Boxing Monthly Mailbox: Khan, AJ, Garton and Fitz
Welcome to the Boxing Monthly Mailbox! This week Tom Craze flies solo and responds to queries, comments and questions on Amir Khan, Joshua vs Pulev, Garton vs Corcoran and Bob Fitzsimmons...
In an opinion piece on our website last week Haroon Ahmed argued that Amir Khan isn't given the props he deserves. So, Tom - is Amir Khan 'underappreciated'?
Tom Craze: Both in and out of the ring, Khan is - rightly or wrongly - many things to many people. A modern great of British boxing. A man who’s repeatedly avoided his biggest domestic rival. A trailblazer for Team GB success and one of the most exciting boxers of the past decade. A frustratingly inactive fighter who frittered away his prime chasing fights with Mayweather and Pacquiao. A wonderful, generous philanthropist. A celebrity who’s hit the tabloid front pages for the wrong reasons.
It’s these paradoxes, and more besides, that make Khan such a divisive figure. In short, though, I’d say yes.
Even today, among all active British boxers, Khan’s record is right up there with the very best, a point amplified further when held against that of his nemesis from Sheffield. He makes for fantastic, can’t-take-your-eyes-off-this fights and has a vulnerability and style that turns what should be straightforward assignments into almighty struggles. He wants to fight the best – even when that’s at the expense of the next-best.
It might well be the case that we’ve already seen the best of Amir Khan - but speaking purely as a fan, we should all miss him when he hangs them up.
After Kubrat Pulev defeated Hughie Fury our followers chipped in with their (pretty scathing) thoughts on whether the Bulgarian can cause Anthony Joshua any problems. The unanimous response was 'no', with @RicoDepor summing up the consensus: "No .. [Pulev is a] come forward boxer, with very little lateral movement, who does not put together too many combos. AJ can beat him with his jab alone."
What's Tom view then: can Pulev cause Joshua any problems?
Tom Craze: October 27 in Sofia proved a few things, but none more than this: Kubrat Pulev is better than a lot of people give him credit for. He didn’t need a questionable decision or home cooking, as was the fear from several quarters pre-fight, and he clearly outgunned – and, now at 37, probably old-manned – Fury.
He’s probably lost a step or two, but has (still) only ever lost to Wladimir Klitschko, has been on the fringes (or better) of heavyweight contention for the best part of a decade, and rebounded from an injury last October that caused him to withdraw from the biggest fight of his life, keeping a hold on his mandatory spot in the process. That deserves immense credit.
Pulev, however, lacks the variety that Povetkin brought to Wembley. He’s a bigger physical threat, but a singular pace and a pawing jab isn’t going to cut it against a man who’s fitter, quicker, and more explosive (by far). As a mandatory defence, it’s far from a soft touch, but stylistically it’s a match-up that’s very favourable for Joshua indeed.
The barnstorming Johnny Garton vs Gary Corcoran British welterweight title fight got plenty of love on Twitter, with some, such as @GaryLogan68 ("Don't think I've seen one better!") feeling it deserved British fight of the year consideration. Would Tom go this far?
Tom Craze: I’ve got no problem calling it one of the best fights on British soil this year, though I think Chisora vs Takam is one of perhaps two or three that edges it out. Thinking globally, it drops much further down the list, in a race led by frontrunners like Tanaka vs Kimura, Saucedo vs Zappavigna, Usyk vs Briedis, and Dogboe vs Magdaleno, to name just four.
In reply to one of the regular 'on this day' tweets by Gary Lucken (aka @BoxerJoeGrim), @SteveForde99 made an interesting observation about Bob Fitzsimmons, commenting: "Fitz never seems to get mentioned in 'pound for pound' debates. he should be... a light heavy who regularly beat much bigger men." Tom's take on Fitz?
Tom Craze: Without Fitzsimmons, the epithet of ‘pound for pound’, or similar, might not have been introduced into the boxing fan’s lexicon until much later. The first three-division world champion, and a man who was frequently – and sometimes grossly – undersized against those he faced, Cornwall’s Fitzsimmons epitomised the P4P argument at the turn of the 20th century.
While you’re never going to find a consensus on his rightful position, I wouldn’t have Fitzsimmons inside my top ten, which is in no way intended to discredit his achievements. There’s a good case for him being inside the back end of the top 20, though, and he’s certainly top 50 all time.