Rewind a couple of months… Which can pass like water in this fickle sport.
The departure of Carl Frampton and Conrad Cunmings, alongside that Belfast card that never was, seemed to signal dark times for Cyclone Promotions.
Left with one standout, Prestonpans’ Josh Taylor, and a lack of professional firepower, there was genuine concern amongst boxing fans over the longevity of their promotional operation.
Since then however, Cyclone have bounced back, signing; Martin Bakole, Chris Billam-Smith and Lee McGregor. They have continued their journey through terrestrial television with two cards broadcast on Channel 5. Most importantly, they have remained dignified and professional in the face of their harshest critics. They have remained a family.
Many will have watched Saturday’s card in Edinburgh, excited by the masterclass from Josh Taylor. The Tartan Tornado has established himself as the best super-lightweight on the continent, outclassing Ohara Davies and breaking down a reputable former World champion in Miguel Vasquez. It’s fair to say if the storm was brewing previously, we are very much in the eye of it now.
The thing that has impressed me has been the McGuigan team’s investment in the future…
The signing of Chris Billam-Smith, a solid and very capable amateur has been a real find. His power and natural ability already on display throughout his three contests – none of which have heard the final bell. The cruiserweight division is bubbling nicely and CBS won’t be far away from the likes of Isaac Chamberlain and Lawrence Okolie over the next twelve months.
Lee McGregor, at only twenty years of age, could well be a special talent. Overcoming adversity and fine-tuning his raw talent, there have been claims of British titles within his first year as a professional. If his debut on Saturday was anything to base judgement on, he may find himself in blue/white and red shortly. Remember that.
Billy Nelson has been banging the drum of big Martin Bakole for a long time now. I’d seen him destroy Dominic Akinlade in one round. Akinlade was a very durable opponent and a tough test… on paper. Bakole never turned up in the best shape for his first Cyclone appearance, however following his devastating win on Saturday has introduced himself to a whole new audience. Nelson wants big fights for his charge with the likes of Dillian Whyte being thrown about over Social Media. An exciting addition and still something of a mystery.
Any of these three signings could replace Cummings on the roster. No disrespect intended, but the pace at which they are building fighters looks promising. Let’s all remember also, Carl Frampton was associated with Cyclone Promotions. He fought overseas on Al Haymon shows or at home previously on a Matchroom pay-per-view. He wasn’t shouldering the entire cost of the company, but was a loss for their profile, no doubt.
With an ever-growing fan club, Edinburgh’s Josh Taylor could be the man to spearhead their attack on the mainstream. Surely approaching a World title, his blend of natural talent and ferocious work to the body is well-suited to a television audience.
Once Taylor captures his version of the World title, he will bring with him higher purse bids, sanctioning fees and a demand for larger venues (Easter Road stadium or Glasgow’s ‘Hydro’, for example). We have to hope when that time comes, that his team work with him to achieve the type of event his talent dictates. It may be sooner, rather than later.
One thing beyond doubt is the passion of Barry McGuigan. Watching him talk to fighters or interact with fans is incredible. Cyclone Promotions is, in essence, risky. But the risk has been taken by a family who know the sport inside out. Shane, Blain and Jake have grown up on a diet of super-fights and adoration. You can sense from them, the passion is genetic.
The spine of the team, perhaps more important than the fighters with testing times now behind them. In Shane McGuigan, they have a trainer already creating history. His work with Frampton, unbelievable. His current form with a rejuvinated George Groves has been extremely impressive. Boxing is in my blood. In this case, only a DNA test would cause reasonable doubt. Winning 7 from 8 World title contests is unheralded for a trainer so fresh in the profession.
This sense of family is extended to their fighters. The relationship between members of the stable seems solid. Laughing, joking and enjoying their boxing. Time in this game is limited.
From top to bottom, Cyclone Promotions are on an upward trend. Will they have the money to contend with Matchroom? Maybe not. On the path to success, will they stumble and make mistakes? No more than we all do. One thing they seem determined to follow is a code of ethics and almost seemingly a mission statement; everything is for our fighters.
Written by Craig Scott