By Terence Dooley
One of the first things David Haye and Adam Booth did when creating Hayemaker Promotions was to pick up the phone and call Sheffield’s David Coldwell to offer him their ‘Head Of Boxing’ role.
A true aficionado, Coldwell loves the sport with a passion, taking up managerial, promotional, coaching, writing and photographer roles in order to stamp his mark on the game. He used to be a fighter an’ all. Only the dictates of reason have stopped him from jumping into the ring and carrying the round signs in major fights such is his immersion in the business end of the noble art.
Coldwell is currently working with Ryan Rhodes in Mexico ahead of Ryan’s WBC light-middleweight title challenge to Saul Alvarez on Saturday night. Rhodes has been written off in some quarters, music to the hears of Coldwell, who read the same things ahead of George Groves’s victory over James DeGale at London’s O2 Arena last month.
David’s faith in Groves never waivered, nor has his belief in Ryan, the former flyweight is currently riding the crest of a wave going into the biggest night of his coaching career. He has taken a lot of heart from George’s recent result.
“Fantastic, it was so good,” enthused Coldwell when recalling George’s majority decision win. “Everyone was confident and on top of the world going into the fight. George was so relaxed. As the fight got nearer he got calmer. That is why I couldn’t understand some people saying he looked like he had lost it at the weigh in. We looked at those comments and thought, ‘What are you talking about?’
“We all knew that George would be George. We were one hundred percent confident. It was the most relaxed I’ve been going to a fight. I’m normally crapping it. I remember Ryan Rhodes against Jamie Moore, no one gave him a chance but I was so relaxed going in – I knew Ryan was going to win.”
The wait for the decision and the announcement itself were as entertaining as the fight. Adam Booth chucked an obscene hand gesture at Jimmy McDonnell, McDonnell appeared to receive word that James had won it and passed the message onto his man, James falsely celebrated when Jimmy Lennon Junior said “and still undefeated” before realizing that this phrase applied to both boxers, then the result came in and everyone went a little bit bonkers for a few hours. Stirring stuff.
“We were all in the ring looking like winners,” recalled Coldwell. “We thought we’d won the fight and if you look at it back then you see that. Look at James’s eyes and the eyes of his people. They never thought they’d won the fight.
“Then you hear that it is a majority decision and think, ‘Oh my God’. That was a little bit nerve-racking but then he announced George and it was pure bedlam. We all dived on top of him. It was a high-pressure fight. As I say, it was just like Ryan’s fight with Jamie – and that was hard because Jamie is the nicest kid you could meet – so you feel great when it comes off. We had a really good night, were so happy and George has got an aura around him where he does well for himself and is happy. That grows on you.”
DeGale has receieved an inordinate amount of criticism since the defeat. A stinking big pile of schadenfreude has tumbled forth. Coldwell, though, believes that George’s meticulous preparation cut through the name-calling and bitterness.
“I’ve got to say that James was never once written off by us or George. George said many times that James is a good fighter – he just felt that he has the beating of him. James is very good, very talented and I said beforehand that whoever gets beat will still come back and win titles down the line,” opined Dave, although he did have a few words of warning for ‘Chunky’.
“There is no shame in losing this. I liken it to Nigel Ben against Chris Eubank because Benn went away and rebuilt. James has got to be realistic because you can’t work on a defeat unless you accept it. You can’t correct mistakes unless you recognise them. For a fighter to improve you have to acknowledge that you have to be better. I don’t know if James has done that.
“But he’ll come back to be a champion, no doubt about it. To be honest, the whole charade that was DeGale and [Jim] McDonnell before the fight needs to stop because it wasn’t right the way they carried on.
“You know when you’ve got bullies at school? They have to be in a crowd to be geed up and it was like that. It was really childish. If you go into a fight only focusing on a man’s weaknesses, which is what they did, then you make mistakes. James thought he was Mr. Technical who just had to turn up to win. If you do that going for a title then you have problems.
“James can dust himself down, become a bit more humble and realistic, and he will come back a better person and fighter. If not, someone else will come and beat him down the line.”
Common consensus pegged George as the brawler, James as the mercurial talent only for George to show his own boxing brain. Coldwell puts this down to ‘Saint’ George’s innate work ethic. Saying, “The nice thing about boxing is that sometimes the guys who work hard can beat the guys who are naturally talented.”
“George has talent and works hard. He is naturally adept but works at it. Fighters who are naturally talented can sometimes not put in as much effort in the gym. I think James can play his cards right and come back better from this.”
“He should ditch the cheerleaders, he needs to have some realistic people around him because this is a really hard game. It is not about who is the most talented, there is so much more to it. He needs people who are grounded.”
Moving on, it is clear to this writer that Wlad Klitschko is a huge Bob Monkhouse fan because his ‘magic hand’ gesture is exactly the same as the hand gesture Bob used when delivering his brilliantly observed gags. Wlad, however, has not been able to get his magic hand on Bob’s joke book, clearly. Demands that Haye “Shake the magic hand” have left Team Haye unmoved ahead of the July 2nd showdown.
“What is that?” laughed Coldwell to my question of whether Haye will ever shake the enchanted fist. “Have you seen the state of him doing his ‘magic hand’? He looks weird. I think he is trying to be funny but it is a bit strange. Waving the ‘magic hand’ in front of the camera – what is that all about?
“David will shake hands when he gets to the centre of ring but you won’t be seeing the magic hand, you’ll be seeing David’s magic hands. David is David. He mouthed off to get the fight, then it got signed and he was only interested in training.
“David talks when he needs to, trains when he needs to. I’ve seen him train, seen him spar, we’ve got the ‘Dark Lord’ [Adam Booth] putting the emphasis on the strategy for the fight. We’re in a good place right now. I am excited.
“Wlad is in for a rocky night, he really is. Listen, we’re not underestimating Wladimir, he has some very, very good attributes. People look at his chin but anyone can get blown away. He is very good. We’re on a mission. I can’t see it going past five rounds. David has the edge now. I am privileged to be involved in fights like this. George, Ryan and David. The hat trick is on.”
Should he lose, Wlad will probably be best advised not to wave the ‘magic hand’ in Booth’s direction, he may cop a rude hand gesture in return. Joking aside, Coldwell believes that Booth is finally getting the recognition he deserves, telling me that he has learned a lot from British boxing’s own cerebral assassin.
“Working with Adam is great. I’ve learned a lot working with Adam. We have similar sort of styles and I’ve learned a great deal on both sides of the game, boxing and business, from Adam,” he smiled.
As for Rhodes, the ‘Spice Boy’ is a win away from glory. Sure, he may be a bit older, even a bit creaky, but the man can whack, he is a natural light-middleweight and, in Alvarez, he has an opponent who likes to stay in punching range. Come Sunday the 34-year-old may be the only person with the ‘spice’ moniker who is still successful.
Coldwell set a world record for widest smile when Rhodes defeated ‘Moorsey’ for the European belt in October 2009, a fight that was also billed as a ‘WBC light-middleweight title eliminator’ only for someone to forget to mention this fact to Jose Sulliedmon. If Rhodes wins then Coldwell will resemble Zippy from Over The Rainbow, his infectious beam may break his jaw.
“I think I might retire by the end of this year if things work out. It will be spectacular. The fighters are the ones who deserve it. They are great fellas, this is phenomenal for them,” declared the popular boxing stalwart. “Ryan has been working for this his whole career. What a story it will be when he’s world champion.”
Indeed, a win for Rhodes would usher in a brave new era, old will become the new young, small the new big, and reality will shift slightly to the left – sounds awesome if you ask me.
Read Coldwell’s in-dept thoughts on Alvarez-Rhodes here:
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