The Weekender

Promo courtesy of Queensberry Promotions.

After the hype and passing interest by hardcore fans in the Jake Paul-Tommy Fury contest last weekend, and with no major event this weekend, regular readers in the UK have been asking me “what’s coming up ?”. This shows there is a genuine interest and hunger for quality matches to be made and broadcast.

Well here goes…

It’s disappointing that the Matchroom Boxing promotion scheduled for Liverpool, England next weekend (11th) has now been reduced somewhat by the injury of hometown headliner Callum Smith (29-1, 21 KO’s) who was due to fight proven Pawal Stepien (18-0-1, 12 KO’s).

‘Mundo’ Smith is one of the top light-heavyweights (175 pounders) in the world, ranked by The Ring magazine #3 and surely in line for a shot at one of the sanctioning body ‘world’ titles. Although the remaining bill should be of interest, now headlined by local men Robbie Davies Jr. and featuring Team GB 2020 Olympian Peter McGrail, it should be worth a watch.

On 11th and 25th March BOXXER has major promotions in Paris, France and Manchester, England respectively. In Paris, the British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight champion Dan Azeez (18-0, 12 KO’s) faces Frenchman Thomas Faure (21-4-1, 2 KO’s) for the vacant European crown. Azeez from Croydon, England threatens challenging for world titles and is now The Ring #10. The bill also features Rio Olympic super-heavyweight champion and victor over Joe Joyce, in the shape of Frenchman Tony Yoka (11-1, 9 KO’s). He needs to get back into winning ways and a Joyce rematch is a natural down the line.

Then, in Manchester, WBO ‘world’ cruiserweight champion and The Ring # 1 Lawrence Okolie defending against undefeated New Zealander David Light. The 200lb division is arguably the hottest in the UK with world ranked Richard Riakporhe (The Ring #6) and Chris Billam-Smith (The Ring #10) also lying in wait for world title opportunities. Both will be interested observers in Okolie’s performance and result.

Team GB Olympians Lauren Price, Frazer Clarke, and Kariss Artingstall will also feature over coming weeks.

Both BOXXER events will be televised in their agreement with Sky Sports live on Saturday nights.

Then coming into April it’s over to the heavyweights. On the 1st Anthony Joshua (24-3, 22 KO’s) and The Ring #3 has a date at London’s O2 Arena with American Jermaine Franklin (22-1, 14 KO’s). Allegedly tickets are selling slowly, unusual for a Joshua show, but this is a fight he must win, and win well. The bill also features world ranked light-heavyweight Craig Richards (17-3-1, 10 KO’s) and Felix Cash for the European title.

Finally, the biggest foreseeable contest to be held in the UK, certainly in terms of world significance regarding the big men, will be on April 15 at the Copperbox Arena, London. The Queensberry Promotion sees Joe ‘Juggernaut’ Joyce (15-0, 14 KO’s) and The Ring #4 facing Chinese contender Zilei ‘Big Bang’ Zhang (24-1-1, 19 KO’s). This is sure to be ‘bombs away’ with one likely winning by knockout. It will be supported by the usual array of Queensberry talent and broadcast live and exclusive on BT Sport in the UK.

Other news of interest will be if, and when, welterweight (147lbs) Conor Benn receives the green light from the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) to resume his professional career in the UK and hopefully challenge for world honours. Also, the votes tallied for the BBBofC awards luncheon for 2022 achievement. Promising junior-welterweight/lightweight (140-135lbs) Adam Azim (8-0, 6 KO’s) should feature high in the best prospect/young fighter category. The other baubles for best all round fighter and best 2022 contest should be up for grabs. This will be held at The Brewery in east London on Sunday 12th and is usually a well attended event.

Plenty to look forward to after a slight abeyance in the UK this weekend.

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