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Frank Warren on Brits at 160, Chisora-Price?, More

By Frank Warren

Darren Barker’s recent ascension to the IBF middleweight throne could pave the way for a series of domestic super-fights that will light up the British fight scene this coming season.

The middle and super-middleweight divisions enjoyed a Golden Era in Britain in the 1990s because, firstly, we were blessed with great talents in Michael Watson, Nigel Benn, Chris Eubank and Steve Collins and, secondly, because that fabulous quartet were involved in nine fights against each other.

In addition to Barker, Birmingham’s Matthew Macklin and Martin Murray from St Helens have both been active players at world level over the last couple of years. However, though all three have now turned 30, they have somehow managed to slalom around each other – much to the frustration of the nation’s fight fans.

Prior to Barker’s recent triumph, the trio had failed in six world title challenges between them, all overseas. The time has surely arrived to determine who is the top man in the UK, and Barker’s world title now gives the showdowns added spice.

All are talented fighters and likeable fellas with contrasting ring styles and diverse personalities. Barnet’s Barker is technically sound and he has ‘boy next door’ charm. He brings a ‘feel good’ tale of how he overcame career threatening injuries and the tragic death of his younger brother Gary – but he’s a talented boxer and finally secured a world title in his second attempt.

But perspective is needed. Any bravado about becoming undisputed champion at 160lbs should be taken with a pinch of salt. His team won’t risk putting him in the same city, never mind the same ring, as formidable WBA counterpart Gennady Golovkin, the Kazakh, who has knocked out 24 of his 27 opponents in his unbeaten run.

I’ve no intention of demeaning Darren’s title win – he boxed an exceptionally brave and clever fight to conquer a decent champion in Daniel Geale.

A mandatory against Germany’s Felix Sturm beckons next but that’s winnable, particularly if Barker’s promoter can break with tradition and can deliver his man home advantage.

Thereafter, he may be tempted by a risky rematch with Geale, who he edged past on the tightest split decision, or a title unifier with WBC boss Sergio Martinez of Argentina, who dealt Barker his only loss when knocking him out in round eleven in 2011.

Geale’s Promoter has options on Barker and may want to seek reinstatement for his man, so there may be some further bridges to cross before the UK can enjoy a civil war or two and let’s not forget that Darren is prone to injury too.

But wars against either Macklin or Murray could be equally lucrative and enticing if marketed correctly. In stark contrast to Barker, Martin Murray is a rugged, tenacious and bull strong northerner. A reformed bad-boy, he now does stellar youth work within his local community.

Though the 30-year-old Lancastrian found boxing relatively late, ABA, British and Commonwealth titles confirm his pedigree. The Ricky Hatton promoted star is rated in the top ten by the WBC, WBA and IBF and would already be perched on a world title throne had either of his prior challenges taken place in the UK.

The aforementioned Sturm held him to a debatable draw in Mannheim in 2011, whilst Argentina’s Martinez inflicted Martin’s sole defeat when he copped a fortuitous decision in his native Buenos Aires last April. Murray could well be the best of the current bunch.

Anglo-Irishman Macklin is the puncher in the pack with 20 of his 29 victims failing to cross the finish line.

A senior ABA champion and seasoned amateur international whilst still a teenager, Macklin collected Irish and British titles and was twice European champion without ever fully delivering on his youthful promise. Bright and never shy to capitalise on his Irishroots, the former law student had all the hardware to evolve into a crossover star.

However his propensity to change trainers and promoters as often as he changed his socks left promoters reluctant to invest in him. Consequently, all three tilts at world titles took place on foreign climes and all ended in defeat.

He was robbed blind against Sturm in Cologne but was emphatically wiped out in round three by Golovkin – courtesy of a crippling body shot – in Connecticut, earlier this summer.

Now 31, he has possibly surpassed his shelf life and, though he remains highly marketable, ‘Mack the Knife’ is presently unrated by any of the major sanctioning bodies.

I’d certainly risk British and Commonwealth Champion, Billy Joe Saunders against Macklin, provided he can see off the challenge of Islington’s unbeaten John ‘The Gorilla’ Ryder on my mega-title show at the Copper Box Arena on September 21st.

The 23-year-old, Beijing Olympian, has already racked up 18 straight wins en route to British, Commonwealth and WBO Intercontinental crowns. Having overcome multiple hand injuries early in his pro career, Billy is growing in strength and experience with each passing fight and is a great bet to win world honours.

I am not alone in believing that the southpaw has more natural ability than any of the others and I’ll be looking to grant him his opportunity to become the first from the traveling community to claim a world title in 2014.

Match any of the current quartet and you’d pack out any indoor venue in this country. Let’s hope the rival promotional factions can come together to deliver the match-ups British fans are craving and ironically, with Chris Eubank Jnr leading the chasing pack, we may just have something to rival those big 90’s fight nights that have become boxing folklore.

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This week I announced yet another fantastic addition to next month’s blockbuster Copper Box Arena promotion.

Charismatic heavyweight Dereck ‘Del Boy’ Chisora will contest the vacant European title against Edmund Gerber.

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Colchester Welterweight Lee Purdy, who flunked the weight when gifted an undeserved IBF title crack at Devon Alexander in May, has, along with others, been charged with money laundering relating to a £1M scam to relieve pensioners and venerable people of their cash, he will appear before magistrates on September 10th.

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Following his recent debut as a boxing promoter, former undisputed world heavyweight champion Mike Tyson declared he was ‘on the verge of dying because I’m a vicious alcoholic.’  Unfortunately, Iron Mike has totally exhausted his support network. He now needs to start helping himself.

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Too often it’s the trainer who feels the brunt after a fighter fails to deliver between the ropes. Following back-to-back stoppage defeats to US southpaw Tony Thompson, who himself lost a drab affair to Kubrat Pulev last weekend, reigning British and Commonwealth heavyweight king David Price has decided to cull coach Franny Smith. The separation is believed to be amicable. No replacement has yet been named. Price may be forced to make his mandatory defence against Dereck Chisora, providing Del Boy comes through at the Copper Box Arena on 21st September. That match up would be the first time two British Heavyweights have attempted to unify the British, Commonwealth and European Heavyweight title’s since Lennox Lewis met Derek Williams at the Royal Albert Hall way back in 1992.

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It was squeaky bum time for me this week whilst on my way to the WBO convention in Budapest, Hungary. The plane I was on had to make a hasty return back to Heathrow after one of the engines blew up. Fire engines lined the runway. Double thanks, one, to the British Airways pilots and crew, who were thoroughly cool and calm and two for curing my constipation!

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User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by yoz on 08-31-2013

[QUOTE=House of Stone;13700240]Price needs to go back down to fighting complete bums. I think he should be very active say 5 or 6 fights over about a year against complete no hopers to build back a bit of confidence and…

Comment by Daddy T on 08-31-2013

[QUOTE=Rosseboi;13700251]I agree! yes, definitely he needs to be active. He won't amount to much though now I fear. Guy just cannot pace himself, he's like the overeem of boxing....[/QUOTE] yeah, barring a miracle turn around can't see him getting anywhere,…

Comment by Rosseboi on 08-31-2013

I agree! yes, definitely he needs to be active. He won't amount to much though now I fear. Guy just cannot pace himself, he's like the overeem of boxing....

Comment by Daddy T on 08-31-2013

Price needs to go back down to fighting complete bums. I think he should be very active say 5 or 6 fights over about a year against complete no hopers to build back a bit of confidence and give him…

Comment by Rosseboi on 08-31-2013

lol!!! Chisora would murder price 100%. Don't expect Price to take this, it would be suicide!

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