Talking Boxing

Interviews, opinions, features and news from the greatest sport in the world!

February 3, 2017

Mark Your Calendar: February 2017

Adrien Broner, Karim Guerfi, Deontay Wilder, Gavin McDonnell, Chris Eubank Jr

by Shaun Brown & John A. MacDonald

Well, January was fun. Round of the year contenders, fight of the year contenders, new world champions and missing teeth thanks to James DeGale.

It's a tough act to follow. So, over to February. Yes, we're already three days into it and Luis Collazo already has a contender for knockout of the year thanks to his win over Sammy Vazquez but there are still 25 days to go. So, in the words/tweets of 140lb king Terence Crawford to Rosie Perez and Mark Wahlberg.... 'Mark Your Calendar'! (Editor's note: Anthony Mundine fights Danny Green today (February 3) and Felix Verdejo aims to re-establish his lightweight credentials against Oliver Flores. On to tomorrow then.

When: Saturday, February 4
Where: Olympia, London
Who: Renold Quinlan v Chris Eubank Jr.
Titles: IBO super middleweight title

This card never got off to the best of starts when the words pay-per-view (on the newly founded ITV Box Office channel) were mentioned. After concerns as to whether the fight was going to take place or not, the son of 'Simply the Best' makes a foray into 168lbs for something that is NOT a genuine world title. A look below at what looks like a demolition job for Eubank Jr there is actually a decent undercard featuring David Price v Christian Hammer, Kid Galahad v Joseph Agbeko, Andrew Selby v Ardin Diale and John Ryder v Adam Etches. 

When: Friday, February 10
Where: Huntington Center, Ohio
Who: Rau'shee Warren v Zhanat Zhakiyanov
Titles: WBA/IBO bantamweight titles

Trained by Ricky Hatton, the hard-hitting Zhakiyanov could be anything on the world scene. His only loss was in 2008 and his best win to date was an impressive stoppage over Karim Guerfi nearly three years ago - albeit being trouble by Guerfi beforehand. His world opportunity is now due, but in Warren he will likely have to get to grips with a style that he's not been accustomed to in the professional ranks. Robert Easter Jr makes an average looking first defence of his IBF lightweight title against Luis Cruz.

When: Saturday, February 11
Where: Westcroft Leisure Centre, Surrey
Who: Lenny Daws v Anthony Yigit
Titles: Vacant European super lightweight title

Britain's Daws gets another long overdue shot at European glory after being controversially disqualified against Rubin Nieto at the end of 2015. Daws, a former European 140lbs champion won't have it all his own way against the 2012 Swedish Olympian who has improved since his draw with Tony Pace. Yigit is, however, going into the 12-round distance for the first time in his career and squeaked past Philip Sutcliffe Jr last May.

When: Saturday, February 18
Where: Waterfront Hall, Belfast
Who: Jamie Conlan v Yader Cardoza
Titles: Vacant WBC International Silver super flyweight title

Jamie Conlan is rarely in a dull fight, and who knows if he will want a war or to win comfortably on this particular night. It should be straight forward but Conlan can make life difficult for himself. The undercard features a cracking Belfast v Dublin clash in the shape of Declan Geraghty v James Tennyson for the vacant Irish super featherweight title. Geraghty is at his best when he stick to his boxing but loves a brawl, which is what this fight could easily decend into.

When: Saturday, February 18
Where: Cintas Center, Cincinatti
Who: Adrien Broner v Adrian Granados
Titles: None contested

Arguably boxing's most polarising character, Broner, returns to the ring after nearly a year out thanks to outside distractions. 2017 is a big year for Broner, he still puts backsides on seats but the next 10 months will tell us if he's taking his career seriously or not. Granados really shouldn't provide much of a threat. On the undercard keep your eyes peeled for David Avanesyan defending his interim WBA world welterweight title against Lamont Peterson, and a light heavyweight attraction between Marcus Browne and Thomas Williams Jr. Both should comfortably steal the show.

When: Friday, February 24
Where: Centre Videotron, Quebec
Who: Eleider Alvarez v Lucian Bute
Titles: None contested

An intriguing fight at light heavyweight between Alvarez and former super middleweight champion Lucian Bute. The latter has one eye on Adonis Stevenson while the former can show if he is going to be a player at 175lbs or not. Wins over Isaac Chilemba and Ryno Liebenberg look good on paper for the unbeaten Alvarez, but will mean nothing if he can't score his biggest win to date against Bute. A loss for Bute could lead to retirement.

When: Friday, February 24
Where: York Hall, London
Who: Thomas Essomba v Jay Harris
Titles: Commonwealth Flyweight title

The strong and unorthodox Essomba is back at 112lbs after giving Iain Butcher all he could handle at 115lbs last May. This is a real test for (challenger) Harris. The Welshman loves to get in close with bodyshots but will need to keep an eye out for the former Olympian's looping right hand. The talented Boy Jones will make the first defence of his Southern Area super featherweight title against Craig Poxton. Poxton will come to win but Jones, who is always fun to watch, might just be too busy and sharp on the night.

When: Saturday, February 25
Where: Ice Arena, Hull
Who: Gavin McDonnell v Rey Vargas
Titles: Vacant WBC super bantamtweight title

Very few could have predicted a world title shot for the twin brother of WBA bantamweight champion Jamie, particularly when Gavin edged Josh Wale via a split decision in 2014. The Dave Coldwell trained 30-year-old, to his credit, has knuckled down and found momentum with wins over the likes of Vusi Malinga and Jeremy Parodi. The unbeaten Rey Vargas might be a bridge too far. The Mexican says he's coming for a KO and McDonnell's defence will have to be water tight. Tommy Coyle v Kofi Yates on the undercard should be an entertaining affair, but Luke Campbell against Jairo Lopez looks like treading water for the 2012 Olympic Gold Medallist.

When: Saturday, February 25
Where: Legacy Arena, Birmingham, Alabama
Who: Deontay Wilder v Gerald Washington
Titles: WBC heavyweight title

Washington steps in at late notice for Wilder's fifth defence of his world title after original opponent Andrzej Wawrzyk tested positive for a banned substance. Wilder is back in action after several months out due to injury, and will need to look impressive against what looks an over matched Washington to fuel any significant chat of facing the winner of Anthony Joshua v Wladimir Klitschko. Keep an eye out for the super welterweight bout between Jarrett Hurd and Tony Harrison on the undercard of Wilder v Washington. A bout which is expected to be something of a breakout for Hurd.

When: Saturday, February 25
Where: France
Who: Karim Guerfi v Stephane Jamoue
Titles: European bantamweight title

This is a rematch of their 2013 fight where Guerfi got the nod by majority decision. Jamoye is beginning to look like he's seen better days after fights against Tomoki Kameda, Leo Santa Cruz, Jamie McDonnell, Shinsuke Yamanaka, Scott Quigg, Lee Haskins and Ryan Farrag. Only one of which, against Haskins, that he won. Still, the Belgian will pour forward and make a fight of it against Guerfi.