Boxing: Purdy set to join long list of British fighters who take the money – and then the beating

 

Lee Purdy will add his name to a long and distinguished list of British boxers who travelled to most points of the globe for world-title fights knowing that they were massive underdogs.

Purdy briefly held the British welterweight title and is a decent operator at domestic level, where he is either the fourth or fifth best, but tonight he walks into an Atlantic City ring to meet Devon Alexander for the IBF welterweight title. The encounter comes courtesy of injury prone Kell Brook, the best welterweight in Britain, who pulled out of the Alexander fight for the final time a few weeks ago. Brook and Purdy share a promoter and a quick deal was done to slip Purdy in.

Alexander is not always pleasant to watch but his record, the men he has beaten and the men who have avoided him make him currently one of the best active boxers. His only defeat in 25 fights was on a technical decision to Tim Bradley, who beat Manny Pacquiao last year in a close fight, and his recent wins have been against the very best. Floyd Mayweather and Pacquiao have ignored Alexander because of his negative style, which arguably makes him the most avoided fighter at the moment.

Purdy is fearless and can certainly punch hard enough to have taken care of 13 of his 24 opponents early, but he has never been anywhere near a boxer of Alexander’s proven class and any attempt to diminish the gulf between the pair is utter deception. The real fear is that Alexander has something to prove tonight, which could make for an awful spectacle in a battle against Purdy’s pride. However, there is little chance of Purdy’s trip ending in the same type of brutality that left Battersea’s Don Cockell in a desolate state at the fists of world heavyweight champion Rocky Marciano in 1955.

Marciano was aided and abetted by a total lack of ring rules that night in California and ruined poor Cockell with just about every punch, butt, shoulder, elbow and forearm imaginable. “I hit him harder than I have ever hit anyone,” said Marciano when the fight ended in the ninth.

Cockell was the first British boxer to fight for the world heavyweight title since Tommy Farr’s heroic stand against Joe Louis in 1937. The stream of rugged British losers in ruinous fights has been far more frequent since Cockell and in recent years a lot of boxers have taken the risk, which comes with a record purse, and flown off to slaughter.

Michael Jennings, Gary Lockett and, earlier this year, Gavin Rees have all accepted fights in America against nasty world champions in the last five years. “When the offer was made I jumped at it, I never even asked about the money,” claimed Rees, who was stopped by Adrien Broner in just five rounds earlier. Lockett was stopped in three rounds by Kelly Pavlik in 2008. When Jennings met Miguel Cotto at Madison Square Garden in 2009 he knew he was in trouble long before the first bell. “He was a great fighter, the Garden was like his backyard and I was there for sacrifice.” Jennings refused to fold, took a beating and was stopped in round five.

Purdy, who is tough enough to hear the last bell unlike other British underdogs, promised: “I will give it my best” – which is about the most positive memory he can hope to leave with.

Voices
voices
News
general electionThis quiz matches undecided voters with the best party for them
Life and Style
Men with beards rejoice: Your beard probably doesn't harbour faeces-like bacteria
health
Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen starred in the big screen adaptation of Austen's novel in 2005
tvStar says studios are forcing actors to get buff for period roles
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Ashdown Group: Part-time Payroll Officer - Yorkshire - Professional Services

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful professional services firm is lo...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before