By Terence Dooley
British boxing fans are in for a bumper night of boxing on May 30th after Eddie Hearn of Matchroom added Kell Brook’s IBF welterweight title defence against Frankie Gavin to a bill that’s as stacked as a Russ Meyers leading lady. The fight had become an open secret, and the secret was revealed at a press conference on Friday.
It was also revealed that the bill will be shown live on Sky Sports Box Office, rather than Sky Sports.
The bout joins two other world title fights—Kevin Mitchell fights Jorge Linares for the WBC lightweight belt and Lee Selby meets Evgeny Gradovitch for the IBF featherweight belt—on what is now the most world title laden bill since Frank Warren's "Full Monty" bill in December 2000, according to the research of both this writer and John Evans of Livefight, who was at the show (although we're happy to be corrected if you know of a more recent title packed bill).
“It is a huge night of British boxing,” stated Hearn. “I think we’ve gone a little bit over the top with this card with how it’s grown over the week—I’m proud as a promoter and a fan. From top to bottom, it’s very special.”
Scott Cardle fights Craig Evans for the vacant British lightweight title. The Joe Gallagher-trained boxer hopes to ease to 18-0 and pick up his first major honours. He said: “I’m looking forward to it, I’ve been waiting for this night for a long time. I’m fully prepared. Craig’s a class kid, I even saw him in the amateurs, who puts his combinations together nicely. I plan to arrive majestically on the night.
“I’ve had good fights in the past, but this is what it all comes down to, the British title and it’s down to me to put it right. I’m up against some major fights on this show, I want to show myself off and be on top form on the night.”
Evans, though, believes he will walk away with the Lonsdale belt. “I can’t wait for it to come,” he said. “The sooner the better. Scotty’s an exciting, well-rounded fighter, but no one can beat me out there. It is going to be buzzing, especially when (fellow Welshman) Selby rules the world. I’m looking forward to it.”
London's "Lethal" Lucian Reid will remember his first fight, the Super bantamweight debuts on the bill and has pledged to hoover up titles as his career develops.
“Everyone on the table has done what I want to do as a professional,” he stated. “I want as many titles as possible.”
Hearn also secured the middleweight British title fight between John Ryder and Nick Blackwell, which means there will be two British title bouts on the bill. It is heartening news for the many fans who had started to fear that they were no longer as interested in the national title as they have been in the past
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Ryder. “I’ve had a year of rebuilding (since losing to Billy Joe Saunders) and am looking forward to my chance. It’s going to be a great fight. You’ll see me excel. This is a fight that we’ll enjoy.”
Lee Selby is sometimes referred to as “The Welsh Floyd Mayweather”, he is confident of winning his first world title belt. “If the fight was next week, I’d be ready to fight,” said Selby.
“Looking down at the belt there gives me goose bumps. I have to pinch myself every morning to remind myself it’s happening. He’s a true champion, when I beat him I’ll send out a message to the other featherweights in the division.”
He added: “I think Jayson Velez showed out to beat him the first four rounds, but didn’t have the ring IQ to keep it up. My plan is to break him down, I want to knock him out. It is going to mean the world to me. Boxing’s not just a hobby, it is my life, I live for boxing. I won the Lonsdale belt outright here and a world title eliminator.”
Anthony Joshua will continue his busy schedule. The undefeated heavyweight might be placed on the May 9th Birmingham bill, which is looking a bit thin now Gavin’s fight with Chris van Heerden has nixed. Joshua also has Kevin Johnson lined up for the 30th, he is confident of victory against “Kingpin”.
“Kevin Johnson has had a long time to train for it because we were meant to get it on in January,” said Joshua. “He’s had time to get mentally and physically ready. The injury was a blessing in disguise. I’ve had a chance to change some of my weaknesses into strengths. It will be a really good step up.”
“I don’t really live up to the banter, but he’s really entertaining, so if you enjoy a laugh you’ll be entertained by Kevin Johnson. I think we’re into the middle tier opponents. I’ve gained valuable experience as a professional and now am going to the Johnsons of the world, people who have been at the world stage. With the training I’m doing, I’ve made boxing my life, not just a hobby, and have a lot of determination to see myself through another challenge.”
Local boy Kevin Mitchell has vowed to make it third time lucky this time. Lessons learned from defeats to Michael Katsidis and Ricky Burns have been implemented in the gym and will allow him to finally make his world title dream come true, according to the fully focused challenger.
“It’s a massive night,” he said. “The time when I’m going to shine. It’s going to be an explosive fight. He’s fast, classy, does things right but does a lot of things wrong. I promise you I’ll become world champion.
“I let a lot of people down, my fans and family (in the past), but now I’ve got Tony [Sims] making sure I’m doing everything right and grafting away. This time around, I’m in such a good place and will knock this kid out between five and 10 rounds.”
Hearn then handed the floor over to Brook and Gavin, who both vowed to produce their best form.
“I had to take this fight,” said Gavin. “It’s a winnable fight if I turn up and do whaty I’ve done in the gym for the past 10 years. Thanks to Kell for the opportunity. I think I can beat anyone, really. Win this fight, and any fight in the welterweight division could come for me. I’ve wanted the shot for so long, so won’t let it go.”
“I’m excited,” said Brook. “I’ve had too long out with the leg (injury) and asked (Hearn) to get me back out again. Frankie’s wanted this fight for a long time, and everyone loves a British world title fight. I believe Frankie doesn’t train as hard as he should, but he will for this one. It’ll be an exciting fight.
“I’m not looking past Frankie. I’m back in training, working very hard, and want to make a statement in this fight. Frankie wanted this fight for so long, but be careful what you wish for because this belt isn’t going anywhere.
“I want to keep that momentum now. I’m injury free so want to be back out there in front of then fans showing them what I’ve got. The world’s my oyster now, I want to be involved in massive fights.”
It was left to Hearn to conclude proceedings. “Frankie was ordered to fight Bradley,” he said. “Frankie said: ‘Look, how do you feel about me fighting Kell Brook on May 30th?’ It was a very quick deal. Kell fancied the fight, Frankie jumped at the opportunity. Within three or four days of his first fight with us, he was given the chance of Bradley or Brook for the world crown.”
The size of the show is reminiscent of the all-day shows that Don King used to put on, which were great for aficionados but could be exhausting affairs for those in press row, according to anecdotes from that time. Hearn revealed that the doors will open early to stop the show from over-running.
“Doors open at four o’clock for a 4.30 start,” was his concluding remark.
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