The Friday Faceup

Are British fightfans being shafted ?

This week we heard numerous statements made by Eddie Hearn Head of Matchroom Boxing about Anthony Joshua’s possible future itinerary. We were told that he’s likely to defend in the UK against IBF #1 contender Kubrat Pulev in a stadium venue either late May or early June. This being subject to the Bulgarian Pulev’s agreement. We hear that this is the unified champs preference as he wants to ‘come home’.

In the same interview for BBC 5 Live Boxing we are told that Derick Chisora is likely to fight Oleksandr Usyk in March, again in a British venue and this is being sold as ‘a treat’.

However, what we are then told is if there is not a third fight between Deontay Wilder and Tyson Fury (the rematch currently slated for Feb 22nd) that a unification is possible between the winner and Joshua by late 2020. This would be unlikely given the logistics of pulling that fight together within six months, but added to that if, is that the fight is unlikely to happen in the UK.

The explanation we are told is that there are several potential venues around the world that could host that fight, that would offer the protagonists the greatest reward. An offer we are told is already on the table from Saudi Arabia and there are suggestions that the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) formerly Zaire, where there has been a civil war going on for the last couple of decades and human atrocities are still being carried out, to replicate the historical legacy the venue for the famous ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ would create. We hear AJ is interested in this.

Given that if Joshua beats Pulev, and Fury were to defeat Wilder, we would be presented with an all British fight to unify the Heavyweight Championship of the World. The Undisputed fails to accept and understand why this would not happen in the United Kingdom.

Every casual sports fan and even those who have a passing interest in boxing know the only fight that really matters down the stretch is Joshua against the winner of Wilder-Fury. Then finally we will know who ‘The Man’ is; the undisputed Heavyweight Champion (which would include Fury’s much quoted ‘lineal’ title).

We are constantly told how fantastic the UK fight fans are, that our venues create an atmosphere unrivalled anywhere else in the world, and this, they back up by shelling out millions of pounds to support their heroes. So why after seven years of supporting and building Joshua up to be the fighter he is, and similarly supporting the ‘Gypsy King’ Fury are we being told this might not happen in the UK ? The answer, to Hearn’s credit, we are truthfully told is money, but also legacy.

British fight fans have witnessed Joshua recently take fights in New York and Saudi Arabia, great experiences as they were for those who could afford to travel and watch over the satellite TV channels, but have they not earned the right to have the fight on these shores ? Whoever promotes or co-promotes the ‘winner take all’ fight whether it be Joshua v Fury or Wilder, has a duty to deliver that fight to a live UK audience. Their support, loyalty and hard earned cash deserves it.

We are some months and maybe a year away from that happening but Messrs Hearn, Warren and Arum should consider this in their final selection of a venue. Wishful thinking I know but if it’s not said now then British fight fans will again be shelling out on flights and all that comes with it. Not again I say.

The Monday LunchBox

Courtesy of africanring.co.za

‘Terror’ passes

Very sad news was received from South Africa in the last week with news of the passing of their first black boxer to win a world title – Peter ‘Terror’ Mathebula. A number of notable champions (Willie Smith, Arnold Taylor and Vic Toweel) had preceded him, but none before had represented the majority population.

Mathebula became an icon in his home country in December 1980 when he defeated South Korean Tae-Shik Kim on a split decision in Los Angeles to win the WBA world flyweight title. His victory was unexpected and came in the midst of the apartheid years and its associated struggles. Peter, a kid from Mohlakeng township near Johannesburg travelled across the world to give joy to his country and community.

His success at world level although miraculous and notable, was short lived, losing the title in his first defence to Santos Laciar, an Argentinian multi-weight champion.

A streetfighter from the age of 10, Mathebula’s career was also notable for winning the South African flyweight title in 1976. He had the distinction of fighting professionally the same opponent seven times – Johannes Sithebe. All were exciting fights and four with the South African flyweight title at stake. His last fight was in August 1983 finishing with a record of 36-9 with 17 wins inside the distance.

He died at age 67 following an illness and this tragedy was made the more heart wrenching with the death of his wife of 40 years just six days later from natural causes. A joint funeral will be held on Tuesday January 28th at the Ramosa Hall in Randfontein, near Johannesburg. Condolences and thoughts are sent from The Undisputed to all family and friends.

The Monday LunchBox

Stanley of Africa

Renowned South African boxing historian Ron Jackson had set up our meeting in the Cresta Shopping Mall, Johannesburg in January 2018. He warned me “Stanley likes to talk”.

Talk he does; about his sixty years in boxing and his passion for our sport, which oozes from his every pore. He starts by talking about his experiences of ‘hospitality’ in Chechnya as a World Boxing Association (WBA) official. He then moves onto a who’s who of boxing personalities he’s acquainted and fights that he’s been involved in. “It’s all in the book !” he tells me. This, the book he’d been working on for the last five years and would soon be out. It was finally published in April 2019. For any boxing aficionado, or even the casual boxing/sports fan it’s a must read.

As an eventual International Boxing Hall of Fame referee, Stanley was the third man in the ring at the Orange Bowl, Miami in 1982 for Aaron Pryor – Alexis Arguello I (one of the greatest fights of all time), for ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler v Roberto Duran in 1983, Eusebio Pedroza v Barry McGuigan on that famous night at Loftus Road, London (1985) and a judge in the first Evander Holyfield v Lennox Lewis fight (him scoring it correctly 116-113 to Lewis). He’s been involved in officiating in some shape or form 242 world title fights and counting, up to December 2018.

In between insisting to the waiter in the local Mug & Bean coffee shop to make sure his coffee is hot, “with milk but hot“, he speaks at machine-gun pace. His stories take you from the South African townships in the early 1960’s to the meccas of Caesars Palace and Madison Square Garden. En-route his first world title fight in Johannesburg in 1973 – Arnold Taylor v Romeo Anaya – for the WBA world bantamweight title. A fourteen round war in front of 20,000 spectators in which the South African, Taylor, famously KO’d the teak-tough Mexican champion. In 1997 The Ring magazine ranked this the 15th greatest championship fight in boxing history.

Stanley was born in Brixton, Johannesburg into a Cypriot family. A proud South African, but this European heritage would be Stanley’s key to travelling the world to officiate in the hard years of apartheid and South African sporting and cultural isolation. As a prominent official of the WBA, Stanley would get the opportunity to represent his country with integrity in the most difficult of times.

‘The Life and Times…’ is a wonderful story, laced with anecdotes and recollections from the four corners of the boxing world. He has met kings, presidents and military leaders. Stanley became a personal friend of Nelson Mandela. There is a wonderful story where he is invited to the African National Congress office of the then President Mandela. ‘Madiba’ asks Stanley “What is your opinion of the Springbok emblem for the national rugby team ?”. This is a loaded question as the President is seriously considering removal of this perceived symbol of the apartheid regime from the national shirt.

“The Springbok doesn’t symbolise apartheid Mr Mandela…It is a sporting symbol that is held dear by rugby supporters and players…It is their inspiration, it gives meaning to them. The players will die for that jersey”. Though Stanley takes no credit for this, claiming all prominent SA sporting administrators were asked, history would show that the badge was retained and it became a symbol that represented new possibilities for all South Africans.

It is stories like this from Soweto to Russia, via Monte Carlo, South America and the Far East that have embellished Stanley’s life, and that of his loving wife Mary and his extended family. Buy it while you can, you won’t be disappointed.

The Life and Times of Stanley Christodoulou’ is published by Staging Post and available as a paperback or e-book on Amazon, Exclusive Books in RSA and other good book stores. It is co-wrote by Stanley with Graham Clark and David Isaacson.

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

The Friday Faceup

The big guys face up.

And so, the stage is set. The rematch for the WBC and ‘lineal’ Heavyweight Championship of the World is on ! February 22nd at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada.

The official first press conference to promote the fight took place in Los Angeles on Monday (13th) and no quarter was spared by either fighter.

Tyson ‘Gypsy King’ Fury stating “Expect me to come out bombing looking for a knockout…..February 22….I’m gonna get what I won last time, that green belt, the Ring magazine (belt) and I’m also gonna keep my lineal championship”.

Deontay ‘Bronze Bomber’ Wilder responding “This time around is unfinished business…..he’s definitely going down….I’m going to do exactly what I said I would do. I’m going to knock him out…..I’m going to rip his head off his body”.

But, what really can we expect ? Both fighters are in their early thirties, about to enter their peak years, and both undefeated. The draw of December 1, 2018 being the only stain on their combined records of 71-0.

The consensus is Wilder to win by KO or Fury on points. However, the Brit believes he cannot win in the US on a points decision. As unacceptable as it seems that would appear to be the case, as in the view of The Undisputed and many ringside observers the American was lucky to escape with a draw first time round. That, despite securing two knockdowns of the Gypsy King.

Everyone who witnessed the first fight will remember how Fury early in the 12th round was poleaxed by a heavy right hand, hit the canvas and appeared comatose. To then, rise like Lazurus on the count of 9 and a half, and go on to dominate the remainder of the round. A truly remarkable feat in the history of heavyweight boxing.

What Fury can’t do is leave himself open to that eventuality again. One thing Wilder has shown since that night, is that his power is unquestionable (41 KO’s), and given the chance when his opponents are nailed, they stay down ! Dominic Breazeale and Luiz Ortiz (for a second time) are testimony to that.

The Brit meanwhile has had two makeshift fights since his ordeal with Wilder – one against Tom Schwarz and followed by 12 gruelling rounds against Otto Wallin, in which he sustained a horrific cut over his right eye. Apart from his forays in WWE he hasn’t competed at the elite level since the first fight.

Coupled with this the Brit has changed his head trainer Ben Davison and gone stateside to work out of the world famous Kronk Gym in Detroit under the tutelage of Javan ‘Sugar’ Hill Steward (nephew of much missed Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel). This is thought to add a more aggressive outlook to Fury’s work with him claiming he will abandon the ‘herky-jerky’ point stealing nature of much of his latter career.

The current view of The Undisputed is the most unlikely outcome may indeed be the final result, that of a KO for Fury. Current odds for this by Ladbrokes are 5-1, so get in while you can.

Fury’s power though not as concussive as the American’s is not to be underestimated. When he has shown to set his feet he has shown respectable power (20 KO’s). Five more weeks in the Kronk Gym up to fight night may be the exact battle hardening required to seal the deal.

TV coverage in the UK is still to be confirmed but is likely to be BT Sport Box Office and excerpts from the press conference can be found on their website.

Watch this space for further updates on the match up over the coming weeks.

The Monday LunchBox

Josh Taylor – photo courtesy of fightnewsasia.com

The big news of last week was the promotional switch of unified super-lightweight world champion Josh Taylor from the Barry McGuigan run Cyclone Promotions to Bob Arum’s Top Rank organisation.

The Prestonpans stylist has chosen to relocate his dealings stateside to secure the big fights in the 10st/10st 7lb divisions. This could mean fighting a number of Top Rank based fighters, and potentially securing a ‘superfight’ with living legend Manny ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao.

2019 was a breakout year for the Scot (16-0, 12 KO’s) securing the IBF world title in May against Ivan Baranchyk and following up in October with a massively impressive victory to rip the WBA crown from Regis Prograis, and with it the Muhammad Ali Trophy and the World Boxing Super Series title.

The ‘Tartan Tornado’ is one of only four fighters in the world across all divisions to hold the Ali Trophy. This in itself makes him one of the most prestigious and marketable fighters out there.

Cyclone Promotions can rightly feel aggrieved by this switch having guided Taylor from finishing a stellar amateur career (2012 Olympian and 2014 Commonwealth Games champion), through the professional ranks, to a multiple world champion. Also; the apparent nature of the decision with the UK based promotional company allegedly finding out second hand. They are thought likely to challenge the decision, as they’re currently doing with Carl Frampton’s switch at a similar stage of his career some years ago.

However, having just turned 29 the Scot is approaching his prime years and will have to move fast to secure a Pacquaio fight as the Filipino enters the twilight of his Hall of Fame career. Other potential mega-fights are a unification at 140lbs (10st) against WBC champ Jose Ramirez, or up at 147lbs against top three ‘pound-for-pound’ fighter Terence Crawford. All massively lucrative fights.

Despite the current upheaval promoter Bob Arum has high hopes for the Scot, stating “Josh Taylor is one of the world’s best fighters, and he is a fight fan’s fighter; a tough guy willing to fight anyone we put in front of him”. That in essence is the Scot’s DNA and his selling point. He illustrated this with the manner of his approach and victories against Baranchyk and Prograis and is sure to be a big hit in the US.

It’s hard to see this not being a good decision on Taylor’s part, and if successful, could turn him into the ‘pound for pound’ fighter in the world and join Ken Buchanan as the greatest Scottish fighter of all time. A debate we hope to look forward to in the future.

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

The Monday LunchBox

Errol Spence Jnr and Terence Crawford montage by Talksport.

Welcome to the new ‘Roaring Twenties’ and the first LunchBox of the new decade. I hope all our readers had a fantastic festive holiday period and those of other religious beliefs and cultures a restful end to the year.

Now, the boxing season resumes in earnest as we enter the first year of the decade. Today we take a look at what The Undisputed considers the top five fights we believe most boxing fans want to see in 2020. A tough call, but here goes:-

1. Anthony Joshua v the winner of Wilder-Fury II We had to start at the top of the food chain. Whilst all eyes will be on the Feb 22nd rematch between Deontay Wilder (42-0-1, 41 KO’s) and Tyson Fury (29-0-1, 20 KO’s) for the WBC and ‘lineal’ title, we still lament for an undisputed heavyweight champion. That can only happen if a) Joshua (23-1, 21 KO’s) meets his mandatory obligations (Kubrat Pulev IBF and/or Oleksandr Usyk WBO) and therefore avoids getting stripped of any of the four straps he currently holds and, b) the winner of Wilder-Fury II avoids a trilogy fight (which they are both understood to be contractually obligated to) and meets Joshua before year end.

If it does miraculously materialise in 2020 (assuming Joshua wins his mandatory/ies) we’re in for a barnstormer either way – the shootout with the ‘Bronze Bomber’ Wilder or a potential boxing masterclass with ‘Gypsy King’ Fury.

We can only pray for this outcome but it’s realistically unlikely to happen until mid/late 2021.

2. Errol Spence Jnr v Terence Crawford even more difficult contractually to make than the above, largely due to different and hostile promotional ties, this would be a welterweight unification fight between two undefeated stars in their prime. Think Leonard-Hearns I, Curry-McCrory, Trinidad-De La Hoya. This has all the makings of a 147lb fight to savour and one for the ages.

Both Americans are supreme boxing technicians with respectable power and both rated in The Ring magazine pound-for-pound top six. That says it all.

The key to the outcome could be Spence’s (26-0, 21 KO’s) enforced layoff due to a major car accident in which he was lucky to escape with his life. This followed a career defining split decision win against Shawn Porter to unify the IBF and WBC titles.

Could this accident and layoff play on his mind and therefore lead to a difficult pre-fight camp and performance on the night ?

Crawford (36-0, 27 KO’s) on the other hand has just come off a win versus tough Egidijus Kavaliauskas to retain his WBO title but it was a drawn out performance which may even things up on the pre-fight betting. One to savour though should it happen.

3. Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez v Gennadiy Golovkin III – The final fight in the trilogy that will bring to an end the debates on who is the better middle/super-middleweight, and in doing so, the better fighter.

The Undisputed firmly believes that the Kazakh Golovkin (40-1-1, 35 KO’s) won the first fight (despite being deemed a draw) and the second fight was indeed a draw (the decision being given to the Mexican). Opinions are still split throughout the boxing business, with Alvarez (53-1-2, 36 KO’s) subsequently ranked Ring magazine pound-for-pound king, and only a third fight will finally end the argument.

This could happen at 160lbs (middleweight), catchweight, or anything up to 168lbs (super-middleweight). The Mexican superstar will call the shots on if, and when, this fight happens.

4. Vasily Lomachenko v Gervonta Davis – the recently demoted Ring magazine pound-for-pound king with outstanding amateur and professional pedigree versus the young, brash and pugilistically vicious upstart.

Can the Ukrainian Lomachenko (14-1-0, 10 KO’s) add to his legend by pushing back the challenge from the Floyd Mayweather promoted kid from the ‘hood ? An intriguing proposition as Lomachenko’s advancing years mean that big fights have to be made in the next 18 months to define his greatness.

The American, Davis (23-0, 22 KO’s) has just moved up and won the WBA world title at lightweight – Lomachenko’s current predatory habitat.

5. Dmitri Bivol v Artur Beterbiev – a light-heavyweight unification between two Russians – Bivol (17-0, 11 KO’s) the WBA Champ and Beterbiev (15-0, 15 KO’s) the IBF & WBC Champ. Both undefeated, both supreme amateurs and both with concussive power. Arguably both in their prime. A mouthwatering cocktail and proposition.

Honourable mentions go to potential super-matchups – Josh Taylor v Jose Ramirez, Callum Smith v Canelo Alvarez, Manny Pacquiao v Vasily Lomachenko, and Naoya Inoue v Anyone . If we get only three or four of these fights, this year will be one to remember. Enjoy !

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

The Monday LunchBox

Daniel ‘Dynamite’ Dubois shows off his straps
Photo by Tony Harris

Five things we learned from the weekend

1. Daniel Dubois is the ‘real deal’ – The young British and Commonwealth Heavyweight champion showed again his immense promise with a devastating second round KO of Japanese heavyweight Kyotaro Fujimoto. This takes his record to 14-0 with 13 early wins. In doing so he captured the WBC Silver title to add to his WBO International title. He could arguably be the single-most one punch KO artist in the division outside of Deontay Wilder. Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren will draw on all his experience to carefully manoeuvre the Londoner over the next year into a major title contending position. Watch this space.

2. Liam Williams is back on track – After moving up from light-middleweight to the full 160lb (11st 6lb) middleweight division the Welshman is showing steady progress. He systematically broke down the tall American slickster Alantez Fox on Saturday to earn a crack at Demetrius Andrade’s WBO championship. Again, look for Frank Warren to move his charge into securing his shot. Williams come forward style is box office and this should enable him to nail a title fight early in the new decade.

3. Daniel Jacobs needs a new challenge Following unsuccessful steps into the elite stratosphere of the middleweight division, losing narrowly to Gennadiy Golovkin and Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, the Brooklynite needs to quickly secure another stellar name to add to his resume and seal a marquee victory. A Golovkin rematch will be his prime target, but securing that may be beyond him due to the closeness of the first fight and the Kazak’s advancing years. Jacobs win over Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr at the weekend, although adding another ‘name’ to his record, is not the challenge that he is seeking, that to regain a version of the world title either in the 160 or 168lb division.

4. Julio Cesar Chavez Jnr is finished at the elite level – Coming in significantly overweight against Jacobs and the nature of his defeat, will likely mean that no promoter will take a chance on the Mexican again. He may carry the name of his Hall of Fame father but indiscipline has plagued his career. The best part of his career is now behind him and he should consider hanging up his gloves.

5. Fury-Joshua entente-cordial – Anthony Joshua’s offer of helping Tyson Fury in his preparation for the Wilder rematch is an interesting one. There are past examples of elite heavyweights using each other to prepare for major fights – Ali and Holmes springs to mind in the early to mid 1970’s – but two ‘champions’, one the linear and other holding three of four major sanctioning belts is a new one, especially when they are destined to meet further down the line. Joshua needs to be commended for offering to help his fellow Brit and Fury equally so for taking up the offer. Maybe he called AJ’s bluff, but it will be interesting to see how this one develops.

Finally, may I wish all readers of The Undisputed a very happy festive season and great start to the new decade. Also, to those of other cultures and religious beliefs I wish an equally enjoyable time.

2020 promises to be an eventful boxing year. Enjoy all and see you again. Your editor Robert Harding.

‘Dynamite’ blasts into heavyweight contention

Photo by Tony Harris

London heavyweight Daniel ‘Dynamite’ Dubois exploded his way into world title contention with a devastating second round knockout of Kyotara Fujimoto in the Copper Box Arena, London on Saturday night.

The 22 year old Londoner recorded his fifth straight win of the year raising his record to 14-0 with 13 early stoppages.

It was the nature of Dubois win that further enhanced his reputation and promise. Showing extreme composure and control in the opening round, Dubois took the early exchanges behind a stiff jab and vicious hooks. His Japanese challenger for the second tier WBO International Heavyweight title was cautious of Dubois’ power from the ‘get go’.

Early in the second round Dubois dropped the Japanese with a short stabbing jab, a sign of things to come. After rising with time to spare Fujimoto navigated cautiously another minute of the round as Dubois pushed up the pace.

On two minutes, Dubois moved his foe to the ropes and exploded a right hand to the side of Fujimoto’s head and the Japanese dropped like a stone. Referee Victor Loughlin waved the fight off instantly. The official stoppage coming at 2:10 of the round.

By any standards this was a mighty impressive knockout, particularly by one so young, still finding his way in the sport. Dubois, a contender for The Ring magazine 2019 ‘Young prospect of the year’ also captured the WBC Silver title and with it a top 15 ranking. Fujimoto drops to 21-2, 13 KO’s.

Other heavyweights have been put on standby as Dubois moves into the next decade firmly in a position to challenge the established trio of Joshua, Fury and Wilder. Next up is likely to be fellow Londoner Joe Joyce (10-0, 9 KO’s) watching at ringside along with future Hall of Famer ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley who couldn’t have failed to be impressed by the young ‘DDD’ – Dynamite Dubois.

The fight night was promoted by Queensberry Promotions and shown live on BT Sport.

Dubois returns

Poster courtesy of Queensberry Promotions.

Unbeaten British heavyweight sensation Daniel Dubois (13-0) steps into the ring tonight in his hometown of London for the last major fight of the year against Japan’s Kyotaro Fujimoto (21-1).

The Queensberry Promotion at the Copper Box Arena on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford gives the young Londoner an opportunity to register another explosive victory to further increase his standing in the complex and increasingly intriguing heavyweight landscape.

With major fights developing over the next six months (Wilder-Fury II, Joshua v Usyk or Pulev) plus the returning Dillian Whyte, a victory for Dubois will put him right in the picture. Promoter Frank Warren is moving Dubois at exactly the right pace, quietly building his record against solid opposition, certainly for a 22 year old, and capturing titles along the way. Dubois is currently British and Commonwealth champion, also holding secondary world sanctioning belts.

In the 33 year old Fujimoto, the Londoner faces a fighter with an inflated record against limited opposition. However, in the heavyweight division one solid shot can change the whole perspective of a fight and the Japanese is not to be underestimated. Despite this, look for Dubois to register a further knockout victory around the third round.

On a solid bill, world middleweight contender Liam Williams returns against Alantez Fox, from the USA and super featherweight Archie Sharp defends his WBO European title versus unbeaten Artjoms Ramlavs.

The evening is billed ‘The Fight before Christmas’ and is worthy of a decent walk up to see out the decade.

The Monday LunchBox

Photo courtesy of Bad Left Hook

Crawford marks time

WBO welterweight champion Terence ‘Bud’ Crawford defended his 147lb title in Madison Square Garden, New York City on Saturday with a ninth round stoppage of Lithuanian Egidijus Kavaliauskas.

Omaha Nebraskan Crawford (36-0, 27 KO’s) recovered from an apparent knockdown in round three, subsequently ruled a slip, to dominate the fight throughout. The strong Lithuanian (21-1-1, 17 KO’s) was dropped in the seventh and twice in the ninth before succumbing to the pound-for-pound elect early in the round.

Crawford 32, now moves onto further challenges in the 10st 7lb division which have so far denied him. He longs for a career defining fight against fellow Americans WBC & IBF champion Errol Spence, Keith Thurman or Shawn Porter. Either needs to happen in the next 12 months to avoid the Nebraskan losing his prime year.

Conlon avenges 2016 Olympics defeat

On the Madison Square Garden undercard Belfast featherweight Michael Conlon avenged his defeat in the Rio Olympics to Russian Vladimir Nikitin by registering a unanimous points victory (98-92, 99-91, 100-90).

The fight in the Games was famously remembered for Conlon’s double fingered salute to the judges after losing a controversial decision. It has taken Conlon (13-0, 7 KO’s) two years as a pro to get the Russian (3-1) back in the ring and his victory on Saturday brings closure to the rivalry.

The Top Rank Bob Arum promoted Irishman is potentially chalked in to challenge for a version of the world title in Belfast sometime in 2020.

On the same show Top Rank star Teofimo Lopez (15-0, 12 KO’s) brutally stopped Ghanaian champion Richard Commey (29-3, 26 KO’s) in the second round to win the IBF lightweight (135lb) title. WBA/WBC & WBO champion Vasyli Lomachenko was at ringside and a fight between the two Top Rank fighters is a natural in 2020, possibly as early as April.

Joshua to face mandatory defences

New WBA/IBF & WBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua will face either Bulgarian Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KO’s) or Ukrainian star Olexsandr Usyk (17-0, 13 KO’s) in his next defence. Both are mandatory contenders for the title, Pulev the IBF and Usyk WBO, and both sanctioning organisations have mandated that he defend against their champion within 120 days.

This will require both organisations coming to an agreement as to which will take precedence, as both commitments cannot be defended to the same timeframe. Early indications are the fight will be in the UK, with Tottenham Hotspur football stadium being the early front runner.

Leon Spinks hospitalised

Photo courtesy of hannibalboxing.com

Former undisputed heavyweight champion Leon Spinks is currently in a serious condition in a Las Vegas hospital. A family statement said “Leon is currently in intensive care….to suppress prostate cancer which he was diagnosed with earlier in the year…a miraculous fighter his entire life, we are optimistic and hopeful that he will move out of ICU soon”. Latest updates are that he is showing “small signs” of improvement.

The 66 year old Spinks (brother of Michael) won Olympic gold in 1976 and shocked the world when defeating Muhammad Ali in only his 8th fight to win the unified championship in February 1978.

The Undisputed’s thoughts and prayers are with you champ to make a speedy and full recovery.

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