It’s time online boxing writers got the respect they deserve

PressIt’s often been said that sports writers are just fans with keyboards.

That fact has become more and more apparent in recent years as so-called “citizen” journalists have risen through the ranks to ingratiate themselves amongst writers working for national newspapers and broadcasters.

The face of the boxing media in Britain is constantly changing.

In years gone by, it was members of the national and local press alongside the major broadcasters that dominated used to fill their column inches and sports section with boxing.

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Top 10 World Title First Round Knockouts

AND THE NEW: Adonis Stevenson floors Chad Dawson to become the new WBC light heavyweight champion (credit: AP/Graham Hughes)

AND THE NEW: Adonis Stevenson floors Chad Dawson to become the new WBC light heavyweight champion (credit: AP/Graham Hughes)

AFTER Adonis Stevenson’s first round demolition of Chad Dawson to win the WBC light heavyweight title in Montreal on Saturday (8 June) here are ten of the best and most memorable first round knockouts in world title fights.

Leave a comment or Tweet me @CiaranShanks and give me your opinion!

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Monday Moan: Fans Should Rejoice Over Mayweather Vs Alvarez

KING OF THE RING: Mayweather will challenge Canelo Alvarez on 14 September in Las Vegas

KING OF THE RING: Mayweather will challenge Canelo Alvarez on 14 September in Las Vegas

I like many in the boxing universe was pleasantly surprised to hear that on 14 September, Floyd Mayweather will face Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez at a catch weight of 152lbs at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

This is undoubtedly one of the biggest fights the sport has seen for years and Alvarez is certainly a legitimate threat to the 36-year-old pound for pound king’s undefeated record.

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The Rise and Rise of Ricky Burns

FIGHTING PRIDE: Ricky Burns set for clash with Jose Gonzalez (Photo credit: Matchroom Boxing/Action Images)

WHENEVER I watch the television these days I hear a proud and commanding voice say “Scotland might surprise you”.

Now you might be wondering what the voiceover provided by Neil Oliver, star of BBC’s Coast, for the Visit Scotland tourism campaign has to do with boxing but the message could not be more appropriate.

Ricky Burns is one of British boxing’s biggest surprise stories, let alone Scottish boxing.

After losses to Alex Arthur and Carl Johanneson early in his career, the 30-year-old from Coatbridge was left in limbo as to whether he would ever challenge at the highest level.

However tomorrow night, the “Rickster” will enter the newly constructed Emirates Arena in Glasgow with the WBO lightweight title strapped firmly around his waist as he defends it against Puerto Rico’s Jose A. Gonzalez live on Sky Sports.

Burns’ incredible ascension to become a two-weight world champion has provided Scottish boxing with a much-needed shot in the arm.

The fight game north of the border had been crying out for a home-grown superstar since the glory days of Scott Harrison’s classic world title nights at Braehead Arena came to an end.

Step forward the unlikely heir apparent to that vacant throne as Burns’ world title journey began on an unforgettable night at Kelvin Hall in September 2010 when he came back from a first round knockdown to sensationally topple WBO super-featherweight king Roman Martinez.

The Scot was a massive underdog in the build- up to the fight but showed the heart and desire of a true champion to produce the finest performance of his career and write his name into Scottish boxing folklore.

That win over the Puerto Rican proved to be the launch pad for the affable Burns to become the poster boy of Scottish boxing and a perfect role model for the next generation of fighters.

The feel-good factor is well and truly back in Scotland thanks to Burns’ success and his achievements have undoubtedly motivated many of the country’s young prospects to reach similar heights.

The likes of Jon Slowey, Stephen Simmons, Michael Roberts and Burns’ close friend David Brophy, all promoted by the champion’s manager Alex Morrison, have been provided with a much sought after platform to showcase their skills.

Not only will they be fighting in front of a passionate home crowd in a brand new arena tomorrow night but they will also be exposed to a UK-wide audience live on Sky.

Burns’ journey has breathed new life into the sport in this part of the world as more and more people continue to flock to the small hall circuit and watch the progression of the stars of the future live and in person.

Morrison’s most recent shows at Glasgow’s Gorbals Leisure Centre and the Grand Hall in Kilmarnock were packed to the rafters and offered up a plethora of high-octane fights and value for money action.

It was only a few short months ago that the legendary promoter was considering cutting back these shows altogether due to poor crowd numbers.

However, almost overnight the crowds are quickly returning to boxing and Burns’ world level accomplishments must surely have an influential part to play in that.

Yet there are still individuals out there that criticise and doubt his credentials which I find astonishing.

He was written off by those who troll the boxing forums in his first fight at lightweight against Michael Katsidis but boxed out of his skin to defeat the Australian slugger and capture the interim WBO title at Wembley Arena in London in November 2011.

Despite having a home crowd advantage at the SECC in Glasgow, Burns was yet again dismissed as not having the skill range or punch power to defeat English rival Kevin Mitchell in a “Battle of Britain” clash in his most recent title defence last September.

However, those critics were silenced when he stopped Mitchell in the fourth round in a somewhat frenetic but at the same clinical performance.

Unsurprisingly, Burns has simply brushed off any criticisms of him or the men he has fought and focused on the job in hand.

His consummate professionalism and humble nature have proved pivotal in dealing with difficult situations, including his current legal wrangling’s with former promoter Frank Warren after jumping ship to Eddie Hearn’s fledgling Matchroom stable.

The future is blindingly bright for Ricky Burns but he could have a tough night’s work on his hands against Jose Gonzalez.

The 29-year-old Puerto Rican is a big puncher and is undefeated in 22 fights with 17 coming by knock-out. However, this is Gonzalez’s first bout outside of his home country and time will tell if he crumbles under the powder keg atmosphere provided by the Glaswegian crowd.

It would be understandably difficult for the 30-year-old not to be distracted by murmurs of potential fights with IBF champion Miguel Vazquez and high-flying American superstar Adrien Broner but knowing Burns he will leave the talking to others and focus solely on Gonzalez.

Burns rises to the occasion on fight night and almost makes the pressure of being a world champion look easy. His stock has continued to soar year in year out and 2013 looks to be no different.

After a shaky start to the year with the cancellation of his unification fight with Vazquez and an unsavoury split from Warren, Burns is back on track to mix it up with the best the world has to offer.

Almost exactly three years ago, Burns was involved in a routine eight round win over slippery journeyman Youssef Al Hamidi on the undercard of Mitchell’s loss to Katsidis at Upton Park.

Now he is a two-weight world champion with the world at this feet. Who knows, maybe in the next three years he will be known as one of the true greats in British boxing history

“The Bull” Raging Over Controversial Loss

Raging Bull: Hill annoyed over loss on Saturday

POPULAR light welterweight Sammy Hill insists that extraordinary circumstances were to blame for his surprise defeat to Lee Quinn on Saturday night.

The 26-year-old from Symington, nicknamed “The Bull”, suffered what many people considered to be a controversial decision at the SECC in Glasgow as Welshman Quinn won with a score of 39-38 from referee Kenny Pringle.

However, it was Hill who was the aggressor during the contest, pinning Quinn on the back foot but unable to get enough clean punches through. Quinn took advantage of this and caught Hill on the inside with left and right hooks.

When Quinn’s hand was raised in victory, a large number of the crowd vented their anger at the decision. However, Hill himself was not up in arms about the decision and admitted that it was nowhere near his best performance.

He said: “I felt as though the fight didn’t go the way it should have, I know in the gym I’m a high pressure, strong as a bull type of fighter who comes forward and bullies my opponent.

“I Snapped my MCL in my knee nine weeks ago which is still damaged, hence the knee support during the fight, my wife and I have also just had a baby boy a week before fight night, who has had me up five to six times every night.

“Based on that, the fight was more against myself than my opponent. On a good day with no injuries I’d have beaten him no problem at all.

The colourful and ever entertaining Hill also insisted that no matter what went on in his personal life before the fight, he never considered pulling out.

He added: “I work full-time Monday to Friday, 8am to 4:30pm in construction, laying slabs, concrete, monoblock, digging holes by hand all day rain, snow or sun it doesn’t matter.

“I get up at 5:30am for a run, home after six showered and go to work at 7:30. I get home at five and need to head to the gym for six until 8pm. I have rent, car, insurance, phone bills, gas, electricity, a wife, two dogs and a newborn baby to take care of it’s not easy for me and with all that and my injury’s I didn’t give myself much of a chance. Bnever thought of pulling out because ‘The Bull’ is always up for a fight.

“I definitely need a good rest, my knee is not right and I have a slight fracture in my left hand from March. I have the little man to take care of just now and I need to change my whole life now and until I do I don’t know how or when to fit my training in.

“Hopefully ‘The Bull’ will be back asap as I believe I’m one of the most exciting fighters to watch, none of this tip-tap, run away boxing from me, I’m all action!”

Hill also praised fellow gym mate Ryan Collins who defeated Ben Morrish with a second round stoppage on the same night.

He said: “I’ve been training at the Irvine Vineburgh Gym for the last year and a bit now and Ryan has been in there almost every night.

“He trains well and is a very dedicated young man, he has power and work rate and in the pro game that’s further than what skill alone will get you. Hopefully Ryan goes on to big things as I think he deserves it and he will.”

Collins Continues To Coast

BRIGHT FUTURE: Collins victorious again

IRVINE super featherweight sensation Ryan Collins extended his record to 3-0 on Saturday night after stopping Ben Morrish in the second round on the Ricky Burns-Kevin Mitchell undercard at the SECC in Glasgow.

The 18-year-old continues to impress with the first TKO of his professional career and it was clear from the start that Collins was too much for the Plymouth man to handle.

Collins immediately piled the pressure on Morrish, forcing him on the back foot and against the ropes, unloading with a series of shots.

After dominating the opener, Collins was firmly in control as he continued to pound the 26-year-old, sending Morrish tumbling to the canvas after a series of right hands.

Morrish rose to his feet but it was evident that the damage had already been done as Collins stunned him with a barrage of punches on the ropes, leaving referee Richie Davies with no choice but to stop the fight.

Another solid win for Collins who believes he still has plenty to learn as he climbs through the ranks: “I feel that,that was my best performance yet.” He said.

“I prepared well for it, I’ve been getting great sparring and plenty of pad work which was key to my performance on the night.

“As an amateur I was boxing week in week out but as a pro you’re constantly training and ticking over, I’m still young and I’ve got lots to learn so just getting the experience to be on the big shows is a plus.

He added: “My support has been brilliant, I’ve started to get big crowds coming up to watch me now, I had about 90 there for me on Saturday and I appreciate it big time.

“I’m looking for at least two fights before Christmas, I’m only 18 so I’m in no rush, hopefully I’ll be boxing for a Scottish title by the time I’m 21 or 22, I should have had a few fights by then and gained enough experience.

When asked about sharing a bill with Ricky Burns and Scott Harrison, Collins said: “It’s some buzz just being on the same undercard as them, not many get the chance to box on the big shows but Ricky done the business on Saturday which keeps the big shows coming, so roll on!”

Rampant Ricky Roars To Victory In “Battle Of Britain”

DOMINANT: Burns floors Mitchell (photo courtesy of badlefthook.com)

RICKY BURNS silenced his doubters yet again with a stunning fourth round stoppage of Kevin Mitchell to retain his WBO lightweight title in front of a jam-packed crowd inside the SECC in Glasgow.

The 29-year-old Scot knew that the much-anticipated “Battle of Britain” bout with Essex boy Mitchell would be the toughest of his career and could determine whether or not he has what it takes to be the very best in the division.

However, Burns rose to the occasion with an unbelievable ferocity, spurred on by a rapturous 10,000 strong crowd and galvanised by the introductions of legendary ring announcer Michael Buffer.

The opening round was traditionally cagey as the fighters tried to set the pace of the fight. However, both champion and challenger burst into life in the last 30 seconds of the round with Mitchell being caught with a slick right hand from Burns despite connecting with a stiff body shot of his own.

Burns began to assert his authority in the second as he rocked Mitchell with a crushing right hook to the jaw.

Mitchell, who was wearing shorts emblazoned with a St George’s cross, was clearly shaken and continued to take more punishment from the champion in the third. However, Mitchell taunted Burns by beating his chest and encouraging the Coatbridge man to beat him some more.

Mitchell’s toughness and heart could not be questioned as he continued to take a pounding, with Burns managing to land six hard shots without any reply.

Going into the fight many fans and pundits predicted that Mitchell’s left hook could be a major factor in the fight and he managed to utilise it in the fourth. However, Burns quickly disposed of the Dagenham man’s threat and replied with a thunderous left hook of his own that sent Mitchell crashing to the canvas.

Mitchell bravely rose to his feet at the count of eight but it was evident that the end was nigh for the 27-year-old and was knocked down for a second time before referee Terry O’Connor had no choice but to step in and stop the bout.

Speaking to Sky Sports after the fight, Burns said: “I am absolutely delighted.”

“It was a great performance and I am really pleased at the way I finished the fight. I knew when I put Kevin down and had him on the ropes that he was struggling and I had to go for it. Now my hope is I can get a unification fight – that would be a dream come true.”

A clearly dejected but respectful Mitchell said: “Ricky did a real job on me. He showed real power and proved that he can punch.”