Boxing: Woods fight heads month of ring action

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The Independent Online

Each year, the start of the domestic boxing season creeps out of the summer and by the end of November several decent fights have taken place or been scheduled, but this year September will be one of the busiest months for 40 years.

Nineteen promoters in Britain, including two women, have already applied to stage 23 professional boxing shows between next Friday and 27 September. Sky or the BBC will show 10 nights of live or tape-delayed boxing.

There will be nine title fights, including seven for a variety of the baubles on offer from the sport's sanctioning bodies. However, there will also be a world-title eliminator next Friday for the International Boxing Federation light-heavyweight crown, involving Clinton Woods and Jamaica's Glencoffe Johnson at Ponds Forge International Centre in Sheffield.

Meanwhile, Dagenham awaits the inaugural English heavyweight title on 18 Sep-tember between Michael Holden and former full-contact fighting champion Matt Skelton. The Scottish light-welterweight title and the Irish lightweight title will also be contested.

Skelton is the main attraction in a new Sky series, developed by Frank Warren, called Fight Skool. It will take place each month with boxers from a list of 35 prospects. The idea is to raise the profile of young prospects in their own shows and not as undercard attractions when Warren's world champions defend their titles.

On the same night that Skelton boxes, there are two other shows in London, including the first from promoter Mickey Helliet at the Marriott in Grosvenor Square.

Helliet has put together a package aimed at a different crowd to the 1,200 which regularly filled York Hall last season. His show will feature a champagne reception and meal, live pre-fight entertainment and VIP tickets to a West End club for an after-fight party.

"I'm trying to put a bit of style back into the boxing world," said Helliet.

A night likely to appeal to old-fashioned fans will take place in Nottingham on 20 September at a leisure centre on the city's sprawling outskirts when two local boxers contest world titles.

Jawaid Khaliq defends his International Boxing Organisation welterweight crown and local idol Nicky Booth fights Nathan Sting for the World Boxing Union bantamweight title. It will not be a night for the squeamish nor the purists, but for 1,000 punters, it will be memorable.

The following night, at the Bristol Marriott, Jane Couch will box and promote once again. "I was having difficulty getting on shows so I took the risk and decided to promote myself," said Couch, whose last bout was in June as chief support to Lennox Lewis in his world heavyweight title defence against Vitali Klitschko.

On 22 September, at the Winter Gardens in Cleethorpes, Christine Dalton stages a show.

The BBC will also screen the ongoing career of Audley Harrison, whose next fight will be against somebody with a pulse at the Level Night Club in Miami on 9 September. The BBC will show a delayed screening of the bout - the first of three for Harrison in America - and will do the same when Belfast's Damaen Kelly travels to Colombia.

Kelly will become the first British boxer to fight for a world title in Colombia when he meets IBF flyweight champion Irene Pacheco on 27 September.

On the same night, more than 16,000 people are expected to fill Manchester's MEN Arena for Ricky Hatton's latest defence of his WBU light-welterweight title against Argentina's Aldo Rios.

September has no head-to-heads between the BBC and Sky, but that changes on the first Saturday in October.

Sky will screen Brian Magee defending his IBO super-middleweight title an hour before the BBC shows a live European title fight between David Walker and light-middleweight champion Roman Karmazin, of Russia. November promises yet more entertainment.

Steve Bunce will be a member of the BBC's broadcasting team this autumn

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