THE FRANK WARREN COLUMN
By Frank Warren
IT WAS LIKE a good old fashioned variety show at Arena Birmingham on Saturday with the entertainment coming thick and fast throughout the night.
We had a bit of everything. Top young prospects striving to catch the eye while adding experience to the bank, spectacular knockouts and stoppages and a couple of typically gruelling 12-rounders where British titles found new homes.
This kind of stacked card full of competitive matches is instructive for us as promoters. We get to find out what level people are at or likely to reach. Who needs to be pushed on quickly and who needs the patience and investment of prolonged building.
In some instances a make or break fight is needed to determine whether reaching elite level is a realistic ambition because we are in the business of guiding fighters towards world titles and creating another generation of headline attractions.
One young man who showed us that he is very much heading towards the A-list is the light middleweight Hamzah Sheeraz. The just 20-year-old entered into his first step-up fight against the tough local Ryan Kelly off the back of three speedy stoppages that could have led him to believe he could just blow people away.
He showed he has got much more to him than that by digging deep against an opponent who came to rough him up and sit on his chest, with Hamzah being a lean over six-footer. He drew the fire out of Kelly and then went in for a clinical finish in the sixth round.
The kid has clearly got potential and he can look forward to some tasty fights over the next 12 months as we move him to the next level.
Another shining light on the night, as seems to be the norm nowadays, was our little 18-year-old Menace, Dennis McCann. This feisty firebrand has got it all in front of him and his fights make for terrific viewing.
He is fun to watch and he is an engaging personality who you cannot help but warm to. Dennis is one of those fighters – and I’ve seen a few in my time – who you mark down as something special right from the off and earmark for great things.
We won’t rush him and we don’t have to given his age, but his journey to the top is going to be a compelling ride, so I would encourage you to jump onboard with him.
Dennis later joined me at ringside to take a look at those at the top of the bantamweight business in the world title clash between Zolani Tete and John Riel Casimero.
I obviously favoured our man Zolani going into the fight, but sport is never an exact science and anyone who gets clocked on the side of the head is vulnerable to defeat. The South African just couldn’t recover from the first third round shot that scrambled his senses.
It can happen in boxing and this is not the end for Zolani, who we will catch up with after Christmas and work out a way forward.
Sam Bowen was also parted from his title – the British super featherweight belt – after a bruising encounter with Anthony Cacace. We cannot have any complaints over the outcome because it was a fair one and Sam was hampered by the swelling around his eye.
Sam needs to get back to firing on all cylinders and prove that this was just an off night. There are still good fights to be made in the super featherweights and he needs to make himself a part of it.
Sam Maxwell and Lerrone Richards have moved themselves into the category of needing to be moved on quickly following their title victories in Birmingham.
Sam just had a bit too much for the capable young super lightweight prospect Connor Parker, who gave a good account of himself and was probably thrust into title contention too quickly against someone like Sam who has many more miles on the clock, particularly with his amateur background.
At 31, Sam needs to crack on and show us if he has got what it takes to reach the top. Much the same goes for Lerrone, who added the British title to his Commonwealth title at super middleweight.
Lerrone was pressed hard by a rugged opponent in Lennox Clarke, but it strikes me that he needs to really be extended by a top drawer operator to get the best out of him or he will do just enough to win.
We will shift Lerrone over to the fast lane next year and put him in some big fights to help him fulfil his obvious potential.
It was a real pity that the other British title showdown on the card between Chris Jenkins and Liam Taylor wasn’t able to reach a conclusion due to Jenkins succumbing to another awful cut. You have to feel for Taylor, with the fight being only a matter of four seconds away from being able to go to the cards instead of being declared a technical draw.
So with Birmingham now done and dusted we now turn our attention to the Copper Box on December 21 and our pre-Christmas show featuring Daniel Dubois, Tommy Fury, Liam Williams and Sunny Edwards before we enter 2020 and start the new decade with some significant developments we will be in position to share with you in the near future.