Anthony Joshua has a new head coach, Conor Benn’s next fight has been confirmed and the fallout from Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall continues to cause drama. Here are five boxing stories you might have missed this week.
Angel Fernandez Steps In As AJ’s New Trainer
Former two-time heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua has confirmed that Angel Fernandez will be his new head trainer.
Joshua has been on the search for a new trainer since his defeat to Oleksandr Usyk last September and met with a number of potential coaches including Canelo’s coach Eddy Reynoso, former Amir Khan and Andre Ward tutor Virgil Hunter, Jermall Charlo’s chief Ronnie Shields and Robert Garcia, older brother and trainer of four-weight world champion Mikey Garcia.
Questions were raised over Joshua’s trainer Rob McCracken, who has guided the Watford native throughout his professional career, following the defeat to Usyk. Spaniard Fernandez has been AJ’s assistant trainer for a few years, but has been promoted within the camp to the head position in McCracken’s place.
“I’m working with Angel Fernandez right now,” he told Behind The Gloves. “He’s been in my camp for the last three years anyway.”
McCracken will remain an integral part of the Team AJ set-up and is still expected to be involved in some capacity.
Conor Benn To Face Chris van Heerden Next
Conor Benn is set to defend his WBA Continental welterweight title against Chris Van Heerden at the AO Arena in Manchester on Saturday April 16.
‘The Destroyer’ was last seen in action in December, sensationally stopping former world champion Chris Algieri in Liverpool, completing a standout year for the 25-year-old that also saw wins over Samuel Vargas and Adrian Granados.
Benn, who holds top ten rankings with the WBA, WBO and IBF, is working his way towards a world title shot in 2022, but standing in his way first is the veteran South African. The former IBF world champion’s last outing came in December 2020, a no-contest bout with Jaron Ennis that was ended early courtesy of a clash of heads.
The undercard will see European cruiserweight champion Chris Billam-Smith’s rematch with Tommy McCarthy and also features super-featherweight contender Zelfa Barrett, Campbell Hatton and cruiserweight prospect Jordan Thompson.
No British Judges For Fury vs Whyte, Confirms Frank Warren
Following the scoring controversy that emerged from Josh Taylor vs Jack Catterall, there will be no British judges working on the heavyweight showdown between Tyson Fury and Dillian Whyte in April, Frank Warren has confirmed.
In February, Taylor was given the nod on the scorecards at the OVO Hydro despite the majority of onlookers scoring it in Caterall’s favour, having outboxed the Tartan Tornado for the majority of the bout.
“There will be neutral judges for this fight,” promoter Frank Warren told iFL TV. “It’s not an issue, it’s agreed. It’s done.
“Contrary to what my PR man, Eddie [Hearn], has been putting out there, it’s been done.
Speaking about how to rectify the problems around judging, Warren added: “You change it by making people accountable. You do what they do with football referees.
“If a football referee screws up for any reason or he’s not put in a good performance or a couple of performances, then the Football League, the Premier League, whoever it may be, the association, they look at it and then they decide what they’re going to do.
“Invariably, if they feel it’s appropriate, they downgrade them.
“You have to do something, you can’t just let them keep rolling over onto the next one and just say; ‘we’re going to have an inquiry, we’re going to have a chat about it at the next board meeting.’
“Have a chat the next board meeting and say, ‘alright, that was bad,’ and then appoint someone again for a big fight.
“That can’t happen anymore – it’s got to stop.”
Catterall/Taylor Judge Downgraded, Fight Reported To The Police
Speaking of the controversial scoring of Josh Taylor’s win against Jack Catterall and downgrading judges, the British Boxing Board of Control have announced that they’ve downgraded Ian John-Lewis following his scorecard for the fight and they have contacted all four governing bodies about making Catterall mandatory for another title shot
The result has also been referred to the police by the Speaker of the House of Commons.
“Everyone is disgusted by what’s happened – it brings the sport into disrepute,” Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Catterall’s MP in Chorley, told Sportsmail.
“I have to question why the judges got it so wrong? I have already sent a letter to the police.
“I have spoken to Nadine Dorries, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and the Minister for Sport, Nigel Huddleston – they are both looking into this.
“I also believe that something seriously went on here – whether it was undue influence, one must question why?”
Russian And Belarusian Boxers Banned From Fighting In UK
The BBBofC have banned fighters registered by either of the Russian or Belarusian federations from boxing in the UK, in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
BBBofC general secretary Robert Smith issued a brief statement confirming the governing body’s stance on Thursday.
“The British Boxing Board of Control will not permit boxers registered/licensed by the Russian Boxing Federation or Belarussian Federation of professional boxing to compete in the United Kingdom under the jurisdiction of the BBBofC at this time.”
Elsewhere, former heavyweight world champions Wladimir and Vitali Klitschko, who are both currently defending their homeland, have called for Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez’ May 7th showdown with Russia’s Dmitry Bivol to be cancelled.DMITRY BIVOL
“It is important that this boxer is forbidden from fighting in America, just as all Russian athletes are being banned from international competition,” said Wladimir.
His brother Vitali, also the mayor of Kyiv, added: “This is not against the individual sportsman but Ukraine needs the world to apply every pressure on Russia.”