The moment has finally arrived to put an end once and for all to a bitter domestic rivalry that stretches back to before the first time Nathan Cleverly stood in the opposite corner to Tony Bellew in Liverpool’s Echo Arena in May 2011.
We return to the same venue, but this time under Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom banner, who has once more delivered one of deepest undercards in recent British boxing memory in support of one of the most eagerly anticipated fights of the year.
Here we will take a look at the mouthwatering list assembled that has boxing fans licking their lips.
Anthony Joshua v Michael Sprott (10 x 3 mins British Heavyweight title eliminator)
2012 Olympic Gold medalist Anthony Joshua (9-0 9KO’s) provides chief support when he steps in to face likeable Reading heavyweight and former British and European champion Michael Sprott (42-22 17KO’s). As assignments go, this is David v Goliath, only Sprott left his slingshot in the house.
You have to take your hat off to Sprott for taking the job on, matching Joshua is proving a tough ask especially after his last outing. Joshua looked ferocious taking out Denis Bakhtov in two, displaying a chilling lust for the kill that will send the chills running though every heavyweight below world class. Expect much of the same here, with the referee being ready for the stoppage from the first bell.
Anthony Joshua is ready for sterner tests right now and a fight with David Price for the vacant British title in 2015 is a very real possibility.
James DeGale v Marco Antonio Periban (12 x 3 mins Super Middleweight contest)
James DeGale (19-1 13KO’s) is flying and the current mandatory challenger for the IBF Super Middleweight World Title returns to face fringe world level Mexican hard man Marco Antonio Periban (20-2-1 (13KO’s) in a stern test, but one I expect him to pass with flying colours.
To my mind DeGale has only scratched the surface of what he is capable of, something the 2008 Olympic Gold medalist displayed when smoking American Brandon Gonzalez in 4 back in May. The manner in which he deals with Periban will dictate his next opponent and he will be aiming to drop jaws on a show that includes nemesis George Groves.
Like him or loathe him, the penny has dropped with DeGale and when he is on, there are few who can live with him.
George Groves v Denis Douglin (12 x 3 mins WBC Silver Super Middleweight title)
A late addition to the show, George Groves found the opportunity to sharpen his tools in close proximity to old foe James DeGale too good to turn down as he readies himself for a tilt at Anthony Dirrell’s WBC title in 2015.
Groves (20-2 15KO’s) goes up against Denis ‘Momma’s Boy’ Douglin in what would best be best described as a decent tune up with minimal risk. Douglin (17-3 10KO’s) eventually made weight having came in 4oz over and has a decent record, but was stopped in 5 by Jermell Charlo down at Light-Middleweight in 2012.
Like DeGale, Groves will be looking to turn heads and steal the show, which he is more than capable of doing. Like Charlo, he will be too much for Douglin, who will do well to hear the final bell.
Callum Smith v Nikola Sjekloca (12 x 3 mins WBC Super Middleweight title official eliminator)
Callum Smith completes the trio of supremely talented British Super-Middleweights on display on Saturday evening and will do so in the biggest test of his career to date.
Smith (14-0 11KO’s) puts his unbeaten record on the line against Nikola Sjekloca (28-2 8KO’s), a man beaten just twice at world level when challenging Sakio Bika and Arthur Abraham for version of the Super-Middleweight World Title. This is a step up for Smith, but one that he has forced with his frightening progress in his 2-year professional career to date.
To me Callum Smith is different class, a real star in the making and far too much for the tough, seasoned Montenegrin.
Scott Quigg v Hidenori Otake (12 x 3 mins WBA World Super Bantamweight title)
Scott Quigg (29-0-2 22KO’s) defends his WBA Super Bantamweight World Title against little known Hidenori Otake (22-1-3 9KO’s) of Japan, who has arrived on the shores bullish in his claims that he will dispose of Quigg early. I like his confidence, misplaced though it is, and the Japanese invariably come to fight, which will make for interesting scrap whilst it lasts.
Quigg by his own admission is ready for sterner tests and craves a showdown with Carl Frampton, which seems destined to happen. That being said, Quigg is an ultimate pro and looked terrific on the scales, so there is no question that Otake will be taken lightly. Otake on the other hand looked painful at 8st 9lbs and for my book in for a painful nights work.
Jamie McDonnell v Javier Nicolas Chacon (12 x 3 mins WBA World Bantamweight title)
The placement of Jamie McDonnell’s WBA Bantamweight World Title defence is testament to the talent on show and not something I expect to phase the level headed Yorkshireman, who defends his belt against late Walberto Ramos (the Columbian was forced to pull out following visa problems) replacement Javier Nicolas Chacon (20-2 5KO’s).
McDonnell (24-2-1 11KO’s) is one of Britain’s most exciting fighters and pursuing an enormous carrot hanging the other side of the Argentinian, in the shape of a unification bout with WBO ruler Tomoki Kameda. Losing to Chacon is simply not an option, but overlooking the Argentinian will be ill advised and something McDonnell will be all to aware of following Matthew Macklin’s experiences recently.
This might be down the order, but McDonnell is a real class act and will want to win in style on such a huge night.
Remaining Scheduled Bouts
Vincent Feigenbutz VS Lorenzo Di Giacomo
Bradley Saunders v Ivans Levickis