LOTS STILL TO COME IN 2023
By Frank Warren
OVER THE LAST week or so, there has been a deluge of exciting announcements emerging from Queensberry HQ to make the boxing world sit up and take notice.
We’ve had confirmation of the heavyweight undercard for the Fury-Ngannou cross-code spectacular to mark the opening of Riyadh Season over in Saudi Arabia on October 28.
The big fellas will be on parade, make no mistake. In spite of their impromptu and ill-advised push ’n’ shove at the launch event, Fabio Wardley and David Adeleye will engage in an all-British battle in a hugely-anticipated fight in support of the headliner.
Joseph Parker v Simon Kean, Arslanbek Makhmudov v Agron Smakici, Martin Bakole v Carlos Takam and our bright young heavy Moses Itauma also feature in heavyweight attractions.
It really will be a night of the giants rarely witnessed across boxing history.
Then we dispatched news of a very special show set for the AO Arena in Manchester on November 18.
It is a return to the former glory of the Magnificent Seven from many years ago, with seven major title fights on the one show.
This isn’t just about the titles, though. They are all cracking fights that will challenge the odds-makers to think long and hard before issuing a price to sit alongside each fighter.
Will the price be right? I doubt it very much.
Our Liverpool Lion Nick Ball is signed up for what should be a proper barnstormer against former world champion Isaac Dogboe. It is a final eliminator for a shot at the WBC world featherweight title and it is true to say young Nick has come a long way since he stepped out onto the Wembley Stadium pitch last April and toppled Isaac Lowe.
It just goes to show that when that breakthrough fight comes along, if you seize the moment, then your career trajectory goes upward and very quickly. Just three fights later Nick is on the cusp of ruling the division.
Probably the easiest thing to predict on this bumper Manchester night is who will have the most and most noisiest fans inside the arena.
Nathan Heaney will be fighting in front of a cast of thousands when he lives out his dream of fighting for the British middleweight title against the champion Denzel Bentley.
The time is right for Nathan. We wanted to fight him on the pitch at Stoke City but stadium works taking place across the summer made this impossible and we don’t want to hold up his career.
There will still be a very special atmosphere inside the Arena and Nathan’s ’Stokies’ don’t have to worry about football fixtures and can plan a party weekend in Manchester.
The same goes for Southampton fans who are beginning to get behind Ryan Garner in such a big way. Ryan is going to have his own breakthrough moment against the current IBO world super featherweight champion Anthony Cacace and, should he overcome The Apache, like Nick Ball before him, his career too will have lift-off.
An East Midlands derby will also take centre stage when Nottingham’s British welterweight champion Ekow Essuman takes on his mandatory challenger, Derby’s Harry Scarff in what will be a three-title encounter.
And a real British boxing success story in Liam Davies will defend his European super bantamweight title against his mandatory, the undefeated EU champion Vincenzo La Femina. Liam has built up a fantastic following in his home town and now his Telford troops can march on to Manchester.
A third British title fight will see Nathaniel Collins, our featherweight champion from Scotland, go up against the unbeaten Zak Miller, who is a native of Manchester so should have strong support inside the arena. He will need it if Nathaniel’s last fight is anything to go by!
Finally, I would like to officially welcome Hannah Rankin to Queensberry, with the two-time world champion going for a third when she fights for the vacant WBC world super welterweight title against Ema Kozin on the night.
I think it would be true to say there is something for everybody on this bumper card – including builders! – and, personally, I cannot wait to see all these fights happen. It is going to be a very special night with an incredible atmosphere, so be a part of it and make sure you secure your tickets early.
As we like to do here at Queensberry, we cover all the bases and on Friday we are back at York Hall giving a platform to another group of young, talented fighters.
Over the last 18 months or so we have promoted, or been heavily involved in, shows staged at Wembley Stadium, the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, the Diriyah Arena in Saudi, Stadion Wroclaw in Poland, The 02, Wembley Arena, Telford International Centre, the Copper Box Arena and yes, amongst others, the dear old York Hall.
The treasured Bethnal Green venue is part of the fabric of British boxing and it is perfect for hosting the development of young fighters before they, hopefully, step up to the grander stages.
On Friday, we’ve got Ellis Zorro back in action defending his WBO European title and nobody could complain about the entertainment value of his last two fights.
We’ve also got the 8-0 Masood Abdulah going up against former British champion Marc Leach. The Salford man is an avoided man but Masood is the sort of fighter who wants to take on all comers and wants to get on with it. Credit to him.
Also big props to young prospects Josh Frankham and George Davey, who are set to fight each other at super welterweight. We really need to see more of this type of fight, with young fighters being prepared to roll the dice a bit to propel their careers forward.
People bang on about undefeated records too much these days, but does it really make any difference whether a fighter is 10-0 or 10-1 when it comes to being considered or put forward for a big fight?
As I always say with young fighters, the key ingredient is experience. Good and bad.
Oh, on the announcements front, we also revealed that Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk are all signed up to fight for the status of undisputed king of the heavyweights!
We will be able to say more about this one when Tyson’s Ngannou assignment is completed on October 28, so stay tuned.