THE FRANK WARREN COLUMN
By Frank Warren
I THINK I can confidently predict that our roll of honour for world champions will be significantly boosted over the forthcoming months.
Josh Warrington and Zolani Tete should soon be in good company, with one of our big hopes already booked for a world title shot on March 8, while a talented trio now hold mandatory positions and are in pole position for a title tilt.
Of course, it is our Leading Lady Nicola Adams who will be first out of the blocks at the Royal Albert Hall when she challenges for the WBO world flyweight title against Mexico’s Arely Mucino, a three-time world champion.
It will be a special occasion at a very special venue and it will be quite a coup for Nicola if she can become world champion in just her sixth professional fight. As we know from her illustrious amateur career, Nicola deals in the extraordinary, so I recommend turning up or tuning into BT Sport to watch history unfold as the Golden Girl bids to become Britain’s first female world champion.
We received the welcome news last week that Billy Joe Saunders has been installed as mandatory challenger for the world title he previously owned, that is currently in the possession of the American Demetrius Andrade.
He should not be in the situation of having to reclaim lost property, having not lost his title in the ring, but once he vacated after being put in an impossible position by the Massachusetts commission in not licencing him to defend his belt, our job was to negotiate the speediest route towards righting a wrong.
We have worked hard behind the scenes to make this happen and the short reign of Andrade as WBO world middleweight champion will reach a conclusion in his next fight because I believe Bill to be amongst the elite of the division and he will prove as much when the time comes – and it won’t be long now.
Ideally, I would have liked Bill to have had a good fight in preparation, but it won’t be possible and I don’t see it being an issue. Bill is as switched on and motivated as I have seen him in a long time and I believe the exploits of Tyson Fury have been an inspiration to him.
Once he gets his title back the key is to keep him busy and make every year count, which unfortunately – for a variety of reasons – hasn’t been the case up to now.
Another holding the No.1 spot with the WBO and awaiting a well-deserved world title shot is Jack Catterall. Jack is one I have banged the drum for pretty much from the beginning and he has developed into a genuine world class super lightweight.
The current champion Maurice Hooker is defending against Mikkel LesPierre in March, then the mandatory defence will be ordered by the WBO to take place in the summer.
Jack, still just 25, has done everything asked of him to work his way into position, winning the Central Area title and then WBO European, before winning the WBO Intercontinental belt and defending it on ten occasions, also winning the British title inbetween times.
We won’t have Jack sitting around waiting for his big date and will have him back in action soon to get ready for it.
Also stalking a world title move at light heavyweight is Anthony Yarde, who is No.1 in the charts with the WBO, with the plan being to target the winner of the rematch between Eleider Alvarez and Sergey Kovalev that takes place this weekend, live on BoxNation.
First of all though, Anthony has to overcome the experienced former European champion Mehdi Amar on our Leicester show at the Morningside Arena on February 23. This is a fight that will tell us exactly where Anthony is at – a yardstick, if you like – and whether the time is right to enter the elite end of what is a formidable weight division.
I am confident he will pass the test, like he has every other, with flying colours and then enter the huge fights that the public want to see him in.
He knows all about Kovalev and Alvarez already, having the made the trip to Atlantic City to take in their first encounter. I told his trainer-manager Tunde Ajayi beforehand that Krusher was a declining force and there for the taking – and they both witnessed it first hand on the night.
Whether he has revitalised himself in the subsequent six months we will soon find out but, whichever way it goes, I believe we are getting closer to Anthony assuming the WBO throne and then embarking on a thrilling reign of terror across the weight class.
So there is plenty to look forward to involving our clutch of contenders in 2019 and don’t forget about Terry Flanagan, our former unbeaten WBO world lightweight champion, who we will be seeking to restore to world title contention after an unsuccessful jump up to super lightweight last year.