British boxing 2013 mega-preview: Division-by-division overview
Published Jan 03 2013 by: Guy Michels
2013 is set to be another exciting year for British fight fans. Current world champions Carl Froch, Nathan Cleverly and Ricky Burns could all be involved in unification fights. There is also the distinct possibility of Britain adding to their three current world champions with Gavin Rees, Kell Brook and Martin Murray already scheduled to fight for world titles, and several others waiting in the wings for their shots.
Domestically there are also a number of big fights to be made including a rematch of our 2012 British fight of the year between Anthony Crolla and Derry Mathews, and super-fights between David Price and Tyson Fury, and Scott Quigg and Carl Frampton. Keep reading below for a full division-by-division preview for British boxing in 2013.
Britain has potentially 3 fighters who could be fighting for world titles in the heavyweight division in 2013. David Haye will again be looking to renew his rivalry with the Klitschko brothers. It seems likely that Haye will continue to call out Vitali, and with the current WBC champion on the verge of retiring, he may well be tempted by one last big pay day, although I wouldn't hold your breath.
The other two heavyweights looking to make a statement in 2013 are Tyson Fury and David Price. Both men had impressive 2012s but will be looking to make the transition to world level this year. Price has scheduled a fight with former world title challenger Tony Thompson for February, one he should win comfortably if he wants to realize his world title ambitions.
Fury also already has a fight scheduled for 2013, announcing on Twitter that he will be fighting in New York on St Patrick's Day, which should ensure him a vocal Irish following for his US debut. Although no opponent has yet to be confirmed, in the same message in which he announced the bout, the Mancunian listed possible opponents as Johnathon Banks, Chris Arreola, Bermane Stiverne, Tomasz Adamek and Shannon Briggs. The first of those three can be ruled out as all have fights scheduled for the start of the year leaving, Adamek or Briggs as the likely challenger.
If both Price and Fury come through there respective tests the duo could be in line for world title fights in the second half of the year, and if those don't materialize, a clash between the two heavyweight giants could be the alternative. Price's promoter Frank Maloney has already seen the Fury camp reject an offer of £650,000 ($1,000,000) to fight Price, however, if the hype surrounding the two continues to grow, an increased offer could see the fight happen come the summer.
Finallym the villain of British boxing Derek Chisora will look to regain his British license this year, and if successful has the potential to throw himself back into the mix on both the domestic and world scene, having been mentioned by Price as a possible future opponent.
Ola Afolabi will have a chance to become Britain's first cruiserweight world champion since David Haye this year. The current interim WBO champion drew with full champion Marco Huck in his last outing and a third clash between the two is being scheduled for March 2nd in Germany. Outside of Afolabi, there is a real dearth of talent domestically and it may be a few years yet till we have anyone to challenge the US based boxer.
This year Nathan Cleverly will really need to step up in quality, if he doesn't want to become the laughing stock of British boxing, with fans no longer interested in fights against boxers barely ranked inside the top 50. With a mandatory fight to start the year against German Robin Krasniqi on March 16th, promoter Frank Warren will need to push for a unification bout later in the year to earn back respect for his charge. With Golden Boy Promotions working with Cleverly, one hopes that a unification fight in the States could happen in the autumn with the winner of the Bernard Hopkins vs. Tavoris Cloud match-up seen as a possible opponent.
In Tony Bellew, Britain has another light heavyweight who might be fighting for world honors this year. Having suffered a bad cut in his last outing against Roberto Bolonti, 2013 may start with a prolonged period of inactivity to allow the wound to heal fully. Ranked highly by the WBC, Bellew could be in line to get a shot at the winner of the Cloud-Hopkins clash if he doesn't take on Cleverly.
A rematch between Cleverly and Bellew is another possibility for 2013, with the previous encounter a tight affair it would be an easy sell. If neither man schedules a fight with one of the division’s other stellar names don't be surprised to see a domestic showdown to determine Britain's premier light heavyweight.
Arguably Britain's strongest division, realistically 3 Brits could fight for world honors at 168lbs this year. Starting with our British fighter of the year Carl Froch, the Nottingham prize-fighter will be looking to pick up from where he left off in 2012. The Cobra is hoping for a rematch with Mikkel Kessler to avenge one of his only two defeats, with the bout being mentioned for around May. With the first fight having been a fight of the year candidate, broadcaster Sky may well be tempted to bring back PPV if the fight is made.
However, the bout with the Dane may have to be pushed back as there is still the possibility that Lucian Bute may activate his rematch clause, but due to the one-sided nature of their first fight, many will be hoping he doesn't. Froch also harbors hopes of a rematch with Andre Ward towards the end of the year, although a second bout with he American is unlikely to play out any differently to their first encounter, and the Cobra may be advised to look for different opponents such as fellow Brits George Groves and James DeGale.
Long term rivals Groves and DeGale will both be hoping 2013 is the year they join the division's elite. Groves is now the WBO's number one ranked contender and a fight with WBO champ Arthur Abraham could be on the cards. Abraham is unlikely to see Groves as a massive risk and a showdown in the champion's native Germany in the middle of the year is a possibility. Groves will be looking to have a warm up fight before then though and promoter Frank Warren has stated his charge will be fighting again in February.
DeGale meanwhile has vacated his EBU Super-middleweight title in his bid for world honors this year. With plenty of depth in the division there are a number of fights out there for the 2008 Olympic gold medalist. Ranked 4th by the WBC, fights against the likes of Nickola Sjekloca, Sakio Bika and Edwin Rodriguez would be intriguing affairs with victories from these encounters likely to push him towards the mandatory challenger spot and a showdown with Andre Ward.
British Champion Kenny Anderson will not want to be forgotten either, and should make the transition to European champion, while also pushing for a rematch with Groves. Following Brian Magee's loss to Kessler, his world title ambitions are surely over but could be involved in a few exciting domestics tussles this year.
Another one of the exceptionally strong weight classes domestically, there is every chance the middleweight division may also be sporting a British world champion at some point in the next 12 months. Martin Murray gets another world title shot when he takes on the middleweight king Sergio Martinez in April, with the fight being Martinez's first in his native Argentina since 2002.
The St. Helens fighter will enter the ring as a heavy underdog but has pedigree at this level having drawn with Felix Strum in his previous world title fight. However, fans are unlikely to see an upset, and should expect to see Martinez win via a late stoppage, as he did against fellow Brits Darren Barker and Matthew Macklin.
Barker will hoping for a better 12 months, with 2012 proving to be highly frustrating for the man from Barnet, with injuries restricting him to just one fight. In that outing he did look impressive though and defeated Kerry Hope inside 4 rounds. With another couple of warm up fights, he could be ready for another world title fight before the year's end.
Meanwhile, 2012 for Macklin was a reasonably successful year. Despite losing to Martinez in a fight for the WBC title, Macklin if anything enhanced his reputation with his valiant display. The Tipperary Tornado is in line for more big fights next year, having told Sportsmail a fight with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. “is 80 percent likely”. However, of equal appeal to the British trio's world title conquests would be a series of fight between the men to finally determine who is Britain's best middleweight.
At domestic level, Billy Joe Saunders will look to continue his meteoric rise through the ranks, and build on a successful 2012 which saw Saunders claim the Commonwealth and British titles. Up next for the youngster could be an exciting match-up against the also undefeated John Ryder. Ryder ended 2012 by winning a British title eliminator against previously unbeaten Eamonn O'Kane. Saunders should win a fight with Ryder but the Islington based fighter will provide a stern test for the former Olympian.
The 160lb division is also home to one of the most famous names in British boxing in Chris Eubank Jr. The son of the famous Chris Eubank will aim to take a few more steps towards emulating his father this year and build on from his successful 2012, and a fight with fellow undefeated prospects Jack Arnfield would be a great test for the young prospect.
Finally, London 2012 bronze medalist Anthony Ogogo will make his professional debut this year having signed with Golden Boy Promotions in December. While British based Pole Grzegorz Proska will also look to bounce back from his crushing defeat at the hands of Gennady Golovkin, and will make the reclaiming of his EBU middleweight belt his priority.
Brian Rose will continue to fly the flag for British light middleweights, having ended 2012 by claiming the Londsdale belt outright. In a thriving domestic scene Rose is still slightly ahead of his closest rivals and should be looking to push for a Euro title over the next 12 months.
Outside of Rose, there are a number of exciting potential match-ups to be made. English Champion Erick Ochieng was in one of the fights of last year when he took on and beat Nick Quigley and a rematch would certainly enthrall fans again. Liam Smith, the current commonwealth champion, and the light middleweight prize-fighter winner Prince Arron are other exciting young fighters who could take on Ochieng or each other next year, all of which would be high quality contests. Finally, Jamie Cox will also make his long awaited return having spent time in prison and will be looking to move back in to contention for national honors.
Kell Brook's world title shot has been pushed back till February 23rd after injuring his ankle in training for his bout with Devon Alexander. In what will be his toughest assignment to date, Brook will be eager to make a statement in one of the sports strongest weight classes. The Sheffield native will enter the ring as a slight underdog but has every chance of producing an upset especially with Alexander seemingly writing off the challenge of Brook. Despite Alexander having the far stronger resume to date, don't be surprised to see Brook return to these shores with the IBF belt, leading to a huge summer defense of his newly acquired title at one of Sheffield's outdoor stadiums.
This might also be the year when Frankie Gavin begins to realize his undoubted potential. Back in 2007 Gavin became Britain's first ever world amateur champion, but due to a plethora of issues and setbacks has never kicked on since turning pro. However, with a win over former world champion Junior Witter to end 2012 things are finally looking up. A fight against the undefeated Manchester-based Denton Vassell would be a further step in the right direction and also one of the best domestic fights which could be made this year. Commonwealth champion Vassell could also be in line for rematch with Lee Prudy in what would be another interesting affair.
Amir Khan will have two keys goals for 2013: to regain a world title and avenge his defeats against Lamont Peterson and Danny Garcia. Of the two he is more likely to get a rematch against Peterson, and I would fancy him to beat the Washington D.C. native to reclaim the IBF title. That victory could then set up the rematch with Danny Garcia, to unify the division, and would be a massive fight both sides of the Atlantic.
Their original battle was one of the fights of 2012 despite only lasting 4 rounds, and a second installment would surely produce fireworks again. It would be a tough fight to call as Khan has the speed and skills to defeat Garcia but only if he fights sensibly -- and that's a big if. However, if he can't get one of these fights, there are plenty of other big fights for Khan out there in both the 140lbs and 147lbs division, and if Brook becomes a world champion, arguably the biggest fight for King Khan would be a domestic showdown to rival the likes of Eubank vs Benn two decades ago.
Elsewhere in the division, Paul McCloskey will aim for another world title shot though it looks like that ship may have sailed. While former professional footballer and current English Champion Curtis Woodhouse will look to challenge for the British title, as will former prize-fighter winner Adil Anwar and fights between either and current champion Darren Hamilton would be exciting domestic dust ups.
Gavin Rees will be the first Brit to fight for a world title in 2013 when he takes on the highly regarded American youngster Adrien Broner. It will be the second time in the Welshman's career that he fights for world honors, having lost to Andriy Kotelnik in his previous attempt back in 2008. Don't expect Rees to return a champion this time either as Broner should easily dispose of Rees via an early stoppage.
A far better match-up for Broner would have been against WBO champion Ricky Burns. Broner has previously criticized Burns for avoiding him and called out the likeable Scot in December. We will have to wait to see if a Burns-Broner unification fight is made for later this year, but 2013 should be a busy year nonetheless for Burns. He will be itching to return to the ring having had two opponents pull out on him in December and has a title defense penciled in for the end of January.
There are also a number of domestic fights to be made in the lightweight division to excite the fans. First,there is the possibility of a rematch of our British fight of the year between Anthony Crolla and Derry Mathews. While another classic rematch may also occur this year between two former world title challengers Kevin Mitchell and John Murray.
Gary Buckland, one of Wales' growing contingent of quality fighters, is probably Britain's best hopes of European honors in the super-featherweight division. Being just one fight away from winning the Lonsdale belt outright that will remain Buckland's priority at the the start of the year, however, if he succeeds in doing so expect him to challenge Italian Devis Boschiero for his European title.
Outside of Buckland the two brightest domestic prospects Liam Walsh and Terry Flanagan stepped up to lightweight in their last outings to win the WBO Euro title and Prizefighter trophy respectively, which has left the division lacking depth.
The featherweight division starts 2013 with a bang with a fight between domestic rivals Lee Selby and Martin Lindsay on the Frampton-Martinez undercard. Selby, the current British and Commonwealth champion, will enter as slight favorite but Lindsay will be looking to cause an upset in front of his home crowd in Belfast. Stephen Smith will be keeping a close eye on this fight having suffered his only professional loss to Selby, and if the Welshman wins in Belfast look for Smith to push for a rematch.
There are several other exciting prospects in the featherweight division amongst them is Joe Murray a former World Amateur Bronze medalist and younger brother of lightweight John. The Mancunian has made an exciting start to his pro career having gone 12-0 but only fought once last year so will look to be more active this year. Fellow undefeated James Dickens and English title holder Josh Warrington would be ideal opponents for Murray or each other with fights between the trio being real 50-50 affairs.
Then there were two. Scott Quigg ended the career of long time British top dog at 122lbs Rendall Munroe on the undercard of Ricky Hatton's comeback, leaving himself and Carl Frampton to battle it out as the premier domestic super-bantamweight.
Northern Irishman Frampton kicks off the year by fighting Kiko Martinez in Belfast on Febuary 9th for the EBU Super-bantamweight title. Martinez is a decent operator but Frampton is a safe bet to move to 16 wins from 16 outings and in all likelihood will do so via stoppage.
Quigg, in beating Munroe, took home the WBA interim title and became the organization's number one contender, though before any potential clash with full champion Guillermo Rigondeaux, the British champion will probably want a couple more fights.
If one of those fights ends up pitting arguably Britain's two brightest prospects against each other, fight fans will be clamoring for tickets. Frampton vs. Quigg is a distinct possibility for the back end of the year with the winner proving they were ready for the inevitable world title shot which would follow.
Elsewhere in the division, Sheffield's Kid Galahad will look to build on the his impressive start to his career which has seen him go 13-0, with a possible showdown with undefeated English champion Ryan Walsh being touted for later this year.
Jamie McDonnell finished 2012 on a high when he defeated Nicaraguan Darwin Zamora, in an IBF final eliminator. That victory means the Doncaster fighter is now the IBF number one ranked fighter and a clash with current champion Leo Santa Cruz will hopefully be made in the first half of the year. McDonnell's manager Dennis Hobson has stated that negotiations are well under way for a fight with Santa Cruz and is hoping to stage the fight at the Sheffield Motorpoint Arena around February.
2013 also promises to be a huge year for the exciting Kal Yafai. The Birmingham youngster who only had his first pro fight in July, after missing out on a place at London 2012, racked up 6 straight victories last year, and will continue to stay busy with a bout already scheduled for January 19th. Yafai's promoter Eddie Hearn has predicted a British Title for his charge this year and its a safe bet that Yafai will fulfil this prophecy.
Super Flyweight and Below
In the super-flyweight division British champion Paul Butler will look to continue the impressive start to his career which has seen him go 9-0 with Liverpudlian Mike Robinson a possible opponent for the start of the year.
While at 112lbs, Kevin Satchell will look to move towards European honors after disposing of Britain's second finest featherweight Chris Edwards in the 6th round of their fight last year.