EARLY LAST WEEK we, officially, set the ball rolling for what is likely to become the biggest year in modern boxing history.
London last Monday evening marked the launch of the media activity for ‘Knockout Chaos’, which will take place on Friday March 8 in Riyadh, featuring the colossal collision between Anthony Joshua and Francis Ngannou.
I don’t need to go over too much old ground when it comes to Francis, as opposed to when we announced his fight with Tyson Fury. Very few people will doubt his credentials now and, as for the event itself, it has obvious crossover appeal that will generate a wider audience.
As is well documented, the plan was to match AJ with Deontay Wilder, but boxing has a habit of getting in the way of best laid plans. Despite his limited experience in the sport, Francis presents a clear danger because, quite simply, he can fight and he showed against Tyson that he is a quick learner.
An interesting point was made during all the post press conference interviews that this will be the first time AJ will come up against someone of similar or bigger dimensions than himself. Francis is a man mountain and AJ cannot be accused of not picking on someone his own size this time around.
Will this be a factor on the night? We’ll have to wait and see, but in no way, shape or form will Francis ever be a knockover job for anybody. Let’s put it this way, if there are any more like him knocking about in Cameroon, forget about MMA and get in touch please. Just imagine if Francis had followed up on his first love boxing right from the start…
The March date in Riyadh comes just a few short weeks after the ‘Ring of Fire’ undisputed spectacular between Tyson and Oleksandr Usyk and H.E. Turki Alalshikh indicated strongly that he would like the winners from the two occasions to fight later this year.
What an incentive for all four fighters! H.E. also proudly put on display the newly created Undisputed belt, which is an excellent innovation, in my book.
Look, we all know keeping all four belts in one place following an undisputed fight is often a nigh on impossible proposition. This being the case, it is completely appropriate for the achievement to be marked with a special belt so the recognition of reaching the pinnacle is maintained until such a time when the champion either loses or calls it a day.
The undercards for these two shows live up to the standards of what we have come to expect from these shows in Riyadh. They are of an unprecedented depth and quality and it is something that just cannot be done by any promoter from the traditional territories. If you manage to deliver a pricey main event then budget-wise it is difficult to invest in a deep undercard.
Thankfully, for our sport, our friends and colleagues in Riyadh have no such concerns and everyone is a winner in this respect.
Even though what is going down in Riyadh will dominate conversations and media commentary, our focus is also very much closer to home.
We’ve got our big opener at the Copper Box on February 10 headlined by Hamzah Sheeraz and Liam Williams and on Thursday we had our big reveal for a huge night of boxing in Birmingham on March 16.
I believe this version of the Magnificent Seven card is even stronger than the highly-acclaimed Manchester show back in November.
Boxing in 2024 is set to deliver the goods in a big way.