By George Ogier
In the aftermath of the Manny Pacquiao versus Tim Bradley fight boxing apparently died for the umpteenth time. For those who aren’t prepared to poke the sport’s bloated corpse with a stick just yet there is a huge weekend of boxing coming up.
Over in Texas Ireland’s Andy Lee will take on Julio Cesar Chavez Jr for the Mexican’s WBC middleweight title. A little closer to home at Manchester’s Velodrome there are two great fights in store.
Sheffield’s Ryan Rhodes will take on the undefeated Sergey Rabchenko for the vacant EBU light middleweight title. However, it’s the top of the bill clash between Rendall Munroe and Scott Quigg which has garnered the most media attention in the UK and rightly so.
The fight itself will be for the frustratingly irrelevant Interim WBA world super bantamweight title. More importantly it will decide who is the best 122lb boxer in Britain. Scott Quigg is currently the British champion but it is former world title challenger Munroe who is still regarded as the UK’s best in the division.
The domestic super bantamweight scene is one of the most thriving weight classes in the country. Beyond Quigg and Munroe there is Belfast’s Carl Frampton and the emerging Kid Galahad from Sheffield.
Much of the media spotlight of late has been focussed on the ongoing war of words between Quigg and Frampton. As a result Rendall Munroe clearly feels like the forgotten man and he views Saturday as the time to put this right.
“They’re [Quigg/Frampton] the up and coming prospects. People think I’m dead in the dark, I’m getting old. It ain’t happening, I’m a young man still. Right about now I’m looking at bigger thing, I’m interested in winning world titles”.
Munroe has a point. Ever since losing his world title challenge to Toshiaki Nishioka in Japan in 2010 Rendall has had a very low profile. Managerial changes and one or two mediocre performances have meant that Munroe has drifted from the boxing public’s consciousness.
Obviously there are can be outside influences that affect a fighter’s career. Nonetheless Munroe must take responsibility for some of his career stagnation. Struggling to look good against a previously poor Ryuta Miyagi will not endear you to many people. Rendall Munroe is still rightfully Britain’s number one but it is up to him to reinforce that position.
In Scott Quigg, Munroe faces a man almost ten years his junior. With a relentless, come forward style Quigg is unlikely to give Munroe a moment’s peace on Saturday. Whilst Quigg will be keen to put pressure on his opponent it is worth remembering the lessons doled out during his last fight.
Quigg was put down by a Jamie Arthur counter punch when the two met in February. That came just as Quigg had begun to turn the screw on Arthur. While Rendall Munroe is far from the polished and slick speed merchant he has claimed in the past, he is fast enough to punish Quigg’s mistakes.
The knock down against Arthur has posed another question too. Will Scott Quigg eventually fall into a trap that has snared many of his gym mates recently? Quigg is trained by Joe Gallagher and a disturbing pattern is emerging amongst Gallagher’s most talented boxers in the last 18 months.
Gallagher trains his charges to fight in a high pressure, come forward style but opposing coaches appear to have found the antidote to such tactics. John Murray, Paul Smith and perhaps most surprisingly of all Anthony Crolla have all been stopped or knocked out by more technical boxers recently.
Murray was beaten by Kevin Mitchell in many people’s fight of 2011. Smith was knocked out by George Groves in under 2 rounds and Crolla lost his British lightweight title to Derry Matthews. On each occasion the Gallagher fighter has been far too easy to hit. Against someone like Munroe who has fought at world level this could be a huge problem for Quigg.
I have never been much of Rendall Munroe fan. I gave him enormous credit for winning the European title against Kiko Martinez in 2008 but he’s never been a fighter I’ve particularly enjoyed watching. Rendall’s bullish nature ahead of this bout hasn’t boosted my estimation of him either.
In fairness to Munroe he was the best super bantamweight in Europe by a distance for two years. Although he hasn’t covered himself in glory since the Nishioka fight I have a feeling Rendall will be too wily for Quigg on Saturday. I expect Munroe to win comfortably on points and prove he is still the best in Britain.