Dinner date

ON Wednesday, Matchroom confirmed the next move for one of the most exciting fighters in the sport, and one of their newest signings, Subriel Matias.

In his first fight since signing with Eddie Hearn, the 32-year-old puncher will return home to fight in Puerto Rico for the first time in nearly five years when he faces Australian Liam Paro at the Coliseo Juan Aubin Cruz in Manati on June 15. All of Matias’ 20 wins have come inside the distance while the only blot on his copybook came via a 10-round decision loss to Petros Ananyan. In a stacked division, Matias might just be the most explosive of all.

Elsewhere on Wednesday, The Week went for lunch with Frank Warren in central London for an update on all things Queensberry. For starters, he revealed that the hold up on the proposed fight between Anthony Yarde and Joshua Buatsi is because they still haven’t agreed a purse split. Warren has suggested the fairest way of doing things is an even split between the pair on a pay-per-view fight but it is understood that Team Yarde would rather have a flat fee. We await news on that.

Bam versus Estrada

THEN, on Thursday, Big Frank revealed that the press conference to reveal the participants of the 5 v 5 Matchroom v Queensberry event on June 1 will take place on April 15 in London. All parties are doing their best to keep things secret and Warren would certainly give nothing away on his picks at Wednesday’s lunch.

Also on Thursday, there was confirmation of what could be one of the best fights all year with Juan Francisco Estrada set to face Jesse ‘Bam’ Rodriguez for the WBC super-flyweight title in Phoenix on June 29.

Rodriguez is coming off the back of his superb win against Sunny Edwards in December and will hope to add Mexican great Estrada to his list of scalps, which also includes the likes of Carlos Cuadras and Srisaket Sor Rungvisai.

But Estrada, 33 and recognised by BN as the man in his division, is undefeated in more than six years and has beaten Roman ‘Chocolatito’ Gonzalez twice in his last three outings.

“I’m very happy to announce my return against ‘Bam’ Rodriguez,” said Estrada. “After my last victory against Chocolatito we took a good break and I was able to spend quality time with my family and my kids and heal an injury I was dealing with.”

Good Friday

AS Tim Tszyu and Sebastian Fundora both made weight in Las Vegas, the lesser-spotted Errol Spence Jnr emerged to reveal he was on the hunt for the winner.

In London, the final presser ahead of Easter Sunday’s huge show at the O2 Arena took place with Ben Whittaker a target of a gatecrasher.

His fellow light-heavyweight Ezra Arenyeka, the Chesire-based Nigerian decided to whip up a fight between the pair. “You’re an Olympian who is fighting guys that nobody knows,” Arenyeka said. “I’ve had 12 fights and 10 knockouts.” Whittaker replied: “but who have you fought? After I’ve finished with Leon Willings you can jump in.”

In fact it was a busy day all round for Whittaker, who then turned his attentions on Sky Sports commentator Andy Clarke. The light-heavyweight had taken umbrage with the fact that Clarke had suggested some of his antics, namely tapping his opponent on the top of the head, was ‘disrespectful’. “No it’s not disrespectful,” Whittaker said to Clarke on a live stream. “That’s skill.”

A man with a van

UNBEKNOWN  to anyone at the presser was that the show was about to be thrown into doubt by an east London thief who decided to steal one of Mike Goodall’s Ringcraft vans. Goodall, who organises and arranges rings, backdrops, sound systems and everything in between for boxing events in the UK and abroad, took to Twitter to appeal for any info. On Saturday, he posted a picture of a van with the caption: “Identical sprinter to this stolen early hours of this morning 30/3/24 from hotel car park Canning Town area London …contains half a boxing ring for Sunday nights Sky Boxing show Reward for Return… please re-tweet.”

Over in America, Tszyu and Fundora clashed in one of the bloodiest battles of recent times, following a bad cut to the top of the Australian’s head. Late stand-in and underdog Fundora used his height and reach advantages to box his way to a brilliant split-decision victory in Las Vegas which turned the 154lbs division on its head. As promised, Spence jumped straight in the ring to try and secure a shot at the new champ, but he might have to wait in line – more on that later this week.

No news is bad news

AS part of the fun at the O2 Arena on Easter Sunday, there was an announcement of sorts in the ring regarding what could be a pivotal moment for the super-lightweight division in Britain.

Of course we were all still waiting for news on what will happen in the Adam Azim and Dalton Smith situation, after both the British Boxing Board of Control and the European Boxing Union decided to order a fight between the two.

However, on Sunday, Boxxer brought together Azim and the other big name in Britain at 140lbs, Harlem Eubank. This also meant that two British and Irish boxing legends Chris Eubank and Barry McGuigan had their say as Boxxer began to build an intriguing fight between Azim and Eubank.

The only problem was – there is no fight. There was no date, no venue, not even any confirmation that the pair of them will fight next. It just seemed like a tactic to put a pin in the clamour for Azim against Smith. In fact at one point, Sky Sports legend Andy Scott asked if they would be getting round the table to negotiate terms. If this fight doesn’t get made now, Boxxer is going to look really silly.

April Fools Day

Joseph Parker, who famously lit up lockdown with a series of memorable comedy videos, was back at it with his video camera as he released one of the greatest call-out videos of all time.

This one was aimed at Dillian Whyte, who Parker lost to on points back in 2018. The in-form New Zealander decided the best way to try and lure Whyte into a rematch was to film a music video using Take That’s Back For Good, which included a picture of the Londoner wearing a pair of knickers among other tributes.

Later on April Fools Day, it was confirmed that the WBO have officially ordered Sebastian Fundora to defend his title against mandatory challenger Terence Crawford – and not Errol Spence. It was reported that the two sides have 20 days to reach an agreement for that fight or they will have to settle things with a purse bid. Crawford, out of action since beating Spence last July, secured the position as a result of moving up from welterweight as the champion. The Omaha ace will be vying to win world titles in a fourth weight class.

‘I am 58 and what?’

AFTER several weeks of concerns being raised by his apparent comeback, Mike Tyson, via Reuters, hit back at any boxers criticising his July 20 exhibition with Jake Paul. It is still scheduled to take place at Arlington, Texas’ ginourmous AT&T Stadium.

“I’m 58 and what?” said the 57-year-old. “I’m getting billions of views from just talking to somebody about fighting. Everybody, even most of the athletes, they’re jealous, that’s whack. I say in your prime you couldn’t draw a million, man. What are you talking, you couldn’t sell out an arena. Who at 58 could sell out an 80,000-seat arena? Why do you think he wants to fight me and not anybody else? Everybody wants to fight him. But if he fought them the only people that will come are the people that like him.

“The other guys, their parents might not even watch them. That’s just keeping it real. They’re too boring for their children to watch, it’s like watching grass grow.”

Tyson’s outburst came days after it emerged that he must pass brain and heart scans before his return is permitted.