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Boxxer Not Reliant On Heavyweight Olympian Frazer Clarke Dethroning Fabio Wardley

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On the eve of the fight between Fabio Wardley and Frazer Clarke, Ben Shalom has recognised how transformative a successful heavyweight would prove for Boxxer and Sky Sports.

The rivals contest the British and Commonwealth titles on March 31 at The O2 Arena in London – where Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, who Shalom believes are nearing the end of their careers, have previously won some of their biggest fights. 

Boxxer remain in their infancy as a promotional organisation, but with so influential a broadcaster and with Caroline Dubois – perhaps soon to be the world’s leading female fighter – and Adam Azim and Ben Whittaker, widely recognised as two of Britain’s most naturally talented fighters, they appear to have a promising future.

What they lack, for all of Clarke’s potential, is a leading heavyweight – and victory over Wardley, particularly if Shalom is right about Fury and Joshua, would enhance Clarke’s profile similarly to how victory over Dillian Whyte once grew Joshua’s, and beating Derek Chisora once strengthened Fury’s.

Shalom didn’t go as far as to say that only a successful heavyweight is capable of having that nature of impact, but he remains aware of the shortcut that one can provide, and he said: “Heavyweights do drive the sport and you do think about who is coming through in heavyweight boxing. It is great to be able to put on a heavyweight night like this because we have not had many. 

“Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury have been with other promoters for years – if not a decade or more, in Anthony’s case. It’s great to be able to put on a heavyweight night; we believe that we have future stars in the sport in this country. 

“I will deliver for them and ensure they get opportunities, such as Lauren Price in Cardiff [against Jessica McCaskill on May 11], so she can become a superstar of the sport. Ensuring Frazer Clarke gets his big night at The O2; making sure Ben Whittaker becomes the biggest star he can be. Adam Azim and Caroline Dubois – the list goes on and on. 

“We just want to make sure that we deliver the biggest and best opportunities and let them do the talking. So far, so good for us as a promotional company. 

“We have grown with these fighters. When we first started, we did not have a stable. We had to build our fighters from scratch, so in our third year on Sky Sports, we are beginning to see those fighters we debuted with. Our relationships have grown together, and we have grown with them. Hopefully, we can help produce the next crop of superstars in this sport.”

In the modern era of British boxing, Fury and Carl Froch perhaps stand alone as fighters who became mainstream figures without the platform provided by the Olympic Games or Sky Sports, but Shalom said: “We have seen superstars like Ricky Hatton, ‘Prince’ Naseem [Hamed] and Amir Khan drive the sport to new levels. I don’t think [a successful heavyweight] is an absolute necessity because I think Ben Whittaker is the future of the sport. 

“I think he will be the biggest star in world boxing. Adam Azim will not be too far behind him, and those two will have healthy competition for who is going to be the biggest star. 

“Caroline Dubois, with women’s boxing growing so much – she can be the face of that. 

“Superstars are created in every division; you will become a star if you have the right ingredients. I can’t see fighters coming up through the heavyweight division who will be bigger than those names I have mentioned.

“It is a big test. People have talked about [Clarke] ducking the fight and now they are talking about him taking the fight too early. It is a huge fight and a huge test. 

“Ultimately, Frazer Clarke has the pedigree, talent, and ability – if he matches Fabio for grit and determination, he will win the fight. He should win the fight. 

“Matching Fabio on those things is much easier said than done. He has done phenomenally well. He has had to fight from relative obscurity in the professional ranks to the level at which he is fighting now. He deserves a huge amount of credit because he is very streetwise and knows his way around the ring. He has been tested more than Frazer has so far in their careers, but this is a completely different level for Fabio to take on Frazer Clarke.

“It is a very interesting fight, but if Frazer can match him, then he should come through – but it is a hell of a fight. It is a great fight for British boxing. 

“If you look at heavyweights like Tyson Fury and Anthony Joshua, they are probably having the final fights of their careers. So to have a British heavyweight title fight like this headline The O2 is huge.”

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