THE deluge of July 28 undercard fights unveiled by Matchroom Boxing this morning was a bit like rummaging through a sack of presents on Christmas Day. For every Scalextric or Action Man, there was a pair of socks and a mouldy satsuma.
Most disappointing of all, I suppose, was the news that Kell Brook, formerly one of the best welterweights on the planet, will lock horns with unknown Canadian Brandon Cook, someone whose only loss occurred in the only fight he has taken outside his homeland.
Cook, 20-1 (13), was a man about whom little was known this morning. In fact, were it not for a press release and a Google search, he would still be off most people’s radars, both as a super-welterweight contender and as a possible Kell Brook opponent.
But that’s not to say he can’t fight, nor that he will be found wanting when the time comes to share a ring with one of Britain’s premier talents on July 28.
It just doesn’t bode well, that’s all.
Also announced for the O2 Arena show headlined by Dillian Whyte vs. Joseph Parker – a brilliant heavyweight fight, it should be said – was a rematch of the thrilling six-rounder from last December between Conor Benn, 12-0 (9), and Cedrick Peynaud, 6-5-3 (4), this time over 10, as well as an equally intriguing 10-rounder in the form of Joshua Buatsi, 6-0 (4), versus Ricky Summers, 15-1 (5).
The former fight should be another humdinger – Benn can seemingly fight only one way – while the latter is a much-needed step up for Buatsi, a 2016 Olympian who has so far smashed his way through a variety of journeymen and waited patiently for his moment.
There’s more. Katie Taylor, the WBA and IBF female lightweight champion, will defend her two belts against 37-year-old Texan Kimberley Connor.
Last year Connor lost a unanimous decision to Argentina’s Victoria Noelia Bustos. Then, a year later, Bustos lost a unanimous decision to Katie Taylor.
This, once again, doesn’t mean Taylor will have an easy time with Connor, nor suggest it’s an unwinnable fight for the American.
But it doesn’t bode well.
In boxing, if you wait around long enough, and wish for something long enough, the right kind of movement tends to happen.
Having just had his WBA regular super-middleweight title shot against Tyron Zeuge confirmed for July 14, Liverpool’s Rocky Fielding is a good example of this.
At first, it appeared Fielding, 26-1 (14), would be in line to face WBO ruler Gilberto Ramirez, somewhere in America, but that fell by the wayside and left Fielding seeking alternative options, one of which, it turned out, was Zeuge, a champion of the regular variety. This option, perhaps more than the Ramirez one, would seem to make sense and is one Fielding has been calling for since it first became a possibility.
The timing’s good, too. Since being caught cold by Callum Smith inside a round in 2015, Fielding has scored solid wins against the likes of John Ryder, Christopher Rebrasse and David Brophy. Not only that, as the British champion, a shot at some kind of regular world title – don’t get me started – is nowadays the next logical step.
“I’m very excited for this,” said Fielding. “It’s what I have dreamed of since being a young kid – to become world champion – and we’re nearly there.
“To have the date locked in makes it all the more real and it’s something now to focus and aim towards. I have watched and tracked Zeuge since he won the world title against De Carolis. He’s a good fighter with decent foot work in particular. He’s undefeated and has done everything they have asked of him so far.
“I boxed on the recent (Kell) Brook card and been ticking over and working with my coach Jamie Moore since. The Ramirez fight fell through, which was disappointing, but everything happens for a reason and my promoter Eddie Hearn said I’ll be in big fight in July, so that kept me going. I can’t wait for the opening bell.”
With the fight being in Offenburg, Germany, and with Zeuge being German and decent, this figures to be an uphill task for Fielding, despite his recent run of good form.
He watched fellow Liverpudlian Paul Smith attempt something similar last June, but Zeuge, on that night, proved more than just a regular fighter holding a regular title who benefits from home comforts in German. In fact, Zeuge impressed against Smith, just as he did when stopping Giovanni De Carolis in November 2016 to win his current title, and just as he did when knocking out Isaac Ekpo last time out in March.
“I’m really looking forward to the fight,” said Zeuge, 26. “It takes place on the same day as the World Cup third-place play-off in Russia, but I promise to my fans that they won’t see anything but the best from me, a real final, and another successful defence of my WBA world super-middleweight title.”
The mention of a WBA regular title fight being on the same night as a third-place World Cup play-off match couldn’t be more appropriate or well-timed. Well played, Tyron Zeuge.