By Frank Warren
There has been a twist to the tale of Billy Joe Saunders’ proposed WBO world middleweight title fight against the new champion from Ireland, Andy Lee. What has happened is that Lee will now first make a voluntary defence against undefeated American Peter Quillin on an Al Haymon TV show, possibly in New York on April 11, and Billy Joe may appear on the undercard.
Saunders will then meet the winner, which obviously we hope will be Lee. The reason why we have not made an immediate match with Lee is because we feel this fight is big enough for an London open-air football stadium and none are available until the end of the season.
So let’s hope Andy proves as handy against Quillin as he was in sensationally defeating the also previously unbeaten Russian Matt Korobov to win the title. Whatever the outcome I believe Saunders will win the title to set up a massive return with Chris Eubank Jnr, who is looking as sharp as his doting dad as he prepares to fight Russia’s Dmitry Chudinov for the WBA interim crown at London’s O2 on 28 February.
It has not taken long for Britain’s premier boxing referee, Richie Davies, to get back between the ropes after, as I revealed here recently, handing back his Board of Control licence over seemingly being frozen out of handling the big fights his status and ability deserved. Davies was in charge of bouts in an exciting experiment in the studios of BT last week which will give boxing a totally different dimension. I can’t reveal any more at the moment - but watch this space.
With Carl Froch conveniently giving up his IBF world super-middleweight title James DeGale is on course to become the first Briton to convert Olympic gold to a world championship. It doesn’t look like the lucrative rubber match between Froch and Danish Viking Mikkel Kessler will now happen - maybe that’s why, if you pardon the pun, Froch has a longboat. Personally I would like to have seen DeGale test his southpaw skills against Kessler, but the great Dane tells us he is now in ‘a state of retirement.’
Kessler, always popular here as he is half English, was one of the best super-middleweights in the world at his peak as he was when defeated by Joe Calzaghe before a 57,000 crowd at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium in 2007. He was never quite the same after that. But he was a fine ambassador for the fight game and I wish him well.
Muhammad Ali’s famous stance for demanding exemption from being conscripted into the US Army in 1966 to fight in Vietnam has gone down in history as one of the 20th Century’s significant anti-war actions.
Now the letter written in 1966, signed by the then Cassius Marcellus Clay to the Draft Board, is to be auctioned with a reserve of £35,000 in Dallas this month.
For his actions he was tried and sentenced to five years in prison and stripped of his title.
Subsequently, his conviction was appealed and overturned.
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