Back in the mist of times gone by – along with staples such as Boxing News, Ring Magazine and Boxing Monthly – there used to be a classic resolutely non-mainstream ‘underground’ organ devoted to the fight game produced in London called Round One.
This far distant I cannot remember where it sprang from, how it got produced or even what happened to it but, rather like a meteor flashing across the night sky, for a short while for those boxing fans in my social circle it became a ‘must read’ accompaniment to (if not diversion from) our television-watching and outings to the Royal Albert Hall, Wembley and even colourful outposts such York Hall and Bethnal Green in pursuant of our calling.
For those perhaps less steeped in the history of boxing, these were the days of Jarvis Astaire, Mickey Duff, Terry Lawless, the emergence of Frank Warren and, of course, pugs such as Joe Bugner, Frank Bruno, Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn, Barry McGuighan, John Conteh, Chris Finnegan, Herol Graham, Ricky Hatton, Lloyd Honeyghan, Johnny Nelson, John H. Stracey, Dave “Boy” Green, Tony Sibson, Terry Marsh, Errol Graham and Charlie Magri.
I could continue the list, but will desist for reasons of space.
Round One styled itself ‘A Literary Companion’ which, as far as I could tell, was an all-encompassing excuse to cover any historic or current aspect of professional boxing and – it seemed – the more obscure, tangential or whacky the better.
Quite from where they dragged up their editorial team I have no idea but such star contributors as Walter Schlumbermayer and Morris Lazar soon became cult figures in certain quarters with their fascinatingly eclectic not to mention occasionally hilarious memories of the days of pugilistic yore, often mixed in with pieces on more serious topics, e.g. a several-page study of the inner working of the brain (when its owner had been repeatedly hit in the head with intent) which was virtually impenetrable to anyone without a twenty-year career in neurological surgery behind them.
Another notable series of articles was headed Great Fights I Have Slept Through which, in keeping with both its title and the general approach of the magazine, did no more than recount instances where the writer – for whatever reason – having been assigned to report upon a bout subsequently fell asleep and completely missed the action in question.
I mention all this today because last night – despite tuning in to the action – I was reminded of both the series and the Round One magazine itself when I then missed in its entirety the return bout between Andy Ruiz Jnr and Anthony Joshua taking place in Saudi Arabia whereby – with a resounding and unanimous points victory over twelve rounds – the latter managed to regain the IBO, IBF, WBO and WBA versions of the World Heavyweight title, this after unexpectedly and shocking losing his unbeaten record and said titles to the same boxer approximately six months ago.
It happened like this.
I was not attracted by the prospect of paying over £25 to watch the bout, which I was pretty sure was going to end in a victory for the Brit by one means or another, and so retired to bed at about 8.15pm (45 minutes before the advertised start), having first switched to Radio Five Live and the BBC’s live commentary.
Having listened to some of the chit-chat building up to the contest – I do recall Mike Costello announcing “There is now less than 20 minutes to go …”
The next thing I knew I rejoined the fight in the seventh round with Costello intoning that, on his card, Joshua had won all the last five rounds.
After that my next contact with the bout was the midnight news bulletin which opened with its result.
Hey ho …