It is a big weekend in the boxing business as the world of boxing finally lands with a massive thump in the UK and ITV lead the charge for 2019.
Before we get there, we do have an intriguing fight in the USA.
Tonight, Saturday the 23rd of February in Minnesota there is supermiddleweight action for the WBC belt between Anthony Dirrell and Avni Yildrim. Now the fact that Yildrim was dropped – rather spectacularly – in the World Boxing Super Series by a certain Mr Eubank Jr and he is, in turn, fighting for a lesser world title this weekend has not been lost on me. I don’t think Yildrim has a chance of getting the win against Dirrell but it is interesting to note the trajectory world boxing has sent these two on. Whilst Junior was off losing to George Groves, Yildrim went off, and was very busy throughout 2018, gathering 5 wins that included winning and defending the WBC international strap which got him this word title shot. A rematch if the unlikely happens and both Yildrim and Eubank win?
On the other side of the pond – as in here and at the 02, London – ITV have a cracking pay per view bill which includes light heavyweight Sebastian Eubank in his 2nd professional fight taking on the unlucky debutant, Dan Belcher. The younger Eubank may have plenty of time to go in his career but there is the usual expectation. He has spoken this last week of how he had to fight in the street to defend his name so we are looking to see what he can do in the square ring… I think the family honour dictates a decent win, does it not?
We also have super featherweight Anthony Cacace, taking on Alan Isaias Luques Castillo in a contest that should say more about where Cacace is in the pecking order than the quality of his opponent. Again much is expected.
We have the new lightweight, Lee Selby facing Omar Douglas, for the IBF intercontinental title and Selby, having gone up 2 weight divisions is certainly looking for 2019 to be a return to some form of world glory. If the match maker has it right, this ought to be a test, but one easily got through.
We also have a tremendous heavyweight contest between Joe Joyce facing his stiffest test to date in a Commonwealth title fight with former two time world titlist Bermaine Stiverne. This is one of those fights, like Dillian Whyte’s against Lucas Browne, that is a real gateway. Joyce does not have the time to wait about and taking on dangerous guys with pedigrees makes a lot of sense. He needs a statement to get into the same mix as people who should be about his level – like Jarell Miller for example – so I hope and expect this to be a cracking contest with and early conclusion – maybe even a dance at the end…
The headline “retirement” or “do or die” fight at super middleweight is between James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr for the IBO title. The publicity all week has been intriguing, not least because Senior does not know if Junior will win… CHEERS DAD… it was a very strange – they are Eubanks after all – with the series of interviews and comments from the top table from Eubank Sr. adding to the publicity. It will no doubt, put some numbers on the pay per views and make more people hit the keyboards during it. The bookmakers have Eubank Jr favourite and people have gone one way and then the other for the last month. The imponderables include if George Groves can do it – can DeGale? Has DeGale anything left to give? Will the wrong Eubank turn up?
I have never been a Eubank fan but think this is a genuine 50/50. I don’t think a trainer for 6 months makes that much of a difference but given the chaotic training Eubank Jr has admitted to in his run up to the Groves fight, you have to think it will. I still think DeGale nicks it over 12 rounds but literally, given dad’s view of his son – anything can happen.
Domestically we also have in Weston Super Mare 5 fights, in Maidstone 9 fights, in Darlington 4 fights, in Liverpool 7 fights and in Birmingham 7 fights.
In Scotland tonight we have action in Glenrothes where SM Promotions bring featherweight Eftychia Kathopovki facing Vaida Masiokaite, super featherweight Elaine Greenan will face Liliya Simova, flyweight Emma McCulloch takes on Teodora Hristovaand super middleweight John McCallum is on the bill but without a named opponent as yet. Home wins all round are expected…
Overseas and overnight, hitting us on Sunday the 24th of February in Tijuana, Mexico Matchroom bring welterweight Brandon Rios v Humberto Soto in their very first Mexican wave at boxing in that fervent country. Expect Eddie Hearn in a sombrero? No… But expect an explosive night of boxing and probably a Rios win – yes.
Finally, on Friday the 1st of March in Cardiff there is super lightweight title action for the IBF European belt between Akeem Ennis-Brown and Bilal Rehman. I have little knowledge of either so it would be foolhardy of me to predict so will go for Ennis-Brown… Fortune favours and all that…
Saturday 2nd March
Peterborough – super bantamweight Qais Ashfaq, light heavyweight Anthony Sims Jr, WBA international cruiserweight fight between Richard Riakporhe and Tommy McCarthy, Commonwealth featherweight tile action between Leigh Wood and Abraham Oseibonsu and the WBA international featherweight contest between Jordan Gill and Emmanuel Dominguez.
Turnberry – Kynoch boxing brings super middleweight Trigger Woods v Victor Edagha, super welterweight Dean Sutherland takes on Ryan Toms, heavyweight star Lucas Browne is in town against Kamil Sokolowski, the Celtic title fight at super welterweight is between Jay Byrne and Stefan Sanderson, and two Scottish title fights – Paul Kean v Craig Kelly at super welterweight and Marek Laskowski v Calvin McCord at lightweight.
New York – super welterweight Brian Carlos Castano v Erislandy Lara for the WBA super welterweight title
Magdeburg – EBU heavyweight title action between Agit Kabayel and Andriy Rudenko
York Hall – 18 fights
Liverpool – 11 fights
Bolton – 10 fights
Leeds – 9 fights
Nottingham – 4 fights
Liverpool – 8 fights
Friday 8th March
Barnsley – lightweight Terri Harper v Nina Bradley for the WBC international female title and super bantamweight Josh Wale v Brad Foster for the British title
Royal Albert Hall – Queensberry and Frank Warren give us a feast including heavyweight Daniel Dubois v Razvan Bailingall, the WBO international light heavyweight fight between Anthony Yarde and Travis reeves, welterweight British title action between Jonny Garton and Chris Jenkins and the British title fight at middleweight between Liam Williams and Joe Mullender.