It’s not every day Britain’s next world boxing champion threatens to knock you out, but then again it’s not every day you get to play poker with sporting champions past and present in the name of charity.
I was in Cardiff for the Joshua Foundation poker tournament, organised by the charity’s fundraising officer, former Commonwealth light-heavyweight boxing champ Nicky Piper.
This is the second of these events Nicky has set up with G Casino, and along with a number of sports stars, I had a £50 bounty on my head for anyone who knocked me out.
Among the other bounties was interim WBO light-heavyweight champ Nathan Cleverly, widely regarded as the next big thing in British boxing.
With Nathan also having a £50 bounty on his head, the question arose, what if Jeff knocks you out Nathan. “I’ll just have to knock him out in return,” came the menacing reply!
While I wouldn’t fancy my chances down a dark alley with the unbeaten former British, European and Commonwealth champ
However, over the felt of a poker table I’d take on all comers, and despatch him within five minutes of his statement.
This guy is a hugely impressive physical specimen, a dedicated sportsman at the top of his game, and as he rose to his feet and walked over to me, I felt like one of his victims on the canvas wondering whether to get up for another beating or stay down.
Was he going to keep good on his promise?
Not a bit of it, like a true gent he came across and shook my hand, wished all the other players good luck and went off to get an early night, as preparation for his world title shot against Juergen Braehmer for the WBO light-heavyweight title in London on April 2 gets fully underway.
With me being a bounty and knocking out a bounty, I decided to let the extra £50 ride on me, so anyone knocking me out would get a double whammy £100.
As it turned out, I made the final second in chips and looked in a good position to take victory, with Nicky calling the cards and eventually presenting the £1000 first prize, unfortunately, not to myself.
It had been a busy night for the industrious Piper, who is best known for his gallant, and ultimately unsuccessful world title fight with Nigel Benn in 1992.
Earlier in the evening he had introduced all the bounties, including former world snooker champ Mark Williams and a gang from the Cardiff Devils ice hockey team who looked like they’d give Nathan a good run for his money in the gym, provided commentary and paid up the £50 bounties, added by G Casino, and even turned his hand to dealing as we got down to three tables.
Nicky reckons Nathan has got a great chance of being a world champ in the future, and as a boxer known for his brains – he famously was a boxing member of MENSA – as well as his brawn, I’d say the charitable Piper won’t be far from the mark.