Frank Warren this upcoming Saturday (December 9th) presents the promotion titled “The Boys are Back in Town” live from the CopperBox Arena in London. The card features two of Britain’s returning world champions, in the form of James DeGale and Lee Selby. Featuring on the undercard are some of Frank Warren’s hottest prospects and fighters seeking to establish a good lead up into 2018. The action on the 9th of December will be televised on Boxnation/BT sport in the UK and Showtime in the United States.
Firstly James DeGale returns to action for the first time upon UK shores since November 2014 (November, Liverpool v Marco Antonio Perriban). James who defends his IBF world super-middleweight title on Saturday, since November 2014 has boxed ever since in the United States and Canada. Firstly defeating Andre Dirrell to claim the IBF in May of 2015, going on to defend against Lucian Bute, Rogelio Medina and attempted to unify with WBC title holder Badou Jack.
James however has long been seeking an opportunity to return home, defending his IBF title in his home city of London. However many reasons have arisen, some worth opportunity, some alot more not so much sinister but a break down of promotional footing.
James is one of the few British fighters who have signed to Al Haymon (PBC) to have made a beneficial success to his alignment with the advisory supremo. James has earned a lot of money by boxing in North-America, with big purses against the likes of Lucian Bute and Badou Jack. So it has been a worthwhile venture, as well as marking a foot print on the US market with regular premium network coverage. However many believe that he should and could have earned considerably more if he boxed at home, establishing himself as a legitimate PPV attraction. This ultimately lead to the breakdown of his relationship with former promoter Eddie Hearn.
Hearn regularly stated he was disappointed with James’s choice to link up with Haymon, stating it questioned his own desire to promote and provide for DeGale in terms of opportunities. Hearn believed that he himself would have been the best and sole figure to provide James the fights, purses and stardom which ultimately James deserved. Through out the last two and half years, Hearn has attempted to secure bouts with Callum Smith, George Groves (before 2017), Eubank Jnr, Rocky Fielding ect. All good domestic fights, some better then others but ultimately all big pay day’s to boot. Reasons as to why James didn’t sign for these fights are plentiful but logical, especially as a unification with Badou Jack arose to the table.
Time came and went with James deciding in his own words to become a free agent on a fight by fight basis, so along came Frank Warren. Frank Warren the natural rival to Hearn, knows full well of his situation with DeGale, fight by fight and get the best opportunities possible for the London man. This Saturday’s opponent Caleb Traux, does not reflect that but you must consider that James has had a ten month pay off with injury following his drawn unification attempt with Badou Jack.
What is next for DeGale, that will come to fruition with strong suggestions of another IBF/WBC unification awaiting in the wings. Overall it is just nice to see one of Britain’s top fighters return to UK shores.
Lee Selby meanwhile the IBF featherweight title holder, has not had the most productive of spells with Haymon.
Selby despite his talents has had regular bouts of inactivity, promotional issues with the previously mentioned Hearn and fights falling through.Selby who captured the IBF crown in 2015, has only defended the title three times and only had four fights since (one being a non title bout).
Selby attempted to shine in the USA but came out of his fight with Fernando Montiel with a win but a less than satisfactory showing, as well as official fight purse of $50,000 US. Since his bout with Montiel in 2015, relationship with Eddie Hearn soured due to his relationship with Al Haymon. This resulted in Hearn being reluctant to showcase Selby and ultimately decided to not renew his promotional deal with the Welshman.
This left Selby with few options on the table, American promoters unwilling to work with him despite holding a world title, left Warren to swoop in and attempt to resurrect the career of the talented Welshman.
Selby’s deal with Warren will mirror the similarities of DeGale, fight by fight. However Selby cannot afford to be as picky as to who he will work with in the short-medium term future with his path already set out by the IBF. Selby is scheduled to fight mandatory challenger to his title Josh Warrington next, who is handled by Warren also. Along with Warrington, Warren also has fellow domestic rival Carl Frampton on his books which makes a longer term commitment to Warren very viable and beneficial to all parties involved.
However Selby will need to negate the threat of opponent Eduardo Ramirez first on Saturday night. The Mexican has had a strange build up to this fight having gone missing, AWOL and ultimately failing to make weight for the contest. The fight could be a potential banana skin if Selby is not switched and focussing on the bigger picture ahead, win tonight and we’ll Selby will look forward to a very exciting 2018 with big fights just in the UK alone. That is what Selby has been seeking and has the opportunities in his grasp, he just needs to grab them with both hands starting Saturday night.