Slowly but surely the sporting world is beginning to come out of its enforced period of hibernation.
British boxing is desperate to return to normal. The sport has done wonderfully well to keep going behind closed doors but recent events across the Atlantic have shown just how much fans, fighters, promoters and broadcasters benefit from having full arenas. This weekend, boxing returns to the historic Royal Albert Hall and although the famous old venue won’t be full, there are due to be a couple of thousand fans in attendance. Frank Warren has provided his fighters with the perfect stage, now they have to perform. For all the latest fight odds, visit our sportsbook.
“I think all the lads this weekend have got to go out and do the business and – importantly – they have to look good doing it,” Warren told 32Red. “At least we’ve been allowed to get some fans inside so there will be a bit of an atmosphere. The lads have to go out and show the world exactly what they can do.”
Lyndon Arthur headlines the show this weekend, his decision victory over Anthony Yarde earning him top billing. He faces unbeaten Italian Davide Faraci and his number one position in the WBO light heavyweight rankings will be on the line. Yarde was also due to appear but Warren’s team found it impossible to secure a suitable replacement opponent after Emin Atra withdrew a couple of weeks ago. No matter, the pair are still on a collision course for an eagerly awaited rematch.
“We lost Yarde’s opponent about ten days ago and have been working hard to secure somebody else suitable,” Warren said. “The objective was to have all three of our light heavyweights out on the same show and build it up but Callum Johnson got a hand injury.
“There’s a contract in place for the rematch [between Arthur and Yarde]. In an ideal world, this fight here would be the rematch. [WBO champion] Joe Smith will probably look for a big fight and hasn’t got a mandatory due until next year.”
Zach Parker (20-0, 14 KO’s) has made a big impression on everybody at Warren’s office since joining earlier this year. The unbeaten 23 year old holds the number one position in the WBO’s super middleweight rankings and should he come through unscathed this weekend, a phonecall confirming his position as mandatory challenger to a certain Canelo Alvarez could come at any time. Warren hadn’t seen too much of Parker before signing him up but likens his impact to that of a football team bringing in an unknown gem as a free signing or introducing a talented youngster through from the youth team.
“He’s been our Bukayo Saka hasn’t he?” Warren laughed. “I’m really, really pleased with Zach. I hadn’t seen a lot of him at all but I thought his debut for us was outstanding. He did it in style and stopped a guy who had never been stopped before. He looked so rangy, so big and strong.
“He’s a nice boy and I tell you something, when he decides to go up a weight he’ll give all the light heavyweights something to think about too.
“The fight I’d love to make for him is Chris Eubank Junior. I’ll tell you something else, how about Billy Joe Saunders? It isn’t as if Zach doesn’t bring anything to the table. He has that number one spot doesn’t he?”
Young Dennis McCann [9-0, 5 KO’s) also makes his latest appearance this weekend. The Royal Albert Hall was the scene of a spectacular corkscrew uppercut which floored Georgi Georgiev and shot McCann to the top of most people’s ‘Can’t Miss Prospect’ lists. The bantamweight has been shown his calculating side recently and a return to his menacing best would reignite the fire around him.
“Dennis is an offensive fighter. He’s strong and he’s exciting. His last performance, I thought he boxed really well and did what he needed to do but I think he could have stopped that guy if he’d stepped it up,” Warren said.
“It’d be nice for Dennis to get an explosive finish and remind people what he’s capable of. That’s what he’s about.”