By Frank Warren
The appearance of Terry Flanagan – undoubtedly one the best of our current crop of 13 world champions and in my view currently the best at his weight in the world – in Cardiff tomorrow night adds spice to a quality-packed bill which should have Welsh boxing fans singing as loudly as their football counterparts on France last week.
Manchester’s super-charged Turbo is making the third defence of his WBO world lightweight title against the seasoned Springbok Mzonke Fana, himself a former two-time world champ, and I have no doubt he will sizzle and dazzle to confirm his world class credentials to an audience who really appreciate good boxing skills.
Talking of spice, BoxNation viewers will be able to gorge themselves on a feast of boxing across two continents tomorrow.
Those who really fancy tucking in can do so from 6pm for a six-hour stint from our mammoth show in Cardiff, headlined by the sure-fire cracker between Liam Williams and Gary Corcoran for the British and Commonwealth super welterweight crowns, the world’s slickest slugger Guillermo Rigondeaux against gutsy James ‘Jazza’ Dickens, and of course the Turbo’s potential banana-skin title defence, before we switch, at midnight, over to the Thyagaraj Stadium in New Delhi for a first ever professional promotion in India.
It is the breaking of new territory for the sport and we are delighted to be the pioneers, taking boxing to a fresh and enthusiastic audience.
The catalyst for doing so, of course, is India’s very own punching policeman, Vijender Singh. The much-decorated former amateur and occasional Bollywood movie star is bringing professional boxing home after learning the ropes and launching his career in the UK and Ireland.
He has made quite an impression so far. Six fights and six wins via KO in 17 rounds of boxing demonstrate he has transferred his amateur pedigree to the professional ranks. Doing this in such style is thanks in no small way to his trainer Lee Beard, who is developing a formidable stable of young boxers in Manchester, which includes the likes of Jack Catterall, Adrian Gonzalez and Jimmy Kelly.
Lee has harnessed Vijender’s natural ability and unquestionable punching power, making him a force to be reckoned with in the super middleweight division.
Similar to the well-cooked elite ex-amateurs from the Eastern bloc, Vijender, at the age of 30, now needs to step it up quickly. He might still be classed as a novice pro, but he has roughly 360 amateur fights under his belt, which removes the requirement for a lengthy apprenticeship.
He is going to be up against in when he steps it up on Saturday to compete for the WBO Asia-Pacific super middleweight championship against the Brisbane-based Welshman Kerry Hope.
As a pro, Hope has considerably more miles on the clock and has operated at a higher level, winning the European title in 2012 and, in recent contests, winning Oriental and Asian versions of WBO and WBC championships.
So Vijender is in for a hostile homecoming against an opponent who has dismissed him as a genuine threat. While it will be a tough examination this early on his pro journey, I strongly suspect Vijender has got what it takes to pass with flying colours.
Hope’s record suggests he is not a hurtful puncher, while Vijender carries power and should have enough guile and ring craft to negate the threat of the southpaw.
Vijender’s six fights so far have attracted astronomical viewing figures in his homeland on Star TV. He is a much-loved personality and now his fans have the opportunity to watch him in person.
The show has been incredibly well received in India and I fully anticipate the sport going from strength to strength there after history is made with Vijender’s opening night.
Coverage from Cardiff begins at 6pm on BoxNation