Boxing: McKeever keen to extend horizons

There was a time when the best British fighter was the British champion, but that ended about 15 years ago when the proliferation of sanctioning bodies took control of the sport.

Tonight, at the Everton Park Sports Centre in Liverpool, Jamie McKeever defends his British featherweight title against Coventry's Roy Rutherford in a fight that is in effect an eliminator for the fourth spot in Britain.

At present Scott Harrison holds the World Boxing Organisation title and both Naseem Hamed and Michael Brodie have held far more spurious belts in recent months, and they are the top three.

The events of the last 15 years have prompted the British Boxing Board of Control to raise the question of English titles at its annual general meeting on 28 May.

At present there are Scottish and Welsh champions but nothing available for English boxers other than the British title.

The winner this evening will therefore, in theory, have the opportunity later this year of fighting for either the International Boxing Organisation, the World Boxing Union or the World Boxing Federation title.

Brodie could fight South Korea's Injin Chi for the vacant World Boxing Council featherweight title in Manchester on 21 June – and Hamed insists he will be back in the ring in September. A Hamed and Brodie fight could in theory take place next year.