British Boxing at Center Stage

By Ted Sares on June 3, 2015
British Boxing at Center Stage
There is talk of a rematch, but Kevin Mitchell may not have enough left for another go.

May-Pac is just a distant memory and was a night when boxing seemed to get it wrong. That great night of boxing in London last week got it right…

”According to the naysayers, boxing is on its death bed—always has been and always will be, might as well roll itself into a big ball and die. Actually, at least on these shores, it is experiencing a golden age…. British boxing will be flashing, banging and walloping for the foreseeable future. As far as boxing goes, that’s pretty much all you can ask for.”—Ben Dirs,BBC Sport, at London’s O2 Arena

“Anthony [Joshua] is going to beat every single heavyweight in the world… We have a chance for a heavyweight to fly the flag for Great Britain and let’s all enjoy the journey.”—Eddie Hearn

“It’s gonna be all action from me.”—Kell Brook

“It seems like he (Brook) just wants to fight me for the pay day… The only way he is going to make big money is to fight Amir Khan.”—Khan

“We are looking at having his (DeGale) homecoming in October in London and Kessler, Bute and Hopkins are all in the mix.”—Hearn

“If he (DeGale) fights someone like me, he wouldn’t get past round eight on that performance. He would get absolutely knocked out.”—Carl Froch

Following a pack of heavy-handed Argentineans, the Eastern Euros charged onto the boxing landscape and then the Japanese surged. But all of a sudden, it’s Ricky Hatton, Lennox Lewis, Frank Bruno, and Alan Minter all over again; same faces—just different names. And make no mistake, these new lads can fight. In fact, with the addition of James DeGale’s IBF super middleweight and Lee Selby’s IBF featherweight belts, the United Kingdom can now boast six world champions—not even counting Carl Froch, Amir Khan, George Groves, Tony Bellew, and undefeated Tyson Fury (24-0). And Ovill McKenzie is probably the best fighter in the world with a 24-12 record.

James DeGale (21-1)

First off, James “Chunky” DeGale, 29, just made history when he became the first British Olympic gold medallist to win a world title as a professional with a unanimous decision victory over Andre Dirrell, another Olympic medalist, in Boston. He now has a number of lucrative options open to him.

Kell Brook (35-0)

Then, in a big night of boxing put together by Eddie Hearn at the O2 Arena in Greenwich, London, United Kingdom, IBF welterweight champion and world-class slickster Brook destroyed his awkward opponent Frankie Gavin (22-2, 13 KOs) in six rounds in retaining his IBF 147-pound title. The extremely talented Brook landed a nice right hand that hurt Gavin and then quickly unloaded until Gavin slumped into the ropes.

Lee Selby (21-1)

In a genuine shocker, IBF featherweight champion Evgeny Gradovich (19-1-1, 9 KOs) was beaten by Selby by way of an 8th round technical decision. Gradovich was cut badly over both eyes leading to the stoppage. The cuts resulted from a head-clash. Selby, who made the Russian look like a club fighter at times with brilliant timing and footwork, clearly won by scores of 79-73, 80-72, 79-73, and is the third Welshman to win a featherweight world title, after the great Howard Winstone and Steve Robinson, and the 12th Welsh world champion in all.

Nathan Cleverly (29-2)

Former WBO light heavyweight champion Cleverly got a confidence-building win with an easy 1st round knockout over low- tier fighter Tomas Man (13-9-1, 8 KOs) with a left hook to the body. The fight was over in just 24 seconds. Cleverly was playing it safe because he has a world title shot coming up against WBA champion Juergen Braehmer

Kevin Mitchell (39-3)

“Desperately unlucky not to swell the number of UK world champions to seven was Dagenham’s Kevin Mitchell, whose unsuccessful challenge for Jorge Linares’s WBC lightweight title was the most stirring contest of the night.”—Ben Dirs

“He had the three-weight world champion on the deck after a right hand confused and a left through the guard rattled. The count reached eight and Linares could barely coordinate his legs.”—Riath Al Samarrai

Jorge “Golden Boy” Linares (39-3) has rarely been in a non-exciting fight and his flair for late round dramatics makes him one the most fan-friendly fighters in boxing. However, the gritty and gusty Mitchell almost spoiled things for the Venezuelan who resides in Tokyo and is a former training mate of the late Edwin Valero.

Mitchell is unlikely to return to the ring any time soon as he recovers from the brutal and bloody brawl that left him needing multiple stitches around both eyes and his nose. He was ultimately stopped in the 10th round, having knocked down the WBC lightweight champion, Linares, in the fifth. However, Mitchell could not finish him and so Linares was still around in the 10th, the brutal round that broke Mitchell’s challenge but not his heart. Linares kept cutting and bashing Mitchell’s face and body. Then, after one big right, Mitchell smiled at him. Finally, the fight was stopped as the Brit lay crumpled in a corner.

Because of the story behind the story about Mitchell’s recovery from alcoholism, this fight was the most stirring of the night. Already there are talks for a rematch, but having taken such a ferocious beating, he may not have enough left for another go at Linares.

Anthony Joshua (13-0)

“So far so good, but in the back of my mind I know it’s going to get tougher.”—Joshua

In the co-feature bout of last Saturdays big fight card, unbeaten heavyweight Anthony Joshua made fast work of the Kingpin by blowing away aging Kevin Johnson (29-7-1, 14 KOs) by a crunching 2nd round knockout. It wasn’t so long ago that 6’9” David Price was Britain’s great heavyweight hope, the same spot that Joshua now occupies. However, either Dillian “The Villain” Whyte (14-0) or Price would represent new challenges for the rampaging Joshua. Joshua and Whyte have a deep history after facing off in the amateurs with Whyte being the victor. Tony “The Tiger” Thompson lurks, and while New Zealander Joseph Parker can’t match Joshua physically, he competed at super heavyweight as an amateur and has plenty of pop in his punches. He also boasts an identical 13-0 record. Dereck Chisora and Hughie Fury (15-0) would offer different challenges as well. After all is said and done, a Whyte vs. Joshua fight would be a most compelling one.

It’s an interesting time to be a British heavyweight.

Amir Khan (31-3)

“Amir Khan is a brilliant fighter but he’s scared of getting beat.”—Hearn

Most observers feel his win over the game Chris Algieri failed to pass the litmus test for a fight with Floyd Mayweather. In fact, Algieri surprisingly made it a lot closer than what two of the judges had it. Ironically, Chris came out of the fight with more gravitas than did Khan.

“Looking back I suppose I made the weight too early. A lot of people were saying my physique was not as it has been before. I did not feel the same explosiveness, speed or power. I’ve not spoken to Virgil about it yet but I will,” says Khan as the excuses for his less-than-compelling performance come rolling in.

Luke Campbell (11-0)

Olympic champion Campbell scored a 3rd round TKO on Saturday as he beat Aboubeker Bechelaghem. While the jury is still out on Luke, a verdict will likely be rendered when he faces off with Tommy “Boom Boom” Coyle (21-2) in a much anticipated fight that should happen soon.

May-Pac is just a distant memory now and, in retrospect, was a night when boxing seemed to get it wrong. That great night of boxing in London last week got it right.

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

James DeGale vs Andre Dirrell HD

Kell Brook vs Frankie Gavin full fight 30.05.2015

Evgeny Gradovich vs Lee Selby / Евгений Градович - Ли Селби full fight 30.05.2015

Anthony Joshua vs Kevin Johnson full fight 30.05.2015

Jorge Linares vs Kevin Mitchell full fight 30.05.2015

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  1. Jen Mc 02:52am, 04/28/2016

    Great piece on why British fighters are on top of the world right now. We have talent in spades and I hope they get the recognition they deserve on an international stage. DeGale appears on Premier Boxing Champions cards in the US -  as have Khan and Selby - which brings them to a wider audience.
    Check out their fight schedules:

  2. Your Name 11:53am, 06/11/2015

    This just in:” It’s already being billed as a huge domestic clash that will serve as an official eliminator for WBC champion Jorge Linares’ 135 lb title – and after leaking online earlier in the week, promoter Eddie Hearn this morning dropped the news that London 2012 gold medalist Luke Campbell and hometown rival Tommy Coyle, will indeed headline Matchroom’s “Rumble On The Humber” card from Hull’s Craven Park – with ample support coming in the form of Scotland’s Ricky Burns – (who put in a heroic shift vs Omar Figueroa Jr in Texas recently, when he fights a TBA opponent.)”

  3. Kid Blast 06:43am, 06/06/2015

    Thanks Rev

  4. Tex Hassler 07:39pm, 06/05/2015

    Fine article on British fighters and I have watched some of their fights.

  5. Kid Blast 03:43am, 06/05/2015

    Thanks Mike. I think the fans in the UK and in Ireland are very excited about boxing these days. We should not forget Carl Frampton and Andy Lee.

  6. bikermike 05:16pm, 06/04/2015

    Great read Ted…....articles like this…and match ups like this one…..are the only way to recover what is left of the fan base of Boxing.

  7. Kid Blast 03:45pm, 06/04/2015

    Yes, Koolze. But I think Thurman actually thinks he can beat him.

  8. Koolz 12:48pm, 06/04/2015

    Don’t all the fighters only want to fight Money May for the ...Money.

    I agree that UK is huge for boxing right now and has very bright future in multiple weight classes!

  9. Kid Blast 11:13am, 06/04/2015

    nicolas, thanks mate. Now that they can get 77,000 into Wembley for fights, imagine what they could have gotten for Calzaghe, Hatton, or Lewis? The UK is big time now and as an aside, also has great boxing writers.

  10. nicolas 11:05am, 06/04/2015

    thank’s for the article Ted. Though having not gone there in some 25 years, I have felt that boxing is very big in Great Britain. Because of organizations like HBO, and Showtime, fights that should have been in Great Britain were in the USA. I have know doubt that the losing efforts that Ricky Hatton had against Mayweather and Pacquiao, would have been big stadium events in the UK. Imagine the crowds in Wales had the Calzaghe victories over Hopkins and Jones taken place there. the could only bring some 12,000 or so to massive New York to see Calzaghe-Jones, but the land of Wales, something between half to one third the population of New York would have seen perhaps four times as many people in attendance.

  11. Kid Blast 10:40am, 06/04/2015

    The only reason Khan wants Mayweather is the payday. No way in Hell does he beat Mayweather. In fact, no way in hell does he beat Brook. Khan is on a downward projector and talks way too much for what he has to offer. Khan needs to STFU.

  12. Koolz 09:08am, 06/04/2015

    Come on Guys!
    Khan wants Mayweather because Mayweather has one fight left and that is the only chance Khan has to fight him.
    Of course Khan is going to do everything he can to fight him.
    I want to see that fight too!
    After Money Idiot May I would like to see him face Brook.

  13. Kid Blast 05:38am, 06/04/2015

    I too am all aboard the Joshua hype but ne needs to watch Whyte..

  14. Kid Blast 05:37am, 06/04/2015

    Matt. thanks. I have always been a great fan of UK fighters because of their grit and tenacity. Ewer since the days of Billy Schwer, Dave Boy Green, Minter—and then Benn, Eubank, Thompson, and Watson.

  15. Kid Blast 05:34am, 06/04/2015

    Tache, the more he talks, the less popular he is. You raise an excellent point.

  16. Matt Mosley 05:18am, 06/04/2015

    Good on you for shining the spotlight on our UK fighters, Ted.

  17. Matt Mosley 05:15am, 06/04/2015

    Maybe blowing my own trumpet a bit here but I have said since 2008 that Brook was gonna be one of our best boxers.
    Also always though DeGale would do good since watching him win gold at the Olympics.
    One of DeGale’s best attributes is that he has a very good chin. I have yet to see him really buzzed or hurt either amateur or pro.
    I missed a bit on Cleverly as I thought he would be up there with the best in his division. But then he ran into a Kovalev.
    Maybe he can make another run at it?
    I am all aboard the Joshua hype train too.
    I think he will be the guy to take over from Wlad eventually.
    Some wonder about his chin but I saw him in some real wars in the amateurs with some hard punchers, guys who are better than the guys he is fighting now, and he never looked seriously hurt at any time.
    I am more interested in seeing how his stamina holds up over 12 rds, as he has yet to go past 3. All that muscle mass makes me wonder.
    This clip is well worth checking out from the 2011 World’s final.
    Joshua was a novice amateur (had only had about 20 fights) at that time so it was unreal that he got to the final only to lose by one point.
    There is some good toe to toe action in rds 2 and 3 especially.
    Joshua gives and takes some hard shots. I know ams is different from pros but I think it bodes well for him that he can take a shot:

  18. Matt Mosley 05:05am, 06/04/2015

    Brook is gonna destroy Khan. It might take a few rds but once he starts timing him and landing them hard shots on his chin, Khan is done.

  19. The Tache 04:21am, 06/04/2015

    Amir Khan needs to stop deluding himself that he is a global superstar and debasing himself with his embarrassing pursuit of a Mayweather fight. Yes it would be a fight against his biggest and best opponent but he wouldn’t win and it wouldn’t be remembered as anything other than another loss.

    If he is wants a real legacy fight, how about a double header against Brook on a card with Froch vs Golovkin or maybe DeGale.

    You can’t tell me that in front of 70-80k real boxing fans at Wembley with the domestic rivalry would not be a bigger fight than anything else he will do in his career. I wonder if his US centric view is partly because he knows he is not that popular in his home country and wouldn’t like playing second fiddle to Brook for the fan’s affections, and a loss to Mayweather is easier to excuse away than a potential loss to Brook.

  20. Kid Blast 07:00pm, 06/03/2015

    Linares is simply incredible when it comes to late round drama.

  21. Koolz 06:58pm, 06/03/2015

    That Kevin Mitchell fight was my favorite!  Even though he got the snot beat out of him it was such a great fight!

    Joshua…sorry doesn’t impress me, I see him gassing out in the middle rounds against real contender.  If he fought Wlad he would run of energy and then be systematically broken down for either a TKO or KO.
    I see Povetkin beating him, Haye beating him.

    Brook is damn talented and I want to see him fight Khan!

    Selby was really impressive but Walters and Lomenchenko would destroy him.
    Actually I couldn’t stand the Selby fight because I can’t stand fighters that have no plan but to come forward and allow them selves to be pegged off.

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