Bunce on Boxing: Grass roots provide refreshing antidote to heavyweight hype

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The Independent Online

The Royal Albert Hall will open its heavy doors for boxing on Friday night for the first time since 1999 when the British military meets a team of their American counterparts. The show has been arranged by Frank Warren for the Tickets for Troops charity, of which Warren is a patron, and all tickets on the night will be free to members of the armed services and their families (www.ticketsfortroops.org.uk). The rest of you will have to watch on BoxNation.

The Camerons of No 10 will be ringside and they will host a night for the boxing fancy at their home on Thursday; a request to build a ring was refused. Sam Cam is also a patron of the charity. "It will be like the old days, days I remember at the Royal Albert Hall," mused Warren.



Joshua chases Olympic dream

In Baku the dust has started to settle and the boxing at the World Amateur Championships moves closer to the serious part. In eight of the 10 weights, boxers will qualify for next year's Olympics if they reach the quarter-finals and at heavyweight and super-heavyweight the boxers have to reach the semi-final to qualify. Promisingly, there are eight British boxers in seven weight divisions in the last 16.

So far England's Anthony Joshua has stopped or knocked out his two opponents at super-heavyweight and fights in the last 16 today. It is monumental progress for the Londoner but he could end up fighting the current Olympic champion Roberto Cammarelle in the quarter-final tomorrow. However, Joshua could still qualify for the London Olympics because the boxer who loses to the eventual champion, in the penultimate stage before automatic qualification, is also invited to join the Olympic party. It would be a fairy tale for the kid, who just a few months ago was removed from the team when he had some difficult legal issues. The legal problem has gone and he is now playing a leading role at the Worlds.



Thrills and spills in Germany

I was in Germany on Saturday night and I doubt that I have ever been ringside for so much blood, gore and controversy. There were two clean knockouts, including a 21-stoneAmerican, two fights ended because of terrible cuts and a 12-rounder was so exciting that I thought both would be withdrawn at the end of the 11th round.

It was a Sauerland show in Neubrandenburg, part of the old East Germany, and the crowd, contrary to the usual reports of German fight fans, were noisy. The local idol Sebastian Sylvester was saved by a gaping and flapping gash above his eye and ruled out after three rounds. Blood from the wound was soaking judges and officials at ringside.

However, the Cuban Yoan Pablo Hernandez suffered two far more serious cuts in his International Boxing Federation cruiserweight world title fight with American Steve Cunningham. The slugfest was called off by the doctor after six rounds and the scores up until that point counted. Hernandez was a narrow winner, but will be out for a while. Cunningham was dropped in the first round and immediately he regained his feet, it looked like a small hollow had formed by the side of his right eye; the odd injury was examined and diagnosed as a fractured orbital socket. The pair will fight again. Hey, it's a tough business.

"It was an extreme night," insisted Kalle Sauerland, who with his brother Nisse runs the company their father created in the Seventies when he was working in Lusaka, Zambia. He's right and it was a night that worked as an antidote to the calculated violence of any Klitschko fight. It was a raw, basic and hugely entertaining evening, which is just as well because I did five hours and eight minutes of uninterrupted commentary on my own for the world feed. Kalle told me: "Buncey, they love you in the Falklands." Thanks for that, Kalle.

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