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19 JULY 2018

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The Chin Check

By Steven Bateson


We all recovered from Saturday night now? After what was a fantastic event at Wembley I think it’s time to get back down to earth and keep this boxing train rolling. This is a brand new column, hopefully I can keep you all engaged enough for this to become a frequent addition to the site.


First thing is first, the name on everybody’s lips right now in British and world boxing; Anthony Joshua. I think we can all agree that Joshua’s "coming of age" performance on Saturday had us on the edge of our seats, perhaps he even dispelled a few of the doubts that we had beforehand. Joshua certainly displayed the heart and courage to get back on his feet following a monstrous right hand from Klitschko and he definitely proved he can go into deep water in order to get the job done. But has he convinced everybody? I still believe there are question marks over his gas tank, when he is forced to fight at a high intensity he tires quickly, and he needs to work on his head movement. However there can be no doubts that he is now a "box office" star, not many men in the sport can draw a crowd of 90,000. Whether he remains undefeated or not remains to be seen but with HBO & Showtime now salivating at his drawing power I don’t think it’ll be long until he is headlining all over the globe. Is Deontay Wilder the biggest threat to the Briton? Or does Joshua’s claim for the throne fall on deaf ears until he confronts the growing shadow of Tyson Fury? The Heavyweight division is definitely filled with exciting propositions and with AJ spearheading it I believe the sport will continue to grow in stature and popularity, the most positive thing of all. I think it is likely we see Joshua in with Kubrat Pulev or Luis Ortiz next, depending on whether Wlad fancies the re-match, whilst I really think we’ll be treated to Wilder and Tony Bellew before 2017 is out. I may be in the minority but the buildup alone to that fight is worth it. I was very happy with the humble, respectful approach of Joshua-Klitschko but we know Wilder and Bellew will not follow the same script. What do you believe are the best matchups right now in the blue ribband division?


I’m also intrigued to hear whether boxing fans believe there is a current heavyweight that can defeat Joshua? For me the comparisons with Ali and the greats are extremely premature but a young, hungry fighter that is willing to face anyone is exactly what is needed. I’d rather embrace it than pour scorn over it.


Scott Quigg out-hustled Viorel Simion on Saturday in a mini-classic that now puts him in line for an all British IBF showdown with Wales’ Lee Selby. Is Selby too cute and classy for Quigg or will the relentless pressure and body punching of the Bury man be too much for the "Welsh Mayweather"? There was talk of Selby and Frampton colliding but those claims seem to have gone cold, Selby even accused Frampton of ducking the bout, so can Quigg be the man to step up to the plate? Selby still needs to sort out his mandatory situation with Barrios but for the UK scene I think a summer showdown with Quigg would be potentially mouthwatering. Who would I back? I think Selby may just be able to nick a split decision based upon his ring craft but he may need to climb off the deck to see it through, if Eric Hunter can drop him then Quigg certainly possesses the power to trouble him, he just can’t afford to fight with his face like he did against Simion. And where does Carl Frampton fit into this? Abner Mares and Leo Santa Cruz appear certain for a re-match of their 2015 clash so will Frampton target Oscar Valdez for the WBO? Can you imagine the fireworks in that one.


Luke Campbell seems set to be the latest Brit to take on Jorge Linares after stopping Darleys Perez. I like Campbell, he’s very talented, but Linares is a step too far for him, right now at least. Campbell struggled for four rounds against Perez, by that time Linares would be out of sight or even victorious via stoppage, and he needs a couple more tests before such an ask. Campbell should meet Anthony Crolla in July-September to first see if he is good enough to beat the man who wasn’t good enough for Linares and then take it from there. The lightweight division is stacked with talent, domestically and internationally, so there are plenty of challenges out there before such a step up. WBO Champion, Terry Flanagan, is a very good fighter who I would love to see defend against some of his British counterparts, however it seems promotional differences will stand in the way of so many of those happening. I’d also rather see Flanagan in with Linares before Campbell as I think the Manchester man stands a better chance than anyone else on these shores of beating the Venezuelan.


Amir Khan is once again informing the world of his impending return. I don’t know about anyone else but I feel we’ve been waiting for quite sometime and now I’m hearing it will November, in what he hopes will be a "major fight". With who? And on what basis would he deserve such a thing? Khan’s talent has never been in doubt but his part time boxing career does little to excite me, in much the same way of Chris Eubank Jnr. He ludicrously priced himself out of the Kell Brook fight and seems happy to coast off his past achievements, the last of which came in 2011. I think Khan would be a welcome addition to the 147lbs division but not to queue jump ahead of guys who see action 3-4 times a year. If he wants a return and is serious about an assault on the champions then at best he should land another contender in the mould of Shawn Porter, Tim Bradley or Jesse Vargas (and even then I think I am being overly generous).


Can we take a moment to discuss Katie Taylor? I’ve lost count of the amount of times I have waxed lyrical over the Irish superstar but she just gets better and better. Her shot selection is near perfect and her performances rival most I see from her male counterparts. I know Eddie Hearn wants to showcase her in America before she challenges for a world title but just get her in with Cecilia Comunales already. Taylor is a tremendous ambassador for the sport, a role model for any woman considering this as a career path, and I don’t doubt that Matchroom could fill an arena in Ireland with a bill that is headlined by her.


In case you missed the news, Zolani Tete is now the WBO Bantamweight Champion. The "Scouse South African" was last seen outpointing Arthur Villanueva in Leicester on the 22nd of April in a final eliminator. Marlon Tapales, the then champion, was stripped after missing weight for his latest defense and Tete was duly upgraded. The Frank Warren-promoted fighter will provide a formidable test for anyone in his weight class, just ask Paul Butler. Butler and his team are still aiming to finalise a shot at Jamie McDonnell for the summer whilst it has been announced that Ryan Burnett will challenge IBF Champion, Lee Haskins in Belfast on June 10th. The 118lbs division has plenty of domestic interest already but you can expect that to ramp up in the coming months.


It’s a quiet weekend domestically but Sky Sports have just announced they are covering Joseph Parker vs Razvan Cojanu for the WBO Heavyweight strap from 11am on Saturday whilst Boxnation have got the huge all Mexican show-down between Canelo Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr in the early hours of Sunday so we are not deprived of action in the slightest.


Next week we’ll take a look ahead to Josh Warrington & Nicola Adams in Leeds as well as Kal Yafai’s homecoming title defense against Suguru Muranaka. Until then I hope the fights this weekend deliver in the same manner as last and I’ll catch you on the other side.

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