“Oh fast Eddie, you slick, sly, Essex guy you. Tried to pull another fast one over us again have you? Trying to get us to pay for a pay-per-view that isn’t worth the hourly wage of the call-centre worker that will be taking the call are ya!!!???”
Add in a bunch profanities and this is the kind of talk currently being aimed at Eddie Hearn. The man in charge of Matchroom Sports, responsible for giving over a dozen British fighters world title shots and organising one of the biggest boxing bouts of all time in just the last four years, is under a hail of criticism. As Roy Keane probably once said, sports fans are fickle bastards.
Sky Sports subscribers have seen many a quality Matchroom Boxing event for free, as part of the monthly fee that also includes Formula 1, Premier League and Champions League football, golf, tennis and God knows what else. Unless we are to have a Russell Brand-esque look into the modern economic structure, it is hard to say this isn’t value for money.
Getting into the ruthless world of pay-per-views, whenever Hearn has asked us to fork out a one-off fee to witness a night of boxing, so far they have always ended successfully. However, on all three occasions, the night was based around the infallible Carl Froch, arguably the most exciting British fighter of all time. On this occasion, the headline fight is not even for a world title. What a rip off, right?
Although British boxing fans can be forgiven for being churlish in discussion about what constitutes a worthy night of pay-per-view action (mainly due to David Haye absolutely mugging the lot of us – Audley Harrison hahaha, WOW!), in the case of the Cleverly vs Bellew rematch card, the event is a comparative bargain in terms of value for money.
Yep, that’s right, BARGAIN.
Let’s break it down. On the card there are four of Britain’s brightest prospects (not including Bradley Saunders, one for the hard-core fans), two world title fights and a grudge match that is guaranteed to provide entertainment. That is seven (!) fights that are all worth watching in one way or another. All of this for £16.95 can be nothing other than a bargain.
However, for those that need it broken down further, here is an analysis of each fight’s worth.
George Groves (20-2, 15 knockouts) vs Denis Douglin (17-3, 10 knockouts)
Opening the main show will be one of the most talked about boxers of the last two years; ‘The Saint’ George Groves. He is fighting someone that is cannon fodder for decent fighters, who is appropriately nicknamed ‘Momma’s Boy’, as he is trained by his mother.
Douglin is just a quick tune-up, confidence building fight for Groves, before he gets another chance to win a super-middleweight world title next year. Having got buy the awkward first fight after his devastating loss to Carl Froch, the big punching and big talking Londoner will want to remind all he is still a world class fighter. And that is what he will do.
Value – 4/10: Watching an explosive puncher like Groves knock someone out is always worth a peek, especially to see if he calls out Froch again in his post-fight interview.
Callum Smith (14-0, 11 knockouts) vs Nikola Sjekloca (28-2, 8 knockouts)
A possible future opponent for Groves or James DeGale, young Callum – the youngest of the famed boxing Smith brothers – is a real star in the making. A giant super-middleweight, Smith is a deadly puncher, always fun to watch.
He is coming up against a man that just six months ago challenged for a world title, losing a 12 round decision against current champion Arthur Abraham. The Montenegrin’s only other loss came in another world title bout, again over 12 rounds against Sakio Bika. This fight will show us exactly where Smith is right now.
Value – 7/10: This is a very risky fight for Smith, with real chances of an upset. Competitive and with big implications, this is a fight all boxing fans should enjoy.
Anthony Joshua (9-0, 9 knockouts) vs Michael Sprott (42-22, 17 knockouts)
Looking to continue his formidable rise, Joshua takes on the hugely experienced Sprott. With over 50 fights difference between the two, there is a lot to say that Sprott can give Joshua his hardest test yet.
However, with Sprott aged 39, having lost in the first round in his last bout, giving away height, reach and strength, it is likely that Joshua will once again just blast past this opponent. Sprott has skill and ring-craft, so may be able to last a few rounds. How quickly and emphatically Joshua wins will tell us just where he is right now.
Value – 5/10: In years to come Joshua’s early fights will be highlight reel material. However, with Sprott not being a real danger, this fight is just about when and how he wins.
Jamie McDonnell (24-2, 11 knockouts) vs Javier Chacon (20-2, 5 knockouts)
Even though the WBA have three versions of their world title (with McDonnell listed the normal champion, between the interim champion and the undisputed champion), the Doncaster native is a legitimate world champion, having won the WBC title last year and only losing it due to promotional issues.
Like Groves vs Douglin, this is just a tune up for McDonnell before he gets a chance to unify bantamweight titles against Japanese champion Tomoki Kameda next year. Big things could be coming for McDonnell if he can maintain his championship form.
The fight will be a lot tougher than many may think however, and not just Chacon is a last minute stand-in. Former world title challenger Chacon has shown he is worthy of this level already this year, and also comes in fighting shape having fought and won over 10 rounds just last month.
Value – 7/10: A skilled technician in the prime of his career, watching a true world class fighter like McDonnell is a great addition to any card, whilst the fight will be a good test too.
Scott Quigg (29-0-2, 22 knockouts) vs Hidenori Otake (22-1-3, 9 knockouts)
Whilst the aforementioned McDonnell holds a paper version of a world title, he is still a linear champion. Quigg on the other hand, although a world champion on paper, his champion status can be debated, due to the main WBA champion being Guillermo Rigondeaux, the Cuban maestro that is arguably one of the five best boxers in the world today.
Nevertheless, super-bantamweight Quigg has earned his ranking as one of the best in his division by beating many of the B-level fighters and has another one before him in Japan’s Otake. A tough, come-forward fighter that is always looking for the knockout, Quigg has some huge potential fights before him with a win here.
Value – 6/10: A world title fight in name, if not in real status, Quigg takes on an unknown to try and maintain his standing. The pressure this brings, added with the surprise factor of the unknown Japanese fighter, makes this an interesting fight for boxing fans.
James DeGale (19-1, 13 knockouts) vs Marco Antonio Periban (20-2-1, 13 knockouts)
A fight that by all admissions DeGale was not required to fight, the cocky Londoner taking on the Mexican known as ‘El Monstruo’ may just steal the show.
Periban’s record shows he has not won any of his last three fights. A closer look shows any of those fights could have been given in his favour (two close decision losses and a draw), had the Mexican been a more popular figure. A big super-middleweight, Periban is tough, aggressive and determined, constantly looking to spoil the party when used as a stepping stone. Experienced at world level, Periban knows that with a win will massively elevate his career.
DeGale meanwhile, seems to have embraced his second chance in the limelight, having fallen into mediocrity for a time after a split-decision loss to his infamous rival, George Groves. In his last fight, DeGale looked like the special fighter many thought he was. Now, against a game fighter, DeGale has the chance to prove he truly deserves the world title shot he looks set to get next year.
Value – 8/10: This fight is competitive and meaningful, between two top contenders. Even the styles of both fighters – DeGale the counter puncher and Periban a pressure fighter – mesh perfectly. This is a fight to compliment any show.
Tony Bellew (22-2, 14 knockouts) vs Nathan Cleverly (28-1, 14 knockouts)
For those that watched the first fight, it will be hard to find anyone that will disagree, this is a competition worthy of headlining such a card.
A real grudge-match, the bout pits two men that are near polar opposites in every way. Add in the plot twist that this will be fought at a higher weight than the first (light-heavyweight to cruiserweight), and there is enough debate about which way this will go to have gotten every boxing fan to have taken notice of this fight.
Bellew was just 16 fights into his career the first time they fought, so he should be the more improved of the two. However, Cleverly still has more ways to win, being slicker and with a having a much higher work-rate. Who will be able to hurt the other still remains to be seen though.
Sure, there is no world title on the line. But a world title shot for whoever wins will probably come straight away. And even though both have fought just twice at the weight, they are still two of the biggest names in the division. The win means more than just a title though, as the result will determine the legacy of either fighter.
Value – 9/10: The only downside to this fight is neither fighter is proven world class at the weight. However, in every other way this is a fight that will in no way let paying fans down.
In conclusion, this card is packed full of seven class fighters and each of them will either be involved in a real fight or winning by spectacular knockout. So for this reason, let Fast Eddie take your £16.95, because this is better value for money than a Nando’s meal which can cost near the same amount.