By Clive Bernath:
When a new year begins it is a traditional trait for most boxing writers, and fans come to think of it, to reflect on the past 12 months and dream up their own wish list of fights they want to see in 2004.
Of course we know that with all the political nonsense that is rife in this sport like no other, that certain fights can never be made no matter how much public interest and financial sense it makes. But who cares. I’m going to publish my wish list anyway of the potential mouth watering match-ups I’d like to see.
Starting with the heavyweights, how about Olympic super-heavyweight champion Audley Harrison (picture Mr Will) teeing off against either the troubled Herbie Hide or British and Commonwealth champion Danny Williams. 2004 is the year that Audley must prove he can fight. After 14 straight wins against a private eye, a club doorman and a sports complex owner, it is now time for both the fight fans and ‘A Force’ himself to start delivering on his boast that he is a future world champion in the making. For the record I think Audley (stamina permitting) beats them both. When talking domestic dream fights for 2004 at heavyweight Audley provides the meat in the sandwich.
At cruiserweight, this is also the year we should find out what 22 year-old Londoner David Haye has to offer. He is arguably the finest young talent in Britain at the moment and by the end of the year I’d like to see him in with either former WBO cruiserweight champion Carl Thompson or the big punching Welshman Enzo Maccarinelli.
The young Londoner is talking a good fight and looked mighty impressive in crushing the capable Tony Dowling inside one round back in November. The talk is that Haye is to make the first defence of his English title against Lee Swaby sometime in February so we should get some indication of his ability. But a crack at either Thompson or Maccarinelli by the end of the year when Haye has gained more experience would be very interesting.
As far as light-heavyweight is concerned there are not many domestic match-ups to get excited about. Clinton Woods vs Peter Oboh would be interesting. Maybe not from a fans point of view but at least we would know who the best British fighter is. One fighter at light-heavy that has impressed and could possibly fare in a clash with Woods or Oboh in the distant future is the undefeated Ipswich strong man Steve Spartacus. The 27 year-old, who has won all his 15 starts, is improving all the time and could be ready for some serious challenges by the end of the end of the year. Woods rematches with American Glengoffe Johnson for the vacant IBF light-heavyweight crown on February 6.
At super-middleweight, like most fans of the Noble Art, I’d like to see Welsh WBO champion Joe Calzaghe in a defining fight. WBA/IBF counterpart Sven Ottke would be ideal, so too would be a showdown with Australian big mouth Anthony Mundine. Even a clash with Irish IBO titleholder Brian Magee could prove interesting.
In the middleweight division Battersea’s Howard Eastman has cleaned up, domestically. With all due respect to other British 11st 6lbs fighters, Howard is pretty much out there on his own. Lets hope the WBC No.1 contender gets a genuine world title fight in 2004.
You can take your pick at light-middleweight. British and Commonwealth champion Jamie Moore and WBU titleholder Takaloo are the men in form. A clash between those two would make for an honest and on paper even scrap. Richard Williams, Michael Jones and even Cinderella man Delroy Mellis, who upset Wayne Alexander recently, could fare in good domestic showdowns.
The welterweight division is also laden with much domestic talent. Personally I’d like to see Belfast’s Neil Sinclair square off against British champion David Barnes. Both of those are promoted by Sports Network so that fight could be an easy one to make. Then of course there is the Ringside promoted James Hare and Jawaid Khaliq. Hare was defeated last time out but is still a match for any of the aforementioned. We must also not forget that Eamonn Magee recently moved up to 10st 7lbs. He is also promoted by Sports Network, an all Belfast clash with Sinclair would also be an interesting pairing.
The obvious choice at light-welterweight is Manchester hero Ricky Hatton against Bradford switch hitter Junior Witter. There was a time when those two were destined to meet but the longer the fight is left in the balance the less chance the fight has of coming off. Still, it would prove to be a real treat for British fight fans if those two were to square off in 2004.
At lightweight Maesteg’s IBO champion Jason Cook is the division’s man in form. Domestically he would start a firm favourite against either British champion Graham Earl or former titleholder Bobby Vanzie.
At super-featherweight Michael Gomez is the front runner. He has already beaten Scottish pairing Craig Docherty and Alex Arthur. Apart from Docherty and Arthur, Gomez looks to be free of serious threats to his domestic dominance for at least a year.
Of course the fight I would like to see at featherweight is WBO king Scott Harrison in against Manchester’s Michael Brodie. But with Brodie committed to a rematch with Korean Injin Chi for the vacant WBC title in April, that fight would have to be put on the back burner. I would also like to see undefeated Dagenham fighter Nicky Cook give both Brodie and Harrison a run for their money.
At super-bantamweight Esham Pickering challenges Italian Vincenzo Gigliotti for the vacant European title in Bradford on January 16. If successful maybe he could defend against Hartlepool’s Michael Hunter.
At bantamweight both Noel Wilders and Nicky Booth have been battling it out in different fights for the last two years and both could arguably claim to be Britain’s No.1 8st 6lbs fighter. I’d like to see them matched up just to find out who is the top man in the division.
Like the bantamweights it has been difficult to separate Liverpool’s Peter Culshaw and Irishman Damaen Kelly. This fight has been talked about for at least three years but has never come off for whatever reason. It is a fight that can be made as long as both camps are reasonable with the financial demands.
Which fight would you like to see this year? Please send all comments to editor Clive Bernath at clivetumcohotmail.com .
January 6, 2004.