In 2016 Great Britain and Northern Ireland boasted more world champions than any other country with thirteen titleholders, fast forward four years and there are only seven, a quite staggering dip. Statistics such as these, have led many to conclude that British boxing is on the decline, however, world titles don’t tell the full story. Underneath the respective divisional champions, lies a rich crop of British talent. Fighters with a thirst for gold and the skills to get it. Hungry for success these contenders define the boxing dream, and today they’re getting measured up.
First up is Olympic Bronze medalist, Joshua Buatsi. Currently sitting at 12-0 with ten knockouts, Buatsi is being hailed by multiple news sources as ‘the future of British boxing’, and with the momentum he’s picking up it comes as no surprise. Buatsi currently holds the WBA International title and formerly held the British title before vacating it last year. Wins over Liam Conroy, Marco Antonio Periban and Ryan Ford have shown Buatsi is far and away above the level of competition he has faced, but is yet to take the step up he so desperately desires.
This is where the problem lies for Buatsi, in a British Light-Heavyweight division that is laced with deep-rooted talent, very few of the massive domestic bust-ups are happening, particularly those involving Buatsi. Buatsi has been chasing high-profile match-ups with Anthony Yarde and Callum Johnson to no avail and despite his calm demeanor is no-doubt frustrated by the way he has been avoided.
The fact is, Buatsi is a massive risk for anyone in the Light-Heavyweight division right now. He’s a natural finisher with pin-point accuracy and slick movement patterns, who has shown himself to be an industrious student of the game, constantly setting traps and creating openings for his spiteful shots, and yes he will be a world champion.
Next up is a man who is often forgotten amongst lists of this subject matter, Felix Cash. Felix has looked outstanding in his first thirteen outings thus far, racking up a perfect 13-0 record with notable wins over Jack Cullen and Jason Welborn. The sheer versatility of the man alone is something to behold. The Surrey-born boxer is comfortable at all ranges and mixes his shots up beautifully.
Early indicators look good, but despite a strong start, questions were asked of Cash’s composure after the Cullen fight, with Felix looking noticeably rushed during a couple of exchanges. The critics, however, were put to bed last month after Cash put on a punch-perfect display against former world-title challenger Jason Welborn. Welborn’s flurries were met with poise and control, as Cash shut out his man with expert ring-generalship, in a performance that establishes Cash as world-level ready.
A world-title shot should be in the picture for Cash in the next couple of years, and with Golovkin nearing retirement and Canelo currently focusing on the Super-middleweight belts, Cash could well find himself stepping up to a wide-open Middleweight division.
A product of the excellent 2016 Great Britain Olympic team, Joe Cordina will be hoping to become the first male representative from Rio to hold a professional world title. The Welsh Super Featherweight is devastatingly quick and sets a tremendous pace in the ring.
In previous outings particularly those against Hakim Ben Ali and Andy Townend, Cordina showed off an excellent high-volume front-foot game, but for the most part, he was able to have it his own way. What fans really wanted to know about Cordina, was how he would deal with a high output opponent that would force him onto the defensive.
Step forward Mario Enrique Tinoco, a forward-marching Mexican who’d previously gone the distance with Devin Haney and Mario Barrios. Coming into the fight Tinoco was riding on the momentum of a shock upset victory over undefeated British prospect Jordan Gill and looked every bit ready to take the fight to Cordina.
From the offset, Tinoco attempted to push Cordina back against the ropes in traditional Mexican fashion as he walked down his man, however, he was met with stark resistance. Cordina nullified Tinoco’s advancements with tight lateral pivots creating enough space for movement while staying in range to land punishing counters. As the rounds went on, Cordina grew with confidence and by the second half of the contest, the tides had turned. Cordina now held the center and was forcing Tinoco backwards as he cruised to a comfortable unanimous decision victory. It’s needless to say Cordina impressed the boxing world that night, defeating a legitimate credentialed opponent in emphatic fashion.
The Tinoco fight really highlights the quality Cordina possesses, not just in his boxing ability but in his understanding of the sport. The twenty-eight-year-old is currently ranked eighth in the world by the IBF and twelfth by the WBA. Expect those numbers to rise!
British heavyweight boxing currently sits amidst arguably its single greatest era, and there is one man that looks set to continue this trend, Daniel Dubois. The London native has certainly turned a few heads with his brutal one-punch knockout power (if you pardon the pun) and looks every bit the real deal, but is he really Britain’s best chance of continued success?
Well, if the Nathan Gorman fight is anything to go by then he certainly carries the potential. Dubois showed real command with his jab in this fight, measuring range and throwing everything off it, in classic textbook fashion. The way Dubois was able to hide his trademark right hand behind the jab with unpredictable lead hand selection was mesmerizing, something he only improves upon with every fight.
Regardless of where you sit on the Dubois hype train, there is no doubting he is one of the biggest punchers in the modern heavyweight division. Only the tremendously durable Kevin Johnson has survived to see the final bell, but in fairness, that fight was extremely early on in Daniel’s career.
Granted he is still very raw, but at just twenty-three years old and with the improvements he has shown in every fight, Dubois has to be seen as a future contender. The Joe Joyce fight will likely reveal how far Dubois can truly go, but at this stage in his career, he hasn’t put a foot wrong.
While British heavyweight boxing thrives, the cruiserweight division looks to have a promising standout in Lawrence Okolie. Perhaps not the most eye-catching fighter on this list, Okolie has been heavily criticized by fans for his ‘ugly’ smothering style. Fights between Matty Askin and Issac Chamberlain, in particular, were subject to widespread disapproval, yet it would be hard to question his skill level.
Regardless of whether or not Okolie’s style appeals to you, there is no denying that it is effective. Okolie uses his superior size and strength to shut-down his man with heavy grinding clinch work, a tactic which drains and frustrates his opponents.
Standing at six feet five inches with a staggering eighty-two and a half inch reach, once Okolie disengages and sits at range he is just as dangerous. The power is present.
For Lawrence, the prospect of becoming a world champion is closer than ever, with a shot at the vacant WBO cruiserweight title against Krysztof Glowacki penciled in for December. A fight of this magnitude is a massive step up in competition for Okolie. Glowacki is a former WBO cruiserweight champion himself and has fought a who’s who of divisional greats including Oleksander Usyk, Marias Briedis and Steve Cunningham. A win for Okolie over the low-riding southpaw would establish himself as a real threat to the lineal crown, something Okolie has all of the ability to achieve.
Hailing from Belfast, Northern Ireland it’s World, European and Commonwealth gold medalist, Michael Conlan. Remembered notoriously for his controversial Olympic exit at Rio 2016, where Conlan was on the receiving end of one of the biggest robberies in amateur boxing history against Vladimir Nikitin (seriously, go watch it!). Conlan is a fighter for all lovers of the sweet science. He possesses outstanding fundamentals, a razor-sharp jab and the ability to effortlessly slide in and out of range. A highly-tuned built-in risk and reward center keeps Conlan measured in the chaos and out of harm’s way. Oh and he’s a switch hitter!
Conlan’s tricky technical boxing has helped him stay undefeated thus far as a professional, with a strong 14-0 record, alongside eight knockouts. Notable wins for Conlan came over former world-title challenger Sofiane Takoucht, Olympic bronze medalist and long-standing rival Vladimir Nikitin and former two-weight Commonwealth champion Jason Cunningham.
Conlan will no doubt be looking at muscling his way into the Ring Magazine world rankings in the near future and with a potential blockbuster Northern-Irish affair between himself and Carl Frampton being wafted around, this could be the avenue he chooses.
Finally, we have the top female contender, Chantelle Cameron. Currently ranked as the number one light-welterweight by BoxRec, Cameron is set to challenge for the vacant WBC light-welterweight crown against Olympic bronze medalist Adriana Dos Santos Araujo this weekend.
Her shot at a world title, however, has been a long-time in the making. In just five fights Cameron became the IBO Lightweight Champion, retiring the ultra-tough Viviane Obenauf inside six. Then, after picking up IBO gold, Cameron fought her way up to become the mandatory challenger for undisputed lightweight world champion Katie Taylor after defeating Anisha Basheel in a world title eliminator.
Since July 2019 Cameron has remained the mandatory to no avail while Taylor has taken fights elsewhere. Since Cameron became her mandatory challenger, Taylor has had two fights, the first a WBO light-welterweight clash against Christina Linardatou and the second a long over-due rematch with Delfine Persoon at lightweight. As a result of Taylor’s diverted activity, Cameron decided to move up a weight and get her herself a light-welterweight world title shot defeating former three-weight world champion Anahi Ester Sanchez to become the WBC mandatory, bringing us up to present day.
So, what makes Chantelle Cameron a future world champion? Work rate, power, versatility, but above all else mentality. Cameron brings the chaos every time she fights. It doesn’t matter who stands across from her, she’s going to walk straight through them. This raw aggression is what sets her apart, every fighter has to have an edge to succeed, but Cameron’s killer instincts supersede that of your average fighter. She’s ruthless and extremely hungry. Expect violence every time she steps between the ropes.
George Glinski is the founder of popular bare-knuckle boxing blog toethelinebkb.com and works as a staff writer and post-fight interviewer for BKBtm. His contributions to mymmanews.com include MMA, boxing, bare-knuckle boxing and Lethwei, with a particular focus on the British scenes.