By Frank Warren
I was delighted this week to secure the massive domestic showdown between Billy Joe Saunders and Chris Eubank Jr for my bumper 'Bad Blood' card at the ExCel, London on 29th November. It goes without saying that this was possibly the hardest negotiation process for any fight I have staged in my 30+ year career in boxing! However this was a fight that the fans wanted and we went above and beyond to deliver it. I'm sure everyone is now is looking forward to it taking place on without doubt one of the strongest top to bottom cards to take place in the UK in many years that will air live and exclusive on the Channel of Champions BoxNation (Sky 437/HD 490, Virgin 546 and Talk Talk 525).
This tough negotiation was more than a little unexpected. We had agreed with Chris Eubank Snr months ago that the fight would take place in November, and had shook on a deal with contracts to follow. Our announcement of the fight was unfortunately hastened when the EBU threw a spanner in the works with a circular stating the fight was on. We had earlier that week requested sanctioning for the pair to contest Saunders' EBU Middleweight Title, however were not looking to announce the fight at this stage. Unfortunately the EBU's statement regarding the fight was out, meaning we had to act quickly or face our announcement being ruined.
The following week, after both fighters had promoted the bout and the event on their social media pages, we set a press conference to formally announce the fight. At this stage the purses had been agreed and the Eubanks were meant to sign the contract on the night before the scheduled press conference. On Thursday morning last week, the Eubanks were in the car heading up from Brighton, however once they made it clear in a telephone call that they wouldn't be signing that day and we would have to wait for a signed contract, we told them we weren't going to go any further until that this had been remedied.
At the subsequent Eubank-less presser, myself and my charge Billy Joe Saunders, who I must say has been excellent to deal with during this process, gave the Eubanks until 5pm that day to sign the contract. They unfortunately did not meet this deadline. It very much looked as though the fight was off.
At this stage, Billy Joe had an exceptional second option to the Eubank Jr fight and we were set on taking that route.
Paco Valcarcel President of the WBO had announced that their World Light Middleweight champion, Demitrius Andrade, who was meant to be moving up to Middleweight to contest the vacant 160lb World title against American based Russian Matt Korobov, would be now staying at 154lb. This had opened up a straight shot at the vacant WBO World Middleweight title for 2008 Olympian Saunders against Korobov, a great fight and possibly more meaningful on the World stage, that would have slotted straight in as a perfect replacement to take place on the ExCel card.
However, big domestic fights have a huge appeal to fans in this country, and upon examining the fan reaction on social media and their desire to see Billy Joe settle the score with Eubank Jr, we attempted one final role of the dice to make the fight and moved heaven and earth to make it happen, and now I'm delighted that we have it signed and finalised.
This fight, and bill topper at the ExCel, the mammoth showdown between Britain's top two active heavyweights Dereck Chisora and Tyson Fury, has got pulses going and ticket sales have reflected this. We expect the event to hit a sell out in the coming weeks so if you're planning on coming down to what will be a huge night of boxing in the Capital that also features other 50:50 domestic grudge matches, Frankie Gavin vs Bradley Skeete and Liam Walsh vs Gary Sykes; as well as rising stars such as Frank Bugloni, Lewis Pettitt and Mitchell Smith, I would suggest getting your tickets quickly!
One fight that will proceed on the bill -barring unforeseen circumstances – is the domestic super-feather showdown between Dewsbury's Gray Sykes – the reigning British Champion – and Cromer's unbeaten former Commonwealth king Liam Walsh.
Both bring turbo charged engines so it's guaranteed that the punches will come thick and fast. It is a contest worthy of bill-topping status in its own right and the winner can expect to be elevated to major international title contention immediately. Box Nation broadcast live.
There was a lot of debate this week about the scoring in Paul Smith's attempt at a World title against Arthur Abraham in Germany last Saturday. Smith put up a good effort and whilst it was definitely closer than some of the judges had it, I felt it was the right result and that Abraham won the fight by three rounds.
It was close enough however for home advantage to potentially have made a difference, but the upside was that Matchroom banked a few more air miles.
A potential future superstar was unleashed live in Box Nation last weekend when Quebec-based Russian Artur Beterbiev sensationally crushed ex IBF light –heavy king Tavoris Cloud in just 218 seconds at the Bell Center in Montreal.
Despite just 13 pro rounds on his ledger the six fight Chechen novice looks a certain future world champion. Formerly an amateur standout, none of his professional opposition has made it into round five. He carries serious thunder in his gloves.
His Floridian victim, 32, lasted the full 12 with Bernard Hopkins last year and was a veteran of seven world championship bouts. However, he was clumped to the canvas on four separate occasions before enduring the full count in the opening minute of round two.
Expert Beterbiev to now be moved fast. Though his pro career only started in June 2013, he brings an extensive amateur pedigree – losing controversially to the eventual champion at both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics but topping the podium at both the world and European championships. Following last weekend's carnage, the queue of rival contenders willing to gamble their well-being against him shall be extremely short.
A world title challenge to either Quebec rival Adonis Stevenson (who holds the WBC belt) or the victor of next month's IBF-WBO unifier between Bernard Hopkins and Sergey 'Krusher' Kovalev – whom Beterbiev scalped twice as an amateur – would appear imminent.
Could IBF super-feather king Rances Barthelemy be the next Cuban exile to dominate the professional sphere?
Box Nation subscribers can take a butchers at the unbeaten and highly regarded 28 year old tomorrow evening when he defends against Argentine bull Fernando Saucedo in Connecticut.
The stocky challenger, a veteran of 60 fights, is unbeaten in 14 since conceding to long time WBA king Chris John in Indonesia four years ago yet still enters at 7-1 against to topple the upwardly mobile 'Kid Blast'.
At 5ft 11in tall, the Cuban is positively stick like but supplements his physical advantages and suave skills with crippling power.
A standout performance this weekend could vault him onto a big money unifier with division leader Mikey Garcia in the New Year.
Boxing lost a real trouper last Monday when esteemed Californian promoter Dan Goosen conceded his battle against liver cancer. He was just 64 and left behind a wife and four sons.
After serving his apprenticeship with Bob Arum's Top Rank organisation, dapper Dan – one of ten siblings – set up Ten Goose Boxing and later Goosen Tutor Promotions .
During four decades in the sport, he was associated with several ring legends like Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather, Bernard Hopkins and James Toney. Latterly, he promoted Andre Ward – the world's premier super-middleweight – throughout his entire professional career. He also represented A-Team actor 'Mr T' and baseball icon Pete Rose.
A huge personality, renowned for his serial gum chewing and loud suits, privately Dan was a devoutly religious family man. He had a reputation globally as a stand up guy ... not easy in this business!
Condolences to his family and friends.
Congratulations to WBA and IBF super-middleweight king Carl Froch who bagged the British Boxer of the Year gong for a record fourth time at the Board of Control Awards dinner at the Novotel Hotel, London, last Friday.
'The Cobra's' first spat with George Groves received the award for 'Contest of the Year' while Sergey 'Krusher' Kovalev nailed the 'Oversea's Boxer of the Year' honour following his rout of Nathan Cleverly 14 months ago.
This year's 'Young Boxer of the Year' will be presented to unbeaten Sheffield super-bantam Kid Galahad at the Boxing Writers annual dinner at The Savoy a week on Monday.
A huge well done to all involved in the charity bash at the Guild Hall, Hull last Sunday which raised over £9,000 for recovering Sheffield welterweight Jerome Wilson who was seriously injured in a contest last month.
Rival Humberside champions Tommy Coyle and Curtis Woodhouse led the way with a heated six round exhibition bout. A tax free community trust account has been set up by the stricken fighter's manager Dave Coldwell. Well wishers can donate through Barclays Bank; sort code 20-76-92, account number 6386854.
In an interesting development in Germany, TV network giants ARD have not renewed their exclusive output deal with promoter Sauerland Events.
A similar situation happened a few years ago with Universum, once a powerhouse in European boxing promotions, when ZDF didn't renew it's contracts.
One of Sauerland's biggest names, WBO World Cruiserweight Champion Marco Huck, recently told a German newspaper that he wouldn't re-sign with the company after his current promotional agreement expires.
Could further star names like Arthur Abraham, Mikkel Kessler and Yoan Pablo Hernandez soon follow?
In one of his stranger moves, Mike Tyson has turned crimefighter in a new adult cartoon series.
The former heavyweight great solves crimes with a talking pigeon and a ghost in the show titled Mike Tyson Mysteries!