By: Oliver McManus
Hello and welcome along to Boxing Insider’s European Boxing Notebook, covering everything you need to know from the world of boxing over here in the UK and on the continent – it’s been a sensational couple of weeks so let’s get straight into the action;
Fury’s less than furious comeback
Tyson Fury returned to the ring on June 9th with a cacophony of hype, glamour and ecstasy surrounding the lineal champion’s return to the ring after an extended period of absence – two and a half years.
Fighting at the Manchester Arena in front of 20,000 fans, the opponent chosen was Sefer Seferi from Albania and whilst everyone knew, going in, that this was THE Tyson Fury show and, even, that Seferi had shown nothing worthy of warranting a place in the ring with the Brit, NO-ONE knew just how poor Seferi was going to be.
Coming into the ring a diminutive figure, looking half the size of Fury – who, despite having lost 8st, still looked a good 1.5-2st out of shape – the mockery of the sport began instantaneously with Fury jumping around with a big smile on his face and Seferi whipping out an Ali shuffle of his own.
The fight lasted four rounds during which few shots were thrown from either man – probably none that landed from Sefer – but Tyson Fury, to his credit, looked loose and liquid-like in his movement, still as active as ever before, sharp and energetic.
He looked happy in the ring and, as we all know, you need to be happy in yourself in order to perform at your best. Ring rust was non-existent but it would have been nicer, far nicer, to see Tyson really go for it and pummel Sefer Seferi as quickly as he could.
Make no mistake, if Fury had pushed the case, Seferi could have been bounced out of the ring back to Albania, quite literally, within one round.
Tyson Fury will return to the ring on August 18th at Windsor Park but if we are, truly, to believe this comeback will result in a long-term Tyson then he’ll need a far better performance against a far better opponent.
Faltering Flanagan, the bait on Mo’s Hook(er)
On that same card we witnessed Terry Flanagan stepping up in weight to fight for the vacant WBO Super Lightweight Championship of the World against, little-fancied, Maurice ‘Mighty Mo’ Hooker.
Hooker, going in to this fight, was dismissed extensively by British fight fans – myself included – who saw him as little other than an easy win for Terry Flanagan; there were odds of 6’s and 7’s being offered on Hooker just minutes before the bell rang.
Terry Flanagan started off slowly but with more intent, looking in control, whereas Mo Hooker began with fire in his belly, seeking to rough up and annoy the British favourite and, boy, it worked.
Truth be told it took a gaping cut and a cascade of claret down the face of Flanagan to really get him into gear. Aware that time was not his friend, the cut worsening, he really exploded into life sending barrage after barrage of combinations towards Hooker.
The rounds would follow the same pattern, however, with Hooker coming on strong in the final 90 seconds and, ultimately, it was Flanagan’s footwork that seemed to be his downfall getting his feet almost, metaphorically, in a tangle with him never seeming too confident in where to place them.
We went to the scorecards and with two judges giving it 117-111, albeit one to Flanagan and one to Hooker, we headed to a split decision with the third judge giving it 115-113 to the American challenger.
A horrible fight to watch, make your own mind up on the scorecard.
Lewis Leather’s Hyland
Lewis Ritson produced a stonking performance as he returned to the North East to win the British Lightweight title OUTRIGHT by stopping Paul Hyland Jr in the very first round – dropping him on three occasions.
Now with seven successive fights ending before the final bell, Lewis Ritson has need just four rounds in his last three bouts to finish off Joe Murray, Scott Cardle and Hyland – all were expected to be his “toughest challenge yet”.
An absolute superstar in the North East the mission, for Hearn, is now to turn him into a global sensation because he certainly has the talent to get there; domestically he’s a step above but the gap to world level is even bigger so finding the right for Ritson is going to be mighty hard over the next 12 months.
Josh Kelly was another stellar fighter in action at the Metro Radio Arena, co-headlining, but he left the fight with more questions asked than answered. Kelly looks phenomenal when going forward and attacking but from a defensive point of view, he shows very little of the fundamentals and looks likely that he could get caught out against elite fighters.
Rocky’s Road to Germany
Announced over the past week was Rocky Fielding’s challenge to Tyron Zeuge’s WBA ‘Regular’ Super Middleweight title, the bout to take place on July 14th in Offenburg, Germany.
For about a month, now, we were aware that Zeuge’s next defence would take place against either Fielding or John Ryder but, Rocky was the man who got the nod with the 26-1 fighter looking to move to higher heights having vacated his British and Commonwealth Super Middle belts earlier this year.
Fielding’s only loss came way back in 2015, as he was viciously exposed in a fight with Callum Smith, dropping Fielding three times in the first round before the bout was waved off; since then Fielding has bounced back with five successive wins with the standout performances being against John Ryder and David Brophy.
Zeuge, on the other hand, will enter the ring with a 22-0-1 record having defended his title three times since claiming it via a 12th round KO over Giovanni De Carolis – arguably one of the worst world champions of all time – and was most recently in action back in March with a two round demolition job over Isaac Ekpo.
Fielding represents the toughest test for Zeuge and vice versa, save for Callum Smith, but should Rocky come back to Britain with the belt, bring on a super-fight between him and the winner of George Groves and Callum Smith for THE proper WBA belt.
Whyte poo-poo’s Kubrat
Dillian Whyte has withdrawn from his IBF final eliminator contest against Kubrat Pulev after it emerged that fight was edging even closer to being hosted in Bulgaria; Eddie Hearn, Whyte’s promoter, lost the purse bids in sensational fashion and Dillian Whyte will now face Joseph Parker, live on Sky Sports Box Office, on July 28th.
Eddie Hearn says this fight sends a big “f**k you all” to the boxing community but, if anything, it screams of hypocrisy after having accused all the big names of avoiding Dillian Whyte, also WBC number 1, before avoiding the golden opportunity of forcing a MANDATED rematch with Anthony Joshua.
Take nothing away from this fight, however, it’s a brilliant contest by Dillian Whyte who gets the opportunity to really produce a big performance against a fighter, still, at the top of his game.
Parker will view this as his opportunity to bounce back, immediately, into the world title scene as well as a chance to upset the apple cart and with the Kiwi having been AJ’s last opponent there is a direct yardstick for which you can measure up Dillian Whyte’s performance.
Josh Leather’s Leave of Absence
Josh Leather has decided to take an extended leave of absence from the boxing ring and has withdrawn from his fight against Ohara Davies on June 23rd at the O2. Leather was being lined up for a potential block-buster of fights including himself, Davies, Jack Catterall and Terry Flanagan but, having split with his trainer, it will be a long time before he returns to the ring.
Hopefully for fight fans Leather can find his love for the sport, again, because he’s a cracking boxer.
BoxNation and Frank Warren are ON A BREAK!
Today (June 19th) BoxNation have announced their broadcast agreement with Frank Warren will cease to exist as of July 1st with the channel’s founder now taking his shows exclusively to BT Sport – with whom he has signed a multi-year agreement, believed to be until 2022.
This doesn’t mean an end to the 24-hour subscription channel, however, who will continue their exclusive output deal with Top Rank as well as airing other international shows, at least 12 cards a year from MTL Global and, who knows, the World Boxing Super Series?
British Boxing Purse Bids –
This will be nice and snappy because there’s a lot to get through;
Jason Welborn (Holder) will defend his middleweight title against Tommy Langford – the man he won the belt off – after a request for the rematch was approved, having been put forward by his promoter. The winner of the bout will be required to defend against Mark Heffron when called to do so.
Asinia Byfield and Ted Cheeseman will meet for the vacant Super Welterweight title after the withdrawal of Liam Williams and Joe Pigford from proposed bouts with Byfield. Eddie Heard has confirmed his intention to put the fight on.
The British super lightweight belt has been sent to purse bids with Glenn Foot vs Robbie Davies Jr the two chosen challengers for the vacant belt whilst Akeem Ennis Brown and Joe Hughes have been mandated in an eliminator.
Liam Conroy (Holder) will, again, face Miles Shinkwin for the English Light Heavyweight belt after their first fight ended in controversy with Conroy appearing to land a series of shots to the back of Shinkwin’s head; the purse bid was won by David Haye and the fight is likely to take place on terrestrial TV in either Dave or Channel 5. Ricky Summers and Craig Richards are set to meet in an eliminator.
Elliott Matthews vacated his English Middleweight title and Reece Cartwright, IBF Youth champion, and Tyler Denny have been selected by the board of the control as the two challengers for the belt.
There we have it, then, the best bits from British and European boxing over the past two weeks, it’s been stupendously busy but I’ll give the last nod to David Allen who travels to Paris on June 23rd to face , Rio 2016 gold medallist, Tony Yoka .