By Nick Halling
Rocky Fielding did himself few favours on Saturday, first losing his Commonwealth super middleweight title on the scales, then putting in a plodding performance in outpointing veteran Ghanaian Charles Adamu, despite a minimum 10 pound weight advantage.
Fielding insists that he still plans to campaign at super middle, despite turning up on the scales a mere five ounces under the light heavy limit. He remains mandatory to challenge Paul Smith for the British title, but that fight is now looking increasingly problematic.
Fielding is reported to have gone into the fight with a damaged right hand, and then broke his left hand on Adamu’s skull. If those reports are correct, he may now be looking at some time on the sidelines. That would leave the British super middleweight strap, for which Fielding is the mandatory, on ice.
There is talk within the camp of bringing in a specialist dietician to work with trainer Oliver Harrison and strength coach Paul O’Donnell. But Rocky’s battles with the scales are nothing new. With or without a nutritionist, his physique, as well as his long-term future, look better suited to the light heavyweight division.
With Paul Smith’s domestic prospects effectively in limbo until the Fielding issue is resolved, the current British super middle boss continues to hold out hopes of a shot at the WBO world crown, currently in the possession of Arthur Abraham.
Smith is ranked No 3 in the current WBO rankings. Ahead of him are Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and James DeGale, both of whom have plenty of form with the WBC. Below Smith lies Robert Stieglitz, whom Abraham has met on three previous occasions.
Whispers out of Germany suggest that the Sauerland brothers, who promote Abraham, are not thrilled at the prospect of Stieglitz becoming the mandatory again. Chavez and DeGale, given their WBC affiliations, are unlikely contenders. Smith might be their preferred option.
It’s not hard to see why. First, it is a fight which the defending champion would be expected to win. Abraham would be a heavy favourite. More intriguingly, it might also enable the Sauerlands to dip their toes into British promotional waters.
The brothers also have Liverpool heavyweight David Price under contract. A bill on Merseyside, featuring one Liverpool boxer in a world title fight, and an exciting, ticket-selling heavyweight as chief support would be box-office gold.
A triple bill, featuring Marco Huck defending his WBO light heavy belt against Liverpool’s Tony Bellow is a reach too far for now, given that Bellew has only just introduced himself to the division and needs more seasoning before taking on a proven champion like Huck.
A Sauerlands Promotion at the Echo Arena where Arthur Abraham defends against Paul Smith, and David Price continues to rebuild, is not a wildly implausible scenario. And with strong television interest in two countries, as well as high demand on the door, it could also be an extremely lucrative one too.
The twitter war of words between British light welterweight champion Curtis Woodhouse and local rival Tommy Coyle has raised the genuine prospect of the two meeting for Woodhouse’s belt at an open air show in Hull in the summer.
Coyle is definitely out of a proposed meeting with Kevin Mitchell on the Froch-Groves II undercard on 31 May, and there had already been talk of a move to a higher weight division. Woodhouse, of course, “unretired” himself a couple of weeks ago, reportedly lured by the prospect not only of silencing Coyle, but also the chance of a serious payday that would come on the back of a sold-out open air show.
Hull has already proven itself to be capable of dealing with such an occasion. Last July, Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell made his debut at a sold-out Craven Park rugby league ground. With the city limited by its relatively small indoor arenas, summertime outdoors is a tempting financial proposition.
However the prospect of a big payday and a chance to gag a noisy local rival weren’t the only factors behind Woodhouse’s decision to box on. He is also intrigued by the team he has assembled around him, and what they might be able to achieve together.
Woodhouse will continue to work with good friend Ryan Rhodes, the former world light middleweight title contender, and has just begun strength work with him in Sheffield.
However, when his next date is announced, Woodhouse will split time between Yorkshire and London, where he will continue to train with Adam Booth.
The appearance of Booth in the corner when Woodhouse lifted the title from Darren Hamilton last month was a surprise. The secret is out now, of course, and when training begins in earnest, the champion will work at Booth’s gym in London from Wednesday to Friday, have Saturday free, and work with Rhodes Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
The partnership works because there are no egos involved. Booth recognises and respects the long friendship between Woodhouse and Rhodes, while Rhodes is just starting out as a trainer, and realises there is much he can learn from observing Booth. And Woodhouse reaps the benefit of having both, literally and figuratively, in his corner.
Booth is also a pretty accomplished dealmaker. Expect some fun under a Yorkshire sun this July.
Boxing nomad Andreas Evensen has turned up in Glasgow. The Colombian-born Norwegian is now being trained in Scotland by Billy Nelson, working alongside the likes of former conqueror Ricky Burns and former British featherweight champion John Simpson.
Evensen has been working with Nelson for around two weeks. The trainer had been part of Evensen’s team for his unsuccessful assault on the European featherweight title against Alexander Miskirtchian last month, where he was stopped in the last round. Following that reverse, Evensen decided it was time to freshen up his team, and Nelson has been installed as his lead man.
Evensen’s previous recollections of Scotland are probably not too favourable: he was widely outpointed by Burns in Glasgow for the WBO super featherweight belt in December 2010. Now he is Burns’s teammate, but he is probably not especially enjoying life too much just at the moment either.
“He’s lost 12 pounds in his first week with me,” said Nelson. “I’m crucifying him. He’s not getting a chance to eat any nonsense or cut any corners, but to be truthful, he’s just a great professional. I tell him to jump, he asks me how high.”
Evensen has spent much of this week sparring with Scott Quigg ahead of the Bury man’s world title defence against Nehomar Cermeno next month.
With Simpson also back in his gym, and unbeaten prospect David Brophy progressing well, Nelson is a busy man these days. Burns is hoping to be out again at the end of June, while Simpson has definitely finished with his ill-fated experiment at lightweight, where he was swiftly despatched first by Tommy Coyle, then by John Murray.
Nelson hopes to earn Simpson a crack at current Commonwealth feather champ Josh Warrington, who is searching for an opponent for his first defence in Manchester next month. The Greenock man is not only an outright owner of a Lonsdale belt at the weight, he also formerly held the Commonwealth title, and has vast championship experience.
A clash between the proven durability of Simpson and the slick promise of Warrington would provide a strong support to Scott Quigg’s defence of his WBA super bantamweight belt, and the all-Manchester lightweight showdown between Anthony Crolla and John Murray.
Nick Halling is a commentator for Sky Sports.