THE FRANK WARREN COLUMN
By Frank Warren
IT WAS A pleasure to briefly catch up with Frank Bruno last week at the Peacock Gym, where the former world champion was endorsing the credentials of the new big thing on the heavyweight scene.
Frank ventured over to Canning Town to put on a little pad session and impart some valuable advice to Daniel Dubois ahead of his big date at the o2 Arena on July 13, when he takes on Nathan Gorman for the British heavyweight title.
Nathan, of course, also has a British boxing icon firmly in his corner with having two-weight world champion Ricky Hatton as trainer, not to mention working in a gym that counts Tyson Fury as one of its regulars.
Unfortunately for Frank, he was never in a promotional position for a tilt at the coveted domestic title as both Horace Notice and Gary Mason from his own stable held the title at the time he would have been ripe for a shot. Frank hit the fast lane and went for, and won, the European title less than a year before his first world title attempt.
Both Daniel and Nathan are determined to conquer the home front first before swiftly moving onwards and upwards.
Times have changed from years ago when fighters sought to hold on to the British title. Henry Cooper, for instance, was involved in some 12 British title fights, while before that, Bombardier Billy Wells – no, I was not promoting back in1913 – won 11 straight before unsuccessfully trying to win it back a couple of times.
These days, for the elite fighters, the British title is more of a prestigious staging post in their careers. They win it and then move on to competing for European and world honours.
That is certainly the plan for Daniel and Nathan, whatever the outcome on July 13. There is a parallel between this fight and another British heavyweight title fight from a few years back that one of my fighters, at the time, was involved in – with the other, funnily enough, being with me now.
In July 2011 at Wembley Arena, Dereck Chisora and Tyson fought for the title when they both held a record of 14-0. Defeat didn’t unduly affect Dereck who, five months later, fought for the European title. Two months after that he went in with Vitali Klitschko for the WBC world title.
And we all know what Tyson went on to achieve.
So it is like I always say, taking a loss is not the end of the story, far from it, and the career path of Chisora illustrates this perfectly. I expect all of our talented heavyweight threesome of Daniel, Nathan and Joe Joyce to be involved in massive fights in the years ahead.
The return match between Tyson and Dereck in November 2014 was the last time I promoted a British heavyweight title showdown, with the European and WBO International titles also at stake.
The first one I promoted, if I recall correctly, was 29 years earlier between Hughroy Currie and Funso Banjo, with Hughroy winning the title on points at the Alexandra Pavilion.
I also staged the next one between Hughroy and Horace Notice at what some might say was an unusual location. The Palace Lido, Douglas on the Isle of Man played host to Horace winning a title that he would defend on three occasions.
It came about because we got offered a site fee from a casino in Douglas and the fight took place on a Saturday afternoon, broadcast live on ITV’s World of Sport. Remember that? Those were the days.
The title has been in some notable hands since, with the likes of Mason, Lennox Lewis, Herbie Hide, Julius Francis, Danny Williams, Matt Skelton, David Price and Anthony Joshua holding the belt.
What we have in front of us at the o2 Arena though is something a bit special. Two young heavyweights with perfect records and genuine world title aspirations ready to risk their burgeoning reputations against a domestic rival.
Many in the past, like Frank Bruno, would have been sent on a de-tour to avoid a stablemate or tricky looking opponent. There was no suggestion of that from our two and neither of them was backing down when the match-up was mandated.
We are in for a real humdinger at the top of what should be a fantastic night of boxing on July 13 and it is one that really shouldn’t be missed.