My Favourite Sport: Matthew Shooman (boxing)

Matthew takes instructions in the corner during his 2018 Ultra White Collar Boxing bout in which he raised £2,500 for charity

How long have you followed boxing? What is your first memory of the sport?

My first memory of boxing was listening to Muhammad Ali losing to Leon Spinks in 1978 on the radio as a nine year old – an exciting fight and was a big shock that he lost. He fought him again that same year and won

What do you prefer? Amateur or professional?

Professional boxing can be so full of politics that you don’t get the fights that the sport deserves – or they come much later in the boxers’ careers so you don’t get to see “prime” athletes going head to head.
I probably only watch amateur boxing during the Olympics

Who do you consider the greatest boxer ever and why?

That’s a great question and you can easily make a case of so many. I’d pick three that, in my opinion, stand out. (in no particular order).
Joe Calzaghe finished his career undefeated and was a world champion for ten years. His fight against Mikkel Kessler was superb. Kessler had never been beaten in 39 fights and was WBA and WBC champion.
Lennox Lewis beat everyone he ever faced. He avenged the two defeats (Hasim Rahman and Oliver McCall) and held the WBC, IBF and IBO titles when he retired.
Nigel Benn was a fearsome competitor and the trilogy of fights against Chris Eubank were thrilling to watch. That period of time with Benn, Eubank, Steve Collins, Michael Watson was an unbelievable period for British super middleweights and the division was, for me, one of the most exciting of all time.

How do you rate the TV coverage of the sport nowadays: too much of it, enough of it, or not enough of it?

The real shame about the TV coverage is that it is all hidden behind “paywall” broadcasters and the premium fights are then additional “pay per view” fees. Not to sound too much like a grumpy old man, but when I was a lad, boxing was free on the BBC. But I guess its all about supply and demand and although I complain about the costs, I book most of them!

Have you ever boxed? If so, tell us a little about it. What was the experience like? Would you box again?

Matthew lands a classic left jab in his 2018 bout

I have in fact. I took part in the UWCB (Ultra White Collar Boxing) in 2018. What an experience that was too! You get at least 8 weeks of professional training, and on the night I fought in front of almost a thousand people at the Grand Hotel, Brighton.
It was all in aid of Cancer Research UK and as a 48 year old man (at the time) it was thrilling, invigorating, scary and amazing in equal measure. I’m proud to say I raised around £2,500 for charity. If I was ten years younger I’d definitely do it again! If anyone reading this is thinking of doing this I would 100% tell you to “go for it” – it’s an experience to remember !

What is the best boxing match you have ever seen?

Again a great question but in recent times it has to be Anthony Joshua v Wladimir Klitschko. That fight had everything, knockdown for both men, proper “warrior” style aggressive, hard-hitting competitors and huge amounts of mutual respect after the fight. AJ definitely “came of age” that night and deserved the victory.

Do you follow women’s boxing? If so, who do you regard as the best woman fighter?

I tend to watch women’s pro boxing as part of an overall undercard or the amateurs during the Olympics.
There are a number a great competitors – Nicola Adams (now retired) to win back to back Olympic golds was phenomenal. Katie Taylor is a great professional and hits as hard as any boxer I’ve seen!
Terri Harper at just 24 is an awesome competitor and current WBC and IBO super featherweight champion. There’s a lot more to come from her and I fully expect to see her as a multi-weight champion over the years ahead.

Who is the most exciting fighter you have ever seen?

LAS VEGAS – NOVEMBER 9: Mike Tyson stands in the ring during the fight with Evander Holyfield at the MGM Grand on November 9, 1996 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Holyfield defeated Tyson in round 11 with a TKO. (Focus on Sport via Getty Images)

The most exciting ever has to be the young Mike Tyson. He was a destructive force, so aggressive and had everything. Speed, power, a huge variety of punches and seemed to absorb pain and channel it into raw power.
He had his demons in later career and well documented troubles out of the ring of course but when he first sprang onto the scene I don’t think the world had ever seen anything like him!

Who do you think is the biggest waste of talent since you started following boxing? Someone who had it all, but never made the most of it.

I’m not sure there’s a particular boxer that stands out here for me but there have been a few of the Olympians that never quite made the expected impact for one reason or another.
I think the transition from. amateur to professional is a massive step change. In terms of someone who had it all and threw it away, sadly, that’s probably Mike Tyson

Who is the best heavyweight in the world?

LOS ANGELES, CA – DECEMBER 01: Tyson Fury punches Deontay Wilder in the seventh round fighting to a draw during the WBC Heavyweight Championship at Staples Center on December 1, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

Best heavyweight in the world right now? Good question! There are two – Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua. Well they must be, they have all the belts between them!
Tyson v Joshua – who wins? Genuinely can’t call that! AJ is powerful and a chiselled athlete. Fury is an awkward but brilliant technical boxer and proved against Deontay Wilder he can also bang! I’m going to call a draw in the first fight!!

Current prospects…..any future superstars you have an eye on?

Before his loss to Joe Joyce I would have said Daniel Dubois. He is still young so could well prove to be the next generation of heavyweight superstars. It will be very interesting to see how he bounces back from such a demoralising defeat. I like the look of British Lawrence Okolie cruiserweight too. He has huge power for that division and could “do a Usyk” and unify for sure.

Meet the lean, mean punching machine – Matthew Shooman

How do you feel boxing has coped during the pandemic?

It’s been a tough time for all sports and boxing has definitely suffered without the crowds and huge shows. The boxers starting out in their careers will have really struggled without the plethora of regional shows that are usually on throughout the year – it’s where they learn their craft and progress.
It is also their livelihood and there have been many of stories of talented prospects having to – at least – suspend their dreams of making it as a pro to take other jobs to pay their bills. I hope they will be able to pick it all back up and make the most of their talents.
For the “top fighters”, Eddie Hearn may not be everyone’s cup of tea but he, and Frank Warren, have been able to put on some decent cards and all credit to them and the boxers who’ve taken part.
I miss the massive glitz and glamour of the fight nights though. I cannot wait for AJ v Fury, at Wembley, in front of 90,000 fans in the stadium and “the millions watching around the world. let’s get ready to ruuuuuummmmbbbbllleeeeee”

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