Betfair Prizefighter Light-Middleweights III favourite Craig McEwan will face two-fight novice Larry Ekundayo in the opening quarter-final at York Hall in Bethnal Green after the draw threw up four exciting contests.
Scotsman McEwan and north London’s Ekundayo led the betting before being pitted against each other in the first fight of the night. Edinburgh’s McEwan is chasing title shots after returning from seven years in America under the watchful eye of Freddie Roach in the Wild Card Gym, while Ekundayo, despite being a two-fight novice after making his debut in March, has been tipped to take the tournament by storm.
There’s a potential all-Scotland semi-final clash on the cards after Paisley’s former British title challenger Kris Carslaw drew English title challenger Ryan Toms in the second quarter-final.
Prizefighter Light-Middleweight’s II semi-finalist Peter Vaughan takes on Birmingham’s Terry Carruthers in the third quarter-final before what looks like the fight of the night between unbeaten Rotherham man Nav Mansouri and big-hitting Curtis Valentine.
For the first time in Prizefighter there is a £2,000 bonus for every knockout and Valentine, with four of his five wins coming by KO, is hunting three KOs to add to the £32,000 winner’s cheque.
“I have a big bomb and I am looking to knock them all out,” said Valentine. “When I heard about the bonus I thought I want to knock them out even harder. I have never trained like this for a fight before; I am as fit as I have ever been during my life. I want this.”
The latest odds on the Betfair Prizefighter Light-Middleweights III with Betfair are here: http://sports.betfair.com/boxing/market?id=1.107200931
A limited number of tickets for tomorrow night’s action will be available to buy on the door – doors open at 6.30pm.
Quarter-final draw with weights:
QF1 Larry Ekundayo 11st 1lb 8oz v Craig McEwan 10st 13lbs 11oz
QF2 Kris Carslaw 11st 8oz v Ryan Toms 11st 1lb 12oz
QF3 Peter Vaughan 10st 13lbs 12oz v Terry Carruthers 11st 1lb 4oz
QF4 Nav Mansouri 11st 1lb 8oz v Curtis Valentine 11st 1lb 13oz
Jack Arnfield 11st 14oz
Darren Bushbye 11st 13oz
Fans who like their boxing rough and ready certainly won’t want to miss Saturday’s WBO World Cruiserweight bang-up between Marco ‘Kapt’n’ Huck and Firat Arslan at The Gerry Webber Stadium, Halle, Germany. It promises to be X rated. Neither has a reverse gear.
(BoxNation televise live and exclusive in the UK on Sky Ch.437/Virgin Ch. 546).
Champion Huck, a 27 year old Serb who is now based in Berlin, is no stranger to British diehards as several of his wars have already been broadcast here.
He’ll be looking to secure his first victory of 2012. In February, he dropped a contentious majority to Russia’s Alex Povetkin in an audacious challenge for the WBA heavyweight crown and, in May, he retained his cruiser strap with a 12 round draw against California based Londoner Ola Afolabi in what will be a strong contender for 2012’s Fight of the Year.
The ‘Kapt’n’ is a proper fighting man. A Bosniek Muslim refugee from the former Yugoslavia, he landed in Germany at the age of eight and initially his combative urges were satisfied through Taekwondo (black belt) and kick-boxing (world champion). After converting to conventional pugilism in his mid teens, he won all 15 of his amateur contests by stoppage!
The 6ft 1in Huck was still only 19 and exceptionally raw when he signed with the Sauerlands in Cologne back in November 2004. To this day, he appears to do more wrong than right. He is predictable, clumsy and wasteful; leaning back and loading up on every punch. However, he more than compensates with unbridled aggression, a ferocious workrate and frightening punch power. Thirty four victories and 25 knockouts in 37 gigs (one draw) suggest he is doing something right.
Four of those wins came during a 2008-9 reign on the European throne (all stoppages) and the last nine have taken place in WBO championships, a title he won in August 2009 by outscoring Argentina’s Victor Emilio Ramirez over 12, also in Halle. Trained by the vulnerable Ulli Wegner, Huck is easy to out skill but nigh on impossible to out game.
That is unlikely to cater for challenger Arslan, a Turk now based in Suessen, Germany who, at 42, isn’t going to be the swiftest.
After a rather undistinguished decade in the amateur code, the 5ft 11 ½ in southpaw, like Huck, has carved out a successful career on toughness rather than technique.Debuting back in January 1997, the former mechanic who is fluent in four languages made five early career starts in the UK where he was once a stablemate of Lennox Lewis at Panix Promotions. However, he wasn’t invited back after scalping Huddersfield’s Mark Hobson, the future British and Commonwealth king, by way of a gory seventh round stoppage in 2001.
In addition to Germany and Britain, the Dieter Wittman trained fighter has gone to war in Belgium, Spain, Denmark, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Hungary.....but never Turkey! His record presently stands at 32-5-2 (21).
Known as ‘The Lion’, Arslan was already well into his 37th year when his career peaked with a 12 round split decision over Russia’s 33-1 Valery Brudov in Hungary for the WBA ‘interim’ title. He made two successful defences against Americans Virgil Hill and Darnell Wilson (both 12 round decisions).
He was eventually dethroned by Panama’s Guillermo Jones (rsc10) in September 2009 and most believed he’d fallen into an irreversible decline when Frenchman Steve Herelius persuaded him to retire on his stool, dehydrated, in a sweltering Stuttgart arena ten months later.
However, he is undefeated in four since and a 12 round draw against very useful Uzbek southpaw Alexander Alekseev for the European crown in May suggests there’s still plenty of fire burning in Arslan’s belly.
It should be an enjoyable free swinging affair and I’d be surprised if it didn’t go the distance as neither has a habit of falling over. Two very hard men.
However, Huck is the money maker, a huge TV attraction and that, plus edges in youth and ambition, should be enough to see him retain by decision.
Saturday 3rd - Marco Huck v Firsat Arslan
Friday 9th - Paul Butler v John Donnelly
Friday 9th - Ovill McKenzie v Enzo Maccarinelli
Saturday 10th - Nathan Cleverly
Saturday 10th - Abner Mares v Anselmo Moreno
Saturday 17th - Antonio DeMarco v Adrien Broner
Saturday 24th - Robert Guerrero v Andre Berto
Saturday 24th - Sharif Bogere v Richard Abril
Friday 30th - David Price v Matt Skelton
Friday 30th - Freddie Flintoff
Saturday 1st - Austin Trout v Miguel Cotto
Saturday 15th - Ricky Burns v Liam Walsh
Saturday 15th - George Groves v Glen Johnson