Weekend Preview (21st-22nd February)

By Steve Bateson on February 21, 2014
Vazquez vs Shafikov is the stand-out bout of the weekend

Time to take a look at this weekend’s action from America and Britain, highlighting the key bouts to look out for:

Showtime- Friday 21st Feb

Hank Lundy (23-3-1 with 11 KO’s) returns to action for the first time in 2014 and looks to move himself back into Lightweight contention against Angelo Santana (14-1 with 11 KO’s). Coming in off the back of an impressive decision victory over Ajose Olusegun in July last year Lundy will be hoping to impress the Showtime officials and perhaps manoeuvre himself into position for a final eliminator later this year. Santana is untested at this kind of level and the smart money will be on Lundy to record a points victory.

Also on the card:

Former Heavyweight contender Ray Austin will be in action for the first time in three years. Austin, now 44, was knocked out by Wladimir Klitschko in two rounds back in 2007, I wouldn’t bank on him getting anywhere close to those heights in this ill-advised comeback.

HBO- Saturday 22nd Feb

Top Rank is back in Macau for this bill, headlined by an IBF Lightweight Champion bout between champion, Miguel Vazquez (33-3 with 13 KO’s) against challenger, Denis Shafikov (33-0-1 with 18 KO’s).

Vazquez had a frustrating 2013, not fighting at all as bouts with Ricky Burns and Ammeth Diaz fell through, so ring rust could be an issue for him in this bout. Shafikov is a pressure fighter and will look to close the distance between himself and his elusive opponent, something that Vazquez is likely to prevent at any cost, so don’t expect fireworks. Vazquez wants to unify belts at 135lbs and will see this fight as a stepping stone to bigger contests but Shafikov has big ideas of crashing the party and has the power to do so.

Not an easy fight to call but the marginal edge goes to the champion to retain on points, he has fought at a much higher level, but he may have to survive one or two scares along the way.

Also on the card:

Chinese hero Zou Shiming (3-0) will continue his rise up the pro ranks with an eight round flyweight contest against Yokthong Kokietgym (15-3 with 11 KO’s). Shiming has failed to shine so far, in my opinion, but it doesn’t seem to matter to his hometown fans who adore him. He has great technical ability but possesses minimal power and gets tagged far too often by mediocre opposition. The two time Olympic gold medallist will win this bout but trainer Freddie Roach must be wary about increasing his level of opposition too soon.

Contender for fight of the night will be the WBO International Featherweight clash between Akifumi Shimoda (28-3-2 with 12 KO’s) and Marvin Sonsona (17-1-1 with 14 KO’s). With a potential world title fight for the winner this bout will be action packed, both fighters will be desperate to impress, and I am backing Sonsona to upset the odds and defeat his veteran opponent.

Sky Sports (UK Boxing)- Saturday 22nd February

Matchroom boxing returns to Hull on Saturday night with hometown favourite Tommy Coyle headlining the show. Coyle (17-2 with 7 KO’s) will defend his IBF International Lightweight title against Argentinian challenger, Daniel Brizuela (25-2-2 with 8 KO’s) in a fight that he hopes will pave his way to a world title eliminator in the summer. Coyle should have enough to beat Brizuela, a decision victory most likely, but the jury is still out on his ability to mix in higher company. Should he win this fight then a domestic dust-up with Kevin Mitchell has been mooted, right now there would only be one winner in that matchup.

Also on the card:

Former footballer-turned boxer Curtis Woodhouse (21-6 with 13 KO’s) will make his final appearance in the squared circle as he challenges British Light-Welterweight champion Darren Hamilton (14-2 with 3 KO’s). Woodhouse has silenced many critics during his career and he will attempt to do it once more on Saturday night. Hamilton is a tall, awkward, fighter, though, and is unlikely to relinquish his belt without one hell of an effort from Woodhouse. Hamilton shocked Ashley Theophane to win the strap and seems to have grown with confidence ever since, the pick is for him to pick up a wide points victory although Woodhouse’s power may pose some difficulties along the way.

Gavin McDonnell, brother of Jamie, (10-0-1 with 3 KO’s) will contest the vacant British Super Bantamweight title with fellow unbeaten, Leigh Wood (11-0 with 4 KO’s). This is a big opportunity for both fighter so expect a gruelling fight that is likely to last the distance, picking a winner will not be easy. McDonnell is the slight favourite to win the belt relinquished by Kid Galahad but Wood is no pushover, it could go either way and although I am tipping McDonnell I won’t be surprised to see a reverse.

Olympic gold medallist, Luke Campbell (4-0 with 3 KO’s) continues his rise in the Lightweight division as he takes on Scott Moises (8-8-1 with 2 KO’s). Moises has never been stopped so a points victory for Campbell is the likeliest scenario but don’t rule out a stoppage win. Campbell looks the real deal and should be well within domestic contention in the next six to twelve months.

Boxnation (UK) – Saturday 22nd February

Tony Conquest (12-1 with 5 KO’s) and Australia’s Daniel Ammann (29-5-1 with 6 KO’s) will fight for the vacant Commonwealth Cruiserweight title in the headline bout from the York Hall in London.

Frank Warren’s Queenberry Promotions will host the show and Conquest will be looking to propel himself up into the world rankings with a victory. Ammann is no slouch but devastating knockout defeats against Brad Pitt and Alexander Alekseev point to the fact that he can be hurt in the early stages and that should be Conquest’s aim. The lone defeat on Tony Conquest’s record is a first round KO defeat to Neil Dawson, so he can be caught cold himself, but has since bounced back with an impressive win over Wadi Camacho, in which he displayed great courage and boxing skill, so I would make him the favourite to leave as Commonwealth Champion.

I don’t expect Conquest to ever threaten Marco Huck, Yoan Hernandez etc but a victory in this fight should put him prime position for a shot at the winner of Neil Dawson-Jon Lewis Dickinson later this year.

Also on the card:

Middleweight prospect, Chris Eubank Jnr (12-0 with 7 KO’s) makes his first outing of 2014 against Alistair Warren (8-5-3 with 4 KO’s). Eubank Jnr is flashy, much like his father, but his level of opposition thus far tells us very little of his actual ability. Saturday night will be no different, a victory is guaranteed, so it would be nice to see him stepped up in the near future to gauge just how far he may go in the paid ranks. Craig McEwan, Kerry Hope and Nick Blackwell are the sort of level that Eubank Jnr should now be aiming for if he wants to work his way into domestic contention by the end of the year.

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