THE STAKES ARE HIGH FOR OUR LEICESTER BASH – Frank Warren Column

posted on: 02/10/2018

Catterall v Davies

by Frank Warren

ACROSS THIS WEEK we will see – and have already seen – the trading of some humorous banter, a few insults swapped  and even a bit of push and shove, as early shots were fired in the build-up to a fight that will surely deliver on its promise.

Perhaps surprisingly for some, none of the low blows have been dispatched from the mouth of Ohara Davies.

These days Ohara is just taking care of business and being himself. He knows he is in a real fight against Jack Catterall on Saturday and it is one of those fights that simply sells itself.

There is no need for any shenanigans, both fighters are putting it all on the line and the big winners will be the fans at the Morningside Arena in Leicester and those tuning in on BT Sport.

It is an absolute cracker of a fight and one that I was intent on making from the moment we took Ohara under our wing.

You have to give credit to Jack and Ohara for so willingly signing up for what they both know will be a bloody tough fight. They are both highly ranked and could easily have sat tight, bided their time and travelled along the international route until a world title opportunity came along.

But they both want to be in fights that the fans remember, ones that get people talking – and this one certainly has. I haven’t come across anybody who is totally convinced over what the outcome will be.

You can make a case for both guys and that is how it should be. I expect it to be real edge-of-seat stuff right from the first bell and we know from his previous that Ohara is capable of delivering a lights-out shot at any moment.

It is an interesting time for the super lightweights  – light welterweights in my book – at the moment, what with Terry Flanagan and Josh Taylor flying the flag for Britain in the WBSS, along with the WBO champion Maurice Hooker due to make a first defence against Bob Arum’s man, Alex Saucedo.

The winner out of Jack and Ohara will be in a good position to challenge for a world title and the loser will just go again. Or, if the fight lives up to expectations, the demand for a rematch might just be hard to resist.

Another fascinating fight on the bumper Leicester bill sees two unbeaten super feathers bidding to take a big step forward in their careers. Like Jack and Ohara, the unbeaten pair of Lyon Woodstock and Archie Sharp wanted to be involved in a defining fight at this early stage on their professional journeys.

They’ve done their learning fights and want to accelerate their progress by taking on a fellow top prospect. It is a risky strategy, but these are the fights we want to deliver for the fans and the two guys will learn so much more about themselves by jumping in at the deep end.

This one is a street-tough scrapper in Lyon going up against a top, well-schooled amateur in Archie. Will the winner be determined by technical excellence or who has got the biggest heart and the most bottle? We will see on the night, but what I do predict is that another thriller is on the cards.

The super feathers is another stacked division in this country and a fight in the pipeline for the winner could be against our recent signing, the British champion Sam Bowen.

Sam is bidding to boost his ranking on Saturday by challenging for the WBO European title against the tough Argentinean Horacio Alfredo Cabral.

Many people believe Sam is the best of the bunch in Britain and, believe me, over the next 12 months or so he will be given every chance to prove it.

Nicola Adams takes the next step towards proving she is the best in the business when she goes up against two-time world title challenger Isabel Millan with the Interim WBO world flyweight title at stake.

We were originally hoping to have the full title on the line this time around, but it is only a matter of time before Nicola gets to set about collecting world title belts – and she wants them all. I wouldn’t bet against her doing it either.

Another young star on a stacked card of meaningful fights is our top young heavy Daniel Dubois, who is stepping up again against the hugely experienced American Kevin Johnson.

The former world title challenger has been in with them all over years, the likes of Vitali Klitschko, Tyson Fury, Christian Hammer, Dereck Chisora, Manuel Charr, Anthony Joshua, Kubrat Pulev and, most recently, Andy Ruiz jr. Out of all those established figures of the heavyweight division, only Joshua recorded a stoppage win over Johnson, so he represents an ideal test for Daniel in just his ninth professional fight.

By way of a comparison, Joshua defeated Johnson in his 12th fight as a pro at the age of 25, with an Olympic gold medal hanging in his locker. Daniel is still just 21 and in the early stages of his development, but he is doing everything that is being asked of him and in a devastating fashion.

He was fighting for a title – the WBC Youth belt – in just his fourth fight and has since added the Southern Area and English title straps to his collection. All in just 17 rounds of professional experience.

Experience is the key word here and that is what he needs more of, which is why his trip over to Russia to spar with Alexander Povetkin was so valuable for him. We know that he gave more than a good account of himself over there and working with such a seasoned campaigner will have done him the world of good.

At this stage of his career, work accomplished in the gym against sparring partners with many more miles on the clock than himself is probably just as crucial to his progress as rounds under the lights.

Johnson, like Povetkin, is 39 years old, with the American a veteran of 43 fights and while I expect Daniel to be tested, it is an examination I am confident he will pass with flying colours.

Others I am looking forward to seeing maintain their progression on Saturday include another top heavy in Nathan Gorman, 20-0 middleweight Mark Heffron and precocious young featherweight Ryan Garner.

It is a night of boxing you simply cannot afford to miss.

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