The Monday LunchBox

Richard Riakporhe piles it on against Fabio Turchi.
Photo: Lawrence Lustig/BOXXER

World ranked cruiserweight Richard ‘The Midnight Train’ Riakporhe took a big step towards securing a title shot when he railroaded Italian opponent Fabio Turchi at Wembley Arena on Saturday night.

The contest, headlining a BOXXER promotion and live on Sky Sports, had a tentative start with the British fighter poking out his jab, moving and sizing up his opponent for the first four plus minutes. The tall Riakporhe then unleashed a devastating left hook to Turchi’s midriff that forced the Italian to land and roll on the canvas writhing in agony.

Before Riakphore (15-0, 11 KO’s) landed the telling blow it felt like we were waiting for a bomb to go off as the Londoner pawed away with the crowd transfixed, knowing the power he possessed, as he lined up the jab trying to set up the combination to finish the contest. In the end it was one leading shot that did the damage; a sickening body blow. The Italian dragged himself to his feet on the nine count, but referee Steve Gray waved it off as Turchi’s cornermen raided the ring and threw the towel in.

The win elevates Riakphore to a #2 world ranking with the IBF and places him in pole position for a shot at Ring magazine champion Maris Briedis.

Turchi (20-2, 14 KO’s), was expected to put up a stern test but in the end it was a walkover.

The promotion also featured the debut of Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Lauren Price MBE and a host of excellent contests.

Wales’ Price got in a good six rounds against tough Valgerdur Gudstensdottir. Despite her opponents name being 30 points in the board game Scrabble, the Icelander was just what Price needed on debut. The Olympic champion was allowed to move through the gears over the six two minute rounds and show her full array of skills, most notably the blinding hand speed that will be a feature in the paid ranks. The journey to championship level is up and running and going to be an exciting one with the blond southpaw.

Also on the card were excellent wins for Zak Chelli (12-1-1, 6 KO’s) capturing the English super-middleweight title in a highly competitive contest with Germaine Brown, Viddal Riley (13-7, 3 KO’s) smoked Jone Volau with a stunning first round knockout at cruiserweight and Chris Kongo (14-1, 7 KO’s) gained the WBC silver title at welterweight with a unanimous points victory over tough Sebastian Formella.

In the US, ‘Dynamite’ Daniel Dubois (18-1, 17 KO’s) scored a spectacular fourth round knockout over American Trevor Bryan to win the WBA heavyweight title. It was thought the 24 year old Londoner would have trouble fighting in the champion’s country, especially on a Don King promotion, but Dubois overcame this disadvantage with a big one shot blowout. Whilst it won’t resonate amongst the elite heavyweights, given Bryan’s limitations, it does get the power punching Dubois back in the heavyweight reckoning and at his youthful age there is much more to come.

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

The Friday Faceup

Richard Riakporhe (left) and Fabio Turchi
(Photo: Lawrence Lustig/BOXXER)

Tomorrow at London’s Wembley Arena world ranked cruiserweight Richard ‘The Midnight Train’ Riakporhe takes to the rails again when he faces Italian Fabio Turchi in an international contest.

The 32 year old Riakporhe (14-0, 10 KO’s) is on a fast track to challenge for a world title after impressive victories against Olanrewaju Durodola and Deion Juma at the same venue in the last seven months. The big punching Londoner has entered the top ten of the IBF world rankings and tomorrow’s contest is billed as an official eliminator for their title held by Latvian kingpin Mairis Briedis.

The supremely conditioned 6 foot 5 Riakporhe said in yesterday’s final press conference “The fight is perfect for me because it sets us up for a big world title clash in my next fight, so there’s a lot to fight for”. He continued “We aren’t taking Fabio Turchi lightly, we made sure we covered all areas in training…we want to deliver on Saturday night”.

Turchi (20-1, 14 KO’s), at aged 24, is a good test having fought in respectable company and possesses solid knockout power. However, he’ll be giving away significant height and reach to the Londoner who in recent fights has shown to be very heavy handed. We expect Riakporhe to get his man out of there by the sixth round in spectacular fashion.

The BOXXER promotion also sees Tokyo Olympic Gold medalist Lauren Price MBE make her professional debut on the undercard. Much is expected of the charismatic Welsh lass after a sensational victory in Japan when she was very much in the public eye. She is sure to impress again in her first paid contest.

Welterweight Chris Kongo faces a test against German Sebastien Formella who has gone the distance recently against Conor Benn and Shawn Porter. Kongo, from Bermondsey, south London will be looking to cash in by adding Formella’s name to his record. Potentially this is the contest of the night and we expect Kongo to win a tight twelve rounder on points.

The card also features Londoner’s Zak Chelli (11-1-1, 6 KO’s) and Germaine Brown (12-0, 3 KO’s) facing each other at super-middleweight for the English title. Last but not least, undefeated Viddal Riley and Joe Pigford also feature.

The card will be televised on Sky Sports in the UK from 7pm.

Stateside Saturday in Miami, Florida, Daniel Dubois challenges Trevor Bryan for a version of the WBA heavyweight title. The 24 year old Londoner (17-1, 16 KO’s) has rebuilt slowly after a career halting stoppage by Joe Joyce in the British showdown in late 2020. Since then he’s recorded two knockout wins against Bogdan Dinu and Joe Cusumano, the latter in the US.

American, Bryan (22-0, 15 KO’s) is making the second defence of his title won against Bermane Stiverne in January 2021. Despite being age 34 the only name of note on his record is the now shopworn Stiverne.

The outcome of this will largely depend on whether Dubois has fully recovered from the Joyce defeat; physically (after his orbital bone fracture), and psychologically, in losing for the first time when last stepping up. Bryan is limited, but as an undefeated champion is to be respected. We expect Dubois’ power to be the telling factor and him to continue his rebuild by stopping the American in the fifth.

The event is noted for being promoted by the legendary Don King and is being televised by BT Sport in the UK. Ring entrances are expected around 11:30pm.

Enjoy your fight weekend.

Inside the Jab

Bantamweight king Naoya ‘Monster’ Inoue.

Monster mashes the Flash

Think Thomas Hearns destroying Roberto Duran, think Donald Curry icing Milton McCrory, now witness Naoya Inoue dismantling Nonito Donaire.

All second round KO’s, all against fighters with a quality resume, all equal in their spine-chilling finality.

The ‘Monster’ nickname was no more apt than in the Saitama Arena, Japan lunchtime today (UK time). ‘Filipino Flash’ Donaire entered the ring with a record of 42-6 (28 KO’s), ‘world’ titles in four different weight classes and appearing in his 22nd world title fight. After a bright opening he left the ring bludgeoned and befuddled four and a half minutes later.

Pound-for-pound #3, as ranked by The Ring magazine, Inoue was fighting in his homeland again after his opponent had extended him twelve rounds in a toe-to-toe battle just under three years ago at the same venue. A contest that was awarded The Ring’s 2019 fight of the year. We expected something similar, but knew it would be very hard to equal.

What we got was an annihilation, and a stoppage so destructive that the argument now is the ‘Monster’ is #1. The pound-for-pound debate will rage on but we know, if we didn’t already, that Naoya Inoue is a generational talent and undoubtedly the best bantamweight in the world. His march to the Hall of Fame has started and who knows where it will take him ’til he resides there.

The Japanese is 29 years old and having moved through three weight classes already, is prepared to move up further, as he alluded to post-fight. But, let’s enjoy him first among the 118 pounders. In his native country he’s a national hero who transcends his sport, now his 67 inch reach is spreading across the continents. Twice on the cover of The Ring already and more to follow.

Inoue came to the ring to the soundtrack of Kill Bill, ably supported by a national celebrity soloing on a lead guitar in ring centre. The screech of the guitar as the main notes resonated almost signalled the onset of the carnage we were about to witness. Donaire followed to the ring with something melodic but more tranquil. A sign ?

After the anthems, pre-fight instructions and ding of the opening bell, the Filipino started quickly but both fighters knew the power each had in their arsenal so despite landing solid shots, were tense. The round was about to reach a cautious conclusion, then BOOM !

A powerful right hand counter detonated on the side of Donaire’s head. He hit the deck immediately, shocked, but still with enough energy and composure to lift himself to his feet. Canadian referee Michael Griffin continued the count, Nonito stood up, rocky, but on nine the bell for the end of the round sounded simultaneously. A 10-8 round in the Japanese’ favour.

The corner of the WBC champion frantically tried to get stability and semblance into Donaire’s legs. The second round bell rang and the Filipino tried to meet fire with fire. A mistake.

Within 1:24 mins of the round Donaire had been wobbled twice and as the Japanese loaded up and landed repeatedly he landed a vicious left hook to score the second knockdown. The referee waved the fight over immediately. The destruction was complete and a multi-weight champion had been systematically taken apart by a potentially great fighter and new star in the sport.

‘The Monster’ had indeed mashed his opponent inside four and half minutes. The Undisputed expected a Inoue victory, maybe spectacular, but not this early. Within seconds of the stoppage Inoue was a picture of composure, adourned with the multiple belts of the sanctioning bodies.

In his post fight interview the Japanese said he felt Donaire’s power “In the very first round I received the left hook from Nonito and that punch made me wake up…I just decided to finish the fight”. And finish it he did, in an emphatic history making performance.

Donaire, now 39 years old, dropped to 42-7 (28 KO’s) and having won multiple ‘world titles has his name in the Hall already, when he finally calls it a day. Always a devastating puncher and box office, he will be missed. But today was the performance of the year so far and the ‘Monster’ will do far more mashing over the next few years. Hold onto your seats, a star has arrived !

The event was co-promoted by Top Rank Inc and is immediately available on their YouTube site.

The Monday LunchBox

The Dream fulfilled.

A new lightweight king was crowned in Melbourne, Australia when Devin ‘The Dream’ Haney comprehensively outboxed George Kambosos Jr over twelve rounds on Saturday night.

The contest took place in the city’s Marvel Stadium and the American put in a superhero performance. He kept his opponent and the capacity crowd subdued for most of the contest taking control from the opening bell and working off a solid jab with excellent ring generalship to gain an impressive win. All three judges were in agreement returning scores of 116-112, 116-112 and 118-110. The Undisputed scored the contest 117-111 in Haney’s favour.

Despite the pre-fight hostilities the contest, though always interesting, never really took off. The Australian entered as a unified champion after his shock defeat of Teofimo Lopez last year, but couldn’t get any success or control inside the dominant jab of the slick Haney. The Aussie spent most of the fight countering off Haney’s near perfect straight left stick and, although having some success in the mid rounds, could never really maintain a pace and intensity that allowed him to corner his opponent for sustained periods.

Haney (28-0, 15 KO’s) showed the full extent of his boxing IQ by dictating the pace of the fight with his slick skills. A couple of times he got nailed with solid shots from the advancing and upright home fighter, but the American was able to ride them comfortably.

In his post-fight interview Haney explained “The gameplan was to hit and not get hit…I fought a good, smart fight”. This summed up his approach and how the contest went.

The former champ was accepting in defeat saying “I give him full respect for the victory” but added “I thought the fight was very close”. He ended saying “Let him have his moment” pointing to and knowing the rematch clause built into pre-fight negotiations. On this result there won’t be a clamour for the rematch as it was a classic case of styles making fights and Haney on this showing would likely prevail again. Kambosos suffered his first defeat and drops to 20-1, 10 KO’s but will come again.

The Las Vegas based American is now the legitimate world lightweight champion adding all the sanctioning straps to his WBC title. He adds the prestigious Ring magazine championship which was also on the line.

The 9st,9lb (135lbs) division is stacked with talent and strong challenges await from Gervonta Davis, Ryan Garcia and former champion Vasiliy Lomachenko amongst others.

In Cardiff, Wales former elite amateur Joe Cordina spectacularly took the IBF world junior-lightweight (9st,4lb/130lbs) title from Japanese Kenichi Ogawa with a stunning second round knockout. The massive right hand he registered on the former champion’s jaw is an early contender for punch and knockout of the year. As soon as it detonated and the Japanese slumped to the canvas the fight was over.

In a fight that we predicted the hometown challenger would win narrowly he completely obliterated those early thoughts with his stunning KO. This was by far the standout performance of Cordina’s career and it sets him up for unification fights further down the line. The 30 year old ‘Welsh Wizard’ rises to 15-0, 9 KO’s and former champion drops to 26-2-1, 18 KO’s.

A fantastic bantamweight contest is set for tomorrow in Saitama, Japan when pound-for-pounder Naoya Inoue meets Filipino Nonito Donaire for a second time. Their first meeting, also in Saitama, was The Ring magazine 2019 fight of the year with the Japanese, Inoue winning a hard fought unanimous decision.

Inoue (22-0, 19 KO’s) goes by the moniker of ‘The Monster’ due to his destructive power and intensity and should be too much this time for multi-weight and current WBC champion Donaire (42-6, 28 KO’s). The ‘Filipino Flash’ performed exceptionally well in the first contest but almost three years on, now aged 39, is close to the twilight of his career. The younger man at 29 should register the KO this time, likely in the last third of the fight. It will though be exciting whilst it lasts.

The contest is promoted by Top Rank Inc. and will be available on Top Rank’s YouTube channel with ring walks expected at 12:30pm BST. It is also available on ESPN+ in the US and Amazon Prime in Japan.

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

The Weekender

Promo courtesy of Top Rank Inc.

In a huge fight tonight in Melbourne, Australia all the world lightweight (9st,9lbs/135lb) straps are up for grabs when homeboy George Kambosos Jr. faces American Devin Haney.

The 28 year old Kambosos (20-0, 10 KO’s) is a unified champion and recognised as The Ring magazine champion having beaten previously undefeated Teofimo Lopez in a stand out victory last year. Haney (27-0, 15 KO’s) brings his WBC title to the ring. It’s a brilliant clash of styles with the aggressive Australian facing a slick, well schooled American. The fight will be staged in the Marvel Arena before a capacity 60,000 crowd.

Kambosos has been a road warrior in recent years finally getting his shot at the titles in the US and seizing with both hands. Lopez was tipped to be the next big star in boxing on beating Ukrainian pound-for-pounder Vasiliy Lomachenko, but Kambosos tore up the script winning a deserved split decision in The Ring’s upset of 2021.

The Australian, self proclaimed ‘Emperor’ with Greek heritage, is now a major celebrity in his sports mad homeland and hoping to build on the outstanding fistic legacies of fellow Aussies Jimmy Carruthers, Lionel Rose, Jeff Fenech and adopted hero Kostya Tszyu.

On the prospect of making his first defence in front of his compatriots Kambosos said “It’s great to be be back home. Five years of hard work…I had to go through every bit of adversity. I had to earn my belts…the hardest way…I know the stadium will be buzzing with my support…It’s a great moment for Australian boxing and I am very excited”.

Haney, 23, enters the contest extremely confident in his own abilities, buoyed by his undefeated record and recent impressive victories. He has a win over multi-weight champ Jorge Linares and last time out beat Joseph ‘Jojo’ Diaz in a comprehensive points victory. In a fight week press conference he said “There’s nothing he can do in the ring that’s better than me, and I will show that on fight night. I take nothing away from him. I think he’s a good fighter, but I just think I’m on a whole different level”.

Big overnight news was Kambosos’ failure to make the stipulated weight at first attempt, being .36 of a pound over, and returning to the scales 75 minutes later to finally successfully weigh in. Kambosos claimed this was a tactic to unsettle his opponent, but this is unlikely and could be a factor if weight draining has become an issue for the unified champion. Haney weighed in 134.9lbs at his first attempt.

The Australian has all the tools to win on the night with sound boxing skills backed up by respectable power. We liken this fight to Barry McGuigan v Bernard Taylor in the mid 1980’s, with the American having the superior skills but being overwhelmed by the Aussie’s early intensity and a rabid, vocal home support down the stretch. We just give Kambosos the edge with the benefit of this support carrying him home to a wafer thin points victory.

The contest and solid support card is co-promoted by Top Rank Inc, DiBella Entertainment and the fighter’s promotional companies and is available live in the UK on Sky Sports from 02:00 BST Sunday. It is being shown in the USA on ESPN (9pm ET).

Earlier Saturday night (UK time) from Cardiff, Wales will be the world IBF junior-lightweight (9st,4lb/130lbs) title fight between Japan’s Kenichi Ogawa and Wales’ challenger Joe Cordina.

The 34 year old champion has an excellent 26-1-1 (18 KO’s) record and will be looking to cash in on his title as he enters the back end of his career. He’s mostly fought in Japan, but with a couple of fights stateside, should not be intimidated by the expected hostile local crowd in the Motorpoint Arena.

For Cordina (14-0, 8 KO’s), now 30 years old, it’s a ‘put up or shut up’ fight. He’s been a pro for a six years since representing Team GB in the Rio Olympics and, although still retains an undefeated record, this will be his first step up to an elite level. The Welshman said pre-fight “I’m at that world level. I’ve sparred plenty of world champions and I’ve been in with some tough guys…I’ve also got a great boxing brain…I can think my way around the fight and get that win on Saturday”. Ogawa has promised a very aggressive approach and to be victorious on the night.

Cordina has the youth, skills and world experience as an amateur to make this a difficult night for the Japanese. If he can work behind his solid defence for the earlier part of the fight, we see him making the fight extremely competitive and ultimately just eeking out a victory in another close fight won by the hometown fighter.

The contest and card are promoted by Matchroom Boxing and available on the DAZN streaming platform.

The Monday LunchBox

Ionut Baluta celebrates his win over Brad Foster.

There was some excellent action in British rings over the weekend.

Friday night saw a Queensberry Promotions international super-bantamweight contest between Romanian Ionut Baluta and Briton Brad Foster. The aggressive Baluta (15-3, 3 KO’s) forced the pace throughout and although Foster (14-2-2, 5 KO’s) boxed well he was unable to prevail with scores returned in favour of the Spanish based eastern European 98-94, 97-93, 97-93.

We saw the fight a lot closer with most rounds difficult to score, a question of whether you liked the calmness and ring generalship of Foster compared to Baluta’s advancing aggression, but we accepted the man who made the fight was rightly declared the victor.

On a deep card with good victories for female puncher Raven Chapman, debuting Sean Noakes, Michael Burke Jr and Andrew Cain the night showcased some of the best talent emerging from the UK.

Liverpool’s Andrew Cain (10-0, 9 KO’s) is on an upward trajectory at super-bantamweight. It only took him 2:02 of the opening round to land a double left hook right uppercut combination to halt usually tough Mexican Luis Moreno. Cain is reputedly looking at opportunities for titles at either super-bantam or the lighter bantamweight division, able to fluctuate between the two. On this form, in which he was punch perfect, the future looks bright.

Undefeated Maidstone, Kent bantamweight Dennis ‘The Menace’ McCann (10-0, 6 KO’s) was in attendance and a fight between him and Cain would be a mouthwatering prospect.

There were also good wins for Joshua and Charles Frankham in front of a passionate family following.

Saturday night at the London O2 Arena saw an excellent all British affair between world ranked light-heavyweights Joshua Buatsi and Craig Richards. The undefeated Buatsi (16-0, 13 KO’s) won a hard fought twelve round unanimous decision 116-112, 115-113, 115-113 in one of the fights of the year to date.

Richards (17-3-1, 10 KO’s), hot off a world title loss to Dmitry Bivol, put in another excellent performance but just fell short on the scorecards. The Undisputed scored it 116-112 in favour of Buatsi.

The 29 year old Buatsi now takes pole position for a world title shot at 175lbs (12st,7lbs) being highly ranked by all governing bodies. With the depth of British contenders at the weight there are also lucrative domestic contests with Anthony Yarde, Callum’s Johnson or Smith and Lyndon Arthur amongst others. His Matchroom Boxing promotional company will be looking to seal a world title fight next.

Much will depend on the route that current unified champion Dmitry Bivol takes after his recent defeat of former pound-for-pound king Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and the imminent contest between Artur Beterbiev and Joe Smith Jr. The 175lb division is one of the hottest in the world currently, bringing back memories of the glory days of the early 1980’s.

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

The Friday Faceup

Promo courtesy of Queensberry Promotions.

Some good action is expected at east London’s York Hall, Bethnal Green tonight with the return of Britain’s Brad Foster against Romanian Ionut Baluta at super-bantamweight (122lbs/8st,10lbs).

Foster (14-1-2, 5 KO’s) is the former British and Commonwealth champion and on the comeback trail after losing his titles to Jason Cunningham last October. The Midlands man is in tough with Baluta (14-3, 3 KO’s) who’s fought in good company, losing against world title challenger Michael Conlan last time out.

The 24 year old Foster is a good stylist and should have enough to come through a tough test. Most likely on points.

The Queensberry Promotions card also features Liverpool super-bantamweight Andrew Cain against Mexican Luis Moreno, female boxer Raven Chapman at featherweight and, includes the debut of welterweight Sean Noakes from Maidstone, Kent.

The event will be shown live in the UK on BT Sport 2 from 7pm.

Tomorrow (Sat) in the O2 Arena, North Greenwich is the all British light-heavyweight contest between world ranked Joshua Buatsi and Craig Richards. This is a fight with serious consequences on a world level.

Both are south Londoners with Buatsi (15-0, 13 KO’s) moving into a position for a world title shot and Richards (17-2-1, 10 KO’s) comes off a points defeat to now unified champion and current pound-for-pounder Dmitry Bivol. This is a ‘pick-ems’ fight which could go the distance but we expect Buatsi’s power to tell and him prevail around the tenth round.

The event will be shown live on the DAZN streaming platform.

The Monday LunchBox

Denzel Bentley (left) piles it on against Linus Udofia.
Photo: Leigh Dawney/Wasserman Boxing

In an action packed Wasserman Boxing promotion in Greenwich, London (Fri 13th) Denzel Bentley regained the British middleweight title with a hard fought split decision victory over Linus Udofia. Scores were 116-112, 114-115, 115-113.

In gaining his second notch on the famous Lonsdale Belt towards winning it outright, having first won the title in 2020, the Battersea puncher emphatically returned from his shock April 2021 defeat to Felix Cash.

The contest was a barnstormer which ebbed and flowed over the twelve round distance. Bentley started slowly, pot shotting with big punches as Udofia looked the more composed and compact. The ex-champion came through difficult moments early on before landing a big right hand in the third causing Udofia to hold on mid round. Although Bentley (16-1-1, 13 KO’s) looked the more ragged, at times swinging wild looping shots, his power was the more evident whenever he landed.

Udofia (17-1, 9 KO’s), from Luton, kept the centre of the ring through much of the fight with a tighter defence and controlling it’s pace, but the strong shots from Bentley were clearly having a cumulative effect. The Londoner finished rounds seven and eight strongly and controlled the fight from therein.

It was a backwards and forwards contest with no knockdowns, but held before a boisterous crowd made excellent entertainment for those also viewing on Channel 5. The Undisputed had a final score of 115-113 in Bentley’s favour and it was a worthy victory for the local man. The exciting puncher now moves onto a third British title win and possible international recognition.

The event was the promoter’s new venture with the free to air television channel and it was ably supported by an eliminator for the same title between Ryan Kelly and Brad Pauls. This was the fight of the night as the Cornishman Pauls eeked out a decision victory to become Bentley’s mandatory contender. In his post-fight interview Pauls gave credit to his challenger “He gave me the toughest fight of my life. Hats off to Ryan Kelly”.

Pauls goes to 16-0 (9 KO’s) and Kelly drops to 16-4 (8 KO’s). The contest drew widespread applause on referee Marcus McDonnell’s prompt at the start of the final round. Well deserved.

The knockout of the night was Brighton’s junior-welterweight Harlem Eubank in poleaxing Sean ‘Masher’ Dodds with a perfectly timed left hook 2:24 into the second. The gifted Eubank (14-0, 6 KO’s) continues the family fistic heritage being the son of Chris Eubank Sr and joining brother Chris Jr high in the British rankings. On being interviewed he said “I feel like I’m driving to the top of the division”. Few would argue on this performance.

There was a minor controversy on the night with the late withdrawal of Albanian Xhuljo Vrenozi who was due to fight Sunderland’s Josh Kelly in the chief support. The comebacking Kelly apologised to his fans on stage as it was announced the Albanian had allegedly locked himself in his hotel room and refused to leave to fight. This was disappointing but didn’t detract from an excellent card.

Up in Manchester the BOXXER cruiserweight elimination series was won by Ellis Zorro (14-0, 6 KO’s) from Lewisham, London. He won the £40,000 winner take all prize with three composed and assured performances over the event. He was the calmer over the duration, refusing to be sidetracked by verbal challenge from his opponents and made the most of his solid skills to win first prize.

Zorro won all his fights on points, beating Jay Farrell and Jamie Smith and Ricky Reeves in a competitive but low key final (30-27, 29-28, 29-28). As well as the first prize he also gained a new BOXXER multi-fight contract and looks a good addition to their ranks.

On being interviewed after the final he committed most of his prize towards funding speech therapy for his young daughter who suffers from autism. Another nice touch from a class act.

The weekend also saw good action worldwide with the picks being world ranked heavyweight Martin Bakole (18-1, 13 KO’s) dominating Tony Yoka (11-1, 9 KO’s) in Paris to win a majority decision. Also, in the US, American Jermell Charlo (35-1-1, 18 KO’s) defeated Brian Castano (17-1-2, 12 KO’s) in Carson City, California. The impressive Charlo scored a tenth round TKO on 2:33 secs and becomes the first undisputed men’s 154lb champion. He dropped the tough Argentinian twice en-route in a very entertaining and competitive fight.

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

The Friday Faceup

Promo courtesy of Wasserman Boxing.

A solid weekend of action is scheduled in British rings.

Tonight at the Indigo at the O2, the smaller venue inside the big tent at Greenwich, is the vacant British middleweight title fight between Linus Udofia (17-0, 9 KO’s) and Denzel Bentley (15-1-1, 13 KO’s).

Former champion Bentley, from Battersea south London, after impressively winning the title from Mark Heffron then lost unexpectedly in his first defence to Felix Cash last year. The undefeated Udofia has only fought at domestic level so far, but has very strong fundamentals working off a solid jab. It should be an extremely competitive fight with the odds marginally favouring the bigger punching Bentley.

Chief support will see the return of Sunderland’s Olympian Josh Kelly (10-1-1, 6 KO’s) in his first contest at junior-middleweight (11st/154lbs). He faces Albanian Xhuljo Vrenozi (18-4, 3 KO’s).

The much hyped Kelly came up short last year against world ranked David Avanesyan in a first attempt at the elite level and now begins a rebuilding job. His skills are unquestionable, and under the guidance of respected trainer Adam Booth, he will be carefully prepared for this step back into the paid ring and look to relaunch his career.

Kelly on the night should be far too good for his opponent and, provided he can put the demons to one side, should win impressively and move on.

The evening’s Wasserman Boxing promotion marks their first UK televised show in a new deal with Channel 5 and is available across the terrestrial network.

Tomorrow sees the attention shift up to north to Manchester with the next event of the popular BOXXER Series. This time it’s the turn of the cruiserweights (200lbs/14st,4lb) at the Victoria Warehouse, with eight fighters competing for the £40,000 purse in a winner-take-all elimination contest. The random draw made yesterday is:

Ellis Zorro (11-0, 6 KO’s) v Jay Farrell (9-2, 5 KO’s)

Jamie Smith (3-0, 2 KO’s) v Jack Fay (1-0-1)

Ricky Reeves (2-0, 1 KO) v Anees Taj (5-1, 4 KO’s)

Sheldon McDonald (3-0, 1 KO) v Ryan Cotterell (1-0)

Four fighters will advance to the semi-finals and then onto the final. The respective records show Zorro to be favourite, but on the night expect fireworks either way.

The event will be on Sky Sports Action from 19:00 UK time.

Enjoy your fight weekend.

The PressBox

Tokyo Olympic silver medallist Ben Whittaker.

Yesterday (Weds) in east London the final GB Tokyo 2020 medallist Ben Whittaker turned professional with the BOXXER promotional company in association with Sky Sports.

During last year’s delayed Games he captured the hearts of British supporters with his charisma and humour on his march to the final. Despite gaining a well earned silver medal he never became the Mayor of Wolverhampton (his hometown) which he pitched for, but optimism is high as he finally enters the professional ranks.

In a well attended press conference the 24 year old entered the stage after an intro and promotional video and then summed up his pleasure in finally signing professional terms “Well, they always say save the best ’til last and here I am !”.

BOXXER founder and CEO Ben Shalom went onto explain how sought after Whittaker’s signature was and his delight at him fighting under his promotional banner. “He was the one every promoter was circling around…He’s a generational talent, but also a personality…the perfect signing”.

He will be managed by Anthony Joshua’s 258 Management company.

Joined by internationally respected trainer SugarHill Steward who represents Detroit’s Kronk Gym and will be Whittaker’s trainer on him turning pro, the fighter went onto add “I know I wanna be a world champion. I want people to say remember Ben Whittaker, he was the best we had”.

His head trainer added he “is an extremely talented boxer, like a Roy Jones…an electrifying personality and talent…I believe Ben Whittaker has that whole package, to be a superstar”. When asked by The Undisputed to expand on what he saw and how he’d develop him, Sugar Hill added “Speed and skill and he can create things in the ring…we will be getting him to sit down on his punches and develop that knockout power”.

Ben Shalom explained how he would be matching Whittaker’s desire with his company “He wants to be moved properly, promoted properly” and he clearly saw BOXXER and Sky Sports as the vehicle to achieve that. It’s known that his signature has had many suitors and not come cheap, but having done the necessary groundwork and looked both stateside and across the UK, the Whittaker/Steward combination looks set for a good and exciting start. They completed the media event with a workout in the ring before all in attendance.

No date for Whittaker’s debut has been announced, but he explained his flexibility and intentions regarding weight categories, “I would love to hold 168 and 175lb (titles) together…I can jump in either/or”. Given his six foot frame it’s likely 175 (light-heavyweight) will be the weight finally settled on. This is arguably the most stacked division in British boxing, but one of ageing champions. In three years time the Wolverhampton man should be well set to compete for a championship and ultimately move on to achieve his ambitions. He has all the skills and charisma to be the standout from the Tokyo Games.

In our conversation with a BOXXER representative mid-event their intentions were clearly evident to develop a standout athlete and personality, not simply a talented boxer. Caution was explained on the potential pitfalls ahead, but the platform had now been provided for the fighter to excel.

Watch this space.