#MitchellEstrada confirmed for Jan 31st at O2

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Londoner entertains Mexican at The O2 in January

Kevin Mitchell will face Daniel Estrada for the WBC Silver Lightweight title at The O2 on January 31, live on Sky Sports.

Mitchell returns to action for the first time since his thrilling stoppage win over Ghislain Maduma at Wembley Stadium on May 31, where the Canadian gave ‘Mighty’ Mitchell all he could handle before the 30 year old turned the tide and stopped the visitor in the 11th round.

Estrada’s last outing was a World title challenge against Omar Figueroa in Los Angeles in August on the undercard of Kell Brook’s World title win, where promoter Eddie Hearn got a first row look at the former Silver champion as he aims to make the bout a final eliminator for the World title.

“Mitchell vs. Estrada is a great fight,” said Hearn. “I was ringside in Carson when he took on Figueroa for the WBC title and he put up a great fight. We have applied to the WBC to make this fight a final eliminator for the WBC title with the winner to face the winner of Jorge Linares vs. Javier Prieto and we will be pushing the request at the upcoming convention, I expect it to be successful. It’s all part of a cracking line up at the O2.”

Mitchell’s showdown with Estrada takes place on a huge night of boxing in the capital as Olympic gold medal sensation Anthony Joshua MBE kicks off 2015 with a huge test against former World title challenger Kevin ‘Kingpin’ Johnson. Joshua has a perfect ten KO wins from ten pro fights, and will put out a big statement if he can successfully defend his WBC International Heavyweight title against the American and make it 11 KOs against the man that has taken Vitali Klitschko, Tyson Fury and Dereck Chisora the distance.

Islington Middleweight John Ryder defends his WBO Inter-Continental Middleweight title and there are two cracking domestic derbies as Tommy Martin meets Ricky Boylan for the vacant English Light Welterweight title and John Wayne Hibbert defends his WBC International Light Welterweight title against Tyler Goodjohn.

Tickets go on sale at midday today (November 26) to Matchroom Fight Pass members priced £40, £60, £100 and £150 VIPs from http://www.matchrooomboxing.com

Tickets go on general sale tomorrow from midday with £40, £60 and £100 tickets available from The O2 at http://www.theO2.co.uk and on 0844 856 0202. VIP tickets are available exclusively from Matchroom Boxing.

#CleverlyBellew2 Review By Paul Ready

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The main event was anti-climatic to say the least – but there were significant positive aspects, let’s look at these in more detail:

 

Scott Quigg v Hidenori Ohtake

Ohtake was as hard as coffin nail and Quigg did find it difficult to break him down. The stoppage never looked likely. Ohtake was beginning to bleed heavily towards the end of the contest – his corner had no intention of dragging him out.

30 fights in and we still don’t know how good Scott Quigg really can be. For me he is still in the shadow of IBF Carl Frampton as the breakout fight eludes him. The Frampton fight financially is enormous and one that already has huge demand to take place.

If politics prevent Frampton v Quigg or Quigg v Leo Santa Cruz from happening it does diminish the options available to him. The man no one speaks of Guillermo Rigondeaux is now under consideration from Quigg’s camp.

El Chacal isn’t a boxer but an artist and watching him needs to be appreciated on mute with opera music playing as you sip a fine red wine.

Rigondeaux as we know is on another planet to any other Super Bantamweight’s – so does Quigg consider moving up 4 lbs to Featherweight?

It could well be an inspired move as there are plenty of huge fights there which should be straight forward to make. Names such as Abner Mares, Evgeny Gradovich, Vasyl Lomachenko, Nicholas Walters – and closer to home Lee Selby and Josh Warrington.

 

James DeGale v Marco Antonio Periban

DeGale stole the show for me – best performance of the night. Discard the fact that Periban was a few lbs overweight the stoppage was not expected.

The left-hook is becoming a potent weapon for chunky and he has wiped out two top ten Super-Middle’s in succession.

Froch is all but signed to face Chavez Jr early 2015 so it DeGale will be fighting for the vacant IBF title. The Cobra has until 31st December to either start negotiations with DeGale or vacate. The likelihood he will face 6ft 2in fellow Southpaw Gilberto Ramirez (30-0: 24KO’s) for the belt.

With an altercation taking place at the weigh-in between Groves’ wife and DeGale’s mother – a rematch between the two after their respective world title shots is necessary. I’d back DeGale to prevail this time.

 

George Groves v Denis Douglin

Similar to the Rebrasse performance last month I felt Groves looked poor yet again. The major difference on this occasion was Saint GG managed to stop his man. Carl Froch spoke in the commentary that he felt Groves has been “Cobra’d” like Lucien Bute and is a shadow of his former self.

Froch did have a point to an extent as Groves does look a yard or two off pace. Trainer Paddy Fitzpatrick feels that the 26 yr is suffering from exhaustion after a hectic 12 months with four fights – two of them being PPV fights with Froch with gruelling media schedules.

It remains to be seen whether the former or latter is true with Groves. Next up will be Undefeated WBC Champion Anthony Dirrell (27-0: 22KO’s) and if he is tired or genuinely shot he will be exposed in brutal fashion.

 

Callum Smith v Nikola Sjekloca

Callum Smith would have learnt more on Saturday than he has in any of his previous fights – having gone 12 rounds for the first time in his career. There were stages when I was on the edge of my seat when those body shots landed and I thought the Montenegrin could cave. Credit to him he didn’t and kept coming forward.

I’m a huge fan of Smith, I do believe has all the attributes to go all the way. The only slight chink I can see in his armour is his lack of head movement and at times he can appear a tad rigid. I’d like to see more lateral movement – but for a guy 6ft 3in I appreciate that is difficult.

Next up will be a final eliminator for the WBC title in Spring with the caveat of facing the winner of George Groves and Anthony Dirrell.

 

Anthony Joshua v Michael Sprott

Veteran Sprott was blown away in the 1st round by Joshua to cap a busy 2014 for the 25 yr old. Next up is Kevin “King Pin” Johnson on 31st January.

After that I genuinely believe he is ready for Chisora or Price in the summer – perhaps Tyson Fury late 2015. I like the pace Joshua has been progressed up until now and I firmly believe 2016 will be the year to go for a world title.

Amateur rival Dillian Whyte returning from his two-year ban for consuming a banned substance found in a pre-workout drink. Whyte beat Joshua in 2009 as an amateur and has spoke about wanting the opportunity to fight again after he has eradicated any ring rust. That could be a tantalising match as there is apparently no love lost between the pair.

Joshua is boxing’s answer to The Thing from the Fantastic Four – displays mutant power. My concern is referee’s need to be conscious of his power as he could hospitalise someone, when he lands a combo flush it makes me wince. You can’t delay intervening when a 235lb specimen is unloading – you don’t play boxing as they say.

 

Nathan Cleverly v Tony Bellew

The main event didn’t match the hype or build up. It did descend in to a damp squib. Cleverly appeared to injury his hand in the 2nd and proceeded to jab Bellew for the remainder of the fight. Both men were blowing around the 10th and there is an argument that the build-up drained them.

I think there is an element of that but the Welshman for me isn’t a Cruiserweight and should consider moving back down to Light Heavyweight. He looked strong and athletic at the weight but with it deriving mainly from muscle – the extra oxygen required to sustain it clearly fatigued him.

Bellew was the deserved winner by a long shot as despite being shattered he was actually trading. A world title shot against Marco Huck is next up in 2015 and you can’t argue that the Liverpudlian doesn’t deserve it.

Cleverly yet again has much soul-searching to do.

Does he need to change trainers? Does he even want to continue boxing?

In hindsight privately he must acknowledge that he should have stuck it out with Adam Booth in London rather than choosing to train back home.

I’d like to see Cleverly go back to Light Heavy as he does have the ability to become a contender again. It is very much watch this space with him.

In conclusion the card as whole didn’t live up to expectations – but I look at it like I do when I try out a new curry house.

Sometimes you have a great meal; other times it doesn’t taste as good and you opt to give it miss next time.

This wasn’t a great takeaway but it won’t deter me from trying the next one.

@PaulReady

@EliteBoxingNet

http://www.eliteboxing.net

Verbal slanging from Cleverly and Bellew today…

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Bitter rivals both predict stoppage wins in Liverpool on Saturday

Nathan Cleverly and Tony Bellew locked horns once again at today’s press conference – and both men predicted KO wins ahead of their rematch on Saturday at the sold-out Echo Arena in Liverpool, live on Sky Sports Box Office.

The bitter rivals addressed the media next door to the venue where they have met before and will meet again this weekend, and with the pair packing Cruiserweight power on Merseyside this time around, they are both in no doubt that the stakes couldn’t be higher for their long-awaited second clash.

“When you punch you are at your most vulnerable and I only need one punch to land, just one,” said Bellew. “I am technically better than him. He’s not that good, he’s actually pretty poor technically, and I can’t see how he can outbox me. The only thing he has got is that he could outwork me, but like I say, if you just want to work with me and fire shots at me, you’ll be going to sleep. I’m not going to die going down the stretch and if that’s what he is hoping for, he is very, very wrong.”

“There’s an incredible amount riding on this fight,” said Cleverly. “It’s personal between us but I know what will happen to the winner. This fight is a gateway to a World title shot and the chance for me to make that two-weight World champion dream a reality. That rarely happens in boxing, only the best fighters achieve it so for me to go on and do it, that’s what dreams are made of.

“I can’t imagine myself losing and it hasn’t crossed my mind because I am so confident of winning. I cannot allow this guy to beat me. I will meet him, trade with him, break him down and stop him – 2-0.”

Before Cleverly and Bellew renewed hostilities, Super Middleweight foes James DeGale MBE and George Groves encountered their respective opponents on Saturday for the first time.

DeGale faces Mexican danger man Marco Antonio Periban over 12 rounds with the Londoner choosing to take a risky fight despite his mandatory position for the IBF title – a risk the Olympic gold medallist says will pay off.

“A lot of people are saying ‘why are you taking this fight James?’” said DeGale. “The guy is a former World title challenger, he’s boxed Sakio Bika, he’s boxed some good opponents – why are you taking this fight because you’re so close now to a world title?

“The simple answer is that I want to box the best that I can. Fighting Periban and beating him – I’m going to get some credit after. I don’t have to take this fight, I could have taken a routine eight-rounder against a journeyman but I told Eddie Hearn ‘I don’t want that, get me someone I’m going to get credit for after’.

“This guy is going to come to fight but the better the opposition the better I’ll box. I’m really, really looking forward to it and I can’t wait to be in the ring again. This is a massive show, massive night of boxing in a brilliant city, a sold-out venue and live on Sky Sports Box Office so I can’t wait.”

Groves is in the same boat as DeGale as he meets the ‘Momma’s Boy’ while he waits on his shot at WBC champion Anthony Dirrell.

“This fight is a risky one if it doesn’t go to plan,” said Groves. “I would lose my mandatory shot, but I feel it was more important to keep the momentum going from the last fight.

“I’m looking forward to boxing well and getting more rounds banked ahead of my World title challenge.

“The Dirrell fight should take place before the end of March. That would be perfect for me. It would allow me to have a little break over December and to work on different things in the gym. Then come January, it would be full steam ahead.”

Cleverly and Bellew’s rematch tops a huge night of action in Liverpool live on Sky Sports Box Office.

There are a pair of WBA World title bouts as Bury star Scott Quigg defends his Super Bantamweight title against Hidenori Othake and Jamie McDonnell defends his Bantamweight strap against Javier Chacon.

Three of Britain’s best Super Middleweights are in action as James DeGale MBE faces Marco Antonio Periban, Callum Smith tackles Nikola Sjekloca in a WBC World title eliminator and George Groves takes on Denis Douglin.

Olympic Heavyweight hero Anthony Joshua MBE takes on Michael Sprott in a British title eliminator, Matchroom Boxing’s newest signing Bradley Saunders aims to extend his unbeaten run in the Light Welterweight division while German KO star Vincent Feigenbutz makes his UK debut.

Cleverly v Bellew II is exclusively live on Sky Sports Box Office on 22 November with George Groves, Anthony Joshua and James DeGale also on the bill. skysports.com/cleverlybellew.

#CleverlyBellew2 Main Event by Paul Ready

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We are at that stage in fight week when the glare of the spot-light is beginning to become tiresome and eyes look weary. There are only so many interviews you can give on the same subject before your patience wears thin.

1 more press-conference remains and the weigh-in before the fists do the talking – all pre-talk is then rendered redundant.

Tony Bellew has a perception of being a passionate man; one who wears his heart on his sleeve and isn’t afraid to speak his mind – be it eloquently or vitriolic. But this week The Bomber appears as relaxed as a man in the departure lounge heading on holiday.

My fear for the 31 yr old was that he would get consumed by his own emotions and exhaust himself before his hands were wrapped.

So far, this hasn’t happened – but there is still time.

Nathan Cleverly appears even more relaxed displaying an air of assertion that it’s not if he will win; but when.

The concern for Cleverly is the mental effect the crushing stoppage to Sergey Kovalev has had on him, with the Welshman openly admitting that he did consider retirement in the aftermath. He strikes me as a deep thinker and I wonder if he is perhaps still to this day suffering in silence.

Cleverly turned pro as a 147lb Welterweight and has grown physically over the years in to a 200lb Cruiserweight. That’s a whopping 53lb increase with no sign of any visceral fat – the Welshman’s shoulders and back absorbing much of the weight.

“A lot of people have him as the favourite because he’s the naturally bigger guy,” said Cleverly. “He is heavy handed, apparently, so they think that is too much of a jump for me and it is a big jump. I’m up against it but I am confident. I know my own body, I know what I can do. Mentally and physically, I know my limits and I know that I can beat this guy at Cruiserweight. I feel comfortable, strong, sharp and fit. I’ll beat this guy.

“I’ve got too many strengths and I’ll bring everything I’ve learned from the lighter divisions up to Cruiserweight. I’ll bring the speed, I’ll bring the stamina. He can bring his power – I’ve already tested it and I’ve taken it with ease. It will be no different at Cruiserweight.”

Bellew was a 200lb Heavyweight amateur and to the surprise of many he turned pro as a 175lb Light-Heavyweight. His struggles with the Light-Heavy limit have been well documented and The Bomber’s punch-power has increased significantly.

With no-love- lost between them, The Bomber’s hatred for his adversary runs as deep as the River Mersey.

Bellew stuck a bandage on a poster of Cleverly’s head Tuesday at his open workout – writing “Fraud” across it.

“He says one thing and then does another so I’m just letting it be known. Instead of the bandana saying what it usually says I think it’s better saying something suitable from now on. That’s the most truthful word I can use about him. Bellew said to Skysports.

“One minute he’s retiring, one minute he’s the best athlete in the world, one minute he can’t be knocked out and in the next phrase he says: ‘If he hits me, he is the stronger man and can knock me out and someone’s got to go.’

“He contradicts himself constantly so he’s just a strange cat to be real and that’s the fact of the matter”

So how will the fight pan out?

If there is to be a KO it will come from Bellew – but underestimate Cleverly’s chin at your peril – he can take a punch and the country will be glued to the screen when he takes his first. I expect Bellew to be in the shape of his life; Dave Coldwell formerly of Team Hayemaker will have The Bomber in peak condition. Cleverly is the better natural athlete and you can bet your house on him being at optimum level for Saturday.

Cleverly I favour should the fight go beyond the half-way stage. With his Calzaghe trained DNA, you can guarantee endurance and a high volume of punches being thrown. He is no cotton-wool puncher himself and should Bellew tire down the stretch, a stoppage from The Welshman won’t be a huge shock.

A genuine 50-50 match with the caveat of a World Title shot for the victor.

Could this be the makeover the division perceived as the ugly sister in America needs to finally get to the prom?

 

@PaulReady

@EliteBoxingNet

http://www.eliteboxing.net

#CleverlyBellew 2 Undercard by Paul Ready

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Fight night fast approaching and one of the busiest bills for some time, my first wonder was how these will all be squeezed in on one night.

With a fascinating Super-Middleweight sub-plot to the main event, let’s look at the fights in more detail:

 

 

JAMES DEGALE VS MARCO ANTONIO PERIBAN
12 x 3 mins Super Middleweight contest

IBF mandatory challenger DeGale (19-1: 13 KO’s) could end up fighting for a vacant title in the New Year. Champion Carl Froch has faced two back to back mandatory challenges from George Groves and is lukewarm to the prospect of a third.

The Cobra wants to fulfill a live-long ambition of headlining a Las Vegas card against an illustrious name – with Julio Cesar Chavez Jr mooted as the man in the frame. DeGale he feels Froch is “dodging” him but I disagree.

The 28 yr old won in emphatic fashion in May with a career-best performance stopping Brandon Gonzalez in-front of a packed Wembley Stadium. The level DeGale is now operating at there is no such thing as an easy opponent and that is evident with the fight against Mexican Periban (20-2-1: 13 KO’s) this Saturday.

Periban is a live, aggressive opponent and not a man to take lightly. With only 2 blotches on his copybook in the form of losses to J’Leon Love and Sakio Bika both on points. The Love defeat I felt was a robbery as he was gone in the fifth, the ref spared the American a career-first defeat.

Chunky needs to win; and win well – if he is to have any chance to charm the Cobra in to dancing with him. I expect DeGale to look sizzling and take a unanimous points decision.

 

SCOTT QUIGG VS HIDENORI OTAKE
12 x 3 mins WBA World Super Bantamweight title

I feel sorry for Quigg, the fights he craves Leo Santa Cruz, Carl Frampton don’t appear to be any closer to fruition. Up next on Saturday is Otake who is a replacement for the injured Shingo Wake, who damaged his ankle. Wake was allegedly photographed running on it shortly after.

Otake (22-1: 9 KO’s) hasn’t boxed out of Japan before but is ranked #3 with the IBF and #9 with the WBO. A credible opponent for Quigg, but anything other than a mid to late stoppage for the 26 yr old would be a huge shock.

 

JAMIE MCDONNELL VS JAVIER CHACON

12 x 3 mins WBA World Bantamweight title

New father McDonnell (24-0: 11KO’s) make his first defence of his WBA Bantamweight title against relatively unknown Javier Chacon. Chacon tackled Super champion Anselmo Moreno earlier in the year, taking the Panamanian the distance, and the Argentine replaces Walberto Ramos on the bill after the Columbian had visa complications.

The caveat for the 28 yr old McDonnell with a win is a Las Vegas unification bout with Tomoki Kameda WBO champion early 2015.

Kameda (31-0: 19 KO’s) is the youngest of a famous Japanese family-fighting-trio and regarded as the top fighter at 118lbs. Should McDonnell as expected get past Chacon, he will face Kameda as a huge underdog – but he will relish the opportunity to test himself against the very best.

 

ANTHONY JOSHUA VS MICHAEL SPROTT
10 x 3 mins British Heavyweight title eliminator

Sprott (47-22: 17 KO’s) is Joshua’s 10th opponent, and I expect his most ruthless and spiteful performance to date. I was there at the O2 spitting distance from where AJ battered Denis Bakhtov last month and few would have blamed Sprott not fancying it.

Credit to the 39 yr old when asked by promoter Eddie Hearn if he still wants the fight he responded by saying;

“Of course I do, I’m going to knock him out.”

What impressed me most with the 25 yr old Watford man is his nasty streak that has evolved – all great fighters have that in their locker. If Sprott goes more than 3 rounds I will be amazed.

With speculation rife that charismatic Kevin Johnson is already signed to face Joshua in January, I feel he is only 2 fights away from facing Dereck Chisora or David Price in a blockbuster Heavyweight showdown.

 

CALLUM SMITH VS NIKOLA SJEKLOCA
12 x 3 mins WBC Super Middleweight title official eliminator

Three is a crowd as they say and that definitely is the case with Callum Smith in the Groves & DeGale saga. Smith (14-0: 11KO’s) is the elephant in the room that prior to Ringside last month neither man wanted to acknowledge.

He is the real deal – from people I speak to within the industry I’ve yet to encounter anyone who doesn’t rave about him.

What I feel is a masterstroke is that the 24 yr old is now in an eliminator for the WBC on Saturday with the likelihood of a fight with George Groves growing ever closer.

Smith’s camp fancy their chances against Groves. They have sparred together and Callum more than held his own allegedly knocking Groves down a few times. Whilst rumours are always rife from sparring and elements do need to be taken with a pinch of salt, there is a genuine feeling that Groves peaked against Froch in the first fight and is vulnerable.

First Mundo needs to navigate past Sjekloca (28-2: 8KO’s) a former world title challenger with 2 defeats coming against Arthur Abraham and Sakio Bika. I expect it to be a stern test for Callum but one I feel he will grind out down the stretch taking a late stoppage or point’s decision.

 

GEORGE GROVES VS DENIS DOUGLIN
12 x 3 mins WBC Silver Super Middleweight title

Saint George(20-2: 15KO’s) faces American “Mama’s Boy” Denis Douglin.

Douglin (17-3: 10KO’s) is famously trained by his mother and has lost to Jermell Charlo and Jose Angel Rodriguez.  I don’t expect Douglin to trouble the 26 yr old from Hammersmith a great deal – but if the recent Rebrasse fight is anything to go by he could make this look harder than it actually is.

Like most I did feel that Groves’ performance flattered Rebrasse and he looked very gaunt at the weigh-in. With lucrative domestic fights at 168lbs with Callum Smith and a rematch with James Degale, a move up to Light-Heavy will be postponed for a few years.

The rivalry with DeGale goes back to when both men were amateurs at Dale Youth – both vying for the “top boy” status in the club. For me it is the bitterest rivalry in British boxing – even surpassing Tony Bellew & Nathan Cleverly and Kell Brook’s with Amir Khan.

If both Groves and DeGale can secure World titles it would make for a huge rematch – but Callum Smith is also in the mix!

Watch this space over the next 12-18mths as we are in-line for some great fights in the UK.

 

VINCENT FEIGENBUTZ VS LORENZO DI GIACOMO 

The dark horse in the 168lb division is in the shape of German teenager Vincent Feigenbutz. The 19 yr old is built like a tank and has knocked out 15 of his 16 opponents so far.

Hype job?

I don’t think so. I’m looking forward to watching him accelerate in the slipstream of the 3 Brits over the next coming years.

 
@PaulReady

@EliteBoxingNet

http://www.eliteboxing.net

@Callumsmith23 aiming to graduate on Saturday evening #CleverlyBellew2

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SMITH: I’LL PROVE I CAN BE WORLD CLASS ON SATURDAY

Liverpool star faces Sjekloca on home turf

Callum Smith says he’ll show that he is ready to mix it with the very best when he takes on Nikola Sjekloca on Saturday night at the sold-out Echo Arena in Liverpool, live on Sky Sports Box Office.

Smith faces Sjekloca in an eliminator for the WBC Super Middleweight title with Smith’s International belt also on the line, and aims to make a statement as he celebrates a pro anniversary in style.

The 24 year old made his pro debut two years ago today (November 17) in Nottingham and has raced into World title contention after 14 fights and 11 KO wins – and a 15th success against the former World title challenger would see Smith signal his intent on the World stage.

“I don’t think anybody expected me to come this far in two years,” said Smith. “If you had asked me where I would be two years from my debut, I would have thought I would still be unbeaten but maybe getting towards British title level – that is sort of average for amateurs turning pro. But I had a lot of first-round wins early on and when you knock people out in the first round the only option is to step up, but then I knocked them out first round. I kept stepping up and delivered every time I stepped up and if you keep delivering then you will keep stepping up.

“On paper this is a massive step up but we won’t know how much of a step up it really is until Saturday night. He has had 30 fights and has only lost two, both of them World champions. It is only the best who have beaten him but I believe I am good enough to beat him and I certainly think I will prove it. I am ready for it, I wouldn’t have taken the step up if I didn’t believe I was ready.

“I had watched a lot of him because he boxed Arthur Abraham in the fight before Paul boxed Abraham, so that fight was on in the gym a lot, so I know what he is like stylistically and I remember watching him and thinking it would be a good step up for me. He is a good upright boxer, he likes to keep everything long, but I am tall myself and I feel my inside works a lot better than his and whatever he brings I can bring better.

“Abraham and Bika are well known and experienced fighters in my weight division. Sakio Bika was WBC World champion until the summer, and Abraham obviously still is WBO World champion, so they are not mugs who have beaten him and he has beaten everybody else who has been put in front of him and there are some good fighters on his record. It is a step up but it is me who is taking the jump up, it wasn’t put on me, so it is a step I feel I am ready for. If I didn’t feel I was ready for this step I wouldn’t have taken it or would have taken a smaller jump up but I definitely do feel it is a fight that will bring out the best of me.”

One man that has been impressed by Smith’s rise is potential British rival James DeGale MBE. The Olympic gold medal star faces Marco Antonio Periban in Liverpool on Saturday, but said he’ll be a keen observer of ‘Mundo’s’ fight.

“I’ve always rated him,” said DeGale. “He’s tall, he’s got power, great body shots and he’s done everything right, he’s been KOing people and looking good. We don’t know how good he is as the best people on his record are Patrick Mendy who he stopped in one round, really good stoppage win, Tobias Webb in a round, again a good stoppage, but this is a good test on Saturday and if he beats him and does it well then we know he’s up there and I am looking forward to seeing how he progresses because the Super Middleweight division in England is firing.”

Smith’s clash with Sjekloca is part of a huge night of action on Merseyside as Nathan Cleverly and Tony Bellew renew hostilities.

There are a pair of WBA World title bouts as Bury star Scott Quigg defends his Super Bantamweight title against Hidenori Othake and Jamie McDonnell defends his Bantamweight strap against Javier Chacon.

Two of Smith’s British Super Middleweight peers are in action as James DeGale MBE faces Marco Antonio Periban and George Groves takes on Denis Douglin.

Olympic Heavyweight hero Anthony Joshua MBE takes on Michael Sprott in a British title eliminator, Matchroom Boxing’s newest signing Bradley Saunders aims to extend his unbeaten run in the Light Welterweight division while German KO star Vincent Feigenbutz makes his UK debut.

Cleverly v Bellew II is exclusively live on Sky Sports Box Office on 22 November with George Groves, Anthony Joshua and James DeGale also on the bill. skysports.com/cleverlybellew.

Chacon replaces Ramos for McDonnell @matchroomboxing

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Argentine World title challenger meets Doncaster champion in Liverpool

Javier Chacon will challenge Jamie McDonnell for the WBA World Bantamweight title at the sold-out Echo Arena in Liverpool on Saturday night (November 22) live on Sky Sports Box Office.

McDonnell is defending his WBA crown for the first time after he landed the belt with a spectacular KO win over Tabtimdaeng Na Rachawat at Wembley Stadium in May, and the Doncaster star will take on Tomoki Kameda in a unification bout if he defeats Chacon this weekend.

Chacon tackled Super champion Anselmo Moreno earlier in the year, taking the Panamanian the distance, and the Argentine replaces Walberto Ramos on the bill after the Columbian had visa complications.

The 28 year old’s clash with Chacon is one of two WBA World title fights on the Nathan Cleverly vs. Tony Bellew rematch bill, as Bury star Scott Quigg defends his Super Bantamweight title against Hidenori Othake.

There’s a trio of British Super Middleweight stars in action as James DeGale MBE faces Marco Antonio Periban, local star Callum Smith meets Nikola Sjekloca in a WBC World title eliminator and George Groves takes on Denis Douglin.

Olympic Heavyweight hero Anthony Joshua MBE takes on Michael Sprott in a British title eliminator, Matchroom Boxing’s newest signing Bradley Saunders aims to extend his unbeaten run in the Light Welterweight division while German KO star Vincent Feigenbutz makes his UK debut.

Cleverly v Bellew II is exclusively live on Sky Sports Box Office on 22 November with George Groves, Anthony Joshua and James DeGale also on the bill. skysports.com/cleverlybellew.

@iam_yafai 2015 is my time to shine

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Super Flyweight star wants victory on Saturday to be first step to a World title

Kal Yafai says he will hunt down a World title shot next year – if he can pass his ‘first big test’ on Saturday with flying colours.

Yafai defends his IBF Inter-Continental title against former World title challenger Everth Briceno, and the Birmingham talent has set his sights on landing more major straps in 2015.

“I am moving in the right direction,” said Yafai. “It is still early in my career so there is no need for me to rush anything, but when I get opportunities I will grasp them with both hands.

“I would like to win a World title towards the end of next year, it would be ideal. If I can stay injury free and get the wins then I don’t see why that can’t happen and there are some huge fights out there for me next year where I can really breakout into the big time.

“I am hopeful there will be opportunities to fight for the British title because I would like to win a British belt, it is something I am capable of winning and capable of winning well. But there is a chance it might have to be put on hold and I go the international route.

“There are big domestic fights that can be made somewhere down the road, Paul Butler for example, but they are big fights which would be for World titles.

“I am expecting a really tough fight on Saturday. I am expecting it to be my toughest yet. The guy is big and experienced and has boxed for a World title on three occasions. He went to points on two of those occasions and he got stopped in the 11th by Leo Santa Cruz, who is a brilliant fighter. So I am expecting a tough, tough night’s work.”

Yafai’s clash with Briceno is part of a huge night of action in Dublin, as Matthew Macklin challenges Jorge Sebastian Heiland for the WBC International Middleweight strap in an eliminator for the World title.

Middleweight rivals Anthony Fitzgerald and Spike O’Sullivan lock horns in another bitter all-Irish battle, Featherweight contenders Patrick Hyland is on the hunt for a clash with British, European and Commonwealth champion Josh Warrington after their clash, there’s a first hometown fight for amateur star John Joe Nevin, Manchester Lightweight star Anthony Crolla is in action, unbeaten Dubliners Declan Geraghty and Luke Keeler both fight in their seventh fights, Belfast’s unbeaten Cruiserweight Tommy McCarthy fights in his fourth pro contest and exciting Stourbridge Welterweight Sam Eggington and Manchester Light Welterweight Kofi Yates are also in action.

Tickets for the blockbuster night are on sale now priced at €30, €50 and €80 from The 3Arena at http://www.3arena.ie and on 0818 719 300 (R.O.I) and 0844 8472 455 (UK and NI). VIP tickets priced €150 are exclusively available from Matchroom Boxing at http://www.MatchroomBoxing.com and on 01277 359900.

@PaulReady
@EliteBoxingNet

http://www.eliteboxing.net

#AlienVsKrusher #HopkinsKovalev by Paul Ready

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One of the most eagerly anticipated contests of 2014 takes place in Atlantic City on Saturday evening.

Sergey Kovalev faces Bernard Hopkins and the Russian attempts to make history by becoming the first man to knock out “The Alien”.

Krusher (25-0: 23 KO’s) enters the contest as the favourite – but we have been here countless times with Hopkins (55-6: 32 KO’s) as the underdog; just ask Kelly Pavlik and Felix Trinidad.

Fans and experts alike have written Hopkins off but he has grazed on the under-dog status for over 25 years inside the ring.

Hopkins is old school – he came from the street and was sentenced to 18 yrs incarceration for nine felonies – but served only five of his sentence.

He is a ready-made Hollywood movie storyline.

With a CV that contains 20 Middleweight Title defences; 2001 he became undisputed Middleweight Champion unifying 3 divisions, the longest-ever reigning Middleweight Champion; the oldest fighter in history to hold the Middleweight title at 40 – and at 46 he became the oldest to win a major world title.

The Alien is from an era where the best fought the best. A species that in 2014 are becoming extinct. Yes there was politics back in the ’90’s but that was put to one side for the good of the sport.

He famously declared upon announcement of the Kovalev fight that he was “running to this fight, not away from it”. A clear dig at division rival Adonis Stevenson who rumour has it changed broadcaster from HBO to ShoTime so he didn’t have to face Kovalev.

“Suddenly, after I beat him, Kovalev was never dangerous. No, he hasn’t fought anyone of my caliber, but that still doesn’t mean he’s not dangerous. This guy killed someone [Roman Simakov on Dec. 5, 2010].”  Source Ring Magazine.

What makes this bout fascinating is Kovalev is the complete opposite to Hopkins in so many ways. He is new-school, one of the pioneers of the Eastern European invasion in America.

Names such as Gennady Golovkin, Vasyl Lomachenko, Ruslan Provodnikov and the new kid on the block Artur Beterbiev (who holds an amateur victory over Kovalev). All huge punchers, all making tsunami-size waves in their respective divisions & all win with an unnerving smile.

I still struggle to get my head round how Hopkins is not only lacing his gloves up but is still competing at elite level. The man continues to defy not only the odds but father-time.

As the decades have passed, the 49-year-old has made adjustments to his training regime. The introduction of yoga & pilates is a common theme for elder boxers. Further conservation tactics entail Hopkins refraining from bag work – opting to shadow box countless hours with his arms underwater in the pool.

The Alien’s last KO came against Oscar De La Hoya just over 10 years ago and we would all keel over if he managed to stop the Russian.

Kovalev has a 90% KO ratio and is a lethal foe for Hopkins. Some believe this is a step too far for the rugged veteran and an expected late stoppage or decision appears to be the common belief. When the fight was originally announced I was part of the herd but the more I have studied both styles, I’ve changed my mind.

Hopkins will excuse the pun adopt prison-yard tactics in the first few rounds – leaning in with the head, using elbows, low-blows with the sole purpose of unsettling Krusher.

The power Kovalev possesses is obvious and the fact he is a 175lb puncher is the heaviest The Alien has ever encountered. Felix Trinidad was heavy-handed but at a lower weight division.

I do feel however that the 31 year’s old lack of lateral movement will be a huge advantage to Hopkins who historically has struggled with speed. I feel there is a reason Hopkins fancied the Kovalev fight – he has seen some chinks in the armour that he can exploit.

Visually this won’t be the most attractive fight as I expect plenty of clinches from Hopkins as he looks to frustrate. Kovalev will need to be patient, methodical and let his hands go when he has windows of opportunity.

I’ve written Hopkins off before but I think he will out-hustle Krusher down the stretch in an ugly, scrappy affair taking a split decision.

The winner will hold three out of the four Light-Heavyweight titles with the IBF, WBO and WBA titles at stake on Saturday.

Surely a unification fight for the victor against WBC Champion Adonis Stevenson in Spring 2015 has to be on the cards.

Imagine a 50 yr old man unifying a division for a second time in his career.

Only a human would put it past him…

@PaulReady

@EliteBoxingNet

http://www.eliteboxing.net