On Monday afternoon, Frank Warren held a press conference to announce the first big British boxing bill of 2013 – featuring one unification fight, one World title defense, one European title fight and the return of one of the country’s most controversial fighting men, as well as several other decent domestic scraps. The card – titled “Rule Britannia”, will take place at Wembley Arena on Saturday, March 16th and, should all fighters remain fit and healthy, it promises to be an enthralling night.
The main attraction sees Scottish WBO Lightweight titleholder Ricky Burns pitted against awkward Mexican Miguel Vazquez, the IBF titlist of the same weight. This fight appears likely to be more suited to the purist — Burns has made most of his career boxing rather than ending matters early, something his record attests to, with just 10 KO wins in 37 contests. Vazquez has a remarkably similar ledger, with just 13 victories inside the distance coming from 36 fights.
Burns does, however, enter the showdown on the crest of a wave with a four round demolition of Kevin Mitchell, a fight many saw as evenly matched, whereas Vazquez’ last outing against Mercito Gesta failed to get off the ground and prior to that he disappointed against Marvin Quintero. As a result, some may see the Scot as the slight favorite heading in, especially given that English shores will be much closer to what Burns calls home.
The fight should occur with the vacant Ring Magazine Lightweight title on the line, following the Ring’s ratings policy shake-up last year which allowed for a number 1 or 2 ranked fighter to match with a top-five rated opponent for a vacant Ring belt. Even ignoring this matter, however, and it is still a clash of in-form titleholders in an attempt to conquer through unification. Indeed, it’s the kind of fight I was calling for last year when acknowledging the need for the lightweight division to be cleared up.
On the undercard, Nathan Cleverly will defend his WBO Light-Heavyweight belt against his mandatory Robin Krasniqi. Krasniqi, based out of Germany, represents a step-up in class for Cleverly, though on the back of a disappointing 2012 ,the Welshman will be gagging to impress on a big show and continue to market himself positively for a possible unification fight of his own, be that against the winner of Bernard Hopkins – Tavoris Cloud, Chad Dawson or Beibut Shumenov.
George Groves will also be on the undercard, aiming to keep himself active as he marches toward a World title shot. He gets a chance to continue this journey against Mohammed Ali N’Diaye in a match that is set with the vacant European Super Middleweight title on the line.
Finally, Dereck Chisora will, subject to a hearing by the British Boxing Board of Control, make his return to the ring following an enforced visit to the wilderness last year. Chisora had his British license stripped from him following distasteful scenes in Germany at the scene of his challenge to Vitali Klitschko, though with an uneventful few months behind him, the Londoner can now surely look ahead to the future with this fight potentially the first of many more.
The action-packed night will be televised by BoxNation (Sky Channel 437/Virgin Channel 546).