Thursday, 29 November 2012

Great British boxing action this weekend

At the Aintree Equestrian Centre in Liverpool Friday night, exciting British heavyweight champion David Price defends his title against veteran Matt Skelton. Many people have already waved this fight off as being a pointless defence as Price looks almost guaranteed to win via an early stoppage. I disagree with these people.

Price won the British title, the oldest belt in boxing, against Sam Sexton just two fights ago and his first title defence was against Audley Harrison in his last fight. He needs to defend it twice more to win the title outright. I think this should be his first priority before even thinking about anything else. The Lonsdale belt is among the most prestigious title belts out there, even today, and should be held in very high regard.

The rumours before the Audley Harrison fight were that he could fight Skelton afterwards, followed by the winner of Richard Towers vs Lucas Browne. If Towers is unsuccessful, and Browne wins, Price would be unable to defend the British title against him as he is Australian; only the Commonwealth title would be on the line. This would therefore still leave an interesting third British title defence open to Price. How about a final title defence against Dereck Chisora or Dillian Whyte? Better still, a clash between himself and fellow giant Tyson Fury?

Time to drop the British title and move up a level? I think not. I can only speak for myself, but if I was given the chance of owning a British Lonsdale belt or a generic “World” alphabet title, I would choose the British title every single time and have a piece of history in my possession.

David Price should beat Skelton, and most probably will, via an early stoppage. If he does, I think this would be a very significant win for the tall Liverpudlian. Nobody stops the likes of John McDermott, Sam Sexton or Audley Harrison early on but that is exactly what David Price did to them. Throw in the fact he now has 8 wins within the distance in his last 8 fights and it’s evident the man has some power in his fists.

Skelton has lost 6 times, each time to very capable opponents, and only 3 times within the distance. Those 3 times were against tough Irishman Martin Rogan (TKO 11), Italian prospect Francesco Pianeta (RTD 8) and top heavyweight contender Kubrat Pulev (KO 4).

Despite 4 losses out of 5 from 2008 to 2010, he seems to have bounced back in recent months. He has 3 wins this year already, one against prospect Tom Dallas, and only a close split decision loss to Michael Sprott in 2010 prevented him from winning the Prizefighter tournament.

Skelton may be 45 years old, but he is in good shape, very rugged and the only guy to beat him in fewer than 8 rounds is a guy who I rate as only second to the Klitschko brothers.

If Price is able to stop Skelton early on, I think the heavyweight division should be put on high alert as this guy’s power will be coming for them very soon.

Verdict: Price will stop the durable Skelton within the first 3 rounds despite all of Skeltons’ efforts to remain in the fight.

At the Manchester Arena, also on Friday night, we will see Commonwealth welterweight champion Denton Vassell defend his title against fellow undefeated Briton Ronnie Heffron.

Heffron has some decent domestic experience with wins over guys like Peter McDonagh, Barrie Jones and Kevin McAuley but he hasn’t yet fought anyone on Vassell’s level. He will be happy with this title opportunity though and will be going in there in determined mood.

He tends to fight up close to his opponents, taking punches in order to throw some. I see him going to the body a lot in this fight as he tries to wear Vassell down.

Vassell isn’t shy of a fight himself though. He will see this as another day at the office and will give Heffron back everything he receives.

With wins over Lee Purdy, Samuel Colomban, Bethuel Ushona and plenty of domestic level success as well as 97 rounds boxed as a professional, Vassell has the edge in experience and quality of opposition. I see this as being a very competitive fight between two good prospects.

Verdict: I’m going with Vassell’s experience and heart to outdo Heffron on points. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if Heffron pulled off an unlikely points decision either, perhaps setting up a good rematch.

Also, on the undercard former England cricket star Andrew Flintoff makes his professional boxing debut. Many fans are wondering why he would make such a move at his age (just short of 35), but only he will really know.

At 6ft4, close to 20 years of professional sporting experience and a supposedly hard punch (according to those training him), it would seem as though he has all the credentials to do well in boxing. We must also take into account that playing cricket requires guts; having a ball weighing 160 grams thrown at you at speeds of up to 100mph isn’t for wimps, and those helmets are about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike.

But, we must remember he is nearly 35 and has a history of injury problems. In the early days of his career he was criticised for his fitness levels and since then injuries have blighted much of his career. He has suffered injuries to his foot, back, groin, shoulder, knee and most notably has had reoccurring ankle issues.

As a cricketer, he was the star of the 2005 Ashes series as England beat Australia for the trophy for the first time in 18 years, he won BBC Sports personality that same year, and at his peak he was rated as one of the world’s best players. But that was in cricket, this is boxing.

His opponent is undefeated American Richard Dawson, who fans will know even less about. All this fan knows about him is he is quite a few inches smaller than Flintoff. Will this be significant? Only time will tell.

Verdict: Who knows what to expect?! Richard Dawson is the favourite to win but i wouldn't gamble on this in a million years.

On Saturday night, at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, Tyson Fury fights experienced American heavyweight Kevin Johnson. Fury is the favourite to win but HOW is another matter.

Johnson has only lost twice in his 9 year professional career and they were to Vitali Klitschko on points in 2009 and to prospect Tor Hamer over 3 rounds in the Prizefighter International heavyweight tournament back in June. He also has 173 rounds under his belt which is 80 more than Fury does. So the experience is in Johnson’s court in this fight.

He has some decent wins too but nothing too spectacular; the best probably being against Alex Leapai, Devin Vargas, Damian Wills, Terry Smith, Matthew Greer, and Robert Hawkins.

Tyson Fury can actually boast a better record with wins against notable challengers such as Dereck Chisora, Vinny Maddalone, Martin Rogan, Neven Pajkic, Nicolai Firtha and John McDermott.

Fury garners as much praise in the boxing community as he does derision. Personally, I have nothing but praise for the boxing giant. At 24 years old, he has already had 19 fights and many of which against good domestic challengers or former/current world contenders.

His fights are entertaining, his character has brought interest to the heavyweight division both at home and abroad, and he has fought a full array of talented boxers that no other young heavyweight boxer even comes close to.

Show me the record of any other 24 year old heavyweight out there today who has a better record than Tyson Fury. I can assure you this is a challenge that nobody will take up.

Can he stop the tough American within the distance? I think he has the power to do so but Johnson did go the distance with Vitali Klitschko; although that was 3 years ago.

Verdict: Fury wins a unanimous decision after a gruelling fight.

On the undercard, I expect John O’Donnell and Chris Eubank Jr both to record unanimous decision victories. 

No comments:

Post a Comment