British Beat: Brian Rose And Sam Webb Serve Up Winter Warmer In Blackpool

British junior middleweight champion Brian Rose attempts to capture the Lonsdale belt he carries but does not yet own, against one of its former custodians, in cut-prone Chislehurst man Sam Webb. Back on benevolent hunting ground at Blackpool’s Winter Gardens — a 19th century opera house turned entertainment complex in the heart of the seaside town — the well-regimented Rose has been pegged as a strong 2/5 favourite to retain his championship and win the belt outright with a third successful title defence.

Happily, the best domestic match-up of the week found a television outlet at the 11th hour (after it was initially overlooked) and so fans have averted exclusion from a clandestine cracker. After being similarly snubbed last weekend, Manchester lightweight Anthony Crolla outlasted his tenacious cross-town rival Kieran Farrell in a reportedly fierce affair on a Dave Coldwell show only accessible either live or via an innovative Apple application. After brokering a deal earlier in the week with free-to-air Sky channel Loaded TV, a beleagured Frank Maloney, in conjuction with Steve Wood and VIP Promotions, launches a maiden boxing telecast on Friday that shapes up as a potential winter warmer.

Webb defended the 11 stone crown only once, against a dog-eared Martin Concepcion, after he had upset the kooky Deptford blowhard, Anthony Small. In his second bout as domestic leader he ran into the stork-like Droylesden sharpshooter Prince Arron and was subjected to a frightful walloping when Arron perforated his eardrum in round 5. Despite enduring the sort of shellacking that shortens careers — perhaps to the quick — Webb has since rebounded against Manchester’s “Little Bull”, Matthew Hall.

Rose, 21-1-1 (6), is an improving fighter. The 27-year-old has been beaten only once, after Jamaican-born Max Maxwell took advantage of a reluctance spawned from an ill-fated meeting with Doncaster’s Jason Rushton (Rushton collapsed after his bout with Rose after suffering brain damage) to decimate him within six rounds. The champion has since avenged that black night in accomplished fashion and is developing into a disciplined and well-ordered boxer who thrives behind a good engine and a drilling left jab.

The challenger is a busy counter puncher with good legs and a stout heart. A marauding amateur adept in a tear-up, Webb, 18-2 (5), will be keen to exhibit his boxing ability — and he does boast some skill — rather than his hardiness. Rose, though, an intense sort, is unlikely to let him breathe, never mind box. And while neither hit hard enough to suggest anything other than a 12 round battle lies in store, there was a sense of needle between them at the weigh-in that figures to condense the argument. Rose, at home and in the mood, looks too much for Webb, who is unlikely to go without a racket all the same. 

Super middleweight George Groves is in action in London on Saturday. Groves, 15-0 (12), accommodates former light heavyweight king Glen Johnson, 51-17-2 (35), at the ExCel Arena, in an unsettling cross-roads clash that, although far from exploitative, could be as much fun as a happyslapping viral. Johnson, Miami, Fla. via Clarendon, Jamaica is a popular stalwart who has never given less than everything and has a record that would shame Dick Tiger; Roy Jones, Antonio Tarver, Bernard Hopkins, Lucian Bute, Carl Froch, Sven Ottke, Tavoris Cloud, Montell Griffin and Chad Dawson have all been opposed with a combination of tough luck and uncomromising grind.

Hammersmith’s Groves shows as a prohibitive 1/5 favourite and probably holds enough advantages to win over the full course. Johnson, who needs another give-and-take 12 rounder against a vibrant young hitter at this stage of his career like his opponent needs another naff tattoo, hits hard enough to uncouple Groves completely — if he can land flush one last time. The thought of a hot-dogging Groves, teeing off on a man as unassumingly noble as Johnson, is about as unappetizing as jellied eels in chilli vinegar. Respect must be paramount in Groves’ mind here, caution, too.

Bolton’s Amir Khan, 26-3 (18), hits the comeback trail (again) in L.A. on Saturday against hand-picked Rosemead native, Carlos Molina. The American is unbeaten in seventeen yet looks under-sized and is expected to fold inside schedule. As a prizefighter, Khan is pure tabloid; quicksilver and cavalier, he is as vulnerable as he is incorrigable. This, though, is expected to be as routine an assignment for Khan as is possible these days.

A host of unbeaten prospects are also out this weekend, dotted across the country on a variety of cards. Billy Joe Saunders, middleweight, 10-0 (7), Tony Conquest, cruiserweight, 10-0 (4), Frank Buglioni, super middleweight, 6-0 (4), Travis Dickinson, light heavyweight, 13-0 (5) and Jack Arnfield, middleweight, 14-0 (3) are unlikely to be troubled unduly and can bolster themselves before Christmas in readiness to break through in the new year.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.