There may be a lack of crowds, it could be argued that it is an unbelievable period of human history, and it is certainly unprecedented times but what there has failed to be is a complete lack of drama in boxing in 2021.
The debates continue to rage, and the opportunities and risks being taken have provided one big winner: the fans.
Last weekend, on Saturday the 20th of February in the MGM Grand, Las Vegas the WBC super featherweight title went from Miguel Berchelt to Oscar Valdez. The battle of the Mexicans did not go the way of the favourite as a massive left hook toppled Berchelt in a reel favourite knockout that saw Valdez become a two weight world champion in some style: it was the biggest shock of the weekend.
Over here, in the Wembley Arena, Matchroom kept bringing us questions as the heavyweight debut of Johnny Fisher who wasin against Matt Gordon, did not get far in the first round before the referee stopped the contest in favour of the Romford Bull, Fisher, on his debut. It means we have the opportunity of seeing how this man’s career develops if he is any good, given how the main event, later on, brought questions of how the loser’s career was managed up to that point.
Featherweight Jordan Gill managed a points win against Cesar Juarez, in hiscontinued march forward leaving us to ponder how far he may go, given what happens if people are pushed too early. Whither should he go next, however, is the question for a defeated Robbie Davies Jr who lost his IBF intercontinental fight against Gabriel Gollaz Valenzuela on a very tight points loss – what next for Davies Jr?
The noise of the Albanian welterweight Florian Marku was much in evidence during and after the fight as Ryan Charlton sent Marku to the floor but that was the only real success he had as Marku stopped him in the 8th round when Charlton’s corner threw the towel in. Charlton had stopped Matchroom fighter Joe Laws last time out in what was seen as a big upset but here the favoured fighter got his win, called out Connor Benn and kept making noise to make his name on everyone’s lips long after the sound of the wins he makes are gone… the question is – who next for him?
And then came the top of the bill and it promised to be an absolutely cracking fight, and it certainly delivered as the EBU welterweight title stayed with David Avanesyan who stopped Josh Kelly handing him his first defeat. The fight was stopped in the 6th round as trainer Adam Booth threw in the towel whilst questions over whether Kelly had been pushed too early began to emerge. It was always sold as a 50/50 fight, so it was no shock. Avanesyan is a tough guy and he has fought so often from the away corner that winning from there has never been much of an issue but the manner in which he won was heart breaking for Kelly as the skills in the gym we have all heard about were absent in the ring. Can he buckle under pressure again and keep his career going? What shall be next as he takes time to ponder his next move? Will some easier fights to regain his confidence help? Can you do that under lockdown? Will Avanesyan get his world title fight next? Like Marku and Alan Bavic, Matchroom are showing a global reach that is beginning to feel very real in how they can elevate people from other countries into our consciousness and give us fighters to admire who we can adopt and hope they go on to bigger and better things – with so many Brits falling at hurdles put in their pathway, how much of a comfort is it though…
Elsewhere and under my radar in Connecticut, on the same night, Adrian Broner returned with a lacklustre win over Jovanie Santiago, Otto Wallin got a points win against former two time title contender Dominic Breazeale and Robert Easter Jr dominated Ryan Martin in a points win. All three are looking for what is next and deserve a shot at the next level – though Broner may be continuing to fade away… hopefully…