Without further ado, let the fun begin.
Competition in any sport is refreshing. It forces rivals to up their game which, in turn, more often than not satisfies the boxing public who are constantly sharpening their knives to get stuck in to a promoter after a disappointing announcement. 2012 featured more than it’s fair share of knife sharpening, but, on the whole, it was a fan-friendly year on the world stage with Golden Boy stacking their cards and Top Rank providing some of the most memorable fights of the year.
In the UK, the two main promoters – Frank Warren and Eddie Hearn – had a good 2012 without being spectacular. They satisfied the fans, which is fine, but we’re greedy and want more. The first two announcements that each camp have made to kick off 2013 have set the tone for what we hope will satisfy that greed.
Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport announced his March 30th double-header in Liverpool – headlined by Tony Bellew who squares off against Isaac Chilemba in a WBC light-heavyweight eliminator. Providing chief support is the rematch between lightweights Derry Mathews and Anthony Crolla. Both fights get the thumbs up. Bellew-Chilemba is an intriguing one and, on paper, is pretty much close to a 50/50 battle. Mathews-Crolla is just plain fun. The first fight, back in April 2012, ended in round 6 as Mathews got an unexpected stoppage victory. Their styles mesh nicely so we can expect another fan-friendly affair.
With that, hype was already building towards March. But with Frank Warren’s announcement today we all took out our hypometer’s and notched it up a few slots.
On March 16th, at the Wembley Arena, Ricky Burns will attempt to unify the 135lb. division against IBF champion Miguel Vazquez. It’s a solid, competitive fight and one that, like Mathews victory over Crolla in 2012, was unexpected. Also on the card is Nathan Cleverly who defends his light-heavyweight crown against mandatory challenger Robin Krasniqi. Rising super-middleweight George Groves completes the line-up where he will look to win the vacant European title against Mohammed Ali N’Diaye.
Both cards are excellent. It’s that simple. Perhaps we should have taken December as a sign when both Matchroom Sport and Frank Warren Promotions announced stacked cards with top fights and top names. Unfortunately, on that occasion, both cards suffered from call-off’s and injuries. Hopefully there is no repeat of that in March.
What is also refreshing is that neither promoter has, thus far, looked to compete with cards on the same night. Golden Boy and Top Rank went head-to-head with their big September 15th cards last year, and while both cards were of high quality, from a fan perspective it wasn’t the best idea.
The Warren and Hearn rivalry will likely prevent some future match-ups from happening, and it goes without saying that that is disappointing. But if both promoters continue to put on top notch cards like the two announced for March, we’ll be hard pushed to complain too much.
One must wonder what is happening with Kevin Mitchell. So far there has been no announcement on when he will be entering the ring next. After being stopped in four rounds against Ricky Burns in September, it would be natural for him to take some time off and re-group.
However it is beginning to look like 2013 could be another frustrating year for him. Admittedly he has had personal problems away from the ring, but to have only fought five times in three years is poor form.
With the March 30th card being in London I’m surprised Mitchell wasn’t added to the bill. Of course, there is still time for that to happen. Mitchell needs to be active, another lengthy spell on the sides will further halt his career ambition of winning world honours.
I’ll be very surprised if Saul Alvarez fights Floyd Mayweather this year. It’s not a case of Alvarez ducking Mayweather or Mayweather ducking Alvarez. I just can’t see Mayweather fighting twice this year.
Apparently Mayweather is keen to fight on May 4th and again in September. A September date with Saul Alvarez will soon turn into a rumoured December meeting, and then it will finally settle on a May 2014 date.
The last time Mayweather fought twice in one year was way back in 2007, why do we all think that’s about to change now?
To end this debuting column, I’d like to send out some well wishes to Kieran Farrel who sadly has had to retire from the sport due to brain damage suffered in his gruelling fight with Anthony Crolla.
Farrel had a bright future ahead of him in the sport and it is a shame to see a career cut short, but health must come first. Hopefully he can still be involved in boxing one way or another (you sang that in Blondie’s voice, didn’t you?).