THIS weekend, we will see the best battle of UK prospects since George Groves outpointed James DeGale in their 2011 grudge match when Josh Taylor defends his Commonwealth super-lightweight title against Ohara Davies in Braehead, Scotland.
Taylor, 9-0 (8), and Davies, 15-0 (12), have long been mentioned in the same breath by fans and media alike but few expected them to meet so early in their respective careers.
Despite their relative inexperience in the pro ranks, there’s an enormous amount at stake beside Taylor’s belt and Davies’ WBC ranking. What could have easily been a straight-nosed 50-50 fight between two highly-touted and popular fighters has developed into a captivating rivalry of opposing characters.
— Conrad Cummings (@ChampCummings) July 7, 2017
Davies, with minimal amateur experience, has found his home as a professional and generates serious buzz with a polarising public persona. Taylor, not shy himself, was an excellent amateur and has produced some scintillating performances while punching for pay.
Taylor and his team think Davies will quit, Ohara insists it won’t go beyond six rounds and the bookies have Josh as a slight favourite but make no mistake, this is an exceptionally well-matched contest and no outcome (bar freak injuries) would be a shock.
The fight is an excellent advert for boxing and what’s more is that it will be on terrestrial television in the UK (Channel 5). Groves-DeGale was on pay-per-view on Sky Box Office.
All these years later we still talk about Groves-DeGale and the pair still loathe one another. They’re both also world champions, and a rematch would be massive. Who’s to say the same might not happen with Taylor and Davies?
Over recent years we’ve seen Tyson Fury fight Dereck Chisora when they were both unbeaten, Billy Joe Saunders and Chris Eubank met on the same card back in 2014 and more recently Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte settled their considerable differences in 2015.
Taylor and Davies are continuing that rich trend and once again proving that such match-ups resonate with fans in a major way.
On Saturday night, down in London, more fresh UK talent will be on display at the Copper Box. Bradley Skeete will look to win his British title outright against Dale Evans, and exciting prospects Anthony Yarde and Daniel Dubois both make step-ups.
There are plenty of well-matched bouts on the show, including the rematch between English super-middleweight champion Darryll Williams and Jahmaine Smyle, a welterweight scrap between Gary Corcoran and Larry Ekundayo and a fiery super-welterweight fight between Asinia Byfield and Sammy McNess for the Southern Area title.
“Obviously we lost Billy Joe Saunders, the world title [for this date], but this is what I really enjoy about boxing, bringing the youngsters through in good fights. There are some cracking fights, some 50-50s and I don’t think we’ve put many of our guys in easy fights on this one. There’s tests for them, even if it’s not the opponent, it’s the distance or the occasion,” promoter Frank Warren told Boxing News.
It’s a stacked show, and an excellent showcase for some rising stars of British boxing – much like the Matchroom show put on last weekend, which was topped by Frank Buglioni’s British title defence against Ricky Summers.
Promising light-heavyweight Joshua Buatsi made his professional debut and the likes of Ted Cheeseman, Reece Bellotti, Isaac Chamberlain and Lawrence Okolie were all on show.
The future of UK boxing certainly seems to be in good hands, and if more fights like Taylor-Davies are made then we will be in for some real treats.