By Frank Warren
THE PLANS FOR our pre-Christmas pugilistic party are shaping up nicely as we stock up on support acts for a fight that, like Santa, really shouldn’t fail to deliver.
Fight fans will now be counting down the weeks and days until December 22 when the eyes of the boxing world will be on events at the Manchester Arena, where Josh Warrington makes a first defence of his IBF world featherweight title against two-weight world champion Carl Frampton.
There will be a Belfast invasion of Manchester on the night backing Carl, so we have sought to continue the theme and treat the Northern Irish fans to the opportunity of cheering on another one of their own in former world amateur champion and Olympian, Michael Conlan.
Conlan is rated as one of the finest prospects in world boxing and we were delighted to host his homecoming promotion at the SSE Arena in June, where the featherweight enjoyed his first professional bout on home soil with a convincing points victory over the tough Adeilson Dos Santos.
We are happy to now be showcasing his talents again in Manchester and it makes perfect sense to add him to the glittering occasion, given that he is an ESPN fighter from Belfast and all our shows are broadcast via the network in the United States.
With Conlan, Paddy Barnes and Steven Ward featuring on the bill, it makes it more than a worthwhile trip for the Belfast thousands.
There are a number of other absolute crackers on the card that are sure to be explosive encounters, not least the super welterweight collision between JJ Metcalf and Liam Williams for the WBC International title.
The light-middles is a tasty division both domestically and globally and the winner of this one will be well positioned to really push on for world honours. All the ingredients are there, with both being come forward fighters and destructive punchers. It may well be tactical in the early stages, but these two will just go at it before too long.
Mark Heffron is another who falls into this category and he will fight for the British middleweight title on the card. It is a shame that he will now be fighting for a vacant title after the champion dropped the title after the purse bids had been opened, but Mark still gets his opportunity and I believe him to be one the most exciting young fighters in the business at the moment.
There is plenty more to come for this show, which will be stacked from top to bottom with exciting match-ups and quality, competitive fights involving many of our top fighters. It will be exactly what a Box Office bill should be.
IT WAS DISAPPOINTING to see Terry Flanagan make an early exit from the World Boxing Super Series at the hands of the highly-touted Regis Prograis but, while I believe the outcome to be correct, I cannot go along with such a wide margin of defeat on the cards.
I thought Terry was three or four rounds adrift against a good opponent, but I don’t have Prograis down as some sort of elite operator as is being suggested in some quarters.
To my way of thinking, Terry needs to look at himself and what he is doing because he has got what it takes to be beating the likes of Prograis.
The fight in New Orleans followed a similar pattern to his points defeat to Maurice Hooker in June and Terry has got to look at these last two fights and ask himself ‘where am I going wrong?’ because, at the moment, he is doing the same thing all the time.