By Frank Warren
British boxing had a terrible blow news this week when my friend and very well respected matchmaker Dean Powell tragically took his life.
The general public may not have known him, but he was one of the key players who made promotions work.
In the boxing world Dean earned his respect the hard way. Like myself, he never boxed, yet he went on to become one of the most revered matchmaker’s in the business. He was also a manager, cornerman, trainer, cutsman and international agent for over 25 years.
My previous matchmaker Ernie Fossey was one of the most admired and respected in the business, he passed away in 2003. Dean replaced him, knowing it was always going to be a hard act to follow, but I had faith and confidence in him. He worked hard and diligently to fill Ernie’s shoes, gaining respect from everyone for doing one of the hardest jobs in the sport.
Born in the Black Country, Dean had great in-depth knowledge of the sport, he was meticulous in all his preparations, none more so that when he wrapped the hands of fighters. A boxers hands are his trade and wrapping a fighter’s hands before a fight is an art in itself and nobody did it better than Dean.
It always put me at ease when he was working in the corner of one of my fighters as we both had a similar tactical outlook for fights having watched and studied many videos together when matching our fighters, and importantly he cared about the fighters.
Although I was a Mod in the 1960s, and despite Dean not being old enough to be one, he was a current day one, and he was easily recognised driving his distinctive Mini or riding his Vespa. He was a great 60’s music fan, he was always finding rare soul CDs and vinyls for me or talking about his favourite band the Small Faces.
On Tuesday we were all concerned and worried at our office after reading a text that he sent, concerning looking after his family. We constantly called Dean’s phone, he did not answer. Andy called Dean’s partner, Lisa, who said that Dean was getting the train into work. We all then became even more concerned. We then saw a report on the internet of an incident at New Cross Gate train station. Two of the girls in my office were frantically ringing the British Transport Police hotline, to try and get information about the incident, but repeatedly got through to an automated answering service which went unanswered. God forbid if we were trying to report a bomb at a station.
Eventually we got through to the Met Police and after a terrible hour of hoping and praying that it wasn’t Dean it was sadly confirmed that he had taken his life.
Besides being a great loss to boxing, it is also a devastating loss to his long-time partner Lisa, his loving parents Bill and Pat and his grandchildren Harry, Joey and Billy who he adored and mentioned in his final text.
Only two weeks we were in Hungary together at the WBO Convention where he won for the second year running the Matchmaker of the Year award. The day before he took his life we met with Paul Smith and Dereck Chisora and had a glass of wine together afterwards, he seemed to be okay.
My office is a really tight group, loyalty has always been a big factor and Dean was loyal. It hasn’t sunk in yet, but there is now a massive void in British and world boxing.
When you think that the biggest fight in the last ten years between Floyd Mayweather Jnr. and Saul Alvarez is taking place this Saturday in Las Vegas that Richard Schaefer, CEO of the promoters Golden Boy Promotions, took time out to call me and express his condolences, as well as Don King. That speaks volumes for the respect Dean had.
Dean tragically ended his own life but he leaves behind a lasting legacy of being one of the nicest guys in the game.
The boxing world sends their condolences to his family.
The cynics who constantly gripe that the sport of boxing is 'dying' might care to yet again scan the numbers being generated by the fabulous light-middleweight showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez that takes place in Las Vegas this evening.
Forget Gareth Bales transfer fee - Forbes.com predict that the gross revenue for the event will far exceed $200million, shattering all records. All 16,200 tickets at the MGM Grand arena – priced from $350-$2000 – were snapped up within hours of release, generating live gate receipts of $20million. Seven blue chip sponsors have coughed up to $2million each in right's fees.
Mayweather, who has headed Forbes magazine's listing as the highest earner in all of sport for two consecutive years now, will trouser a guaranteed $41.5million. And that is BEFORE his substantial slice of the US pay-per-view revenue which, at $75 a pop, some say is to obliterate the previous record takings – if not the 2.4million buy up – for Mayweather's 2007 mega match with 'Golden Boy' Oscar De La Hoya.
British viewers can catch by far the best promotion of the year, which includes a breathtaking undercard for a miserly £10 by subscribing to BoxNation at www.boxnation.com .
Factor in 25,000 seats at $100 a brief for US closed circuit and movie theatre showings and it soon becomes apparent why the man once dubbed 'Pretty Boy' has now assumed the moniker 'Money' Mayweather. For once, much of the lure of the fight surrounds his co-principal 'Canelo' who is guaranteed a pauperly $6million before add-ons!
Still only 23, the redheaded Mexican is undefeated in 43 (one draw) and has already triumphed in seven WBC world championship fights. He enters with every conceivable physical advantage over Mayweather plus all the pride, power and malice associated with elite Azteca warlords. In addition, he haemorrhages the class of a true thoroughbred.
His fluid, powerful combination punching is supplemented by boundless youthful energy and vastly undervalued ringcraft. Win or lose, he will likely evolve into yet another Mexican ring great....provided Mayweather doesn't ruin him tonight. But I just get the feeling that, fiscal rewards aside, this opportunity has come a fraction too early for Alvarez.
In Mayweather he'll be confronted by a fighter who is among the greatest defensive wizards and slickest counter punchers in the last 20 years. He demoralises opponents before he hurts them. On top of that, he might possibly be the most dedicated professional in the sport's history.
Like his contemporary great Bernard Hopkins, the 'Money' man fully understands the sacrifices required – both in and away from training camp – to acquire longevity and build legacy. Having wiped out a generation at or around his natural weight Mayweather now flaunts his brilliance by challenging himself against bigger emerging talents.
Yet he is every bit as cunning in his negotiating as he is between the ropes. I believe that he has snared the improving, maturing Mexican at just the right time, maybe before he evolves into a truly irrepressible beast 12 months down the line.
And knowing Alvarez is extremely tight at the division's 154lb cut-off, Mayweather has inserted a clause into contracts that forces 'Canelo' to weigh-in no heavier than 152. It's Floyd who generates the dough, so it's Floyd who calls the shots!
Equally, because of his current elevated status as the greatest fighter on the planet, he now gets to select his opponents. He picked Alvarez and he's yet to get it wrong and I'm not arguing with him!
That's why I'm backing him for a unanimous points decision.
If Mayweather v Alvarez wasn't enough, Golden Boy Promotions have served up a chief support that would be a sensational main event in its own right. Big-punching Danny Garcia risks his WBA Super and WBC World Light-Welterweight titles on the line against Argentinian KO machine Lucas Matthysse. With the way these two punch it could go quick, so don't blink!
A third world title fight on the card sees Ishe Smith defend his IBF World Light-Middleweight title against Carlos Molina and there is British interest on the show with new Mayweather signing Ashley Theophane taking on Pablo Cesar Cano.
Last weekend Scottish lightweight Ricky Burns remarkably battled through ten rounds with a fractured jaw. However, the excruciating pain endured will have been exceeded by the suffering opponent Raymundo Beltran experienced when the fight was unbelievably declared a 'draw'.
Sure, Burns showed ridiculous gallantry to stumble across the finish line but, in boxing, points aren't scored for sympathy.
As well as having his jaw broken, Burns was heavily dumped on his rump in round eight and forced onto the retreat throughout. Intent on safeguarding his injury from further damage, he 'clung' on to his title, quite literally.
The crap verdict not only harmed Beltran but also boxing's credibility. I've not encountered a single person and 44 polled journalists - including several Scots - felt that the champion deserved to retain. Bookmakers Paddy Power even paid out on all Beltran bets!
Though Burns claims he was experiencing too much discomfort to assess whether he was winning the fight, the apologetic look on his face when the verdict was formalised told a story. Both his manager Alex Morrison and even promoter Eddie Hearn eventually conceded that Beltran was the rightful winner.
The fabulous 6000 strong Scottish crowd, who played a huge part in galvanising their hero through his darkest moments, were left subdued and squirming. Bizarrely, the miscarriage will likely make Braveheart Burns a figure of derision across The Pond which is patently unfair. It's not his remit to score the fight.
How did American judge Carlos Ortiz Jnr who, despite the 2 point knockdown, still had Burns three points ahead?
What has happened to the Burns who looked so brilliant blitzing Kevin Mitchell just 12 months back?
This was his second shocking performance on the bounce after he endured 'life and death' before scraping past Puerto Rico's Jose Gonzalez in May. His defence, once impregnable, has suddenly become frighteningly porous.
Beltran, though a solid, time-served pro, is certainly no world beater and Burns circa 2012-13 would have won.
Maybe after the wear and tear of nine WBO title fights over the last 36 months, 'Rickster' would now profit from some 'time out' with his first born, son Leon.
Promoter Hearn, having initially declared 'Rickster' might never fight again, states a return doesn't make 'financial sense'. And their first fight did?! Yet 24 hours later his trainer Billy Nelson and his manager ridiculously declared that he'll be back inside the gym in just six weeks. In the post-fight interview Nelson unbelievably said he wouldn't pull Burns out of the fight with a broken jaw.
More likely, influential US promoters Top Rank will look to enforce their decreed touted mandatory challenger Terence Crawford – an undefeated power puncher from Nebraska – upon Burns as quickly as possible or the WBO could order a rematch of an interim title bout between Crawford and Beltran if Burns cannot box. Either way it's a problem for Burns. An Interim Champion would mean a 50/50 split of the purse offers.
It represented yet another high risk, low return fighter for the fighter who spurned a 'nailed on' unification showdown on home court against light punching IBF counterpart Miguel Vasquez of Mexico earlier this year. Go figure.