Johnston Brown

Warrington & Yafai remain undefeated after hard fought victories

Starting with the First Direct Arena in Leeds Josh Warrington (25-0, 5KOs) came through a gruelling points win over tough Spaniard Kiko Martinez (36-8, 26KOs). 

After a 10 month lay off the 26 year old managed to extend his unbeaten record but had to settle for a majority decision victory. Two judges had it 116-112 in Warrington’s favor while the other had it a draw 114-114.

It was a close contest that could have gone either way so I can see why one of the judges could have seen it as a draw. After watching the fight myself I think the right man won on the night albeit by a smaller margin of 116-114.

The man from Yorkshire nicked the first couple of rounds and produced the cleaner work in the middle rounds which gave him a bit of breathing space. Martinez was the aggressor for much of the fight and threw a lot of hurtful body shots that the judges may have missed.

The 31 year old was cut from what looked like a clash of heads midway through the eighth but this seemed to kick start the former champion into gear. His looping right hand was getting through more often in the later rounds which kept Warrington on the back foot right up to the last bell.

Martinez did hint before the fight that if he lost he would retire but on this performance I think he should think long and hard about his future, as he still has something to offer the featherweight division.

Josh Warrington will be happy he came through a difficult test after his long lay off but I think a fight with Lee Selby or Gary Russell Jr would be a mistake at this point. Maybe a rematch with Martinez would be better preparation but next time win more convincingly.

Other Results

Flyweight Nicola Adams (2-0, 1KO) stopped Maryan Salazar (5-2, 0KOs) in the third round in front of the Leeds faithful.

During an intriguing match-up for the British super bantamweight title Thomas Patrick Ward (21-0, 2KOs) won on points against Jazza Dickens (22-3, 7KOs) after sustaining a bad cut in the ninth which the doctor deemed too serious for him to continue.

In the lightweight division Josh Leather (12-0, 6KOs) stopped Phillip Sutcliffe Jnr (13-2, 8KOs). Referee Howard Foster once again made the dubious decision to stop the fight to early in my opinion.

19 year old Ryan Garner now (5-0, 4KOs) put on a fantastic display against journeyman Rafael Castillo (14-34-3, 6KOs). Watch out for this super featherweight as he is going to have a huge following if he continues to perform like this.

Super lightweight Tyronne Nurse (35-2-2, 7KOs) won on points against Andy Keates (12-7, 1KO)

In the light heavyweight division Bob Ajisafe (17-3, 7KOs) beat late replacement Josef Obeslo (6-36-3, 4KOs) on points.

Birmingham…

At the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham, WBA super flyweight champion Kal Yafai (22-0, 14KOs) won a unanimous decision over durable Suguru Muranaka (25-3-1, 8KOs) of Japan.

The 27 year was making his first defence of his title on a night billed ‘The Homecoming’ and he was made to work hard in a one sided victory that didn’t tell the whole story.

The Japanese challenger looked like his 10 year unbeaten streak would come to a short and abrupt end when he went down in the second round but the flash knock down only seemed to spur him on.

When the fight reached the mid way point it was obvious that Yafai was going to have to go the distance as the visitor continued to absorb heavy shots with no effect.

Yafai was deducted a point in the eighth for a low blow which stalled his flow but Mauranaka continued to show a unwavering steeliness.

The champion maintained his dominance in the final rounds and Muranaka’s resilience did lessen but the Birmingham crowd and I were glad to see him go the distance. Fight scorecards: 118-108, 119-107 & 119-107.

Unification fights will be in the horizon for Kal Yafai but potential showdowns with Roman Gonzalez (46-1, 38KOs) or Naoya Inoue (12-0, 10KOs) should be put on ice for now.

Other Results

Sam Eggington (21-3, 13KOs) produced the highlight reel knockout of the night in round 10 to win the European welterweight title against Ceferino Rodriguez (24-2, 12KOs). Promoter Barry Hearn wants Danny Garcia (33-1, 19KOs) in Vegas next but this is no more than a pipe dream, surely?

In the local battle between Gamal Yafai (12-0, 5KOs) and Sean Davis (12-1, 0KOs) the middle brother Gamal won by TKO in the seventh round after six knockdown’s to win the WBC international super bantamweight title.

Welterweight Frankie Gavin (24-3, 14KOs) struggled against Renald Garrido (18-15-1, 3KOs) but eventually came through with a points win.

Middleweight Josh Kelly (2-0, 1KO) looked strong and powerful when he knocked out Jony Vina (6-2, 1KO) in the fourth.

In another battle of the unbeaten fighters Adam Harper (8-0, 0KOs) won on points against Ryan Kelly (8-1, 3KOs) in the super welterweight division.

25 year old super middleweight Lennox Clarke (15-0-1, 6KOs) drew with light heavyweight Karel Horejsel (8-7-3, 7KOs). In a fight that I knew would be difficult for the West Midlands man.

Verdict

Both nights produced some great fights with some debatable decisions, terrific knockouts and as always superb support from the fans in attendance. Both get a 7/10

Saturday Nights Alright for Fighting

We have a busy Saturday night of boxing in England with Sky Sports broadcasting in Birmingham and BT Sport and Boxnation showing live coverage of a night in Leeds.

Starting with the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham Kal Yafai (21-0, 14KOs) headlines a bill labelled ‘The Homecoming’. The WBA world super flyweight puts his title on the line against Suguru Muranaka (25-2-1, 8KOs). The Japanese fighter is on a 10 year unbeaten streak but has never fought outside of his home county in all of his 28 bouts.

This will be Yafai’s first defence of the WBA strap since he captured the title against Luis Conception (35-5, 24KOs) in Manchester.

Bar the Conception victory Kal’s best win came against Cristofer Rosales (23-2, 15KOs) who will take on another young British rising star Andrew Selby (8-0, 5KOs) on May 26.

On the undercard Sam Eggington (20-3, 12KOs) attempts to win the EBU (European) welterweight title against current holder Ceferino Rodriguez (24-1, 12KOs). The Spaniard defeated Ahmed El Mousaoui (25-3-1, 6KOs) to win the European belt in December 2016.

It will be a very difficult night for Eggington with Rodriguez’s only defeat coming against Mohammed Mimoune (18-2, 2KOs) 2 years ago. He has fought and won in Italy, Argentina and USA so coming overseas to England won’t faze the 28 year old.

The Savage as Eggington likes to be known has been in great form of late with a KO win over now retired Paulie Malignaggi (36-8, 7KOs) in March and a TKO victory over Brummy Frankie Gavin (23-3, 14KOs) last year.

He also put in a fine performance when he stopped Shayne Singleton (23-1-1, 8KOs) who was undefeated at the time. That being said Eggington was out classed by Bradley Skeete (25-1, 11KOs) who fights Singleton next in June.

Frankie Gavin looks to put his recent defeats to Eggington and Kell Brook (36-1, 25KOs) behind him and get back to winning ways when takes on journeyman Renald Garrido (18-14-1, 3KOs). Nothing more than a victory will do for Gavin.

WBC international super bantamweight title holder Sean Davis (12-0, 0KOs) puts his belt on the line against Gamal Yafai (11-0, 4KOs).

It’s great to see two undefeated fighters step into the ring against each other on any night but with the added spice of fighting in their home towns this could be the fight of the night.

Davis won the vacant WBC international super bantamweight title against Paul Economides (20-6, 4KOs) in October last year in what was his best victory so far.

Gamal’s best performance came against Bobby Jenkinson (10-3-1, 2KOs) when he won the Commonwealth (British Empire) super bantamweight title.

In another fight which sees two undefeated fighters pitted against each other, Ryan Kelly (8-0, 3KOs) takes on Adam Harper (7-0, 0KOs) with the vacant Midlands Area super welterweight title up for grabs.

Kelly is the home fighter so this may give him a slight edge but this is a real 50/50 fight which could go either way.

Josh Kelly (1-0) will challenge himself yet again in only his second pro fight when he takes on Spaniard Jony Vina (6-1,1KO).

The 23 year old is being fast tracked in the middleweight division as he has obvious talent but his cockiness will need to be rained in by coach Adam Booth, although I’m sure he’s used to training big heads, (I mention no names)

Super middleweight Lennox Clarke (15-0,6KOs) steps in the ring against Karel Horejsek (8-7-2, 7KOs) who is a natural light heavyweight. Do not let the Czech’s record fool you as he carries power so this won’t be easy.

In the First Direct Arena in Leeds, featherweight Josh Warrington (24-0, 5KOs) finally makes his return after 10 months out against Kiko Martinez (36-7, 26KOs).

The Yorkshireman has had some impressive victories against Patrick Hyland (31-3, 15KOs), Randall Munroe (28-5-1, 11KOs) and Joel Brunker (31-2, 18KOs). This will be another tough test for Warrington as he sets his sights on the world title shot next.

The Spaniard has had more knockouts then Josh has had fights and been in the ring with the very best, Carl Frampton (23-1, 14KOs) twice, Randall Munroe twice, Scott Quigg (33-1-2, 24KOs) and current featherweight king Leo Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18KOs).

Kiko is always the nearly man but just falls short against the elite so this will be a statement of intent if Warrington can get past him.

British super bantamweight title holder Jazza Dickens (22-2, 7KOs) takes on undefeated Thomas Patrick Ward (20-0, 2KOs).

Dickens has only lost to the number one super bantamweight Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11KOs) and rising star Kid Galahad (22-0, 13KOs) so this is a really big night for Ward in front of his home crowd.

Flyweight Nicola Adams (1-0, 0KOs) will take on 18 year old Maryan Salazar (5-1, 0KOs). ‘The Lioness’ will be desperate to put on a great performance in front of her beloved fans.

Super lightweight Josh Leather (11-0, 5KOs) puts his undefeated record on the line against Irishman Phillip Sutcliffe Jnr (13-1, 8KOs).

This could be one of the fights of the night in Leeds as there really is nothing between them but I have a sneaking feeling the man from Dublin might nick the win.

Tyronne Nurse (34-2-2, 7KOs) will be hoping for a better performance then his last outing when he was fortunate to get a draw against Joe Hughes (15-2-1, 6KOs).

His opponent Andy Keates (12-6, 1KO) has lost four of his last five fights so it would be a massive shock if he could pull off a victory.

Light heavyweight Bob Ajisafe (16-3, 7KOs) will be looking to get back to winning ways after his defeat against dangerous Russian Umar Salamov (19-0, 14KOs) when he takes on Andrejs Pokumeiko (12-12-1, 8KOs).

The Lionheart as Ajisafe likes to be known should win comfortably but you never know in heavyweight boxing.

Hope you all enjoy!

The Avengers – France Fighting Roosters lead 3-2

The France Fighting Roosters avenged their two earlier defeats from the Group stages with a first leg 3-2 victory against the British Lionhearts in the World Series Boxing quarter-finals in Paris.

The cross-Channel rivals competed for the third time this season but it was the hosts who came out on top for the first time after five exciting bouts.

The light flyweight division got the nights action underway when Samuel Carmona outworked Galal Yafai to give the home side an early lead. These two met last year when Yafai recorded a victory against the Spaniard in the semi-final of the European Boxing Olympic Qualification Tournament which secured his place in the Summer Olympics in Rio.

The 24 year old from the West Midlands is the younger brother of WBA super-flyweight champion Khalid ‘Kal’ Yafai and super-bantamweight Gamal ‘The Beast’ Yafai who are both in action this Weekend at the Barclaycard Arena in Birmingham. Unfortunately the talented youngster was unable to get the win he needed not only for the Lionhearts but for a family hat-trick.

In the second bout of the evening France’s Samuel Kistohurry also avenged his loss from last month against Liverpudlian Peter McGrail in the bantamweight division. It was dead even going into the fifth with two rounds a piece but the 22 year old Frenchman was the aggressor throughout the final round, applying non stop pressure onto the tiring McGrail to nick the win and put the Roosters two up.

The Fighting Roosters were starting to gather momentum and a third victory in a row would establish a strong foothold on not only the first leg but the tie as a whole. It was down to light welterweight Conor Loftus to buck the trend and make sure Hassan Amzile didn’t avenge his defeat from last month. Thankfully for the Lionhearts it was the Brit that edged yet another close encounter for an important win for the vistors.

The middleweights were up next and draft pick Luka Plantic of Croatia was looking like he would level the scores for the Lionhearts against Rachid Achoui. The Croat marched into a three round lead but then Achoui turned the fight on its head winning the fourth and forcing the referee to stop the fight in the final round.

Once again the Lionhearts found themselves two down and in danger of gifting the Roosters an unassailable lead. The pressure was on heavyweight import David Nyika from New Zealand to produce the goods against Kevin Kuadjovi. In a determined and dominating display from Nyika his opponent was unable to cope with his speed and power. After two standing counts the French corner had seen enough and threw in the towel.

With the score now at 3-2 in favour of the French the tie is delicately poised and is all to play for going into the second leg at London’s York Hall in 20 May.

In the other quarter-final, visitors Astama Arlans Kazakhstan beat the Patriot Boxing Team 3-2 in their first leg in Kemerovo, Russia. The Kazakhstan’s will be confident of progressing into the semi-finals after this away victory.

The Heavyweights

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.

Boxing Sanctions

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.

Coming up

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.

The Passing of the Torch after a ‘Battle in the Capital’

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.

Joshua vs Klitschko – Predictions

By Johnston Brown – BillyCBoxing

Betting odds

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.”

Vitali Klitschko

“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…

Wladimir Klitschko

“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.”

Anthony Joshua

“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.”

World Series of Boxing – Quarter-Final Line-up Confirmed

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.

British & Irish Boxing – Not a Great Start but will get Better! (Long read)

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;

Heavyweights

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.

Cruiserweights

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.

Light heavyweights

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.

Super Middleweights

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.

Middleweights

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.

Welterweights

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.

Lightweights

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.

Super Featherweights

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.

Featherweights

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.

Super Bantamweights

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.

Bantamweights

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.

Super Flyweights

‘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.

Flyweights

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.

Mini Mike Tyson lands a title shot – while Murray keeps title hopes alive

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.

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