IT IS DESTINATION, Telford, on Saturday when the International Centre will stage at least a couple of real humdinger fights to a backdrop of the best atmosphere in boxing.
I am so looking forward to being back at ringside for a card that I fully expect to deliver what it says on the tin – and that is gripping entertainment from highly competitive match-ups.
Top of the shop is our man of the people from the Potteries, Nathan Heaney, who has once again demonstrated his popularity with incredible ticket sales that will guarantee the decimal levels will be hitting full blast.
I think it is true to say that a Nathan fight night has become one of the great fan experiences in British sport. His people are fantastic ambassadors from Nathan himself and the city of Stoke. When they belt out ‘Delilah’ for his ring entrance, it really is something to behold and even someone like Carl Frampton – who enjoyed the backing of Belfast – reckons the Stokies are top of the pops.
By the way, rest assured, there is no censorship of ‘Delilah’ in Telford on Saturday!
When the singing ceases and the action begins, Nathan has got a big job on his hands in a rematch against Jack Flatley. It was such a shame last year when a horrible cut forced the first fight to be halted because it was shaping up to be a good one.
The best course of action is to do it again before we can, hopefully, look to sort out Nathan with a fight on the pitch at Stoke City. This has always been the intention and what an occasion it would be.
The co-headliner on Saturday has also got fight fans drooling with anticipation. Our snarling Scouser Andrew Cain takes on the madcap Romanian Ionut Baluta in a defence of Andrew’s WBC International Silver super bantamweight title.
This is the perfect fight for Andrew. He has been blasting out supposedly durable international opposition in a matter of seconds, but Ionut really should be a different kettle of fish.
The Bushey-based tough nut has fought at a higher level with considerable success. Last time out he fought Liam Davies for the European title and was outfoxed on points with Liam smartly keeping him at distance, but he has since reported that illness impacted him on the night. So we will see.
Andrew, I believe, is one of the most exciting talents in British boxing. He is expertly drilled and educated by Paul Stevenson at the Everton Red Triangle gym in Liverpool and his hunger to succeed knows no limits.
One thing I should point out, though. People will probably expect this fight to develop into an all-out slugfest and don’t rule this out, but what should not be overlooked is the pedigree Andrew possesses. He was a top amateur and is a highly skilled operator, who has the ability to choose which way he will approach the job in front of him.
As he stated himself, he could go in there and perform like Sunny Edwards if he wanted to.
I am particularly looking forward to seeing Jason Cunningham back in the ring on Saturday, when he will hopefully get himself back on track by winning the WBO International title at super bantamweight against former world title challenger Miguel Gonzalez.
Jason’s terrific run of success at super bantam came to an abrupt halt against Zolani Tete last year and I said straight away that my intention was to bring him back in big fights. He deserves it.
He then had to reconcile himself to news that Tete had fallen foul of doping regulations, which must have been difficult to take because it shrouds the entire fight in uncertainty. Now Jason, rightly, is being given a new pathway back to world title contention and, quite honestly, it couldn’t happen to a nicer fella and a fine advertisement for the sport.
Another who falls into this category is Raven Chapman, our latest First Lady, who makes a defence of her WBC International featherweight belt against former world champion Linda Laura Lecca from Peru.
We believe Raven is the real deal and I expect her to be knocking at the door of a world title tilt before 2023 is out. The champion, of course, is Amanda Serrano and the pair formed a bond over a chicken dinner at Nandos up in Manchester when they were on the same card last year. I would love to see them share a ring and I am pretty sure Amanda would have no hesitation over returning to the UK, where she was so well received last time.
Elsewhere on the card, stand by for a second sighting of our new young heavyweight star Moses Itauma, who will have a final four-round fight before stepping it up in mid-April on the big Joyce-Zhang card.
This young man is something very special and he wants to get right in the thick of it at the earliest opportunity. It will be a journey well worth getting on board with.
Just to close off on the bumper Telford card, we have three fighters making their first appearances in Queensberry colors, so I would like to wish the best of luck to Ben Fail, Natty Ngwenya and Jimmy Smith and I cannot wait to see them in action.
Watch events unfold in Telford from 7.45pm, live on BT Sport 1
CONGRATULATIONS TO OUR friends and colleagues at the Peacock Gym on the recent launch of their innovative ‘Standing Room Only’ series of shows.
An old warehouse adjacent to the Canning Town gym has been converted into a fight venue, which will stage Saturday afternoon shows with a difference. The difference being that it provides a unique opportunity for non-TV boxers who want to fight.
All the usual barriers that hamper fighters have been removed. They don’t have to sell tickets and they don’t have to put money into the pot to cover opponents or expenses. All they have to do is turn up and fight for a set purse. All other costs have been covered by sponsors.
It is also a fair fight because there is no ‘house fighter’, so to speak, with both corners receiving the same purse. So fighters out there looking for a piece of the action, be sure to get in touch with the Peacock team.
Good luck to Martin and Tony Bowers for the shows, with the next one taking place on April 8.
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