A week to forget for Frazer Clarke and Ben Shalom

FRAZER Clarke has broken his silence after what has been a challenging week for his career.

The 31-year-old had been mandated by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) as the challenger for Fabio Wardley’s British heavyweight title. A fight that Clarke publicly said he wanted and was very confident of winning.

Prior to the purse bids Ben Shalom had went public with his interest in making the fight and told Sky Sports: “We’ve made a big offer to Fabio Wardley to fight Frazer Clarke. It will be his career-highest payday, which could be a record purse for a British title fight.”

Hearn and Wardley scoffed at the offer via social media. This was going to come down to the opening of some envelopes at the BBBofC office in Caerdydd.

On Wednesday (May 10) the midday deadline for bids drew closer and closer. Eddie Hearn or Ben Shalom were about to find out which of them had won. Simple stuff. The boxing community didn’t care whether it would be broadcast on DAZN or Sky. All they needed to know that the fight was going somewhere. Disappointment was the furthest thing from their minds.

News then dropped that Shalom and Clarke had withdrawn. The reaction online was not favourable. The Boxxer promoter and his star heavyweight were in the crosshairs of those who had soaked up all of the build-up and got their hopes up. The shots never let up for the rest of the day.

Wardley spoke to Boxing News that afternoon and was clearly annoyed and frustrated.

“Today’s been nothing but a pure mess, a s**t show. Boxxer, Sky, 258 [management], Frazer, they’re all just lost in the mud. They’re all running around headless; no-one knows what they’re doing. No-one’s on the same page, no-one knows what they want to do. One person wants to go left, one person wants to go right.”

Fifty plus words from a man who thought earlier in the day he would be making plans for the biggest fight of his life.

Hearn gave a similar reaction on another channel, but Clarke chose to say nothing to the media. A deafening silence or a man who needed time to gather his thoughts?

On Thursday Shalom spoke with BN to give his side of the story.

“We were never going to do that fight in that situation. We didn’t call for the purse bids,” he revealed.

“I was astonished when it got ordered. We’ve been trying to make the fight for a long time during the purse bids and before then.

“Any trainer or anyone that’s ever worked in boxing will know that rounds make a difference. It doesn’t matter how talented you are. His team have wanted him to fight six rounders and get busy and get active. He’s fought one eight rounder that went two rounds.”

“We’re not gonna be pushed into a situation that we know is not right for him,” he continued.

“Yes, we want the biggest fights, yes we want the best fights, yes we want to work with everyone. That’s why we want to make this fight for this year in the right circumstances with the biggest promotion we possibly can give it and with making sure that he’s done at least the 10 rounder.”

So, who lobbied for the fight?

“That’s a question for his management [258],” replied Shalom who did not want to “throw anyone under the bus”.

Damage control was the order of the day and will continue until Clarke is involved in a meaningful fight that makes fans put this mess to one side. It won’t be easily forgotten though.

Behind closed doors no-one really knows if this has caused any acrimony between Clarke, Shalom and 258 Management. Only time will tell.

After a training session yesterday [Friday], Clarke popped up on Instagram, sweat dripping from his forehead, to give his first comments on a week to forget.

“Been a tough week as you all know. I’m working hard and carrying on with the journey. It’s not been great, a lot of ups, a lot of downs, a lot of conversations, a few changes here and there. I’m still working hard.

“Thank you everyone that’s been supporting me. I’m gutted as much as anyone else that this fight isn’t going to take place now. But I’m sure you’ll hear more from me shortly.”

All of a sudden the remainder of 2023 feels like a defining period in the career of Frazer Clarke.

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