ONLY ONE PLACE TO BE ON SATURDAY
By Frank Warren
WE’VE GOT AN absolute banger of a show in prospect at The O2 on Saturday with six major titles on the line being fought for between British fighters.
The main course on the Greenwich Peninsula, of course, is the fascinating clash between Zach Parker and John Ryder for the WBO Interim world super middleweight title, with the prize of either fighting Canelo Alvarez or being elevated to full champion.
Zach, I believe, is a bit special and this is his chance to demonstrate as much to a much wider audience and gain the status his obvious talents deserve.
I reckon Zach has got world champion written all over him and I’ve been mightily impressed with what I have seen since we teamed up some 20 months ago and provided him with a showcase to push towards elite level.
He just looks the part. He can bang, he can switch and move, plus he is a good boxer. A formidable package he will need to employ in full against John Ryder, who possesses such vast experience and is enjoying something of a resurgence late on in his career.
John will rightly say he has fought better opponents and that is to be expected, given that he is 36 fights in and I have got enormous respect for the way he has stuck at it, come through adversity and made a success of himself in the sport.
What I always say though is that boxing is about timing. Zach is on the up and up and is fresh, fit and fierce. This is the sort of fight that will qualify him for competing at the higher level and I expect him to rise to the challenge.
This is a quality domestic fight that I have not heard a bad word said about. Of course, the original match was made with Demetrius Andrade and John was being lined up for alternative employment, but this fight just makes a whole lot of sense and I think it will deliver a greater spectacle than what was being teed up before.
You really don’t want to miss this fight, so be sure to tune in from 7pm on BT Sport.
Those who do switch on from the start are in for a treat because we’ve got a clutch of other fights that could well turn out to be explosive affairs.
Our charming and popular middleweight Hamzah Sheeraz is going for another title to add to the WBC Silver championship he already has his name on. He takes on River Wilson-Bent for the Commonwealth crown and this has got the makings of a terrific scrap.
Hamzah is obviously tipped for big things but, being a young man of just 22, he is building a career for himself and wants to take every step at the right time. I would like to put him in for the British next year and a fight like this against a good fighter in River is the perfect testing ground for such an ambition.
You know there will be no easy pickings against a quality and capable opponent such as River, who has fought on one of our shows before and we know what he is all about.
Our precocious super bantamweight star Dennis McCann will also face the biggest test to date on Saturday when he goes up against the tough Scot Joe Ham, also for the Commonwealth title.
Dennis is another where we shouldn’t forget his still tender years at just 21 and his opponents will always point to the hype surrounding him. Well, so far, he is living up to it and we need to make sure his challenges get a little steeper with every fight.
Joe is just the job because he was a hugely decorated amateur and, although he has not enjoyed the greatest opportunities as a pro, he is a veteran of coming up to 200 fights and he points out himself that he has never come close to being put down or stopped.
Also, Joe, River and Sam Noakes’ opponent Calvin McCord, have had plenty of time to get ready and prepare properly with the benefit of a full camp. There are no short notice jobs here.
Onto Sam, again he is fighting for the Commonwealth lightweight title against Calvin, as well as defending his WBC International Silver title. This is a good fight between two unbeaten fighters of huge promise.
Sam is obviously going for his goal of 10 stoppages from his first 10 fights and is one of the most exciting young prospects in the business, but we will certainly find out more about him by him taking on a British opponent with a comparable record.
Outside of our British prospects and contenders, don’t miss seeing Pierce O’Leary, the Dubliner fittingly known as ‘Big Bang’, who fights for the WBC International super lightweight title. This is a young man going places and I think he will be world title material in the next 12-18 months.
So, don’t worry about what is going on in the Australian jungle, BT Sport from 7pm is the place to be on Saturday night.
ALL OUR FIGHTERS did themselves proud on the Telford card on Saturday just gone, and none more so than the local lad made good, Liam Davies, who added the European super bantamweight championship and WBC International title to his British title belt.
As he said himself, he is rattling through the levels. English, WBC International Silver, British and now European and WBC International. Young Liam is a man on a mission and I am thrilled that he has become a headline attraction for us in Telford.
He totally outsmarted Ionut Baluta, much as he did to Marc Leach last time out and now he wants to push on to the world scene.
It was also an obvious delight to see Anthony Yarde come through unscathed against Stefani Koykov so that we could officially lock in his January 28 date at Wembley against the unified world light heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev.
This will be some occasion for British boxing and a fantastic way to launch a new year for us at Queensberry. Starting as we mean to go on.
In closing, a special mention to Owen Cooper, who won the Midlands Area welterweight title in just his sixth fight against Jamie Stewart on Saturday. Only 22, he was so impressive in the way he set about the champion and clearly a bright future lies ahead.