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Lee vs Saunders

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Frank Warren's Column - 31.07.15

Frank Warren

31st July 2015

Keep an eye on Mitchell Smith, a young man angling for the big-time

Just like show business, boxing relies on new faces for its future. At Queensberry Promotions we have a whole clutch of talented youngsters making their way up the bill who I believe will be star turns in years to come.

One of those who excites me most is Mitchell Smith, the cheeky chappie from Harrow who reminds me of the young Naz, full of self-belief, spiteful in the ring and cool as a cucumber.

He loves the spotlight, bouncing into the arena with a big smile on his face, laughing and joking with the fans and as relaxed as if he was popping down the road to do a bit of shopping at Brent Cross. And he celebrates his victories as flamboyantly as Hamed did. Quite a character, which is what the sport needs. He sells a lot of tickets too; both he and his father work hard at it.

Managed by Richard Clarke and trained by former British and WBU World Light-Welterweight Champion Jason Rowland, the 22-year-old Smith has built an impressive 13-0 CV, with the English and WBO Inter-Continental super-featherweight belts already buckled around his waist.

What's more he can really dig. Ask his last three opponents, all blasted out in blistering style.

At Wembley last week he took just under three minutes to despatch of Denis Tubieron with a terrific shot that was a welcome reminder of boxing's forgotten art of body punching.

Three months ago the fight-hardened Filipino went 12 rounds with Commonwealth featherweight champion Josh Warrington, who like Smith, is a fast-rising young Brit with an unblemished record.

We are crying out for tasty domestic scraps and I'd make Smith and Warrington at featherweight in a heartbeat if the Warrington camp fancy it.

If not there are plenty of good fights out there or the West Ham fan who likes to go fishing for carp in his spare time.

I predict he'll be hooking a big one soon.

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I thought Frank Buglioni did a pretty competent job at Wembley and set himself up nicely for the delayed WBO world super-middleweight title fight with the Russian Fedor Chudinov, which is now confirmed for the same SSE Arena on 26 September.

Obviously Chudinov will be a much different proposition to the opponent the Wise Guy defeated in five rounds last weekend, Fernando Castaneda, a last-minute substitute flown in from Mexico, but the important thing is that Frank boxed intelligently. There was no gung-ho approach, no fighting with his heart rather than his head.

That is exactly the sort of chilled-out tactic he needs against Chudinov, who we know is a smart fighter with an unbeaten record, proven durability - and can bang a bit. It will be a difficult fight for Buglioni but by no means a mission impossible.

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Once again, BoxNation's cameras caught a classic last weekend with the thundering light-heavyweight clash in Las Vegas between Canada-based Haitian Jean Pascal and the hitherto unbeaten Cuban émigré Yuniesky Gonzalez.

This has to go down as one of the great fights of the year so far, a pulsating punch-up where the action never seemed to stop. You wouldn't have thought they were fighting for the dubious right to meet universally-recognised champ Sergey Kovalev, who did his usual Krushing job on Nadjib Mohammedi. The Frenchman looked as if he didn't want to be there - and you can understand why.

I thought Pascal - Gonzalez was a real five-star undercard fight and that  the Cuban just did enough to win although Pascal was given a controversial two-points verdict on all three cards. What a thriller!

There was so much going on. I don't think there was a clinch until about the eighth round as they just kept trying to knock lumps off each other. If you missed it, I urge you to catch up with it on one of BoxNation's repeats - it will be well worth it.

As for Kovalev, he dispatched Mohammedi easily, just as we expected. The Russian slugger always looks so much bigger than anyone he ever fights. As he says, it is his job to hurt people, and he rather seems to enjoy doing it. When he hits you it certainly isn't a case of from Krusher with love.

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The WBC have done no favours to Anthony Joshua by placing him at number two in their heavyweight rankings.

I am the first to admit that London's Olympic champion has done well so far, but he is not ready for such a ridiculous elevation after only a dozen bouts, none of them for a meaningful title and mostly against old warhorses who have seen better days.

It is ridiculous for a governing body to rank him so highly at this stage of his career. It makes no sense at all. What would happen if the No.1 contender suddenly lost a fight? Would Josh be pushed into a world title shot? It would be daft.

It is difficult to comprehend WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman's explanation.

He says: "The  problem lately in boxing is that they put the fighters out, rush them out too quick and that is not good for a fighter as he needs to go through a process.

"Joshua's ranking has to do with his activity, but also the fact that several fighters were ahead of him and the either lost or went to fight for another organisation title. Joshua has been coming up very quickly recently because of that.

"You had Jennings (lost to Klitschko), Tyson Fury (fighting for other titles) and others, so we have to look for other names because they were on top. They either lost or went somewhere else which means other fighters will move.

"The WBC rankings are exclusively to fight for the WBC title, so if you go off and fight for another organisation title then you are not included in the rankings because you are not available to fight for the WBC title.

"This is why Joshua is so high, but he is a tremendous prospect."

I agree that he's a great prospect but I don't agree with Mauricio's reasoning for the ranking.

The explanation doesn't stand up. It is putting pressure on the boy that he doesn't need.  There is still more we need to know about his stamina and punch-resistance.

One possible fight down the line that might answer a few questions would be if he met Germany's new  European champion Erkan Teper, who banged out David Price.

He seems to be lined up for Commonwealth and British titles first of course, and there could be a twist in the tale.

It may well be that Dereck Chisora will be European champion again by then because he's gunning for a match with Teper.

I met with Dereck this week and he has urged me to try and make the match. Alternatively, he would like to fight the former world champion Bermane Stiverne.

It is good to know that Del Boy still has ambition. Many expected him to drift quietly off into the sunset after his second loss to Tyson Fury but that's not his style.

He's only 31, young-ish for a heavyweight these days, and he reckons he still has plenty to offer. We will see!

He looked in good nick when he came back after eight months on the Wembley bill and although it wasn't the most demanding fight, he did the job well in polishing off Georgia's Bega Lobjanidze in just 29 seconds. It was a brief but brutal encounter.

He has new trainer in Gary Innes, a former kick-boxer who Chisora says he given him back his mojo. And a refreshingly positive new attitude.

OK, so one comeback fight doesn't make him a world beater and it's a long haul back, but one thing about Dereck is that he isn't afraid of taking on anyone.

I noticed that as well as being in excellent condition, the shot he threw to dispose of Lobjanidze was executed perfectly, turning his arm, shoulder and wrist into it, whereas in the past he has had a tendency to sometimes slap.

If he'd have hit Tyson Fury like that we might be having a whole new ball game now.

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Stand by for another BoxNation belter this weekend. Fists will be flying fast and furiously in Florida where two former Olympians, both unbeaten as pros, clash for the WBA world bantamweight championship at Winter Park's Full Sail University.

Rau'shee Warren, the only three-time US Olympic boxer, will become the first member of their 2012 squad to fight for a professional world title when he challenges holder Juan Carlos Payano, of the Dominican Republic, for the 118-pound belt.

Unusually the fight takes place on Sunday, with a live telecast beginning here at 1am Monday.

***

The boxing world was very sad to hear that former WBC World Super-Middleweight Champion Richie Woodhall's father and trainer Len passed away this week following his long battle with cancer. 

Len was extremely proud of his son and his achievements and was one of the nicest people in the sport you could wish to meet. Our condolences go to his family.

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Welcome to BoxNation's boxing news page! Catch up with all of the latest world boxing news; from opinions on upcoming live fightsto interviews with the highest ranked boxers, and regular columns from Steve Lillis and Frank Warren - we've got everything you need.

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