By Frank Warren
Following a decade of Klitschko dominance, the recent abdication of elder brother Vitali, who at the moment is in his toughest fight yet in the tragic political turmoil of the Ukraine, has provided a much needed oxygen fix into a world heavyweight scene that had become increasingly stale and stagnant.
The scramble to find a dominant successor is sure to be heated with a healthy crop of evenly matched young bucks jostling to establish hegemony.
Until the last decade, the USA had held a near monopoly over the sport’s blue riband division, with almost every dominant champion hailing from across The Pond.
However, though Canada’s Bermane Stiverne and California’s Chris Arreola square up for the vacant WBC belt that ‘Dr Ironfist’ leaves behind, I doubt the Land of the Free will hold command for very long.
The co-challengers are both well into their 30s and have already incurred blotches against moderate opposition. Frankly, the pair falls someway short of top class.
Our star spangled cousins won’t want to hear it but the majority of the meritable contenders reside on European shores with Britain extremely well represented.
Leading the home charge will be Finchley prodigal Dereck Chisora, presently the highest ranked Brit with all four major sanctioning bodies.
Now 30, the exciting bull strong and willing to fight anyone ‘Del Boy’ is finally adding mental maturity to his obvious physical gifts.
He was in rude form in 2013, eliminating all four opponents inside schedule; steamrolling top Yank Malik Scott - previously unbeaten in 36 – then bulldozing through capable German and Czech opponents to capture and retain the European title.
He’ll make a second defence on my big Copper Box promotion on February 15th and, provided he shines, it should set the eliminator needed to fast track him to a second world title challenge before the close of 2014.
This time last year Liverpool’s David Price was the name on everybody’s lips. However, the former Olympic medallist endured a woeful 2013.
Back-to-back stoppage defeats to veteran US southpaw Tony Thompson in front of packed houses at The Echo Arena in his home city not only cast dark clouds over the 6ft 8in Scouser’s punch resistance and conditioning, but also left his notoriously delicate psyche in shreds.
‘Big Pricey’ took six months out to evaluate his options.
He decided to forsake his British and Commonwealth titles to avoid a mandatory clash with Chisora and, with respected American Tommy Brooks – whose CV includes stints with Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield – now in the trainer’s saddle, David quietly resumes his career away from home pressures in Germany this evening.
On the undercard of Huck v Arslan for the WBO Cruiserweight Title Price meets Kazakh Konstantin Airich in a non-title affair and hopefully won’t be unduly inconvenienced. BoxNation televise live.
Is operating in exile a sensible move? As he endeavours to regain belief and return to the winning track.
In 1957, national treasure Sir Henry Cooper did something similar after suffering four successive defeats on home shores; three by stoppage.
He too opted for the Fatherland to rekindle his confidence and didn’t fare too badly thereafter; bagging the British, Empire and Commonwealth titles and challenging a certain M.Ali for the world title at Highbury!
Price certainly possesses the ability and power to make a future impact at world level, if he can sort things out between his ears.
Half a pace behind Chisora comes 6ft 9in Mancunian Tyson Fury. Undefeated in 21, he has already triumphed in a brace of official world title eliminators.
Hugely popular within the travelling community from which he hails, Fury is rugged and athletic in equal measure. I rate him, he has a fabulous jab, huge balls and clearly knows how to win.
He was building up a real head of steam but was restricted to just one outing in 2013 and has been dormant since April.
He too features on The Copper Box bill against experienced Argentine Gonzalo Omar Basile and it’s my intention to then match him against Chisora at a soccer stadium this summer. It would be a huge domestic match up and the victor would be guaranteed a crack at the world title.
Ominously, might Fury’s 19 year old cousin Hughie Fury might be better?
The 6ft 6in ex world junior champion has already racked up a dozen pro wins across six countries since debuting last March.
Effectively he’s a boy fighting men yet he’s still wiped out seven victims ahead of schedule. In the five fights that lasted the full trip, he won every round.
On occasion, he’s believed to have fought for free simply to derive experience – a highly commendable outlook which not only keeps him focussed but should also ensure rich rewards later down the line.
Hughie endeavours to break Mike Tyson’s record as the youngest heavyweight champion in history; unlikely but not impossible.
Slightly further down the line is Watford’s reigning Olympic super-heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua; a fighter I’ve long admired.
At 6ft 6in tall, the chiselled 24 year old has the frame to supplement his talent and desire, and evolve into a real force.
However, promoter Eddie Hearn’s assertion that ‘Josh’ will be ready for Chisora or Fury by the close of 2014 borders on the comical. Right now, it’s paramount that Anthony loosens up and acclimatises to the profession.
Another who can’t be entirely discounted is Brixton’s Ian ‘Lay’em Out’ Lewison, the reigning Southern Area king.
He’s taken a while to adjust to the pros but was once ranked fourth in the world as an amateur, scalping leading pro contenders Robert Helenius and Odlanier Solis en route. Trust me, the queue to fight him is short.
With growing murmurs that former WBA king David Haye intends ‘defying’ doctors and ending his latest retirement, British heavyweight boxing has never looked healthier.
Brace yourself for a Golden Era.
With his last fight over a decade ago, I'm surprised that Naseem Hamed still hasn't been inducted into the International Boxing Hall Of Fame yet.
He was in my opinion the best featherweight of his generation and certainly in the top three best British fighters in my time in the sport.
The question gets asked if he would have beaten former multi-weight world champion Manny Pacquiao and I say if he was 100 percent he would have the beating of the Filipino star at 126lb.
Although Naz achieved a lot, he could have achieved so much more, which I'm sure that he realises that now.
In his heyday he was a sensational athlete, a real entertainer and showman who transcended the sport and brought in a whole new generation of fans.
A plumber in Muhammad Ali’s hometown of Louisville got a surprise when he knocked on the door of The Greatest.
Tony Kelly was working on a house on Ali’s street and was dared by his co-workers to go and wish the legend a happy 72nd birthday.
After knocking on the door and speaking with Ali’s wife Yolanda, Kelly got his wish and met with Ali an hour later and posed for a photo which later went viral on social media.
Despite his battle against Parkinson’s syndrome, Ali still has the ability to light-up peoples’ lives.
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