The competitive sparks began to fly after an interesting weekend in the British super bantamweight division. The question is, who will emerge as the best domestic 122lb fighter.
The appeal of boxing’s smaller stars has often been a hard sell. Even the most ardent boxing fans are liable to pay the lighter weight divisions scant attention. We are at a time in boxing when the traditional glamour of the heavyweights is looking rather dowdy and there are few saviours on the immediate horizon. Thank heavens then for the current proliferation of talented super bantamweights currently plying their trade in the UK.
At the start of the year I profiled three young British boxers for the MirrorSport blog. Two of these fighters, Scott Quigg and Carl Frampton are on a path that will inevitably see them meet in the ring to contest the British super bantamweight title. Both men were in action over the last fortnight and it gave fans a chance to assess how the future of the division might develop.
Two weeks ago we saw a very measured performance form Belfast’s Carl Frampton. Challenging for Frampton’s Commonwealth title was Scot, Kris Hughes and it is fair to say that a simple night’s work unfolded for the champion. Hughes didn’t ever put Frampton in trouble despite being the taller man. The champion was able to walk through Hughes’ largely ineffective shots to land his own punches.
The pick of these shots was a big right hand midway through round seven that almost put Hughes out of the ring. Bellshill’s Hughes struggled to his feet in spite of efforts from his corner men to keep him down. The Scot managed to beat the count but referee Mark Green wisely called the contest off giving Frampton his twelfth win from twelve contests.
After Carl Frampton’s resounding victory, last weekend saw the return of British champion Scott Quigg. Quigg faced arguably his toughest test in the form of seasoned campaigner Jamie Arthur and it wasn’t the smooth ride that many of Quigg’s fans had anticipated.
Bury’s Quigg was defending his British title for the first time against Arthur and it was an uncharacteristically cagey start from the champion. This came to a head when Quigg was sent to the canvas for only the second time in his career. After the fight Quigg claimed that it had only been a flash knock down but the pictures suggested differently.
Despite the inconvenience of getting put down Quigg rallied magnificently to stop Jamie Arthur with a monstrous body shot in round seven. There was some confusion over the stoppage but by the time it came Quigg was in complete control. After being hit with a left hook, instead of taking a knee to recover Jamie Arthur turned his back on Quigg. Fearful of Arthur being hit again whilst not defending himself, referee Mark Green jumped in and waved the contest off.
Many people said it should have been allowed to continue. It was a title fight and each man should be afforded the best possible chance to succeed, within the limits of the rules. There is a great deal of assumption in suggesting that Quigg would have gone on to stop Arthur anyway. In this instance though it was probably the correct decision and Arthur can go on and fight again.
So where does this leave the two young tyros spearheading the domestic super bantamweight scene? Well, there is an interesting third facet to this story, an almost unmentioned element. It comes in the form of the boxing binman and former world title challenger, Rendall Munroe.
Munroe was the shining light of the UK super bantamweight division, rising through the ranks to become English, Commonwealth and European champion. Munroe then did what many fighters had avoided and travelled to Japan to face world champion, Toshiaki Nishioka. It didn’t end well for Leicester’s toughest refuse collector as he was outclassed over twelve gruelling rounds.
Unfortunately for Munroe it all went a bit downhill from there. His first fight after the Nishioka defeat was a points win over one time Kevin Mitchell victim, Andrei Isaeu for the WBA international title. Munroe failed to build on that performance though and was out of the ring for almost 6 months before labouring to a decision over another Japanese boxer, the limited Ryuta Miyagi.
Fans were beginning to wonder if we’d seen the last of Rendall Munroe. Munroe has switched to Hatton Promotions in an attempt to get his career back on track. The rebuilding process began with a first round knock out of Argentina’s Jose Saez on the Quigg v. Arthur undercard.
The result teaches us very little about Munroe’s current form and ability but it does push him back into the minds of the boxing world. Munroe is still ranked number one in Britain despite doing little to deserve it of late. During Saturday’s fight Sky’s Jim Watt stated that Munroe, “wants to show he can still keep you on the edge of your seat”. There is a compelling case to be made that Munroe very rarely did that, even when at the top of his career.
Very few people would describe Rendall Munroe as an exciting fighter and it remains to be seen whether or not he can live with this new generation of super bantamweights. There is a chance Munroe will get to prove it as a fight between himself and Scott Quigg has just been put out to purse bids by the BBB of C. What price the winner facing Carl Frampton in a unification match this autumn?
Whatever happens with the small men of British boxing you can guarantee that it will provide more entertainment than the big boys are managing these days.