By Frank Warren
HERE AT QUEENSBERRY, we have just experienced one of our most pivotal and exhilarating weeks in boxing, culminating in the thrilling Magnificent 7 show up in Manchester.
Across Wednesday and Thursday evenings we were able to convey to the public the results of many, many late night’s sat across the metaphorical negotiating table.
Take the ‘Day of Reckoning’ announcement. I do believe it is an unprecedented coalition of fighters, promoters and managers brought together for one blockbuster production on December 23.
Believe me, it wasn’t easy, but I am sure you will agree it will be well worth it as we further fulfil the vision set out by His Excellency Turki Alalshikh to deliver the best boxing has to offer and become a fixture of Riyadh Season.
It is much more than just ‘a step in the right direction’, as the card was dismissively and disappointingly described by one commentator. Come on! Getting all these fighters on board is a quantum leap for the sport.
It isn’t just about these particular fights, there is a longer-term thought process in play here. But still, to deliver this in such a short timeframe is remarkable, even if I do say so myself.
The truth of the matter is, if you are not enthused by the prospect of the likes of Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, Joseph Parker, Dmitrii Bivol, Jai Opetaia, Daniel Dubois and Filip Hrgovic fighting at the same place on the same night, then perhaps boxing isn’t the sport for you.
Boxing people have come together and made this happen. And you will see plenty more where this came from.
The following evening we were in position to reveal the fight the world has been waiting for, although not for as long as people would have you believe.
The fight for the undisputed Heavyweight Championship of the World will take place in Riyadh on February 17 for the first time in 24 years and this time with four belts on the line.
Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk get the opportunity to etch their names in the history books forever and I for one believe it will be an absolutely fascinating encounter between the two best heavies in the business.
It is, quite simply, the biggest fight that can be made in boxing and we know for sure that our friends and colleagues that deliver Riyadh Season will ensure it is a spectacular showcase, which will more than do the occasion justice.
It will be nothing short of mind-blowing!
We then moved to Friday and an evening that is particularly close to my heart, where Queensberry lay on a charity dinner show on behalf of Debra at The Brewery in London.
The Debra Fight Night, a Black Tie Dinner Show, is to raise funds and awareness of epidermolysis bullosa (EB), an extremely painful genetic skin blistering condition, for which there is sadly no cure.
I am delighted to report that nigh on £200,000 was raised on the night thanks to the amazing generosity of those in attendance and you cannot help but be inspired by the bravery and spirit of those who suffer from this cruel condition.
The home fighters, all hailing from the Peacock Gym, delivered the goods on the night and I suspect all four have got a big future in front of them.
It was then off to the North West for a show that everyone seemed to be looking forward to, with the Magnificent 7 riding into Manchester and putting on an incredible night of entertainment.
I don’t like to pick out one or two individual displays over the others, but there were several standout performances for me that are well worthy of a mention.
I thought both Nathaniel Collins and Zak Miller were terrific in the opener and really set the tone for the night. I really think we have got a gem in Nathaniel and I can see him achieving big things over the next couple of years.
Liam Davies continues to thrill and he wrote another chapter in his compelling success story with his success against Vincenzo La Femina, who really came for a scrap.
Liam is such an exciting fighter and he is now starting to get the recognition he deserves. He went from English champion to European champion in a matter of six fights and he has now got world titles on his mind.
As ever, it will be about getting the timing right for him to not only win a world title, but to enjoy a reign as world champion that will bring him the rewards he deserves.
The same goes for Nick Ball, who outfought a top-notch opponent in Isaac Dogboe to put himself right in line for a shot at the WBC world featherweight title.
Nick is a captivating fighter who will never be in a bad fight. He showed on Saturday that he belongs right at the top level and credit goes both to him and his mentor Paul Stevenson for the work they put in at the renowned Everton Red Triangle in Liverpool.
There are some people who suggest that we sort of stumbled across Nick and got lucky by chucking him in as an opponent for Isaac Lowe at Wembley Stadium last year.
Total bullshine. Nothing against Isaac, but I knew full well what we had with Nick and I confidently put him in against Tyson’s big mucker as the Queensberry fighter on the night knowing what he was capable of and also knowing it would be a breakout night for him on a huge, huge stage.
It is funny and a bit strange how certain people like to rewrite history for their own ends or just a pithy tweet.
In just five quality fights, Nick has placed himself as No.1 with the WBC and, because he is never one to shout from the rooftops, I will say he is undoubtedly the finest featherweight in this country and I am extremely confident he will ultimately prove himself amongst the elite of the world.
The final fight of the night was always going to be a difficult one for me because of the high regard and respect I have for both Nathan Heaney and Denzel Bentley.
They are both Queensberry fighters and both are the nicest fellas you could hope to meet. They are an absolute pleasure to know and work with.
I am not trying to be wise after the event, but I always knew there was a lot more to Nathan than people tended to give him credit for. I knew this would be no walk in the park or knockover job for Denzel.
Nathan has spent a lifetime in boxing and has picked up a few tricks along the way to add to his natural toughness and bravery. What I won’t claim is that I knew he could employ footwork that wouldn’t look out of place on Strictly Come Dancing.
One of the most gratifying aspects of this often gritty business is when you see close up just how much it means to a fighter when they get to sample success. That British title meant the world to Nathan and I am thrilled to have played a small part in making it happen for him.
Win or lose, there still would have been big fights and nights ahead for Nathan and the same now goes for Denzel, who knows already what it takes to dust himself down and come again.
After the glitz and glamour of London media shindigs to announce heavyweight jamborees and seven title fights up in Manchester, we are back to putting in the foundations at York Hall on Friday when our younger element takes centre stage again.
It is all a building process and we pride ourselves in providing a showcase at every level. On Friday we’ve got two international title fights involving our formidable lightweight puncher Mark Chamberlain and our stylish super lightweight Henry Turner.
Both are knocking on the door of featuring on shows like we enjoyed on Saturday and I suspect it won’t be too long before they are involved.
We’ve also got two professional debuts for Queensberry newcomers Billy Adams and Charlie Hickford and a first appearance on our platform for Ireland’s Kristina O’Hara.
It is all go at the moment and, even for an old geezer like me, there are no signs of slowing up any time soon!