A cracking heavyweight fight looms large this weekend, as Fabio Wardley takes on Nathan Gorman at Wembley Arena for the British title, an accolade that has yearned for by boxers from these shores for well over a century.
Jack Palmer of Newcastle was the first official British heavyweight champion, knocking out Geoff Thorne in one round to become holder of what was then the National Sporting Club heavyweight title.
The first ever fight for the now immortal Lord Lonsdale Belt was contested between defending British champion Gunner Moire and Mexborough contender William Hague, who floored the champion in a round, setting a new record for the fastest win in a championship bout and kickstarting the lineage of the title.
The Lonsdale Belt is one of the most visually alluring belts in the entire sport, with the historical prestige to match. If you ask a young British amateur transitioning to the professional ranks, do not be surprised if they tell you that becoming British champion is the goal they put above all else.
Henry Cooper, famous for sending Muhammad Ali crashing to the canvas in their 1963 contest, is one of the more notable British heavyweight champions of the 20th century as well as the longest reigning, remaining top of the tree for eight years from 1959 to 1967.
Although some may question his “Britishness” due to him electing to represent Canada at the Olympics, few would argue the great Lennox Lewis is the best heavyweight to ever hold a British title. Lewis’ reign was unsurprisingly a brief one, holding the Lonsdale Belt for just over a year before he inevitably moved on to pursue world honours.
Since the turn of the millennium, a host of recognisable fighters have had the honour of calling themselves British heavyweight champion. Amongst them are future world champions Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua (and Daniel Dubois, if you ask Frank Warren) as well as men for whom capturing British honours would surpass any expectations they had from boxing, such as Sam Sexton and Scott Gammer.
As for this Saturday night, Wardley vs Gorman is a contest fitting for a belt with such pugilistic pedigree. An intriguing clash of styles, polar opposite backgrounds but two fighters who have always conducted themselves with the class which the sport ought to encourage, though in recent years seems to have sadly strayed from.