THE FRANK WARREN COLUMN
By Frank Warren
WE HAD TO put our thinking caps on and get a bit creative when it came to identifying the ideal location to stage the WBO Interim super middleweight world title fight between Billy Joe Saunders and Shefat Isufi.
Potential avenues towards staging the fight in London were exhausted before we struck on the idea of showcasing Billy Joe on his home patch, so we are giving Hertfordshire a whirl.
Given that many fight fans hail from the county and the fact that we are based nearby, I am not sure why we have not considered it before, but we are now and we are all set to go on May 18 and I would like to thank everyone at Stevenage FC for their great assistance and co-operation.
Stevenage is an easily accessible venue, with parking available and the train station nearby, which can be reached in just 20 minutes from Finsbury Park.
It is sure to be a special night under the lights at the Lamex Stadium and I know it is an occasion that Billy Joe, in particular, is looking forward to as he bids to put himself back amongst the world title belts.
It would be fair to say that the title status of this headline fight will remain fairly fluid until a bit nearer the time. There is a chance, if WBO champion Gilberto Ramirez is successful in his first venture up to light heavyweight on April 12, that he will revert to his original plan of action and campaign at the new weight.
If that is the case then Billy Joe and Shefat will be fighting for the vacant full title. If Ramirez continues to hedge his bets then they will fight for the Interim title and will be next in line to challenge the unbeaten Mexican champion.
Isufi is putting his position on the line as the current mandatory challenger, so we shouldn’t take anything for granted and assume a straightforward night’s work. The Germany-based Albanian is on a ten-fight winning streak since coming down in weight, first from cruiserweight and then light heavyweight.
Taking that into consideration, there is a strong likelihood that the 29-year-old will be coming in big and Bill will be giving a fair chunk of weight away. This is where Bill’s typically elusive style will have to come into play.
Bill wants to be in big fights and we want to deliver them for him. The thinking behind this one at super middleweight is to get him back in the title mix, which will give him leverage when plotting the next steps.
There are plenty of options at super middle, where the title picture remains fragmented, and big fights to be made. There is no reason why Bill shouldn’t be involved in them if he keeps his focus because, for me, he is the best out there on his day.
WE HAD QUITE some night up in Leicester last Saturday and, I am sure you will agree that three out of the four televised fights provided some compelling drama.
Starting at the top, Sam Bowen did well in his first defence of his British super featherweight title against Jordan McCorry. I thought at first he wasn’t maximising his attributes as fully as he might have, but he was up against a highly-charged opponent in McCorry who really made a good fight of it and did his own future prospects no harm at all.
Sam came through the test because he is a top quality fighter and he needs fights like this because it is not going to get any easier. Sometimes it is the case that it isn’t about just throwing big bombs and you’ve got to chip away, rather than use a sledgehammer approach.
Sam will find this more as he climbs the levels and the outcome will still be the same in that eventually they will fall over.
This was a good learning fight for him and I’ve got a lot of admiration for Sam, who will go on to bigger and better things.
Making three defences of a British title can sometimes be a torturous and drawn out affair but, I think in Sam’s case, we will be able to let him play it out because the top fights are there to be made for him.
We’ve got the likes of Archie Sharp, Zelfa Barrett and Lyon Woodstock on our books, which are all really exciting fights and obviously there is a title there, which means a lot to the fighters and is a very prestigious belt.
The bottom line though is we want to make the big fights.
I felt for Nathan Gorman who, although emerging a landslide points winner, was on a bit of a hiding to nothing against Kevin Johnson.
It must have been so frustrating for Nathan and his team with late chopping and changing of opponents, where he was preparing for certain styles and ended up with a fighter’s nightmare in Johnson.
Still, he did what he had to do and got the job done and we will see to it that the fights he wants are delivered for him.
The moral of the story from the Sam Maxwell fight is ‘it ain’t over til it’s over’ and Sabri Sadiri would do well to remember that.
Given the many millions that have watched the clips produced via BT Sport across social media, you don’t need me to repeat the sequence of events, other than to say it was one of the most dramatic finishes I have witnessed in many a year.
I was actually shouting at the corner for Sam to let the right hand go because Sadiri was so open, then he pulled one out of the hat and it was the perfect shot and full credit to him for hanging in there after being wobbled himself earlier in the round.
Sam, who I think is an absolute gent, needs and will have a good break now before we sit down with him and his team to plan his next move.
I must also mention the little local derby on the card between CJ Challenger and Kyle Haywood for the vacant Midlands Area super welterweight title. The pair served up a treat – one deserving of a rematch – and created a superb atmosphere in the arena.
This is how it is from our side. Daniel has got a big fight against the 14-1 big puncher Richard Lartey at the SSE Arena, Wembley on April 27.
If he passes this test with the flying colours he has come through every other put in front of him then I have no issue in making the fight and we will not be withdrawing him from the process.
We get on well with Joyce’s management team so I am sure between us we will get something worked out but, first of all, Daniel has got a job to do.