By Frank Warren
BRITISH TITLE SCRAPS have long been the preferred staple of fight fans across the decades and we have got a feast of them coming up in our forthcoming shows, starting off this coming Saturday night at the Copper Box.
You pretty much always know what you are going to get when a treasured Lonsdale belt is up for grabs – and that is a bloody good fight that ticks all the boxes. For the most part, they are evenly matched, highly competitive and fought for between equally ambitious fighters.
Even if one, or both, of the fighters have naturally loftier ambitions, winning the famous old belt means the world to them.
Our British title ball is set rolling on Saturday with a fight that had fans licking their lips with anticipation from the moment it was first mooted last year.
Anthony Cacace vs Lyon Woodstock for domestic supremacy at super featherweight will now get the top billing it probably deserves due to Anthony’s Belfast comrade Carl Frampton now being forced to delay his history making bid to become a three-weight world champion against Jamel Herring.
Anthony, who was part of Carl’s training camp, is a quality operator who has long flown under the radar and is probably only getting the exposure his ability deserves now. He seized his big moment against former champion Sam Bowen late in 2019 and we signed him up to help him realise his potential earlier this year.
This fight, like many others, was due to have happened by now but some long-running dental issues prevented it proceeding. It is one fight fans have been looking forward to and I am confident it will not disappoint.
Even though Anthony is a technically gifted fighter, Lyon will not have to go looking for him. It is to Lyon’s great credit that he was so eager to jump in with both Archie Sharp and Lyon Woodstock – the two losses on his record – even though, stylistically, he was always going to be up against it.
Lyon likes to meet in the middle and go to war, so elusive counter-punchers are not really up his street. Against Anthony he can probably expect a bit of both.
These two know they are in the entertainment business so BT Sport viewers should be in for a treat.
The British title theme is maintained when we next make ourselves at home at the Copper Box on the opening night of our double-header on Friday March 26.
Gloucester’s stylish Akeem Ennis-Brown gets to make his first defence of his super lightweight titles – also the Commonwealth – against our Mersey man Sam Maxwell. It is a fight that appears to have its origins in social media, which can often lend a little edge, but more importantly it represents a perfect test for Sam.
The 32-year-old responded impressively to being taken to the brink of defeat by Sabri Sediri in 2019 with solid wins over Connor Parker and Joe Hughes. He is now firmly in the business of bidding for titles and there can be no backward steps now.
Taking into account his age and strong amateur pedigree, the time is right for Sam to push on and see how far he can go. He is up against a good, unbeaten champion and this opportunity represents a pivotal moment in Sam’s professional journey.
Another who, on the night, will step into previously uncharted waters is our outright British super bantamweight champion Brad Foster. The hugely impressive 23-year-old will embark on an international campaign that will hopefully see him enter into contention at world level.
He takes on Alvaro Rodriguez for the IBF International title and this will be Brad’s first overseas opponent over a championship distance. Brad’s last six fights – since stepping up from six rounds – have been for domestic titles, starting off with the Central Area title.
That is a tough road that will serve Brad well as he progresses an already productive career. Were it not cancelled last year, there is no doubt in my mind that Brad would have been the rightful winner of the prestigious Young Boxer of the Year awards from the Boxing Writers’ Club.
The following night, Saturday March 27, we move into double helpings of British – and Commonwealth – title fare that could end up being classics.
Willy Hutchinson bidding for his first belts against the rugged and often fearsome Lennox Clarke at super middleweight will be nothing short of an acid test for the young Scot. I have gone on the record as saying how highly I rate Willy and back him to go all the way, but this is his first major examination and I suspect his one will catch fire right from the off.
As far as Lennox is concerned, this is a case of too much too soon for Willy. He will insist the former amateur world champion is biting off more than he can chew and I would expect many pundits might well share these thoughts.
If you talk a big game you have got to be prepared to take big fights and Willy fully believes in himself and his ability. This will be Willy’s coming of age fight as a professional and, should he come through, there will be no stopping him.
The other half of our British title serving on the night comes with Chris Jenkins making a third defence of his welterweight crown against the talented former Team GB product Ekow Essuman.
Even though they are only a year apart in age, Chris is vastly more experienced than Ekow and this will be one where a gifted challenger is looking to unseat a seasoned campaigner. Chris has been there and done it, while Ekow has everything to prove, although he will have gathered valuable know-how in defeating Tyrone Nurse – who had two epic British title struggles against Jenkins – in 2019.
It is another fascinating match-up, supported by featherweight whirlwind Louie Lynn going for the WBC International Silver title and Nathan Gorman readying himself for another charge at heavyweight titles.
These will really be three nights of fights you won’t want to miss, live on BT Sport.
I AM DELIGHTED we have been able to add two top quality, already battle-hardened operators to our squad at Queensberry Promotions with the signings of Callum Johnson and Zach Parker.
As far as they – and I – are concerned, they are good to go. Straight in at the highest level because they have shown they belong there. It is a little bit unusual for us because we normally build fighters from scratch, so it will be nice to take a shortcut for a change.
Callum is recognised in the rankings as the No.1 light heavyweight in Britain and his priority is for a second tilt at a world title after giving such a good account of himself against the formidable Artur Beterbiev. He followed this up with a resounding victory over Sean Monaghan in early 2019 and it is a pity that he – through no fault of his own – has lost a little momentum since then.
Our job will be to get him firing on all cylinders again and, along with his ambitions at world title level, we have a couple of tasty assignments waiting for him on the domestic front, with him hopefully coming in as world champion.
Zach is the WBO No.1 ranked super middleweight in the world and he has flown a little bit under the radar in working himself into top spot. He looks like a top-notch fighter who can box and also carries significant power.
The Derby man is in mandatory position for the title currently held by Billy Joe Saunders but, with Bill seemingly set to jump in with Canelo in May, this could well change and he could be in line for a crack at the Mexican superstar or even end up fighting for a vacant title.
We will see, but first we will get him active again, starting on our Copper Box card on March 26 and I look forward to him carrying the Queensberry flag on his world title journey.