Even Moore to come
Adam Smith looks back at Jason Booth's brilliance and ahead to a fantastic Friday Night bill in Bolton...
Last Updated: 23/10/09 10:25am
This is always an important week in the calendar. It kicks off with the Boxing Writer's dinner; a wonderful West End meeting of our fighting community, and it's only right that it ends with one of the best domestic matches in ages.
Jamie Moore defends his European light-middleweight title this Friday Fight Night and it should be a mouthwatering tussle.
Monday's dinner was - as usual - a really great, informal occasion where everyone has a drink and a catch-up, as the scribes acknowledge and honour the fighters.
There was a wonderful turn-out. Frank Bruno looked really well, so too Chris Eubank, Barry McGuigan, Charlie Magri, Dave Boy Green, Billy Schwer and a whole host of figures from both past and present. It was nice to have the young there too - Tony Jeffries came down from Sunderland and James Degale was on our table.
Luke Campbell was voted best amateur, and Kell Brook rightfully received the prestigious Young Boxer Of The Year award and is in a fabulous battle with Michael Jennings in Liverpool on October 30th.
The young Sheffield powerhouse is following in the footsteps of his idol Naseem Hamed. Kell also went to school with Ryan Rhodes, whose amazing boxing adventure continues this Friday when he faces the terrific Moore for the European crown.
Jamie and Ryan are superb stalwarts of British boxing, and if things had swung slightly differently, both might have already become world champions. They are excellent technicians with bags of ability, and they are both rock solid guys. They are two of my very favourite people in the fight game. I am proud to call both Ryan and Jamie friends.
What a meeting! Can Ryan Rhodes turn back the clock and surprise us again? Is there anyone that Jamie Moore can't prize apart at the moment - such is his red-hot form.
Rhodes' unorthodox movement and speed could give Moore problems. Ryan can also bang, but he is a touch vulnerable himself. Nearly everyone I have spoken to believes Moore will win by mid-to-late stoppage.
It's hard to go against the grain. Moore looks massive physically at light-middleweight and Rhodes has been trying to make 11stone since another age!
Moore looks set to march on, but there could be one or two bumpy moments if he doesn't contain Rhodes quickly. I tell you something though: never count Ryan Rhodes out.
The same, though, is true of Jamie. The Salford southpaw has the momentum, he's got a better defence, and this should be the launch pad for a much-deserved world title challenge.
Ricky Hatton told me that nothing would keep him away from cheering Jamie Moore on, while Naseem Hamed is desperately trying to be in Bolton for his pal Ryan Rhodes. These two excellent sportsmen who meet on Friday night are much-loved, and it will actually be hard to see one lose. That is of course the nature of the game, though.
Frank Maloney puts on a marvellous bill. Along with Moore-Rhodes, there are also two very interesting British title fights. St Helens puncher Gary Davies defends his bantamweight crown against former champion Ian Napa in an intriguing blend of power and skills.
Davies has seven stoppages in his nine wins, but will surely not have the experience or ring intelligence to deal with Napa's repertoire. I was so disappointed at the way Ian lost his European crown to Malik Bouziane in March - by his high standards it was a terribly poor night. Either the bubble has been burst or it was a one-off.
Napa was on a wonderful run beforehand, having suffered many personal problems. I think he has the class and character to bounce back - especially at British level - against a brave and strong fighter who might just lack the necessary knowledge.
It's a good little fight; so too the British Flyweight battle between Chris Edwards and Shinny Bayaar. This is very dangerous for the pint-sized Potteries man. Few outside the trade know much about Jack Doughty's Lancashire-based Mongolians! Choi and Bayaar are very good indeed.
Bayaar's fast, can hit and could be a little too hot for Edwards - especially if the current champion flies out at his usual 100 miles an hour. He could be countered and in trouble. I fancy Bayaar to be a stylistic nightmare for Edwards, who has been another good domestic story, having turned his career around after losing six of his first seven.
I like characters like that. As those of you who are regular readers will know, I really admire Jason Booth. The cunning, knowing Nottingham stylist was superb last week to dismantle Michael Hunter with some ease.
I felt the weight-making would affect Michael - who has been a great entertainer and fighter over the years - and I didn't think he looked right when I saw him arrive in Sunderland.
But Booth is just getting better with age. He is a magnificent example to youngsters about fighting back from serious problems. Jason was drinking a bottle of sherry every morning a few years ago. He was in the gutter. With the help of his training team Tony Harris and Jimmy Gill - Jason has given himself a life again. Jason Booth - still too smooth!
The week began with a meeting of old champions and I am spending Thursday with a new one in Amir Khan. What a year the Bolton youngster has enjoyed and he completes it with his first world title defence against the unbeaten and interesting Ukrainian based in New York, Dmitriy Salita.
We will be rushing around the country with press conferences in Newcastle and London! Then it's off to Amir's home town on Friday for the crunch clash between Jamie Moore and Ryan Rhodes. Don't miss it!