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Ed Robinson:

Set for stardom

Excitment builds in Sheffield, says Ed

Ed Robinson Posted 17th January 2012 view comments

I had a busy day in Sheffield last week - starting with the well-attended press conference to formally announce the welterweight matchup between Matthew Hatton and Kell Brook.

The presser took place at the old Sheffield Arena, a venue that holds good and bad memories for me. There have been some wonderful fights and nights there over the years. However, I can also remember being backstage interviewing a jittery Paul Ingle the evening that his career came to an end and that he nearly lost his life.

Brook: one for the future

Brook: one for the future

Matt has boxed and won there before, on the undercard of big brother Ricky and supporting local hero Clinton Woods. Kell's being hyped as the next big thing but this is his first appearance at the large venue and he simply can't match his rival for experience. This is Matt's 50th pro fight - although if you're into stats, Kell currently boasts the longest unbeaten record in British boxing, now that Ajose Olusegun no longer holds a British license.

Back to the amateurs and I know there's going to be a lot of pressure on his broad shoulders but if Anthony Joshua does what he can do, then he'll be a national hero before the summer's out.

Ed Robinson
Quotes of the week

You can't ask for much more than a match between the domestic number one and two - it should be a fascinating 'War of the Roses'.

The evergreen Ryan Rhodes also popped down - he's got a European title shot against the unbeaten Sergey Rabchenko from Belarus. It's a very winnable fight for Ryan but he made everyone feel old when he told us that his daughters Lissie and Ellie were both on Sky1's Got To Dance on Sunday.

In the afternoon I went on to the English Institute of Sport just round the corner, to film the Team GB Olympic boxing hopefuls. It was good to catch up with Robert McCracken, the performance director of the team, it's the first time that I'd seen he was busy in his other role as the trainer of Carl Froch.

The self-styled Cobra lost to Andre Ward in a miserable and cold Atlantic City just before Christmas. Carl was well beaten but was very tense in the shoulders for the first few rounds and a bit slow to get going. He's also a genuine tough guy and can certainly come again this year.

Olympic dreams

Back to the amateurs and I know there's going to be a lot of pressure on his broad shoulders but if Anthony Joshua does what he can do, then he'll be a national hero before the summer's out.

Five of the team have qualified, that leaves five possible places for the men in the remaining weight divisions. The women boxers have just one chance to qualify - at the World's in China this May and there are just three weight divisions in the Games so competition is fierce. It was good to see Nicola Adams working in the gym for the first time, she could be another one set for stardom.

I had the pleasure to watch Carl Frampton training on Friday. He sparred nine rounds, worked away three more on the pads and then did his groundwork. To say that I was impressed would be a considerable understatement.

First off, it's hard to believe that Carl's only a super-bantam, he's a monster! I didn't envy the willing sparring partners in the Pro SW gym in Loughton, worked over and then replaced. Mentor Barry's son Shane McGuigan clearly knows exactly what he's doing technically and Jake McGuigan's also an integral part of the team.

What I most like about Carl is his variety and the thought behind his work. Considering he's an aggressive fighter and compact in build, he's got an uncanny ability to outbox and outfox taller, heavier guys in the gym. He rarely blocks the jab, having the footwork to move deftly out of range before pouncing and he often leaves his rivals reaching with the lead before punishing them.

It's a crucial time for Carl's development; he's got to get past awkward Scot Kriss Hughes and then hopes to take on British champion Scott Quigg and European belt holder Kiko Martinez before the year is out.

'Dapa' Napa

I caught up with Ian Napa afterwards to grab a quote on his recent retirement. Ian, one of the most naturally gifted British fighters of recent years, was in part persuaded to call it a day after a recent sparring session with Frampton.

Never a puncher, 'Dapa' Napa always had to do it the hard way and as the years went on and he grew heavier, it became more of a struggle. He leaves the game with few regrets and is working helping kids with learning difficulties in Dalston.

Napa never fought for a World title but had some great scraps for the Lonsdale belt. I can't think of many better fighters for a young pro to study than Napa, the way he slipped shots, rolled and countered reminded many of the sublime skills of a James Toney or a Floyd Mayweather Junior.

Ian only ever halted one opponent - and that was an injury stoppage but if the Londoner had been able to punch, then who knows what he could have achieved.

Sympathy for Sprott

It was sad to see Michael Sprott forced to retire on his stool in a fight on the continent this weekend.

The Reading heavyweight has fought in Germany 12 times now, has won four times and had only been stopped once before - against future World champion Ruslan Chagaev.

He was never really at the races against unbeaten Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev but a bout of pneumonia at the end of last year certainly didn't help his cause.

Michael's 36 now and I've known him since he first came down Reading Amateur Boxing Club from Bulmershe ABC as a giant 15 year old in need of some sparring.

He's one of the nicest guys in boxing and he'll always be remembered for flattening Audley Harrison. With a bit of notice I wouldn't begrudge him a fight with Tyson Fury or any of the outstanding young heavyweights coming through in Britain.

Talking of heavyweights, I thought that John McDermott looked much more solid than usual at a press conference for his bout against big hope David Price. McDermott should be a serious test for Price, if he can get past that ramrod jab of the Liverpudlian.

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