Michael Montero analyses the third fight between Manny Pacquiao and Timothy Bradley in just sixty seconds. Bradley won a controversial split decision in their first match back in 2012 while Pacquiao won the 2014 return by unanimous decision. The 9 April undercard features several great bouts with established veterans, top contenders and rising prospects including Arthur Abraham-Gilberto Ramirez, Oscar Valdez- Evgeny Gradovich, Jose Carlos Ramirez-Manuel Perez and more.
Sky Sports may have inadvertently created a middleweight monster in the shape of Tom Doran. The unbeaten 28-year-old Welshman (16-0, 6 KOs), managed by Dave Coldwell, was at the centre of criticism last November when the former Prizefighter winner came in half a stone over the 160lbs middleweight limit for his contest against Rod Smith. Doran finished Smith off in the third round with a crippling left hook to the body in what was supposed to be an eliminator for the British middleweight title. “I picked up a calf injury and it just stopped me on my roadwork. Struggled to get the last bit of weight off really,” Doran explained to Boxing Monthly. “I wasn’t happy about it myself as I’m sure a lot of other people weren’t. I was absolutely slated on Sky Sports, but I was saying to someone the other day, in hindsight it’s probably the best thing to happen to me because it really has created a monster. That negative criticism, which I’ve not been used to, I’ve not had it before. It really has made me step it up a gear.”
It would be fair to say that Callum Smith and Hadillah Mohoumadi don’t know a lot of the same people. Local pride and bragging rights won’t be up for grabs when the two super-middleweights square off for the Frenchman’s European title on Saturday night at Liverpool’s Echo Arena. That wasn’t the case last November when Smith (18-0, 13 KOs) took on Rocky Fielding in a domestic clash, for the British super-middleweight title, that had been bubbling for a while and came to the boil at the perfect time. “I believe I can go to the top but if I was going to lose to someone Rocky Fielding would be the last person I’d choose,” Smith told Boxing Monthly when he looked back at the build-up to what became a one-round blow-out of his rival. “I was going to get my haircut and everyone was talking about it. I’d be putting petrol in and someone would shout good luck with your fight with Rocky. Everywhere I was going. We know a lot of the same people, we don’t live too far away from each other so it was really a local derby.
The headline is more appropriate for the media gang who were treated to an abundance of Domino’s Pizza and chocolate at a James DeGale open workout this week, as opposed to a reflection of the respective boxers’ current physiques. Rogelio ‘Porky’ Medina is reportedly in great shape and ‘Chunky’ DeGale is well placed to produce his next winning performance after a great training camp. DeGale explained, “Training camp has gone really well. I’m fully focused and ready to go out there (USA) and do a job. He’s my mandatory – it’s not a massive fight. However, people don’t really know Porky Medina. They need to understand it’s still a dangerous fight.”
Scotty Cardle plans to exorcise some demons this Saturday night in Liverpool. The British lightweight champion (19-0, 6 KOs), from Lytham St. Annes, returns after a five-month break to defend his Lonsdale belt for a second time against the man who pushed him all the way last November. Sean Dodd (10-2, 2 KOs) will climb back into the ring inside the Echo Arena, where the two men squared off first time round, looking to prove that his original performance was no fluke. For Cardle, his own performance was one to forget. “Last fight I feel as if I under performed. It was quite a poor night for me if I say so myself,” the 26-year-old told Boxing Monthly. “I’m very critical of my performances anyway and, for me, that’s possibly my worst and I still came out with a win. My plan is to get rid of the demons from my last performance and finish this fight off in style really so I can put it to the back of me.”
Familia supra omnia. The Latin phrase meaning family, above all others, is a mantra Ryan Walsh and his fighting siblings – twin brother Liam and older brother Michael – live their lives by. It has been emblazoned across their t-shirts on fight night and it’s not uncommon to see Ryan finish tweets with it on the social media platform. It’s a belief that their father John instilled in them from an early age and now that sense of family loyalty is engrained in them. This meant that Ryan found Christmas Day particularly hard as he was deep in camp in Tenerife isolated from his brothers. This sacrifice was worthwhile as Walsh made the first defence of his British featherweight title in front of a sell-out crowd at York Hall on 22 January. A four punch combination sent his challenger – Darren Traynor – sprawling across the bottom rope obliging referee Michael Alexander to halt the contest in the fifth round. This gave Walsh his first stoppage victory in over two-and-a-half years and resulted in an out-of-body experience. “It was euphoric,” Walsh told Boxing Monthly over the phone from outside the Kickstop Gym in Norwich. “When the crowd were mental, it was as if I was with them, outside of myself, enjoying it."
This weekend Paul Smith enters his 42nd pro fight staring into something of a fresh start whilst looking over his shoulder as the words ‘last chance’ creep up on his 13-year career. Liverpool’s Smith, 33, has been out of the ring since June 2015 where he stopped by Andre Ward in the ninth round in Oakland. A fight that Smith told Boxing Monthly he will never be happy with while holding his hands up to “a genuine, honest mistake” after failing to make the agreed 172lbs catchweight limit. It was Smith’s third fight mixing at elite level, beginning with an outstanding performance against WBO 168lbs champion Arthur Abraham in September 2014, only to be cruelly denied by the scorecards. The rematch five months later returned similar numbers without the controversy. “September 2014 to September 2015 was the best year of my life on a personal level,” Smith (35-6, 20 KOs) told Boxing Monthly. “I improved as a fighter a lot and I was getting shots I wanted. I was fighting on the world scene against two of the biggest names in the division. Topped the bill in the States, earned well and was active.”
One day Stuart Hall would like a rematch with Jamie McDonnell after losing to him four-and-a-half years ago. For now, however, Hall (19-4-2,7 KOs) is using the WBA world bantamweight champion, and his recent magnificent overseas efforts, as an inspiration to get his own world title aspirations back on track. “I really respect him and proper respect what he’s done,” Hall told Boxing Monthly. “I look at Jamie McDonnell now and he’s like a role model really. He’s one of them guys I want to fight but I’ve watched him and what he’s done, it’s an incentive to anyone out there."
Should John Ryder (22-2, 12 KOs) go on to become a world middleweight champion then he may look back on his fight against Sergey Khomitsky as the most important win of his career. At the end of January, Ryder was tasked with not only saving a career that once looked nailed on for titles, but with defeating an opponent who had become accustomed to trashing the reputations of British rising stars. Thankfully, for Ryder, and everyone around him, he delivered. Not with the kind of trench warfare that many of us expected but by using the brains that make him one of Britain’s most talented fighters at 160lbs. With that win the 27-year-old Londoner now feels a sizeable weight off his shoulders. “I proved to myself, my family and everyone around me that I could do it,” Ryder told Boxing Monthly.
In an unforgiving professional career that has spanned more than a decade, Dewsbury’s Gary Sykes (28-4, 6 KOs) has only once faced odds as long as those he will look to defy on Saturday. In 2012, Sykes – a two-time British champion at junior lightweight - was hand-picked to face American Adrien Broner in Vegas for a fight that ultimately never came off. On Saturday, Sykes will look to gatecrash the domestic lightweight scene against come-backing 20-to-1 on favourite, Luke Campbell (12-1, 10 KOs) of Hull. “I love that, because it’s completely taken the pressure off me,” Sykes said of his long-shot tag from his home base in Yorkshire. “I like being the underdog. They just see me as a gimme. They probably think I’m over the hill. They see me as a gatekeeper but I’m going in there...I’m going to do a job.”
It is to British boxing’s credit that the Lonsdale Belt is still viewed as a prized position by many fighters. To some, it is the pinnacle of their careers; to others, an important trophy on the way up to world level. The British heavyweight title holds its own specific lore, held by crossover stars such as Brian London, Henry Cooper, Lennox Lewis, and Tyson Fury. Its current holder Anthony Joshua looks certain to do the same, with an IBF world title fight to come on 9 April. Behind Joshua is an ever-increasing pack of would-be challengers for that prized belt. The number one contender is to be decided in a South Yorkshire derby on the Kell Brook-Kevin Bizier card at Sheffield Arena on Saturday when Doncaster’s ‘White Rhino’ David Allen (8-0-1, 5 KOs) meets Sheffield’s Richard ‘The Inferno’ Towers (15-1, 12 KOs). “It’s a big week. I’ve had a few fights now and been on some big bills. But this is the first big fight I’ve had,” the affable Allen told Boxing Monthly. “It’s a big name opponent, he’s local, we’re friends, we have a lot of mutual friends. The nerves haven’t kicked in yet. But I am not really a nervous kind of person."