TWO NIGHTS AT THE FIGHTS
by Adrian CusackFive world title fights involving British fighters take place over two days in late March. On Friday 27th Richie Woodhall challenges WBC super middleweight champion Sugarboy Malinga in Woodhall’s home town of Telford. One night later Frank Maloney and Don King co-promote a double world title card in Hull, featuring Liverpool’s Paul Lloyd taking on IBF bantamweight king Tim Austin and Terry Dunstan’s effort to relieve Imamu Mayfield of his IBF cruiserweight belt.
Then it’s on to Atlantic City where the 28 year old Herol Graham will make his third, and surely last, world title attempt against IBF super middleweight titleholder Charles Brewer. And finally, to end this busy evening of fisticuffs, Lennox Lewis clashes with Shannon Briggs for the Vidal Sassoon World Heavyweight dreadlocks championship (also recognised by the WBC). Here are my predictions for the aforementioned bouts:
RICHIE WOODHALL - THULANE “SUGARBOY” MALINGA
This is Richie Woodhall’s second world title opportunity, having previously lost to Keith Holmes, and he’ll never get a better opportunity to lift the title. Woodhall has home-town advantage and is facing a 42 year old grandfather who surely does not have much left. Malinga won the title by outpointing Robin Reid in a horribly boring fight last December. That display of mutual non - violence from Reid and Malinga was so bad that the fans were booing before the ‘fight’ started. Malinga’s style is certainly awkward but he now moves and punches verrry slowwwwly (sorry, I was beginning to drift off just there). Expect Woodhall to grind out a unanimous decision.
PAUL LLOYD - TIM AUSTIN This fight is, frankly, a mismatch. Lloyd hasn’t mixed in world class before and Austin looked superb in taking the title from Mbulelo Botile last year. Austin by stoppage.
TERRY DUNSTAN - IMAMU MAYFIELD This is a tough one for me to call as I haven’t seen Mayfield fight. He took the title with a clear points win over Uriah Grant last November. From what I can gather Mayfield is a fairly good boxer with a decent punch. I am far more familiar with Dunstan, a fast box - puncher. Terry won the European cruiserweight title in his last fight with a spectacular 16 second KO of Alexander Gurov. This one could go either way, but if I had to make a prediction I’d go with the challenger Dunstan.
HEROL GRAHAM - CHARLES BREWER For years Herol ‘Bomber’ Graham has carried the tag ‘The best British boxer never to win a world title’. Amazingly, at 38, Graham has his third and surely last try to fulfil his dream, to go from being a brilliant, world-class contender to being a world champion.
Charles ‘ The Hatchet’ Brewer stands in his way. Brewer impressed by knocking out Gary Ballard to win the title and has since made one defense. This is an excellent even match in which both men have a good chance of winning. My heart may be governing my head here, but I think Graham - who came so close to beating Julian Jackson and Mike McCallum - will make it third time lucky.
SHANNON BRIGGS - LENNOX LEWIS
Like Austin - Lloyd this is essentially a mismatch. Briggs looked poor in ‘beating’ George Foreman and Lewis is coming off an explosive victory over Andrew Golota. Lennox can add the ‘linear’ title to his WBC belt inside five rounds. The only (slim) chance Briggs has of victory is if he comes out with all guns blazing in the first two rounds...but didn’t he try that against a certain Darroll Wilson?
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