Shropshire’s Craig Morris takes on Staffordshire’s Andy Keates in his first defence of his IBO Continental Welterweight Title on BCB Promotions ‘Now or Never show’ – sponsored by BWI events – at the Genting Arena, on Saturday evening writes Max Miller.
The 25 year-old, who hails from Ludlow, lifted the strap with a unanimous points victory over Ryan Martin back in December and has been in camp virtually ever since.
With just one defeat on his record – at the fists of Ryan Fields for the Midlands Area Title he once held – he is respectful of the threat Keates poses, believes there will only be one winner this evening.
“I’m ready for tonight,” he told bcb-promotions.com. “I’ve had more than enough time to prepare so, I’m looking forward to it.
“I’m over the moon to have already won the IBO belt so any advance on this is a bonus for me, whatever opportunities come up I’ll assess with my team and go from there, I’ve got in 100% trust in my team and their opinion.
“Andy is a tough guy. He’s fought at a very good level and is a threat. I just think I’ll have a bit much for him over ten rounds.
“This is a massive opportunity for me and I can’t wait to headline the Genting Arena. It’s the biggest night of my boxing career to date. This is what I’ve been working so hard for so long for.
“It’s always been about boxing for me. I think I started when I was 14 then I had a year out before changing between amateur and pro for family commitments. It was just something I was interested in, I asked my dad about going boxing and that’s how Ludlow Boxing Club started up.
“It’s been some journey but it’s not over yet. I’m going to push on from here. I’d like to thank my team, family, friends, sponsors and fans for their continued support. I will do you all proud.”
Andy Keates is buzzing to get his gloves on the IBO Continental Welterweight title.
The 26-year-old takes on champion and fellow BCB Promotions stable-mate Saturday evening in what is his the biggest fight of his career to date.
The Leek pugilist had suffered three successive defeats before outclassing Ryan Fields in October and he stressed the importance of getting the win for his career.
“This belt is massive to me,” Keates explained. “It would be another step up in my career and a lot of doors should open. I think this is my time and I can’t wait for it.
“I want to put on a massive performance and win this belt and then box for something bigger. With what I have done so far in my career, I think I belong at this level.
“I am feeling ready. The last couple of fights have been tough and a few people probably thought I was finished after the losses.
“I am looking forward to fighting at the Genting. Being on the undercard of Frankie Gavin is great too. He is a top bloke and I have done bits of sparring with him in preparation for this one.
“It is nice to be able to put on a local show instead of having to travel round. There are a few lads boxing on the show who I know well.”
Keates secured the Midlands Area Title in his last bout against Fields, an opponent who had won the belt back in February last year by defeating Craig Morris.
The Midlands Champion praised his 25-year-old rival, but he is certain he will come out on top as he did against Fields.
“Morris is a decent kid but I think the bonus for me is I beat Fields and he lost to him,” he added.
“I watched his fight and I thought it was a tough fight for Morris. He took a lot of punishment but he gave a lot back and I think that will be the same in our fight.
“People doubted me against Fields fight but I put him down twice in the second round and I had him blowing in the ninth and struggling to stay up in the tenth.
“It gives me confidence but I can’t read too much into it and I have to focus on this one and make sure I get the win on the night.
“I think I have the advantage with the big fights that I have had. If you look at my record, every fight has been 10 rounders so I have got the rounds in.
“But we both really want it and I think it will be a cracking fight.”
Keates will be competing in his seventh title fight in his last ten bouts and is determined to add the Continental strap to his Midlands Titles.
“The people I have boxed and what I have done against them I am very proud of and I want to add another belt to my career here.
“I think I will take him in the late rounds or win on points. But I will go with the flow and I am happy to box him if I need to.
“If we stand toe to toe then that is fine but the best man will win on the night. I’d like to thank Marston & Price, Rogers Barbers Shops and Ironage Design, along with all my other sponsors, for their support.”
Another IBO Continental strap is up for grabs as Birmingham’s Andrew Robinson battles Brighton’s Nicky Jenman for the vacant middleweight crown.
Two Area Titles are also on the line as Wolverhampton’s Kyle Williams takes on Nottingham’s Jordan turner for the Midlands Area Bantamweight strap and Birmingham’s Kash Ali steps in with Sheffield’s David Howe for the Central Area Heavyweight crown.
A whole host of local prospects – Kelcie Ball, Tommy Ghent, Mussab Abubaker, Shakkan Pitters and Tommy Loach – also feature.
Tickets are available from the ticketfactory.com, or the boxers direct, priced at £40, £60, £100 or £150.
Tickets, from £40, are available from theticketfactory.com