HAT’S OFF TO BILLY JOE, OUR TWO WEIGHT KING
THE FRANK WARREN COLUMN
By Frank Warren
BILLY JOE SAUNDERS confirmed his position as the King of Herts on Saturday night with a typically fleet-footed display which, at times, had his opponent Shefat Isufi punching shadows.
The most important thing to come out of the successful night at the Lamex Stadium in Stevenage was Bill becoming a two-weight world champion and congratulations to him on joining an elite band of fighters.
Bill has now got something other big fighters want, which makes it so much easier when it comes to putting together the marquee fights he wants in the near future. He has got a big bargaining chip, but I would imagine it still won’t be a straightforward exercise tempting the big names to share a ring with him.
Pure boxers like Bill are hard to match because the top operators don’t want to risk being made to look stupid. When he is on his game, Bill has got it in him to completely flummox the best in the business with his movement, the angles he creates and his shot selection.
As if that isn’t enough to put people off, he has also got a granite chin.
I have to give credit to Isufi because he actually posed more of a threat than the highly-touted David Lemieux did in Bill’s last big fight. The Canadian is still linked to world title challengers after Bill made him look like a clumsy slugger who couldn’t lay a glove on him.
Isufi, with everything going against him, didn’t give up and did clip Bill a couple of times.
The final outcome though was inevitable and Bill can now really test out the super middleweight terrain. I suspect we won’t have a lot of joy matching him with the domestic champions and contenders, but there are three other world champions and hopefully one of them will be up for a unification match.
What is crucial now and what we fully intend to deliver is to keep Bill busy. I know it has all been said before, but Bill has a different focus now and appears to be really happy in his work with Ben Davison alongside Tyson Fury. Those two can inspire each other to great heights.
Bill wants to be out a further two times this year, which is good news for us, the fans and BT Sport.
The BT Sport section of the card from Stevenage showcased some fantastic talent that I am sure the viewers enjoyed. You will be seeing plenty more of young Dennis McCann, who created such an impression on his debut that I am so excited to see how his career unfolds.
He is only 18 and a bantamweight and it is not often you see a demonstration of power and spite from one so young and so light. He is one to keep an eye on, no doubt about that.
I am also so impressed with Brad Foster, a really engaging character and good kid who has now won the British and Commonwealth titles with just 12 fights on the clock and absolutely no amateur pedigree.
He was up against a tough customer in Ashley Lane, who has upset the applecart previously, but Brad managed to dictate the tempo right from the first bell and showed the devilment to finish the fight in the final round.
Brad brought a good support with him down from Lichfield and I am certain they will all have plenty more big nights to look forward to.
Joe Joyce has now confirmed his place on our ‘Heavy Duty’ card at the o2 Arena on July 13 after reaching 9-0 with a third round stoppage of Alexander Ustinov. We shouldn’t overlook his accomplishment because Ustinov really is no knockover job and you can put Joe’s work into perspective by looking at the other defeats he has suffered across his 38 fight career.
Kubrat Pulev, Manuel Charr and Michael Hunter were all extended into the later rounds, which tells you something about Joe at this early stage of his professional career. He wants to be pushed on and we will be announcing his July 13 challenge this week.
I have to say how impressed I have been with Willy Hutchinson, who is another of our squad destined for big things. He really looks the part and now he just needs to sort out what weight he is going to campaign at.
If he is going to fight at super middleweight he will be a monster. If he carries on at light heavyweight then people are going to have to start looking beyond the likes of Joshua Buatsi because this lad is going to be special.
We shouldn’t be surprised because he is a former amateur world champion. I do see a likeness to George Groves in him, but the one he really reminds me of is Joe Calzaghe, with him being fast-handed and loose limbed.
I WAS DELIGHTED last week to add an absolute banger of a fight to our Leeds card on June 15, headlined by Josh Warrington making a second defence of his IBF world featherweight title against Kid Galahad.
Zelfa Barrett v Lyon Woodstock has all the makings of a classic confrontation between two of the best super featherweight talents in the British business.
They have both had a setback that hasn’t dented the confidence of either and, as I always say, taking a loss is not the end of the road. These two are back in a big fight for the Commonwealth title.
It is going to be some show at the FD Arena in Leeds, what with Josh making a defence against his mandatory challenger from Sheffield, as well as the super welterweight showdown between JJ Metcalf and Jason Welborn.
These are the sort fights we are bringing about on a regular basis now and it is a rarity when they do not deliver the goods for the fans.