The bill for Carl Froch’s IBF super middleweight title defense against George Groves in Manchester, England, later this month is positively stacked with elite home talent.
The 21,000-capacity Phones 4 U Manchester Arena famously sold out in just 11 minutes for the Froch-Groves grudge battle on Nov. 23. But if that highly-anticipated showdown, which is a Sky pay-per-view event in the U.K. and will be screened in the U.S. on AWE (formerly WealthTV), is pure box office, the rest of the lineup is far from shoddy. Fair to say British promoter Eddie Hearn, of Matchroom Sports, has fulfilled his promise to deliver a bumper cast.
Chief support act on the night goes to WBA junior featherweight holder Scott Quigg as he makes the first full defense of the belt he retained in controversial fashion in October. The undefeated 26-year-old from Bury, having been promoted from interim champ in the buildup, only managed a draw against Cuban Yoandris Salinas at the London O2 Arena.
Although he admits to being bitterly disappointed at not getting the decision, Quigg (26-0-2, 19 knockouts) aims to put the record straight against dangerous Argentine challenger Diego Silva (29-2-4, 15 KOs).
And, having witnessed the extraordinary verbal spat between rivals Froch and Groves on Sky Sport’s Ringside program, he cannot wait to be featured on such a high-profile blockbuster. He is also adamant that being a virtual local boy is all the incentive he needs to turn on the style.
“There’s always pressure on you when you step into a ring but I want to go out in front of my own fans and get a ‘W’ as a world champion,” said Quigg, THE RING’s No. 8 at 122 pounds. “I’m so excited. I live ten minutes away from Manchester, so there will be a lot of my supporters there.
“I’ve learnt a lot from that last fight. I always knew it would be tough but I felt I’d won it by a couple of rounds. I’ll fight anybody – and if people want me to take a rematch against Salinas then I will. But for now Diego Silva takes priority.
“It was entertaining to see Carl and George on Ringside last week … I don’t think we’ve had that in British boxing since the days of Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank. It’s great to see it back and to be a part of the evening.
“Boxing is on a high in this country and anybody who says different should just take a look at the card in Manchester.”
Further boosting the show is THE RING’s No.6-rated middleweight contender Martin Murray. He has been added at short notice following the collapse of his WBA interim belt defense against Australia’s Garth Wood.
Murray was slated to meet Wood on Dec. 11 in Sydney, but instead now appears on home soil against an opponent to be confirmed. Hatton Promotions, which looks after the 31-year-old from St. Helens, Merseyside, struck a hasty deal with Hearn and Matchroom at the start of this week.
“Due to the disappointment of the Australian show falling through we’ve worked as quickly as we can to get Martin another opportunity in the same time frame,” said Hatton Promotions director of boxing, Richard Poxon. “After all the hard work that went into making the fight with Wood, everyone is gutted about what has happened. I feel for Martin and Garth – but every cloud has a silver lining and thanks to Eddie Hearn and Matchroom, Martin now gets to box in a huge arena at home and can look forward to some big fights in 2014.”
There is also another outing for resurgent English lightweight Anthony Crolla, 26, as he challenges Martin Gethin for the British title, fresh from an impressive win over Gavin Rees in June.
But, arguably of more interest will be the fourth professional bouts of Team GB Olympic gold medal winners Anthony Joshua and Luke Campbell. Watford heavyweight Joshua, 24, faces a decent test in Hector Avila, the experienced Argentinian who lasted nine rounds with Dereck Chisora in April. The opponent for up-and-coming lightweight Campbell, from Hull, is to be confirmed.
Photos by Scott Heavey-Getty Images; Juan Mabromata-AFP/Getty Images
Follow Harry Pratt on Twitter: @gharrypratt