Murray: I Don’t Want This to End!
(December 17th) Martin Murray reluctantly concedes that it is a case of win or bust for him when he defends his WBC Silver middleweight title against the dangerous Hassan N’Dam on Saturday.
In what should be a compelling contest at the Manchester Arena, the 36-year-old four-time world title challenger bids to extend his winning run to five against former WBA Regular champion N’Dam and place himself in pole position for a fifth strike at world honors.
Should it not go his way against the 36-3 Frenchman, the final bell will likely call time on the career of the 37-4-1 stalwart from St Helens, who doesn’t see himself embarking on another lengthy rebuild when he has a young family to consider.
“It is the rebuild, working your way all the way back up again,” reasoned the 6ft middleweight. “I’ve got too much going on for that and my family is my main priority.
“I don’t hold it against boxing because the life we have got is because of boxing – my whole family know it. It does at some stage affect my family life and I won’t let it go on forever.
“So that is why I won’t rebuild again,” he confirmed, before relaying a tale of how a Christmas voyage on the high seas hit some turbulence due to fight scheduling.
“We booked a holiday 18 months ago – a cruise around Asia – and we go on December 20. I am now fighting on the 22nd, so now my wife, my kids, my mum fly over on the 20th, then I’ll fight and fly on the 23rd with my dad. We get to Vietnam on the 24th, but they will be at sea and don’t dock until the 25th so I am not going to see my kids until Christmas Day.
“They are the sacrifices I am making and, what I am saying is, with a loss for me I would not rebuild and do it all again.
“Some people are lucky to get one shot and I’ve had four. I believe that if I fight for another world title, no other British fighter will have done it. Frank Bruno and George Groves won it at four and nobody else has won it after five times.
“I know there will definitely not be a sixth and all I want to do is become world champion. I do really feel it is my destiny.”
Knowing that the book will be closed on his career should his arm not be raised aloft after his fight on BT Sport Box Office on Saturday night, Murray confesses is something that drives him harder in training to delay the reading of the final chapter.
“Of course, it does, it helps with momentum and keeping young. I love going to the gym and the crack we have there. I love it when I feel fit and when I’ve got a big fight announced. I love everything about it – apart from the last two weeks when the dieting gets hard.
“I don’t want this to end, so it is keeping me focused, although it (retirement) is there and I know it is going to happen. I don’t want it to end so I am training as hard as I can and as smart as I can as well.”
IBF world featherweight champion Josh Warrington takes on former two-weight world champion Carl Frampton at the Manchester Arena on December 22nd live on BT Sport Box Office. Mark Heffron and Liam Williams contest the vacant British middleweight title and Belfast’s blue chip featherweight prospect Michael Conlan (9-0) takes on former commonwealth champion Jason Cunningham (24-5).
In a step up, Nathan Gorman puts his undefeated record and WBC International Silver Heavyweight Title on the line against former World Title challenger Razvan Cojanu, Billy Joe Saunders makes his return to the ring and Tyson Fury’s younger brother Tommy Fury also makes his professional debut.
Elsewhere on the bill. World flyweight title challenger Paddy Barnes (5-1) and unbeaten Light Heavyweight contender Steven Ward (9-0) return to action. Manchester’s 12-0 Light Heavyweight Lyndon Arthur and 7-0 Darlington middleweight Troy Williamson also return.
Tickets available via Manchester Arena are priced at £50 Upper Tier, £80 Tier, £100 Tier, £150 Tier, £200 Floor/Tier, £300 Floor, £400 Floor, £600 Inner Ring VIP Hospitality and are available via Eventim.
Cojanu Steps In to Fight Gorman In Manchester!
(December 14th) Razvan Cojanu will step in to take on Ricky Hatton-trained heavyweight prospect Nathan Gorman on December 22nd after the late pull-out of Gorman’s original opponent, Alex Leapai.
Romanian-born Cojanu was scheduled to fight Britain’s other big heavyweight prospect, Daniel Dubois this Saturday at the Brentwood Centre but due to illness, Dubois was forced to withdraw from the bout.
But fortunately for both fighters, Cojanu will now make his way up north next week and challenge Gorman at the Manchester Arena on December 22nd, live on BT Sport Box Office.
“I’m disappointed Leapai didn’t get on the plane. He’s given it some bad mouth which isn’t really my style, but in my world, if you are going to do that then you come and have a fight. Words are cheap, maybe he regretted his words knowing what was coming?” said Gorman.
He continued: “I thought it was going to be a big let down trying to get an opponent this late but at the very last minute, Daniel’s bad luck has proved well for me; that’s ironic really.
“I get to fight a guy who fought for a world title just last year and took Joseph Parker the distance, so he is a better opponent in many respects.
“He is here, he is in the country and I’m looking forward to putting on a show again at the Manchester Arena.”
Billy Joe Saunders Back on Huge
Warrington / Frampton Card, December 22nd!
(December 12th) Billy Joe Saunders makes his long-awaited return to the ring next weekend (Dec 22) at the Manchester Arena after being added to the blockbuster bill topped by Josh Warrington defending his IBF world featherweight title against two-weight world champion Carl Frampton.
The year of 2018 has represented a period of enforced inactivity and injury frustration for the former WBO World Middleweight Champion Saunders, who relinquished the belt following the failure of the Massachusetts Commission to issue him a licence for his mandatory defence against Demetrius Andrade in Boston back in October.
Two scheduled defences against Martin Murray were both aborted due to injuries suffered by the champion, resulting innot building on the momentum of a hugely positive and busy end to 2017.
His last fight and perhaps his career-best performance to date came nearly a year ago when he travelled to Canada to put his title on the line against the big-hitting David Lemieux.
The Canadian was hardly given a look-in against Saunders at his slickest and a shutout scoreline was recorded on the card of one judge. Three months previously at the Copper Box, the Hatfield man – who trains in Sheffield under Dominic Ingle – widely outpointed Willie Monroe jr, who is set to fight Jermall Charlo for the WBC Interim world middleweight title on the same night as Saunders’ own return.
There is a strong middleweight theme running through the Manchester card, with a barnstorming clash scheduled between Mark Heffron and Liam Williams for the vacant British title, while Martin Murray, who is bidding to put himself firmly in the world title picture, takes on a tough assignment against Hassan N’Dam.
Now Saunders is added to the mix, where he will take on the experienced Hungarian Zoltan Sera (32-17-1) in a bid to extend his own perfect professional record of 26-0. Sera, 33, who has fought at light heavyweight in his last two fights, has recorded 22KOs from his 32 wins.
Despite his hopes of making a lucrative defence in Boston being dashed, Saunders has remained in training and will be looking to reclaim his world title property in 2019 after sharpening his highly-skilled tools against Sera in Manchester.
Frampton: Warrington Has Had As Many Knockouts
As I Have Had World Title Fights!
(December 11th) Carl Frampton there is an underbelly of arrogance that is beginning to show in the words of his forthcoming opponent Josh Warrington, who he challenges for the IBF world featherweight title at the Manchester Arena on December 22, but counters by pointing out that he has fought in as many world title fights as the champion has victories via KO.
Northern Ireland’s national treasure is concluding his preparations for the BT Box Office showdown in Manchester with his trainer Jamie Moore and insists his own attitude towards opponents remains unchanged despite the gruelling effects of the business end of camp.
However, he believes the same cannot be said for Warrington, who he considers to be showing his true colours with comments regarding how the blockbuster collision will play out.
“I think I am a pretty laid back person and I don’t necessarily have a dislike for Josh Warrington,” Frampton told the launch edition of The Boxing Podcast. “But, I think there is something bubbling beneath the surface and he is a bit more arrogant than he lets on.
“It is just a few things that I have seen recently and it is starting to seep out. Maybe he is getting a wee bit carried away with this world title and fair play to him because he is a world champion and he is entitled to be proud of that.
“He is getting a bit too carried away though and I think there is a bit of arrogance in there somewhere that he is trying his best to keep away from the public.
“It is just a few wee things that he’s said. He’s said he’s going to knock me out and he doesn’t need to say that.
“It is a bit of an outrageous comment coming from a guy whose had as many knockout wins (six) as I’ve had world title fights. I don’t think he needed to say that.
“Also just a few little things that he’s said and done. I feel there is arrogance bubbling under the surface.”
Frampton added that the obvious edge that accompanied the build-up to Warrington’s world title win over Lee Selby in May might well come to the fore again this time around.
“Potentially, but I’ll just do what I’ve always done and I’ll respect opponents if I’m respected. I take it all with a pinch of salt and carry on thinking about myself and my own performance.
“I don’t get to caught up in it all, but we’ll see, as it gets closer and he gets a bit more on edge he may say a few things that aren’t that savoury. It doesn’t bother me.”
Liam Williams vs Mark Heffron December 22nd!
(December 7th) Liam Williams is in full agreement with the thinking that jumping up a weight to take on a knockout artist who nobody else fancied fighting is the sort of challenge that presses his buttons.
Former British, Commonwealth and WBO European super welterweight champion Williams bids to become a two-weight British champion on December 22 at the Manchester Arena when he faces Mark Heffron for the vacant title as chief support to Josh Warrington defending his IBF world featherweight title against two-weight world champion Carl Frampton.
It is match-up that has got fight fans licking their lips in anticipation and the prospect of trading leather with the destructive Heffron – 17KOs from his 21 unbeaten professional fights – is something that stirs the juices of the 26-year-old from the South Wales Valleys.
“Yes! Definitely, it is exciting and as soon as the fight was offered to me, for all of ten seconds, I wondered if he was too big for me,” recalled the 18-2-1 Williams, whose only defeats came against former world champion Liam Smith in an epic double-header.
“He has come down from super middle and then I thought ‘no he isn’t’ because on fight night I am very big for the weight and in all honesty when I stood in front of him I felt I was the bigger man.
“Whether it looked that way to others, I don’t know, but looking at him I thought I was stronger.”
While Williams will insist size doesn’t matter when it comes to jumping up a division, the fact is he is happy to roll the dice and gamble anyway because he is past the point of self-preservation or looking to pad a record
“I couldn’t care less,” he pointed out. “I don’t want to lose and I really don’t think I’m going to lose, but I’m not protecting nothing. I took those Smith fights quite early on compared to what people thought I would.
“It was never a massive thing for me, protecting an unbeaten record. It looks good on paper but, when you get in there with someone who is a real fighter, it is going to show anyway. So you might as well throw yourself in and be in a couple of tough fights before pushing onto the next level.”
Williams, meanwhile, confessed that affording himself some extra poundage is an option that has crossed his mind in the past when he has been striving hard to make super welterweight.
“I had thoughts. I didn’t need to because I can make the weight, but it is a struggle and anyone who looks at me will know it is hard to make light middle. It is do-able as long as I do it the right way and in a healthy way.
“So I wasn’t really thinking about it, but this offer made sense really and why wouldn’t I take it?” he questioned, before admitting that, should he be successful, there will a temptation to stick at 160lbs.
“Yeah it will be difficult to resist but it is about what is offered to me and I feel like I want to push on now. I didn’t really want to fight for the British title, with all respect to the title and I love it, but I planned on moving forward to a European title or fringe world level opponents to get myself into the mix.
“Then this was offered to me and it is a great fight. Mark is a good fighter, take nothing away from him, so it makes perfect sense. It is going to be a quality fight.”
Alex Leapai: Gorman Is Just A Big Baby!
(November 27th) Alex Leapai warns that the matchmakers for the Manchester Arena blockbuster on December 22 have made a big mistake in booking his services to provide opposition for Nathan Gorman.
The 32-7-4 Aussie – known as Lionheart – has mixed in the best of company across his 14 years in the professional ranks and fought for the world titles held by Wladimir Klitschko in 2014.
The veteran heavyweight believes our bright young heavies – including Gorman and Daniel Dubois – are the product of hype and he intends to place Gorman firmly in his place when he takes to the ring, live on BT Sport Box Office.
“Nathan is just a baby in the game, he looks like a big hairy baby to be honest,” said the Queensland-based Leapai. “I’ll be coming over to put this baby to sleep on December 22nd.
“After I bash up Gorman, I want to bash up that other kid they have over there, Daniel Dubois. These are boys in a man’s game and they are going to find that out very quickly.
“Frank Warren is a great promoter who doesn’t get it wrong very often. But unfortunately for him, he has got this very wrong!”
Leapai clearly cares little for the career progress of our hefty prospects and is on a mission to put the cat amongst the heavyweight pigeons when he arrives in Manchester.
“A lot of these British heavyweights are overhyped without really beating anyone. I’m coming over to burst the bubble of the latest hype job.
“I’ve had more knockouts than Nathan has had fights. This is way too soon for Nathan.”
Lyndon Arthur Eyes Future Anthony Yarde Clash!
(November 24th) Light Heavyweight prospect Lyndon Arthur believes it is only a matter of time before he begins mixing it with his domestic rivals; also stating he’s the better fighter out of him and stablemate, Anthony Yarde and more than willing to prove it in 2019.
‘King Arthur’ has been plying his trade out of the spotlight and on the small hall scene so far in his young career.
The Mancunian has shown he can certainly pack a punch with nine stoppage victories from his unblemished 12-0 record to date.
Fight number thirteen will take place on the undercard of a big night of boxing in Arthur’s home city of Manchester when Josh Warrington when he defends his world title against Carl Frampton on December 22nd.
Fully confident he will claim another victory in December, Arthur will have his sights specifically set on Anthony Yarde for 2019.
“He’s going to have to [learn my name], he’s the one making all the noise, he’s with Frank Warren, I’m with Frank Warren also, so that is a fight I’ll be looking for.
“I rate him, I’m not taking anything away from him, but I just think that I’m better.” stated 27-year-old.
The light heavyweight scene in Britain is rich in talent. Along with Anthony Yarde, British champion Callum Johnson and 2016 Olympic Bronze medallist Joshua Buatsi are also potential opponents in which Lyndon Arthur believes he is more than capable in getting the better of if they were to fight.
“I’m under the radar but I’m just doing what needs to be done and I’m sure soon enough you’ll be mentioning my name up there with those that have been mentioned already.
“I believe I would beat them. It’s inevitable that these fights will happen. British fights are the best fights and if I keep winning and they keep winning, it’s bound to happen.
Murray / N’Dam Added to Massive
Warrington / Frampton Bill!
(November 23rd) Martin Murray will face former world champion Hassan N’Dam as part of a massive night of boxing at the Manchester Arena on December 22, headlined by Josh Warrington defending his IBF world featherweight title against two-weight world champion Carl Frampton.
Murray, 37-4-1, is building towards another world title challenge, with his only career reverses having come in three previous bids – with one drawn – and against former WBA world champion George Groves.
The St Helens warrior put himself firmly in position for a tilt at the WBC title with the winning of the governing body’s Silver middleweight belt in June by defeating the champion Roberto Garcia via a unanimous decision over 12 rounds at the 02 Arena.
He is now up against a dangerous opponent in N’Dam, 36-3, who has operated at world level since winning the WBA Interim world title with a points victory over Avtandil Khurtsidze in 2010.
His winning streak continued with wins over Giovanni Lorenzo and Max Bursak – before he lost on points to Peter Quillin in 2012 with the WBO world middleweight title at stake.
The Frenchman rebuilt with four victories across 2013-14, with the fourth being a landslide points win over Curtis Stevens that qualified him for a shot at the IBF world title. A thrilling encounter with David Lemieux followed with the Canadian prevailing via the scorecards, with N’Dam showing huge bravery after being put to the canvas on four occasions by the heavy-hitting Lemieux.
A further four wins followed for the now 34-year-old before he headed to Japan in May 2017 to face London 2012 Olympic gold medalist Ryōta Murata for the vacant WBA regular world title, which he won via a controversial split decision.
The pair rematched five months later, again on Japanese soil, where N’Dam was forced into retirement in the seventh round.
“He is obviously a good opponent and I have known about him for a while,” reacted Murray to the news of a tough night’s work being booked for him at the Manchester Arena. “He is a former world champion and a good fighter.
“It’s a good fight for me, one where I need to be on top of my game because he can box, he can move and he can fight as well. I am happy with it.
“I don’t want to be fighting in six or eight rounders against opponents who I am going to get out in two or three rounds. I need proper live opponents and this guy is one – and he will be coming to win.
“It is just the sort of fight I need.
“I am creeping my way back up there. It has been a slow rebuilding process from the Groves loss for me, but I am keeping myself afloat now and a win against this guy will keep me in the mix.”
Warrington: “I’ll Be #1 at Christmas!
(November 16th) Josh Warrington insists that nobody should be fooled by the pleasantries exchanged by himself and Carl Frampton on the recent media tour because he is fully prepared to break the pain barrier in order to defend his world title and become No.1 at Christmas.
The three-city whistle-stop promotional trip to highlight the IBF world featherweight title defense between holder Warrington and two-weight world champion Frampton was notable for the respectful rhetoric between the two fighters.
The build-up to Warrington’s title winning encounter against then champion Lee Selby in May was a spikey affair as a result of a feud that had developed between the pair from when a fight was originally mooted.
The just turned 28-year-old Leeds man states that the niceties will not stand the test of time when the two reach the business end of their association.
“Listen, don’t get it twisted, we are going in there to hurt each other and I am willing to die to defend my belt because it means that much to me,” said the 27-0 champion, who went on to outline his intentions post-Frampton.
“I want to give it all to take it home with me again and that is what I’m going to do.
“This is why we have taken the fight so soon, because we beat Carl and I want to go on and unify the division.
“I intend to spend Christmas at the top of the rankings, the No.1 featherweight in the country. It will be a nice little Christmas present.”
Williams Steps In and Steps Up To Face
Heffron In Thriller on Warrington / Frampton Card!
(November 14th,) The thrilling prospect of Mark Heffron taking on Liam Williams is to become a reality at the Manchester Arena on December 22, live on BT Sport Box Office.
Heffron, 21-0 (17KOs) and Williams, 18-2-1 (13KOs), collide on the undercard of Josh Warrington defending his IBF world featherweight title against Carl Frampton in what is certain to be an absolute barnstormer of a fight.
The match-up between the WBC International middleweight champion – and mandatory challenger for the British title – and the former British and WBO European super welterweight champion has come about due to the withdrawal of the originally scheduled opponents.
Heffron was due to challenge the British champion Jason Welborn, who subsequently vacated the title, while Williams was due to fight JJ Metcalf for the WBC International belt. Metcalf has pulled out of the fight due to injury.
There was no willingness amongst middleweight rivals to replace Welborn and oppose Heffron for the Lonsdale belt, but Williams has no issues over trying his hand at the higher weight against such a dangerous operator.
There is a history behind the match, with Heffron’s brother Ronnie suffering his only career defeat to Williams back in July 2014. The former standout amateur and highly-rated prospect was retired in the sixth round with a severe cut to the head and has not fought since.
“It is going to be some fight for me now on December 22 and it is one I am looking forward to as well,” said Heffron of the explosive match-up. “It is definitely a bigger fight than I had lined up before and it is one that will move me onto massive titles afterwards.
“Credit to Williams for stepping up when nobody else wanted to and he is also coming up from light middleweight. Give him his due for that.
“He is a big light middle though with a big back and very strong, so there shouldn’t be much between us when it comes to size.
“It is a fight that has got thriller written all over it and the idea of hitting and not getting hit will go out of the window fairly quickly.
“Of course I am looking to put it right for Ronnie – there is nothing wrong with a bit of revenge!”
Like Heffron, Williams believes he now faces a greater challenge than he was previously anticipating.
“One hundred per cent it is a bigger fight than I had lined up before – it is a cracking fight,” said the Welshman known as the ‘Machine’.
“What can I say other than it excites me. It gives me the chance to prove myself at the weight above as well and I should say that I am not being forced to move up because I can make light middle and will still make it.
“It is just an opportunity that has come to me because that bottle-job Metcalf pulled out again.
“Listen, I respect Mark Heffron, he is a quality fighter who can punch and box. I believe I can beat him and if I didn’t I wouldn’t have taken this fight and moved up a weight to take it.
“It will be a war and an incredible punch-up.”
Warrington: Best Years Behind Frampton!
(November 13th) Josh Warrington rejects the notion that his December 22 world title challenger Carl Frampton is back to his best.
The Jackal suffered the first defeat of his career against Leo Santa Cruz in January 2017 after becoming a two-weight world champion with victory over the Mexican in the previous July.
A period of inactivity followed before Frampton launched his bid to become world champion again with wins over Horacio Garcia, Nonito Donaire and Luke Jackson.
He strongly refutes the suggestion that his best years are behind him, but IBF world champion Warrington believes he has hit or is nearing his ‘best before’ date.
“I don’t think so,” responded the 27-year-old to the question of whether his 31-year-old challenger is in his prime years. “We’ll see on the 22nd and obviously he is going to train like a demon. He is going to come in there believing he is back to his best, but he has had a lot going on outside of boxing and had a bit of inactivity after the Santa Cruz fight.
“Alright, he had a short camp for the Horacio Garcia fight, but I don’t think he can take too much away from that. With Donaire he did what he had to do to win and I don’t think Luke Jackson posed too much of a threat.
“Something tells me he is just not the same Carl Frampton as he was.
“Has he lost a little bit of edge? I don’t know, but I do know that I am reaching my peak years.
“Before my last fight (against Lee Selby) I would have thought I would just be happy to win, but I came out of the ring thinking ‘who’s next?’. The fire is burning more than ever in the belly and I’ve worked hard to win this world title.
“Now I’ve got it I want to keep it and finish 2018 as champion with two massive wins. The first at Elland Road making history for the city of Leeds, my kids being born and now this could be the perfect end to my year.”
Conlan Eyes Future Warrington Clash!
(November 13th) MICHAEL CONLAN has two jobs in one night next month – making it a perfect ten as a professional and gathering some intelligence on possible future opponent, Josh Warrington.
Conlan (9-0) boxes on the undercard when Warrington (27-0) risks his IBF Featherweight crown against Carl Frampton (26-1) at Manchester Arena on December 22.
Belfast’s Conlan is widely expected to fight for a world title inside 18 months, but it won’t be against Frampton because they are close friends. Warrington is in his firing line.
Conlan said: “A fight against Josh is something I can see happening and it is going to be some fight between him and Carl.
“Another reason that I’m intrigued in the fight is that it’s a scouting mission for me.
“Win or lose, I would love to face Josh Warrington in the future. Carl and myself are friends so that won’t happen, but I am definitely keeping an eye on Josh.
“If Josh loses he is still going to come again because he is young enough, hungry, determined, fit and would have the ability to become world champion again if he loses.”
Conlan’s promoters Top Rank are steadily moving him up in class and by this time next year he’s likely to be fighting top operators like Warrington.
The 2015 world amateur champion added: “I would feel confident even though I rate Josh as a fighter. His style is one I love to face and one that brings out the best in my style of boxing.
“He is the same age range as me, has the ability to win more world titles and someone I watch.”
Heffron: Come Fight with Me!
(November 9th) Mark Heffron admits to being a little bemused over the apparent lack of enthusiasm amongst his middleweight rivals to step up and contest the British title against him.
The unbeaten knockout artist worked his way into mandatory position for a shot at the belt with a string of impressive victories and he was all set to take on the champion, Jason Welborn, who was fresh of a double over Tommy Langford.
The Manchester match-up was then aborted after purse bids had been won for Heffron to challenge for the title on the big Josh Warrington-Carl Frampton card on December 22.
It transpired that Welborn had understandably accepted a world title opportunity on December 1 against Jarrett Hurd on the undercard of Tyson Fury-Deontay Wilder, but the development was still a blow to the ambitious Heffron.
“I was pretty gutted that Welborn vacated the title, but obviously he has got a big opportunity,” said the 21-0 man known as ‘Kid Dynamite’. “I knew straight away that he had vacated to fight for the world title because my manager rang me, but I was still gutted although I understand it.
“I’m not really bothered that I won’t be fighting a champion, I just want to fight for the British and it doesn’t matter who I am fighting – as long as I win!”
Heffron will still fight for the coveted Lonsdale belt at the Manchester Arena if a contender steps up to the plate and accepts the challenge. However, at the moment, willing volunteers are not queuing up around the corner.
“We’ve had a few names thrown at us to fight for the vacant title and every name we have said yes to, but the people it has been offered to have come back and said they don’t want the fight, so it is a bit hard work at the minute.
“I can’t understand it, can I ‘eck, because if someone offered me the chance to fight for the British title I would grab it with both hands, which I obviously have done anyway.
“Reece Cartwright got offered it and then came back not wanting it, but I don’t know for what reason, while I think Tommy Langford was asked and he is moving up a weight.
“It has now got back to me about Conrad Cummings as well and he has not taken it either. I think he has got something else going on.
“I just need somebody to come forward and take the fight now.
“After that, Elliott Matthews is fighting for the Commonwealth soon, so if he wins that and I win the British then we can get it on next for both.”
Warrington: “There are Not Many Fighters
Who Go Straight from One Big Name to Another”!
(November 7th) The kudos of adding both Lee Selby and Carl Frampton to his win column in 2018 was the key attraction for Josh Warrington in putting his IBF world featherweight title at such significant risk in the first defence of his belt.
Respected champion Selby successfully defended his title five times after winning it with the impressive stoppage of the previously unbeaten Evgeny Gradovich in May 2015. He came unstuck against a rampant Warrington at Elland Road in May and many in the business anticipated the Leeds man taking on a more routine assignment on home turf next time out.
Instead he will venture across to the Manchester Arena on December 22 to tackle two-weight world champion – and current WBO Interim world title holder – Carl Frampton in a BT Sport Box Office spectacular.
If he can add the name of the decorated Frampton to that of Selby it will make for quite a year for the 27-year-old, but he points out that it is about more than just impressive entries on his CV. Warrington wants to prove that he is the best about at the weight in Britain at the moment.
“That is what I’ve been saying to folk, there are not many people that do that,” he stated on his bid for a big win-double.
“There are not many fighters who go straight from one big name to another.
“Obviously it is a massive opportunity for Carl and, as I have said before, we didn’t have to take this fight but I want to prove that I am the best featherweight in the UK. I believe I am and the best way to show it is to fight.
“Carl is also signed up with Frank (Warren) so the fight was easy enough to make and, as Frank says, ‘it’s on!’.”
Frampton Mocks Warrington Knockout Record!
(November 6th) Carl Frampton ridiculed the suggestion from Josh Warrington that he might look for an early night when the pair clash with the IBF world featherweight title at stake on December 22 at the Manchester Arena.
Champion Warrington confessed that his only slight regret from his dismantling of then title holder Lee Selby at Elland Road in May was that he did not capitalise and attempt to force a stoppage when he had the Welshman tiring and cornered.
He vowed to avoid a repeat in his BT Box Office blockbuster against two-weight world champion Frampton and, if the opportunity presents itself, he intends to go for the jugular.
“I don’t like making predictions and I see a Josh Warrington win, but I am going to go for a stoppage this time,” stated the Leeds Warrior last week. If I see it I am going to go for it.
“Coming out of the Selby fight, if I was going to criticise myself or kick myself, I wish I had just pressed on. This time around, if I see the opportunity I am just going to go for it.”
Frampton, for his part, was unimpressed with the thinking of his opponent and mocked the 27-year-old by posting his Boxrec page on Twitter, circling his record which shows six stoppages from his 27 unbeaten contests.
“He may take the pillows off then,” added the Belfast hero in a caustic follow-up comment.
Friendly fire aside, Frampton did agree in response to another poster that all eventualities are being catered for and he was ‘preparing for a hard fight’.
Warrington’s punch power has been questioned in the past, but he has answered critics in recent fights with impressive stoppages over both Patrick Hyland and Dennis Ceylan, with Hyland having previously only been stopped by Gary Russell jr and handing the experience to the Dane for the first time in his career.
Massey Bidding for Cruise Control – Eyes Okolie Clash!
(November 1st) Jack Massey believes that a couple of recent high-profile fights in his weight division have potentially given the cruiserweights a bad name.
The 14-0 Massey, who goes by the name of ‘One Smack’, is keen to propel himself into the thick of things and returns to action on the mammoth Manchester Arena card on December 22 as one of the support acts to Josh Warrington defending his IBF world featherweight title against two-weight world champion Carl Frampton.
Fights that have been given the big build up, such as Lawrence Okolie-Isaac Chamberlain and Matty Askin-Okolie, have failed to live up to their billing and Massey fears the boxing public could be turned off from the 200 pounders.
“Yeah, a little bit, I definitely think so myself,” considered the 25-year-old. “You don’t want people to watch fights like that and think it is what boxing is about. Matty Askin is a talent, so is Chamberlain, but Okolie is just awkward and holds a lot.
“He made them look mediocre as well as himself,” added Jack, who says the hype around these fights was not justified in the ring.
“No, not really, but there is a lot of talent in the cruiserweight division at the moment with a lot of good up and coming young fighters.
“If you saw the Okolie-Askin fight it was a bit of a stinker and you don’t want people to watch that and think that is what the cruiserweights are about. You want people to be interested in the cruiserweight division and see some good fights.”
Massey views himself as the man to restore the sparkle to the division and would willingly put himself forward to challenge Okolie. However, he suspects he is not viewed as an ideal candidate for a voluntary defence of a title and he will have to force the issue by earning mandatory status.
“I definitely think it is time to step up and obviously fight for some titles – we need a big title fight now. I feel like I am ready for that.
“My last fight – against Ian Tims – was a bit of a step up and, from what I am hearing from my management, a lot of people don’t want to fight me now and are ducking and diving a little bit.
“It seems like it will be harder to get a title shot unless I get into a mandatory position. So I just need to crack on and get some good fights, starting on December 22. I need to get cracking up the rankings then see what we can get.
“It is a great show to be on with some top fights on it and I think my tickets are going to fly out for it.
“We’d like the Okolie fight and he’s now got the target on his back, hasn’t he? Obviously styles make fights and it would be an awkward fight, but we have had a look at him and seen a few things.
“He has won the British and Commonwealth so he is the one you are going to target and we would like that fight. If not, we will go back to the drawing board and see what is best for us in getting up the rankings.
“It doesn’t sound like Okolie will take the fight so I can’t see it happening any time soon.”
Valdez: Give Me Warrington / Frampton Winner!
(October 30th) WBO featherweight champion Oscar Valdez is demanding a unification showdown against Josh Warrington or Carl Frampton.
Warrington makes the first defence of his IBF title against Frampton at the Manchester Arena on Saturday December 22nd, live on BT Sport Box Office.
And the winner is set to be heading straight into a mega fight against Valdez who has made four defences of the title he won in July 2016 against Matias Carlos Adrian Rueda.
Valdez who has won all 24 professional fights, 19 by KO said: “I have always said that I want to fight the best.
“Frampton and Warrington are both big names in the sport. I’m ready to fight the winner and unify titles.”
Valdez’s promoter Bob Arum has said he has already spoke with Frank Warren about matching the winner of the Christmas cracker between Warrington and Frampton.
He told ‘The Boxing Beat’ on ESPN+: “We’re looking at January 12 for Valdez to fight on ESPN and then, assuming he wins that fight, then we would put him in with the Frampton-Warrington winner.
“I’ve already talked to Frank Warren about that.”
Valdez, 27, suffered a broken jaw when he outpointed Scott Quigg in March that has kept him sidelined since that win.
There had been speculation he may have boxed Frampton in August, but he hadn’t recovered from his injury in time.
Valdez warned Warrington and Frampton: “I want to prove I’m the best featherweight in the world.”
Mick Conlan Added to Warrington / Frampton Card!
(October 23rd) The Belfast side of the blockbuster Manchester Arena show headlined by the IBF world featherweight title showdown between Josh Warrington and Carl Frampton has been strengthened by the addition of unbeaten fellow featherweight star Michael Conlan to the bill.
The blue-chip prospect and former world amateur champion will have his tenth professional fight in Manchester, live and exclusive on BT Sport Box Office in the UK.
Conlan said: “I am really excited to be fighting on the same card as my stablemate and friend, Carl Frampton. I am looking to step up in class and reach 10-0 as a pro by Christmas. The Conlan Revolution rolls into Manchester!”
In his hugely successful amateur career, Conlan was ranked No.1 in the AIBA world rankings at bantamweight with a medal haul that included an Olympic bronze medal (London 2012), Commonwealth Games gold (Glasgow 2014), European Championships gold (Samokov, Bulgaria 2015) and a World Championships gold (Doha 2015). He achieved superstar status in his homeland as one of Ireland’s most decorated amateur fighters of all time.
Since turning professional in the wake of a controversial exit from the 2016 Rio Olympics, Conlan has clocked up nine straight wins, with six of them coming inside the distance.
The 26-year-old made his debut as the headliner at the Madison Square Garden Theater where, after being walked to the ring by Irish MMA superstar Conor McGregor, he outclassed Tim Ibarra to get his pro journey underway.
He has since boxed in Chicago, Brisbane, Tucson and a further two times at the MSG Theater, before getting to perform in the main arena at the Garden against Ibon Larrinaga in May.
The following month he enjoyed a homecoming fight and a significant step up in class against Adeilson Dos Santos at the SSE Arena in Belfast, where he was victorious over the eight-round distance. Just last Saturday, at the Park Theater in Las Vegas, Conlan stopped the normally durable Nicola Cipolletta in the seventh round.
Tommy Fury Signs with Frank Warren
To Make Pro Debut on Warrington / Frampton Undercard!
(October 22nd) Tommy Fury, the younger brother of Tyson Fury, has signed a promotional deal with Frank Warren and will make his professional bow on the undercard of Josh Warrington’s world title defence against Carl Frampton in Manchester on December 22nd.
At 19-years-old, Tommy is the youngest out of the fighting Fury family.
With older brother Tyson already having achieved so much within the sport and having the opportunity to engrave his name onto the WBC World Heavyweight title come December 1st, Tommy is under no illusion that his world renowned ‘Fury’ name will certainly gather plenty of attention when he laces up the gloves on December 22nd.
“It’s big shoes to fill isn’t it?!” joked Tommy.
He continued: “…But sure, it’s a big name to live up to but I don’t feel any added pressure on myself because of it, I know that I will make my own name in this sport.”
Boxing has been in Tommy’s life since the day he was born and began to take the sport more seriously as a 12-year-old, but due to the shortage of opponents willing to fight him, boxing was a very stop-start process at first.
“I only had 12 amateur fights in the end. I went to the nationals and got to the final, won the north regionals twice, so I did reasonably well.
“But amateur boxing and professional boxing are two different things. I regularly spar with Hughie [Fury, Tommy’s cousin] and his sparring partners and I know I am more suited to the pro game.”
Tommy will begin his professional journey as a light-heavyweight under the tutelage of British boxing hero Ricky Hatton at the Hatton gym in Manchester.
Along with the fighting ‘Fury’ blood running through his veins and naturally coming across a very confident young man, Tommy’s ambitions within the sport are sky high.
“I want to be World Champion, I think if you’re turning pro that has to be what you are aiming to achieve.
“I don’t want to be fighting people I can easily knock over, I want to be progressed by stepping up in level every time I step into the ring.
“I want to be fighting someone who wants to fight me back and try and make things competitive.”
Tommy Fury will make his debut on the undercard of IBF world featherweight champion Josh Warrington’s title defence against former two-weight world champion Carl Frampton at the Manchester Arena on December 22nd live on BT Sport Box Office.
Welborn vs Heffron for British Title in Manchester!
(October 14th) Undefeated Middleweight Mark Heffron will fight Jason Welborn for the British middleweight title in Manchester on December 22nd.
The fight will feature on the undercard of the eagerly awaited world title scrap between IBF Featherweight champion Josh Warrington and former two-weight world champion Carl Frampton, live on BT Sport Box Office.
Oldham’s Mark Heffron has racked up twenty-one victories as a professional with no loss to his name after eight years as a professional. The twenty-six-year-old will now have the opportunity to win the famous Lonsdale strap, a feat he believes he has always been destined to achieve.
“I’m over the moon this fight his happening, it makes a nice change that I haven’t had to chase this fight!” joked Heffron.
He continued: “I’ve always known I am good enough to be fighting at this level even before I turned pro. I will be training hard for this fight and I am very confident I can win.”
Heffron will be the challenger when he steps into the ring against the British champion Jason Welborn. The West Midlander won the British Title at the third attempt, losing to Frankie Gavin for the welterweight version and Liam Smith for the super-welterweight strap prior to his victory against Tommy Langford.
Welborn got the better of Langford once again in September to defend the title which he took away from him, both fighters showing us a repeat of their first encounter by going toe-to-toe in an all-out war.
After studying both of the Langford scraps, Heffron believes Welborn’s attacking mentally won’t do him any favours when the two fighter step into the ring.
“I feel very confident going into this fight. I have a lot of confidence in my own ability and my punching power. I’ll be training for a twelve-round fight, but I know this is going to be a knockout victory.”
IBF world featherweight champion Josh Warrington takes on former two-time world champion Carl Frampton at the Manchester Arena on December 22nd. Mark Heffron will challenge Jason Welborn for his British middleweight title live on BT Sport Box Office.
Tickets are priced at £50 Upper Tier, £80 Tier, £100 Tier, £150 Tier, £200 Floor/Tier, £300 Floor, £400 Floor, £600 Inner Ring VIP Hospitality and are available. Tickets available via Eventim and Ticketmaster.
Warrington vs Frampton Presser!
Josh Warrington Makes First Defense
of IBF World Featherweight Championship
Against Carl Frampton December 22nd!
(September 15th) Josh Warrington will defend his IBF World Featherweight title against Carl Frampton at the Manchester Arena on 22nd December, live on BT Sport Box Office.
Warrington (27-0) became Leeds first ever world champion when he upset the odds and defeated Lee Selby at Elland Road back in May.
The undefeated 27-year-old will now be involved in yet another huge domestic clash this year when he faces the current interim WBO World Featherweight champion, Frampton (26-1) subject to IBF sanctioning.
“The Frampton fight really appeals to me and it will be another big scalp for me.” said the IBF Featherweight champion.
“I went over to Windsor Park to watch Carl fight a few weeks ago, I wouldn’t have gone over there if I wasn’t interested in the fight. There was easier routes I could have taken like having a voluntary. Frampton and Selby in the same year would be a massive achievement.
“It’s about keeping the momentum going and I just believe I can beat Carl. I am just as confident in beating Carl as I was beating Lee [Selby]. These are fights that the British public want to see, I’m a world champion and when you are world champion you want to fight the best and Carl is a name who is up there.”
The fight will take place in neutral territory when both sets of boxing fans make the trip to Manchester on 22nd December. Both fighters have proved in recent times that they are two of the best supported boxers in Britain. Over 20,000 Warrington fans filled up Leeds United’s Elland Road in May whilst Frampton sold out Northern Ireland’s national stadium, Windsor Park in August.
“Me and Warrington have big fan bases that make a lot of noise, so I think first and foremost the atmosphere is going to be fantastic and possibly a bit hostile as well.” said Frampton.
‘The Jackal’ will have the opportunity to become world champion once again, when he faces Warrington. The Belfast man has been without a world title since his narrow points defeat to Leo Santa Cruz in Las Vegas in January 2017. If victorious, it will be Frampton’s fourth world title in two weight divisions in which has been already a very successful boxing career.
“I’ve done a lot more in my career than I thought I would have when I turned professional. I’m very proud of my career but I believe I still have more to give and want to keep going as long as I can. I will add my fourth world title and go on and unify again.
“You’re going to see two hungry guys in their prime, Warrington has just won this world title and isn’t going to give it up easily. I know what it’s like to be a world champion and I want that feeling back again, I think there is going to be fireworks in this fight.”
More information on how to purchase tickets for Warrington vs Frampton will follow soon.