The Monday LunchBox

A satisfied man – Lyndon Arthur reflects on his Commonwealth title victory against Anthony Yarde.

Five things we learned

Reflections on an interesting weekend of championship boxing:-

  1. Lyndon Arthur is the ‘real deal’ – The Manchester light-heavyweight came in as a big underdog to retain his Commonwealth title in Westminster, Saturday against Londoner Anthony Yarde. The ‘smart money’ was on Yarde’s power to see him through after an excellent showing last year in losing to the then WBO world champion Sergey Kovalev. Working off an excellent left jab and largely unused right hand Arthur controlled the pace of the fight, keeping the advancing Yarde at bay to eek out a split decision against his more hyped foe. Scores were 117-111 (Yarde) with two judges returning 115-114 to the champion. In the post-fight interview Yarde felt aggrieved believing he’d pressed the fight throughout, but the Mancunian was the better man on the night. This was Arthur’s ‘come out’ victory and despite calls for a rematch this launches him into contention for the WBO world title.
  2. Errol Spence Jr is back – ‘The Truth’ from Texas showed no ill effects from his horrific car accident last October when retaining his WBC and IBF world welterweight titles in Arlington, Texas Saturday. From the opening bell the Texan took the fight to Philadelphia’s former double-weight world champion Danny Garcia, controlling an always competitive fight. Never in trouble, but always pressured by his opponent, Spence showed flashes of his undoubted class in winning a unanimous decision 116-112, 117-111, 116-112. Garcia acknowledged post fight he’d lost to the better man on the night. WBO welterweight champion Terence Crawford was in attendance at the AT&T Arena and social media soundings for a unification fight between the two undefeated champions will now amplify significantly.
  3. Billy Joe Saunders needs a big fight – The British southpaw successfully defended his WBO super-middleweight title against fellow Briton Martin Murray in London, Friday. The undefeated champion (30-0, 14 KO’s) dominated the fight out of his southpaw stance with the final scorecards confirming it – 120-109, 120-109, 118-110. Saunders has been a WBO ‘world’ champion since 2015 at middle and now super-middleweight and having failed to secure a summer fight against Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and known for succumbing to distraction between fights desperately needs to secure a marquee fight. Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn acknowledged this post-fight and will look to secure a challenge against the winner of the upcoming Alvarez v Callum Smith unification fight.
  4. Anthony Yarde is technically limited – the London puncher stalked Lyndon Arthur for the majority of the twelve rounds, but was devoid of the ability to navigate the Manchester man’s left jab. His only real success came in the last round when a big right shook the champion, but it was too little too late. Yarde’s record now drops to 20-2, 19 KO’s and he’s come up short in his two major tests. Against Kovalev he emptied the tank too early when having the Russian in trouble, and on Saturday he paced himself more but this only resulted in him surrendering the decision on a lack of sustained action and success. The Londoner’s power is unquestionable but his strategy and ring smarts will need to improve to achieve his full potential.
  5. Martin Murray can retire a contented man – The 38 year old super-middleweight from St Helens, NW England can reflect on an excellent career having fought at the elite level for over a decade and challenging for a version of the world title on five different occasions. In all attempts at winning a world strap he’s given an excellent account of himself, arguably losing to Sergio Martinez in his Buenos Aires backyard and controversially drawing against Felix Sturm, again in the German’s home country. His title challenges have mainly come on the road and when finally securing domestic chances it’s been late in his career. His record of 39-6-1 (17 KO’s) also contains the stellar name of Gennadiy Golovkin and former ‘world’ champions Arthur Abraham and George Groves. Add to this the adversity he faced earlier in life after being incarcerated on a couple of occasions and what he’s achieved since has been exemplary. Following his defeat to Billy Joe Saunders he refused to be drawn on announcing his retirement, but when he does, can reflect on being a credit to himself, his family and the sport of boxing.
This regular weekly feature is to also raise awareness of the Ringside Charitable Trust.

The Friday Faceup

WBO world champ Billy Joe Saunders

Some quality action is in store this weekend in both the UK and USA.

First up, is the Matchroom promotion behind closed doors at the SSE Wembley Arena tonight (Friday) featuring Britain’s WBO world super-middleweight (12 stone/168lbs) champion Billy Joe Saunders against domestic rival Martin Murray from St Helens, NW England.

The 31 year old Saunders (29-0, 14 KO’s) has been inactive since last November and been marking time during the COVID pandemic trying to secure a marquee bout with Mexican sensation Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez.

That chance ultimately went to the more widely recognised divisional lead Callum Smith and Saunders will have to defend successfully to keep on track for the massive fights. The Hatfield, Hertfordshire man’s record is excellent and his stock still high but inactivity has been the Achilles heel of his pro career so far.

Murray (39-5-1, 17 KO’s) gets his fifth ‘world’ title opportunity which is something of a modern record. The 38 year old has fallen short against top fighters in Felix Sturm, Sergio Martinez, Gennadiy Golovkin  and Arthur Abraham. This will surely be his last chance but he will give it his all, as he always comes to fight. Murray narrowly lost some of those title shots and will feel rightly aggrieved if he fails to secure a world strap from an excellent career.

The smart money though is on Saunders to score a clear points victory out of his very effective southpaw stance.

The card will be televised in the UK live on Sky Sports Main Event & Arena from 19:00 GMT and on DAZN in the US.

Saturday (5th) sees Queensberry Promotions’ turn at the historic Church House, London (again behind closed doors) with the eagerly anticipated contest between Anthony Yarde and Lyndon Arthur for the Commonwealth light-heavyweight (12st 7lb/175lbs) title.

The full boxing card will mark Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren’s 40th anniversary as a professional promoter and is headlined by a quality match between two fighters who both at aged twenty nine have major title aspirations.

Londoner Yarde (20-1-0, 19 KO’s) narrowly lost to Sergey Kovalev in August of last year in the Russian’s backyard in a WBO world title challenge. A significant step up in level at the time. Despite a horrific personal year as a result of the pandemic ‘The Beast’ Yarde has managed to rack up a couple of KO victories either side of the lockdown.

‘King’ Arthur (17-0, 12 KO’s) from Manchester is entering his peak and an extremely confident and ‘live’ challenger. At 6′ 2″ he will pose a big target for the slightly shorter but more powerful looking Yarde. Their recent common opponent is Dec Spelman whom Arthur decisioned and Yarde managed to stop. This may provide a form guide but it promises to be an excellent ‘pick-ems’ fight.

The card will also feature two up and coming prospects from Maidstone, Kent, SE England. Sam Noakes at lightweight and Dennis ‘The Menace’ McCann at bantamweight. Both are early in their stage of development but remain undefeated and look to have promising futures ahead.

All fights will be televised in the UK on BT Sport 1 from 19:30 GMT with the estimated ring walk for the main event at 22:00.

Last but not least, is the long awaited return of Errol Spence Jr against Danny Garcia for ‘The Truth’ Spence’s IBF and WBC world welterweight (10st 7lbs/147lbs) titles. Aside from the obvious quality of the protagonists the intrigue in this match is a first sign of Spence’s ability (or not) to recover professionally from his horrendous car accident last year.

Spence (26-0, 21 KO’s) is the more quality operator of the two being ranked in The Ring magazine’s pound-for-pound listings and holding two versions of the world title. Garcia (36-2, 21 KO’s) is a former double-weight world champion and at 32 years old known in the UK for his victory over Amir Khan.

This again should be an excellent contest and a real ‘gut check’ for the 30 year old Spence to see how much the layoff has affected him and whether he can fulfill the outstanding potential he’s shown to date. He holds excellent victories over Kell Brook, Mikey Garcia and Shawn Porter and remains on the verge of superstardom. Much as to whether he is ready for the ultimate test against Terence Crawford at welterweight will come from a victory and the manner of it in this fight. It promises to be a quality contest either way.

The card will be shown live in the UK on the subscription channel Premier Sports 1 from 02:00 GMT Sunday morning and on Fox PPV in the US.

Enjoy your fight weekend.

The Monday LunchBox

A strong left jab detonates on Daniel Dubois to give Joe Joyce three titles.

Londoner Joe ‘Juggernaut’ Joyce came in as the underdog but left the Church House, Westminster ring with the British, Commonwealth and European heavyweight titles on Saturday night (28th).

The 2016 Rio Olympic super-heavyweight silver medalist’s performance in defeating fellow Londoner ‘Dynamite’ Daniel Dubois by tenth round knockout was exceptional. Working behind a strong and repetitive left jab he came through difficult moments to bludgeon his way to the titles.

In what was a very even fight going into the tenth, with the 35 year old man from Putney marginally ahead, he capitalised on the closed and badly swollen left eye of Dubois within the opening 30 seconds, dropping and stopping his opponent.

In the early rounds the contest was ‘nip and tuck’ with the heavier handed Dubois landing solid right hands on Joyce, but as he’s done throughout his long amateur and short professional career the new champion simply walked through them.

From the fourth round Dubois’ left eye had marked up and was starting to close. He was returning to his corner round after round looking the more despondent of the two but was still having successful rounds. Martin Bowers his chief cornerman was trying desperately to pump his man up but as the rounds progressed Dubois’ body language was becoming more resigned. Conversely, the Joyce corner despite the absence of his COVID positive main trainer, was a picture of composure.

Dubois was bombed early in the tenth on his closed left eye, taking a knee and although looking as though he would rise before the count whilst he propped himself off the canvas, eventually chose to rise a split second after the count of ten. Star referee Ian John-Lewis had no option but to wave the contest over.

The victory was Joyce’s come out performance as he announced his intention to win the WBO world heavyweight title currently held by Anthony Joshua.

In the BT Sport post-fight interview the new multiple champion acknowledged the effort his game opponent had put in and having to come through some big bombs “I was just glad it was over…I’ve felt power like that before (pointing to his elite amateur career)…I’m blessed with a good chin”. Explaining his game plan he said “I tried not to set too close…because he lets them go”.

The 23 year old Dubois, questioned on the stoppage explained “He caught me with a good jab…I couldn’t see out the eye…it just happens”. He continued “I’ve been hit harder…it was the positioning on the eye”. On his failed strategy he said “I was trigger happy, I need to be smarter”.

The nature of Dubois’ ‘surrender’ received some criticism from the BT Sport pundits, in particular former double world champion Carl Frampton. Whilst his and fellow pundit David Haye’s comments are to be respected, the following day it was revealed the Greenwich man had received a fractured orbital socket. This should give some context to his apparent unwillingness to continue after appearing to recover from the count and given his relatively young age and inexperience. The ‘hardest game’ can sometimes be the ‘harshest’ game when a fighter’s courage is brought into question.

Dubois (15-1-0, 14 KO’s) will now have to re-group and has plenty of time to build from this setback. Success in his first comeback fight though will be critical to his future progression at elite level.

Meanwhile the victor Joyce (12-0, 11 KO’s) called out mandatory WBO world title contender Oleksandr Usyk. It’s likely Joyce will get an opportunity to fight for a vacant title if Anthony Joshua fails to accept his Usyk mandatory commitment. This will give the Putney man an opportunity to avenge a unanimous points defeat to Usyk in the amateur World Boxing Series back in 2013. This time it should be more competitive and by then hopefully better attended.

Chief support on Saturday was a very impressive performance from British super-welterweight Hamzah Sheeraz (12-0, 8 KO’s) against tough Argentinian Guido Nicolas Pitto (26-8-2, 8 KO’s). Sheeraz boxed beautifully throughout showing good patience as he drew the sting out of the game but limited Pitto. He calmly stopped his man in the tenth when the referee stepped in to save Pitto from receiving further punishment after Sheeraz moved through the gears.

BT Sport pundits waxed lyrical on Sheeraz post-fight with Carl Frampton referring to him as the best prospect in British boxing. It was easy to see why on this performance as Sheeraz successfully defended his WBO European belt.

The highlight of the weekend stateside was the much hyped ten round exhibition between Hall of Famer’s ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jnr. To the surprise of many, in particular this publication, the heavyweight contest proved to be very entertaining and competitive. There were no knockdowns and some of the old fire and skills came out over the two minute rounds.

Popular consensus was that Tyson had won the contest but it was scored a draw by a trio of ex-fighters judging the bout. Both legends finished the contest with great credit and spoke of future exhibitions. Hopefully we can take this event for what it was, good entertainment, and cherish it as their ‘final harrah’. We fear this may not though be the case.

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

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.