2014 turned into 2015 in the boxing world amid the sounds of promoters up and down the UK tripping over each other to tell us all that 2014 was “A great year for British Boxing” (Apart from Eddie Hearn, who looked like he was at the darts for 23522 straight hours).
I guess “A great year for British Boxing” is mainly true, but nobody likes to be told what to think by the very people profiting from our cash. It’s a bit like the barman telling you you’re lucky to be in his boozer, and then handing you a note that reads “buy more beer, you fool” to you as he climbs into his Aston Martin. We all like to pick our poison. We’re human.
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Frank Warren’s column in the “i” newspaper today was up to its usual mixed bag. I’ll be honest, I like Frank’s articles (if he does indeed write them with his own fair pen?). I find them refreshing, and his PR blather is easily seen through compared to, say, Fast Eddie’s. Frank is a boxing legend, however you feel about him. And a lot of the time he talks sense.
In today’s article he extolled the virtues of the Heavyweights – that blue ribbon boxing weight class we learned to loath – and pondered on the year ahead for the big boys. Understandably he focused on Deontay Wilder (is there anyone who doesn’t want to cozy up to the next WBC champ?) and even called his heavily pumped record “breathtaking”, leaving me to wince as I read it. Frank is under no illusion about the winner from the Stiverne/Wilder bout – neither is half the boxing world – but I don’t believe he’ll find old Bermane is going to fall over as easily as the 32 victims of his 32 fight career. Correctly/shamelessly managed matching – and the ludicrous stats it can produce – will propel a half decent and athletic fighter anywhere these days, just ask Anthony Joshua (who is ranked #8 with the WBC, #15 with the WBA, and #15 with the IBF).
But Frank is right today in one particular aspect: the UK has got some great Heavyweight fighters who will make big waves in 2015.
Tyson Fury (pictured above) has his world title shot – not even David Haye is getting in the way this time – and he will take much pride in stepping onto the biggest stage of his career, probably in the mid summer. Anthony Joshua continues to confound us all with his one-sided match-making, but his star burns bright and 2015 will shift him up into the mix by the end if he can get past Kevin Johnson and someone whacking him hard on the jaw for once. Talented 20yr old Hughie Fury makes his comeback after health problems, and we all wait with our fingers crossed for the return of Dereck Chisora and, potentially, the vegan (yes, you read that right) David Haye. Add David Price to the mix and we’ve got a lot to keep our eyes on this year. Yes Sir, the UK is finally making us proud in the Top weight division.
Now it is up to the promoters, that most cruel and devious of beasts, to give us what we want: to stop crass matchmaking and pretending we’re suckers. We’re on the verge of something good here in the sport for the first time since the 1990’s. The ball is rolling in the right direction. If the top UK promoters could just shake each other by the hand instead of the throat we’d all have a very happy and prosperous, and entertaining, 2015 indeed……