By Alan Hubbard
Tyson Fury and Daniel Dubois may be the big shots, in every sense, among the rampant Queensberry fist-soldiers at the moment but many believe, Frank Warren among them, that there is a little lad rising in the ranks who is on the brink of making a huge name for himself.
Unbeaten bantamweight Dennis McCann, a 19-year-old Naseem Hamed fight-alike is already being compared to the Prince of Pugilism.
“I think he could be the new Naz,” says the Hall of Fame promoter.
Me too. Certainly in terms of potential talent and technique. He has a similarly flamboyant style coupled with instinctive aggression which has seen him fittingly tagged “Dennis the Menace.
Outside the ring he is a nice level-headed lad, polite and approachable, which, alas, Naz wasn’t always in the latter part of his career.
While he was shrewdly guided promotionally by Warren and under the tactical tutorial of Brendan Ingle he was a fabulous fighter, a worthy world featherweight champion and a supreme boxer who dazzled with his hand speed and was fearsome with his punching power.
Unfortunately towards the end his ego over spilled into an arrogance that many found unacceptable, particulary in the media, dissing them and some of his fallen foes.
So it was no surprise that there were broad smiles among the British press at ringside in Las Vegas when he was beaten in his penultimate contest by Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera.
Yet overall he had one of the most brilliant careers in British boxing but as Warren said had he followed more of the sage advice he was given there was no limit to what he might have achieved in boxing. He could’ve gone on to be one of the greatest multi weight world champions of all time.
As it happens, the retired Hamed is a much nicer character these days, largely shunning the limelight, living quietly on the fringe of a famous Surrey golf course and playing that game to a high level, if not quite to to the heights of his amazing boxing career.
The “New Naz” may be a Menace in the ring but his flamboyance is well-disciplined under astute trainer Alan Smith and his 6-0 record is an indication of great things to come.
A young newlywed, he has the maturity beyond his years. A fan-friendly cheeky chappy and an extremely likeable lad, he unlikely to have his head turned by the success and accompanying rewards which are surely coming his way.
When live boxing resumes – and hopefully that won’t be too long now that the Board are suggesting there could be TV shows held behind closed doors before too long – my prediction is that Maidstone’s McCann will be one of its fastest rising attractions with more exciting exposure on BT.
Like all active sportsmen, not only boxers, McCann admits it is a little hard to keep motivated at the moment but as he told this website recently: “I know I’ve got to tick over. I’ve got a little gym to work in but when you don’t know when we will all be fighting again it’s hard to keep going. We’ve all got to do it though because when the call comes you’ve got to be ready.”
One thing’s for sure. When the first bell rings again The Menace will be certainly be ready, willing – and distinctly able.Just like Naz.
THERE ARE MORE boxing casualties of the horrific COVID-19, though thankfully not fatalities in the human sense. The magazine Boxing Monthly has gone to the wall after 31 years and two of the most prestigious gatherings in sport scheduled for this autumn have already been cancelled because of the virus. The British Boxing Board of Control’s is annual awards dinner, which usually takes place in September, has been put back until next January while the Boxing Writers Club dinner scheduled as usual for October at the Savoy in London, has been abandoned for the first time in 68 years with the Club having re-booked at the same venue for October 2021.
THERE ISN’T MUCH to smile about at the moment but I was amused when a pal mentioned that he was already fed up with watching so many repeats of old comedy series on the box. “I wouldn’t mind,” he says, “but when they keep showing ‘Not Going Out’ they must be having a laugh.