WHEN THE FOOTBALL is poised to draw to a close we are ready to return a serving of top boxing back to your screens on July 10 in one of London’s most regal settings.
The venue for our BT broadcast fistic delivery is the grand old Royal Albert Hall, which we have happily restored to the boxing map over the last couple of years or so. There really is no place like it for watching the sport and, if you haven’t experienced it, I recommend you giving it a bash.
We are set to shine a light on our elite band of light heavyweights on the night, with a strong view to them getting it on in the not too distant future. Unfortunately, one of our terrific trio at the weight, the hammer-punching Callum Johnson, has sustained hand injury that prevents him building on his brutal return to the ring in April.
What we do have is both Lyndon Arthur and Anthony Yarde on parade against unbeaten opponents before they will seek to settle a personal score later in the year. Lyndon, the No.1 contender for the WBO world title belt held by Joe Smith, defends his Inter-Continental title against Italian champion Davide Faraci (15-0, 7 KOs) in what will be his first appearance since his memorable outpointing of Anthony at the end of the last year.
King Arthur is raring to get going again and defend his place on the light heavyweight throne. Lyndon underwent hand surgery following his December dust-up so he is looking to make up for lost time and get a win in the bank before talk turns to the return fixture.
Anthony, who also should have fought by now if it wasn’t for a dental procedure, really has the bit between his teeth now after coming a close second to Lyndon in London. He has taken a step back and examined his training structure, adding the experienced James Cook to his team, while vowing to revert to the explosive version of himself, or ‘beast mode’, as he would describe it.
His mission is not to allow his fighting fate to be determined by the views of three judges.
Anthony, who remains one of the most popular, exciting and charismatic personalities in the game, goes in against the 17-0 German Emin Atra from Germany, who himself has 12 KOs to his name.
Assuming both are successful within the stunning circular architecture of the Albert Hall, we will look to push forward with the already-agreed rematch and that will be a punch-up worth waiting for in the autumn.
Another who is right on the cusp of making his presence felt at world championship level is our fairly recent super middleweight signing Zach Parker. I was mightily impressed with his work when he demolished the previously unstopped Vaughn Alexander on his first appearance for us and he demonstrated why he holds a top ranking with the WBO.
Everyone is aware that Canelo is three quarters of his way through his mission statement of intending to completely unify the 168lbs division and it is expected that he will finish the job against Caleb Plant in September.
This gives us the opportunity to top up Zach’s experience and, at the same time, increase awareness of his ability and the threat he poses to the top dogs of the division. It is unlikely that Canelo will see fit to accept the challenges of four different mandatory nominations, so we will have to see how it all plays out and have Zach ready to seize his moment when it arrives.
I see that he has been playing with tanks and crushing cars, so he should be ready for battle against Sherzod Khusanov, the experienced Uzbek with 10 KOs and no stoppages in the debit column.
Currently 20-0 with 14KOs and entering his peak years at 27, I am confident that Zach can become Britain’s new force in what is a marquee division in the sport.
Archie Sharp also holds ambitions to get himself into the world title mix and he can reinforce his ranking by winning the WBO Global belt against Marcio Soza, the Nicaraguan who is on an 11-fight winning streak.
Archie has been dropping names such as Jamel Herring and Shakur Stevenson into conversations, but he needs to put his marker down via his own exploits in the ring after a couple of, by his own admission, below par performances.
He is in a great place to push on and realise his ambitions having made the switch to Alan Smith’s Queensberry iBox Gym and I feel certain Al will make the improvements necessary for Archie to take the next big step.
Also out of the iBox and back on July 10 is our Dennis ‘The Menace’ McCann, who is promising to be back with a bang after taking a short break following his last fight. Dennis has benefitted from the valuable experience of being taken the distance in his last two fights, but it is not an experience he particularly wants to get used to and he intends on putting a tick in the stoppage column against the Tanzanian John Chuwa, who holds a 20-4 record, with 10 KOs.
Add to all that the ferocious 2016 Olympian Muhammad Ali, the lightweight force of nature Sam Noakes and the classy Olympic Youth gold medallist Karol Itauma and it is safe to say we are in for some night of action at the finest venue in boxing.
BRITISH BOXING’S BROADCAST reshuffle appears to be taking shape now and, in my book, it is definitely good news that Sky Sports have signalled their intent to remain a player in boxing. To lose a major television outlet would have been a significant blow and, although sometimes people don’t believe us when we say this as promoters, but competition is good and vital to the long-term health of the sport.
The more channels, the more fights, more opportunities for fighters, more eyeballs and more exposure – it is what we need and it strengthens everyone’s hand in trying to deliver the best fights we can to the fans.
All that being said about Sky Sports, I couldn’t help but being delighted that Queensberry scored a little triumph in the final show of their Matchroom contract. A member of the overseas contingent we represent, Jeremias Ponce, scored a resounding victory over the home favourite Lewis Ritson up in Newcastle in what was a final eliminator for a shot at the IBF world super lightweight title.
It means we now have two mandatory challengers in place for a tilt at the titles held by Josh Taylor, the other being Jack Catterall. If Jack manages to overcome Josh in their scheduled fight later this year, Jeremias will be right in line for a shot at the spoils.
Whichever way it plays out, our young Argentinian looks to have a big future in front of him and fully deserves the opportunities that will come his way.