THE FRANK WARREN COLUMN
By Frank Warren
FOR ARMCHAIR FIGHT fans there is only one place to be come 8pm on Saturday night. Make yourself comfortable, tune into BT Sport and watch an epic double-header of boxing unfold in front of you.
From Leeds to Las Vegas.
First off at the FD Arena, Josh Warrington makes a second defence of his IBF world featherweight title against an also unbeaten Yorkshire rival in the shape of Kid Galahad.
It is a mandatory defence for Josh who, after defeating both Lee Selby and Carl Frampton in such emphatic fashion last year, was hoping he could begin to set about unifying world titles. However, he has now got business to attend to first on the home front first and, although mandatories can often border on the mundane, this one is a bit spicy and certainly one to look forward to.
Josh and ‘Barry from Sheffield’, as Kid Galahad seems to be referred to these days, don’t get along and the animosity has been simmering for some time now. They fought twice in the juniors at amateur level, with Josh winning both times, while Barry has had Josh firmly in his sights since our man won his world title.
I have heard many boxing commentators comment that the tricky Ingle Gym protégé could be all wrong for Josh, but I would counter this by suggesting Josh’s style is wrong for all leading featherweights.
Both Selby and Frampton believed their boxing skills to be superior to Josh, but that didn’t save them on the night once the Leeds hero got into his all-action rhythm. Josh, at the top of his game, I would back to beat any of the other world champions, which is why I also fully expect him to be too much for Galahad in front of his frenzied home support.
Before the main course of Warrington-Galahad, we’ve got a couple of tasty little starters on the menu.
JJ Metcalf against Jason Welborn for the Commonwealth super welterweight title has got all the makings of open warfare.
The unbeaten Scouser Metcalf – a real talent – is bidding to make the breakthrough to world level and has all the attributes, and breeding, to realise his ambitions. Son of the Shamrock Express and WBU title holder Shea Neary, JJ can go one better than his old man by winning a title he missed out on in his final fight before retirement.
Welborn will have other ideas and fighting for world titles in his last fight has whetted his appetite for more of the same. The man of the Midlands gave such a good account of himself when he was drafted in to fight Jarrett Hurd on the undercard of Fury-Wilder in December and it was only a sickening body punch that halted his onslaught on the champion and halted the fight.e
The 33-year-old has had to be more patient over the years on the home front and he will now view this as his opportunity to propel himself towards more big fights on the world stage.
I recommend you don’t miss it.
It is another pick ’em job and, whoever wins it, will put himself well and truly back in a mix that also includes Sam Bowen and Archie Sharp. It is a make or break fight in many ways because, having both taken a loss, if they want to consider themselves to be in the top echelon then winning this one is a must.
So the stakes are very high, which makes it the sort of fight the public want to see and we want to deliver on a regular basis on BT Sport.
On midnight we switch to Vegas and the MGM Grand where Tyson Fury performs on the Strip for the first time against Tom Schwarz in what will also be his first showcasing as a headliner on ESPN.
Tyson seems to be getting stronger and fitter every day since making his return after the prolonged absence. To get to where he has after just three fights in his second coming is testament to the character of the man and he has demonstrated to everyone what can be achieved from almost the point of no return.
The way he completely flummoxed the WBC world champion Deontay Wilder after just two relatively low-key comeback fights was truly remarkable and he deserves this opportunity hone himself into even finer condition for the rematch with this fight against Schwarz.
At the same time, while you can never afford to take your eyes off the prize at any time in heavyweight boxing, exporting Tyson to Las Vegas for this fight has always been about marketing and creating awareness of his personality to a wider American audience.
It is part of a bigger plan by his US broadcaster ESPN to generate huge exposure of his talents and subsequently maximise the financial return for him when it comes to fighting Wilder again.
ESPN have pulled out all the stops ahead of this fight and Tyson has done the rounds on all the mainstream chat shows and sports programming. If America didn’t know Tyson Fury before, I am pretty sure it does now.
That can only be a positive before he once again sets about winning world title belts.
This weekend, however, he has got to concentrate on what he is good at doing and that is his boxing.
On paper he is obviously a big favourite, as the lineal champion and now restored to No.1 in the Ring Magazine heavyweight rankings – something I have always believed anyway.
Tyson cannot afford to take the threat of the young, unbeaten German lightly. Tom Schwarz might not have mixed in Tyson’s class before, but this is his Golden Ticket and he will be looking to cash it in.
Anything can happen in this game, as we were reminded of last week.