In September 1968, Jimmy Ellis retained the World Heavyweight title with a controversial fifteen-round decision over Floyd Patterson at the Råsunda Football Stadium in Stockholm. 48 years later, big-time boxing returns to the Swedish capital when the Nordic Fight Night hits the Hovet on April 23.
‘’This is going to be the biggest boxing event in Stockholm for almost fifty-years,’’ said promoter Nisse Sauerland. ‘’The Hovet has a fantastic history of hosting World-class boxing, with legends such as Sonny Liston and Ingemar Johansson having fought there. Now, it’s time for the next generation of fighters to take their place among these boxing greats and welcome in a new era of Swedish boxing!’’
IBF Intercontinental Light Heavyweight Champion Erik Skoglund (24-0, 11 KO) tops the bill with tough twelve-round test against the dangerous South African Ryno ‘The Lion’ Liebenberg (17-2, 12 KOs).
The 24 year-old from Nyköping brought professional boxing back to Sweden last September when defending his IBF title against Oleksandr Cherviak – the first fight over championship distance since the ban on professional boxing in 1969.
Three months later, the ‘Swedish Sensation’ returned with a one-sided points victory over the American knockout specialist Derek Edwards – the only man to have beaten current Swedish World Champion Badou Jack.
‘’Last year, we brought boxing back to Sweden,’’ said Skoglund. ‘’Now, we need big shows like this to build even more interest in the sport. It’s great to be a part of such a big event in the capital city. I look forward to fighting at the Hovet.
‘’It will be a tough fight against Liebenberg, but I’m confident I have what it takes to win, and I hope by beating him, I will prove I’m ready for a World title challenge.’’
Mikaela Lauren (26-3, 11 KOs) defends her WBC Female Super Welterweight World title against former IBF World Champion Ivana Habazin (15-2, 6 KOs).
Having recently signed a long-term promotional contract with Team Sauerland, the Stockholm fighter is looking forward to getting back in the ring to face the 26 year-old Croatian.
‘’This is a fight I’ve wanted for a long time,’’ said Lauren, who returns following a fifth-round TKO victory over Jennifer Retzke. ‘’I’m training harder than ever and I will be ready to defend my title on April 23.
‘’It’s a dream come true for me to fight at my hometown arena. The Hovet is only five minutes away from my house. This makes the fight extra special for me, and I promise to deliver the fans my best performance yet.’’
Lauren’s domestic rival Klara Svensson (15-1, 5 KOs) is also in action on April 23. ‘The Swedish Princess’ will step through the ropes for the first-time since her WBC World title challenge in a rematch with Lucia Morelli (19-5, 9 KOs).
‘’I’ve taken some time out of the ring, but now I’m back and stronger than ever,’’ said the Malmo-boxer, who meets Morelli in a repeat of their entertaining interim WBC Female World Light Welterweight title fight in November 2014.
‘’This is the first time I have faced the same opponent twice, and I’m looking forward to the challenge. Lucia is a good boxer, and she will want revenge. I will be prepared for another tough fight.’’
Fan favourite Anthony ‘Can You Dig It?!’ Yigit (16-0-1, 7 KOs) takes his place on the undercard. The London 2012 Olympian faces Englishman Chris Goodwin (19-2-1).
‘’I’m excited to be fighting in my hometown for the first time as a professional,’’ said the 24 year-old Swede. ‘’Goodwin is a tough opponent. I think our styles will gel well and make for an entertaining fight.’’
The ‘Golden Boy’ Oscar Ahlin (13-1, 11 KOs), who is currently in Las Vegas sparring with Swedish World Champion Badou Jack, is also on the undercard, alongside Sundsvall heavyweight Otto Wallin (14-0, 10 KOs), who is in the UK sparring Anthony Joshua ahead of the Olympic Gold medallist's IBF World title challenge.
Tickets for the Nordic Fight Night on April 23 at the Hovet in Stockholm go on sale today at 10am and are available online via www.globearenas.se and www.AXS.com, by calling (+46) 0771-31 00 00 and from the Stockholm Globe Arenas Box Office.