Carpe Diem

By Steve Bateson on October 3, 2013
Quigg-Salinas headlines an action-packed card from Matchroom boxing on Saturday

Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom boxing presents “Carpe Diem”, a huge night of domestic action this Saturday night, live from the O2 Arena in London.

The card promises to deliver many talking points as we see Scott Quigg battle Yoandris Salinas for the WBA Super Bantamweight Championship as well as the professional debut of Olympic gold medallist Anthony Joshua.

The night was supposed to be headlined by Joshua, his coming out party of sorts, but following the collapse of the David Haye-Tyson Fury PPV just last week the Quigg-Salinas bout needed a new home and found itself upgraded to the main event of this Saturday’s show.

Quigg (26-0-1 with 19 KO’s) is one of Britain’s brightest prospects currently and this fight represents a huge step up for him, but one that he is certainly ready for. After a spell of inactivity, due to contractual issues, he signed with Eddie Hearn in June and dispatched William Prado in just three rounds, paving the way to this world championship opportunity.

Salinas (20-0 with 13 KO’s) is no walkover, however, and will provide a very stern test for the Bury man due to his Cuban heritage and slick boxing abilities. Quigg will need to keep himself composed and pick his punches well, targeting the body with his spiteful hooks to slow down his foe before dragging him into deep waters toward the championship rounds.

The super bantamweight division houses some of the finest names in the fight game today, Guillermo Rigondeaux, Nonito Donaire and Leo Santa Cruz among others, but this is a great chance for Quigg to shine on the world stage and prepare himself for the bigger challenges ahead. Trainer, Joe Gallagher has done a fine job with Quigg and this should be a yardstick for what the future holds for him. I am sure domestic rival Carl Frampton will be watching this one with great interest because should Quigg defeat Salinas then there should be no obstacles between a much anticipated dust-up between the two, a fight that the UK public wants to see and one that would be very difficult to predict a winner.

I am sure that although Anthony Joshua lost his position as “headliner” on this card he is still more than happy to get his career started on such a high-profile bill such as this one. It has been a hell of a ride for Joshua since winning the Olympic gold medal in London last year, a lot of uncertainty surrounding his decision to turn pro, but the time has come for the talking to stop and for the likeable Londoner to get between the ropes.

Eddie Hearn and Matchroom have decided to give Joshua a decent test for his debut and brought over the undefeated Italian Emanuele Leo (8-0 with 3 KO’s) so this should give a good indication of what stage Joshua is at currently. I don’t think anyone is expecting to see a world beater from the outset, that will take time and maturity, but up against an opponent that knows only how to win it should provide a few questions that Anthony will have to answer.

There is a lot of confidence and quiet expectation surrounding Anthony Joshua, in some quarters he is already being touted as a future world champion, but I would like to see him guided slowly up the rankings, allowing him to develop properly. It would be fantastic to think that the UK had a new Heavyweight contender at our disposal but so many of these stories in recent years have ended badly, Audley Harrison and David Price immediately spring to mind. So whilst I will be routing for Joshua on Saturday night, I won’t be getting carried away just yet because there is a long road ahead of him and we have no idea just how good he is going to be.

Another Olympic gold medallist, Luke Campbell, will also be in action on this card as he makes his second foray into a professional ring. Campbell was explosive in his debut (a first round KO of usually durable Andy Harris) and he will be looking for more of the same this weekend. His opponent is Neil Hepper (5-2) and whilst he may at least take Campbell beyond the opening stanza I don’t think it will last much longer than that. Campbell has blistering handspeed and brilliant reflexes, given the right progress he could be a real force in the lightweight division for years to come, but like Joshua he should not be rushed and his abilities should be honed rather than taken for granted at such an early stage.

Lee Selby (16-1 with 6 KO’s) will look to win his Lonsdale belt outright when he defends his British and Commonwealth titles against undefeated Ryan Walsh (16-0-1 with 8 KO’s). Selby has shown really hints of class in his last few fights, perhaps showing that he is ready to step up toward European and World level, and although Walsh will come to fight it should be expected that Selby will wear him down to a points victory or even a late stoppage should the opportunity arise. The featherweight division is a tough one but potential fights with Billy Dib or Eveny Gradovich, depending on who wins their upcoming rematch, should not be out of the question for Selby.

Kevin Mitchell will look to push himself back into world title contention when he fights tough Mexican, Marco Lopez (23-2 with 14 KO’s) for the IBF Intercontinental Championship. Mitchell (34-2 with 24 KO’s) seems to finally have his act together and is training well, his talent has never been in doubt, and should he win then he could find himself in line for a crack at IBF boss Miguel Vasquez sometime next year.

We will also see a battle of the Prizefighter winners as Larry Ekundayo (6-0 with 2 KO’s) faces Sunderland’s Glenn Foot (11-0 with 6 KO’s). This should be a very entertaining scrap between two very down to earth Welterweights and the winner could very well find themselves in the shakeup for a British title fight with current champion, Frankie Gavin.

All in all this should be a great night of boxing and yet another testament to the depth and quality that currently resides in the Matchroom stable. Should Scott Quigg walk out on Saturday with the WBA bauble then don’t be surprised to see Carl Frampton face Kiko Martinez for the IBF Championship in December/January ahead of a huge summer unification blockbuster for 2014.

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