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News: Nicola Adams; Pryce Update; Khabib vs. M’baye

ADAMS WINS ON RETURN TO RING
 
Olympic Champion Nicola Adams made a successful return to competition today when she defeated Terry Gordini of Italy on the opening day of the EU Championships in Hungary.
 
Adams was rarely troubled as she eased to a routine points victory in her first outing for 11 months.
 
Her next bout will be in Thursday's quarter finals as she looks to retain the EU Championship title she won in 2011 in Poland.

Pryce back to winning ways

Newbridge’s Bradley Pryce is back to winning ways after travelling to Michael Lomax’s back yard on Saturday and beating the Londoner on points in an all action eight round encounter.

Referee Mark Green separated the boxers by one point and while acknowledging that scoring is open to interpretation, Pryce believes the bout witnessed one of his best performances.

He said, “Lomax was the home boy, I know how it is but I won it well, it was more than a round in it. I think we saw some of the old Sugar Sweet mojo. I felt relaxed in the ring, when it gets going I fight with a chip on my shoulder, that’s when I’m in the mood and at my best.”

The pair first met three years ago in Newport with Pryce prevailing on points but the Welshman has suffered mixed fortunes since and he entered Saturday’s bout on a three fight losing streak.

The Lomax rematch marked the beginning of a new chapter in Pryce’s career following a link up with his new trainer Jamie Arthur at Arthur’s Gym in Rhydyfelin and Pryce admitted that if he had lost on Saturday then he’d be destined to finish his career as a journeyman.

Pryce said, “Before the fight I’m thinking ‘what if I lost again?’. Don’t get me wrong, I’d still box but it would be as a journeyman, to be fair. I’ve had a couple of fights that have been last chance saloon. There was Billy-Joe Saunders and Chris Eubank Jr but I didn’t think them as my last chance because it wasn’t my natural weight.

“Then the last one against Rick Godding, I was only with Jamie two weeks but I felt there was a lot of improvements, he won it fair enough but the work we’ve continued showed tonight. There’s still a lot of work to be done with me and Jamie’s the man to sort me out and get me on the right track.”

It’s almost 14 years since Pryce began professional boxing and after 47 bouts that once saw a successful Commonwealth title reign, the 32-year-old is adamant that there’s still more to come in his career. Pryce hopes Saturday’s win puts him ranked amongst the top 15 domestic welterweights but he’s under no illusions of his standing and he’s still eager to prove himself.

He said, “On Friday, Frankie Gavin showed he’s a class act and why he’s a worthy British and Commonwealth champion. I’m not going to call him out but I am working towards fighting for those titles.

There’s a really good pack of fighters chasing Gavin, I’m in that now and I don’t see why we can’t have some eliminators between us. Look at my career - I’ve fought anyone, anywhere and I’ll still do that.”

One of the key focuses of the new trainer/boxer relationship between Arthur and Pryce was for the boxer to effectively manage his weight. It’s been no secret that in the past Pryce has struggled with it and the natural welterweight contested three divisions higher but Arthur insists he’s now learnt his lessons.

Arthur said, “The penny has dropped with Bradley, it’s never been a case of teaching an old dog new tricks, he’s seen it all in his career, I just had to refocus him and remind him of certain things. The only main issue that we had to address was his weight, he should have never been as high as super-middle.

“We got Bradley on the BodyViUK programme and it really did work for him. For the last five weeks he’s been coming in to the gym weighing 10st 11lbs. He hasn’t seen that weight for about eight years. I know in the past Bradley’s said he’s this weight and then that weight but he really is a welterweight and he knows that now.

“On Saturday he weighed in 10st 8lbs and that was only six hours before the fight, he then went and fought eight hard rounds and he could have gone longer. Hopefully we’ll get some opportunities at welterweight, all we ask for is good notice and he’ll fight anyone domestically.”

New York, NY / Monaco / Johannesburg - Well-travelled former world champion Souleymane M’baye (40-4-1, 22 KOs) has promised Khabib Allakhverdiev (18-0, 8 KOs) the fight of his life when they contest the WBA and IBO light-welterweight title in Monte Carlo on July 13.

The fight is the co-feature on the “Monte Carlo Million Dollar Super Four” final bill, taking place in Monaco and promoted by Golden Gloves.

M’baye says he will draw strength from a 10-week training camp, something seldom afforded him in his 15-year professional career.

The veteran began his preparation in his home town of Levallois-Perret (near Paris, in the Hauts-de-Seine region), with career-long trainer Jose N’Gufulu, who also looked after the late European cruiserweight contender Norbert Ekassi.

The Frenchman is now in Sheffield, England with Dominic Ingle, whom he credits with adding “new ingredients” to the M’baye package lest training becomes “boring”.

M’baye, aged 38, is positive that he has the game plan to knock the unbeaten Russian champion off kilter.

“I love his style, that is exactly what I need to make him face unexpected problems,” said M’baye, who speaks French, Spanish and the Wolof language of Senegal. “I do not want to say more, first out of respect, second because of superstition and third, because a fight is never ‘done’ before it takes place. I made this mistake in the past, I do not want to repeat it.

“Allakhverdiev is not a very well-known champion internationally but his promoter Vlad Hrunov is. Khabib is talented, undefeated and his win against the South African Kaizer Mabuza and Joan Guzman were pretty impressive.”

The challenger credits N’Gufulu with orchestrating his WBA light-welterweight title win against Raul Balbi in 2006, when his friend Amir Khan fought on the undercard.

“Everything is done in cooperation with my head coach who is also here in England with me. It was the same when Buddy McGirt helped for my preparation of the world championship against Antonin Decarie in 2010.

“For me, Dominic and his father Brendan make me also think about two of my idols in Prince Naseem Hamed and Johnny Nelson, in addition to Pernell Whitaker and Roy Jones jnr. With Dominic I immediately got ‘reciprocal chemistry’ from day one.”

M’baye hesitates to name the sparring partners he is using, acknowledging only that they are “talented and motivated”.

“When I regain my world crown, I will be able to thank them individually by mentioning their names. They are top boxers and top guys. It is a real pleasure to be here in Sheffield, the city of world champions.”

M’baye has carefully studied videos of the champion.

“Also, Jose and Dominic have studied Khabib inside out. I have done it on my side too. The more I know about him, the better I will understand the game plans prepared by my coach. I know that one of my weaknesses is that I think too much, but it is also one of one my strengths. I know what I do and why I do it.

“My strengths are my youth (laughs), my motivation, my experience, my style and the abilities and experience of my team.”

He dismisses talk that he is long in the tooth or unmotivated after a 15-year, 45-fight career.

“Yes, I have been pro for a long time after a brief amateur career, but I feel very fresh. I’ve never had an overly tough fight. When I lost against Gavin Rees and Ismael El Massoudi, those weren’t losses per se. It was simply because I made the huge mistake of underestimating them and because a lot of outside issues made these fights ‘complicated’. I do not want to make excuses. That is not my style, but it is true that during these two fights it was not truly me. In those fights I shot myself in the foot.

“Incidentally, at the end of the 11th round against Al Massoudi it was a draw but again this fight took place under such special circumstances that I simply do not want to think any more about it [he twisted his right knee in the 12th round and couldn’t continue]. The past is the past, only the future matters.

“I want to bring the WBA crown to my son ‘Souly Junior’. That is my dream and I think every day about it. I love my fans, who have always been behind me from the beginning of my career, even when I was fighting abroad everywhere in Europe, often as an undercard fighter. My fans brought me good words when I was feeling real bad, I owe them this title. It will be my seventh world title fight and I cannot miss out.

“For them, for my city of Levallois, for my family, for my full team, and for both the Principality of Monaco, which is giving me this unique opportunity, and France, Senegal and for President Mandela of South Africa, who I hope will recover, I have to win and will do so.”

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