As several of British boxing’s finest talents closed out the year by jockeying for position among the globe’s elite, a spate of familiar-faced top-tier title challengers are set to emerge in the coming months. Here’s five Brits who are on the verge of competing for World honours in 2020.
Though no official date and venue have been officially announced, it would appear that Hackney’s Lawrence Okolie will take on Krzysztof Glowacki in the first quarter of 2020 for the vacant WBO strap.
In just shy of three years as a professional, Okolie has already collected the Commonwealth, British and European titles. The 27-year-old has endured heavy scrutiny for his awkward, somewhat mundane style en route to the top, but his effectiveness under the tutelage of Shane McGuigan is undeniable.
‘The Sauce’ faces a stern test against Glowacki, who will be itching to reclaim his previously-held WBO belt. Regardless of holding a significant size and reach advantage over his experienced Polish counterpart, Okolie will require a career-best performance to make the leap to World champion status.
Super lightweight talent Jack Catterall awaits the winner of next month’s meeting between unified kingpin Jose Ramirez and Ukraine’s Viktor Postol in China. Having been instilled as mandatory challenger back in August, the Lancashire man was forced to wait his turn, with WBC #1 Postol taking priority.
The WBO recently reaffirmed at their convention that the Ramirez-Postol winner would have to face ‘El Gato’ within 120 days – notably with no exceptions for a potential undisputed fight. Could the 26-year-old snatch the unified crown to set up a mouth-watering battle with Scotland’s IBF and WBA champion Josh Taylor?
Having nearly walked away from boxing on the back of a brace of defeats in 2017, Liam Williams is loving life under the guidance of Dominic Ingle. ‘The Machine’ followed up a pair of swift stoppage victories in 2019 by pummelling WBO #2 Alantez Fox en route to a 5th round stoppage in London, with a shot at middleweight World champion Demetrius Andrade now a real possibility.
Andrade is currently pencilled in for a title defence against Ireland’s Luke Keeler on January 30 in Miami, though Williams will be hoping his dominant display in what was dubbed a WBO eliminator will be enough to fire him into title contention at some point in the coming year.
Could 2020 prove to be a breakout year for one of British boxing’s best-kept secrets?
Former British Super bantamweight champion Thomas Ward (29-0) has been patiently waiting for his chance to shine on the big stage after following up a dominant US debut back in February with three further victories.
The County Durham man told Boxing Social back in October that he expects a World title shot to arrive in 2020, with Mexican danger-man Emanuel Navarrete a genuine possibility.
Both Ward and his highly-respected trainer Neil Fannan are convinced that the time is right to mix it with the big boys at 122lbs, and a #3 ranking with the WBO could help steer the North-East contender towards a Stateside collision with Navarrete in the near future.
Considered one of boxing’s hottest up-and-comers, Joshua Buatsi could be in line for a World title opportunity a lot faster than expected. The exciting 12-0 contender sits at #2 with the IBF – a belt which could incidentally become available in the near future.
Despite the Chinese Rejoy Group winning the IBF purse bid for unified 175lb champion Artur Beterbiev to face Meng Fanlong, reports suggest the Russian may refuse to fight in China due to the country’s treatment of Uighur Muslims.
Official clarification regarding the situation – and the fate of the IBF title – is yet to be made, though Buatsi, due to his ranking, could be called upon should the belt be vacated.
Article by: Ryan Elliott
Follow Ryan on Twitter at: @RBE_73