Boxing


Britainís Domination- Sooner Rather Than Later?

06.12.04 - By Marcus Wood: Joe Calzaghe, Ricky Hatton, Danny Williams, Howard Eastman, Clinton Woods, Carl Froch, David Haye and others are all preparing to bring big wins to British boxing. Calzaghe, Hatton, Johnny Nelson and Scott Harrison are each recognized as world champions of various weights and organizations. Williams and Woods each have the chance to capture there own pieces of World titles and Eastman has the chance to be recognized as the Undisputed Champion of the Middleweight division. Froch and Haye are rocketing through their respective divisions and will likely capture numerous titles in the next couple of years. But hold onÖ

It is unlikely that British boxing will rival the huge domination of the United States anytime soon. Of the top three British boxers right now only Scott Harrison is looking ready to go on to bigger and better things. Harrison is currently in possession of the WBO featherweight title and has defended it several times.

Although he hasnít defeated any big name opponents so far he looks ready. Harrison appears to have peaked after destroying challenger Samuel Kedebe in 57 seconds in October. A unification fight with WBC featherweight champion Injin Chi is a real possibility, while a step up in weight could see a clash with WBC super featherweight champion Marco Antonio Barrera may happen.

After a strained defence against Kabary Salem WBO super middleweight champion Joe Calzaghe has retirement as an option unless he steps up to the Light heavyweight division to challenge for a title. The super middleweight division isnít packed with stars and Calzaghe seems faced with several rematches. The only real big fight Calzaghe can look to is against IBF super middleweight champion Jeff Lacy. But right now a title defence against Mario Veit looks likely.

Then thereís Ricky Hatton. Although his record is 32-0 this means little as he has faced few real challenges in his career. His WBU title was supposed to be a stepping stone but as of writing this he is preparing for his 15th defence. Things are looking up however. Heís preparing for a fight against veteran Ray Oliviera, and if successful it will set Hatton up for a shot at WBC/IBF light welterweight champion Kostya Tszyu. If Hatton wins he will rule the division, if he loses everyone will just say he gave it his best shot and wonít be any worse for it, unless he his totally decimated which he shouldnít be. These three all have one thing in common. They have all been accused of ducking opponents, but for Harrison and Hatton at least that will soon certainly not be true.

Danny Williams, Howard Eastman and Clinton Woods each have the chance to bring back big three world titles to Britain. Unfortunately the chances of all three being successful are very remote. All three will be under dogs going into their respective title challenges. Danny Williams challenges Vitali Klitschko for the WBC world heavyweight title. Although Williams
has a chance itís unlikely Williams will be walking out victorious. Klitschko has around 6 inches of height over Williams which primarily makes him the favourite. Williams got the shot by beating an aging and broken down Mike Tyson, who Williams had a height advantage over. Williams has no other big wins on the world stage apart from Tyson and facing a 6 ft 8 in, 33 year old world champion is a completely different proposal.

Howard Eastman, on the other hand, has a better chance. Although on paper it would seem Eastmanís chances are poor, they really arenít that bad. Hopkins may not have lost much recently but he really hasnít had tough fights lately. His win over Oscar De La Hoya may have been impressive but Hopkins had a massive power advantage which meant the contest wasnít too tough. Eastman has also not had too many challenges lately so it makes the contest slightly tough to judge. The fact that the fight will be for the undisputed middleweight title may just surge Eastman on. In any case, it could be a match of the year contender which will do Eastman no harm whatever happens.

Clinton Woods, however, has had three shots at the world title before and it is unlikely this one will be anymore successful than the others. This time, he fights unbeaten American Rico Hoye. If Woods is successful in beating Hoye for the vacant title, after Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson have had their super fight, the victor will come looking for the titles and Woods couldnít beat either. Woods has suggested a defence against Calzaghe which also wonít happen as Calzaghe wonít want to move up weights. But thatís assuming he beats Hoye which is unlikely. They should be fairly evenly matched so at least heís got a good chance.

Slightly further down the line things are looking good. Britainís best prospect Carl Froch is 14-0 and hasnít been seriously challenged yet. This one isnít his fault though as he currently possesses the British and Commonwealth titles. Dropping them is a possibility in favour of the European title. Other than that, Froch isnít afraid of calling anybody out. Calzaghe has been priced out of the market to avoid a fight with Froch, and former WBC super middleweight champion Robin Reid has been called out to no avail. The future looks ridiculously bright for Froch and itís difficult to see him going wrong.

David Haye may have failed in his bid to acquire the IBO Cruiserweight title but that wonít hold him up. He was fighting Carl Thompson, one of the few fighters who could survive Hayeís power. The fact is, Haye had never been past the 4th round so fighting a ring veteran who is famous for getting off the canvas may have been premature but it shows Haye is willing to fight
anyone. He may have gone back to the gym but when he re-emerges he will be better.

Looking much further down the production line, Amir Khan looks ready to take over the world. Should he still be amateur by Beijing 2004, he will take gold and go on to take over which ever professional division he occupies by then. Khan has single handedly reinvigorated amateur boxing because of his performance at the Olympics and by the time he turns professional it is tough to predict how good heíll be.

There are a few notable omissions from this list. Audley Harrison the 2000 Olympic gold medallist should be well on his way to the world stage by now. Unfortunately, things havenít gone to as they should have. After crushing his first few opponents, he began to draw criticism that he should step up in class. He won the meaningless WBF title in a victory over Richel Hersisia
then defended it against Julius Francis. This looked like an improvement but more defences followed. He is currently out of action after surgery on his hand, he has been dropped by the BBC, meaning he must fight in America and he has the WBF title and a record of 17-0. The sad thing is, if he had swallowed his pride and taken a fight with British and Commonwealth champion Matt Skelton, that would have turned around his career.

European light welterweight champion Junior Witter should be here but poor fortune has kept him off. After pursuing Ricky Hatton, Witter is still looking for that big fight. The only thing that looks certain is that he will keep making routine defences of his European title.

Overall, British boxing looks set for a big boost in 2005, especially if Danny Williams is successful and Amir Khan continues ploughing through amateur boxing. The chances of at least one new world title not coming back to Britain in the next four months seem inconceivable. Time will tell.

Article posted on 06.12.2004



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