Shalom says stardom beckons for the winner of Wardley-Clarke

Promoter Ben Shalom said he always felt British heavyweight champion Fabio Wardley and Frazer Clarke would meet, despite the sour taste left after last year’s aborted negotiations to make the fight.

Shalom took a lot of the flak when his fighter, Clarke, withdrew from the purse bids at the 11th hour, but the fight is now on, March 31, at London’s O2 Arena.

“Last year it was like my first real controversy,” said Shalom. “A lot of British boxing was very unhappy. I had a lot of messages saying I’d ruined the sport, and I’m just glad to get it on, because the intention was never to not have the fight. And Frazer Clarke is set to become the fastest-ever British heavyweight champion, so the same people that were saying, ‘How can you duck him [Wardley], are now saying, ‘Why are you taking him on so early in his career?’ I’m delighted to get it on, not just for Frazer Clarke but for Fabio Wardley as well. I think it’s a huge night for both of them and one that will really catapult a new heavyweight superstar.”

Andy Scott, of broadcaster Sky Sports, compared it to the first Tyson Fury-Derek Chisora fight, Joe Joyce-Daniel Dubois and Anthony Joshua-Dillian Whyte, which also took place at the O2.

“You look back to those British heavyweight title fights with Dillian Whyte and Anthony Joshua which is obviously the one that springs to mind at the O2 [and] that just took both of their careers to another level, both ultimately became pay-per-view stars,” Shalom added. “So I think both of them will be looking at a real opportunity for them to get their name in lights and become a star.”

Did Shalom think the fight – which is for the British and Commonwealth titles – was salvageable after the parties went their separate ways last year?

“I always believed the fight made sense for both of them,” the Boxxer promoter continued. “They are earning huge amount of money, more than they could have imagined the first time, but in fairness that’s because the fight’s built up and built and built, but yes, I always believed it was going to happen. I always believed it was ‘the fight’. 

“Yes, there’s been back and forth and pantomime and this and that, but ultimately fighters will always do what’s best for their careers, and what’s best for both of them is to fight each other.

“I think for both of them it’s a very important night. Everyone needs that big break out night, the ones the casual fans watch, the ones the football fans watch and they get to know fighters and they will get to know these two. They get to have the [build-up show] Gloves are Off, they get to have the full promotional experience and I think both of them will have more options afterwards than before the fight and the winner I believe, will be another star.” 

Clarke is 32-years-old with 8-0 with six stoppage wins, and Wardley, aged 29, is 17-0 with 16 early wins.

Unusually, the fight will take place on a Sunday, Easter Bank Holiday, and Shalom is convinced it will do big numbers on Sky Sports.

“Just broadcasting reasons,” Shalom said of why it has been set for March 31. “It’s Easter Monday [the next day], people are off work and I think it’s [Manchester] City-Arsenal at 4.30pm on Sunday, so we expect a huge audience on Sky Sports, but it comes down to it being a Bank Holiday, us wanting to put on the biggest night possible, us wanting the most amount of eyes all across the world and Easter Sunday works well.”