Posts Tagged ‘Ring’
British heavyweight boxer Michael Sprott is interviewed by By Michael J Jones
A long-time contender on the British heavyweight scene, Michael Sprott seems to have been around forever. Turning pro way back in November 1996, Sprott has now had 54 pro fights and still has title aspirations at 37 years of age. Currently 36-18 (17), Sprott has been fighting at title level both in the UK and around Europe for ten years and has fought a virtual who’s-who of big names in that time from; Corrie Sanders in South Africa, Danny Williams three times, Audley Harrison twice an Ruslan Chagaev.
Not the tallest heavyweight at 6ft 1in, Sprott is usually a cagey operator with good boxing skills and a respectful dig. A long-time sparring-partner for both Klitschko brothers, Sprott was a British and Commonwealth champion in 04’ and as recently as 2010 was winning the latest Prizefighter.
Despite a patchy-looking record, when in the mood Michael can be a formidable fighter as seen in victories over Timo Hoffman, Mark Potter, Cengiz Koc and Audley Harrison.
The victory over Harrison was particularly impressive giving that the former Olympic champion was coming off a destruction of Danny Williams. Dropped to the canvas in the first, Sprott was well on top in the third round when a spectacular left hook knocked Audley out cold.
Although Michael has lost his last three fights, all came in very good company and one feels there still could be some memorable nights still left for the Reading contender. Here’s what Michael had to say-
MJ) How old were you when you first started boxing?
MS) I was thirteen when I first started. I had about 60 fights before turning pro.
MJ) Probably the first time I saw you was against Harry Senior in a Southern Area title fight on Sky. He stopped you in six with body-shots, what do you recall about that fight ?
MS) I remember that fight very well. I was going to pull out with a rib injury beforehand. I’d been sparring Danny Watts and Julius Francis and things weren’t going right in camp. My trainer talked me into going through with it saying it’d be all ok. I remember Harry going for a big haymaker and missing but he came back with a big shot to my solar plexus. It winded me and then seconds later another punch got me in the same place. I went down and the ref’ stopped it.
MJ) You lost to the much-bigger Wayne Llewellyn soon after, getting stopped in three before being matched with the hulking Timo Hoffman at York Hall. Nobody expected much from that fight but you boxed brilliantly to beat him on points over eight rounds. Were you as surprised at how well you handled him ?
MS) What happened was, we were both on the same bill and our respective opponents both pulled out so we were matched against each other. I think I was meant to fight Michael Holden. I knew I could do ok against Timo as I’d sparred him over in Germany. His team were impressed with me when we sparred, I out-boxed him most of the time. His trainer wasn’t very happy though, at the weigh-in he asked me “who was I fighting ?” I said “I’m fighting Timo”, he wasn’t happy, he didn’t have a clue !
We fought a rematch in Germany, I thought I won but they gave him the decision. Even the German crowd booed the announcement that he’d won.
MJ) The year after, you came in at late notice to take on Danny Williams for the British and Commonwealth titles. You fought bravely but he wore you down in seven rounds. You seemed to grow in confidence after that loss and reeled off the form of your career ?
MS) I don’t really count that fight as a loss as I only came in on four days notice. I was in Barbados on holiday when I got the call.
It was after that fight I started working with Johnny Greenfield and he completely changed my style of boxing. He taught me to punch more correctly and other things and I ended up winning eight fights in a row with six by knock-out. I stopped Pele Reid (KO 7), Mike Holden (KO 4) and Mark Potter (KO 3) among others.
When Johnny died it was a very hard year (2004). Denny Mancini (Sprott’s cut-man) died a short while after him so I lost two of my corner-men close together. Around the same time we also lost my sister’s boyfriend’s dad, it was a terrible time and a tough moment to get through.
MJ) Let’s talk about your second and third fights with Danny Williams. There was high anticipation for the rematch as your form was incredible at the time, but both that and the rubber match were controversial with Williams being awarded a stoppage win in the second bout and you won a close decision in the last encounter ?
MS) Yeah they were controversial. The second fight I was out-boxing him but he kept hitting me below the belt. The referee wasn’t even warning him when he should have penalised him. In the fifth I turned to tell the ref’ I’d been hit low again and (Danny) knocked me out. It was hard to take at the time but they say “protect yourself at all times” and, in that fight, I learned that.
The third fight, I know everybody said he won but I thought I boxed well and I was just really proud to be British and Commonwealth champion. That was a very proud moment for me.
MJ) You lost both titles a short time later to Matt Skelton. It seemed surprising at the time that only three months after winning the titles you were taking on an undefeated challenger in your very first defence ?
MS) It was a little bit frustrating because I only got told about the fight a month after winning the titles. I wanted it a bit later but the BBB of C pushed for it as he was my mandatory. Skelton is a hard worker in there. People don’t like his style but it works for him.
MJ) You fought mostly in Germany for the next couple of years but eventually came back to the UK to score probably your most famous victory. You fought Audley Harrison straight after he’d just wiped out Danny Williams and came off the canvas to knock him out cold with a left hook. Tell me about that fight ?
MS) When he fought the second fight with Danny Williams I was actually there ringside. I’d been offered the fight but turned it down (Matt Skelton pulled out at late notice). I watched the fight and, while Audley looked impressive, I knew for a fact Danny wasn’t fully prepared for that fight.
Big things were meant to happen for Audley but I had great training for the fight, six or seven weeks and got down to a good weight at 16st 8lbs; that’s a good fighting weight for me. I was told by my trainer to come out strong in the first but I knew that would be a mistake as Audley is a very good counter-puncher. I got dropped in the first but got through the round and took over a round later. It was a great left hook I caught him with, it was a similar shot that stopped Colin Kenna. I went to the body and came back with the hook. I was actually pretty surprised because I was aiming to wear him down and stop him later on in the fight in eight or nine rounds.
MJ) You came a cropper again against Matt Skelton in your next fight losing a close decision. Afterwards you went on your travels again boxing Lamon Brewster amongst others. You were due to return to take part in Prizefighter in October 2009 but tragedy struck and you were forced to pull out. Can you talk a little about that difficult period in your life and career ?
MS) My sister died tragically and I was devastated. It was a very tough time in my life, I thought about going through with Prizefighter but my mother told me not to. My head wasn’t in a good place, so I pulled out to support, and be there for, my family.
Audley Harrison won the tournament and immediately afterwards put his trophy up for auction. The money he raised he gave for my sister’s children. I never had the opportunity to thank him properly but it meant a lot what he did. I was hoping, win-lose-or-draw, I could speak to him at the end of our second fight but I never got the chance.
MJ) A lot of people will be surprised reading that. Why do you think he gets such a bad wrap in this country ?
MS) I don’t know, maybe he just doesn’t come across very well to certain people. I’ve known Audley a long time and know him well. When we were amateurs we used to spar and train together. He’s a good guy, I like him.
MJ) After a warm-up you fought Audley for the vacant European title. He was injured early and you seemed well ahead going into the last but he paid you back for that left hook ?
MS) Yeah he sure did (laughs). It’s funny how things work out but it just goes to show; it’s not over until it’s over. That’s why heavyweight boxing is so exciting; anything can change at any given moment. One minute I’m in control and waiting to be crowned European champion and the next it’s all over !
MJ) You came back to win the next Prizefighter tournament six months later, beating old foe Matt Skelton in the final. What was more satisfying; winning the tournament or finally beating Skelton ?
MS) I was very happy to do both. Obviously winning the tournament was great but also beating Matt after he’d beaten me twice was a good achievement too.
MJ) You had less success the following year in International Prizefighter losing to Tye Fields in the opening bout. It was very close did you think you’d won ?
MS) Yeah I did. I thought I landed the cleaner shots and combination punches while he hit gloves a lot. I thought I nicked it but also, with it being over here, I’d have a better chance again but they gave it him. It’s like that over in Germany; you’re never guaranteed the decision but I thought it’d be different over here.
MJ) You’ve lost your last three bouts to Fields, Alexander Dimitrenko and Kubrat Pulev. That’s great company but what do you hope to achieve in the last few years of your boxing career ?
MS) I’d really like to go for a world title…and win it. I was very close to getting a world title shot with the second Audley Harrison bout (Harrison getting destroyed by David Haye next time out), so there’s no reason why I shouldn’t get a chance with a couple of good wins. I’m 37 now but I feel good for my age, there’s no reason why I can’t carry on for a few more years.
Those last two fights I didn’t feel completely recovered from a bout of pneumonia I had last year. I sparred Alexander Povetkin for a month before falling ill with it. I didn’t feel great in either of those fights but I am much better now and can’t wait for my next fight. I wanted to continue against Pulev but my trainer Jim Evans said “you’re behind on points and taking unnecessary punches. You could go the distance but what’s the point ?” He was right I guess.
MJ) Who are you fighting next Mike ?
MS) I’m fighting (20-0 German) Edmund Gerber in Germany on August 26th. It was meant to be on the Povetkin-Rahman card on July 14th, so now it’s on the re-scheduled bill on the later date. It’s been a bit frustrating this year, I’ve not fought since January as I’ve had a few dates cancelled so I just hope this one doesn’t get scrapped like the others.
MJ) You’ve fought Matt Skelton three times, Danny Williams three times and Audley Harrison twice. If you could fight any of those former rivals again who would you pick and why?
MS) Hmmm…I don’t think I want to fight any of them again ! No seriously, I think I’ve kind of had revenge on all of them as I’ve beaten each one. Maybe I’d say Audley as it’s one win a piece.
MJ) What do you make of the younger heavyweight contenders coming through like Tyson Fury and Dave Price?
MS) We’ve got a good young generation of heavyweights coming through I think. David Price is the best for me, he’s tall, athletic and can bang. Tyson Fury is coming along well, I was impressed with his last fight. Fighting Martin Rogan as a southpaw was amazing. Richard Towers too looks a good fighter. They all look good but it’s time to see what they bring (in a higher class).
MJ) Is there any fight over the years that you wanted but never got ?
MS) Maybe Mike Tyson. I beat Danny Williams but he got the fight against Tyson. I have to give credit though; Danny beating him was a great achievement. Tyson wasn’t what he was but he still had the speed and power and was a dangerous man.
MJ) Many thanks for your time Mike and best of luck for your next fight.
MS) Thank you !
Published by kind permission of: Worldwide Weekly Boxing Predictions League
By Michael O’Neill, 28 June 2012
250 male and 36 women boxers for Olympics 2012
The AIBA have this morning confirmed the full list of qualifiers for the 2012 Olympic Boxing tournaments (male and female) and as forecast by SportsNewsIreland ,the 81kg “tripartite commission place” that most Irish fans hoped would go to Joe Ward has gone to Montenegro’s Bosko Draskovic.
After a year long journey, 250 men and 36 women boxers have now qualified for the London 2012 Olympic Games.
These Olympic Games will be a watershed moment in the history of the sport of boxing, the noblest of disciplines, with the women making their debut in three weight categories (48-51kg, 57-60kg and 69-75kg). There is huge anticipation for the competition to get started with some of the finest talent around ready and primed to set the tournament alight with displays of the highest order.
The men will be competing in ten weight divisions, from Light Fly to Super Heavyweight, with 91 having qualified at the AIBA World Boxing ChampionshipsBaku 2011, 146 through the Continental Qualifying Events, five via the inaugural World Series of Boxing season’s Individual Championships and finally eight selected as part of the Tripartite process.
The women had 25 boxers qualifying at the AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships Qinhuangdao 2012 with one place reserved for an athlete from the Olympic Games’ host nation whilst a further eleven were given quotas after being identified in the Tripartite selection.
The world will come to a standstill when the cream of the crop takes to the ring at the ExCeL London from 28 July to 12 August.
Who will be the ones to claim gold? See below the full list of boxers competing at the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Article Credit: Sports News Ireland
By Alexander Zammit – 9 June 2012
In a few hours time Malta’s number one fight night of the year gets underway at the MFCC (Fairs and Convention Centre), Ta Qali. This year ‘Gladiator Promotions’ is offering a total of eighteen kickboxing matches - The main card will consist of two world amateur kick boxing titles under the World Kickboxing Network (WKN), 9 bouts will be for local titles and there will be no less than 7 other bouts on the under card.
The double billing will see Reuben AZZOPARDI (Malta) take on Stefani JACOPO (Italy)for the WKN KICKBOXING AMATEUR WORLD TITLE – 76.4 Kgs andRuth TANTI (Malta) vs Ewa Bos (Poland) for the WKN KICKBOXING AMATEUR WORLD TITLE – 50.0 Kgs.
At yesterday’s well attended press conference, Gladiators promotions president Mr. Noel Mercieca spoke about the ever raising popularity of the Gladiators fight nights and WKN titles inMalta, he also thanked all those who had in some way supported the promotion, with special thanks going to the sponsors & media.
Gladiators VP, Mr. Isaac Chetcuti echoed the sentiments of the promotions president, noting that the ever raising popularity was also reflected in the number of martial arts clubs participating in the event.
Fighters Quotes at the conference and weigh-in
Reuben AZZOPARDI (Malta) “I am feeling very confident – fighting for this WKN title is a dream come true – I am proud to be representing my country”
Stefani JACOPO (Italy) “ Malta is a beautiful country and I have received a very warm welcome by the Maltese – I will be doing my very best to win of course that is why I am here”
Ruth TANTI (Malta) “ I have trained hard for this fight – I feel confident and relaxed – I am going into the ring giving my maximum”
Ewa Bos (Poland) “ First I would like to thank everyone for the warm welcome we have received, this is a beautiful country and we are very honoured to be here – I expect a tough fight but I will of course do my best to win the title – I hope that after this fight there will be more exchanges between Malta and Poland in this sport”
Main Fight Card
WKN KICKBOXING AMATEUR WORLD TITLE – 76.4 Kgs
Reuben AZZOPARDI (Malta) vs Stefani JACOPO (Italy)
WKN KICKBOXING AMATEUR WORLD TITLE – 50.0 Kgs
Ruth TANTI (Malta) vs Ewa Bos (Poland)
SUPER FEATHERWEIGHT – 62 Kgs
Kylie Blenes vs Rachelle Cutajar
SUPER LIGHTWEIGHT – 67 Kgs
Clayton Micallef vs Darien Doneo
SUPER LIGHTWEIGHT – 66.7 Kgs
Lorna Mifsud vs Farren Borg
WELTERWEIGHT – 69.9 Kgs
Garth Galea vs Joseph Dimech
SUPER WELTERWEIGHT – 72 Kgs
Tyron Muscat vs Ivan Frendo
MIDDLE WEIGHT – 76 Kgs
Adrian Debono vs Isaac Chetcuti
SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT – 79.4Kgs
Eman Zammit vs Andre ‘JAPAN’ Spiteri
SUPER CRUISERWEIGHT – 92.5 Kgs
Joseph Fenech vs James Flores
SUPER LIGHT HEAVYWEIGHT – 85.5 Kgs
Richard Vella vs Anthony Wood
Justin Cassar vs Steve Buhagiar
Nigel Buttigieg vs Neil Farrugia
Ryan Cachia vs Glenn Aquilina
Luke Booth vs Brandon Borg
Brandon Spiteri vs
Chris Lagana vs Shaun Ellul
RICHARD TOWERS will now face Frenchman Gregory Tony for the vacant EU heavyweight title at Manchester Velodrome on Saturday June 16.
The 6ft 9in Sheffield giant had been due to meet fellow unbeaten boxer Michael Wallisch on the same bill, but the German has pulled out.
Tony, 33, has 17 wins with 14 coming by knockout and two defeats – both setbacks coming against top class opponents Robert Helenius and Mike Perez.
Hatton Promotions CEO said: “It is a disappointing that Wallisch is out, but Tony is a decent test.
“The fight will tell us exactly where Richard is at and if he wins he’ll be closing in on the new European champion Kubrat Pulev.
“Richard is making steady progress and inside 12 months will be ready for men like Pulev, Tyson Fury and David Price.”
The ‘Road To Glory’ bill also features a vacant WBA interim super-bantamweight title fight between Scott Quigg and Rendall Munroe. There is also a vacant European light-middleweight title fight between Ryan Rhodes and Sergey Rabchenko.
In a special attraction unbeaten British middleweight champion Martin Murray meets French title holder Karim Achour.
There will be a talent stacked undercard that will include former British and Commonwealth welterweight champion Craig Watson, unbeaten hopefuls Lucas Browne, Kallum De’Ath, Jazza Dickens, Adam Etches, Scott Jenkins and Adam Little.
Ticket prices are now on sale priced £125 (VIP Inner Ringside + exclusive cash bar), £100 Ringside, £55, £35 and £30. You can purchase tickets by calling Hatton Promotions hotline 01925 755 222/www.ticketmaster.co.uk/0844 847 2500/www.ticketline.co.uk/0844 888 4402/www.hmv.com