By: Oliver McManus
At the top level of the game there are plenty of great fights taking place with Britain blessed to have world champion after world champion but take a step backwards to appreciate the full scene and you’ll find a whole host of tasty match-ups happening at levels of the game –
Jason Welborn vs Tommy Langford
Welborn vs Langford has all the ingredients for a scintillating rematch as the “Battle of the Baggies” moves onto round two (well, technically, rounds 13-24) in Birmingham on September 8th.
First time round in Walsall, Jason Welborn took to the centre of the ring right from the off with an incredible work-rate, targeting the body of Langford whilst the champion, Langford, looked to establish what he believed was his technical superiority.
Both fighters were fast on their feet and willing to trade punches with neither afraid of taking a shot in order to land a flurry of their own and even though Welborn came into the fight the, large, betting underdog, he showed no signs of relenting as went into the championship rounds, staying busy and landing an accumulation of punches.
The fight was up for grabs and in a genuine domestic thriller, Welborn emerged the victor via a narrow split decision (114-113, 114-113, 113-115) and claimed the British Middleweight championship from his rival.
This time round on the undercard of Khan-Vargas, Welborn will be looking to go one step even further than he manged in May and stop Langford within the distance – let’s not forget that Langford was counted in the 2nd round after the ropes had held him up –, enhancing his position as a genuine contender in the packed middleweight scene.
Tommy, on the other hand, will be looking for redemption and bounce back from his second loss in the space of 13 months – the first, a fifth round TKO loss to Avtandil Khurtsidze – with a dedicated, technical performance that, prior to these potential hiccups, had seen him being targeted for an all-British showdown with Billy Joe Saunders.
Indeed Langford wasn’t on his A Game when the first fight occurred, not that we should take any credit away from Welborn, and you could argue that he adapted a little too much to the game-plan of his challenger – stick to the basics, work the jab and that’s when Langford really hits his stride.
Jeff Ofori vs Jumaane Camero
Has this fight been mentioned enough recently? Spot the sarcasm because this fight is, put simply, A FIGHT. One better than that, it’s a fight that you genuinely cannot pick a winner from.
It’s a fight that you don’t want to HAVE to pick a winner from, either, both of these guys are genuine, humble people who haven’t forgotten where they come from. Ultimately, though, on September 15th one of these lightweights will emerge as the Southern Area champion – Camero having defended it successfully or Ofori having mounted a victorious challenge.
Stylistically the two are vastly different with Camero having, typically, been the more patient and measured boxer who likes to control the fight at his own tempo and has quite a unique style but, make no mistake, is capable of packing a whack so you do not want to be on the end of one of those big punches.
As Jumaane says, himself, he is “freakishly long limbed” and possess a style that makes dealing with him incredibly awkward – Ofori, on the other hand, is much more of your typical aggressor, seeking to take each and every fight with a high-tempo, guns-blazing style of boxing.
At the end of June, Ofori faced a tough journeyman, Luke Fash, in full knowledge that this Southern Area fight was to follow and Jeff looked imperious, cutting off the ring really well and attacking the body of Fash with vim and vigour – speaking to Ofori afterwards, however, he said he wanted more rounds to get used to the longer distances, as opposed to his fourth round knockout.
This will be Ofori’s first ten round bout but with both men talking as though they expect it not to last the scheduled distance there is no doubt that September 15th will see fireworks aplenty – Ofori needs to keep up his aggression, work the short uppercut when he’s on the ropes whilst Camero should look to use his awkward style and height advantage to the best of his ability, the styles will mesh and produce a sumptuous bout so all that’s left to do is buy the tickets because you do not want to miss this.
Cello Renda vs Luke Cowcroft
Cello Renda is a man who, for a long time now, has always promised much and whilst he has achieved one hell of a lot – current Southern Area champion, challenged for the English and British belts – there’s been a distinct feeling that, actually, he could be coming into the best years of his fighting career.
A win against Leon McKenzie, last year, re-established himself on the map and look at his record, you’ll see he’s fought Liam Conroy, Jack Arnfield, Sam Horton, Martin Murray, Danny Butler, Tom Doran, Paul Smith and these are not names to be sniffed at by any stretch of the imagination.
But, as mentioned, it was that fight against McKenzie that really seemed to, on paper, ignite something within him as he demonstrated his power, precision and sheer toughness to an absolute tee – Renda was in a war and he came out on top. Since then he’s been targeting the English title that Darryll Williams holds and this fight against Cowcroft is serving as an eliminator for that belt.
Cowcroft, on the other hand, is taking a huge step in quality but Stefy Bull clearly thinks he’s talented enough to carry off an upset and the mood around the Doncaster light-heavyweight is distinctly upbeat and it’s clear to see that he’s improved significantly in the three years that he’s been out of the ring.
Not so much of a power puncher as Renda, Cowcroft has an absolute engine within him and will be looking to out-work Cello, tiring the Southern Area champion, before mounting a late surging attack as he, to boot, looks to prove any doubters wrong.
This fight has all the makings of an absolute classic, Cello Renda looked the best he’s ever looked up against Leon McKenzie, punch-perfect stoppage, and Luke Cowcroft is constantly developing, constantly learning and not just in training but in the ring, too, up against Renda he will need to have learnt an awful lot but if anyone can secure such an upset, surely, it’s the man from Doncaster.
Jazza Dickens vs Martin Ward
A rematch for the vacant British super-bantamweight title, made possible by Thomas Patrick Ward withdrawing from the scheduled fight and opting to fight for the IBF European belt instead.
Jazza Dickens has had a frustrating last couple years following his loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux, a fight that resulted in a broken jaw for Dickens, and was unfortunate last year to suffer a cut above the left eye against Patrick Ward that forced the contest to go the scorecards early – Dickens was trailing but had momentum and the fight was shaping up to be a real pick ‘em with everything likely coming down to the final three rounds.
Since then the Liverpool fighter has looked crisp in training, arguably in the shape of his life, and against Martin Ward, on July 27th, there’s every expectation of a better, more convincing performance than the last time they fought (in 2015).
Three years ago this duo fought the full 12 rounds before a split decision rendered Dickens the winner and, in turn, the British champion – Dickens was the fighter pressing the case and working the angles but a split decision was probably accurate.
With Dickens there is little doubt just how talented a fighter he is and the southpaw possess all the technical traits that could see him go all the way, on top of that he has a brilliant energy, work-rate and stamina that marks him out as a complete fighter just waiting to get tested.
Martin Ward, former British and Commonwealth Champion, is not to be underestimated and the experienced fighter relies on a patient game-plan, looking to take the fight at a constant, comfortable pace, often fighting at distance.
Past performances would suggest that Ward has peaked at around the British level with his previous step up to European level resulting in a second round knockout loss to Abigail Medina – not the greatest of opponent but no-one to discredit – and this fight in Houghton Le Spring will be seen as the 30 year old’s golden opportunity to really propel his name back into the talking.
Dickens would, you assume, prevail in this contest especially if he is to reach the heights he is expected but, as happens time and time again, you can never assume anything in boxing and the winner of this contest, Dickens or Ward, will have a couple of cracking clashes in the offing.
Kyle Yousaf vs Tommy Frank
Stefy Bull has been announcing some really good fights as of late – Atif Shafiq vs Andy Townend, Robbie Barrett vs Matty Fagan – and Kyle Yousaf vs Tommy Frank is part of the stellar card taking place in Barnsley on October 5th.
An application has been made to the BBBofC for this bout to be for the English belt and when you look at the domestic shake-up then there can be no qualms about the fight having such status.
Having the poisoned chalice of competing in the lower weight divisions, Yousaf and Frank have had a criminally small amount of media attention throughout their careers despite them both being absolutely phenomenal fighters.
Yousaf, the more experienced with 13 fights, beholds an impressive fighting brain with his ability to pick punches marking him out at an early stage of his career. Not many fighters, when they first turn pro, are mature enough to identify periods of the bout when they don’t need to come out swinging but Yousaf, still only 25, has frequently shown incredible maturity during the ring.
Against Gyula Dodu there was a punch-perfect display from the Golden Kid as he used his left jab repeatedly to keep on top of his opponent before dropping down to the body with some telling right hands to the body. A superb right to the head of Dodu, launched with exquisite timing and precision, finished off the fight and even though the bout lasted 118 seconds, the talent on show was mouthwatering.
Tommy ‘Super Frank’ is the current Central Area Super Flyweight champion and against Craig Derbyshire, in Frank’s seventh fight, the Yorkshire boxer impressed with his fight pace, going 10 rounds but looking comfortable throughout, and his commanding presence at the centre of the ring enables him to cut space off for his opponent, shortening the distance and letting Frank work the inside of his opponent – something he does particularly well.
When the hands get loose, they don’t half pack a punch and with a strong preference for targeting the body, he knows to pressure the opposition onto the ropes before unleashing with a series of alternating shots to the body.
In terms of power Yousaf probably has the upper hand, that should be evident from his superior knockout rate, but this is a fight you don’t see getting stopped early, it’s an enthralling battle between two young, hungry, undefeated fighters and it has all the ingredients of being an absolute barnstormer.
By: Oliver McManus
Jumaane Camero is a guy who despite being Southern Area champion has seemed to fly under the radar within the boxing community and he himself says he is “a pretty boring character” but, trust me, he isn’t – he’s an absolute gem of a human being.
He was meant to fight on June 9th against Michael Devine in an English title eliminator, this was then pushed back a week so it could appear on Dave (UK TV) as part of Haymaker’s Joe Joyce card – unfortunately a week beforehand and a week after this interview, Devine wasn’t allowed to fight by the BBBofC due to issues with his medical.
Thankfully we didn’t devote too much time to that fight so I’ve only had to edit out one question but as you can see from the first thing we talk about, Camero knows the difficulties of finding an opponent all too well;
This (the fight) was doubling up as a Southern Area defence as well as an eliminator for the English title, has it been hard to find opponents that want to get in the ring with you?
It has been a nightmare! I won it in July 2017 and only now, almost a year later, I’m defending it. I had multiple fights fall through near the end of 2017. No mandatory defences were called and I was deemed too inexperienced to fight for an English. I was literally just waiting for something to pop up. But like they say it’s better late than never! Let’s hope he doesn’t now pull out!
I feel that people felt I was too much of an unknown quantity to risk a fight with me this early. It’s not important to me however, because I have what I want now, progressing towards a British Title.
That English belt is held by Myron Mills, belt aside, is that a fight that you’re interested in?
Myron Mills seems to really be proving himself, that is definitely a fight I would look forward to having and I believe a fight which British fighters need in order to move to the next level.
I truly think it would be very competitive and it would initiate improvement for us both to move onwards to better opportunities. This progress would start once the fight is made as we would train harder than before to come out on top and that’s the pressure you need in each camp. Pressure creates diamonds!
If we go back to your fight with Freddy Kiwitt in February, he himself was a late replacement for John O’Donnell and then you were the replacement opponent for Kiwitt – what goes through your mind when you take a fight on short notice?
It was quite funny, the moment I got a call I was with my nieces stuffing my face with pizza so the only thought going through my head was ‘I wonder how much I weigh right now’.
The call came the day before weigh so there wasn’t really any time to think about anything even if I wanted to. It was a good to get experience being under the lights of a show such as Hayemaker.
Looking back, you narrowly lost, do you regret taking that fight?
My last two fights have been nothing but fillers until I could finally get a southern area defence or push on to challenge for an English. The risk-reward of the Kiwitt fight meant if I won the board would have to put me towards an English title fight sooner. Losing meant nothing, I kept my area title and got decent exposure.
People still can’t believe I make lightweight or think I struggle to make it. I personally don’t actually know how I do it other than being very strict. It’s hard to stay disciplined but the weight itself is never a struggle.
And people often say you learn the most from your losses, have you found that to be true?
It is really hard to say but I feel I learned very little from that fight if I am honest. In order to learn you need to be drilling something to a point where you can use it in an active environment.
Knowing where you deviated and why and working on those areas so you can execute how and when you want. If I was hitting a hundred tennis forehands but didn’t see where they landed you can’t hope for it to improve because the stroke you’re repeating could be going out or into the net, this ignorance leads to zero improvements
I didn’t perform great but fortunately he had no idea how to deal with my style so I got away it (haha).
For you then what’s been your best performance as a pro – would you say the fight against Birmingham?
I would actually say my best performance came four weeks prior to the Birmingham fight. It was meant to be an 8 round British challenge belt but last minute the fight fell through and I got a well-seasoned journeyman to do 8 rounds with. I structurally felt good landing with a plethora of shots and kept as elusive as possible. It just felt like a performance where things were coming together.
You are still only 23, how long can we expect to see you around in the boxing scene for?
Thanks for reminding me my best years are behind me.
Nah just kidding!! But truthfully, not long at all, I’m surprised I’ve lasted this long already. I really don’t want to overstay my time in boxing which is a reason I’m pushing for fights earlier than you may expect from a person of my age but more importantly my experience.
That fight on the 15th was on the undercard to a Joe Joyce fight, what have you made of him so far?
He seems to completely decimate anyone in front of him. You can’t do anything but give him props whether you like his style or not. I love his punch output, SO many heavy hard punches.
If I had any criticism it would be that he seems very slow, especially considering he can perform such great athletic feats. You’d think he’d be more explosive. But what he’s doing works and people cannot live with it so why change it?
Because it’s not aesthetically pleasing?
Depends what his goals are and I think it’s to grab as many titles as he can, not to crowd please. Plus it’s exciting enough that he’s stopping all his opponents.
I do want to ask about referees, when you find out the referee is there anything you look to adjust in your game plan? Because obviously some referees are more eager to break up action than others?
This is a great question, everyone knows how opinionated boxing can be and also why there are such deviations on some fights.
When I go into a fight usually I will have a few different styles and game plans, each depending on what the opponent gives me and also how the ref reacts. I wouldn’t say I solely change my game plan if I know a certain ref is there but I do have to be versatile enough to see when something else will be more effective.
In my division if a referee was break us early it would probably favour me because of my freakishly long limbs and height.
That’s the boxing questions over with then mate but I was shocked to hear you say you’re a boring person so I’ve got a couple of quick-fire questions – what do you do in your spare time?
You will either find me eating more than I should be able to consume, sleeping, reading or traveling.
I have spurts where I get really into a game on PS4 but a lot of the time my patience doesn’t make it past the update screen.
I do like to write down things I’ve never experienced and attempt to work towards making time to learn a skill to allow me to achieve it.
This is truly dependent on how I feel at any given moment. I am really into soulful house, I can listen to it in most moods.
But I could start my day listening to heavy EDM and end it with obscure classical music.
Favourite type of doughnut?
Be right Bake donuts, I can change the filling to match my desires and there donuts themselves are so delicious. I always have a pack after I fight.
Give them a follow on social media!
Instagram :- @berightbake
Facebook :- be right bake
Last film you watched?
Pirates of the Caribbean, my friend and I had the theme tune stuck in our head after listening to a street concert orchestra play it. So we decided to watch one of the films – easily influenced!
And there we are then Jumaane, thanks for taking the time out to speak to us mate!
That was Jumaane Camero, Southern Area lightweight title holder, 6 and 2 as a professional boxer looking to make a big statement in a short amount of time – his attitude is right, the talent is there and, by all accounts, he is one of the nicest men in boxing; keep an eye out!