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The Roles Have Changed for Caleb Plant Who Isn’t Intimidated by Canelo Alvarez

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The Roles Have Changed for Caleb Plant Who Isn’t Intimidated by Canelo Alvarez

It seems highly unlikely, almost impossible even, for anyone to see certain parallels between Canelo Alvarez, widely considered to be the finest pound-for-pound boxer in the world, and Mike Lee, described by one veteran observer as a “glorified club fighter” who rose faster and higher than his skill level suggested because of an unusual background that for a time made him something of a media darling.

Not that he has said it in so many words, but it does seem possible that Caleb “Sweet Hands” Plant (21-0, 12KOs), who takes on the heavily favored Alvarez (56-1-2, 38 KOs) for the undisputed super middleweight championship of the world Saturday night at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand, and who brutally dismissed Lee in an IBF title bout nearly 28 months ago, will draw from the same motivational bubbling well of dislike to achieve the desired result. The only difference is that this time, it is Plant who will be cast in the role of would-be usurper Lee. In some people’s eyes, anyway.

Alvarez’s WBC, WBO, WBA (super) 168-pound belts will be on the line in the PBC on Showtime Pay Per View telecast, as well as Plant’s IBF strap.

Plant, a 29-year-old native of the small town of Ashland, Tenn., who now resides in Las Vegas, considers himself the best super middleweight fighter on the planet, but it is an assertion that can’t and won’t be verified until the 10-to-1 longshot does what no one other than the great Floyd Mayweather Jr. has been able to do, which is to hang a defeat on the hugely popular Mexican national hero.  Becoming the first man to hold all four belts in his weight class from the most widely recognized sanctioning bodies should be ample enough reason for both parties to put forth their best effort on fight night, but Plant, not surprisingly, had been nursing a spark of resentment that he has since fanned into a raging bonfire.

It began when negotiations to stage the fight on its originally proposed date, Sept. 18, broke down over contractual issues. Alvarez then seemed set on arranging a fight with WBA (super) light heavyweight champ Dmitry Bivol, but that, too, was scrapped and the Alvarez camp circled back toward Plant. But while an accord was finally reached, hard feelings on both sides had intensified, with Plant and his support crew accusing Canelo and his handlers of not only being difficult at the bargaining table, but of downplaying a history of cheating, a reference to Alvarez having served a six-month suspension in 2018 for testing positive for clenbuterol, a banned substance.

Of the protracted wrangling, Plant said, “We tried to sit down with them. They told me what I would get paid, the opportunity that I had in front of me and I said, `Yeah.’ There wasn’t much haggle room on my end. The opportunity was presented to me, I took it, I wanted it. But they came back asking for even more.  I can’t speak for their side for why things fell apart, but it had nothing to do with me. My side had been signed for weeks. When it fell apart, I just tried to be focused on the only thing that I could be in control of, which is making sure I was staying in the gym and doing what I was supposed to be doing. That way, if they came back around or not, I’d still be ready to fight whomever.”

And the charge of being a PEDs abuser Plant leveled at Canelo?

“I haven’t made any false allegations,” Plant said. “Everything I’ve said is factual. Whether he likes it or not, the facts are the facts. Maybe that’s what’s gotten under his skin, because he knows it’s true.”

The potential for some sort of premature skirmish was realized at a Sept. 21 press conference when Alvarez and Plan got nose-to-nose for the obligatory photo-op staredown, which resulted in a brief scuffle which Alvarez initiated with a hard shove to Plant’s chest. Plant came away with a cut below his right eye.

“This is new for me,” Canelo, who in most instances pays at least complimentary lip service to the guy he is about to fight, said later. “I’ve never had as much bad blood with an opponent as this one. Yes, this is the most animosity that I’ve had heading into a big prizefight.”

Ring announcer Jimmy Lennon Jr., who had an up-close-and-personal view of what went down, told me “It does seem that things can get out of hand more now at press conferences and weigh-ins. Staredowns, even intense ones, don’t have to lead to physical confrontations. I’m always pleased when the fighters shake hands and hug after the photos are taken. Boxing is a sport and you’re not supposed to let your focus or emotions out of control then.

“There’s so much of this now. And let’s be honest; it does sell tickets if something outlandish takes place. With Canelo and Plant, ticket sales definitely went up after that happened. But I don’t feel that was forced or staged. There was a lot of tension going on then, words were exchanged and it just got out of hand. So, yeah, it sure felt real.”

Not that the lead-up to Plant-Lee prior to their July 20, 2019, bout, the first defense of the IBF belt Plant had won on a 12-round unanimous decision over Venezuela’s Jose Uzcategui six months earlier, was any less confrontational on the part of the obviously miffed champion. To Plant’s way of thinking, Lee was a manufactured contender who, after logging 21 victorious bouts as a light heavyweight against middling opposition, was awarded a title shot in his first pro outing as a super middle because he was portrayed as unique because of factors that had little or nothing to do with the difficult road trod by most up-by-their-bootstraps fighters. An all-conference linebacker at his parochial high school, Lee began his college career at the University of Missouri before transferring to Notre Dame as a sophomore. While there, he won three consecutive Bengal Bouts intramural championships in addition to graduating with a 3.8 grade-point average in business. He reportedly had job offers from Wall Street which he put on hold to try his hand at boxing, in which he must have seemed like a wayward adventurer temporarily traipsing through a rough trade largely populated by rough customers like Plant.

The media, of course, was quickly drawn to the improbable tale of the personable, well-educated son of privilege who had spent part of his senior year at Notre Dame in Bangladesh, where he taught English and mathematics in addition to raising more than $100,000 that went toward the building of schools and health-care facilities in the Third-World country.

If anything could transform Lee into a prepackaged star upon his return to the U.S., it was the always-whirling Top Rank hype machine. After signing with TR founder Bob Arum, Lee compiled an 11-0 record before his contract expired, but even then he continued to remain firmly in the public eye as the result of his being one of several sports-world endorsers of the Subway sandwich-shop chain, a group that then included, among others, NFL stars Michael Strahan, Ndamukong Suh and fellow Notre Dame alum Justin Tuck, Olympic swimming gold medalist Michael Stewart, baseball slugger Ryan Howard, NBA standout Tony Parker and NASCAR driver Tony Stewart. He even was featured in a Subway ad that was seen by tens of millions of television viewers during Super Bowl Sunday in 2013.

In comparison to Subway’s other lineup of star pitchmen, Lee, who to that point had accomplished little of note, must have seemed famous mostly for being famous. In short order grumblers, Plant among them, intimidated that Lee had come onto the scene from Notre Dame’s Golden Dome with a silver spoon of caviar stuck in his mouth. The prevailing opinion was that boxing was his hobby, not his vocation, and he would step away from it whenever he decided it finally was time for him to take advantage of his degree, put on expensively tailored suits and head to work every morning carrying an expensive leather briefcase rather than a gym bag.

For his part, Lee tried to depict himself as much the same as other fighters. Yeah, his family had become well-off in monetary terms, but it had not always been so. And he said his paved and seemingly obstacle-free path to success had been marked by years of debilitating pain. His progress in boxing, he noted, was dramatically slowed when he began suffering constant back and joint pain. Eventually he was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease known as ankylosing spondylitis.

“I was told that I would never box again,” Lee said. “That really infuriated me because every time someone tells me I can’t do something, I want to do it twice. Doctors are smart and know what they are doing. I knew, though, that they didn’t know what I had in my heart and I was a different human being. I told them they were wrong, and I would figure it out and get back in the ring.”

Eighteen months later, in April 2014, Lee stopped Peter Lewis in six rounds, the start of a 10-fight win streak that got him his shot at Plant.

At the final prefight press conference, Plant listened to Lee’s tales of being an everyman who had had endured much in pursuing his boxing dream, and then it was the champion’s turn to speak. He immediately made it clear that he was not impressed by anything he had heard. Plant was dedicating the Lee fight to the memory of his late daughter, Alia, who died at 19 months old of an unknown illness which caused seizures, as well as to his mother, Beth Plant, who was shot and killed by a police officer for allegedly brandishing a knife in March 2019. Basically, he was saying, `OK, you just put your headaches and various aches and pain into the pot, so now I’m raising you two deaths in my immediate family.’

“You may have a financial degree, but in boxing I have a Ph.D.,” Plant, addressing Lee, said at the final press conference. “And that’s something you don’t know anything about.

“I’ve been doing this for 18 years straight – no breaks, no distractions and no Plan B. I commend you for doing this, but there’s no college degree for me. No high school sports, no acting gigs, no Subway commercials. Just boxing day in, day out, rain, sleet or snow.”

The fight, what there was of it, went as most had expected. Plant floored the overmatched Lee three times officially (four if you include another trip to the canvas perhaps incorrectly ruled a slip by referee Robert Byrd), the last knockdown convincing Byrd there was no need to proceed further. The end came after an elapsed time of one minute, 29 seconds into round three.

Mike Lee has not fought since.

So now Caleb Plant, the honest workman, is back at the same old stand, except that the guy in the other corner on Saturday night is so much more like him than Lee had been. Canelo Alvarez, now 31, turned pro at 15 and also came up the hard way, beating grown men with boundless talent and determination. Maybe he wasn’t always this dominant, but he had the potential to be so, and he would someday fulfill his destiny because boxing is not and never has been a hobby for him. He is who and what he is because he took his considerable skills and honed them to a razor’s edge, which he is again intent on displaying against someone with a like mindset.

“The media’s job is to make (Canelo) seem unbeatable,” Plant said. “That’s what they’re doing. But anyone who knows boxing and has seen him in with some of these high-level fighters – I’m talking about Triple G (Gennadiy Golovikin), I’m talking about (Erislandy) Lara, even Austin Trout – know he was beatable in those fights. There are things those guys were able to capitalize on, and I feel I possess a lot of those same skills, except I’m a full-fledged super middleweight. I’m not a 154-pounder, I’m not a middleweight. I’ve been fighting at this weight for a really long time. There are things I feel like – I know – I can capitalize on. On Nov. 6, that’s what I plan on doing.”

Asked for his final thoughts on Mike Lee, Plant said it’s not enough to have the benefit of good publicity. No spin doctor can help anyone inside the ropes, where truth is always there to be seen for what it is. “Not only was the media building him up, he was building himself up,” Plant opined. “I wanted to show him he wasn’t the real deal, that I’m the real deal. But that’s not just for him; it goes for any fighter that gets in there with me. I feel that way against anybody that’s in front of me. When the bell rings, all the talk stops. Who’s going to impose his will on the other man?

“I plan on imposing my will on Canelo and becoming the undisputed super middleweight champion.”

Editor’s Note: Bernard Fernandez, named to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in the Observer category with the class of 2020, was the recipient of numerous awards for writing excellence during his 28-year career as a sportswriter for the Philadelphia Daily News. Fernandez’s first book, “Championship Rounds,” a compendium of previously published material, was released in May of last year. The sequel, “Championship Rounds, Vol. 2,” with a foreword by Jim Lampley, arrives this fall. The book, published in paperback, can be ordered through Amazon.com and other book-selling websites and outlets.

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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.

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