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Where Will Boxing Be 10 Years from Today? A New TSS Quarterly Survey

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The question for the third quarterly survey of 2019 was “Where do you see the sport/business of boxing 10 years from now?”

Thirty-six noted boxing buffs shared their thoughts. The respondents are listed alphabetically.

RUSS ANBER — trainer, elite cornerman, and owner of Rival Boxing Equipment: Around 1935, as Joe Louis was on his way to being a star, newspapers of the day and media in general, begged the question, “Can Louis save a dying sport?” Boxing is, and always has been cyclical. The success and popularity of boxing has ALWAYS depended on which fighter is carrying the sport. The success, popularity and visibility of the sport has always rested on the shoulders of its biggest stars. Seek out the greatest fighters of any era and you will find an era filled with promise and popularity. Robinson, Louis, Marciano, Ali, Leonard, Tyson are just a few examples. If 2029 blesses us with a fighter who captures the sport’s attention and imagination, we will experience another great time in boxing. If not, we will love it and wait till the next star comes along. Like we always do!

MATT ANDRZEJEWSKI — TSS writer: Boxing will be thriving in 2029 but the landscape will be much different from today. For one, the sanctioning bodies we see today won’t exist. They will finally have been pushed out of the sport after more outlandish acts and replaced by one central ratings system comprised of a panel of experts. And I think we see one dedicated boxing streaming network that broadcasts the sport 24/7, showing thousands of live events each year. The bigger fights will still find their way to traditional outlets (ESPN, etc) while the rest of the sport is covered through this one dedicated streaming outlet.

DAVID AVILA — TSS West Coast Bureau Chief: It’s one of the most pivotal and mysterious moments in boxing history right now. The introduction of streaming and the departure of HBO’s interest in the sport has opened the door to either a massive explosion of growth or an implosion that could send boxing spinning without a foundation.

BOB BENOIT — former pro boxer and now professional referee: it will be going down the drain.

STEVE CANTON — the face of boxing in South Florida: I see things about the same but becoming a little less relevant in the U.S. and more popular on a world-wide basis. As our state commissions continue to over-regulate our sport and make it more expensive and harder to promote events, we will have fewer and fewer shows. As new training techniques and procedures continue to cause boxers to become less proficient in the science of boxing, it might make for semi-exciting bouts with unskilled boxers wailing away on each other. The great teachers have or are dying off and the good athletes today are competing with athletic skills but not boxing skills.

ANTHONY CARDINALE, esq. — longtime legal advisor to many boxers: Thriving, if all title holders were mandatory challengers for other organization’s title holders in a playoff style tournament like the WSB format.

JILL DIAMOND — WBC International Secretary and chairperson and global ambassador for “WBC Cares”: Boxing is a traditional sport. It has gotten safer (and thank the WBC for this), but little else has changed. What has changed are the delivery systems and the subsequent plus and minus issues that result. My hope is that we have unified champions, more validation for the women, and greater opportunities for the boxers, based on ability rather than deal making.

CHARLIE DWYER — former fighter and professional referee: Boxing will continue for better or worse.

BERNARD FERNANDEZTSS mainstay and lifetime Member of the BWAA: With the introduction of DAZN and ESPN+, you have to wonder how much further technology — the means by which we see the fights — can go. Will there be more such ways of bringing the action to viewers? Better, to my way of thinking, of getting the various streaming systems, more standard (as of now) television outlets and promotional concerns and to find a way to play nice and put on the very best fights instead of erecting more barriers to hinder such matchups. Also, the various alphabet organizations need to curb their insatiable appetite for creating more extraneous and unnecessary awards and titles, such as the WBCs new “franchise” championship for Canelo Alvarez. You’d think they were spending money faster than U.S. politicians, which would be a pretty neat trick. Actually, the alphabet groups are more about generating money, for themselves, than spending it. They want FANS to spend it.

LEE GROVES — writer, author, and wizard of CompuBox: Streaming services will make up the vast majority of boxing telecasts, and, with the introduction of the WBC’s “Franchise Champion” belt in addition to the subordinate titles created by the other sanctioning bodies, initiate unprecedented business for those companies charged with making those belts. Hopefully, the fighters and the fights will continue to serve as the solid foundation that has, to this point, kept the sport’s chaotic administrative and political side from sinking it.

HENRY HASCUP — historian; President of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame: Hopefully I am wrong but I see the BIG getting BIGGER and the SMALL getting SMALLER or even worse in 10 years. Meaning the big promoters will run out the small guys and that is terrible because boxing needs the little guy to develop the fighters that don’t have the Big backing of the Big guys!

CHUCK HASSON — noted boxing historian and co-author of Philadelphia’s Boxing Heritage: I think 10 years from now things in boxing will be pretty much like now, going through peaks and valleys like it always has with good exciting fights plus lousy promoters who focus on building their fighters and don’t worry about making good fights for the fans.

JACK HIRSCH — former President and now life time member of the BWAA: Great question and one that is hard to predict. My feeling is that with the advanced technology boxing will continue to thrive, but of course it all depends on who the major players will be.

BRUCE KIELTY — booking agent; boxing historian: Unless the television networks (and streaming services, promoters, boxers, etc.) realize that the sanctioning body system isn’t working, boxing will continue to diminish about 1 or 2 % a year. Unlike sports run by professional executives/player representatives (MLB, NFL, NBA, etc.), boxing remains in the Stone Age.

STUART KIRSCHENBAUM — Boxing Commissioner Emeritus, Michigan: For boxing to be significant as a sport and no less a business ten years from now there needs to be an influx of participants. Without a skilled work force …that being boxers…the sport will fade away and be a footnote on a Google search. In Detroit…budget cuts closed the majority of these facilities such as Kronk. Aspiring trainers have tried to open up storefronts but the reality of paying rent and keeping the utilities turned on have become a challenge and a formula for closure in most cases. The young ethnic minority has always been the feeder to the success of boxing but too many quicker paths to financial success, whether legal or not, has changed things. I sadly predict the demise of boxing as we know it now. But then again, Floyd Mayweather Jr. will be making another comeback, so who knows?

JIM LAMPLEY — linchpin of the HBO announcing team for 31 years; 2015 IBHOF inductee: Just as has been the case for the past 128 years, boxing will arrive at its 138th birthday as a perpetually troubled, under-organized, constantly under-achieving but unusually thrilling and surprising public attraction. Its unique adventure as the most entrepreneurial of all sports will not yield to intelligent unification. The overwhelming bulk of its highest quality performers will remain largely anonymous compared to their peers in more conventional sports. Its putative competitor, MMA, will by then have a demonstrably larger audience and greater day to day impact.  But once or twice a year, as has always been the case, boxing will momentarily unify a global audience for a must-see event, and occasionally those events will produce incomparable and unforgettable drama. Unique drama, because at its best, Boxing is still the best.

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                           Boxing Will Never Die Because of its Fraternity—Anonymous

ARNE LANGTSS editor-in-chief, author, historian: Two quick thoughts: (1) Boxing is resilient; if you had a quarter for every time that someone wrote that boxing was on the ropes, you would have a big mound of quarters. (2) By some measures, boxing is healthier today than it has been in quite some time. Having said that, I don’t believe that boxing will ever have the pull that it once had among the English-speaking people of North America without more ethnic diversity….and that’s something that you shouldn’t wish for as it would likely mean that the economy had gone to pieces, enfeebling all economic groups.

JIMMY LANGE — former fighter (appeared on the “Contender” series) and promoter: Nowadays fighters want to be spectacular, but with no substance. It doesn’t work like that. To be great goes WAY beyond the 36 minutes under the lights. It’s a lifestyle. I don’t see hunger these days. I see kids, men, contenders, taking a second to readjust their headphones while they are shadow boxing. The powers that be will continue with the newest way to market and the newest mediums to get eyes on the product. The product will be fine. Venues will fill, viewers will tune in, and it will be lucrative for all. However, the product will continue to be diminished. The public doesn’t care, because they don’t know the difference.

RON LIPTONNJ Boxing Hall of Fame, former fighter, retired police officer, pro referee:  Boxing will flourish 10 years from now or a hundred years from now as it always has. There are ups and downs as in all sports but the inherent lure in our blood still resonates the electric excitement of a good fight. All you need to help it are great fights with top talent facing each other. If the rival promoters and the fighters are willing to make matches that the public wants, then boxing will always flourish. Dynamic buildups of the big punchers like Tyson, rugged solid fighters like Canelo, defensive brash talent like Mayweather, and the type of boxer who will fight anyone and bring in the fans like Ali did are all it takes. You have to have a guy who loves to fight, that is the main thing I know after all my years in professional boxing. We must preserve the fight teachers who can pass on what we know and then the ground remains fertile for more abounding talent to emerge.

ADEYINKA MAKINDEU.K. barrister, author and contributor to the Cambridge Companion to Boxing: I prefer to give an idealist’s vision rather than a pessimistic one. Therefore, I see boxing gravitating towards elimination competitions which put belts at stake with the objective being the unification of divisions: a best-case scenario assuming that the sanctioning bodies will not wither away. I also foresee rigorous Olympic-style testing for PEDs and same day weigh-ins. Time to begin a crusade for logos in boxing: a rejection of the persistent chaotic state of the sport and an insistence on sanity and a correct order of organizing the sport for the benefit of its participants and the fans.

SCOOP MALINOWSKI — boxing writer, author, Mr. “Biofile”:  In America I see it becoming WWF, certain designated manufactured stars who will be protected to maximize earnings. Mayweather, Canelo and next Wilder – the first three major protected counterfeit franchises. The other side of the matrix will be the real authentic unprotected champions – Loma, GGG, Usyk, Crawford, Pacquiao. Curious to see how the two matrix sides blend – or divide.

DAVID MARTINEZ — historian, www.dmboxing.com:  It will be like wrestling was back in the day before Vince McMahon brought in the WWE – promoters governing their own fighters, champions, territories!

LARRY MERCHANT – HBO boxing commentator emeritus; 2009 IBHOF inductee: I’m 88. Where do you think I’ll be in 10 years?

ROBERT MLANDINICH — former NYPD detective, author and boxing writer: I think it will be fine if the broadcast entities make it easier for technophobes to watch the fights. Many fans have no idea how to access DAZN or ESPN+. Also, if Andy Ruiz Jr. can string together a few good wins, he will help create a new legion of fans that could last for 10 years. He is such a breath of fresh air and a guy that casual fans can relate to.

ERNEST MORALES — former fighter: Honestly, being ‘old school’ I can’t see it getting any better, in fact WORSE. The game is being held HOSTAGE, in the hands for the millionaires: promoters, streaming outfits, managers. Fighters pick and choose who they won’t/will fight. Weight clauses, titles becoming worthless and actually thrown back in the faces of the ABC orgs because “champions” refuse to fight well deserved mandatory challengers. It isn’t going to get any better in ten years, nor twenty, unless the fans take a stand, which it seems they won’t.

CHARLIE NORKUSPresident, Ring 8, Veteran Boxers Association: On the surface, boxing looks to be a vibrant sports entity today. The heavyweight division alone has produced some intriguing match-ups lately with boxing fans filling the various houses. The business side looks promising too as the newcomer on the block, DAZN, has signed some talent for their pool. But the lower tier of local boxing cards has taken a hit. New rules in New York governing insurance for fighters has caused somewhat of a drop in the local card shows, but thankfully they still exist. I would like to think that 10 years from now fight cards won’t be so cost-prohibitive as to prevent them from showcasing the young talent in this area. Boxing has always been said to be on the ropes for one reason or another over its many eras, and I am sure it would still remain the status quo. The real threat just might be the surging MMA cards taking control over the remaining boxing crowd.

RUSSELL PELTZvenerable Philadelphia boxing promoter and 2004 IBHOF inductee: There will be more fighters with belts than without belts.

             If everyone wins a belt, then no one wins. – Anonymous

FRED ROMANO — boxing historian, author and former HBO Boxing consultant: For generations they have been saying that boxing is a dying sport. However, boxing is the Rasputin of sports. I expect it to continue to thrill fans throughout the world regardless of deficiencies in governing bodies, the existence of fractured titles and an ever- changing demographic and technological landscape.

LEE SAMUELS — Top Rank publicist emeritus; 2019 IBHOF inductee: Years ago we asked Bob Arum “will there always be fighters and great fights?” and he said, “absolutely: there will always be those who want to get into the ring and box and there will always be fans who want to see the big fights.”

TED SARES — TSS writer: Absolutely the same as Lee Groves, to wit: “Streaming services will make up the vast majority of boxing telecasts, and, with the introduction of the WBC’s “Franchise Champion” belt, in addition to the subordinate titles created by the other sanctioning bodies, initiate unprecedented business for those companies charged with making those belts.”

ICEMAN JOHN SCULLY — manager, trainer, commentator, writer, historian, former boxer: In 10 years from now the sanctioning bodies will have decimated the World Championships to the extent that nobody will know who the Champions are and even people in the boxing game such as myself won’t even care anymore.

MIKE SILVER — author, writer, historian: Boxing is in a transition stage and it does not bode well for the future. The demented circus that is professional boxing today will only get worse. Technology combined with a completely unregulated sport will make for even more confusion. Boxing will actually become even more dumbed-down than it is today. In 2029 every boxer who wins his first pro bout will be awarded some kind of title belt. So figure about 500 new champions per year. What is so absurd and disheartening is that the media and the clueless fans will still accept the garbage being thrown at them, just as they do now. You can see the handwriting on the wall with the announcement that Canelo has just been named the new “Franchise” champion by the WBC, for the sole purpose that he can now fight whoever he wants and remain champion until he is ready for an assisted living facility. This kind of outlandish corruption and stupidity is breathtaking. Why are we still paying attention to this crap? But a fight is a fight, right? So what the hell. Bottom line: It can’t get better.

MICHAEL STEWART — former professional fighter and “Contender” series contestant: I think fewer young people will go into the amateurs as there will be more options for them. This will impact boxing ten years from now in a somewhat negative way.

ALAN SWYER — filmmaker, writer, and producer of the acclaimed El Boxeo: My hope is that ten years from now boxing will be even more of a worldwide sport, with the heavyweight division strong again and the Olympics assuming the importance it had when it spawned the likes of Ali, Oscar, and Sugar Ray Leonard. My fear is that it will continue to accept its position as a niche sport not even covered by most major newspapers.

GARY “DIGITAL” WILLIAMSthe voice of “Boxing on the Beltway”: Boxing ten years from now may be in a little bit of trouble. The issues that AIBA is having with the International Olympic Committee may end up having a ripple effect when it comes to harvesting new talent. Fortunately, there should be established pro talent that may lead the way.

PETER WOOD — author, writer and former fighter: This is a good question. I hope this article will be dug up and read in the year 2029 — and that I’m one of those reading it…Boxing will be revered more than ever in the future. Why? Because the more elevated and sophisticated society becomes, the more it’s need will be to counterbalance itself with its primal origin.

Observations:

This time around, more ex-fighters responded and, like the others, there was a good dose of cynicism in their posts. A major complaint involved too many belts for too many titles with Canelo’s new WBC “Franchise Title” receiving particular scorn.

But there was a good deal of optimism as well. David Avila’s savvy response sounded a balanced warning, to wit: “The introduction of streaming and the departure of HBO’s interest in the sport has opened the door to either a massive explosion of growth or an implosion that could send boxing spinning without a foundation.”

Now it’s your turn: Where do you see Boxing ten years from now?

Ted Sares is a member of Ring 8, a lifetime member of Ring 10, and a member of Ring 4 and its Boxing Hall of Fame. He also is an Auxiliary Member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA). He is an active power lifter and Strongman competitor in the Master Class.

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This Former College Cheerleader Just May be Boxing’s Second-Best Heavyweight

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Here’s something that you probably don’t know about Joe Joyce. The British bomber was once an exchange student at California’s Sacramento State University and during his enrollment, which was in the fall semester (football and basketball season), he joined the cheerleading squad.

Wish we had a picture to share, but we don’t. In general, male cheerleaders tend to be not much taller than their female counterparts — think the body type of a gymnast – and the six-foot-six Joyce, whose thick torso appears to have been hewn from oak, must have been quite the sight.

Joyce studied fine arts at Sac State, his major at London’s Middlesex University where he earned his degree. As an exchange student in California, it figured that Joyce would find a physical activity to keep him occupied when he wasn’t studying or in class. He’s an accomplished painter, we have been told, but one doesn’t associate him with an activity that one performs while sitting down.

Currently ranked #1 by the WBO and #3 by the WBA, the undefeated (13-0, 12 KOs) Joyce, a former Olympic silver medalist, has the most diversified athletic background of any boxer on the planet. Before boxing became all-consuming, he was immersed in rugby, swimming, track and field (“long jump, triple jump, shot put, you name it”) and martial arts.

It’s hard to transition into boxing from a different sport – there are very few success stories – but apparently having sampled a wide range of athletic endeavors is useful. A match between Joe and 10-0 Jared Anderson, whose exertions have been applied exclusively to boxing, would provide an interesting contrast.

Anderson would have youth on his side, but the nectar of youth was of no help to Daniel Dubois when Joe Joyce caught up with him last November at the historic Church House in Westminster. Dubois, 12 years the younger man, had no antidote for Joe’s steady diet of left jabs and bowed out in the 10th round with a busted eye socket. The upset earned Joyce, now 36 years old, the British, European, and Commonwealth heavyweight titles.

A fight between Juggernaut Joe and Jared Anderson is unlikely to happen anytime soon, if ever. Rematches with Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk are closer at hand.

Rematches?

Indeed. One can find 66 amateur bouts for Joe Joyce documented at boxrec. The first entry is Anthony Joshua. They met back in 2011 and Joyce failed to survive the opening round. Three standing 8-counts terminated the match.

Joyce recalls that he made the mistake of circling into Joshua’s line of fire, rather than away from it. He had just got done fighting a southpaw on the same bill and had precious little time to recalibrate for an opponent with an orthodox style.

Joyce opposed Oleksandr Usyk in March of 2013 in an England vs. Ukraine event at London’s venerated York Hall and lost a 5-round decision. This would be one of only two setbacks he suffered in 16 engagements under the rubric of the World Series of Boxing.

Joyce didn’t expect Usyk to beat Joshua when they met this past September before a crowd of 65,000 at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. “I imagined Joshua was a bit too strong for him,” he says. But Joe wasn’t greatly surprised either. “After the first round, I could see how it would go. Usyk makes you box how he wants you to box.”

Joyce doesn’t yet have an opponent for his next fight. There are reports that it will be Kubrat Pulev, but Joe says all he knows is what he’s read on social media. Tony Yoka’s name has also been bandied about. A match between him and the 29-year-old Frenchman, currently 11-0, would also profit from the rematch-angle.

Joyce was the busier fighter when he fought Yoka in the finals of the super heavyweight division at the 2016 Rio Summer Games, but Yoka walked away with the gold medal by virtue of winning a split decision.

“I could sense something dodgy was going on in the dressing room [before the fight],” he told this reporter. And while he refused to say flat-out that he thought the fight was fixed, he didn’t have to, as Joyce vs. Yoka was one of 11 cited by Canadian law professor Richard McLaren in his blockbuster 2021 report which gave credence to the scuttlebutt that the outcomes of some of the matches in Rio were manipulated for money or political favors.

Joe Joyce’s biggest fan is his mother, Marvel Opara, and it’s a mutual admiration society. Joe proudly notes that she has hiked Mount Kilimanjaro and ridden with Joe on a tandem bicycle through the streets of Thailand despite being almost completely blind. She raised Joe and his little brother by herself when her Scotch-Irish husband left the fold, but Joe and his father Philip — who remarried and established a new family – have a warm relationship. After his parents split, Joe saw his dad every Wednesday and every other weekend.

Joyce signed with David Haye’s Hayemaker Ringstar Promotions coming out of the amateur ranks. Haye was still active, having returned to the sport after a 42-month hiatus, and Ismael Salas was training him. The globetrotting Salas, a legend in his native Cuba, prepared Joyce for his match with Daniel Dubois but wasn’t around to work the corner, having been detached by the authorities after testing positive for COVID.

Joyce and Salas have hooked up again in Las Vegas where Salas, who is none the worse for wear, operates a boxing academy. Joyce and his attractive girlfriend Nadine Davison arrived in Las Vegas in mid-November for a month-long stay. Salas puts Joe through his paces each afternoon. Here in the states, Joe previously trained at Abel Sanchez’s compound in Big Bear.

Joe Joyce isn’t getting any younger, but heavyweights tend to have a longer shelf life than fighters in other divisions and Joe anticipates that he will keep fighting until the age of 40. And then what?

“I have thought about getting into coaching [when I leave the sport],” he says. “I can earn money selling my paintings and perhaps I have a future in punditry.” (The reference here is to employment as TV color commentator for which Joyce would seem to be ideally suited, although being naturally soft-spoken, he would probably have to ratchet his voice up a notch.)

We would suggest another alternative, graduate school at Sacramento State University. We hear there’s an opening on the cheerleading squad.

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The Day Canelo Got Buzzed

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The Day Canelo Got Buzzed

Puerto Rican Jose Miguel Cotto, the older brother of future Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto, retired in 2012 with a fine record of 33-4-1. He was stopped just once, by streaking Juan Diaz (28-0 at the time) and fought a number of high-level competitors including Shane Gannon (22-6), Freddy Cruz (51-19-8), Pantan Narongwet (30-2-1), Ilido Julio (39-15-1), and later Paulie Malignaggi (28-4).

On May 1, 2010, his opponent was Saul Alvarez (31-0-1). Cotto (31-1-1 coming in) was short and stocky, fought in an orthodox style, and possessed a strong chin. It would turn out to be Jose’s career-defining battle.

The fight was televised on HBO PPV from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and was designed as a coming out party for the young Alvarez—hereafter to be known as “Canelo.” The fight was the co-feature to the Floyd Mayweather vs. Shane Mosley fight on a Cinco De Mayo weekend and garnered tremendous exposure.

Once the fight started, the fans received an early shock as Cotto caught the young Mexican redhead flush with a left-hook at the round’s half-way point. It sent Canelo stumbling back into the ropes—in fact, had the ropes not held him up, it could have been ruled a knockdown by referee Tony Weeks. Sensing the kill, Cotto attacked with several follow-up shots, including at least two right hands that landed flush from the other side.

Everyone invested in this fight (and in Canelo), not to mention his rabid Mexican fans and this writer, were watching in disbelief. How could this be happening? Canelo had just been buzzed and almost decked. Was an upset in the making? Was the build-up bogus?

“I know the first round was a little scary but I gained my confidence as the rounds went on.” — Canelo

And come back he did as he regrouped and floored Cotto in round two with what would later become his signature punch—the uppercut. Alvarez then picked up the pace, breaking down the rugged Cotto with great combos and accurate power shots. The fight soon became one-sided. Finally, in the ninth round, Canelo maneuvered his opponent into a corner, trapped and stunned him and then launched a barrage of malefic right hands (more than a dozen, interspersed with a few set-up lefts). The one-sided barrage forced Weeks to step in and end matters. The scorecards through the completed rounds read 78-73 across the board, all for Canelo Alvarez.

Canelo is currently 57-1-2 and is the top PFP fighter in boxing. He holds the WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO world super middleweight titles and seems poised to move up to cruiserweight and fight Ilunga Makabu for the WBC cruiserweight title. If he does and wins, he will become a five-division titleholder. And yet despite this rugged schedule, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez has been “buzzed” only once.

“Miguel Cotto’s brother can make you do the chicken dance, but I can’t? Okay.” — Caleb Plant

Ted Sares enjoys writing about boxing. He can be reached at tedsares@roadrunner.com

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It’s Just Another Day for Birthday Boy Ben Davison, Boxing’s Hottest Young Trainer

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Happy birthday to British boxing coach Ben Davison who turned 29 today, Nov. 29. Davison is in Las Vegas where many people come to celebrate a birthday, but for him it’s merely another day at the office.

Actually, he’s currently plying his trade at two “offices.” In the morning, he’s at the Top Rank gym where his main focus is preparing unified 140-pound world champion Josh Taylor for his Feb. 26 title defense in Glasgow against Jack Catterall. In the afternoon he joins the horde at Bones Adams gym where Devin Haney is putting the finishing touches on his preparation for Saturday’s encounter with Jojo Diaz at the MGM Grand Garden, a Matchroom promotion that will be live-streamed around the world on DAZN. Davison will be in Haney’s corner assisting Haney’s dad Bill Haney.

Few people had heard of Ben Davison before April of 2018 when Tyson Fury introduced Ben as his new trainer at a glitzy London press conference to announce Fury’s comeback fight with sacrificial lamb Sefer Seferi. At that juncture, the Gypsy King had been out of the ring for 30 months during which he battled depression and addictions and allowed his weight to balloon to almost 400 pounds.

It seemed odd to many people that Fury, who was previously trained by his uncle Peter Fury, would choose an obscure trainer, a man younger than himself, to prepare him for his comeback. The presumption was that he was throwing a bone to the fellow that helped him get back in shape.

Broadly speaking, there are two types of boxing trainers. One is primarily a conditioner and the other a strategist whose strength is devising a battle plan. Boxing pundits, who knew little about Ben Davison other than his connection to Tyson Fury, rucked Ben into the first category.

Davison lived in Tyson Fury’s home for 14 months during which he oversaw the greatest renaissance in boxing history in the words of Daily Mail writer Simon Jones. But Davison was no generic physical fitness instructor. “I would study two, three, four fights of Deontay Wilder every day,” he told this reporter, recollecting the months he spent with Fury preceding the first Fury-Wilder fight.

When viewing a tape, says Davison, it’s important to throw out all preconceptions regarding what a fighter does well and what he does not do so well. “Casual fans tend to see only the punches,” he says. “They miss the subtleties.”

This doesn’t sound like the musing of a one-dimensional boxing coach.

Following his bout with Otto Wallin, Fury replaced Davison with SugarHill Steward, previously known as Javan “Sugar” Hill, the nephew and protégé of the renowned Kronk Gym maestro Emanuel Steward. Ben’s pride was wounded, but he did not let the disappointment color his feelings about Tyson Fury. “We will always be friends,” he says.

Davison could have stayed on with Team Fury, albeit in a secondary role to Steward, but he had another fighter under his wing in Fury’s cousin, Billy Joe Saunders, and new opportunities were opening up. He chose to move on.

A bantamweight from Glasgow, Scotland, Lee McGregor, had approached him about becoming his primary coach. Davison was now free to give McGregor the proper attention. And as luck would have it, McGregor’s best buddy was Josh Taylor who had become disenchanted with his father/son management team of Barry McGuigan and trainer Shane McGuigan.

Lee McGregor was 9-0 when Davison entered the picture. He’s now 11-0 and set to defend his European title on Dec. 18 with Armenia’s Narek Abgaryan in the opposite corner. Josh Taylor was fresh off his grueling battle with Regis Prograis in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series when he severed his tie with the McGuigans. The Scotsman then owned two pieces of the 140-pound world title and under Davison’s tutelage he went on to win a hard-earned decision over Jose Ramirez, thereby acquiring the other two pieces and becoming only the sixth boxer of the four-belt era to become an undisputed champion.

Nottingham’s Leigh Wood would be Ben’s next title-holder. On July 31 of this year, in his second fight with Davison, Wood wrested the WBA world featherweight diadem from Can Xu with a 12th-round stoppage. Wood was comfortably ahead on the cards going into the final round.

Davison’s relationship with Devin Haney was born out of a chance encounter with the boxer at Jorge Capetillo’s gym in Las Vegas. Capetillo was Tyson Fury’s cut man for Fury’s bout with Otto Wallin.

Ben struck up a conversation with Devin after watching the fighter beat the tar out of two sparring partners. As they were discussing the finer points of boxing, Haney called his dad over to give a listen. The elder Haney was impressed and when Devin entered the ring to fight Jorge Linares, there was Ben Davison working alongside Bill Haney in Devin Haney’s corner.

It has been noted that all of Davison’s marquee fighters were well-formed when he took them under his wing. For example, Leigh Wood had been a pro for almost 10 years before hooking up with him. This has led skeptics to wonder if he can build a fighter from scratch. Mark Dickinson, one of Ben’s newest charges, may provide the answer.

A highly decorated amateur, Dickinson has only one pro fight under his belt. He eliminated his opponent in 36 seconds. His potential is such that Davison did not leave him behind when he jetted off to Las Vegas with Team Josh Taylor.

There have been two important fights during Davison’s current stateside stay, both of which have implications for fighters with whom he is involved.

There has been talk of Josh Taylor moving up to welterweight to challenge Terence Crawford. That match may yet to come to fruition although Davison concedes that it became a harder fight to make when Crawford announced that he was leaving Top Rank.

Many people were upset at Kenny Porter, Shawn Porter’s father and trainer, for stopping the Crawford-Porter fight. The stoppage, which came in round 10, struck many as premature and the elder Porter made no friends when he rationalized his behavior by saying that he wasn’t satisfied with the way that his son had prepared.

Davison is of the opinion that father knew best. “We don’t know what went on at Shawn’s training camp. Kenny may have seen some things that he hadn’t seen before. Shawn was becoming fatigued and when a fighter becomes fatigued, he becomes more reckless and is thus more vulnerable. So, what was the point of continuing?”

Davison also refuses to say anything negative about Teofimo Lopez who was on the wrong end of a big upset this past Saturday in New York. “I would never kick a man while he is down,” says Davison. “He probably had a lot going on outside the ring the last year.”

The Lopez- Kambosos shocker opened new vistas, at least in theory.

Before he stepped into the ring with boxing’s newest Cinderella Man, Teofimo was contemplating a move to 140 where his most attractive opponent would have been Josh Taylor (assuming Taylor gets by Jack Catterall). That match is still live, but now Devin Haney suddenly has a new option should he get by Jojo Diaz on Saturday. A match between Haney and multiple-belt champion George Kambosos would be a delicious pairing and the Aussie appears to be on board with it although he would be chalked the underdog. In fact, Matchroom has arranged a meet-and-greet between Kambosos and credentialed media this coming Thursday in Las Vegas.

Back in London, more exactly Essex, Ben Davison runs the MTK Performance Center, a gym that shares space in the same building with the electrical testing company founded by his father. Ben spends a lot of time on the road, needless to say, but he’s reached the stage in his career when he can afford to hire someone to mind the store when he is out of town and pay several assistants to lighten his workload wherever he happens to be.

One of those assistants is Lee Wylie whose primary role is that of a video analyst. If the name seems familiar, that’s because Wylie’s byline has appeared in several online boxing magazines, including right here at The Sweet Science! In common with former TSS writer Frank Lotierzo, Wylie has a keen eye; he sees things when he watches a fight that aren’t apparent to laymen and Ben Davison is now the beneficiary of his insights.

If you happen to see Mr. Davison in the next few days, wish him a belated happy birthday. Enjoy the tailpiece of your twenties, sir, life comes at you fast.

Check out more boxing news on video at the Boxing Channel

To comment on this story in the Fight Forum CLICK HERE

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