THE FRANK WARREN COLUMN
By Frank Warren
VERY MUCH LIKE the tins of Quality Street that are now stacking up in the aisles of supermarkets, our show at Arena Birmingham on Saturday has got something for everyone.
A world title fight between elite operators, three British title scraps, two fights for international belts that are all-British affairs and the chance to watch three of the very best prospects in the country.
A big tick to all of the above and, like the Christmas chocs, this card has got quality written all over it and it is tricky picking out a favourite.
Zolani Tete is a class act both inside and outside of the ring. It is a pity that our South African banger was denied the opportunity to prove himself as the best in the bantamweight business when injury forced him out of the WBSS tournament.
Fight fans shouldn’t fret though because a fight with the current hot property Naoya Inoue can still be made, but our man has got a genuine threat in front of him with his mandatory challenger for the WBO world title in John Riel Casimero.
The Filipino from the Manny Pacquiao stable is also a big-hitter and his last four opponents have not heard the final bell. The fans in the Arena and those tuning in on BT are in for a real treat with this international special attraction we are delighted to promote.
The British title action will come thick and fast and we’ve got a complete contrast in styles in the super middleweight clash between Commonwealth champion Lerrone Richard and Midlands marauder Lennox Clarke.
Lerrone is a naturally skilled operator who sometimes appears like he doesn’t break sweat. He makes it all look easy and this must be horribly deflating for his opponents. If he can make easy work of Clarke then he will be moved onwards and upwards very quickly.
Clarke, however, has pledged a rough and ready approach to ruffle Lerrone out of his customary calm and it will be fascinating to see if he can make our man dig deep and put some spite into his work that he has yet to really employ.
Sam Bowen will be looking to play catch-up a little bit after an injury lay-off, during which time his domestic rivals Zelfa Barrett and Archie Sharp both put markers down in the super featherweight division.
Sam will want to show his forthcoming contenders who is really boss when he makes a second defence of his British title against the dangerous Anthony Cacace.
Cacace has been largely inactive and that tells its own story because volunteers to take him on have been thin on the ground. Sam has no reservations, which is just as well given this is his mandatory obligation.
At welterweight, Chris Jenkins also makes a second defence of his British title against Liam Taylor in what is sure to be a close-run thing. Chris has proved that good things do come to those who wait, having stuck with the sport through setbacks and finding fights hard to come by and I am delighted we have been able to stage his renaissance.
Sam Maxwell will be hoping for a more routine night’s work when he makes a defence of the WBO European super lightweight title he won in dramatic circumstances against Sabri Sediri in March. Millions watched the dramatic finish online so if you haven’t seen it, check it out.
Sam is up against the unbeaten Connor Parker and they both have a 12-0 record, so something will have to give.
I could say this one might steal the show, but the same applies to all six title battles, with the other one being at super welterweight where Hamzah Sheeraz bids to win his first belt. Birmingham local Ryan Kelly will be in the opposite corner and in will be intriguing to see how our top prospect copes with his first step up against a more experienced campaigner.
In addition, prepare for some slick and spiteful boxing on the undercard because our young firebrands Dennis McCann and Shabaz Masoud will be furthering their experience on the bill, with the hugely promising George Davey set for his second professional assignment.
Coverage from Birmingham on Saturday begins at 6pm, live on BT Sport 2
A BIG WELL done to Jack Catterall who successfully navigated his way through his keep busy fight in Dubai at the weekend against a decent level of opponent in Timo Schwarzkopf. Jack, of course, is having to play the waiting game after hitting top spot in the WBO super lightweight rankings and becoming mandatory for a world title shot.
Unfortunately the former champion Maurice Hooker opted for a voluntary defence and then took on a unification match against the WBC champ Jose Ramirez – which he lost – and now the unified champion has two mandatories to oblige.
He is set to face Viktor Postol on February 1 and when that is done Jack’s time will come.
I WOULD LIKE to send my best wishes to Carl Frampton ahead of his return to the ring against Tyler McCreary in Las Vegas this weekend. Victory over the unbeaten American will see Carl propelled towards another world title fight at a third weight against the WBO world super featherweight champion Jamel Herring. Good luck Carl.
Coverage of Frampton v McCleary starts from 2.45am on Sunday morning, live on BT Sport 1
DEONTAY WILDER DID what he always does and pulled out a peach of a shot to get himself out of bother against Luis Ortiz and retain his WBC world heavyweight title for the 10th time.
Most importantly he came through unscathed and now we can get on with the process of making the rematch against Tyson Fury for February official.
There can be no doubting that Deontay is a phenomenal puncher and staying out of harm’s way against him for 12 rounds is a tall order. I think what you have got to do is dominate him and take the fight out of him.
If anyone can do it, Tyson can and I am sure he will in what will be the first mega-match of the new decade and the biggest heavyweight fight there to be made.