Not many people could argue the domestic boxing schedule running to 5th May is one of the best we’ve seen coming into a New Year, especially comparing back to recent years. February is serving up two great domestic dust-ups with Okolie vs Chamberlain seeing two young Cruiserweight’s go to battle to settle a personal score and more importantly take an important step towards domestic title contention. Later in the month George Groves and Chris Eubank Jr will compete at the other end of the championship spectrum, with Groves’ WBA Super Middleweight title on the line.
As more casual fans are being drawn to the sport the hardcore fans are looking more and more for the quality of the undercard. I’d like to take a look at some of the quality of the undercard fights announced for the coming cards.
Ted Cheeseman vs Carson Jones, o2 Arena – 3rd February
After five outings in 2017, the Bermondsey light middleweight comes into what should be his stiffest test yet with great momentum. A few eyebrows may have been raised when it was announced he would be facing Carson Jones. Jones who has visited UK shores with mixed results since pushing Kell Brook to the limit before losing on a Majority Decision in what was supposed to be the Steel City welters welcome to the world stage.
After 55 bouts over a 13-year career, you wouldn’t be ridiculed for questioning how much ambition Jones will come with following his only his outing in 2017 versus the disgraced Antonio Margarito. The disadvantages of being a career road warrior bit the Oklahoma City man firmly in the backside that night in Mexico with the fight being stopped due to a cut to Margarito’s eye, put down as an accidental headbutt which was actually opened up by a punch. To add insult to injury the cards were equally controversial. Previous to this he was back in London in November 2016 when he stopped another light middleweight prospect named Ben Hall.
Having watched Cheeseman’s 2017 performances I can see why Jones has been chosen for this test. Cheeseman navigates the ring well and operates behind a high guard. Having to workout Jones’ marauding style should test his evasive abilities to the fullest. I can’t help but think when making this fight his promoter and management may have banked on Jones getting old overnight which is something we know can happen with battle worn fighters. Despite these doubts, I expect the home fighter to score a fairly comfortable points decision after taking an early lead and Jones coming on strong down the twelve round stretch.
Fight Rating: 6.5/10
Daniel Dubois vs DL Jones, The Copperbox Arena – 10th February
Like a lot of boxing fans, I’ve had an eye on Dynamite Dubois’ pro career from the first bell. There’s been a bit of Twitter uproar over the quality of opposition being put in front of the three headliners at Queensbury’s 10th February Copper Box card (Skeete and Yarde being the others). In the case of DDD, I do not agree. Here we’re looking at a very young fighter and if it makes sense an even younger heavyweight. He’s operating in the most dangerous division in the sport and learning on the job. He needs experience and measured tests. He’s not coming into the game with extensive senior experience in the unpaid ranks, this is not to ignore what he achieved at Junior and Youth levels. In turning pro he and his handlers have done a great job in creating hype, independent of the limelight the top British Heavyweights enjoy.
Now there is interest, people want to see Dubois being tested against opponents who make you take notice I.e. established names and this is justifiable to a degree. I sit on the other side of this fence, at this stage, I firmly believe his learning needs to happen in the gym. I want to see him hit his full potential because that could be something very special going on what we’ve seen. If that means another 3, 4 or 5 knock-overs until he goes into an English or British title fight then I can live with that. While we’d all like to see him in with tougher opposition but suggesting the likes of Dereck Chisora, or even Joe Joyce whose pro jump happened in deeper waters.
A great modern day example of a roadmap for DD’s career is a little known Heavyweight World Champion who goes by the name Tyson Fury. Fury turned over aged 20 and the way in which he was stepped up in levels was nothing short of perfect. With every fight, he showed he is as good of an all-round fighter as you could hope to see in a heavyweight. From boxing southpaw to having to get off the deck to come out on top, the seven-year journey from pro debut to world champion created this absolute enigma of a fighter we all want to see in the biggest boxing match in British history.
The point being when it comes to Dubois’ opponents lower the expectations and we may reap the rewards in the future!
Taking a moment to give DL Jones his due respect, he’s built a record of 8-0-1 mainly on the small hall circuit noticeably without a stoppage to his name. A draw in his last outing vs Dorian Darch being the only blemish, Darch also being his only opponent to date bringing a winning record. From the limited footage available online he likes to use upper body movement to create counter opportunities and work behind a long jab. For a man with his range he seems to enjoy working on the inside a bit too much for my liking, however, he does work well to the body.
Darch to an extent exposed his weaknesses, himself, not a big puncher whose fallen short whenever he’s met a prospect in or around English/British title level. The Welshman had Jones down in the second which to be fair was not a heavy knockdown also shook Jones later in that same round. Jones comes to the table with an athletic frame and showed he can dig deep over a short distance fight but I cannot see DDD having too much trouble in answering any questions he’s asked.
Fight Rating: 4/10
Ryan Walsh vs Isaac Lowe, The Manchester Arena – 17th February
Of the three chief supports discussed in this article, I believe this to be the pick of the bunch. With Walsh coming into this the older man by seven years, he will be looking to defend featherweight Lonsdale belt which he owns outright against a young lion in Isaac Lowe. Lowe will have home-field advantage in his maiden British title challenge will be looking to use the experience gained from the technical draw in his 2017 EBU title effort versus Dennis Ceylan in Denmark. Ceylan being a common opponent whom Walsh five months earlier was even more unlucky to lose a split decision against also in Denmark.
The bout is somewhat of crossroads matchup although I do not believe there would be no way back to British title class for the loser. In Walsh’s case, the damage to his future ambitions would be far greater because of his age. Lowe is a sharp and tidy boxer but lacks a bit of defensive guile which was shown when in with higher level operators like Ceylan. The bout has been spiced up with a bit of needle from the Cromer man with him recently telling the Eastern Daily Press “This is personal between me and Lowe” and vowed to punish the young Lancashire fighter for previous social media comments.
Both boxers are not renowned punchers however I believe this may come down to motivation. Walsh having won the belt outright should be commended for agreeing to defend, instead of pursuing international honours. Walsh must know what is at stake if he was to lose and will likely use that to spur himself on. Stylistically Lowe could well pose problems for Walsh as Selby did but may struggle in the strength department against the more experienced Walsh which I believe will be the decisive factor. However with a home crowd support, especially with the volume the local traveller community would bring on fight night, it wouldn’t be beyond the realms of possibility that Lowe comes through to win a close decision. Either way a great matchup for domestic honours!
Fight Rating: 7/10