As read out on the BillyCBoxing show on Thursday October 26th. These are the thoughts of AJ through a newspaper article published everyday during fight week;
I only had 39 fights as an amateur and people sometimes forget Saturday’s bout is just my 20th as a professional. The story was I was supposed to be a 2016 Rio Olympics hopeful and look to turn pro around now, so I’m still learning as, in theory, I should have been an amateur until 2017.
It’s been a fast-tracked process but I feel more comfortable in my skin. I’ve got the experience that I need so I don’t stress about anything because I’ve got that to draw upon.
I love it all, the motivation is strong and the hunger is there for big nights and winning more titles.
Everyone is in the mix to face me, I have so many options. Sometimes I wonder if people really want to fight me, or they just say it.
There’s a difference between fighting me because you think you can beat me and fighting me just for the pay cheque or to get your name out there.
I think I am capable of beating everyone there is but I have to keep my feet on the ground at the same time.
A lot of people talk about Tyson Fury and I getting it together in the ring and we speak — not talking like mates, just “I’m going to knock you out”, that sort of thing. Trust me, we will get down and dirty as soon as we can.
Everything you see on social media is the same behind the scenes. Fury has not got a licence at the moment but was saying he expects to have three big fights in 2018.
He brings attention to the sport so, of course, we want him to come back.
He’s not like many other champions, for example Mike Tyson, who was all-action. Fury is a different breed at 6ft 9in and really rangy.
The style to beat Fury is the Tyson style — you need a lot of energy otherwise he will play with you.
Tall boxers are often described like trees where you need to chop them down gradually but, if you don’t have success with Fury, you could get disheartened because 12 rounds with him would be a long time.
You need physical and mental strength against a Fury and that’s why I want to fight him.
I am always going to be positive about Fury and think that he is going to come back. That’s the fight that we all want, it’s a brilliant fight.
We’ve all been through tough times and I genuinely hope that he can get through this and come back because the division would be better with him in there. What you want from Fury is for him to bounce back from this, face the hearing and deal with it head on so you can move on, because we all want him back.
But Carlos Takam is the next man to face me on Saturday night, then Deontay Wilder’s potentially the next threat.
However, I also want that rematch with Dillian Whyte. I even brought his name up for Cardiff but Takam is higher ranked.
You need Whyte’s mentality in a proper fight. In shorter, amateur bouts you need skill, in a 12-round heavyweight fight you need a bit of skill and a lot of heart and guts.
If Dillian Whyte fought Deontay Wilder, he’d give him problems.
I could go on to have 40-50 fights and win them all and have a great career but in years to come, people will remember fights against Whyte along with the one with Wladimir Klitschko. That’s why I wanted the Klitschko rematch and that’s why I want the Whyte one, because we bring the best out of each other.
Who knows what’s next, though, because it’s Takam first.
As read out on the BillyCBoxing show on Wednesday October 25th. These are the thoughts of AJ through a newspaper article published everyday during fight week;
Wembley Stadium and Wladimir Klitschko are central to how I’m feeling this week. It’s a night that’s still crucial in many ways.
I would have loved to have had the rematch around about now but I respect his decision to retire — he’s had an incredible career.
That was the first time I’d been into the ‘championship rounds’ in my professional career. I always wondered what it was like to go into the latter rounds, what it was like to get knocked down — and now that I’ve experienced it I can relate it to my opponents, like Carlos Takam for example, when I watch their fights and use it to my advantage.
There was nothing nasty in the build-up with us and there didn’t need to be. The stage was set at Wembley for a massive occasion and we delivered. The night was perfect for me, the stadium, the moment and even the weather. There was traffic on the North Circular on the way there and people were beeping their horns and waving at me.
Some people go through their careers without having to show grit, others don’t. I had to go through it against Wladimir and show myself, not anyone else, that I could dig deep and pull through from a bad place.
You cannot prepare for hitting the canvas, you don’t train or practise getting knocked down. There’s nowhere to hide and you can talk the talk but it’s who you are that gives you the character to get through that. On that night, it was the time for me to prove how much heart I had.
Wladimir and I were matched well on ability, technique and speed — it just came down to desire. We needed to show who wanted it more but, even though he lost, he showed that he had the fight in him. I had to get rid of all that respect I had for him and turn it into a dog fight. I put it on him in the fifth round and, when I put him down, I roared to the crowd because I thought I’d done it. I turned around and like The Terminator, Wladimir rose to give it his last push. I swung a few big shots and he slipped them and started fighting back. We went into the sixth and he put me down.
I told him that, if he let me out of that round, I’d knock him out. I got back to the corner and I felt my energy come back and told him that I warned him that this was coming. It took me a few rounds to figure out the combinations he was throwing.As he threw the right hand I was trying to go under to the body to slow him down with the left and you just naturally rotate and what comes after — the uppercut. After it landed I took a look at him to see if he was hurt because I didn’t want to expend any energy if he had ridden the punch well but I thought let’s roll the dice here and I unloaded on him.
Even when he went down and got up, he was still rolling back and throwing but I was catching him clean, he went down again and I looked back and he’d got up again. I hit him with another barrage of punches and the referee stepped in and said “enough’s enough”.
I hope you don’t mind the reflection. It’s a fight that defines me this week against Takam — my first fight since that April night — and will define me in my career, a night to give me strength this week.
As read out on the BillyCBoxing show on Tuesday October 24th. These are the thoughts of AJ through a newspaper article published everyday during fight week;
It’s another fight week, another sold-out stadium, but with the added twist of a new opponent.
Kubrat Pulev’s injured bicep means Carlos Takam steps up as my mandatory challenger in Cardiff on Saturday night.
I found out the news last Monday when I came into the gym and my trainer, Rob McCracken, said: “Before you hear it from somewhere else and so you’re kept in the loop, be prepared for a change of opponent because Pulev might be injured.”
After training, Eddie Hearn messaged me saying, “Pulev is out and Takam is in, call me if you need anything” and that was it.
We haven’t had Pulev-clones coming in for sparring, my coach trains me to be better, not to have a certain style or beat a certain opponent.
Okay, I’ve been watching Pulev for months but now it’s Takam. I just switch my search in YouTube from Pulev to Takam, that’s all that’s changed, I’ve got to do the same job.
I’ve got to change my approach a bit but I still need to box to the best of my ability and I hope I can still show my boxing technique as well. I like to show what I’m capable of against boxers and he’s got a very different style.
This is actually a tougher fight. You can keep punching Takam and he’s still going to be in your face. Some guys you hit once, twice and then they are taking steps back and not engaging. Hit Takam, he comes forward looking for more and to get inside.
Eddie’s a smart businessman, he knows the sport. He told Carlos’s team that he was next in line in the IBF so to stay in shape as this is a mandatory fight and you could be next — and Carlos is a professional and that’s what he has done.
He’s been called in and he’s got a massive opportunity.
I worked hard for these titles so I don’t want to have to just give them up, I want to defend them because I’m a proud champion.
It makes perfect sense to fight Takam and the only real negative for me is that we haven’t had 10 weeks build-up on him in the media. He’s a proper opponent and one that has been in camp knowing this fight could happen, so he’s prepared for this.
If Pulev had not been in the picture and we’d announced that I was fighting Takam as my mandatory and No3 in the rankings, that’s definitely a credible defence.
Takam has been fighting big guys for years. My last fights and camps have all been for tall men — Wladimir Klitschko is 6ft 6in, Eric Molina is 6ft 4in, Dominic Breazeale is 6ft 7in, Pulev is 6ft 4½in — now I am fighting a guy who is shorter at 6ft 1½in and will be well under six foot when crouched down and rolling shots.
It’s a completely different ball game and now I am going to have to get ready for a guy who wants to get to work on the inside and do a better job than some of his other opponents.
We were talking about fighting a couple of years ago but I’ve never sparred him, though.
He’s so game and he’s always said he wants to fight me so I know that he believes he can beat me. He has nothing to lose and everything to gain and that makes him a very dangerous proposition.
Pulev came through the Olympic system, he won World Championship bronze and has that eastern European style so he’s a very good boxer — I was looking for that being a bit of a chess match. Now we get a Mike Tyson-type guy in Takam: shorter, thicker set and loves a left hook.
We all face injuries and niggles but you crack on.
That’s my mindset but everyone is different. You want to be 110 per cent, though, for a world title fight so you have to respect that if he’s got the injury. It’s scary and dangerous. Everyone is interested in what’s going to happen in 2018 but, if I can’t get past Takam, it puts a massive dent in those plans.
British & Irish boxing is still thriving and has been for a while now. We already have an excellent crop of fighters that are either world champions, former world champions or world champions in waiting. But we also have a new wave of fighters that have just began their careers and have been causing a stir on the domestic front.
To make this list all fighters must have fought no more than 10 professional fights. They are my picks for the next generation of fighters that I believe will be world champions one day. Of course this is boxing and hot potential is by no means a certainty to success because with every Anthony Joshua there is a David Price.
Daniel Dubois (5-0, 5KOs)
Currently one of the most exciting heavyweight prospects in Britain at the moment. So far he has an unblemished record of five wins out of five with five knockouts. Of course it is still early days but there is no doubting he has unbelievable power. Triple D turned professional early after just a handful of senior amateur bouts. Team GB wanted to take the 20-year-old to Tokyo 2020 but his team decided the professional ranks were more suited for him.
In his last outing he landed a massive right hand that knocked AJ Carter out cold in 48 seconds.
The young sensation admits to dropping Anthony Joshua to the canvas during a series of sparring sessions. When questioned about putting Joshua down, he said “It let me know that I have power in both hands but other than that I take it for what it is – I learned from the experience.” Take from that what you will but gym talk is cheap.
Next fight: TBA
Nathan Gorman (10-0, 8KOs)
The 21-year-old is an undefeated heavyweight that has gone under the radar mainly because he has not had as much exposure. Gorman comes from the traveler community and is very proud of his heritage. In fact he is the great-nephew of the ‘King of the Gypsies’, Bartley Gorman.
After only eleven amateur fights where he won the Junior ABAs and made his mark in the World Youth Championships Gorman made his professional debut on December 2015. Since then he has pretty much stopped everybody in his way.
I can see Gorman-Dubois in the future as they look set to be on a collision course. Dubois will be the heavy favourite but with Hatton in Gorman’s corner write him off at your peril.
Next fight: 11/11/16 vs Nicky Webb (11-0) in Metro Radio Arena, Newcastle, England
Joe Joyce (1-0, 1KO)
Turned professional on July 2017 after a long and successful amateur boxing career. Joyce decided to take up boxing at 22-years-old due to injuries that ended his track and field interest. In a decorated amateur career he won a bronze medal in the 2013 European Amateur Championships in Minsk, gold in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, gold at the 2015 European Games in Baku, bronze at the 2015 World Amateur Championships in Doha and finally silver in 2016 Olympics Games in Rio.
Due to his age and his excellent amateur career Joyce is hoping to fast track himself in the pro game. On his debut the 32-year-old stopped Ian Lewison in eight rounds. Considering it was his first professional fight he put out a statement of intent by picking a durable opponent in a ten round bout. Joyce and his team are hoping that he will be ready for a shot at a world heavyweight title in only his sixth or seventh bout.
Although Joyce stands at 6 foot 6 he is very athletic in the ring and bounces around on the balls of his feet while snapping out the jab.
Next fight: TBA
Lawrence Okolie (5-0, 4KOs)
A big hitting cruiserweight that has a great future as a professional. He was part of the Team GB squad that competed in the Rio Olympic Games in 2016 where he fought at heavyweight. Unfortunately for Okolie he was pitted against Cuban Erislandy Savon and lost.
In his first pro fight he demolished his opponent in 20 seconds and continued blasting all of his opponents out in the first round until he finally went the six round distance in his fifth bout. He came up against a tricky customer in Blaise Mendouo but managed to get the nod in a one sided match-up.
Okolie has a 6 foot 5 inch frame and can look a little unorthodox in his style with his long leavers and gangly legs but he does possess huge power in his right hand.
There has already been a war of words with the other up and coming cruiserweight.
Next fight: 28/10/17 vs TBA – On the Joshua-Takam under-card
Isaac Chamberlain (9-0, 4KOs)
‘Chambo’ is another excellent young fighter in the cruiserweight division; the only difference is he doesn’t have an Olympic background. He started his professional career in January 2015; he won his first four fights going the four round distance until he stopped undefeated Russ Henshaw in the sixth and final round. In September last year he beat Wadi Camacho over ten rounds at York Hall to win his first title, the BBBofC Southern Area Cruiserweight strap. In three fights this year he has recorded three straight TKO victories and is now ready to take on fellow undefeated Commonwealth Champion Luke Watkins (9-0, 4KOs)
Although it has taken time for the Brixton man to find his power early in his career he is starting to pick his shots with accuracy and spite. No doubt he has gained valuable experience sparring with Deontay Wilder and Oleksandr Usyk.
Of course, when Briton have two young prospects in the same weight division there will always be talk of a potential showdown. Okolie-Chamberlain is no different but this has extra spice as there seems to be genuine dislike between them plus they are both Londoners. Watch this space as this could be a real grudge match with some fireworks along the way.
Next fight: TBA
Joshua Buatsi (2-0, 2KOs)
Young Joshua has been well schooled in the amateurs and looks the part in the professional ranks. In 2015 Buatsi picked up a bronze medal at the European Amateur Championships in Samokov. Then in 2016 he secured his place in Rio as part of the Great Britain team when he beat Dutchman Peter Müllenberg in the final of the light heavyweight tournament qualifier. His great form continued all the way to the semi-final where the picked up another bronze medal.
Once Buatsi finished his university degree he decided it was time to turn pro and he had numerous promoters knocking on his door. The lure of Anthony Joshua becoming his manger was too good to turn down so he decided Matchroom would be his preferred choice.
Despite his inexperience he has gone about his business with composure and authority. If Buatsi can continue his impressive start I do believe he will be not only one of the biggest names on my list but in the world of boxing.
Next fight: 28/10/17 vs TBA – On the Joshua-Takam under-card
Anthony Fowler (4-0, 3KOs)
If you’re an English football fan and you recognise his surname then you’re probably asking yourself if he is a relation? Well yes, he is the cousin of Liverpool legend and England pro footballer Robbie Fowler. But put that aside as Anthony is not on my list because of his family name.
Fowler represented England as an amateur winning bronze in the Almaty 2013 World Championships and won gold in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. In 2015 he boxed for the British Lionhearts in the World Series Boxing format before finishing his amateur career in 2016 with a 190-19 record.
The Machine made his debut on the Brook-Spence under-card winning with a first round knockout. He carries a lot of power in this weight division and has an aggressive style which the scousers will love. Make no bones about it Fowler will be competing for domestic honours very soon and could well be a fighting for world titles in only a couple of years.
Next fight: TBA
Connor Benn (9-0, 7KOs)
Conor Benn is the son of former middleweight & super middleweight world champion boxer Nigel Benn. Conor made his pro-debut in his hometown aged just 19-years-old at the O2 Arena, London winning by a TKO against Ivaio Boyanov.
In his second appearance at the O2 Arena he was on the under-card of Brook-Golovkin and won by knockout to go 4-0. Since then the young destroyer has won 4 of his last 5 by knockout. Two of which were against guys with unblemished records. That famous saying, ‘The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree’. Well if you know anything about Benn Senior’s style then I don’t need to fill you in much about his son’s. He has a granite chin, loves to mix it up and is starting to show more patience when picking his shots. It will be difficult for Conor to establish himself in the glamour division but it will be fun watching.
Next fight: 11/11/17 vs TBA – On the Jacobs-Arias under card
Josh Kelly (4-0, 3KOs)
There has been a lot of fuss about Josh Kelly amongst the pundits on Sky Sports which is a little bit too overzealous in my opinion. There is no doubt the 23-year-old has talent otherwise he wouldn’t even make my list but I feel they are trying to over-hype the kid which can be very dangerous especially with a guy as confident as Kelly.
The fact he was thrown into a 6 rounder on his debut shows you how confident they are in his ability. He did impress in this third fight when he brutally dispatched Tom Whitfield in the first round with 10 unanswered punches.
Kelly has an entertaining style which will earn him a large fan base. He picks his shot with great accuracy and power but more importantly he has fast hands and a sharp boxing brain. I just hope the fast tracking through a tough weight division doesn’t go Pete tong. Benn-Kelly could happen but would Eddie Hearn want to derail his hottest potentials? I doubt it.
Next fight: TBA
Josh Taylor (10-0, 9KOs)
The one and only Scotsman on my list but Josh Taylor is already showing signs of super-stardom. He has already wrote his name in the Scottish record books as an amateur when he became the first lightweight Scottish boxer to qualify for the Olympics since Dick McTaggart in 1956. His greatest day in the amateurs came when he won gold in his native country in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Taylor also represented the British Lionhearts at the World Series of Boxing.
Taylor turned professional in 2015 and made his debut in El Paso, Texas winning by TKO in two. The Tartan Tornado continued to stop all of his opponents within the distance while traveling to all the British Isles, New York City and Las Vegas. It was in the MGM Grand Garden on the Frampton-Santa Cruz under card that he finally went the eight round distance winning by UD.
But before the fight in Vegas he picked up the Commonwealth light welterweight title in only his seventh fight.
Taylor’s biggest night came when he headlined in Glasgow against undefeated English prospect Ohara Davies for the Commonwealth and WBC silver titles. The Scottish southpaw dropped ‘Two Tanks’ in the third before a vicious stoppage in the seventh to the delight of the Glasgow faithful.
Josh Taylor has three dangerous combinations; power, speed and accuracy. I believe he will become a world champion next year as long as know body ducks him!
Next fight: 11/11/17 vs Miguel Vazquez (39-5) at Royal Highland Centre, Edinburgh
Lyon Woodstock (10-0, 5KOs)
As with many of the fighters I have listed Lyon Woodstock has an amateur background but was never chosen for the Great British team. I am a little bit bewildered as to why he was never selected considering he stopped 16 of his 24 opponents? He did however reach the semi-finals in an English Boxing Elite tournament.
He became pro in 2015 winning by knockout in the first round and has since gone on to win the Midlands Area super featherweight title and the vacant European super featherweight strap in a bloody battle against Craig Poxton. Lyon has good head movement and can fight on the back foot but he has a tendency to get right up close and personal. Hopefully he will learn soon that getting up in your opponents grill isn’t always the best option especially when he could dismantle fighters on the outside.
Next fight: TBA
Michael Conlan (4-0, 4KOs)
Michael Conlan may only be 25-years-old and only four fights into his professional career but he has already achieved so much as an amateur. He won three gold medals as a bantamweight in the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, 2015 European Amateur Championships in Samokov & 2015 World Amateur Championships in Doha. At flyweight he captured a silver medal in the 2013 European Amateur Championships in Minsk and bronze in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. In the 2016 Olympics in Rio Conlan was eliminated by a controversial call. The Irishman responded by raising his middle finger at the judges and accused officials of corruption. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back for the Belfast boy who decided to call it a day in amateur boxing and take the plunge in the pro game.
A number of big promotional companies were interested in signing Conlan but he decided to choose Top Rank. He made his debut on St Patrick’s Day at Madison Square Garden, New York this year winning by a third round stoppage. His next three fights have also ended within the six round distance.
Micky is starting to find his feet in the pros and if you know anything about his brother Jamie you will know it will be a very entertaining rise up the ranks. They both like to mix it up so expect plenty of knockdowns and wars along the way.
Next fight: 09/12/17 vs Luis Fernando Molina (7-3-1)
Andrew Selby (10-0, 5KOs)
The one and only Welshman on my list is already due a title shot after winning a recent title eliminator against Maximino Flores by UD in York Hall, London. Most of the fighters I have added are no were near this stage in their careers yet but I had to add the slick brother of Lee Selby, Andrew because it’s quite remarkable how he has risen up the ladder in only 10 professional fights.
Once again we have another boxer with a well accomplished amateur record with two gold medals in the European Amateur Championships in Ankara in 2011 and Minsk in 2013. The Superstar as Selby likes to be called fought six times from 2012-2013 in the Word Series of Boxing representing the British Lionhearts, remaining unbeaten throughout. In the World Amateur Championships he won bronze in 2013 Almaty and 2011 Baku.
Selby has continued his excellent amateur form into the pros, winning the British flyweight title in only his fifth outing by UD. He then stopped Jake Bornea in seven to win the IBF Inter-Continental flyweight title and won by UD against Arden Diale to win the WBO International flyweight title.
Selby may have only recorded knockout wins in half of his fights but he has dominated the rest of his opposition. He works tirelessly hard when he’s in the ring and can take a good shot. I think Selby may well be the first to pick up a world title on this list.
Next fight: TBA
Paddy Barnes (4-0, 0KOs)
The Leprechaun has the most accomplished amateur record out of the lot. It’s hard to believe that it was in the Beijing 2008 Olympics that I watched the Irishman lose a shady decision to Zou Shiming. After that fight I thought the Irishman would jump straight into the pros but he opted to stay. That tells you everything you need to know about Paddy Barnes, a loyal and passionate fighter for his country. By now he could have been a decorated World Champion sitting on a lot of cash but that is not what Barnes is about. Four years later in the 2012 Olympic Games in London Paddy had another shot at Zou Shiming in the semi-finals but once again the Irishman missed out on the final due to the ridiculous countback scoring system.
The 30-year-old competed in three Olympic Games winning two bronze medals, a gold and silver in the European Championships, silver in the EU Championships & two gold’s in the Commonwealth Games. He also had a 5-1 record in the World Series of Boxing representing Italia Thunder. Barnes has had a decent start to his pro career, although his debut was ruined when his opponent picked him up during the fight and got disqualified. All of Paddy’s ring craftsmanship will play a big part in whether he can claim a world title in just his tenth fight, as he plans. Expect high energy and punch volume plus a slick in and out style that will cause problems for anyone that faces the Leprechaun.
Next fight: 18/11/17 vs TBA (WBO European flyweight title)
Northern Ireland’s Ryan Burnett (18-0, 9KOs) became the first Irish unified world champion on home soil after a gruelling 12 round victory against Zhanat Zhakiyanov (27-2, 18KOs) at the SSE Arena in Belfast.
The 25-year-old from Belfast added the WBA bantamweight belt to his IBF strap by a unanimous decision, the judges scored it 118-110, 119-109, 117-112.
Both fighters would have been forgiven for taking easier first defences but instead decided to face each other in a champion verses champion unification match.
From the first bell to the last the fight was fought at close quarters which made scoring difficult but Burnett managed to find space and produce the cleaner work.
Zhakiyanov could have been considered the aggressor for the whole twelve rounds with his relentless pressure but never really had Burnett in any real danger.
There was a moment in the sixth round when the young Irishmen clutched his shoulder, to signal an injury but he managed to shake it off and carry on without any more problems.
An emotional Burnett spoke after the fight: “It was tough and I had to dig deep, but I did it. I’m now a double world champion,”
“The plan was to keep him at range but he kept coming forward, although with this fight I’ve proved a point,” said Burnett.
The Kazakhstan’s trainer Ricky Hatton, said: “I thought Ryan nicked it and the best man won, but the scores were harsh on Zhanat.”
After the fight Ryan Burnett was taken to hospital as a precaution after complaining about a pain, especially around his ear. So he was stretchered out but fully conscious.
Super welterweight Anthony Fowler moved to (4-0, 3KOs) when he won a unanimous decision against Hungarian Laszlo Fazekas (31-28-1, 18KOs).
Welterweight Josh Kelly (4-0, 4KOs) made short work of Jose Luis Zuniga (13-3-1, 7KOs) stopping the Mexican in two.
James Tennyson (20-2, 16KOs) retained his WBA international super featherweight title when he knocked out Scotsman Darren Traynor (14-2, 6KOs) in what was the fight of the night.
There were also victories for Tyrone McKenna, Tommy McCarthy and Paul Hyland Jnr.
Congratulaions to Ryan Burnett on his victory against a tough opponent in Zhanat Zhakiyanov. It was hard going for the Irishman but he has proved that he is now the best bantamweight in the world at the moment.
I would love to see the young Irishman take on Jamie McDonnell (29-2-1, 13KOs) in a domestic tear up. The Doncaster-based WBA regular bantamweight champion would be an action packed match-up. It would be easy to negotiate as both fight under Matchroom.
WBO bantamweight champion Zolani Tete (25-3, 20KOs) would be another step up but one that I believe Burnett can win.
Good night of boxing with a great atmosphere in Ireland as usual. Great fight between Tennyson-Traynor and a historic night for Burnett and Ireland 8/10
It was a busy Saturday night for our British boxers with lightweight Anthony Crolla (32-6-3, 13KOs) defeating Scottish hero Ricky Burns (41-7-1, 14KOs) in Manchester, England. In Stuttgart, Germany, Chris Eubank Jr (26-1, 20KOs) kicked off his World Boxing Super Series with an impressive knockout victory against undefeated Turkish super-middleweight Avni Yildirim (16-1, 10KOs). Then on terrestrial television Welsh flyweight Andrew Selby (10-0, 5KOs) sealed victory over Mexican Maximino Flores (23-4-1, 2KOs) in a title eliminator at London’s York Hall.
For me the pick of the bunch was the night hosted by Matchroom at the Manchester Arena. There was no title on the line, no eliminator or place up for grabs in the next round of a tournament, just two accomplished fighters stepping into the ring for a battle of national pride.
In a close opening round the Rickster established a good solid jab and finished stronger with a nice right hand in the closing minute. In the second Crolla managed to judge his distances better and made Burns miss with his jab while working the body well which put my scorecard even.
Crolla takes control
The Englishman took the centre of the ring in the third and continued his assault to the body with not too much coming back from Burns. The fourth was pretty much the same with the Scotsman forcing his shots but Crolla was in and out while continuing to work that body. Both fighters returned big uppercuts but to no effect.
The fifth round was very even with Crolla taking the first half of the round and Burns the second. It definitely started to really heat up with Burns picking his shots well but Crolla coming back with two and three shots of his own. The sixth was a clear round for the Englishman who outworked the Scot yet again and started to establish a strong lead.
Burns fights back
With Burns clearly trailing in my eyes the Scotsman had to raise his game. Both fighters continued to target the body in another even round but Burns caught Crolla with a terrific right hand uppercut to win the round. The eighth was almost a carbon copy of the seventh with Burns steeling it late on to close the gap on Crolla.
With Burns starting to get into the ascendancy Crolla came storming back by outworking the three time world champion in the ninth but once again Burns returned the favour with a strong tenth.
With the fight in the balance going into the last two rounds it was the Manchester fighter that cemented his victory in the eleventh by mixing up his shots to the head and body. Burns was unable to keep up with the younger fighter during the round which effectively cost him the fight. The last round was tight again and too close to call.
Anthony Crolla was announced the winner by unanimous decision 116-113, 117-112, 116-114. I had the fight 116-114 and I don’t think anyone will be arguing the decision other than Burns himself. It was a close fight in the end but the right man won on the night.
What that victory does for Anthony Crolla is give him one last chance at a title shot. With Luke Campbell falling short against Jorge Linares a few weeks back maybe a title eliminator can be arranged? Or even a shot at Turbo Terry Flanagan’s title could be on the cards for Crolla? As for Ricky Burns, he has showed once again that he’s a strong solid fighter that mix it up with the best of them but maybe it’s time to call it day?
Other results from Manchester
Conor Benn bt Nathan Clarke TKO1
Mohamed Mimoune bt Sam Eggington SD (New EBU Champion)
Lewis Ritson bt Robbie Barrett TKO7 (New British Champion)
Hosea Burton bt Ratu Latianara TKO1
Scott Cardle bt Lee Connelly UD
In the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle Arena, Stuttgart, Germany Chris Eubanks Jr destroyed home crowd favourite Avni Yildirim with a fierce left hook which prompted the referee to immediately stop the fight without a count. With the Turk sprawled out on the canvas and looking wobbly once he did return to his feet, it was clear to see that the Polish ref made the correct decision.
After his emphatic victory the Englishman was quick to call out George Groves who takes on Jamie Cox (24-0, 13KOs) in the other quarter-final, Eubank Jr said: “I’m not playing anymore. Groves, I’m coming for you.”
Groves still has to get past undefeated Cox which is by no means a straight forward match-up but if successful next week a mouth watering showdown between Groves and Eubank Jr at Wembley Arena will surely get the British public excited.
Andrew Selby booked a shot at the WBC flyweight title after winning his eliminator against Mexican Maximino Flores at the historic York Hall in London. The Welshman took an unanimous 119-109, 117-111, 117-112 decision on the judges’ score cards.
The 28-year-old from Barry is now a step closer to joining brother, Lee, as a world champion. Providing the WBC flyweight champion Daigo Higa (13-0, 13KOs) successfully defends his title against Thomas Masson (17-3-1, 5KOs) in Kokugikan, Japan.
Posted in loving memory to my brother Jason Brown who lost his life to cancer in 2015. Happy 43rd Birthday Bruv!
After Wladimir Klitschko (64-5, 56KOs) decided it was time to hang them up instead of taking on Anthony Joshua (19-0, 19KOs) for a second time, the question is where does that leave the heavyweight division?
The biggest star in my opinion and many other keen boxing enthusiasts is the IBF and WBA heavyweight king Anthony Joshua. Eddie Hearn recently made a statement that the number 1 challenger for the IBF title Kubrat Pulev (25-1, 13KOs) will be Joshua’s next opponent. We expect an official announcement to be made later this week with the Millennium Stadium a front runner for an October 28th clash.
Hearn maps out AJ opponents
Hearn has also been mapping out Joshua’s next steps if he is to be victorious against Pulev, who I may add has only ever lost to Klitschko. Deontay Wilder (38-0, 37KOs) will be a target for the summer of 2018 but before that Luis Ortiz (27-0, 23KOs) is the challenge at the beginning of the year.
I think he may well be getting a little bit ahead of himself. No doubt the Londoner should be able to beat the 36-year-old Bulgarian but this is the heavyweight division and one shot can change everything very quickly. Not only that but the powers that be may well be calling the shots and mapping out a different route for Joshua, especially if Hearn continues to allow the governing bodies to dictate proceedings.
Sanctioning bodies continue to hurt boxing
The WBA said in January that the winner of Joshua-Klitschko would have to face Ortiz within 120 days of their April 29th bout. That date is now approaching so a decision will need to be made before the September 3rd deadline.
The WBA president Gilberto Jesus Mendoza recently said that he will be holding discussions with the IBF to work out the issue with conflicting mandatory fights, to ensure they take place without affecting any boxers. Maybe those discussions haven’t happened yet as the IBF were due to strip Terrence Crawford after he unified all the belts a couple of weeks ago. Crawford has now vacated that title which shows that these Sanctioning bodies will continue to affect boxers and hurt boxing. All that being said money talks so Hearn will need to chuck a few bob at Ortiz and his cronies to keep them quiet.
Ortiz is making waves
While the big Cuban is pushing for a huge payday against the young Champ he’s also been negotiating a shot at the WBC title currently held by Wilder. Those negotiations were apparently at a progressive stage until Klitschko decided to retire. Therefore Ortiz and his advisers obviously decided to chase the pound note and push through their mandatory status with the WBA.
Now ‘King Kong’s’, trainer Jimenez has decided to run off his gums in an attempt to fish out AJ. Demanding that his fighters mandatory takes precedent over Pulev’s and that Joshua is avoiding the Cuban Southpaw like “a deadly plague”. Also according to the Jimenez they are waiting for the WBA and Joshua to make a decision this week before they decide what to do next. I can only see one outcome and that’s Joshua smoking a fat Cuban early next year.
In an ideal world Ortiz will take the pay-off from Eddie Hearn and then go back to the pursuit of Wilder. Hopefully they will be successful and Wilder can actually fight somebody with real substance. You never know maybe Wilder-Ortiz will happen and then the victor fights the winner of Joshua-Pulev?
To be honest I can’t help but be sceptical. I can see Wilder being fed another ‘cup cake’ as Billy C so rightly puts it while Ortiz waits in the wings for a deserved title shot at AJ.
If I am correct and Wilder decides to rematch Bermane Stiverne (25-2-1, 21KOs) or some other waste man he could find himself being frozen out come next year if he isn’t careful.
Hughie Fury (20-0, 10KOs) defeats the WBO champion Joseph Parker (23-0, 18KOs) when they meet in Manchester on September 23rd. The 22-year-old from Greater Manchester could then be next in line for a summer showdown with Joshua at Wembley and not Wilder.
Hughie Fury’s father Peter confirmed talks with Haymaker Ringstar about a potential meeting between his son and David Haye (28-3, 26KOs) after the Parker fight. This has not gone down well with older cousin Tyson Fury (25-0, 18KOs) who is disappointed that his family are even entertaining the Hayemaker. But if successful he will have a voluntary defence against a top 15 WBO contender which could be Haye?
Haye plays a blinder
No matter what I think of Haye I have to admit he may well have played a blinder here. He has already been in talks about a possible rematch with Bellew which would jump him into the WBO top 15 if he wins. Therefore he could find himself fighting for the WBO title against a beatable opponent and be the man that steps into the ring with Joshua in the summer of 2018.
Personally I don’t see what the fuss is about with David Haye as a heavyweight but the British public seem to still hold him in high regard. Of course this is me playing devil’s advocate but stranger things have happened.
Dillian Whyte (20-1, 15KOs) has been in hot pursuit of Wilder recently but he found out quickly that the big American is not interested. The Brown Bomber will not put his unblemished record on the line against such a dangerous opponent no matter how many millions are thrown at him. The Brixton-based fighter will need to rack up a few more victories until he becomes the number 1 challenger for one of the belts.
One opponent that Whyte should look at is Jarrell Miller (19-0-1, 17KOs) who recently stopped Gerald Washington (18-2-1, 12KOs) on the Broner-Garcia undercard. It would probably be a more eventful build-up then fight but it would be fun to watch with the amount of trash talk these two participate in.
Tyson Fury is another guy that could cause a stir if the British Boxing Board of Control does grant him a licence. He is the only other fighter to have beaten Klitschko and should rightly be in contention. But of course he continues to be a social media whore and has once again announced his retirement.
He is a marmite type of guy; you either like him or hate him. I have to admit that I do like him as he brings something different to the division. Yes, he says some stupid things that are out of line but you can’t argue that he isn’t entertaining? Also the question still remains can he beat Joshua? Only time will tell if the gypsy king will ever return to boxing.
Tony Bellew (29-2-1, 19KOs) still considers himself as a heavyweight and looks likely to negotiate a rematch with Haye. I still think the fight will happen even if Eddie Hearn did say the fight was “dead in the water”, earlier this month because both fighters believe that they are the ‘A side’.
The reason I think it will happen is because the money will be too good to turn down and the British public demand it.
Lastly we have Andre Ward (32-0, 16KOs) who has now thrown his hat into the heavyweight mix. He would not be able to jump straight into a world title shot but a warm-up fight against Bellew at cruiserweight could happen next year after Bellew picks up a big purse against Haye.
Then of course if victorious he could catapult himself into contention for shot at the heavyweight championship of the world.
AJ holds all the cards
All the scenarios and potential match-ups are just predictions and nothing more but there is one thing that is for certain Anthony Joshua holds all the cards. As I mentioned on the Billy C Boxing show a few weeks ago AJ has the power to push for a fight with Wilder instead of taking on one of his mandatory challengers.
The governing bodies may well suggest that he will be stripped of his titles if he opted not to take on one of his mandatory challengers but would they be so daft to strip the Englishman of his titles for such a massive heavyweight fight. I don’t think so and neither do the guys on the show. But I doubt Wilder’s team would even entertain that possibility unless they do decide to cash out on the Brown Bomber.
The fact is AJ is the king and the gel that is holding the division together. Every true fighter wants a shot at him and not only for the mula it brings but for the right to call themselves the best heavyweight in the world.
Kell Brook is eyeing up (excuse the pun) a potential return to the ring against Miguel Cotto before the year is up.
The Sheffield-based fighter is on the come back trail after sustaining a fractured eye-socket in his defeat to Errol Spence Jr in May.
In a recent interview with Sky Sports, Brook said, “As you’ve seen in my last two fights, I want to fight the best.
“I like the ones where not many people give me a chance, ones that excite and ignite the fans, so of course, Cotto, (Saul) Alvarez and even (Gennady) Golovkin again are all ones I’d like to jump in with.”
“I want to be in a huge fight like the last two. It depends if he fancies the job. We know he’s a warrior but it depends what’s in his sights and how he wants to end his career.”
“If I was him I’d want to fight someone like me because our styles would gel and it would be a fantastic fight for the fans. That is the way I’d go and that’s the fight I’d want. But of course, I don’t speak on behalf of Miguel Cotto.”
“I am in that elite category, the highest in boxing. I want to be in a 12-round fight, in a sell-out arena, with me topping the bill.”
Cotto has moved down in weight to the super-welterweight division were he will fight for the vacant WBO world title against Yoshihiro Kamegai at the end of August.
Brook has been back in the Wincobank gym but is still way off fight ready.
“I have been back in the gym, but only for a little spell because I just wasn’t ready,” he said.
“To have those two, tough losses on the bounce, I am not in a rush to get back to the gym, to be honest.
“I have put the working in over the years and have had those two losses and eye injuries to I want to make sure I am healed properly and have got the eye of the tiger again.
“I need to be firing on all cylinders, not half-hearted. I want to make sure I am ready to go back.”
What a year we have had so far in the world of boxing! The best in the business have finally taken the plunge and decided to fight each other. In the last 7 months we have had 7 mega fights with still more to come.
Ok so not all seven were magnificent but at least the top fighters are finally stepping into the ring against one another. I made a point on the Billy C Boxing show that we have not had it this good since 1997. Daxx Khan rightly mentioned that 2012 was a great year for big fights but I believe 2013 was even better than that. I believe this year has almost surpassed both those years and we’re only just over half way through it. So the question is will 2017 be better 1997? Well here’s a run-down of the seven mega bouts with some notable mentions and my picks for fight of the year, shock of the year and KO of the year plus more.
DeGale vs Jack
It seems like an age since James DeGale and Babou Jack kicked off 2017 with a bang, when they fought out a majority draw in the Barclays Centre, New York on January 14.
The IBF and WBC super-middleweight titles were on the line as both fighters attempted to become unified champions and cement their status as the king of the division. A majorly draw was probably the right result in the end after both fighters touched the canvas in a decent scarp.
Jack has now moved up light-heavyweight and is eyeing a world title bout against Welshman Nathan Cleverly who currently holds the WBA strap. DeGale decided against taking part in the World Series of Boxing at super-middleweight which begins later this year. Maybe DeGale should wait in the wings and take on the winner of Anthony Dirrell and David Benavidez, who will scrap it out on September 9 for the WBC title that Jack vacated.
Frampton vs Santa Cruz II
After an excellent first encounter which I considered to be the fight of the year in 2016, the rematch was set at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas on January 28.
The rematch was not as action packed as the first and that was mainly due to the style that Santa Cruz adopted. This time the Mexican used his height and reach to his advantage and kept the Irishman at bay. Even when they did exchange on the inside the challenger was getting the better of the champion.
In the end it was Santa Cruz that came out victorious the second time around and won the fight by majority decision. The rubber match will surely be in the horizon but for now both fighters will be headlining in front of their own adoring fans on home soil.
Thurman vs Garcia
On March 4 the Barclays Centre, New York was the venue yet again but this time for another unification fight between Danny ‘Swift’ Garcia and Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman in the glamour division. The WBC and WBA welterweight titles were up for grabs but more importantly it was time for one of these guys to establish themselves as one of the best in the division.
The fight was a little disappointing as a spectacle but it was a decent technical match up. Thurman showed he had the power over Garcia in the early exchanges and almost got the early knockout victory. After the exciting start, the fight slowed down and One Time established a healthy lead. Thurman took his foot off the gas for the last couple of rounds but luckily still managed to win by split decision.
Golovkin vs Jacobs
The historic Madison Square Garden in New York was the venue for Gennady Golovkin against Daniel Jacobs. It was a unification of sorts with two different versions of the WBA strap up for grabs plus all of the other titles Triple G holds WBC, IBO & IBF.
It was a cagy start by both fighters with Jacobs hitting and moving well but in the fourth round he was caught by a short right hand that sent him down to the canvas. It was no more than a flash knockdown but the 10/8 round paid dividends as Golovkin ended up winning by a unanimous decision on March 18.
The general consensus was that Triple G deserved the victory but only just although some believe Jacobs should have got the nod. A lot of unfair criticism was written about Golovkin after the fight because he didn’t win by knockout but I feel he proved once again that he is still the man to beat.
Joshua vs Klitschko
Mega fight number five was for the IBF & WBA heavyweight titles at Wembley Stadium, London. IBF champion Anthony Joshua stepped into the ring on April 29 in front of 90,000 passionate fans to take on future Hall of Famer Wladimir Klitschko.
It was a pretty even fight for the first four rounds until Joshua sent the big Ukrainian down in the fifth. AJ emptied the tank in hope that he would close out the fight but his resilient opponent turned the tide in what has to be one of the best rounds of heavyweight boxing in years.
Klitschko responded in the sixth and put AJ on the deck for the first time in his short career. It was looking bleak for the Londoner but he showed heart and true grit to withstand his challenger’s pressure.
The fight was stopped in round eleven after Klitschko was put down twice and in danger of touching the canvas for a third time the referee stopped the contest. AJ retained his IBF strap as well as capturing the WBA heavyweight title.
Wladimir Klitschko deserves huge kudos for pushing his younger opponent all the way and almost pulling off a shock. After such an epic battle in the capital a rematch is looking likely in November with Las Vegas being the preferred destination. Klitschko still needs to give the go ahead but it will be interesting to see what that fight may have taken out of the veteran former champion.
Brook vs Spence Jr
Back to the welterweights for an intriguing matchup between IBF Champion Kell Brook and the new kid on the block Errol Spence Jr at Bramall Lane, Sheffield on April 27.
Once again Brook was stopped due to a damaged eye socket but this time it was his left eye and not the right that Triple G damaged back in September 2016. Frustratingly for the Sheffield-based fighter it was close on many score cards including mine before referee Howard Foster waved it off in the eleventh round.
Brook believes he will be back again this year after a successful surgery and many British boxing fans including me hope it will be against Amir Khan-Dashian. Spence Jr should now be looking at unification fights against either Pacquiao conqueror Jeff Horn or Keith Thurman. That being said the Aussie may have to commit to a rematch and Thurman looks likely to face Shawn Porter again once fully fit.
Ward vs Kovalev II
After the controversy surrounding Andre Ward’s victory over Sergey Kovalev last year the rematch was set at Mandalay Bay Casino, Las Vegas on June 17.
Many believed Kovalev was robbed of a decision and deserved another shot at the WBA, IBF & WBO light-heavyweight titles. Kovalev promised a lot before the fight but he put in a disappointing performance, although I did have him slightly ahead on my score card before the eighth round stoppage.
I feel that referee Tony Weeks made a rash decision by stopping the fight after Ward landed three hooks to the lower body which appeared to be either borderline low blows or low blows. A standing eight count would have been the correct decision but looking at the Russians body language he looked disinterested. Even when the fight was waved off he didn’t put up much of a protest.
I have to say through gritted teeth that Andre Ward probably deserves to be number one on the pound of pound list at the moment but he won’t be by the end of the year. There is no doubt Ward like Mayweather gets the results but in terms of entertainment the pair of them bore the pants off me.
Other fights that deserve a mention…
Fight of the Year
We have had some excellent fights this year already but my clear winner has to be the heavyweight matchup between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko. The last time I was this excited about a heavyweight fight was when Lennox Lewis knocked out Mike Tyson in 2002. But I think this fight overshadowed that because they both delivered after all the hype. This will go straight into my top ten greatest heavyweight fights in boxing history, at number six behind Riddick Bowe vs Evander Holyfield I in 1992.
A notable mention has to go to Miguel Berchelt and Francisco Vargas for their monstrous battle in Fantasy Springs Casino, California on January 28.
Domestically Jahmaine Smyle vs Darryll Williams first fight was a terrific encounter and one of my British Fights of the Year so far.
Shock of the Year
The biggest shock of the year has to be Srisaket Sor Rungvisai when he won a majority decision against unbeaten Roman Gonzalez to win the WBC super-flyweight title. After watching the fight a few times I feel Gonzalez should have got the victory but all credit to Rungvisai for being the first to beat Roman and end his 12-year, 46-fight win streak.
Jeff Horn’s victory over Manny Pacquiao in Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, Australia is my second pick. Although the result may have been controversial to many I felt that the Aussie did enough to deserve the victory by the narrowest of margins.
The biggest shock domestically goes to Tony Bellew for his eleventh round stoppage over David Haye. I was dead against this fight from the start but I have to admit for pure entertainment value it was great to watch.
Knockout of the Year
David Lemieux’s brutal third round knockout over Curtis Stevens at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York is my pick. If you haven’t seen it I suggest you take to YouTube after reading this as Lemieux completely wipes out Stevens with a devastating left hook that sent the 32-year-old to sleep.
My domestic knockout of the year goes to Sam Eggington when he sent Spaniard Ceferino Rodriguez through the ropes to win the EBU European and WBC International welterweight titles in front of his home crowd in Birmingham.
Fighter of the year
For me the fighter of the year so far goes to Gervonta Davis who has been excellent and deserves all the accolades he is getting at the moment. On January 14 he beat Jose Pedraza by seventh-round stoppage to win IBF super-featherweight title. He then successfully defended his crown against Liam Walsh to win by third-round stoppage at the Copperbox Arena, London. The 22-year-old has all the tools to be a huge star but let’s just hope that his promoter Mayweather doesn’t derail his career before it has even begun.
First up we have three-weight world champion Mikey Garcia moving up to light-welterweight (140lbs) to meet former world champion in four weight divisions Adrian Broner on July 29 at Barclays Centre, Brooklyn, New York.
On August 19 at the Pinnacle Bank Arena in Lincoln, Nebraska we have the first unification fight since Bernard Hopkins defeated Oscar De La Hoya in September 18 2004. The WBA, WBC & WBO light-welterweight king Terence Crawford will face unbeaten IBF champion Julius Indongo for what maybe his last at 140Ibs.
Then on September 16 at the T-Mobile Arena, Las Vegas, Saul Alvarez and the WBA, WBC, IBO & IBF middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin will finally touch gloves.
It’s been a long time coming and I personally did not think it would ever happen. Maybe Canelo has got his timing just right as the 35-year-old might just be on the slide. Or maybe this will be Triple G’s last hurrah and victory will cement his legacy as one of the best middleweights in history. Either way I think this one could be the best of the lot!
P.s. Floyd Mayweather vs Conor McGregor is not real boxing, just an exhibition…