Flashback – Boxing's Rearview Mirror – The Week Past!

By Donald “Braveheart” Stewart

UK – BIGGEST AND MOST NOTABLE

British boxing has a couple of notable and heavy promoters. There is Queensberry Promotions with Hall of Famer Frank Warren who has, in recent years, been providing content for both Box Nation and BT Sport in a broadcasting sense and doing all right. Having a few notable champions in his stable has, principally Tyson Fury, kept interest in his fighters alive though his team has not been as noticeable in the media as his main rival.

That main rival, run by Warren’s big competition for decades, Barry Hearn originally, and now by his son, Eddie, is Matchroom. What Matchroom has, is depth. There are plenty of Matchroom fighters and when there is a Matchroom show, there are plenty of talking points. Having world champions in their stable, notably Anthony Joshua, means when there is a Matchroom show, we all take notice.

Last year, Matchroom even built an arena in the Hearn family back garden and Matchroom headquarters to host events. This year they did the same but improved it. They now have fans in!
Last year they gave us some cracking nights at what has become known as “Matchroom Square Gardens” in the open air. At the weekend we got this spectacle again with the maiden show for UK viewers on DAZN from the UK and part of the new DAZN/Matchroom partnership. It was special not least because it was the first time in a long time that Matchroom have had their shows on a platform other than Sky Sports. There were plenty of firsts on the evening of Saturday the 31st of July.

Headlining, after Connor Benn had provided a positive test for COVID was Can Xu v Leigh Wood for the WBA featherweight title. Wood was an outsider; Can Xu, the defending champion. Wood was not even in the top 10 WBA rankings. He’s not even the top ranked featherweight in the UK. He was more than an outsider. For him to win, there would have to be a minor miracle.
On Saturday night, miracles came to the ring.

Wood boxed the ears off Can.

Can had come to the contest after 20 months or so out of the ring and it has been suggested this was a major factor in his loss. He had been touted as a future opponent for Josh Warrington who was collecting all the belts at featherweight but that fell through when Warrington vacated his IBF title. Next week that title shall be decided between Kid Galahad and James Dickens. The division looks very tasty for Britain’s new world champion.

The WBA super belt is held by Leo Santa Cruz so a match up with him seems quite obvious. Garry Russel Jr has the WBC belt, whilst Emanuel Navarette has the WBO crown, however, Can Xu has a rematch clause. There are few who think he shall exercise it.

Wood did not put on a master class. He just found his rhythm and took a world champion’s belt from him in a game plan that was highly effective. Heading towards the judge’s score totals, he managed to stop Can in the 12th and final round. First, he got a brutal knockdown that ended Can before he got up and Wood let go his hands as soon as the Chinese fighter was on his feet. This looks to be a fascinating division!

UNDER THE RADAR

We also had eth return of Campbell “Hurricane” Hatton, son of Ricky. In his third professional fight he managed a good 4 round win against the Pole, Jakob Laskowski. It was a good performance against a man who was only in his 10th pro fight having lost 4 of them. Is the boy as good as the father? Well in his third contest, Campbell has managed to take the pressure of who he is alongside the glitz and the glamour of being on big shows so if he ain’t the future shall be tricky…

FAST FORWARD – THE WEEK TO COME

UK – BIGGEST AND MOST NOTABLE

The next Matchroom big weekend bill shall be back in the Hearn Gardens again and in the outdoors as Kid Galahad takes on James “Jazza” Dickens in a rematch for the IBF featherweight title on Saturday the 7th of August. Dickens is going in to avenge a loss to Galahad from eight years ago for a British title, who has lost but once – as the challenger against Josh Warrington for the IBF title. Galahad went away from that defeat and worked damn hard to get himself back into contention at world level. He became the IBF mandatory for Warrington only for Warrington to vacate the title as he didn’t want to fight Galahad again. Warrington then went on and lost his next fight – which he shall rematch in September.

Dickens comes into the fight having won the MGM Golden Contracts competition which gave the winner guaranteed money and guaranteed fights. Dickens is a tremendous fighter though has 3 losses on his record. As well as the loss to Galahad, he has one against Guillermo Rigondeaux in 2016 for the WBA super bantamweight crown which he lost after sustaining a broken jaw, halting the contest in only the 2nd round. Galahad also stopped him, though in the 9th round for the British super bantamweight belt. Both have therefore moved up in weight and it may be down to who suits the new division better. All the smart money will be on Galahad but if the story of Leigh Wood is anything to go by, the smart money should realize that daft ideas do come true!

UNDER THE RADAR

He is nothing but a sensation, Alen Babic, a heavyweight from Croatia, with the moniker, the Savage, and he fights like Deontay Wilder on Speed. Never taking a step back he assaults his opponents with a flurry of activity which has led to date, to 7 stoppage wins in the first 3 rounds in 7 contests. Next up to be “fed to the Savage” is Mark Bennett. Bennet has eight fights to his name with one loss amongst them to fellow British heavyweight Nick Webb last time out. It should be entertaining; it should be short, and it should be notable. Babic, is targeting a Croatian heavyweight grudge match with Filip Hrgovic! Babic is on the Galahad/Dickens undercard on Saturday the 7th of August.

INTERNATIONAL – MOST INTRIGUING

I had the Cody Crowley v Gabriel Maestre WBA interim welterweight clash down as the one I wanted to watch but Canadian Crowley has posted a positive COVID test so that is off! So let me be watching the Michael Hunter and Mike Wilson WBA eliminator fight at heavyweight which is due on Tuesday the 3rd of August. We cannot get our head round Hunter. The fact that belatedly the WBA has sanctioned this fight as an eliminator, makes very little sense when there is “super” champion Anthony Joshua, a “regular” champion in Trevor Bryan, an interim holder in Daniel Dubois, a “champion in recess” Mahmoud Charr, and a further “gold” champ in Robert Helenius. Hunter pulled out of the IBF eliminator against Filip Hrgovic, and this must be why – an easier route to a tile? We shall see… we shall certainly see…

FUTURE HISTORY – AND THE WEEK TO FOLLOW…

UK – BIGGEST AND MOST NOTABLE

Saturday 14th August

Joshua Buatsi v Ricards Bolotniks for the WBA international light heavyweight title with the former Olympian up against another MGM Golden Contracts winner in a fight that should light up the Matchroom Square Gardens for a third week in a row…

UNDER THE RADAR

Saturday 14th August

Middleweight champion, Savannah Marshall defends her WBO female title with an opponent still to be named and Scotland’s bantamweight Ukashir Farooq, a highly exciting fighter, also awaiting an opponent in his WBC international silver fight.

INTERNATIONAL – MOST INTRIGUING

Saturday 14th August

In Florida, the WBC, WBA, WBO and IBF female super middleweight fight between defending champion Franchon Crews Dezurn and Elin Cederroo.

INTERNATIONAL HEADLINE IN THE UK

Saturday 14th August

The WBA, IBF, and WBO lightweight clash between the conqueror of Lomachenko, Teofimo Lopez and George Kambosos Jr.

Mentioned in dispatches…

Saturday 14th August

California

Bantamweight contest between John Riel Casimero and Guillermo Rigondeaux for the WBO title, and Gary Russell in against Emmanuel Rodriguez for the WBA interim belt.

Florida

As well as the Lopez and Franchon fights we have super featherweight action between Ireland’s perennial entertainer Jono Carroll and Andy Vences for the WBC international silver title.
Oklahoma

The Maloneys are back as super flyweight Andrew takes on Joshua Franco for the WBA crown and bantamweight Jason faces Joshua Greer Jr for the WBC silver title.
Matchroom, England

As well as the IBF super featherweight fight, Savannah Marshall and Ukashir Farooq, there is action for lightweight Natasha Jonas, middleweight Felix Cash, featherweight Reece Bellotti is back in against Raymond Ford and the WVO Global title fight between Michael McKinson and Przemyslaw Runowski! (try saying that in a hurry!)

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