BACK ON THE BASH IN BETHNAL GREEN
By Frank Warren
IT IS ALWAYS an absolute pleasure to promote at York Hall and give our young fighters the privilege of performing where many greats have performed in the past, but our trip east this Friday comes about due to the typical misfortune we experience in this business.
The original plan was to be at the Copper Box on Saturday with Hamzah Sheeraz having his credentials severely tested by Liam Williams. However, a perforated eardrum suffered by our marauding young middleweight resulted in us switching to Plan B and moving the card to Bethnal Green.
Even without the highly-anticipated headliner – which will go ahead in early 2024 – it is still a belting card with no fewer than four tasty title fights.
Sam Noakes has quickly become a must-watch attraction with his 11 straight stoppages from as many fights as a professional. The young lightweight makes for explosive viewing and he also possesses a cheeky smile and charm in abundance, which can go a long way in this day and age.
The 26-year-old will make a third defence of his WBC International Silver title against Carlos Perez before, next year, we really step things up for him. Not that he can take anything for granted on Friday, as Mark Chamberlain found out last week.
Noakes v Chamberlain is a fight I would like to make in the first part of next year and I think the time is just about right. It is the sort of fight that carries a big appeal for fans and this is what we want to deliver.
Sticking with a lightweight theme, we also have the Queensberry debut of Gavin Gwynne, who is fighting for the European title against Emiliano Marsili.
Gavin’s prospects really took a turn for the better during the lockdown period when he turned the tables on touted prospect Sean McComb and he has moved from strength to strength since, including his capture of the British title.
He is now with us and he brings some strong currency to our lightweight ranks, where both Mark and Sam are already thriving.
The Italian Marsili is a fascinating case study, what with being undefeated on 42-0-1 and 47 years of age. He’s won the belt twice before including a run of three defences across 2014-15, while in 2012 he rocked up at Olympia in Liverpool and stopped home favourite Derry Mathews in seven.
Talking of Liverpool, talented super bantamweight Brad Strand from the Everton Red Triangle Gym will fight for his maiden professional title when he takes on Welshman Joshua John for the WBO European title.
Brad has flown a little bit under the radar in comparison to his teammates Nick Ball and Andrew Cain, but he is a fighter of considerable ability and more technical than his thrill-a-minute mates. I know Paul Stevenson rates him very highly and is confident in him making a huge impact in the division, in which we are well stocked.
The final title fight involves our current First Lady, Raven Chapman, who will make a third defence of her WBC International featherweight title against Lucie Sedlackova before training her sights on world title action next year.
Also not to be missed on Friday are appearances by elite prospects Moses Itauma and Royston Barney-Smith. Both heavyweight Moses and super feather Royston have been afforded a full range of experiences since turning pro, with Moses having his first taste of York Hall straight off the back of fighting over in Riyadh and meeting Mike Tyson into the bargain, along with a host of other heavyweight legends at the Fury-Ngannou event.
Royston has put his talents on display at Wembley Arena, Wembley Stadium and the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium so far and I am really excited over just how far this young man can go in the sport.
Last Friday, the youngsters – plus Liam Williams – put on a good show and both Mark Chamberlain and Henry Turner were made to work hard to retain their respective titles.
It was never going to be pretty on the eye for Henry when he went up against former Southern Area and English champion Billy Allington, who is very awkward to establish a rhythm against, as Dalton Smith found out earlier this year. Henry, who is maturing rapidly, did what he had to do and I thought won far more comfortably than the cards suggested.
Mark endured his first real war, of sorts, when he took on Artjoms Ramlavs and had to cope with a nasty cut in the later stages before forcing a big stoppage in the final rounds. He didn’t have things all his own way and it will be a valuable experience for him heading into bigger fights next year.
It was great to see that Liam has lost none of his old menaces when he poleaxed Florin Carlos with his first attack of the fight. Hamzah will have been watching closely and what a fight it will be between those two when we nail down the date.
I was also very impressed with Ben Fail and the two young debut-makers Billy Adams and Charlie Hickford, who will see to it that our conveyor belt of potential future champions continues to roll.