Former British cruiserweight title challenger Mike Stafford has been watching Channel 5’s light-heavyweight tournament with interest.
The round-robin competition has been pitting British champion Bob Ajisafe, English ruler Travis Dickinson, and other hopefuls like Matty Clarkson and Danny McIntosh against each other, with the fighters gaining invaluable terrestrial TV exposure.
Southport’s Stafford, who lost to Jon-Lewis Dickinson on points for the Lonsdale Belt in 2013, headlines in his hometown’s Floral Hall on Friday June 20. And the 33-year-old wants to put in a good shift and force himself into another title opportunity.
“I don’t think anyone’s stood out and they’re all at the same level,” assessed Stafford on the crop of light-heavies in the Maxinutrition tournament. “It’s been interesting though and I’m looking forward to getting into that mix and taking their titles off them.
“There’s nothing I’ve seen that I don’t think I can’t handle. No disrespect to them because they’re all great lads, but I honestly believe none are in my league. When I fought for the British title I was fighting with one arm and he still struggled with me and, at one point, I was winning it.
“That’s gone now though and I’m at light-heavyweight. With the exception of Enzo Maccarinelli who’s at the top and looking for world honours, I’m a level above. I just hope the Board give me a chance to prove I’m worthy of being British champion.”
Mike has been creating some excitement in Southport. The popular Merseysider hasn’t just been attracting the backing of die-hard fans, but is cheered to the ring by first-timers to boxing shows too. And with a full-house expected on Friday night, Stafford is determined to make a statement.
“I just enjoy fighting and keeping active. It’s hard right now, with the way the game is, so keeping active for me is the priority as long as there’s a goal at the end of it. I’m enjoying myself right now; I’m in a good place. I should have gone down to light-heavy years ago and I just can’t wait to get in there on Friday and move forward towards a title.
“It’s special [boxing in Southport]. There are lots of people who come who have been watching me since I was an amateur and they know what I can do. But there are also plenty of causal fans coming who are getting the buzz because they realise I’m on the verge of winning titles and doing something special. It excites me because I want to perform for the fans and put Southport on the map.”
“Mike would have won the British title already if his arm hadn’t gone in the fourth round against Dickinson,” explained promoter Steve Wood. “Maybe it was a blessing in disguise though because he’s knuckled down and is now at the right weight to go with his talent. I really don’t think there is a light-heavyweight in Britain who’ll be able to live with him and I’ve no doubts he will be a future British champion.”
VIP Promotions presents an evening of boxing at Southport’s Floral Hall on June 20. Topping the bill will be Southport’s former British title challenger Mike Stafford. Also appearing will be Scott Moonan from Southport; Liverpool’s James Metcalf, Ryan Moorhead and Andy Colquhoun; Heywood’s Mark Thompson, and Accrington’s Artif Ali.
Tickets, priced at £30 (General) and £60 (Ringside), are available from all boxers or at vipbe.co.uk