By Terence Dooley
Frank Warren spoke to BoxingScene.com last week about Danny Williams’s proposed British title fight with Derek Chisora on February the 13th only for Williams, the current British title holder, to pull the rug from under everyone’s feet by withdrawing from the contest. Williams has been knocked for six by a viral infection but the show goes on. Nathan Cleverly has been drafted in to plug the title gap; he takes on Antonio Brancalion for the European light-heavyweight title.
When asked about the enigma that is Williams, Warren had confirmed that Danny is a law unto himself but that he was, at the time, confident that Williams would turn up come fight night. However, Warren had warned us that all bets are off when it comes to Danny Williams.
“Here is a guy that fought Mike Tyson, gets bombarded for a couple of rounds, takes all that and wins,” said Warren when discussing Danny’s career. “Then he fights Klitschko, a tough one-sided fight but he is as brave as you can be. His arm comes out off the socket against Mark Potter, I tried to pull him off the fight and he wouldn’t have any of it, then he goes and wins the fight. Then he pulled out off a fight [with Matt Skelton in July 2005] after weighing in, he is an enigma.
“Win, lose or draw, and I hope he loses as I’m with Chisora now, I hope that this is Danny’s last fight [Writer’s note: Warren was speaking prior to Danny’s withdrawal]. Boxing has been good for him, he has made money and looked after that money, and he’s been good for boxing, he’s been a good servant over the years, proving that you can come back and maybe in some ways he is an inspiration for guys who think their careers are over. I hope he does retire and moves onto other things.”
Well, there is every chance that Williams will continue fighting but there may not be a Chisora fight down the line; Warren, though, believes that ‘Del Boy’ has the tools required to go far in the sport. Indeed, the only gap in Warren’s promotional CV is a dominant heavyweight.
“It would be nice to do that,” said Warren when asked if he wanted a dominant heavyweight. “As you say, I’ve had Frank Bruno winning the world title in his fourth attempt, Herbie Hide, I even got Matt Skelton a shot at the [WBA] title [a points loss to Ruslan Chagaev] without him having any amateur experience, and he went the distance, but I’ve not had anyone there for a long time, someone dominant. Maybe Derek or Sam Sexton, who has to fight Derek next, can do it. The domestic division is exciting and whoever comes through can hopefully do big things.”
Kevin Mitchell’s WBO Inter-Continental title defence against Ignacio Mendoza headlines the February 13th ‘Night of Champions’ bill at London’s Wembley Arena. Frank believes that his young fighters can lead the British charge during 2010.
“We’ve got fantastic youngsters, guys on the cusps of big things, Olympians, the Smiths, the Walshes, lots of other fighters, guys who have been there may come again. What is really important in this game at the moment is to get TV companies involved as we need them,” declared Warren.
“I’ve been operating for the last eight months without a TV deal. I’ve had no deal and have still managed to do what I’ve managed to do. How many promoters manage to get five or six thousand people into their shows on a Friday night, which I do for the Sky broadcasts – I can’t think of anyone. Think of what we’ve done in Ireland with Rogan and Sexton, Liverpool with the Smiths, we’ve got Wembley selling well with four weeks to go, we’ll be back in Liverpool soon and will sell tickets there, not many promoters can do that.
“We’ve loaded the shows up. We’ve got at least three title fights on each show and they are quite successful shows. We’ve got Kell Brook fighting for the right for a WBO shot [on the undercard of Paul Smith versus Tony Dodson at Liverpool’s ECHO Arena] so there are good things happening.”
Warren has recently lost the services of Amir Khan, who has joined Golden Boy Promotions; the veteran promoter believes that Amir should listened to Naseem Hamed, who recently claimed that splitting with Warren in 2000 was the biggest mistake of his career.
“Maybe Amir should have looked at Naz,” said Warren. “Nigel Benn said the same thing in his book. Steve Collins said he enjoyed working with me. It worked. I’ve known Naz for quite a bit and know where he is coming from with the things that went on behind the scenes but you know what, sometimes you have to realise that these (boxers) are kids, they get fazed and sometimes don’t listen.
“I’ve got a bit of a protocol, I don’t pick up the phone directly to Amir, I go through his dad, Shah, and [Khan’s business manager] Asif Valhi and hope the message gets back to Amir. The same thing with Naz, I was dealing with his brother [Raith Hamed]. I believe with Naz that the message about where I wanted to go with him was getting poisoned. With Amir, I spoke to his dad, Shah, who thanked me for my efforts, but never got a chance to speak to Amir since that last fight.
“When I have to end a professional relationship you get the phone call from me. I remember telling Robin Reid that he should retire but he fought on longer and won quite a few fights, so maybe I got that wrong, or right depending on how you see it. I told Danny [Williams] he should retire after he fought [Vitali] Klitschko, I really wanted him to.”
Still, Warren has plenty to smile about, with that in mind, and given that he takes his fair share of flack on the Internet forums, I asked Warren about his appearance in the comedy show Operation Good Guys. Frank sent himself up a little bit during his guest spot, playing a boxing promoter who is drafted into help an inept police unit weed out corruption in the sport. Why don’t we see this side of Warren more often?
“A few people have seen that show!” laughed Warren. “It is funny, I read somewhere that someone had done a review on one of our videos and they asked why I’m such a miserable bastard - it goes to show that they don’t know me. Ask anyone who knows me; I’m a pretty outgoing person.
“Operation Good Guys was put together by Ray Burdiss, who is a good mate of mine, and I enjoyed it. Maybe people get pre-conceived views of who I am but I do enjoy myself and have my bit of fun. Ask anyone who really knows me and they’ll tell you that some of stuff that is said on the Internet doesn’t accurately describe me, but people have an opinion and are entitled to express it.”
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