Tag Archives: Cruiserweight

New champ Camacho eyes bigger prizes in cruiserweight shake-up

Boxing’s cruiserweight division is going through a period of radical transition.

The thrilling contest between Tony Bellew and Oleksandr Usyk at the Manchester Arena turned the spotlight on what has often been seen as a weight class which the best fighters pass through en route to heavyweight riches.

‘With upheaval looming at cruiserweight, fighters at this level have a great opportunity to propel themselves to the division’s top table’

Usyk is expected to make the step up after conquering the division by winning all four world titles. And with former world champion ‘Bomber’ Bellew now retired, what is next for cruiserweight fight fans?

One notable thing about the Ukrainian’s imminent move above 200lbs is it means all of his belts will be up for grabs. Many of the top cruiserweight contenders will contest the next World Boxing Super Series, but Bellew won’t be one of them. His exit from the ring is a big loss for British boxing.

So, who will be the next British star at this weight? One of the belts the ‘Bomber’ won during his successful career was the Commonwealth title.

And after British champion Lawrence Okolie relinquished the Commonwealth title last month, the two main challengers for the vacant crown were Wadi ‘Machoman’ Camacho and Arfan ‘Major’ Iqbal.

Seasoned pro

Iqbal, 27, a 12-0 cruiserweight was one up on Camacho after stopping him last year in a rollercoaster war, but he had been fairly inactive after that win, fighting just once.

Will Uysk vacate his cruiserweight belts, including the WBC version?

Camacho, with a record of 20 wins and seven losses, had just come off an impressive knock-out of Danny Couzens.

The 33-year-old, who was born in Spain but is a British citizen, is seasoned pro and also showed a decent level of skill when he took British cruiserweight contender Isaac Chamberlain the distance.

With the southpaw looking for revenge against Camacho, he jumped at the opportunity of a rematch, with the vacant Commonwealth crown at stake.

With upheaval looming at cruiserweight, fighters at this level have a great opportunity to propel themselves to the division’s top table.

So, Iqbal and Camacho’s recent Commonwealth clash at the York Hall in Bethnal Green took on a greater resonance.

Rookie mistakes

Both fighters tried their best to dictate the pace of the fight in the early rounds, but Camacho began to get on top with his jab, and it seemed that Iqbal couldn’t get to grips with his southpaw stance.

Camacho shows off his new Commonwealth belt

The undefeated fighter was making rookie mistakes, taking steps to his right to avoid the Camacho’s blows but walking into left hands on a consistent basis.

Older fighters are never too old to learn new tricks, and Camacho showed his improvement on the inside, pounding Iqbal every time he tried to get close.

It wasn’t long before he was rewarded for his clean, sharp work up close as he dropped Iqbal in the fifth round after he walked into a left hand that clipped him on the top of his head.

Iqbal had come for one thing, to land power shots, and the sixth round was where he got the most success after he landed a sweet right that forced his rival into a clinch.

The 12-0 fighter had turned on the power from round one, planting his feet to put his bodyweight behind his swings. However, Camacho showed his experience throughout by keeping out of Iqbal’s range and making him miss.

The ‘Major’ began to look very minor as his sloppy and over-aggressive tactics resulted in him succumbing to fatigue. Then, Arfan Iqbal hit the wall, Arfan Iqbal had a great fall in the seventh round as he tumbled through the ropes and out of the ring.

The cruiserweights impersonation of Humpty Dumpty meant that he wasn’t able to continue due to an back injury he suffered after falling onto a table.

The fight was stopped and went to the judges’ scorecard which read 69-63, 68-64, 69-63 in Camacho’s favour. The ‘Machoman’ is now the new Commonwealth cruiserweight champion in what is a highly competitive and open division.

Who’s next?

Dillian Whyte’s fighter Richard Riakporhe

It is hard to see Lawrence Okolie, who is the top dog in the UK, come down a level and fight for a belt he just relinquished, Camacho would welcome the opportunity.

Then there’s heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte’s protege Richard Riakporhe, who notched up a thrilling win on the Usyk-Bellew undercard.

The fight that makes the most sense for both Camacho and Iqbal is the trilogy: Camacho vs Iqbal III. Each fighter has a win over the other, and a third bout would settle things between them once and for all.

Regardless of what path each fighter decides to take, the cruiserweight division is shaping up into something really spicy in the next few years and threatening to throw off its status as simply a stepping stone to the top division.

Feature image courtesy ofKristin Wall via Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-ND 2.0).

Isaac Chamberlain – from Brixton to the big time?

“Growing up in Brixton was hard. You had to be tough or you would get walked over.”

When boxer Isaac Chamberlain talks about his upbringing, there is menace in his words. After all, Chamberlain is a born fighter.

The 22-year-old cruiserweight is emerging as one of Britain’s brightest young talents in the ring, with his unpredictability, burning desire to succeed and raw emotion making him a growing favourite amongst fans.

But these characteristics were developed on the troubled streets of south London.

“I never had any big brothers, so I had to fight nearly every day so that people would leave me alone,” he recalls. “From a young age, I grew up fighting in school and on the streets. Boxing gave me a way out of all that.”

Not calling it quits 

His most recent fight, at the end of September at Bethnal Green’s York Hall, provides a good snapshot of the man known to his fans as ‘Chambo’.

Chamberlain celebrates beating Camacho

His sixth professional bout was against Wadi Camacho, a 31-year-old from Canning Town, who in the pre-fight trash talk had promised to bury his opponent.

Chamberlain was already on the backfoot even before his right shoulder went, and from that point he struggled and could barely raise his arm as Camacho took advantage.

But somehow he overcame the injury and fought back to win his biggest title so far, the Southern Area Championship. He hopes this is just the start of things to come.

“The victory felt good, but I want more than this,” admits Chamberlain.

“I knew I could do it because I’d thought of it a million times in my head. It made me hungry for more success and glory.”

Sparring with Wilder 

In his short career so far, the cruiserweight has trained and sparred with some of the biggest names around.

But Chamberlain says it was a month in Alabama with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay ‘The Bronze Bomber’ Wilder ahead of his 2015 pro debut that was most instructive.

Chamberlain training with WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder in 2015

“I learnt how a champion prepares and trains,” he says.

“The team he has around him is incredible. To have a champion and win fights is a team effort as they are all working hard to help the contender win the title. It was like a tight-knit family.”

‘Straight Outta Brixton’ 

Chamberlain, also nicknamed ‘The King’, starred in Sky Sports’ documentary ‘Straight Outta Brixton’ which focused on his troubled childhood and how boxing transformed his life.

He said he was keen to show how his upbringing had changed his attitude.

“Going back to my roots showed how far I have come,” he adds.

“I’ve always been the type to look forward, never back. My upbringing and journey showed the perseverance I had when I was growing up and how tough I must have been.”

Support 

Under the guidance of his uncle and trainer Ted Bambi, Chamberlain has flourished.

Training alongside heavyweights such as Dillian Whyte at Miguel’s Gym in Brixton, he has received expert advice to keep him on the right track. Despite his tough training regime, Chamberlain says Bambi has been crucial to his development.

“I learnt the meaning of hard work with Ted,” he says.

Chamberlain with his uncle and trainer Ted Bambi

“He pushes me to the limit nearly every training session but also teaches me a lot about the business and life itself.

He’s so hard on me because he doesn’t want me to make the same mistakes he did.”

Chamberlain also says that being around a character like Whyte every day means there is never a dull moment.

“Dillian is a crazy guy but also fun to be around. We used to take the bus home from training together and he would always say he was going to fight Anthony Joshua again after their amateur bout early on in their careers. And he did.”

‘No easy fights’

Signed to Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom stable, so far Chamberlain has a record of six wins and no defeats.

He says his manager has been an important figure in his professional development.

“Eddie has influenced my career a lot,” he says. “My career’s been different from other boxers because I’ve never had any easy fights and my record shows that.

“When I’m a champion, I’ll know what it’s like to go deep in a fight and take someone’s heart in the ring. I’ve been through the hard fights before, so I know what it takes to dig in.”

Ambitions 

An admirer of former three-weight world champion James Toney, Chamberlain has set his sights high, and the likeable character is not only hoping to reach the top in his profession but also inspire youngsters to follow in his footsteps.

“I want to make my mark in boxing like the old school fighters such as James Toney. I hope to show my the sheer guts and grit to match my skills”

“My advice to anyone facing hardship in life is never give up, no matter how hard it gets,” he insists.

“There will be low times, but it will all pay off. I hope to continue to provide support and the right advice whenever I speak at my local youth club.

“I’d love to fight for the WBC world title at some point in my career. Hopefully, I can become a future Hall of Famer but that’s only once I have defeated some of the top names and unified the division and ensured that I am the best UK cruiserweight to have ever stepped in a ring.

“I want to make my mark in boxing like the old school fighters such as James Toney. I hope to show my the sheer guts and grit to match my skills.”