By Shaun Brown
The events at Wembley Stadium on 31 May 2014 will live long in the memory of every boxing fan and member of the media who were fortunate enough to be in attendance as well as the “millions watching around the world”.
It only took one punch to end the six month saga that involved WBA/IBF super middleweight champion Carl Froch and George Groves and it wasn’t the left hook as the challenger had predicted. Instead, the champion produced a right hand from hell to clinically give closure to a demanding physical and mental rivalry that began last November in Manchester.
We may never see the likes of it again anytime soon but a bar has been set and now British boxing must aspire to reach those mammoth levels of expectancy and anticipation once again.
Below, are five more all-British fights which should capture the public’s imagination once again, and in doing so sell-out the biggest venues around the country and allow the feel-good factor in British boxing to continue.
1: Scott Quigg (Bury) vs. Carl Frampton (Belfast) – Super Bantamweight
At one time there was a feeling of inevitability that this fight would happen. Now with the obstacles of both fighting on different TV channels, for the time being, and both chasing their own individual paths we may have to wait a little while longer for Quigg and Frampton to lock horns. Do they need each other? Absolutely. And the longer they don’t get a significant fight with a Leo Santa Cruz or Kiko Martinez the greater the need there will be for promoters Eddie Hearn and Barry McGuigan to be locked in a room until a solution can be found. It’s not 80,000 big but make no mistake it sells out any indoor venue in the UK or Northern Ireland. And there is the realistic possibility that an outdoor arena would be needed.
The Dark Horse: Kid Galahad. If the unbeaten European champion can keep winning and gain himself a lofty ranking with one of the four governing bodies then he unquestionably could be a gatecrasher.
2: David Haye (London) vs. Tyson Fury (Manchester) – Heavyweight
We’ve been here before haven’t we? Injuries aside, David Haye has cost the Fury’s and the paying public a lot of money with his withdrawal from this domestic duel on two occasions. Not only that but has Haye lost a large amount of trust with boxing fans too? ‘The Hayemaker’ could be back from injury in September or October and by that time Fury will look to have dispatched of Dereck Chisora once again (on Jul 26). It’s conceivable that by the end of 2014, beginning of 2015, Fury will have gotten his shot at WBA/WBO/IBF champion Wladimir Klitschko. Regardless of what happens, Haye vs. Fury is a seven-figure fight and if a world title was on the line then another Wembley day out wouldn’t be out of the question.
The Dark Horse: David Price. His career rebuild is far from complete but the Sauerland promoted Liverpudlian has history with Fury and the big punching Scouser would love the opportunity to prove doubters wrong in the next 12-18 months.
3: Carl Froch (Nottingham) vs. James DeGale (London) - Super Middleweight
What a predicament DeGale finds himself in. A career best performance (against Brandon Gonzales TKO4) in the shadows of Saturday’s headliners has seen himself kicked out of the WBC top ten for fighting in an IBF eliminator. With Froch having faced a domestic rival in back to back fights, the Nottingham warrior is looking to the bright lights of Vegas. Chavez Jr is the opponent in question. Hardly Mr Dependable. DeGale may have to go back to his early days of trash talking to do as good a salesman’s job as Groves to get Froch in the ring.
The Dark Horse: Callum Smith. The unbeaten body punching prospect may well find himself thrust into the limelight in the next 12 months especially if Froch does decide to call it a day after Sat night or after knocking Vegas off his bucket list.
4: Amir Khan (Bolton) vs. Kell Brook (Sheffield) - Welterweight
Eddie Hearn has already said that this fight could sell 40-60,000 tickets. The only thorn in that side is that little known thirty-something Floyd Mayweather Jr. Khan looked terrific beating Luis Collazo recently and has his sights on the P4P king. Can Hearn really do his best Marlon Brando and persuade Khan to earn an extremely respectably payday that would give him the opportunity to put a former sparring partner down a peg or two? Maybe not immediately. But at some point in the next year or two one of them is going to need the other.
The Dark Horse: Frankie Gavin. Frank Warren’s star welterweight should pick up the European title in August and the gifted southpaw could have a world title as a bargaining tool by this time next year.
5: Tony Bellew (Liverpool) vs. Nathan Cleverly (Cefn Fforest) 2 – Cruiserweight
If a big domestic grudge match is your thing then this is right up your street. Since their first fight (at light heavyweight which Cleverly won MD12) in 2011, their rivalry and dislike for another has grown and grown. And with the two scheduled to appear on a Jul 12 bill in Liverpool vs. TBA, wins for each would set up a highly anticipated rematch at the Echo Arena once again later this year. And there won’t need to be a title on the line for this to sell out the 11,000 capacity venue. Given the history between both men and the soundbites that will come from both camps in the build-up then tickets sales could be potentially doubled but locations and venues would prove a stumbling block.
The Dark Horse: Britain is sadly without a depth of stars at 200lbs but a close win for Bellew may squeeze out a rubber match next year.
Please send news and views to [email protected] or @shaun_brown on Twitter.