Eubank Jr v Benn clash just one highlight of a stellar 2022 for boxing

Got your breath back after Oleksandr Usyk and Anthony Joshua at the weekend? Good, because British boxing’s stellar 2022 is only just getting started.

After AJ poured his heart and soul into his rematch with Usyk, losing on points, and Tyson Fury beat Dillian Whyte at a full Wembley Stadium in April, Chris Eubank Jr’s showdown with Conor Benn may yet top the lot.

Twenty-nine years after their fathers met for a second time, a split draw which followed their initial meeting – a Eubank victory – rather unexpectedly, the next generation got their heads together to agree on an October 8 clash at London’s O2.

The fight could have sold out a far bigger venue. But the intrigue around this fight, at a catchweight of 157lb, between 32-year-old middleweight Eubank and welterweight Benn, 25, will ensure it crosses over from the boxing heads to the mainstream.

Matchroom’s Eddie Hearn, promoter of ‘the Destroyer’, believes for DAZN it will be ‘the biggest pay-per-view we’ve ever done’, while Eubank says he will be ‘finished if I let Conor Benn beat me in this fight’.

It would certainly be a huge breakthrough for Benn to beat the bigger, more experienced man although Eubank believes he will be ‘drained’ by the weight and only at ‘60 per cent’ of his usual strength.

There is a rehydration clause which will see the Hove fighter reportedly fined a six-figure sum for each pound he comes in at over the agreed limit.

This Saturday, X Series debuts at the O2 with social media megastar KSI – the YouTuber, rapper and boxer – taking on not one but two opponents as he attempts to take influencers’ boxing mainstream.

Original opponent Alex Wassabi pulled out earlier this month so KSI – like Joshua from Watford – will box footballer-turned-rapper Swarmz and 43-year-old Bulgarian Ivan Nikolov.

Unusual? Yes, but then this promises to be a show like no other. KSI’s brother Deji is also on the bill and will face Fousey. KSI is returning to the ring nearly three years after beating Logan Paul in his only professional outing. Paul’s brother Jake, an unmissable presence on social media and now in the boxing world, remains the Briton’s nemesis and a mouth-watering fight surely beckons next year, possibly at Wembley Stadium, whatever the result in London this weekend.

One encounter which should bring the boxing world to a standstill is Claressa Shields’ long-awaited face-off with Savannah Marshall – the only fighter to have beaten the American, the self-titled ‘Gwoat’ (greatest woman of all time), either as a professional or an amateur ten years ago before they joined the paid ranks.

The fight – dubbed the biggest in the history of women’s boxing – took some time to make, delayed in part by the pandemic, but their clash will see seething resentments, mainly on Shields’ side, sorted out in the O2 ring.

Shields calls Marshall’s win in 2012 a ‘fluke’ and referred to the Hartlepool middleweight as an ‘idiot’ but puts her IBF, WBA, WBC and WBF crowns on the line, as well as Marshall’s WBO belt. Marshall says: ‘I’ve been waiting for this since I turned pro.

‘I’ve waited for this for five or six years and now it’s here.’

Shields adds: ‘I’m coming over there to put on a show and show the world I am what I say I am – I’m the greatest woman of all time.’

An all-female card will also see Mikaela Mayer and Alycia Baumgardner go head-to-head for four of the global featherweight titles.

Rising star Caroline Dubois has her fourth pro outing while British Olympic medallists Lauren Price and Karriss Artingstall, a couple out of the ring, make their second appearances since moving over from GB Boxing.

September 24 sees Joe Joyce take on Joseph Parker in Manchester in a bout which appeared far from likely to happen at one stage.

The heavyweight pair had looked set to clash in the summer but were finally confirmed for the AO Arena last month in a showdown that should whet the appetite of British fight fans.

There has even been talk they could fight for the WBC belt, or at least the interim version, in light of Fury’s announcement he was retiring, with Londoner Joyce ranked No.2 in the rankings and Parker, who trains with Fury in Morecambe, No.3.

Only former champ Deontay Wilder, who Joyce ran into while training in Las Vegas this week, is ranked higher. Joyce, 36, has accused New Zealander Parker of ‘wasting his time’ in not taking the original July date, while ex-WBO king Parker insists he will be the man to take Joyce’s ‘zero’.

And watch out for the return of Amanda Serrano – who has held titles in seven different weight classes – as chief support against Sarah Mahfoud after defeat to Katie Taylor in women’s boxing’s ‘battle of the greatest’ in April.

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