Frontline diary: The late late show

Chris Williamson
20/09/2017 10:15am

Chris Williamson was on the late shift for Boxing Monthly on Saturday night at the Copper Box Arena in East London as Billy Joe Saunders successfully defended his WBO middleweight crown...

Photography courtesy of LJA Photography

It was confirmed on the eve of this event that the main event would be scheduled for 11.50pm – three years after promoter Frank Warren had promised no more late main events in the wake of Fury vs Chisora II.

It’s fair to say many of us attending were less than impressed. Warren’s office confirmed to BM that the scheduling was to avoid any break in action for viewers of the early morning Canelo vs Golovkin card and not to avoid clashing with Callum Smith vs Erik Skoglund, shown on the same night on ITV4. The lack of clash was one small mercy at least for those watching at home.

Indeed, heavy advertising was evident at the arena for 'Supremacy', Boxnation’s first Pay-Per-View (PPV) offering later that night. Prior to the middleweight title fights on both sides of the Atlantic, Warren had suggested that should Billy Joe Saunders beat Willie Monroe Jr then he believed the Golovkin camp would be easier to deal with and that they would pursue a Saunders vs GGG match immediately. Of course, both Saunders and Golovkin retained their titles and despite Saunders calling out Amir Khan at the post-fight press conference, a unification match against Golovkin remains a possibility.

Saunders had been scheduled to fight Avtandil Khurtsidze in the summer before the Georgian interim champ was arrested under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organisations Act (RICO). Monroe - with a couple of solid wins against John Thompson and Gabriel Rosado since his six-round TKO loss to Golovkin in 2015 - was the highest available WBO contender.

The champion (now 25-0), with a first camp and fight under new trainer Dominic Ingle looked re-energised to an extent, displaying his excellent jab as always and impressing in spots, looking much fitter than during the dreadful Artur Akavov bout.

However it was clear by the second round that Monroe lacked anywhere near enough self-belief to wrestle the title from Saunders, disappointing given he has serious middleweight legitimacy running through his veins with great uncle Willie 'The Worm' Monroe having outpointed a pre-championship Marvin Hagler in 1976, before losing a rematch the following year. This attitude - perhaps along with the late hour - served to stunt the atmosphere somewhat.

The show attracted a good crowd all things considered, though, particularly following the removal from the bill of the two popular Southampton boxers Joe Pigford and Ryan Garner. Boxing Monthly understands that 2,300 sales were made at the box office in addition to around 4,000 sold by the boxers.

On this night hot prospect Anthony Yarde swept aside late replacement Norbert Nemesapati from Hungary in three one-sided rounds. Yarde is attracting attention from sponsors and television and it was like watching a cat play with a mouse at times as he recorded his 13th straight win.

Nemesapati (now 25-7) had mixed in decent class at times, with a brace of six-round defeats to Callum Smith and Anthony Dirrell both within the previous thirteen months and Yarde added something called the WBO Inter-continental title to the minor WBO European title he already holds.

One hopes promotional politics can be put aside and a match can be made with domestic rival Frank Buglioni before Yarde moves on to the world scene.

Archie Sharp used one of Nigel Benn’s old choices 'Dangerous' as his ring walk music before the switch-hitter bounced his way to a dominant win over Imre Nagy which ended with Nagy face down in a neutral corner. As Sharp was going about his business Joe Egan, the man Mike Tyson once famously described as the toughest white man on the planet, posed for photographs with fans, some of whom probably recognise 'Big Joe' in his new role as an actor.

Security had their work cut out again on a lively night and after prolonged trouble at the event here in July, there was at least one occurrence of unscheduled fighting in the crowd, with a girl in a red dress heavily involved. Anthony Yarde jumped the barrier into the TV area to avoid getting caught up in it and, separately, a number of punters crashed the press section. One gatecrasher in particular was quite easy on the eye, but that's hardly the point…

Heavyweight juggernaut Daniel Dubois won the vacant Southern Area title in brutal fashion, demolishing A.J Carter in the very first round. Dubois was down to business in typically no-nonsense fashion with three knockdowns, the last of which saw Carter fall face first to the canvas. A hush fell through the arena - once it was clear Carter had recovered, there was some amusement that the result - as conclusive as a fight can be - was announced as a "technical count out".

On the subject of announcing, a new M.C, Thomas Treiber, was introduced for the new season. Treiber's predecessor was well-liked by BT Sports, but made at least one rick too many at the last Copper Box show, including anointing Anthony Yarde as “WBO European champion of the world”, which even for a boxing governing body would be a ridiculous sounding title..