FRANK WARREN COLUMN: 30.10.15
It will be an intriguing night in Moscow on December 12 when Enzo Maccarinelli meets Roy Jones Jr in a clash of two former World Champions at the VTB Ice Palace, televised exclusively live in the UK on BoxNation.
Maccarinelli aims to grab a high profile scalp, by defeating Jones, a former four time and three weight-division World champion.
Jones, a man formerly acknowledged by many as the pound for pound number one fighter in the world, bizarrely became a Russian citizen this week after being presented with a passport by President Vladimir Putin, with whom he has become bosom pals.
“I am Russian,” the 46-year-old Jones declared. In Russian too.
Apparently Putin granted the citizenship request on the grounds that Jones “intends to spend a significant part of his life “working in Russia.
Whether that that includes boxing must be doubtful because I fancy Enzo to beat him – big time. A win for the big punching Welshman would probably draw a curtain on an illustrious career for Jones that is very much in its twilight.
I have advocated Jones retiring and I know I said the same thing before about Maccarinelli after a few defeats. But the Welshman is a redoubtable and resilient character and has resurrected his career under new trainer Gary Lockett, who is one of the new breed of fine young mentors in the game.
We have been told by our Russian counterparts, who are promoting the event, that a WBA Super World Title will be at stake and we are still waiting for clarification that this will be the case, from them.
It’s sure to be a good match up on 12th December between two guys who have given so many great night to the sport.
India: Boxing’s Sleeping Giant
Vijender Singh learned a bit about political in-fighting when he was invited to meet Keith Vaz MP at the House of Commons this week.
Labour MP Vaz, who is hugely influential within the British Asian community, is a massive supporter of the Indian Olympic Bronze medallist and called upon British Indians around the country to get behind Singh’s career in the pro ranks.
Singh, a superstar in his native India, and their first ever Olympic games boxing medallist, ironically has been yet to be politically honoured in his homeland, although Mr Vaz suggested he would set about changing that by putting in a good word with his high ranking Indian government contacts.
I feel Singh is someone who can give birth to prominence of boxing in a nation which is currently a sleeping giant in the sport. His first fight was seen by around 100 million people in India, and he was the number one Twitter trending term in a nation of a billion people on fight night.
Interestingly Singh was wished good luck publicly for his pro debut by a ‘who’s who’ of Bollywood stars. One of which Salman Khan I’m told is India’s equivalent to Brad Pitt and was the ranked as 7th highest paid actor in the world this year by Forbes Magazine.
In addition to having many high profile fans, Singh is also a social media heavyweight and has 1.3 million Facebook followers on his page which shows his huge fan base in his homeland.
The only recently active boxers with a higher number of Facebook followers are all multiple occasion world champions and global stars (Mayweather, Pacquiao, Khan and Klitschko). Though Singh has more Facebook followers than Mexican superstar Canelo Alvarez, a national icon in Mexico, who has 1.1 million.
Singh’s popularity can no doubt do wonders towards growing boxing in a country whose sporting landscape is dominated by Cricket. Much like Zou Shimming in China, in Singh we have a ready-made star to build the sport off the back of.
If he can reach the same lofty heights in the pro game as he did in the amateurs it could give birth to a whole new market there for live events and television and give other young stars from a country with a strong amateur boxing programme the chance to forge a career in the sport.
The bouts involving Singh and WBO European super-middleweight champion Jamie Cox have been switched from Harrow this week to the National Stadium in Dublin on Saturday week
Their opponents remain the same, with Cox making the first defence of his title against Hungarian Ferenc Albert whilst the multi-gonged Singh, follows up his explosive pro debut earlier this month with his second professional fight against 2-0 prospect Dean Gillen
This is also a show crammed with rising talent. Promoted in association with MGM Promotions, it features Irish favourite Jamie Conlan defending his WBO Intercontinental super-flyweight title.
Hardly a belter in Sheffield
Chris Eubank Jr may be a memorable name, but last weekend’s fight with ageing American Tony Jeter was one best forgotten. It was a total mismatch for an interim world champion having his 22nd bout.
At the conclusion of the bout, the promoter for once certainly didn’t seem too eager to climb into the ring to join the ‘celebrations’ as the boos and chants of ‘what a waste of money’ rang round the Sheffield Arena following the four-minute farce.
Ironically Eubank was forced by the WBA to relinquish his Interim World Title after the contest.
As has been much publicized, Eubank Jr turned down a hugely lucrative rematch with Billy Joe Saunders at Upton Park last summer supposedly because his father did not want to give up that belt.
That could of course be considered complete lunacy if they fancied Jr to win a rematch, however the Eubanks’ recent choice of opponents suggest that a second loss to Saunders was something they greatly feared would happen and that they felt was one Jr’s career could not afford.
And whilst Eubank, fresh from his destruction of Tony ‘anyone better’ Jetter, will go on to face a fellow Saunders victim, Spike O Sullivan, who lost every round against the Hatfield man 2 years ago; 2008 Olympian Saunders now goes on to face Andy Lee in a mouthwatering World title showdown between 2 fighters ranked in the Ring Magazine’s top 5 Middleweights in the World on December 19th.
On a side note, I found some of the ‘propaganda’ from Sky on fight week and on the live broadcast quite frankly ludicrous.
Nick Halling continued in his attempts to disillusion every knowledgeable boxing fan in the country, when he mentioned in commentary that he thought Eubank had actually beaten Saunders when they fought.
What fight was he watching? Also the suggestion that it was ‘a controversial win’ was mentioned during the broadcast. The fact that they want to reinvent history is actually quite disrespectful of the knowledgeable boxing fan and needs to stop for the health of the sport.
They are paid to offer an educated assessment of what is going on. On BoxNation the party line is to try to keep everything as impartial as we can in our assessment and to respect the knowledge of the boxing fan. If the home guy lost the fight, our pundits and commentators will say he lost the fight.
To his credit Jim Watt told it how it was and did bellow that it was a complete mismatch on commentary at the fight’s hasty conclusion.
I wonder if he crossed the party line by doing so.
This Bud’s for me
Once again BoxNation viewers were treated to a classic exhibition of precision punching when Terence Crawford showed his exceptional skills to stop Canadian Dierry Jean in defence of his WBO super-lightweight title in Omaha last weekend.
I have always liked Crawford – even before he came here to blight the career of Ricky Burns.
Like Gennady Golovkin, he is making the jab fashionable again. It can be such a formidable piece of ring armoury.
With Manny Pacquiao now insisting he will quit for a full-time political career after one more fight, Crawford looks set to become veteran promoter Bob Arum’s main man.
The wily octogenarian is still the master of the promotional art. With Crawford he has done what the Americans don’t usually do by building a huge home-town following for a local fighter.
Usually someone of Crawford’s stature would be headlining in Vegas in a world title defence but Bob has successfully capitalised on the Nebraskan’s massive popularity in Omaha.
Warren Buffett, the Omaha business magnate and philanthropist who is high up there on the world’s rich list,was prominent at ringside. With Buffet as a fan and Bob as his promoter, ‘Bud’ Crawford cannot fail to be in the big-time.
Small wonder that boxing is back in the big-time
Size doesn’t always matter in the fight game. And we are not talking here about the physique of the combatants, but the venues that are the lifeblood of the sport. The small halls.
Without them boxing may well have died out in Britain long ago. Throughout history they have not only sustained interest for the fans but provided valuable employment for the for the novices, journeymen and so many who go on to become marquee names.
The majority of fighters making their ring debuts are not Olympians or top-notch amateurs turning pro but honest practitioners seeking to earn a crust and take what they hope and believe are their first steps to stardom.
Without small hall shows up and down the country many would have nowhere to launch their careers.
Nowhere is more atmospheric than London’s famous York Hall which has been the launching pad for a multitude of putative champions but throughout the UK there are scores of of venues which house only a few thousand – sometimes only a few hundred – where boxing can be seen at its most basic. And often its most beautiful.
Civic halls, ice rinks, leisure centres and even the odd circus ring have been – and still are – utilised as vehicles where young fighters learn their trade and often go on to achieve great things.
Among such examples are Joe Calzaghe, whose early fights, before he hit the big-time, included grooming appearances at town halls in Watford, Dudley, Wolverhampton, Brent and leisure centres in Dagenham, Newport, Bristol and Telford, and, of course at York Hall.
Ricky Hatton made his pro debut at a leisure centre in Widnes long before the huge Manchester Arena became his alma mater, as it has for Manchester’s newest world champ, Terry Flanagan, who first trod the boardss at Blackpool’s Tower Circus and assorted small venues in Bolton, Colne, Huddersfield and Stalybridge, among others.
The lovely old Liverpool Stadium, with it’s a maximum capacity of 4,000, but now sadly closed, was originally custom-built for boxing and produced numerous local notable Merseyside maestros from Nel Tarleton through to John Conteh.
One purpose of my celebrating the smaller halls is that tonight we are promoting one in Harrow, an uppish-market north London suburb hardly renowned as a hotbed of boxing.
But our debut show at the local leisure centre, featuring an array of promising young talent, is a 2,000-sell out.
Topping the bill is Miles Shinkwin, the undefeated (11-0) Bushey light-heavy who headlines in ten-round international contest against Hungary’s Daniel Bilisanszki.
We originally decided to go to Harrow for the first time to show off Britain’s Best Young Boxer of the Year, local boy Mitchell Smith, but unfortunately, like Tom Baker, who was also due to appear, he is injured. However Smith will be back on our Manchester world title bill on December 19. The terrific turn-out in Harrow is a further reflection of boxing’s continuing upsurge in popularity. Small wonder, you might say.
I was delighted to win European Promoter of the year at the WBO convention out in Orlando, Florida this week.
I was also delighted this year to see two of my guys crowned as new WBO World Champions in Terry Flanagan and Liam Smith. Billy Joe Saunders will aim to make it a third on December 19th against Andy Lee.
Congratulations are in order for my matchmaker Jason McClory who won WBO European Matchmaker of the year.
The quality of our product, where we continue to deliver evenly matched fights right through the card, is a testament to his work and receiving this accolade is rightful recognition.
Congratulations are also in order to Terry Flanagan for being awarded WBO European Fighter of the year. The WBO Lightweight king has had a stellar year, capped by a devastating win against Diego Magdaleno earlier this month.
A final round of congratulations must go to Frank Buglioni and Lee Markham whose war at Wembley Arena was awarded WBO European Fight of the Year.
Super Middleweight World Champion Andre Ward will now campaign at Light Heavyweight. It will surely lead to a mouthwatering super fight between him and Light Heavyweight boss Sergey Kovalev later in 2016. Can’t wait!
Tomorrow: Hubbard’s Cupboard on the middleweight champ who was a monster- in the ring and out