UK Prospects October Update
Update by Martyn Elliot (October 29, 2004) 
Last month selected its British prospects to follow and it is time to take an early look at the progress the ten fighters have made. Although no one can read too much into one-month’s development, some of the boxers demonstrated their potential with impressive displays.

When this series was conceived one of the aims was to examine how young fighters are brought on and to monitor the quality of opponents they are matched with. Popular opinion has it that highly-rated young fighters are handed a steady stream of low-grade opponents in order to build a healthy looking unbeaten record and increase their marketability. So it was a good to see some of the featured fighters take a step-up in class - and come through unscathed.

Performance of the month came from Manchester lightweight John Murray who took care of durable Pole Dariusz Snarski inside two rounds, to move his record to 7-0. Snarski is very much at the veteran stage of his career, but previously held the IBF Intercontinental super featherweight belt and challenged Stefano Zoff for the European lightweight title - a decent step-up from the journeymen opponents Murray has been used to taking on.Nineteen-year-old Murray is scheduled to fight next on the Tara Promotions card at Shaw on October 31 against an as yet unnamed opponent.

A natural future foe for him would seem to be highly-rated Londoner Kevin Mitchell, who has had plenty of television airtime and column inches as he raced to 10-0. North versus South, similar age, similar record and both tipped for big things - it has the makings of a real grudge match. Unfortunately many promoters seem unwilling to pitch prospect against prospect, particularly if it means working alongside rival promotional outfits. However, if both continue to progress it could develop into an exciting rivalry in the future.

A rare exception to the policy of not matching prospects against each other should have seen Liverpool welterweight Graham Delehedy face unbeaten Londonder Michael Lomax. However, car thieves took the role of boxing politics and ensured the match up did not go ahead, when Lomax was run down as he attempted to prevent two men stealing the BMW he was valeting. Fortunately Lomax escaped without serious injury.

The incident left Delehedy to face last-minute replacement David Kehoe (9-19-3) and the Scouser made short work of the task, stopping him in the second to extend his perfect record to 5-0 - with all the fights ending inside the distance. Delehedy’s handlers are keen to see him in action again before the turn of the year.

Scottish welterweight Kevin Anderson made the most significant progress by stopping France’s Stephane Benito in the dying seconds of a tough six-round contest, to extend his record to 11-0. His performance led promoter Tommy Gilmour to declare that Anderson is “Scotland’s best pro welterweight bar none”. More importantly it put him in line to face Northern Ireland’s Glenn McClarnon for the Celtic title. The fight with Benito showcased Anderson’s power perfectly as he dropped the Frenchman in the opening round and clubbed him to the canvas again to force the stoppage seven seconds before the final bell. However, he also showed some defensive deficiencies and had to take some solid shots. Benito had only stopped four of his previous 22 opponents - if Anderson had been in the ring with a more dangerous puncher the result could well have been different.

The firepower he showed and the problems he encountered against Benito will help to make him a hugely popular fighter north of the border. The technically perfect boxers are admired by fight fans, but all-action fighters are loved and Anderson looks likely to become the latter. There are some exciting nights ahead watching the 21-year-old. Anderson should have enough to beat the experienced McClarnon next time out, but after that he will be within sight of a British title shot in a very competitive weight division. Facing the likes of James Hare, Michael Jennings and David Barnes may prove to be too much at this early stage of his career. A match against Central Area champion Matthew Hatton is unlikely, but would be an interesting contest.

Liverpool middleweight Paul Smith also produced some spectacular action, albeit only 102 seconds of it. The Billy Graham trained fighter had been expecting a bruising encounter against Jason Collins, but a blistering three-punch combination midway through the first saw him extend his record to 11-0. Collins’ 14-30-6 record does not look too impressive on paper, but only a week earlier he had shocked the highly-rated Matthew Thirlwall. Interestingly, IBF super-middleweight champion Jeff Lacy’s 11th fight was also a first round knockout of Collins.

Smith’s win was not a surprise, but the manner of victory was. The former ABA champion was not reckoned to be a big puncher, but looked to have plenty of power against Collins. He is now ready to step up in class and his handlers should be looking to move him towards an area or English title shot in 2005.

Manchester super-featherweight Andy Morris also recorded a career best victory by stopping Chris Hooper in the third of a scheduled six rounds, to take his record to 9-0. Morris controlled the fight from the first bell until the towel came in near the end of the third and hardly had to take a punch. A convincing display of boxing skills - but where was the power? Hooper, who intends to campaign at super-bantamweight, did not look like visiting the canvas despite taking plenty of clean shots. Morris enjoyed a successful amateur career and it is easy to see why. The skills he learned then are easy on the eye and will be enough to see him through contests at his current level. However, he will be looking to move up to championship level in the next year and the lack of a power shot could be very costly then.

Good tests for the Bob Shannon trained Morris in the near future would be Jamie Arthur, Steven Bell or Kevin O’Hara - but it remains to be seen whether his promoter will take the risk.

It was a frustrating month for unbeaten Yorkshire cruiserweights Simon Francis and Neil Dawson who both saw fights cancelled. The pair were due to return to action in separate fights on a Koncrete Promotions bill in Barnsley on October 12, but a nose injury for bill-topper Rob Burton and bouts of flu for several other boxers, including Francis, saw the show called off.There has been talk of Dawson and Francis facing each other in the near future and Koncrete supremo David Coldwell is keen to stage the local grudge match in 2005. Before that happens he wants three-fight novice Francis to get some more learning contests under his belt.That process will begin with a four-rounder against Brian Gascoigne on the undercard of the long-awaited British Welterweight title fight between David Barnes and James Hare at Halifax on November 12.

Francis will then face Greg Scott-Briggs over six threes on Koncrete Promotions’ next show on November 30 at the Silver Blades Ice Arena, Sheffield. The contest will have added interest as Dawson stopped Scott-Briggs in the third of a scheduled six last time out. So far Francis has been happy to get some rounds under his belt rather than go all-out for stoppage victories, but his handlers are confident he possesses genuine power and this could be the time to demonstrate it.

Our three other featured boxers - Jamie Arthur, Derry Matthews and Kel Brook - have not fought in the past month
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