By Johnston Brown – Billy C Boxing
It’s been a while now since Anthony Joshua (19-0, 19KO’s) and Wladimir Klitschko (64-5, 53KOs) fought in ‘The Battle in the Capital’ but I am still hyped almost a week on.
There is absolutely no doubt that the fight was one of the best heavyweight championship match-ups we have seen in a very long time. In my opinion there is also absolutely no doubt that AJ is the new number one heavyweight in the division right now.
That being said the youngster from Watford, England has still been unfairly criticised by the media even though I believe he answered more questions in this one fight then he has in his previous 18.
Yes, he definitely needs to work on his conditioning if he is to continue his rise to the top. Whether that is by losing the unnecessary extra pounds he was carrying or looking at pacing himself through the rounds, I am sure that is something his team will be looking into.
But I cannot see any of the current crop of heavyweight’s managing to recover from such a big right hand that Klitschko delivered on Saturday night. In fact it would have been lights out for a majority. Both fighters showed that they can take and deliver big punches which is something that we have not seen in the division for a while.
AJ is the number one heavyweight not Fury
I have read a lot of reports that suggest that AJ is definitely not the number one heavyweight and that Tyson Fury (25-0, 18KOs) is in fact the man to beat. They also suggested that if Fury hadn’t been away from the ring for the last 18 months then Joshua would not have been heavyweight champion. Well that is actually not true because if you remember the Gypsy King was wrongly stripped of his IBF title because he decided to commit to a Klitschko rematch. Therefore, Charles Martin (21-1, 22KOs) would have still gone onto defeat Vyacheslav Glazkov (21-1-1, 13KOs) and lose his title to the Brit in April 2016.
I have read a lot of comparisons between Fury’s victory and Joshua’s stoppage against the 41 year old which is irrelevant. Fury did a fantastic job in Dusseldorf which really put the cat amongst the pigeons in the heavyweight division for the first time in over a decade. But Klitschko was a different animal in the ring on Saturday night and he would have caused Fury a world of problems in a rematch. In fact, I felt that Dr Steelhammer would have recovered his titles and still gone on to fight Joshua in search of the IBF strap.
Passing of the torch
I mentioned in my in report that there was a passing of the torch when the 27 year old defeated the Ukrainian. I mean that not only in the boxing sense but as a personality as well. Fury may be a dangerous competitor in the ring but outside the ring he is hardly from the same mould as Klitschko. Don’t get me wrong I enjoy watching him run around in a batman suit acting like a complete wolly but I am not a fan of some of his outrageous statements.
We all know that both the Klitschko brothers are gentleman in and out of the ring and have represented boxing in a great way. They let their hands do the talking rather than their mouths. So when I say ‘The Passing of the Torch’ I mean that AJ will continue to be that gentleman outside the ring but an animal within it, unlike Tyson Fury.
We all want to see the best fight the best but once again the powers that be have thrown another spanner in the works and disrupted a potential mega fight this year. As Billy C and Sal mentioned earlier on the show, the IBF have told AJ under no uncertain terms that he has to fight his mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev (25-1, 13KOs) or be stripped of his title.
If you wasn’t aware the Bulgarian defeated Kevin Johnson (30-8-1, 14KOs) by unanimous decision on Saturday night to become the number one contender. And yes, this was the same Kevin ‘Kingpin’ Johnson that AJ destroyed in two rounds back in 2015. I find this as frustrating as the guys do on the show because this stalls the mega fights and gives some fighters an excuse to not take on best in their division.
WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker (22-0, 18KOs) will make his first defense against late replacement Razcan Coganu (16-2, 9KOs) in Manukau City, New Zealand this Weekend. I expect a comfortable victory for the young Kiwi but he will need to make the step up in level very soon.
On May 27, Dereck Chisora (26-7, 18KOs) heads to Helsinki, Finland for a rematch with Robert Helenius (24-1, 14KOs) with a potential showdown with WBC champion Deontay Wilder (38-0, 37KOs) for the winner.
On June 3rd, 45 year old Shannon Briggs (60-6-1, 53KOs) will challenge Fres Oquendo (37-8, 24KOs) for the vacant WBA ‘regular’ title in Hollywood, Florida. This highlights our frustrations as neither of these guys deserve a title shot and nor will they make any significant impact in the division. In my opinion there should not even be a ‘super’ and ‘regular’ version within the same organisation but I’ll leave that rant for another day.
On the same night Dillian Whyte (20-1, 15KOs) will top the bill in London, England against ‘The Viking’ Mariusz Wach (33-2, 17KOs). The ‘Body Snatcher’ from Brixton, London is a tough competitor that is starting to get more accolades with every fight.
My final thoughts
The new unified champion Anthony Joshua will more than likely decide to take on his mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev unless Wladimir Klitschko activates his rematch clause. If the latter happens then I see Joshua given the same punishment as Fury had in 2015 and be stripped of his IBF title.
I hope Klitschko decides against this and opts to push for a rematch with Tyson Fury instead. This fight could happen by the end of the year but Fury will need to get himself back into the sort of shape that made him the unified heavyweight champion in 2015 to stand a chance.
WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder has expressed his interest in a possible showdown with Anthony Joshua, although his team seem more interested in David Haye’s conqueror Tony Bellew (29-2-1, 19KOs). To be honest I can actually see this fight happening but in the process ‘The Brown Bomber’ will lose a whole lot of credibility. Saying that, the fight would fill the gap between now and the end of the year for when both Wilder and AJ could be ready for a unification match. It’s a long shot but you never know.
One guy that should not be overlooked is 38 year old Luis Ortiz (27-0, 23KOs) who for me is one of the top heavyweights around at the moment, although he did look pretty ordinary in his last two fights. I would like to see WBO champion Joseph Parker give the Cuban a shot at his title but that will depend on the entourage that surrounds these fighters and of course those annoying sanctioning bodies.
By Johnston Brown – BillyCBoxing
The Heavyweight division was back in the spot light on Saturday night with more than 140 countries tuning-in and 90,000 spectators in attendance. The stage was set for a massive heavyweight showdown.
Both fighters had been respectful throughout the build up, there was no trash talking or punches thrown before the fight unlike other heavyweight match-ups before. This fight sold because the world wanted to see if the young guy from Watford could not only beat the older and wiser fighter but knock him out to.
Wladimir Klitschko (64-5, 53KOs) made his way to the ring first and was greeted with the predicted jeers from the mostly British faithful. He looked focused and ready to silence the home crowd.
Anthony Joshua (19-0, 19KOs) looked completely unfazed as he casually made the long walk to the ring with his initial’s in flames.
Once the national anthems were played, Michael Buffer announced the fighters it was ‘Lets get ready to rumble!’
The first round was tentative as to be expected but not much from either fighter although Joshua just edged it. The second was pretty much the same, there was a good straight hand from the Ukrainian but the young champion fired back to nick another round.
Into the third and both fighters started to let their shots go but once again Joshua was more busy. The 41 year old was bouncing around but not doing enough to score in my opinion.
Finally Dr Steelhammer scored early and unleashed a big right hand which sends a reminder to the Londoner that he still has power at his ripe age. The old master issues a warning and nicks another close round.
The fifth round was one for the memory bank as Joshua shook his opponent with a left hook but it was an accumulation of quick punches that finally put Klitschko down. After beating the count Joshua went for the kill but ended up gassing himself out and on the back foot due to a massive left hand from Klitschko. It was an absorbing round of heavyweight boxing that really set this fight alight and my wife almost into early labour.
With a cut over his left eye and somehow in the ascendancy after being knocked down Wladimir sensed blood. Joshua was blowing hard and looked tiered which could have been due to the extra weight he was carrying.
Klitschko eventually found the target in the sixth with a huge right hand that connected high on the head and floored the Brit for the first time in his career. Joshua with a massive smile on his face was in serious trouble but managed to get back to his feet and get through the round.
The young champion used every second of the break and did seem to have recovered slightly but the 41 year old was rolling back the years, he looked the fresher of the two and took the seventh easily.
In round eight Joshua was looking steady on his feet again but Klitschko won another round with the jab to make it even on my scorecard. Joshua had never been beyond the eighth and was stepping into uncharted territory.
AJ found a second wind in the ninth and attacked the body which got Klitschko’s attention. Nothing much was coming back from the former champion, maybe the fight was starting to take it’s toll on his older body.
The tenth was busy with jabs by both fighters but Joshua put together a couple of nice combinations and was the more aggressive fighter, although Klitschko did land a big right hand on the bell.
The champion decided to go for broke in the eleventh and came out firing. As Klitschko went to engage he was caught with a devastating uppercut that sent him down to the canvas. With AJ looking to finish the job he sent his opponent down for the second time in the round. Once again Kllitschko showed terrific character to beat the count but Joshua connected with more savage combinations which prompted the referee to intervene and stop the fight.
After the fight Joshua said, “As boxing states, you leave your ego at the door and respect your opponent, so a massive shout-out to Wladimir Klitschko for taking part.”
“I’m not going to say too much in case he wants to come back and fight me again, but in terms of the boxing Hall of Fame and the boxing arena, he’s a role model in and out of the ring.” Said the new unified IBF, Super WBA & IBO heavyweight champion.
What a fight for the new era of heavyweight boxing! If this is the last time we are to see the former heavyweight king of the last decade, then he can leave with his head held high. He can leave knowing that the heavyweight division is in good hands with Anthony Joshua.
He has passed the torch onto a guy that is as respectful as him and will be a role model to the next generation.
By Johnston Brown – BillyCBoxing
Joshua is the betting favourite with most bookies, with 2/5 being the most common bet. Klitschko is listed at 15/8 with most oddsmakers.
You’re likely to get 4/6 on a Joshua KO, 7/2 on a Klitschko KO and similar odds on either to win on points, around 6 or 7/1. A draw is anything from 28-1 to 40-1.
What the rivals say…
Luis Ortiz: He says he’s going to watch the fight “calmly,” and he favours Klitschko. “The experience is on Klitschko’s side and the area of youth favours Joshua. I think the Ukrainian will be the winner. He’s going to use the powerful jab to keep Joshua at bay.”
Deontay Wilder: “My heart is for Joshua, but my mind goes to Klitschko,” Wilder said on a teleconference this week. “I’d love to fight Joshua. That would be a mega-fight. If this kid beats Klitschko, the only fight he can take is with me.”
Tyson Fury: “Klitschko to KO Joshua.”
Tony Bellew: “If it’s not over in the first four rounds, I’m extremely worried.”
“Only purely because [Joshua] is very inexperienced for a fight that goes past four rounds. Let me tell you it’s very different when you’re in with a seasoned vet who can bang.”
“I speak with experience going in with top level guys. Experience is gained not earned. The only way you can get it is time. Unfortunately for Anthony, he hasn’t been able to get it, through no fault of his own, because he’s so bleeding good.”
“We’re going to find out on Saturday night how good he really is. I think he’s the real deal. I think he’s the real dominant fighter of our era. Hopefully, it goes within four. I don’t like this fight to go past four rounds. … I just feel [Anthony] will get rid of him in the first four rounds.”
Hughie Fury: “I do think it’s a tiny bit soon for Joshua …” Fury said. “I would go with Klitschko with the experience. I just think it’s a tiny bit too soon for Joshua. Definitely a knockout.”
“He wasn’t an 11-year champion for nothing. Like I say, you cannot rush into big fights like him, thinking ‘Yeah, I’m just going to knock him over like every other man.’ He’s not going to stand there to be hit. [Joshua] has not had the experience to go with someone like him.”
David Haye: “You’re only as good as your last fight, Anthony is on the ascendancy and is improving fight by fight. Wlad’s last performance (Tyson Fury) was not good. Based on that you have to go with Anthony.”
“Wlad will have been out of the ring for 18 months.”
“It’s terrible preparation to fight someone so young and someone who has been fighting so regularly.
“You can only go by current form and in the last fight he had against Tyson Fury, he refused to let his hands go. He couldn’t pull the trigger.”
What the trainers say…
Peter Fury – Tyson Fury’s uncle and trainer
“He’s [Joshua] got to come up with his own one [game plan]. They are all different styles aren’t they? Nobody has got Tyson Fury’s style.
“I don’t see how Joshua is going to implement that. If he tries to implement that type of boxing, there is only one winner. I think Wladimir will walk away with it.
“He’s got to come for that knockout and he’s got to bring it early. He’s got to put Klitschko in shock, take him out of his stride, and rough him up properly. That is the only way he is going to handle Klitschko in my opinion.”
Freddie Roach – Former Klitschko trainer
“It’s the age (that makes me think Joshua will win): he’s 41-years-old now, he’s been around for a long time,” said Roach. “When I was training him he was a great puncher, and he either won by knockout or lost by knockout. But then Emanuel changed him into a good boxer.
“Youth is a great thing to have. But it’s not enough alone. Joshua’s got to be careful in exchanges, because if he gets caught up in exchanges, and they’re both swinging, Klitschko does have knockout power. The left hook’s always been his punch: he has a great left hook.
“He can’t get caught swinging with this guy. If he trades punch for punch, Klitschko is the better puncher.
“Him and his brother (Vitali) are the hardest workers out there (in the heavyweight division). This was one of their workouts: running 12 x 800m sprints, under three minutes, with a minute’s rest in between.
“That’s an unbelievable workout for a flyweight, let alone a heavyweight, but he could do it. That’s why they’re so good, because they work their a**** off.
“Klitschko (can win by) taking him into the late rounds, get him to start exchanging late.”
Adam Booth – Former heavyweight trainer
“I’m going to go with youth and energy, and pick Anthony Joshua. But I’m only going by that by the slightest of margins because if Wlad did nullify Anthony’s attributes and actually can get control and win the fight I wouldn’t be surprised.
Jonathon Banks – In Klitschko’s corner
“He [Joshua] just knows with two power punchers, it’s not going the distance,”
“He knows eventually, they both are going to start hitting on each other.
“Everybody that AJ’s started to hit on, they’ve fell. Everybody Wladimir has started to hit on, they’ve fell, so no, it won’t go the distance. This fight has knockout written all over it.”
“Don’t get me wrong, he don’t look at his opponents like he looks at Wladimir,” said Banks.
“He looks at Wladimir on a higher level, but he destroyed them all and he is looking to do the same to Wladimir.
“It’s going to be completely different to any other opponent he ever faced. He is the best opponent that Joshua has ever faced.
“He’s never faced a gold medallist before. Wladimir has. He’s never faced a dominant figure in the sport before, or someone they considered to be a force to be reckoned with. Wladimir has. That’s the difference.”
What the former champions say…
George Foreman – Former heavyweight king
“[This fight] matches the old and the new, the aggressive and the smart.
“If I were a gambler, I’d see Joshua as a 6-5 favourite. So I’d put him just in front.
“Klitschko knows how to win and how to use his body size. It will be a difficult fight. Klitschko’s a good fighter. He has a good left jab and once you develop a good left jab, there’s no such thing as your best days before or behind you, you are a fighter that can last forever.
“If he wins the world title again – on my God, imagine that! If Klitschko wins, the boxing world will flip out.”
Frank Bruno – Former Heavyweight champion
“I think Anthony Joshua has got a good chance. He’s got youth on his side, he’s a very powerful puncher and could potentially knock Klitschko out very early.
“Klitschko is a great fighter though, with a lot more rounds under his belt, so you never know.”
Carl Froch – Former super middleweight champion
“This could go one of many ways, but if I had to guess right I would say Joshua’s going to bang him out, he’ll just have too much for him.
“He’s big and strong, and has the youth and ambition at 27 years old, which could prove decisive.
Lennox Lewis – Former unified heavyweight champion
“Klitschko doesn’t have the legs, the power that he used to,”
“He has a chink in his armour after getting beat by Tyson Fury. Anthony Joshua is now taking that challenge, going after the man.”
“Now is the perfect time for him,” the 51-year-old told BBC Radio 5 live.
“I believe Joshua is more focused, more aimed. Does he want to be undisputed champion? Absolutely.”
“Nobody is perfect. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses,” ‘Dr Ironfist’ said.
“The weakness of my brother is concentration. Wladimir was not 100 per cent focused for the Fury fight. That is why he lost it.
“He knows that. Right now, he has prepared for this fight so well. I’ve never seen my brother so focused during preparations.”
Lamon Brewster – Former heavyweight champion
“Yes, I do believe that Joshua is going to stop Wladimir Klitschko. He is young, skilled, hungry, but at the same time, humble. To be honest, I really don’t see anyone beating Anthony Joshua, except, maybe, Deontay Wilder down the road.
“I don’t know if Joshua can [stop Klitschko early], but at the same time, I think he will. He has really impressed me with his skill and accuracy. Of course Wladimir has a lot of great experience, which could turn out to be a determining factor, but I must say, I see Joshua winning no matter what.”
What the fighters say…
“I am obsessed with my goal to become a three-time world champion in the biggest arena I have ever fought,”
“There are a lot of questions that need to be answered, not with words but with the fists. As a fan, I am looking forward to this fight as well.
“As a fighter, I am going to stand in the ring because I have I have got the best place by the way, so right in the middle.
“To see two Olympic champions fight each other, the former champion and the current champion, it is something that people are looking forward to and I believe the outcome of the fight will be amazing.
“I will rely on my experience and will train accordingly. I will do everything that is needed to get healthy and ready for April 29. I wish Joshua the same thing. Soon we’re going to get to the camp and get ready.”
“On this stick, I recorded a video last week I gave my prediction,” Klitschko revealed, holding up the memory stick. “This stick is going to be integrated into my robe.
“Do not ask me, after that fight, what is on the stick. The only person who is going to be able to open it up and watch it is the person who buys this robe, with all the money going to the Klitschko Foundation.”
“I always try to strip things right back to basics,” he said. “It is just me and a man trading blows and the best man will win.
“I am preparing myself not only for a physical battle but a mental battle with anyone. April 29 is another stepping stone towards greatness.”
“This is a defining fight for Klitschko, not for me, because it’s at the end of his career,”
“When he gets beat, that could be the end of him. This is just a part of my journey. I may not be the best but what I do, I do brilliant. That’s what’s got me here. The little things I do, work for me. If he says he’s the better boxer, so be it. So, when I start punching you in your jaw, you better stand up to my power.”
By Johnston Brown – BillyCBoxing
After 12 enthralling weeks of World Series Boxing action the quarter-finals of season VII have now been confirmed and will take place across home and away legs on 12-13 May and 19-20 May.
Last year’s champions Cuba Domadores finished top of their group after losing only once and dropping only six bouts to end with the best record across all three groups. They will take on last year’s semi-finalists the Uzbek Tigers, who qualified as one of the best-third-place teams. The Tigers will be looking to go one better and reach the final this season but the Cubans are strong favourites and should march on through to the last four.
Last year’s beaten finalists the British Lionhearts also finished top of their group with only one defeat and losing eight bouts in their six matches. They will take on the France Fighting Roosters for the third time this season after beating them twice already. The Lionhearts will hope they can repeat the same 3-2 score line’s and progress to the semi-finals.
Newcomers Colombia Heroicos finished one point behind the Cubans in second place but were the only team to record a victory against them. Their opponents Italia Thunder managed to squeeze out the French to second spot after a 4-1 win against them in their final group match. The Thunder were also the only team to beat the Lionhearts this season so results on home soil will be key in this match-up.
Completing the quarter-final line-up will be Group C winners Astana Arlans Kazakhstan, who like the Cubans and Lionhearts only lost once this season. They will face Russia’s Patriot Boxing Team who finished second in the same group. Kazakhstan defeated the Russians twice this season, 3-2 away and 4-1 at home so they will be the favourites for a semi-final spot.
I’m really looking forward to watching the best eight teams in WSB this season and I’m going to pick Colombia Heroicos vs Italia Thunder as the tie of the quarters. I think the Colombians will just edge it with a comprehensive victory at home. My gut instinct says the Cubans, Lionshearts and Kazakhstan will join them in the last four.
By Johnston Brown – BillyCBoxing
It’s been an eventful start to the year for our British and Irish boxers but results have not been great at international level. In seven world title fights, four have come up short, two have been victorious and the other was a majority draw. Not the greatest start to the year by any means but we do still have eleven world champions across ten different weight divisions. Only the Americans and Mexicans have more world champions with the Japanese just behind the Brits.
As we head into the most eagerly anticipated heavyweight fight in years here is a look at what’s happened in the first quarter, what’s coming up and who to look out for by weight division;
The biggest and most entertaining heavyweight showdown this year was between Tony Bellew (29-2-1, 19KOs) and one legged David Haye (28-3, 26 KOs). After his unlikely victory the scouser has decided to remain in the heavy hitting division and push for a mega payday against one of the champions. The Londoner on the other hand refuses to retire and hopes to return to the ring in 2018. On the evidence of his performance before the injury, I don’t think he will be making much of an impact.
David Price (21-4, 18KOs) will be considering his future after his seventh round TKO loss to Romanian Christian Hammer (21-4, 12KOs) in February. The 33 year old has not been able to make his mark in the pro game but a bronze medal in the Beijing Olympics and Commonwealth gold is still a huge achievement.
David Allen (11-2-1, 8KOs) has made a strong start to the new year with two KO victories in February and March. The ‘White’ Rhino is no push over and should be aiming for European glory in 2017. Youngster Nathan Gorman (9-0, 7KOs) has also recorded a couple of victories this year and should be looking to pick up a British title soon.
If you didn’t already know, where have you been? As IBF champion Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18KOs) is putting his title on the line against future ‘hall of famer’ Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 53KOs) plus the WBA Super and IBO titles will be up for grabs. 90,000 fans will be in attendance at Wembley stadium on April 29 for the biggest heavyweight match-up since Tyson/Lewis.http://Joshua/Klitschko: Mind games or Respect?
Undefeated Hughie Fury (20-0, 10KOs) had high hopes of becoming WBO world champion but a back injury has delayed his chances of taking on current holder Joseph Parker (22-0, 18KOs). Sticking with the Fury’s Tyson (25-0, 18KOs) has hinted at making a return to the ring in July.
Dereck Chisora (26-7, 18KOs) heads to Helsinki, Finland for a rematch with Robert Helenius (24-1, 14KOs) with a potential showdown with WBC champion Deontay Wilder (38-0, 37KOs) for the winner. I think Delboy will need a knockout if he wants to get a result here after he was clearly robbed of victory in the first fight.
Dillian Whyte (20-1, 15KOs) will headline his own night at London’s O2 Arena against Mariusz Wach (33-2, 17KOs) of Poland. This will not be easy for ‘The Body Snatcher’ from Brixton as his opponent’s only two defeats came against Klitschko & Povetkin. That being said I do think Whyte will have too much for ‘The Viking’.
My pick of the heavyweight newcomers is Daniel Dubios (2-0, 2KOs). The 19 year old nicknamed ‘Dynamite’ will be a serious contender in the future but for now he will be kept busy. The Londoner should be looking at English or British titles at the beginning of next year. Look out for the teenager on May 20 at the Copper Box Arena.
The Cruiserweight division is not as jammed packed as the heavy’s but we do still have a world champion albeit a WBC Emeritus champion in Tony Bellew.
Tony Conquest (16-2, 5KOs) announced his retirement on Twitter after injury ruled him out of a fight with Craig Kennedy (16-0, 8KOs). ‘The Kid’ as Kennedy is known, will finally take a step up in level when he takes on Matty Askin (21-3-1, 13KOs) for the British title on May 26 at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff. Askin proved he deserves this title shot after a unanimous decision win over Tommy McCarthy (9-1, 5KOs) in the final eliminator last year in Manchester.
There are two Cruiserweights that I will be keeping tabs on this year Lawrence Okolie (2-0, 2KOs) and Isaac Chamberlain (7-0, 2KOs). Both have already recorded TKO victories this year and I expect both to continue their impressive starts in the pro ranks.
It has been a slow start for the 175 pounders with only ‘Kid Nytro’ Dec Spelman (11-0, 7KOs) winning by TKO over journeyman Nathan King at the Ice Arena in Hull. The other light heavy that has been in action this year is Hosea Burton (19-1, 9KOs) who won on points against Tamas Kozma. The Mancunian is on the comeback trail after tasting defeat for the first time against Frank Buglioni (19-2-1, 15KOs) in one of the fights of 2016. The Londoner captured the British title and will now defend it against another unbeaten fighter in Ricky Summers (13-0, 5KO’s) which will be the co-main event on the Whyte/Wach card in London.
Nathan Cleverly is the current British number one and WBA world champion after his impressive victory over German Jürgen Brähmer (48-3, 35KOs) in October 2016. I believe a rematch would be a viable option for the Welshman unless he fancies taking on the dangerous Russian and WBA interim-champ Dmitry Bivol (10-0, 8KOs).
Anthony Yarde (10-0, 9KOs) is no longer a secret within the boxing circle but I do expect big things for the 25 year old from Hackney, London. He will feature on the Walsh/Davis undercard at the Copper Box Arena against Chris Hobbs (6-1-1, 0KOs), blink and you will miss him.
James DeGale (23-1-1, 14KOs) kicked off the year with a bang on January 14 at the Barclays Center, New York when he managed to retain his IBF super middleweight title against Babou Jack (20-1-3, 12KOs). Unfortunately the majority draw was not good enough to unify the WBA and IBF straps but he did win over the British public with a spirited performance.
Chris Eubank Jr (24-1, 19KOs) did manage to win the IBO super-middleweight title when he beat Renold Quinlan (11-2, 7KOs) by TKO in February.
George Groves (25-3, 18KOs) decided not to chase a rematch with DeGale and will instead fight Fedor Chudinov (14-1, 10KOs) for the WBA strap on the Brook/Spence undercard at Bramall lane, Sheffield on May 27. I believe this to be a wise move by ‘The Saint’ as he aims to capture a world title at the fourth attempt. If he can finally make his dream a reality then a rematch with ‘Chunky’ in a unification match up could bring the fans to the Arsenal stadium at the end of the year?
Rocky Fielding (23-1, 13KOs) clinched the vacant British super middleweight title when he won a unanimous decision over John Ryder (24-3, 12KOs) at the Echo Arena on April 22.
Although he has now established himself I believe this will be a massive year for Callum Smith (22-0, 17KOs). The 26 year old is hopeful of taking on Anthony Dirrell (30-1-1, 24KOs) for the vacant WBC strap that was vacated by Babou Jack when he moved up to light heavyweight. The Americans promotional team won purse bids for the bout which dashed Eddie Hearn’s plans for the fight to take place at Anfield, Liverpool. It will be tough for the undefeated scouser to fight away for the first time in his career but this is the game and I believe he can produce the goods.
Undefeated Tommy Langford (18-1, 6KOs) ended his hopes of a title shot when he was knocked out in the fifth round. http://Mini Mike Tyson lands a title shot – while Murray keeps title hopes alive
The British number one Billy Joe Saunders (24-0, 12KOs) was hoping for a showdown with Triple G but that has failed to materialise so the WBO Champion decided to target Langford for a British showdown on July 8. That has now collapsed due to Khurtsidze’s victory so Saunders will put his WBO world middleweight title on the line against the dangerous 37 year old.
Jack Arnfield (24-2, 6KOs) has already had two fights this year when he defeated Mick Hall (13-2, 1KO) and fellow Blackpool resident Brian Rose (29-5-1, 8KOs). The 27 year old will be hoping to continue his good form in his hometown on July 7.
Criag Cunningham (18-1, 4KOs) also recorded another victory this year after his win over Team GB Bronze medalist Anthony Ogogo (11-1, 7KOs) in 2016.
22 year old Reece Cartwright (16-0, 9KOs) is in great form and looks like he could be a real star. His first victim of the year was Georgia journeymen Giorgi Kandelaki but now faces his toughest challenge yet when he takes on another undefeated fighter German, Jan Meiser (13-0-1, 7KOs) on May 5 in Leeds.
Light Middleweights/ Super Welterweights
British number one and two Liam Smith (25-1-1, 14KOs) and Welshmen Liam Williams (16-1-1, 11KOs) put on an entertaining match-up at the Manchester Arena on April 8. The scouser may have come out as the victor in a close fight but did not win the vacant interim WBO world title as he came in over weight. A rematch is being negotiated with the possibility of the WBO world title being at stake due to current champ Canelo signaling his intentions to remain at middleweight.
James Metcalf (15-0, 7KOs) was also on the same card as Smith and Williams when he beat Jason Ball.
Gary Corcoran (16-1, 7KOs) from Wembley, London came back with a win over journeyman James Gorman after his loss to Liam Williams last year.
Undefeated records will be on the line at the Copper Box Arena on May 20 when Londoner Aarron Morgan (12-0, 8KOs) takes on Joe Pigford (12-0, 11KOs). This is an intriguing match-up between two heavy handed fighters so I expect this one to end early.
I like the look of two different fighters, 27 year old Asina Byfield (12-1, 4KOs) and 22 year old Ted Cheeseman (8-0, 6KOs). Both have already recorded victories this year and I expect them to be looking for domestic success soon.
On the Haye/ Bellew undercard Sam Eggington (20-3, 12KOs) produced a career best performance when he stopped Paul Malignaggi (36-8, 7KOs) with a terrific body shot. The ex-prize fighter continues to over achieve and defy the odds.
The Brummie will be fighting on home turf at the Barclaycard Arena against Spanish opponent Ceferino Rodriguez (24-1,12KOs) for the European and WBC International titles on May 13.
On the same card Frankie Gavin (23-3, 14KOs) is hoping for a winning return after his defeat to Eggington last year when he takes on Dave Ryan.
Reigning British welterweight king Bradley Skeete (25-1, 11KOs) will be back in action on June 2 against Shayne Singleton (23-1-1, 8KOs) which is taking place at the Brentwood Centre, Essex.
And of course, IBF champion Kell Brook (36-1, 25KOs) finally gets his wish to fight at his beloved Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane on May 27 against tough American Errol Spence Jr (21-0, 18KOs). This has the potential of being one of the fights of the year and I’m backing the ‘Special One’ all the way. The Southpaw from Long Island has never been in the ring with anyone as good as Brook and that is ‘The Truth’ so I’m picking experience over youth in this one, just.
My welterweight prospect is Zimbabwe born Tamuka Mucha (16-0, 4KOs) who resides in Reading, Berkshire. The 24 year old will have a domestic title at some point this year and I don’t see many fighters jumping at the chance to take on ‘The Beast’.
Light Welterweights/ Super Lightweights
Ricky Burns (41-6-1, 14KOs) has had an excellent career and is loved by his Scottish faithful, which was plain to see when he fought Julius Indongo (22-0, 11KOs) on May 15. The awkward southpaw didn’t only win the WBA super strap but he beat up the ‘Rickster’ in front of his own adoring fans.
Ohara Davies (15-0, 12KOs) continued his winning streak when he stopped, now retired Derry Matthews (38-12-2, 20KOs) at the o2 in London.
Merseysider Robbie Davies Jr (15-0, 11KOs) defeated Zoltan Szabo live on terrestrial television in January.
On April 8, rising star Jack Catterall (18-0, 10KOs) put Martin Gethin to the sword with another TKO victory.
Tyrone Nurse (34-2-12, 7KOs) was under par against Joe Hughes (15-2-1, 6KOs) but managed to scrape a split decision draw in Leicester to retain his British super lightweight title.
Scotland maybe disappointed not to have a current world champion in the division anymore but they need to look no further than 26 year old southpaw Josh Taylor (9-0, 8KOs) for optimism. The ‘Tartan Tornado’ has kick started his boxing career with eight knockouts in nine and looks the part as he approaches double figures in the pro’s.
It’s been a busy year so far for the British lightweights with Anthony Crolla (31-6-3, 13KOs) losing to Colombian Jorge Linares (42-3, 27KOs) for the second time and WBO champion Terry Flanagan (33-0, 13KOs) retaining his title against Russian Petr Petrov (38-5-2, 19KOs). It does not look like ‘Turbo’ Terry is not interested in giving ‘Million Dollar’ another world title shot and hinted at fighting only the very best in the division. In my opinion they need to fight each other.
Robbie Barrett (15-2-1, 1KO) put in a fine performance against Scott Cardle (21-1-1, 7KOs) in the SSE Hydro in Glasgow to win the British lightweight title.
Luke Campbell (16-1, 13KOs) beat Jairo Lopez (21-7, 14KOs) by TKO in February and has been added to the Wembley undercard on April 29 against solid Colombian Darleys Perez (33-2-2, 21KOs).
Look out for Belfast boy Paul Hyland Jnr (15-0, 5KOs) who has already recorded two victories this year. Impressively he stopped undefeated Hungarian Karoly Gallovich (8-1, 0KOs) in February before a points win over Peter Cope in March. He will be back in July with an opponent TBA.
Northern Ireland’s James Tennyson (18-2, 14KOs) kicked off his year with a good win over tricky Declan Geraghty (14-2, 4KOs) from Dublin at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.
In another interesting match-up Essex boy Martin Joseph Ward (17-0-2, 8KOs) pinched a win against awkward southpaw Maxi Hughes (16-3-2, 2KOs) by UD to win the British and WBC international title.
23 year old rising star Leon Woodstock produced a vintage display of grit and skill when he stopped Paul Holt (6-4, 2KOs) in Leicester.
Liam Walsh (21-0, 14KOs) finally gets a shot at the IBF world title at the Copper Box Arena on May 20 against the highly rated champion Gervonta Davis (17-0, 16KOs). The 22 year old American has only ever been the distance once and that was a six rounder back in 2014. The ‘Tank’ is a dangerous opponent for Englishmen but being eight years older and on home soil Walsh has a chance.
The ‘Brown Flash’ Zelfa Barrett (16-0, 10KOs) is a classy super feather. He has won his first two fights by KO this year and will be at the Bolton Whites Hotel on May 19 for his third bout.
This division is littered with some of the best British and Irish talent, either at the top of their game or making their way to the top.
In January, Carl Frampton (23-1, 14KOs) lost for the first time in his career against Mexican Leo Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18KOs). There will be a third encounter between these two at some point but for now an all British tear up could be on the cards against Lee Selby (24-1, 9KOs), who recorded a non-title fight victory against Andoni Gago last month.
But the Welshman may be forced to fight a mandatory challenger instead. Which puts Scott Quigg (32-1-2, 24KOs) in line for a title shot if he can get past Viorel Simion (21-1, 9KOs) on the undercard of Joshua/ Klitschko.
Kid Galahad (22-0, 13KOs) did notch a win over Leonel Hernandez in February who was a late replacement for Joseph Agbeko (31-5, 23KOs) due to being taken ill on the morning of the fight.
Yorkshires Josh Warrington (24-0, 5KOs) will have been inactive for almost 9 months before he takes on Spanish Kiko Martinez (36-7-1, 26KOs) in his hometown Leeds on May 13. The 26 year old will be hoping he can get the victory he needs to push on towards world honours.
Commonwealth champion Isaac Lowe (13-0-2, 5KOs) will be on the Bolton Whites Hotel card on May 19, while British featherweight champion Ryan Walsh (21-2-1, 10KOs) defends his title against Marco McCullough at the Copper Box Arena the day after.
Look out for Watford lad Reece Bellotti (9-0, 8KOs) who will be on the Whyte/Wach undercard as he continues to sweep aside his opponents from one knockout to the next. The British title is on the radar but I can see the European strap around his waist by the end of the year.
Earlier in the year Gavin McDonnell (16-1-2, 4KOs) was outclassed by Mexican Rey Vargas (29-0, 22KOs) for the vacant WBC title in the Ice Arena, Hull.
The ‘Baby faced Assassin’ Paul Butler (24-1, 13KOs) continued his winning streak with the fourth round stoppage of Carlos Ruben Dario Ruiz on April 8 in Manchester.
Commonwealth champion Gamal Yafai (11-0, 4KOs) will face fellow Brummie Sean Davis (12-0, 0KOs) for the WBC international title on May 13 in Birmingham. It’s great to see both fighters put their undefeated records on the line in front of their home fans.
James ‘Jazza’ Dickens has not been in action since his defeat to super bantamweight king Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11KOs) last year. The Merseysider will face another undefeated fighter for the third time in his career when he takes on Thomas Patrick Ward (20-0, 2KOs) in the First Direct Arena, Leeds.
Michael Conlan (1-0, 1KO) made his American debut at Madison Square Garden, New York on St Patrick’s Day and he will be making a quick return to the ring on May 26 in Chicago. I think the Belfast boy will rise up the division very quickly so expect him to be busy this calendar year with at least another three fights.
Current British champion Ryan Burnett (16-0, 9KOs) won on points in February and Marc Leach (8-1, 2KOs) also recorded a victory this year.
Lee Haskins (34-3, 14KOs) has not fought since September 2016, when he beat Stuart Hall (20-5-2, 7KOs) to retain the IBF world title. The Bristol-based boxer had to withdraw from a scheduled fight with Shohei Omori (18-2, 13KOs) in December due to a leg injury. With WBA champion Jamie McDonnell (29-2-1, 13KOs) also without a dance partner, I think it’s time for both camps to agree a unification fight. Nine years ago Haskins got the better of the Yorkshireman but with 39 more fights between them since then and two world titles on the line, the previous encounter is nothing more than a distant memory.
30 year old Paddy Barnes (2-0, 0KOs) will attempt to win a world title in his first 10 fights. Anything is possible for the Irishmen whose outstanding amateur pedigree will put him in good stead in the pro game but he will need to improve on his last performance. He will be back at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast on June 17.
‘The Mexican’ Jamie Conlan (19-0, 11KOs) recovered from a knock down in round eight against Yader Cardoza (22-11-1, 6KOs) to win a split decision and claim the vacant WBC international silver title. http://Belfast Boys – Conlan, Barnes & Tennyson Record Victories
Charlie Edwards (10-1, 4KOs) has put his defeat last year behind him to win a unanimous decision against Iain Butler (16-3, 5KOs) and pick up the vacant British title.
WBA world champion Khalid Yafai (21-0, 14KOs) tops the bill in the Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham when he defends his title against Japanese challenger Suguru Muranaka (25-2-1, 8KOs). The 27 year old will need to be at his best on May 13 if he is to win his first title defence. With the crowd behind ‘Kal’ and his two brothers in attendance I think he will have too much for the Tokyo-based fighter who is on a run of 19 fights without defeat.
Brad ‘The Blade’ Foster (6-0, 1KO) has made light work of his six opponents so far I expect big things in the future for the red-hot Lichfield prospect. The 19 year old is a former kick boxer that held a record of 57-2 and won nine world titles at four different weights.
Andrew Selby (8-0, 5KOs) produced his best performance when he won a unanimous decision over Ardin Diale (32-11-4, 15KOs) in London. The Welshmen and brother of Lee now has his hardest fight to date when he takes on Nicaraguan Cristofer Rosales (23-2, 15KOs) at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff on May 26.
Check out another Welshmen, Jay Harris (10-0, 6KOs) who produced an excellent display to win the Commonwealth (British Empire) title against Thomas Essomba (7-3, 2KOs). The 26 year from Swansea should be pushing for a world title shot come next year if he can keep on improving like he has been.
By Johnston Brown – BillyCBoxing
It was a busy night of boxing in England with fight cards in the Leicester Arena, Leicester and the Echo Arena, Liverpool. Two middleweights headlined both nights with undefeated Tommy Langford (18-1, 6KOs) in Leicester and local fan favorite Martin Murray (35-4-1, 16KOs) in Liverpool.
Starting with the WBO middleweight eliminator in Leicester, Avtandil Khurtsidze (33-2-2, 22KOs) ended all hopes of an all British middleweight title fight when he flattened the Brummie with a big left hand in fifth round. This wasn’t the first time that the Georgian had caused an upset, he stopped another undefeated fighter Antoine Douglas (21-1-1, 15KOs) last year to win the WBO International title.
The 37 year old labeled the ‘Mini Mike Tyson’ due to his size and dangerous punching power has been in fine form all week on social media and he took that happy-go-lucky attitude into the ring with him on Saturday night.
From the first round Khurtsidze was loading up looking for the early knockout while laughing off Langfords shots and taunting the British fighter. The 27 year old then started to find his range and took the next three rounds but he did look susceptible to one big punch.
In the end it was a big left hook that caught Langford flush on the head to send him down to the canvas. His 5’4″ opponent continued his mickey taking antics by joining in with the referees count. Credit to Langford though as he managed to rise to his feet but was in no fit state to continue.
In an interview after the fight Frank Warren announced that Billy Joe Saunders (24-0, 12KOs) will fight Khurtsidze on July 8 in London. The WBO middleweight champion responded by saying, “Khurtsidze is made to order for me and he’s just another ‘Danny Devito’. I’ll retire if I lose to him”.
On the undercards;
Darryll Williams (15-0, 6KOs) won the English super middleweight title in a terrific dust up against Jahmaine Smyle (14-5-2, 6KOs)
19 year old heavyweight Daniel Dubois (2-0, 2KOs) finished Blaise Mendouo (3-2, 0KOs) with a brutal knockout combination.
Light heavyweight prospect Anthony Yarde (10-0, 9KOs) continued his impressive start in the pro’s with another knockout victory against Darren Snow (5-13-1, 0KOs)
Super featherweight Leon ‘The King’ Woodstock (9-0, 5KOs) produced solid performance with a TKO win against Paul Holt (6-4, 2KOs)
Super lightweight Tyrone Nurse (34-2-2, 7KOs) retained his British title with a split decision draw against Joe Hughes (15-2-1, 6KOs)
120 miles North West of Leicester, Martin Murray kept alive his hopes of another world title shot with a majority decision victory over Gabriel Rosado (23-11, 13KOs). The American started the brighter winning three of the first four rounds but the St Helens man took the next six.
The 31 year old from Philadelphia needed a knock down to close the gap on a tiring Murray and almost did with a hurtful punch in the eleventh. Rosado won the twelfth but it wasn’t enough to win the vacant WBA intercontinental middleweight title.
The three judges caused a stir with their vastly different margins of 116-112 and 119-109, while the third had it 114-114 a draw. I do wonder what some of these judges watch sometimes as I had it 115-113 to Murray.
Tempers flared after the decision was announced when a furious Rosado shouted abuse towards the commentary team and promoter Eddie Hearn. Murray got involved but it was nothing more then ‘handbags’. I can see why Rosado was unhappy with one of the judges but I think the right man won at the end of the night.
On the undercards in Liverpool Sean Dodd (13-2-1, 2KOs) defeated Lee Appleyard (10-3, 10KOs) by UD in the lightweight division.
Super middleweight Rocky Fielding (24-1, 13KOs) continues his winning streak with a split decision victory over John Ryder (24-4, 12KOs) to win the vacant British title.
By: Johnston Brown – BillyCBoxing.com
On Sunday night Joshua/Klitschko: Gloves are off was aired as promos for their heavyweight showdown at Wembley Stadium on April 29 began. This is one of the most eagerly anticipated heavyweight match ups since Tyson/Lewis in 2002 and does not need much exposure. That being said it was a good indication to where these two fighters are mentally.
With recent ‘blast from the past’ on BillyCBoxing, Johnny Nelson asking all the right questions both fighters looked relaxed and acted respectfully. Something that hasn’t happened in recent times with the likes of Whyte/Chisora and Haye/Bellew which angered a lot of the ‘fight fans’ on social media. I on the other hand was pleased that we did not get the usual WWE trash talking BS because this is a real fight that does not need to be hyped in that way.
When asked by Nelson if experience will be a major factor in the fight Joshua responded with “Youth and speed” will give him the advantage which is something that experience can’t stop. Klitschko replied, “Speed kills but you know what kills speed? Anticipation”.
I agree with both statements but for me speed and youth will be the key in this fight, as we have seen in years gone by when Larry Holmes defeated The Great Muhammed Ali, albeit a shell of himself in 1980 and when Mike Tyson knocked out Holmes in 1988. In recent times we saw Tyson Fury beat Klitschko in Germany and on all three occasions youth prevailed.
Joshua did however make an interesting statement, that if he was managing himself he would want another two or three fights before he took on the big six foot six Ukrainian but the fighter in him wants it now 100 per cent. Sensing a bit of doubt Wladimir was quick to add that if it wasn’t for the Fury loss AJ would not be champion and they would not be having this fight.
When Nelson asked Joshua if it would be the end of his career if he lost he said no and hesitated but Klitschko was quick to say, “Don’t even think about”. The old master stepped in to help his young protege, then made it clear, “If you win I will congratulate you, when you lose I will help you”.
Wladimir is quite possibly one of the most educated heavyweight boxers ever along with his brother Vitali, who both hold PhD’s and speak multiple languages. So I found it fascinating to watch ‘Dr Steelhammer’ produce a chess match of the mind, whether he will be able to do that in the ring is another matter?
The one thing I picked up on was the respect that AJ has for the 41 year old, he listened intensely and soaked up every word his challenger had to say. Maybe with his opponent being in his top five heavyweights of all time and the pressure of fighting in front of 90,000 people at Wembley, will overwhelm Joshua? Or has the mastermind of heavyweight boxing played him with mind games?
Personally, I think it’s time for Joshua to finally show the world who the number one heavyweight in the division is and become the unified IBO, IBF and Super WBA champion.
I can see AJ stopping Klitschko within the distance and ringside guest Deontay Wilder stepping in the ring to square up with the young Brit. Then the ‘fight fan’ can get their wish of more WWE gloves are off entertainment.
Turbo Terry needs Crolla
By: Johnston Brown – BillyCBoxing.com
On Saturday night at the Manchester Arena (Formerly M.E.N Arena) ‘Turbo’ Terry Flanagan retained his WBO World Lightweight title against Russian Petr Petrov to go 33-0. It was a comfortable nights work for the Lancashire man against a quick and awkward opponent but is it now time for the 27 year old to step up in class?
After the fight Turbo Terry called out WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares, three weight world champion Mikey Garcia and WBO super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko.
He said, “Crolla was made for him. He doesn’t put more than three punches together. I will go and go again on Linares. I think I’d stop him, I think he’s fragile. I always knew he’d look good against Crolla. He’d already beaten him when not at his best.”
“I want to fight people like Linares, Lomachenko, Garcia – hopefully Frank can make that happen. I’m confident I’d beat anyone at lightweight. I’m big and strong. If I didn’t think I’d win I wouldn’t be asking for these fights.”
On the evidence of Flanagan’s display against Petrov and in this previous title defences I cannot see him beating either of those three. Especially after watching Lomachenko win in outstanding fashion against Jason Sosa, I can see nothing but a conclusive victory for the Ukrainian.
Mikey Garcia would have too much power and would eventually stop Turbo Terry. A fight with Linares would be a little more closer but would the Venezuelan want to travel to England for a third time, I’m not so sure?
There is no doubt Flanagan has a lot of talent and deserves a big fight but for now I think a match up with Anthony ‘Million Dollar’ Crolla would make more sense, financially and professionally.
This fight would generate huge publicity, not only for the Manchester faithful but also the British public. After watching Flanagan v Petrov and both Linares v Crolla fights, I think it is clear to see that ‘Million Dollar’ has more of a fan base and Flanagan needs him more than he thinks. It would be the biggest fight in Manchester between these two Mancunians that went to the same school!
The biggest stumbling block would be the sketchy relationship between Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn. Although Eddie has said that he would welcome the fight to be broadcast onBoxnation instead of Sky Sports Warren does not seem interested. I just hope that Warren doesn’t let his issues with Hearn and Sky prevent an all British dust up be blocked.
The co-main event in Manchester saw Liam Smith get rewarded a stoppage win against Liam Williams. In an unfortunate clash of heads in round nine, Williams’ coach Gary Lockett called the contest off with his fighter’s right eye completely closed. The Welshman was ahead on the scorecards at the time of the stoppage but Liam Smith will not be awarded the WBO super-welterweight title as he did not make weight.
Elsewhere on the night, double Olympic champion Nicola Adams cruised to a professional debut win against Argentine Virginia Carcamo.
Heavyweight Daniel Dubois also made his professional debut by knocking out last minute replacement Marcus Kelly.
Other results in Manchester:
Super lightweight Jack Catterall 18-0(10KOs) bt Martin Gethin 28-9-1(12KOs) by TKO
Middleweight ‘Jimmy’ Killrain Kelly 21-1(8KOs) bt Rick Godding 23-2-1(3KOs) on PTS
One to look out for is super featherweight Zelfa Barrett 16-0(10Kos) bt Ross Jameson 2-9-1(0KOs) by TKO
Super welterweight James Metcalf 15-0(7KOs) bt Jason Ball 9-24-1(5KOs) by RTD
Mark Heffron 15-0(13KOs) bt Achillies Szabo 19-16(8KOs) by TKO
Super welterweight Mason Cartwright 9-0-1(2KOs) bt Sam Omidi 4-5-2(0KOs) by KO
Cruiserweight Jordan Thompson 6-0(5KOs) bt Jevgenijis Andrejevs 10-81-3(4KOs) by TKO
Super bantamweight Paul Butler 24-1(13KOs) bt Carlos Ruben Dario Ruiz 21-10(10KOs) by TKO
Le Boxing Crunch
By: Johnston Brown – BillyCBoxing.com
There is nothing glamorous about York Hall but it’s gritty presence is the heartbeat of the current boom in British boxing. I spent the evening in the famous boxing venue that provides young prospects with their right of passage into the sports bigger leagues.
World Series of Boxing is the perfect stepping stone for those rising stars who want to build a reputation and this old fashioned venue is the perfect place to build it.
On a lovely spring evening in east London the tie labelled “Le Boxing Crunch” saw the British Lionhearts extended their lead at the top of Group B by two points over their French opponents who remain in second place above Italia Thunder.
One of the rising stars of the British Lionhearts team Galal Yafai kick started proceedings with a unanimous victory over young Spaniard Martin Molina.
The 24 year old from Birmingham dominated from the outset, connecting with some heavy shots to the head in the first couple of rounds. Molina put on a gritty performance throughout but went down twice in the third and fourth with two spiteful body shots. Light flyweight, Yafai moves to 5-1 with a confident display while Molina loses for the first time to go 1-1. All three judges scored it 50:44
In the Middleweight Division Frenchmen Nizar Trimech improved his record to 2-0 when he defeated Zoltan Harcsa, who suffered his first loss and goes 1-1. The Hungarian boxed well behind his jab and always looked dangerous on the counter but Trimech continued to be the aggressor and take the centre of the ring.
Both fighters were hurt in an excellent fourth round but with the scores even going into the fifth it was Trimech who prevailed for the Fighting Roosters; 49:46, 47:48, 45:50
The best performance of the night went to Bantamweight Peter McGrail (3-3) who put on a real classy display against Samuel Kistohurry (1-1). The 20 year old scouser won the opening round but lost the second when he got caught too frequently. The youngster showed his World Series of Boxing experience by adjusting his style in the last three rounds. Instead of moving in straight lines he spun his opponent time and time again and picked his shots superbly to secure the victory. All three judges scored the fight 49:46
In the fourth fight Conor Loftus now 2-0, who moved down to light welterweight for the new season claimed a victory over one of the best in the weight class, Hassan Amzile (2-1) to claim victory for the British Lionhearts. Two judges scored it 48:47 and one 49:46 all in Loftus favour.
The last bout of the evening was a bloody encounter between the two teams’ Croatian draft picks. The Roosters’ Alen Babic (1-1) got the better of Josip Bepo Filipi (5-3) in the heavyweight category by unanimous decision 49:46, 49:46, 45:50.
Congratulations to the British Lionhearts, who had already been confirmed as quarter-finalist before their match up with the France Fighting Roosters on a good 3-2 victory.