By Frank Warren
THE BRITISH HEAVYWEIGHT title remained in English hands on Friday night but, to my mind, the residence of the belt in Norfolk could turn out to be a short stay.
Norwich’s Sam Sexton outpointed Gary Cornish from Inverness in front of the BoxNation cameras to become the new champion while, at the same time, there would’ve been a few young heavies watching on at home believing the crown is there for the taking.
One of the main reasons for BoxNation broadcasting the fight was due to a big interest in taking on the winner from our own heavy mob.
Friday’s fight turned out much the way most of us thought it would, with Sexton just about doing enough to thwart the challenge of the Scot over the stretch. It was a bit ponderous at times, with neither man employing – nor maybe possessing – the heavy artillery to bring about a stoppage.
I have much bigger expectations of the vacant English title scrap that will take place in Newcastle on November 11.
The unbeaten Nick Webb (11-0) goes in with our recent heavyweight recruit Nathan Gorman (10-0) in what should be a far more explosive encounter.
Gorman has clocked up eight KOs in his 36 rounds experience, with Webb having dished out nine KOs from his 24 rounds in the bank.
You suspect something will have to give in this one, with the next logical step for the winner being a shot at the British title.
You would imagine that Gorman and Daniel Dubois – as well as Joe Joyce – believe they have nothing to fear on the domestic title front and they will not be sticking around for too long at the level.
Don’t get me wrong, the English and British titles will be valuable stepping stones but – certainly in the case of our men – they will be pushing on to bigger and better things in the near future.
Gorman v Webb isn’t the only fascinating match-up on our bumper Newcastle card that might be flying a little bit under the radar at the moment, with the focus rightly being pointed towards the highly anticipated rematch between Liam Smith and Liam Williams.
One that catches my eye is between Liverpool’s Steven Lewis (14-0) and the local boy Jeff Saunders (11-0), who is now also on our books.
It promises to be some fight between two young guys who really want to put themselves in the title picture and move on from being considered prospects.
Lewis is one I really used to bang the drum for after watching him in action. He is one of those who, when you see him in the ring, you think he is something special. The trouble is, after fighting, he is one of those who has had many injuries and lost momentum in the process.
He has now got a top quality fight to put himself back in the spotlight and it is one I am looking forward to greatly.
Throw in the local derby match between Josh Leather and Glenn Foot, as well as Tommy Ward’s first defence of his British title against Sean Davis and we have got some night of boxing on our hands on November 11.
WHEN I SEE Anthony Crolla or his team turn their noses up – or cock a deaf’un – whenever the name Terry Flanagan is mentioned, it makes me think of Terry Downes, who sadly passed away last week, aged 81.
Downes was a boxer who would fight anybody and British boxing has lost one of its greatest fighters, as well as personalities.
The former world middleweight champion possessed the gift of the gab along with the jab and was always entertaining company.
The late Ernie Fossey, who was matchmaker, always referred to Downes as the ‘toughest bastard in boxing’ and he was also the central character in tales that have gone down in boxing folklore.
The day after winning his world title against the American Paul Pender in 1961 – in the second of a trilogy of fights – at Wembley, Downes met the media at a London car showroom sat perched on the bonnet of a limo.
A young female reporter with a new-found fascination for the fight game asked him whether he looked at his opponent’s eyes or gloves while in the ring.
“The gloves, always the gloves,” he responded.
“Why’s that?” came the follow-up enquiry.
“Well dahlin’, I’ve taken a few punches but I ain’t been hit by an eye yet.”
Downes was one of a kind and I send my condolences to his family and friends at this sad time.
And I am not surprised.
It is a proper fighting card, which is what we are trying to do, to give the fans value for money.
Carl himself was quoted as saying it is ‘probably the best card Ireland has ever seen’ and I am not about to argue with him.
It is some endorsement and, while I could make a case for some fights we have staged over there in the past, he could well be right and I don’t think there has been much better.