Why Josh (Warrington, not AJ) gets my nod as Boxer of the Year.

Why Josh (Warrington, not AJ) gets my nod as Boxer of the Year.

Josh Warrington


By Alan Hubbard

A guy named Josh seems a shoo-in to be named again as Boxer of the Year at the annual British Boxing Board of Control awards dinner in London this Friday evening.

Naturally, we’re talking AJ here, with the world heavyweight champion still basking in the after-glow of his eventually pulsating but utterly predictable victory over Russia’s Alexander Povetkin last weekend.

But if I was on the awards panel I’d give another Joshua , a Mr Warrington from Leeds, a good run for Anthony’s money.

AJ won the award last year following his successful defence against Wladimir Klitschko but as this year it is calculated from the 12 months from August 2017 it excludes the win over Povetkin but does include his ho-hum defeats of Carlos Takam and Joseph Parker.

So I submit that Josh Warrington’s more exciting performances against Denis Ceylan and then Lee Selby, from whom he brilliantly extracted the IBF world featherweight title, were more impressive and much better fights.

Warrington, like AJ, is undefeated, a nice bloke and a fine fighter; plus the fact that his achievement in becoming a home-brewed world champ has been done without fuss or fanfare.

I think he deserves the Board’s an accolade before he faces Carl Frampton in what may well prove to be the best fight if 2018 in Manchester on December 22.

We shall see. Either way it looks like one Josh or the other will get the award (Or will they plump for Tony Bellew for doing the double over David Haye?).

POPULAR MONIKER, JOSHUA. Another, the unbeaten welterweight Josh Kelly, has just been named Best Young Boxer of the Year by the Boxing Writers’ Club and will receive his award at our annual dinner on October 8.

Let hope he fares somewhat better than the last four recipients: Sam Eggington, Liam Williams and Mitchell Smith all subsequently lost their next fights and Kid Galahad failed a drugs test.

LIKE THE MAJORITY of fans and pundits, as well as the twitterati, I had Alexander Povetkin ahead before AJ inflicted that stunning seventh round demolition on Saturday, in my case by two rounds.

Joshua v Povetkin

Yet all three judges , all from overseas nations where pro boxing is not a sporting priority, has Joshua leading, one by an unbelievable four rounds, despite then the obvious superior aggression of Povetkin earlier in the bout.

As we were saying the week previously after the heist in Las Vegas which saw Gennady Golovkin robbed of his world middleweight titles by Canelo Alvarez, where do they get these people?

NO BOOZE, BUT plenty of burqas when fellow Brits George Groves and Callum Smith contest Saint George’s WBA world super-middleweight title in the final of the World Super series in Jeddah on Friday night.

A pity that ITV’s live screening if this bizarrely-staged contest, which sees Saudi host its first professional promotion, should clash with the Board of Control dinner the same evening.

London v Liverpool in the land of sheikhs, camels and burning sand seems an even odder setting than Zaire’s Rumble in the Jungle.

Groves v Smith

Providing his damaged shoulder holds up. I take Saint George to edge an historic battle for the Muhammad Ali Trophy where there will be some notable absentees. The ring card girls.

Women, though segregated from male spectators, have only recently been permitted to attend selected sports events in feudal Saudi. But none will be scantily-clad card-carriers.

Any females present must be covered from head to toe, so ahead of the big fight Beverley Jones, the founder of the UK-based model and promotional management agency, SBJ Management, has tweeted that ring girls would not appear at the King Abdullah Sports Stadium out of “cultural respect.”

Thankfully, some attitudes towards women in Saudi are changing. In recent months, Saudi women have been given the right to drive, allowed to take part in their first marathons, as well as to watch a football match in a stadium, attend music concerts and go to cinemas.

But one thing that has not changed in Saudi is the ban on booze. Any thirsty fight fans from the UK caught smuggling in a bottle of Beck’s into a land that is dry in every sense face a public lashing, a far more painful punishment than anything likely to be dished out in the ring by Messrs Groves or Smith.

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