Saunders Achieves & Underwhelms In Equal Measure
By: Ste Rowen
At the Lamex Stadium on Saturday night, Billy Joe Saunders took the WBO super-middleweight crown at the first time of asking but left a lot to be desired for the fans; whilst Joe ‘The Juggernaut’ Joyce lumbered to an early stoppage victory over aged gatekeeper, Ustinov.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it; well that’s the mentally that BJ Saunders seemed to enter the ring with when he faced up against Shefat Isufi on Saturday night. The former WBO 160lb world champion saw his opponent, Shefat, as a steppingstone and used him as such. Right from the first bell, the Brit was cruising as he made Isufi constantly miss multiple combinations and fired back with quick hands but a lack of fight-ending power.
At one-point Saunders taunted Isufi in the same way he played with David Lemieux – making his opponent miss widely and then looking into the distance – but, whereas that night in Quebec Billy Joe was facing a legitimate threat with bout-changing power, tonight it was more like Drogon coming up against the Golden Company but less exciting and much more predictable. The away fighter had no answer, struggling to lay a single shot on his confident foe, who continued to call him forward to try and land cleanly.
There was a shaky moment for Saunders in the 6th, when Isufi landed hard with two right hooks that left Billy shakily stepping backwards onto the ropes, but he was savvy enough to move in for the clinch and avoid taking any more significant blows. But it was the only bright spark in a rough night for Shefat. Both men made it to the final bell and the judges scorecards returned as; 120-108, 118-110, 117-111, all in favour of Billy Joe Saunders.
Now a two-weight world champion, Saunders, 28-0 (13KOs) spoke post-fight,
‘‘He caught me in the 6th but he didn’t have me where my legs were gone. I haven’t been in a meaningful fight for 14 months. He’s number one with the WBO for a reason so he’s obviously good.
My ability will always get me further in the sport…I want the big fights, the big names, the big domestic fights and unifications. I moved up from middleweight cos none of them wanted to fight me.’’
It remains to be seen who Billy’s next opponent will be, but with names such as Chris Eubank Jr and Callum Smith, amongst others, fighting at 168lb, Saunders and promoter, Frank Warren will be hard pressed to find an easy matchup they can pass off on the fans if they try.
The co-main event at the Lamex stadium on Saturday night saw Joe Joyce continue his rise towards contending for the top brass of the glamour division, with a 3rd round stoppage of Alexander ‘The Great’ Ustinov. The ‘Juggernaut’ attempted to jump on his opponent immediately; striking from the first bell and forcing Ustinov to either fight fire with fire or look to make it awkward; and credit to the Russian he tried his best to fight back with his own hooks but struggled to get in close to the younger man.
Joyce has a tendency to feint in the slowest possible way and yet still make his opponent take a step back and flinch. So though the speed of the Olympic silver medallist might not be close to someone such as Tyson Fury, the power is clearly a big worry for his rivals. At the start of round 3, Joyce really went in for the finisher, forcing Ustinov to retreat in any and every gap in the ring he could find. Joe through his punches in bunches but began to struggle to land cleanly, even taking a big right hand from his opponent which only briefly halted the ‘Juggernaut’s’ offense. Then, with 1:12 left on the clock, Joyce landed a thudding left hook, dropping Alexander to the canvas, and signalling the end of the bout as Ustinov made a feeble attempt to beat the count.
It wasn’t slick, and it won’t live long in the memory, but it does improve Joyce to 9-0 (9KOs) and the heavyweight prospect spoke to BBC Sport post-fight,
‘‘I just thought I’d start fast and see what would come back…He’s a seasoned veteran and every round was different…I came in warm and ready and it’s great to put in a performance here in Stevenage.
I’d like a world title by the end of the year and set myself up for some really big fights in 2020.’’
ESPN+ Boxing Preview: Saunders Looking to Become Two-Weight Champion
By: Ste Rowen
It’s been a long time, if ever, that someone has recognised Saunders as the #1 in his division, but on Saturday night the slick southpaw has the opportunity to present himself to a new weight class when he steps into the ring with Shefat Isufi for the vacant WBO super-middleweight title.
‘‘I had a terrible 2018, my title was robbed off me.’’ Saunders, 27-0 (13KOs) told the media on Thursday, ‘‘I jumped at this fight when it was offered, and I will become a two-weight world champion.’’
The former world champion was stripped of his WBO middleweight belt last year just weeks before his showdown with Demetrius Andrade when the Brit failed a drugs test for the banned stimulant oxilofrine. It was a moment that set fire to any of the momentum Saunders had carried through from his 2017 dismantling of David Lemieux. Instead of Andrade in October, Billy Joe fought and beat Charles Adamu in December; a bout in which he weighed in at 178lb.
But training again with Ben Davison and sharing the gym with Tyson Fury, Sanders believes he’s back to his best and ready for more than just becoming a two-weight world champion,
‘‘I’ve been training with Ben and it’s been good, enjoyable and great bouncing around with Tyson. I’m enjoying boxing again.
If I do bring it, I should box his head off. Whatever he brings I will fetch ten-fold more…I’m not looking past Isufi, but I am looking for the big names. I know I’ve got it inside me, and nobody’s seen my best…I have to be on my A game and send a message to the other super middleweights.’’
Isufi, 27-3-2 (20KOs), shouldn’t, in theory, set too big of a challenge for the former middleweight champion. Sitting at number one of the WBO’s 168lb rankings, the Serbian-born German has a basic style that, if he doesn’t jump on Billy Joe early, will mean he’ll paying for it as the fight draws on.
Shefat, the former WBO ‘Inter-Continental’ holder also spoke ahead of Saturday,
‘‘If Billy Joe did win, I will congratulate him, but it will be the other way around. He is quick and a hard puncher, but I can also punch, and one punch can make the difference.’’
However, if Saunders is anywhere close to the fighter that defeated Lemieux, or Andy Lee, the UK could be crowning its newest world champion by Saturday night.
Co-main for Saturday’s night world title bout at the Lamex Stadium in Hertfordshire, is ‘The Juggernaut’ Joe Joyce as he attempts to topple Alexander Ustinov as Joyce continues his climb to the summit of the heavyweights.
Joyce, 8-0 (8KOs) was last seen in the ring making swift, brutal work of Bermane Stiverne’s head and body when, in February, the former WBC world champion was broken down by the thudding puncher in six rounds. The Commonwealth champion is keen to continue his knockout streak but is fully aware of the experience his opponent holds,
‘‘Ustinov is a very experienced, big, strong, tough and this is a step up. I have to beat him to get to the next level.’’
Alexander ‘The Great’ Ustinov at 42-years-old is undoubtedly coming to the end of his career and goes into Saturday’s matchup on the back of two defeats. In November 2017, the Russian, 34-3 (25KOs) was dropped en route to a 12-round decision loss to Manuel Charr, then one year later he was stopped by rising heavyweight star, Michael Hunter in nine rounds. The ‘Juggernaut’ however is looking at Ustinov’s strengths rather than his pitfalls,
‘‘I know what he has in his arsenal and what I have to do to beat him. He can punch but I take a shot and give one back.
I’m looking for nine KOs out of nine.’’
European Boxing News and Notes
By: Oliver McManus
The European Boxing Notebook has been brought out of retirement and is firmly back on the Boxing Insider schedule. Frank Warren has been a busy, busy man so let’s get straight into it and dissect the plethora of information coming out of Queensbury Promotions over the last fortnight.
Fury-Schwarz on PPV
Tyson Fury’s co-promotional debut with Top Rank takes place on June 15th with the ‘lineal’ champion facing Tom Schwarz: an unbeaten German who is ranked with the WBO. Taking place at the MGM Grand, in Las Vegas, this was professed to be a “tune up… exposure” fight to endear the ‘Gypsy King’ to his newfound American market. Given the stated nature of this contest, you’d be forgiven for assuming it would be available via a regular subscription. No such luck, evidently, with Frank Warren and BT Sport taking the decision to air it on their pay-per-view platform, BT Sport Box Office.
Tom Schwarz isn’t exactly an ideal opponent to warrant ‘pay-per-view’ and, actually, the American broadcasters share that opinion with the fight being streamed on their digital platform only – ESPN+.
Joe Joyce, Brad Foster and Louie Lynn pen deals with Queensbury
A trio of signings announced for Frank Warren who has been ‘making moves’ since the turn of the month by shrewdly capturing the signature of three exciting talents.
Joyce is the obvious headline grabber and what he lacks for in overt charisma he makes up for, and then some, in natural boxing talent. There’s nothing particularly unlikable about the 33 year old but Queensbury will need to market him correctly in order to maximize his commercial and sporting ability. The understated heavyweight has made an immediate impact as a professional, featuring Stateside, but it’s nice to see him back on home soil as he reaches the boiling point of his career. Given his age he can’t afford to allow the politics of boxing to keep him stagnant and ,whilst he awaits decisions from Agit Kabayel and Manuel Charr, he’ll be keeping busy on May 18th against Alexander Ustinov and, again, on July 13th against an opponent to be confirmed.
Brad Foster, meanwhile, is yet another British champion snapped up by Warren with the domestic super bantamweight kingpin set to be a star of the future. He captured the British title with a comprehensive out-pointing of Josh Wale in a contest that proved his class. Snapped up by Warren, less than a month later, he’s immediately involved in another test of his quality when he faces Ashley Lane, Commonwealth champion, on May 18th.
Louie Lynn, on the other hand, looked for a while as though he would sign with Matchroom – certainly he was keeping busy on their cards – but ultimately has inked a three year contract with Queensbury. The undefeated (4-0) featherweight has seen his quarter of wins come within the distance – all against notably durable fighters – and Warren is the best in the business at developing a young prospect. Good move!
The fight we were starting to think had drifted into the distant future has, like a bolt from the blue, been resurrected and will take place on July 13th. Arguably the two most explosive prospects in British boxing, the heavyweights square off with the vacant British title at stake. The contest was mandated last year for Dubois’ English title but, now Hughie Fury has stepped aside, has received a significant upgrade and the winner will see their name alongside Anthony Joshua and Lennox Lewis as Lord Lonsdale belt holders – no pressure, then.
At the time of writing Dubois was a reasonable betting favourite with odds of 4/11 available – Gorman viewed as a reasonable outsider at 2/1 – but those prices are shifting on a daily basis and are a good sign of how hard it is to predict a winner with certainty.
June 15th update
Two cracking domestic contests have been added to the undercard of Josh Warrington vs Kid Galahad – on June 15th – on a night that really doesn’t need hype to sell it. JJ Metcalf return was the first to be announced, having recovered from injury to record an eighth round knockout over Santos Medrano, in April. He’s immediately back in title contention, having been set to face Liam Williams, on December 22nd, with a fight against Jason Welborn for the vacant Commonwealth super welterweight title.
His first fight on a Warren show since last June is an instant opportunity to return to the spotlight and, against a world title challenger, he’ll be acutely aware of potential follow-up opportunities.
Welborn will be looking to, once more, upset the odds: having done so against Tommy Langford on two occasions last year. Doing the media rounds prior to this contest he has said he’s convinced he belongs back at world title level and Metcalf, formerly ranked by the WBC, is a good place to get back on that ladder.
Zelfa Barrett vs Lyon Woodstock Jr is another exciting clash between emerging contenders with the Commonwealth belt attached. Over the last 12-18 months we have seen Warren unafraid to pit his fighters against each other but, more than that, show a commitment to developing the careers of both men afterwards – Zak Chelli vs Umar Sadiq was how it all started. Woodstock, himself, was involved in one of those “crunch tests” against Archie Sharp last October and what a barnstormer that was.
Barrett is no stranger to ‘getting involved’ having also been on the wrong end of a bittersweet, fight-of-the-year worthy, defeat – against Ronnie Clark in February 2018. Both fighters have recorded wins since with Barrett twice out-doing Edwin Tellez and Woodstock seeing off Sergio Gonzalez earlier in the year. If this is anything like either of their previous ‘domestic tussles’ then we are in for an absolute cracker.
ESPN+ Boxing Results: Yarde Remain Patient, Dubois, Williams and Jenkins Impress in London
Anthony Yarde headlined the first Queensbury Promotions card of 2019 and secured a “xxx” victory over Travis Reeves to round of a thrilling night at the Royal Albert Hall. Topping the card in his 18th professional fight, Yarde has promised to gatecrash the world scene throughout the calendar year. The quality of his opponents will need to take a significant step up if that is to be the case but Yarde got the job done without ever looking troubled.
Defending his WBO Inter-Continental for the fifth time and with the promise of being mandated to face Sergey Kovalev, there was plenty on the line for Hackney’s very own. The final fight of a thoroughly entertaining card, Yarde was the man trusted to end the night on a high but he didn’t exactly start off in explosive fashion.
Photo Credit: Frank Warren Twitter Account
Standing dominant from the centre of the ring there could be no doubt as to who was in charge of proceedings. All that was missing were some punches, very few were thrown in the first round with Yarde seemingly tentative to test out the resistance of his opponent.
The second round saw Yarde begin to push with an accurate right hook catching Reeves off balance, wobbling the legs. That success seemed to spur the 27 year old on, going forward with relaxed hands and firing away with that pawing left jab. All the while continually searching for openings to unload fatiguing punches to the kidneys of Reeves.
Reeves, a former world title challenger, looked in good physique both on the scales and in the ring but Yarde was establishing physical superiority. Jumping forward with urgency, Yarde landed a one-two to keep Reeves on his toes before the American responded with a flurry of searching jabs. A firm jab caught Reeves as the pair came out of a clinch, the 38 year old was starting to feel the weight of Yarde’s punches.
Despite that significant age disadvantage, if you can call it that, Reeves had arrived with a genuine belief that he could win and was firing in shots of his own to ensure Yarde didn’t have it all his own way. A clear second best, mind. Given the level of criticism being levelled at Yarde over the course of 2018 you’d imagine he’d have liked to send a statement by getting rid of his opponent as quickly as possible. No such approach materialised with the WBO #1 working his way through the motions, at a timid pace, with no real bite or ferocity.
The unbeaten prospect was landing some good shots, really nice hooks slammed into the body of Reeves, but there was an urgency lacking and, for me, that’s been missing from his last three, four bouts. The stoppage came, however, as a result of a supremely timed uppercut followed by a bouncing right hook. The legs wobbled as Yarde wound up and it was only a couple more shots before the referee called a halt to the contest halfway through the fifth round.
A convincing stoppage in a performance where Yarde never looked out of his comfort zone but, frankly, that is something we’re going to need to see. We need to see Yarde tested because, until we do, we will never know just how good he can be.
Chris Jenkins opened up the televised broadcast by upsetting the odds and defeating Johnny Garton to claim the British welterweight title.
Jenkins, stepping up in weight, made the smoother start as he rolled the shoulders and dipped the posture out of the reach of Garton. Living up to his “Rok’n’Rolla” nickname, the challenger kept on moving, navigating the ring in circles and keeping the upper body in continual movement. He landed the better shots in the early stages with a doubled-up jab earning him the nod in opening exchanges.
The third round saw a spark click within the champion as he sought to apply some pressure for the first time in the contest. Looking younger than his previous contest, against Gary Corcoran, there was a maturity to the work of Garton when he imposed his physicality with some strong body shots.
Having found momentary success at the quarter mark of the contest, the fourth round saw more tit-for-tat action but Garton landed the more eye-catching work. A combination of hooks at the centre of the ring followed up, twenty seconds later, by a pouncing right hand were the highlights as the contest began to warm up.
A fight fought at a relatively tepd pace seemed to go quite fast and the fifth round crept up relatively quickly. It was the challenger who found himself on the front foot, edging forwards and nipping away at the champion’s territory. Landing semi-regularly with a well-timed overhand right, Jenkins seemed to take the round with a resumption of the boxing basics.
Neither man was running away with the contest but it was Jenkins, you felt, was producing the better quality work. A nice uppercut on the ropes from Jenkins caught the eye but a perennial jab in the face of his opponent was preventing Garton from really sinking his teeth in.
Coming out bullishly in the seventh round, Garton began to fight in that familiar style of his. The 31 year old began to relax as he bounced on his toes, he landed some strong right hands but the pockets of aggression weren’t enough to counter the continued workrate of Jenkins. Garton didn’t seem to really commit to many of his punches, failing to plant his feet or throw punches with the full weight of his body.
Round by round it seemed as though Jenkins was chipping closer to the British title – a belt he has fought for twice before, at super lightweight. Even though Garton tried to rough the contest up in the ninth round and fight on the inside, Jenkins produced a stunning salvo of overhand rights to wear down his opponent.
His shot of choice was landing with an alarming frequency, cutting Garton underneath the left eye, as the Peckham fighter dug in and walked onto many of the shots. To his credit Garton was pushing Jenkins onto the ropes and countering the attacks of Jenkins well. It seemed as though every flurry from Garton, however, saw his guard exploited by the crisp timing of his counterpart.
In truth Jenkins never looked fazed or faltered from the incoming artillery and, indeed, sapped the energy and determination out of the champion. It was a performance that, to be honest, not many out of his close circle expected but those that did were incredibly confident in. You simply cannot fault Garton, however, who came out ferociously in the final couple of rounds but he was simply outworked and outboxed. Jenkins landed the cleaner more consistent punches throughout and was a well-deserved winner, of an entertaining contest, by scorecards of 119-109, 117-112, 116-112.
Liam Wiliams defended his British middleweight belt with a bruising victory over, former English champion, Joe Mullender.
Fought from the centre of the ring, from the off, Liam Williams continued in as similar vein to his performance against Mark Heffron with skillful footwork seeing him slip out of the pocket. Again the jab of Williams was relentless in the face of a come-forward opponent and the Welshman dug with some gritty left hooks to the body.
Mullender stood his ground in the second round with a staunch high guard being kept as he sought to sneak his way into holding range. A stupendous uppercut from the champion saw Mullender lurch upwards before successive concussive shots splattered his head and body. Down he went but upon rising he was allowed to fight on. A simple step forward allowed for a clubbing right hand to crash down on the jaw of Mullender and finish the fight for good.
Emphatic for Williams, there can be no other words for it.
The vacant WBO European belt was on the line for Daniel Dubois’ tenth professional contest with Razvan Cojanu in the opposite corner. Weighing in at 240lbs – as opposed to the 226 advertised the previous day – the 20 year old started brightly and produced a good varitety of shots from the off. Peppering the body of Cojanu, it was interesting to see a tapping jab being used to set up the heavier shots to the midriff.
Cojanu, two and a half inches the taller man, throw his first punches of note in the second round but Dubois remained comfortable in his posture and punch selection. Two accidental low-blows came as a result of Dubois’ intentions to target the body of his Romanian opponent and the 20 year old successfully teed off against Cojanu with around thirty seconds to go of the second round.
A forceful straight left pushed Cojanu onto the ropes before a heavy right blasted through his guard. It was a left hook to the opened up body that set up a brash follow-up to the chin. A strong left hand on the button to send Cojanu crumpling to the canvas, a final right on the cheek finished the onslaught and saw the world title challenger sprawled flat. Despite a desperate scramble to regain his feet, he never beat the count and Daniel Dubois emerged the victor within the space of two rounds.
The best performance of Dubois’ short career, the shot selection and variation from the 20 year old was impressive and he found real success to the body of Cojanu. Beautiful finishing from Dubois who, surely, is at the forefront of future British boxing success.
Oof, what a night. And oof is a word that firmly does it justice because that was a cracking night of boxing for the return to Royal Albert Hall – 2019 is warming up to be a good one!
Frank Warren’s Press Conference Notes
By: Oliver McManus
In front of a convened press pack at the BT headquarters in London, Frank Warren held an hour long press conference on Monday to discuss the forthcoming plans for his promotional stable. We take a look at the key announcements and what they could mean.
Tyson Fury signing a co-promotional deal with Top Rank came as the headline announcement and, indeed, the most surprising. The deal, worth a reported £16million per fight, is a multi-year arrangement that will see him continue his working relationship with Warren whilst putting him in a prime position for a Stateside splash. Set for three fights throughout 2019, just one of those bouts will be on home soil with the remaining two set to be headlining ESPN cards.
The agreement is one that you can’t criticise Fury for taking, the money, opportunities and exposure afforded to him as a result are clear to see but what does mean is that, as with Anthony Joshua, another great heavyweight is off to conquer the American market. Furthermore what with Matchroom’s relationship with DAZN and that of Deontay Wilder with Showtime, the egg-shell nature of the heavyweight love triangle just became even more fragile.
That being said the key quintuplet of Warren, Fury, Wilder, Arum and Shelly Finkel all seem convinced that this new agreement shouldn’t be seen as a stumbling block in any negotiations and, rather, could make talks even easier. For that we’ll have to wait and see. What we do know, however, is that The Gypsy King is moving on over to America to play with the big boys.
Following on from that there was news that Nicola Adams had been forced out of her world title challenge to Arely Mucinio – scheduled for International Women’s Day – due to an injury obtained whilst training. The bout will be rescheduled for later in the year. This, combined with the cancellation of February 23rd’s show, saw a change to the makeup of that Royal Albert Hall card. Principally was the fact Anthony Yarde’s bout against Travis Reeves now finds itself taking place on March 8th.
Despite the repeated claims of Warren at the conference, Anthony Yarde is neither ranked #1 nor the mandatory challenger to, WBO champion, Sergey Kovalev with the unbeaten prospect slotting in at #2. The imperious physique of Yarde has seen him amass a record of 17 wins, 16 via knockout, without defeat but the opponents en route have been more than questionable. Tony Averlant, Dariusz Sek and Walter Sequeira are the trio of opponents to step into the ring with Yarde throughout 2018.
Reeves, then, is seen as a step up by way of the fact he fought, former European Champion, Karo Murat in the early stages of last year but this is another fight in which Yarde should find himself unrivalled.
With Yarde off the Leicester card, rescheduled for March 23rd, that bill will now be headlined by Sam Bowen’s maiden British title defense. The super featherweight has been slated to defend against Ronnie Clark on two occasions but both times the fight has been kiboshed owing to a Clark injury. It is believed Warren initially tried to get Craig Evans brought in as a replacement but the lightweight, WBO European champion, didn’t get the all clear from the British Boxing Board of Control. Ryan Wheeler was then approved for a shot at the title but, as of publishing, no opponent has been confirmed for the new date.
Sam Maxwell will contest his first title on the show when he faces Kelvin Dotel for the WBO European Super Lightweight title. Maxwell, a former GB Lionhearts representative in the World Series of Boxing, has made an impressive start to life in the pro ranks with ten emphatic victories. Nathan Gorman continues to be touted for a prospect-vs-prospect fight with Daniel Dubois and he’ll kick off 2019 in Leicester looking to be build an appetite for that particular fight.
The final announcement regarded the future of Billy Joe Saunders with the WBOs 160lbs mandatory challenger opting to step up in weight and contest the vacant super-middleweight title. That title became vacant when Gilberto Ramirez opted to step up to 175lbs, in doing so dethroning Yarde at the top of the rankings, although the Mexican has subsequently claimed he did not step away from the belt.
Nonetheless, as it stands, Saunders will be up against Shefat Isufi – a 29 year old German resident – who is the organization’s Intercontinental champion. Looking at his record won’t fill you with much optimism as to his ability – opponent after opponent littered with losses – and nor will watching any footage of his fights. I don’t think anyone is expecting anything but an easy night of work for Saunders.
Rather ironically the contest is taking place at Wembley Arena on April 13th which makes it 1-0 to Warren on delivering “big fights” at Wembley in 2019.
ESPN+ Boxing Preview: Yarde vs. Sequeira, Garton vs. Corcoran
By: Oliver McManus
This weekend sees Frank Warren promoting at the Brentwood Centre, live on BT Sport and streamed on ESPN+, with, his highly-touted light-heavyweight, Anthony Yarde defending his WBO Inter-Continental belt against Walter Gabriel Sequeira; Johnny Garton and Gary Corcoran face off for the vacant British Welterweight belt; and imposing prospects Umar Sadiq and Zak Chelli put their unbeaten records on the line at an early stage of their career.
Anthony Yarde looks to move 17 and 0 against an opponent who, truth be told, is underwhelming and whilst it’s understood that Sean Monaghan was initially touted for the bout, the calibre of Sequeira fails to impress.
Photo Credit: Anthony Yarde Twitter Account
Ranked number two by the World Boxing Organization, Anthony Yarde has dealt with his 16 previous opponents in convincing fashion and the widely held frustration of the reluctance to progress him faster seems to be holding him back from truly being appreciated.
The muscular stature of the Hackney-born fighter is imposing with the tattooed physique of Yarde looking bulky, even for the 175lb division, and the speed and power in his hands mark him out as a real threat throughout the duration of his bouts; the first man to stop Nikola Sjekloca and a merciless number over, vastly-underrated, Chris Hobbs are a testament to Yarde’s ability to turn up the heat.
Since that win over Sjekloca, back in December, that heat has cooled ever so slightly with Joshua Buatsi catching the eye of the British public with his consistently explosive performances and Yarde’s performances against Dariusz Sek and Tony Averlant this year seeing him look less energetic than we have become accustomed too.
A man of ferocious talent with anger in his hands, Anthony Yarde has all the assets to reach the top and it’s just a matter of WHEN we see him get that opportunity to showcase his skills; Walter Sequeira will not be that man that allows Yarde to really cement his authority as a player on the global stage – the Argentine national champion has fought once away from his home country, in his 25 professional contests, and lost convincingly to Avni Yilidrim in doing so.
Expect this to be a convincing display from Anthony Yarde and, if it’s not, I’d start to get a little worried.
Johnny Garton, 22-1-1, and Gary Corcoran, 18-2, will be facing off against each other for the vacant British welterweight title – relinquished by Bradley Skeete earlier this year – in what promises to be an enthralling encounter.
For Garton, now aged 31, the title shot has been a long-time with Skeete – close friend and gym mate – having the belt since the turn of 2016 but ‘The Pexican’ has more than earned his crack at the strap having pieced together an impressive CV over the past few years.
Having turned pro in 2011, Garton claimed the vacant Southern Area welterweight belt in 2014 with an 8th round knockout over Adam Battle and since then has overcame plenty of domestic challengers – Nathan Weise, Martin Welsh, Ryan Fields and Tyler Goodjohn – as he added the English title to his name.
Late last year the Peckham-man registered an explosive performance to dispatch with Mihail Orlov in the 10th round of their contest for the IBF European title. Garton made hard work of his opponent and didn’t look as fluid as we know he can but, typically, when he gets into a fight it is easy pickings with Garton working through the motions and piecing together his shots nicely.
Corcoran, on the other hand, will be in his second fight since losing out to Jeff Horn, for the WBO world title, in December last year and Hellraiser goes into the contest off the back of a 5th round TKO win in June.
A second crack at a British belt for Corcoran, who’s previously lost out to Liam Williams for the super welterweight strap, he’s likely to approach it as he does every other fight of his career with a brash, fast-paced, attacking nature.
Known for his fast starts, Corcoran will seek to catch Johnny of guard early doors and impose his own rhythm on his contest; in all honesty this has the hallmarks of a fire fight and both men will probably engage from the centre of the ring – a style particularly suited to Corcoran.
Perhaps the most fitting testament of Corcoran’s ability to mix it at a high level with a mixture of both technique and slug-fest guts is his split decision win against Larry Ekundayo, in July of last year, in a performance that gained the plaudits from all corners of the boxing community – if he brings that level of performance into the ring on Saturday then we’ll be in for a thrilling contest.
Moving onto the clash of the unbeaten super-middleweights as Umar ‘Top Boxer’ Sadiq looks to settle a rivalry against Zak Chelli that has been quietly bubbling under the surface for the past few months.
Possibly the classiest man both inside and outside of the ring, Umar Sadiq has already attracted a huge fan base thanks to his impressive performances and innovative use of social media.
What really matters is his ability in the ring and having come from a strong amateur background he already looks at ease, moving through the motions quickly, and stamping his authority over his three opponents thus far.
Back in June Umar looked at his most complete, yet, with a masterful control of the fight tempo, insightful shot select before unfurling a vicious left hook into the body of Kamil Al Temimi to send the Polish fighter crumpling to the canvas with consummate ease.
Arguably the most terrifying thing about Sadiq is that he’s not even looked out of breath upon the conclusion of his three professional fights – I know they’ve only been four and six rounders, thus far, but it bodes well for the big bouts.
And this is the first real “big” bout of Umar’s career – and, for that matter, Zak’s – because this is going to stand as the acid test for who is the real deal and Chelli, whose father was also a fighter, is supremely confident in his ability to be “Warren’s number one super-middleweight”.
Hand-speed is his biggest asset with a frightening aggression and killer instinct, once he locks onto a target then shots will rain down on his counterpart in an explosive flurry. It’s easy to make comparisons with Chris Eubank Jr because of that style of fighting and Chelli is used to sparring with the Brighton man and that’s where he says he’s doing most of his development –
“When it comes to sparring I find it quite easy to transfer the skills into a fight performance, what I learn on the pads I put to practice in the ring and I treat sparring as a fight so it’s the same, for me”
“I can tell where I’m getting better, when I first started I was rushing things and trying to prove stuff but I learned from Adam Jones that, actually, you don’t need to go chasing knockouts all the time, believe in your ability and the performance will materialize. At the start I was trying to force the knockout but I’m definitely more relaxed now.”
Despite being just 20 years of age, Chelli is freakishly mature in the way he speaks and handles himself out of the ring but equally he’s begun to mature in it, too, as he himself admits he is far less likely to rush out of the gate than when he first started and Sadiq, well he’s Umar Sadiq, he’s silky smooth in whatever he does. This is going to be a great fight – fight of the night, you heard it here first!
October 20th at the Brentwood Centre, Frank Warren showcases some sensational talent and as the Hall-of-Fame promoter himself would say, “IT’S ON!”… BT Sport and ESPN+.
Boxing on ESPN+ Results: Catterall Edges Davies
By: Oliver McManus
Frank Warren’s latest promotion, dubbed The Time is Now, and the first under an enhanced partnership with ESPN in America took place at the Leicester Arena and played host to some of Britain’s brightest prospect;
Jack Catterall was defending his WBO Inter-Continental belt, against fellow domestic super-lightweight, Ohara Davies with the winner seeking a shot at, WBO world champion, Maurice ‘Mighty Mo’ Hooker.
Photo Credit: Frank Warren Twitter Account
The belt holder has looked rejuvenated under the tutelage of, new trainer, Jamie Moore and those trademark body shots of his would be something he looked to enforce on Ohara Davies – who was caught at the body several times in his only career loss to date, against Josh Taylor.
The bout kicked off at three minutes to eleven, UK time, but neither man looked in a rush to get to bed going by their opening exchanges as both men circled each other, slowly, from the centre of the ring before Catterall attempted to jump into the bout with a nice left hand that injected some energy into the encounter.
Both men pawed out their respective jabs with Ohara, arguably, landing the better of those across the opening rounds whilst Catterall looked target the body of his controversial counterpart – a clear game plan, from both.
The Morningside Arena became a cauldron of noise as the bout went on and whilst the first third of the fight remained cagey it was Catterall who appeared to be doing more of the composed, point-scoring work with Davies unable to really find the ignition switch and bring his right hand into play.
Fought from the centre of the ring, the game of cat and mouse continued into the second third of the bout and Ohara began to relax, finding his range and starting to let some shots go as he kept a high defensive left hand before twisting the knuckles into shots of his own – Catterall showed good defensive intuition to elude most of the shots thrown his way but both men were opting for a patient game plan, throwing the jabs repeatedly before trying to open up and land some telling punches.
Truth be told it looked as though both fighters were looking for the other to take the initiative before doing so themselves but the fifth round was the first where you could say with confidence that a fighter looked to be gaining the upper hand with Catterall working the body well, keeping his jab extended and upping the output as he looked to move into a rhythm of his own.
Davies kept his lead left foot stood on the tip toes of Catterall’s lead right in an attempt to tie him up and whilst Catterall stumbled once, the Chorley man simply reciprocated the tactic; the champion looked lighter on his feet and was throwing punches with more variety as he frequented one-twos as opposed to Ohara’s one-paced jab.
Davies had failed to back the power of his right hand throughout the bout and wasn’t landing it with any telling frequency or accuracy – the London-man wasn’t taking it to his man or really pushing his case.
The ninth round was the first time we really saw that right hand showcased by Davies who began to load up a little more, looking sprightly on his poised legs as he began to come forward a little more in the final stages of the bout; Catterall responded in turn with an increased output of his own, remaining elusive and leading with his jab but failing to double up on the promising openings.
Davies looked downtrodden when he sat down in his corner but it was still all to play for in the championship rounds of the fight with the preceding 10 being hard to score with any degree of confidence – the fight continued with the same rhythm with both men standing in the centre of the ring, patrolling the canvas but without fully committing to any big shots of their own.
Catterall continued to land the cleaner shots as he controlled the tempo of the fight, not allowing Davies to launch into any explosive salvos that we know he possesses and nullifying the threat of his opponent thanks to slicker footwork and silkier shot selection.
A fight that won’t be remembered, that failed to live up to the build-up and deliver the expected fireworks but the winner, by 118-110, 115-113, 115-115, was the man who put in the busier work, Jack Catterall!
Daniel Dubois was in with the biggest name of his short career as he took on Kevin ‘Kingpin’ Johnson – a 15 year veteran of the sport – over the course of a scheduled 10 rounds but, with Dubois owning eight wins from eight inside the distance and Johnson a fading gatekeeper, no-one was expecting it to last the distance.
Dubois, now 21 years of age, hopped immediately to the ring with an imposing jab and Johnson looked in trouble almost immediately as he covered up against the ropes – Dubois was throwing shots but remaining at a good distance as he demonstrated his power from the early stages.
Johnson, seeking to shimmy his shoulders, was getting caught repeatedly by Dubois with several hooks landing and the occasional chipping uppercut finding their way through the guard of his American counterpart.
The English heavyweight champion has built a burgeoning reputation off the back of his mammoth jab and the shot was working well for Dubois, who was showing more energy than perhaps we’ve seen before, as he sought to engage against a negative opponent.
Throughout the rounds, Dubois kept on pressuring his man, looking to load up with big shots up against the ropes but Johnson had a wry knack of being able to, almost, absorb the punches of Dubois and keep on going – no doubt, though, all the work was coming from Daniel Dubois.
As the rounds progressed, Dubois kept on pushing and keeping up his high-tempo fight-plan. The shots themselves began to vary up with Dubois’ uppercut being used more frequently as we advanced towards the halfway stage of the bout – landing with great efficiency.
Into the fifth round we went and the pace of the bout began to slow with Dubois opting to take a breather but keeping on the front foot and being the only fighter to show any sign of aggression; the English boxer was fighting a learning fight, against a man who hadn’t really came to box and Dubois was working the angles to attempt to open his opponent up.
Rounds reminiscent of a heavy bag session, that’s all it was, Dubois kept on sending in punches and Johnson just kept on soaking them up all the while telling Dubois to “keep ‘em coming”… the heavyweight prospect duly obliged and continued to fire shots in the direction of the American but without ever finding the opportunity to fully sink his weight into the punches.
Uppercuts reigned supreme through the course of the final three rounds but the fight was subdued with the crowd failing to get behind it and the one-way traffic that Dubois was providing proving to be less eye-catching than expected pre-bout.
Not that that was his fault, Johnson showed little ambition in remaining on the ropes throughout the duration of the contest and Dubois did all that could be asked for against a wholly dour and downbeat opponent; 100 points to 91 sees Daniel ‘Dynamite’ Dubois move to 9 and 0 but the aura of explosivity just goes down a notch for the 21 year old.
Nicola Adams OBE, fighting in her fifth professional bout, was up against Isabel Millan for the interim WBO Flyweight championship and the Lioness from Leeds started off the stronger fighter against an opponent who had no real technique, so to speak, but was giving it a good go.
With Adams relaxing into the bout she caught her counterpart with some smooth shots to the body and extended her jab outwards frequently to tee up some big shots; Millan didn’t falter, showing her heart and landing some decent shots of her own to show she wasn’t just there to get paid.
A fight that had no real highlights or lowlights but instead remained at a constant rate provided the necessary rounds for Adams who didn’t have proceedings all her own way and, indeed, got caught up in some moments that required her to work through the fight as opposed to simply going through the motions – Adams had to think and whilst she looked a little less convincing then perhaps you could have expected, Millan was one of a hell of a shade tougher and more gung-ho than people would have thought.
Millan found success in the ninth round and for patches of the latter rounds but it was Nicola Adams who produced the classier output and took the decision by scores of 96-94, 97-93 and 97-93 to set up an anticipated world title shot on December 22nd.
A night of championship boxing in Leicester that provided tough tests for the highly touted men and women of Frank Warren’s stable and whilst it may not have been as high-jinks and explosive as we may have hoped, they were valuable fights for the careers of the fighters so whilst the time might not necessarily have been now, there are promising fights on the horizon – bring it on!
Boxing Insider Notebook: Roy Jones, WBSS, Top Rank, Frank Warren, DAZN
Compiled By: William Holmes
The following is the Boxing Insider notebook for the week of September 4th to September 11th; covering the comings and goings in the sport of boxing that you might have missed.
Top Rank Announced Media Partnership with Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions
Top Rank and Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions are proud to announce an exclusive, landmark multi-year licensing agreement that will bring the best events from the United Kingdom and Europe to boxing fans in the United States and Canada on ESPN platforms.
“We are committed to securing the biggest and best events from around the world,” said Top Rank President Todd duBoef. “Our long-term objective is to showcase global talent and to expose the next generation of boxing stars. Frank Warren is a legend with a keen eye for building talent, and his elite stable has proven to resonate with North American fans.”
“I am absolutely delighted and honored to announce this landmark multi-year deal with Top Rank that will see my promotions going forward featured regularly on the ESPN platforms in the U.S. and Canada,” Warren said. “This was a very attractive opportunity to us due to the level of exposure our stable of fighters will benefit from by being showcased by one of, if not, the biggest broadcaster in sport. Boxers like Terence Crawford and Vasiliy Lomachenko appear on ESPN, and our boxers will be sharing a broadcast home with them going forward. The agreement will open doors for them to get their name known coast to coast in North America and eventually become stars there.”
The first show under the agreement will be Warren’s stacked card on Saturday, Oct. 6 at Morningside Arena Leicester in Leicester, England. That main event will feature WBO No. 2 super lightweight contender Jack “El Gato” Catterall (22-0, 12 KOs) against fellow top contender Ohara Davies (18-1, 14 KOs). Two-time Olympic gold medalist Nicola Adams (4-0, 3 KOs) and young heavyweight knockout artist Daniel Dubois (8-0, 8 KOs) will also see action on the bill. Dubois will face his toughest test to date against former world title challenger Kevin Johnson.
Warren, who was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2008, has been promoting cards for nearly 40 years and has one of the sport’s deepest rosters. He has helped turn many of the United Kingdom’s biggest stars into fan favorites across the pond. Ricky Hatton, Nigel Benn, Joe Calzaghe, Prince Naseem Hamed, and Amir Khan all fought under the Warren banner.
Gilbert Venegas Remains Undefeated with Dominating Performance in San Antonio
TMB & PRB Entertainment presented “Fight Night at the Scottish Rite 2” a ten-bout card that took place at the Scottish Rite Theatre in downtown San Antonio. In the six-round main event, local fighters, Gilbert Venegas and Armando Cardenas gave the fans a crowd-pleasing showdown.
Cardenas, who had the height and reach advantage, was doing his best to box from the outside, but was getting caught with overhand rights by Venegas. At the end of round two, Venegas dropped Cardenas with a looping right hand. Cardenas wasn’t hurt to bad and came back strong in round three. Venegas then started landing pounding body shots, slowing down Cardenas’ comeback. Another overhand right by Venegas dropped Cardenas for the second time in round four. Venegas followed with a vicious left hook to the body that put Cardenas down once again in round three. Cardenas was badly hurt but made it to the final round. Both fighters went out with a blaze of glory as they went toe to toe in the last seconds of round six. Venegas remains undefeated winning by unanimous decision, improving his record to (10-0, 6 KOs), while Armando Cardenas’ record stands at (9-2, 5 KOs). Scorecards unavailable.
DAZN Adds World Boxing Super Series Ali Trophy Final George Groves vs. Callum Smith
DAZN, the live and on-demand sports streaming platform, announced it will carry the Ali Trophy Final between George Groves and Callum Smith in the Super Middleweight edition of the World Boxing Super Series. The card will stream live in the U.S. on Friday, Sept. 28 at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT from Indoor Sports Hall at King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
WBA Super Middleweight tilist Groves (28-3, 20 KOs), back in action after an unanimous decision win against Chris Eubank Jr., will take on the undefeated Callum Smith (24-0, 17 KOs) in the third defense of his belt.
“The World Boxing Super Series has produced some of the best fights over the last year and we’re excited to bring the Groves-Smith final to the U.S.,” said Joe Markowski, DAZN SVP, North America. “When you consider the fact that we offer a one-month free trial to each subscriber, this will be a tremendous fall for combat sports fans.”
Groves vs. Smith is the latest addition to DAZN’s stacked fall lineup of exclusive fights featuring Anthony Joshua vs. Alexander Povetkin on Sept. 22, Bellator 206 on Sept. 29, Jessie Vargas vs. Thomas Dulorme on Oct. 6, Billy Joe Saunders vs. Demetrius Andrade on Oct. 20, among many others. Fans can sign up for DAZN for only $9.99 per month by registering at DAZN.com or by downloading the DAZN app on a wide range of connected devices, including smart TVs, PCs, smartphones, tablets and game consoles, when the service goes live on Sept. 10.
Earlier this summer, DAZN announced it will bring all 15 fight nights of the World Boxing Super Series’ second season to boxing fans in the U.S. and Canada, featuring the following weight classes:
Mairis Briedis (Latvia) vs. Noel Mikaelian (Germany)
Yunier Dorticos (Cuba) vs. Mateusz Masternak (Poland)
Krzysztof Glowacki (Poland) vs. Maksim Vlasov (Russia)
Andrew Tabiti (United States) vs. Ruslan Fayfer (Russia)
Regis Prograis (United States) vs. Terry Flanagan (England)
Josh Taylor (Scotland) vs. Ryan Martin (United States)
WBA titlist Kiryl Relikh (Belarus) vs. Eduard Troyanovsky (Russia)
Vacant IBF title matchup: Ivan Baranchyk (Belarus) vs. Anthony Yigit (Sweden)
WBA titlist Ryan Burnett (Northern Ireland) vs. Nonito Donaire (Philippines)
WBO titlist Zolani Tete (South Africa) vs. Mikhail Aloyan (Russia)
Naoya Inoue (Japan) vs. Juan Carlos Payano (Dominican Republic)
Roy Jones Jr. Leads Class of 2018 Inductees into the USA Boxing Alumni Association Hall of Fame
Living legend Roy Jones, Jr., universally recognized as one of the greatest pound-for-pound boxers of all-time, leads a celebrated quintet of Class of 2018 inductees into the USA Boxing Alumni Association Hall of Fame.
The second annual USA Boxing Alumni Association Hall of Fame reception, held in conjunction with the 2018 USA Boxing Elite and Youth National Championships and Junior and Prep Open, December 2-8, will be held Dec. 7, at the Radisson Hotel (215 S. Temple St.) in Salk Lake City, Utah.
In addition to Jones, the Class of 2018 also includes two U.S. Olympic gold medalists and world (professional) champions, Andre Ward and Claressa Shields, as well as former USA Boxing National Director of Coaching Emanuel Steward and veteran USA Boxing official Tom Cleary. The latter two will be posthumously inducted.
The charter class inducted last year included Muhammad Ali and Evander Holyfield, as well as veteran coaches Roosevelt Sanders and Tom Coulter.
“I am honored to be selected for induction into the USA Boxing Alumni Association Hall of Fame,” Jones commented, “especially as a member of this great class with my fellow inductees.
“Amateur boxing gave me the chance to learn life skills as well as face every other possible scenario inside of the ring.”
Jones, ironically, got into boxing at the age of 11 because of Ali. “I saw Ali vs. (Joe) Frazier and just felt as though Ali and I had the same mental concept on life,” Jones explained.
Jones went on to become one of the best amateur boxers in the world, compiling a reported 121-13 record, including gold medal performances at the 1984 National Junior Olympics and 1986 & 1987 National Golden Gloves Tournaments.
At the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, South Korea, Jones reached the championship final of the light middleweight division against Park Si-Hun, of South Korea. Jones suffered arguably the worst decision in boxing history, losing 3-2, despite outpunching his opponent, 86 to 32 landed punches, and he was forced to settle for a silver medal. Even his opponent admitted that Jones won their fight, leading the AIBA to later suspend the three judges who selected the hometown fighter as the winner.
How disgraceful was this decision? Jones was selected as the Val Barker Trophy winner as the best boxer of the 1988 Olympics and, due to controversy, the scoring system for Olympic boxing was changed, replacing the 20-point must system with electronic scoring.
“I was angered,” Jones admitted, “yet promoted to prove that I was the best fighter there, and in the world, at that time.”
Jones made his professional debut May 6, 1989, at home in Pensacola, Florida, in a scheduled eight-round bout, in which RJJ stopped Ricky Randall in the second round. His long, glorious journey has produced a remarkable 66-9 (47 KOs) pro record, highlighted by nine major world titles in four different weight classes.
In 2003, Jones defeated John Ruiz by way of a 12-round unanimous decision to become the first former world middleweight champion to become world heavyweight title holder in more than a century.
The possessor of exceptional hand and foot speed, athleticism, movement and reflexes, Jones went undefeated through his first 34 pro fights, 22-3 (14) in world title fights. Against former, present or future world champions, Jones was 19-9 (8 KOs) and included among his victims were greats such as Bernard Hopkins, James Toney, Mike McCallum, Vinnie Pazienza, Virgil Hill, Antonio Tarver and Felix Trinidad.
Today, the 49-year-old Jones, technically speaking, is still an active fighter. He also has two promotional companies and gyms, located in Pensacola and Las Vegas, trains several pro boxers and serves as a color commentator for HBO Boxing. He recently opened gyms in South Africa.
For the past two years, Jones has hosted the “Future Stars of Boxing Tournament” in Las Vegas, showcasing some of the best amateur boxers in the world.
“Hosting the tournament in Las Vegas gives me the opportunity to give back to amateur boxing,” Jones explained. “It’s a great experience for the boxers and it reminds them that who they may have or still look up to, are watching them as well.”
Frank Warren’s ‘The Time is Now’ Breakdown
By: Oliver McManus
FRANK WARREN announced his first show of the new season for October 6th. Taking place at the Leicester Arena, “The Time is Now” has had five fighters confirmed for the bill – with more to come – and seeing as we’re still two months out from fight night this isn’t as much of a preview as it is my, personal, thoughts on the fighters / fights confirmed;
Nicola Adams OBE
The Lioness from Leeds, Nicola Adams will be one of the main attractions of this fight night with the super flyweight set to challenge for either an interim or full world title in only her fifth professional fight. A history maker and a trailblazer for women’s boxing, the two-time Olympic Champion has looked calm and composed throughout her four fights thus far and, though she didn’t appear as frequently as she would have hoped in 2017, this year is all about establishing herself at the top of the division.
Last time out in May she fought, former world title challenger, Soledad del Valle Frias who is an opponent far better than her, 13-11-4, record at the time suggests. Even though there was some mild controversy with the timekeeper believing the bout was set for three minute rounds as opposed to two minutes, Adams showed blistering hand speed and power to catapult her Argentine opponent out of the ring within the first round. A supreme performance.
Looking at the structure of the women’s super-fly division I find it hard to see world champions who Adams wouldn’t have, AT LEAST, a 50-50 chance of winning going into the fight which is a strong testament to her amateur pedigree and certainly with, the two likeliest contenders for October, Raja Amasheh or Maribel Ramirez there’s a distinct potential that we could witness the crowning of a new British world champion.
Jack Catterall vs Ohara Davies
Now this, this is a fight and a half. Two contrasting personalities but, in equal measure, imperious boxers with exciting futures.
Catterall has looked rejuvenated since linking up with Jamie Moore, his new trainer, and the WBO Inter-Continental champion showed bags of heart and grit towards the back end of June when he fought Tyrone McKenna in a bruising encounter – Catterall dug deep, looked calm and dropped his man twice to secure a unanimous decision in a contest that showed he can adapt with relative ease to different fight plans.
Davies secured a highlight-reel knockout of Paul Kamanga on June 23rd with a right hand to the head of the Congolese fighter flooring him like a lightning bolt to an extra chilly penguin and his style is, to the eye, more explosive than Catterall with varied and continuous output to both body and head of his opponents, utilising strong flurries to really wear his man down.
Make no mistake, though, Catterall packs one hell of a punch and has a tendancy to target the body in a sickening fashion, one, two, three slammed into the region between rib and liver to punish and fatigue his counterpart into hiding.
Regardless of whether they win or lose there are huge futures ahead for both fighters with the winner probably being in pole position to face the WBO Champion – currently Maurice Hooker – whilst the loser, and there can be no shame in losing this fight, sets up some blockbuster domestic clashes ahead of a rebuild to world level.
I think the main thing for this is just to respect both guys for taking this fight, it’s going to be a cracker.
Daniel Dubois vs Kevin Johnson
I’m in two minds about this fight, I think it’s a good level of opponent to test Daniel Dubois in only his ninth professional contest but, having said that, if Johnson were to get bounced out within two-three rounds, would I be surprised? Not in the slightest.
And that’s not a slur on the American because he’s been a very good, durable, yardstick to measure up against with Dereck Chisora, Kubrat Pulev, Manuel Charr and Christian Hammer all going the distance with Kingpin. Although, then again, Sefer Seferi went the distance with Manuel Charr so now everything just seems confusing.
Anyway, back to being serious, there can be no disputing that Kevin Johnson is past his prime whether that be as a genuine contender – the bell probably rang on that in 2010 – or, indeed, as a gatekeeper which, feasibly, came to a conclusion after Anthony Joshua pummelled him to a second round knockout back in 2015.
Still, however, I’m in the mind-set that, yeah, it’s about time that Dubois got in the ring with someone of Johnson’s calibre and let’s not forget that he extended Andy Ruiz Jr to the full 10 rounds earlier this year so his chin is still in good nick and unquestionably this is the best opponent that Dubois has faced thus far.
20 years old with eight explosive knockouts on his record, I understand the want of some fans to fasten his development and get him in with even bigger names but we need to remember that Dubois is learning on the job and given that his own personal target was to be world champion in 2020 I don’t think we can judge him too much until we hit the latter end of next year.
A knockout expected, this will definitely be a learning test for Dynamite but there’d be nothing surprising if he sent Johnson into retirement.
Lyon Woodstock Jr vs Archie Sharp
Again this is a fight that you need to sit back from, initially, and just applaud both guys for taking on the contest when they could have had far easier contests but there’s no messing around from either guy and the two will produce a sumptuous display for the fans on October 6th.
Several, seemingly, bitter exchanges between the pair on Twitter have set the tempo for this encounter with Woodstock promising a beat-down over his stablemate, looking to showcase the skills he’s put into place to considerable success over the course of his career thus far.
Woodstock, the local man, is two fights less experienced but has looked punch-perfect over the past 12-18 months with a strong performance against Paul Holt, taking to the centre of the ring and fighting from distance before claiming a shellacking knockout with ferocious hooks against the ropes. If ever there was a performance to mark yourself out as one to watch, this was it.
Nine years as an amateur, nine national junior titles, Frank Warren has called Archie Sharp the “best kept secret in British boxing” and the super featherweight has wasted no time in racking up the wins – 13 without defeat, so far – and whilst Lyon will provide the dynamite in this contest, Sharpe will focus on his fluid movement, controlling the ring from the outset and attempting to dictate the pace of the fight into a tempo more suitable for him and his puppy-like energy.
The winner of this contest will surely be in line for the British title, held by Sam Bowen, and from a neutral perspective this promises to be a really good fight, it’s got the ingredients – young, hungry, unbeaten, powerful, quick on the feet.
WHAT MORE COULD YOU ASK FOR? A great fight.
Talking of the British super featherweight champion, Sam Bowen will also feature on the October 6th card at the Leicester Arena with the 26 year old having signed a three year promotional deal with Frank Warren.
Heralded for a long time by Carl Greaves, Bowen is the epitome of silky smooth with a style that’s easy to watch. Without fail Sam will take to the centre of the ring and keep on bouncing around, causing problems, with a continuous left jab popping into the face of his opponent before, bam, the deceptive power comes into play with the knockout merchant stringing together punishing combinations.
Against a, good, Maxi Hughes earlier this year “Bullet” Bowen pieced together an emphatic display in which everything just seemed to click, dominant movement, rhythmic shot timing, stance switching, a true masterclass from Sam with big shots dropping his man on two occasions.
Now with the backing of a big-time promoter and TV coverage the hope is that Sam Bowen will be able to push on a lot quicker than beforehand with the additional money a big incentive to those who, otherwise, would likely have avoided him.
Scheduled for a British title defence but without an opponent, I’d like to see him in with Ryan Wheeler or Jordan McCorry for October before the youngster looks for even bigger things – a showdown with James Tennysson for the British, European and Commonwealth titles would be PHENOMENAL.
And there we have it that is the first show of the new season for Frank Warren and Queensbury Promotions and, boy, it’s shaping up to be a tasty one!
Frank Galarza: “There Is Always A Plan”
By: Sean Crose
Not that long ago, an undefeated fighter named Frank Galarza appeared on Showtimes’s lauded ShoBox broadcast to face fellow undefeated up and comer John Thomspson. Brooklyn’s Galarza had already developed a reputation for himself for being an action fighter. Thompson, meanwhile, was said to try to use strategy to keep Galarza from bulling his way to a win. And, for the first round, at least, Thompson looked good. He flicked out his jack and kept his aggressive opponent at a distance. Yet it was all an illusion. Galarza, who was supposed to be the bull to Thompson’s matador, was simply feeling his man out, planning on the best strategy moving forward. Less than a minute into the second round, Thomspon was down and out thanks to a highlight reel Galarza right.
“That was the goal,” Galarza tells me. “We knew he was a great boxer.” Galarza, at 19-2-2, has always been more than just a slugger. “I always tend to do that,” he says of planning out his matches, emphasizing how important it is to “to control to the pace of the fight (to) where you’re comfortable.” Strategy is important to the man. “There is always a plan,” he says, adding that “we try to make these adjustments in the ring.” Still, the Brooklyn native believes there’s room to grow. “Now,” the junior middleweight says, “I’ve been trying to box a little bit…I can box if I have to.” He’s going to be able to employ his developing skill set when he faces Alex Sandro Durate (13-5-1) on August 4th in Atlantic City.
The Duarte fight will be on the undercard of the Sergey Kovalev-Eleider Alvarez light heavyweight title scrap, a high profile matchup that will be aired live on HBO. I ask Galarza if he too will be on the televised portion of the card. “That, I’m not sure,” he tells me. “It would be cool.” Indeed. Televised or not, the Duarte fight is the third match in what has so far been a successful comeback for Galarza. After losing back to back fights with Jarrett Hurd and Ishe Smith, both big names in the division, Galarza had to take some time off. The Hurd loss was a tough pill to swallow and Galarza was still feeling the impact of that bout when he faced Smith. Still, it was promotional issues that played a huge part in Galarza’s year plus out of the ring.
“Promotional problems,” he says of the time. And, in truth, he needs to say no more, for such issues are things boxing fans are all too aware of in this day and age. Things began to improve, however, once Galarza made the leap to Kathy Duva’s Main Events Promotions. “It was the best decision I made,” he tells me. There’s little doubt the man’s career has taken a turn for the better. “I’m coming off two wins with Main Events,” he says. “I’m pretty confident…I’m taking off the ring rust. Simply put, the man is “feeling strong.”
Galarza feels strong about matters outside the ring, as well. Youth Fighting Forward is an organization Galarza helped start that aids young people through the challenges of coming of age. “It was something we’ve wanted to do based off my background,” he says. “I wanted to be more than just my past.” The organization, which has also branched out from New York into western Connecticut, runs on a principle Galarza describes as “bring them in, keep them active, keep them working.” It’s bigger than boxing, Galarza tells me (though there’s boxing galore), indicating that Youth Fighting Forward aims to move on to cover “all aspects of life.”
Galarza makes no money from his charity, however. On the contrary, the man not only provides the organization with time, he provides it with money, as well – his own money. There’s a lot for him to feel good about, especially now that “boxing is getting a lot of attention” again. Should he continue emerging from the ring victorious, Galarza the fighter can expect to get a lot more attention himself.
Harvey Horn Eyes British Title
By: Oliver McManus
Looking across the array of fighters promoted by Frank Warren there are certain guys that catch the eye and Harvey Horn is certainly one of them – European Under 22 Champion, a British World Series of Boxing representative, in the amateur game now making strides at 2 and 0 as a professional boxer.
Fighting again on June 23rd, Horn looks to continue the momentum he’s built in his first year as a pro and has set his eyes firmly on the coveted British belt before pushing on for even greater honours.
With the odd peculiarity of being the only fighter to defeat both Patrik and Denis Bartos, a pair of brothers, Horn has intrigue across the board and outside of the ring he’s involved with a campaign called Isla’s Fight, supporting a young West Ham fan with a rare medical condition.
Last week I caught up with Chigwell’s finest to discuss everything from missing out on the Rio Olympics, going under the radar, titles, ambitions, regrets and, somehow, Anthony Yarde and Eddie Hearn;
We’re not far away from your fight on June 23rd, how’s training going?
Yeah it’s going well apart from at the weekend, I start sparring on Monday next week, and got some good sparring coming in. It’s just starting up really but I’m feeling good. I’ve put on a bit of weight since my last one so normally I walk around at flyweight but now I’ve put on a bit extra so when I do come down to the weight I’m coming down to it instead of walking around to it, so I’m a bit stronger.
Do you reckon we could see you at Super flyweight then, at some point?
Possibly, possibly, I’ll be honest, I could make light flyweight if I wanted to. Unless I had a drastic change, which I can’t see happening, I’m 22 now, I can’t see anything too drastically changing over the next couple of years but I’m aiming to go and get what I can at flyweight and if anything was there at light-fly, obviously you’ve got the world titles with a load of Thai’s, Filipino’s that have got those belts at light-fly, it would be nice to see if I can go and take one of them as well.
Like you said, you were ill over the weekend, was there ever a doubt in your mind as to fighting on June 23rd or was it just literally a couple days cold?
No, no, definitely not, it was just a little 24 hour bug. At the time of it going on, I knew I had five weeks, I’m only doing a four rounder for this one so it was never in my mind that I was going to call of the fight, no way.
Going back to when you did sign pro, at 22, was it always the aim to turn pro so early on or was it missing out on Rio (Olympics) that really pushed you to go for it?
I always said I was never going to turn pro without an Olympic medal but as I got on, on GB, I realised that just going to the Olympics itself is a massive bargaining chip when turning pro and to be an Olympian stands you out from the others.
But when that disappointment with Rio happened (Galal Yafai was selected ahead of Harvey), I couldn’t really stay up there anymore. It had done a bit of a number on me and I couldn’t stay, especially with Galal staying on, as well.
Especially because he’d been to the Olympics it would have been very, very hard to push him off that top-spot, no matter what I did.
When you’ve been to the Olympics there’s a bit of a buzz around you, do you think it’s kind of a bit unfair how you’ve gone relatively under the radar in comparison to your Buatsi’s, your Okolie’s?
It is a gutter because obviously I’ve been fighting with these boys, I’ve been to tournaments where, obviously Buatsi’s doing brilliant now but, at the European’s where he got a Bronze and I got a silver I’ve been tournaments where I’ve done better than him, where he’s done better than me, and obviously it doesn’t mean much now but I’ve learnt my trade with these boys and, don’t get me wrong, I’m really happy for them and they deserve it but I feel like my break should have been there as well and if I’d have been at the Olympics, it would have been.
It is a gutter but I don’t think it’s unfair because it’s how it is, I can’t point fingers and make excuses, it happened. But my time will come and if it’s not now, it just means it’s not the right time. And it wasn’t the right time.
You had loads of amateur pedigree anyway, you were a WSB competitor, does that make it easier to transition into the pro ranks?
Definitely, definitely, I mean them five rounder’s aren’t five rounder’s with journeyman, they’re five rounder’s with the world’s best. I mean I boxed some incredible countries, Mexico, I boxed the Olympic bronze medallist from America, Ukraine. I’ve had some really good fights with top class people.
And it stands you in good stead because if I can do the five rounds there then I know I can do the longer rounds. The longer the rounds, the better I’ll get, especially with my style as well. So that WSB it really gives us a big advantage going amateur to pro.
And are you one of the fighter’s then that the better opponent you get in the ring, the better you’ll look.
100%, when I’ve had people in front of me, I don’t know if it’s a concentration thing or if I dcrop down to their level but I’ve always boxed better when I’ve get better people in front of me. There’s not really been a time where I’ve had someone of quality in front of me and been beat but I’ve been plenty of times, well a handful of times, to people that were not on the same level as me and I just haven’t performed.
I don’t tend to get beat by people who are on the same level as me and have done what I’ve done but I won’t box brilliant or it’ll be a scrappy fight against those that haven’t but after this year’s done, I’ll jump in with the big names and start showing how good I really am.
Because you’re a European flyweight, there’s not many around, are you finding it hard to get opponents who will really bring the best out of you at this early stage?
At this stage probably , yeah , because with the flyweights the jump between domestic, well average, fighters and world class…
It’s a lot bigger.
Yeah there’s a big jump because there’s not really anything in the middle, you have domestic, European and World but there’s not much around. Straight to world at fly and light-fly you have all the Japanese, Thai’s and Filipino’s who are the world level fighters but you don’t really have anyone just under that level so it will be hard to match me when I get to there but hopefully it’ll mean the bigger fights come sooner.
If you did get a shot next year, year after, would you be willing to take it in their back garden or would you want in the UK?
Obviously I’d want in the UK, it would be nice, I have a good fan base following me and it’s only going to get bigger as I go on but don’t get me wrong, if the opportunity comes to Japan and Thailand I would do it straightaway.
Obviously if the money was alright as long as I’m not getting completely turned over with the money I would 100% go and do it because that zero to me it’s a massive thing, my 0, but I’m resigned to the fact that to be a bit of a great you can’t guard that 0 to cautiously and I see a lot of fighters doing that…
And if you looked back at your career and there were 3 losses but they were three really good opportunities, three really good fights, would you feel better than if you protected your 0 for your whole career?
Of course, I would definitely feel better because if I protected it and didn’t take those chances then I’d feel like I cheated myself and I cheated my talent, I wouldn’t feel like I’d explored everything I can do in the boxing game and I think if it took them losses to experience it all then so be it but obviously I’d love to keep my 0 but I’ll take those chances.
On that then your opinion on Anthony Yarde, he turned down the fight for the IBF World title because he felt he wasn’t ready…
I didn’t know that, I didn’t know that, who was it with?
Artur Beterbiev, I believe, Callum Johnson is now the mandatory because the top 10 have refused the fight…
Callum Johnson is the mandatory for the IBF? I don’t blame them (the top 10).
But do you think that’s wise from Yarde, obviously he didn’t have as much amateur experience as someone like yourself?
I think with Yarde, what’s he had 14 fights? The quality of opponent in front of him hasn’t been brilliant, not been brilliant at all and he has had no amateur career but what he’s doing to these opponents, even though they’re not great, he’s like a novice compared to some of these other fighters who have had 300, 400 amateur fights.
To do what he’s doing he has got talent and he is a talented fighter. I believe he will, when he gets tested, I feel like he will surprise a lot of people but turning that down was probably a smart move because that geezer’s a bit of an animal and 14 fights in, no amateur experience, not really been tested, doesn’t seem wise. I’d rather tick on for another year or so, start getting some real tests in and then go for it.
Talking of fighters is there a particular route you want to go down? British then European?
I’m getting the British, I’m 100% getting the British. I promised my Dad if ever I turned pro I’d get the British, I’d win it outright and I’d let him keep it. He’s always wanted it, it’s a nice belt in my opinion and it’s still very hard to win but I will win it outright. Even if I won the British and they turned around and said you’ve got a world title fight after this, I would probably turn it down and win the British outright.
Do you care who the opponent is or do you just want the belt?
I wouldn’t really care, I wouldn’t really care because at the minute, don’t get me wrong I’m not one of those fighters that says I’ll fight anybody, anytime, anyplace but I think, British level, the only person that really is a worry and he won’t be around domestic level for much longer is Andrew Selby and he’s not even domestic level. He’s the only one that I’d think “woah, I’ve got to be a bit careful here”.
Your first two opponents, going back, it’s a very random question but they both had the same surname (Bartos) and I’ve done some research and they’re the only two boxers with that surname, do you know if they’re related at all?
Yeah they’re brothers, they are brothers. The second one, the one who went four rounds, was the older one and they were doing each other’s corners as well.
You’re the only person to have beaten both of them!
Yeah, the second one funnily enough I think he was annoyed because of the first one so he had more motivation to try and restore some family honour or whatever… I’ve probably got the step dad on the 23rd!
You are part of Isla’s Fight, the young girl?
I’m a West Ham fan myself and I’ve seen it on social media, a couple of fighters – Mark Little – was doing a bit for her and I thought as a pro now I’m earning some money myself so I feel like everyone should do their bit.
I thought I’d start off just by trying to raise a bit of awareness and hopefully raise some money as well in the process.
Have you met her or is it just a case or raising awareness?
No, no, I haven’t. You see this is the thing, I was supposed to go to a charity football match the other day that they just had…
With Marlon Harewood and that…
Yeah that’s it but I was supposed to down that, something happened and I couldn’t end up going but I was going to meet her then. I’ve been in contact with her parents to ask if it was alright to post about and if they’d accept it if I gave them my ticket money because I wouldn’t want to do it without any permission but I haven’t met them but I’ve read up a lot about it and it’s just doing my bit for someone in need.
On June 23rd are you looking to make a certain statement, are you looking for rounds or a knockout?
Obviously I’d like the knockout, I don’t care how it comes as long as it comes but my last fight, I got a little bit complacent after the first one if I’m honest, I thought that everyone was going to go down as soon as I hit them and I got a bit sloppy, I didn’t really have that fear factor when I was training. For the first one I was going into the unknown, I was training like a monster and the second one I began to think ‘everyone’s going down’ but now the fears back and I’m looking to make a statement.
The flyweights don’t really get much recognition anyway because that don’t knock many people out or they’re not exciting but I want to be an exciting fighter, like Magri. I don’t want to be involved in tear-ups but I want to be in exciting fights. I want to be able to talk properly by the time I’m 35.
Do you reckon you’ll be out of the ring at 35 or are you going to be another Roy Jones Jr?
Nah I definitely won’t be boxing by then but I want to stay in the sport, I want to go into the commentary or the pundit side, I’ve always liked being in front of the camera but I wouldn’t want to leave the sport. I think that’s where a lot of people go wrong and then they want to jump back in too old, too slow because they’ve taken themselves away from it.
I may even train a couple of fighters, I’m not too sure yet.
Obviously you are a Frank Warren fighter, I’m not going to ask you if you want to move but Eddie Hearn’s got his $1billion deal, is that good for boxing or does it risk making it too one-sided?
Brilliant for the sport of boxing. Hearn has certainly made a statement but it is good for boxing. With the two promoters I feel like Warren has the diehard boxing fans, the proper boxing fans but Hearn has the public he has that support – people that aren’t necessarily interested in boxing, just want to be part of something, a crowd.
It would be nice to get a mix but I don’t know, it is a good deal, but as for moving, you know, Frank’s took me since the start. I’ve got a long time left with Frank and he’s doing great with me so far. Bit gutted I didn’t carry on my momentum, I was meant to be fighting in April (the original Saunders-Murray card), I was fighting once every six weeks so it’s put the brakes on a little bit.
I reckon I’ll be out soon after, August/September.
Do you reckon you’ll get another 2/3 fights this year, then?
I’m hoping to have another four, including this one, 6 and 0 by the end of the year.
Any title or will that come next year?
No, no, my first year will finish in December and it’s just about getting a feel for the pro game, getting experience, hopefully getting some stoppages that get my record up then start looking at people, then start calling people out.
I’ve run out of questions now Harvey, it’s been 20 minutes, thanks a lot for speaking to me!
No worries mate, appreciate your time.
Lee Selby vs. Josh Warrington Preview
By: Ste Rowen
Over the next three weeks, 3 of the 4 featherweight champions of the world defend their IBF, WBC and WBA belts. First to take to the ring will be IBF champion, Lee Selby, who stakes his IBF strap against Josh Warrington in a long awaited domestic clash.
The two will meet on Warrington’s home turf, and dream venue in Leeds’ Elland Road stadium. It’s a matchup that’s been long in the making, even before the two boxers moved over to Frank Warren’s, Queensberry Promotions from Matchroom, and in the ‘Face to Face’ programme which brought the two together to discuss prefight, Warrington said the rivalry stemmed from Selby’s disrespect towards the Leeds native,
Photo Credit: Frank Warren Twitter Account
‘In the early days, when the rivalry was building we shook hands and you seemed a bit timid about wanting to shake hands. I respected you from that day because you’d achieved everything. You did nothing from then on but downplayed my achievements…There’s been times when you’ve said, ‘Easy work. I’ll knock him out. Not on my level’ You’ve changed your opinion many times.’
Selby, 26-1 (9KOs) drew on his time when the two fighters were under the same promotional banner,
‘Your promoter at the time bought the titles off me in order to build you up in front of your crowd, otherwise you wouldn’t have had the Commonwealth title…Built you up ready for me to knock you out.’
The Welshman was last out in December on the James Degale vs Caleb Truax undercard when he dominated the previously unbeaten Eduardo Ramirez to a clear unanimous decision. That was Lee’s 4th defence of the world title he won back in 2015 after scoring an 8th round technical decision win over Evgeny Gradovich, a bout he was clearly ahead in before the head clash which ended the fight.
Since then, Selby’s fought away from home, and at Wembley stadium, so he’s not afraid of the hostile environment he’s expected to walk into on the night,
At the press conference earlier this week he said,
‘I should be ready to defend my world title anywhere in the world so it’s only 5 hours up the road from where I live. It’s not so much of a lion’s den…It’s just another defence.’
‘I treat every opponent the same. I don’t train for a certain style or opponent… The guys in Leeds want you to win, but the whole country is backing me.’
Warrington, 26-0 (6KOs) hasn’t fought since October, when he stopped 18-0-2, Dennis Ceylan in the 10th round and the man from Leeds has built a strong record, collecting some solid names, including victories over Rendall Munroe, Patrick Hyland and everyone’s favourite Spanish boxer, Kiko Martinez. Warrington, like at most events in the build for this featherweight world title clash, was once again in buoyant mood,
‘Last few months I’ve really put my body through hell…After all the talk of me and Lee fighting it’s come down to this camp and I’m gonna give it everything…I feel like this is meant to be…It’s come around how I always planned it.
‘There’s no need for anymore talking. On Saturday I get to punch you in the face… There’s no way you can or will be able to prepare for what you’re gonna expect on Saturday night.
Both fighters know that it’s not just a world title on the line on Saturday. Carl Frampton is still looking for someone to fight at Windsor Park in August, and this weekend’s winner is expected to be the opponent. But, with WBC champ, Gary Russell Jr facing off against the unbeaten Golden Boy prospect, Joel Diaz also on Saturday; the rematch of Santa Cruz vs Abner Mares in three weeks’ time, and Oscar Valdez making a steady return from injury since his defence against Scott Quigg two months ago, there’s plenty of options for the man who has his hand raised on the 19th in Leeds.
On the undercard…
Jack Catterall vs Mohammed Kani
The top of Saturday night’s undercard sees Jack Catterall 20-0 (11KOs) come up against 14-1 (0KOs) Mohammed Kani, to defend his WBO Inter-Continental super lightweight belt. Catterall had an impressive 2017 which included a 12-round decision victory over Tyrone Nurse to earn the British title, and he has already fought once this year, knocking out the journeyman’s journeyman, Kevin Macauley 15-163-12, with a body 1st round body shot.
His opponent, Mohammed Kani, also a southpaw, will be fighting outside of France or Monaco, for the first time in his pro career, a career that faltered slightly when he dropped an 8-round decision to fellow Frenchman Laid Douadi 14-0-1.
Speaking to ‘British Boxers’, Warrington didn’t seem to concerned with his opponent,
‘I’ve had a lot of southpaw sparring and orthodox so it’s not an issue. I know I’ve prepared for this fight no matter who they put in front of us so, I’m confident of putting another loss on his record on Saturday.’
Nicola Adams vs Soledad del Valle Frias
Two-time Olympic gold medallist, Nicola Adams will fight in her first schedule 10-round bout, in just her 4th fight when she takes on 13-11-4, Soledad del Valle Frias a former three-time world title challenger.
Adams, so far has only gone as far as 4 rounds and although she’s taken on a relative veteran of the female boxing scene, Nicola is just taking it as any other fight. Speaking to BBC she said,
‘This is another step up for me on my professional journey to a professional world title…My camp has gone perfectly and I can’t wait to fight in a football stadium for the first time.
Ohara Davies vs Christopher Sebire
Ohara Davies makes his first return to the ring since linking up with Frank Warren, after cutting ties with Matchroom at the end of last year.
Davies, 16-1 (13KOs) is schedule to fight the unbeaten, Josh Leather, 13-0 next month, so Saturday’s bout is expected to be a keep busy exhibition for ‘Two Tanks’. His opponent Frenchman, Christopher Sebire 26-10-1 (9KOs) is fighting in Britain for the second consecutive time, losing a 10-round decision to 20-1, Paul Kamanga back in November.
Frank Warren’s Under the Radar Prospects
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!
The Return of Frank De Alba Friday at Sands in Bethlehem, PA
By: Ken Hissner
Marshall Kauffman’s King’s Promotions return’s to the Sand’s Event Center Friday night with their second show in a week. It’s been a year since southpaw Frank De Alba, 22-2-2 (9), of Reading, PA, had his last fight in defeating Ryan Kielczweski, 26-2 at the Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, PA. On Friday he will return to the Sands Casino in the main event taking on O’Shaquie “Ice Water” Foster, 12-2 (8), of Houston, TX, over 10 rounds in the Super Featherweight division.
De Alba’s last two fights have been cancelled out to the disappointment of his loyal fans. He is on a five fight win streak since losing to Omar “Big O” Douglas, then 15-0 at the Sands in 2015. That was his only ten rounder and Friday will be his second. His opponent is a former national amateur champion with over 100 amateur fights and was in the 2012 Olympic Trials.
The co-feature features Cruiserweight Luther Smith, 9-2 (8), of Bowie, MD, takes on ever dangerous Elvin “KoKo” Sanchez, 8-3-1 (6), of Paterson, NJ, over 8 rounds. Welterweight Craig Callaghan, 17-1 (7), of the UK fighting out of Houston, TX, takes on Cesar Soriano Berumen, 28-37-2 (17), of Iztacalco, MEX, over 8 rounds.
Featherweight Juan Sanchez, 5-0 (2), of Allentown, PA, takes on Vincent Jennings, 5-4-1 (4), of Grand Rapids, MI, over 6 rounds. Welterweight Jesus Perez, 3-0 (1), of Reading, PA, takes on Anthony Sonnier, 3-0 (2), of Seattle, WA, over 6 rounds.
Welterweight Denis Okoth, 2-0-1 (1), fought a week ago at the 2300 Arena in South Philadelphia scoring a mild upset defeating Philly’s Rasheed Johnson, 3-1. He takes on Philly’s Greg “Lil Greg” Jackson 8-5-1 (2), over 4 rounds. Featherweight Martino Jules, 3-0 (0), of Allentown, PA, takes on Phillip Davis, 1-1-1 (0), of Worcester, MASS, over 4 rounds. Super Welterweight Laured Stewart, 3-0 (2), of Guyana fighting out of Sydney, Australia, takes on James Robinson, 4-9-4 (1), of York, PA, over 4 rounds.
Yarde and DuBois Win In England
Frank Warren’s 2018 kicked off with an emphatic bang last night as his brightest prospects made decisive statements at York Hall, Bethnal Green, to lay the foundations down for an enthralling 2018.
Photo Credit Box Nation Twitter Account
The Untouchables featured three mouth-watering fighters in title bouts as Anthony Yarde defended his WBO Inter-Continental and European titles against Tony Averlant, Daniel Dubois looked to retain his Southern Area strap against DL Jones and Zelfa Barrett took on Ronnie Clarke for the vacant IBF European Super Featherweight belt.
Light-heavyweight Yarde was the headlining act for his 15th professional fight and was up against a durable Averlant, who’s a fair bit better than his 26-9-2 record suggests, in a scheduled 10 rounder. An obvious step-down from, Yarde’s previous opponent, Nikola Sjekloca this was all about putting in a performance in order to set-up exciting clashes against fellow Top 25 opposition for the duration of 2018.
Averlant was looking to prove he had what it takes to compete at the European level with the 33-year-old having fallen short at every other opportunity, most notably from a crunching body shot courtesy of Juergen Braehmer back in 2013.
The fight didn’t start off quite as you’d expect with Yarde opting to patiently sit back and wait for Averlant to approach him before unleashing a handful of heavy right-hand punches against the body of the Frenchman. Movement from Yarde was the prime skill displayed over the opening three minutes as he evaded the shots of Averlant and did well to cut off the ring for his opponent.
That momentum and unfamiliarity of style continued into the second round with Averlant goading Yarde into an opening attack before landing his own series of shots on the WBO #2 – Yarde seemed relatively unfazed and hit back but, nonetheless, Averlant seemed to be a trickier test than many anticipated with Yarde reluctant to be drawn into a firefight.
Order was restored with the bell to mark the beginning of the third round with Anthony Yarde giving reason to his Beast nickname, unloading on his opponent with thunderous shots to both head and body. Often with his hands down by his side, Frank Warren’s prospect slammed his right hand into the head of Averlant, following through with his whole body, reddening the face but no real combination shots to add to the pain.
A quiet fourth and fifth round followed with Yarde undoubtedly dominating but just wearing down Averlant as opposed to seeking to expel him from the ring – the sixth round saw him step the fight up a notch with a plethora of body shots, similar to Juergen Braehmer’s tactics, fatiguing the ribs and solar plexus before a slaughtering shot at the ropes dropped Averlant on the 90 second mark. Mere seconds later and the Frenchman was down again, he hung on until the end of the round but Yarde was ready for the kill.
Averlant had proven to be as durable as can of baked beans but with blood in the water, Yarde wasn’t going to mellow on the Frenchman and battered the body so bad you could order it at your local chippy! Survival mode kicked in for Averlant but his spirit never died regardless of the sheer bombardment coming his way.
With the referee reluctant to stop the fight and Yarde look set to bounce Averlant out of the ring, the French corner pulled their man out at the end of the 7th round to give Anthony Yarde the win AND an enhanced ranking with the WBO. He retains the European and Inter-Continental version of their titles so the only question left is ‘who’s next?’.
Daniel ‘Dynamite’ Dubois was looking to explode into 2018 with a convincing win over his unbeaten Southern Area rival DL Jones who was going into the contest with 8 wins and a single draw – coincidentally that draw came against Dorian Darch, Dubois’ last opponent.
Weighing at his second heaviest career weight Dubois was still the lighter man as his 36 year old opponent weighed in at 110.2kg (243lbs) and behind that stocky frame was a fighter looking to cash in on his career high payday (reported to be near £15,000).
The first round proved to be the hardest of Dubois’s professional career with DL Jones looking to hold for the most part whilst trying to swing in from a crouched position – at times it was reminiscent of a wrestling bout but Jones was successful in subduing outlandish levels of power beheld by Dubois.
Dubois adjusted well into the second round as he begun to tee off against Jones by the ropes, aiming for the body of the Sheerness-born opponent. Visibly frustrated was Triple D but he kept the jab popping into the face of the former army veteran.
Biding his time before eventually unleashing an uppercut followed by a flurry of body punches, Dubois was picking off his challenger with ease whilst never really clicking into gear before relaxing in the third round and letting his natural power come through.
Pinning Jones against the ropes around the halfway mark of the third, Dubois shellacking his man with punishing jabs to the head along with big right hand overhead hooks – three, four in a row – enforcing the pain on Dave Jones. The smile on his face failed to mask the buckle in his legs and a concussive right uppercut-straight combination saw him collapse to the canvas.
A third round knockout for Daniel Dubois to make it seven wins, seven early baths, saw the 20 year old retain his Southern Area title and we’ll see him back out at the O2 on April 14th as he looks to make 2018 his year.
On paper the toughest fight for the three main protagonists came as Zelfa ‘Brown Flash’ Barrett faced Ronnie ‘The Shark’ Clark for the vacant IBF European Super Featherweight championship; Clark, the former British title challenger, represented the biggest step up for Barrett, 19-0.
Determined to steal the limelight from the start, the green-haired Shark gained the best of a tentative opening first round with neither boxer willing to impose their fight plans and both struggling to connect with anything clean and that rhythm followed into the second portion of three minutes with Clark doing well to pressure Barrett against the ropes but failing to ask serious questions of the 24 year old.
Voices from some corners described Barrett as “drawn” during the weigh-ins and public work outs and that started to show as the fight progressed with the, relatively big, super-feather finding it tough to adapt to the southpaw stance of his more experienced opponent.
The fourth round seemed to spark something into the Shark who was now finding the body of Barrett with increasingly alarming consistency to the extent that after switching to the head and landing with a sharp uppercut, the Dundee-man simply smiled.
Relaxed but effective best described the fighting style of Ronnie Clark but by no-means was he in the clear as his Mancunian opponent kept his head moving and shots firing – if not necessarily connecting – to make the first four or five rounds still 50-50.
Barrett was pressing his case across the opening minute of the sixth, upping the tempo and attacking Clark with real grit and gusto but, in a sudden switch, was hit by a stunning, straight, left-hand jab countered by a right hand uppercut that sent his body to the canvas, his teeth to the crowd and his head to the clouds.
From that moment Clark pursued Barrett in relentless fashion, throwing bombs for the remaining 90 seconds in a round of pure hell for the pre-right favourite; whilst Barrett regained his composure during the break between rounds, the only punch of note in the seventh was a left hand from the youngster that was deflected well by Clark.
Into the middle-to-late rounds we went and they seemed to mirror the opening three, after some scintillating rounds of boxing both men needed a breather. When the fight ignited again, around the ninth round, Zelfa managed to find a good flurry of shots to the body of Clark as he began to edge his way back into the fight from a shot which, to be fair , would have stopped many a lesser fighter.
The healthy flow of punches continued into the 10th round of super-featherweight action with both men exchanging leather, Clark trying to drive Barrett back towards the ropes but the Mancunian firing in with repetitive shots of his own.
Championship rounds are the ones that win fights and Barrett was aware of that, making a strong start to the 11th as he kept Clark in sight and having, by far, the better of the exchanges in terms of work rate and consistency but the more eye-catching skills were coming from the man from Scotland.
With both fighters wanting to seal the win the 12th round was always going to be an absolute belter and so it proved with both men giving it their all, sapping their energy with combinations from both men in a phone-box competition marred only by the Barrett’s gum shield dropping out. Clark kept the right hand leads flowing into the body of Barrett whilst receiving the full artillery from his opponent. Clark was static but sensational, Barrett lucid but lacklustre.
To the scorecards it went with no-one in the venue able to confidently predict the outcome; 116-111, 116-111, 114-114, a majority decision to the NEW IBF European Super Featherweight champion Ronnie Clark, but by five?
Also on the card we saw Nathan Gorman stamp his authority over Morgan Dessaux to move to 12-0 in the heavyweight division; Archie Sharp stopped Ivan Ruiz Morote in the 7th round to improve his record to 12 wins, no defeats, in the super-feather weight class; Ryan Garner returned to the ring after 6 months out with a points decision over Lesther Cantillano, The Piranha goes seven without defeat; in the super middle division, Umar Sadiq beat Yailton Neves comfortably to go to 2-0; Hamza Sheeraz obtained the same record at super-welter; Boy Jones Jr went 8 rounds in the lightweight division but enhanced his record to 15-1-1 whilst Harvey Horn moved to 2 and 0 in the flyweight division.