The Friday Faceup

British heavyweights Dubois (left) and Joyce showdown Saturday.

Another great weekend of boxing is in store with action around the world to satisfy the fistic fan.

Undoubtedly the highlight in terms of current world significance is the big heavyweight showdown in London between undefeated contenders ‘Dynamite’ Daniel Dubois and Joe ‘Juggernaut’ Joyce for the vacant European title.

Both enter the fray intent on making the next step to world level and challenging for the titles held by fellow Brits Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua. The British heavyweight scene is electric at the moment with Dillian Whyte also waiting in the wings.

The Dubois-Joyce fight is eagerly anticipated and sees a 23 year old Dubois with limited amateur experience but explosive power against a 35 year old Olympic silver medalist with the considerable elite amateur experience that comes with it. However, both are relative novices as professionals with only 26 fights combined.

The Queensberry promoted Dubois (15-0, 14 KO’s) enters as the favorite, albeit marginally, on the basis of his youth and power. He’s simply been sensational since turning pro a little over three years ago. With each progressive step he’s seized the opportunity and secured the British and Commonwealth titles en route.

Joyce’s (11-0, 10 KO’s) progress has been somewhat slower but his resume has more experienced names in Bermane Stiverne and Bryant Jennings on it. He’s similarly impressed to this stage but more by results than in a spectacular nature. His methodical way of walking forward taking shots to land one is a reason the experts and odds makers are favouring Dubois.

The Putney based Joyce will know to be successful he has to have an alternative plan and show more lateral movement and guile as a minimum. He is thought the superior boxer but has to avoid the early power of Dubois to get the victory.

It’s expected Dubois will take the fight to Joyce from the opening bell, looking to explode his big bombs on his opponent. If the younger man can do this we could be in for a short night.

However, The Undisputed’s take on this is for Dubois to set the early pace but Joyce to come through the early exchanges, maybe visiting the canvas, and then take the fight into the middle rounds, possibly shaking his opponent in the process. In the second half of the fight though we expect the younger man to take charge again and eventually lead to a stoppage around the ninth.

The whole Queensberry Promotion will be televised live in the UK on BT Sport 1 from 19:30 GMT. It is also available on ESPN+ in the US.

Current stateside interest will be on the Daniel Jacobs versus Gabe Rosado contest at super-middleweight being held in Hollywood, Florida. This is intriguing because it pits a former middleweight ‘world’ champion in Jacobs in his second fight at the higher weight class against a competent and confident Rosado. Both are elite fighters who are seeking further world title opportunity. The event is promoted by Matchroom and available on the DAZN streaming platform. It also features a competitive undercard with Daniyar Yeleusinov, Julius Indongo and emerging heavyweight Mahammadrasul Majidov.

No preview of the weekend would be complete without mention of the exhibition ‘fight’ between nineties icons ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jnr from the Staples Centre, Los Angeles. The hype has been building since the event was announced.

It has fascination value due to the resumes of the two fighters involved. Tyson being one of the most explosive and ferocious heavyweights of the twentieth century and former undisputed champion and Jones widely accepted as the best fighter of the 1990’s from middleweight up to heavy.

The match is made at heavyweight over eight two minute rounds. The combined age of both fighters is a staggering 105 years with Tyson at 54 and Jones 51 so any combat should be put into context.

Add into the mix that Tyson has been retired for fifteen years and Jones for nearly three and you can draw your own conclusion.

In a week where we’ve seen the sad passing of football legend Diego Armando Maradona your editor recalls being present at a live performance of Maradona’s show La Noche Del 10 (The Night of Ten) in November 2005 in Buenos Aires. This was recorded five months after ‘Iron’ Mike’s loss to fringe heavyweight Kevin McBride. Footage of this fascinating meeting is available on Youtube at Maradona entrevista a Tyson (La Noche del 10) – YouTube. Mike, as you would expect, has been one of the first to pay tribute to his friend.

Regarding the forthcoming contest the names of Tyson and Jones Jnr still resonate in the minds of boxing and casual sports fans and it should be a curious watch. But please don’t expect too much, just enjoy the moment. The event is available in the UK on BT Sport Box Office at £19.95 from 01:00 GMT and pay per view in the US.

Have a great fight weekend.

The Monday LunchBox

Church House, Westminster – scene of a potential British fight of the year.

Welcome to fight week !

This Saturday (28th) sees the big British heavyweight showdown between ‘Dynamite’ Daniel Dubois (15-0, 14 KO’s) and Joe ‘Juggernaut’ Joyce (11-0, 10 KO’s). The contest is surprisingly to be held in the historical Church House, Westminster, a stones throw from the Abbey and nearby Palace of Westminster.

The ‘House’ is also known as the place where Winston Churchill announced the sinking of the German battleship Bismarck in May 1941 in the early years of the Second World War.

So; fittingly an iconic venue set for a boxing match of national (and international) significance. Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions have excelled in securing this venue and holding the contest in these continuing difficult times.

It’s a fight that is eagerly anticipated and really whets the appetite between two undefeated boxers who must make this first step to settle a domestic squabble before hopefully ascending to world title contention. The loser can come again but it will be real setback at this stage of their careers.

In terms of the relative experience of both protagonists and significance it has shades of Gary Mason versus Lennox Lewis in March 1991 for the British and European titles. On that occasion Mason was the older established champion and Lewis the new ‘kid on the block’ with world title aspirations. Going in, supplement Joyce (35) for Mason, and the younger Dubois (23) for Lewis.

Enough of that for now though as the hype will inevitably build over the coming week. Watch this space for the Friday Faceup which will further preview the fight that will be UK televised on the BT Sport subscription channel, but importantly, non-Box Office.

Other key news over the last week was the announcement that The Ring magazine recognised pound-for-pound #1 fighter in the world Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez will meet The Ring super-middleweight (12 stone, 168lbs) champion Callum ‘Mundo’ Smith on 19 December in the San Antonio Alamodome, Texas, USA.

The Mexican, Alavarez has just reached a settlement with former promoter Golden Boy and streaming service DAZN which has released him from contractural obligations making him a free agent. This has helped make the fight possible and Alvarez being #1 and the biggest draw in boxing has effectively ‘cherry picked’ the man from Liverpool, England.

Smith (27-0, 19 KO’s) is no ‘patsie’ though with an undefeated record and being a genuine super-middleweight who won the World Boxing Super Series title by stopping former WBA world champion George Groves in September 2018. He’s made two successful defences of his world title, the last being exactly a year ago against fellow Brit John Ryder.

Credit Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KO’s) for taking the fight, as a man who claims to seek the toughest challenges, but this could be an absolute barnstormer. Both come to fight and Smith although vastly inferior in terms of big fight experience will come in super confident as the larger man.

Saturday (21st) saw an excellent outing and victory for British welterweight Conor ‘Destroyer’ Benn against German Sebastian Formella over ten rounds. Benn dominated the fight throughout against his teak tough more experienced foe. In a fight televised live in the UK on Sky Sports he topped the bill for the first time after the postponement of the Alexander Povetkin-Dillian Whyte rematch. Conor came through with flying colours and the son of former world champion Nigel Benn is steadily making a name in his own right.

Benn’s record rises to 17-0, 11 KO’s and he is strongly pushing for a big domestic showdown with Josh Kelly (10-0-1, 6 KO’s). In the post-fight interview he was very animated on this challenge and his urgency in securing it.

Self-confidence is definitely something in the Benn genes and Conor is sure to entertain on his potentially explosive journey to title contention. Look for his stock to rise over the coming months as he seeks that domestic challenge.

More to follow on the big Dubois-Joyce showdown later in the week.

This weekly feature is to also raise awareness of the Ringside Charitable Trust.

The Monday LunchBox

New British middleweight champion Denzel Bentley proudly shows off the Lord Lonsdale Belt.

The new ‘Battersea Bomber’

We have a new British middleweight champion and his name is Denzel Bentley. The unbeaten fighter from Battersea, south London, via the Fisher amateur club, won the vacant title on Friday night (13th) in the BT Sport studio ‘bubble’, Stratford, east London.

The 25 year old Bentley (14-0-1, 12 KO’s) defeated Oldham’s Mark Heffron in the Queensberry Promotion after Heffron’s corner pulled him out at the end of the fourth round on sustaining a horrific swelling in the second that was patently getting worse as the fight progressed.

It was as bad a bruising and swelling as you could see and watching on TV you winced every time Bentley landed on the expanding ‘mouse’. Heffron (25-2-1, 19 KO’s) was basically rendered unfit to see out of his rapidly closing eye and it was an inevitable decision for cornerman Michael Jennings to make.

Bentley dominated from the opening round with a willingness to hold his ground and fire in heavy shots to Heffron’s equally aggressive come forward advance. It was evident early in the fight that Bentley was the heavier puncher and literally bludgeoned his opponent to submission. They’d fought to a draw only two months ago and this time the title was on the line and the Battersea man’s victory emphatic.

Clearly ‘cock a hoop’ in the BT Sport post-fight interview with the Lonsdale Belt slung over his shoulder he confirmed he was going to sleep with it ! One of his team interjected during the interview to add that he’d now joined an “exclusive club” of champions from the Fisher Amateur Boxing Club, including former world champs Terry Downes and Lloyd Honeyghan.

Whether Denzel goes onto emulate anything close to their historic achievements is in the future, but he looks to have the tools to certainly move onto European level and maybe beyond. First he will seek to win the Lonsdale Belt outright with the required three British title victories.

The Ladies are on the rise

Undisputed female lightweight world champion Katie Taylor (17-0, 6 KO’s) headlined and stole the show live on Sky Sports Saturday night. She defended her titles in a one sided ten rounder against Spaniard Miriam Gutierrez (13-1, 5 KO’s). The unanimous scores reflected her dominance at 100-89, 100-90, 99-91.

Quite simply Taylor was different class and did even more to enhance her reputation as a contender for pound-for-pound best female boxer in the world. The Irish-megastar is currently ranked #2 in The Ring magazine listings and her career goes from strength to strength.

The female dominated Matchroom Boxing show also saw Britain’s Terry Harper successfully defend her WBC world super-featherweight title against Katharina Thanderz on a ninth round technical knockout.

A third ‘world’ title fight saw another belt go to Britain with Rachel Ball winning the vacant WBA female interim super-bantamweight title outpointing Jorgelina Guanini.

The successful show marked the first time that women had headlined a card on British television with all three main bouts being female world title fights. The ladies have truly arrived !

This regular weekly feature is to also raise awareness of the registered boxing charity Ringside Rest and Care.

The Sunday Supplement

A satisfied Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford celebrates world welterweight victory.

For ten minutes in Las Vegas, Nevada last night British welterweight Kell Brook was again ‘special’. Coming in as big outsider to regain a version of the world 10st 7lb (147lbs) title he’d temporarily neutralized the effectiveness of WBO champion Terence Crawford and, was in the fight.

He’d tentatively felt his way through the opening two minutes of round one, during which the fighters circled each other with barely a punch thrown and both looked to seek out the right range to attack.

He’d successfully launched periodic sorties landing strong left jabs and right hand power shots through the next four minutes. He’d just about bagged the opening two rounds.

The third was closer as Crawford started to feel his way in and get more success. The champion looked to take the round, but narrowly.

The 34 year old Brit hadn’t even needed to switch southpaw to confuse his opponent in the opening rounds. It was Crawford, a notoriously slow starter , who’d been the one starting to switch hit. We began to think could Kell really be that ‘special’ again ?

In between rounds a swelling had started to appear above Crawford’s right eye, but yet, it was in Brook’s corner where the endswell (cold iron) was being used to good effect around his vulnerable eye sockets. Maybe this was a warning sign, but Kell was definitely in the fight.

Then, a minute into the fourth the fighters finally got close and the pace stepped up; an exchange, and a straight right jab out of the southpaw stance smashed above Brook’s eye socket. Clearly the target and a ‘bullseye’ for Crawford given the Brit’s recent history of eye injuries. In that one moment the fight was as good as over.

Brook lurched backwards towards the ropes, stumbling and struggling to gain balance. American referee Tony Weeks called it a knockdown, counted to eight and asked the Brit if he was alright. Answering in the affirmative the fight was allowed to continue but within a second the champion, an excellent finisher, was all over his opponent. To this writer it brought to mind a famous Vinnie Pazienza quote from the 80’s …. “His legs turned to spaghetti, and I was all over him like the sauce !” Brook at that point was “the sauce”.

Crawford 37-0 (28 KO’s) swarmed the challenger and Weeks stepped in to stop the fight after 1:14 secs. ‘Bud’ Crawford remained the WBO champion and is arguably pound-for-pound the finest in the world. The Ring magazine rate him #3 but that is challenged by most US observers. Now he must be appropriately recognised as higher.

Brook 39-3 (27 KO’s), the former IBF world welterweight champion, had come to fight, but was simply outgunned by an elite champion at the very top of his game. Kell had used his sublime skills acquired since entering the Wincobank, Sheffield gym as a child, to win a ‘world’ title and, also navigate the opening three rounds and make them very competitive. But, when all came to pass he was no match for Crawford. “The better man won tonight… one ever done that to me in my career” was Kell’s summation of the contest. It was hard to argue.

So what happens now ? Crawford, aged 33, needs and strives for a career defining or ‘legacy’ fight. In his eyes Filipino boxing legend Manny Pacquiao (62-7-2, 39 KO’s) is that man. “I’m looking and trying to secure a Pacquiao fight” he replied post-fight. Hall of Fame promoter and Top Rank CEO Bob Arum claimed the fight was almost signed pre-COVID, somewhere in the Middle East (apparently Qatar), but as soon as no gate was allowed the negotiations fell through.

The alternative route is a unification fight with come-backing IBF and WBC world champion Errol Spence Jnr. (26-0, 21 KO’s). Spence, the previous man to defeat Brook at 147lbs, is returning to the ring after a horrific car crash last October in which he thankfully escaped with his life and faculties intact. He meets former world champion Danny Garcia on November 21 and questions will remain until he navigates that challenge. Arum claims Spence has, and will continue to run from Crawford.

A Crawford-Spence meeting is one of, if not the best, out there. At year start it was one of the most sought out fights to happen, but known to be contractually difficult. Whether Pacquiao or Spence are Crawford’s next opponent we can only hope, but whatever the outcome this is what the Nebraskan WBO champion needs to reach his potential and further secure his legacy.

Kell Brook will return to the UK, rumoured $2 million richer, and will always be remembered for the night he ripped the title off Shawn Porter in 2014 in one of the finest performances by a British fighter overseas. He will take his place in the roll call of British world champions, and may even fight compatriot Amir Khan in a long awaited grudge match, which is sure to still be an attraction in the UK.

However, on Saturday night in Las Vegas the ‘special’ fighter was undoubtedly Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford.

This feature is to also raise awareness of the registered boxing charity Ringside Rest and Care.

The Friday Faceup

Photo courtesy of Mikey Williams/Top Rank

So far, British welterweight Kell Brook can be considered a ‘special’ fighter. Anyone who compiles a record of 39-2 (27 KO’s), has fought in six world title fights, winning a version in the other guys backyard and, at 34 years old, is about to share the ring with the #3 pound-for-pound fighter in the world has to be special.

But, how special will be determined in the MGM Grand ‘Bubble’ in Las Vegas on Saturday night. If the man from Sheffield, England can defeat American Terence Crawford (36-0, 27 KO’s) in this Top Rank Inc. promotion then he will move up the pantheon of ‘special’ fighters that the British Isles has produced.

The slick Brook has fought in elite company for much of his late career. His standout victory was back in 2014 when he ‘toughed out’ a decision in a fantastic fight against American Shawn Porter to take his IBF world welterweight title. That victory looked even better year on year as Porter went on to win other world titles.

Brook would eventually lose that title in 2017 in his hometown to Errol Spence Jnr, after moving up to middleweight to lose to Gennadiy Golovkin, and coming back down to 147lbs. Those two names underline the company he’s fought in and although both losses he was extremely competitive until fractured orbital sockets resulted in his retirement.

Nebraskan WBO world welterweight champion Crawford is one of the best in the world. Quite simply he is the ‘creme de la creme’. A switch-hitter with outstanding skills and respectable power who’s won world titles in three weight categories. Only a year younger than Brook he is a fighter who still strives for ‘greatness’ and will see the Sheffield man as a stepping stone, albeit a dangerous one.

The fight televised in the UK on the Premier Sports subscription channel in the early hours of Sunday morning will be an excellent contest between two elite fighters. Both have quality boxing skills and outstanding CV’s. The smart money is on Crawford defeating Brook by stoppage or a wide points margin. This won’t make Crawford ‘special’, but, if the result is the other way around then, it certainly will for the Brit. Catch it if you can.

There are two significant promotions in the UK this weekend. First up tonight (13th) is the quickly arranged rematch between Mark Heffron (25-1-1, 19 KO’s) and Denzel Bentley (13-0-1, 11 KO’s) for the vacant British middleweight title. In September they fought an exciting draw over 10 rounds in a final eliminator, but tonight the title is up for grabs. It promises to be another ‘pick-ems’ fight with an entertaining clash of styles. The Queensberry Promotion will be shown on BT Sport 1 from 19:30 GMT.

Following hot on its heels tomorrow is the Matchroom Boxing promotion featuring undisputed female lightweight champion Katie Taylor against her mandatory challenger Spaniard Miriam Gutierrez.

The 34 year old Taylor (16-0, 6 KO’s) is one of the biggest stars in female boxing and a fistic icon. In Gutierrez (13-0, 5 KO’s) she faces an opponent who comes to fight, is solid, but unlikely to take the Irish champion’s multiple world titles. The fight and full card is televised on Sky Sports and available on DAZN worldwide.

The Monday LunchBox

Lightweight champ Devin Haney smashes Yuriorkis Gamboa.
Photo: Ed Mulholland

It was a relatively quiet weekend of boxing after recent weeks.

The highlight was American lightweight Devin Haney convincingly outpointing 2004 Olympic champion Yuriorkis Gamboa to retain his WBC world title for a second time. Again the mind boggles when Brooklyn’s Teofimo Lopez is recognised as the 9st 9lb (135lbs) king by virtue of his victory over Vasilily Lomachenko last month and was pictured brandishing the WBC belt post fight.

Haney (25-0, 15 KO’s) is recognised as their official champion by virtue of being ‘interim’ champion and subsequently upgraded prior to the Lomachenko-Lopez match. To the casual sports fan with a passing interest in the sport this is baffling and unfortunately symptomatic of modern boxing and multiple sanctioning bodies.

However, this shouldn’t detract from Haney’s shut out performance against the veteran Cuban ex-world featherweight champion. Unanimously wide scores of 120-107 on two cards and 118-109 on the third told the story. A potential ‘unification’ fight between Lopez and Haney would be mouthwatering as various barbs have been exchanged on social media in recent months. It’s likely the wider recognised champ Lopez at this stage has bigger fish to fry though.

Other than snippets of heavyweight news; with Russian big man Alexander Povetkin testing positive and being hospitalised for COVID-19 and therefore a delay in the rematch with Londoner Dillian Whyte and, an opponent to be named for Tyson Fury for his December 5th date in London it was a quiet week.

The key event this week will be the build up to the Terence Crawford versus Kell Brook contest in the MGM Grand ‘Bubble’ in Las Vegas this weekend. This is really an elite match-up between the American Crawford, The Ring magazine #3 pound-for-pound fighter in the world and, the former IBF world champion at 10st 7lbs (147lbs) in Brook.

Crawford (36-0, 27 KO’s) defends his WBO world welterweight title against the British contender Brook (39-2, 27 KO’s) and will be shown on ESPN in the US.

On the UK domestic front the pick of the week will be build up to women’s multi-world champion Katie Taylor contest against Miriam Gutierrez which will be shown live on Sky Sports and DAZN in the US. Look in the Friday Faceup for previews of these fights.

This regular weekly feature is to also raise awareness of registered boxing charity Ringside Rest and Care.

The Monday LunchBox

Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis blasts Leo Santa Cruz

What a weekend ! One heavyweight proves he’s a contender, one small man zeros in on the pound-for-pound title and one spectacular knockout that’s sure to make the year’s best. All amidst the announcement of further lockdown in the United Kingdom.

Right when you thought boxing was again dropped to canvas and the fights made risked further threat of postponement, the sport brings us three standout performances and the British government allows big sporting events to continue, albeit behind closed doors.

The latter will bring a collective sigh of relief from British promoters, the larger of which have invested substantial sums to continue to host events behind closed doors with no prospect of fans helping to refill the coffers, other than by pay per view/box office.

In terms of action, top of the tree this weekend must be the stunning KO rendered by Gervonta Davis over Leo Santa Cruz. If you ever want to see how a fight can be stopped instantly then check this out.

The contest between two elite combatants was developing nicely through the first five rounds; Davis boxing beautifully, carefully picking shots and Santa Cruz firing back in heated exchanges, but trying to maintain distance and work off his jab. Having navigated the first five rounds the Mexican-American would’ve felt the first objective was achieved, then; pushed into a corner late in the sixth, BOOM !

A beautiful left uppercut dropped Santa Cruz like a stone. He was out before hitting the canvas and the referee waved the fight off immediately. Santa Cruz was out cold for several minutes before gradually recovering and allowing the official announcement of the 2:40 stoppage. It was the first time he’d been stopped in his 40 fight career and it was devastating. Santa Cruz drops to 37-2-1 (19 KO’s).

The 25 year old Davis (24-0, 23 KO’s) captured the spurious WBA world lightweight and super-featherweight crowns. Two divisional titles in one, work that one out. Given that Teofimo Lopez had also won their lightweight crown two weeks ago it is baffling, but sadly a factor of modern sanctioning bodies. More importantly, the Baltimore man scored a spectacular victory and potentially moves onto superfights in either division. Santa Cruz will re-group and a trilogy fight with Carl Frampton looks more likely.

Also stateside, Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue (20-0, 17 KO’s) came through as expected with a seventh round stoppage of Jason Moloney to retain his IBF and WBA world bantamweight titles. In a fight that served to showcase the Japanese pound-for-pounder in the US for the first time, he dominated the proceedings and also registered an impressive knockout. Promoted by Bob Arum’s Top Rank organisation the future for the ‘Monster’ looks extremely bright.

To cap the weekend off in London, England Oleksandr Usyk came through his first real test at heavyweight against Londoner Dereck Chisora. The Ukrainian former-unified cruiserweight champion surrendered over three stone (42lbs) to the local man on the scales and Chisora came to fight taking the opening two rounds. Over the course of the next six rounds Usyk cautiously seized control, with a minor blip in the ninth which Chisora clearly won. Usyk regained control through the championship rounds (10-12) to win a unanimous decision 117-112, 115-113, 115-113. Chisora thought he’d done enough but the first card was probably closer to the truth. The Undisputed scored it 116-113 to Usyk.

In the Sky Sports post fight interview Usyk (18-0, 13 KO’s) gave himself a score of 3/10 and emphasized his goal not just to be heavyweight champion but “undisputed”. Time will tell whether he has the size and power to match his outstanding skills. He secured his pre-fight position as number one contender to Anthony Joshua’s WBO world title.

A fantastic weekend also saw good wins on the Usyk-Chisora card for Cypriot-Aussie George Kambosos Jr (19-0, 10 KO’s) on points over Lee Selby at lightweight and Savannah Marshall impressively stop Hannah Rankin to win the vacant WBO world female middleweight belt. In the US there was the successful return of former WBC world super-lightweight champion Regis Prograis (25-1, 21 KO’s) winning by third round stoppage. Kombosos and Progais should both now move onto world title shots in their respective weight classes.

This weekly feature is to also raise awareness of the registered boxing charity Ringside Rest and Care.

The Friday Faceup

The eyes have it. Oleksandr Usyk takes a glance at ‘Del Boy’ Chisora.

What a fantastic fight weekend we have lined up. There’s almost too much going on to give each contest justice.

In London, England there’s the big heavyweight showdown between Ukrainian former-unified cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (17-0, 13 KO’s) and big Londoner Dereck ‘Del Boy’ Chisora (32-9, 23 KO’s). Staged at the SSE Arena, Wembley behind closed doors, it’s promoted by Matchroom Boxing and available on Sky Box Office.

The contest is intriguing as it presents a real test of the 33 year old Usyk’s ability to compete in the heavier weight class having reliquished his cruiserweight (200lbs/14st 4lb)titles and only successfully debuted as a heavyweight late last year.

In yesterday’s final press conference Usyk made light comment on the size disparity claiming he’d been fighting heavyweights all his career. He added profoundly “If the king of animals would be considered according to the size, then it would be an elephant, not a lion”.

The 36 year old Brit is a big heavyweight having competed his entire career in the division, but not enormous by today’s standards. He has though mixed in excellent company over a rollercoaster career, sharing the ring with Vitali Klitchko, Tyson Fury, David Haye and Kubrat Pulev amongst others. He will not be wanting for experience.

The ever-game Chisora is likely to make the fight very competitive in the early stages and seek to land the big bombs early. Whether he can navigate the southpaw Usyk’s classical style and test his toughness in the heavier division is the real intrigue in this fight. Conversely, can the London 2012 Olympic gold medallist stand his ground and show enough power to make Chisora tentative and get his respect ? Or, will he need to ? Those are questions to be answered.

When the dust settles look for Usyk to prevail, probably on points, and take a giant step into heavyweight contention. He is already officially the WBO number one contender for Anthony Joshua’s title and a good victory should seal the deal for a title shot.

The event also features a very good undercard with the picks being former IBF world featherweight champion Lee Selby (28-2, 9 KO’s) against George Kambosos Jr (18-0, 10 KO’s) and the WBO world female middleweight title contest between England’s Savannah Marshall (18-0) and Scot Hannah Rankin (9-4).

Across the pond in the US there are two major promotions with some debate as to which takes top billing.

In Las Vegas, Nevada we see the much anticipated American debut of Naoya ‘The Monster’ Inoue, fittingly on Halloween. The three- weight and current bantamweight (118lbs/8st 6lb) world champion (as recognised by Ring magazine and the WBA & IBF) is one of the finest fighters in the sport right now.

The 27 year old Japanese having captured the Muhammad Ali Trophy in the World Boxing Super Series final last year is almost in a class of his own. The ferociousness and ring smarts he displayed in his standout victory against former champion Nonito Donaire (voted Ring magazine 2019 fight of the year) earned him a Top Rank contract and this being his first fight in it. Top Rank’s CEO Bob Arum has high hopes for Inoue breaking the US market.

Inoue (19-0, 16 KO’s) meets Australian Jason Moloney (21-1, 18 KO’s) in defence of his titles and although the Aussie has an excellent record ‘The Monster’ is expected to come through in spectacular style.

Meanwhile in San Antonio, Texas there’s a fantastic match between Gervonta ‘Tank’ Davis (23-0, 22 KO’s) and four division ‘world’ champion Leo Santa Cruz (37-1-1, 19 KO’s). The bout is at super-featherweight (130lbs/9st 4lbs).

The pairing between the Mayweather Promotions backed Davis and more experienced Mexican-American is mouthwatering. Both are proven elite fighters and this is sure to be humdinger.

They both come to fight and Santa Cruz in particular is rarely in a bad fight. He’s split two bouts with Carl Frampton and had many other wars on the way up. This may however prove to be his downfall and expect the heavy handed Davis to come through to set up a potential challenge to new lightweight king Teofimo Lopez.

Also on the card is the return of former WBC world super-lightweight (10st/140lb) champion Regis Prograis (24-1, 20 KO’s) in his first outing since losing the World Boxing Super Series final to Scotland’s Josh Taylor last year. The ‘Rougarou’ Prograis will face Californian Juan Heraldez (16-0-1, 10 KO’s) in a ten rounder and expect him to re-stake his claim for world honours. This caps an outstanding weekend of boxing worldwide.

The San Antonio card will be shown live in the UK on Channel 5 from 03:00 GMT Sunday.

The Monday LunchBox

Juan Francisco Estrada (right) turns the heat up on Carlos Cuadras.

The Mexico City extravaganza truly delivered on Friday night (23rd October). It included another contender for fight of the year as Juan Francisco Estrada successfully defended his WBC world super-flyweight title against Carlos Cuadras.

The rematch turned out to be a ‘barnstormer’ with the champion dropped in the third and recovering to score two knockdowns of his game opponent later in the fight. He eventually overwhelmed former champ Cuadras to register an eleventh round stoppage after 2:20.

The 30 year old Mexican, Estrada raised his record to 41-3, 28 KO’s. As well as being WBC champion he is also recognised as The Ring magazine champion at 115lbs/8st 3lbs and pound-for-pound #9.

Nicaraguan living legend Roman ‘Chocolalito’ Gonzalez, a four-weight ‘world’ champion, also successfully defended his WBA world super-flyweight version against Israel Gonzalez with a unanimous points decision in a boxing masterclass. The judges returned scores of 118-110, 116-112 and 117-111.

The Nicaraguan (50-2, 41 KO’s) dominated the fight to set up a potential ‘superfight’ between himself and the younger Estrada. They met eleven years ago with Estrada seeking to avenge a narrow defeat this time around.

Finally, on an excellent card Julio Cesar Martinez destroyed Moises Calleros in a second round stoppage to defend his WBC world title at flyweight. Martinez moves to 17-1, 12 KO’s and at twenty five his future looks all ahead of him.

The focus this week switches to London, England with the delayed heavyweight showdown between Ukrainian Olexandr Usyk and Londoner Dereck Chisora.

Promoted by Matchroom this will confirm whether we can treat Usyk, the London 2012 gold medallist and former undisputed cruiserweight world champion, as a genuine heavyweight contender or, the second coming of Chisora continues towards another world title shot. The build up and hype this week should be fascinating for an event televised on Sky Box Office (PPV) in the UK.

There are also major cards in the US with the Las Vegas debut of Naoya ‘The Monster’ Inoue at bantamweight (118lbs/8st 6lbs) and the contest between Gervonta Davis and Leo Santa Cruz at lightweight (135lbs/9st 9lbs). Former WBC world junior-lightweight champion Regis Prograis also returns to action. More to follow in the Friday Faceup.

This weekly feature is to also raise awareness of the registered boxing charity Ringside Rest and Care.

The Friday Faceup

WBC world super-flyweight champion Juan Francisco Estrada.
Photo: Chris Farina

The dust has finally settled from an eventful last weekend. New unified world lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez delivered his pre-fight prediction and now basked in the glory, and former champ Vasiliy Lomachenko has returned to the Ukraine to lick his wounds to hopefully come again. There’s been talk of a pre-fight shoulder injury to Loma, probably believable, but nothing should detract from Lopez’ accomplishment and standout performance.

The Loma-Lopez fight televised in the US on the ESPN subscription channel reputedly took in 4 million viewers. Many will have been new to the sport and seen a 23 year old fellow American (with Honduran heritage) register a victory that showed his superstar and sporting crossover potential. Also in so doing, will have seen him prevail in a very competitive and riveting fight, which in moments, also showed the undoubted class of Lomachenko, the Ukrainian future hall-of-famer.

Boxing as a consequence, certainly on the world stage, is currently in a good place.

We’ve also had announcement in the UK of Matchroom Boxing securing the SSE Arena, Wembley for a number of big back to back heavyweight weekends, with stellar support cards in the run up to Christmas. Added to this, the further build up for big fights across the globe and British world title contenders preparing in earnest for title shots and eliminators in the US over the next few weeks (Kell Brook and Luke Campbell respectively).

To cap a good week we have some fantastic world championship events lined up this weekend.

Top of the list is the Matchroom Boxing and Zanfer co-promoted triple ‘world’ title card from television studios in Mexico City tonight (23rd Oct). This features WBC super-flyweight title holder Juan Francisco Estrada (40-3, 27 KO’s) against compatriot and former champ Carlos Cuadras (39-3-1, 27 KO’s). It’s a rematch three years on that is sure to be a toe-to-toe contest.

The 115lb/8st 3lb division is red hot at the moment with some stellar names still vying for superiority.

One such name is in the chief support with the return of Nicaraguan future hall-of-famer Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez (49-2, 41 KO’s) defending his WBA super-flyweight title against Mexican Israel Gonzalez (25-3, 11 KO’s).

WBC champ Estrada is considered by Ring magazine as being #9 pound-for-pound fighter in the world and one of his few defeats was against four division world champion ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez nearly eight years ago. If both come through tonight as expected, then look out for a long overdue and mouthwatering rematch between the two. Mexico v Nicaragua.

The card is finally topped off with the WBC flyweight title contested between champ Julio Cesar Martinez (16-1, 12 KO’s) and Moises Calleros (33-9-1, 17 KO’s). As ever, any fight between two Mexicans in the lighter weight classes is sure to be a humdinger.

The event is unfortunately unavailable mainstream in the UK but will be televised on the DAZN streaming service in the US.

On the domestic front it’s a quiet weekend before the big events in the lead up to Christmas.