By Phil Barnett, Press Association Sport (@barnettoPA)
World title contender Tony Bellew hopes to capitalise on Chad Dawson's recent disappointment by securing a shot at the WBC light-heavyweight champion sooner than he expected.
Liverpudlian Bellew recently became the WBC's number one contender ahead of his final eliminator against fellow hopeful Isaac Chilemba next month.
Victory over Chilemba will rubber-stamp his position as mandatory challenger for Dawson's prestigious green belt. He was then set to wait for the outcome of the American champion's next fight, against Canadian Jean Pascal on May 25, before beginning negotiations.
However, Pascal is set to pull out of the title challenge in favour of a lucrative scrap with fellow Canadian favourite Lucian Bute.
That leaves Dawson in limbo and may offer Bellew a quick way in should he beat Malawian Chilemba.
"The Chilemba fight is the biggest and toughest of my career by far," Bellew told Press Association Sport.
"We know what's at stake. Chad Dawson is a step closer now, especially after this Pascal v Bute rumour. But I'm not getting carried away, I'm just looking forward.
"The future is looking really good now and I'm one fight away from the massive fight I want."
Dawson (31-2, 17KOs) is a respected but unspectacular champion and Bellew (19-1, 12KOs) unsurprisingly believes he has the measure of him.
"I've seen the blueprint and I know what he's about," he said. "I know he's a good fighter and I respect him but at the end of the day when you get in the ring, it's just you and him and no respect gets shown.
"It is what it is and I'll just keep winning."
Bellew will take time out of training for his March 30 fight with Chilemba to go and support fellow Scouser David Price this Saturday.
Price faces former two-time world title challenger Tony Thompson as he moves towards global honours himself.
"I'll be there screaming for my mate on Saturday," he said. "To have two world champions in Liverpool is the dream.
"He is a flag-bearer for this city and he's doing fantastically at the moment.
"I hope he demolishes Tony Thompson and I'm sure he will, then it's on to bigger and better things.
RABCHENKO WONT LET WORLD TITLE TALK AFFECT HIS FOCUS ON NICCHI
SERGEY RABCHENKO isn't letting talk of a world title challenge affect his focus ahead of his clash with Adriano Nicchi.
The Belarusian ace defends his European light-middleweight crown against the tough Italian at the Salle des Etoiles venue in Monte Carlo on March 30.
However, WBC president José Sulaimán has recently hinted that he could be handed a final eliminator for the sanctioning body's title against Erislandy Lara. Victory in that fight would set up a massive showdown with Saul Alvarez later in the year.
"It's one fight at a time. I am now only focused on the fight one against Adriano Nicchi in Monaco," Rabchenko said.
"For the other matters, I leave that to my managers, who have perfectly guided my career so far.
"I certainly respect Nicchi as my next opponent and cannot look past him. He’s the reigning Italian champion, and will certainly come to win.
"I am getting ready for this new challenge and everything is going very well in my preparations."
32-year-old Nicchi last week stated he had seen flaws in Rabchenko's technique which he plans on exploiting.
The European champion, however, believes his foe is merely reading too much into his defence against Cedric Vitu this past November.
"By far Cedric Vitu was not my best performance," Sergey admitted. "Maybe it was due to a long training camp, maybe to the fact that I was not focused because my mentor, Ricky Hatton, was boxing in his comeback fight on the same night.
"But this time Ricky will be with me and you’ll see the best of me in Monaco. I am totally confident I'll defeat Adriano Nicchi and go to the next step in my career."
Rabchenko v Nicchi appears on the same bill as Gennady Golovkin's world middleweight title fight with Nobuhiro Ishida and the Million Dollar Super Four tournament featuring super-middleweight hopefuls Edwin Rodriquez, Zsolt Erdei, Denis Grachev and Ezequiel Osvaldo Madena.
LOMACHENKO COMING TO LONDON AS THE BRITISH LIONHEARTS NAMES ITS TEAMS FOR THE FINAL MATCHES OF THE SEASON AGAINST UKRAINE AND GERMANY
The British Lionhearts has named its teams for the final two fixtures of the season in the World Series of Boxing, away to the German Eagles and at home to the Ukraine Otamans.
The Lionhearts are guaranteed a place in the playoff stages of the tournament and are aiming to finish as high-up the table as possible to secure a favourable draw in the next phase of the competition.
The regular season will conclude at York Hall on Friday 1 March 2013 when the Lionhearts aim to finish with an unbeaten home record as they take-on a tough Ukraine Otamans team, which features current Olympic champions, Oleksandr Usyk and the man rated the best pound-for-pound Olympic boxer in the world, Vasyl Lomachenko.
London 2012 silver medallist, Fred Evans and fellow Team GB Olympian, Andrew Selby, will line-up for the Lionhearts alongside Irish sensation and current European Champion, Joe Ward, Liverpool’s Sam Maxwell and the number one ranked heavyweight in the World Series of Boxing, Joe Joyce.
Selby, Evans and Joyce will all be looking to extend their unbeaten records for the season in a potentially thrilling contest which could feature one of the bouts of the season at heavyweight as the London 2012 gold medallist, Usyk, takes on London’s Joe Joyce in front of his home crowd.
Joyce will go into the contest as the top-ranked heavyweight in the competition with four wins from four including a comprehensive victory in his last contest over the 2012 individual World Series Boxing champion, Filip Hrgovic, when the Lionhearts inflicted the first defeat of the season on the group leaders, Astana Arlans Kazakhstan.
Joyce said: “I am enjoying the World Series of Boxing and think it is really helping to improve me as a boxer. The shows at York Hall have all been fantastic nights with a great atmosphere and I am hoping for more of the same next week against a strong Ukraine team.”
Tickets for the clash with the Ukraine Otamans start at £20 and can be purchased at www.britishlionhearts.com/tickets or from York Hall on the door.
Before that, Sean McGoldrick, Joe Cordina, Kaupo Arro, Lawrence Osueke and Uaine Fa will travel to Hannover to take-on the German Eagles on Saturday 23 February 2013. The match can be watched live from 19:00 GMT at http://www.youtube.com/user/WorldSeriesBoxing .
It an opportunity for Sean McGoldrick to continue his superb form in this year’s World Series of Boxing where he is yet to taste defeat and is ranked the third best bantamweight in the competition after three consecutive wins on-the-road.
McGoldrick said: “It will be a tough contest in Germany but I am really enjoying the World Series of Boxing and hope to end the regular season on-a-high and with an unbeaten record. The team has really done well to qualify for the play-off stages in our first season in the competition and hopefully we can finish with a couple of good performances and get a good draw for the quarter finals.”
Osueke will be making his debut in the World Series of Boxing and Arro and Cordina will be aiming to secure their second victories of the season