Dazzling Darren… Interview By Paul Ready

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The rain was pelting down on my car wind-screen; it was 4.52pm as I sat at a set of traffic lights on my way home from work. I decided that listening to Adrian Durham of Talksport going in to yet another tirade about Arsenal was getting some-what tiresome. I changed the station to Radio 1, “Katy Perry – Roar” was playing; not my brand of brandy and immediately switched over to Kiss 100.

“Storm Queen – Look Right Through” began playing and it instantly reminded me of Darren Barker and his entrance music against Felix Sturm in December 2013.

I had the pleasure of speaking to Darren last night for just over an hour, it felt like a matter of minutes. We spoke about his career, friends, family and boxers past & present, Darren has seen some of the very best British and American boxers of all time fight in the flesh, I’m sure we could have spoken for even longer as he is a huge fan of the sport, now more than ever before.

What struck me immediately about Darren is how humble and down-to earth he is. For a guy who has reached the “holy-grail” in boxing and became IBF-Middleweight World Champion, he has no ego, no airs or graces and certainly no diva tendencies.

The conversation was relaxed; it was reminiscent of occasions I’ve been first introduced to a friend of a friend in a bar on a night out.  You find common ground between you, be it sport, children, work. This instinctively put me at ease.

After an initial discussion between us both about football, (Chelsea mainly as Darren is a big fan) to “break the ice”; the formal aspect of the interview began:

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Elite Boxing:

Family businesses are often electricians, painters and decorators by trade, handed down from generation to generation. The Barker’s “trade” was boxing, what made you want to continue the family tradition?

Darren Barker:

My dad pure and simple. The most important thing to me as a youngster and throughout my career was making my dad proud. I could have won convincingly and it wouldn’t have mattered if he wasn’t happy with my performance. Dad’s opinion mattered the most to me after every fight more than anything. He was the biggest influence on me through-out and I always sought his advice and guidance.

EB:

Growing up who was your idol and what was the very first fight you remember watching?

DB:

Mike Tyson was my idol growing up. Dad used to take me to theatre’s in London to watch Tyson’s fights as we didn’t have Sky at home in those days. I absolutely loved his aggressive style and approach to fights. Which may seem odd to some as he is the polar opposite to me as a boxer. I saw myself as more technical, picking my punches and patient. I also was a big fan of Nigel Benn and was there at the Gerald McClelland fight.

EB:

Tell me how you met Tony Sims, and the transition from amateurs to professional boxing?

DB:

I first met Tony when I joined Repton Boxing Club whilst an amateur. Tony was the reason I made the transition from amateur to pro and he backed me from day 1.

I couldn’t have achieved what I did in boxing without him by my side. I can’t speak highly enough of him and we could talk for hours about what impact he has had on me.

I’m gutted to not see Tony every day in the gym now I’ve retired, but we speak on the phone regularly and he is someone I know will be in my life forever as a friend.

When I first became pro, the main shock to me was fighting fully grown men. Journeymen who were putting food on the table for their family. They were strong, aggressive and driven to provide for their loved ones. It took me some time to get used to having no head-gear as well. The whole experience was a huge culture shock. But I loved it.

Winning the National Title even now ranks as a great achievement to me. I would have been content with just that. Never in a million years did I believe I would be World Champion one day.

EB:

My perception of Tony Sims’ gym and the fighters there is that you guys all have a great team spirit; you look out for one another. You were in Lee Purdy’s corner for the Devon Alexander fight. As the senior fighter of the gym, I bet you have a few good stories to share from your time there?

DB:

Haha. Yeah we did have a great laugh there. Proud to say as you said being the senior fighter there, I was a big wind up merchant. One of my trademark pranks was putting Tiger Balm in the boys’ pants when they left them in the changing room.

The best prank I’ve done was to Tyler Goodjohn who was about to spar Lee Purdy. I said to Tony to make sure Ty was laced up so he couldn’t do anything. I had his gum-shield and was fitted so he needed help putting it in and taking it out. I filled it up with “Arse-blaster” Hot Sauce and whacked it in his mouth. He was in a world of pan, his face bright red and was jumping around all over the place.

EB:

I’m sure you’ve seen the news in the past week that the IBF has ordered a rematch between Carl Froch and George Groves, as a fan how do you feel about seeing a rematch and who wins?

DB:

I’m as excited as everyone to see the rematch; it is going to be a great spectacle for British boxing. It’s a really tough one to call. Britain needs these nights and we are all in for a treat, don’t blink for a second.

EB:

What albums/music is on your IPod playlist currently?

DB:

I listen to absolutely everything, currently enjoying John Mayer, Hip Hop. I tend to put it on shuffle and just let it play.

EB:

What TV shows/Box sets are you watching currently?

DB:

I haven’t watched much TV recently as I’ve been so busy. But when I do or if it’s on, I will always watch “Curb Your Enthusiasm”, love that. “Entourage”, “Sopranos”,” Only Fools and Horses” some other favourites of mine.

One thing I have been watching is “Being Mike Tyson”, which is really moving stuff.

EB:

When was the last time you were star struck?

DB:

Meeting my idol Mike Tyson as a boy even to this day that is the most star struck I’ve ever been. I went and saw him train at Grosvenor House Hotel, London. Had my picture taken with him, we had a chat and was in genuine awe of him.

I have banter with Dad now about Ali and Tyson who would have won. If ever I want to wind him up, I just have to drop in to conversation that Tyson would have beaten Ali, and he goes in to one.

EB:

Going back to your love of Chelsea FC; I recall seeing pictures of you on Twitter out in Munich 2012, what was it like being out there and seeing them lift the trophy in dramatic style?

DB:

That was the 2nd best night of my life; only Scarlett (Darren’s Daughter) being born tops it.

It was my 30th Birthday that night and hands down the best celebration I’ve ever had for any birthday. I went out there in a Mini-Bus full of mates; we drove there and back, 12 hours each way. Great crack. I was lucky enough to go to the Chelsea FC after-party, held the trophy, had a medal round my neck, and met all the players. I had pictures with John Terry and Frank Lampard. What a night!

EB:

You touched upon your daughter Scarlett there, tell me how you felt becoming a father and the shift in your priorities as a fighter and man?

DB:

When Scarlett was born, I felt like I had truly become a man then. My life had extra impetus. In the gym, my training became more focussed and I was driven to succeed to provide her the best life possible.

I became the man in the opposite corner of the ring I faced as a young pro. I had to provide for my family, put food on the table, and keep a roof over our head.

EB:

Good luck to any future boyfriend’s when she is older, meeting your girlfriend’s dad for the first time is bad enough, let alone one who is a former World Champion boxer, doesn’t get more daunting!

DB:

Yeah, haha. I’m already working on my stare and sharpening some tools for when she is older, don’t you worry!

EB:

Let’s discuss the other lady in your life; your fiancée Gemma. How has she supported you throughout your career and is there any plans for you to make her Mrs Barker in the foreseeable future?

DB:

I think the plan with Gemma now will be to have some more children. Scarlett needs a little brother or sister to play with before we think about marriage.

Gemma has been there for me from the start, when we lost Gary to where I am now. She has supported me throughout my career. It has been an emotional rollercoaster for us all. I’m not ashamed to say that she does wear the trousers in the relationship, I’m happy to go along with whatever she wants within reason. I just want a quiet stress-free life at home!

EB:

I think most men can relate to that, having a stress-free home life!

One thing I have to complement you on is your style; rarely do I see you poorly dressed. Always wearing a blazer or a 3 piece-whistle (suit).

The press conference for Barker v Sturm fight for example, you, Felix Sturm and Eddie Hearn wouldn’t have looked out of place in a GQ photoshoot.

DB:

Haha. Nice of you to say mate. I wouldn’t say that I spend loads on casual clothes. But I do love a 3-piece whistle. I’m lucky to have some lovely suits and know a few good tailors. That is one thing I do like to spend a bit on as they last.

EB:

Backing to boxing, tell me about why you signed with Matchroom Boxing from Hennessy Sports, your relationship with Eddie Hearn and your main sponsor Elite Scaffolding?

DB:

I felt at that time I needed to make some progression in my career. I was eternally grateful to Mick Hennessy for everything he done for me up until that point in my career. I haven’t spoken to Mick for some time, but I like to thank him for what he done in the early days.

Joining Matchroom has proved to be a career-defining move for me. When I first sat down with Eddie and Barry Hearn, I knew it was the right place for me. We hit it off from day one and I’ve achieved beyond my wildest dreams with Eddie and Matchroom.

Eddie is someone who I am good mates with now and will be for the rest of my days. We speak daily on the phone and I have another friend for life there.

Luke Chandler (Elite Scaffolding) has helped me financially with sponsorship and my personal life. He has provided me with emotional support throughout and has never once asked or expected anything from me.

He is another good mate and I’ve been so lucky to have him, he won’t even let me buy him lunch, he gets the hump if I ever try to pay!

I’m so grateful to have had Luke, Tony and Eddie in my life as they will be 3 close mates of mine forever, I’ve been so lucky to have a great family and team around me.

EB:

Another friendship I’ve seen you develop over the years is with Joe Calzaghe, not ashamed to say my favourite British boxer of all time, what influence and advice has he given you?

DB:

I got to know Joe when he lived in London and we have lots in common as men outside the ring.

Joe has been there, seen it and done it in the ring. I look up to him. He was another idol of mine growing up and coming through as a young boxer. He has been a great mate and mentor.

He has supported me in the real dark days when I was close to retiring a few years back.

I remember being at Joe’s house in Cardiff, and I was on a real downer, telling him that I’ve had enough and I’m going to pack it in for good.

 Joe grabbed me and said “I guarantee you will win a World Title, don’t you dare give up” He believed in me in that dark hour of my life.

When I won the IBF title and saw him for the first time, I will never forget seeing Joe across the hotel, he cupped his hands and shouted out loud: “ANNNND NEEEEWWWW!” came over, gave me a hug and said “I told you so”.

Great boxer and an even better guy.

EB:

Who is the hardest sparring partner you’ve had and what prospects in the gym have you seen you have impressed you the most?

DB:

I sparred with Mikkel Kessler a few years ago and when he landed you really knew about him. Massive power.

Prospects wise I think Luke Campbell and Anthony Joshua are the two stand-outs for me.

Joshua is a tough, tough guy. He has the lot and will win the World Title, they both will.

EB:

Campbell reminds me of De La Hoya with his movement and I could see him being a multi-weight champion as he has the frame to move up.

DB:

Good shout that, great speed & feet and has the body to fill out.

EB:

Internationally, what boxers do you enjoying watching?

DB:

Floyd MayweatherJnr is one of my favourite fighters currently, I was there when he fought Cotto and he was different class.

Golovkin, Gamboa and Rigondeaux are all top talents that I like watching.

EB:

Back to yourself Darren and your fight against Sergio Martinez. I watched this back the other day and you were dictating the first 6 rounds, you broke his nose in the 4th, and later lost in the 11th. How did you find the step up on to the world stage for that fight?

DB:

Obviously disappointing to have lost that fight. But it was great experience; it proved to me that I can compete at World Level. I still keep in touch with Sergio now, top guy. I came up short against him, but it gave me more belief in my ability.

EB:

After that fight, you came close to retiring, what made you change your mind?

DB:

I had my first hip operation and it was a real tough time for me. It was a mental rollercoaster that stage. Do I continue? And I decided yes for Scarlett, Gemma, my family and my friends.

I was determined to get back in the gym and work towards my 2nd world title shot.

EB:

It took just under two years and two 4th round TKO’s against Kerry Hope and Simone Rotolo respectively to put you back as a mandatory challenger for a World title, this time the IBF Title against Daniel Geale. Looking back on that life-changing night in Atlantic City, how do you feel?

DB:

I achieved the ultimate goal and realised my dream of becoming a World Champion. The fight took a lot out of me physically and emotionally. It meant everything to me and everyone around me.

I was so determined to win that belt; nothing was going to stop me. I knew it was my moment.

EB:

My favourite part outside of Michael Buffer saying “And Newwww” and the emotion and celebration in the ring after the announcement was your post-fight interview with Max Kellerman of HBO.

Kellerman asked you:

“Who is next? Quillin? Macklin? Golovkin?”

You simply responded:

“To be honest, I just want to get home and see my daughter”.

DB:

Haha, thanks mate. It’s true. Just wanted to be home with her and the belt.

EB:

Felix Sturm in December, your first title defence, how was the preparation for that and more importantly, how is the hip now?

DB:

My hip went before the fight in sparring, so there was a bit of panic and worry before the fight. Would the hip hold? But despite that, I felt that I still had enough to beat Sturm.

Gutted to have lost, the purse for the fight was career best and in a way I wish I earnt that for the Geale fight as I might have considered retiring then. But I couldn’t not take the fight, regardless of my hip.

The hip is still causing me some pain. I’m doing some work in the gym to support it. Some light weight training, etc. Important for me to stay in shape, especially so I can fit in to my whistles!

I still need an operation, but if I’m honest I’m putting it off.

EB:

I’ve got respect for Sturm, he displayed plenty of class in the after-math of the fight, and he was fighting for a big TV deal in Germany. But there was no gloating and he had some kind words for you?

DB:

Felix is a gentleman and we’ve spoke on Twitter, he spoke well of me and I’m appreciative of that, good luck to him and I wish him the best in his career.

EB:

You’ll be delighted to know this is my final question, and you can enjoy the rest of your evening. What is next for Darren Barker?

DB:

At this stage, I can’t see myself as a trainer. I wouldn’t rule it out in the future, but it’s not on my mind currently. I’m working for Sky Sports on Saturday in Cardiff for the Matchroom show so you will see me doing more of that no doubt. I have investments in properties and a few other things happening behind the scenes. But regardless, I’m keen to remain in the sport in some capacity.

EB:

I’d personally like to see you become Matchroom’s Boxing Ambassador, similar to what Bernard Hopkins’ is for GoldenBoy. A “go-between” the fighters and press. They will all look up to you based on your achievements in the sport, and you are an example to them of how to never give up on your dreams.

DB:

That could be an option for the future too; we shall see what happens mate!

EB:

Darren, just like to say, thanks for your time. Been a pleasure talking to you and as a boxing fan, enjoyed your rollercoaster ride. I wish you the best of luck in what-ever you decide to do.

DB:

Thanks Paul, anytime. Been great chatting.

 

@EliteBoxingBlog

@PaulReady

 

You can follow Darren Barker on Twitter at @DarrenBarker82

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Boxing Update – 24/01 By Paul Ready

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Boxing Update – 24/01/14 By Paul Ready

Evening,

Friday baby, the weekend is here.
I need a Fred Flintstone moment when I finish every Friday, sound the horn and slide down the tail of a dinosaur, through the window of my car.

When I wrote this article, I was going to open with how quiet this week has been, not an abundance to report etc.
But the IBF had other plans, they have fully put the “cat amongst the pigeons” as Twitter has gone in to complete meltdown.

The IBF has ordered a rematch between Carl Froch and George Groves within 90 days.

Massive news.

Will Froch take the fight?

Will he vacate?

I would be completely staggered if The Cobra vacated.

So it is on like fucking Donkey Kong!

The Cobra has broken his silence since Christmas regarding a potential rematch against George Groves.
Speaking on SkySports News yesterday, here is what Froch had to say:

“The fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr is one of the five options that I do have and that’s a fight that I can get motivated for, a fight that excites me,”

“Going over to America to fight in Las Vegas is something that all British pros with big aspirations to do big things in boxing (want to do).”

“To be on a pay-per-view channel in America – very, very few British fighters have done that.”

“So as an option for me, that is a realistic option and one that I’m very, very seriously considering. In fact, we’re closer to that happening than the George Groves fight.

“I will happily fight George Groves again, I’m happy to give him a return provided it makes sense and it’s realistic. It’s down to Eddie Hearn, my promoter, to make it happen and it’s down to George Groves to be realistic.”

“If I’ve got two fights this year – and I usually do fight twice a year – one of those I think should be George Groves and one should be Chavez Jr.

“I will happily fight George Groves again, I’m happy to give him a return provided it makes sense and it’s realistic.”

“But probably not in that order, Chavez Jr is the next fight, the big fight that we’re closer to doing.

“I spoke to my promoter Eddie Hearn yesterday and that fight is pretty much nailed-on as being done and I’m happy with it.”

Froch said: “I’m bored of listening to his whingeing and moaning and cursing. You’ll find out I do actually call the shots – I’ve got two world titles and he’s not got any because I beat him and defended my titles.

“Another thing which was spoken about was options and he’s talking about all these options that he’s got – he’s got very, very few options, especially without those world titles.

“I’ve probably got five or six options, but I’ve narrowed them down with my promoter Eddie Hearn to probably two.”

Make no mistake about it, Froch does want the fight, in his eyes, Groves’ is an annoying itch that he can’t shift.

But Froch feels that he has already won and has nothing to prove against George Groves. Which I’m afraid he is in the minority with that mindset.

It’s apparent today that the IBF agree with the Groves, who personally attended a hearing with them in New York last week.

Froch has it all to prove against Groves, he needs to knock him out. He won’t beat Saint GG on points, Groves wins a decision as he is the better boxer and speed kills.

The conundrum that faces The Cobra is two-fold:

1) Vacate and fight Chavez Jnr in the summer. Credibility to everyone outside of Nottingham is below zero. I am talking planet Pluto cold.

2) Froch takes the fight, win, lose or draw (please god no) and it comes to a fitting conclusion for him, Groves and the public. Both can move on.

I believe Groves will win and by a stoppage, he will be like a man possessed. If he drops Froch, the 25 yr old will not allow him to clear his head, he will instead be looking to take it clean off.

I’m not ashamed to say, I actually have a semi in my pants over this fight, and I doubt I am the only one.

Groves needs to now pick a promoter and quickly so he can ensure he gets a fair deal.

Froch released a statement to the press this afternoon regarding Groves rejecting an offer he was made.

Alleged to be double what he received in the first fight which is around £300k, (£400k originally but £100k went to Adam Booth remember). So for Matchroom to offer what, £800,000 -£1m absolute tops when Groves wasn’t mandatory challenger. To now having his mandatory status reinstated, he will surely be able to negotiate a bigger purse.

Watch this space!

It is like a male soap opera unfolding in-front of our very eyes.

Mersey Beat

Matchroom Boxing has announced their 3rd card of 2014, at the Echo Arena in Liverpool.

With the following fighters on the bill:
Tony Bellew, Stephen, Paul, & Callum Smith, Rocky Fielding, Kell Brook, Kevin Mitchell, Kal Yafai and Robbie Davies Jnr.

Tony “The Bomber” Bellew will be fighting for against Valery Brudov. This will be The Bomber’s first outing since his defeat against Adonis Stevenson in November.

In addition, it will be Bellew’s debut at Cruiserweight, and I fully expect him to progress rapidly.

The big fight in that division is of course domestic rematch with Nathan Cleverly, (who has also moved up to Cruiser).

Ola Afolabi another fellow Brit is ranked 4th by the Ring Magazine, just below all the title holders, so he is certainly someone Cleverly & Bellew could be facing in the future.

Bellew, Cleverly and Afolabi can look towards challenging for a World title against one of the following;

Yoan Pablo Hernandez (Ring & IBF), Marco Huck (WBO), Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (WBC), Denis Lebedev (WBA).

Huck and Hernandez for me are the two stand-out fighters in the division.
German Huck fights tomorrow (Saturday 25th) against Firat Arslan in an all German rematch in Stuttgart.

The first fight taking place in November 2012, which Huck won by a unanimous decision.

Opponents have yet to be announced for rest of the card and will be in due course.

Kell Brook for example, won’t be in a “life or death” match. Brook I would imagine would fight in a 10 round encounter, at say 150lb.

The 27 yr old does have to boil down to 147lbs and for me will at some stage fight at Light-Middle as he is a naturally around that weight. But for Brook, the key for this fight is to keep the mind and body sharp.

Special K has wait for his long over-due IBF Welterweight Championship match in June 2014.

David Price

David Price makes his long-awaited return to the ring on Saturday night against Istvan Ruzsinsky in Stuttgart.

The Liverpudlian was due to face Konstantin Airic, who was forced to withdraw after failing a medical test.
Ruzsinky (12-9: 8 KO’s) was due to fight on the undercard and has been parachuted in at the 11th hour to replace Airic.

It has been a crazy 12 months for Price; 2 back-to-back losses to Tony Thompson, changing promoters to Sauerland, changing trainers twice, originally teaming up with Adam Booth for a short period and now with American Tommy Brooks.

Brooks has worked with Evander Holyfield, Mike Tyson and the Klitschko brothers, you couldn’t ask for a more impressive CV as a Heavyweight.

This many changes can’t be good for a man, and you would hope that now he can put this all behind him and focus on boxing.

I wish David the best of luck, and hope this is a turning point for him as there are some great domestic Heavyweight fights out there.

Price is 30 yrs of age, it is his chance to make it happen before he has Anthony Joshua and Hughie Fury breathing down his neck.

Internationally

The fights we have this weekend are as follows:

WBO Cruiserweight Championship

Marco Huck v Firat Arslan – 25th January – Stuttgart

David Price v Istvan Ruzsinsky – 25th January – Stuttgart

WBO Super-Featherweight Championship

Mikey Garcia v Juan Carlos Burgos – 25th January – Madison Square Garden, New York

IBF Light-Welter Championship

Lamont Peterson v Jean Dierry – 25th January – Washington DC

Gabriel Rosado v Jermell Charlo – 25th January – Washington DC

Unfortunately the Mikey Garcia fight isn’t on TV, Washington DC card and the Stuttgart one are being shown on Boxnation.
I hope we see more International fights on SkySports in 2014 that is one glaring area they have minimal coverage of.

Right,

That’s me done.

Have a great weekend and catch you next week.

Paul

@EliteBoxingBlog
@PaulReady

Boxing Update 16/01… By Paul Ready

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Evening,

How is January treating you so far, have you fallen off the “diet” wagon yet?

#Cake

We have had some fights announced and a retirement in recent weeks, so let’s cover these in the first instance.

Then I will discuss International Match-Ups which are scheduled for the next consecutive weekends.

Let’s dive in like you would on a gooey Chocolate Brownie…

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Hmm… That’s tasty…

Darren Barker

Former IBF Middleweight World Champion Darren “Dazzling” Barker announced this week his retirement from boxing.
Barker, who lost to Felix Sturm in December, has decided to call it a day with an impending hip operation due to take place.

I’ve written much about Darren over the past few months, but I believe he has made the right choice.

Barker has achieved every boy-hood fan’s dream of winning a World Title and can hold his head high. He has done himself and his family proud.

Dazzler defeated all odds inside and outside of the ring, leading him to reaching the “Promised Land” of becoming World Champion.

Darren has stated numerous times that he has no desire to become a trainer.

I can personally see him working as a pundit on fight nights for SkySports, or as an ambassador for Matchroom Boxing in a Bernard Hopkins-esq role.

Hopkins is an ambassador for Goldenboy Promotions in America, he is the “link” man between the promoter and the fighters. Bernard is a Hall of Fame boxer Stateside and commands instant respect from the stables fighters, young and old.

I feel young pro’s in Britain could learn plenty from Darren, remaining humble, hungry and down-to-earth are key traits to any aspiring World Champion.

I wish him all the best in whatever he decides to do.

Tyson Fury

Biggest news domestically has been Tyson Fury agreeing to fight on BoxNation.

It appeared that Frank had slightly jumped the gun assuming the deal was signed, when Fury’s camp denied it was agreed at that stage.

Tyson is still a Hennessy fighter, as is cousin Hughie Fury, but they will both fight on BoxNation for say 3 fights this year.

This opens the door immediately to a rematch with Dereck Chisora in the summer, something Warren spoke about hosting in a football stadium.

It should be an intriguing match-up domestically, as they are the top 2 British Heavyweights currently.

I’m choosing to exclude David Haye from this as he is still injured with a shoulder injury, despite posting pictures online of himself back in the gym.

I want to see Fury v Deontay Wilder this year; it is the biggest Heavyweight fight in the world.

Some may scoff at that, but two undefeated fighters, charismatic, some-bodies 0 has got to go!

Providing of course, that Fury beats a yet to be named opponent 15th Feb and Chisora of course in the summer.

James DeGale

The WBC has ordered a final eliminator between Mayweather Promotions Badou Jack (16-0: 11 KO’s) and James DeGale for the mandatory position of the Super Middle-Weight title.

This will be a stern test for DeGale, Jack is rated as one of brightest talents in the Mayweather stable.

The fight is scheduled to take place by June this year. I haven’t seen an abundance of Jack, but I would back DeGale to edge it on a decision.

The winner would then move on to face Sakio Bika who won a split decision last month against Anthony Dirrell.

George Groves

George Groves was interviewed by IFLTV at a SkySports press conference for recently released movie “Grudge Match”; which features Sylvester Stallone and Robert Di Niro in a box-office boxing match-up.

Groves confirmed that he has held talks with American based Goldenboy Promotions and Top Rank already, with two meetings arranged this week with Boxing king-pin Al Haymon and New York based Lou Di-Bella.

I don’t believe it will be too long until we know who he has signed with.

Imagine if Groves signed with Haymon…

Wow!

Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sport, who promotes Carl Froch told SkySports earlier this week that the rematch between Froch & Groves remains a strong option.

Froch is keen to fight in Las Vegas before he retires, and as mentioned previously, Julio Chavez Jr, Gennady Golovkin and Andre Ward rematch as possible opponents.

Rumours have surfaced this morning of Froch agreeing to fight Andre Ward in Las Vegas on 1st June, but so far just word round the camp-fire.

I will now run through the first few cards that have been announced by Britain’s top two promoters, Matchroom and Frank Warren.

Reloaded, Cardiff Motorpoint Arena – 1st February

European Featherweight title

Lee Selby v Rendall Munroe

Gavin Rees v Gary Buckland

Anthony Joshua v Dorian Darch

Erick Ochieng v Dale Evans

Chris Jenkins v TBC

I for one am looking forward to seeing Lee Selby fight again, Selby is an exciting fighter in and outside of the ring, one that Matchroom have huge hopes for.

I would expect Selby to dispossess Munroe with ease and use a big performance to push him on to World level opposition and a title bout.

Anthony Joshua make’s his long awaited return from injury against Welshman Dorian Darch.

It will be great experience for Joshua to be the “away” fighter in this one, Darch hails from Aberdare and will certainly have the packed crowd on his side.

How will Joshua respond to a booing, baying partisan crowd of Welshman?

I think he will thrive in it.

Gavin Rees will be keen to put a forgetful 2013 behind him, with losses to Anthony Crolla and Adrien Broner respectively.
Rees faces fellow Welshman Gary Buckland, who is stepping up a weight-class and was on the wrong end of my KO of the year against Stephen Smith late 2013.

Chris Jenkins, Light Welterweight winner of Prizefighter, has an opportunity to shine on Skysports again, and move towards establishing himself at 140. Jenkins looked a level above the opposition in that competition, I’m looking forward to seeing him blossom over the next few years.

Copperbox, Stratford, London – 15th February 2014

Last week Frank Warren announced the first card of 2014 that Queensbury Promotions will host.

This will be a solid card that will contain the below fights, including a maiden outing for Tyson and possibly Hughie Fury on BoxNation:

The European Heavyweight Championship

Dereck Chisora v Andriy Rudenko

International Heavyweight Contest

Tyson Fury vs TBC

The WBO European Super-Middleweight Championship

Frank Buglioni v Gaetano Nespro

The Vacant WBA Intercontinental Welterweight Championship

Bradley Skeete v Vivian Harris

Hughie Fury v TBC

International News:

Jean Pascal v Lucien Bute – 18th January

We have our first super-fight this Saturday in Montreal Canada, which is rapidly becoming a boxing-mecca with Adonis Stevenson’s exploits last year.

It promises to be an explosive encounter, two fellow countrymen, it could be a Canadian Benn v Eubank.

Bute, who you will recall was battered by Carl Froch in 5 rounds in 2012, has fought just once since then against Denis Grachev later 2012.

He will be looking to weather a “Polar Vortex” of early punches from Pascal who is renowned for explosive starts.

I fear for Bute in this, having had an extended period of inactivity. This coupled with moving up to Light-Heavy, could be too much.

I feel Bute is no longer the same fighter and he could be stopped inside 7 or 8.

Next weekend we see the fights ramp-up significantly; David Price’s comeback in his maiden outing as a Sauerland fighter:

WBO Cruiserweight Championship

Marco Huck v Firat Arslan – 25th January – Stuttgart

David Price v Konstantin Airich – 25th January – Stuttgart

WBO Super-Featherweight Championship

Mikey Garcia v Juan Carlos Burgos – 25th January – Madison Sq Garden, New York

IBF Light-Welter Championship

Lamont Peterson v Jean Dierry – 25th January – Washington DC

Gabriel Rosado v Jermell Charlo – 25th January – Washington DC

Lots to look forward to as we await the return of the big boys!

Ok guys that is your lot from me on this crisp evening.

Have a great weekend and tune in next week.

Cheers
Paul

@EliteBoxingBlog
@PaulReady

2014 Fight Wish List By Paul Ready

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Happy New Year one & all.

I hope that you had an enjoyable festive period.

Back to reality of setting an alarm at 6am for work, those long lay-ins a distant memory.

In my opinion, there are some fights that must and will happen this year.

There are some fights that everyone fan, critic and broadcaster wishes to happen which I will list shortly.

Then we have my hand-picked fights which I will discuss in more detail, as to why I would like to see them.

I’m going to exclude Floyd “Money” Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao within this, as it is a pipe dream. This fight is destined for games console as a pure fantasy encounter.

It is up there with other urban myths such as ghosts, goblins, unicorns and lottery wins.

It will always be the fight that never happened for 100 hundred millions reasons.

The main issue being the promoter rivalry between both camps that represent each fighter (Goldenboy for Money Mayweather, Top Rank for Manny) the broadcaster rivalry between both camps (Showtime for Floyd, HBO for Pacquiao).

I feel the same about Carl “The Cobra” Froch and “Saint” George Groves rematch. Froch has no desire to fight Groves again, he is afraid, annoyed at the public and Groves’ perceived behaviour after the controversial stoppage win Froch had in the 1st fight.

That is my genuine gut feel, I hope I’m wrong, but I feel Froch will avoid it at all costs. The Cobra has cited aspirations of fighting in Las Vegas before he retires, I expect him to fight there this year at some point.

The below is a list of fights that everyone wants to see, and I feel they will happen this year at some point:

Miguel Cotto v Saul “Canelo” Alvarez
Scott Quigg v Carl Frampton
Mikey Garcia v Yuriorkis Gamboa
Ruslan Provodinkov v Brandon Rios
Adonis Stevenson v Sergei Kovalev
Floyd Mayweather v Amir Khan
Floyd Mayweather v Marcos Maidana
Tyson Fury v Deontay Wilder
Tyson Fury v Dereck Chisora II
Manny Pacquiao v Tim Bradley II
Andre Ward v Gennady Golovkin
Andy Lee v Matthew Macklin

In relation to the above fights, I feel these have been talked to death by boxing experts on TV, us, the fans and are constantly discussed on social networks.

Boxing is prize fighting remember, so I feel the above will happen due to public demand and money.

The contradiction to the above statement is Mayweather v Pacquiao match as it would be the most financially lucrative of all time. There simply is SO much “red-tape” preventing it from ever occurring.

If you wish to read further into this, there are countless articles, interviews with both fighters and their respective camps on the internet.

Let’s move on now to the fights I personally want to happen:

Andre “Son of God” Ward v George Groves

This is a fight I believe can, and will be made in 2014.
Ward has declared that he is interested in fighting him and Groves’ trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick tweeted in a Q&A with fans that a fight with Ward is a real possibility.

Another fascinating point about this fight, which adds more drama to it, is that Carl Froch has publicly declared on numerous occasions that he wants a rematch with Ward. The Cobra as you will recall lost to Ward a few years ago. It was a boxing lesson from Ward.

For Groves to be chosen by Ward as a more exciting adversary than Froch, speaks volumes about his profile Stateside.

Technically this will be a beautiful fight, two fighters with crisp jabs, dazzling speed and both can whack.

You would have to favour the undefeated “Son of God” on paper due to his dazzling CV, but only a fool would bet against Groves bringing the world to a standstill by winning.

Danny “Swift” Garcia v Adrien “The Problem” Broner

Both fighters have had two contrasting years in boxing, but I feel both need one another in the ring.

Undefeated Garcia, has no credible opponents left at 140lbs (Jnr Welter) having beaten Lucas Matthysse in September. Broner it seems will move down from 147lbs (Welter) to 140lbs after a career first defeat against Marcos Maidana last month.

It is a fight that I believe will happen late 2014, certainly PPV (Pay Per View) and one that would be career defining for both fighters.

The winner will be able to stake their claim to be a future global star in America, ready to take the mantle from Mayweather when he retires.

Garcia, will put himself firmly in front of Mayweather as an opponent for 2015, one that he won’t be able to avoid.

Broner, will show that he is the real deal, that he took the defeat against Maidana like a man, went away, honed his craft and delivered emphatically.

Danny is an accurate puncher, rarely wastes a shot. He struggled in stages against Zab Judah, but looked world-class against Matthysse.

Broner is a big puncher, has good hand-speed but he must work on his conditioning and lifestyle as he will have a short tenure in the sport if he continues to live the way he does.

Amir “King” Khan v Kell “Special K” Brook

Now many of you may scoff at the proposition of this fight;

“How can Khan go from Mayweather to Brook?”

That my friend is a valid question, my answer?

Money.

Khan would earn loads from this fight, domestically it is a PPV fight, Sky and Eddie Hearn would be all-over it like chicken pox on a toddler.

2014 financially could set Khan up for life, two fights, Mayweather and Brook, opposite ends of the scale granted, but both hugely lucrative.

Khan can use the Brook fight as an opportunity to prove to his doubters in the UK that he isn’t “chinny” and can beat the best domestically at 147lbs.

For Brook, if he beats Khan, he becomes a household name; it would announce him on the big stage in America.

Kell would receive much needed recognition there and set up some huge fights in the Welterweight division.

King Khan has a big profile America and receives more “love” than he does at home.

I think it would be a great tear-up, no love lost between them which date back to sparring between them as amateurs.

Brook needs to beat Shawn Porter, the newly crowned IBF Welter Champion when they fight in the summer.

I feel that this can be the carrot dangled in-front of Amir to lure him in to a blockbuster match up.

Khan has blistering hand-speed, but always has that vulnerability factor about him that has you on the edge of your seat.

Special K, at the age of 27 (28 in May) is untested on the world stage. Fights with Shawn Porter and Amir Khan will prove whether he will “sink or swim”.

The stakes couldn’t be higher for either fighter in this, losing is simply unthinkable.

Anthony Joshua v Hughie Fury

This fight draws mixed opinion from most, is it too soon for them to fight? Joshua, 24 is 3-0, Fury, 19 is 12-0.

There is a valid argument that we should wait a few years, let it manifest into a monster fight.

Perhaps they could take a leaf out of the Quigg v Frampton situation as opposed to James DeGale v George Groves.

DeGale v Groves if you recall took place 3 yrs ago this May, was a cracking encounter but it could of been a bigger fight further down the line as both have had only a handful of fights.

The positives of this happening in the summer are that we have a match-up between the two most exciting Heavyweight prospects on these shores.
The loser has plenty of time to come-back and build themselves again, as they are both mere pups for the Heavyweight division.

Joshua may start out for some as the favourite, but write Fury off at your peril as he could surprise many.

The pair of them are big lads, with impressive KO records so far, I would be amazed if this went the distance.

There are a number of other domestic fights I believe we could see, which I will list below:

Callum Smith v Frank Buglioni
Nathan Cleverly v Tony Bellew II
Kevin Mitchell v Ricky Burns II
Tommy Coyle v Kevin Mitchell
David Price v Dereck Chisora
Luke Campbell v Gavin Rees
Frankie Gavin v Kell Brook

I think 2014 will be the year of the Lightweight Division as there are so many fights that can be made there domestically, you could comfortably stage 1 each month.

I will be happy if any of the above happens, 2014 has some huge shoes to fill as 2013 was a phenomenal year for the sport.

Right, I must dash… my salad is getting warm…

#NewYearNewMe

Cheers
Paul

@EliteBoxingBlog
@PaulReady