Plus, Jonas scrapes by, Joyce returns and Munguia’s moves
This article was originally published in Steve Wellings’ Substack
A steady cash flow can heal even the deepest of rifts in boxing, including bringing together supposed enemies Eddie Hearn (Matchroom) and Frank Warren (Queensberry).
Rather than focusing on the things that divide them, the powerhouse promoters of UK boxing have instead focused on the things that unite them. Or rather the one thing that unites them: a love of lucre.
The new boxing home of Saudi Arabia and the influence of Turki Alalshikh, aka His Excellency, has persuaded the duo to tentatively announce a five-versus-five event with representatives from the respective stables throwing down.
Love at first fight: Eddie and Frank have patched things up
The exact date and card rundown is set to be announced during AJ-Ngannou fight week at the beginning of March. Don’t get too excited though. On the surface it may seem like a sizzling opportunity. The eventual matchups, however, are likely to be more Skeete-Eggington, or perhaps Saunders-Ryder, than anything major.
It will be a fun evening if nothing else as the pair jostle for bragging rights. Frank was once the big cheese of British boxing, even battling with Eddie’s father Barry for supremacy during the 1980s and 90s. That was until Eddie took the Matchroom reins and reinvented the domestic boxing scene, initially at Frank’s expense.
The grizzled ‘Brick Top’ character responded by cosying up with some powerful allies and bounced back to first challenge Hearn before climbing into bed with his nemesis.
When top dog Turki made the five-versus-five proposal, it prompted the pair to shake hands and agree. Whenever Turki is sitting ringside watching Skye Nicolson against Raven Chapman, he may rue the suggestion.
In all seriousness, this new link-up could help pave the way for a Joshua-Fury fight in the future or a battle of Beterbiev’s cast-offs between Anthony Yarde and Callum Smith.
Like it or not, the Saudi influence in boxing is here to stay. Some criticise the country’s human rights concerns, while others declare it none of our business and are pleased that the big fights finally appear to be on the horizon. Everyone is free to choose how they think/feel about the whole thing. There’s no right or wrong answer.
Perhaps Riyadh season can also push a light-heavyweight clash between Artur Beterbiev and Dmitry Bivol over the line. Not many other locations would have the financial interest to put on a fight between two relatively unknown Russians.
Like water running downhill, seeping through cracks and crevices, the sport of boxing always finds a way.
- Natasha Jonas just about held on to her IBF welterweight title, eking out a split decision win over Mikaela Mayer. Jonas started strong, but the 39-year-old faded as Mayer took over. The American visitor throws with high volume but is a non-puncher. This is the second loss of Mayer’s career, both on British soil, as she once again leaves feeling aggrieved at the verdict.
- On the Liverpool undercard, Zak Chelli tidied up his rematch with Jack Cullen by posting a unanimous decision victory for the British and Commonwealth super-middleweight titles. The pair had fought to a draw in 2020, but Chelli’s loose stance and added mobility was too much for the stiffer, upright Cullen, who was unable to get his shots off consistently over 12 rounds. “I hope these guys have day jobs,” quipped ESPN analyst Tim Bradley.
- Working out in Los Angeles ahead of his January 27 clash against John Ryder, Mexican star Jaime Munguia has changed trainers. Veteran Freddie Roach now heads the corner, although previous coach Erik Morales is still involved in an advisory capacity. Defeating Ryder in style would be a solid statement for Munguia, who won a barnburner with Sergey Derevyanchenko in his last outing.
- Joe Joyce will seek to put two devastating defeats behind him when the likeable London heavyweight tackles Kash Ali on March 16. Ali was once tipped for big things, but his career has meandered along. A 2019 disqualification for biting David Price remains the notorious highlight. Joyce should deal with him handily.Media Credits: Boxing Scene.
About Steve: Experienced boxing writer, author of 8 books and podcaster of over 500 eps. 20 years in the sport. Covered hundreds of shows for newspapers and Boxing News magazine. Chief video script writer for Motivedia channel and BN+. For enquiries: email@example.com.