Micki Nielsen (24-1, 15 KOs) faces Ricards Bolotniks (10-3-1, 4 KOs) in an eight-round contest on the undercard of The Ali Trophy semi-final showdown between Aleksandr Usyk and Mairis Briedis at the Riga Arena in Latvia on January 27.
The Danish cruiserweight returns to the ring following a seventh-round knockout win over Taras Oleksiyenko in Schwerin, and will be looking for his third consecutive victory against the 27 year-old Bolotniks from Riga.
Prior to this fight, Nielsen has spent two weeks in Spain sparring with WBC World Champion Briedis in preparation for the Latvian’s crunch clash with WBO World ruler Usyk.
"I'm looking forward to getting back in the ring,” says the 24 year-old Nielsen. “I’m in great shape and I can only see myself as winner of this fight.
“I have sparred for 14 days with Mairis Briedis in Spain, and you can feel that he's in top shape and ready for 12 hard rounds against Aleksandr Usyk. He is a skilled boxer, and also very fast, so it has been tough sparring but also a great learning experience.
“Aleksandr Usyk might be the favourite in the fight, but if there is anyone who has a chance to beat him, it's Mairis Briedis."
Tickets for the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight semi-final clash between Aleksandr Usyk and Mairis Briedis are available online via www.bilesuserviss.lv.
Norwegian boxing expert Roar Petajamaa says he believes Kai Robin Havnaa (11-0, 7 KOs) has the potential to follow in his father’s footsteps and become World Champion.
Speaking ahead of Havnaa’s hotly anticipated homecoming fight on February 3 at the SØR Amfi in Arendal, Petajamaa states “boxing is in his blood” and says, within a year, the undefeated 28 year-old could be challenging for his first major title.
“Kai Robin Havnaa is an exciting boxer with a strong personality and the will and drive to succeed,” says Petajamaa. “He has shown good progress since his first professional fight, and I think he has the potential to go all the way.
“Cruiserweight is a strong weight class, and only Kai Robin himself can determine how far he goes. It’s a long way to the top and it requires a lot of hard work and sacrifice over many years. But boxing is in his blood. His father Magne was a former world champion, and Kai, at the same age, is showing the same talent as his father. I believe within a 1 year he will be within reach of a title match with one of the major federations in Europe or the World.”
A former professional fighter, Petajamaa competed at a time when professional boxing was outlawed in Norway. Retiring with a record of 15 wins and 0 losses including 10 KOs, all his bouts took place outside his native country.
“I always dreamed about having a professional fight at home but the political situation meant this was not possible for me and other fighters of my generation,” said Petajamaa, who considers the advantages of fighting at home.
“It’s two fold,” he says. “It can be a great advantage to fight at home where you are confident in your surroundings and receive greater support from your followers. You can also have your training camp at home and you don’t have to worry about time differences, jet lag or weight challenges while you’re abroad.
“Boxing outside your country can also have its advantages. You learn not to rely on home comforts and can become more focused when facing a challenge alone, which is an important experience to have when you come to fight for a title one day.”
Alongside Havnaa, Petajamaa has high hopes for the current crop of Norwegian boxers who will have the chance to showcase their skills at the SØR Amfi in Arendal.
“I have been following Tim-Robin Lihaug since he started his professional career and I‘ve always been impressed,” said Petajamaa. “He has taken some losses but decided to continue. The feedback I get now is that’s he’s thriving in his training environment and the sparkle is back in his boxing.
“Kevin Melhus is another fighter who has impressed me. He has shown the desire to to make a name for himself in boxing. This will be his fourth professional fight and hopefully 2018 can be an active boxing year for him.
“Simen Nysaether, I have great expectations for. He is technically skilled and strikes well with both hands. Fans in Arendal must follow his fight from the first second because it could be over quickly.
“As an amateur Hadi Srour has proven he belongs on the international stage and now he can do the same as a professional. The transition can be difficult but I feel Hadi is ready to make that step. I think people will be surprised at how adaptable he is.”
Kai Robin Havnaa headlines an action-packed show against Austrian southpaw Gezim Tahiri on February 3 at the SØR Amfi in Arendal, which will also feature top Norwegian boxers Tim-Robin Lihaug, Kevin Melhus, Simen Nysaether, Hadi Srour, Aron Janhnsen and undefeated German heavyweight Albon Pervizaj.