THE FRANK WARREN COLUMN
By Frank Warren
THIS WEEK SAW us ring the opening bell to begin trading for our title-laden promotion at Arena, Birmingham on November 30. It is one of those cards that really does include something for everyone.
No less than six major title fights will feature on the show, which is appropriately titled ‘Midlands Mayhem’, as we return to showcasing the best of British in the second city for the first time in nine years.
I say ‘best of British’ for a reason and that is because we have got three real humdinger British title battles on the card. These fights rarely fail to deliver and the prize on the line really means something to the fighters involved.
I will come to these fights and a few of the other leading characters a little later, but first I want to express my delight over being in a position to return one of the finest boxers on the planet to performing in this country.
Boxing fans who know their stuff will tell you that there are few better sights in the sport than watching Zolani Tete in full swing. The South African is a truly charming individual and, boy, can he fight.
The WBO world bantamweight champion has been marked absent for a little while, firstly due to his participation in the World Boxing Super Series and then by a shoulder injury that forced him to withdraw from the tournament ahead of the semi-final stage.
I would strongly imagine fans were praying for a final match-up between Zolani and the currently irresistible force that is the Japanese Naoya Inoue. It is a great pity that it didn’t come to pass, but there is no reason why we cannot put together a mega unification once Inoue, as you would suspect, has taken care of business against Nonito Donaire in early November.
Donaire is also a giant amongst the little men and a ring legend in his own right, but I think most people have got Inoue marked down as something special.
So is our man Zolani and he is in a massive fight in Birmingham where he will take on his mandatory challenger John Riel Casimero, a Filipino from the Manny Pacquiao stable who is a formidable puncher. Charlie Edwards will testify to this from their world title collision in 2016.
Zolani will have to be at his best to overcome his latest challenger and then we can start looking to make some particularly appealing fights against the likes of Inoue and, potentially, Ryan Burnett.
Tete-Casimero is a real high-calibre international fight so make sure you either turn up at the Arena or tune in on BT Sport to catch this one.
There is so much to get excited about on the Birmingham card, as we also have two domestic dust-ups with WBO European titles at stake. Sam Maxwell makes a first defence of his super lightweight belt that he won in dramatic circumstances against Sabri Sediri back in March.
It would probably be true to say he snatched victory from the jaws of a likely defeat against the super-confident Frenchman when a big right hand altered the course of events in a final round watched by millions online.
Another unbeaten fighter awaits Sam now in Connor Parker from Derbyshire and two Brits with perfect records going at it is what we always want to see more of.
At super welterweight, Hamzah Sheeraz is going to have a test of his increasing credentials when he bids to win his first professional belt. I am told he has many family connections in the city and will draw a massive support.
Hamzah is really coming on as a pro and has added an explosive element to his game, as illustrated by three straight early KOs.
One man who is playing away from home is our super middleweight stylist Lerrone Richards, who defends his Commonwealth title and vies for the vacant British title against the Midlands marauder Lennox Clarke.
The contrast in styles will be stark, with the elegant Lerrone always determined to rely on his skillset, while Clarke is promising to bulldoze him out of his stride. It should certainly be a fascinating fight and one that will hopefully take the career of Lerrone from strength to strength and really push him towards more marquee encounters.
Again for both the British and Commonwealth, Chris Jenkins will defend his welterweight belts against Middleton’s Liam Taylor in what should be a closely-fought battle. After years of frustration over lack of opportunities and downright bad luck with severe cuts, Jenkins is now very much on a roll after winning the British belt from Johnny Garton and then adding the Commonwealth with victory over Paddy Gallagher last time out.
He is now well on his way to winning his Lonsdale belt for keeps, and deservedly so.
Our final British title clash has got the makings of something very special as our super featherweight title holder Sam Bowen makes a mandatory defence of his belt against the highly-rated – and many say avoided – Anthony Cacace from Belfast.
Cacace’s only defeat came in controversial circumstances against Martin J Ward in 2017 and he has faced a long battle to force himself back into the picture. I have noted that some good judges, including domestic rival Zelfa Barrett, suggest this will be a tough, tough fight for Sam to win so we will have to see how it plays out on the night.
Sam, having finally given up the day job, should be an altogether stronger and fresher proposition as he sets about attempting to see off domestic rivals that also includes Zelfa and Archie Sharp.
So he has got a lot to lose in Birmingham and that is the way it should be.
Being showcased on the bill are four of our most exciting young prospects in Dennis McCann, Shabaz Masoud, George Davey and Eithan James, while we also welcome talents from closer to the region in Nathan Heaney and River Wilson-Bent onto the show to add further local flavour.
It is a stacked card, but one stacked with quality fights right from top to bottom. We will be back in Birmingham with a bang.