07/21/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 07/21/2020 09:07
Every fighter takes a couple of quiet moments to reassure themselves as the first bell draws closer.
The training has been done, they have more than enough to overcome the man in the opposite corner. There should be no upsets. Get through this and there is a massive fight on the horizon. This weekend, show promoter Frank Warren will be giving himself the exact same pep talk.
Joe Joyce takes on Michael Wallisch (20-3, 13 KO's) this weekend. If the unbeaten Londoner wins, he will have fulfilled his part of the bargain and a massive heavyweight clash with 32Red ambassador Daniel Dubois in October will move a giant step closer. For all the latest fight odds, visit our sportsbook.
'If I'm totally honest with you, I don't like it at all but, right now, Joe's been out the ring for a year and Dan will have been away for almost nine months by the time he fights,' said Warren, who will have to repeat the process in just over a month's time when Dubois takes on unbeaten two time Olympian, Erik Pfeifer. 'That's not good for them, especially at this stage of their careers. They haven't had many fights and they've been used to being busy.
'They haven't got knockovers. These guys are going to come over and give good accounts of themselves. If they come through, it sets up an even better fight later this year because they won't have any ring rust.'
In an ideal world, Dubois and Joyce would be working through glorified rust shedding exercises over the coming weeks but we aren't living in an ideal world at the moment. Restrictions on who is and isn't allowed in to the country and the scarcity of suitable British challengers meant that Warren had to reluctantly sign off on more dangerous opponents than he would have liked. Wallisch and Pfeifer - who has stopped five of his seven opponents and also owns two world championship bronze medals - have been each presented with an unexpected opportunity to gatecrash the heavyweight elite.
'Wallisch has had 23 fights and has a good amateur background. This won't be a walkover. Joe has to be on top of his game to look good,' Warren said.
'The same goes for Daniel. Erik Pfeifer is no mug. He was a very good amateur. I watched him and he's got a good jab and moves well. Daniel will have to be on top of his game too.
'I don't normally get nervous, a show is a show and we get on with it but this is a bit of a squeaky bum time. Everybody thought Otto Wallin was going to be a walkover for Tyson Fury and he came and fought out of his skin didn't he? One punch changed that fight and opened up a cut. The referee could have stepped in at any point and stopped that fight. This is the heavyweight division and one punch can change everything.'
Dubois and Joyce deserve to enter such an important fight in as good a condition as possible and will both benefit from getting another training camp and a few more rounds under their belt but Warren has been in this situation before and been bitten. The night Amir Khan was flattened inside a round by the unheralded and unknown Breidis Prescott remains one of the most shocking in British boxing history. Upsets naturally stand out from the scores of routine wins and their repercussions can have lasting effects for all involved but, on the whole, things do go to plan in boxing.
'I hope it's not going to be like the 1970's and Danny McAlinden and Joe Bugner. Danny was flying at the time and he got knocked over. I can think of other fights over the years who it's happened to,' Warren said. 'We've mentioned Khan and Prescott. Paul 'Scrap Iron' Ryan was number one in the world and guaranteed a title shot but he insisted on fighting and got squashed [by Jon Thaxton] in the first round because he was thinking ahead and his mind wasn't on it. Jason Matthews did a job on Ryan Rhodes too and it was him who went on to fight for the world title instead of Ryan.'
Over the years, Warren can probably count on one hand the number of his own shows he has missed but he listened to advice and adhered to the strict rules and regulations regarding the number of people allowed to be on site for BT's first live show after the enforced break. The change in routine was just another part of 'the new normal' but it gave him a rare opportunity to tune in along with fans around the country and watch one of his own productions from the comfort of his own home.
'I was very pleased at how it looked and came off,' he said. 'We've been in no man's land and I thought that everybody who worked very hard on this did us proud. It came across much better than I anticipated. I never get too nervous about shows but this one I did, mainly because it was something we've never done before.
'I thought the fights were good. I think everybody overlooks Brad Foster. He's had no amateur experience and he's won a Lonsdale belt in his 15th fight. That's a bit of a feat. I thought the undercard was good. Hamza Sheeraz is definitely going to be a star. I really do like him and I thought Mark Chamberlain did a good job against a kid that doesn't really get knocked over.'
Chamberlain and Sheeraz join a growing list of punchers on Warren's books. This weekend, two more big hitters get the opportunity to impress. Chris Bourke takes on the unbeaten Ramez Mahmood at super bantamweight and Denzel Bentley has an attractive looking fight with Mick Hall.
'Denzel is a whacker isn't he? There's no doubt about that,' Warren said. 'He's gone under the radar but had some good wins and he hasn't had any favours. He's gone out and done the business. We''re gonna be pushing him.'