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Frank Warren on Amir Khan Critics, Saunders vs. Eubank

By Frank Warren

If there is one fight I wanted to promote more than a return between Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho it's the potentially sizzling scrap  between two of the best youngsters in the business – Billy Joe Saunders and Chris Eubank jnr, both unbeaten and threatening to knock bits off each other.

They'll meet for Billy Joe's European and Commonwealth middleweight titles but it's been a real pain in the backside getting this one it together, mainly because dealing with Chris Snr, who acts as his eldest son's manager, mentor and minder,  has been an absolute nightmare. But we've finally got it signed for the ExCel in London on 29 November when heavyweights Dereck Chisora and Tyson will also be spilling a bit of bad blood.

It's a real blockbuster bill to celebrate to the third anniversary of our exclusive fight channel BoxNation.

Fathers and sons rarely work successfully in boxing because dads naturally tend to be over-protective, and Chris snr certainly makes his presence felt when it comes to supervising his son's career. Quite a pleasant young man.

The hours spent arguing the deal with him and his legal team were among the most exasperating I have experienced in over 30 years in boxing.

I always admired him as a fighter. He had a number of fights for me and some were among the best of his career, including those he lost against Steve Collins, Joe Calzaghe and one of the best domestic bust ups against Carl Thompson.

He was difficult to deal with as a boxer – and he's hard work as a boss.  Negotiating with him has been bizarre. It was never about money, it was the nitpicking stuff that went with it, like how and when to best publicise a fight that actually sells itself. Some of it was unbelievably trivial. It seemed to me they were just being awkward for the sake of it..

At one stage I was ready to walk away because it left such a sour taste, and so was Billy Joe, who let's not forget is the triple belt holder.

But I am glad we persevered because this could end up as the fight of the year.

A lot of people fancy Eubank jnr, who may ape his father's idiosyncratic posing in the ring but outside of it is an entirely different character.

But I believe my fighter Billy Joe will beat him because he's come up the hard way, steadily progressing after the 2008 Olympics to Southern Area and British and European champion. He's one of those fighters who rises to the occasion and I've never seen him looking fitter or sharper.

He really wanted this fight - as do the fans- which is why I was so determined to secure it. He's now the number one contender for the WBO world title and we would have made a fight for the vacant crown if the Eubanks hadn't stopped messing us around. Billy Joe was as angry I was and asked me:"I'm the champion , why am I p***** around  waiting for this fellah?"

Eubank jnr may be unbeaten in 17 bouts but he hasn't fought a ten rounder and we've yet to see how he reacts when he gets hit on the chin.

I'm told he's looked good sparring with the likes of Carl Froch, James DeGale and George Groves. But this is a real fight – in the ring not the gym.

His last five bouts have been on my shows but to be honest I would have liked them to be against stiffer opposition, but as usual his dad always had the final say on that. Now we'll see if father really does know best.

***

The word from America is that the current anti-Islamic backlash because of the ghastly atrocities that are happening in the Middle East threatens Amir Khan's prospects of a mega fight with Floyd Mayweather jnr next.

I know at least one major promoter who thinks Khan, as a Muslim, would be too risky a sell to the US public in the current circumstances. Personally I doubt this is the case, though it has to be a worry, especially as he is due to fight again there in December.

It would be very unfair if Amir's career is tainted by Islamophobia. He has never worn his religion on his sleeve, unlike another former British world champion, Naseem Hamed, who even had a chanting mullah leading his ring walk at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas when he fought Marco Antonio Barrera back in 2001. The atmosphere then was pretty hostile so imagine what it would be like now.

Actually Khan is quite popular over there and has always strongly condemned Islamic extremism, as has Muhammad Ali.

Some think he would have a reasonable chance against Mayweather as his hand speed is the one thing that ageing Floyd would have difficulty in countering. One thing for sure other than Manny Pacquiao it's the biggest fight out there for the Money man.

***

Tony Bellew and Nathan Cleverly meet at cruiserweight in Liverpool next month. A decent domestic dust-up, but surely not one big enough for Sky to ask subscribers to fork out on pay-per-view? Neither hold a world title and both were knocked out when they last fought in one. I question whether they are better now than when they contested the WBO light-heavyweight title for me on a free-to-air TV show three years ago.

***

Coming up on BoxNation tonight is the exciting IBF World Light-Middleweight showdown between the reigning Champion Carlos Molina against former Champion Cornelius Bundrage.  For Bundrage, at 41, this is his likely to be his last roll of the dice at a world title and be something of a Cinderella story for the Detroit fighter to reclaim his belt.  He's well-known to fights fans after appearing on ESPN America reality TV series "The Contender" and also fought in the UK back in 2007 when he fought on my UK v USA Contenders show in Newcastle.

To subscribe to BoxNation go to www.boxnation.com

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Mick Higgs on 10-12-2014

Why's BJS's British title not on the line as well? He's only 1 notch away from a Lonsdale belt out-right.

Comment by Lullaby on 10-11-2014

Great interview, worth reading.

Post a Comment - View More User Comments (2)
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