Frank Warren is a name synonymous with British boxing - and often with British boxing success.
Nigel Benn, Naseem Hamed, Joe Calzaghe, Ricky Hatton and Amir Khan, to name but a few. For over 30 years, Warren has weathered countless changes, fallings-out, collapsed deals, lawsuits, and even a near-fatal shooting to retain an integral role in the domestic fight scene.
Whether you love him or hate him, Warren has always been able to adapt to the conditions and keep on chugging away.
Now, however, it seems the enduring Londoner is facing his biggest challenge yet to remain relevant.
This isn’t the first time Warren has appeared out for the count. After every aforementioned meal ticket expired or breezed away in the wind, he moved onwards and upwards. He even survived a £7.2 million settlement in his dispute with Don King, having the last laugh by suing King’s solicitor.
But now Frank’s setbacks are coming more frequently and earlier in the careers of the fighters he is trying to promote. As a result, he is at risk of watching the industry pass him by.
Cast your minds back less than two years. What looked to be a promising start to the decade for Brit boxers and potential domestic rivalries was underscored by the James DeGale-George Groves bout at the o2 Arena.
A British super-middleweight title bout had homeland intrigue, the viewing figures of a world title unification clash, an unsavoury shared history - and resulted in a bloody battle between unbeaten prospects.
Shortly after the bout, which Groves won on decision, Warren – who already had DeGale in his stable – signed up Groves too, saying: "It is an obvious fight that will definitely happen again."
After losing King Khan to the States a year beforehand, it appeared Warren had found the next wave of British boxing to sell to the mainstream.
A Groves-DeGale return fight, supported by a steady stream of promising local talent off the back of three huge domestic megashows in 2010, and a fourth Warren decade was looking good.
Now dial the time machine to this past Monday, when Groves announced his move to Matchroom Boxing.
DeGale had already left and signed up with Mick Hennessy. Both fighters lost all the momentum from the big fight - and ‘Chunky’ soon felt his chance at redemption was not going to be forthcoming. Now lightweight champion Ricky Burns has walked out on Frank.
The big March 16 Rule Britannia card, intended to be a bounce-back to his big events at the start of the decade, was rescheduled for April 20. No Groves, no Burns-Vazquez, no Chisora, no show. Thousands of travelling fans who had booked their tickets were furious.
As good as DeGale, Groves and Burns are, few would put them in the same category as the likes of Hamed or Calzaghe. Nothing lasts forever, but the returns for what is now known as W.Promotions Limited are rapidly decreasing - and the reasons for each fighter’s departure growing more bizarre and frustrating by the instance.
Eddie Hearn, towering charmer with no allergy to the television camera, is moving Matchroom into a position of power. With the superior television rights and a growing army of Britain’s most well-known and in-form boxers, the usual battles between promoters have been more of an early stoppage.
Many point to Warren’s involvement in the BoxNation project as a reason why his finger is no longer on the pulse. Diehard boxing fans have embraced the subscription channel and the worldwide live coverage and colour content it provides.
Unfortunately, this does nothing for the masses, who just want a big British clash on a channel they are already receiving.
The situation reminds this writer of video game giant SEGA’s fall from grace in the console wars. Frank’s Genesis appears to have come and gone, his Master System obsolete. Now he finds his Dreamcast being crushed by the Playstations and Xboxes of the world.
SEGA made a crucial change of tack in the 2000s by ending their production of consoles and focusing purely on developing games for others. It has kept them prominent and acclaimed in the industry. Frank Warren, through BoxNation, may find this the perfect time to go the same way.
But then, if his Hertfordshire outfit end up with another television deal and healthy stable of post-Rio 2016 prospects in five years’ time, nobody who knows Frank even slightly will be the least bit surprised.
COMING UP THIS WEEKEND:
Groves felt he wasn’t seeing enough action in the time between the DeGale win and leaving FWP. He will not waste any time trying to rectify that as he fights under the Matchroom umbrella for the first time at Wembley Arena – site of his aborted European title bout on the rescheduled March 16 Warren event.
Groves meets Dario German Belmaceda in a 10-round contest underneath Darren Barker’s second fight back from a lengthy lay-off against Simone Rotolo, with Lee Purdy also taking on Cosme Rivera.
Also on Saturday are three international cards main-evented by world title bouts. The biggest sees Tavoris Cloud defend the IBF light-heavyweight strap against 48-year-old legend Bernard Hopkins in New York City.
Juan Carlos Salgado and Argenis Mendez stage a rematch for the former’s IBF junior-lightweight title in Costa Mesa, California, while the vacant WBO interim strawweight belt is up for grabs between Luis De La Rosa and Merlito Sabillo in Colombia.
As always, you can check out the results in full on Sunday morning on the Eurosport-Yahoo! website.