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One that Rusters might have missed

Last weekend’s memorable surfeit of epic world class sport – much of which I missed due to inevitable broadcasting scheduling conflicts and domestic commitments including the hosting of an ill-timed dinner party – will remain long in the memory.

After a two-hour drive back from the south coast on Sunday – with the choice then being between the latter stages of the cricket World Cup and what had become a five-set Wimbledon men’s singles final between Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic – I had opted for the latter.

In line with ‘Westacott’s Law’ – the principle of life which says that whatever I do or choose turns out to be wrong – with hindsight (and also the benefit of trawling through the media reports yesterday morning) my assumption that the outcome of the tennis contest was likely to prove more nail-bitingly close that any cricket one then duly bit the dust.

That’s not to be disrespectful to what was a wonderful tennis occasion, instead perhaps an acknowledgement that the cricket Word Cup victory in such extraordinary circumstances at Lord’s made it all the more special.

At the end of the day, you pay your money (or make your choice) and then you have to live with the consequences.

Nevertheless, today I want to salute a sporting moment from the weekend which has slightly dipped under the radar.

After our guests departed our dinner party on Saturday night (actually it was more of an early evening supper that continued on a bit) – and we began clearing away the detritus before slinking away to bed – I suddenly remembered that a boxing promotion I had read about in the newspapers that morning, including a top-of-the-bill clash for the British Heavyweight boxing title between two promising young unbeaten heavyweights, was going out on free-to-air television.

At that point it was already 10.35pm, some ninety minutes after my normal time for hitting the sack, but the flowing conversation of the dinner party had left me sufficiently energised that I was still not quite ready for bed.

I figured that the aforementioned headline bout might only have just started so I began flicking through the Sky Sports channels looking for the coverage. Without success.

Being of a certain age, my immediate reaction was that (as usual?) I must have misremembered the newspaper reports and/or confused myself. However, on a whim, I decided to keep flicking through the sports channels ‘just in case’ and was eventually rewarded by finding coverage of the bill at the O2 Arena playing out on one of the BT Sports channels.

The bout I joined with three rounds to go was an affair featuring Commonwealth heavyweight champion Joe Joyce – six feet five and a half and two stone heavier than his American opponent Bryant Jennings – who retains a certain celebrity after turning pro two years ago having won the super-heavyweight silver medal at the 2016 Olympics.

There are only two things one needs to know about Joyce and his career trajectory.

The first is that, built like a brick shithouse – and labouring under the nickname “the Juggernaut” because of it – he’ll turn 34 in September.

The second is that he has all the pugilistic instincts and skills of Buzz Lightyear, the character from the Toy Story movies.

In other words, he looks like a million dollars but moves like a robotically-programmed automaton.

Joyce and his connections (Hayemaker Ringstar, the promotional vehicle of former World Heavyweight champion David Haye) have somehow assembled an 11-0 record but the guy is going nowhere in terms of multi-million pound fights with the likes of Wilder, Fury or Joshua – well, unless you count a possible one-off moment in the spotlight (and hopefully a sizeable wad) as a ‘safe’ opponent for an undemanding title defence payday for one of them.

For the record, after a bout in which much of the aggression and flair came from the American, on Saturday Joyce notched a pedestrian 12-round points victory by the unlikely margins of 118-109, 117-110 and 115-112 on the judge’s scorecards.

I then watched the top-of-the-bill fight between Daniel Dubois and Nathan Gorman, a cousin of Tyson Fury who had Ricky Hatton working in his corner, for the vacant British heavyweight title.

Both hitherto unbeaten and promoted by veteran Frank Warren, Dubois extended his record to 12 wins out of 12 (11 knockouts) by clubbing Gorman to defeat in the fifth.

At which point I would like to give a name-check to the ubiquitous boxing scribe and pundit Steve Bunce.

Buncey is a Fleet Street ‘old school’ hack possessed of an effervescent over-the-top persona but he’s forgotten more about the world of boxing than most of us will ever know.

His half-hour boxing shows (what I think they call these days “podcasts”) compiled with BBC boxing commentator Mike Costello are one of Radio Five Live’s go-to musts.

Here’s a link to his report upon the Dubois-Gorman fight I mentioned above, as appeared recently on the website of – THE INDEPENDENT


About James Westacott

James Westacott, a former City investment banker, acquired his love of the Noble Art as a schoolboy in the 1970s. For many years he attended boxing events in and around London and more recently became a subscriber to the Box Nation satellite/cable channel. His all-time favourite boxer is Carlos Monzon. More Posts