By Johnston Brown – BillyCBoxing
It’s been an eventful start to the year for our British and Irish boxers but results have not been great at international level. In seven world title fights, four have come up short, two have been victorious and the other was a majority draw. Not the greatest start to the year by any means but we do still have eleven world champions across ten different weight divisions. Only the Americans and Mexicans have more world champions with the Japanese just behind the Brits.
As we head into the most eagerly anticipated heavyweight fight in years here is a look at what’s happened in the first quarter, what’s coming up and who to look out for by weight division;
The biggest and most entertaining heavyweight showdown this year was between Tony Bellew (29-2-1, 19KOs) and one legged David Haye (28-3, 26 KOs). After his unlikely victory the scouser has decided to remain in the heavy hitting division and push for a mega payday against one of the champions. The Londoner on the other hand refuses to retire and hopes to return to the ring in 2018. On the evidence of his performance before the injury, I don’t think he will be making much of an impact.
David Price (21-4, 18KOs) will be considering his future after his seventh round TKO loss to Romanian Christian Hammer (21-4, 12KOs) in February. The 33 year old has not been able to make his mark in the pro game but a bronze medal in the Beijing Olympics and Commonwealth gold is still a huge achievement.
David Allen (11-2-1, 8KOs) has made a strong start to the new year with two KO victories in February and March. The ‘White’ Rhino is no push over and should be aiming for European glory in 2017. Youngster Nathan Gorman (9-0, 7KOs) has also recorded a couple of victories this year and should be looking to pick up a British title soon.
If you didn’t already know, where have you been? As IBF champion Anthony Joshua (18-0, 18KOs) is putting his title on the line against future ‘hall of famer’ Wladimir Klitschko (64-4, 53KOs) plus the WBA Super and IBO titles will be up for grabs. 90,000 fans will be in attendance at Wembley stadium on April 29 for the biggest heavyweight match-up since Tyson/Lewis.http://Joshua/Klitschko: Mind games or Respect?
Undefeated Hughie Fury (20-0, 10KOs) had high hopes of becoming WBO world champion but a back injury has delayed his chances of taking on current holder Joseph Parker (22-0, 18KOs). Sticking with the Fury’s Tyson (25-0, 18KOs) has hinted at making a return to the ring in July.
Dereck Chisora (26-7, 18KOs) heads to Helsinki, Finland for a rematch with Robert Helenius (24-1, 14KOs) with a potential showdown with WBC champion Deontay Wilder (38-0, 37KOs) for the winner. I think Delboy will need a knockout if he wants to get a result here after he was clearly robbed of victory in the first fight.
Dillian Whyte (20-1, 15KOs) will headline his own night at London’s O2 Arena against Mariusz Wach (33-2, 17KOs) of Poland. This will not be easy for ‘The Body Snatcher’ from Brixton as his opponent’s only two defeats came against Klitschko & Povetkin. That being said I do think Whyte will have too much for ‘The Viking’.
My pick of the heavyweight newcomers is Daniel Dubios (2-0, 2KOs). The 19 year old nicknamed ‘Dynamite’ will be a serious contender in the future but for now he will be kept busy. The Londoner should be looking at English or British titles at the beginning of next year. Look out for the teenager on May 20 at the Copper Box Arena.
The Cruiserweight division is not as jammed packed as the heavy’s but we do still have a world champion albeit a WBC Emeritus champion in Tony Bellew.
Tony Conquest (16-2, 5KOs) announced his retirement on Twitter after injury ruled him out of a fight with Craig Kennedy (16-0, 8KOs). ‘The Kid’ as Kennedy is known, will finally take a step up in level when he takes on Matty Askin (21-3-1, 13KOs) for the British title on May 26 at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff. Askin proved he deserves this title shot after a unanimous decision win over Tommy McCarthy (9-1, 5KOs) in the final eliminator last year in Manchester.
There are two Cruiserweights that I will be keeping tabs on this year Lawrence Okolie (2-0, 2KOs) and Isaac Chamberlain (7-0, 2KOs). Both have already recorded TKO victories this year and I expect both to continue their impressive starts in the pro ranks.
It has been a slow start for the 175 pounders with only ‘Kid Nytro’ Dec Spelman (11-0, 7KOs) winning by TKO over journeyman Nathan King at the Ice Arena in Hull. The other light heavy that has been in action this year is Hosea Burton (19-1, 9KOs) who won on points against Tamas Kozma. The Mancunian is on the comeback trail after tasting defeat for the first time against Frank Buglioni (19-2-1, 15KOs) in one of the fights of 2016. The Londoner captured the British title and will now defend it against another unbeaten fighter in Ricky Summers (13-0, 5KO’s) which will be the co-main event on the Whyte/Wach card in London.
Nathan Cleverly is the current British number one and WBA world champion after his impressive victory over German Jürgen Brähmer (48-3, 35KOs) in October 2016. I believe a rematch would be a viable option for the Welshman unless he fancies taking on the dangerous Russian and WBA interim-champ Dmitry Bivol (10-0, 8KOs).
Anthony Yarde (10-0, 9KOs) is no longer a secret within the boxing circle but I do expect big things for the 25 year old from Hackney, London. He will feature on the Walsh/Davis undercard at the Copper Box Arena against Chris Hobbs (6-1-1, 0KOs), blink and you will miss him.
James DeGale (23-1-1, 14KOs) kicked off the year with a bang on January 14 at the Barclays Center, New York when he managed to retain his IBF super middleweight title against Babou Jack (20-1-3, 12KOs). Unfortunately the majority draw was not good enough to unify the WBA and IBF straps but he did win over the British public with a spirited performance.
Chris Eubank Jr (24-1, 19KOs) did manage to win the IBO super-middleweight title when he beat Renold Quinlan (11-2, 7KOs) by TKO in February.
George Groves (25-3, 18KOs) decided not to chase a rematch with DeGale and will instead fight Fedor Chudinov (14-1, 10KOs) for the WBA strap on the Brook/Spence undercard at Bramall lane, Sheffield on May 27. I believe this to be a wise move by ‘The Saint’ as he aims to capture a world title at the fourth attempt. If he can finally make his dream a reality then a rematch with ‘Chunky’ in a unification match up could bring the fans to the Arsenal stadium at the end of the year?
Rocky Fielding (23-1, 13KOs) clinched the vacant British super middleweight title when he won a unanimous decision over John Ryder (24-3, 12KOs) at the Echo Arena on April 22.
Although he has now established himself I believe this will be a massive year for Callum Smith (22-0, 17KOs). The 26 year old is hopeful of taking on Anthony Dirrell (30-1-1, 24KOs) for the vacant WBC strap that was vacated by Babou Jack when he moved up to light heavyweight. The Americans promotional team won purse bids for the bout which dashed Eddie Hearn’s plans for the fight to take place at Anfield, Liverpool. It will be tough for the undefeated scouser to fight away for the first time in his career but this is the game and I believe he can produce the goods.
Undefeated Tommy Langford (18-1, 6KOs) ended his hopes of a title shot when he was knocked out in the fifth round. http://Mini Mike Tyson lands a title shot – while Murray keeps title hopes alive
The British number one Billy Joe Saunders (24-0, 12KOs) was hoping for a showdown with Triple G but that has failed to materialise so the WBO Champion decided to target Langford for a British showdown on July 8. That has now collapsed due to Khurtsidze’s victory so Saunders will put his WBO world middleweight title on the line against the dangerous 37 year old.
Jack Arnfield (24-2, 6KOs) has already had two fights this year when he defeated Mick Hall (13-2, 1KO) and fellow Blackpool resident Brian Rose (29-5-1, 8KOs). The 27 year old will be hoping to continue his good form in his hometown on July 7.
Criag Cunningham (18-1, 4KOs) also recorded another victory this year after his win over Team GB Bronze medalist Anthony Ogogo (11-1, 7KOs) in 2016.
22 year old Reece Cartwright (16-0, 9KOs) is in great form and looks like he could be a real star. His first victim of the year was Georgia journeymen Giorgi Kandelaki but now faces his toughest challenge yet when he takes on another undefeated fighter German, Jan Meiser (13-0-1, 7KOs) on May 5 in Leeds.
Light Middleweights/ Super Welterweights
British number one and two Liam Smith (25-1-1, 14KOs) and Welshmen Liam Williams (16-1-1, 11KOs) put on an entertaining match-up at the Manchester Arena on April 8. The scouser may have come out as the victor in a close fight but did not win the vacant interim WBO world title as he came in over weight. A rematch is being negotiated with the possibility of the WBO world title being at stake due to current champ Canelo signaling his intentions to remain at middleweight.
James Metcalf (15-0, 7KOs) was also on the same card as Smith and Williams when he beat Jason Ball.
Gary Corcoran (16-1, 7KOs) from Wembley, London came back with a win over journeyman James Gorman after his loss to Liam Williams last year.
Undefeated records will be on the line at the Copper Box Arena on May 20 when Londoner Aarron Morgan (12-0, 8KOs) takes on Joe Pigford (12-0, 11KOs). This is an intriguing match-up between two heavy handed fighters so I expect this one to end early.
I like the look of two different fighters, 27 year old Asina Byfield (12-1, 4KOs) and 22 year old Ted Cheeseman (8-0, 6KOs). Both have already recorded victories this year and I expect them to be looking for domestic success soon.
On the Haye/ Bellew undercard Sam Eggington (20-3, 12KOs) produced a career best performance when he stopped Paul Malignaggi (36-8, 7KOs) with a terrific body shot. The ex-prize fighter continues to over achieve and defy the odds.
The Brummie will be fighting on home turf at the Barclaycard Arena against Spanish opponent Ceferino Rodriguez (24-1,12KOs) for the European and WBC International titles on May 13.
On the same card Frankie Gavin (23-3, 14KOs) is hoping for a winning return after his defeat to Eggington last year when he takes on Dave Ryan.
Reigning British welterweight king Bradley Skeete (25-1, 11KOs) will be back in action on June 2 against Shayne Singleton (23-1-1, 8KOs) which is taking place at the Brentwood Centre, Essex.
And of course, IBF champion Kell Brook (36-1, 25KOs) finally gets his wish to fight at his beloved Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane on May 27 against tough American Errol Spence Jr (21-0, 18KOs). This has the potential of being one of the fights of the year and I’m backing the ‘Special One’ all the way. The Southpaw from Long Island has never been in the ring with anyone as good as Brook and that is ‘The Truth’ so I’m picking experience over youth in this one, just.
My welterweight prospect is Zimbabwe born Tamuka Mucha (16-0, 4KOs) who resides in Reading, Berkshire. The 24 year old will have a domestic title at some point this year and I don’t see many fighters jumping at the chance to take on ‘The Beast’.
Light Welterweights/ Super Lightweights
Ricky Burns (41-6-1, 14KOs) has had an excellent career and is loved by his Scottish faithful, which was plain to see when he fought Julius Indongo (22-0, 11KOs) on May 15. The awkward southpaw didn’t only win the WBA super strap but he beat up the ‘Rickster’ in front of his own adoring fans.
Ohara Davies (15-0, 12KOs) continued his winning streak when he stopped, now retired Derry Matthews (38-12-2, 20KOs) at the o2 in London.
Merseysider Robbie Davies Jr (15-0, 11KOs) defeated Zoltan Szabo live on terrestrial television in January.
On April 8, rising star Jack Catterall (18-0, 10KOs) put Martin Gethin to the sword with another TKO victory.
Tyrone Nurse (34-2-12, 7KOs) was under par against Joe Hughes (15-2-1, 6KOs) but managed to scrape a split decision draw in Leicester to retain his British super lightweight title.
Scotland maybe disappointed not to have a current world champion in the division anymore but they need to look no further than 26 year old southpaw Josh Taylor (9-0, 8KOs) for optimism. The ‘Tartan Tornado’ has kick started his boxing career with eight knockouts in nine and looks the part as he approaches double figures in the pro’s.
It’s been a busy year so far for the British lightweights with Anthony Crolla (31-6-3, 13KOs) losing to Colombian Jorge Linares (42-3, 27KOs) for the second time and WBO champion Terry Flanagan (33-0, 13KOs) retaining his title against Russian Petr Petrov (38-5-2, 19KOs). It does not look like ‘Turbo’ Terry is not interested in giving ‘Million Dollar’ another world title shot and hinted at fighting only the very best in the division. In my opinion they need to fight each other.
Robbie Barrett (15-2-1, 1KO) put in a fine performance against Scott Cardle (21-1-1, 7KOs) in the SSE Hydro in Glasgow to win the British lightweight title.
Luke Campbell (16-1, 13KOs) beat Jairo Lopez (21-7, 14KOs) by TKO in February and has been added to the Wembley undercard on April 29 against solid Colombian Darleys Perez (33-2-2, 21KOs).
Look out for Belfast boy Paul Hyland Jnr (15-0, 5KOs) who has already recorded two victories this year. Impressively he stopped undefeated Hungarian Karoly Gallovich (8-1, 0KOs) in February before a points win over Peter Cope in March. He will be back in July with an opponent TBA.
Northern Ireland’s James Tennyson (18-2, 14KOs) kicked off his year with a good win over tricky Declan Geraghty (14-2, 4KOs) from Dublin at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast.
In another interesting match-up Essex boy Martin Joseph Ward (17-0-2, 8KOs) pinched a win against awkward southpaw Maxi Hughes (16-3-2, 2KOs) by UD to win the British and WBC international title.
23 year old rising star Leon Woodstock produced a vintage display of grit and skill when he stopped Paul Holt (6-4, 2KOs) in Leicester.
Liam Walsh (21-0, 14KOs) finally gets a shot at the IBF world title at the Copper Box Arena on May 20 against the highly rated champion Gervonta Davis (17-0, 16KOs). The 22 year old American has only ever been the distance once and that was a six rounder back in 2014. The ‘Tank’ is a dangerous opponent for Englishmen but being eight years older and on home soil Walsh has a chance.
The ‘Brown Flash’ Zelfa Barrett (16-0, 10KOs) is a classy super feather. He has won his first two fights by KO this year and will be at the Bolton Whites Hotel on May 19 for his third bout.
This division is littered with some of the best British and Irish talent, either at the top of their game or making their way to the top.
In January, Carl Frampton (23-1, 14KOs) lost for the first time in his career against Mexican Leo Santa Cruz (33-1-1, 18KOs). There will be a third encounter between these two at some point but for now an all British tear up could be on the cards against Lee Selby (24-1, 9KOs), who recorded a non-title fight victory against Andoni Gago last month.
But the Welshman may be forced to fight a mandatory challenger instead. Which puts Scott Quigg (32-1-2, 24KOs) in line for a title shot if he can get past Viorel Simion (21-1, 9KOs) on the undercard of Joshua/ Klitschko.
Kid Galahad (22-0, 13KOs) did notch a win over Leonel Hernandez in February who was a late replacement for Joseph Agbeko (31-5, 23KOs) due to being taken ill on the morning of the fight.
Yorkshires Josh Warrington (24-0, 5KOs) will have been inactive for almost 9 months before he takes on Spanish Kiko Martinez (36-7-1, 26KOs) in his hometown Leeds on May 13. The 26 year old will be hoping he can get the victory he needs to push on towards world honours.
Commonwealth champion Isaac Lowe (13-0-2, 5KOs) will be on the Bolton Whites Hotel card on May 19, while British featherweight champion Ryan Walsh (21-2-1, 10KOs) defends his title against Marco McCullough at the Copper Box Arena the day after.
Look out for Watford lad Reece Bellotti (9-0, 8KOs) who will be on the Whyte/Wach undercard as he continues to sweep aside his opponents from one knockout to the next. The British title is on the radar but I can see the European strap around his waist by the end of the year.
Earlier in the year Gavin McDonnell (16-1-2, 4KOs) was outclassed by Mexican Rey Vargas (29-0, 22KOs) for the vacant WBC title in the Ice Arena, Hull.
The ‘Baby faced Assassin’ Paul Butler (24-1, 13KOs) continued his winning streak with the fourth round stoppage of Carlos Ruben Dario Ruiz on April 8 in Manchester.
Commonwealth champion Gamal Yafai (11-0, 4KOs) will face fellow Brummie Sean Davis (12-0, 0KOs) for the WBC international title on May 13 in Birmingham. It’s great to see both fighters put their undefeated records on the line in front of their home fans.
James ‘Jazza’ Dickens has not been in action since his defeat to super bantamweight king Guillermo Rigondeaux (17-0, 11KOs) last year. The Merseysider will face another undefeated fighter for the third time in his career when he takes on Thomas Patrick Ward (20-0, 2KOs) in the First Direct Arena, Leeds.
Michael Conlan (1-0, 1KO) made his American debut at Madison Square Garden, New York on St Patrick’s Day and he will be making a quick return to the ring on May 26 in Chicago. I think the Belfast boy will rise up the division very quickly so expect him to be busy this calendar year with at least another three fights.
Current British champion Ryan Burnett (16-0, 9KOs) won on points in February and Marc Leach (8-1, 2KOs) also recorded a victory this year.
Lee Haskins (34-3, 14KOs) has not fought since September 2016, when he beat Stuart Hall (20-5-2, 7KOs) to retain the IBF world title. The Bristol-based boxer had to withdraw from a scheduled fight with Shohei Omori (18-2, 13KOs) in December due to a leg injury. With WBA champion Jamie McDonnell (29-2-1, 13KOs) also without a dance partner, I think it’s time for both camps to agree a unification fight. Nine years ago Haskins got the better of the Yorkshireman but with 39 more fights between them since then and two world titles on the line, the previous encounter is nothing more than a distant memory.
30 year old Paddy Barnes (2-0, 0KOs) will attempt to win a world title in his first 10 fights. Anything is possible for the Irishmen whose outstanding amateur pedigree will put him in good stead in the pro game but he will need to improve on his last performance. He will be back at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast on June 17.
‘The Mexican’ Jamie Conlan (19-0, 11KOs) recovered from a knock down in round eight against Yader Cardoza (22-11-1, 6KOs) to win a split decision and claim the vacant WBC international silver title. http://Belfast Boys – Conlan, Barnes & Tennyson Record Victories
Charlie Edwards (10-1, 4KOs) has put his defeat last year behind him to win a unanimous decision against Iain Butler (16-3, 5KOs) and pick up the vacant British title.
WBA world champion Khalid Yafai (21-0, 14KOs) tops the bill in the Barclaycard Arena, Birmingham when he defends his title against Japanese challenger Suguru Muranaka (25-2-1, 8KOs). The 27 year old will need to be at his best on May 13 if he is to win his first title defence. With the crowd behind ‘Kal’ and his two brothers in attendance I think he will have too much for the Tokyo-based fighter who is on a run of 19 fights without defeat.
Brad ‘The Blade’ Foster (6-0, 1KO) has made light work of his six opponents so far I expect big things in the future for the red-hot Lichfield prospect. The 19 year old is a former kick boxer that held a record of 57-2 and won nine world titles at four different weights.
Andrew Selby (8-0, 5KOs) produced his best performance when he won a unanimous decision over Ardin Diale (32-11-4, 15KOs) in London. The Welshmen and brother of Lee now has his hardest fight to date when he takes on Nicaraguan Cristofer Rosales (23-2, 15KOs) at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff on May 26.
Check out another Welshmen, Jay Harris (10-0, 6KOs) who produced an excellent display to win the Commonwealth (British Empire) title against Thomas Essomba (7-3, 2KOs). The 26 year from Swansea should be pushing for a world title shot come next year if he can keep on improving like he has been.
By Johnston Brown – BillyCBoxing
It was a busy night of boxing in England with fight cards in the Leicester Arena, Leicester and the Echo Arena, Liverpool. Two middleweights headlined both nights with undefeated Tommy Langford (18-1, 6KOs) in Leicester and local fan favorite Martin Murray (35-4-1, 16KOs) in Liverpool.
Starting with the WBO middleweight eliminator in Leicester, Avtandil Khurtsidze (33-2-2, 22KOs) ended all hopes of an all British middleweight title fight when he flattened the Brummie with a big left hand in fifth round. This wasn’t the first time that the Georgian had caused an upset, he stopped another undefeated fighter Antoine Douglas (21-1-1, 15KOs) last year to win the WBO International title.
The 37 year old labeled the ‘Mini Mike Tyson’ due to his size and dangerous punching power has been in fine form all week on social media and he took that happy-go-lucky attitude into the ring with him on Saturday night.
From the first round Khurtsidze was loading up looking for the early knockout while laughing off Langfords shots and taunting the British fighter. The 27 year old then started to find his range and took the next three rounds but he did look susceptible to one big punch.
In the end it was a big left hook that caught Langford flush on the head to send him down to the canvas. His 5’4″ opponent continued his mickey taking antics by joining in with the referees count. Credit to Langford though as he managed to rise to his feet but was in no fit state to continue.
In an interview after the fight Frank Warren announced that Billy Joe Saunders (24-0, 12KOs) will fight Khurtsidze on July 8 in London. The WBO middleweight champion responded by saying, “Khurtsidze is made to order for me and he’s just another ‘Danny Devito’. I’ll retire if I lose to him”.
On the undercards;
Darryll Williams (15-0, 6KOs) won the English super middleweight title in a terrific dust up against Jahmaine Smyle (14-5-2, 6KOs)
19 year old heavyweight Daniel Dubois (2-0, 2KOs) finished Blaise Mendouo (3-2, 0KOs) with a brutal knockout combination.
Light heavyweight prospect Anthony Yarde (10-0, 9KOs) continued his impressive start in the pro’s with another knockout victory against Darren Snow (5-13-1, 0KOs)
Super featherweight Leon ‘The King’ Woodstock (9-0, 5KOs) produced solid performance with a TKO win against Paul Holt (6-4, 2KOs)
Super lightweight Tyrone Nurse (34-2-2, 7KOs) retained his British title with a split decision draw against Joe Hughes (15-2-1, 6KOs)
120 miles North West of Leicester, Martin Murray kept alive his hopes of another world title shot with a majority decision victory over Gabriel Rosado (23-11, 13KOs). The American started the brighter winning three of the first four rounds but the St Helens man took the next six.
The 31 year old from Philadelphia needed a knock down to close the gap on a tiring Murray and almost did with a hurtful punch in the eleventh. Rosado won the twelfth but it wasn’t enough to win the vacant WBA intercontinental middleweight title.
The three judges caused a stir with their vastly different margins of 116-112 and 119-109, while the third had it 114-114 a draw. I do wonder what some of these judges watch sometimes as I had it 115-113 to Murray.
Tempers flared after the decision was announced when a furious Rosado shouted abuse towards the commentary team and promoter Eddie Hearn. Murray got involved but it was nothing more then ‘handbags’. I can see why Rosado was unhappy with one of the judges but I think the right man won at the end of the night.
On the undercards in Liverpool Sean Dodd (13-2-1, 2KOs) defeated Lee Appleyard (10-3, 10KOs) by UD in the lightweight division.
Super middleweight Rocky Fielding (24-1, 13KOs) continues his winning streak with a split decision victory over John Ryder (24-4, 12KOs) to win the vacant British title.
By: Johnston Brown – BillyCBoxing.com
On Sunday night Joshua/Klitschko: Gloves are off was aired as promos for their heavyweight showdown at Wembley Stadium on April 29 began. This is one of the most eagerly anticipated heavyweight match ups since Tyson/Lewis in 2002 and does not need much exposure. That being said it was a good indication to where these two fighters are mentally.
With recent ‘blast from the past’ on BillyCBoxing, Johnny Nelson asking all the right questions both fighters looked relaxed and acted respectfully. Something that hasn’t happened in recent times with the likes of Whyte/Chisora and Haye/Bellew which angered a lot of the ‘fight fans’ on social media. I on the other hand was pleased that we did not get the usual WWE trash talking BS because this is a real fight that does not need to be hyped in that way.
When asked by Nelson if experience will be a major factor in the fight Joshua responded with “Youth and speed” will give him the advantage which is something that experience can’t stop. Klitschko replied, “Speed kills but you know what kills speed? Anticipation”.
I agree with both statements but for me speed and youth will be the key in this fight, as we have seen in years gone by when Larry Holmes defeated The Great Muhammed Ali, albeit a shell of himself in 1980 and when Mike Tyson knocked out Holmes in 1988. In recent times we saw Tyson Fury beat Klitschko in Germany and on all three occasions youth prevailed.
Joshua did however make an interesting statement, that if he was managing himself he would want another two or three fights before he took on the big six foot six Ukrainian but the fighter in him wants it now 100 per cent. Sensing a bit of doubt Wladimir was quick to add that if it wasn’t for the Fury loss AJ would not be champion and they would not be having this fight.
When Nelson asked Joshua if it would be the end of his career if he lost he said no and hesitated but Klitschko was quick to say, “Don’t even think about”. The old master stepped in to help his young protege, then made it clear, “If you win I will congratulate you, when you lose I will help you”.
Wladimir is quite possibly one of the most educated heavyweight boxers ever along with his brother Vitali, who both hold PhD’s and speak multiple languages. So I found it fascinating to watch ‘Dr Steelhammer’ produce a chess match of the mind, whether he will be able to do that in the ring is another matter?
The one thing I picked up on was the respect that AJ has for the 41 year old, he listened intensely and soaked up every word his challenger had to say. Maybe with his opponent being in his top five heavyweights of all time and the pressure of fighting in front of 90,000 people at Wembley, will overwhelm Joshua? Or has the mastermind of heavyweight boxing played him with mind games?
Personally, I think it’s time for Joshua to finally show the world who the number one heavyweight in the division is and become the unified IBO, IBF and Super WBA champion.
I can see AJ stopping Klitschko within the distance and ringside guest Deontay Wilder stepping in the ring to square up with the young Brit. Then the ‘fight fan’ can get their wish of more WWE gloves are off entertainment.
Turbo Terry needs Crolla
By: Johnston Brown – BillyCBoxing.com
On Saturday night at the Manchester Arena (Formerly M.E.N Arena) ‘Turbo’ Terry Flanagan retained his WBO World Lightweight title against Russian Petr Petrov to go 33-0. It was a comfortable nights work for the Lancashire man against a quick and awkward opponent but is it now time for the 27 year old to step up in class?
After the fight Turbo Terry called out WBA lightweight champion Jorge Linares, three weight world champion Mikey Garcia and WBO super featherweight champion Vasyl Lomachenko.
He said, “Crolla was made for him. He doesn’t put more than three punches together. I will go and go again on Linares. I think I’d stop him, I think he’s fragile. I always knew he’d look good against Crolla. He’d already beaten him when not at his best.”
“I want to fight people like Linares, Lomachenko, Garcia – hopefully Frank can make that happen. I’m confident I’d beat anyone at lightweight. I’m big and strong. If I didn’t think I’d win I wouldn’t be asking for these fights.”
On the evidence of Flanagan’s display against Petrov and in this previous title defences I cannot see him beating either of those three. Especially after watching Lomachenko win in outstanding fashion against Jason Sosa, I can see nothing but a conclusive victory for the Ukrainian.
Mikey Garcia would have too much power and would eventually stop Turbo Terry. A fight with Linares would be a little more closer but would the Venezuelan want to travel to England for a third time, I’m not so sure?
There is no doubt Flanagan has a lot of talent and deserves a big fight but for now I think a match up with Anthony ‘Million Dollar’ Crolla would make more sense, financially and professionally.
This fight would generate huge publicity, not only for the Manchester faithful but also the British public. After watching Flanagan v Petrov and both Linares v Crolla fights, I think it is clear to see that ‘Million Dollar’ has more of a fan base and Flanagan needs him more than he thinks. It would be the biggest fight in Manchester between these two Mancunians that went to the same school!
The biggest stumbling block would be the sketchy relationship between Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn. Although Eddie has said that he would welcome the fight to be broadcast onBoxnation instead of Sky Sports Warren does not seem interested. I just hope that Warren doesn’t let his issues with Hearn and Sky prevent an all British dust up be blocked.
The co-main event in Manchester saw Liam Smith get rewarded a stoppage win against Liam Williams. In an unfortunate clash of heads in round nine, Williams’ coach Gary Lockett called the contest off with his fighter’s right eye completely closed. The Welshman was ahead on the scorecards at the time of the stoppage but Liam Smith will not be awarded the WBO super-welterweight title as he did not make weight.
Elsewhere on the night, double Olympic champion Nicola Adams cruised to a professional debut win against Argentine Virginia Carcamo.
Heavyweight Daniel Dubois also made his professional debut by knocking out last minute replacement Marcus Kelly.
Other results in Manchester:
Super lightweight Jack Catterall 18-0(10KOs) bt Martin Gethin 28-9-1(12KOs) by TKO
Middleweight ‘Jimmy’ Killrain Kelly 21-1(8KOs) bt Rick Godding 23-2-1(3KOs) on PTS
One to look out for is super featherweight Zelfa Barrett 16-0(10Kos) bt Ross Jameson 2-9-1(0KOs) by TKO
Super welterweight James Metcalf 15-0(7KOs) bt Jason Ball 9-24-1(5KOs) by RTD
Mark Heffron 15-0(13KOs) bt Achillies Szabo 19-16(8KOs) by TKO
Super welterweight Mason Cartwright 9-0-1(2KOs) bt Sam Omidi 4-5-2(0KOs) by KO
Cruiserweight Jordan Thompson 6-0(5KOs) bt Jevgenijis Andrejevs 10-81-3(4KOs) by TKO
Super bantamweight Paul Butler 24-1(13KOs) bt Carlos Ruben Dario Ruiz 21-10(10KOs) by TKO
Le Boxing Crunch
By: Johnston Brown – BillyCBoxing.com
There is nothing glamorous about York Hall but it’s gritty presence is the heartbeat of the current boom in British boxing. I spent the evening in the famous boxing venue that provides young prospects with their right of passage into the sports bigger leagues.
World Series of Boxing is the perfect stepping stone for those rising stars who want to build a reputation and this old fashioned venue is the perfect place to build it.
On a lovely spring evening in east London the tie labelled “Le Boxing Crunch” saw the British Lionhearts extended their lead at the top of Group B by two points over their French opponents who remain in second place above Italia Thunder.
One of the rising stars of the British Lionhearts team Galal Yafai kick started proceedings with a unanimous victory over young Spaniard Martin Molina.
The 24 year old from Birmingham dominated from the outset, connecting with some heavy shots to the head in the first couple of rounds. Molina put on a gritty performance throughout but went down twice in the third and fourth with two spiteful body shots. Light flyweight, Yafai moves to 5-1 with a confident display while Molina loses for the first time to go 1-1. All three judges scored it 50:44
In the Middleweight Division Frenchmen Nizar Trimech improved his record to 2-0 when he defeated Zoltan Harcsa, who suffered his first loss and goes 1-1. The Hungarian boxed well behind his jab and always looked dangerous on the counter but Trimech continued to be the aggressor and take the centre of the ring.
Both fighters were hurt in an excellent fourth round but with the scores even going into the fifth it was Trimech who prevailed for the Fighting Roosters; 49:46, 47:48, 45:50
The best performance of the night went to Bantamweight Peter McGrail (3-3) who put on a real classy display against Samuel Kistohurry (1-1). The 20 year old scouser won the opening round but lost the second when he got caught too frequently. The youngster showed his World Series of Boxing experience by adjusting his style in the last three rounds. Instead of moving in straight lines he spun his opponent time and time again and picked his shots superbly to secure the victory. All three judges scored the fight 49:46
In the fourth fight Conor Loftus now 2-0, who moved down to light welterweight for the new season claimed a victory over one of the best in the weight class, Hassan Amzile (2-1) to claim victory for the British Lionhearts. Two judges scored it 48:47 and one 49:46 all in Loftus favour.
The last bout of the evening was a bloody encounter between the two teams’ Croatian draft picks. The Roosters’ Alen Babic (1-1) got the better of Josip Bepo Filipi (5-3) in the heavyweight category by unanimous decision 49:46, 49:46, 45:50.
Congratulations to the British Lionhearts, who had already been confirmed as quarter-finalist before their match up with the France Fighting Roosters on a good 3-2 victory.
Linares: Like a fine wine
By: Johnston Brown – BillyCBoxing.com
Jorge Linares defended his WBA Lightweight and Ring Magazine titles with a comprehensive victory over Anthony Crolla at the Manchester Arena. The Venezuelan was in full control of the fight and showed why he is considered one of the best in his Division. Like a fine wine the 31 year old just seems to get better and better with age.
The Mancunian crowd was in full voice as they sang Anthony Crolla’s name in a deafening atmosphere, after a rousing rendition of Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline. When the first bell rang and there was an air of expectation that revenge was on the cards and not a repeat from the first encounter. Like when Hatton beat Kostya Tszyu in the same venue and when Froch put on a vintage performance against Lucian Bute. Unfortunately for Crolla that was not the case, instead we witnessed a master class from the three weight world champion El Niño de Oro (Golden Boy).
The first round was very tentative from both fighters, Linares was trying to find his range and Crolla was working the body well. Crolla shades the first three but from the second round on, it was Linares who really started to find his groove.
Every time Crolla tried to get close Linares would come back with spiteful combinations that forced the Manchurian back. The left uppercut and over hand right were most effective in the third and fourth rounds as the champ started to establish a lead.
In rounds five and six Crolla continued to bounce around in a hungry fashion but the sharpness and devastating hand speed from the Venezuelan was just too much for valiant challenger, who now had a cut to contend with at the end of the sixth.
Then in the seventh the 30 year old was caught with a thudding uppercut that stunned Crolla and placed him on his backside. To his credit he managed survive the onslaught and make it to the end of the round.
After the knockdown in the last round, his cut getting worse and way behind on the scorecards the Mancunian managed to produce his two best rounds in eight and nine. Weather that was because Linares wanted to reserve his energy or he was starting to feel the pace I’m not sure but credit to Crolla for continuing to make a fight if it.
Linares then restored order in rounds ten and eleven as he continued to throw spiteful shots into the body and head. Being the wrong side of 30 you could forgive the champ for taking his foot off the gas but age is just number as he continued his relentless pursuit.
It looked like Crolla’s seconds were going to pull their fighter out at the end of the eleventh, as Joe Gallagher asked ref Howard Forster to call it a night. But Crolla pleaded with his corner to let him play out the final round, which he did.
All three judges had the fight 118-109, all in favour of Jorge Linares. I had it 117-110 to ‘El Niño de Oro’
Once again Linares conquered in Britain, the first time he knocked out Kevin Mitchell at the O2 in London and now in Manchester for the second time in front of 15,000 adoring Crolla fans. This guy is the real deal and deserves his wish to fight in Vegas next against Micky Garcia in what would be a terrific fight for the Lightweight Division.
Speaking through a translator, Linares says Crolla has “big balls” for lasting the 12 rounds tonight. Plenty of thanks to the team and to the Manchester crowd.
After the fight Crolla said, “He’s a fantastic fighter, I’m just sorry I couldn’t do it for you tonight. I believe I can come again. I’m just going to go away, spend time with family, friends, then sit down and take it from there. I lost to the better man. I’m just really sorry.”
Middleweight Jack Arnfield 24-2(6KOs) W Brian Rose 29-5-1(8KOs) 12 Rd UD
Middleweight Jason Welborn 21-6(7KOs) W Marcus Morrison 14-1(14KOs) 10 Rd UD
Lightweight Katie Taylor 4-0(2KOs) W Mileno Koleva 9-8-1(3KOs) 8 Rd UD
Super Featherweight Martin Joseph Ward 17-0-2(8KOs) W Maxi Hughes 16-3-2(2KOs) 12 Rd UD
Light Heavyweight Karel Horejsek 8-7-2(7KOs) W Rd 1 TKO Tomi Tatham 11-2(5KOs)
Light Heavyweight Hosea Burton 19-1(9KOs) W Tamas Kozma 5-3-2(2KOs) 8 Rd PTS
Middleweight Ben Sheedy 6-0(2KOs) W Rob Brown 2-5(1KOs) 6 Rd PTS
Super Bantamweight Sean McGoldrick 1-0 W Brett Fidoe 7-36-2(5KOs) 4 Rd PTS
Cruiserweight Lawrence Okolie 1-0(1KO) W Rd 1 TKO Geoffrey Cave 0-3
*Okolie is one to look out for in the future
The ‘Mecca’ of British Boxing
By: Johnston Brown – BillyCBoxing
Built in 1929, it was opened by the Duke of York and initially used as Turkish Baths and is now a Grade II listed building. York Hall nearly met its grim reaper in 2004 when Tower Hamlets Council planned to demolish it. After public outrage and a successful protest a 15 year deal was made with Greenwich Leisure, which brought in a multi-million pound face lift and the spiritual home of British boxing was saved. Since then the historic venue has once again become the ‘Mecca’ of British Boxing and will continue to churn out the future stars of today.
The East London venue is steeped with a colourful boxing history and was rightly voted as one of six best places in the world to watch live boxing. Recent ‘Blast from the Pasts’ on BillyCBoxing.com, Nigel Benn and Johnny Nelson both fought at the famous venue in 1988 and 1990 respectively. Boxing Hall of Famers Lennox Lewis and Joe Calzaghe both recorded early knock out victories right at the beginning of their glamorous careers. Other Great British fighters that have also toddled on the Hall’s canvas include MBE’s Ricky Hatton and Carl Froch plus overseas legends Edwin Rosario and Frankie Randall fought a terrific ten rounder while Tim Witherspoon and Johnny Tapia have also made cameo appearances.
In recent times, current IBF heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua fought his third professional fight against Croat Hrboje Kisicek with Michael Watson and Larry Holmes ringside. I remember the former heavyweight champion giving young AJ advice after his fight, as the star struck champ took in every word. Former featherweight champion Carl Frampton also laced up in the legendary hall in his twelfth professional fight and second appearance when he defended his Commonwealth Super-Bantamweight title.
On Friday night York Hall hosted the first instalment of Matchroom Boxing’s Nextgen series that was broadcast live on Sky Sports and Facebook. The new format will showcase their young prospects and give them the opportunity to headline events, like the aforementioned fighters once did before them. The 1,200 capacity venue were in full voice with the overlooking balconies looming over the fighters as they produced some excellent fights for those in attendance and watching at home. James DeGale was among those watching in the crowd, another current champ that graced the Hall’s ring when he outpointed Shawn Porter in the England v USA international tournament in 2007.
British Boxing rival Boxnation aired for the first time at York Hall in 2011 when Liam Walsh, who takes on Gervonta Davis on May 20 at London’s Copper Box Arena, beat Paul Appleby for the Commonwealth Super-Featherweight title, which got voted the British Fight of the Year. Boxnation is a major supporter of World Series Boxing and show all the live action on their channel which in effect gives their young stars a chance of exposer to the public. This year the East London venue is the rightful home to the British Lionhearts and I will be in attendance for their second encounter with the France Fighting Roosters on April 6.
This venue is already legendary but with these young prospects continuing to shine bright, the shady old lady will continue to enhance its unique reputation. Thankfully, York Hall survived the scare of closure 14 years ago, it managed to beat the count and live to fight another day.
World Boxing Entertainment – David Haye Gets KO’d
By: Johnston Brown – March 5, 2017
On Saturday night at the o2 Arena in London, Greenwich we were treated to an entertaining night of action. Ohara Davies set the tone nicely when he entered the ring against Derry Matthews to The Undertakers theme music. Not that his performance was anything WWE like but the main event of the evening not only lived up to the wrestling entertainment value but it gave us even more.
For some reason this fight caught the imagination of the British public from the moment Tony Bellew called out David Haye, after knocking out BJ Flores in his first defence of the WBC Cruiserweight title. With Haye the number one contender for the WBO Heavyweight crown at the time, I did not think he would accept. But I should have known better when it comes to David ‘my little toe’ Haye as he jumped at the chance to fight the smaller guy.
The week long build up to the fight was painful to watch and listen to but credit where credit is due, Sky Sports, Eddie Hearn, David Haye and Tony Bellew sold the fight out in minutes.
On the Wednesday before the fight the press leaked that David Haye had been spotted in Munich with a suspected Achilles tendon injury. Haye rubbished the rumours stating that he was fully fit and the fight would still go ahead.
In the first round Bellew connected with the better shots and slipped some wild Haye punches that threw him off balance. In rounds two and three Haye used his jab and tried to throw some big right hands that Bellew took and avoided well. But Haye had his best round in the fourth when he landed a hurtful right-left combination.
Into the fifth and it seemed like Bellew was starting to open up as Haye continued to land his jab to the body and looked dangerous with Bellew on the ropes.
Then in the sixth round the drama unfolded, as Haye seemed to slip after a Bellew right hand. You could see that he was having problems with what looked like his knee? Bellew jumped on Haye for the knock out and eventually he put the 36 year down but he rose to his feet and survived the Evertonian’s onslaught.
Shane McGuigan advised Haye to stay on the ropes for round seven and try to counter the inevitable Bellew pressure. The round ended completely one sided as left and rights continued to connect throughout with hardly any punches coming back from Haye.
With Haye unable to stand up straight and walking around like he’s had far too many cocktails at his Miami training camp, the scouser looked for the defining blow in round eight. Haye had his hands down by his side while the cruiserweight tried to capitalise but he looked slow and tiered probably due to the extra weight he was carrying.
The ninth was surprisingly easier for the Londoner as Bellew threw little more than a jab as he seemed to reserve his energy for the last two rounds. The most eventful moment of the round was a cheap shot to the crown jewels of Tony Bellew.
In round ten Shane McGuigan taped up the Londoners ankle not that it helped as he continued to stumble around the ring. Bellews reserved energy helped him sustain the pressure a little more then the previous round but he was unable to end the fight. Haye landed a dangerous left hand that reminded the scouser that he can still win with one leg.
Into the eleventh round Haye attempted to hit Bellew with a left jab but ended up on the floor. Soon after getting back to his feet Bellew finally connected with a shot to the top of the head that sent Haye through the ropes. He valiantly beat the count and got back to his feet but his corner had seen enough and threw in the towel. Tony Bellew wins with an 11th round TKO.
This has to be one of the biggest upsets in British Boxing history and surely ends David Haye’s career. Even if he does make a return for the rematch, I’m sure the £4m he made from the £7m pot will go a long way to soothing his massive ego.
A lot of the press and social media have portrayed this fight as a massive Heavyweight match up and a lot of the British fans have bought into it. I on the other hand have to disagree.
David Haye will get plaudits for managing to fight on with only one leg but I can’t help but be sceptical of his injury. It was his little toe for the Klitschko fight, his shoulder for the fight that never happened against Tyson Fury and now the Achilles tendon? Yes it may have been as it seemed but for me he’s like the little boy that cried wolf.
Tony Bellew should now concentrate on defending his WBC cruiserweight title before he’s stripped. Instead of even thinking about fighting anyone like Deontay Wilder, not that I think the heavyweight isn’t beatable but his big right hand would flatten Bellew.
I just want to make an honourable mention to Derry Mathews who announced his retirement after his loss to Ohara Davies. He really has been a great servant to British boxing and I wish him all the best for the future.
On the undercards
Cruiserweight Jake Bonallie (1-0) bt Craig Glover (2-1-0) on Pts
Super Welterweight Ted Cheeseman (8-0) bt Jack Sellars (5-1-1) on Pts
Heavyweight Dave Allen (11-2-1) bt David Howe (12-5-0) by KO in Rd 2
Featherweight Lee Selby (24-1-0) bt Andoni Gago (16-3-2) by TKO in Rd 9
WBC Silver Super Lightweight Ohara Davies (15-0) bt Derry Mathews (38-12-2) by TKO in Rd 2
Welterweight Sam Eggington (20-3-0) bt Paulie Malignaggi (38-8-0) by KO in Rd 9