Liam Davies (12-0, 5 KOs) overcame the odds to capture the British super-bantamweight title with a hard-fought unanimous decision over Marc Leach, at the Telford International Centre, on Saturday night.
The 11/4 underdog had the dream start when a right hand sent the champion to the canvas in the opening round.
The challenger ensured that the fight was a physical battle in an attempt to negate some of Leach counter-punching attributes. The tactic was successful, as all three judges were in agreement that Davies had done enough to ensure victory.
With several intriguing options all boxing under the Queensberry Promotions banner, Davies has the opportunity to establish himself as the best 122-pounder in the country. Here are five fighters the Telford man could fight next:
Jason Cunningham (31-6, 7 KOs)
In his post-fight interview, Davies made it clear that he has Cunningham firmly in his sights:
“I want Jason Cunningham next. He’s got the European, and I can beat Jason Cunningham.”
Many super-bantamweights across continent will believe they can defeat the ‘Iceman’, after all, six men have done it previously. However, recently, that feat has been easier said, than done.
Cunningham has turned his career around with back-to-back wins against Gamal Yafai and Brad Foster, claiming the British, Commonwealth and European titles in the process. Cunningham is well aware that there is a target on his back.
Of course, the EBU champion is looking towards world honours and can take a step closer to that dream with a victory over, former two-weight world champion, Zolani Tete. If the Yorkshireman wins, it is unlikely he will be keen to drop down to domestic level, but if he losses, a fight with Davies could be a possibility.
Marc Leach (18-2-1, 4 KOs)
The former British champion will be eager to avenge his loss to Davies. The fight was close (Terry O’Connor’s 118-111 did not reflect the competitiveness of the bout) and Leach will believe he can make the necessary adjustments to win a rematch.
It is possible that Davies may not be keen to go over old ground as he made it clear post-fight that he was certain he had done enough to win.
Ultimately, Davies may not get a choice if, promoter, Frank Warren feels a second clash is what is best for both men. We get far too many rematches at present and while the fight didn’t necessarily require an immediate do-over, it was a good fight to watch. Although there are better options, there are worse one’s too.
Andrew Cain (10-0, 9 KOs)
Speaking of better options, a fight between Davies and Cain may be one of the most exciting bouts that could be made at domestic level. Now that I’ve said that, expect a 12-round clinch-fest if it ever comes to fruition!
Cain made a statement by stopping Luis Moreno in the opening round, last month. The Mexican had previously taken the latest “New Prince Naseem Hamed,” Dennis McCann the scheduled eight-round distance.
The pair had originally been due to face each other back in April, but a shoulder injury to Davies resulted in the fight falling through. The Scouser does not rate the new British champion, having previously branded him “A big, stiff lizard,” which I hope is a homage to Tyson Fury’s infamous rant about David Price.
Two young fighters, both hit hard and they have agreed to fight each other before – get it done.
Brad Foster (14-2-2, 5 KOs)
The Lichfield man has suffered consecutive defeats to Jason Cunningham and Lonut Baluta. Foster gave a good account of himself in both fights and believes he should have had his hand raised on each occasion.
It is worth remembering that Foster is only 24 and has already won the British and Commonwealth super-bantamweight belts, despite having no amateur experience. ‘The Blade’ has demonstrated a willingness to test himself since the infancy of his career and is unlikely to want to face a hapless Hungarian on his ring return.
A case could be made that Davies represents a drop in level from the two men Foster has lost to. As such, a fight against Davies, particularly with the British title at stake, may be appealing.
If the fight was to be staged in the Midlands, both men would bring significant support. Possibly the most economically viable bout on the list, and we know promoters love a pound note.
Ionut Baluta (15-3, 3 KOs)
As mentioned above, Baluta recently picked up a good win over Foster, having previously pushed Michael Conlan to the limit and has a win over, former world champion, TJ Doheny to his name.
The Romanian is a hard night’s work for anyone beneath elite level. It is likely that Davies would rather face a British fighter to expedite the process of winning the Lonsdale belt outright, but Baluta would be a fantastic test.
If Davies were able to beat Baluta convincingly, it would strengthen his case to be fast-tracked towards world honours. Frank Warren has options on Baluta since the Foster fight and someone on this list will fight him next. Stylistically, Davies and ‘Il Capo’ would gel nicely.