Looking forward to Big Apple showdown

The professional boxing season has thrown up several dramatic fights and one master class from ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd Mayweather in recent weeks.

April 27 was a great night for fight fans with major bouts taking place in England, America and Argentina. First, Amir Khan took on Julio Diaz in Sheffield in his first fight back in the UK since a controversial win over Derry’s Paul McCloskey two years ago. Khan started the fight well but suffered a knockdown in the fourth round and survived a late onslaught to win on an unconvincing points decision win.

I like Khan, think he has a lot of natural talent and he has attributes that can’t be taught. Speed, courage, heart and instinct. But technically he has flaws. He starts his attacks from too far out which gives opponents the chance set their feet and throw punches as he comes into range turning exchanges into 50-50 trade offs.

On the same night in Brooklyn, New York, former Khan conqueror Danny Garcia defended his WBC and WBA titles against former Khan victim Zab Judah. There was bad blood between the two in the run-up to the fight, leading to them being weighed in separately and kept apart up until receiving the referee’s final instruction. But when the action got underway it lived up to the all the pre-fight verbals.

Garcia, a strong young fighter from Philadelphia used his youth and strength to bully Judah in the first half. He hurt Judah in the fifth and sixth and scored a knockdown in the eighth. Judah, a southpaw veteran, used all his experience to weather the storm and finally got through to Garcia in the tenth, hurting him with a left hand. Judah finished the fight strong but it was to little too late with Garcia winning a unanimous decision.

At the same time, in Buenos Aires, Martin Murray lost a close decision to WBC middleweight king Sergio Martinez. Murray, a big underdog coming into the fight and boxing behind a high defensive guard, caught Martinez clean on several occasions, dropping him in the eighth round.

Going into the championship rounds, rounds 11 and 12, I had the fight level on my scorecard. Martinez showed his experience and heart to dig deep and win those rounds and the fight.

Last weekend in Dublin two of Ireland’s best prospects Gary O’Sullivan and Stephen Ormond recorded stoppage wins to remain unbeaten. Ormond now looks set to fight Dublin’s Oisin Fagan while a fight with British champion Billy Joe Saunders or my former foe Anthony Fitzgerald could be next for O’Sullivan.

The master class lesson came from Las Vegas though. Floyd Mayweather outclassed three weight world champion Robert Guerrero to show again why he is regarded as the number one boxer in the world. Switching from offence to defence and back again effortlessly, Mayweather used lightening lead right hands and overriding jabs to nullify everything Guerrero had.

Mayweather is now undefeated in 44 professional bouts putting him among the all-time greats. He is the ultimate thinking fighter. Whatever problems his opponents pose, Floyd Mayweather always finds a solution.

I am writing this from Copenhagen in Denmark where I’ve been sparring with a good Danish fighter named Patrick Nielsen to finish preparations for my next fight, next Wednesday night in New York.

I’m facing Daryl Cunningham (28 wins and four losses) from Detroit, Michigan and I’m in good form and feel confident going into the fight; an impressive win will hopefully set up bigger fights toward the end of the year. I expect a better performance than my last fight.

Although I didn’t admit it at the time, I felt a lot of weight on my shoulders going into that fight. It was my first fight with my new coach Adam Booth, first since losing to Chavez Jr and, most of all, my first fight since the death of my long-time coach and mentor Emmanuel Steward.

Since that fight, I’m boxing with more freedom and enjoyment. I’m looking forward to next week.

My team-mate George Groves is here with me in Copenhagen to spar Danish superstar Mikkel Kessler. Both are preparing to fight May 25, George takes on Noe Gonzales while Kessler faces Carl Froch in an eagerly anticipated rematch.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

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