By Frank Warren
At the ripe old age of 82, Don King is back in the heavyweight business and hopefully will liven it all up after Bermane Stiverne’s thrilling stoppage win over Chris Arreola for the vacant WBC title in Los Angeles last weekend. It allows the Cleveland promoter to finally get his teeth back into the heavyweight division that has always been his passion.
The man with the electric hair and booming voice is a solid contender for the greatest promoter that the sport has ever known. He engineered The Rumble in the Jungle, The Thriller in Manila plus most of Mike Tyson’s reign of terror during the late 80s and early 90s.
Earlier this millennium, he was frozen out of the scene, firstly by Lennox Lewis, latterly by the Klitschkos and has been relatively quiet by his standards.
But Stiverne’s success permits North America, and King in particular, a foothold into the blue riband division. Don’t expect them to risk relinquishing it. US interest is paramount for the heavyweights to thrive.
The Haiti born Stiverne – one of 14 kids who moved to North America at ten and was raised in Quebec – trousered just $225,000 for last weekend’s title win.
However, it drew almost one million viewers on the ESPN network and, with King in his corner, he can expect a seven figure cheque next time he enters the battle zone. The 35 year old – who stopped Liverpool’s David Price in the amateurs – is a solid all rounder with exceptional speed and decent power.
King, however, has always had a penchant for painting geese as swans: ‘Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive. The heavyweight business is back in business,’ he preached from his lectern at the post fight presser.
And he’s not wrong. The division was in danger of being ignored after a near decade of drab Klitschko dominance against a long stream on forgettables. No one can ever ignore The Don.
Stiverne has a long list of options for fans to salivate over. And with his promoter likely to follow the route that optimises the take for DK, don’t expect him to dive into his mandatory obligation with Alabama’s vicious whacker but unproven Deontay Wilder who has eliminated all 31 pro victims inside four rounds.
A unifier with Wladimir Klitschko, custodian of all the other credible alpha-belts – ‘great guy, great heart, soft chin’ quips King – or a shootout with Brother Vitali whose political aspirations appear to have been dosed, would generate genuine global interest. A visit to Britain to oblige the victor of Chisora-Fury might represent a seemingly softer but still lucrative alternative.
Suddenly there is a plethora of fights to savour and King to sell, as only he can. Hopefully the division is alive and kicking.
As expected, the build-up to the huge summer heavyweight showdown between Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora at the Phones 4 U Arena in Manchester is starting to get rather lively.
In March, the 6ft 9in Fury hurled a table over at a preliminary presser and last Saturday the protagonists again needed to be forcibly separated by security at the Printworks in Manchester, after Tyson ridiculously accused the Finchley man of using anabolic steroids.
As the fight draws closer, expect the exchanges to become even more personal and intense. Whoever triumphs in the WBO eliminator will advance to a shot at the world heavyweight title and the financial security that brings.
Both are blessed with sharp tongues and champion the social media outlets. Both are frighteningly competitive and shall be eager to manufacture a psychological edge.
And last week I received confirmation that the chief supporting contest, featuring British and Commonwealth middleweight champion Billy Joe Saunders against Italy’s Emanuele Blandamura, shall now double up as an official eliminator for the WBO world title held by Brooklyn’s Peter Quillin.
The scramble between Saunders and Fury to deliver Britain’s travelling community with its first ever boxing world champion gets spicier as each week passes.
With seven world titles in four separate weight classes, Mexican legend Juan Manuel Marquez is already a ‘shoe in’ for the Hall of Fame once he finally hangs his gloves on the peg.
But at the age of 40, the master box fighter who sent Manny Pacquiao to sleep for several minutes in 2012 seeks to further enhance his legacy by bagging another world title up at welterweight.
This evening, at the historic Inglewood Forum in Los Angeles, ‘Dinamita’ squares off with Colorado’s teak tough Mike ‘Mile High’ Alvarado – himself victorious in 34 of 36 – in a non –title 12 rounder. Top quality fare.
BoxNation televise live from 2am Sunday morning.
Twelve months ago, the star-starved Yanks were touting Cincinnati foghorn Adrien Broner as heir apparent to Floyd Mayweather as boxing’s premier pound-for-pound talent.
But though he was tumbled and humbled by Marcos Maidana in December, but for some fans Broner has simply evolved into the most obnoxious fighter on the planet.
Last week the Mexican based World Boxing Council suspended the self-styled ‘Problem’ from all WBC sanctioned fights and excluded him from their rankings until he publically apologises for his foul mouthed, racist rant during a recent post fight interview.
After coasting to a less than inspiring ten round points win over moderate Carlos Molina – a naturally smaller man who’d been inactive for 15 months and previously stopped by Amir Khan – Broner gloated: ‘Anyone Can get it. Afri-Can. I just beat the f*** out a Mexi-Can.’
This was no undercover ‘sting’ and brings boxing into disrepute. Nevertheless, any future match-up involving the 24 year old triple world champion and any fighter of Mexican descent is likely to be a huge sell......for all the wrong reasons.
Sadly, Broner could profit from his ignorance.
Remember the name Joe Costello.
The 20 year old Brummie lightweight gave one of the most impressive professional debuts in recent years on my Olympia show in Liverpool last weekend, stretching veteran Dewsbury survivor Youssef Al Hamidi with a single chopping right hand in just 130 seconds.
Formerly a European schoolboy champion who was rated number one in the world for his age and weight as an amateur, the West Midlander is a special talent and I am looking for to seeing how his journey pans out over the next few years.
Sad to hear that former WBA heavyweight champion Jimmy Ellis was finally laid to rest, aged 74, in his native Louisville, Kentucky last Monday. He’d been afflicted with dementia for several years.
Though he barely weighed 13 ½ stone, Ellis was an integral component of the heavyweight division’s Golden Era in the 1970s.
He scalped the great Muhammad Ali – also from Louisville – in the amateurs and, when they fought again as pros in 1971, Angelo Dundee, who trained both, opted to work Ellis’ corner. Ali won by stoppage in the twelfth and final round but the stable mates remained lifelong pals.
A crafty box-fighter with sizzling hand speed, Ellis scalped the likes of Oscar Bonavena, Jerry Quarry, Floyd Patterson and George Chuvalo in a 53 fight career that was curtailed by an eye injury. He twice went to war with a prime Joe Frazier but was stopped both times.
He was an amiable, humble and spiritual guy. Rest peacefully, champ.
More fantastic big-fight action coming up live on BoxNation with the addition of potentially the most exciting fight of the year between Miguel Cotto and Sergio Martinez on June 7 at Madison Square Garden.
All-action Cotto, a three weight world champion from Puerto Rico, and Argentine hero Martinez, the current WBC Middleweight king, clash on the weekend of the Puerto Rican Day parade in New York and there is bound to be plenty of pride and passion on the line.
It’s sure to be a thriller and remember earlier that night there is more live world title action over here with Brits Stuart Hall and Paul Butler clashing at Newcastle’s Metro Radio Arena with Hall defending his IBF World Bantamweight title.
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