COULD a new dawn be on the horizon for British boxing?
22.02.05 - By Steve Mckenna: News that promoter Mick Hennessy has linked up with Oscar de la Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions can only be good for a country that has seen its stock in the sport dip in recent years. Hennessy's exciting stable of fighters, including Junior Witter, Howard Eastman and Carl Froch, will now get the chance to showcase their talents on some of the biggest fight cards in world boxing.
Article posted on 22.02.2005
Across the Atlantic, meanwhile, apart from Ricky Hatton's huge summer fight with Kostya Tszyu, there's little to get excited about. Both the BBC and Sky have reduced their coverage of the sport in recent months and there are few big attractions in the offing. Joe Calzaghe's search for a 'career-defining' fight appears further away than ever, Scott Harrison is at the crossroads, while Olympic sensation Amir Khan looks poised to stay in the non-paid ranks for the foreseeable future.
But Eastman, Froch and Witter, in particular, are nicely poised. Despite his gallant loss against pound-for-pound king Bernard Hopkins, Eastman is now well and truly in the mix in the middleweight division. 'The Executioner' could wait around and make defence number 21, but he has made big noises of jumping up to light-heavyweight to challenge Glen Johnson. That would leave the 160lb division open for the likes of Eastman, Jermaine Taylor and Felix Sturm – plus Winky Wright and Felix Trinidad. Big money and widespread recognition awaits the winners of any box-off tournament.
Witter, meanwhile, has gone some way to jumping out of the shadows of British light-welterweight rival Hatton. Impressing none other than 'The Golden Boy' himself, Witter drew comparisons with 'Prince' Naseem Hamed for the way he fought against Lovermore Ndou on the Hopkins-Eastman undercard. Flooring, and almost stopping, the iron-chinned Ndou helped the exciting Witter dispel any thoughts that he was a just another average British boxer. And, despite a below-par second-half display when he was struck by hand damage, he did enough to put himself in with a shout of taking on Arturo Gatti for the WBC title.
De la Hoya has also staked an interest in super-middleweight prospect Froch, who did not even fight on the bill in Los Angeles. His scheduled opponent, Christian Cruz, came in too heavy and Froch was forced to watch from the sidelines – but he shouldn't worry too much. There will be other opportunities for a talented fighter who has outgrown much of his competition at British and Commonwealth level.
Having our best boxers on American fightcards may not be good for our sleep patterns – most bouts take place in the middle of the night GMT – but it's nice to see the Brits on the genuine world stage at last. It beats them fighting in front of a thousand people at a out-of-town leisure centre any day.
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