European Boxing Notebook: DeGale, Fury, Saunders, WBSS, and more…


By: Oliver McManus

A busy, busy couple of weeks has seen action across Britain aplenty but, for a while, there were relatively few major talking points. Nonetheless here is everything you could possibly need to know from the course of the last two weeks –

Chunky chases the dollar

James DeGale chose to relinquish his IBF super-middleweight title ahead of purse bids with his mandatory challenge Jose Uzcategui to chase fights that will define his “legacy in the division”. The 32 year old British boxer would have been up against a tough, powerful, Venezuelan in Uzcategui and the risk far outweighed the potential reward.

By ridding himself of the IBF title and, therefore, the mandatory situations he is now free to chase huge, money-making fights as he nears the end of his career. Without doubt the ideal location will be in the United Kingdom and DeGale never really managed to take off in America but, back home, there is the potential for some genuine mega-fights.

The winner of the World Boxing Super Series immediately springs to mind with Callum Smith and George Groves both providing stern tests and the appetite for a rematch with Groves has, arguably, never been hotter.

Billy Joe Saunders is another name that had been sounded out with potential for a clash to take place on September 15th but the finances of such a bout were believed to be a sticking point.

Watch this space, though.

Billy Joe Saunders mandated to defend against Demetrius Andrade

Talking of Billy Joe Saunders, the World Boxing Organisation has mandated their middleweight champion to defend his belt against mandatory challenger Demetrius Andrade – ranked number 2, the WBO’s number 1, Daniel Jacobs is facing Sergiy Derevyanchenko for the vacant IBF title – with purse bids expected before the end of the month.

Saunders was scheduled to face Martin Murray on two occasions already this year – April and June – before pulling out with injury both times and with Murray, now, reluctant to sign on for a third bout there was seemingly few attractive avenues for the champion to go down.

Against Andrade, Saunders would be up against a former super-welterweight champion and, you’d say, one of the hardest challenges of his career. We already know September 15th is the date being mooted for Saunders’ next fight, at the O2, and Andrade would provide quite a nice test in anticipation of a potential showdown with the winner of GGG-Canelo.

Saunders has already declared his willingness to take the fight as well as his confidence in beating the American but with Andrade signing with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing USA we could be set for one tasty purse bids.

WBSS 2018/19

WE HAVE A TOURNAMENT for 2018/19 with the World Boxing Super Series announcing the complete line-up for the Bantamweight division with no less than four world champions – the WBC are the only governing body not represented by a world champion (mainly because the belt is currently vacant) – in Emmanuel Rodriguez, Naoya Inoue, Ryan Burnett and Zolani Tete the belt holders to have signed up.

The other four fighters in the tournament are Jason Moloney (IBF Mandatory), Juan Carlos Payano (WBO #1), Nonito Donaire and, 4-0 Russian, Mikhail Aloyan.

Safe to say this tournament is shaping up to be the cruiserweight equivalent for 2018/19 and Emmanuel Rodriguez vs Jason Moloney will serve as one of the first quarter-finals having been called as a mandatory whilst Burnett, Tete and Inoue will be the other three seeds.

Fury looks to freeze Pianeta

The former heavyweight kingpin will be returning to the ring for the second time since his much awaited comeback kicked off and will face Francesco Pianeta at Windsor Park on August 18th, on the undercard of Carl Frampton vs Luke Jackson.

Fury will be looking for a far more polished and serious performance than the crowd at Manchester Arena witnessed on June 9th against Sefer Seferi with critics accusing him of not taking the sport seriously. Against Pianeta there is, on paper, a far more challenging opponent in the opposite corner with Pianeta a two-time world title challenger.

Those title challenges both ended with the Italian-born German getting knocked out, by Wladimir Klitschko and Ruslan Chagaev and the 40 fight veteran has had a less-than-impressive record over the past 12-18 months having lost to both Petar Milas and Kevin Johnson in depressingly convincing fashion.

Tyson Fury should, then, sweep past his latest challenge with relative comfort.

MTK Scottish card

MTK Global announced their first card as part of the new BoxNation broadcast agreement, to take place at the Emirates Arena on Friday 24th August in Glasgow with an absolutely stacked card of action set to take place.

Ronnie Clark, who sensationally upset Zelfa Barrett earlier in the year, defends his IBF European title against unbeaten prospect David Oliver Joyce – 7 and 0 – with the Irishman coming off the back of a sixth round TKO victory over Jordan Ellison.

Joyce has already proven his natural power with six wins via knockout and he’ll be looking to stamp his authority throughout the course of this, scheduled, 12 rounder. Clark is well aware of the threat posed by his 31 year old counterpart having declared the bout will be “amazing” to Irish-Boxing.com.

And, mark my words, this will be a war. There are no other ways of putting it.

On the undercard, local-legend, Willie Limond will return to the ring to take on MTK’s new signing in Darragh Foley over the course of 10 rounds with Foley fighting for the first time on British shores as a professional having been based in Australia up until now.

Rankin’ Rising up the Rankings

Hannah Ranking, the leading light in female Scottish boxing, will look to put behind her the previous issues in finding opponents when she travels to New York for her world title challenge on August 4th. Fighting Alicia Napoleon for the WBA Super Middleweight title, Rankin is in with a counterpart who has lost just once previously – to Tori Nelson – and is moving up YET ANOHTER weight category having last fought at middleweight and, prior to that, super welterweight.

British purse bids

As is always a busy period in the month, it was time for the BBBofC purse bids and seeing as there is so much to get through, this will be brief;

Cruiserweight – Matty Askin has been mandated to defend his British cruiserweight belt against up-and-coming Lawrence Okolie after the two have been verbally sparring across social media for weeks. The contest will go to purse bids on Wednesday, August 8th.

Light Heavyweight – Following a tempestuous fight for the English title back in February and months of expectation, a date was set for the rematch between Liam Conroy and Miles Shinkwin – slated for Friday, September 14th – but just days afterwards Liam Conroy decided to vacate the title and avoid the fight.

Middleweight – With the English middleweight belt being vacant promoter Errol Johnson reached an agreement with Reece Cartwright and Tyler Denny for the two to go toe-to-toe on Saturday, September 29th in Walsall for the title.

Super Welterweight – An agreement was reached by Eddie Hearn and the respective parties to stage Asinia Byfield vs Ted Cheeseman for the vacant British Super Welterweight title with the fight to take place on Saturday, October 20th in London; Adam Harper and Billy Bird will meet for the vacant English title on Saturday, September 22nd in Ipswich.

Super Lightweight – Robbie Davies signed a three-fight agreement with Eddie Hearn earlier in the month and his first fight will be on Saturday, October 13th in Newcastle for the vacant British Super Lightweight title and he’ll be up against Glenn Foot in a bruising encounter.

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