What Happens if Wladimir Klitschko Beats Anthony Joshua?

The buzz surrounding Anthony Joshua is incredible, unprecedented even, so much so – that no one has really even considered he could lose to Wladimir Klitschko at Wembley on Saturday.

He could.  Personally, I’ve got the Ukrainian down to win albeit with a few reservations.  He is 41, hasn’t fought for a while now and was outclassed by Tyson Fury when he was last seen.

Joshua has the power to down anyone but he’s got to land a big punch or two for that to count and Klitschko is an expert at staying out of trouble.  Fury won with his jab and that isn’t a tactic Joshua can adopt, or one he should.

The 27-year-old has completed just 44 rounds in the ring in his 18 fights – that’s barely two hours.  Two hours of preparation to take on the man who has dominated the heavyweight division for over a decade.

But Joshua is the odds-on favourite and the expectation on him is huge.  A few boxing pundits and hardcore fans are going for a Klitschko win but the average man on the street, the people who only tune in to the Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom specials on Sky and will make up the vast majority of the audience on Saturday both in the stadium and via PPV, are expecting a Joshua demolition.

But this isn’t a formality and there is a very real chance Joshua loses.  And what happens in that scenario?

Any other fighter with Joshua’s level of experience would be rated as a prospect, regardless of the fact he holds the IBF heavyweight strap, but the hype-machine behind him has been as effective as his monster punching and the general consensus is he’s already a bona fide heavyweight star.

Joshua has the chance to back up all the plaudits he’s received on Saturday but if he is beaten, irrespective of the manner of the defeat, he will still be an up-and-coming fighter at worst in my eyes, it just remains to be seen how kind or cruel the media will be in the aftermath.

So if Joshua does go down, or is schooled and is on the wrong side of a one-sided points call, just remember he should still be judged as if he’s still on a very steep learning curve, rather than a failure.

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Gonzo Sports Digest; Recreational Drugs and PEDs in Sport Should be Treated Differently

 

I’ve been meaning to write this article for a while and now seems as good a time as any given the allegations about Tyson Fury testing positive for cocaine.

Each sport is governed differently of course so this is going to be pretty general, but by in large most sporting governing bodies don’t differentiate between performance enhancing banned substances and illegal recreational ones – but should they?

As it happens the World Anti-Doping Agency does treat some recreational substances differently and cocaine is not a banned substance when taken out-of -competition.  The definition of “in-competition” and “out-of-competition” depends on the sport and the testing authority , which leaves things open to interpretation. Most PEDs are also banned out-of-competition and that is admittedly a tangible difference. Like I say, this is a general thing.  In-competition cocaine use will get you a ban, and a big one. Hull City’s Jake Livermore was facing a two-year suspension but the FA, quite rightly, opted not to extend his ban due to exceptional circumstances.  French tennis player Richard Gasguet had a two-and-a-half month suspension after a positive cocaine test, which ruled he had consumed “no more than a grain of salt”, which probably happens when you watch ‘Narcos’ on Netflix.

My argument is Livermore, Gasquet and others shouldn’t really have even had to deal with that anyway.

‘Fun’ drugs shouldn’t be regarded in the same way as PEDs, in or out of competition.  My key point is they simply don’t give a competitive advantage, sticking with boxing and marching powder as it is the topic du jour – if you think there is an advantage in being coked up during a professional fight you’re wrong (not that Fury necessarily was/has been of course).  The booger sugar might feel like a boost when you’re throwing fists with someone who’s just spilled your drink in the Dog and Duck; but in a ring, where you need your wits about you and a cool, calm head it is not an advantage.  Unless you’re an animal type fighter like Mike Tyson… that kid was a rare breed though.

Team sports are different, granted.  The individual is employed by the club and being a stoner, space cadet or a raver is going to impact on performances. Sanctions in this case should come from the club, I see no real reason why governing bodies need to get involved in such issues.

Employers in sport do have the right to fire any player (not employee – player) if they are using recreational drugs.  I cannot argue against that.  If you own an NBA franchise and are paying someone $15million+ a season – you get to tell that guy he can’t smoke weed.  That’s fair enough, essentially the athlete’s physical prowess is part of the deal and they have a responsibility to ensure they’re in top form.  That doesn’t mean it should be an obligation because no one would axe LeBron James for rocking up tripping on magic mushrooms.  However, to get sacked and then face time out due to a governing body, that seems unnecessary for substances that have no positive impact on performance.

Maybe I’m too liberal, maybe not. I don’t really believe in prohibition as a concept or an effective method. I just don’t think it works and there’s enough evidence to back up that viewpoint (see further reading, have a google). People will do what they want to do at the end of the day legal issues aside, I doubt there are many teetotallers out there who would be full blown smack fiends if heroin wasn’t outlawed, for example.

I’m fully aware there are other issues too.  Sports stars are supposed to be ‘role models’, whatever that really means, by keeping on the straight and narrow, but drugs are a part of everyday life for many people, whether or not they realise it. Is drug abuse any more immoral than cheating on a partner? Using prostitutes? Violence? I would say no, but hookers and fisticuffs probably won’t leave your career in tatters (examples include; alleged call girl user and England captain Wayne Rooney and Watford striker Troy Deeney, who was found guilty of assault in 2012).

You could club alcohol and tobacco in with recreational drugs and arguably they’re as, if not more, detrimental to health and performance than the likes of marijuana, MDMA, cocaine… but because they’re not illegal there are no real sanctions in or out of competition.  Having the odd night on ecstasy in-competition is probably no more damaging than hitting the booze but the drink is fine and the pills are not. If a sportsperson is using a substance and as such ruins the experience for the fans with sub-par performances that’s not on, obviously, but if they can still entertain and get results… what’s the big deal?

There is an argument that people in other walks of life would get sacked for drug taking but not in all areas.  I’ve had jobs before where bosses do lines with members of staff on nights out (and to ‘recover’ the day after) and where one employee seems like he’s there specifically to act as a dealer, with the odd bit of photocopying and tea making on the side due to ineptness in every other relevant area.

I’m not going to bother with a conclusion, I think I’ve expressed my opinion well enough throughout so I’ll leave it with some optional further reading.  Good luck to Tyson Fury as well, it looks like he’s got a long road ahead of him but no one can take away the fact that for a brief period he was the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.  I’ll finish by pointing out that failing a drugs test for cocaine out-of-competition is more widespread than you’d imagine, but mostly it doesn’t get mentioned as bans won’t happen.  As the heavyweight champion of the world however, and being the divisive figure he is, Tyson Fury should have been more careful.

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Reasons to legalise all drugs via Urban75.

Tyson Fury bits via The Guardian & ESPN

Photo Credit: My buddy Dave.

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What Next for Kell Brook?

The Gennady Golovkin fight didn’t pan out as I’d expected for Kell Brook; I didn’t give him much of a chance and thought he’d get overwhelmed pretty quickly.

My public guess (not on here) was GGG within five rounds and Brook did get stopped in the fifth but he would have carried on if he’d been allowed – that’s not to say I don’t think Dominic Ingle made the right call, he 100% did.  There was no way Brook was coming back to win that; he’d taken enough punishment and the corner saved him from a further battering.

Golovkin quite literally broke his face and Brook now requires surgery on his eye socket.  Both fighters were probably a bit disingenuous in their post-fight comments as the Kazakh said he wasn’t hurt and the British weight jumper claimed he was just getting started.  In truth, Brook had used all his tricks up but if anything that just antagonised GGG to step up a gear, it was more a case of poking the beast rather than tranquilising it, and he wasn’t throwing much back or dodging particularly well when the towel did go in.

For Golovkin it depends on how you define hurt.  Maybe he didn’t feel anything that made him worry there was any chance of him being taken out but Brook connected well a couple of times and he knew he was in a scrap.  There was definitely a reaction from the middleweight king in the third round after some good work from Brook in the second (even though that’s when his facial injury happened), and his face had more marks on than usual at the end of the affair.

But where does Kell Brook go from this now?  Sticking around at middleweight seems unlikely, for one thing he’s taken on the division’s top dog and his best wasn’t good enough.  I also can’t see too many more middleweights queuing up to take the risk either after his efforts against Golovkin, because he certainly didn’t disgrace himself on Saturday night at the O2.

The drop back down to welterweight may not be an option either.  He was already avoided at that level and getting back down to make the weight again could be a struggle, although a possible match-up with Amir Khan – a fight he’s always wanted – could be a key motivating factor there.  Khan also had his own middleweight outing of course but there’s no way he’ll be sticking at that level and I would imagine he’ll be back at 147lbs in his next outing whenever that may be.

That leaves the 154lbs mark and there is a potential match-up with Khan’s conqueror Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez on the horizon should the Mexican overcome Liam Smith, who would also be an option should he pull off a shock next weekend.

Brook and his team now need to go back to the drawing board to figure out their next move but I expect there was a contingency plan in the event of a loss to Golovkin.  No matter how confident they may have been outwardly it would be foolish not to have a back-up plan.  He has time on his side now though, as that injury should keep him out of the ring for a while.

The IBF welterweight champion did say he’d be up for a rematch but Golovkin won’t go down that route.  He made it clear he wants to unify the middleweight division so perhaps we’ll see him back in the UK soon for Billy Joe Saunders, or maybe he’ll go after Canelo again despite the fact he vacated the WBC belt and dropped down a division – after all that’s still the fight we all want to see.

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Gonzo Sports Digest; on Muhammad Ali

[Picture; street art in Paris by Combo]

Obituaries just aren’t for me, they’re easy enough to write – brief biography, sentimental tone and all that – it just doesn’t appeal. Without me weighing in on Muhammad Ali there’s been an absolute deluge of coverage, tributes and the like over the last few days, some of it good some of it terrible.  Falling into the latter category Piers Morgan has rattled out a few bits for the Daily Mail, but I’ve got no interest in reading them. In any case I don’t really know why anyone cares what he thinks about the life and times of The Greatest. I’ve seen him blunder his way through American and racial politics in the past, I can’t imagine adding a historical element will have helped matters on that score. That’s why I feel confident enough to label them terrible without actually reading.

Nope. No way would I offer any kind of obituary off my own back. But then again I can’t let the death of Muhammad Ali go by without a mention, so this is as close as I’m going to get.

Boxing as a sport is almost unique in the attention paid to history. Every new generation of fans watches videos of ‘classics’ involving the greats in a way that just doesn’t happen in other disciplines.

Perhaps because it doesn’t really evolve in the same way as other sports, particularly team sports.  It is just two men in the ring with barely-padded gloves beating the hell out of each other for 12 rounds (16 in Ali’s day) or until one of them stops and it always has been. Using football as a comparison; that game is barely recognisable to the one played just a few decades ago.

Sure I appreciate Pele, Johan Cruyff, George Best and Alfredo Di Stefano are widely regarded as some of the best the world has ever seen. That said I have never, to my knowledge, watched any of their games in its entirety. It requires the effort and devotion of a true purist, and while I’ll watch documentaries and see a massive amount of highlight reels, I can’t see the appeal of a full 90 minutes when you know the result.

The Sweet Science is different. Sugar Ray Robinson, Mike Tyson in his prime and the Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn epics were all before my time but it doesn’t really matter. I’ve watched some of those fights in full and seen countless hours of video footage, to such an extent where you feel you know more about men who have long since hung up their gloves than you do about those of the current era, even fighters you are very familiar with.   I’ve followed the career of David Haye since he beat Jean Marc Mormeck back in 2007, watching every fight since then, I could say the same or similar about guys like Manny Pacquiao, Ricky Hatton, Tyson Fury, Carl Froch and more – but I don’t know any of them the way I feel I know Ali, who retired from the sport before I existed.

The only thing missing when watching battles from years gone by is the pre and post-fight coverage. But with Ali you almost get that, almost, just because of the sheer amount of quotes and sound bites out there.  Even though he’s now gone future generations of boxing fans will feel the same way I and countless others do about Ali.

So rather than a typical tribute or any (further) kind of sentimental dirge I’ve put together a few things that may be of interest. They may or may not have cropped up elsewhere amid this massive outpouring, they’re just things I quite like – one of which is the main picture, the work of a street artist going by the name of Combo in Paris.

Ali features prominently, or relatively prominently, in the Autobiography of Malcolm X.  I’d urge anyone to read it incidentally and not just for the Ali bits. Here is a small extract from the early stages of their relationship, when Malcolm X was a minister or variation of for the Nation of Islam in 1962

I heard how Cassius showed up in Muslim mosques and restaurants in various cities. And if I happened to be speaking anywhere within reasonable distance of wherever Cassius was, he would be present. I liked him. Some contagious quality about him made him one of the very few people I ever invited to my home. (Malcolm X’s wife) Betty liked him. Our children were crazy about him. Cassius was simply a likeable, friendly, clean-cut, down-to-earth youngster. I noticed how alert he was even in little details. I suspected that there was a plan in his public clowning. I suspected, and he confirmed to me, that he was doing everything possible to con and “psyche” Sonny Liston into coming into the ring angry, poorly trained, and overconfident, expecting another of his vaunted one-round knockouts. Not only was Cassius receptive to advice, he solicited it. Primarily, I impressed upon him to what a great extent a public figure’s success depends upon how alert and knowledgeable he is to the true natures and to the true motives of all of the people who flock around him. I warned him about the “foxes,” his expression for the aggressive, cute young females who flocked after him; I told Cassius that instead of “foxes,” they really were wolves.  

Ali turned his back on Malcolm X when the latter left the Nation of Islam to practice Sunni Islam. He later admitted he regarded that as one of his biggest regrets when he too switched to Sunni Islam around a decade after his former friend’s assassination.

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I first came across Hunter S Thompson’s Last Tango in Vegas in ‘The Great Shark Hunt’ anthology. It covers the fall-out from his defeat to Leon Spinks, unsurprisingly that particular fight hasn’t been massively mentioned over the last few days.  It has been said that Tyson Fury’s win over Wladimir Klitschko is the greatest upset of all time but it wasn’t, that would be Spinks’ win over Ali.  Don’t worry, The Champ settled the score in the rematch. I’m sure there’s a PDF somewhere but they’re a hassle and Rolling Stone have published the first half of it anyway.  Who knows? Maybe they’ll get the second bit online soon too.

Muhammad Ali: Last Tango in Vegas, via Rolling Stone.

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A few Muhammad Ali videos, just because.

The first is the famous or infamous ‘phantom punch’ from his second fight with Sonny Liston.  The second is some stuff on the Vietnam war, which is perhaps where his skills as an orator are best demonstrated.

 

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Gonzo Sports Digest, Khan v Canelo musings

On Saturday Amir Khan heads to Las Vegas for a crack at WBC middleweight champ Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in probably the most daunting task a British boxer has undertaken in some time.

Big credit to Tyson Fury and prior to that David Haye for travelling to Germany for a tear-up with Wladimir Klitschko, but Khan’s upped the difficulty stakes by jumping two weight classes.  The best comparison is probably Martin Murray’s jet setting, he’s had a trip to Argentina for a meeting with master technician Sergio Martinez and a jaunt to Monte Carlo for Gennady Golovkin before losing on points to Arthur Abraham in Germany.  He’s due a win in fairness, but already I’ve sidetracked myself so back to Khan.

That’s the kind of task ahead of Khan, he’s considered the underdog against a very powerful fighter and the crowd will largely be behind the Mexican.  Alvarez has 32 KOs in his 46 wins and was unbeaten until he came across Floyd Mayweather, but more on that later.

It is a huge ask for Khan but he’s got more than just a chance of upsetting the odds (Canelo is a massive odds-on favourite), despite that it has been largely overlooked by the British media.  Overlooked perhaps isn’t right, it has been mentioned, but he isn’t getting the same kind of fanfare as Anthony Joshua, and a lot of the Matchroom stable – but that is the power of Sky and Eddie Hearn at the moment I suppose.  What Khan is attempting is much bigger than Joshua’s world title success, both in terms of prestige and the task ahead of him, but for whatever reason he isn’t quite the headline act in Britain at the moment.  I don’t mean this as an insult to Joshua incidentally – you can only beat what’s in front of you and good luck to him, I just find it disappointing Khan isn’t getting the same kind of attention.

If it was on Sky it would be a much bigger deal in the UK as they grab the vast majority of casual fans, sadly, and Khan is on niche service Boxnation. There are other factors that have conspired against him but hopefully the buzz will pick up a bit as the week goes on.  And considering the monthly subscription to Boxnation is less than a single pay-per-view on Sky this is going to be well worth a watch.

One of the reasons he’s gone off the radar a bit is the fact he’s been inactive for nearly a year, having failed to land a ‘mega fight’.  He had every right to chase either Manny Pacquiao or Mayweather, in hindsight you could argue he wasted his time but if you’re an ambitious fighter why not go for the guys who rank amongst the greatest to have ever graced the sport?  There would have been other regrets if he’d never pursued those fights.  There were also rumblings he was dodging Kell Brook but now he’s heading for Canelo that tenuous argument has collapsed, no disrespect to Brook but that’s a bit like saying someone is running scared of a grilling from Jeremy Vine by instead taking an interview with Jeremy Paxman.

Another reason why British fans have possibly grown a little cold on Khan is a lack of home fights, with only one UK outing since 2011. That could change soon… The US might not be an option if Donald Trump becomes president and bans all Muslims from entering the country. Meanwhile, Canelo will be stuck on the other side of a wall wondering why no one else has ginger hair.

Can Khan cause an upset?

Why not?  I actually think Khan has a great chance, despite being a big outsider at 7/2 with some bookies, around 3/1 seems to be the average.  In his favour, he’s definitely the more mobile of the two and his speed is a huge advantage.  Khan’s also a fairly big puncher for a guy his size regardless of the fact his KO stats have dropped in recent years (he hasn’t stopped anyone since 2012) and he will be able to hurt Canelo.

This is being billed as a classic ‘style makes fights’ match-up and maybe that will be the case. There is the possibility Khan will simply be a bit too quick, or Alvarez will land a big shot and end it early but those issues exist in any match-up.

Khan has to stay out of trouble and if he does get caught he’s got to make sure he doesn’t get drawn into a battle. If we look back to the Mayweather fight – he outclassed Canelo, using his superior speed and defensive skills to win just about every round in a one-sided affair that failed to live up to the hype.  Khan could theoretically do the same, but there is a bit more aggression to Khan’s style and he has been tempted into brawls in the past – this would be a huge mistake if he goes down that route on Saturday.

My thinking is Khan on points but that doesn’t pay out much more than just a straightforward win for the Briton so I’ll just be sticking to the standard win market myself. He is however, the underdog for a reason and there are plenty of arguments as to why Canelo can win this.  He is bigger (not necessarily taller) and more powerful, and his relentlessness in his win over Miguel Cotto was hugely impressive.  Against Cotto, he stalked the Puerto Rican and never allowed him any rest, he searched for a KO and was happy to be the aggressor. He didn’t get the stoppage but he won a wide decision, these are the tactics he’ll probably adopt with Khan too. The former light-welterweight world champion will be happy to land a few punches, move out of danger and repeat if allowed, Canelo can’t let that happen and has to take the fight to him.

There are other factors that make me cautious as to Khan’s chances.  Golden Boy supremo Oscar De La Hoya set this up and Canelo is his fighter, so you’d assume he has the Mexican down as the favourite.  If it goes to points there is always a fear the judges will call the fight wrong, the regularity of such occurrences means it is no longer cynical to think in these terms when it comes to boxing.

Putting all worst case scenarios to one side, this could end up being a contender for fight of the year if it goes into the later rounds.  Khan’s fights are usually entertaining and he’s a man with a point to prove, and for Canelo he’s got to demonstrate he can mix it with all kinds of fighters after his Mayweather schooling – despite the Cotto win.

Further Reading;

Amir Khan BoxRec

Sual ‘Canelo’ Alvarez BoxRec

De La Hoya’s Donald Trump Invite – Bad Left Hook

Oscar De La Hoya interview – ESPN

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Gonzo Sports Digest: Ryan Shawcross for England, Donald Trump hating and boxers with unconventional sex lives

If time was a currency I’d be in the poor house right now, come to think of it I could do with more cold hard currency as well so whatever I’m doing it isn’t profitable.

I’ve had no time to write my own stuff so instead here is a round-up of some of the best/most interesting articles I’ve seen lately.  We’ll start highbrow before the inevitable deterioration begins.

Ryan Shawcross

Ryan Shawcross has been consistently ignored by England manager Roy Hodgson and he isn’t expecting that to change any time soon.   The Stoke centre-half more than deserves another call-up but unfortunately he’s somehow managed to retain the unfashionable image the Potters had under Tony Pulis, while the rest of the squad are now considered masters in the total football or whatever implemented by Mark Hughes.  That might be a simplistic take on it but I think that’s a reasonably fair assessment.

Shawcross is a pretty quiet guy but he did give a very candid interview to The Telegraph recently and it is worth a read.  He discusses not only being ostracised from the England squad but also how he feels his career has been impacted by that infamous Aaron Ramsey leg-break a few years back.

Grizzlies tear into Donald Trump

Read that sub-header, now imagine actual bears ripping the nasty old bastard apart…. Feels good but sadly that isn’t the case here, just Matt Barnes of the Memphis Grizzlies has posted some anti-Trump stuff on Instagram.  Should sport stars talk about politics?  Why not…. if they’ve got the time to do so when they’re not romancing celebrities or endorsing trainers.

Here is a link to the story via Rolling Stone, for some reason the picture isn’t showing so I’ve used it as the main image for this article.  Comparing Trump to Hitler may not be the most groundbreaking move in the world, but it could see Barnes on the other side of that Mexican wall if that comb-over lunatic somehow manages to get in the White House.

Yusaf Mack and trans women

Being a boxer isn’t the easiest life, unless you’re at the very top of the pile and even then it isn’t necessarily a picnic, but throw in a niche sexual interest and what was previously tough becomes damn near impossible. West Philly native Yusaf Mack, who British fight fans may remember from his 2012 loss to Carl Froch, is into trans women. My own philosophy is essentially each to their own as long as no one’s getting hurt, not many subscribe to that viewpoint though.  Anyway here is an article about it via Broadly,  interesting stuff.

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Gonzo Sports Weird News Digest; Manny Pacquiao, Cristiano Ronaldo and a Hull City flop

Manny Pacquiao has been in the news lately after voicing some pretty questionable opinions, he’s the lead story in my weird news digest.

Manny Pacquiao

It shouldn’t really have come as a huge surprise to hear Manny Pacquiao isn’t a massive fan of the gay community, indeed it wasn’t really new information either but nevertheless it made headlines when he made the following comments.

“Do you see animals mating with the same sex? Animals are better because they can distinguish male from female. If men mate with men and women mate with women they are worse than animals.”

He’s been dropped by some sponsors as a result but as I say, given that he’s running as a conservative Christian for a seat in the Philippines senate in May’s elections, it is no shock.  I don’t really want to judge the 37-year-old too much, obviously I disagree with his stance but I don’t like the idea of blindly condemning everyone who holds a different viewpoint to my own.

Manny Pacquiao, a humble man and a true gent, will go down as a boxing legend regardless. You can’t expect everyone on the planet to share all the same opinions when it comes to any issue, people forget that as recently as the 1980s homosexuality was illegal in parts of the UK and we haven’t written off everyone in history pre-that period as some kind of evil bigot, we put it down to the context of the times and in 2016 globally we’re still not all on the same page.  Having said that, the Philippines is apparently a fairly gay-friendly nation, which came as a bit of a surprise to me but there you go.  Spain and the Netherlands tie for first place in a poll run by Gallup with what seems to be somewhat vague criteria.  They suggest 87% of the populations in those countries are gay-friendly, which in a way backs up my point – is Pacquiao some kind of monster simply because he has some homophobic views (granted, pretty strong ones), regardless of whatever else he does?  If so does that mean 13% of the population of Holland (23% in the UK, 99% in Senegal…) are all horrendous people?  Nope. When you factor in that some of the LGBT contingent and gay-friendlies could also be ‘horrendous’ in that Venn diagram for one reason or another, that’s a big chunk of the seven billion people on this rock.

Call me a dreamer but I just don’t want to believe that many people are inherently bad, 5-10% I could manage but any more and it becomes a scary proposition. Whenever a person of note gets pulled up for holding prejudiced views I see it as an opportunity to publicly get them to alter their perspective through a coherent argument, rather than  bask in an assumed moral superiority through outright derision.  We may believe ourselves to be a progressive and enlightened society but we are prone to sensationalism, so rather than looking at this kind of thing rationally it gets overblown, and as a result Pacquiao simply releases a quick apology, one lacking in any integrity, and for him that’s the end of the matter I’d imagine.

Education and questioning people’s beliefs with a reasoned argument is, I find, much more effective than smug moral outrage so I thought I’d offer a zoology lesson for the champ.  Because, ignoring any cultural or religious teachings that he has been influenced by, the science he’s used to back up his argument is massively flawed – and that’s as good a place to start as any

You do see animals mating with the same sex, or at least getting their rocks off as mating has a reproduction implication.  Indeed, the good people at Wikipedia have an entry on the subject.

The Bonobo apes are apparently a ‘fully bisexual species’, while male giraffes are more likely to mount a fellow dude than a female for nsa fun times.  Even the super macho lion, a predator Pacquiao has been likened to in the past, isn’t adverse to a bit of boy on boy action (pictured above is a lion who may or may not be gay, perhaps he doesn’t want to put a label on his sexuality, who knows?). By far the freakiest thing wiki threw up is blowhole penetration – both hetro and homo – among captive Amazon dolphins, which would equate to nose-banging in humans and I’m not sure that’s even a thing.  Gerard Depardieu and Lea Michelle aside, few are blessed with the correct apparatus to indulge… but then again it could easily exist, there are some very strange people out there.

Former Hull City ‘star’ axed for exposing himself

Remember former Hull City striker Nick Proschwitz?  No me neither particularly, I recall a bit of fanfare when he first arrived back in 2012 but not any of his performances. He also had unremarkable spells with Barnsley, Brentford and Coventry, or at least I don’t remember them. The now 29-year-old returned to German outfit Paderborn ahead of the current season but was fired at the end of January for exposing himself to a female employee during a training camp after a night on the piss in January, according to German rag BILD who ran it with the excellent headline ‘Penis Shown? Fired Player’ (somehow it sounds more comical in German ‘Penis gezeigt? Spieler gefeuert’).

“Nick Proschwitz is not part of our squad. I can confirm the incident and drew the necessary conclusions,” Paderborn president Wilfried Finke told BILD.

“A player who exposes himself as a guest abroad before a lady, we can and will not tolerate.”

Fortunately for Proschwitz his antics haven’t resulted in the end of his career, as he’s since been taken on by Belgian outfit Sint-Truidense, presumably with a ‘keep the mouse in the house’ clause written into his contract.

Finally, Cristiano Ronaldo draws comparisons with LeBron James

While Steph Curry is being heralded as basketball’s version of Lionel Messi, check out this utterly shite Daily Mail article if you can be bothered, Ronaldo is starting to remind me of Cleveland Cavaliers whinger LeBron James.

James has hit out at his team-mates on various occasions over the course of his career and earlier this season he labelled their efforts ‘half-ass’, as well as questioning their motivation at relatively frequent intervals. In a LeBron-esque moan, Ronaldo threw his toys out of the pram this weekend saying “If we [his team-mates] were all at my level, maybe we would be [La Liga] leaders.”

I’ve got a bit of sympathy for him, but hitting out at his colleagues probably isn’t going to motivate them too much.  He has since said he was talking about fitness levels rather than quality but I’m not sure that necessarily helps matters, it is a bit like saying “I wasn’t calling them shit, just lazy”. Is being lazy better than being shit? I don’t know but probably not.

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Gonzo Sports Digest; David Haye, Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder

David Haye came back with a bang on Saturday as he destroyed Mark de Mori in London, while Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury traded insults in the States.

We’ll start with The Hayemaker, now what did we learn?

Aside from seeing he’s still got phenomenal punching power and his shoulder seems to be just fine not a lot.  De Mori was in way, way, way over his head and offered almost nothing; the organisers might as well have just wandered into a bar and dragged out a big guy for Haye to knock about for two minutes for all that was worth.

Aside from the fact I had a last minute bet on a first round KO it was all a bit pointless but after a long hiatus Haye was always going to take on a lesser opponent, indeed tempting anyone half decent into the ring might have been a tough task for the former WBA champ.

The post-fight interviews, which lasted way longer than the actual bout, were a little more illuminating as Haye gave his thoughts on where he goes from here.  The former cruiserweight king played down any hopes of a Fury clash and instead talked up a potential showdown with Anthony Joshua.  If he does take on and beat Joshua an opportunity to line up a meeting with Fury could happen, there would be pressure for the current champ to take the fight despite the Gypsy King’s apparent reluctance.

But that’s all for the future.  All the De Mori fight shows is Haye is back and after a few more fights will be a contender for a title shot.

Wilder & Fury

I’m not sure Deontay Wilder is particularly good technically but he does have some power in those arms and both of those thoughts were backed up in his win over Artur Szpilka. He laboured, and struggled at times, for much of the contest but came up with a hammer blow in the ninth to knock the challenger unconscious.  Make no mistake, Wilder will only take on someone like Haye or Joshua if he is forced to; he isn’t going to face either of those guys by choice.

Fury is a different matter.  The unbeaten American seems to think he can take Fury and maybe he can if he lands a big shot, add to that stepping into the ring with the Briton would be a unification fight and it becomes an irresistible draw for Wilder.

There is, however, the small matter of a rematch with Wladimir Klitschko ahead of Fury and a win for the Ukrainian could scupper any unification chances.  Wilder was a quiet as a mouse with laryngitis when Dr Steelhammer held the belts and if Klitschko wins them back my guess is he’ll wait for him to retire rather than chase him.

Fury, somewhat predictably, managed to steal the headlines after the Wilder fight, at least on this side of the Atlantic.   He stepped into the ring and had a little sing before the two champs had a war of words.  Seemingly this fight will happen after Fury and Klitschko contest their rematch, if the former wins – which is no certainty.

There is also Charles Martin to consider after he won the vacant IBF title.  Fury was harshly stripped of that strap as he couldn’t face mandatory challenger Vyacheslav Glazkov due to his rematch commitments.  Glazkov had to retire in the third round due to a leg injury and will probably get another crack at Martin, the winner of that will then be a new big name in the heavyweight mix, simply on the basis of having a belt.

After a few fairly boring years the heavyweight division has finally got a little more interesting, and now Haye can join the likes of Fury, Wilder, perhaps Joshua, maybe Glazkov and a few others in trying to start a new rein of dominance, while Klitschko isn’t necessarily done yet either despite the fact he isn’t being mentioned by many. Good times all round really.

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Gonzo Sports Digest; the Best Boxing Films

With the release of the latest offering in the Rocky franchise, Creed, nearly upon us I thought I’d do a rundown of some of the best boxing movies of all time, or at least my favourites.

Sports flicks are generally a mixed bag but even a bad boxing feature can be watchable, unlike football for example, which doesn’t seem to translate so well to the silver screen.  Creed is of course fictional but I’ve decided to stick to either documentaries or biographical films.

Anyway here goes, in no particular order;

The Fighter (2010)

I won’t wax on about The Fighter too much as chances are you’ve probably already seen it, but it’s so good it cannot be ignored.

David O. Russell’s masterpiece tells the incredible story of ‘Irish’ Mickey Ward, with Mark Wahlberg in the title role ably supported by Amy Adams, Christian Bale and Melissa Leo. Even someone with no interest in the sweet science whatsoever would enjoy this epic effort – but for boxing fans it has all the right ingredients; personal struggles, a good back story and, most importantly, truly epic fight scenes.

Bale and Leo won Oscars for their portrayals of the protagonist’s half-brother Dicky Eklund and mother Alice Ward but this is also Wahlberg’s defining performance as far as I’m concerned, although Bale does steal the show.

Maravilla (2014)

Maravilla is a documentary charting Sergio Martinez’s rise to world champion, then the injustice of having his title cruelly snatched away by politics.  The Argentine sensation probably doesn’t need a fictional film made about him, some of the footage of him in action in this is infinitely better than any choreographed, expertly shot, thousand takes effort could even attempt to recreate, but I’d still watch a dramatised version if anyone ever decides to make one.

And that’s because Martinez is a special character, he struggled simply to even have a career for years before bursting onto the scene at an age when most pugilists are starting the decline, his star was always going to be fleeting (now 40, as far as I’m aware he hasn’t officially retired but hasn’t fought for around a year and a half).  However, he was also one of the greatest movers in the ring I’ve ever seen, certainly at middleweight level, and he combined that with precision punching – a crowd-pleaser of the highest order.

Add that to the Kafkaesque bureaucracy he came up against when he reached the top this truly is a great and perhaps unique narrative, despite the fact there have been far too many fighters over the years that have seen their careers hampered by goings on well away from the ring.

Raging Bull (1980)

Raging Bull is over 30 years old now and is starting to move away from one of those films everyone’s seen to one of those that everyone wants to see but has never got round to watching.  This is a massive shame as it’s probably the best linkup between Martin Scorsese, arguably the greatest director of all time, and Robert De Niro, who scooped the Best Actor Academy Award for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta.   De Niro is focking around with Ben Stiller these days, but Raging Bull will make you forget all about that.

Without Raging Bull there probably wouldn’t have been The Fighter and countless others over the years, aside from that Lamotta’s is a fascinating story. A man with an inhuman ability to take punches, the like of which we won’t see again.  Indeed we won’t be allowed to see it again; rule changes and the end of 16 round fights dictate that.  And like Ward and Martinez, LaMotta had a struggle away from the boxing arena and again, all the elements combine to form an all time classic.

I’ll quit at three, Maravilla and The Fighter are on Netflix if you’ve not seen them, Raging Bull isn’t.

Creed is released on January 15 in the UK.

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Gonzo Sports Digest; the Best of 2015

As we approach the new year I thought I’d have a round-up of the best and worst bits of 2015.  Initially I was going to just write one article but I’ve got a lot of gripes so I’ve split it in two, we’ll start with the best bits of the year before delving into misery, confusion, despair and disappointment.

Tyson Fury and the end of the Klitschko era

Whatever you think of Tyson Fury, nothing can devalue his achievement in ending Wladimir Klitschko’s dominance of the heavyweight division (what has been devalued incidentally is the petition, it used to be something you could use to make those in power take note of important issues that had previously been ignored, now any fool can start one to try and get a boxer removed from an awards show – nonsense).  There will be a rematch so essentially it is only a job half done for the ‘Gypsy King’ but either way it was some victory.  It wasn’t a fight for the purists but Fury executed his game plan brilliantly as he demonstrated a tactical nous few realised he had beforehand.

The emergence of Anthony Joshua is also worth a mention after he proved he’s more than just a puncher with his win over Dillian Whyte, who could also become a big player in the heavyweight division, and with David Haye returning 2016 could be a great year for British fight fans.

Great Escapes

Leicester City looked dead and buried in April but seven wins in their final nine games saw them finish mid table in what I understand is the best ever Premier League relegation escape, mathematically at least.  What they have done since is also impressive but as they’ve not actually achieved anything yet we’ll leave that alone for the time being, that’s a conversation we may be able to have at the end of the current season.

Hartlepool United produced a similarly dramatic escape from relegation out of the Football League altogether following Ronnie Moore’s arrival as manager.  Pools were 10 points adrift of safety at one stage and had managed a meagre 14 points from their opening 24 games, in the final 22 games they picked up 31 points to finish four points clear of the bottom two – incredible stuff.

England Rugby League

2015 may well go down as a vintage year for Rugby League in England as Leeds Rhinos won the treble in Kevin Sinfield and Jamie Peacock’s final season with the club. The international game usually takes a back seat to club action in the sport, probably due to the fact only three teams – Australia, New Zealand and England – can be considered ‘competitive’ for want of a better word.  I’d always considered England the weakest of the three and I had little hope of a series win over the visiting Kiwis after the end of the Super League season but England came away with a 2-1 series win.

They did it without Sam Burgess as well to make the achievement even more impressive, and he should be back in the fold for next year’s Four Nations after a brief and disappointing stint in Rugby Union, but more on that in part 2 of this piece.

Barcelona

I had planned to leave it at three but we’ll finish with a note on Barca.  The Camp Nou club lost their way, to a degree at least, when Pep Guardiola went but under Luis Enrique they’re back at the summit.  2015 was the year we really got to see Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez form one of the most incredible attacking partnerships world football has ever seen – nice, and long may it continue.

Obviously there are loads of things I could have mentioned, the inception of the Gonzo Sports Desk for one, but I’ll call it a day here, until tomorrow (or maybe the day after) when we’ll take a look at the low points.

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