By Frank Warren
After an amazing Olympic success for the amateurs, the professionals are back with Britain’s three world champions Nathan Cleverly, Carl Froch and Ricky Burns all returning to action over the next couple of months and it’s a great start to the season
It was not so long ago that many people were writing boxing’s obituaries, but as we head into a new season the sport is in a healthy yet different position.
For Cleverly, his next defence of the WBO World Light-Heavyweight title will be announced on Monday at a press conference in Cardiff.
Unfortunately he’s only fought once this year with a points win over Tommy Karpency and is looking to make up for lost time after he pulled out of a title defence in April because of illness.
It’s proved tough making a match for the young unbeaten Welshman with a number of high-profile fights falling through for various reasons.
The main target was American great Bernard Hopkins and I initially agreed terms with his promoter Golden Boy, but Hopkins later pulled out and he’s now highly unlikely to box this year and we’ll look to resurrect the fight next year.
WBA title holder Beibut Shumenov was also made an offer of a unification fight against Cleverly with it taking place in Las Vegas but his team could not get the American network Showtime to televise the fight until next year. A substantial offer was then made for Shumenov to come to the UK which they declined as he refused to travel here.
Froch, the IBF World Super-Middleweight Champion, turned down a huge purse to step-up a weight and challenge for Cleverly’s title which is a great shame for the fans!
Tony Bellew, who Cleverly outpointed in Bellew’s home city last year, also turned down the opportunity of a rematch.
In the meantime Cleverly can’t sit around and needs to fight to keep active and he’ll face a challenger that will provide him with stiff opposition, that he can’t afford to lose, to keep on track for unification fights to establish himself as the best in the division.
This week Froch announced that he will defend his title against American veteran Yusef Mack on November 17 in Nottingham.
Although Mack’s been around a long time, at 32 he’s three years younger than Froch. He’s fought mainly at light-heavy and was knocked-out by the tough but old Glen Johnson and last year IBF World Champion Tavoris Cloud stopped him in eight.
This will be the first time he’s had to get down to 12st in five years and he’s coming to Froch’s backyard where he’ll have to face a fiery crowd.
September’s highlight will be Ricky Burns’ showdown with Kevin Mitchell at Glasgow’s SECC which is one of the best all-British world title fights in a good few years.
It’s the kind of 50-50 fight that boxing needs and I’ll be looking to announce more fights of a similar calibre in the near future.
Burns is a good solid operator with a strong jab and high work-rate, he’s not the biggest of punchers, but is as tough as they come. While Mitchell is a boxer-puncher with fast hands and a big punch to back it up and is looking to pull off an upset on the champion’s home turf.
Froch’s fight will be on Sky who announced this week that they’ve agreed a new two-year deal with Matchroom.
While Cleverly, Burns and Mitchell will fight on the fight dedicated subscription channel BoxNation that has made big strides in only it’s first year of operation.
The channel has televised some of the best domestic and international fights featuring superstar Floyd Mayweather plus Miguel Cotto, Wladimir Klitshcko and David Haye’s fight with Dereck Chisora.
A quality packed line up on BoxNation over the next two months sees twelve worlds titles being shown with even more to be added which is more boxing than any other channel offers.
Despite the BBC’s excellent coverage of Olympic boxing, they’ve buried their heads in the sand with the professionals and the only terrestrial network with a foot-in is Channel Five who cover heavyweight Tyson Fury’s fights. There’s also rumour that a possible Ricky Hatton comeback could be on ITV.
Boxing has had to evolve over the years and certainly even more so in the present TV climate. For me fight specialist channel BoxNation is the future in a sport that started broadcasting in the days of radio, then closed circuit screenings in cinemas, to pay-per-view in homes, but now has more coverage than ever before on UK TV.
Over in America, rap star 50 Cent, a close friend of Floyd Mayweather Jnr, has ventured into boxing to form TMT Promotions and word is he will feature in concerts on his shows.
It’s an interesting concept and with 50’s celebrity and brand,could it attract a completely new audience to boxing?
Even Don King at 81 is looking to evolve and break new ground by putting on a boxing-music extravaganza in North Korea.
Bob Arum, who’s been at the forefront of boxing innovations for the last 40 years, saw years ago that the heavyweight division was drying up in the States and focused his business on Hispanic fighters and lighter weights which has proved a big success.
Golden Boy Promotions, meanwhile, go from strength-to-strength and they promote next in Brooklyn, New York, the first time boxing has been staged there in 50-years with a world title card at the brand new Barclays Center featuring Amir Khan conqueror Danny Garcia.
My old headmaster at Highbury County Grammar School in Islington, Sir Rhodes Boyson, a former higher education minister, passed away this week.
In a newspaper obituary, it claimed that Mr. Boyson said that he was the only white man to have beaten Frank Bruno - with the cane.
Bruno didn’t go to that school and I’m sure “Mutton Chops” - his nickname because of his mutton chops whiskers - got his Franks, colours and sizes mixed up with me as I can confirm I received six of the best on many occasions!
He was a great character and very well respected.
Muhammad Ali's boyhood home is up for sale in Louisville, Kentucky, for $50,000, but has been valued at just $23,260.
The house is in disrepair and even Ali's wife Lonnie said that they probably wouldn't be interested in buying it, fearing that any interest from the Ali family will drive up the price.
She hopes that a buyer will come in and even the local Mayor said that the city may offer assistance for someone looking to purchase it.
Nonito Donaire can call on his wife Rachel if he's struggling for sparring for his WBO/IBF Super-Bantamweight title defence against Toshiaki Nishioka next month.
She packs a punch and kick, though, seeing as she's a former US national collegiate and military taekwondo champion.
Filipino star Donaire has already knocked up a couple of rounds with the missus, but he banned her from kicking him.
German trainer Ulli Wegner doesn't get the recognition of a Freddie Roach or a Emmanuel Steward, but he still churns out the champions.
The 70-year-old claimed his fourth current world champion last Saturday when Arthur Abraham beat Robert Stieglitz to win the WBO World Super-Middleweight title.
He's also got WBO World Cruiserweight Champion Marco Huck, IBF Cruiserweight Champion Yoan Pablo Hernandez and female WBC/WBA/WBO World Welterweight Champion Cecilia Breakhus.
In the past he's trained some of Germany's best ever world champions including Sven Ottke and Marcus Beyer.