By Steven Bateson
It’s been two weeks since the last edition of the "Chin Check" and I’ve been inundated with messages from so many distressed fans who couldn’t believe I’d leave them hanging so long. But fear not boxateers because we are back in the big time now.
This is realistically a UK boxing based blog but I couldn’t help but talking about the Pacquiao-Horn fight at the weekend. If you sat up until 6am to see CJ Ross score Mayweather-Alvarez a 114-114 draw you witnessed a robbery, if someone ever broke into your house then you are the victim of a robbery, if you watched the fight at the weekend you didn’t watch a robbery but instead a very close to score fight. Problem being is that if you had to sit through any US based sycophantic, bias commentary then more than likely you believed that Pacquiao was schooling his Australian opponent and that Horn didn’t land a single punch. They call Dan Rafael the "boxing guy" but I think it’s time ESPN gave me a call because I’ll at least show some impartiality once in awhile. Pacman is finished and I don’t care which fair weather celebrity "fan" threw their toys out of the pram on Twitter at the result, maybe they couldn’t see the TV screen properly from the nightclub from which they were watching.
Here in the UK we had the "Summertime Brawl" card that was headlined by Frank Buglioni’s first defense of the British Light Heavyweight Title. It was a good fight on what was a majorly underwhelming evening of boxing. Frank is always value for money and I believe we’ll see him at Euro/World level in the near future. That isn’t me saying he’s elite, I know people like to misconstrue wording, but I know that if Buglioni gets a shot at the big time he will give his absolute all and that’s worth something in my book, or absolutely nothing if you’re Teddy "The Fireman" Atlas.
There were good outings for Conor Benn and Ted Cheeseman as well as an impressive debut from Joshua Buatsi. It is far too early to be talking about Buatsi at a higher level but a couple of years down the line a showdown between himself and Anthony Yarde could be nothing short of spectacular. Isaac Chamberlain & Lawrence Okolie is a domestic rivalry, however, that we should be seeing sooner rather than later. I understand the idea behind letting things marinate but I’m not interested in petty squabbles at public workouts and Twitter spats, if they don’t like one another then let them sort it out in the way they know how.
I’m all for seeing these prospects in action but there needs to be more competitive fights out there. Sitting through a four-five hour bill of mismatches is not what boxing should be about, it turns people off.
This weekend, though, we have a lot to look forward to. If you say you are a boxing fan and you are not excited about Ohara Davies vs Josh Taylor then newsflash you really aren’t a boxing fan, it defies logic. This is two highly gifted, young and hungry lions clashing at an early stage of their career. The great thing about this fight is that both men still have the potential to become world champions no matter the outcome, in the same way George Groves and James DeGale did, but the fans don’t have to wait years and hear excuses as to why they aren’t getting it on. I’d wager Taylor is slightly the better boxer but Davies carries serious power and is not too shabby in the technique department either. This is a genuine 50-50 pick ’em and should prove a potential FOTY candidate. Channel 5 are broadcasting this one too so there are absolutely no excuses for you to not tune in.
Frank Warren is hosting a show from the Copper Box, live on BT and Boxnation, and there are plenty of high quality prospects to keep your eye on. Both Anthony Yarde and Daniel Dubois will fight for their first titles, I think both men have huge futures ahead of them, and hopefully we’ll see them both challenged a little more than they have been so far. Yarde takes on Richard Baranyi for the WBO European Light Heavyweight title whilst Dubois, who remarkably is only 19, will face fellow undefeated fighter Julian Fernandez for the WBC Youth Heavyweight strap.
Bradley Skeete makes the third defense of his British Welterweight belt against Dale Evans as he attempts to win it outright and then move onto bigger things. I’ve said before that Skeete is ready for the jump to world level and that should be the aim should he come through here. Given his high ranking with the WBO he may well be targeting Jeff Horn but I’d still like to see him in with a Andre Berto type to allow him to acclimatise to the big leagues before he dives straight in.
Also don’t sleep on Corcoran-Ekundayo, McNess-Byfield or Williams-Smyle II because all three of those could produce fireworks. Williams and Smyle was a toe to toe banger back in April and I’ll be expecting more of the same on Saturday night.
There is also an outing for Hughie Fury, who will be hoping to blow off the ring rust before he challenges Joseph Parker for the WBO Heavyweight Title on September 23rd. I would have liked to see Fury challenged a little more by fringe contenders before making the leap to world titles but that’s the way the rankings system works. I could go undefeated round ASDA and I might just get the call to be his first mandatory, stranger things have happened. I mean they once had an octopus predict the World Cup scores, I’m not entirely sure some of the organisations don’t do something similar when working out who is next in line for a shot.
Sticking with the Fury’s and we are still none the wiser about the future of Tyson. I don’t know he is coming back, he doesn’t know he if he’s coming back, but Joe Rogan and Chris Eubank Snr know how to beat Floyd Mayweather so maybe we could ask them to solve this conundrum too? I have seen Tyson in the gym though which is a positive sign at least.
An announcement regarding Anthony Joshua’s next fight is due Monday. Apparently Klitschko has rejected re-matching in the UK and wants to go to Vegas whilst there is mega money being thrown around to stage it in Nigeria. I think a resolution to the matter, no matter what, is necessary so that we can start preparing. I feel sorry for Kubrat Pulev, who is still just waiting in the wings, although he is on stand by in case this deal falls through. Joshua-Pulev would take place in Cardiff at the end of October.
Tony Bellew has been talking, I know that has stunned a lot of people, about facing Andre Ward should the undefeated, P4P king, move up to heavyweight. So far Bellew has done a great job of marketing himself and he may just get this fight but he stands zero chance of winning, Ward will dominate him at any weight class. I’m also not intrigued in the slightest about seeing Bellew-Haye II. What I’d like to see, and I’m sure Tony is really bothered about that, is him join the World Super Series at Cruiserweight. Bellew proclaimed himself the best Cruiser on the planet and this is the perfect opportunity for him to prove that. He says he is after big paydays and there is a huge lucrative reward for the winner of this tournament.
Billy Joe Saunders is still penciled in to be defending his WBO Middleweight Title on September 16th but there is still no announcement, I am genuinely concerned it is supposed to be me in the opposite corner and I have missed the call? If so I am sorry to be holding it up. In all seriousness I really like BJS and rate him but this is beyond a farce now. I’ve heard Lemiuex, Brant, Murata and Monroe Jnr mentioned but right now I’d take him fighting just about anyone in order to see him active. The WBO have got to be forcing his hand here or taking that belt away, it just isn’t the right way to go about things. Billy has stagnated terribly and it is a real shame for such a promising talent.
Talking of stagnated talent I see Paul Butler and Frank Warren have parted ways. I always believed that Butler felt himself better than Frank Warren did and that Warren really lost faith in his charge after he was so severely outclassed by Zolani Tete. Butler did well to win a world championship but I still don’t know just how good he is. The bantamweight division is strong and any potential promoter will want Butler to prove himself quickly if he is to get the big money fights.
One potential opponent had been WBA Champion, Jamie McDonnell but the Doncaster man has been forced to re-match Liberio Solis following his controversial victory last year. To be fair Solis did win that fight and deserves his re-match but I don’t know what the WBA have been doing for the last nine months. Maybe the octopus didn’t want to make a hasty decision.
Liam Williams and Liam Smith have continued to trade barbs on social media and yet the re-match announcement is still not forthcoming. It was a good fight until it was stopped on cuts in April and we need a decisive winner but this one has been treading water too long as well. There have been rumours that Smith has been offered big money to fight Kell Brook in December in Sheffield and he may very well choose that avenue, for profile and financial gain, if this deal isn’t made soon.
Terry Flanagan-Felix Verdejo is close to being finalised for September. Both men are terrific and this could be a huge coming out party for either of them at 135lbs. Robert Easter Jnr claimed at the weekend he was the best Lightweight in the world but he really isn’t and I think the winner of this fight will take him out of commission quite handily. Flanagan needs a real springboard to the elite level and this could just provide it.
Matchroom have set up a headquarters in the US as they attempt to spread their influence. Eddie Hearn could very well provide stern competition to Top Rank and GoldenBoy if he plays his cards properly here and showcases the right fighters in front of an American audience. He will be co-promoting the Julius Indongo-Terence Crawford fight on August 19th and he should be pushing to get some of his more exciting fighters on that card.
One name definitely confirmed is Dillian Whyte as he continues to chase down Deontay Wilder for the WBC Heavyweight title. I cannot fathom why Wilder wouldn’t take $3-4 million to face Whyte in a bout I would expect him to win. Eddie Hearn should stage Whyte-Chisora II in the States, that would certainly get the crowd onboard with his latest venture.
Turn Back Time
This week we go back to July 6th, 2013. David Price was 15-0 with 13 KO’s and the current British & Commonwealth Champion. In the opposite corner was the wily veteran Tony Thompson. Thompson was viewed as a step up for Price, he had just gone six rounds with Wladimir Klitschko, but it was a test that Price was expected to pass as he continued his assault on the big time. Unfortunately Price’s defensive vulnerabilities were highlighted and this fight started the downhill spiral from which he never recovered.
That’s all for this week folks. Have a great weekend and enjoy the boxing, there is the potential for some classics, I’ll catch you on the flip.