Conducted by Dean Toth – Unsung heroes, every walk of life has them. Those people who go that extra mile to add to something you enjoy. They’re the salt of the earth, aren’t they? My intention is to hear their song the loudest, to go from the unsung to the sung, even if just for a moment. Those who own, run, support and contribute to this website in a series of conversations aimed at shedding some light on the men and women behind the articles. Expect them to bounce from one subject to the next, as we do what we do best as fans… Ramble on about the sport we hold so dearly.
Dean: “Thank you for agreeing and sparing some of your precious time and doing this with myself. Starting off nice and easy, for the benefit of those reading who are you and just what exactly is your connection to http://topclassboxing.co.uk ?”
Paul: “My Pleasure, I’m Paul Daley, I’m 38 years young and live in the Land of Dragons, Wales – I am the mad scientist who created TopClassBoxing around 15 years back, specifically as a way of giving something back to the sport that I was/am and always will be so passionate about.
I started out the site just looking to interview fighters, reaching out to fighters who often were blessed with skill but at that time was unable to portray the extent to fight fans.”
Dean: “15 years and still going is a massively impressive achievement, so congratulations on that. In those first few months, with TopClass being a relatively new and unknown site, did you find it easy to obtain those interviews with fighters? And who was the very first interview?”
Paul: “I find boxers, especially up and coming fighters are very approachable without in the most part an ego, so no I didn’t really have an issue, in fact it was only the world champions at the time who had an issue, by wanting a fee for any questions answered
My first interview was with a young Texan by the name of Omar Henry, who sadly passed away at an early age, that turn of events nearly broke me in all honesty as Henry became a good friend of mine who still to this day I accredit for pushing me into building the website which TopClassBoxing has become.”
Dean: “Heartbreaking to read, always awful hearing about any life cut tragically short, harder to swallow when that life was full of ability and potential. For those of us who don’t or didn’t know Omar, what was he like both in and out the ring?”
Paul: “Omar was a breath of fresh air both on a personal level and professional, always joking, having fun and always had an eye for the ladies but also when needed would be the most supportive person to have in your cheering section, as soon as he stepped through those ropes he was quick, both in regards to hand speed and footwork, an explosive fighter with the potential to end a bout at any given time, hand on heart he was one of the most gifted individuals of any prospect I have talked to.”
Dean: “He truly sounds like he was one of not just boxing but life’s good guys. Having fought at the Super Welterweight, and the division has some very high-level boxers in it at the moment, who do you believe Omar would have torn the house down with?”
Paul: “He truly was and the lasting effect he has had on people is testament to that, I could see him in with Julian Williams, Charlo, Hurd, honestly I believe the arc of his potential would have seen him in against the divisions best, unfortunately, that potential was cut short so it will always be a case of ‘what if?’
Dean: “Such a tragedy, but thank you for bringing the spotlight and sharing on the Omar Henry you knew.
So as you stated earlier Omar played a big part in encouraging you with topclassboxing, did you envision the website being what it is today and having so many contributors under your wing?”
Paul: “Not really, TopClassBoxing started out as a kind of journal for all my boxing ramblings, for near on a year it was just me penning article after article just to sharpen my writing skills, a few guys then asked if they could contribute which I am forever grateful to each and every one of you for continuing and since that time it has snowballed into what you see today, a leading fan site, basically primarily what we do is give fight fans a voice.”
Dean: “It’s exactly that. From a personal point of view I’d of never imagined myself ever writing pieces on boxing much less others actually reading it… But that happens now all because of http://topclassboxing.co.uk.
It’s a sport of opinions more so than most, TCB provides a great platform for those of us who are fans and in some cases enthusiasts to share those opinions with the wider boxing world.
So 15 years ago what was an early twenties Paul’s opinion? Which fighter had you hooked? What fight around the same time you launched the website, had blown you away?”
Paul: “Damn I feel old when you say it like that lol, before moving onto the question at hand, i would like to first say that I don’t think you guys have enough confidence in yourselves because the articles I read on a day to day basis from you are incredible and I feel privileged to be able to showcase them on our platform
Regarding which fighter it has to be Roy Jones Jr, I was simply mesmerised by the way he would conduct himself in a boxing ring, from his ring walks to the ultra-confident way he would take opposition apart, at the time of the creation of the site it was where he would start his downfall to the likes of Tarver and Johnson but it was Jones in his prime that got me hooked as for a fight it would have been probably been one of the Ward v Gatti contests or possibly the series between Barrera v Morales”
Dean: “Roy Jones Jr was utterly majestic, great fighter. Some people are just born to box and he fell into that category. Funnily enough one of the fights I rewatch on an almost bi-monthly basis, just to remind myself of all the aspects of why I initially fell in love with boxing and everything that comes with it also comes from the Ward/Gatti tree. However, It’s the first fight for me, though all three are excellent.
It’s clear you’ve been a fan of the sweet science for a lengthy period of time, so I’m going to propose a question to you regarding the old era of boxing and the new.
The sport has changed and evolved massively from the time the likes of yourself and I began watching, it’s constantly evolving. What would you say in your opinion is one aspect of boxing they had right back in the day, but has changed/disappeared from the game nowadays?”
Paul: “The decades of the past, fighters would earn a lot less but were more willing to face the best competition he had available to him, these days or I should say some fighters, aren’t as willing to test their abilities against the divisions best but instead are looking at the quickest and safest way to make it to their retirement with the most money in their pockets, from a business point of view I can’t really blame them wholeheartedly but get frustrated from a fight fans view when I think back to the likes of Ali, Robinson, Armstrong and the list goes on, those were the fighters who have written themselves into the rich tapestry of our sport and it’s because they tested themselves and usually came out the other end able to say they were the best, that is the biggest thing missing I believe”
Dean: “I’d have to wholeheartedly agree with you, if we delve into that a little bit further though Paul what do you think is the main factor behind this? Is it solely down to the huge amounts of cash a top level fighter can earn now compared to back then? Is it down to the new style of promoting and that its out of the fighter’s hands? Or could it even be a lack of quality i.e back in the day every other fight was a big fight between fighters who were around the same level in ability? Does the modern fighter have fewer options of those BIG fights, so drag it out? Or something else completely?”
Paul: “I think it is a mixture of things, the number of titles certainly dilute the waters and then we have promoters who’s main aim is to protect their cash cows whilst some fighters are just happy to face journeyman after journeyman in a bid to pad their record as much as possible, it was just such a simpler time back in the golden ages of boxing, a handshake between champions was good enough, a man’s word was his bond and legacy actually meant something.”
Dean: “Absolutely! Fighters were all about boxing their heart out and taking names back then. We still have plenty of classic fights every year but they seem to be from fights that we all thought had the potential to be decent/good but they go a level above and beyond. A fight that jumps out and surprises us, makes us want to see a second fight, even though we initially never even knew we wanted to see the first. It never involves the names we crave as fight fans mixing it up seemingly.
I’m not going to drag you into the repetitive, and in my honest opinion, now extremely boring debate when it comes to the big three of the heavyweight division… A division which I’d certainly say is hugely guilty of avoiding the fights we want to see.
Instead, I’m going to approach it in a different way. Their opponents, Andy Ruiz Jr, Tom Schwarz, and Dominic Breazeale, not many give them hope of upsetting the odds in their next upcoming fights.
My question to you is two-fold. Firstly, of the three who do you deem the better fighter? If you’re matchmaking, and those three are your choice to fight, which two get the fight and who do you leave out? Secondly, if any were to cause an upset when they face off against the big three, who do you see as most likely, and more so how do they achieve such?”
Paul: “I deem Andy Ruiz Jr the better fighter from the three and down the line I wouldn’t mind seeing a fight between Ruiz and Breazeale. I honestly can’t see an upset but if I had a knife to my throat I would pick Ruiz Jr from the three listed.”
Dean: “See I think I’d place Breazeale at the top of the three-man pile, and same goes for if I had to choose one who could potentially, although unlikely, an upset. Wrote before the Wilder/Breazeale fight, some great insight from myself haha
Having just watched the Josh Taylor vs Ivan Baranchyk fight, a tremendous fight in my eyes, I think the WBSS concept is easily the best thing boxing has conjured up in quite some time. What are your thoughts on the Super Series and its impact in the scene? Also which weight division do you think would present the most mouth-watering WBSS?”
Paul: “Love the concept of the super series and follows on from the super six tournament which Andre Ward won and became a household name or should I say more so than he was, I love a format that forces fighters to face the best and have really enjoyed each so far, as to a personal favourite to happen, it would be Welterweight, the matchups are mouth watering with the likes of Errol Spence, Terence Crawford, Keith Thurman, Manny Pacquiao and co.”
Dean: “Agreed, I think we have two fights with monumental potential in the final’s of the current super series. Inoue/Donaire should be good, although I don’t see anybody beating Inoue at his weight for quite some time.
Taylor/Prograis is mouth-watering, unfortunately, I can see Regis beating Josh. How do you see them going?
Plus, Sticking to the WBSS theme, this is your chance to go back in history, any era you want, any weight class you wish and create your own WBSS… Who are your 8 fighters?”
Paul: “I can’t see a fighter currently who would be even able to take Inoue rounds nevermind be victorious, the way he sets up his shots, the placement and the movement are a joy to watch, seriously impressed which at this point takes a lot having seen the fighters I have, that being said Donaire is strong opposition but still his best days are behind him, I’m thinking Inoue by mid round stoppage, that fight aside I actually think the fight between Josh and Regis is 50/50 at this point, If pushed off the safety of the fence I would slightly edge in favour of Taylor but it is the slightest of margins.
lastly, there are so many tournaments in my head, some include Sugar Ray Robinson, whilst others include Henry Armstrong but the one that interested me most and I never got to see unfolding was Jones Jr, Toney, Benn, Eubank, Watson, Collins, McClellan, Jackson – I may be all out with my dates but off the top of my head I would love to see the outcome of a tournament such as this.”
Dean: “I think the possibilities are endless when we delve back in time. I’d like to move away from the actual warriors themselves for a moment, if you don’t mind Paul, I’d like to look at the man/men behind the fighters. The thinkers, the masterminds if you will, the trainers.
Who at the moment do you believe is potentially the world’s best in said field? What do you believe sets them apart?”
Paul: “At the moment, I would say Papa Lomachenko, the lifetime of work he has put into getting his son into a position to become the greatest amateur of all time as well as taking his professional career in the same position. Also to note is Usyk’s progression, it’s hard not to be impressed by the way in which he micromanages everything on route to making incredible fighters.
That being said, I’ll always have a soft spot for Freddie but unfortunately his best days are now behind him in my opinion.”
Stay Tuned for Part Two, Coming soon………