By Frank Warren
After recent heartache in my office, it was pleasing to rebound with a more productive week.
My maiden promotion at the splendid Copper Box Arena at the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in Stratford proved a success with a large audience generating a brilliant atmosphere.
The event served as a fitting final tribute to my late matchmaker Dean Powell, who put together several of the matches before tragically passing away earlier this month.
Nine of the 11 bouts lasted the scheduled course – evidence of Dean’s incontestable ability to deliver competitive bouts that permitted my young talents to learn, develop and advance.
With 87 rounds of top quality boxing – most of it championship class – the paying punters were certainly treated to their money’s worth and were rewarded with entertainment of the highest order. Hopefully, they’ll all return to ‘The Box’ for my next promotion on November 30th with Dereck Chisora and Billy Joe Saunders headlining.
Both were in sparkling form last weekend. Slim line ‘Del Boy’ added the European heavyweight title to the British and Commonwealth straps he’d previously held by mowing over useful German Edmund Gerber in five rounds and placing himself back into the mix.
If stranded Tyson Fury is seeking an interim opponent ahead of his re-scheduled bang-up with David Haye, we’ll gladly accommodate. US kayo king Deontay Wilder – an Olympic medallist who’s iced all 29 pro victims inside four rounds – is also welcome to take his chance!
Shortly after, Saunders moved to the periphery of world class by holding off a strong late challenge from Islington’s John ‘The Gorilla’ Ryder to retain his hold on the British middleweight throne after a dozen scintillating rounds. Ryder can to fight and ran Billy-Joe close.
Earlier in the evening, Birmingham welter Frankie Gavin overcame a hairline fracture of the jaw to bag the Lonsdale Belt outright with a clear points win over Manchester’s ultra-cautious David Barnes.
Super-feather Liam Walsh and super-fly Paul Butler also advanced several rungs by triumphing over top grade opposition. The stable is looking good!
As well as a Promoter, I am a Manager and had seven winners out of seven at the Copper Box, I nabbed an eighth the same evening, albeit 226 miles to the north-west at the Liverpool Olympia. Local light-middleweight Liam Smith joined his older brothers Paul and Stephen as a reigning British champion by comprehensively outpointing Kenyan-born house fighter Erick Ochieng following a fine tussle.
It is the first time in ring history that a trio of siblings have held the coveted Lord Lonsdale Belt simultaneously and, coupled with Saunders’ victory over Ryder, it delivered me a pleasing double over Matchroom.
Remarkably, the Smith Brothers have vastly contrasting ring styles. Super-middle Paul is a good boxer and puncher, super-feather Stephen is feted for his silky skills and movement whilst Liam, known as ‘Beefy’, is a tenacious pressure fighter. I’ve managed and promoted them all throughout their entire careers. Youngest brother Callum is also making great progress.
Next up, the holy trinity all defend their titles on a historic Band of Brothers promotion at the fabulous Echo Arena in their native city on 7th December, the first time three Brothers have defended the British title on one bill.
Congratulations to Billy Joe Saunders for being voted the prestigious Young Boxer of the Year Award.
The 24 year old British and Commonwealth middleweight king has been in fabulous form in 2013, scoring clear unanimous points wins over Matthew Hall, Gary O’Sullivan and John Ryder – the latter two themselves undefeated in 16 and 15 starts respectively.
It is the 16th time during my 33 years in the profession that a fighter that I have managed or promoted has nailed the coveted gong, which is voted for by the Boxing Writers. Eight advanced to bonafide world titles and I’d be extremely shocked and disappointed if the sublimely gifted Romany gypsy didn’t become the ninth.
The Hatfield southpaw will collect his award at a bib and tucker bash at The Savoy Hotel on 14th October.
Now unbeaten in 19, Billy Joe dedicated his achievement to the late Dean Powell who helped to make his matches and often assisted in his corner on fight night; a classy gesture from a thoroughly decent young man.
This evening, of course, we should have been enjoying the biggest domestic showdown of the year but David Haye’s pull-out against Tyson Fury sees that spat deferred for four months.
You have to empathise with both principals after months of arduous training and monastic living proved futile. The Hayemaker’s injury – a gash above the left eye brow incurred in his final spar last Friday – is genuine but, like everybody else, I was mystified to learn he was engaged in full contact work so close to fight night.
Team Fury was initially sceptical and reluctant to consider any re-schedule. However common sense prevailed and they shall now collide on 8th February 2014. Money talks ...!
Scott Quigg’s WBA super-bantam clash with unbeaten Cuban Yoandris Salinas – billed as chief support for this evening – shall now headline at the O2 Arena in London next weekend.
The odds on George Groves springing an upset when he challenges Carl Froch for the IBF and WBA super-middleweight titles continue to lengthen.
With the sold out fight just eight weeks away, ‘The Saint’ announced this week that he had appointed unknown Paddy Fitzgerald to head his coaching team.
Though Irishman Fitzgerald has worked alongside feted US coaches Freddie Roach and Buddy McGirt, and is a part player in the David Haye camp, he hasn’t fronted a single fighter of merit. Question – Does he have the necessary nous to devise a battle plan that could topple ‘The Cobra’, we find out late November.
Dereck Chisora heads out to Russia next week for the big heavyweight showdown between Wladimir Klitschko and Alexander Povetkin.
He'll be ringside to watch the fight in Moscow, which is televised live in the UK on BoxNation, and will be looking to press his case for a fight against the winner.
With Del's new found power and hunger I know he'd be a handful against either man.
The night before the big Copper Box Arena event I promoted my annual dinner show for the charity DEBRA at the Hilton Hotel on Park Lane.
For the ninth year running we had another successful evening for the charity that specialises in the painful genetic skin condition Epidermolysis Bullosa.
Former WBO World Super-Middleweight Champion Steve Collins has carved out another career for himself as an auctioneer and did a great job on the night.
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