The Humorous World of Boxing’s Characters

Friend of the pod and Patreon member Matt Dobson recalls some of the great characters in this crazy sport.

The humorous world of boxing. Rewind several weeks and we were treated to an absolute treat from the boxing Gods – we had a midweek special of Inoue displaying his greatness followed by a master class from Bud Crawford vs a fellow P4P star in Errol Spence to highlight what a special fighter he truly is. When boxing delivers it delivers in a way that few sports can rival. I’m a big fan of the mid-week cards as well – definitely something to do during work hours.

Fast forward the following week and we had boxing being an absolute shit-show again – #GameChanged or has it really? We had Dillian Whyte fail his 4th drug test for PEDs, 1 in kickboxing, 1 for an OTC supplement in his early days, 1 vs Rivas (albeit according to source know only as ‘x’ he’s heard Rivas has failed a drugs test) and finally his latest fail in the week leading up to the AJ rematch.

Dillian Whyte failed a test and so did Rivas…allegedly

Hearn was talking his usual shite and AJ fought a man who’s pushing 40 and was fighting in front of about 12 people the prior Saturday and AJ still managed to stink out the place. In the space of a week we saw the best and worst of boxing, the only saving grace was seeing Hearn squirm as his DAZN deal evokes memories of Setanta & Boxnation, minus the good fights.

Accordingly, I thought I would have a look at some of the funnier characters in boxing. There are a few that constantly make me laugh and not because of their quick wit or ability capture an audience the way Hatton could in his prime, they make me laugh because of their uniqueness, a blend of insanity, confidence and generally not giving a fuck.

Kevin Johnson: In the build up to his 2012 fight with Tyson Fury – a big Mick promotion, I remember watching the build up on Channel 5 (for non-UK viewers C5 is regarded as a pretty obscure free TV station) the build up consisted of Johnson playing the piano with Tyson Fury stood next to him singing away. Possibly the most bizarre pre-fight build up I’ve seen in 30+ years watching boxing – still recall thinking WTF am I watching here.

Off on a good note: Fury and Kingpin played to the cameras

Even his fighting style made me laugh – Johnson always reminded me of Homer Simpson’s boxing career, essentially do nothing and hope his opponent tires.

I do wonder what they did in his training camps? Practice getting punched for 12 rounds? Always a solid bet for a points loss in his prime which despite his prime being questionable we can say it was a good 10+ years ago. Not to be deterred he’s now a Russian citizen, fighting this weekend in Russia and out of respect for Russia’s leader he’s changed his name Kevin Vladimirovich and wore a Putin t-shirt to the weigh in. For all his antics, ‘bars’, a career spanning 20+ years, his randomness always makes me chuckle.

Carl Froch: I have an affinity for Froch, in the era of elite boxers fighting once or twice a year, big fights struggling to get made, he fought an absolute murder’s row of world class fighters – he even managed to get Yousef Mack in the ring (low-brow humour).

Despite this he was very much a Trump’esque character – you either loved him or thought he was an idiot. The build up to Groves was hilarious; you got to see what a spiteful person Froch really was. Blaming the Ash cloud for his defeat to Kessler is an ATG excuse. Known as an astute businessman he always struck me as a cheap bastard, the onion rings story is a funny example of this.

I enjoyed his commentary on Sky – he would clearly turn up for the paycheck, no idea what was going on or who was fighting, and just throw out generic insights while letting the rest of the matchroom brigade sing praises of the matchroom fighter. Inevitably, Froch would then start talking about himself.

Tight: Froch refuses to pick up the bill

’80,000’ fans – this has wound so many people up over the years and frankly I’m all for it, he can’t help but drop it in every time a camera is put in his face, I’m sure he knows he’s trolling at this stage. It was so beautifully dropped in during his interview with Floyd Mayweather I do wonder if he did it to win a bet, Mayweather looking at him like ‘who the fuck is this guy’ still makes me laugh.

Even post-matchroom he seems to have gone off-piste: slating AJ’s shitty performance, slating McGregor and bragging on camera about knocking people out in pubs, and the post boxing nose job to highlight that those insults over the years over his bent nose did in fact get to him.

An honourable mention to Leo Santa Cruz, this time ten years ago we saw Uncle Al’s PBS starting to take shape. He took advantage of Oscar’s crumbling golden boy promotions as Oscar slid into drink, drugs, prostitutes and lingerie (it happens to the best of us). The PBC began signing up various talent which I’d hoped would lead to big fights being made. What happened was the big stars got paid a fortune to fight infrequently vs inferior competition. Leo Santa Cruz embraced this in style – a legit world champ, fighting absolute dross, while simultaneously asking silly money to fight Rigo.

Quids In: Leo all about that cash

LSC’s career became so frustrating to watch but he redeemed himself in my eyes with one of the most underrated one liners. We think of boxing being for glory, legacy, being the best of your era, yet when they asked him and two others what they fight for (apologies I’ve forgot  the other two names) it went something along the lines of: greatness, legacy and to the LSC – in a line that could be from a Will Ferrell movie, ‘I just want the money’ with a bemused look on his face – like it was a stupid question. Fair play to him.

Despite being a brutal sport, I do like to appreciate some of the underrated characters we get to see.

Matt D

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Boxing Asylum speaks to Clinton Woods

Walking to the ring in Tampa, Florida, Clinton Woods knew he was going to lose. Despite holding the IBF light-heavyweight title, backed by the supposed confidence of a man making defence number five, all was not well behind the scenes for the Sheffield fighter.

“I should’ve pulled out the fight. Three weeks before I’d hurt my back in England. The physio told me to pull out. I was told I couldn’t pull out,” Woods explained to the Boxing Asylum’s Nuthouse Podcast.

The fight went on and for the first time in 45 professional contests the man promoted by Dennis Hobson was entering a prizefight with no positive expectations. Just days before the fight, Woods’ best friend implored him to turn around and come home. Given the fact that a withdrawal was off the table, and fans had travelled over to see their hero perform, it remained a non-option.

“It’s the only regret in my boxing career -which was a long career of 16 or 17 years- that I should’ve pulled out a few weeks before. Things werent right,” added Woods.

Also in the video Clinton talks about the much-discussed bout with Joe Calzaghe that never happened, his three gruelling fights with Glen Johnson, 12 rounds with the hard-punching Tavoris Cloud, the night he beat American dangerman Rico Hoye to win a world title and much more.

You can catch the interview in full here: