BoxNation viewers can expect a fistic treat for the third weekend in a row when Manchester’s Turbo-charged Terry Flanagan contests the WBO World lightweight title with American Jose Zepeda on Saturday night.
It follows Jamie Conlan’s pulsating victory over the Mexican Junior Granados in Dublin last week, a cracker of a contest in which the Ulsterman twice climbed off the canvas to claim the WBO Inter-Continental super-flyweight title in what surely must be a strong contender for Fight of the Year.
This sets Conlan up nicely for a showdown with former world champion Paul Butler in what would be a sizzling domestic punch-up in either Liverpool or Dublin.
We are looking forward to doing more shows in Ireland, with the upcoming WBO World middleweight title fight between Andy Lee and Billy Joe Saunders in Limerick on 19 September already looking a sell-out at Thomond Park.
The Conlan classic followed that highly controversial fight between Timothy Bradley and Jessie Vargas in Carson, California the week before. Vargas is now seeking to have his points loss changed to a no contest based on the fact that referee Pat Russell mistakenly called the fight over with about seven seconds remaining in the 12th and final round because he mistook the 10-second clapper for the final bell win Bradley in desperate trouble after being rocked by a right hand.
Let’s hope there will be no such debatable drama when Flanagan attempts to put a spoke in fellow unbeaten Zepeda’s current wheel of fortune at the Manchester Velodrome, home of British Cycling.
But I anticipate a humdinger of a scrap.
No doubt about it, this is a big ask for Tel Boy. He’s up against a real tough hombre in Zepeda who has been knocking them all over, though this is the first time he has been required to make the lightweight limit.
Flanagan is both resilient and resourceful. He has a shrewd boxing brain and if he can discipline his tactics against a venomous switch hitter he can join the burgeoning band of British world champions at a time when the sport is enjoying a bit of a boom-time here.
It certainly promises to be a lively night at the Velodrome with more thrills and spills than in the current Tour de France. There’s some terrific talent on show.
While he ponders that eventual clash with Conlan, Paul Butler is back in action for the first times ince he suffered the only defeat of his career against South African Zolani Tete for the IBF world title back in March.
The 26-year-old from Ellesmere Port was caught in the eighth round by a stunning uppercut, but he insists that setback has only made his desire to be the best in his division even stronger. And I believe he will be back on top of the world again in the not too distant future.
He says the first few days after losing to Tete were hard but after a holiday in Tenerife he went to Las Vegas with his girl friend and got his head back into boxing again by watching the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight.
“I’m over the Tete fight now,” he assures us. “No excuses from me – the better fighter won on the night. He’s a special boxer and a beast of a man. He looked like a different person from the one at the weigh-in to the one who walked into the ring – he must have put on 22lbs.
“I said before the fight that he was my nightmare opponent – a tall southpaw who could bang. But you know what … I would fight him again tomorrow if there was a world title on the line.”
That’s the spirit that makes world champions.
I also anticipate eye-catching performances from two of the best young lads in the country – Liam Walsh and Jack Catterall, both undefeated and building big fan bases.
Cromer’s Walsh was due to defend his British and Commonwealth titles against Troy James but the Coventry man has a back injury. So Liam finds himself in the same situation as Flanagan, facing a really big hitter in Brazilian Isiais Santos Sampio for the vacant WBO Inter-Continental lightweight title. This is a real don’t-blink confrontation.
I forsee a great dust-up eventually between rivals Flanagan and Walsh, hopefully with a world title at stake.
Chorley’s Catterall is acquiring a taste for Argentinian beef. He faces his second successive foe from the land of the gauchos when he defends his WBO Intercontinental light-welterweight title against fellow southpaw Gabriel Calfin, a former WBO Latino champion.
Last time out then prolific 21-year-old won his Argy-bargy with Cesar David Inalef in five rounds and he will be out to look just as devastating against Catlin. All bouts are live and exclusive on BoxNation.
Just what is Floyd Mayweather’s game? He has been stripped of his WBO world welterweight title because he failed to pay a $200,000 sanction fee to the governing body.
Tho hundred thousand dollars? That’s £143,00 in our money – but small change to the world’s wealthiest sportsman. The Money Man could splurge that on a night out in Vegas with the chaps. What’s more it is tax deductible from the $200 million he earned against Manny Pacquiao.
My belief is that Mayweather simply doesn’t care about belts or sanctioning bodies, just about protecting his unbeaten legacy.
He is not alone in depriving the WBO of a pay-out. Joe Calzaghe could have gone on to become their longest-reigning world champion had he paid them their sanction fee, but he chose not to do so and like Mayweather, forfeited the belt.
That’s a fighter’s prerogative, of course, but the danger is that it could be a recipe for the public to lose interest in already fragmented title fights.
Actually didn’t Mayweather say after defeating Pacquiao that he was going to give up all three welterweight belts anyway?
Clearly what he wants is to pick and choose his own fights and not be mandated to box who the sanctioning bodies nominate. He believes he is above all that.
Maybe he is. However at least what Mayweather has done by not coughing up is to open up the WBO title to other contenders – thus creating a possible way back for Amir Khan into the world title picture if Mayweather again spurns him as his next opponent.
We’ve all seen been enticed by those‘ ‘Buy One Get One Free’ offers in the local supermarket but I never thought it would come to boxing. However that’s the amazing situation in El Paso, Texas this weekend when IBF super-bantamweight champion Carl Frampton has a cut-price label attached to his US debut.
For fans that purchase a ticket for the evening show at the Don Haskins Center featuring Julio Cesar Chavez Jr v Marcos Reyes will be provided with a ticket for the earlier card which sees Belfast’s Frampton in a non-title catchweight contest against one Alejandro Gonzalez. Just the ticket. Or maybe two…
Tomorrow: Read Hubbard’s Cupboard on the triumph and tragedy of one of British boxing’s greatest heroes.