The Current Strength of British Boxing: Calzaghe, Hatton, Witter, Haye vs. Maccarinelli, Rees, Woods, More

Enzo MaccarinelliBy James Barlow: With the current Haye Vs Maccarinelli blockbuster just round the corner I’d like to take a moment to reflect on current state of British boxing over the last 18 months, the up coming year and the future in general.

The last 18 Months:

What a period for British boxing! Having been a fan of boxing for years this has got to have been one of the best periods in British boxing history. It all kicked of with Clinton Woods finally getting the better of Glen ‘the road warrior’ Johnson in Bolton back in September 06. The same month Junior Witter also got a points decision against DeMarus Corley to pick up the vacant W.B.C belt. Jamie Moore then squared off against Mathew Macklin in an unforgettable domestic dust up; a rematch between these two would be welcomed by fight fans.

In October Joe Calzaghe fresh from a career defining massacre of Jeff Lacey took on a much underrated Sakio Bika winning again on points in a very entertaining fight. On the same night Enzo Maccarinelli KO’d Mark Hobson on the under card. In November David Haye fought to a bloody KO win over the tough Giacobbe Fragomeni. Fast forward to 2007 and things just got better. Joe Calzaghe KO’d contender star Peter Manfedo before another career defining fight cementing his status as the top super middleweight of his generation beating Danish superstar Mikkel Kessler. David Haye KO’d Jean Marc Mormeck in a thrilling battle coming up off the canvas to be crowned ring magazines/linear champion at cruiserweight. Ricky Hatton KO’d Jose Luis Castillo with a near perfect body as he continued to be recognized as the top light welterweight before stepping out of his natural weight class and getting KO’d by pound for pound king Floyd Mayweather. Even in defeat though Hatton’s stock rose as his fans overrun Las Vegas in what proved to be the biggest fight of the year. On the back of this fight Hatton earned enough money to come second in the British sports earning league only behind global superstar David Beckham.

Junior Witter continued to look impressive with wins over the dangerous Arturo Morua then top light welterweight Vivian Harris. In KO’ing Harris in style Witter proved he is at the top of his game and would be a match for any of the top light welterweights. Gavin Rae’s got a decision over another top light welterweight in Souleymane M’baye and secured himself a world title in the process. Enzo Maccarinelli beat Wayne Braithwaite on points after having him on the deck to retain his W.B.O cruiser belt. Robin Reid retired after taking a beating at the hands of Carl Froch who in fighting the aging Reid proved he is a serious contender and super middle weight. And lastly Clinton Woods disposed on veteran Julio Ceasar Gonzales for a second time in his career.

All the above mentioned British fighter were squaring off against top world class opposition and in the main gaining respectable victories.

The Upcoming Year:

As 2007 drew to a close I could not see how 2008 could come close to living up to its high standards. But with the following confirmed and speculated fights on the horizon British boxing seems like it can continue to blossom. Firstly Joe Calzaghes fight with Bernard Hopkins in an interesting match up. Maybe this fight would have been more appealing 5 years ago but it is still a potential classic in the making. There are those out there who will criticize Hopkins due to his age but previous wins over the likes of Ronald Wright and Antonio Tarver have got to suggest he has plenty left in the tank even at this late stage in his career. If Calzaghe gets past Hopkins as I expect him to, I would love to see him in with Kelly Pavlik. Clinton Woods’ showdown with Tarver is another potential classic. Other than Calzaghe there can be no bigger fight out there for Woods. The winner of this fight should then face off against the winner of Chad Dawson v Glen Johnson.

Junior Witter is due to clash with Demetrius Hopkins. I saw Hopkins blatantly loose his fight with Steve Forbes but pull out a points win. I fear Junior will have to go to out to KO D-Hop to ensure a win but this is something Junior is very capable of doing. For Witter if he continues to win, a fight with Hatton will have to happen sooner or later. I am a massive Hatton fan but even I have to admit it is starting to look as if he is avoiding Witter.

David Haye Vs Enzo Maccarinelli is easily the biggest showdown between British fighters since Benn – Eubank 2. For me it is a crying shame that this fight is stuffed away on Setanta Sports and will only been seen by a small amount of people. Anyone trying to predict the outcome of this is just guessing but I’ve got to go with Maccarinelli. With Haye due to step up to heavy weight after this fight whatever the out come both have massive future in the fight game. Gavin Rees against Andreas Kotelnik is an evenly matched encounter which should provide much entertainment. With a title to his name if Rees gets through this tough test he can expect a shot at Witter, Malignaggi or even Hatton at some stage.

And lastly Mr. Boxing UK Ricky Hatton. It is a sad state of affairs on the boxing front that in spite of the all the success British fighters are currently having on the worls stage the only boxers my mum recognizes are Ricky Hatton and Amir Kahn who is definitely not competeimg currently on the world stage. A far cry from the eighties when the likes of Benn, Eubank, Bruno etc. were all house hold names. But Hatton, the most marketable force in British boxing, is due to fight Juan Lazcano on the 24th of May. Lazcano although a credible come back fight should be no trouble for Hatton and should lead to a big fight towards the end of the year. A possible fight with Manny Pacquiao is being banded around. If this fight comes off it would be another mega event for the Hit Man and a would go a long way in his quest for a rematch with Floyd Mayweather.

The Future:

Taking all of the above into account I have to say the futures bright for British boxing. The impending rise of Amir Kahn should go some way in filling any void left when Joe Calzaghe retires. Kevin Mitchell is also in my opinion going to go on to much better things. No matter what the result is between Haye and Maccarinelli both should continue to shine on the world scene. If Macaranelli looses with Haye moving up there will still be a void for a champ at that weight that he could still fill. If Hay looses he can still move up to heavyweight and compete with the cream at that weight as it is a much weaker division. Let’s hope the promoters keep producing the goods and matching up our British stars with the cream of the boxing world!

Note: This is my first article submitted to East Side Boxing having been a fan of the site for a number of years. Any constructive feedback would be welcomed.

Article posted on 05.03.2008

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