By Frank Warren
The boxing ‘season’ may be drawing to a close but at BoxNation we aim to keep the summer recess as short as possible and carry on scooping up the big fights.
Following, Carl ‘The Jackal’ Frampton’s attempt to add the WBA featherweight title to the clutch of belts he has already claimed by beating top notch Mexican Leo Santa Cruz the Barclays Center in New York this weekend -what a great dust-up this promises to be, next week the Channel of Champions will once again be showcasing one of the very best.
Andre Ward continues his journey in the light heavyweight division with a genuine test against Alexander Brand at the Oracle Arena in his home town of Oakland.
It is a match-up that has a kind of semi-final feel to it. A win against the 25-1 Brand – whose only loss came via split decision to Badou Jack back in 2012 – leads to a mega-money collision against Sergey Kovalev in November. Defeat and it is back to the drawing board, not for the first time in a career blighted by management issues.
Ward is a class act, a natural boxer who is accustomed to being given a wide berth by those with an ‘0’ to protect. He still possesses one himself after 29 fights and has not opted for easy pickings as he readies himself for the might of Kovalev.
It will be Ward’s second outing at the weight after dominating at super middle and, although he is probably one for the purists, it is always worth a watch when a master craftsman is at work.
Back on the Frampton beat this weekend, there are a couple of very good reasons to tune in from the start at 1am Sunday and not miss a punch.
First up it is well worth keeping tabs on Ricky Hatton’s Belarusian banger Sergey Rabchenko, the super welterweight from Minsk who operates out of Hatton’s boxing hub in Hyde.
The former European champion, who has suffered only one defeat to the well seasoned Sydney man Anthony Mudine, is looking to get back on the world title track against Detroit’s Tony Harrison, who himself has only one reverse in 24 fights.
Then there is the return of former two-weight world champion Mikey Garcia to the ring for the first time since January 2014 against Elio Rojas. Garcia, 34-0, who is seeking to get back in the swing of things after promotional issues resulted in the lengthy absence, has already been pretty vocal about where he sees himself completing a hat trick of world title belts.
Our own Terry Flanagan is the name he has been calling out, so Tel Boy had better keep the Turbo on charge with all these big fights in the offing for next season!
Another big date was added to the BoxNation diary with confirmation of Ovill McKenzie’s challenge for the IBO cruiserweight title against the formidable German Marco Huck in Frankfurt on September 24.
Ovill, of course, should already be enjoying the status of world champion after clearly defeating IBF title holder Victor Ramirez in Buenos Aires last year. He took on the job at something like 11 days notice and still clearly outfoxed the home fighter, who acknowledged as much himself to Ovill, but the fight was scored a draw.
Frustratingly, Ramirez had no interest in a rematch (and has since lost his title to Denis Lebedev) so Ovill, after a period of injury-enforced inactivity, jumped at the chance of attempting to upset the odds against the former long-standing holder of the WBO belt.
It is more about the fight than a title that is not universally recognised and it is the sort of challenge Ovill relishes against someone who is a real tough cookie.
Whatever the outcome, there remains the prospect of Ovill defending his British title against mandatory challenger Craig Kennedy later in the year – a fight that, if he is successful against Huck, could well be upgraded to a defence of his new title.
Liam Walsh is one step away from a shot at the IBF super featherweight world title, with the tough Russian Andrey Klimov presenting the final hurdle.
The two will get it on at the Harrow Leisure Centre on October 8 in what will be a bumper night of boxing on BoxNation.
Liam is a fighter I rate highly and have long tipped him to land world honours. His problem has been a loss of momentum due to injuries, without which I am certain he would’ve been a top champion for some time.
He is up and running again now and has a clear pathway towards a fight with Jose Pedraza, the 22-0 champion who, last time out, defeated Liverpool’s Stephen Smith.
So it is no easy street for Liam to travel, but I am confident it is a journey he will navigate successfully.
Shinkwin’s only loss came when he contested the vacant British belt against Hosea Burton and got it wrong on the night in Burton’s home town of Manchester in February. He is desperate to avenge that defeat but, to do so, he must overcome the particularly promising Baker, who has quietly developed himself into a force at light heavy after stepping up from super middleweight.
We will also see the return of Mitchell Smith to the ring after his untimely setback against George Jupp in December in a fight it turned out he was ill-prepared for.
Now trained by Adam Booth, Mitchell is back in shape and focusing on his boxing rather than the fishing exploits recently broadcast on ITV.
I still do believe Mitchell is a world champion in waiting and now it is up to him to take the opportunities presented to him. He has been out of the ring a long time now and needs to get himself back in the mix and show what he is capable of doing.
If he stays in shape, maintains his self-discipline and keeps his focus we will have a special talent on our hands.