Tag Archives: WBA

What Cyrille Regis means to me

Until his recent death at the age of 59, many of my generation would only have had a vague awareness of Cyrille Regis as a footballer.

After all, the centre forward had been retired for more than 20 years, having played his last match at the age of 38 in 1996.

But the countless tributes paid to him after his sad passing have served to show younger people just how much he was respected both as a player and a man.

Regis remains an inspiration and pioneer, having paved the way for so many others by being one of the first black players to become a true star of the game.

He remains the blueprint for what a striker should be about – strong, quick and direct, with a cultured first touch and the strength of character to overcome adversity.

In the case of Regis and his fellow black players in the 1970s and 80s, that adversity took the form of vicious racism on the terraces of England’s crumbling and neglected stadia.

He made his name in an era when football was a fertile recruiting ground for the ultra right-wing National Front, and abuse from fans – and even other footballers – was commonplace.

Potential

Regis was born in French Guiana but moved to the UK with his family when he was five, growing up in Stonebridge, north-west London, where as a schoolboy he showed potential in cricket, football and athletics.

After leaving school, he worked as an electrician while playing for semi-pro sides Molesey and then Hayes & Yeading. While at Hayes he was spotted by West Brom’s chief scout Ronnie Allen and the rest is history.

Allen then became manager but left mid-season 1977-78 to be replaced by Ron Atkinson. The new Baggies boss wanted to play an attacking brand of football, and Regis – along with two other black players, Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson – was fundamental to his vision.

With a team also featuring Bryan Robson, West Brom went on to finish third and fourth in the old First Division, with Regis establishing himself as a feared attacking force.

In 1984, he moved to Coventry City for £250,000 – how many millions would he be worth in today’s market? – and helped them to lift the FA Cup in 1987.

Barriers

In February 1982, Regis became the third black player to be capped by England after Viv Anderson and Cunningham, but only played five times for his country, and would surely have made more appearances but for the presence of Gary Lineker as a competing striker.

After leaving Coventry in 1991, he had spells at Aston Villa, Wolves, Wycombe Wanders and Chester City, making 701 appearances and scoring 205 goals in total.

But the bare stats of an impressive playing career are only part of his story; he was a role model who broke down barriers and helped black players gain wider acceptance at a time when football was still mired in racism and hooliganism.

Through his talent and determination, he changed how black players are perceived within the game, dismantling the pernicious stereotype of them being athletic but lacking in courage and intelligence.

Cyrille Regis and his fellow pioneers showed this to be absolute nonsense, and for that he will always be remembered.

Groves begins war of words with Eubank Jr after win

George Groves has accused Chris Eubank Jr of letting his ego get in the way of his career, saying his next opponent is “a performer first, fighter second”.

The British rivals will meet in the semi-finals of the World Boxing Super Series, which pits six super-middleweight title holders and contenders against each other in a knockout format.

Groves, 29, set up his clash with Eubank Jr by stopping Jamie Cox in four pulsating rounds at the SSE Wembley Arena, and immediately went on the offensive.

“Eubank to his credit is a performer first, fighter second. He is always aware of how he’s being perceived. He was desperate to fight me because he knows fighting me makes it a big fight. He craves fame, I’m here to fight.”

Eubank Jr beat Turkey’s Avni Yildirim in three rounds in Stuttgart earlier this month to reach the final four.

Londoner Groves ended Cox’s 24-fight unbeaten record and took his own tally to 27 victories – with 20 coming by knockout – and three losses.

Power shots

Cox, 31, began well, tagging Groves with multiple jabs to the body. Groves fired back with body shots of his own and eventually connected with good straights to the head. Both fighters started unleashing power shots towards the end of the opening round.

The Swindon boxer continued to target Groves’ body with jabs, pressuring him into the ropes where the pair traded blows in a fierce exchange.

‘The Saint’ clipped Cox with accurate punches towards the end, but the challenger had made his intentions clear.

The same blueprint was used in the third. Cox started with the body jabs and Groves countered with a strong uppercut and a brief brawl ensued after. Cox showed a little frustration in the third after a few slips but the bout stayed even as both fighters landed shots.

Cox kept his pressure up in the fourth but then out of nowhere Groves landed a perfectly-placed right hook to the body. The challenger went down and did not get up.

 Humble

Cox didn’t have much to say after his defeat

Cox was a man of very few words in the post-fight press conference.

“It was a great fight. It’s great to be part of this World Boxing Super Series. George Groves is great world champion, and I relish the opportunities forthcoming.”

As for future plans, Cox didn’t have much to say.

“A couple weeks of a break, then I’m back in the gym. I’m going to sit down and speak with Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing and go from there.”

Focus

Groves, the former British, European and Commonwealth super-middleweight champion, gave credit to his quarter-final opponent and said he had been ready for Cox’s early onslaught.

“We expected him to be aggressive and fast early on. We planned for that, so we weren’t surprised. Logically, it would have made sense that Jamie would try to force the pace early.

“But I’m a strong guy, I’m a clever fighter as well. I knew it was only a matter of time because I was able to land good shots.”

Groves now switches his focus to Eubank Jr, and their eagerly-anticipated bout is set to happen in January or February, according to promoter Kalle Sauerland.

The winner will then fight for the Muhammad Ali Trophy in the final bout of the World Boxing Super Series in May.

In the other semi-final, Britain’s Callum Smith will face either Germany’s Juergen Braehmer or American Rob Brant, who fight in Germany October 27.

Photos by Patrik Kuitunen