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Amir Khan & the British Weekend of Boxing

By Donald Stewart

Legend has it there was a time when there were four secretaries in deepest Whitehall in London who ran a quarter of the Globe through the typewriters at their fingertips. They were the heart of the British Empire and they sent out letters and memos in ways before email that made the world revolve round administrative functions. Not since those heady days has Great Britain held the world at its fingertips but you gotta give those English credit…they sure are try-ers!

Following a fantastic Boxing Olympics at Beijing some of the more notable victors came home and went into battle under Frank Warren’s stable with the Magnificent Seven earlier this year. It was so successful that the Return of the Magnificent Seven was muted for Frank’s 30th anniversary of boxing involvement – 11th December 2010.

A magical night in Liverpool was to be unveiled and then Amir Khan 24-1 17KO’s, announced his defense – on December the 11th. Dereck Chisora 14-0 9 KO’s, chipped in with his surprise challenge against Wladimir Klitschko 55-3 49 KO’s, –December 11th– see a theme developing? The headline writers started to get busy with their clichés and by lines.

The first Magnificent Seven saw Enzo Maccarinelli look like he was to retire so we got six from the first contest ready to give battle in the return. Add to that two genuine World Championship contests and Sky announce – GR8 Britain versus the Rest of the World. The little Brits were ready to take on the world once again.

Their plans were thrown when Frankie Gavin 7-0, 6 KO’s, pulled out citing flu so there were no longer 8! Chisora’s contest then went and GR8 Britain became King Khan and the Brit pack! Nothing wrong with a touch of Hollywood!

So how did they do? We know that Amir Khan came through a very tough test and he is claiming his doubters have been silenced. Personally I think he’s right and it was what he needed to do to show that he has the chin and he has the bottle to be a Champion for a very long time.

Khan came to the attention of the British public because of his exploits at the Olympics in Sydney. At the Beijing Olympics we heard new names – De Gale, Saunders and the like – would they continue their climb to Khan like Kingness?

First up was Welterweight Kell Brooks 23-0 16 KO’s, who demolished in two rounds unknown Ghanaian, Philip Kotey 21-6-2 15 KOs. Brooks is ranked as the WBO number one and could be a future opponent for a certain Mr. Pacquiao 52-3-2 38KOs.

Once that was out of the way up stepped Matthew Macklin 28-1 23 KOs, fighting in his first defense of his European Middleweight belt. Drawn into a contest he should never have got involved in he looked sluggish, far off the pace and very ordinary. Macklin had to depend on the judges to see him through unanimously. He had once been noted as a future World Champ but on this evidence he would struggle with such a step up. 2010 has been a very frustrating year for him so hopefully he can build into 2011 an opportunity for him to achieve his potential.

Next in was Nathan Cleverly 21-0 10 KO’s, a Welshman with a lot of pedigree and plenty of people who believe he is ready to make the step up for a World title fight very soon. The problem for Clev was that the opponent he had trained for had withdrawn and he had to settle on a new opponent with a new style and an approach he had not prepared for.

It was another unanimous decision but yet another less than sparkling performance to become the interim WBO Light Heavyweight Champion.

Everyone loves a grudge match and the next contest was certainly that. James De Gale, 9-0 7 KO’s, and Paul Smith, 29-2 15 KO’s, traded the normal number of insults and Smith was hugely upset that his surge for World glory had been usurped by this Olympic Champion upstart. De Gale took control of the fight and came out a comfortable winner winning the British Super Middleweight title after stopping Smith in round nine.

Finally in Liverpool Tony Bellew, 13-0 9 KO’s, had to rise from the canvass twice to defend his Commonwealth Light Heavyweight title stopping his opponent, like De Gale, in round nine. Doubts however remain over his leaky defense so he got the win but failed to convince.

One other British boxer worth mentioning is Billy Joe Saunders, 7-0 4 KO’s, who was also at Beijing, didn’t do quite so well but continued his professional career with a decent win at Liverpool and a TKO in round two.

So the night belonged to British boxing in that each of the contests with British boxers ended up with a British win. There were no shocks to the Stiff Upper Lip but the next stage for each of these fighters shall be about stepping up towards the World Belts and trying to headline their own shows? Simple statistics tells us that there shall be some who shall make it and many who shall not.

One of the British Filmmakers once announced at the Oscars that the Brits were coming. On the evidence of December 11th, 2010 you can certainly bet in there being a possibility that some of them may make an appearance at some time in the future … maybe.

Dontcha just love me Brits, they’re so British!?

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