TV Boxing Returns to Coventry

On March 28th, TV cameras will roll back into Coventry for televised professional boxing for the first time in ten years. Mick Hennessy, the promoter who first led the likes of Carl ‘The Cobra’ Froch and the newly reinstated heavyweight champion of the world Tyson Fury, to world honours, will bring Shakan Pitters against Chad Sugden for the light-heavyweight British title live to the Skydome. The show will be broadcast live on free-to-air terrestrial television on Channel Five.

With the emergence of Anthony Joshua following gold medal triumph at the 2012 Olympics in London and his subsequent world-conquering, along with enormous fights like the iconic Froch vs Groves rematch in front of 80,000 people at Wembley in 2014, we have witnessed something of a golden era for British boxing.

British fighters have won titles all over the world, and the sport’s pound for pound superstars from across the globe like Vasyl Lomachenko and Gennady Golovkin have defended their world titles on these shores. We are currently dominating the sport’s glamour division in the heavyweight class, with Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua holding every world title belt at that weight respectively. Following Fury’s recent dethroning of Deontay Wilder, the two UK giants look to be on a collision course to crown the first heavyweight champion in history to hold the WBA, WBC, IBF, WBO and Ring Magazine titles.

For all the successes British boxing has had, it’s fair to say Coventry is one of the few UK cities yet to benefit from the boom. The last televised show in Coventry came way back in 2010 when Leicester’s ‘Boxing Binman’ Rendall Munroe beat Mexican Victor Terrazas in front of Sky cameras. In terms of fighters, the last Coventrian pro boxer to hold a British title came seventeen years ago in the form of former featherweight champ Roy Rutherford, who won the title in 2003.

So why have Coventry boxing fans had so little to shout about for so long?

One man who has long backed Cov boxing is a former fighter now trainer, manager, promoter and matchmaker, Jon Pegg, whose favourite Coventry fighters of yesteryear include the likes of Dean Pithie and Steve Bendall.

Pegg feels the reason it has taken so long for a big show to hit Coventry is because of “a lack of grassroots shows in the city, and without those shows, nothing bigger comes”.

Pegg has managed several Coventry fighters and has been guiding the career of prospect River Wilson-Bent (7-0-0) amongst others. “Since signing River, I have been developing working relationships with Coventry trainers like Glenn and Warren Smith, Paul Hudson and Brendon Norman to bring grassroots shows back here, and area titles have now begun to return to the town. I told the lads I manage from Cov these smaller shows are the first steps in a long-term plan, and March 28th is the next stage. It’s up to the lads and the fans now to make the show brilliant and keep bringing big-time boxing back here”.

When fight night finally arrives, River Wilson-Bent will look to move to 8-0-0, and we will also be in for a treat with an excellent all-Coventry matchup between Wyken’s Michael Green (5-1-0) and Tile Hill’s Jordan Cooke (12-2-0). It is a 50/50 dust-up between two home fighters eager to take the bragging rights, and it could well end up being the fight of the night. When asked of his thoughts of the outcome, Pegg stated “I have no idea, and that’s why I was so excited when both lads agreed to the fight. The one thing I can guarantee is I will bring both these lads into contention in the future regardless of the result”.

In the headline fight, Birmingham’s Shakan Pitters (13-0-0) will face Chad Sugden (11-1-1) for the vacant British light-heavyweight championship, following the withdrawal of Craig Richards. The lanky Pitters will hope to use his height to beat the smaller man in Sugden and take home the coveted Lord Lonsdale belt.

Elsewhere on the card, we see the return of fan favourite and former British and European welterweight champion Sam Eggington (28-6-0). Isaac Chamberlain (10-1-0), Mick Hennessy’s new signing and former sparring partner to Deontay Wilder and Oleksandr Usyk, will also return on the bill. Chamberlian will hope to resume his assault on the cruiserweight division with a win at the Skydome, while West Midlands rivals Ishmael Ellis (11-2-0) and Shaun Cooper (10-1-0) square off in a lightweight contest. Also on the card, Michael Hennessy Jnr (3-0-1), son of promoter Mick, Leamington’s Danny Quartermaine (1-0-0) and Brummie Lewis Coley (3-0-0) will all feature too.

Coventry fans and fighters alike will hope Hennessy’s show will be a springboard to bring big-time boxing back to the city on a regular basis, and Jon Pegg assures me it is a sign of things to come. “It’s no coincidence the show is happening in Cov, and my plan all along is to do what we have already done in Birmingham; get grassroots thriving and build onto bigger and better things”.

There seems to be a plethora of local emerging talent in the city, and Pegg agrees. “Coventry has a host of prospects coming through at the moment. River, my first Cov signing must be considered a top prospect. But lads such as Jordan Cooke and Midlands flyweight champion Dave Seymour (8-1-0) will be doing big things as well. In terms of the amateurs, Aaron Bowen and McCauley Owen are fantastic stars coming through, and ones to look out for in the future”.

The talent is undoubtedly there, and with the backing of the likes of Pegg and Hennessy, things are looking encouraging for the city’s fight scene. March 28th could be the dawn of the beginning of Coventry’s own boxing golden era.

Perhaps Hennessy and Pegg will even unearth the next Carl Froch or Tyson Fury in Coventry?

For tickets, please see https://www.hennessysports.com/tickets/ or contact the fighters individually.

The card will be shown live free-to-air on Channel Five in the evening of Saturday, March 28th.

By Aaron Ludford of SimBoxx


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