As ring announcer and proud Scot, Craig Stephens welcomed all the principal boxers in their own language at the press conference and Josh Taylor managed to mix up the language of his weight category, there is no doubt that we have a cracking weekend ahead as Glasgow belongs to pugilism. But first the other places with a bit of the boxing thing going on… And at times I feel like saying, “it’s finally here” is a bit of a cliché when describing the weekend’s action but…
Overnight tonight, on Saturday the 18th of May in Brooklyn we have the man with some of the most disgraceful comments in boxing right now, Deontay Wilder facing Dominic Breazeale for his WBC heavyweight title. Wilder clearly has an issue with how to handle the media and what pronouncements are acceptable and he could do with a best friend telling him that saying he would like to premeditate death is not a good thing. Should he actually achieve the death of a rival in a litigious country like America you can expect that he might end up in the most famous private prosecution since OJ Simpson.
In the meantime, he has to dispose of a mandatory challenger very few people are giving any kind of chance to. Can Breazeale do it? All heavyweights are given a puncher’s chance and Breazeale is no different but there are precious few who think he will last beyond the 3rd, the 6th or hear the final bell. Looks like the heavyweight division just got… boring again if he don’t…
Also on the bill is the Gary Russell Jr v Kiko Martinez for the WBC featherweight title and again there are very few giving Martinez any kind of hope. He is too old, too many miles on the clock, too far past his best but he is experienced, faced a better level of opponent and makes up for his lack of youth with his prowess… Clichés aside should be a decent fight.
At home in the SSE Hydro, Glasgow we have the World Boxing Super Series Semi Finals with the bantamweight sensation Naoya Inoue facing Emmanuel Rodriguez for the IBF and WBA belts. If people doubt Breazeale and Martinez, then anyone facing Inoue is given absolutely no chance whatsoever. For me this is likely to be a quick finish; no surprises as to who I think wins.
There is however a caveat. As we have seen with British boxers, thinking that going up the scales is an easy way to progress, with steps up come people who are at the stage you have never fought before. I reckon that somebody is likely to take Inoue on and make him work a lot harder than he has done so before – whoever does that will prove if Inoue is all hype or total substance… I just don’t reckon it will be tonight by the side of the Clyde.
The undercard has been put together in a fairly decent manner and we now have some home grown fighters in as well as the main event all dewy eyed and lovely for us in the shape of the Tartan Tornado!
Bantamweight Paul Butler returns with a scrap against Salvador Hernandez Sanchez, Super middleweight, Zach Parker takes on Steven Crambert, lightweight Chantelle Cameron is in against Vaida Masiokaite whilst super bantamweight Lee McGregorfaces Cristian Narvaez and we see the return of super featherweight Martin Joseph Ward against Antonio Rodriguez, super bantamweight Reece McFadden faces Georgi Georgiev as super middleweight John Docherty is up against Wilmer Gonzalez and finally, super middleweight Tommy Philbin takes on Harry Matthews. Nobody expects any surprises and with fighters like Butler, Parker and Ward we certainly expect wins and decent fights as a standard against what the others may be judged.
The top of the bill is Scotland’s own Josh Taylor up against Ivan Baranchyk for the IBF and WBC silver super lightweight titles. This is the one fight he has been working up to for years and certainly since turning professional. He could have done without the daftness of the weigh in yesterday when he thought he had made it, only to discover that the translation between lbs and kgs had not been made, but he got the weight off, got on the scales again and is now ready for his destiny. I think he wins comfortably and sets up the final with Prograis for the summer.
Frank Warren finds himself in Stevenage of all places as he has a very busy night ahead. Up against Wilder and the WBSS is a bit of a tall order but if anyone is its equal, Warren certainly is.
Super welterweight Harley Benn returns with an opponent still not up on Boxrec, light heavyweight Willy Hutchinson is in against Ondrej Budera whilst Boy Jones takes on Shaun Cooper for the WBO Youth title. Hutchison is a rising star and will clearly be in this for profile and not shocks.
We also have a great fight at heavyweight between Joe Joyce and Alexander Ustinov. Joyce needs a decent performance as he builds his next fight – not the all British clash with Daniel Dubois but another fight that will get him into world title contention, so all eyes will be peeled. He has already dealt with Bermaine Stiverne and whilst that was hardly a test of his skill and Ustinov is hardly “ripped” for action, these are fights that get him serious attention.
We then have the super bantamweight Brad Foster opposite Ashley Lane for the British and Commonwealth titles. This could steal the night as they are both hungry for success and we could end up with an absolute barnstormer. I can’t decide who I think will win…
Finally, and it’s the long awaited return of Billy Joe Saunders as he takes on Shefat Isufi for the interim WBO crown. Saunders was a master of his own destiny and then lost his way – cliché but very, very true. This is an opportunity to redeem himself and get into the minds of Canelo and Golovkin – again – and get that massive fight that proves he is the best. He is dangerous and he can be unfocussed. Tonight, I reckon he blows people away.
In Belfast we have lightweight James Tennyson taking on Brayan Mairena in a busy 5 fight bill whilst in Bingham there are 7 fights and in Brechin BIBA and Lee McAllister bring 2 debutant fights.
It’s again later on this week on Friday the 24th of May in Glasgow that Kynoch Boxing, probably the busiest Scottish boxing promoter at the minute bring us super welterweight Marc Kerr, super lightweight Aidan McGlynn, heavyweight Jay McFarlane and the WBC international silver super flyweight fight between Ross Murray and John Chuna. Home wins all round shall be expected to be served up. In Walsall on the same night we have 8 fights
Saturday 25th May
Florida – super featherweight Masayuki Ito v Jamel Herring for the WBO belt
Maryland – super lightweight Jessica McCaskill v Anahi Sanchez for the female WBC and WBA belts, new Matchroom signing, lightweight Devin Haney v Antonio Moran for the WBC international title.
Manchester – Hennessey Sports with Channel 5 bring middleweight Savannah Marshall alongside the return of Hughie Fury v Chris Norrad.
York Hall – 13 fights
Northampton – 6 fights
Leeds – 9 fights
Weston-Super-Mare – 7 fights
Belfast – 11 fights
Liverpool – BIBA bring 9 fights
Sunday 26th May
Fuzhou, China – Can Xu v Shun Kubo for the WBA featherweight crown.
Southsea – light heavyweight Sebastian Eubank and the return of heavyweight Nick Webb against Artur Kubiak
Friday 31st May
Glasgow – Alex Morrison brings welterweight Stuart Burt v Martin Harkin for the Celtic title.
Scunthorpe – 6 fights