MICHAEL PEARLMAN SAYS: Saturday could be launching point for new era of Welsh boxing dominance
Updated 10:24am Tuesday 13th May 2014 in Sport
TIME TO SHINE: Lee Selby during the WBC International Featherweight Title fight at Craven Park Stadium, Hull shows the destructive form he wants to exhibit on Saturday night at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena
WELSH boxing could be set for an explosive fillip not seen since Joe Calzaghe’s era of dominance... if things go right this weekend.
After a barren period in the professional ranks where Wales has had little to shout about apart from a world title reign from Nathan Cleverly - which was heavily criticised – we are now close to reaching the reset point where the shadow of Calzaghe can be consigned properly to the past.
The era of Calzaghe, which saw Enzo Maccarinelli and Gavin Rees also earn world titles, was perhaps unrepeatable, but things have certainly improved markedly in recent years.
And ahead of Saturday’s show at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena, the second successive Matchroom Promotions venture in 2014 to be heading towards a sell-out, things are looking enormously promising with an era ending and several new beginnings.
It promises to be an emotional evening, the end of days for Rees following a 16-year stint in the paid ranks and a literal lifetime of boxing in Wales, as he bows out against Gary Buckland.
Were Buckland to record a second successive victory over Rees, his stock will only rise further as he looks to clinch a promotional deal with Matchroom.
However, as enticing as that fight is for lovers of bravery and brawn and a considerable amount of personal rivalry, in terms of the future, all eyes are on Cleverly and St Joseph's boxer Lee Selby.
Cleverly is starting over as a cruiserweight and if successful, he's almost certainly set for a lucrative, not to mention money-spinning fight with his hated rival, Tony Bellew, in Liverpool in November.
The winner of that clash is almost certain to be placed in a world title fight and that could provide a unique position in Wales.
Because by then; Selby may well have brought a world title home to Newport.
His fight on Saturday against Romulu Koasicha is an official eliminator for the WBC featherweight title and it seems likely Selby will be challenging for world honours before the end of the year.
He is currently third in the WBC rankings and is being lined-up to battle champion Johnny Gonzalez who defends his title seven days after Selby's test in Cardiff.
The possibilities for promoters, boxers and most importantly, fight fans in Wales would be endless with two world champions to share the centre stage.
The Millennium Stadium has hosted two of the biggest dates in British boxing in the past 20-years and it could come to pass again if Selby and Cleverly both fulfil their ambitions.
That would create opportunities for the next generation of Welsh fighter, from Dale Evans to Robbie Turley, Chris Jenkins and Mitchell Buckland, and that's only those on the undercard this weekend.
It's a hugely exciting time, with Wales hopefully once again about to take centre stage in the pantheon of British boxing.
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