BRITAIN is the place to be for boxers this year when you browse a list of the quality overseas operators to fight on our shores in the last 11 months.
Gervonta Davis, Jorge Linares, Errol Spence, Rey Vargas and most recently Jerwin Ancajas, who beat Belfast braveheart Jamie Conlan on Frank Warren’s show in Belfast last weekend, have all been top class.
Even in defeat Wladimir Klitschko and Carlos Takam covered themselves in glory in losing to Anthony Joshua, while Horacio Garcia gave Carl Frampton a tough night on Saturday.
Surely the overseas King award has to be saved for South Africa’s WBO Bantamweight champion Zolani Tete who knocked out fellow South African Siboniso Gonya in just 11 seconds on the Frampton undercard.
It was the fastest ever knockout in a world title fight, and Tete became a viral sensation being watched by at least three million people on various channels.
His promoter Warren took the boxer he refers to in interviews as “his man” to Belfast in hope of taking a step towards a unification with IBF and WBA title holder Ryan Burnett.
Performances like that are great for fans and internet hits but can ruin his chance to punch his biggest rivals in the 118lb division.
He won the title in Leicester against Artur Villanueva in April and Saturday was Tete’s fifth British appearance in seven fights since retaining his IBF Super-Flyweight title against Paul Butler in March 2015 - a win considered a minor upset at the time.
Warren is even prepared to let “his man” appear on a Matchroom card in Belfast against Burnett on Sky Sports, and will pay Tete’s purse, costing Eddie Hearn just Burnett’s wages.
It was laughed off, but Warren wasn’t joking and now he is likely to try and tempt Burnett’s camp with a career-best pay day.
The other unification option is WBC king Luis Nery, but the unbeaten Mexican southpaw, who upset Shinsuke Yamanaka to become champion, failed a drugs test that means his status is in limbo until the governing body decide his fate.
I hope I’m wrong, but I fear Tete may be struck down with a bout of Rigondeaux-itis, a condition where elite boxers are avoided.
Rigondeaux has been swerved by so many rivals and although he now has the marquee fight he craves against fellow Olympic gold medallist Vasyl Lomachenko, the odds are stacked against him for the BoxNation televised fight on December 9th.
He has to step up two weight divisions to challenge the WBO Super-Featherweight king, although the Cuban has won a row for a 138lb rehydration clause.
With the financial muscle of Warren to tempt the big name rivals, at some stage Tete may get the opportunity to prove his greatness, but right now he has topped Rigondeaux as Chairman of the ‘Who Needs Him’ club.
CAN Sergey ‘Krusher’ Kovalev regain his status as the most feared 175lb boxer on the planet following back-to-back losses to now-retired Andre Ward?
The Russian attempts to regain his old WBO Light-Heavyweight title against Vyacheslav Shabranskyy in New York on Saturday, but that will tell us little. He should win with ease.
Ward blew away the air of invincibility, but to Kovalev’s credit he is bouncing just five months after his controversial stoppage loss against Ward.
Before we can start lavishing him with high praise again WBA king Dmitry Bivol and new IBF champion Artur Beterbiev, who beat him in their amateur days, are in his way and not scared.
Of course there is WBC title holder Adonis Stevenson. A match between the punchers has been mentioned or years and not got off first base.
Stevenson is barely active either and has boxed just three times in over two years. His last outing in June when he outclassed Andrzej Fonfara in two rounds.
Kovalev’s stock is low and he will not want his legacy to become that of a punching bully who folds when someone stands up to him.
That alone makes his fights one to watch.