BEST OF BRITISH THIS WEEKEND
By Frank Warren
THE NIGHT BEFORE both Daniel Dubois and Tommy Fury get to experience their American dream on Sunday, back in Blighty we will be showcasing a triple-header of domestic title action to the fans in Birmingham.
The Utilita Arena will play host to three British title scraps, Anthony Yarde attempting to put himself back on course for another world title shot and the English bantamweight champion, Liam Davies, wowing a bumper local support.
In addition to this – and equally highly anticipated – we will have the Stoke City chorus belting out a certain Tom Jones track in honour of Nathan Heaney.
Sticking to the theme of British titles, it is a championship that, I believe, has recaptured its prestige over recent years and it is a belt that tops the wish list of most professionals.
Pretty much gone are the days when ambitious elite operators were content to bypass the level and focus more on a world ranking, these days it is a box that boxers want to tick.
Not for everyone, some want to jump into the fast lane, but most want to sample a good domestic dust-up before moving onto bigger things.
Here at Queensberry we like to set our young fighters off along two paths simultaneously. We build them towards winning a treasured Lonsdale belt but, at the same time, also seek to ensure they enter the world rankings via the gathering of international experience and regional rankings belts.
The big upside of this is that, when the home front is conquered, they are already in a good position to make an assault on the world stage. Moving on from British level with little international exposure can be a time-consuming exercise.
People do like to criticise international belts, but they serve an important purpose in the timely career-progression of a fighter who has got what it takes to reach world title level.
With British title fights you are, most of the time, guaranteed a good competitive battle between fighters at a similar level. There is the odd mis-match thrown up occasionally but, for the most part, they are the sort of fights the public want to see.
The three we are staging on Saturday fall into the ‘pick ’em’ category and I would be surprised if there is a big odds-on favourite in any of them.
Anthony Cacace vs Lyon Woodstock at super featherweight has got all the ingredients for an all-out war. The Belfast man probably has the edge when it comes to technical ability, but Lyon has the heart of a lion and this can be a great leveller.
Akeem Ennis-Brown and Sam Maxwell ensured their super lightweight tussle – also for the Commonwealth title – will carry a bit more spice and spite after they wound each other up like clocks at the press conference last week.
There is a lot at stake in this. For Sam it will be a defining night in his career because, with turning over late from being a successful amateur, he has no time to waste and to take a defeat at this stage would represent a big setback.
For his part, Akeem believes he belongs at a higher level and just needs the platform to prove it. He cannot afford to be parted from his bargaining chips.
Our third helping of British title action comes with the vacant super flyweight collision between Ijaz Ahmed and Kaisy Khademi in a repeat of their battle for the WBO European belt won by Ijaz in a close run thing earlier this year.
Our English bantamweight champion Liam Davies also cannot afford any slip-ups in front of his huge band of followers. He is talking about a tasty looking conflict with Andrew Cain later this year and that is a fight I wouldn’t like to see fall by the wayside.
So, in summary, get ready for a night of domestic boxing bliss to put you in the mood to tune in again to see Daniel and Tommy fly the British flag on Showtime with some hopefully explosive exploits over in the United States.