Sheffield boxing venue can be the York Hall of the north: Dennis Hobson

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It is a historic building that gracefully shows its age.

But Sheffield's Queen's Road skating venue is undergoing a resurgence and further investment to make it a boxing venue for the city to be proud of.

So says promoter Dennis Hobson, who touches on the development in today's question and answer column in The Star.

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He also talks about the Matchroom/Queensberry 5v5 tournament, Saudi Arabia as a boxing destination, and his own bill closer to home, next month.

Queen's Road ice rink back in the dayQueen's Road ice rink back in the day
Queen's Road ice rink back in the day

There is a word or two also on Glyn Rhodes MBE, whose Sheffield Boxing Centre is now three decades old.

Will there be a new look at the Skate Central facility in the foreseeable future?

It’s been a two-year roller coaster trying to get the venue suitable for professional boxing.

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It’s still a work in progress, it’s not yet the finished article and I’ve got a meeting this week to start putting more plans in place.

Josh Padley (left)  Photo courtesy of Connor McMainJosh Padley (left)  Photo courtesy of Connor McMain
Josh Padley (left) Photo courtesy of Connor McMain

Because it’s an old building you can only do so much and we’re never going to make it look like the O2 Arena or Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

But it’s like a version of the York Hall, which is a fantastic historic boxing venue.

I’ve just got to make it a bit more up-to-date as regards facilities but we’re on with that.

How is your July 13 Queens Road bill coming together?

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Dennis Hobson and SBC Unit, including Glyn Rhodes MBEDennis Hobson and SBC Unit, including Glyn Rhodes MBE
Dennis Hobson and SBC Unit, including Glyn Rhodes MBE

Well, we’ve allowed Levi Giles, who was the chief support to Billy Pickles and Keanen Wainwright, to go and fight for the British and Commonwealth Titles against Reese Bellotti.

So, we’ve had to replace that fight but, while I’ve been working on a fight to replace that one, I’ve ended up picking up another two or three, so the show is going to be absolutely tremendous now.

We’ve got Conor McIntosh in with Jeff Ofori, who has just lost a Southern Area Title fight in a controversial decision. We’ve got another great fight with Josh Padley, who’s from Doncaster, fighting Louis Horn who recently beat Keanen Wainwright. So, they’re the main three fights. We’ll also have Dave Allen on and Katie Healy, and a debutant in Mikey Harrison, who has sold thousands of pounds worth of tickets. So, the atmosphere is going to be electric.

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Keanen Wainwright lands Pic by Amy Gillatt via Dennis Hobson FightzoneKeanen Wainwright lands Pic by Amy Gillatt via Dennis Hobson Fightzone
Keanen Wainwright lands Pic by Amy Gillatt via Dennis Hobson Fightzone

I’ve had a chat with Brendan, his dad and I are really dear friends. Brendan’s mind, for whatever reason, wasn’t fully on the job, so we’re addressing that. Not taking anything away from his opponent, but that wasn’t Brendan in there that night.

Brendan won’t be on this upcoming show, we’re going to give him some time out and he won’t be going in another boxing ring until his mind is bang on, because he didn’t do himself justice.

He was really upset with himself but his mind just wasn’t on the job.

I know how much ability he’s got and it’s a shame, but it doesn’t matter how big you are, everybody’s a human being and he had some issues on his mind. Boxing’s a hard business and he doesn’t want to be going in there unless he’s mentally and physically fit. So, he won’t be on a show until he proves to all of us that his mind’s on the job - that’s when we’ll go and progress.

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Glyn Rhodes' SBC has just celebrated 30 years of existence. What are your favourite memories of working with Glyn and his gym?

I’ve known Glyn for many years, I promoted one of his fights before he finished boxing, I think he were about 29 or 30 years old and I was about 33.

I always rated Glyn as a fighter and I’d loved to have been involved with him earlier in his career because I’ve won major titles with kids with less ability.

He’s a fantastic character and Glyn wants to get the job done, but he’s like me in that there’s also got to be a fun element too!

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It’s a serious business, boxing, and we need to make sure people are as safe as possible, but we’ve got to have a bit of fun as well.

What I love about Glyn is that he’ll ring me up and ask me if I’m alright and tell me not to get too stressed and I’ll say the same to him, because getting stressed is no good. It’s lovely that he’s thinking about me.

We’ve been around a long time and are getting a bit older but Glyn is a great character and friend.

What was your take on the 5v5 Matchroom v Queensberry tournament - a valid, modern and relevant show or simply a clever, money-making exercise for Messrs Hearn and Warren?

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I think a bit of both. They are clever business people but I’ll put it this way - the only way that Frank and Eddie have come together is because of a pound note!

So, let’s not beat around the bush, that’s what’s brought them together and there’s no way they’ll be going on holiday together!

It’s a clever idea though, and I’ve been creative over the years, like putting on the UK’s first-ever car park shows during Covid.

We’re also putting on an America versus the UK event later in the year, which is on a similar sort of theme.

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I thought it were great entertainment but it’s all about the money and over there they’ve got endless amounts and, I’ve said this before, but anyone could put major events together if you've got endless amounts of money!

Frank for me, even though we haven’t always seen eye-to-eye and I don’t agree with plenty of the things he’s done, he’s a top promoter and has stood the test of time.

He’s been very fortunate in a lot of ways but he keeps reinventing himself, and you earn your own luck sometimes. He doesn’t do business the way I do business but is a top promoter.

Saudi is the place everything seems to be at - any plans on joining the party?

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I wouldn’t say I wouldn’t do something because if people indirectly asked me would I do stuff there, then yes I would, but my heart is also about doing stuff in traditional historic venues and locations, because that’s where champions are born.

Places like Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, London and then in the US, somewhere like, for example, Philadelphia where traditionally we’ve had some of the greatest fighters of all time.

So, I’m still in love with that idea and bringing boxing back to its roots. You have to put major events on too but are we going to forget about a venue like Madison Square Gardens, you know?

There’s also been an article or two lately about the atmosphere in Saudi.

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I’m a Sheffield Wednesday fan and our fans turn up, win or lose. Even if we were playing against Crewe Alexander at Tiddlywinks, they’d still be turning up! So, you’ve got traditions and the tradition isn’t in Saudi, but the money is.

So, obviously you can put some massive events on there but I still love the romance of doing something in Vegas, Madison Square Garden, Wembley, Manchester Arena or Sheffield where I’m from, and that’s why I continue to promote here.

But if somebody offered me a lot of money to go to Saudi and put one or two major events on, of course I would.

Deontay Wilder looks little like the fella who KO'd Audley Harrison at Sheffield in 2013. Is he a busted flush?

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I don’t like the terminology, but he’s well worn. He showed signs of decline when he lost to Joseph Parker and seems to have lost that spark. He was smashed a couple of times by Tyson [Fury] and has looked a shadow of himself in the last two fights. I wouldn’t want to see him carry on because I do love him as a character, he’s been good for the game.

He’s come out with some rubbish at times verbally, a lot of fighters have, but he’s beaten opponents in sensational fashion and has been exciting for the sport.