By: Oliver McManus
Hall of Fame boxing promoter Frank Warren inked a new 5 year deal with broadcaster BT Sport this week, bringing the likes of Tyson Fury, Billy Joe Saunders and Terry Flanagan to an audience in excess of 7million viewers and to celebrate the agreement, with 5 being the magic number, we take a look at five of the best under-the-radar fighters under the tutelage of Mr Frank Warren.
Josh Leather – Super Lightweight
We’ll start off with the first of two Leather brothers making their mark on the British boxing scene and Josh Leather, at 13-0, has already made sizeable waves boxing out of Imran Naeem’s gym up in Stockton.
A prodigious amateur talent, Josh made the move into the paid ranks back in 2013 with the backing of Warren from the beginning – quickly repaying the promoter’s faith with a full arsenal of attacking grit and flashy punches.
Last year proved to be the making of the Guisborough-born sharp-shooter as a sixth round TKO against Philip Sutcliffe Jnr on the undercard of Josh Warrington – Kiko Martinez, earned him the IBF Inter-Continental title and wide plaudits from those within the game.
The attention of the wider public would come in Newcastle, in November, with a ferocious battle against Glenn Foot that could easily have won Fight of the Year, whilst the scorecards were questioned by some, Leather showed heart to get back up from a rocking shot in the 2nd before rallying with relentless pressure in the final quarter to earn him the points victory.
2018 will prove to be a big year for Leather as boxing looks to make a big bang up North and Josh will certainly be part of the revival – a rematch with Foot is on the cards but, regardless, he’ll be in cracking fights all over the place.
Tamuka Mucha – Welterweight
A new signing for 2018, it will be interesting to see what route Frank Warren and Tamuka Mucha go down after a scheduled fight with John O’Donnell was beset with injuries and postponed no less than three occasions.
With 17 fights under his belt – 16 victories – since turning pro in 2012, Mucha is certainly at the point in his career where he’s capable of a step-up, the Zimbabwe-born, Berkshire-resident, has already proven himself at a domestic level by knocking out Erick Ochieng in the 6th round – not an easy feat – before outpointing Tommy Tear (11-0) 99-93 in February 2016 to cement his reputation as one to watch.
Since then Mucha has stayed active and kept on improving – particularly with a nice victory over Paddy Gallagher towards the back-end of ’16 – but 2017 proved to be a frustrating period in Mucha’s boxing career.
A narrow points loss (57-56) to Serge Ambomo who, now, comes with the “can bang” warning label set him back a step before the tumultuous nature of THAT clash against John O’Donnell left Mucha in limbo.
This year will be about shaking off those cobwebs, getting back in the ring and doing what he does best – THROW BOMBS!
Harvey Horn – Flyweight
Harvey Horn brings into the professional game a quite prestigious amateur career, despite still being just 22!
The former World Series of Boxing representative, Horn hails a strong fan-base with a 300-strong army attending his first home WSB bout, with standout honours including the U22 European Championship and a WSB victory over Nico Hernandez (2016 Rio Bronze medallist).
A technical fighter who thrives on taking his opponents past their comfort zones and into the later rounds, Horn pulled off two victories in as many months between December and February by beating Denis and Patrik Bartos (no relation).
5ft2 and a southpaw, the flyweight holds all the aces when it comes to style with the young London fighter having advanced significantly under the guidance of Mark Tibbs; what has proven to be most appealing on the eye, perhaps, is his fighting stance.
Sounds a weird thing to notice but it’s always nice to see a youngster take to the centre of the ring and execute their own game-plan to perfection – I remember watching an amateur bout of his against Serge Neumann a couple years ago on YouTube and being impressed with his constant work-rate and willingness to step back for a second before landing the punch, instead of rushing.
2 and 0 as a pro, Horn has the poisoned chalice of being an imperious European talent in one of the lighter weight classes, meaning match-making will always be a nightmare, but what a fighter!
Joe Maphosa – Flyweight
Another one of those tricky flyweights is Joe Maphosa, slightly taller than Horn at 5ft4, who has maintained an exquisitely regular profile in the boxing ring with six professional fights since his debut in May 2017.
Snapped up by Warren straightaway, Maphosa has kept busy by boxing on various undercards, and has continually built up experience with four consecutive points victories – 16 rounds of vital learning for the 24 year old – with the flyweight having not lost a single round.
Again, a GB amateur squad member and WSB fighter, Maphosa has the requisite amateur experience to warrant an expedited journey up the pro ranks and the determination to reach the top is far from lacking.
Indeed the star is capable of fighting at fly and super-fly, with a delightful patience ensuring he’d be a challenge to all who enter the ring with him – a strong front foot, followed up by combinations of hooks to the body seem to be his trademark move and it was nice to see Joe turn up the heat in the fourth round of his last bout and secure the stoppage.
I think it’s safe to say Smokin Joe is on track to catch fire any time soon…
Jordan Thompson – Cruiserweight
Transitioning from the tennis court to the boxing ring certainly doesn’t sound easy but it’s a switch Jordan ‘Troublesome’ Thompson has made with relative ease – when aged 16, Thompson was in the Top 10 of British tennis but has said he “wasn’t accepted”. Well tennis’ loss is boxing’s gain, so I’m not complaining!
Eight years later, the muscular physique of Thompson has seen him home with an unbeaten ledger of eight victories and six knockouts.
The early stages of his professional career saw him drop all of his first three opponents before further punishment would see the referee wave off the contests – a troublesome right hand was earning a reputation to be feared.
Three fights in 2017 saw Thompson scheduled for 10 rounds before stopping Michael Pareo in the first round – it was a scintillating performance from the Manchester-man that saw him drop his Belgian counterpart on three occasions and showcase his power to full effect.
Mild mannered, Thompson always comes across as relaxed and calm when out of the ring and often looks relaxed in it too – tougher challenges will surely come in 2018 for the cruiser prospect but you’d back him to deal with them in his stride, as well.
And there we are with our top five boxers to keep an eye on from Frank Warren’s stable and with that five year BT Sport deal, there’ll be plenty of opportunity to keep an eye out on these guys as they make their journey to the top!
Send this to a friend