STAKES ARE HIGH FOR BOXING’S BEEFY
By Frank Warren
Liam Smith did what he had to do with his brutal demolition of Predrag Radosevic in Liverpool last weekend. The man from Montenegro – with one previous defeat on his card – didn’t get a chance to show resistance, but the bout served its purpose and kept Beefy busy.
The choice of opponent has been the subject of criticism and, of course, I would have preferred him to be in with a stellar name from the division. They simply weren’t available.
Austin Trout declined his mandatory challenge to take on the IBF champion Jermall Charlo. His twin Jermell contested the WBC title against John Jackson, while Erislandy Lara defended against Vanes Martirosyan – all on the same BoxNation-televised card a couple of weeks back. So unification was not an option.
I offered Kell Brook a guarantee of £600k plus an upside to fight Liam, but they didn’t want the fight.
Miguel Cotto is not currently active and Saul Alvarez is weighing up his options – and his weight category – following his defeat of Amir Khan. Big name opponents are not plucked off the peg and we went with the best available option.
I have been told that Eddie Hearn expressed some touching concern regarding Liam’s profile this week but, if I were him, I would focus my energy on mapping out a successful title path for his brothers Paul and Stephen.
Liam is the proud holder of a world championship belt won and defended twice on home soil. The challenges of his brothers have come overseas and both fell short of bringing home a belt.
Liam has got a living to make and doesn’t want to sit idle awaiting a big fight – this is why we kept him active on Saturday. It is all about timing, we have a marquee fight in the making for him and should be able to put everyone in the picture very soon.
I am not against the idea of Liam heading Stateside for a defining fight and he has stated himself that this is a long-held ambition. But when we do it will be with Liam as the champion and calling most of the shots as well as landing them.
It was pleasing to see Steven Lewis and Josh Leather perform so impressively at the Echo Arena. I believe Steven is a very exciting prospect and he can certainly fight, but he now needs to build up some momentum again after being dogged by a series of injuries.
I am a big fan of Josh, he has now stopped his last three opponents and is developing his power. He will be in a ten-rounder next time out and, with a couple of those under his belt, he will soon be ready to go for a title. We have also got the debut of his twin brother Kalam to look forward to.
Once again, Zolani Tete added some sizzle to the occasion with another sublime display of boxing artistry. He is a monster too and the shot he plunged into the midriff of Victor Ruiz would’ve felled a tree.
It will baffle many that the ‘Scouse African’, as he now likes to be known has actually been declared the loser on three occasions, but I am aware that all was not well behind the scenes at times and it could have been his heart wasn’t in it.
He is certainly in full working order now and, I must admit, I didn’t realise quite how good he is. If I had have done back in 2015 I would never have let him fight Paul Butler! We are now seeking to manoeuvre Zolani into pole position for a tilt at the IBF bantamweight title currently in the possession of Lee Haskins.
It looks like we have another bantamweight on our books following Butler’s failure at the scales ahead of the Liverpool show. As a promoter, boxers not making the weight after a full camp is extremely frustrating and this turned out to be an expensive exercise, given that his opponent Petchbarngborn Kokietgym and his team were flown in from Thailand.
Victory would have booked Paul a shot at the world title held by Naoya Inoue, but that has now gone by the wayside so we will meet up with him soon and plot a route through the bantamweight division.
Probably the most entertaining fight, while it lasted, was Ryan Farrag’s defence of his EBU bantamweight belt against the Frenchman Karim Guerfi. It was shaping up to be an intriguing clash of styles until Ryan was pole axed by a chopping shot in the third. Ryan is very easy on the eye to watch, but he does flirt with danger with the way he drops his hands.
The defeat is not the end of the road for him and I am sure he will come back stronger from the experience.
More from Frank tomorrow