By: Oliver McManus
Frank Warren’s first card of 2021 has hit some serious stumbling blocks. A planned headline fight between Carl Frampton and Jamel Herring for the WBO super featherweight world title had to be postponed when Frampton was forced to pull out. That fight has been pushed back to April 3rd and will now take place in Dubai.
The show was all set to go ahead with Anthony Cacace defending his British title super featherweight title against Lyon Woodstock. Or so we thought. Just two days before fight night it was announced Woodstock had tested positive for Coronavirus and the fight would no longer take place.
Queensberry Promotions, and BT Sport, will still go ahead on Saturday night with a significantly reduced card but one in which new talents have a serious chance to grab some headlines.
Popular Stoke man Nathan Heaney gets to shake off the dust against Lancashire fighter Ryan Oliver. Heaney, 10-0, will be making his Queensbury debut after impressing on the small-hall scene where he built a reputation for ferocious fans and even feistier fights. The 31-year-old was one of few boxers to get out in 2020 pre-pandemic with a comfortable win over Christian Schembri for the IBO Continental super middleweight title (albeit boxing at 162lbs).
Ryan Oliver’s reputation is perhaps a little untested but showed ambition when flying out to Bermuda last January to face Earl Bascombe (8-1). ‘The Wasp’ has typically fought at lighter weights – buzzing in at around 150lbs – so it’ll be interesting to see the disparity on the night.
Heaney was originally slated to face Mick Hall (15-3) on the card but you’d expect this to be an opportunity for Frank Warren’s new signing to showcase his silky skills.
At super flyweight, Quaise Khademi goes up against Ijaz Ahmed in defence of his WBO European title and with the vacant IBF equivalent also on the line. The contest is a sensibly matched affair with Khademi coming off a well-fought ten rounder over Pedro Matos – who seems to be becoming a yardstick for up-and-coming British fighters at 112/115lbs. Khademi had a tougher than expected night on that occasion, back in December 2019, but he’s looking like a well-rounded fighter in the making and certainly one to watch.
Facing the 26-year-old is a former Midlands Area flyweight champion in the form of Ijaz ‘Jazzy’ Ahmed. ‘Jazzy’ has a significant height disadvantage, officially coming in some five inches shorter, but had two good wins at Area level – against Matt Windle and Conar Blackshaw, respectively. The 27-year-old tasted defeat last time out (November 2019) against former Team GB man Harvey Horn.
Maidstone lightweight Sam Noakes has looked peerless to date with four wins inside the distance – impressively stopping Jordan Ellison back in August 2020. The youngster is being fast-tracked by Frank Warren and faces, unbeaten, Delmar Thomas (5-0) on Saturday night in a contest that could be a real coming of age.
Also featuring on the show will be Tommy Fury against an opponent TBC: Fury has looked explosive in his four contests to date. He’s stopping opponents that don’t get stopped often and doing the business quickly. We know he can punch but we won’t be able to judge how far he can go until we see someone testing his timing and footwork – there should be plenty of options available this year even at pre-Area level. Let’s see him out three, four times in a year and at that point, we’ll get an idea of his development.
There are a trio of debuts rounding out the card with Amaar Akbar, Adan Mohamed and Masood Abdulah all starting their pro careers in four rounders.
Akbar is a heavily decorated amateur and signed with Frank Warren aged 19 – he was defeated by Sam Noakes as an amateur so keep an eye out for that potential storyline to develop.
Mohamed is another fighter turning pro as a teenager. A product of Repton ABC, he’s a two-time Haringey BoxCup champion and European Youth bronze medalist.
26-year-old Masood Abdulah won the national championships last April and has had a speedy development since his first amateur contest in 2017.