Wednesday, November 1
Chris Billam-Smith’s clash with Mateusz Masternak on December 10 was formally announced at a press conference in London on Wednesday. CBS, ever The Gentleman, rocked up in a suit carrying his WBO world title belt in a little briefcase.
When asked where he has been keeping the strap, he says it has found a home under his bed. “I did put it up on display in my new house,” he said. “But I took it down when we had people over for dinner because I felt like a bit of a knob.”
In fact it was a big day for British cruiserweight world champions both past and present as, 25 miles west of that press conference, Johnny Nelson was at Windsor Castle to receive an MBE for his services to boxing from Prince William (not currently ranked with any major sanctioning body).
For a man who lost his first three professional fights, it has been some road for Nelson, now one of British boxing’s favourite faces. He is set to launch the Johnny Nelson Foundation at a dinner in February. We are currently unable to confirm where Nelson will keep his new medal, but it probably won’t be under his bed.
Thursday, November 2
TIME AND A PLAICE
At a high-end Greek restaurant in London’s Piccadilly on Thursday, The Week sat down for lunch with Frank Warren to survey the fall-out from the promoter’s first Arabian Night – and discuss what was next for both Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou.
Between mouthfuls of sea bream, Warren confirmed that he has been assured that the IBF will not strip Oleksandr Usyk of his title as long as he faces Fury ‘before March’ which fits in nicely with the Saudis’ plan to stage the fight inside Riyadh Season, which also ends that month. The mandatory will be called immediately after that fight and, given Fury and Usyk’s contracted rematch, it means their first clash will be the one and only undisputed fight at heavyweight for the foreseeable future.
Also that day in England’s fair capital, one of Britain’s most promising female boxers, Maisey Rose Courtney got out of bed and decided to run a marathon in the rain. She completed it in 4:29 but it is unclear whether her route took her through Piccadilly.
In America, it was announced that Shakur Stevenson has signed a deal with Reebok, making him the latest member of the elite club of boxers with their own personalised stash from a major sporting brand.
Friday, November 3
NETFLIX AND CHILL
According to the Wall Street Journal on Friday, we could be about to get a whole new meaning for the phrase Netflix & Chill with the streaming giant considering a move into boxing.
It was suggested that Netflix’s initial foray into the sport would be a Jake Paul fight, which is not surprising given the current climate, but more interestingly, a PBC card is also on their list.
Al Haymon’s band of merry men/women will be homeless by the end of the year given Showtime’s confirmed exit from the sport but an instant move to Netflix would further cement the seismic shift in the way the sport is consumed on both sides of The Pond these days.
Given DAZN’s position and the recent announcement that Boxxer shows will be broadcast on NBC’s Peacock app, permanent involvement from Netflix could be huge in the streaming sphere. At a time when many people are re-writing boxing obituaries, some high-quality fayre on such a mainstream behemoth would provide the sport with a much-needed shot in the arm. Just look what they did for F1. And David Beckham.
Saturday, November 4
RECORDS ARE FOR DJS
Where to start on a night filled with thrills and spills. First, a very solid boxing quiz question: Name the cruiserweight who was beaten for the same belt in two consecutive fights by two different people.
The correct answer is Ilunga Makabu, who lost his WBC title to Badou Jack in February but then somehow boxed for the same belt in his next outing when Jack vacated it. He got stopped by Norair Mikaeljan in three in Florida, by the way.
In Monte Carlo there was an almighty shock at light-fly when the undefeated world No.3 Sivenathi Nontshinga was wiped out by 24-year-old Adrian Curiel in just four minutes and nine seconds. Curiel arrived in the land of the haves and the have-yachts with a 23-4-1 record, having never boxed outside Mexico and with just FOUR inside distance wins.
On the subject of knockouts, hats off to Ramla Ali, who bounced back from her chilling KO at the hands of Julissa Guzman in June to exact revenge over the Mexican in their instant rematch. Ali was dropped and stopped inside eight back in the summer but exorcised those demons by winning a 10-round decision on the undercard in Monaco.
Sunday, November 5
Another quiz question: Since the turn of the century, which Fighter of the Year failed to box at all in the year that followed? The answer is Tyson Fury, but Dimitri Bivol is on the verge of making it a two-man club.
On Sunday, however, during an interview with Fight Hub, Bivol opened up on the delay and revealed that a late December return is not out of the question. It will likely land in Chicago or Las Vegas and Lyndon Arthur was one of the potential opponents named.
The light-heavyweight, who recently posed for a face-off with Artur Beterbiev, said: “I had personal changes in my life, my injury and I had other small problems. You know when you take your car for a service, after that it’s better. Now I feel like I got my service.”
In the UK, as dogs across the country listened to Classic FM in a bid to stifle the endless November 5th fireworks, suggestions of an explosive (see what I did there?) clash between 39-year-old Dereck Chisora and 0-1 Francis Ngannou began to emerge. “I think he’s amazing,” Chisora said. “I will definitely knock him out.”
Monday, November 6
In what was his first social media post for over a year, Sky stalwart Adam Smith gave a hugely positive and warmly received update on his situation and hinted at a return to the fold. “A brutal year away recovering from serious ill-health has given me the opportunity to think of my wider passions in sport,” he wrote. “Taking a deeper interest in the development of sports men and women and presenting/commentating on a broader canvas. I am cancer free and raring to go.” Does this mean he is coming back to boxing? That much was not clear but what a boost that would be to Sky.
In not such positive news, as per Lucas County Corrections Center jail records, on Monday, in his home state of Ohio, Top Rank’s promising heavyweight Jared Anderson was arrested by police and booked on two charges: Improperly Handling Firearms in a Motor Vehicle Knowingly Transport Under The Influence and Operating Vehicle Under The Influence Of Alcohol Or Drugs. It was reported that he was initially pulled over doing 55mph in a 40. He was released from jail, the report said, after he posted a $7,500 bond.
Tuesday, November 7
EWE CANNOT BE SERIOUS
It was a strange old Tuesday at The Week Towers. As ‘Britain’s Loneliest Sheep’, a ewe called Fiona, was reintegrated to society (I suppose?) after her rescue on Monday, Adrien Broner took to Instagram to assure Golden Boy Promotions that he is ready to fight Ryan Garcia should he beat Oscar Duarte in December. “Why the fuck would I be afraid of Saving Private Ryan.” he said. “Send the contract.”
In the UK, on Tuesday evening, the BBC aired Louis Theroux’s long-form interview with Anthony Joshua, who was still champion when Fiona went missing two years ago.
Theroux spent time with Chris Eubank just over 20 years ago in a now-infamous documentary and is back in boxing with AJ. “Do you think you could take me?” Theroux asks the heavyweight in one of the rings at the Finchley Amateur Boxing Club. “Yeah,” Joshua replies. “What makes you so sure?” Theroux presses. They also spend time discussing a fight between Theroux and Piers Morgan. Although reports are unconfirmed, it has been suggested that Fiona has been asked to be put back where they found her. Experts say she’s already had enough.