Pacquiao v Vargas – Preview
By Neel Khagram
27th October 2016
Future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao returns to the squared circle to take on WBO Welterweight Champion Jessie Vargas on 5th November in Las Vegas. The bout sees Pacquiao reverse a retirement decision made in the wake of his win against Timothy Bradley just seven months ago to challenge for yet another title. Vargas though will prove a test if the eight division World Champion hasn’t been able to balance the rigours of training with his full time position as a senator in the Philippines.
Vargas, a two division champion in his own right having previously held the ‘regular’ WBA title at Junior Welterweight is talented. Touted as the hottest prospect in the Mayweather stable a few years ago, the former Olympian has notable wins on his resume against Josesito Lopez and Antonio DeMarco and was unlucky not to score a knockout victory against Bradley with the fight ending in strange circumstances in his only defeat. However, there is no doubt that Pacquiao is his toughest challenge to date and an opportunity to announce himself to the world in front of a PPV audience. There is no danger on Vargas’s part of leaving any stone unturned in his preparation.
Motivation is a legitimate question to ask of Pacquiao though. Victory adds little to his legacy given the expectancy to win comfortably whilst a loss would probably consign him to permanent retirement. Perhaps the only thing which may be driving Pacquiao on is his desire to force a rematch against Floyd Mayweather next year in a final hurrah to right the wrong for a distinctly abject performance last May. Pacquiao cited a shoulder injury for his loss and a devastating performance against Vargas may just tempt the man nicknamed ‘Money’ into accepting the rematch in what would still be the highest grossing fighting in boxing today.
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Gavin v Eggington – Preview
By Neel Khagram
20th October 2016
Birmingham plays host to a local derby this Saturday night as both Frankie Gavin and Sam Eggington put local pride on the line in an intriguing battle at Welterweight.
Whilst the bout has been branded as “bragging rights” in the city, one may argue that it is more than that. The winner can go on to challenge for the European title and target world honours down the line. However, the polar opposite is true for the loser.
Gavin, who has already had one failed attempt at a World Title enters the contest as a slight favourite. England’s first Amateur World Championship Gold Medallist has mixed in higher company and undoubtedly has the greater pedigree of the two fighters. Perhaps more significantly he holds a win over Bradley Skeete, a fighter who Sam Eggington found hard to fathom in a unanimous decision loss last year. Gavin has a greater skillset than Skeete, and the worry for Eggington going into the fight is that he will be out boxed again.
The one thing Eggington has on his side is power. Gavin has shown vulnerabilities having been floored by an aged Leonard Bundu in 2014 and demolished by IBF Welterweight Champion Kell Brook last year. Eggington certainly has enough dig to have a similar effect on his opponent. However, he has to get close enough to let his shots go and this is the real challenge for the man known as ‘Savage.’
Both fighters must take credit for accepting the fight given the consequences of a negative result. In what promises to be an interesting blend of styles the true winners are the fans, as big time boxing finally returns to the Midlands.
Gavin v Eggington – Post Fight
By Neel Khagram
23rd October 2016
Sam Eggington won the battle of Birmingham after stopping former World Title challenger Frankie Gavin in the eighth round at the Barclaycard Arena to win the vacant WBC International Title.
In an enthralling contest, both men settled into their work from the first bell. Gavin, who had failed to make the Welterweight limit the day before looked comfortable, regularly shooting down to his opponents body as well as getting his own southpaw back hand off. Eggington also had success with his own right hand as neither fighter had to go looking for each other in the opener.
Gavin showcased his superior natural boxing ability in round two, regularly making Eggington fall short with his attacks and countering him. However, just when it seemed the blueprint of the fight was set, Eggington put Gavin on the floor in the first thirty seconds of round three with a short right hand. Whilst Gavin was not dazed, Eggington sensed this could be the moment the tide changed in his favour and started to unload and drag his opponent into his sort of slug fest. Gavin did take some punishment but arguably had the better end to the round, landing some spiteful looking body shots and a right hook as the touch paper was well and truly lit for the fight.
Gavin took control in next couple of sessions, landing a double jab left hand and a double jab right hook combination in round four and powerful uppercut in round five. Eggington though was able to corner Gavin at the end of the fifth and unload some power shots of his own proving he would still have a say in the contest.
Round six will live long in the memory of Birmingham boxing folklore in a round of the year contender. Eggington backed Gavin up against the ropes in the first minute and a half, unloading ferocious hooks and body shots. Gavin bit down on his gum shield and landed with his own hooks to the head as both men traded in the centre of the ring. It was Eggington though who made the significant dent, hurting Gavin with a left hook to the body which saw the referee give a standing eight count (deeming the ropes had prevented him from hitting the floor.) ‘’Savage’’ Eggington then looked to be on the verge of stopping Gavin as he continued to throw huge punches with little reply. However, Gavin was able to find something within him in the final twenty seconds to throw combinations of his own in an epic round of boxing.
The toe to toe dialogue of the fight continued into round seven as both men put it on the line in front of their home fans. However, the end came in the next round as the nature of the fight slowly caught up with Gavin. He was hurt with another vicious body shot with a minute to go and had no answer to the barrage of punches which followed as the referee jumped in to stop the contest
Both men showed tremendous pride in a terrific battle. Eggington will move onto the European stage now with the damage of his defeat to Bradley Skeete eased with this significant win. For Gavin, a move down to 140lbs may finally see his talents flourish with a more disciplined approach to the sport.
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