Hearn wants Kid Galahad to focus on unifications after first defense of IBF 126-lb title
By William Lloyd: Eddie Hearn has plans for Kid Galahad to make his first defense of his newly won IBF featherweight title before looking to fight unification matches at 126 against Leigh Wood, Leo Santa Cruz, or Emanuel Navarrete.
Last Saturday night, Galahad 28-1, 17 KOs) won the vacant IBF featherweight title with his splendid eleventh round stoppage victory over James ‘Jazza’ Dickens (30-4, 11 KOs) at the Matchroom HQ in Brentwood, Essex.
Throwing over 1,000 punches, Galahad too much for Jazza, who looked outgunned from the outset. Jazza was bloody & battered by the end of the 11th when his trainer did the sensible thing and alerted the referee to have the fight stopped.
Hearn wants Galahad vs. Leigh Wood
Matchroom Boxing promoter Hearn says he would like the WBA to strip Leo Santa Cruz of his ‘Super Champion’ status at 126 and elevate WBA ‘regular’ champion Leigh Wood (25-2, 15 KOs) to his place before he makes a move to put a fight.
Not surprisingly, Hearn prefers that Wood hold the ‘Super Champion’ with the WBA before making the fight between him and Galahad. It’s understandable why Hearn prefers that.
The Galahad vs. Wood fight will mean more to the boxing world if they view it as a match between two true champions. Unfortunately, the WBA title Wood holds is the secondary strap and not the main one that fans view as the more prestigious.
The former four-division world champion Santa Cruz (37-2-1, 19KOs) hasn’t defended his WBA featherweight title in 29 months since his 12 round unanimous decision win over Rafael Rivera in February 2019.
It’s unclear why the World Boxing Association hasn’t stripped Santa Cruz of his 126-lb title, given that he hasn’t defended it in over two years. Perhaps if Santa Cruz weren’t such a popular fighter, he would have been stripped by now.
Hearn will have to decide whether he’s going to wait to see if the WBA strips Santa Cruz of his belt and elevates Leigh Wood before making the Galahad-Wood fight.
It would be a good idea for Hearn not to wait too long because either of these guys could lose. Wood is a good fighter, but he’s not a solid enough guy to be counted on to successfully defend his WBA secondary title against Mauricio Lara, Mark Magsayo, Eduardo Ramirez, or Isaac Dogboe.
Hearn briefly mentioned WBO featherweight champion Emanuel Navarrete (33-1, 28 KOs) as one of the fighters he’d like to see Galahad fight. However, Hearn didn’t seem nearly as excited as matching Galahad with Navarrete as he did with Leigh Wood and Santa Cruz.
Galahad to make a title defense first
“A massive win for Kid Galahad. Sheffield has a new world champion,” said Eddie Hearn to Behind the Gloves on Galahad’s stoppage win over Jazza Dickens last Saturday. “I think he should have a defense in Sheffield and then try and unify.
“Not a lot of people will want to fight Barry [Kid Galahad]. He’s going to be really tough to beat.
“He has to beat [Mauricio] Lara, and that’s a big fight,” said Hearn when told that former IBF 126 featherweight champion Josh Warrington said ‘If have bigger fish to fry,’ when asked if he’d be interested in facing Galahad in a rematch with his IBF 126-lb title on the line.
“He [Galahad] already said, ‘Whoever wins that fight [between Lara and Warrington], I’ll fight them.’ Lara has already announced himself on the world stage, but we hope Josh Warrington comes through that fight.
“I think that’s the focus for Josh, and Kid Galahad has got to look at other belts,” said Hearn.
The only safe champion for Galahad to target right now is WBA secondary 126lb champion Leigh Wood. Still, he’s unavailable due to the obligatory rematch he’ll need to give to former WBA champion Can Xu.
If Hearn is willing to test Galahad’s talent against WBC champion Gary Russell Jr or WBO champion Emanuel Navarrete, those are more realistic options.
Of course, Galahad can wait until Wood is done with his rematch with Xu before moving on to a unification.
That’s probably the direction Hearn will take. Hearn has got to know if he decides to match the 31-year-old Kid Galahad against Navarrete or Russell Jr, his reign as the IBF champion will likely come to a screeching halt.
Did Jazza Dickens deserve to be fighting for a world title?
Beating a little-hitter like Jazza Dickens doesn’t translate to Galahad defeating the elite fighters at 126. You can argue that Jazza had no business fighting for the vacant IBF world title last Saturday.
While Jazza has always been a good domestic level fighter, he’s not a world-class level guy that you could plug into a title fight and expect him to win.
Is Galahad good enough to unify at 126?
“He’s dedicated his whole life to the sport; he’s ready. You can’t say he’s not ready for any of those guys, and tonight, there’s always been a lot of talk over the years about his [Kid Galahad] style,” said Hearn about Galahad.
“He threw over 1,000 punches tonight, and it was a really energetic performance. I think people are going to warm to that.
“You know how dedicated to the sport he [Galahad] is. It’s obscene, really, and I’m really pleased for him because if he had gone through his career and not won a world title, I think he would have struggled to deal with that,” Hearn said of Kid Galahad.
“Now, we’re going to see how many levels he can go from here, and he’s going to be a real threat to the division. It’s Sheffield vs. Nottingham, which is fantastic,” Hearn said of a potential fight looming ahead for the newly crowned IBF 126-lb champion Galahad against WBA ‘regular’ belt-holder Leigh Wood.
“I’d love to see Leigh [Wood] elevated to [WBA] Super Champion, and if they can do that unification [between Galahad and Wood], it would be massive,” Hearn said of wanting to see the World Boxing Association strip current WBA Super Champion Leo Santa Cruz and move Wood into his spot at 126.
“Maybe, but it all comes down to Leo Santa Cruz. If he wants to fight at 126, they’re not going to strip him, but if he doesn’t, they will,” said Hearn of Santa Cruz. “Then Leigh will be elevated. Santa Cruz is a good fight for him,” said Hearn.
It’s probably a good idea for Hearn to hold off on his vision of putting Galahad in unifications until he finds out if the WBA will strip Santa Cruz. Again, Hearn could be waiting a long time for that.
It’s better if Galahad makes defenses of his IBF title for as long as possible rather than taking on the other champions at 126 and likely getting beaten right away. Galahad is a good fighter, but he’s basically a volume puncher.
Those types of guys do okay against weaker opposition, as we saw in Galahad’s win over Jazza. But if you put Galahad in with a puncher like Navarrete, Wood, Santa Cruz, or a blazing fast technical fighter like Gary Russell Jr, he’s going to get chewed up.
Volume punchers only do well when they’re facing less dangerous guys. When they eventually run into someone with power, they lose.
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