As Mathew Macklin laid precariously slumped between the bottom two ropes in Ireland last Saturday night, his dreams of becoming a world champion looked to be as shot as his legs. It was such a shame to see him lose like that because he is a fighter who genuinely deserved to hold a strap before he retired and in all honesty should have already claimed a version on that controversial night in Germany (sounds familiar) when he was robbed by Felix Sturm.
Macklin has fought at top, top level and has always been happy to challenge himself, going in to the lions den to face the biggest names, and hitters, in the division. If we never see him in a ring again it’ll have been a pleasure to follow and support his career through the highs and lows.
Anyway, this got me thinking about a few British fighters who have world title aspirations and I wanted to give my two pence worth (for what it’s worth) on fighters who are currently in the spotlight and whether I believe they can achieve the ultimate goal of becoming world champion in the not too distant future:
Anthony Crolla – the Mancunian has landed himself a shot at WBA lightweight world champion Richar Abril early next year and the news must have hit Derry Matthews (who recently became WBA continental champion, and is ranked higher than Crolla) harder than Choi as his promotional team were believed to be trying to land a bout with the Cuban. However, this could be a blessing in disguise for ‘Dirty’ Derry because if Crolla can pull off the win then a massive trilogy fight between the two is surely on the cards. If I was Matthews I’d be sitting ringside for Crolla’s big night with my ‘Million Dollar’ Crolla undies on, screaming for him. The one big problem is, I think Crolla will lose and lose badly to Abril – Abril is stylistically all wrong for Crolla who IMO doesn’t have a set style. He sometimes boxes coming forwards, sometimes on the backfoot but is not a master of either which is were I believe he will come unstuck against a tricky, awkward but very good boxer in Abril. I am not saying that Crolla won’t ever win a world title but I don’t believe he will do versus Abril.
Bellew/Cleverly – with the winner of this coming weekends grudge match set to be lined up for Marco Huck I have to put my hand on my heart and say that I don’t think either of them can beat Huck. He’s too big, strong an relentless at Cruiserweight for both fighters however, I believe that Bellew has the better chance of the two at causing an upset for one reason: he could knock him out! Cleverly doesn’t have KO power and I don’t think he is good enough or disciplined enough to outbox him to take a decision but if Bellew let his hands go (he is open to get tagged himself) he has it in his locker to hurt Huck. If matchroom decide to go down a different route with the winner of this fight then there is definitely a chance that either can win a world title from the likes of: Lebedev or Hernandez however, the Huck fight will likely be the money spinner but could also be a career ender (at world level anyway).
Martin Murray – all signed up and in training for his pasting from Golovkin! In all seriousness, I like Murray and think that he’s massively underrated however, this fight only lasts as long as it takes for Murray to become ambitious and open up or for Golovkin to chip away until he finds a gap to land. This isn’t a criticism of Murray, I just believe he’s in way over his head with Golovkin who is a cut from a different cloth compared to the rest of, not only the other middleweights in the world but, the top P4P fighters.
Paul Smith – IMO he didn’t deserve a world title in the first place but nevertheless he landed one and performed quite well versus Arthur Abraham. It was a hard fought, close bout that could have gone either way and despite the controversial scorecards he didn’t look like being granted the rematch he protested for however, thanks to a draw in the recent Sturm v Steiglitz fight it looks like he may get his wish as Abraham was reportedly lined up to face the winner. So, can Smith beat Abraham a second time around? I’m not sure – I don’t believe Smith can do anymore than he did last time so it all depends on what Abraham has left. He could continue to slide and do even less work (if possible) than usual or he may have had an off night and this time will deal with Smith like a lot of people expected him to last time. One things for sure, if Smith loses again he is a million miles away from another world title shot.
James DeGale, George Groves & Callum Smith – all three seem to be on a collision course over the next 18 months if they keep on winning and I honestly believe that all three are capable of winning and successfully defending world titles at super-middleweight. With Carl Froch looking likely to take his pension soon and Andre Ward in no man’s land, the division is wide open for these guys to get some belts and make some unbelievably mouth watering all British clashes.
There are a lot of fighters who I haven’t had the chance to detail above however, notable mentions must go to the following who I believe will either win world titles or be in world title fights in the coming years: Tyson Fury, Billy-Joe Saunders, Frankie Gavin, Amir Khan, Paul Butler, Anthony Josua, Liam Smith and Terry Flanagan.
I am sure that some people will disagree with me and I have probably missed a lot of fighters out so feel to leave a comment below with your suggestions.