HEATING UP FOR THE HEAVYWEIGHTS

posted on: 05/07/2022

By Frank Warren

THE HEAVYWEIGHT DIVISION is about to get very interesting when it explodes fully back into life post August 20.

Three of the belts have effectively been parked up since the end of 2020 when Anthony Joshua recorded victory over Kubrat Pulev in London. After this point, Oleksandr Usyk was the next mandatory challenger at the back end of August 2021 but, due to Joshua continually being insulated against the cost of defeat, we are still waiting for this engagement to come to a conclusion.

All being well, this will be the case when the pair get it on again in Jeddah and then other contenders will finally be able to circle portions of one of the biggest prize in sport.

In more or less the same passage of time that Usyk v Joshua has been playing out, Tyson Fury has kept boxing’s premier division alive and kicking with thrilling victories over Deontay Wilder and Dillian Whyte, reinforcing his position as the No.1 heavyweight in the world.

Unifying titles is welcome and admirable as long as it doesn’t stall the natural course of events. If you lose a mandatory defence, go and work your way back into position and let the next man take his opportunity. Governing bodies should resist insurance policies being put in place for ordered defences as it just holds everything up.

Just for the record, Tyson made no attempt to have a rematch clause inserted for his defence against Dillian Whyte – and I am pretty sure Dillian would have said no in any case.

Anyway, the point is that once the score is settled in Saudi, both Joe Joyce and Daniel Dubois will be right in line for a shot at the belts. Of course, Tyson might come back into play for an undisputed showdown, otherwise the winner will soon get his orders as to who he will be fighting next.

This is why it was so important to get Big Joe firing again on Saturday night after a lengthy period out with injury. Christian Hammer was a live and very lively opponent for a few rounds and, once again, Joe showed he can take a blow to the whiskers.

The fact that he appears so indestructible makes Joe a formidable foe. Once his opponents have hit him with their best shot, it must be so disheartening to see him continually marching forwards throwing hurtful bombs of his own.

So it was valuable action for Joe at Wembley and, now he is up and running again, he will be tested further against a ranked opponent in September, with Daniel also back with a defence of his WBA world championship around the same time.

It is going to be such an exciting period for British heavyweight boxing and I do hope that Joshua prevails in his rematch to spice it up even further. He has done big things for the sport in this country and it would be good to have him involved as the British grip on the division continues to strengthen.

Looking back on Saturday’s show, you would have to conclude that the old magic is still very much there inside Zolani Tete, who brutally vanquished Jason Cunningham via a stunning fourth round knockout.

Zolani will now rightfully be pushed towards world titles again at a third different weight and I wouldn’t bet against him completing his hattrick. As for Jason, I have huge respect for what he has accomplished in recent times and he is a shining example to every boxer.

He stepped up in class against Zolani – a true world level operator – and got caught with a hellacious shot that he couldn’t recover from. Jason’s previous tells us we should never write him off and we certainly won’t.

He is a Queensberry fighter who we have loved working with and I am sure we will be sitting down with him soon to plot his next moves. I am looking forward to it and there are plenty of big, lucrative fights still out there for him.

Mark Chamberlain showed himself to be a genuine force at lightweight with a totally convincing display against the tough Marc Vidal. Mark boxed superbly and had his opponent rocking on a number of occasions.

You could even say that Vidal was too tough for his own good and I do strongly feel that he should have been saved from himself by either the referee or his own corner. By the closing rounds he was taking an unnecessary beating. He was not going to turn it around and he should have been protected.

Sadly, a continual pummelling like that, fighters don’t ever fully recover from. Just because he was still throwing punches, it does not mean he was still in the fight. Mark is a hurtful puncher and his last fight showed how it should be done.

A good opponent in Jeff Ofori had his nose shattered by a straight right from Mark in round two or three and, well behind on points and breathing affected by his broken nose, he – or his corner – took himself out of the line of fire on his stool at the end of round five.

We must stop fighters putting pride before a fall and put their safety and longer-term prospects first.

Also on the Wembley card, strapping cruiserweight Tommy Fletcher showed why he is very much one to watch with a knockout win on debut, while super lightweight Henry Turner put on another classy display to take himself to 8-0 and closer to title contention.

Micky Burke jr didn’t have it all his own way in his seventh fight, but it is all part of the learning curve and the objective is that he improves from the experience.

It was an entertaining night of fights and we are all set to go again on July 16 across town at Stratford’s Copper Box Arena.

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