MANCHESTER CARD STREETS AHEAD
By Frank Warren
PUTTING TOGETHER A boxing card can put you in mind of the memorable line uttered by Tom Hanks in the movie Forrest Gump, where he likens life to a box of chocolates and concludes ‘you never know what you’re gonna get’.
Boxing can be a bit like that at times but, on Saturday in Manchester, it is Quality Street all the way, minus any soft centres.
The AO Arena, interlinked with Manchester Victoria station and the grandest and biggest indoor venue in the UK, gets to play host to what should surely be a truly special night of boxing headed up by a heavyweight spectacular.
This is a night where Big Joe Joyce can really announce himself as a major player in the top echelon of boxing’s marquee and most popular division. His high stakes collision with closest ranking rival Joseph Parker for the WBO Interim world championship will confirm or disprove our firm belief that he is ready to take his place in the elite heavyweight kingdom currently ruled by Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk.
A rejuvenated former world champion in Parker represents a perfect road test for the Big Juggernaut and it is the sort of fight people want to see, with it being between the No.1 and No.2 in the WBO heavyweight rankings.
With Joe sitting in the No.1 spot he could have chosen to sit on his hands and await his shot at the big time. This, while perhaps understandable, would have been counterproductive.
Joe has taken on significant challenges throughout his career and there is no value in simply marking time when the biggest obstacles are fast approaching. Should he be successful against Joseph on a huge occasion on Saturday, he will be ready for a tilt at the top boys next year in a mega stadium clash.
That is for the future though, first of all Joe has got a tough job on his hands against the rugged Kiwi, who fully believes he is the one who will inflict a first defeat on our man.
It is a real pleasure to welcome Amanda Serrano onto our Manchester card, a true superstar of the sport who is typically taking on yet another unification test against the unbeaten Sarah Mahfoud.
Thanks go to both Jake Paul and Nakisa Bidarian from Most Valuable Promotions for their collaboration in bringing Amanda over for such a significant fight that I am sure the Manchester crowd and viewers on BT Sport Box Office will enjoy.
The same to Lou DiBella, who guides the career of the IBO world super featherweight champion Michael Magnesi. The unbeaten Italian defends against our British champion Anthony Cacace and I really think we have got a cracker on our hands with this one.
Classy welterweight Ekow Essuman gets the chance to give his Lonsdale belt a permanent home in Nottingham when he takes on his mandatory challenge from tough Londoner Samuel Antwi in what will be another no quarter given collision, certain to excite.
Then we have Nathan Heaney, our middleweight fan magnet, taking on a tricky domestic scrap against Jack Flatley, with him again having sold out his full allocation of tickets. I suspect we’ll be hearing a certain song belted out by the Stoke choir more than once over the course of the evening!
Before Amanda Serrano takes to the ring, our own First Lady at featherweight, Raven Chapman, takes on a huge test in just her fourth fight as a professional. Raven goes up against former IBF world champion Jorgelina Guanini for the WBC International title and taking this fight is a real statement of intent from Raven and her team.
I have been so impressed with what I have seen from Raven so far, which admittedly isn’t that much as her Queensberry debut lasted a matter of 58 seconds! I really believe it is only a matter of a short space of time before we are plotting a world title for her, which is why I am sure she will be keeping a close eye on the Serrano-Mahfoud fight.
I am also looking forward to seeing Mark Heffron make a speedy return to action after becoming British, Commonwealth and IBF Intercontinental super middleweight champion. Mark is an example to all for the way he has stuck at it and he showed what he is all about with the way he set about Lennox Clarke last time out in July. With it being such a quick turnaround, this fight will be about Mark maintaining momentum in front of a home audience for him ahead of a big career push later in the year.
Mark is an exciting fighter who has now found his optimum weight. He is an absolute pleasure to work with and I am thrilled he is now getting the rewards his talent and application deserves.
I am sure you will agree there is plenty to feast your eyes on come Saturday night, a show with something for everyone, much like a big tin of Quality Street.