LONDON: A CITY RICH IN BOXING FLAIR

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Ahead of our own London card in the Grand Connaught on March 4th, George Attwell, Editor of the Fight Diary examines London’s relationship with boxing.

Cities worldwide have sought notoriety through the medium of sport, often becoming synonymous with a particular team or renowned for producing a constant stream of talent. In football it can’t be ignored that Barcelona have provided some of the greatest talent directly from its youth system in recent years, and if the word Manchester is uttered to those on the other side of the world most minds to spring to United. However, in the sweet science of boxing, London will always be the hotspot of licensed combat.

Your right of passage as a fighter will deliver you through the dribs and drabs of the boxing world, progressing your way up through societies hitting new heights in terms of social status, but boxing has been, and will always be at its peak when in London. The glamour of the cities notorious fight nights, home to some of the most remarkable fighters and nights to remember, and on March 4th we see Kaz Evans’ Assassin Promotions take their knowledge from Mexico to the bright lights of London as they appear at The Grand Connaught Rooms in London and take their careers to the next level.

Boxing was first bought to England when it was born on the streets of London in the form of bare knuckle fighting, as fans would turn out to see people fighting each other and would put wagers on the outcome. It has since grown in leaps and bounds and has become the Mecca of U.K boxing with venues such as the Wembley Stadium, the o2 arena and the York Hall giving fighters the exposure to showcase their talent on a well-known platform.

Back in 2012 we had the most prestigious sporting event in history wind up on our doors as the Olympics made its way to London, and it left with the new generation of hope as we saw Olympic hopeful fighters make a name for themselves as they took medals for their country in a city steeped fighting history.

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One of the names amongst them was Super Heavyweight gold medallist Anthony Joshua, who has spearheaded the revitalisation of the sport of boxing in the U.K and has once again placed London back on the map at the forefront of boxing in 2017. We have seen him sell out stadiums again and again, and cause mayhem on the streets as hordes of people make way to see another star in the making give us the action we all love.

Joshua has moved into superstardom in a small number of fights relatively, however, he wasn’t the first London-based Heavyweight world champion to knock on the door of legendary status.  In 1993 we saw London’s own Lennox Lewis become the first ever British heavyweight world champion bringing the belt back to his home turf.

Alongside Lennox Lewis’ reign of world status, there was another London-based fighter in close proximity stealing the hearts of the people.  A man everyone believed Lewis envied due to his popularity, Mr Frank Bruno. Frank faced Lewis in his career and the fight ended with Bruno being knocked out, however that didn’t stop him on his journey to becoming a legend as he to become a world champion.

Anthony Joshua is promoted by Matchroom Sport, a company which has been making all the noise in boxing in recent years monopolise the U.K boxing market but in the early 90’s we saw a London-based fighter captivate millions and hold the boxing world to standstill as Nigel Benn defend his WBO World Middleweight title against Chris Eubank in what turned out to be one of boxing’s most notorious feuds.

In the last ten years, arguably one of the most recognisable faces of British boxing has been a London-based fighter born out of Bermondsey. As the former unified cruiserweight champion and former world champion David Haye established himself as a household name. Haye has since gone on to make millions and has headlined bills at the o2, bringing the British boxing fan base together on numerous occasions to join him in the capital city of England for some memorable nights of boxing.

Once a former foe of Haye we have Finchley based fighter Dereck Chisora who has recently settled his hostile feud with fellow Londoner Dillian Whyte who has over time grown the fans on side with his brash personality and questionably likeable charisma.

Whyte is part of a new generation of London fighters that have started to put the city back into the limelight like it once was in the times of the infamous Kray twins as they bought boxing to the east end of London back in the 60’s and turned it into a classy evening out for the masses.

Alongside Whyte we have O’Hara Davies currently making noise, and a load of talent coming through with fighters like Isaac Chamberlain making a name for himself in the cruiserweight division and Joshua Buatsi lighting up the city and becoming the new generation of fighters. We have also recently seen London-based Olympian Lawrence Okolie team up with Matchroom Sports in hope to be plummeted into the limelight like his former sparring partner Anthony Joshua.

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Matchroom Sport are not the only stable of fighters that are putting London on the map at the moment as two world champions have made names for themselves coming up the hard way. The IBF Super Middleweight champion James DeGale, born out of London and a former Olympic gold medallist has taken his London routes worldwide and become a road warrior, taking his hometown heritage with him.

After a recent draw with Badou Jack over in America, DeGale will be hoping to come back and fight his undefeated fellow Brit Callum Smith, hoping to host it at one of London’s most exciting football grounds, the home of Arsenal football club, The Emirates stadium.

The WBO Middleweight championship is held by Billy Joe Saunders, a fighter subjected to media interrogation due to his religious beliefs but the undefeated Londoner has become one of the U. K’s most controversial and talked about fighters, for reasons both good and bad.

The U.K is host of many cities filled with fighting hope and venues, but nothing will compare to the legacy that London has built for the country and history of British boxing, and on March 4th Assassin Promotions will be joining the road of supremacy as its fighter take to the streets where it all started.

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