After ending 2018 thoroughly pissed off with boxing for a number of reasons, 2019 has been a lot more positive. Also I didn’t spend a month in a mental health ward this year, which is always nice. To celebrate this newfound joy, I thought I’d bask in the glow of pure happiness and write a review of boxing’s bonus annus*.
My personal boxing highlights of 2019.
Phil Bowes winning and defending the Commonwealth Super Lightweight Title
Yes the year ended in the disappointment of an on-the-day medical cancellation, but Phil Bowes still had a great 2019. By the time he sparked Benson Nyilawila in the second round back in February I had already lost my voice screaming. To go then on to a Matchroom card and take on one of their guys in a fight as an away fighter and utterly dominate him showed Phil’s fearlessness. 2020 won’t see him take a step back.
Watching boxing at Royal Albert Hall
I’ve seen boxing all over, but the Royal Albert hall should sack off the orchestra and just host Queensbury Rules. Boxing there is incredible on every level and was something I’d longed to experience since Fight Night Champion…
A giant, posh York Hall; not a bad seat in the house, acoustics custom built to perfection and no shortage of bars and loos. I just felt a bit sorry for the staff who clearly weren’t used to the “enthusiasm” of your average pugilism punter.
Deontay Wilder’s right hand
Obliterating Breazeale inside a round. Spending 6 1/2 rounds looking more and more desperate that the opportunity wouldn’t arrive. Wilder’s slashing, steaming, scary right hand hits you and whatever has happened in the fight prior is irrelevant. I maintain that Wilder wipes AJ out. For me Deontay is the most dangerous heavyweight on the planet and that right hand is why. Tyson Fury is the best, by the way.
Hannah Rankin makes history
Scotland’s first ever female world champion? Winning that title in Glasgow? Broadcast live on BBC? It couldn’t have been more perfect for Hannah, as she beat Sarah Curran on the cards to take home the IBO Super Welterweight Title. Hannah worked bloody hard to get there, and no doubt will work even harder to get the belt back from Patricia Berghult who took it from her in November.
Team Rankin are great friends of mine and the moment Hannah won was a joyous, 2019 high point- personally as well as for them. There will be more fun to come in 2020 no doubt.
Four titles, one night at York Hall
Not only did Goodwin Boxing put four titles (three English and a Southern Area) on their 30th November show, the uncontrollable happened and the fireworks made an event of it all. For all of my times at York Hall this was special, really special.
Jeff Ofori blasts away a loss in a week
Jeffy has long been a boxer I’ve enjoyed watching and a man I enjoy talking to. He also has no fear, and despite suffering his first professional loss in September, when Alfie Price took his Southern Area Lightweight Title from him over ten rounds, just two months later Ofori headed up to Liverpool. In the away corner, to fight local lad, unbeaten Ged Carroll, the odds were stacked against him.
The underdog going in, coming off his first loss, Jeffy bashed Ged up, walking away a points winner over eight.
What happened next nobody could have seen coming. MtK’s Golden Contract tournament (which I’ll use this opportunity to also list as a highlight of 2019) was having injury issues ahead of its super lightweight quarter finals. Coming just a week after the Carroll fight, Jeffy took the opportunity and stepped up a weight to beat Kieran Gething by the finest of margins.
A brilliant week for Jeffy and a pleasure to watch him get rewards for taking risks.
Mike Costello’s commentary
Having done a little bit of commentary myself, I am just in awe of Mike Costello. How he manages to perfectly convey a fight you can’t see via the medium of “radio” (it’ll never catch on) is pure genius. Mike is also the perfect foil to Steve Bunce and their BBC podcast is by far my favourite boxing listen.
In BoxPod world, as only I call it, Andy Clarke’s insight makes Ringside Toe 2 Toe a great listen, too.
For now though, please bow before this.
My regret of 2019
Not watching AJ versus Ruiz
I had work in the morning, and it was a shoe in for AJ, only it wasn’t and when I saw that the unthinkable had happened I wished I had just gone to work knackered.
*It’s Latin, look it up. Also it sounds like nice arse, so I used it.
HAPPY CHRISTMAS FROM ALL AT SOUTHPAW JAB