Earl is probably best remembered for his 2007 war with Australian great, Michael Katsidis. In one of the best fights seen in a British ring, the pair threw bombs at each other, and both took counts, before Graham was retired by his corner after five pulsating rounds.
Now, after being out of the ring for four years, Earl is on the comeback trail. With a record of 26 wins from 30 bouts, the Luton man has an impressive ledger and Nathan – undefeated in nine – is sure that, despite the lengthy layoff, Earl still poses a genuine threat.
“I’ve got nothing but respect for Graham as an opponent. He was in that great fight with Katsidis; he’s been in with [current world champ] Ricky Burns, and some of the best around. He’s a strong fighter and I’m expecting him to come forward and take the fight to me. I’m expecting, the usual Graham Earl.
“I can’t see him just taking it for the money because, in all fairness, the money probably won’t be that great for him,” mused Brough, about Earl’s ring return. “My opinion is that he’s come back and been offered me, at 9-0, and he’s thinking if he beats me then it puts his career back on track. It will get him noticed again, and I think he will be fired up for this fight.”
With a host of champions already under his roof, promoter Steve Wood has identified Nathan as a fighter who can bag more titles for his VIP Promotions stable. The light-welterweight has impressed since punching for pay and, with hand injury problems now finally behind him, he’s ready to start chasing the big fights.
“I’m not looking past this next contest,” said the former England amateur star, “but hopefully I’ll put in a good performance and make people sit up and take notice. I’m fighting again on July 6 and I’m pushing for a title. [British champion] Darren Hamilton defends on July 6 too, so if I could box for the English title on that same night and put myself in the frame that would be ideal.
“If [English champion] Shayne Singleton comes though unscathed against Tyrone Nurse [on June 1] then hopefully we can push for that, because it would be a good fight. Or even Tyrone Nurse [if he wins]. I was meant to fight him before but for whatever reasons it never happened. That would be another good fight, he’s won 25 and lost just one, and I want to box kids with great records.”
Brough, 28, will share the billing at the Olympia with a host of Merseyside talent; including fellow Liverpudlian, James ‘Jazza’ Dickens. The English super-bantamweight champion has been touted as British boxing’s next big star and, having regularly trained with him, Nathan is quick to agree.
“He’s a class fighter. I honestly think he’s got the beating of all the super-bantamweights in the country. He can switch tactics and he’s very hard to hit with a clean shot. He can go for 12 rounds non-stop and he’s very exciting. He throws punches you don’t see coming and he’s getting stronger.
“The Olympia is a real fight venue and the atmosphere is always electric. Hopefully we’ll pack it out because there’s some really good talent on and there’ll be some great fights. If people aren’t doing anything they should definitely get themselves along.”
‘Battle in the City’, at Liverpool’s Olympia on May 24, will be topped by the English super-bantamweight champion, James ‘Jazza’ Dickens. The undercard will be packed with Merseyside talent including Ryan Farrag; Nathan Brough; Louis Cuddy; Wayne Adeniyi; Carl Dilks; Dean Swanson; Steven Lewis; Tom Carus, and Phil Smith. Also appearing will be Belfast’s Ryan Burnett.
Tickets, priced at £30 (General) and £50 (Ringside), are available from all boxers or at www.vipbe.co.uk
Keep updated on VIP Promotions’ news by visiting www.vipboxing.com or follow on Twitter @vipboxing and Facebook. Currently, you can also watch free fights at www.vipboxing.tv