28.10.03 – The British and European Middleweight champion has occupied the WBC mandatory contender position for six months, is highly ranked by the other major governing bodies and has promoter Mick Hennessy pressing his claim.
The ultimate target is the winner of the December showdown between undisputed champion Bernard Hopkins and William Joppy, the only man to beat Eastman to date after claiming a contentious points decision for the WBA crown in 2001.
Meanwhile, the 32-year-old ‘Battersea Bomber’ has interim business of his own.
“Howard will be defending his European title against Spain’s Jorge Sendra – his mandatory contender – on November 28th at the Derby Storm Arena,” said Hennessy.
“It makes sense to keep him busy at this level as the fight between Hopkins and Joppy has put the genuine world title picture in the middleweight division on hold.
“We had been close to securing Howard an opportunity before the two decided to meet, so I am confident that once it has taken place he will be right back in the mix.
“An opponent of Sendra’s calibre will help keep him sharp. Sendra has only lost once in 27 fights, stopped 20 of his victims and holds the Spanish title.
“This fight will ensure that when Howard’s opportunity does come along next year, he will take it.”
The bill will also feature other Hennessy Sports stars Carl Froch – the hottest prospect in boxing, Matthew Thirlwall, Billy Corcoran, Lenny Daws, Daniel Cadman, the returning Lee Meager and former world title challenger Ryan Rhodes.
That is to say nothing of what promises to be a raucous chief support contest featuring two of the countries biggest ticket sellers in Hennessy backed WBF middleweight champion Damon Hague – who will be boxing in front of a hometown crowd – and former Midlands Area champion Roddy Doran from nearby Shrewsbury.
The pair will meet in a ten-round eliminator for the WBF super middleweight title, currently held by Robin Reid.
“This fight is about giving me options,” explained Hague, who last time out reversed the only legitimate defeat of his career by climbing off the canvas to stop Wayne Pinder.
“During the rest I have taken since April I have been contemplating a possible move up to super middleweight – I have always moved about between the divisions anyway – but did not want to make a decision without getting back into the swing of things.
“I also have no intention of jeopardising what I have already achieved, but the WBF have been very accommodating by allowing me to keep my middleweight belt whilst sanctioning this an eliminator for the twelve stone title.
“Once I beat Doran I can sit down and look back at my preparations for the fight, see how I felt at super middleweight and particularly if I was any stronger. I have the luxury of making that decision without coming straight back into a twelve rounder.
“I can then decide whether to press on with a challenge in the higher division or hang on to the middleweight title I am very fond of and get busy defending it. Either way I can jump straight back into full championship conditions early next year.
“I am looking at having at least four fights in 2004. If I am as well supported as I think I will be against Doran – it will be a great feeling coming home as a WBF champion – at least two of those could take place back in Derby, or very nearby.”