Johnny Greaves’ Fighting Talk

PUBLISHED: 14:33 29 December 2015

Billy Joe Saunders celebrates winning the WBO world middleweight title at Manchester Arena (pic: Richard Sellers/PA)

Billy Joe Saunders celebrates winning the WBO world middleweight title at Manchester Arena (pic: Richard Sellers/PA)

PA/Press Association Images

‘One of best years for British boxing’

It’s been a very successful year for domestic boxing with the UK now boasting 12 world champions.

It’s got to rank as one of the UK’s most successful years in the sport. Here is my round-up of the UK’s world champs:

Tyson Fury – WBA, WBO, IBO and The Ring heavyweight champion

I know Tyson, he was in the changing room on my last ever fight in September 2013. His cousin, Hughie Fury was boxing that same night in York Hall on a Miranda Carter show. I’m really pleased for him to have toppled the second longest reigning heavyweight champ in history – Klitschko.

James DeGale – IBF super-middleweight champion

Another good fighter who’s come along a hell of a lot since the George Groves loss. He reined his attitude in a bit because he was a bit like Marmite before, you either loved him or hated him! He’s a history-making world champion, being the first British Olympic gold medalist to win a world championship, so it’s paying off for him and I think he’s won over the British public now.

Billy Joe Saunders – WBO middleweight champion

I love Billy Joe and had the pleasure of doing a few rounds of sparring with him down the Peacock Gym once before. He’s so fast on the counter and had such class even back then. He’s clever, can pick shots and find angles so well. I was double impressed with him all those years ago.

Liam Smith – WBO super-welterweight champion

A good fighter! I love Liam and had a good chat before his fight against John Thompson where he won the title. I was there at the same show with my fighter, Sonny Whiting in Manchester where he fought multiple Olympic medal winner, Vijender Singh.

Kell Brook – IBF welterweight champion

I’ve not seen much of Kell, to be honest, but I know he picks his shots well and is heavy-handed as results show. It’ll be interesting to see him go up against Khan, I personally think Kell could break him down and do the distance a bit better. Khan, as good he is, is only ever a couple of punches away from getting stopped.

Anthony Crolla – WBA lightweight champion

A former opponent of mine, we fought in his fifth fight and my sixth back in 2007. The one-punch stoppage to win the title came out of blue. When I boxed Crolla it got stopped on a cut back in the days when I was there to have a go! He’s a classy fighter and picks some lovely shots with a good work rate. He’s reached the pinnacle of the sport now and he’s lovely geezer; everyone who knows him, loves him.

Terry Flanagan – WBO lightweight champion

I was at the show and just a few feet away when he won the world title. A very good little fighter who goes up against Derry Mathews in February. I know Derry as well and, for me, Flanagan has just got that edge on him. I’m not taking anything away from Derry because he’s a terrific fighter, but I think Flanagan comes through that one. It’s a Manchester v Liverpool derby, so fair play to the security on that night as they’ll be kept very busy!

Lee Selby – IBF featherweight champion

I boxed Lee Selby in his fourth pro fight in 2009. He is so quick! I think Lee’s power comes with speed and timing rather than brute force, I hit the deck twice in the same round, but luckily my experience allowed me to get through that fight so I’m proud to say that I’ve gone the distance with him.

Scott Quigg – WBA super-bantamweight champion

It’s great to see Quigg and Carl Frampton bringing recognition to the lower weight classes, they’ve had everyone talking all year long. I think he’s got the edge in power over Frampton in their February fight. It’s a fight I’ve changed my mind a few times on who wins, so I’ll reserve judgement until I see it.

Carl Frampton – IBF super-bantamweight champion

Again, I’m really pleased for the attention he has brought, especially with ITV televising his fights live. It’s excellent for the sport! He’s got the amateur pedigree which Quigg doesn’t have and got a great team behind him with the McGuigans. I’d lean towards Frampton as the winner of this fight with Quigg.

Jamie McDonnell – WBA bantamweight champion

Another very good little fighter with good work rate and fitness. Dave Coldwell has done fantastic with him and I’d like to see him keep winning. I know Dave well, a very nice guy. I once boxed on a David Haye show when he was their matchmaker and my opponent, Johan Perez came in overweight and had knocked out the first seven of his 10 opponents. I kicked off about it and Dave sorted me out with a bit more money! He ended up as the most heavy-handed fighter I ever boxed against and I had to rely on everything I had to get through that fight!

Lee Haskins – IBF bantamweight champion

A very awkward kid to fight against. At the start of his career he seemed to be going nowhere, he had that southpaw style that seemed difficult and fell short a few times but he persevered and has turned into a very good fighter.

Until you see the matches they get next, it’s hard to predict but I’d like to think we could finish 2016 with a similar amount of champions, if not more.

But it needs the fans to get out and buy the tickets and get British boxing back up there. It’s back on terrestrial TV again with ITV showing Frampton’s fights live and Channel 5 showing Hennessy Sports shows regularly so it’s all positive stuff and hopefully it works to attract a few more fans to the sport.

*Johnny would like to thank sponsors The Peacock Gym and PR Manager Tim Rickson. You can follow Johnny on Twitter @johnnygreaves.

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