Boxing: Brodie leads British title charge and battle to win over fight fans

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The Independent Online

Michael Brodie is the nominal main attraction on a billat the MEN Arena, Manchester tonight that has for some strange reason failed to capture the imagination of even the local fight fans.

Brodie will fight for the vacant International Boxing Organisation featherweight title in one of four world title fights involving British boxers.

At a time when British boxing has 21 world champions - a preposterous figure considering that fewer than that number held world titles in the Fifties, Sixties, Seventies and Eighties combined - Brodie's fight against Argentina's Juan Cabrera looks simply like another routine roadside attraction for the domestic boxing business.

However, Brodie, 29, is world class unlike many of the 21 so-called champions and his fight against Cabrera is really nothing more than a quality warm up for his September meeting with South Korea's Injin Chi for the World Boxing Council title.

Cabrera once fought Naseem Hamed but that was a long time ago and he was rescued, whilst still standing, in round two at a time when Hamed was the world's most exciting fighter. Hamed was meant to share the ring with Brodie tonight, but he has opted to extend his exile which is both a pity for Brodie and for British boxing.

Of the other four world title fights on the evening's bill, three of them involve British fighters and all three are in extremely competitive encounters. It is possible that all three British fighters could end up with nothing more than bruises this evening.

Stockwell's Richard Williams defends his IBO light middleweight title against another Argentinian, Sergio Martinez, who is four years younger than Williams and has lost just once in 30 fights. Williams is one of British boxing's most honest fighters and has admitted that even though he is a world champion he is nowhere near ready to fight the weight's most recognised world champion, Oscar de La Hoya.

Brian Magee, from Belfast, defends his IBO super-middleweight title against South Africa's Andre Thysse in the type of fight that modern matchmakers tend to reject, and Magee has been lumbered with a very difficult job.

Thysse is 6ft 4in - extraordinary for a super-middleweight - and in his last fight in March he won the Commonwealth version of the title with an impressive one-sided victory over David Starie. Magee is rated below Starie in Britain so tonight's fight will be intriguing.

The other vacant title fight involves Huddersfield's James Hare, who holds the Commonwealth welterweight title, against Ukraine's Roman Dzhuman for the World Boxing Foundation title at the same weight. Dzhuman's only defeat in 17 fights was a controversial split decision to Nottingham's Jawaid Khaliq last November for the IBO title.

Hare is probably in the toughest of the four fights involving British boxers on a night when the sport will enjoy an evening that it has not experienced for many years. Sadly so few seem to care.