Frank Warren's Column - 28/12/13
So the fight game is dying?! Certainly not from where I'm sitting. I can't recall a time during my 34 years in the business where there are so many competitive domestic match-ups screaming to be made. sometimes It's great fights, rather than great fighters, that energise our sport and here are ten civil wars that could see the Noble Art thrive in 2014.
Tyson Fury v Dereck Chisora, Heavyweight
A seismic collision between the two most controversial characters in British boxing would inspire interest and debate far beyond hardcore boxing fans.
Both are presently at a loose end after David Haye twice baled out of fights with Manchester traveller Fury and David Price surrendered his British and Commonwealth titles to avoid Londoner Chisora.
Though Fury holds a clear points win over a bloated 'Del Boy' in July 2011, the slim line 2014 version of Chisora is an altogether more formidable beast.
He presently holds the European title and superior world ratings with all major sanctioning bodies so there's plenty to entice Fury, plus it would also be an eliminator for a world title.
Carl Froch v George Groves, Super-middleweight
Given their first spat sold out the Phones 4u Arena in a matter of hours, a replay would surely fill any stadium in the land, following the contentious conclusion to their battle royal in November.
Froch seemed a country mile behind when referee Howard Foster prematurely stopped Groves and 'The Cobra's' legacy will be forever tarnished if he fails to oblige 'St George' again.
Expect the odds to narrow significantly for a re-sit. At 36, Froch looks decidedly frayed whereas Groves will have drawn huge confidence from the positive public response to his effort last time.
James DeGale v Billy Joe Saunders, Super-middleweight
A scrap between Beijing golden boy DeGale and Romany traveller Saunders would be a huge sell in the south of England.
The pair are cordial and were squad mates on the 2008 GB Olympic team. However, by all accounts the naturally lighter Saunders has given 'Chunky' a torrid time in recent spars.
Hatfield's Saunders would strongly fancy upsetting his fellow southpaw without the head gear, in a riveting match that would leave both with significantly fatter wallets.
Frank Buglioni v Callum Smith, Super-middleweight
Given time to stew, a clash between these colossal punchers could evolve into a commercial monster. Both have already amassed huge followings.
Londoner Buglioni, known as 'The Wise Guy', has both the looks and hooks to develop into a superstar. Eleven victories, eight early, have earned him a world rating with the WBO.
Scouser Smith – youngest of the famous four fighting brothers – controversially missed out on a berth at the London Olympics but has since racked up nine pro wins, including a run of six successive first round stoppages.
When the pair eventually collide, expect it to be an explosion.
Martin Murray v Matt Macklin, Middleweight
Britain has a surfeit of world class talent at 160lbs but, as yet, none have faced each other inside the ring.
There is genuine needle between St Helen's bruiser Murray and the Birmingham born Irishman who, between them, have made five abortive world title challenges.
The Lancastrian will enter a hot favourite to finally win the big one when he meets Australia's Jarrod Fletcher for the vacant WBA strap in Monaco next February.
If triumphant, he might be tempted to muzzle Macklin who has heavy hands but, at 31, is possibly on the dip.
Brian Rose v Liam Smith, Light-middleweight
A real blockbuster for the north-west.
Rose, from Blackpool, is a classical boxer with a huge set of balls. He deserves big respect for overcoming the trauma of badly injuring an opponent, then subsequently suffering a bad knockout loss himself.
Liverpool's 'Beefy' Smith is developing at a frightening rate under coach Joe Gallagher and already holds the British and Commonwealth belts.
Undefeated in 16, he is technically adept, tenacious and far more spiteful than his six stoppage wins suggests.
Kell Brook v Frankie Gavin, Welterweight
Brook might be mandatory to bull strong IBF king Shawn Porter but don't bank on him challenging any time soon.
I steered him to the British title way back in June 2008 and got him positioned as number one contender for the WBO strap but I let him go after continual interference from his father. Three years on, he's still waiting to debut at world level!
There's no contesting that he's a sharp technician, blessed with seriously concussive power. However, you can only hurt what you can hit and, in Brummie Gavin – still England's only ever world amateur champion – he'd be confronted with a defensive wizard with more tricks than a tree full of monkeys.
Ricky Burns v Liam Walsh, Lightweight
When I matched Cromer's Walsh against the then high flying Scot for Burns' WBO strap in December 2012, cynics dismissed it as a mismatch.
The Norfolk lad had to withdraw following a road accident but their contrasting fortunes since suggest it would be 'pick 'em' were they pitched together today.
In May, Burns took a shellacking for seven rounds before Puerto Rican challenger Jose Gonzalez was forced to retire with hand damage after nine. Four months later, he had his jaw snapped whilst clinging to his belt courtesy of a fortuitous hometown draw against Mexico's Ray Beltran.
Southpaw Walsh proved his credentials as a worthy challenger by comprehensively schooling former world champion Scott Harrison last April.
Carl Frampton v Scott Quigg, Super-bantamweight
These unbeaten rivals have combined stats of 44 wins (two draws) and 32 kayos but someone's 'O' has to go, were they to finally collide in a match-up that would sell out stadiums on either side of the Irish Sea.
Both are highly skilled and mallet fisted. Bury's Quigg already holds a diluted version of the WBA world title. However, Belfast's Frampton has beaten the better opposition.
Styles would blend to produce a war of attrition in which it's extremely difficult to forecast the winner.
Stuey Hall v Paul Butler, Bantamweight
A terrific boxer-fighter match-up for the north.
Representing the east coast is Darlington hard man Hall, the former beach bum turned IBF world champion, following victory in his rousing war with South Africa's Vusi Malinga last weekend.
West coaster Butler, from Ellesmere Port, possesses classical skills and a proper spiteful streak. Unbeaten in 14 down at super-fly – where he holds top ten rankings with every governing body – the 5ft 7in 'Baby Faced Assassin' has the height and reach to rise 3lbs and provide fans with a tear-up that couldn't fail to excite.