This Saturday night IBF featherweight champion Lee Selby (26-1, 9KOs) defends his title against crowd favourite Josh Warrington (26-0, 6KOs) in front of 38,000 fans at Elland Road, Leeds, England.
Leeds United fan Warrington sees his dream come true of fighting in front of his fans at his beloved football club. The Yorkshire man adds the cherry on the cake with favourite band Kaiser Chiefs playing his track ‘I Predict a Riot’ live while entering the ring accompanied by Leeds United football hero Lucas Radebe.
Amongst the live entertainment there will be some real business going on inside the ring between two highly ranked 126 pounders. The champion is currently ranked at No.2 in Britain and No.6 in the world with his challenger ranked at No.3 domestically and No.7 in the world making this fight delicately poised.
Josh Warrington has fought 193 rounds in 26 bouts with a knockout ratio of 23% and a combined opponent record of 348-322-29.
The 27-year-old has a decent CV with solid victories over Denis Ceylon who he stopped in 10 rounds and a controversial win over Kiko Martinez in his last two fights.
Earlier in his career he stopped Lee Selby conquerer Samir Mouneimne, Rendall Munroe and Patrick Hyland. Other credible victories came against Martin Lindsay, Joel Brunker and Japan’s Hisashi Amagusa.
IBF champion Lee Selby turned pro a year earlier than Warrington in 2008 and has accumulated 207 rounds in 27 fights with a 33% knockout ratio.
The Welshman has a combined opponent record of 439-397-32 but he did face journeyman legend Peter Buckley 31-255-12 in only his second pro fright. Taking that into consideration his combined record makes for excellent reading of 408-142-20.
The 31-year-old has an accomplished CV fighting 8 undefeated fighters most notably two Brits Stephen Smith and Ryan Walsh plus Australian Joe Brunker, Romanian Viorel Simion and and Eduardo Ramirez in his last bout.
Selby captured the IBF title three years ago when the beat undefeated Russian Evgeny Gradovich by technical decision. In his five defences since he has convincingly defeated 4 opponents by unanimous decision.
Warrington stands at 5’ 7” which is an inch and a half shorter than Selby plus the Bary-born fighter has a longer reach by 3-inches. This will give Selby a slight advantage because he is a slick outside fighter. The Leeds man has a come forward style with a great engine.
There is no love loss between these two so Warrington will need to come flying out of the blocks and swamp the champion in hope of unsettling his rhythm.
With the crowd behind the fan favourite he will need to be controlled and use the support to his advantage. The trouble is Selby has ice running through his veins so he will not be overwhelmed by the atmosphere. We are talking about a guy that fought the day after his mother’s passing. 30 odd thousand screaming football fans will not faze him and he will be calm and collected.
The home-fighter has always been a step behind Selby in his career and I expect the same in the ring on Saturday night. Warrington has the perfect style for Selby and he will be too skilful, too sharpe and too head strong to fall into any traps. I am going for the Welshman to win unanimously or maybe even a late stoppage due to a frustrated Warrington going for broke.
The Royal Wedding will take place on Saturday afternoon, then the FA Cup final in the late evening before a lively night of boxing in Leeds. Enjoy your day fight fans
Light heavyweight prospect Joshua Buatsi (6-0, 4KOs) is targeting a fight with fellow Londoner Anthony Yarde (15-0, 14KOs) at some point this year.
The Olympic bronze medalist has thrown his hat into the 175lb domestic mix by calling out Britain’s number one Yarde from Hackney, London.
In a recent interview Buatsi said:
“The public want me to go against Yarde. It’s a fight in demand so that is the one I want.
“It’s good because the public interest is there, everyone is calling for it. I know that it’s one that will captivate and intrigue fans so let’s get it on.
“We have both been matched well and guided appropriately so far and this would be a great test for us to see where we are really at in our careers. The fans are the ones who would benefit most.
“These are the match-ups you need in boxing. Ultimately, we will only know what happens once we fight, but all I will say is that the ring reveals the truth – it’s very real and different once you’re in there, just the two of you.
“Buatsi is coming for you.”
The 25-year-old who is managed by AJ Boxing is also hoping to for a shot at the British or Commonwealth titles. Rumors are circling that current holder of both belts Callum Johnson will vacate for world honors and challenge IBF champ Artur Beterbiev.
“I want those belts eventually, of course, and if Johnson does decide to move on, two challengers will be ordered to fight for each of them.
“I know Yarde is ranked highly in Britain so you would assume it would be him against someone else.
“I’d never turn down the fight, us fighters will fight anyone. It’s up to trainers and managers to correctly guide and advise a career the right way.
“You look at situations like the one with Kell Brook and Amir Khan where the public demand has been there for years and it still hasn’t happened – I don’t want that to be the case here.
“I still think that if we saw Khan and Brook announced this week, people would lose their mind over it and want to watch it. It could just come down to mine and Yarde’s teams as to whether it’s better to take it now or later on.
“He’s a London boy so that local rivalry adds to the fire; I’m just excited by the whole prospect.”
You just cannot knock these young British fighters that are currently working their way through the ranks as they are always eager to fight each other. It’s great to see and long may it continue.
Hughie Fury (21-1, 11KOs) is the new British heavyweight champion after a fifth round knockout victory over Sam Sexton (24-4, 9KOs) at the Macron Stadium in Bolton.
The 23-year-old put down Sexton with a straight right hand through the guard in the fourth before finishing off the job in the fifth with a right hand counter.
Ex-commonwealth champ Sexton protested to referee Gary O’Connor but the fight was rightfully waved off.
Sexton did try to old-man his younger opponent when he did manage to get in close by using some unsavoury tricks of the trade. Unfortunately for the Norwich man those moments were few and far between.
Instead Fury kept his cool and didn’t allow Sexton to upset his rhythm. He boxed well on the outside and used his jab and footwork effectively to stay out of trouble.
Fury’s last knockout victory was almost three years ago so it was surprising that the Manchester-based fighter managed to stop Sexton. Especially if you consider that the 33-year-old hasn’t been stopped since 2012 against David Price.
The new British champion credited the right hand finish to his father and hard work in the gym. Fury said:
“I was confident. My body has got so much stronger. I worked on my right hand over Christmas. It was a boxing masterclass.
“All credit goes to this man [Peter Fury].
“I’ve done everything he said tonight. This fight is dedicated to my dad.
”I knew Sam Sexton would give his all, because this was his last chance. I was so relaxed I could’ve fallen asleep.
Hughie Fury is hopeful that this victory will put him back in contention for world honours. The younger cousin of Tyson said:
“I dream to be a world champion. Whoever has got those belts – I’m coming. Although I lost to Parker, I’m coming. I’m ready to fight.”
All credit to Fury for picking up the British title but he will need to overcome some bigger names if he is to be even considered for another title shot.
Joe Joyce was been calling out the winner for tonight’s fight which would be a decent British tear-up. But Peter Fury was quick to put that fight on the back burner a few days ago when he said that his son is ahead of Joyce and wouldn’t the considered.
It’s hard to figure out what route Hughie will take because he is behind Dillian Whyte, Luis Ortiz, Dominic Breazeale, Kubrat Pulev and Alexander Povetkin. Maybe their looking at taking on the winner of that joke fight between WBA regular champion Manuel Charr and Fres Oquendo.
A rematch against Joseph Parker would be a step in the right direction or even push for a trip to the US to fight Jarrell Miller. That is of course if Joshua doesn’t fight Miller first. I’m almost certain Fury will be staying away from Anthony Gorman and Daniel Dubois. Other alternatives are David Price, Agit Kabayel or Dereck Chisora.
What ever the next step is for Hughie Fury I wish him all the best. At the age of 23, you can be assured that time is definitely on his side.
Undefeated WBA ‘Super’ bantamweight world champion Ryan Burnett (19-0, 9KOs) is the latest world champion to join season 2 of the World Boxing Super Series.
The 25-year-old will be joined by WBO holder Zolani Tete (27-3, 21KOs) and recently crowned IBF holder Emmanuel Rodriguez (18-0, 12KOs) in the second series of the knockout tournament.
Kalle Sauerland broke the news on his Tweeter account this afternoon:
BOOOOOM! #WBSS Season II – the Bantamweights! Signed up already are THREE World Champs….WBA Champ @ryanburnett01 ….. IBF Champ Manny Rodriguez and WBO Champ Zolani Tete more to follow here… #AliTrophy
The Belfast boy who defended his title against Yonfrez Parejo on the Joshua-Parker undercard expresses his desire to become a unified world champion:
“I have always wanted to be a world champion and to unify the titles against the best opposition out there,” he said.
“Now the World Boxing Super Series allows me to continue my dream against the other champions in the bantamweight division.”
South African WBO champion Zolani Tete has already called out who he wants first in the Super Series:
“I’m excited because I finally get the chance to prove myself against the best bantamweights in the world.
“We have been calling out Ryan Burnett quite a few times now but even surely the fight will happen sooner than expected.”
The recently crowned IBF champion Rodriguez is also very excited by the prospect of fighting the very best in the 118lb division:
“There will be eight fighters. In the first round I have the power to choose a challenger that is ranked among the top 10. For the second round it would be against a forced champion and then a great final.
“Whoever wins the tournament will keep all the belts, prize money and the Muhammad Ali Cup.”
The organisers are also adding two more weight classes to their second series and will make announcements in the coming weeks.
After the success of the cruiserweights and super-middleweights this second series could top both. The delayed finals of the current series will be decided “in the next 10 days”, said Comosa’s Chief Boxing Officer, Kalle Sauerland.
World Super Series Boxing has been a breathe of fresh air and I can’t wait for the draw in July and the first rounds to start in September.
This Saturday night at the O2 Arena in London Tony Bellew (29-2-1, 19KOs) takes on David Haye (28-3, 26KOs) in a rematch that is overshadowed by a strong undercard.
When the original date for the rematch was set in September the hype from their previous encounter was active and relevant. But 14 months down the line you have to wonder what the point is?
I will openly admit that I ridiculed the first fight with no intention of watching it but in the end I gave in and was pleasantly surprised with how it unfolded. This time nothing but the undercard is of interest to me.
Butler v Rodriguez
Paul Butler (26-1, 14KOs) takes on undefeated Puerto Rican Emmanuel Rodriguez (17-0, 12KO) for the IBF Bantamweight title which was recently vacated by Ryan Burnett.
The 29-year-old from Chester, England is ranked at No.3 in Britain and No.6 in the World. Butler has 178 rounds under his belt in 27 fights with a knockout ratio of 52% and a combined opponent record of 287-282-25,
Butler has already held the IBF bantamweight title before when he outpointed Stewart Hall in a stunning fight back in 2014. After dropping back down to 115lbs he lost against Zolani Tete in his only professional loss when he was stopped in the eighth round.
Since that defeat the ‘Baby faced Assassin’ has gone on a 9-fight win streak beating decent opposition along the way. In the rematch with Hall last year Butler produced a boxing clinic to win unanimously and set-up this title fight against Rodriguez.
Unbeaten Latino champion Emmanuel Rodriguez is currently ranked as the best 118lb fighter in Puerto Rico and No.13 in the world. In 17 fights he has accumulated 77 rounds of boxing with a 71% knockout ratio and a combined opponent record of 185-92-7.
Rodriguez is somewhat still inexperienced in the pro game with his most notable victory coming against Alberto Guevara in a 10-round unanimous decision in 2016. But don’t let that deceive you as the 26-year-old is being touted as a special talent. Rodriguez was a successful amateur who picked up a gold medal in the Youth Olympics and silver in the Youth World Championships both in 2010.
This is a tough fight to call as both are orthodox and stand at 5’ 6” with similar styles. They will both look to establish their jabs and fight on the outside while throwing left hooks to the head and body. It will be a matter of who has the best timing and fastest hands.
I can see ‘Manny’ as Rodriguez likes to be known getting his distance right and making life difficult for Butler. If the Englishman can counter his opponent and upset his rhythm then he has every chance of getting the win.
My head says Rodriguez but my heart says Butler so I’m going for a split decision in favour of Butler. I believe the experience of the Tete fight will get him just over the line.
Joyce v Thomas
Joe Joyce (3-0, 3KOs) steps up his quality of opposition once again when he takes on the commonwealth heavyweight champion Lenroy Thomas (22-4-1, 10KOs).
The 32-year-old from Putney, London has his work cut out against the Jamaican-born southpaw. Joyce is being fast tracked by his promoter David Haye with the hope of following in his footsteps of becoming a heavyweight world champion one day.
The well decorated amateur is over 3-inches taller than Thomas and should have too much for the 33-year-old. Even though this is only ‘Juggernaut’ fourth professional fight I’m going for the big man to win by knockout.
Ward v Tennyson
Undefeated Martin Joseph Ward (19-0-2, 9KOs) defends his Commonwealth and European super-featherweight titles against the WBA international champion James Tennyson (21-2, 17KOs)
The man from Leeds, England ‘Wardy’ will need to keep his distance from the dangerous and heavy handed Belfast boy. ‘The Assassin’ will look to get on the inside and let his hands go. I cannot see Ward, 26, managing to stay out of range for the whole 12-rounds so I’m going for the 24-year-old Tennyson to win by stoppage in the fight of the night.
Ryder v Cox
The 29-year-old John Ryder (25-4, 13KOs) takes on Swindon’s Jamie Cox (25-1, 14KOs) in a mouth-watering last chance saloon fight in the super-middleweight division.
Cox, 31, is fresh from a second round knockout victory over Harry Matthews and hopes to get back onto the world stage after losing to World Boxing Super Series finalist George Groves.
The Londoner is 2-inches shorter than Cox but his southpaw stance will cause his opponent problems. That being said three of Ryder’s four defeats have come against orthodox fighters who had that extra bit of quality.
I’m expecting a good scrap where both fighters throw caution to the wind. This really is even-stevens and it will depend on who wants it more on he night. If I was splitting hairs I would have to edge towards Cox.
Rest of the undercard
Light heavyweight Joshua Buatsi (5-0, 3KOs) is back in action when he faces Frenchman Stephane Cuevas (8-1-3, 4KOs).
American super-welterweight Money Powell IV (6-0, 3KOs), light heavyweight Kody Davies (3-0, 1KO) and featherweight Jordan Gill (19-0, 4KOs) are also on the bill.
Bradley Skeete (27-2, 12KOs) was stopped in two rounds by the hard hitting Spaniard Kerman Lejarraga (25-0, 20KOs) in the Bilbao Arena on Saturday night.
The Londoner made the brave decision to take on undefeated Lejarraga in his hometown for the vacant European welterweight title.
The opening exchanges were pretty even with both fighters managing to connect with jabs but disaster struck in the second round when Skeete was caught with a right that sent him to the canvas.
It looked nothing more than a flash knockdown which the penge-fighter managed to recover from rather quickly. The Spaniard smelt blood and was back on the attack, this time it was a crunching shot to the ribs that took the wind out of Skeete.
Skeete showed a lot of guts to get back to his feet as you could clearly see the anguish written all over his face. Once again ‘Revolver’ was back on the inside throwing bombs. Although the last shot that landed was a right to the head it was actually another body shot that sent Skeete back onto his knees.
The white towel came in and the referee stopped the fight to send the Spanish crowd into bedlam.
A disappointed Bradley Skeete was gracious in defeat when he said:
“I’m absolutely gutted. Saturday night wasn’t my night. I got caught and just didn’t get going. I’ll bounce back and go again. Congratulations and well done to Kerman Lejarraga all his team MGZ Promotions.”
The 30-year-old will need to lick his wounds and re-group. This is only the second defeat of his career and a couple of victories can turn his fortunes around.
I cannot see too many welterweights in the world wanting to travel to Bilbao to take on the hard hitting Lejarraga. Skeete is no mug that has fought and beat some decent punchers before. Expect the 26-year-old to continue his rise into a world championship contender. The 147lb division has been put on high alert as not many would be able to finish off Skeete in this manner.
‘Super’ Skeete is still ranked high enough in Britain to comeback with a tasty domestic dust-up to get himself back into world contention. Fellow Londoner Gary Corcoran would be the perfect fight back in my opinion. The Wembley-based fighter lost out to Jeff Horn last year in a world title shot which in all honesty should have been against Skeete and not Corcoran.
Another possibility is Frankie Gavin who is the only other fighter to defeat Skeete and it would generate a lot of interest domestically.
One big name that jumps out at me when looking at the international stage is Devon Alexander. Ok so it might be a long shot but the former two-weight world champion has only just returned to the ring after a two-year absence. Plus he is only a few places above Skeete in the world rankings.
Maybe more realistic choices would be Miguel Vazquez who recently got stopped by Josh Kelly, Brandon Rios who has come up short against the very best or Felix Diaz from the Dominican Republic.
Bradley Skeete is still young enough to come again and he does have the pedigree to trouble some of the best welterweights in the world. The young man from Spain may well prove to be the real deal as there are not many that can boast 20 knockouts on their CV.
The best thing the Londoner can do now is get back in the ring as soon as possible and get another win under his belt. Skeete will have learned a lot about himself on Saturday night and this loss should only increase his hunger to prove the doubters wrong.
Liverpudlian Liam Smith (26-1-1, 14KOs) has had to pull out of his world title fight against current WBO super-welterweight champion Sadam Ali (26-1, 14KOs) due to illness.
Former 154lb belt holder ‘Beefy’ Smith was due to face Ali in Verona, USA on May 12. Unfortunately for the scouser he will be unable to challenge for his former title because his illness has prevented him from training. The 29-year-old is clearly gutted and hopes the fight will be re-scheduled, he said:
“I’m bitterly disappointed that I have been forced to postpone my fight with Sadam Ali to a later date.
”A recent illness has severely impacted on my training schedule, leaving me with no choice but to postpone the May 12 date.
“I’ve been out of training for eight days. We’re not sure exactly what was wrong with me but it appears to be some sort of allergic reaction. I’m not injured and I’m hoping that the fight can be rescheduled quickly.
“I’m gutted for Ali and all of the fans that were looking forward to watching the fight. I’d like to thank Golden Boy promotions and my promoter Frank Warren for working on a new date for the fight.
“Ali is a world class fighter and I need to be fully prepared for when I step in the ring with him. I want to give the fans a fight to remember.”
It does seem like Golden Boy are keeping the May 12 date open and are now seeking a replacement which is not good news for Smith. Many boxing fans are hoping that Kell Brook would take the fight at short notice but to be perfectly honest I think it’s way too short notice for that to happen.
My guess would be that Golden Boy will either select a less than stellar opponent to keep Ali busy to save the card or re-schedule the whole event altogether. The knock on effect is that the WBC super-bantamweight fight between Rey Vargas and Azat Hovhannisyan will have to be re-scheduled also or be promoted to the main event.
I wish Smith a speedy recovery and hope he can get well soon.
Scottish super-lightweight and one of Britain’s top prospects Josh Taylor (12-0, 11KOs) takes on Ukrainian veteran Viktor Postol (29-1, 12KOs) in a WBC eliminator at the SSE Hydro in Glasgow on June 23.
This is definitely the 27-year-olds toughest challenge to date against a guy that has only ever been beaten by pound for pound king Terrence Crawford.
Postol 34, has never been stopped before and has bags of experience in the 140lb division. This really is a step up for Josh but one I believe he will thrive on. The Tartan Tornado said: “I can’t wait to get back under those lights in Glasgow,”
“This is definitely my toughest opponent to date, and Viktor Postol should be the perfect test for me at this stage of my career.”
“He’s taken on and beaten some of the best fighters in the world, and I know he’ll be coming here with the hope of spoiling the party.”
The current WBC champion is José Ramírez and regular champion is Regis Prograis. If Taylor can fulfil his potential there is no reason why he cannot go on to not only win a world title but unify a few belts to. A fight with Prograis at some point down the line would be a real barnstormer and Josh can’t wait to show the world just how good he is:
“To know I’ll be in line for a world title shot if I get the win has really put the fire in my belly, and you can expect to see the best Josh Taylor to date on June 23.”
“The support in Scotland is always phenomenal, and I can’t wait to make it another night to remember for everyone involved. See you all there.”
Iceman as Postol likes to be called said:
“Taylor is a tough opponent and he had a good amateur career, he is a hard puncher as you can see from his pro record, and he changes stances throughout his fights so I will need to be sharp.”
“The win in this fight against Josh Taylor will help me to approach my goal of becoming world champion once again.”
“Taylor is a worthy opponent and I am fully focused on this fight! Let the best man win in Glasgow.”
Taylor’s promoter and manager Barry McGuigan said:
“Josh Taylor truly is the real deal, and that shows when he’s fighting someone as talented and experienced as Viktor Postol in just his 13th fight.”
“We feel that this is the perfect final test for Josh before he challenges for world honours, and Viktor Postol will certainly not being coming to Glasgow to roll over.”
“Both men are fresh, full of desire and ready to put it all on the line on June 23. This should be a cracker.”
British welterweight Bradley Skeete (27-1, 12KOs) heads to Spain to take on undefeated Kerman Lejarraga (24-0, 19KOs) at the Bilbao Arena for the vacant European title.
The 30-year-old is taking a huge gamble by traveling over to Bilbao, Spain in search of the European title. Not only because he is fighting away from home for the first time in his career against a noteable puncher but also because he will need to win almost every round convincingly if he is to stand a chance of victory.
Now I’m not suggesting for one minute that the Spanish would ever dream of cheating but results in Spain and Europe in general are always hard to come by for the English. Skeete must not take anything for granted especially when it comes to the politics of scoring boxing.
The Londoner said: “I just want a fair crack at the whip. It’s a vacant title. I’m not the challenger; he’s not the champion. I’m going to his hometown to fight him.”
“I’m sure the judges and referee will be fair and that’s all I ask for. If I go out there, do a job and come home empty-handed because I’ve been cheated, it will be disgusting. But I believe my style will be more than enough to get the win. If I win on points, I will make it convincing. If not, I will win by stoppage.”
‘Super’ Skeete who is known for his slick boxing skills has accumulated 188 rounds in 28 bouts with a knockout ratio of 43% and a combined opponent record of 481-419-28.
Skeete won the welterweight Lonsdale belt outright when he defeated Dale Evans last year. His best performance came against Sam Eggington when he outpointed the former European champion in 2016. The only loss on Skeete’s record came against commonwealth games gold medalist Frankie Gavin back in 2014.
Skeete missed out on a WBO title fight against current champion Jeff Horn but is eager to force his way onto the world stage. He said:
“This opportunity has come up and I’ve grabbed it with both hands. I have to go away from home to fight for this title but that’s fine because it’s what I want to be doing in the future anyway. The level I’m going to be fighting at, my fights are not always going to be at home. I’m just looking at this as a stepping stone for the future.”
His opponent who is fighting in his hometown has a fought 24 times accumulating 97 rounds with a knockout percentage of 79 and a combined opponent record of 397-265-23
The 26-year-olds best performance was against 2016 commonwealth champion Denton Vassell who he stopped in the fourth round a couple of years ago.
Ranked as the No.1 welterweight in Spain Lejarraga is the type of fighter that likes to stay on the front foot and hunt his opponent down. He will look to pressurise Skeete into making a mistake and hope he can connect with a knockout punch.
Skeete has the height and reach advantage over his opponent and will try to box clever on the outside. His jab will be the key so finding his range will be paramount but he needs to throw combinations in threes and fours when on the inside before disengaging.
If Skeete can re-produce the slick boxing skills he showed against Eggington then I believe he will get the job done. Anything less then that and he may well find it difficult to get the decision in Spain. Every shot ‘Revolver’ throws will be cheered weather it connects or not so Skeete needs to be on his ‘A’ game and keep the crowd quiet.
I believe Skeete will produce the goods and outpoint Lejarraga in a clear and dominant display. He may well end up stopping the Spanish prospect in the late rounds.
Good luck Brady Skeete it’s always nice to see a guy from my neck of the woods fighting on big European nights.