THE QUEENSBERRY TEAM is set to make the short-haul hop across the Irish Sea this week ahead of what will surely be a memorable event at the SSE Arena in Belfast on Saturday.
The main event for the evening speaks for itself, with local hero Michael Conlan bidding to become IBF world featherweight champion when he takes on the holder Luis Alberto Lopez in what should be a cracking fight that we are delighted to deliver to the BT Sport viewers.
By moving the main event ringwalks to 9pm, we’ve made certain that Lopez vs Conlan doesn’t clash with any of this weekend’s other boxing events so the fans can watch all the action live. But, I’ve got a feeling Belfast will surpass any other option.
Lopez, of course, is known to British viewers for the time late last year when he ventured into a Leeds cauldron and overcame previous champion Josh Warrington. It shows us what he is all about and now he is swapping Leeds for Belfast, where he will encounter an equally partisan crowd baying for the home favourite to succeed.
I am delighted that, as part of the package to bring this headliner to BT Sport, we are giving the opportunity for five Queensberry fighters to feature on the bill and Nick Ball, especially, has a particular point to prove.
Our Scouse dynamo, I believe, is the future of the featherweight division and a world champion in waiting. He really announced his arrival on the scene last year with a hugely impressive win-treble against dangerous opponents with a combined total of 55 wins and just five defeats.
Bludgeoning Ball stopped all three of them!
Quite simply, Nick wanted to be on this card because he intends to place himself right in the frame to fight the winner out of Lopez-Conlan. There will be no better place for him to put on a statement performance with the eyes of the boxing world fixed on Belfast.
Nick, typically, is taking on another unbeaten opponent in the South African Ludumo Lamati in what will be a third defence of his WBC Silver title. It shows you the confidence we have in the 26-year-old and it is a chance for him to really reinforce his credentials on the night.
Of course, Lopez-Conlan and Ball-Lamati represent two thirds of a fascinating night for the featherweight division because, over in Manchester, Leigh Wood will attempt to win back his WBA belt from Mauricio Lara.
For those who want their full fill of featherweight action, we have synced timetables with the top of the bill in Belfast set to take place shortly after 9pm.
Another two Queensberry champions will be on parade on the undercard with two of our Irish number thrilled to be fighting closer to home.
Our IBO world super featherweight champion Anthony Cacace makes a first defence of his belt in what should be an entertaining scrap against the IBO International champion Damian Wrzesinski.
Anthony is a class act and a hugely underrated operator who potential domestic opponents always seem to give a wide berth. Wrzesinski, on the other hand, has been chasing the fight for some time now and is hugely confident of causing an upset.
We have a little inside track on the Polish fighter because he has been prepared for this fight by our good friend and colleague, Southampton-based trainer Wayne Batten.
It may sound like an unusual link-up, but it actually came about by Wrzesinski bumping into Mark Chamberlain on holiday and the pair swapping notes on their boxing careers. The former Polish champion subsequently got in contact with Wayne and then started to make regular training trips to the South Coast.
We are told that Wrzesinski is a fitness nut with incredible endurance and stamina, so we can presume he intends to take Anto deep into the fight. He views this as his Golden Ticket and Anto will have to be on his game to hold on to his title.
Another young Irishman who I rate very highly is our super lightweight Pierce O’Leary, who holds the WBC International title, of which he is making a first defence.
Pierce is a huge talent and he carries incredible power and a crowd-pleasing mentality. There are a couple of domestic super lightweights getting rave reviews at the moment in the British champion Dalton Smith and the highly-rated Adam Azim. I would happily put Pierce in with either and would be extremely confident in doing so.
I doubt very much it will happen any time soon because people in boxing know just how dangerous Pierce is and, truth be told, he is looking more at the world scene where he will soon be making a major impact.
Pierce is first up on the televised section of the night when the BT Sport cameras start rolling at 6.30pm, followed by Anthony, Nick and then the main event.
Be sure to tune in!
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