The best of fights, the worst of fights

(From left to right) Lawrence Okolie, IBF/WBA heavyweight titlist Anthony Joshua and Isaac Chamberlain. Photo by Lawrence Lustig/Matchroom Boxing


I have freely sung the praises of the recent cruiserweight battle between IBF/WBA titleholder Murat Gassiev and Yunier Dorticos, that took place in Russia, which is an early candidate for “Fight of the Year.” Like many of you, I watched this bout on Saturday afternoon on a live stream provided by the World Boxing Super Series, on its YouTube and Facebook pages.


Meanwhile at the O2 Arena in London, England, another cruiserweight match-up was taking place, at the same time, between novices Lawrence Okolie (who had a mark of 7-0 with 6 knockouts, coming into this night) and Isaac Chamberlain (who was 9-0, 4 KOs), that had been bandied as a grudge match. There had been plenty of trash talk between the two.


And the fight was absolute rubbish.


To these eyes, it was the worst televised main event I’ve seen in some time. (No seriously, it was THAT bad.) Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourself – but I warn you that you might only be able to stand a few rounds of this.



It’s rare that the best and worst fights of the year happen on the same day but at the same time. This is truly a historic achievement, if you think about it.


Over 10 rounds, Okolie and Chamberlain didn’t so much fight but flail and maul one another. There was nothing sweet about this particular brand of science. Their anger toward each other boiled over to a point where they were actually unable to hit one another cleanly. Surely they must have been blinded by pure rage. They had ample athleticism – as they missed punches with great speed and quickness – but, like many young boxers today, they were devoid of any real skill or fundamental grounding.


Contrast this to what we saw with Gassiev and Dorticos, in which punches and combinations were executed at a high level. As for these two guys, well, if former USC and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach John McKay was asked what he thought of the execution of Okolie and Chamberlain, he’d answer,”I’m all for it.”


Okolie, who scored knockdowns in the first and six rounds, won a wide unanimous decision but, in all honestly, he looked much more like a suspect than prospect. In this fight, one guy was bad – and the other guy was worse. I’ve been informed that there were actually British fans who made the choice to watch this over Gassiev-Dorticos. Yeah, there is a such thing as being loyal to a fault.


It was the type of fight in which, as the old saying goes, “You let ’em in for free and you charge them to leave.” (OK, this line cracks up Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini every time.) This fight was so bad, it was actually kinda amusing, much in the same way “Waterworld” still fascinates and entertains me to this day. Yeah, I’ll still watch a few minutes as I come across it on cable, once in awhile.


The first comment of the aforementioned YouTube video read:


Jamma Man22 hours ago

“I was at the o2 arena watching this. It was a awful performance from both fighters. Hundreds of people where leaving the venue from rnd 4 onwards, the booing was much louder then you heard from the tv, the ref was screwing between rounds at both corners, Chamberlain was clearly scared from the word go. Neither fighter should of been placed on that platform. They nowhere near deserve to put on that stage yet and it showed with the lack of skill shown by both fighters. It was sloppy, slow, skill-less, boring and annoying. And all for a credible belt!???”


So it turns out this main event ended up being the walk-out bout.


And even promoter Eddie Hearn, who televised this as part of his exclusive deal with Sky Sports, was embarrassed by this debacle. (Hey, even promoters have some shame.):



Now if Hearn felt bad, imagine how the paying audience felt.


(Yeah, yeah, I can hear some of you saying now, “Well, have you ever boxed?! These guys could beat you up easily!” OK, I wont argue that point but being able to defeat me in a boxing match is a rather low standard for a professional prizefighter; wouldn’t you agree? By the way, any of you who have ever criticized a meal at a restaurant, I’m sure you are all chefs who have earned Michelin Stars. Or any of you whom don’t like a particular movie have all directed Oscar-winning features, right?)


Now in all fairness, the junior middleweight bout between Ted Cheeseman and Carson Jones that was on this card was good:



And light heavyweight Joshua Buatsi is certainly a prospect to watch:



As for “British Beef”? Yeah, that was boxing’s version of salmonella. The less you saw of it, the better.





Here’s a full two-hour edition of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and me.





The most recent Top Rank/ESPN card this past weekend averaged 741,000 viewers…Saw Andy Ruiz on Tuesday at Legendz (yes, with a ‘Z’ at the end) Boxing and he says he’s returning to the ring on March 10, at the StubHub Center. He’s now working with Manuel Robles and his crew…So who will Jarrell “Big Baby” Miller face on April 28?…”9-1-1″ on FOX is a keeper…So Josh McDaniel is NOT going to Indy? Well, that’s interesting…Today is National Signing Day, so keep that in mind if you’re trying to contact me…I can be reached at and I tweet (a lot) at I also share photos of stuff at and can also be found at




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