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Frank Warren on UK Fighters Cracking World Title Scene

By Frank Warren

Though Britain can presently boast just three world champions – Carl Froch, Scott Quigg and Stuey Hall – several homegrown talents are poised to challenge for global titles before 2014 is history.

In addition to the civil wars between Froch and George Groves and Hall and Paul Butler early this summer, Doncaster’s Jamie McDonnell gets a crack at the vacant WBA bantam strap against Thailand’s Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat at Wembley Stadium in late May, and Blackpool’s Brian Rose has a date booked with WBO light-middle king Demetrius Andrade in New York on June 14th.

Welterweight Amir Khan, super-bantam Carl Frampton plus the winner of the Fury-Chisora heavyweight showdown in July should all advance to world title challenges before the close of the year.

And on the undercard of Bernard Hopkins’ history making light-heavyweight unification win in Washington DC last weekend, British fans got to assess the wares of two Yanks - WBO middleweight boss Peter Quillin and IBF welter king Shawn Porter - who should defend against Hatfield’s Billy Joe Saunders and Sheffield’s Kell Brook respectively.

All four fighters are unbeaten but I’ve long maintained that if you want to become a world champion then you need to have a tough fight.

Quillin, known as ‘Kid Chocolate’, is a seriously dangerous puncher and it’ll be fascinating to see if Billy Joe’s sublime skills can keep him at bay. He’ll sharpen his tools and acquire valuable experience when he challenges unbeaten Italian veteran Emanuele Blandamura on the Fury-Chisora card.

I’d maneuvered Brook to a mandatory slot with the WBO prior to letting him go three years ago but, despite winning three formal eliminators since, he is still to contest a world title.

When his time finally arrives, he’ll almost certainly need to travel and looks to have his work cut out against the frighteningly relentless Ohioan who simply appears a better all round fighter.  

***

The world heavyweight title has long been dubbed ‘The Greatest Prize in Sports’ but years of Klitschko dominance has brought wide scale ambivalence.  Brother Wladimir’s defence of his IBF, WBA and WBO belts against one Alex Leapei in Oberhausen, Germany this evening has generated nominal interest and coverage.

The fight will be broadcast in the UK on Eurosport 2.

The 34 year old challenger, from that fistic stronghold of Samoa, earned his right by upsetting Russia’s Dennis Boytsov – previously unbeaten in 33 – last November.

Nevertheless, he has been victorious in just 30 of his 37 fights and enters as a 10-1 underdog, hence the indifference.

***

Berths on England’s Commonwealth Games squad in Glasgow are up for grabs at the ABA finals which take place at The Echo Arena, Liverpool this weekend.

The 127th edition of the tournament has endured widespread changes. For the first time, the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals shall be held on consecutive days, starting yesterday.

Boxers will compete without head guards for the first time since the 1988 Seoul Olympics and, in line with directives from IABA (the international governing body), competition will be restricted to the 10 Olympic weight classes rather than the customary 13 divisions.

With the English ABA, rather than Team GB, selecting the Commonwealth slots, the cosseted full-timers on lottery grants at the Institute of Sport in Sheffield shall be required to justify their funding against the true amateurs who’ve qualified through the provinces. With politics involved, expect the judging to be controversial and hotly debated!

Names to keep an eye on include Leeds flyweight Jack Bateson, Scouse middleweight Anthony Fowler and London super-heavy Joe Joyce – who’ve all medalled at major tournaments – plus teenage welter Ted Cheeseman, a big ticket seller from the south London and Seb Eubank, son of you know who, has inherited dad’s one shot knockout power.

Sky Sports televise on delay from 8pm next Friday.

***

More scoring controversy last weekend at the Hopkins-Shumenov fight when judge Gustavo Padilla had it, incredibly, 114-113 for Shumenov while the other two had it, rightfully, 116-111 for Hopkins.

It was another masterful performance from the seemingly ageless Hopkins who used his experience, cunning, and speed to outbox Shumenov and drop him in the 11th round to clearly win the fight, which makes Gustavo’s scoring all the more ridiculous.

I’ve been in the business a long time and some of the recent scoring by some judges at these big fights have been way out and it makes you wonder what they are watching.

***

Sad to hear of the death of Dr Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter from prostrate cancer last Sunday. He was 76.

A former world middleweight challenger in the 60s, Carter was incarcerated in his prime, convicted of a triple murder at a Paterson, New Jersey bar, which he clearly didn’t commit.

He became a cause celebre after Bob Dylan highlighted the miscarriage of justice in his 1976 song ‘Hurricane’ which made the Top 40 on both sides of The Pond.

After serving 19 years in Rahway and Trenton maximum security prisons – the majority in solitary confinement – the verdict was overturned in 1985 on the grounds of prosecutorial misconduct. Actor Denzil Washington portrayed ‘The Hurricane’ in a 1999 biopic of his life.

Upon release, Carter became a voracious reader, secured an honorary doctorate from the University of Brisbane and founded Innocence International, a non profit organisation committed to the wrongly convicted.

Nevertheless, in his early life he was a seriously menacing hombre; a militant black activist with a shaven skull, Fu Manchu moustache and physique seemingly carved from marble. His glare could freeze volcanoes.

The late Mickey Duff used to recant a tale of when he brought Carter to Britain to fight Bootle’s Harry Scott at the Albert Hall in 1965.

Mickey politely offered to carry Carter’s bag as he left the plane. Upon arriving at the Regent Palace hotel, a gun shot went off in Carter’s room leaving a hole in the wall.

When Duff remonstrated with the future doctor about the consequences of bringing firearms into the UK, Carter retorted: ‘I didn’t bring it in. It was in the bag YOU carried!’

To his credit he rehabilitated. Let’s hope he can finally rest peacefully.

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