ITV show was disgusting! Hero Watson condemns “anti-boxing” portrayal
Not everyone was as thrilled as the television reviewers by ITV”s documentary about Nigel Benn”s fight with Gerald McClelland which has left the American with disabling brain damage.
The most powerful voice raised against “The Fight Of Their Lives” is that of Michael Watson, whose own heroic fight back from similar trauma suffered in his epic battle with Chris Eubank is nothing short of miraculous.
Any assumption that Watson would be naturally inclined to sympathise with a depiction of boxing as primitive savagery exploited by ruthless mercenaries is very wide of the mark.
Hard hitting: Nigel Benn shows the strain of emotion as he encounters former ring foe Gerald McClelland during last week”s TV documentary
Watson, whose recovery from being told he would be crippled for life to completing the London Marathon is one of sport’s most inspiring stories, remains an advocate for the hardest game.
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He says: “I was disgusted by this programme”s portrayal of boxing as a barbaric sport and its fighters, trainers and managers as uncaring, brutal people with money their only motivation.
“The narrator was anti-boxing. The programme showed nothing of the skill, discipline and dedication of boxers to their sport. Nor all the managers, trainers and others who truly care for their fighters.”
Watson bears no grudge against either boxing or his nemesis of an opponent who sent him to hospital close to death.
Rather, he and Eubank are close friends and he is gratified that his own plight forced boxing in Britain to impose the strict and comprehensive medical regulations which might have eased his own condition and which
have saved subsequent boxers from such extreme affliction.
“Anti-boxing”: Michael Watson has condemned ITV”s controversial documentary based on Benn and McClelland”s bout which saw the latter infamously collapse
Moment of horror: McClelland, suffering obvious distress sits on the floor in his corner, moments before collapsing following his defeat by Benn
Such a dignified figure throughout his years of struggle to regain a virtually normal life, Watson says: “There is no bitterness in me. In some ways I feel my injury happened for a reason. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to help people through illness and problems in their lives the way I do.”
A motivational figure now, Watson hopes to be an even more public symbol of hope to others in difficulty or stress by taking a role in the London 2012 Olympics.
Inspirational figure: Former boxer Michael Watson wants to play a part in the build-up to the London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics
He says: “I would like to play a supporting part at the 2012 Games and the Paralympics. I believe it would also inspire others never to give up if they see me carrying the torch. Perhaps even lighting the Olympic flame.”
Lord Coe is believed to be considering how best to deploy this brave man who is already the most persuasive advocate boxing could wish for.
At the very least, Watson should carry the torch on one leg of its journey to the Olympic Stadium next summer, as well as occupying a seat of honour at ringside as an ambassadorial figure for the sport he still loves.
Carl”s turn put smile back on face of British boxing
One down, one to go for the intrepid road warriors of British boxing.
After Amir Khan’s loss of his world titles to Lamont Peterson, it is Carl Froch”s turn to take on an American in his own back yard.
The Nottingham Cobra, who takes on former Olympic gold medallist Andre Ward in Sunday morning”s world championship unifying final of the protracted Super Six super-middleweight tournament, has had to box abroad even more than Khan so far in order to establish himself at the summit of the game.
Not only that but his task in Atlantic City appears even tougher than was Khan’s in Washington.
Eyes on the prize: Carl Froch bids for super-middleweight Super Six glory in Atlantic City on Saturday when he collides with Andre Ward
Victory on the fabled Boardwalk would not only end the slick Ward’s unbeaten record but would be the major achievement by a British boxer this year.
This is Froch”s second successive fight in Atlantic City. He beat the craggy Glen Johnson in this art deco hall in the summer semi final of the Super Six. Prior to that he comprehensively defeated pre-tournament favourite Arthur Abraham in Helsinki after suffering his only defeat in a thunderous war with Viking warrior Mikkel Kessler in Denmark.
Rival: American Andre Ward
The last time Froch fought in his home town, or country, was when he out-pointed another smooth American operator, Andre Dirrell, more than two years ago in his first Super Six bout.
Prior to that he had to travel to America to defend his WBC world title against Jermain Taylor, landing a sensational last-half-minute KO when behind on points.
That is the most demanding series of consecutive battles against world-class rivals undertaken by any boxer in recent years.
Now,as he braces himself for the toughest test of all, he says: “I”m not bothered about giving up home advantage, even though I still believe I would have got the decision against Kessler anywhere except in Denmark.’
Froch recently revealed to the Mail that he and his fiance, glamour model Rachael Cordingley, are considering setting up home In the US, where they plan to spend much of each year.
Ready to rumble: Froch, who had been training at the Trinity Gym in New York, can show off his talents to a wider audience this weekend
He says now: “The fans here seem to love my fighting style and American television has been much more supportive of me than the networks in Britain in the past.”
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His exposure at home will increase this week with Sky taking over from the fringe Primetime cable company as the Super Six comes to its climax… in the hope that a famous victory will lead Froch on to more and even bigger fights next year.
But for the moment, he is fighting to put the smile back on the bloodied face of British boxing.
Iron Mike”s conqueror Williams finally bows out
Danny Williams has finally thrown in the towel after prolonging his career by fighting in Germany on a Lithuanian license.
Two successive defeats in those curious circumstances have persuaded the loveable London heavyweight to call time on his switch-back career.
Calling it quits: Former British heavyweight champion Danny Williams, who memorably defeated Mike Tyson in July 2004 (below), has retired from boxing
He will treasure the memory of his astonishing victory over Mike Tyson, just as we recall the affability with which he accepted victory and defeat alike.
Williams will go into retirement as a popular former British champion… and with our best wishes for wherever his unpredictable life takes him from here on.
Pound-for-pound ratingsWORLD POUND-FOR-POUND TOP 10
No 1 MANNY PACQUIAO
Kibawe, Bukidnon, Philippines
Current titles: WBO welterweight world champion
Jeff”s verdict: Still the best despite almost coming undone his his third installment with Marquez.
No 2 FLOYD MAYWEATHER JNR
Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA
Current titles: None
Jeff”s verdict: Hates being second best.
No 3 SERGIO MARTINEZ
Quilmes, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Current titles: WBC Diamond and Ring World middleweight champion
Jeff”s verdict: Showed his class to dispatch Darren Barker recently.
No 4 JUAN MANUEL MARQUEZ
Mexico City, Distrito Federal
Current titles: WBA, WBO and The Ring lightweight world champion
Jeff”s verdict: Classic Mexican warrior who took Manny to the wire in another epic contest.
No 5 NONITO DONAIRE
Talibon, Bohol, Philippines
Current titles: WBC and WBO bantamweight champion
Jeff”s verdict: The next Pacquiao.
No 6 WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO
Current titles: IBF, IBO, WBO and WBA heavyweight champion
Jeff”s verdict: Longest reigning champion, completely commanded Haye in a one-sided fight in Germany.
No 6 VITALI KLITSCHKO
Belovodsk, Kirghiz SSR (now Kyrgyzstan)
Current titles: WBC Heavyweight champion
Jeff”s verdict: It is now time Vitali gets the recognition he deserves
No 8 CARL FROCH
Current titles: WBC super middleweight
Jeff”s verdict: Fantastic run against five consecutive world class opponents.
No 9 ANDRE WARD
Oakland, California, USA
Current titles: WBA world super middleweight champion
Jeff”s verdict: Super-slick Olympic gold medallist but come on Carl.
No 10 BERNARD HOPKINS
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Current titles: WBC and The Ring Light Heavyweight champion.
Jeff”s verdict: The 4Os phenomenon.
BRITISH POUND-FOR-POUND TOP 10
No 1 CARL FROCH
Current titles: WBC super middleweight
Jeff”s verdict: Super Six final awaits the Nottingham Cobra.
No 2 AMIR KHAN
Current titles: None
Jeff”s verdict: Mugged in Washington and will want revenge against Peterson next March.
No 3 NATHAN CLEVERLY
Current titles: WBO light heavyweight world champion
Jeff”s verdict: Thinking man”s world champion.
No 4 RICKY BURNS
Current titles: WBO world super featherweight
Jeff”s verdict: Scotland”s finest and exceptional in points win over Katsidis.
No 5 KEVIN MITCHELL
Current titles: WBO intercontinental lightweight champion
Jeff”s verdict: A focused, dedicated Mitchell is world class.
No 6 KELL BROOK
Current titles: British welterweight title and the WBO Inter-continental title
Jeff”s verdict: Rising as fast as Haye punches.
No 7 DARREN BARKER
Current titles: British and European middleweight champion
Jeff”s verdict: Class boxer who almost made Martinez think twice.
No 8 GEORGE GROVES
Current titles: Commonwealth and British Super Middleweight
Jeff”s verdict: On the up, great win over Smith at Wembley.
No 9 MATTHEW MACKLIN*
Current titles: None
Jeff”s verdict: Just fell short against Felix Sturm in what may be his best world title chance.
No 10 TYSON FURY
Current titles: British and Commonwealth heavyweight
Jeff”s verdict: Showed great character to climb off the canvas and stop Neven Pajkic.
*Macklin fights under the Irish flag but was born in Birmingham.
Michael Bisping, having put his mixed martial arts career back on track with his recent win over Jason Miller, is being given the chance to climb back into contention with the leading lights of the Ultimate Fighting Championship.
Still the best hope of Britain producing its first MMA world champion, Manchester”s Bisping is scheduled to fight Demian Maia on the big UFC ON FOX2 card in Chicago on January 28.
A win there would lift him close to a title shot.
On the up: Michael Bisping”s recent win over Jason Miller has put him back in UFC title contention