its just a horrible, worrying sight... Yet this walking knock-out managed to score a draw on one judge's scorecard against our man 'Payday'. I couldn't possibly comment - I could only stand it for two distressing, clutching rounds - but any mixed-decision could just as easily be a loss.

Then there's his loss to Povetkin - by now I was desperate to watch something exciting, so a Povetkin display should do the trick... errr... no... a dull, if dominant, decision to the Russian Knight, who is still a rookie with only 18 fights under his undefeated belt, so he gets a pass. However; I feel deflated.

What am I saying? I'm saying what has been said a million times, but I'm saying it again - these heavyweights are a bunch of dull, safety first, pawing, boring, snoring drones who couldn't knock down a mannequin if given eight weeks training, the most cunning strategy and a cricket bat. This article charts the final stages of the journey of one mediocre fighter to what could be the summit of his sport and it's terribly uninspiring. The only bright spark is that he hasn't got a prayer against Wladimir - the fact that he will never win the fight at least keeps the long-reigning champ in place so when Haye's done with Ruiz there will be an interesting fight on the cards.

But, for now, why would anyone want to watch this fight?

Beware: The Stinkening is here.
Wladimir Klitschko Phd. versus 'Payday' Eddie Chambers, 20th March 2010
Utterly meaningless jostling you'd best avoid.


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