Ricky Burns. The Scot vacated his super featherweight world title, moved up to lightweight and took on one of the division’s toughest contenders in Michael Katsidis on Saturday. Burns used his superior movement and jab to fight from distance and win a wide unanimous decision at Wembley Arena. There were times when the pressure of Katsidis caught up with Burns, both boxers were exhausted by the end, but he made his Australian opponent look average for the majority of the bout. Against a heavily favoured opponent, the man from Coatbridge once again proved that he can compete with the elite of the sport in entertaining and engaging bouts. After the fight, Burns declared his love for the sport and his willingness to fight for 10 more years against any opponent – how refreshing. At 5ft10 Burns is a massive lightweight and would be competitive against many in the division. Combined with his ability to draw big crowds and generate interest amongst casual fans and Scottish boxing has a new hero.
Alfredo Angulo v James Kirkland. Both of these fighters had reputations for being heavy handed punchers, and on Saturday night in Mexicali, Mexico, the junior middleweights lived up to their mantles. Both fighters were sent to the canvas in the first round and the fight continued in this aggressive vein until the end. Angulo was dropped late in the round for the first time in his career and he stumbled back to his corner. Kirkland recovered faster and began to pound away at his opponent’s body and head from the second round till the sixth, landing over 100 power shots before the referee brought an end to the punishment. Angulo made the fight entertaining by lasting that long but he never fully recovered from being dropped in the first after punching himself out. Kirkland, the underdog going into the fight, beat up Angulo, one of the divisionsâ€™ top fighters, in his own home town in front of a typically partisan Mexican crowd. Questions were raised about Kirklandâ€™s career after he spent two of his best years in jail and lost his last bout against relatively unknown Nobuhiro Ishida – but this latest victory has made him a contender once more. Angulo, despite the second loss of his career and immigration problems, is still a big draw and will be involved in entertaining bouts in the future. This was a Fight of the Year candidate and a rematch would be exceptional.
George Groves. On Saturday night at Wembley Arena, the reigning British and Commonwealth super-middleweight champion brutally knocked out Paul Smith in the second round. Groves, in his first fight since beating rival James DeGale on points in May, displayed the type of world-class power that most boxers can only dream of possessing. At the end of the first round Groves was caught by Smith after the bell and the Londoner looked furious as he went to his corner. In the second round, Groves resumed his position in the centre of the ring and connected perfectly with a right hook to Smithâ€™s head, which sent him straight to the canvas. Smith barely managed to get to his feet and Groves floored him again immediately, forcing the referee to call off the fight. It was an emphatic victory which even the most devout of Groves fans could not have predicted. The win improved Grovesâ€™ perfect record to 14 wins, 11 coming by knockout, a 79 per cent KO ratio and the difficulty now will be finding his next opponent.
Box Nation free of charge. When Frank Warren and his associates look at the viewing numbers of their recently launched boxing channel Box Nation, they will no doubt be pleased. However, they should not misconstrue the initial popularity of the programme because if they go ahead with their plan to make it a subscription channel, it will lose the majority of its customers. The main problem boxing has is that it does not have a large enough target audience because it costs so much to watch a fight without any guarantee of entertainment. On Saturday night, fight fans were able to watch Ricky Burns v Michael Katsidis and the excellent undercard which included George Grovesâ€™ bout against Paul Smith, free of charge. Fights like these need to be televised to as wide an audience as possible so that the sport grows. If Tyson Fury v Derek Chisora can pull in over 2.5 million views on domestic television, imagine what Amir Khan or Carl Froch could do. Box Nation is a good idea but only for as long as it remains available to a wide audience.
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