By Frank Warren
FIRST THINGS FIRST, a belated Happy New Year to you all. Some of you may have heard from a couple of interviews I did on Monday that I saw in 2021 from the confines of the Lister Hospital in Stevenage, having been struck down by Covid-19 just after Christmas.
I know full well that I am one of the lucky ones to be back home and on the road to recovery, although it is a bit of a slow process at the moment. I am on the mend though and, rest assured, plenty of fights have been and are being made and our show is back on the road on February 27 when Carl Frampton bids to make history by becoming Ireland’s first three-weight world champion.
I have now experienced first hand why the rules and guidelines currently governing our lives were put in place and why it is so important for us to adhere to them. Unless we comply, the dedicated and hugely compassionate NHS staff simply won’t be able to deliver the care and treatment to those unfortunate enough to have contracted the virus.
The workload these heroic doctors, nurses, orderlies, porters and administrators are currently taking on almost defies belief, while also potentially compromising their own wellbeing. These good people need us all to do our bit to prevent them exceeding capacity and not being able to administer such a high level of care.
I would like to place on record my sincere gratitude to everyone working at the Lister Hospital and I so hope we have this virus back under control before too long. People who, for some reason, question whether this pandemic is for real should spend a bit of time where I was for eight days before spreading such dangerous rhetoric.
Contrary to popular belief, I don’t yet qualify for a vaccine, but I am looking forward to the point this year where we are all protected and we can return to some sort of normality.
In boxing this would be fans returning to ringside, but we are still some way off that, so we will continue to focus on bringing televised spectacles to your living room and we have got some cracking fights on the horizon.
I won’t spoil the planned announcements, but I can tell you the supporting card for the Jamel Herring-Carl Frampton WBO world super featherweight title collision features some right humdingers that I am sure will be well received. They fall into that ‘proper fight’ category.
Of course, it is Carl’s big night though and I so hope he is able to bring about what would be an amazing swansong to a terrific career that has thrilled millions.
It won’t be easy and it isn’t meant to be at this level. Herring will enjoy a significant size advantage and Carl will have to be somewhere near his brilliant best to seize the belt from the retired US Marine, who will embark on another tour of duty to London to defend his title.
It is a real shame that Carl’s loyal fans will have to cheer him on from home but the championship schedule does not allow for delays and we needed to deliver this opportunity now.
We are also finalising cards for multiple shows across March, April and May so the action will come thick and fast once we are back up and running again.
The plan is for Joe Joyce to be in the thick of the action and the WBO have issued a mandate for him to fight Oleksandr Usyk in what will be a top heavyweight clash.
We are working hard towards putting the Tyson Fury-Anthony Joshua fight together that everyone wants to see and the next best fight to be made is Joyce-Usyk, with the winner certain to either fight for or inherit the WBO title.
Another who is on the cusp of fighting for WBO honours is our middleweight favourite Liam Williams, who has really captured the imagination of fight fans since stepping up to 160lbs.
His challenge to Demetrius Andrade is now enforced and non-negotiable. There will be no interim fights or moving up to super middleweight without vacating.
Liam getting this fight – which we firmly believe he will win – locked in has been our primary objective all along and now it has got to happen I expect the purse bids to be called for shortly. With 80 per cent of the purse in his favour and boxing crowds being permitted in some States, it is likely Andrade will enjoy home advantage, but I think he will need much more than that against our man, who I suspect would relish taking out the champion on away territory.
By becoming WBO champion Liam would open the door to a sequence of huge fights that we are ready and waiting to deliver on this year and beyond. He calls himself a ‘Machine’ but at middleweight he is more of a wrecking ball and I wouldn’t hesitate to match him up with anyone at the weight.
We have also got a number of fights put forward by the BBBoC to work out, including one for our British champion middleweight Denzel Bentley in a domestic dust-up with Felix Cash, which I am sure is a fight the fans want to see.
So there is plenty in the pipeline for us to look forward to but, in the meantime, please look after yourselves and those around you over the next few months so we can all make a welcome return to ringside later this year.