Despite the slow spinning of the boxing wheel in January, there was still plenty of action in and out of the ring to get our grinders down.
But who won and lost boxing week?
The credibility of this column’s debut would be shattered if Mark Magsayo was not informed early. The Philippines may not have dazzled or elated in his anger at defending featherweight champion Gary Russell Jr., but turning ≈3/1 (+275) odds to their head via majority decision stretched his unbeaten record to 24-0 and broke into the division.
Magsayo countered well with his right – in patches – against an injured champion who leaned heavily on his left hand. It certainly wasn’t a dominant display from the 26-year-old, who was caught doubling up on his left hand, but the pressure and output eventually told, banking the early rounds with some eye-catching body work.
“It was a small advantage for me as he only used one hand,” Magsayo explained after the fight in one of 2022’s understatements so far. In all honesty, Magsayo should stamped his long course win, but instead let Russell back into the game when the scorecards reflected.
Still, it shouldn’t be underestimated to become a world champion – and dethrone the longest-serving champion in the sport. Manny Pacquiao welcomed the new WBC king to the “club” after the fight as he joins Nonito Donaire, John Riel Casimero, Jerwin Ancajas and Rene Mark Cuarto as Philippine titlists.
The “Romford Bull” Johnny Fisher ended 2021 by signing a new multi-year contract with Matchroom Boxing, and has started 2022 repaying this trust Eddie Hearn et. al. showed in him through phenomenal ticket sales ahead of his next outing.
The 22-year-old heavyweight will fight on February 12 on the Daniel Jacobs vs John Ryder undercard and has independently shifted nearly 2,000 (!!) tickets in recent weeks.
The #RomfordBullArmy is expected to have a good voice in North London as the four-fight novice looks to continue to build his foundation in the sport – whether he follows in the footsteps of two other great British ticket sellers Josh Warrington and Dave Allen, become clear in the coming years.
If you’ve been logged into Twitter for the past few days, chances are you’ve come across one of Audley Harrison’s recent gems.
Harrison – gold medalist at the 2000 Athens Olympics and former European heavyweight champion – handed out heat to everyone on the social media platform, with the likes of Frank Warren and Carl Froch getting some attention, alongside a ‘roast’ from anyone who dared to answer .
“A-Force” has been out of the limelight for years since he retired — returned to our screens in 2019 when he helped his former foe David Haye in a poker tournament — and it’s unclear at this point if this recent Twitter tirade is sharing part of a larger plan to return to the sport in one form or another.
Anyway, I’m here for Audley’s shithouse. The 50-year-old was unfairly the butt of the British boxing joke for far too long in its prime, despite paving the way for future Olympic funding and the successes of Amir Khan and Anthony Joshua, to name just two. It’s nice to see him finally landing some counters.
I refuse to commit to permanent places in the WINNERS or LOSERS section every week, but the WBA is an early frontrunner to have repeated forays in the latter.
After releasing the WBAs ridiculous heavyweight rankings at the start of the year – including Michael Hunter, Robert Helenius and Hughie Fury, all listed above Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder – news broke this week that WBA “regular” heavyweight champion Trevor Bryan will defend his title against Jonathan Guidry on January 29 .
By the way, that’s 13th-placed Jonathan Guidry, who somehow made his way into the top 15 of the WBA rankings, despite not fighting since August and never fighting more than eight rounds.
The same Jonathan Guidry who took the last win came against a 46-year-old 20-20-2 Rodney Moore.
SAME Jonathan Guidry promoted by Don King, who claims Guidry got the wink he deserved, already confirmed for the January 29 card against several opposition parties, before Manuel Charr’s withdrawal left a spot at the top of the bill.
Seeing is believing with the WBA at this point.
It’s painful to see Briedis’ name in this section – a fighter who has consistently performed in the ring at the highest level – but it’s quite difficult to defend the cruiserweight champion after his efforts to spur Jake Paul on by keep going.
The Latvian has redoubled his pursuit of a multimillion-pound payday with the YouTuber, posting a video on Monday of him singing happy birthday to the 5-0 “Problem Child” (also, with a Christmas tree still in the background!)
I’m not a Jake Paul hater. But trust me, I’m not a Jake Paul aficionado. i think it is reasonable interesting as a kind of science experiment to see what happens when you throw the best facilities, the best nutrition, the best sparring partners and the best team around a young athletic guy – after all there is no reason why in 2022 all of them boxers should be born into poverty and fight their way off the streets rocky-style.
Anyway, back to Briedis. At 36, he should be putting all his energy into the division’s other champions — a la Lawrence Okolie — or damn, move to the heavyweight if you want a quick sugar payout.
Team Tony Yoka
Despite turning 30, French heavyweight Tony Yoka will again be forced to tread water early in the year.
His preliminary world title fight against Filip Hrgovic is officially in the trash after a dispute from original, less inspired opponent Martin Bakole, with Hrgovic now being forced to scour the IBF rankings for a replacement.
“Now I am making up for lost time,” Yoka told me last March. “Joseph Parker and Filip Hrgovic are two I would like to fight – both of whom I have beaten before in the amateurs. I am now ready to make my move in the division.”
This “move” is on ice until he can navigate past the 28-year-old Congolese from Scotland – both contractually and physically.