Friday, 10 September 2010

The debacle has landed.

Just when you though that boxing had no further depths to plummet, when the nadir appeared to have been found, when the barrel had been scraped so much that there was next to nothing left of it: Audley Harrison has a shot at the Heavyweight Championship of the World. Could this be the same man who got battered by an Irish taxi driver just a couple of years ago? The same man who has never won domestic honours, losing in the worst British title fight I have ever seen against Danny Williams? The same man who was soundly out-boxed by the mediocre Dominick Guinn? Surely not the same man who was stapled to the canvas by a Michael Sprott left hook? Unfortunately, it is the very same. I don't know who will read this but whoever you are, you are at least as deserving of a title shot. He is quite comfortably ranked outside of the top 10 in all of the major sanctioning bodies - although expect him to be suddenly parachuted in to the WBA list in attempt to justify this pathetic occurrence. It is also a major personal blow to the credibility of David Haye.

I have been a fan of Haye's since his amateur days and was convinced then that he would be a world champion. I travelled to Paris to watch him clinch the Cruiserwight title in epic fashion against the menacing Jean Marc-Mormeck but now I have to say that I have lost a great deal of respect for the man. It is as if he has had an attitude transplant: Haye was willing to face people like Arthur Williams and Carl Thompson very early on in his career. He moved to European level swiftly with the destruction of Alexander Gurov and appeared to be a throwback fighter who wished to excite the fans rather than his manager or accountant. However, there is no excuse for the Harrison fight other than a man who is happy to beat people up for cash.

Apparently it would seem that, if you stand in front of a camera long enough – as Harrison has - saying that being a world champion is your destiny, you become deserving of a title shot. I've wasted my time. I could have apprehended every news interview of the last ten years saying that, 'This is my destiny' much in the same vein as a 16 year old reject from X-Factor, maybe I would have been given a go. Harrison has spent the last 10 years saying, to anyone who would listen, 'They don't give Olympic medals away'. No they don't but then professional boxing is another sport and when you do absolutely horseshit in a 10 year career - after achieving such an Olympic feat - you do not deserve to be given a puncher's chance of winning a world title. I imagine that Harrison's defence on a murder charge would be, 'they don't give gold medals away' or if his girlfriend sulked after a poor bedroom performance he would rebuke her ignorance with, 'but my dear, they don't give gold medals away'.

Harrison has a lot of natural gifts but sadly everything else is lacking. He paws with his jab rather than throwing it, leaving himself open to fast counters, he plods around the ring in straight lines, he has the amateur habit of leaning back to avoid all punches and is notoriously gun-shy which in itself raises questions about his fighting heart.

The newspapers are lauding it as the biggest British fight since Lewis Vs Bruno. That is more an indictment of the poor coverage boxing now receives in the UK than anything else. I can not think of a fight more pantomime than this shambles since Butterbean fought Ray Mercer, or for that matter, Les Dennis Vs Bob Mortimer – at least that was fought with men of comparable ability. I implore people not to watch this fight.

Couture Vs Toney; The Aftermath

So, in the end, everyone had read their scripts: Toney wound up staring at the ceiling within seconds and Couture had less of a challenge then he does teaching his 11-15 year olds wrestling class. He feinted with his hands from the outset before shooting a very low single leg, moved to full mount and retained the position. From there he executed some ground and pound whilst steering Toney towards the cage. From there he found the opening to establish an arm triangle close to the cage. The debacle came to an end in just over three minutes.

Toney talked afterwards of having mistimed Couture’s shoot, it simply would not have mattered. Couture was an alternate in the US Olympic wrestling team and has been in MMA for over a decade, Toney had trained to stuff shoots for a matter of months: he never saw it coming. The difference between a grappler being put on his back and a man off the street was highlighted in embarrassing fashion for Toney. He looked like Stephen Hawking would if he had fallen out of bed in the middle of the night: his arms flailed around hopelessly whilst his legs remained motionless and uninvolved.

The fight will not enhance Randy’s standings and he is still waiting in line for a return to title contention, an interesting fight with Cro-cop has been touted although a return to the light-heavy scene is more in keeping with the statements that he has made about the heavyweights since losing to Lesnar. For Toney it may have raised his profile somewhat as he has been out of the ring since 2009 and has not fought in a top level fight since losing to Sam Peter in 2007. The media coverage alone could steer him towards bigger fights.

In the main event on the card BJ Penn was soundly beaten by Frankie Edgar. It was an even more convincing performance than the first time around with Edgar taking Penn down early and mixing his attacks up very effectively. He changed his levels and proved to be an elusive target whilst keeping up a high offensive tempo. It was clear that Penn was out of his comfort zone fighting a smaller, faster opponent having spent many of his fights taking on bigger, stronger foes. Edgar won a wide decision, taking every round.

Penn has said that he is looking to return to action sooner rather than later and only time will tell if Penn has seen better days or whether Edgar is just his stylistic bogeyman.

Monday, 23 August 2010

The Natural vs Lights Out

I thought that the retarded debate between boxing and MMA had drifted into the ether as more boxing fans became aware of what MMA actually consisted of, but alas, the beast has reared its ugly head once more. The ugly head specifically being that of James Toney who has signed a 3 fight deal (3 fights!) with the UFC. He makes his debut on the 28th August against the former UFC light-Heavyweight and Heavyweight Champion Randy Couture. Talk about being thrown in at the deep-end, this is reminiscent of Eric ‘the Eel’ floundering in an Olympic swimming pool some years back.

Just to put the initial premise to bed, a good boxer does not necessarily make a good MMA fighter and vice versa. Why? For the same reason that Roger Federer is not the World Badminton Champion, that is why. Although at first sight there are similarities between the sports, the skill set required to be a champion of either differs vastly and on a multitude of levels and that is why the debate is retarded. Katie Price is apparently pretty good at looking after a horse but don’t expect her to enter the Derby any day soon. Anyone who thinks that a pure boxer will win the UFC title on the grounds that they are a world class striker is an ignoramus.

I personally love boxing, and for that matter James Toney, or ‘Lights-Out’ as he’s known (that’s all my mum ever used to say when I was a kid). His defensive prowess in the ring is unrivalled in modern times and he’s been in there with the best of his generation but I’ve never had a boxing lesson where they teach you how to fight off your back and that would be the undoing of any boxer. Marcus Davis was a pro-boxer but then he isn’t an idiot so he backed it up with a rounded MMA game, training with Pat Miletich’s team. Vitor Belfort has also fought as a pro-boxer before but then he also has a black belt in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Apparently Toney’s been in training and the rumours are that he even scored a tap whilst sparring with ‘King’ Mo Lawal although that smells somewhat of bullshit to me. However, I genuinely do hope that he has been hiding some wrestling history and perhaps an active interest in MMA for some time but still, going in against Randy Couture in a debut? It unfortunately is set up to be a freak show. Randy will either choose to ‘dirty box’ him against the cage or take him to the floor and pummel him.

My guess is that the fight is happening because it is a great opportunity for the UFC to pick up some more fans as it creeps further into the mainstream and, for that matter, Randy Couture himself - who has Rambo/Rocky/Predator/Terminator 17 to promote. I would hate to see Toney, a legend of his own sport, embarrassed but then, as I’ve tried to point out, just because he has a fat belly does not mean that he has Phil Taylor’s number at the oche and, therefore, just because he can out-strike Evander Hoylfield does not mean he can out-wrestle Randy Couture. David Haye has labelled Toney’s attempt ‘delusional’ but then anyone who has listened to any of his post-fight interviews knows that he’s not the most cerebral man in the world.

It is exciting though, I’m just holding out hope of Frankie Dettori giving it a go next or maybe one of those Loose Women, I’d pay to view that.


Saturday, 14 August 2010

Top 4, Bottom 3

This is going to be real brief as I’ve given myself no time to rant and rave in between writing my MA dissertation and being an excited little girl about the release of The Expendables. It was awesome, by the way, and you should all go if you want see a proper ‘throwback’ action movie. Anyway…

Top 4

1. Manchester United – so my thought process is a bit different this year as Everton are being genuinely tipped to seriously push for a Top 4 finish, and if we can keep injuries to a minimum, I’m hopeful we can. But as I never like to bet or predict anything involving us, I’ve taken us out of the running for the purposes of this. When it’s a tight title race, and all indications are this will be the tightest, I’m probably always going to opt for Utd. I think this season’s decision is based on thinking Berbatov is still world class and has to come good at some point, and hopefully it’ll be this year. World Cup aside, we know what we’ll get from Rooney; Valencia proved to be a big, albeit different, success replacing Ronaldo; Scholesy has looked imperious in pre-season; and then there’s young ‘Chicharito’, who is their, not so, surprise package. Obviously, the worry is the defence and whether Smalling is good enough to replace Rio when he has to. Stupid as it sounds, but I think having O’Shea will be an added bonus for Fergie. So, on that bombshell, I say Utd will win the league because of the returning John O’Shea.

2. Chelsea – honestly, for me the next three places could be a toss up but I’m going for Chelsea because, essentially, I’m well boring. It’ll be difficult to predict how Man City will do as they’ve clearly got the individuals, but unlike Chelsea in years past (well Mourinho and Ancelotti), they haven’t got the manager to make it all work. Chelsea’s pre-season hasn’t been great, and I didn’t think they looked particularly good winning it last year. Terry’s kind of been found out (in more ways than one) and they seem to rely way too much on Lamps and The Drog. That being said, Malouda stepped up last season and having Essien back is massive, as I assume he’ll be the one driving their Champions League/title challenge. I also hope Ancelotti sticks to his word and gives Daniel Sturridge more minutes as that boy looks like he could be special.

3. Manchester City – my favourite thing about Man City’s buying power is not that they’re a new team in the title mix-up or that they’re bringing in all these new players into English football but that they’ve already replaced Joleon Lescott. The prick. Sorry, that’s a holdover from last season’s opening day. As I said before, I’m dubious whether Mancini is a good enough manager and tactician to get all ducks in order to mount a sustained push for the Premier League title. They’ll no doubt Mancini will add about four more before the end of August, so it might get so ridiculous it’ll be impossible for them not to win it. I’m looking forward to watching Balotelli because I haven’t seen much of him but the amount of coverage his pursuit and purchase has go I feel like I should know who the fuck he really is.

4. Arsenal – got to go with the Arse because since they stopped winning I’ve wanted to see them get back to winning. They still need a good goalkeeper and holding midfielder (one of Real’s Diarra’s should do that job) but they’ll be as good as ever going forward. Nasri showed last year that he’s got it while Arshavin and Van Persie are guaranteed goals and entertainment. Chamakh looks like an awkward bastard but there are high hopes; we’d all like to see Wilshere playing games at the Emirates than the Reebok; and there’s always Nicklas Bendtner.

Bottom 3

18. Newcastle Utd; 19. West Bromwich Albion; 20. Blackpool – right, I’ve been boring again and gone for the three who go promoted to back down. I think Newcastle have the best chance of surviving just because they’ll probably have the best home form of the three. Neither of these three has really strengthened, although Holloway got in some token signings this past week, and none of them possess one real game-changing player. Like everyone, I’d love Holloway to keep Blackpool up, but I’m almost intrigued to see how much they’ll lose by every week because I’m pretty confident they’ll have the lowest points total by the season’s end. I haven’t really got an opinion of West Brom, I like Di Matteo and Dorrans is supposed to have it, but they’re just a bit meh. However, I do think Di Matteo is astute enough to not make the mistakes Mowbray did and he’ll set up to survive rather than look good and come second. I also see Wigan and Blackburn struggling but would be surprised if any of the Premier League’s newest teams had enough to stay up.


So last season I went quite conservative with the top 3 and predicted someone else would break into the top 4. Admittedly it wasn’t Everton but having got the make up of the bottom 3 correct I’m arguing 6 out of 7 isn't bad.

The reason for pointing that out is that this season I think I’ve gone mental. I’m predicting like a few others a much more competitive at the top, I think the gap has been closed on United and Chelsea. The bottom 3 are not so easy to predict this year with the exception of Blackpool who look pretty nailed on.


1. Man City

The argument is that it’s too soon for them to become only the fifth club to take the Premier League title. They might fire Mancini after a few bad results or they might use that horrifically bloated Championship Manager style squad to great affect. Fifth one season and the title the next? It’ll be a close run thing if they do.

2. Man United

Everyone’s excited by Hernandez probably just about as much as they are frustrated by Berbatov. I think United will be the most entertaining team to watch in the league this season but how long can Giggs and Scholes carry them over the line to triumph and will Smalling or Evans provide decent enough assistance to Vidic in the absence of Ferdinand.

3. Liverpool

Yeah I know. The team I hate. Despise, even. But its OK to like them again now cause they’ve got Woy and Joe. Hodgson should be able to motivate a more balanced looking attack (thanks to Benitez last signing?!). There is genuinely quality and competition in midfield (if Mascherano goes or not) and if he can something out of Babel, keeps Torres fit, a top three finish is just about possible.

4. Chelsea

Originally I included Arsenal here but with Essien back and Ramires on the way Chelsea’s midfield seems well stocked. Ancelloti has predicted a big season for Daniel Sturridge and if he gets in ahead Drogba, Anelka and Kalou it will have been. If Lampard continues to knock in the goals like last season they’ll certainly be up there.

The reason I’ve put them here is because I genuinely believe they are going to prioritise the Champions League this season and at times that’s going to cost them league points.

Bottom 3

18. Stoke

Maybe a heart ruling the head again but even before they bought Kenwyne in I thought Stoke might struggle. They’ll keep a mean defence but I still don’t see the goals coming in. To clarify I love Kenwyne but as the back up support striker, he’s not the man to get the goals. They might not be here but I think they’ll struggle.

19. Wolves

OK so maybe I should just say who I want to go down. They’ve spunked £6.5m on Stephen Fletcher who was OK for Burnley last year. They still have George Elokobi. That’s enough for me.

20. Blackpool

Last year I predicted that Burnley would go down but that it was because they played football too much. Blackpool’s amazing run and play off victory will not be sustained at this level. I think they’ll really, really struggle.


1st – Man U
As much as it pains me to put these scum bags on top of the pile and as much as they’ve not revamped their squad as much as others that champagne socialist Scotch cunt of a manager (and the revenge mentality he’ll instil after last season’s just-second-best) is too good to ignore. Add to this the fact they now have the best four forward options in the league – Rooney + a sharp looking Berbatov + a best signing of the summer Hernandez + Owen – and I can’t but think they’ll do it. Bastards

2nd – Chelsea
Good. Very goodÖ But not quite good enough this time around. They’ve got the best squad in the league but, I think, the sheer it’s-our-turn-this-time-ness of Man U will win the day. And Drogba’s getting a little too old for his diving self to save the day.

3rd – Liverpool
I support them. I have to believe.
So shut up, right. Just shut up.
Cole will be the deciding factor in a player-of-the-season role, alongside a close-second Gerrard.

4th – Arsenal
A bit of a risk of a prediction, and one I’m not all that comfortable with, but I think their bad luck with injuries can’t keep on decimating them as much as it has. With a fit for even most of the season Fabregas/van Persie they’ll fly this high at the very least.

Man City? Tottenham?
Yep, but no, but maybe; but no.
I just can’t see Man City’s new army of overpaid-but-unschooled-in-the-Premiership stars getting it together. A mostly terrible pre-season hints at the fact that while they might occasionally work things out enough to beat their fellow top guns (they’ll do Man U at home, and maybe Arsenal), those cold Monday nights in Stoke / Wigan / [insert post-industrially-depressed-town-here] will be their downfall.

And Tottenham’s attempts to stake a claim in Europe will be too much for a squad that’s as shallow as a statement from Harry Redknapp on his intentions in the transfer market.

Bottom – Wolves
Terrible last season, and second season syndrome is going to hit them like a bad case of Syphilis.

Second bottom – Blackpool
Sad, but inevitable. They’ve signed enough players and have a daunting enough home ground to keep them off the bottom, but they're to premiership football what Blackpool women are to humanity: ugly, pointless and, thanks to that whole 'survival of the fittest' thing, ultimately doomed.

Third bottom – Newcastle
This could (very) easily be West Brom but Newcastle lack any kind of depth in their squad. I like Hughton as a manager but the whole infrastructure is as circus-like as it’s been for years. Andy Carroll as their number 9 enough said.


1. Man United
2. Chelsea
3. Liverpool
4. Man City

MH (via text)

Friday, 28 May 2010

World Cup Dreaming

Friday afternoon at work. Day dreaming about the World Cup. Who would I take (I ask myself)? Well:


Joe Hart
David James
Robert Green


Leighton Baines
Jamie Carragher (RB)
Ashley Cole
Rio Ferdinand
Glen Johnson
Ledley King (DM)
John Terry


Gareth Barry
Joe Cole
Steven Gerrard (LM)
Tom Huddlestone (CB)
Adam Johnson
Frank Lampard
Aaron Lennon
James Milner (RB, CM)
Theo Walcott (CF)


Peter Crouch
Jermain Defoe
Emile Heskey
Wayne Rooney


Stephen Warnock
Michael Dawson
Matthew Upson
Scott Parker
Michael Carrick
Shaun Wright-Phillips
Darren Bent

I cut one more defender than likely (Upson or Dawson) so I could accomodate Huddlestone, who can cover at CB anyway.

Yep I'm a dreamer. The brackets aren't preferred positions, only showing why I think it's possible.