By Frank Warren
WE HAD, QUITE literally, a banging night at Wembley’s SSE Arena on Saturday, with high skills, big bombs and true grit aplenty across a hugely entertaining evening.
It was truly magical to have the fans back in big numbers and those that joined us at Wembley created such a special atmosphere in support of the fighters, who I am sure appreciated it, as did I. It was like a proper old school fight night all the way through, with the vast majority taking their seats early and enjoying every fight.
There was lots to enjoy leading up to the climax of Joe Joyce getting the job done against the incredibly tough Carlos Takam and, in the process, securing his spot as No.1 contender for the WBO world heavyweight title.
Inevitably, these things take time to come around, so the plan is to keep Big Joe busy and have him out again in October against an opponent of a similar high calibre.
What was also pleasing to note was how the fans have clearly taken Joe to their hearts and the support for him inside the arena was something to behold. We all know he can fight and is capable of reaching the top, but what he is now showing us is more of himself as a person and letting his personality emerge to the public.
He is definitely one of the nice guys of the sport and I feel certain that more and more people will get behind him as his shot at a world title closes in.
Joe didn’t have it all his own way against Takam, with most of the rounds being close and the veteran Frenchman landing a few bombs along the way. It is the way Joe shrugs off such heavy artillery that is really remarkable and he barely takes a backward step.
I remain convinced that we have a special talent on our hands with Hamzah Sheeraz, with the super welterweight putting on a clinical performance to defeat the Spaniard Ezequiel Gurria in five rounds.
Hamzah employs such a compact, effective style and his assets will only be enhanced by the work he is putting in over in Los Angeles. He is putting in the graft and the sacrifice to make a success of himself and this will serve him well with the big fights that are clearly in the pipeline.
Ekow Essuman also delivered the goods with a superb display to get the better of the British and Commonwealth welterweight champion Chris Jenkins in their title clash.
Everyone knows Chris possesses ability and experience in abundance, as well as incredible fortitude and bravery given that he fought on with a rib injury sustained early on. This should not detract from Ekow’s achievement and he applied a big finish in the eighth round to take the belts home with him.
The highly-skilled Nottingham man now has a big target on his back and will willingly accept big challenges.
Much the same can be said for our super bantamweight battleship Chris Bourke, who barely dropped a round in defeating James Beech jr over 10 rounds in defence of his WBC International Silver title.
Chris, who is now 10-0 as a pro, wants to keep stepping it up and I can envisage a barnstorming clash with Brad Foster a little further down the line when it has been built up a bit more. That will be one to look forward to and hopefully Brad will be in possession of the European title when they do get it on.
Talking of mouth-watering matches being built up over time, Sam Noakes jumping in with Mark Chamberlain in a lightweight blockbuster takes some beating. Sam made it seven out of seven stoppage finishes on Saturday and the fact that both he and Mark are already fielding questions over a potential battle speaks volumes for the progress of the two youngsters.
I don’t wish to dampen any enthusiasm, but this isn’t a fight for the near future because they both deserve it to be as big as it can be. We have no problem in putting our fighters in together, but we need to maximise the occasions and, in turn, the rewards for the boxers.
Keep talking about it, keep asking them the questions and keep building up the demand. It will happen if they both keep winning and the calls for it to be made become impossible to ignore.
Our heavyweight talent David Adeleye moved to 7-0 with a fourth round stoppage of Mladen Manev to top up his experience – and this is the ingredient he needs more and more of. Young heavyweights operate under the burden of huge expectations when what they really need is time to learn the ropes.
Big D is a big talker and he was quick to talk up fights with people much further down the track, which upped the scrutiny of his own performances. We will move him along at the right pace and get him to where he needs to be before raising the risk level.
We now also have fellow heavy George Fox on our books – who moved to 4-0 on Saturday – and we have a similar job on our hands in progressing him towards title contention.
There were two other impressive performances at Wembley that came from welterweight Micky Burke jr, who scored a second successive KO win, and a Queensberry debut for the richly talented lightweight Charles Frankham, who made light of a two-year ring absence to record a convincing points victory.
All of our fighters enhanced their prospects on Saturday and offered a snapshot of the huge reserve of young talent we are currently nurturing towards successful futures.
Sport, in particular boxing, has never been an exact science and is impossible to accurately predict at the best of times when it comes to potential champions, but I am extremely confident that a multitude of world champions will eventually emerge from our burgeoning crop of hungry young hopefuls.