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The Weekender: The British Heavyweight Scene

by Steve Fearon

On Friday, 6th October, Sam Sexton won a hard-fought contest against his Caledonian opponent Gary Cornish to claim the long vacant British Heavyweight title in a fight that seems to have taken an age to come to fruition.

It was a fight that didn’t draw the attention it perhaps deserved, partially due to the handful of British fighters in the mix for higher honours; Joshua, Whyte, both Furys, Chisora, Haye, Bellew (arguably), and partially because of the lack of profile of Cornish and Sexton in relation to these other fighters.

It has however opened up a new era in British Heavyweight boxing, now that the belt sits around a fighter as opposed to being locked up in a dusty cupboard somewhere, uncontested for.

Future Champions

Nathan Gorman

There are a number of young heavyweights (and not so young) that will be looking to make a play for the British Belt in the next year or two, perhaps only as a stepping stone to better things, but a significant one. Two prospects in Nathan Gorman and Nick Webb, who will be fighting for the English title in November and surely the winner would have to be given serious consideration for shot at the Lonsdale belt.

Nick Webb is the older of the two at 30 years old, but has still only fought 11 times as a pro, winning all 11 and 9 by stoppage, suggesting he is a serious contender and a good opponent at National level. He will be facing off against Nathan Gorman, a 21 year old fighter with 10 wins from 10 fights, and 8 stoppages already in his young career. Gorman is related to “King of the Gypsies” Bartley Gorman, a bare knuckle champion of fearsoem reputation, so comes from fighting stock.

This is a tantalising contest, with two unbeaten fighters, seemingly with good stopping power, stepping up to test themselves against an opposition with a similar record, and a similar trajectory. It has shades of the Josh Taylor versus Ohara Davies fight, in as much as it is rare to see two fancied prospects facing off so early in their careers.

There is little to split them statistically, having fought opponents with a similar average win% (43% for Gorman, 45% for Webb) and similar experience (Both fighters have fought opponents averaging 28 bouts). Still, one or both of these guys could well be British Champ in the next few years.

The Scouse Rocky?

David Price

Out of interest, I ran the ratings table in boxrec to see which fighters are ranked highly in the British heavyweight category, and it has thrown up some interesting and dare I say forgotten, names that could be in contention. If we exclude the fighters mentioned above, who are all looking for European or higher in terms of their levels, the next name in the list is David Price.

Now there are a lot of unknowns surrounding Price, the once vaunted scouser, who seemed destined to face Klitschko for a World Title shot, and who was using ferocious power to good effect before suddenly being stopped in his tracks by Tony Thompson.

Price has since been stopped a further 3 times by Thompson again in the rematch, Erkan Teper and more recently the shocking capitulation against Christian Hammer. David is said to be struggling psychologically, and he looked incredibly drained against Hammer, with his stamina issues seemingly stemming from anxiety as opposed to a career heaviest weight.

Despite the fact that both Thompson and Teper both failed drug tests after defeating Price, this has done little to restore Price’s career, and he seems to be on the brink of retirement after the late cancellation of his last scheduled fight a few weeks ago.

However, it must be considered that Price could still be more than capable of fighting at British level.

Having watched the lack of KO power on display in the Sexton/ Cornish fight, you would have to concede that a fighter with Price’s punching power would have a good chance of grabbing a British belt. Price had in fact knocked out Sexton in 2012, before stopping Audley Harrison and Matt Skelton, so if he can reclaim any small part of his confidence and conditioning from that period, he could be a real contender for British honours.

The public love a comeback story, and it would be borderline Rocky-like for Price to come back at this stage and regain his honour with some good wins at a British level, and I think the viewing public would enjoy seeing his power back in the squared circle. Price is also a very likeable character.

One thing is for sure, there is always excitement when you have a fighter with a suspect chin and tremendous punching power.

A Risky Debut

Joe Joyce

Ex-Olympian Joe Joyce will soon be making his professional debut in an ambitious debut against Ian Lewison, a reasonably experienced and tough Heavyweight, who most recently went 10 rounds against Dillian Whyte after taking the fight on short notice.

Joyce brings with him a long and successful amateur career, if not the excitement that Joshua brought when he turned over, and is expected at 32, to move quickly through the ranks towards high level honours, and the British title be one that will be targeted en-route should things go to plan.

Ian Lewison has been talked about as a fighter that has some serious talent, and is well respected by fellow fighters as being a tough competitor, albeit one who has not perhaps lived up to his potential. That said, he has beaten some decent names, and his resilience against Dillian Whyte, despite being in less than athletic condition suggests he may well provide a stiffer challenge for Joyce than perhaps is expected.

If Lewison were to get something out of the fight with Joyce, he would be seen as a renewed threat on the British scene, and would have proven that an In-shape Lewison could be a real contender.

Triple D

Daniel Dubois

It is hard to talk about the future of British Heavyweight Boxing without talking about Daniel Dubois, the hard hitting 20 year old who seems to be carving his way towards the highest level, despatching opponents brutally, but with a sinister calm. His last fight was meant to be a step up against a genuine Heavyweight in AJ Carter, who whilst not a world beater, was certainly a step above the ‘replacement’ opponents seen in previous contests.

Seemingly each time Dubois landed a right, Carter went down, before a sickening right straight ended the contest emphatically and early.

It is difficult to know how good Dubois could be, until he fights someone that can either take a shot and remain conscious, or give him a good one back. We don’t want to end up in the David Price situation again, where we watch a young fighter clubbing his way through journeymen and imports before coming unstuck against the first live opponent they face.

That said, the layers between the British titleholder and Dubois are few, and he can’t be more than 2-3 fights from knocking on the door for a British title.

And Many More!

All of this conjecture doesn’t include The White Rhino, people’s fave Dave Allen, who may be interested himself depending on the outcome of his rematch with Lenroy Thomas for the Commonwealth title, or the coming contest between Tom Little and Josh Sandland, two fighters looking to establish themselves on the domestic Heavyweight scene.

Then there are names like Bill Hodgson, DL Jones, Ian Millarvie, David Abraham, Carl Spencer and Scott Saward who are all carrying unbeaten records, but which I confess I know very little about.

There are a lot of stories just waiting to be written in the British Heavyweight scene, and we will see them written very soon.

Posted: 14th Oct 2017

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