United Kingdom Boxing Round Up
By: Thomas Nicholls
As the British Boxing scene continues to grow from strength to strength, this new weekly feature will highlight all the news, views and fight previews from the Great British circuit. Enjoy!
On Saturday night, the enigmatic Chris Eubank Jr defended his IBO Super-Middleweight crown against German veteran “King” Arthur Abraham at the SSE Arena in London. Many had foreseen the outcome of the fight as the cocky, charismatic Eubank dominated his way to a landslide points decision as the weary Abraham had no answer for the Brit’s speed and punch volume.
In victory, Eubank (27) has now confirmed his place in the forthcoming World Boxing Super Series otherwise known as the “Muhammad Ali Trophy”, a mouth-watering eight-man tournament starring some of the main players in the 168lbs division. As third seed, Eubank will have home advantage against unbeaten Turkish prospect Avni Yildirim. Eubank is one of four Britons who will feature in the tournament, alongside Jamie Cox, WBA Super Champion George Groves and pre-tournament favourite, Callum Smith.
Muhammad Ali Trophy Quarter Finals –
George Groves (GB) vs Jamie Cox (GB)
Chris Eubank Jr (GB) vs Avni Yildirim (TUR)
Callum Smith (GB) vs Erik Skoglund (SWE)
Jurgen Braemer (GER) vs Rob Brant (USA)
Elsewhere in the UK, WBO Middleweight Champion Billy Joe Saunders is set to defend his crown against American southpaw, Willie Monroe Jr. Monroe Jr is in the process of resurrecting his career after a defeat to GGG back in May 2015. In the press conference on Monday, Saunders hailed Monroe a “quitter” in reference to his evident surrender against the hard-hitting Kazakh, Golovkin.
Billy Joe Saunders has been concerningly inactive since he was crowned champion in 2015, his solitary defence coming in an unconvincing display against unknown Russian, Artur Akavov. Saunders has frequently vowed to unify the division and promoter Frank Warren has twice come close to finalising a fight with either GGG or Canelo, but Billy Joe’s repeated injury setbacks have for now scuppered those plans. London’s CopperBox arena will play host to the fight with Monroe on September 16.
September is due to be a busy month for Britain’s fighters as the Heavyweight clash between Hughie Fury and Joseph Parker is now back on after a cancellation earlier in year. Originally, the fight was due to take place in New Zealand, but the Manchester Arena is the new venue for the Heavyweight showdown.
Hughie, cousin of Tyson, is a slick point scoring fighter who possesses an impressive 20-0 record at just 22 years old. WBO Champion, Parker will enter the fight as favourite, but the Fury camp are certainly no strangers to the underdog status and they will take courage from Parker’s most recent bout as he failed to topple the uninspiring Romanian, Razvan Cojanu.
Manchester based Hughie has this week claimed that he, for the first time in his career, feels at full fitness. Plagued by health issues throughout his teens, Fury is looking and feeling healthier and is convinced it’s his time to make his mark on the Heavyweight scene and bring the WBO strap back in to the Fury family. “It doesn’t matter where I fight Parker in the world, I know my ability and what I’m capable of achieving and I know I can win the world title.”I don’t like to count my chickens, but the obvious incentive to beat Parker is the big fights out there like a unification against Joshua or Wilder.
“This is what boxing is all about, the best should fight the best and the best fighter will come out on top.”
“Tyson will be coming back and he’ll be out to reclaim his position, we’ll never fight each other, but we’ll rule the division together.”
Meanwhile, we still await confirmation of Wladimir Klitschko triggering his rematch clause with Anthony Joshua, but Eddie Hearn and his Matchroom staff were in Vegas last week looking at potential venues for the fight. Let’s hope we have an announcement in the coming weeks!
Showtime Paves Way For Anthony Joshua’s American Invasion
Showtime Paves Way For Anthony Joshua’s American Invasion
Rising star – and IBF heavyweight champ Anthony Joshua is about to be a regular on American television. Indeed, the British knockout artist, who boasts an impressive 16-0 record (all 16 wins by KO), has signed a multi-bout deal with Showtime television. Joshua’s premiere will be in June when he faces 17-0 Dominic Breazeale (all but two wins by KO) from London in a title fight. Although not a major bout, it will serve to showcase the domineering Brit before a larger audience. Showtime announced the deal earlier this week, to some fanfare.
A gold medal winner in the 2012 Olympics, Joshua has been on the radar of serious American fight fans for a while now. Thanks to his impressive resume and ring finishes, Showtime now clearly feels it’s time to try to bring out a new heavyweight star in the form of the Hertfordshire native. Indeed, American fans haven’t followed a heavyweight with genuine interest in close to a generation. Sure enough, America hasn’t been keen on the heavyweight division since the Tyson-Holyfied-Lewis era. Longtime champion Wladimir Klitschko, though dominant, proved to be a bit dull for North American tastes. A new heavyweight era, however, seems to be dawning.
For Klitschko was bested by Joshua’s countryman, Tyson Fury, last year, which led to a breakup of the title scene in the big man’s division. What’s more, the rise of fighters like Deontay Wilder, Luis Ortiz and Joshua himself has generated heat within the heavyweight ranks. Although all of these new breed heavies have some question marks hovering over their individual abilities, Joshua has started being regarded by analysts as the best of the bunch. And now Showtime clearly wants in on the Anthony Joshua business. It may well prove to be the right move at the right time.
Showtime, after all, appeared to be all but out of the boxing business not so long ago. It’s returned to being a significant force in boxing in recent months, however, and the signing of Joshua may be a sign as to just how seriously invested Showtime now is in the sweet science. Meanwhile, HBO, under rumors of serious budget cuts, has been showing less than thrilling matchups recently. What’s more, it appears to be relying more heavily on pay per view cards, as is evidenced by the recent announcement of the upcoming Bud Crawford – Viktor Postol junior welterweight matchup on pay per view.
Showtime appears ready to fill at least some of the void. For Joshua can only be seen as a long term investment for the network. He also may prove to be a very lucrative investment if he has a showdown with fellow Showtime heavyweight titlist Wilder. Indeed, that match at first blush has the makings of one that might generate considerable interest among fans. Both fighters are thunderous punchers with bodybuilder physiques and unique backstories. Add in Wilder’s charismatic personality and there’s the makings of fairly big deal. Would the fight determine who the best heavyweight in the world, was, though?
The answer, sadly, is no. As good as it will be for American fans to have easier access to Joshua fights, the fact remains that a deal with Showtime might lessen the chances of Joshua facing the likes of Ortiz or the winner of the impending Fury-Klitschko rematch any time soon. Yet the operative word here is “might.” Boxing politics have certainly damaged the sport, but it may be reasonable to suspect that even boxing’s stubborn fiefdoms will eventually realize there’s more money to be found in unity than there is in Balkanization.
Let’s hope the powers that be come to their senses sooner rather than later now that things have become interesting in the heavyweight division for what is essentially the first time in years.