By Steven Bateson
You asked for it and you have got it, it is the return of the singular most read UK boxing column on the net. Calm yourselves, take a little breath, and remember that everything you are about to read is purely opinion. It is a right opinion but opinion nonetheless.
Where to begin? It’s been a couple of months, UK off season and all that, but the ball is rolling once more on these shores and time to bring the latest news and views your way.
Billy Joe Saunders not only fought this weekend but he successfully defended his WBO Middleweight Championship by outpointing America’s Willie Monroe Jnr. The less said about the fight the better, Monroe was a complete and utter joke. I’m not sure if he’d seen into the future and was already baffled by the Canelo-Golovkin scores, rendering him incapable of fighting, but he was utterly useless. BJS looks in much better shape under the Ingle regime and talk is he’ll be back out in December. I’d love to see a Golovkin unification (wouldn’t we all) but there are plenty of talented names to choose from at 160. Saunders needs to be active now and he needs to be fighting the top tier of opposition in order to stake his claim as a real power in the division. Anyone from Charlo, Lemiuex, Cotto, Golovkin would be exactly what the fans are looking for.
Callum Smith was also in action, defeating Erik Skoglund in a terrific encounter in Liverpool. Smith progresses to the semi-finals of the World Boxing Super Series and he was made to work hard for the victory. I seen some disparaging remarks about Smith afterward but let’s not forget he has barely had a meaningful fight in two years so this was him dusting off the cobwebs. I still make him one of the two favourites for the whole tournament and can’t wait to see him in some big domestic dustups before it is all said and done. Quick note on the World Super Series; what a terrific idea and hopefully it sparks a revolution in boxing.
Anthony Yarde and Daniel Dubois continued their impressive rise up the ranks on the Saunders-Monroe undercard. Dubois is monstrous at only 20 years old and the way he KO’d AJ Carter was nothing short of frightening. I believe he’d steamroll through anyone domestically and hopefully Frank Warren doesn’t keep him treading water too long. He’s still developing and learning but he can do that whilst fighting a higher level of opposition. As for Yarde, I’m a big fan but his opponent on Saturday was utterly pointless. Yarde was bordering around Cruiserweight and was pummeling a Super-Middle around the ring, I’d rather not watch that to be honest. I know it was a late replacement but I wish Warren would stop trying to belittle the fans with daft comments such as "he’s ahead of Hosea Burton and Frank Buglioni" but then says "people forget he’s only had a handful of amateur fights" when questioned on the level of opposition. Well which one is it? He’s either ready or he isn’t, it is as simple as that. You cannot tell me these tomato cans he is knocking over are a bigger test or scalp than Hosea Burton would be? Anthony Yarde should be contesting at British level now, whether that be in final eliminators or outright fights, not knocking over another over matched postman from Hungary.
Carl Frampton has inked an "advisory" deal with Matthew Macklin’s MTK Global just a week after he linked up with new trainer, Jamie Moore. Frampton is still yet to announce his new promoter but did hint that MTK would play a role in that decision. The "Jackal" is chasing the big fights in the Featherweight division and is desperate to headline at Windsor Park, the key criteria in signing with any promoter is that they must deliver that fight. I’m a huge Frampton fan and think he is still a big player at 126lbs. The Lee Selby fight has to be top of the radar, it’s massive for British boxing and for both fighters.
It’s also been announced today that Edinburgh’s Josh Taylor will meet former world champion Miguel Vasquez on November 11 in his home city. The two will clash for the WBC Silver Super Lightweight Championship in what is likely a final eliminator for the full world championship. Taylor shone in July as he destroyed Ohara Davies and now he is aiming to break into the world level, of which he is more than ready for. Terence Crawford is the current WBC Champion but is more than likely going to vacate as he moves to 147lbs, leaving Taylor with a clear path to the top should he negotiate the awkward but beatable Vasquez.
Dereck Chisora has signed with Matchroom boxing. In a decision that I can only assume is monetary based and the prospect of re-matching Dillian Whyte because otherwise I don’t ever see Chisora being a leading light in that stable. Chisora will see action next week in Liverpool before challenging for the European Championship in November. Eddie Hearn has said he’d like Chisora-Whyte II sometime in early 2018 but I think most boxing fans would rather it gets signed sooner rather than later. Should Whyte or Chisora lose before they meet again then the clamour for their rematch would more than likely die out, which would be a massive shame considering their FOTY candidate in December 2016.
I’m hearing some pretty insane rumours that Gary Corcoran could be facing Jeff Horn in November for the WBO Welterweight Championship. Corcoran, last seen winning a disputable split decision over Larry Ekundayo, has not fought anywhere near world level and I am in stunned disbelief this is even a possibility. Bradley Skeete, ranked 3rd by the WBO, is apparently now not in the running but Corcoran is willing to meet Skeete should he dethrone Horn. I’m just wondering if I can boil myself down to 147lbs and get a shot? Bradley Skeete I would more than understand, even if I believe he needs a couple of fringe world level tests beforehand, but surely the WBO cannot sanction the Corcoran fight, boxing does not need many more shams on its ledger.
Talking of potential shams, Rio Ferdinand has decided to become a professional boxer. Yes you did read that correctly. He is still waiting on clearance and to be granted his license but the 38 year old former footballer is hoping to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Curtis Woodhouse and Leon McKenzie. I’ve heard contrasting views on this but my personal opinion is that it should not be sanctioned. He has no professional training whatsoever and is stepping into arguably the most dangerous of sports. We’d all love to be able to pursue our dreams but there has to be a cut off point. Ferdinand could end up seriously hurt, or on the other hand we could be forced to watch a similar farce to when Freddy Flintoff put the gloves on. By all means let Rio do some white collar but not the professional game. BT Sports and the media will lap it up, draw it out, but in reality he’ll not make any positive waves. Maybe he’ll shock me, maybe they’ll get Adalaide Byrd and CJ Ross to judge his fights and he might just win a world title...dye his hair ginger, hire Oscar De La Hoya as his promoter and I guess anything is possible.
Hearing David Haye-Tony Bellew II is likely announced in the coming days for late December. I’ll potentially talk more about it when it is signed although I’ve made my feelings clear on it plenty of times before. They say the public are demanding a rematch but they’re really not, perhaps the two men’s bank managers are but I think that is about it.
Moving onto this weekend and we have two of our own fighting for world championships; starting with Hughie Fury’s attempt to win the WBO Heavyweight Championship from Joseph Parker in Manchester, live on Youtube PPV. It is a revolutionary idea and platform for the fight but I am not so sure it is going to catch on. I don’t think Fury is at the level yet where you can demand the fan to pay to watch and I think it will hurt them in the numbers. As for the fight itself, well I guess it is almost a 50-50 based purely upon the fact we just don’t know how good either of them are. Parker has certainly mixed in the better company, although he hasn’t always impressed, whereas the ability of Hughie Fury is still relatively unknown. We’ve heard of his talent and on Saturday we’ll find out if he can back it up. I doubted Tyson when he challenged Klitschko so I’m not putting my foot in my mouth a second time, I’ll go for the age old anything can happen in boxing prediction.
Early hours of Sunday morning we see Olympic gold medalist Luke Campbell travel to America to attempt to take the WBC Lightweight Championship off the superb Jorge Linares, live on Sky Sports. Linares is a sublime fighter, as demonstrated twice against Anthony Crolla and also Kevin Mitchell, but he can be hurt and that has to be Campbell’s aim. Mitchell dropped Linares, who has been stopped all three times he has been defeated, and Luke certainly has pop in his punches. That being said, Campbell has been hurt before too so this could be a very interesting affair. Both men are technically superb but the advantage will be with the Venezuelan. Do not rule Campbell out though, many are but I am not.
Plenty of boxing to sink your teeth into this weekend right there, Boxnation also have a world title double header from America tomorrow night whilst ITV Box Office are showing the second Cruiserweight quarter final of the WBSS in the early hours of Sunday (free to air). Enjoy the weekend boxateers and I’ll catch you on the flip with more news and views.