Inside Lines: Suddenly heavy hitters are pulling no punches – but why?


Click to follow
The Independent Online

When the roughhouse Russian Sergey Kovalev so brutally concluded Nathan Cleverly's two-year reign as WBO world light-heavyweight champion in Cardiff last weekend – and possibly the Welsh maths graduate's boxing career – it was indicative of a remarkable ring renaissance.

The ko kings are back in business, with a proliferation of the sport's seriously venomous hitters inflicting more bodily harm than at any time since Mike Tyson unleashed his stunning brand of sock savagery.

Kovalev, making his 20th stoppage inside four rounds – his apt nom-de-guerre is Krusher – is one of an increasing number of big bangers putting the punch back into boxing.

Currently the most awesome single puncher in heavyweight boxing is American sensation Deontay Wilder, as Audley Harrison and 28 others quickly poleaxed will testify. Wilder's last opponenht, Siarhei Liakhovich, a former WBO champion from Belarus, was left a twitching heap on the canvas after a typical wrecking-ball blow in the opening seconds.

Not for nothing are the Klitchsko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir, respectively known as Dr Ironfist and Dr Steelhammer.

Other massive finishers rising fast include Argentina's WBC light-welter champ Lucas Mattyse (32 kos) – keep him away from Amir Khan – who fights Khan conqueror Danny Garcia on the 14 September Las Vegas bill headlined by the Floyd Mayweather v Saul Alvarez scrap, the richest in boxing history. The punching prowess of Mexican Alvarez, 23, (30 kos) is considered a powerful antidote to Mayweather's ethereal defensive skills. This could be the perfect match.

With Britain's own two most explosive hitters, David Haye and Tyson Fury, due to meet in Manchester next month, the hurt business is booming. However, some are questioning why such devastating punching has suddenly become so evident again, especially at a time when boxing finds itself under scrutiny in terms of doping rumours. Let's make it absolutely clear that none of the fighters mentioned here have ever failed a drugs test. But there are plenty who have been caught adding a bit more than Bovril to beef up their strength.

Nine alone in Britain – more than in any other sport. No household names, but certainly some powerhouse punchers. Interesting.

Tanni's time?

UK Sport is seeking a new chair for the English Institute of Sport (EIS) following the decision of former Olympic star and BBC athletics commentator, Steve Cram, to step down after more than 10 years as head of the body which is the science, medicine and technology engine room of Olympic and Paralympic sport.

Isn't this the opportunity to right the wrong done to Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, disgracefully politically jocked off by Culture Secretary Maria Miller when set to become the chair of Sport England? Tanni is surely ideal for a progressive organisation that has that rarity, a black chief executive – the ex-Welsh hurdler and rugby international Nigel Walker.

However, fellow left-leaning sporting peer Baroness Sue Campbell, until recently UK Sport chair, may also fancy the £10,000 a year part-time role.

Hope for Powell

Although axed by the FA after 15 years as England women's national coach after a poor Euro 2013, Hope Powell could make a swift return to football in a revolutionary move. We hear a couple of non-League clubs – and possibly one from the Football League – are keen to make her the first female member of coaching staff.