• Steve Bunce

Super-fights and more besides will light up 2014

Steve Bunce January 7, 2014
Will we see Groves-Degale II in 2014? © PA Photos

In 2014 David Haye will be back, David Price will be back and Tyson Fury will be back and all three will be making news, knocking out men and at the centre of attention in million-dollar fights.

Meanwhile, in the real world the British Boxing Board of Control has decided that none of the 'available' heavyweights are good enough to fight for the vacant heavyweight title. The Board, as you can imagine, have chosen slightly more diplomatic language.

There are currently just under 1,000 boxers holding a Board licence, which is a sixty-year high, and in 2014 there is every chance that there will be more British title fights than ever before. There will also be more genuine world title fights involving British boxers than ever before.

However, the other 950 boxers are in danger of being overlooked, ignored and forgotten as the eyes of TV fans concentrate on yet another gold year of big, big fights. In 2013 pay-per-view returned and the public responded to the promise of big events with a passion and this year will not be different.

Buncey's Vaults

A young Ricky Hatton © Getty Images
  • Starting this week, I look back into my personal reporting archive to bring you the boxing moments of the past
  • In November 1995, Billy 'The Preacher' Graham opened a new gym in Salford. Two of his fighters were missing; one in Strangeways on a kidnapping charge, one in Stafford on an enforcement charge. "They are all mad," Graham said.
  • Gypsy Johnny Fury, Tyson's dad, was there and described as a 'local car dealer'. He had just returned after a five-year rest. In the corner was a 17-year-old amateur kid called Richard Hatton. I enjoyed that visit.
  • Reported in the Daily Telegraph, November 17, 1995

I expect as many as 12 British super-fights in 2014 with the heavyweights leading the way. Fury has hinted at the very real possibility that he will fight Dereck Chisora, which would be a massive fight. Ian Lewison, a guest on this week's podcast, should get the vacant British title shot.

At cruiserweight Nathan Cleverly's move up from light-heavyweight will lead to new calls for a rematch with Tony Bellew. Forget it, never going to happen. The British title fight with Jon-Lewis Dickinson and Neil Dawson will be a don't-blink shoot-out.

The light-heavyweights will become fragmented at domestic level and hopefully Enzo Maccarinelli can get a world title fight with Jurgen Braehmer.

Carl Froch and George Groves will miss each other and hopefully one of them fights James DeGale. Paul Smith, the British champion, has international ambitions but British opposition. Groves v DeGale II?

The middleweights in Britain need to fight each other but don't hold your breath. Matt Macklin and Martin Murray will get world title fights again, and domestic champion Billy Joe Saunders will have to take a risk to stay in pursuit.

At light-middleweight Liam Smith, the British champion, has a simple, local showdown with Brian Rose, the former champion. It will not happen because Rose wants a world title fight and that is unfortunate - it is also normal boxing business.

Kell Brook's luck at welterweight has to improve in 2014 and that leaves Lonsdale belt holder Frankie Gavin staring at a long and hard route to a world title. Amir Khan, meanwhile, remains on a different money planet.

Nobody seems to care about British light-welter champion Darren Hamilton. That seems harsh, but it is true.

The lightweights will fight each other. Ricky Burns has a hard WBO defence. I mean very hard. Martin Gethin, Kevin Mitchell, Ant Crolla, Gavin Rees and Derry Matthews will all trade leather. Fun division.

The British super-feather title will be decided when Liam Walsh and Gary Sykes fight in February. It will not be pretty, but it will be fantastic to watch. Stephen Smith will get back in the mix at a quality weight and somebody will get a world title fight at this weight by November.

Lee Selby is known as the Welsh Mayweather and his control at featherweight looks solid. Selby is also at the crucial point when a fighter needs a challenge to stop him from falling under the radar. I hope the challenge is not an obscure, poorly paid and risky fight in a bullring in Mexico.

The fight at super-bantamweight in Britain is arguably the best in all of the 15 weight divisions. Scott Quigg, who holds a section of the WBA's world title pie, and Carl Frampton, who has the Euro version, are so ready to fight each other that they sizzle if they are in the same room. However, it is not going to happen anytime soon, sorry. I never said I was Santa!

There is real animosity at bantamweight where new IBF world champion Stuey Hall is looking down at both Jamie McDonnell, the previous owner of the IBF belt, and Lee Haskins, the British champion. Haskins and McDonnell have both beaten Hall and with a bit of luck they will get another chance.

Paul Butler at super-flyweight is also looking at jumping up and fighting Hall, a gain of just three pounds. It would be an easy fight to sell.

And finally, flyweight Keith Satchell has his eyes on a move up to fight Butler.

It's a fluid scene, to say the least, and there is clearly more to British boxing in 2014 than waiting for Haye or Fury or Chisora or Price to explode or implode.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
Steve Bunce Close
Steve Bunce has been ringside in Las Vegas over 50 times, he has been at five Olympics and has been writing about boxing for over 25 years for a variety of national newspapers in Britain, including four which folded! It is possible that his face and voice have appeared on over 60 channels worldwide in a variety of languages - his first novel The Fixer was published in 2010 to no acclaim; amazingly it has been shortlisted for Sports Book of the Year.