Five Fights to Look Forward to in the United Kingdom
By: Oliver McManus
At the top level of the game there are plenty of great fights taking place with Britain blessed to have world champion after world champion but take a step backwards to appreciate the full scene and you’ll find a whole host of tasty match-ups happening at levels of the game –
Jason Welborn vs Tommy Langford
Welborn vs Langford has all the ingredients for a scintillating rematch as the “Battle of the Baggies” moves onto round two (well, technically, rounds 13-24) in Birmingham on September 8th.
First time round in Walsall, Jason Welborn took to the centre of the ring right from the off with an incredible work-rate, targeting the body of Langford whilst the champion, Langford, looked to establish what he believed was his technical superiority.
Both fighters were fast on their feet and willing to trade punches with neither afraid of taking a shot in order to land a flurry of their own and even though Welborn came into the fight the, large, betting underdog, he showed no signs of relenting as went into the championship rounds, staying busy and landing an accumulation of punches.
The fight was up for grabs and in a genuine domestic thriller, Welborn emerged the victor via a narrow split decision (114-113, 114-113, 113-115) and claimed the British Middleweight championship from his rival.
This time round on the undercard of Khan-Vargas, Welborn will be looking to go one step even further than he manged in May and stop Langford within the distance – let’s not forget that Langford was counted in the 2nd round after the ropes had held him up –, enhancing his position as a genuine contender in the packed middleweight scene.
Tommy, on the other hand, will be looking for redemption and bounce back from his second loss in the space of 13 months – the first, a fifth round TKO loss to Avtandil Khurtsidze – with a dedicated, technical performance that, prior to these potential hiccups, had seen him being targeted for an all-British showdown with Billy Joe Saunders.
Indeed Langford wasn’t on his A Game when the first fight occurred, not that we should take any credit away from Welborn, and you could argue that he adapted a little too much to the game-plan of his challenger – stick to the basics, work the jab and that’s when Langford really hits his stride.
Jeff Ofori vs Jumaane Camero
Has this fight been mentioned enough recently? Spot the sarcasm because this fight is, put simply, A FIGHT. One better than that, it’s a fight that you genuinely cannot pick a winner from.
It’s a fight that you don’t want to HAVE to pick a winner from, either, both of these guys are genuine, humble people who haven’t forgotten where they come from. Ultimately, though, on September 15th one of these lightweights will emerge as the Southern Area champion – Camero having defended it successfully or Ofori having mounted a victorious challenge.
Stylistically the two are vastly different with Camero having, typically, been the more patient and measured boxer who likes to control the fight at his own tempo and has quite a unique style but, make no mistake, is capable of packing a whack so you do not want to be on the end of one of those big punches.
As Jumaane says, himself, he is “freakishly long limbed” and possess a style that makes dealing with him incredibly awkward – Ofori, on the other hand, is much more of your typical aggressor, seeking to take each and every fight with a high-tempo, guns-blazing style of boxing.
At the end of June, Ofori faced a tough journeyman, Luke Fash, in full knowledge that this Southern Area fight was to follow and Jeff looked imperious, cutting off the ring really well and attacking the body of Fash with vim and vigour – speaking to Ofori afterwards, however, he said he wanted more rounds to get used to the longer distances, as opposed to his fourth round knockout.
This will be Ofori’s first ten round bout but with both men talking as though they expect it not to last the scheduled distance there is no doubt that September 15th will see fireworks aplenty – Ofori needs to keep up his aggression, work the short uppercut when he’s on the ropes whilst Camero should look to use his awkward style and height advantage to the best of his ability, the styles will mesh and produce a sumptuous bout so all that’s left to do is buy the tickets because you do not want to miss this.
Cello Renda vs Luke Cowcroft
Cello Renda is a man who, for a long time now, has always promised much and whilst he has achieved one hell of a lot – current Southern Area champion, challenged for the English and British belts – there’s been a distinct feeling that, actually, he could be coming into the best years of his fighting career.
A win against Leon McKenzie, last year, re-established himself on the map and look at his record, you’ll see he’s fought Liam Conroy, Jack Arnfield, Sam Horton, Martin Murray, Danny Butler, Tom Doran, Paul Smith and these are not names to be sniffed at by any stretch of the imagination.
But, as mentioned, it was that fight against McKenzie that really seemed to, on paper, ignite something within him as he demonstrated his power, precision and sheer toughness to an absolute tee – Renda was in a war and he came out on top. Since then he’s been targeting the English title that Darryll Williams holds and this fight against Cowcroft is serving as an eliminator for that belt.
Cowcroft, on the other hand, is taking a huge step in quality but Stefy Bull clearly thinks he’s talented enough to carry off an upset and the mood around the Doncaster light-heavyweight is distinctly upbeat and it’s clear to see that he’s improved significantly in the three years that he’s been out of the ring.
Not so much of a power puncher as Renda, Cowcroft has an absolute engine within him and will be looking to out-work Cello, tiring the Southern Area champion, before mounting a late surging attack as he, to boot, looks to prove any doubters wrong.
This fight has all the makings of an absolute classic, Cello Renda looked the best he’s ever looked up against Leon McKenzie, punch-perfect stoppage, and Luke Cowcroft is constantly developing, constantly learning and not just in training but in the ring, too, up against Renda he will need to have learnt an awful lot but if anyone can secure such an upset, surely, it’s the man from Doncaster.
Jazza Dickens vs Martin Ward
A rematch for the vacant British super-bantamweight title, made possible by Thomas Patrick Ward withdrawing from the scheduled fight and opting to fight for the IBF European belt instead.
Jazza Dickens has had a frustrating last couple years following his loss to Guillermo Rigondeaux, a fight that resulted in a broken jaw for Dickens, and was unfortunate last year to suffer a cut above the left eye against Patrick Ward that forced the contest to go the scorecards early – Dickens was trailing but had momentum and the fight was shaping up to be a real pick ‘em with everything likely coming down to the final three rounds.
Since then the Liverpool fighter has looked crisp in training, arguably in the shape of his life, and against Martin Ward, on July 27th, there’s every expectation of a better, more convincing performance than the last time they fought (in 2015).
Three years ago this duo fought the full 12 rounds before a split decision rendered Dickens the winner and, in turn, the British champion – Dickens was the fighter pressing the case and working the angles but a split decision was probably accurate.
With Dickens there is little doubt just how talented a fighter he is and the southpaw possess all the technical traits that could see him go all the way, on top of that he has a brilliant energy, work-rate and stamina that marks him out as a complete fighter just waiting to get tested.
Martin Ward, former British and Commonwealth Champion, is not to be underestimated and the experienced fighter relies on a patient game-plan, looking to take the fight at a constant, comfortable pace, often fighting at distance.
Past performances would suggest that Ward has peaked at around the British level with his previous step up to European level resulting in a second round knockout loss to Abigail Medina – not the greatest of opponent but no-one to discredit – and this fight in Houghton Le Spring will be seen as the 30 year old’s golden opportunity to really propel his name back into the talking.
Dickens would, you assume, prevail in this contest especially if he is to reach the heights he is expected but, as happens time and time again, you can never assume anything in boxing and the winner of this contest, Dickens or Ward, will have a couple of cracking clashes in the offing.
Kyle Yousaf vs Tommy Frank
Stefy Bull has been announcing some really good fights as of late – Atif Shafiq vs Andy Townend, Robbie Barrett vs Matty Fagan – and Kyle Yousaf vs Tommy Frank is part of the stellar card taking place in Barnsley on October 5th.
An application has been made to the BBBofC for this bout to be for the English belt and when you look at the domestic shake-up then there can be no qualms about the fight having such status.
Having the poisoned chalice of competing in the lower weight divisions, Yousaf and Frank have had a criminally small amount of media attention throughout their careers despite them both being absolutely phenomenal fighters.
Yousaf, the more experienced with 13 fights, beholds an impressive fighting brain with his ability to pick punches marking him out at an early stage of his career. Not many fighters, when they first turn pro, are mature enough to identify periods of the bout when they don’t need to come out swinging but Yousaf, still only 25, has frequently shown incredible maturity during the ring.
Against Gyula Dodu there was a punch-perfect display from the Golden Kid as he used his left jab repeatedly to keep on top of his opponent before dropping down to the body with some telling right hands to the body. A superb right to the head of Dodu, launched with exquisite timing and precision, finished off the fight and even though the bout lasted 118 seconds, the talent on show was mouthwatering.
Tommy ‘Super Frank’ is the current Central Area Super Flyweight champion and against Craig Derbyshire, in Frank’s seventh fight, the Yorkshire boxer impressed with his fight pace, going 10 rounds but looking comfortable throughout, and his commanding presence at the centre of the ring enables him to cut space off for his opponent, shortening the distance and letting Frank work the inside of his opponent – something he does particularly well.
When the hands get loose, they don’t half pack a punch and with a strong preference for targeting the body, he knows to pressure the opposition onto the ropes before unleashing with a series of alternating shots to the body.
In terms of power Yousaf probably has the upper hand, that should be evident from his superior knockout rate, but this is a fight you don’t see getting stopped early, it’s an enthralling battle between two young, hungry, undefeated fighters and it has all the ingredients of being an absolute barnstormer.
Underappreciated Boxers in the United Kingdom
By: Oliver McManus
BoxRec has 1,037 professional boxers from the United Kingdom – male and female – listed as active and, regardless of how you see their rankings, trawling through the pages of boxers throws up so many names that you think “hey, they deserve more recognition” so that’s what this is about – shining the spotlight on some of the best British fighters who deserve more appreciation!
Liam Cameron – Commonwealth Middleweight Champion
Liam Cameron is first up and the Sheffield-based boxer has been in the form of his life these past 12 months, promoted by Dennis Hobson the Commonwealth Champion really upset the apple cart in October of last years as he wore down Sam Sheedy, pre-fight favourite, over the course of eight months in order to claim Commonwealth glory.
Dropping Sheedy to the canvas three times in the fourth round and twice in the seventh, Cameron demonstrated to perfection the level of destruction he has developed as he’s matured as both a boxer and man – his last three wins have come via early stoppage.
21 wins and 5 losses is the resume of a man willing to take risks and Cannonball knows everything about risk-taking having travelled to Australia in 2016 to tackle Zac Dunn and going up against Luke Blackledge in 2015 – Cameron seems to have found his grove in the lighter division having dropped down from super-middle and there’s plenty of opportunity for big fights over the course of the next 12, 18 months.
Tommy Langford, Brian Rose, Chris Eubank Jr, Billy Joe Saunders – Liam Cameron wants them all and, most importantly, he has genuine confidence in his ability to claim the victory should he meet with them in the ring.
A fighter of tremendous quality, Liam is as promising as they come and despite being 27 his best years are, surely, still to come.
Tommy Coyle – former Commonwealth, IBF & WBC International Champion
Hull’s very own, Tommy Coyle is a boxer who, he admits, is “motivated by legacy” and the work he’s doing in and around Hull in order to help young children is admirable but he, himself, is one of the most inspiring boxers Britain has produced.
Coyle’s attitude towards the game is impeccable and his desire to chase glory – no matter at what cost – is what makes him so brilliant to watch – Coyle has been in the ring with quality operators such as Derry Matthews, Luke Campbell, Tyrone Nurse and Michael Katsidis but, regardless of result, you can never say he’s put in a bad performance.
Against Sean Dodd in April he had, on paper, a tough, tough fight which people had down as a genuine 50-50 but Coyle showed that whilst he had plenty of heart and passion he also possess a boxing brain and I say that because the bout started scrappy before Coyle got into his stride, popping out the left jab and really rattling Masher Dodd in the third round, eventually stopping Dodd in the sixth to add the Commonwealth belt to his collection.
Boom Boom has always dreamed of fighting in America and, come September, that ambition will have been realised as now, having vacated the Commonwealth title, Coyle pursues bigger those big fights.
For me what I like best about Tommy is his consistency – whenever he lands a peach of a body shot you can bet your house on the fact he’ll follow through with a cracking shot to the head, it’s his trademark!
Lewis van Poetsch – unapologetic journeyman
Poochi is on the list as a representative of a vast collection of British journeyman that could have made the cut – Youseff Al Hamidi, Kristian Laight, the recently retired Curtis Gargano – but I picked Lewis van Poetsch because of his personality.
It’s hard not to love Lewis, he always comes across well in interviews, he’s a barber and just an all-round happy-chappy. 7 wins, 71 losses and 1 draw, Poochi doesn’t come to the ring with an imperious record but he brings with it a tough challenge for those up-and-coming prospects as well as a lot of flair, making his ring-walk in a dressing gown and a flat cap.
With only 10 KO losses, van Poestch is durable and a solid boxer capable of causing a shock should his opponent not turn up 100% and I’m not a fan of the way the word “journeyman” has become banded about in a derogatory term but there’s a difference between people who aren’t good boxers and journeyman. As I say repeatedly you CANNOT be a bad boxer and still be a good journeyman.
There’s an art-form to it and Lewis is a master. Let’s not forget that without this guy we would the likes of Anthony Joshua, Jorge Linares, Billy Joe Saunders. For every world champion you will be able to count 10 quality journeyman and van Poetsch symbolizes everything that is to be respected within the sport – after all he is the “nation’s favourite journeyman”.
Matty Askin – British Cruiserweight Champion
The Assassin turned professional aged 19 and in the 10 years since that first fight, a points victory over Paul Bonson, Askin has gone through the traditional route of area (Central) – English – British Champion with the behemoth of a man – six foot four – securing that British title in May last year with a convincing sixth round knockout over Craig Kennedy.
Having grown a reputation for being under-stated, Askin has come to life somewhat over the past few weeks taking umbrage with all the hype surrounding Lawrence Okolie and it is my firm belief that Askin would triumph in that fight, should it be made.
The reasoning for that is simple, Matty has stood the test of time and has pretty much seen off every other British-level fighter over the course of the last four, five years and whilst there is certainly an argument to be made that he should be pushing on for higher honours, I would like to see him in one more British battle before elevating himself to the next level.
With 15 knockout wins, it’s easy to look at his record and say “he’s got power” but it’s not as simple as that because YES, he packs power and has proven that time and time again but I’ve always been impressed with how he operates as a technical fighter and that was emphasised with his victory over Tommy McCarthy in 2016.
Surprisingly nimble on his feet for such a big man, we’ve seen Askin tested with the, vastly-underrated Ovill McKenzie and, indeed, Krzysztof Glowacki, but he’s always come back from those losses even more invigorated and determined and for sheer graft alone, Askin deserves all the success he reaps.
Natasha Jonas – WBA International Featherweight Champion
I couldn’t NOT put Natasha Jonas on this list because for such a phenomenal fighter in a relatively small pool of fighters – what with women’s boxing still being a developing sport – all the attention seems to be on Katie Taylor and Nicola Adams.
Yet, despite that, you could argue that Jonas was the first real main-stream female fighter in Britain – having started boxing in 2005, she had won five ABA Championship titles by 2010 – all in the 64kg division – and in 2009 was named as the first women’s boxer on Team GB.
The first ever female boxer from the United Kingdom to qualify for the Olympic Games, she eventually lost in the quarter-finals to, you guessed it, Katie Taylor.
Since turning pro, though, she’s demonstrated more power than either Adams or Taylor and the 34 year old is wasting no time to carve out her way to the top – last time out against Taoussy L’Hadji she faced a woman who had never been knocked out before yet Jonas controlled the tempo of the fight with ease before sending her French opponent to the floor in the seventh.
In a way you could argue it’s helped her that she’s gone, relatively, under-the-radar because it’s enabled the Liverpudlian to hone her trade without too much scrutiny and if you were to look at her first couple performances before comparing them to the most recent, you can tell distinctly that there is more confidence flowing form Natasha, she feels more at ease in the ring and the fights show that, even in a year her range of skills have developed exponentially and, for me, this all builds to her being our next world champion – a potential super-fight with Katie Taylor, even,
As you can tell, then, Britain is blessed with some incredible boxers but it’s not just at the top, with the world champions, that there’s a plethora of talent – it runs all the way throughout the divisions, throughout the level of experience and, boy, does the future look bright!
Tommy Hearns and Jackie Kallen Want to Bring Big Time Boxing Back in Detroit
By: Bryant Romero
Tommy Hearns and Jackie Kallen have finally kicked off a venture that’s been in the long making as “The Hitman” is finally taking a swipe at boxing promoting. Something he’s been contemplating doing since he hung up his boxing gloves over a decade ago. Hearns recognizes how good boxing has been to him and only wants to give back to a sport that has made him a boxing legend. He is hopeful that with this new endeavor, his name recognition and with the support of the boxing fans in the Detroit that both he and Jackie could bring in more boxing shows on a consistent basis in the Motor City.
“The people of Detroit have always been so supportive of me and have been in my corner from my pro debut on,” the Hitman said.
“I really want to give back to my city and bring them the best up and coming fighters around. Our goal is to hopefully get a couple of TV dates next year,” he said.
Not only is Tommy Hearns looking to bring some of the best up and coming talent to his city, but he also wants to give young fighters not only from Detroit but from other cities as well an opportunity to build their records, staying active, and a chance to work with a honest promoter who’s not going to throw them to the wolves. The Hitman wants to be a promoter that gives young fighters the same opportunity that he had in the 1970’s when he was climbing up the professional ranks.
“When I started out, I had the good privilege of being able to fight often,” Tommy said. “I know that times are different, but I want to give some young talent a chance to stay active and develop their skills.”
Tommy and Jackie’s first joint show together will be on June 2 in Detroit at the Atheneum hotel where they plan to showcase two additional cards here in August and October. But how this did venture finally came about which was long overdue?
“Tommy and I have worked together for 40 years,” Jackie told me.
“I started as his publicist when he was 19 years old and we have worked together throughout the years. And he’s always wanted to get into promoting.
“Once he stopped fighting he wanted to start promoting, but it was always just talk. And then fairly recently a lovely dentist here in town, Dr. Reginald Jewell came up to us and said ‘I would like to start a promotional company with you guys and I like to back it and be part of it.
“We hold three dates so far and we’re going to try our hand in putting on some shows for the people of Detroit,” Jackie said.
The duo plan to put on at least 8 fights for their first card in Detroit and both feel that the prospects they plan to showcase have the talent to attract a local following and help with getting some TV dates from a network such as ESPN in the near future.
Who are the prospects they plan to showcase for their first card in Detroit?
“We have Taylor Duerr (6-0, 6KOs) he’s a light heavyweight and he’s got a huge following here so we’re real excited about him,” Jackie told me.
“We have Derrick Colemon Jr. (3-0, 3KOs) and the fans here love him, he’s only 18. He’s really good looking, cute kid and he’s a dynamic fighter.
“We have a guy Isiah Jones (6-0, 3 KOs) who’s also undefeated. I have a fighter out of LA named Oluwafemi Oyeleye (5-0) he’s signed with Mayweather but we’re hoping that together we can work to bring him here for June 2nd as well,” Jackie said.
Both Tommy and Jackie are aware of the challenges ahead now that the boxing business has drastically changed since the 1990’s. But with the talented pool of prospects they plan to showcase in the coming months, they are hopeful that they can deliver more boxing shows to the city of Detroit with more regularity, something that has been lacking in the Motor City for the past few years.
“Our team here is really tight. Detroit has always been a big boxing city,” Jackie said.
“Unfortunately, we had sporadic boxing in the last few years. A fight here, a fight there, no regularity, no consistency in location or regularity in dates.
“So people never really know when there’s a fight and who’s fighting. So we’re hoping to make boxing a regular thing again, where people get used to coming and get used to seeing the same kids each time so they can build a following.
“We want to build certain kids so that these fighters have followings and help them build a solid career,” Jackie said.
You can contact and follow Bryant Romero on Twitter @BoxingTruth88
Flashback: Tommy Hearns, Roberto Duran And The Shot Heard Round The World
By: Sean Crose
Both Tommy Hearns and Roberto Duran were already legendary figures back in 1984. Duran, the hardened Panamanian tough guy, had finally earned back the respect he had lost after quitting on Ray Leonard in the middle of their 1980 New Orleans rematch by besting Davey Moore and giving middleweight powerhouse Marvin Hagler all he could handle. Hearns, on the other hand was on a six fight win streak after being bested by Leonard in an all-time fight classic several years earlier. As history would go on to prove, both men were serious threats and would remain so for what seemed like ages.
Before they would move on to further glory, however, they would have to face each other. On the line would be Hearn’s WBC super welterweight strap. Duran’s WBA version of the title might have been at stake as well, but Duran gave that belt up rather than fight his mandatory opponent, Mike McCallum. The bout itself was to be held in Las Vegas, outdoors at Caesar’s Palace, to be exact, after the planned Bahamas location proved to be incompatible.
Duran was thirty two years old at the time of the bout, but he had proven age to be just a number when he gave Hagler a run at middleweight just a few months earlier. To consider the Panamanian finished at this point in his career would be a terrible mistake, something Hearn’s trainer, Emanuel Steward, knew all too well. “I can see it going so many ways,” Sports Illustrated quoted Steward as saying beforehand, “and one of them is Tommy hitting Duran with a real shot and Duran just standing there grinning. It could really frustrate Tommy.”
Hearns, though, was not to be frustrated by Duran, at least not in the ring. This was the chance for the guy known as “The Hit Man” to start knocking people out again. Hearns might have won a new title and beaten the likes of Wilfred Benitez since the Leonard loss, but he hadn’t been the frightening puncher he was before the Leonard classic. “His whole value judgment is based on how hard he can hit,” Hearn’s doctor was to be quoted as saying. “This man actually lives and exists mentally from the power of his right hand. It’s his self-image.”
With so much on the line for both men, it was clear that this fight was a big deal. Indeed, it would be no network television event. It would be aired live via closed circuit and pay per view. What’s more, each man would make over a million dollars. With big events, after all, come big bucks. To the undoubted surprise of many, however, the fight ended up being a big blowout. That doesn’t mean it was a dud, however. Indeed, Hearns-Duran still stands as a thrilling, if completely one sided, two round action fest.
It was said that Duran intensely wanted the Hearns fight. Yet within the first round that evening, the 2-1 underdog was dropped before the live crowd of close to 15,000 people. What’s more, Duran was dropped again before the round was over. To make matters worse, Hearns had dazed his man so badly that Duran went to the wrong corner after the bell sounded ending the first chapter. “He surprised me,” Duran reportedly told his corner. Before rising for the second round, however, Duran explicitly instructed his team not to stop the fight. It was as if the man knew what was coming.
The days of quitting were indeed over for Roberto Duran, but a terrible loss was now imminent. Finding his man with his back to the ropes in the midst of a savage bit of handiwork, Hearns fired a right hand for the ages. It hit Duran so cleanly, with such power, that the iconic fighter literally fell flat on his face before a stunned crowd. There was no need for a count. Indeed a count would only have prolonged what was a finished fight. Doing the right thing, referee Carlos Pedilla stopped the bout. The ferocious Hearns was back by virtue of a single frightening shot that echoed throughout the early Vegas night and beyond.
The story, of course, wasn’t over for either man. Less than a year later, Hearns himself would be the victim of a timeless knockout, courtesy of the gutsy Hagler. He would then move on to redeem himself against Leonard (thanks to a controversial draw) before, incredibly, earning himself a light heavyweight championship. And Duran? Well, the not so old man would go on to stun the world again by besting the terrific Iran Barkely for the middleweight title later in the decade. The lesson? Great fighters can never be counted out – even after they’ve been counted out.
More Boxing History
Interview with the Undefeated Heavyweight Prospect Trey Lippe Morrison
Interview with the Undefeated Heavyweight Prospect Trey Lippe Morrison
By: Benny Henderson Jr.
Being the son of the late former champion, Tommy Morrison, you could say that the undefeated heavyweight prospect, Trey Lippe-Morrison 12-0 (12 KO’s) has some big shoes to fill when it comes to competing as a professional boxer. But thus far, he has filled those shoes flawlessly. Trained by the legendary trainer Freddie Roach, Morrison is coming into his own and leaving a path of destruction in his climb to the top. In this exclusive interview conducted by Benny Henderson Jr. we chat with the prospect on his latest victory, his Dad’s legacy, Trey’s future and more.