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The Chin Check - Volume III

By Steven Bateson


It’s that time of year where the boxing on offer comes thick and fast, weekend after weekend we are spoiled for choice and this one upcoming is no different.


Boxnation are broadcasting a Steve Wood show from Bolton on Friday night. Manchester’s super featherweight prospect Zelfa Barrett is headlining whilst there are appearances from Isaac Lowe, Jack Flatley and Luke Blackledge. I’d recommend watching Barrett, he may not be the finished article but he is on a lightning run, and Isaac Lowe is definitely a future opponent for the winner of Ryan Walsh-Marco McCullough British Title fight, which takes place the following night. There’s also a first outing since 2015 from Russian heavyweight Alexander Ustinov, who may very well be being groomed for a returning Tyson Fury or even the ever progressing Daniel Dubois.


Speaking of Fury; depending on the sources you are reading there are mixed messages on exactly when we are going to see him back inside the squared circle. Frank Warren and Fury himself had talked up a July 8th return but it seems like once again those may be premature, I’m sure you aren’t shocked by that. UKAD have postponed their hearing for the time being and Fury won’t be licensed by the BBBoC until the case is heard, there have even been rumours that it will be 2018 until he is granted a return. That’s going to be well over two years since his last bit of action and whether you rate him or not he is no Sugar Ray Leonard; you can believe that.


Saturday night and Frank Warren is in the box seat again with a bumper show from the Copper Box; Liam Walsh will challenge for the IBF Super Featherweight Title against the extremely impressive Gervonta Davis. Davis is Floyd Mayweather’s protege and if you haven’t seem him fight then you are in for a treat. Walsh is a very good fighter, honest and solid, but Davis possesses real star quality and it is going to take something sensational to dethrone him. His power is legitimate but combined with speed, accuracy and slick combinations it is hard to sit in Walsh’s corner. However, the Cromer man has shocked me before and maybe I’ll be forced to eat my words. I’m tipping Davis for a stoppage any time after seven rounds, I just think he’s a level above.


The undercard is housing some tasty fights and I do believe this may be a show that a few people are sleeping on: the aforementioned Ryan Walsh-Marco McCullough scrap will be a good one whilst I have been touting up the super welterweight fight between Joe Pigford and Aaron Morgan, that one will produce fireworks.


We also get the return of the "Beast" Anthony Yarde who is currently my favourite British prospect. The destructive light heavyweight is 10-0 with 9 KO’s and will fight for the Southern Area Title against the tough Chris Hobbs. Yarde has all the attributes to be a big game player at 175 lbs, I think domestic honours will be in sights within 12 months maximum. Heavyweight, Daniel Dubois is also back in action. Did Dubois really knock Anthony Joshua out in sparring? Well I guess we’ll never know but one hopes for British boxing that we get to a point where we can find out how they fare in an actual showdown.


Billy Joe Saunders finally has a fight. I can hear the collective "wow" from all around. I like Billy Joe, he is a talent, but he’s made one defense of the WBO Middleweight Championship since winning it in December 2015 and that’s scandalous. July 8th he defends against mandatory challenger, Avtandil Khurtsidze, who we last saw in April wiping out Tommy Langford in the fifth round at the Leicester Arena. These two have had a couple of amusing/embarrassing exchanges since then and in all honesty it should be a fight Saunders can box to victory. He and promoter, Frank Warren have constantly talked up his credentials at 160lbs but I’m afraid holding a belt doesn’t exactly make you world calibre anymore. There are names at Middleweight that he has to beat in order to sit at the top table, I wait in hope that sooner rather than later those fights get made.


Paul Smith has another world title shot. I’d like to make it known that as a Scouser myself I’ll be cheering Smith on come June 17th but this is yet another ludicrous boxing decision and you are more than entitled to be disgusted by it too. Smith, since losing two world title fights to Arthur Abraham in 2014-2015, has been dismantled by Andre Ward and then polished off three journeymen in order to "earn" his shot at Tyron Zeuge for the WBA Super Middleweight Championship, the "Regular" one by the way as George Groves and Fedor Chudinov fight next week for the "Master of the Universe" version, confused? You should be. I’ve tried calling Gilberto Mendoza to see if I can get a WBA light heavyweight title shot if I knock out a couple of bin men on a Monday morning and then chin the wood pigeon that wakes me up beforehand but as of yet I’ve heard nothing back.


James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jnr seem to be playing a game of who can wait the longest to make a "big" announcement. They both had one due last Thursday and we are still waiting; I don’t know if James borrowed Chris’ pen but they are certainly having difficulties between them. If it is, as some have hinted, it is a fight between the two then whilst it will be billed a big British event I see nothing but DeGale coasting to victory.


Dillian Whyte’s June 3rd fight with Mariusz Wach has been postponed after Whyte suffered a foot injury. Within moments of that postponement we heard Dereck Chisora’s May 27th fight with Robert Helenius has been postponed too, the reasons for that one unknown. Is that rousing suspicion my fellow boxerteers? I think we’d all love to see Chisora-Whyte II, we definitely need to see it again, and it is much more appealing than the two fights they had lined up anyway.


Joseph Parker dropped a hint on Twitter that he’d be seeing his UK fans soon. I don’t know if he’s just popping over for a holiday or if he’s actually fighting, I’d like to think it is the latter. Tony Bellew, Hughie Fury or is this the reason Dillian Whyte’s fight is now off and he is scheduled for a July return?


Carl Frampton has announced he will be back in July-August and is hoping to fight in Belfast. Costa Rica’s Bryan Vasquez has already thrown his name in the ring and there is a real possibility those two will clash in a WBA Super Feather Final Eliminator, no bin men necessary, to face Jezreel Corrales before the year is out. Frampton wants the third fight with Leo Santa Cruz at Feather but that won’t be happening until 2018 at least, I don’t think so, Frampton should set his sights on another world title belt, for a bargaining chip at the very least. Frampton is a sublime fighter but a jump to 130lbs may be a tricky proposition.


Big hitting Super Middlweight, Jamie Cox has been added to the May 27th Sheffield bill and will battle Lewis Taylor for the WBA Inter-continental title. Cox is a real gritty fighter but he’s talented and I’d love to see him in with Rocky Fielding for the British some time in the summer. I think Cox has been underutilised in his career thus far and presents problems for anyone in the 168lbs division.


Next week’s column will mostly focus on that huge world title night from Bramall Lane, I for one cannot wait. Kell Brook has today spoken of his anger that Amir Khan has allowed Errol Spence to train at his Bolton gym. I assume this is Khan’s only way of staying relevant and if I was Brook I would keep my concentration on the task at hand. Khan has lost his ranking with the WBC, I’m not sure how he got it in the first place, and will be praying that Spence does a job on Kell so he doesn’t have to make excuses to duck the fight anymore.


Enjoy the weekend one and all, I’ll see you on the other side as we gear up for another tremendous event on these shores. I’d just like to end this one by saying there is only one home of big time boxing right now and it is here in the UK.

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