Analysis

EXCLUSIVE: AJ to risk it all in 2020 against shock opponent!

EXCLUSIVE: AJ to risk it all in 2020 against shock opponent!

28 May 2020

Anthony Joshua will put his career on the line this year in a mega fight with the most famous and dangerous of all elderly Soviet gentlemen to have ever laced up the gloves.

Critical B&F can reveal that the British two-time unified WBA, IBF, WBO, and IBO heavyweight champion of the world will face the legendary Russian champion Velikiy Boyets (Russian: великий боец).

Boyets is on the comeback trail

The extraordinary turn of events sees Joshua reneging on a commitment to give Kubrat Pulev, another elderly Soviet gentleman and the top IBF contender, a shot at the title. It also puts to rest months of speculation in the mainstream media about a grand unification fight with the WBC heavyweight belt-holder Tyson Fury.

Pulev (R) in gentlemanly attire

In an exclusive interview with CB&F, Joshua and his manager Eddie Hearn confirmed that they instigated discussions with Boyets’ team immediately after learning that Pulev had publicly labelled the champion a coward.

Elderly, but doesn’t look a day over 20

“It’s no secret that I want to clean up the elderly Soviet gentlemen in the heavyweight division,” Joshua said. “But why should I debase myself with Pulev? Sure, I’m a highly trained 30-year-old male in my physical prime, and he’s a worn-out 39-year-old from the former Soviet satellite state of Bulgaria. So far so good. But is he actually a gentleman? The insolent blackguard called me a coward! And he did that thing he did to that lady… Can you believe it? A coward!”

Pulev doing that thing he did to that lady

Hearn echoed his fighter’s sentiments.

“It’s questionable whether the act of force-kissing a female sports reporter on live television is congruent with laws of gentlemanly conduct,” he said. “Traditionally, the gentlemen of Europe have been content with forcing themselves upon young female domestic servants in the dingy corners of their manor houses. Discretion is a signal mark of sophistication and good taste. Pulev really ought to have got that reporter into a dingy corner of the locker room first. He’s a vulgar amateur.”

A more respectable venue for gentlemanly assaults on women

Joshua’s achievements against elderly Soviet gentlemen in the ring are unparalleled in the glorious annals of heavyweight boxing.

In 2017, the then 27-year-old Brit knocked out the great Ukranian champion Wladimir Klitschko, who was 41 and hadn’t fought as much as a fly in more than twelve months. The following year, at the age of 28, Joshua similarly sent the 39-year-old Russian Alexander Povetkin to his doom.

It was only natural that Joshua should target Pulev next, as the Bulgarian was the only elderly Soviet gentleman in the heavyweight division yet to be brutally bashed by him – until, that is, the most elderly and most gentlemanly of them all hinted that he was interested in throwing his ushanka back in the ring.

The ushanka Boyets is said to have thrown in a ring somewhere in Siberia

The astonishing comeback of Boyets has transformed the heavyweight division overnight.

In one of the sporting world’s most famous moments of historical serendipity, Boyets originally won the world heavyweight title in 1917, on the very same day the Bolsheviks stormed the Winter Palace in St Petersburg and put an end to the Provisional Government of the imperialist running dog Alexander Kerensky.

Public in St Petersburg celebrating Boyets title win in 1917

The Russian legend went on to defend his belt against many human opponents as well as several ursine ones, never losing a sanctioned title fight.

Boyets last fought in 1924, shortly after the death of his main patron, Lenin, and the ascendency of Stalin.

Boyets in action at one of his notoriously gruelling fight camps

In a fight that is now as infamous as his original title win is famous, Boyets took on Stalin’s eldest son Yakov Dzhugashvili, who was only a 17-year-old boy with no formal training in boxing whatsoever, let alone ring experience.

Dzhugashvili (L) before his smoker against Boyets

Boyets lost the unsanctioned smoker by knockout in the first ten seconds of the first round.

Dzhugashvili (L) after his smoker against Boyets

Does the youthful Joshua have what it takes to replicate Dzhugashvili’s spectacular victory? Let us know what you think in the comments below!

Posted by Critical B&F in Analysis, 0 comments
Just whom did Joshua shock?

Just whom did Joshua shock?

31 January 2020

Me.

But probably not the majority of mainstream commentators – and certainly not the bookies, who had Anthony Joshua the odds-on favourite at 4/9 (-225) to defeat Andy Ruiz Jnr in the lead up to their rematch on 7 December last year in Saudi Arabia.

The predictions this time around were hardly uniform. There’d been a shift in opinion since Ruiz won the first fight at Madison Square Garden, and it was profound. A big chunk of the boxing establishment was now leaning toward the man whom six months earlier they’d written off as a fat, pasty, baby-faced, fringe contender. Many in the commentariat, including many other pro boxers, were confident that Ruiz would – or at least could – repeat his dominant performance.

The shift in opinion was just and reasonable. Although it’s axiomatic in boxing that every boxer in every fight has a “puncher’s chance”, Ruiz’s victory over Joshua was pretty obviously not a fluke. There was no lucky punch. As I pointed out in the aftermath of the first fight, the blueprint for slaying the British giant had been hiding in plain sight for years. Ruiz saw it, studied it, and applied it to utterly devastating effect. He demolished Joshua because he was the superior boxer.

I wasn’t shocked by Ruiz in the first fight. I’d been anticipating that someone like him would take out Joshua sooner or later. I must confess, however, that I was shocked by Joshua in the second fight. The limitations  and vulnerabilities he’d shown not only against Ruiz, but also against several earlier opponents, made me doubt – and very seriously so – whether he had the boxing IQ to reform himself. Credit where credit is due: Joshua did reform himself, and the rest is history.

So what were the mainstream commentators thinking? The most insightful and prescient of them all was George Foreman.

The prophecy of Big George

A day or two before the Clash on the Dunes, Foreman gave an interview about the rematch to Gareth Davies (the respected boxing reporter for the UK’s otherwise deplorable Telegraph rag) in which he was right about, well, everything.

I dare you to tell him he was wrong

Foreman began the interview by reflecting on the only deposed heavyweight champions to do what Joshua intended to do and regain the title in an immediate rematch: Floyd Patterson, Muhammad Ali, and Lennox Lewis.

According to Foreman, Patterson’s only hope in his rematch against Ingemar Johansson was to catch the Swede with his trademark gazelle hook. But Patterson was a rather limited fighter. Joshua, observed Foreman, had many more options available to him owing to his height, reach, and punching power.

Foreman then set out two general strategies for Joshua, modelling them on the divergent approaches taken by Ali and Lewis.

The Ali strategy, which The Greatest implemented perfectly against Leon Spinks in 1978, was to go into the rematch intending to jab, circle, and clinch one’s way back to the title on points. The Lewis strategy, which The Lion implemented perfectly against Hasim Rahman in 2001, was to go in with the intention of fully knocking out the usurper.

Given the precariousness of the British giant’s chin – which Ruiz exposed for all the world to see in 2019, but which had been increasingly evident at least since the Klitschko fight in 2017 – it was obvious which of the two strategies would best suit Joshua in Saudi Arabia. As Foreman said:

“If it were me, I would look to the Ali-Spinks rematch, and follow it to a T. Don’t worry about people booing you. Walk him around the ring. Wait for the referee to say break. Step behind the referee, and do it all again, for 12 rounds.

“That’s what I would do. Not much moving, just jab, jab, jab. If things get out of hand, control your man and wait for the ref to step in. Every now and then land a right hand to keep the crowd excited, but don’t go deep into exchanges because Ruiz has already proven he can drop him.”

Such was the strategy Foreman recommended to Joshua. Big George was confident in prophesying that Joshua would actually follow it:

“He’s going to go out there and box. If there’s going to be a knockout, it’ll be when he decides he has three minutes left and this guy can’t reach him. I believe he’ll win that fight in 12 rounds… He can win this fight round after round.”

And so Joshua did – to a ‘T’.

Decisive yet uncompelling

Joshua’s victory over Ruiz was decisive. It was just as decisive as Ali’s victory over Spinks, if not more so.

We might never know the finer details of Joshua’s camp. But what is certain is that at some point he and trainer Rob McCracken committed themselves to the Ali strategy. For all anyone knows, they never explicitly called it that, or even once thought about the Ali-Spinks rematch. Nevertheless, ex post facto, we know that they chose the Ali strategy and practised it in camp. Foreman seemed to know it all beforehand.

By the time the British giant emerged from camp, he’d made the stylistic and mental adjustments required to neutralise the blueprint for KOing him. He entered the ring with a wholly rational plan and fought an almost wholly disciplined fight in accordance with it. The plan wasn’t conducive to entertaining the fans, especially those with only a casual interest in the sport. But it was beautiful as only the sweet science can be.

Joshua’s performance was almost identical to Ali’s. He jabbed, he circled, he threw the occasional right hand, he clinched. And the points piled up and up, round after round. There were differences, of course. Joshua was more aggressive than Ali had been against Spinks, and he spent less time on the ropes. Joshua was also a superbly trained and conditioned young boxer still in his prime, whereas Ali was none of those things in 1978.

And here lies the problem.

Joshua’s victory over Ruiz was uncompelling. It was just as uncompelling as Ali’s victory over Spinks, if not more so.

Ali was a shot fighter by 1978. No one who saw him regain the title from Spinks believed that he’d go on to defend it. This is not to downplay the greatness of Ali’s achievement. If anything, the fact that Ali was shot makes his defeat of Spinks even more remarkable. He was the favourite; yet, in hindsight, it’s obvious that the old man had transcended the possible (again). But his performance didn’t send anything like an ominous message to the top contenders. The era of Ali was clearly finished. He announced his retirement in June 1979.

Joshua’s performance against Ruiz was similarly devoid of forebodings of doom for his rivals.

The Ali strategy was a sufficient, and perhaps necessary, means for him to win back the belts from Ruiz. But in availing himself of it, Joshua surely didn’t send any ominous messages to Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder. If Joshua imitated Ali’s example inside the ring, Ruiz imitated that of Spinks outside it. Both Ali and Joshua jabbed, circled, and clinched their way to victory against men who simply couldn’t cope with the fame and fortune the heavyweight championship of the world brings with it. Ali did it over fifteen rounds as an old man; Joshua did it over twelve in his prime.

Spinks, on all accounts, went totally off-the-rails after his surprise victory, culminating in two weeks of drunkenness immediately preceding the rematch. He entered the ring heavier and generally unprepared. Ruiz followed the same trajectory. Already a rather fat man, he came in 15 pounds fatter for the rematch, at a massive 283 pounds. “The partying and all that stuff got the better of me,” Ruiz admitted in the post-fight press conference. “It was my mistake. I felt too confident. I should have trained harder and listened to my team and coaches.”

As the clock ticked down in the final round of the Joshua-Ruiz rematch, one of the British commentators declared that his compatriot in the ring had “silenced the doubters.” I was as shocked by that remark as I was by Joshua’s performance. For Joshua hadn’t silenced the doubters; he’d only given them something else on which to focus their doubt.

Back to bashing elderly Soviets

So what must Joshua do to silence the doubters?

At the time of writing, Joshua’s next opponent is likely to be Kubrat Pulev, the 38-year-old Bulgarian better known for his forceful kissing than his forceful punching. If Joshua bashes him like he bashed Wladimir Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin, he will have well-and-truly cleaned up the elderly Soviets in the heavyweight division. That would be a distinction of a kind, and as far as I know, Joshua would be the first to achieve it.

It will not silence the doubters. 

Joshua may have the most belts around his belly, but he is currently only one of the best heavyweights in the world. The others, of course, are Fury and Wilder. Those two have already fought one another in a classic, and they’re scheduled to do so again this year. Whatever the result of the second bout between Fury and Wilder, it will set up a rubber match for the history books. Joshua has never fought either of them. 

Can there now be any doubt about what Joshua must do to silence the doubters?

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Analysis, 2 comments
What is Everlast’s Powerlock technology?

What is Everlast’s Powerlock technology?

9 December 2019

Although I believe that Everlast makes some truly bad gear, I’m not an inveterate Everlast hater. I like the Everlast logo. I like the faux old-school aesthetics of its marketing campaigns. I like the look or style of many of its gloves and other items of equipment and apparel, not least the awesome white trunks famously worn by Ali. And I would really, really, really like to get my hands on (or in) a pair of Everlast MXs.

Two things I can’t afford

I don’t have enough spare cash for that, however. So I recently bought myself a pair of 16oz synthetic Powerlock gloves. This popular model has been an object of curiosity to me for a long time. They’re good-looking gloves featuring Everlast’s vaunted “Powerlock technology”. They’re also much cheaper than the leather Powerlock Pros (roughly half the price in Australia), despite the apparently identical padding, structure, and stitching.

Two things I can afford

I’ve put in some serious rounds with my Powerlocks, but I’ll reserve my overall judgement on them for my upcoming review.

In the meantime, I’d like to raise something I’ve been wondering about ever since I first forced myself to sit through the torture of Fit2Box’s abominable YouTube review of the Powerlock Pros. In his typical gushing fashion, Fit2Box points to the Powerlock logo and tells us that the Powerlock technology is “actually one of the design features” of the gloves, while failing to provide one iota of explanation of its nature and function. Yet that technology is surely one of the things of most interest to potential buyers of Powerlock gloves.

Everlast is almost – almost – as impressed by its own technological marvel as Fit2Box. After developing it in a secret lab in the sewers of the Bronx, the company bestowed upon it the imposing title of “Powerlock” (which should only ever be uttered in a husky American bass-baritone) and implemented it in several costlier models of glove. It goes without saying that the Powerlock technology is now the “Choice of Champions”. Of course, champions choose it because they’re paid to do so, whereas we choose it because we hope it actually means something.

Entrance to Everlast’s top secret lab in the Bronx

Very slightly to its credit, Everlast provides a bit more information about the Powerlock technology than Fit2Box and most other shill-like online gear reviewers bother to provide to their hapless audiences. Everlast says that the training model

Features Powerlock technology, an ergonomic layered foam construction that guides your hand into a natural fist position.

Similarly, it says that the fight model

Features Powerlock technology, a defined anatomical foam construction that guides your hand into a natural fist position.

In both cases, Everlast goes on to add that

Compact glove design allows for superior fist closure providing a balance of speed, comfort, and protection while delivering a powerful punch.

As far as I can determine, no one in the whole of human history has publicly written or uttered anything more informative about the Powerlock technology than those three sentences. Everlast gives champions millions of dollars on which to base their “choice”. It gives us three meagre sentences (two of which mean pretty much the same thing).

But Everlast’s three sentences both say too little and too much.

They say too little because they’re substantially indistinguishable from the sentences used by almost every other gear company to market their training gloves nowadays. There’s nothing in them to suggest that the Powerlock technology is in any way special or different compared to the foam padding used in similar mid-range training gloves.

On the other hand, the sentences say too much because they’re really a kind of confession, the kind which issues from the mouths and keyboards of marketing hacks who know deep down that they have nothing of significance to say about a product. Put simply, not even Everlast itself knows what makes the Powerlock technology special or different.

The marketing bunkum of Everlast and the like is a black mental mist enveloping the boxing gear industry. You can get a good sense for just how dark the darkness really is by contrasting Everlast with one of the few candles.

So consider the Japanese company Winning. Its MS-series gloves are widely acknowledged to be (or to rank among) the best training gloves in the world. What does Winning say about them? Almost nothing, other than that they’re good quality leather gloves. No phony technical terms, no quasi-scientific mumbo jumbo, no empty slogans. The proof of the gloves is not in the words, but in the punching.

Two things I could afford once before

Are you able to enlighten the world about Everlast’s Powerlock technology? Share your wisdom in the comments below!

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Analysis, Gear, 0 comments
The beginner gear fallacy

The beginner gear fallacy

30 November 2019

Are you a beginner wondering what gear you should buy? Or has a beginner ever asked you what gear he or she should buy?

If so, you’re probably familiar with the idea that there’s a special kind of gear for beginners: gear of significantly lower quality and cost than that used by more experienced or advanced boxers, but nevertheless adequate for the purposes of those just starting out in the sport.

You might, for example, have read about “the best gear for beginners” on one of the gazillions of review websites. You might have been told by someone at your gym that certain gear is “good enough for beginners”. You might even have given that advice to a beginner yourself.

The idea of beginner gear seems to have achieved the status of conventional wisdom across the Internet and even in many gyms. This is especially so with regard to training gloves. And, in fact, the idea of beginner gear does have a strong intuitive appeal.

For one thing, many beginners won’t go on to regularly train and compete in boxing. Given that boxing is one of the most physically and psychologically challenging of all sports, the likelihood of any particular beginner choosing to quit is (presumably) very high.

What’s more, beginners generally don’t train with the same frequency and intensity as more advanced boxers. Not only that, but they’re generally incapable of punching with the same degree of power. Advanced boxers subject their bodies (viz. hands) to a lot more punishment.

So beginners shouldn’t spend much money buying decent quality gloves and other training gear. Who could doubt that? It’s just common sense, right?

Well, maybe – but I doubt it, and very seriously so. In my opinion, it’s fallacious to claim that a boxer should buy low quality and low cost gear just because he or she is a beginner.

Why is it a fallacy?

Despite what conventional wisdom would suggest, the idea of beginner gear actually has no basis in the training needs of beginners.

A beginner is someone who has undergone little or no training in the sport. Absolute beginners have had no training whatsoever, while relative beginners have only had a bit. 

Boxing is a technically sophisticated sport. Beginners don’t pick it up in one or two training sessions. It typically takes years and years of training for someone to grasp and apply the techniques of boxing.

The technical sophistication of boxing means that beginners are much more likely than experienced boxers to commit technical errors during training. The likelihood of technical error is perhaps highest when beginners are doing solo bagwork or sparring under pressure.

Beginners also tend to be much more likely than experienced boxers to throw lots and lots of power punches. The insane megalomania of beginners can be readily observed in almost any gym. Like technical error, it’s probably most common during bagwork and sparring.

Indeed, technical error and power punching go hand in hand. This unholy alliance is the bane of the beginner boxer, as it dramatically increases the risk of injury. The majority of injuries during training result from punching hard with bad technique.

(I take it that that’s obvious enough in the case of bagwork. But it also applies to sparring. Beginners who throw lots and lots of wild power punches in sparring open themselves up to more counterpunches and therefore more injuries.)

A beginner making a fool of himself on the heavy bag

The foregoing considerations shouldn’t be controversial. Yet they militate very strongly against the idea of beginner gear. They suggest that, if anyone truly needs good quality gear, then beginners do.

To avoid misunderstanding, let me note that this doesn’t mean that more experienced or advanced boxers don’t need good quality gear as well. Of course they do. My point is just that they’re not the only ones. 

Everyone who trains in the sport of boxing needs good quality gear. I mean, just think about it. You don’t play boxing.

Do beginners need the best gear?

This stands in need of further elucidation. The fact that everyone, including beginners, needs good quality gear, does not mean that everyone needs the best gear.

In particular, beginners don’t need the best gear.

It would be absurd and counterproductive to suggest that beginners (of ordinary means) should splash out on brand new gear from Winning, Grant, DiNardo, or any of the other top-shelf, hyper-expensive brands.

If anyone really needs that gear – and I have my doubts whether anyone does – it’s high-level professional boxers and world-class amateurs.

Gear aficionados and other wannabes like myself like to say we really need the best gear, but if we’re open and honest with ourselves, I think we have to admit that that’s only a pretence to convince our ragged, starving families to allow us to buy it.

A gear aficionado’s wife and children

So although beginners need not spend up big on the best gear, they should be willing to spend a sizable sum on good quality gear. (They can always sell it easily enough on eBay or Gumtree if boxing turns out not to be for them.)

In general, however, the gear marketed to beginners by the companies is not good quality gear.

The idea of beginner gear is nowadays little/nothing more than a marketing device intended to sell masses of overpriced junk gear to masses of ignorant consumers. My use of the adjective “ignorant” here is non-pejorative; I only mean to designate normal consumers who, through lack of information, experience, or whatever, don’t know any better.

Of course, the paradigmatic examples of this kind of overpriced junk gear are the Everlast Pro Style training gloves. Nominally, they’re relatively cheap; but given their poor performance and poor durability, they’re ready for landfill the moment you buy them. They’re total rip-offs.

Even a cursory perusal of mainstream gear review sites should be sufficient to convince you that the idea of beginner gear is just another brainchild of marketing hacks. Those sites – which I’ve elsewhere called buckets of faeces – pump out review after review recommending truly appalling gear to beginners. At best, they paraphrase the marketing bunkum of the companies; at worst, they restate it verbatim. Their sole purpose, of course, is to earn commissions from affiliate marketing programs.

The idea of beginner gear enables the companies to cover off the largest segment of the gear market: the mass of ignorant consumers. It also enables the mainstream gear review sites to make money from misleading that same segment of the gear market.

What it does not enable is beginners to make good choices about the gear they need to properly partake in the sport of boxing.

What do you think of beginner gear? Let me know in the comments below!

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Analysis, Gear, 0 comments
Is Fit2Box fit to review?

Is Fit2Box fit to review?

4 November 2019

The YouTube ecosystem is crawling with so-called “influencers”. This cultural honorific is bestowed upon popular YouTubers who post videos of themselves expressing opinions on products, services, and/or trends, thereby influencing the consumption choices of the thousands or even millions of people subscribed to their YouTube channels. Nowadays there seem to be YouTube influencers for everything under the sun. If you can think of it, then someone has already expressed an opinion upon it.

The world of boxing, of course, has its share of these YouTube influencers. Indeed, you would be hard pressed to identify something under the sun of the boxing world upon which one influencer or another has not expressed an opinion. This is especially so for boxing equipment. Boxers need good gear and many of them (myself included) are willing to spend substantial sums of money to get it. So they turn to Google for advice. And the influencers are there, ready and willing to give it.

In general, the phenomenon of influencers is potentially – and perhaps in many cases is actually – socially beneficial. This is because very many markets are subject to information failures. The market for boxing equipment is obviously one of them. The vast majority of consumers know next to nothing about the design, materials, manufacture, and everyday performance of boxing equipment. Influencers are well-positioned to help us ignorant consumers overcome the problem of informational asymmetry.

Yet influencers are also well-positioned to mislead and deceive us ignorant consumers, and, in fact, there are powerful incentives for them to do so. Influencers make money from advertising and affiliate marketing programs, but consumers won’t click to buy negatively reviewed products. Influencers often receive free products from companies, but companies won’t keep up the supply if all they get in return are bad reviews. (I can appreciate the power of such incentives because they also apply to me.)

“The No.1 boxing equipment review channel on YouTube”

And that brings me to the YouTuber Fit2Box (aka Simon Higgins). Fit2Box is the self-proclaimed top YouTube influencer on the highly vexed topic of boxing equipment. He has produced hundreds and hundreds of reviews of gloves and other gear, and his YouTube channel has thousands and thousands of subscribers. There is also a separate website designed to aid in navigating his extensive YouTube back catalogue. Fit2Box even has plans to introduce his own range of merchandise, starting with branded hand wraps.

Fit2Box aka Simon Higgins

But is Fit2Box really YouTube’s No.1 gear reviewer? It depends what Fit2Box means by “No.1”. If Fit2Box simply means that his channel has more subscribers than other gear review channels, then his claim to be “No.1” may well be true. There are more than 10K subscribers to the Fit2Box channel. As far as I can determine, Fit2Box’s main rivals on YouTube are csquared with 4.8K subscribers and ratethisgear with 3.44K. (The ExpertBoxing channel has a whopping 231K subscribers, but it’s mostly focused on training and fighting, with relatively few gear reviews.)

Quantity is not quality, however. If Fit2Box means that his channel provides better reviews than other gear review channels, then his claim to be “No.1” is both more interesting and more controversial. Let us consider what Fit2Box takes to be his own raison d’être:

I set up Fit2Box channel to help people make more informed decisions when buying their boxing equipment. Boxing is my passion and equipment is my area of expertise. My reviews are honest, unbiased and informative, to give my viewers my take on the best boxing equipment available, whatever your budget. I am totally independent and don’t receive any payment for any reviews, I do it for the love of the sport and to help people make the right choices for them.

This suggests that Fit2Box himself is deeply concerned with providing high quality reviews of boxing equipment. So that is how I shall understand his claim to be “No.1”. Is Fit2Box the best gear reviewer? Are his reviews of boxing equipment better than those of others? Should you base your gear purchases on his reviews? 

The short story is No, No, and No. In general, Fit2Box produces not reviews so much as uncritical, uninformative, and occasionally incoherent infomercials. If it were not for his amiable online persona, I would be tempted to say that Fit2Box intentionally designs his anodyne reviews to generate affiliate clicks and maintain a steady flow of free gear from the companies. But I won’t go that far. Fit2Box seems like a nice enough guy and I have no desire to impugn the man’s character.

What I will do is argue that Fit2Box is not fit to review. I shall do so by critiquing a selection of typical reviews. I must confess that I haven’t watched each and every review produced by Fit2Box. Not only are there hundreds and hundreds of them, but many are excruciatingly tedious (especially the “head-to-head” comparisons) and I’ve got better things to do with my life. Even so, I think I’ve watched enough of his reviews to put myself in a position to rationally identify problems with his general approach.

Let’s get into it.

Fit2Box is Unfit2Review

Everlast Powerlock Boxing Gloves 14oz Review

Fit2Box begins this review by distinguishing the Powerlocks from the cheap and nasty Everlast gloves sold in department stores. This distinction, while quite legitimate, serves as Fit2Box’s introduction of the central message his infomercial, that the Powerlocks are “top-end… top quality Everlast gloves”. Fit2Box then moves into an earnestly inane presentation of the branding Everlast has plastered all over the Powerlocks, taking the utmost care to point out the Powerlock logo on the thumb, the Powerlock logo on the grip bar, the “Choice of Champions” slogan and 14oz tag on the cuff, the Everlast and Powerlock logos on the wrist strap, and finally the big Everlast logo on the back.

A vague gesture is made toward something actually of interest to potential users of the Powerlocks when, pointing at the Powerlock logo on the thumb, Fit2Box tells us that “that is the Powerlock which is actually one of the design features.” But he immediately drops the ball and continues on with his tedious aesthetic rundown, leaving the nature and function of this key feature utterly unexplained. What is the Powerlock feature and what does it actually do? Fit2Box does nothing to clarify the mystery, probably because, like Everlast itself, he doesn’t know how.

The final half of the infomercial is a veritable encomium, in which Fit2Box heaps praise after praise upon the Powerlocks almost without end. He tells us that the Powerlocks are “a very nice top-end Everlast glove”, “an absolutely beautiful glove” which Everlast apparently “put out to challenge your Cleto Reyes, your Grants, and your Winnings”. (If this latter claim is true – and I highly doubt it given the existence of the MX line – then Everlast is even more delusional than Fit2Box.) Of course, there’s not the slightest mention in this infomercial of the complaints voiced by ordinary consumers in online gear forums about the irregular stitching, fragile padding, and other quality issues with the Powerlocks.

So what else is there for Fit2Box to do than “fully recommend” you buy them? 

Everlast Protex 3 Boxing Gloves Review


In this abysmal effort, Fit2Box stumbles along hopelessly for three-and-a-half minutes, propped up by little more than the adjective “nice”, which is his favourite linguistic crutch. He naturally begins by discussing one of the chief gimmicks of these gimmicky gloves, their velcro closure system. He enthuses over the “nice three parts to the velcro” on the cuff, telling us they’re something “which I really do like” but conspicuously failing to tell us why he likes them. And, in fact, there’s nothing at all to set those three small strips above or apart from the larger single strips standardly found on velcro gloves. 

Next, and apparently without realising it, Fit2Box proceeds to identify the obvious flaws of the gimmicky Protex3 velcro closure system. He observes first that the wrist strap is too short to be wrapped around your wrist for solid support, adding that, like the flimsy one on the Protex2s, it’s likely to split or tear off the glove if you pull it too hard. He then brings out the cuff sheaths and tells us that they “would make a nice fit that would cover over the velcro”. Despite the fact that the utility of the sheaths is as unclear as their inconvenience is clear, Fit2Box makes no attempt to explain why we should care about them.

As the review progresses, Fit2Box only clutches more desperately at the gimmicky straws put there for him by Everlast. He points out “a little rubbery part” on the thumb, telling us that “that’s EverGel”, but makes no attempt whatsoever to explain the nature and function of the mysterious substance. He then blurts out, as if by accident, that the Protex3s are “one of the better, more quality gloves that Everlast do”. This leads into one of the most pathetic moments in any of the Fit2Box infomercials. Desperate for something to justify his enthusiasm, Fit2Box suddenly tells us that “you’ve got there the EverCool, which is a feature of the glove, and you’ve got ‘Greatness is Within’ on there as well” – i.e. look! there’s some mesh and there’s a slogan. Wow.

In the end, things comes full circle as Fit2Box once more praises the “very nice three velcros there, which I think is a nice touch”, before concluding that Everlast has “obviously thought a lot about the look of the glove and they are a nice glove”. But I doubt whether even Everlast itself has thought as much about the look of these “nice gloves” as Fit2Box.

AquaBag as used by Canelo Alvarez Review


This is a perfect illustration of the total absence of critical acumen in many of Fit2Box’s reviews. The whole video is a kind of paean to the AquaBag, nearly four minutes of constant praise and admiration in which Fit2Box tells us, among other things, that AquaBags are “absolutely superb… absolutely brilliant” training devices, and he “would recommend an AquaBag to any gym or anyone”. 

There can be no mistaking the fact that this alleged review is really an infomercial. Text describing the sizes and prices of the various models of AquaBag appears throughout, ostensibly for our enlightenment. But the AquaBag company itself would be hard pressed to produce a more gushing, self-indulgent advertisement for its own products. Not without a blush, anyway.

Water bags are great. I agree with Fit2Box that they’re superb and brilliant training tools. As I have discussed in another post, however, AquaBags are simply marine buoys that you can buy for a fraction of the price from your local marine supply store or Amazon. The AquaBag company is perpetrating a marketing scam on the boxing community, and unthinking patsies like Fit2Box are enabling it.

RDX BGL-T9 Boxing Glove Review

Fit2Box goes right off the rails in this incoherent mess of a review. As usual he kicks things off with an aesthetic rundown. The tediousness gradually lulls you into a sort of living death, until Fit2Box points out that the wrist strap has “some nice badges on there as well to indicate the different features of the glove… on there it says RDX Giant Inside BGL-T9”. At that moment there is no knowing whether to laugh or cry at the inanity of it all; for my own part, I’m sure I was at least feeling something, and maybe even thinking too. I wasn’t dead.

And then the strangest thing happens, enough to jolt even me out of my sardonic musings. Fit2Box proceeds to actually criticise the T9s, as follows: 

As soon as I put these on I notice straight away that the thumb is a very short thumb, but also very compacted… so your thumb is actually sort of pushed in… which is not great comfortable wise… my thumb is right at the end there and it’s also being pushed in… the knuckle area and thumb are almost locked in position, so there’s no movement to open the hand… okay for the bag but not for sparring. I wouldn’t use these for sparring. There’s not enough hand movement in these for me to catch shots and that thumb is a little pressed in to the hand for me to use. They’re not as comfortable as a glove that I would want, very stiff, very tight in the fingers and thumb area and everything is sort of locked in place.

It’s unclear to me why Fit2Box would believe that uncomfortable, badly designed gloves are ok to use for bagwork but not for sparring. And I don’t believe he really does believe it. Perhaps he made the bagwork comment because he felt guilty about all the flood of deprecatory observations coming out of his mouth. However that may be, the gist of his criticism is obvious: the T9s are junk gloves, and you shouldn’t waste your money on them.

But being the amiable chap that he is, Fit2Box cannot bring himself to just say it. And as soon as he falls back into his default mode of anodyne positivity, he’s forced into the most absurd incoherence. For Fit2Box goes on to conclude that the T9s are “a decent pair of gloves for very little money”, “a bit of a steal really”, and “totally fit for purpose”. All of that, despite his having just demonstrated the exact opposite.

Velo Leather Boxing Gloves Review

Ok, one more. This one provides a good example of the aesthetic-functional-structural mishmash so common in Fit2Box’s reviews. It begins like a full-blown late night infomercial, complete with a host who is ostensibly astonished by the low price of the product he’s trying to sell. “Let me give you the price,” says Fit2Box, “and the price of these gloves is 29 pounds 99 pence. That’s right, that’s 29 pounds 99 pence… That is fantastic value for money”. 

Next Fit2Box turns to the gloves themselves. He refrains from indulging in one of his tedious aesthetic rundowns, choosing instead to focus on the functional and structural aspects of the Velos. This is commendable, at least while it lasts; but his attention is suddenly drawn to the stitching on the back/rear of the glove, which he sincerely informs us is “quite unusual… but it shows the attention to detail, and the fact that they have actually thought about what they’re doing with this glove. It shows effort, they’ve not just done sort of a stock glove, they’ve tried to put some design cues on there as well…” And so it goes. 

But what is the meaning of this drivel? Is Fit2Box making an aesthetic point? Or does he think that the stitching is functionally and/or structurally significant? Why does the stitching show that Velo has put thought into the glove? Why does it show effort? Does Fit2Box even know what he is saying and believe it? And why am I even asking such questions? It’s so much easier to just smile and nod along. After all, “at 29.99 these are fantastic value for money!”

Ugh.


What do you think about Fit2Box’s reviews? Let me know in the comments below!

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Analysis, Reviews, 30 comments
The bell tolls for New Sporting

The bell tolls for New Sporting

17 October 2019

We are gathered here today to bid good riddance to New Sporting, which in only a few short years rose from obscurity to become the world’s paradigmatic dodgy gear company.

The Mexican outfit has seemingly done everything possible to enrage and alienate a significant chunk of its customers. From obnoxious service to bad quality products, New Sporting has done it.

I put together the first summary of the emerging pathology of New Sporting in a post from May 2019 which asked, Is New Sporting a legitimate business?

That got me banned from commenting on the New Sporting Facebook page. Many others have reported similar attempts by New Sporting to ignore or suppress negative feedback about its service and quality.

Since then, the public criticisms of New Sporting have only intensified. And now the company may be about to pay the ultimate price for its egregious behaviour.

For if there is any justice in this world, there would seem to be no way for New Sporting to recover from the devastating critiques inflicted upon it by the YouTubers csquared and Ghost.

csquared: the rational recantation

Carlos, aka csquared, is a well-known and respected Youtube reviewer of boxing gear. He gave a glowing review of some New Sporting gloves in 2018, which did much to raise awareness of the company’s products and drive its popularity in the boxing community.

Carlos posted the above review in late September 2019 after a disappointed customer of New Sporting’s sent him a more recent pair of the company’s gloves to check out. Suffice it to say here that Carlos has resolutely repudiated his earlier verdict on New Sporting.

Carlos’ recantation is entirely reasonable. The YouTube comments on it provide the most compelling evidence yet of the authoritarian derangement of the people behind New Sporting: their immediate response was to threaten Carlos with a defamation action.

Ghost: the nail in the coffin

Ghost is a mysterious figure, more myth than man – but whoever or whatever he is, he has proved himself to be a genius of the Spanish-speaking boxing community with this remarkable debut work of audiovisual critique (complete with good English subtitles).

Ghost sets out the nature and history of New Sporting’s problems with clarity, force, and credibility. He has given us ordinary consumers the definitive verdict on this disgraceful company. If you still buy New Sporting after watching Ghost’s critique, then either you didn’t pay attention or you’re an idiot.

The lesson of it all is simple: avoid buying New Sporting. If you want Mexican-style gloves, get Cleto Reyes or one of the other established Mexican brands. Or get a pair of these.

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Analysis, Gear, 2 comments
Just whom did Ruiz shock?

Just whom did Ruiz shock?

18 June 2019

Not me.

But it seems almost everyone else was shocked by Andy Ruiz Jnr’s defeat of Anthony Joshua on 1 June this year at Madison Square Garden.

The Mexican-American went into the fight as a massive 25/1 (+2500) underdog. The bookies wrote him off. The media and its talking heads wrote him off. Other pro boxers wrote him off. The boxing establishment of trainers, promoters, and the rest, wrote him off. Joshua’s manager Eddie Hearn wrote him off. And Joshua himself obviously wrote Ruiz off. Ruiz was supposed to be just another stepping stone on Joshua’s high road to the unified heavyweight championship of the world. Hearn had it all worked out in his business plan.

Ruiz warned them beforehand, “Do not underestimate me.” The commentariat dismissed it as typical pre-fight hype, the kind of stuff pro boxers do all the time to promote their fights and encourage those beyond the hardcore fans to take an interest. Ruiz had a puncher’s chance, of course; but who doesn’t? There was no way that that fat, pasty, baby-faced, fringe contender could defeat the muscular, tall, handsome, undefeated champion. That only happens in the movies, not when serious businessmen like Hearn have millions of real dollars at stake.

In the media, Joshua was often compared to the truly great heavyweight champions of history such as Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson. Hearn had constructed an apparently invincible marketing exoskeleton and encased Joshua within it. Nothing from reality could get through, least of all rational observations based on Joshua’s underwhelming performances in key fights. There were hype-bombs exploding everywhere, decimating the ranks of the doubters and making them out to be more like lunatics.

So what were the lunatics thinking? I can answer that question because I was one of them.

AJ’s achievements

The mainstream comparisons of Joshua with the truly great heavyweight champions of history like Ali and Tyson have always been absurd.

Joshua was 27 with a 15-0-0 record when he defeated the mediocre and obscure Charles Martin for his first major title, the IBF belt. He was 28 with an 18-0-0 record when he added the WBA and IBO belts by defeating Wladimir Klitschko. At 29, with a 20-0-0 record, he beat Joseph Parker for the WBO belt.

Joshua celebrating after his extraordinary victory over the feared Charles Martin. Oh, hang on…

Ali was only 22 with a 19-0-0 record when he defeated the legendary monster Sonny Liston for the undisputed heavyweight championship. His spectacular footwork, speed, and jab made Liston look like a rheumatic gorilla. Ali was certainly prone to exaggeration, but he was not exaggerating after this fight as he ran around the ring shouting, “I shook up the world!”

Our whimpy ancestors were terrified of this midget. Just imagine if they’d seen Joshua…

Tyson, at 20, was even younger than Ali when he defeated Trevor Berbick for the WBC belt, and his record was better, too: 27-0-0 with 25 of his wins coming by way of knock out, many of which were terrifying displays of pure boxing talent. He was only 21 with a 30-0-0 record when he beat Tony Tucker to become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world.

Ruiz’s victory has presumably put the nail in the coffin of the mainstream comparisons of Joshua with the likes of Ali and Tyson. Joshua was 29 years old with a record of 22-0-0 heading into his bout with Ruiz. He was knocked down four times by Ruiz and lost by TKO in the seventh round.

Ali was knocked down four times in his entire career. He was first dropped by Sonny Banks (1962), followed by Henry Cooper (1963), Joe Frazier (1971), and Chuck Wepner (1975). Ali went on to convincingly defeat Banks, Cooper, and Wepner by TKO despite the knock downs. Ali lost the 15 round “Fight of the Century” by unanimous decision to Frazier, but there’s hardly any shame in that! The only time Ali lost by TKO was in the penultimate fight of his extraordinary career, the immoral farce with Larry Holmes. Even then, Ali wasn’t knocked down once despite probably suffering from the early stages of Parkinson’s disease.

Tyson’s first loss by knockout was his first loss simpliciter. Heading into the extraordinary fight with Buster Douglas, Tyson was only 23 years old but his record was already 37-0-0 and full of knockouts. He had already established himself as a truly great heavyweight and it’s not surprising that Douglas was the 45-1 underdog. Tyson was most probably at or near his prime going into the fight, despite the myths about his training and condition promulgated by Tyson sympathisers afterwards. That’s why Douglas’s victory is one of the biggest upsets in the history of boxing and professional sports in general.

Ali and Tyson were phenomena. Joshua is not. Almost everyone now is comparing Ruiz’s victory over Joshua with Douglas’s victory over Tyson. But there is no comparison. The commentariat is simply trying to reassure itself that it was – and in a way still is – right about Joshua. There wouldn’t be so much self-serving nonsense in the boxing news today if the commentariat would pay less attention to Hearn and more attention to reality.

AJ’s performances

That’s because the reality is that Joshua has never delivered a truly compelling performance in a world championship fight against a serious opponent. He hasn’t dominated a title fight in the way Ali and Tyson dominated many of their title fights. Ali and Tyson often seemed invincible; Joshua, on the other hand, has always seemed vulnerable and beatable from the opening bell.

This could not have been more obvious than in what I take to be his three most significant title fights.

Joshua vs Klitschko – 29 April 2017

This victory against the great Ukrainian champion is widely regarded as Joshua’s most impressive achievement so far. The fight itself was really entertaining; there can be no doubt about that. The spectacularly devastating uppercut and flurry with which Joshua finished off Klitschko in the eleventh round is justly famous and merits its inclusion in the myriad of All-Time Greatest KO videos on YouTube.

But that uppercut doesn’t prove much about Joshua, and neither does the fight itself. Indeed, the fight proves more about Klitschko than Joshua.

Joshua was only 27 and had fought three times in 2016. Klitschko, on the other hand, was 41 and hadn’t fought at all since late 2015. He was fit, of course, but 41 human years is verging on geriatric in boxing years. Even so, the great Ukranian knocked Joshua down in the sixth round and for a long time this fight really could’ve gone either way. That’s partly why it was so entertaining.

“Right, that does it! From this day forward, no old man who was born in the former USSR shall be safe from me”

In the end, a much younger and more active boxer knocked out a elderly Soviet gentleman. Big deal. All credit, in my opinion, must go to Klitschko for almost going the distance with such an opponent at his time of life.

Joshua vs Parker – 31 March 2018

At a glance, this fight was as boring as Joshua’s fight against Klitschko was entertaining. But upon closer inspection it yields several interesting observations about Joshua’s defects as a boxer.

Joshua’s performance was dismal. He sat lazily on the jab for most of the fight, desperately using his reach advantage to keep Parker from getting inside and working on the body. This strategy ultimately paid off only because the referee, Giuseppe Quartarone, continually intervened and separated them. Parker was actually very effective when he managed to close the distance, but then the referee would separate them, allowing Joshua to go to work again with the jab.

“Joseph, how many times do I have tell you? Stop punching Anthony right now!”

The fight very clearly demonstrated that Joshua has problems dealing with strong and short world-class fighters on the inside. He flails his arms about, stumbles backwards, and fails to counterpunch effectively, if at all. Parker is a good boxer who had previously defeated Ruiz in a tight contest. He forced Joshua to go the distance for the first time, and things may well have turned out otherwise had a more competent and professional referee been running the show.

Joshua vs Povetkin – 22 September 2018

This was Joshua’s second victory over an elderly Soviet gentleman. Povetkin was still amazingly potent at the age of 39, having just come off a brutal knockout victory over the younger David Price. But the advantages of youth, height, weight, and reach were all on Joshua’s side.

Joshua was plainly vulnerable in the early rounds. Povetkin knew he had to work his way through Joshua’s jab to get inside, and that’s what he did. In the very first round, Povetkin overcame Joshua’s huge reach advantage and delivered a massive blow that probably broke Joshua’s nose and definitely showed that Povetkin was there to fight.

“What? My nose? Oh it’s nothing, doesn’t hurt at all…”

Of course, the 39-year-old Povetkin knew he had to get the job done early if he was going to get it done at all. The 28-year-old Joshua survived Povetkin’s assault, and gradually took control as the old man faded, knocking him out in the seventh round. Not content with bashing another elderly Soviet gentleman, Joshua afterwards denied that Povetkin’s massive blow in the first round had hurt him. If anything in boxing has shocked the world, that furphy sure did.

The blueprint for defeating AJ

Klitschko clearly demonstrated that, despite his youth, muscles, height, and weight, Joshua was vulnerable and beatable. Parker and Povetkin then set out the blueprint for a strong, shorter fighter to actually defeat him.

If you can close distance on Joshua and pressure him hard on the inside, he will freak out, and then you can knock him out.

Step 1: work your way inside past his jab
Step 2: apply pressure and freak him out
Step 3: knock him out

That blueprint has been sitting there under everyone’s eyes for years. The bookies didn’t see it. The media didn’t see it. The boxing establishment didn’t see it. Hearn didn’t see it. Joshua didn’t see it.

The only ones who saw it were Ruiz and the lunatics. And it’s doubtful whether, now that he has seen it also, Joshua has what it takes to do anything about it.

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Analysis, 0 comments
Is New Sporting a legitimate business?

Is New Sporting a legitimate business?

24 May 2019

The answer to that question is “Yes”.

But now that I have your attention, let’s consider what we ordinary consumers of boxing gloves should make of New Sporting.

New Sporting is a Mexican company producing Mexican-style gloves in its own factory somewhere in Mexico. It offers a wide range of customisation options. The company seems to be a relative newcomer to the gear market. Its Facebook page was started in 2016. And as far as I can tell it’s only very recently that New Sporting has begun attracting significant attention in the boxing community outside of Mexico. But, to be honest, New Sporting could’ve been founded a century ago for all I really know.

I first came across New Sporting in late 2018 while perusing Sherdog when I should’ve being doing something with my life. The company was boldly hypothesised to be the mysterious Mexican manufacturer contracted by Grant to produce its absurdly expensive gloves. At the time, this hypothesis carried some credence with several of the forum speculators, mostly owing to the apparently identical form and quality of certain New Sporting and Grant gloves.

I have no idea whether that hypothesis is true or whether anyone still believes it. Given that New Sporting gloves cost a fraction of the price of Grant gloves, it may well have been nothing more than desperate wishful thinking from a small group of deranged gear junkies in withdrawal. In any event, as sadly interesting as the Grant question might be, it’s not what I intend to address in this post. (But, in all seriousness, who actually does make Grant gloves? And why is it so bloody hard to find out the truth?)

A more answerable question is whether New Sporting merits your custom. And, in my opinion, the answer is clearly “No” – assuming you don’t live in Mexico. The evidence coming through in online forums like Sherdog is overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, negative for people outside of Mexico. In a nutshell, New Sporting tends to combine obnoxious customer service with unreliable quality control, which is quite the opposite of what you want from a gear company (or from any company). They are also known to delete negative comments from their Facebook page.

So New Sporting is a legitimate producer of Mexican gloves, but it’s a bit dodgy in its dealings with people residing in other countries. If you’re in Mexico, then by most accounts you should be ok; but if you live anywhere else, there’s a very high risk you’ll have a bad experience, regardless of whether you know Spanish or not. More specifically, NewSporting seems pretty likely to either insult you, lie to you, mislead you, ignore you, delay shipping your order, or even all of those things, over a period of several months.

Users of on the Sherdog equipment forum report that the way in which New Sporting manages delays is particularly appalling. The delays are frequent and compounded by New Sporting’s strange habit of making false promises about shipping dates. The user HandNoise, for example, ordered gloves on 13 December 2018 and didn’t receive them until 14 March 2019, three months later. The user nolandvd ordered gloves in November 2018 and cancelled the order six months later on 24 April 2018, eventually receiving a PayPal refund on 23 May 2019. And the users Lotnik and Rabel Aracena report that they had to wait four months for their gloves to be finally delivered. They were all given false promises of delivery.

But I don’t want to deprive the maligned and mistreated consumers of New Sporting of their voice. They can speak for the themselves.

Customer service

SMSYL

“I live in Spain so obviously language shouldn’t be a problem… but sometimes I’m like WTF…”

“Yesterday they posted on Facebook saying they had finished loads of orders so expect photos within a few hours… Nothing.”

“I won’t be buying there again. Not as much for the delay as the poor service.”

“I asked for 16oz and was told they’d weigh nearly 18oz. So I asked about 14oz and was told they’d come in at 17oz. Say what?!”

“I need to deal with someone else at New Sporting if possible cos I’m sick of the lies and alibis.”

“I’ve had to report New Sporting to PayPal for just ignoring me… The second I did this, the woman started messaging me on Facebook. Obviously, she was rude as hell, sarcastically thanking me for going to paypal and saying gloves aren’t like tacos… This was all by voice message by the way so u could hear her utter fury and overcompensating arrogance. She even managed to attack Spain in the process, apparently we (I’m not Spanish) are impatient people. I ordered on November 21st 2018… Seriously.”

HandNoise

“Spanish is my first language and let me tell you it was as hard as hell to make this order… Probably never buying from them again even if the gloves are magical… Communication is dogshit.”

“These people are Crooks! They’ve left me with bad taste, lost me as a client and no more ‘Shit Sporting’ for me…”

“I was given 38 days to receive mine, I got them 99 days later. And because I finally asked a second time and the guy said his wife had shipped them and was going to get me the tracking number. Bullshit he shipped the next day and the date was on the picture of the receipt.”

“Each time I asked something… they would update me with false info and a picture to keep me happy except the lie was exposed in their pics. It’s pretty infantile and ridiculous. Sends me a pic of one glove finished ‘your gloves are done and in storage waiting to be shipped’ wait there’s only one done and a whole sheet of leather in the same color of my glove under the glove you just send me. Are they really done or you just felt like snapping a pic of one glove and that whole sheet of leather in the pic is irrelevant? 3 weeks later I get a pic with the pair of gloves reminding me they’re done again. I guess the gloves just wanted to cool out for a little bit before making the trip to me…?”

oldboatnectar

“It’s been a long road. Gloves were promised to be sent on 1st of march with 1 day delivery. As of today [25 March] I haven’t received them. Lots of excuses in between. I’m very tired and just want what I paid for.”

nolandvd

“I wish I’d seen this thread before I ordered some NS in November. All of the stories above about excuses and evasions happened to me too… worst customer service imaginable.”

“So last week when they finally got back to me, and I said that I had already began the process of getting my money back with Paypal, the guy I was instagram-chatting with said I didn’t need to do that, he’d sort a refund for me. He then asked for my details (again), and promptly disappeared. Luckily the Paypal process will come through… It seems NS approach everything to do with customer service in the same shitty, lax manner. It’s so awful, it is quite funny. But I want my money back, mainly so I can buy other gloves from a more reputable site…”

“Final word on my New Sporting saga: Got my refund via Paypal this morning. New Sporting refused to supply any information, so Paypal decided in my favour.”

Rabel Aracena

“I purchased gloves from New Sporting back in January. I just received my gloves today [23 April]. Overall, this was a horrible experience as I constantly had to message about my gloves for months. They didn’t get shipped out from Mexico until I took it up with Paypal and that’s when they FINALLY got the sent out. Do yourself a favor, AVOID THIS COMPANY! Do not do business with them.”

Lotnik

“I had the same story with NS. I took almost 4 months to get it delivered, and I heard a lot of promises that they are almost ready.”

Quality control

Handnoise

“I ordered a custom 16oz and 12oz. The 12oz is useless. It’s so tight and small inside, the hand compartment is more for like a 8 year old. Hard as a cast to the point it hurts making a fist. Both gloves squeeze the shit out of my thumbs and gets worst over time, specially the left one as it’s design is different to it’s matching pair with a slightly higher thumb and puts my left hand in a painful unnatural fist when I squeeze and punch my other hand. I feel discomfort on the joint around my trapezium and scaphoid bones right under the thumb. Some black marks around the leather and sloppy stitching and craftsmanship. It was the last pair made and seemed to be rushed.”

Rabel Aracena

“…they look horrible. Dirty. The white leather is dirty and I can’t take out the stains. Seems permanent. It’s white with greyish spots all around with some red stains here and there. The gloves all around are dirty and have a few pen marks on them. The materials and the gloves made from are not that great either. Expected better honestly.”

Lotnik

“I found one quality issue with them, the latex inside sticks out from the lining.”

Exposed linining inside Lotnik’s brand new New Sporting gloves

‘Nuff said. If you want a pair of Mexican gloves, avoid buying from New Sporting. There are better Mexican glove companies out there.

Have you bought gloves from New Sporting? If so, let me know about your experience in the comments below!

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Analysis, Gear, 0 comments
What are the worst boxing gear review sites?

What are the worst boxing gear review sites?

17 May 2019

The first question asked by most newcomers to the sport of boxing is probably this one:

What gloves should I buy?

More generally, newcomers need to determine what gear (gloves, hand wraps, mouth guard, head gear, groin protector, footwear, heavy bag, and so on) is best for them given their goals as boxers and their budget.

The question of gear, of course, also arises for everyone else who participates in the sport. Gloves and other kinds of gear deteriorate with use and eventually require replacement. It may not always be a good idea to just buy the same gear you had before.

For one thing, your old gear might have been inadequate for your goals or overly expensive given its quality and performance. Furthermore, new models and ranges of gear are released annually, typically accompanied by claims of “improvements” and “new features” and “innovations”. Such claims are for the most part marketing bunkum, but you still might be better served by replacing your old gear with something different, even if your old gear was adequate and well-priced.

And let’s not forget that variety, as the saying goes, is the spice of life. Trying a different brand or model of glove might reinvigorate your training and inspire you to get out of a rut. Or if your training is going along well enough, trying something different might drive you to work even harder and move up a level. Or it might do none of those things; but in that case you’ll at least have cool new gear to show off in the gym or in front of the mirror.

It’s only natural for newcomers and indeed anyone wanting to buy new gear to seek out other people’s advice and opinions. The most common source of advice is probably still viva voce, that is, good ol’ fashioned word of mouth. You can ask your coach or another boxer at your gym or your goldfish what they think you should buy. This might yield all the information you need to make a decision.

“What gloves should you buy? Winning, man… Buy Winning.”

Nowadays, though, many people seem to either go straight to Google or supplement their goldfish’s advice with Google. That is really the crucial moment in gear hunting, especially for newcomers. For it is then that the risk of falling into a foul mire of unjustified claims, misleading information, and outright lies is at its greatest. Milliseconds after you submit your search query about the best gloves or whatever it is you want to buy, Google will deliver up for your delectation buckets and buckets of excrement. Many an innocent newcomer is guaranteed to step directly into one or more of these buckets, never knowing what they’ve done until they turn up at the gym with Everlast Pro Styles and their coach promptly recommends or even demands that they buy a new pair of gloves.

So how do you avoid doing that?

A general method of evaluation

I’ve read through lots and lots of reviews on lots of lots of gear review sites. I will confess that I don’t enjoy doing it. It’s tedious and time-consuming and sometimes torturous. But this masochistic predilection or procrastination technique or whatever it is has enabled me to develop an efficient and reliable method of evaluation for identifying execrable gear review sites.

My method assumes, first, that the quality of a site’s glove reviews is representative of the quality of the site’s gear reviews in general. This seems like a reasonable assumption to me because gloves are the most important items of gear for boxers to own and many reviewers do tend to devote lots of their time and effort to reviewing them.

My method also depends on the presence of a ranking of what the review site judges to be the top 5 or 10 or however many “best gloves”. These rankings are sometimes simply entitled “the best gloves”, but more often they are entitled “the best gloves of 20XX” or something like that, where the appearance of up-to-dateness is frequently nothing but a pretext for recycling old content.

The vast majority of gear review sites have best glove rankings. In the unlikely event a gear review site has no such explicit ranking, you could still apply my method by reading through the site and manually compiling one on the basis of the site’s stand-alone reviews. Life, however, is rather short, so I would advise doing almost anything else than that with your time.

Application of my method involves evaluating a gear review site’s ranking of the best gloves against the following three criteria, which should be applied in order.

1. Everlast Pro Styles

Bad gloves are characterised by poor quality and poor performance. The paradigmatic bad glove is the Pro Style model put out by Everlast. This is something I take to be uncontroversial, at least among those who know anything about gloves.

The worst gloves in the world

The badness of bad gloves is often compounded by their price. That is certainly the case with Pro Styles. The quality-and-performance to price ratio of Pro Styles is utterly appalling. They are truly what Johnny over at ExpertBoxing calls “overpriced junk”.

If a gear review site has Pro Styles in its ranking of the best gloves, then you should with the utmost urgency close the site in your browser and cleanse your mind of anything you may have read there. So this first criterion is very useful because, unlike the other two criteria below, it’s binary and it’s decisive. Although there is technically no need to apply any additional criteria to a gear review site with Pro Styles in its ranking of the best gloves, you may wish to do so anyway if like me you feel weirdly compelled to go sifting around in the muck.

2. Marketing bunkum

Many gear review sites are online businesses facing the same pressures as other online businesses. It’s all about generating web traffic. Gear review sites need to produce new content on a regular basis in order to maintain the interest of existing users as well as to attract new users.

But it’s hard to produce truly original content about anything on a regular basis. This is especially so if the topic about which you’re writing is something as old, mundane, and widely-discussed as boxing equipment. It’s much easier to either directly copy what’s already out there or slightly paraphrase it.

The marketing bunkum of the gear companies is of course the most convenient source of ready-made content for gear review sites. Parroting this bunkum suggests two things: first, the reviewer has never actually used the gear, and second, the reviewer is more interested in convincing you to buy the gear than in genuinely reviewing it. A genuine review will exhibit the personality or voice of the reviewer. There should be little or none of the generic, dead language of the marketers.

3. Affiliate links

An affiliate link on a gear review site is a hyperlink which takes you to a retailer’s site where you can buy the gear under review and in doing so earn the gear review site a small referral commission. The most common affiliate links on gear review sites are Amazon ones.

The mere existence of affiliate links on a gear review site is not problematic. It’s more about the way in which they are used. A genuine review might contain a discreet affiliate link here or there, but the reviewer will mostly likely disclosure it and say something to reassure you about the impartiality of the review. And marketing bunkum will be conspicuously absent.

The use of affiliate links becomes problematic when they are plastered all over a gear review site. It becomes very seriously problematic when they are combined with marketing bunkum. The existence of this unholy alliance on a gear review site is pretty much conclusive evidence that the site’s highest priority is to make money by getting you to buy something from Amazon or another online retailer.

Worst gear review sites

My method, as I said, is efficient and reliable. The worst gear review sites tend to be immediately identified by application of the Everlast Pro Style criterion. And I personally have never had my method return a false positive. Every time I’ve used my method to evaluate a gear review site, it has has either correctly identified the site as execrable or left the matter open for further consideration. So let’s turn at last to the buckets of excrement themselves. I shall limit myself to identifying only five of the worst gear review sites, as it’s psychologically taxing work and five is about all I can handle at the moment.

Gearhungry: 15 Best Boxing Gloves in 2019

This is among the worst of the worst gear review sites. Gearhungry introduces its ranking of the best gloves by telling us that it has “discovered the top fifteen boxing gloves, coveted around the globe”. It then ranks Everlast Pro Styles as the best gloves at number 1, well ahead of obviously superior gloves from Fairtex (4), Cleto Reyes (5), Twins (7), and Winning (9). The implication that Pro Styles are coveted around the globe is unjustified and unjustifiable nonsense, but the claim that they are the number 1 gloves in the world goes beyond absurdity. Marketing bunkum and Amazon affiliate links are everywhere here. Gearhungry tells us that Everlast provides “a serious dynamic of value” and “is a boxing glove brand that can’t be ignored when it comes to quality”. Its praise of Pro Styles is worthy of Monty Python. They are commended for their “long-term lifespan”, “ThumbLok technology, which is designed to cut down on the variables of thumb damage and general breaks in your hands”, and the wrist padding “designed to improve your form and technique, giving you more control over your stance and power”. Gearhungry’s only redeeming quality is that it does make the occasional criticism; otherwise, it’s rubbish.

Ezvid: The 10 Best Boxing Gloves

A strong candidate for the worst of the worst gear review sites. You might think that the best way to review a pair of gloves would be to spend weeks subjecting them to the tribunal of experience in the gym. Well, you must be a fool according to Ezvid, which tells us it only “spent 24 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices”. The upshot is a ranking with Pro Styles at 10, just behind Cleto Reyes (9), and Pro Style Women’s mysteriously ahead of both (8). Absurdly, Hayabusa T3s come in at number 1, while Winning and most other top brands are not included in the ranking at all. The reviews are pure marketing bunkum, comprising uninformative, even meaningless attempts at description, with not a hint of criticism anywhere; but of course there are Amazon and eBay affiliate links all over the place.

FightingReport: Best Boxing Gloves Reviewed and Rated

Yet another good candidate for the worst of the worst of gear review sites. FightingReport’s ranking of the top 10 gloves has Everlast Pro Styles at number 5. Its review of them is pretty much devoid of genuine content, as are all the other reviews of gloves on the list. They are strange little compositions, written in a kind of dreamy, inoffensive, and empty variant of marketing bunkum. The best way I can think of to describe them is that it’s as if they were written for very young children or perhaps adults with learning disabilities. It’s all packaged up with Amazon affiliate links, of course. The affiliate links are not overly obtrusive, but there’s no doubt what the FightingReport has been primarily set up to do.

Best of Boxing Gloves: The Best Boxing Gloves

At first glance, this gear review site’s lack of design sophistication may lend it a vague hint of authenticity, like it could be the endearing side-project of an honest and well-meaning schoolkid somewhere in suburbia. But it’s purely an Amazon conduit. The site lists ten gloves on its homepage along with scores out of five which would determine a ranking if anyone could be bothered compiling it. Everlast Pro Styles (only the women’s version for some reason) are on the list. The site gives them the ludicrous score of 4.4 / 5. The site’s review tells us that Pro Styles are made with “the same standards and technology that can be found in the same high-quality vein of other Everlast models”, and declares that the Pro Style model “is a triumph in both functionality and aesthetic.” After that Pythonesque overview, it then presents a very long list of the model’s features which, I suspect (but am too lazy to confirm), has been directly copied-and-pasted from Everlast’s marketing material. In general, this site’s use of marketing bunkum together with affiliate links is an egregious affront to the human mind, the kind that makes you wonder whether there is any hope for the future of human civilisation.

The MMA Guru: Best Boxing Gloves – Ultimate Buyer’s Guide 2019

It’s unclear why the guy behind this gear review site believes he’s entitled to the venerable title of “guru”. For although MMA Guru may not be among the worst of the worst gear review sites, it’s still one of the worst. MMA Guru presents several rankings, each one of which targets a certain experience level (e.g. beginner) or function (e.g. sparring). This is commendable, but although it gives the appearance of critical discrimination, the appearance is misleading. MMA Guru is really just another conduit to Amazon. Its ranking of the top 5 gloves for beginners includes Everlast Pro Styles at number 4. They are absurdly introduced as “everything you look for in a pair of boxing gloves for beginners”. The MMA Guru tells us he “personally love[s] these boxing gloves for beginners because they’re lightweight and fully padded” and “insane value”. But the weight and padding of Pro Styles is wholly unremarkable and certainly does not distinguish them from any other low quality gloves on the market. And the fact that they cost less than many other gloves does not necessarily make them better for beginners. This is a classic case of the beginner gear fallacy in gear reviewing: the false idea that cheaper is better for beginners. (If anything, in a relatively injury-prone sport like boxing, most beginners should consider starting with mid-range gear, not trash like Pro Styles.) More generally, the MMA Guru’s rankings overflow with the kind of anodyne marketing bunkum which makes you wonder whether any advice is being given at all; that is, anything other than “buy a glove via an affiliate link”. Not even the relatively unobtrusive affiliate links can disguise the true purpose of the MMA Guru.

Ok, that’s it from me.

Applied my method yourself? You need to get a life. In the meantime, let me know the results below!

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Analysis, Gear, Reviews, 0 comments
Why be sceptical about boxing?

Why be sceptical about boxing?

14 May 2019

I love boxing. In my opinion, it’s not only the most exciting and challenging of all sports, it’s also one of the best ways to instill the virtues of commitment, discipline, and self-respect in young and old alike. The mindset necessary for a boxer to overcome the struggles of training and fighting resonates strongly with many people facing the struggles of daily life. Day in, day out, boxers grind away in the gym and ring with the hope of eventually achieving something great and meaningful… just like the rest of us do in our families, workplaces, and communities.

Boxing is both a science and an art. As a science, it’s the study of how to most efficiently and effectively use your fists to strike another person. As an art, it’s a mode of expressing the strange beauty of human combat. This unity of science and art in a single sporting endeavour is why boxing is traditionally known as “the sweet science”. Or, at least, I am willing to speculate that that’s the reason. The greatest boxers, like Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali, have always expressed themselves artistically inside the ring just as must as they have applied a technique to defeat their opponents.

So boxing in and of itself is wonderful. I don’t have any doubts about that.

The world of boxing, however, is another matter altogether. I use the phrase “the world of boxing” to mean the colossal admixture of products, individuals, organisations, corporations, and socio-cultural practices which constitute what people generally have in mind when they think and talk about the sport of boxing. This is the world of gloves, hand wraps, mouth guards, punching bags, skipping ropes, trainers, gyms, diets, referees, judges, promoters, commentators, journalists, broadcasters, governing and sanctioning bodies, equipment manufacturers and brands, marketing and advertising, and so on. It’s all this stuff that more often than not fills me with doubts.

Don King with rocket launcher
If you wouldn’t trust this man, then you should be sceptical about boxing

In point of fact, the world of boxing is profoundly and chronically beset by unjustified assertions, misleading information, outright lies, deception, and corruption. Any intelligent and reasonable person who enters this world and stays in it for a while – whether as a boxer, a trainer, an official, or simply a fan – will eventually, if not immediately, come to harbour a few serious doubts about it. I don’t know whether the world of boxing is worse than the worlds of other sports. Perhaps it isn’t. But even if that’s so, it’s still often a bizarre place inhabited by bizarre people saying and doing bizarre things.

A good example is the question of gloves.

Which gloves should I buy? This seemingly innocent interrogative, which must have been uttered or at least thought by almost every newcomer to the sport, is a vexed and perennial subject of debate among boxing aficionados, and drives an industry predominantly founded on appearances, celebrity, and pseudo-science. Advertisements for gloves are veritable farragos of meaningless technical terms, phony jargon, baseless assertions, and functionally irrelevant aesthetics. Many product reviews simply parrot this marketing bunkum and then encourage you to click on an Amazon Affiliate hyperlink. The key objective properties determining the performance of gloves are generally, if not always, glossed over or ignored. This is probably because no one really knows what gloves instantiate what properties, not even the companies who produce and/or market them. And, of course, almost everyone these days is trying to sell you something. So it is that absurd marketing campaigns and product reviews proliferate around the world of boxing like contagious diseases.

I intend ScepticalBoxer to be the home of sceptical commentary (i.e. news, reviews, thoughts, and reflections) on the world of boxing. I am an active boxer myself and I also train others to box. But I didn’t get involved in boxing until my early thirties and I’ve had relatively little formal instruction under a qualified trainer. I’m now in my late thirties and mostly self-taught. By the standards of boxing, I’m what you might call an elderly novice.

In the true spirit of ScepticalBoxer, therefore, I recommend that you treat my sceptical commentary with the same scepticism I recommend you treat everything else in the world of boxing.

Posted by ScepticalBoxer in Analysis, 0 comments