By Frank Warren (photo by Chris Royle)
SATURDAY NIGHT’S SHOW at the 02 Arena was not what we originally had in mind when we booked London’s biggest indoor arena for an April extravaganza.
You might recall that Billy Joe Saunders‘ defence of his WBO world middleweight title against Martin Murray was to be garnished by Terry Flanagan and Maurice Hooker fighting it out for the WBO world super lightweight belt, along with Ohara Davies and Josh Leather jostling for position in the queue to fight the winner.
We also had Darryll Williams set to defend his English super middleweight title against Lennox Clarke and Raza Hamza against Lewis Pettitt in a fascinating battle between youth and experience.
The withdrawal of Billy Joe from the show due to a hand injury led to us making the decision to push the promotion back to June, but the delay unfortunately brought with it further injuries and issues, which were then compounded by Billy Joe pulling out once again.
Given all the misfortune, all logic would suggest cancellation being the most appropriate course of action – especially in the midst of a World Cup – but our overriding priority was to remain true to the fighters who all prepared long and hard, as well as the fans who retained their tickets.
We were also determined to ensure that Martin Murray was rewarded with a meaningful fight after the double disappointment of missing out on a world title shot.
After enjoying such a strong run of top quality cards and bumper gates it was a pity we were unable to continue in the same vein, but it was a case of the show must go on and we ended up with solid rather than spectacular card, but still one that delivered a number of pleasing performances from our talented crop of young fighters.
Anthony Yarde continues to impressively progress on his learning curve, which this time presented him with the assignment of his first southpaw opposition.
I don’t want to keep sounding like a broken record, but the 42 rounds he now has in the bank is not a lot for the level he is fighting at.
He was up against guy who had never been dropped or stopped and it didn’t faze him at all. For me it is another box ticked and another bit of experience gathered ahead of us stepping him up to fight for a really big title in the not too distant future.
He showed a good engine and was breaking his opponent down round by round until turning up the heat in the 5th forcing the referee to intervene and save Sek from further punishment.
Daniel Dubois also gets top marks for the manner he went about countering the threat posed by Tom Little.
Little is an experienced operator who knows what he is doing in there, but if Daniel is everything we believe him to be he was always going to win that type of fight and he did so in style.
I know comparisons are being made with other British heavyweights such as Joe Joyce, but what we must always take into consideration is Daniel’s age and his comparative lack of elite amateur pedigree.
I still believe Daniel is right up there already though and what impresses me is how calm and composed he always remains. Tom did what you would hope an opponent will do in trying to get under his skin and wind him up a bit, but apart from getting up in his face a before the fight, he was never really going to bite.
His punches speak for themselves and credit to Tom for getting up off the floor after that body punch, which was a sickening thud.
The kid is just a phenomenal fighter and he has got such a good boxing brain.
Martin Murray was another example of remaining calm and composed under huge provocation from Roberto Garcia.
Martin dominated the fight intelligently and has now worked himself into a strong position and is a middleweight contender probably not too many people were expecting to emerge again.
As for Ohara Davies, blimey, that has got to be one of the shots of the season, hasn’t it?
That right hand he detonated onto the head of Paul Kamanga was a real show-stealer and there are big fights ahead for Ohara, so watch this space.
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