Darren Barker, Lee Purdy and Gavin Rees share top billing in a massive December 8 bill at the London Olympia –as Eddie Hearn gift wraps an early stocking filler for fight fans in Betfair’s ‘Christmas Cracker’.
Purdy locks horns with tough American Carson Jones who returns to the UK after giving Kell Brook an almighty scare in Sheffield in January. Purdy put in a career-best performance when he claimed the IBF International welterweight title with a fantastic fourth round stoppage of unbeaten Argentine Gumersindo Carrasco, and the Colchester man cannot wait to tackle the big hitting 26 year old from Oklahoma.
“This is why I love what I do, being a part of a big show and fighting big names,” said Purdy. “I love to please a crowd and fighting Jones is going to do exactly that. He is ranked really high and when I knock Jones out, people keep talking about Kell Brook, Amir Khan and Matthew and Ricky Hatton but when I beat Carson it puts me amongst them.”
Barker will clash with Hope marks a return to action for the Barnet man some 14 months after his last fight, his gallant World middleweight title challenge against Sergio Martinez in Atlantic City. The two former European champions both have ambitions on getting back into the title mix, and Barker says that a string of big domestic middleweight dust-ups could be on the horizon with the likes of Matthew Macklin and Martin Murray.
“There is a pot of gold at the end of this fight,” said Barker. “”Whoever wins this gets those big fights and I believe I am World class, as are the other fighters in the division, and there is some really big domestic match ups and the division internationally is exciting. I feel I am a big part of it and I cannot wait to get back involved.”
“Being a domestic fight makes it that much bigger. I respect Kerry but I honestly think fighting me now is dangerous. When I look at my career I look at it in stages and when I look at the last chapter I hit rock bottom, it was horrible. Physically and mentally I was in a bad way but now I am ready to turn the page. I am feeling good mentally and physically I am getting better by the hour. I am ready to take this middleweight division by the horns and ride it to the finish line now, which is ultimately me winning the World title.”
Hearn said that Rees will box in a big fight on the show and that he is close to naming an opponent in the next week, and also cleared up the position with the Welshman and the vacant WBA World title.
“There are a number of big domestic fights out there for Gavin and we have made a significant offer to John Murray with no options,” said Hearn. “That offer been accepted by John and his management team which is awaiting approval from his promoter Frank Warren.
“Gavin is in a very interesting position at the moment. He is number two in the WBA, we have just relinquished the European title and he is still British champion. The WBA rulings state that a vacant title must be contested by the first two available contenders. Richard Abril is No.1 and we are No. 2 and very much available. We were asked by Gilberto Mendoza to make the fight between Richard Abril and Gavin Rees for the vacant title and even agreed terms. As such, since then, Richard Abril has agreed to fight Sharif Bogere later this year.
“We believe, and our legal advisors believe, that fight can’t be made for the WBA title without our consent, so our team are now in touch with Mr Mendoza and the WBA to reassure them that Gavin is very much available to fight for the WBA title.”
English light middleweight champion Erick Ochieng will be stepped up a level by Hearn on the bill, while John Ryder fights for his first professional title as he meets English middleweight champion Kreshnik Qato.
There’s a tasty rematch on the bill as Chris Evangelou gets the chance for revenge against Danny Connor, who won the vacant Southern Area light welterweight title at Alexandra Palace in September in a tight classic. A number of Matchroom Sport’s young guns continue their pro education on the card, with ex-Olympian bantamweight Kal Yafai, former Team GB star and 7-0 lightweight talent Scotty Cardle and unbeaten cruiserweight Wadi Camacho among those set for action.
Tickets for Betfair’s Christmas Cracker are on sale now priced £40 unreserved, £60 corner ringside, £80 ringside and £150 VIP. Tickets are available from Matchroom Sport on 01277 359900 and at www.matchroomboxing.com