Daily News Social: Smith-Fowler sells out, Haye’s windfall and Norman’s title aim

In a new series, published every weekday on Boxing Social, the incomparable Terry Dooley delivers his unique look at the boxing news.  

David Haye’s (28-4, 26 KOs) comeback exhibition bout against close friend Joe Fournier (9-0, 9 KOs & 1 NC) could net the former cruiserweight world Champion and WBA heavyweight titlist millions yet the Londoner has revealed that he would have been happy doing it behind closed doors for free. 

Instead, the ‘Hayemaker’ decided to put this display of boxing on a public platform to appease the many fans who have been calling for him to make a comeback to the ring following his back-to-back defeats to former WBC cruiserweight titlist Tony Bellew in 2017 and 2018. 

Haye believes that this fight will serve him up as much money as his PPV fights did and that he intends to steal the show from the comebacking Oscar De La Hoya, as boxing’s seniors tour continues to gather momentum.   

Fournier is 9-0 with 1 No Contest after testing positive for a banned substance when meeting Mustapha Stini in 2016. Haye has stated that he would have been happy to settle the matter of who would win between a fighter who is at least a decade past his best, and one who is never going to amount to anything, in the gym, but the clamour for the contest and the money it can bring turned his head and he will now settle the issue in front of the fans.   

“I would’ve been more than happy to prove this point behind closed doors, I suggested a four-round spar in my Hayemaker Gym in London, which would have been more than enough to shut him up,” stated Haye (Quotes C/O Ron Lewis of BoxingScene). “But for Fournier, the ‘Ric Flair’ of the boxing world, this would have done nothing for his ‘legacy’.” 

“Joe asked what it would cost to get me through the ropes one last time for an official fight, on a real stage,” he added. “I told him it would have to be a package rivalling my last PPV blockbusters. A few calls with the lawyers, and here we are.” 

Australia’s Ebanie Bridges (6-1, 3 KOs) has caught the attention of fight fans and journalists the world over due to her weigh-in attire and grit, but the 34-year-old believes that she has done enough over the course of the past year to be taken seriously as a fighter in her own right.  

It is almost a week since her last contest, a stoppage win over Bec Connolly at Matchroom HQ, Brentwood, yet Bridges continues to impress. The Daily Star’s Ollie Carlson has scoured the backstage footage from Fight Camp’s most recent event and has reported that Maya Jama, Matchroom and DAZN’s fight night presenter, is the latest person to subscribe to the cult of the ‘Blonde Bomber’.  

“I’m really, really excited for tonight,” said Jama in the backstage footage. “I’m mainly excited to see Ebanie Bridges because I like that she turns up in a bikini and says, ‘Yes, I look like this, but I will smash your face in’. That is my kind of energy.” 

Fighters cannot always rely on big promotional backing and a well-oiled media machine to generate ticket sales. Sure, if you are on a big bill, you can spend more time training and less time selling tickets. For local names, though, the power of the local press still holds some sway; a few inches of ink can help you shift a few tickets and, long-term, will help ensure that small hall shows don’t wither on the vine and that off-TV fighters can at least keep their eyes on that winning lottery ticket of making it to bigger shows.  

Benn Norman (3-0, 0 KOs) fights Reiss Taylor (2-9, 1 KO) at Leicester’s Morningside Arena on September 11 and the 24-year-old prospect hopes that the fans in attendance will come to support their local fighters. “There are a lot of good lads on the show, but I want people going home talking about me,” he said when speaking to Matt Bozeat for the Leicester Mercury. “I want them saying: ‘Benn Norman is going to be British champion one day.’” 

However, Norman won’t be swarming all over his opponent, he wants the win, but he isn’t going to put himself in the line of fire while trying to take it. Boxing clever is the name of his game as he seeks to climb into contention. 

“I don’t want them saying: ‘Benn Norman can really take a punch!’,” he added. “The aim of boxing is to hit and not get hit. I’ve had three fights so far and I haven’t really taken a punch yet. I’ve been going to the gym since I was four years old. I didn’t really know what to do with myself when they were shut. I was just playing on the PlayStation and eating and drinking whatever I wanted. I got back into running and going to the gym every now and then and I was very happy when [manager] Carl [Greaves] gave me a date to work towards.” 

Norman says that he wants to fight for Midlands honours by the end of the year. The Midland Area flyweight belt is currently vacant and Norman believes that a match against Liam Dring for the title is possible. Dring is currently 3-0, but Norman holds an amateur win over him and believes that he will have more than enough over 10 rounds to repeat the trick as a professional. 

“We boxed when we were amateurs and I won a good, competitive fight,” he said. “I felt comfortable throughout the fight and I’m sure it would be entertaining if we fought over 10 rounds as professionals.” 

Tickets for the September 11 show are available by ringing 07714 681791. 

Liam Smith’s (29-3-1, 16 KOs) fight against Anthony Fowler (15-1, 12 KOs) at Liverpool’s Echo Arena on October 9 has sold out in a matter of hours. Matchroom put the general tickets on sale at midday today and they were cleared out within the hour, with the few remaining single tickets picked up one-by-one on StubHub. The crossroads fight has not generated any local or national media attention outside of online outlets and video interviews, but the local fans have snapped up the tickets in double-quick time.  

Former WBO 154lbs champion Smith will no doubt hope that he can use this platform to work his way back into world title contention. Fowler will believe that the time is right and Smith is a faded force. If he isn’t, it is hard to make a case for a Fowler victory given the gulf in class and experience between the two. Either way, the fight is set, the fans are ready and everything will be settled on October 9.  


Main image: Smith and Fowler square-off. Photo: Matt Pover/Matchroom Boxing.