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A wish list - The top 10 UK fights for 2012


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A wish list - The top 10 UK fights for 2012

 

Oliver Fennell shortlists the top ten British showdowns he'd like to see this year. If we get to see half of these, we'll be doing very well indeed...

 

Ricky Burns v Kevin Mitchell

 

Why?

 

Burns proved he was the real deal in November when he outboxed Michael Katsidis to land a WBO interim title. But in doing so, he stepped up a division into the much more internationally competitive lightweight waters. Even in Britain, there are several world-level names, a pack led by Mitchell, who reignited his career with a marvellous win over John Murray last year. This would sort out domestic superiority and also elect who will represent us on the biggest stages.

 

Who would win?

 

While Mitchell’s personal problems continued after the Murray win, on his best day you’d have to pick him to grind out a win over the game Scot. But then Burns has proved us wrong several times before.

 

Will it happen?

 

Theoretically it could, as both men are with the same promoter, but he probably won’t want to risk one of his prize charges losing just yet. Perhaps if neither lands a more lucrative opportunity by late in the year, it could be put together.

 

Nathan Cleverly v Carl Froch

 

Why?

 

Cleverly is the rising star and new champion looking to prove himself. Froch is the accomplished veteran respected on both sides of the Atlantic. With superiority in Froch’s traditional super-middleweight division sewn up by Andre Ward, the Nottingham man may look higher up for another world title opportunity. In which case, compatriot Cleverly, as WBO 12st 7lbs ruler, would be ideal.

 

Who would win?

 

Right now, you’d have to say Froch, even if he is coming off a comprehensive defeat. He’s consistently mixed it with the cream for years, while Cleverly is largely unproven at world level. Unless the rise in weight adversely affects Froch, or the Ward loss ruins his confidence, he should be able to take a decision or late stoppage over the younger man.

 

Will it happen?

 

Unlikely. Cleverly has offered Froch the shot, but promotional rivalries would likely block it. As his stable’s – and indeed Britain’s – only current world champion, Cleverly may be matched gingerly for the time being.

 

Any combination of Matthew Macklin, Darren Barker and Martin Murray

 

Why?

 

Barker-Macklin was the standout match made in 2010, but it didn’t actually happen. Both have challenged – unsuccessfully – for world titles since, but while they both lost (with credit), the allure of a match between them hasn’t dimmed. And now, enter Murray, who came from nowhere last month to go one better than both of them and fight to a draw in a title challenge of his own. In lieu of further title shots, a match featuring any combination of the three would be excellent domestic fare.

 

Who would win?

 

I’d fancy both Macklin and Murray to be too busy for Barker, and Macklin’s extra strength to make the difference in a high-octane affair between him and Murray.

 

Will it happen?

 

Macklin may keep his focus trained on overseas assignments now, and there has been demand for him in the USA. Murray is pushing hard for a rematch with Felix Sturm, but if he doesn’t get his wish he may relish the chance to prove his point against world-ranked Barker. I’d say an outside chance of Macklin fighting either, and 50-50 for Murray to meet Barker.

 

Tyson Fury v David Price

 

Why?

 

A clash of giants who happen to be Britain’s leading heavyweight prospects. What’s not to like?

 

Who would win?

 

The popular choice would be Price, and he does look the better natural talent. But on the other hand, he’s had it all his own way as a pro, while Fury has been competitively matched. Logic says Price’s better boxing wins, but Fury’s heart and greater 'gut-check' experience may win out in the end.

 

Will it happen?

 

Doubtful. While Price has a British title eliminator next month, which logically would force a fight between him and national champion Fury if he wins, this does have a “believe it when I see it” feel.

 

Amir Khan v Kell Brook

 

Why?

 

Khan was talking of a move up to welterweight even before he lost his light-welter belts, and Brook was quick to pick up the thread and call out his domestic rival. Brook is an exciting and saleable talent and the flashy style of both men could make for a spectacular shootout.

 

Who would win?

 

It may be tempting for the 'haters' to write Khan off, but even if his loss to Lamont Petersen was a disappointment, the Bolton man has beaten a slew of fighters well above anything Brook has faced. Brook’s looked great in one-sided fights, but in Khan he’ll meet a faster and stronger man who’s proved himself. Assuming a rise in weight won’t detract from Khan, he can win by mid-rounds stoppage.

 

Will it happen?

 

Unlikely. Khan is pushing for an immediate Peterson rematch, but if that doesn’t come to fruition he will likely look to other world title avenues than entertain Brook at this stage.

 

George Groves v James DeGale II

 

Why?

 

Their first fight, in May last year, was one of 2011’s best and ended in a close upset decision in Groves’ favour. He was a popular victor, but there was a feeling that DeGale could have won with a greater effort. It would be interesting to see if he could make the necessary adjustments in a rematch.

 

Who would win?

 

Going by the evidence of their respective last bouts, the advantage stays with Groves, who bettered DeGale’s epochal win over Paul Smith. DeGale, meanwhile, laboured to a difficult points win over unfancied Pole Piotr Wilczewski.

 

Will it happen?

 

It seems inevitable at some point, but not this year. I see one or both men winning world titles before the rematch is put together.

 

Scott Quigg v Carl Frampton

 

Why?

 

While it doesn’t have the same big name value, Quigg-Frampton could be this year’s Groves-DeGale – two young, highly prized prospects at British and Commonwealth title level, respectively, with designs on bigger belts.

 

Who would win?

 

Both have looked excellent so far, but Quigg has looked excellent at a higher level, and that would surely spell the difference. He can win a spirited affair by pulling away in the later stages and claiming a unanimous decision.

 

Will it happen?

 

An outside chance. Both will probably defend their respective super-bantamweight belts, and one may get a European shot, over the course of 2012. But you never know – I thought DeGale-Groves would never happen in 2011.

 

Ovill McKenzie v Enzo Maccarinelli

 

Why?

 

Maccarinelli is on the comeback trail, but talk of an all-Welsh blockbuster with Nathan Cleverly is premature. Enzo has a lot to prove first, and a mooted Commonwealth light-heavyweight challenge to Ovill McKenzie would be a good next step – not to mention a potentially explosive one. With both men vulnerable punchers, anything might happen.

 

Who would win?

 

While Maccarinelli’s recent defeats have been harrowing, McKenzie is some way below the likes of David Haye, Ola Afolabi, Dennis Lebedev and Alexander Frenkel. Still, momentum counts for a lot in this sport and McKenzie has it. If Maccarinelli goes into this without testing himself further than the one-round blowout he enjoyed to launch his return, I’ll go for McKenzie to surprise him.

 

Will it happen?

 

Likely, if McKenzie comes through his next contest, a defence against Tony Dodson next month. It’s already been discussed, both are with the same promoter, and both have more to gain with a victory here than they have to lose with another defeat at this stage.

 

Frankie Gavin v Colin Lynes

 

Why?

 

After a disappointing 2011, Gavin needs to up the ante this year to regain some of the lost faith. Lynes, meanwhile, is resurgent after a masterful performance in dethroning British welterweight champion Lee Purdy in November. It would be a classic youth vs experience encounter, and would tell us a lot about Gavin’s prospects.

 

Who would win?

 

Logically, you’d say Gavin, and on his best day it wouldn’t be much of a question, but his best days are scarce. Also applying logic, a man with struggled with Curtis Woodhouse and Young Mutley would be outboxed by Lynes. I’d like to think Gavin would rise to the occasion, but judging strictly on current form, I’ve got Lynes on points.

 

Will it happen?

 

Maybe. I doubt Gavin would be given a “sink or swim” assignment just now, but if he regains his momentum and Lynes is still champion later in the year, it would make sense.

 

Lee Haskins v Chris Edwards

 

Why?

 

It would be a classic “style against substance” encounter, with flashy and skilful Haskins trying to offset the irrepressibly aggressive British flyweight champion Edwards.

 

Who would win?

 

They fought eight years ago and Haskins won handily on points over six but that was back when he was a novice and Edwards was a journeyman. Much has changed now and both men are in their peaks. I’d pick Haskins to take another decision, but this time it would be anything but easy.

 

Will it happen?

 

Probably not. Haskins is looking towards international class now, a division up at super-fly, and has held a British title before. Then again, he hasn’t yet secured a Lonsdale belt and one more national championship win will do it, so he may be tempted if bigger things don’t come along.

 

http://news.boxrec.com/news/2012/wish-list-top-10-uk-fights-2012

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I want to see all of those fights this year except Froch vs Cleverly and DeGale vs Groves II.

 

Froch and Cleverly don't need each other. They both have plenty to do at their weight classes.

 

DeGale and Groves don't need to fight again until one of them has a World title. Would be a fantastic first defence for the champion. Of course, this means one of them winning a title in the talented super middleweight division. But, i think by 2014 Ward, Bute, Kessler and Froch would have moved up to light heavyweight.

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