Friday: Jay Harris-Ricardo Sandoval Flyweight Title Eliminator & Paul Butler-Willibaldo Garcia Bantamweight Battle to Stream Live and Exclusively on ESPN+ – Live coverage from England begins at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT
Welsh flyweight contender Jay Harris needs one more victory to receive a second crack at world title glory. Harris will take on Ricardo Sandoval in a 12-round IBF world title eliminator this Friday, June 25 from Bolton, England.
The co-feature will see former bantamweight world champion Paul Butler fight Mexican veteran Willibaldo Garcia in a 10-rounder for the vacant WBO International bantamweight title.
Harris-Sandoval and Butler-Garcia will headline a scheduled five-fight stream live and exclusively on ESPN+ starting at 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT.
Harris (18-1, 9 KOs) was one half of one of 2020’s best fights when he dropped a unanimous decision to Julio Cesar Martinez for the WBC flyweight world title. He returned in fine form last October, topping Marcel Braithwaite via unanimous decision to move up the rankings and into this title eliminator. Sandoval (18-1, 13 KOs), from Montclair, California, has won 14 consecutive bouts, including five straight by stoppage. He last fought in February 2020 and knocked out Filipino veteran Raymond Tabugon in seven rounds.
WBO No. 2 bantamweight contender Butler (32-2, 15 KOs) won the IBF bantamweight world title in 2014, then vacated the belt to challenge Zolani Tete for the IBF junior bantamweight world title. He fell to Tete via eighth-round stoppage but is 15-1 in the six-plus years since, winning regional titles at both junior bantamweight and bantamweight. Garcia (12-4-1, 6 KOs) is 11-1-1 since a 1-3 start to his career, with his only defeat in that stretch coming via majority decision to former world title challenger Alejandro Santiago Barrios. This will be his first fight outside of Mexico.
In other streaming action on ESPN+:
Dublin-born junior welterweight prospect Pierce O’Leary (6-0, 2 KOs) will make his second appearance of 2021 against Czech veteran Jan Marsalek (8-3, 7 KOs) in a six-rounder. Marsalek last fought on the Canelo Alvarez-Billy Joe Saunders undercard in May and knocked down unbeaten prospect Kelvin Davis, ultimately losing a four-round unanimous decision.
Undefeated lightweight contender Gary Cully (12-0, 6 KOs), who is coming off a March stoppage victory over Viktor Kotochigov, will fight Viorel Simion (22-5, 9 KOs) in a 10-rounder. Simion is a 15-year pro who has fought the likes of Shakur Stevenson, Lee Selby and Scott Quigg.
In a 10-round eliminator for the British light heavyweight title, Hosea Burton (25-2, 11 KOs) will face Liam Conroy (18-6-1, 9 KOs), who has participated in a number of notable all-action brawls over the years. Burton and Conroy are each looking to bounce back from defeats suffered in MTK Global’s Golden Contract tournament.
It can be an incredible 24 hours for Welsh sport this weekend – and Jay Harris plans on playing his part in it when he faces Ricardo Sandoval in a final eliminator for the IBF flyweight title on Friday’s superb #MTKFightNight.
The must-see card takes place at the University of Bolton Stadium this week and will be broadcast live on ESPN+ in association with Top Rank and worldwide on IFL TV.
Swansea hero Harris (18-1, 9 KOs) faces Sandoval (18-1, 13 KOs) in the main event, with the winner moving a step closer to a shot at IBF champion Sunny Edwards.
The following day, Wales plays in their Euro 2020 last 16 matches, and Harris hopes to do his bit by giving his proud nation a double celebration this weekend.
Harris said: “I’m chuffed that this fight is finally here. It’s been a long camp, and I’ve been training for nearly four months. It’s going to be a great show, and the card is unreal.
“I’m proud to be flying the flag for Wales. I’ve been watching Wales closely in the Euros, and it’s a big achievement for them to be in the last 16. It’s a huge weekend for Welsh sport. Wales play the day after my fight, so it’s hope it’s two massive wins for us both.
“I’ve watched quite a bit of Ricardo Sandoval. He’s an outstanding fighter, but I don’t think he has boxed anybody near the caliber of opponents that I’ve fought. He seems to be well-schooled, but I think I’ll have the better of him.
“I’m expecting a good, tough fight, but I’ve seen a few weaknesses. He’s young and hungry, and this is where he wants to be, but if I box the way I can box on the night, I should get the win.
“A win here sets up a fight with Sunny Edwards, and that would mean a hell of a lot. Four years ago, we sparred in Ukraine, and there was talk then of us fighting for a British title, so for it now to be for a world title would be incredible.
“We’re friends, and after all is said and done, we’ll still be friends, but I’m sure we’d go in there and try to knock each other’s heads off. There is just one more hurdle to go, and then that’s the fight that everybody wants, and it’s what they’ll get.
“You’re going to see a top-class performance on Friday, so tune into IFL TV. It’s a show not to be missed and one of the best that MTK Global has put on.”
Hosea Burton: First Liam Conroy, then I want Lyndon Arthur!
Hosea Burton has labelled Lyndon Arthur as a ‘sitting duck’ – and wants to face him next provided he can defeated Liam Conroy on this Friday’s huge #MTKFightNight.
The massive card takes place at the University of Bolton Stadium this week, and will be broadcast live on ESPN+ in association with Top Rank, and worldwide on IFL TV.
Burton (25-2, 11 KOs) faces Conroy (18-6-1, 9 KOs) in a final eliminator for the British light-heavyweight title, and ‘The Hammer’ has pulled no punches ahead of the fight.
He believes his power will be too much for Conroy, and is then desperate to take on fellow domestic rival Arthur next, stating that he’s ready to be knocked out at any time.
Burton said: “I’m pleased to be back in the ring after nine months out and it’s good to blow the cobwebs off again. I’ve never thought much about fighting Liam even when we were in the Golden Contract. I like him so would prefer not to face him, but a fight is a fight and it is what it is.
“I don’t think there is any added motivation after my last fight. I always train hard and prepare to the best of my ability. I believe it will be that ability along with my punch power will be too much for Conroy on the night. I just think I’m a better boxer when it comes to it.
“Craig Richards holds the British title and I would love to face him next, but I know as soon as I win then he will vacate it. That’s my prediction for what will happen. Me and Conroy should already be fighting for the vacant title in my opinion.
“The domestic scene is on a high and I’d love to face any of the big names, especially Lyndon Arthur. He’s a sitting duck and ready to be knocked out at any time. I would fight him for free as long as I got the chance.
“We’ve got Paul Butler on the same card on Friday too and it’s been good training alongside him. He’s a hell of a trainer and a hell of a boxer, and hopefully we can both get the job done.”
Elsewhere on Friday’s action-packed card, Jay Harris takes on Ricardo Sandoval in a final eliminator for the IBF flyweight title, Paul Butler meets Joseph Agbeko for the vacant WBO International bantamweight title, Gary Cully fights Viorel Simion, Pierce O’Leary returns, Jordan Reynolds faces Jan Ardon, Tyrone McCullagh goes up against Brett Fidoe, Blane Hyland squares off with Reiss Taylor, and Inder Bassi collides with Chris Adaway.