In a new series, published during weekdays on Boxing Social, the incomparable Terry Dooley delivers his unique look at the boxing news.
Sparring stories are usually just that, whispers that emerge from sessions and can chop and change over time. When Anthony Joshua (24-1, 22 KOs) and Tyson Fury (30-0-1, 21 KOs) sparred in 2010, it was claimed that Joshua hurt Fury only for Joshua to deny that this was the case. For his part, Fury has both confirmed and then later denied the story.
Sean Murphy was Joshua’s amateur trainer at the time, and he has told BBC’s Radio 5 Live that despite being a raw novice the Londoner hurt Fury, who was 10 and 0 as a pro. “They’ve come out and Josh has thrown an uppercut, left hook and [Fury] was on wobbly legs,” he claimed. “He’s holding the ropes and I’m telling him, ‘No you can’t do that you can’t hold the ropes’, and he gets off. Josh got the better of him in the third round.”
“I’ve said to him for the second to just go and do what he’s done, but Tyson starts mouthing off to Josh, getting in his ear talking to him,” he added. “Josh is getting a bit wild, trying to knock him out, and I had to tell him to stick to his boxing and do what I told him and ignore the talking. So he’s gone out the next round, ignored it and boxed his head off.”
This talk will tantalise fans who still hope that Fury gets past Deontay Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KOs) in next month’s WBC heavyweight title defence and Joshua beats Oleksandr Usyk(18-0, 13 early) in a WBA Super World, IBF, WBO and IBO title defence this month to keep Joshua-Fury on course for 2022 if all of the parties involved can agree a deal. However, that is a big “If” given that both have fights on the horizon and there has been zero ground made in making the division’s biggest fight a reality.
World light-welterweight Champion Josh Taylor (18-0, 13 KOs) fights Jack Catterall (26-0, 13 stoppages) at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow on December 18 and the Edinburgh-based boxer has vowed not to look past his opponent. Still, there are a lot of huge fights out there for him and former WBC, WBA and IBF Super middleweight titlist Carl Froch believes that Terence Crawford could be next if he beats Catterall.
“Crawford is a special talent, a big puncher,” said Froch (Quotes C/O The Scotsman). “Josh certainly deserves to be in there with someone like Crawford, but that’s a name that is right at the top of my pound-for-pound rankings. I don’t want to say he beats him, but he belongs in there. If I had to pick who would win that fight, I’d have to be honest and say Crawford.”
Despite edging towards Crawford, “The Cobra” has told boxing fans to make the most of Taylor while he is still around and lauded the 30-year-old for achieving so much so early in his career. “But there’s no reason Josh Taylor can’t beat him,” he added “In boxing if you’re not firing on all cylinders and don’t put in 100% performance, anything can happen.
“To go on and become undisputed king at his weight, what a fantastic career he’s had so far and he still has lots to do. I think he’ll dominate for quite a while. He still has work to do as there’s some good fighters coming through and others in the division above him where he might be headed, but for now he’s undisputed king and we need to appreciate him while he’s there.”
Local boxing gyms are often thriving community hubs, or at least they were pre-Covid, and many of them have been able to finally open their doors again and get back in business. TheTen Count Boxing Gym in Stoke-on-Trent has been open for a decade and Rachael Lawton of The Stoke Sentinel has reported that business is starting to pick up again for Lee Jones and Max Maxwell, both former professional fighters.
They run sessions for everyone, with additional sessions for people with special educational needs, and have recently celebrated moving into a bigger gym in Bentilee. Running a gym was difficult pre-Covid and they have relied on volunteers such as Paula DeMichele, their general and social media manager, and she told The Sentinel that the two fighters are inspiring members of the local community. The gym is a charitable incorporated organisation and the result of a lot of hard work and dedication on the part of all involved in it. “Both the guys have such amazing stories,” said DeMichele.
“They have been mentored by some greats in the industry and won various titles. Max grew up in foster care, and he is so keen to show everyone that anyone from a foster care background can succeed in life. He commutes from Birmingham to the gym every single day — his commitment is amazing.”
“Max met Lee, who is equally as passionate,” she continued. “People wanted to be trained by them, so Max and Lee looked into how they would do that, and opened the gym. When the gym was in Hanley, the boys made sure that the gym prices were the cheapest around. Even though the rent increased with the move to Bentilee, they have maintained those prices.
“What they do is amazing, especially considering that most of the funding for the gym has come from Max and Lee’s own pockets. They don’t make money from this gym.
“Now they have moved to Bentilee, they want to get everybody involved. It’s still new for the area, so we just want to let people know we are here. We offer a free SEN class for kids, which has just gone mad. It’s always fully booked. Max does a box fit class for kids, which is also always full. A lot of people think that boxing is just hitting a bag — seven years ago, I was one of those people. Now I know it’s not. It’s about strategy, confidence, physique, stamina, and it’s not easy. It’s a full body workout.”