Considering the high profile heavyweight unification bout happening in Russia and the return of Miguel Cotto it’s not that surprising that an interesting card happening in England on Saturday has found itself lost in the mix. Not that surprising but disappointing as it’s on paper on the better all-round cards I can recall happening on these shores with a mix of established and developing British talent all looking to put on strong performances.
Scott Quigg vs Yoandris Salinas
In the main event Scott Quigg looks to turn his interim WBA Super Bantamweight title into the full belt against undefeated Cuban Yoandris Salinas. Quigg is one of a group of talented 122lbs boxers we currently have in the UK, most notably European champion Carl Frampton (and as a fan it’s somewhat disappointing that a bout between the two hasn’t happened yet) and slightly behind the pair the wonderfully named British champion Kid Galahad. Quigg won the interim belt by breaking down long time contender Rendall Munroe late last year and after a stay-busy bout is now looking to really stamp his authority on the world scene. Quigg is a technical boxer with quick hands, able to box on either the front or back foot with fast shots and a decent jab that he likes to hook off. He throws in combination to the head and body and is very good at sneaking in sharp punches during exchanges. Defensively sound at his best his makes even good boxers somewhat plodding.
Salinas is an ex-Cuban amateur star although it must be said that his time in the unpaid ranks didn’t come close to matching the glories of the more illustrious names who have turned pro over the last few years. Since picking up a wage he hasn’t really been that impressive with regards to either his performances or the opponents he’s beaten. His record is 20-0-1 with the draw coming against the best opponent he’s faced. As a boxer he’s fairly inactive, looking to dictate bouts behind a sharp jab and the occasional but hard right hand and generally relies on his athleticism for defence. I’m not particularly sold that he’s good… or at least world level… but I imagine he could frustrate Quigg for much of the bout. Quigg to win by decision.
Lee Selby vs Ryan Walsh
Perhaps the most high profile of the undercard bouts features two of the best featherweights in the country.
Lee Selby has been seen as one to watch for a while now and assuming he gets through this bout should be looking towards world title opportunities. Since picking up the British title in 2011 he’s be on a tear knocking off a variety of experienced contenders. Stylistically Selby is a flexible boxer who builds most of his game around the intelligent use of footwork and angles combined with some fast hands. Defensively he has a lot of nous but is also smart enough to know when to come forward and really dictate bouts.
His opponent Ryan Walsh is less heralded despite his unbeaten 16-0 record. The reason for that is largely that Walsh has been facing pretty ordinary (and that’s me being generous) at best opposition. I haven’t seen a vast amount of Walsh but from what I have seen he looks to be a handy boxer. Not particularly quick he manages to find a nice rhythm to his punches, working well of the jab and choosing his shots smartly. In particular he appears to be a boxer who understands the importance of defence even when attacking; he leaves relatively few openings and covers up well. That said I feel this is all a bit soon for him considering his level of opposition. Selby is a big step up and I’m not sure I’ve seen enough from Walsh at this point to think he can rise to the challenge.
Kevin Mitchell vs Marco Lopez
At 28 years old it’s somewhat odd to be talking about Kevin Mitchell being at a career crossroads, especially when you consider his 32-2 record and the fact it was only two years ago he was scoring the biggest win of his carrer in stopping the then undefeated John Murray. Unfortunately the way Mitchell’s career has stopped, started, stopped again and generally never quite gone the way he… and often we… would hope means that if he loses this upcoming bout it’s hard to see quite where he goes. His two previous attempts at world titles, first against Michael Katsidis and then against Ricky Burns both ended him him being quickly stopped and he’s had a litany of issues outside the ring mainly relating to drink and drugs. At his best Mitchell combines being an exciting inside fighter willing and able to brawl well with sensible boxing from the outside, picking his spots and using movement well. There were signs that Mitchell was getting somewhat close to his best with his last victory, a somewhat workmanlike decision over journeyman Sebastien Benito but it lacked the spark that had so excited us between 2005 and 2009.
His opponent this Saturday, Marco Lopez, brings a pretty 23-2 record but there’s no depth to it. I haven’t been able to find any video footage of Lopez so I can’t really accurately rate him but going by record alone he shouldn’t be a challenge. 14 stoppages in 23 wins against the level of opposition he’s been facing isn’t indicative of any great power and his two losses are both relatively recent, both by stoppage and one came to a 5-2 opponent. On paper he should be a easy matchup for Mitchell who will want to impress. The only real concerns I can see are that Mitchell appears to be already thinking about a domestic bout with Derry Mathews and not so long ago Lopez did manage a first round stoppage over a 15-2 opponent. More than one boxer has been looking ahead only to see himself beaten by someone he thought of as a stepping stone.
There are a few lower level bouts that should be entertaining as well. Danny Connor has a deceptive 10-6-1 record but four of those losses and a draw came in his first five bouts. A hard working, busy boxer with a touch of cunning to him, he has two upset wins over the fairly well regarded Chris Evangelou and reached the final of a Prizefighter tournament. His opponent Tony Owen has a nice looking 14-2 record but his opposition leaves a lot to be desired, generally consisting of journeymen with records along the lines of 4-20-1. To be fair to him his opposition has improved slightly and this will be his big chance to show off.
Two cruiserweight prospects who stumbled recently also meet up. Wadi Camacho is an exciting but somewhat wild prospect who ran into a bit of a brick wall when he was outlasted and outhustled by China Clarke. That said the manner of the loss hopefully showed him his flaws and he’s recovered beautifully, first winning a Prize Fighter tournament and then demolishing the experienced gatekeeper Attila Palko. His opponent is another guy with a beautiful boxing name, Tony Conquest, looked to be a real talent to watch as he ran up a 10-0 record and appeared to actually be taking the first few steps towards international class very quickly. A big spanner was thrown in that plan when domestic contender Neil Dawson finished him in the first round. He’s won another bout since then, but I imagine the disappointment still lingers. Conquest is probably the better boxer of the pair with a good jab, some nice combination work and generally being that little bit tighter. But Camacho is probably the bigger hitter and Conquest’s defence has never been exceptional. If Camacho can land… especially if he can land with any frequency… Conquest may struggle. That said, I think Conquest has enough about him to box smartly, avoid Camacho’s early aggression and generally outwork and outskill him for a decision win.
There’s also an interesting bout between two undefeated welterweight hopefuls. Larry Ekundayo drops to 147lbs for the first time, having come from nowhere to win Prize Fighter (including an upset of the once fairly hyped Craig McEwan) while Glenn Foot likewise won a Prize Fighter tournament and is coming off the best win of his career against experienced domestic contender Jason Cook.
Perhaps the most intriguing bouts on the undercard however feature two Olympic gold medalists taking their first few steps into the paid ranks. Bantamweight champion (and sometime ice skater) Luke Campbell and Anthony Joshua both take on opponents brought in to lose. Campbell has already made his debut and the 5-2 (no wins over an opponent with a winning record) Neil Hepper is unlikely to offer much resistance. I put some longer thoughts on Joshua under a Guardian article on his future but to give the briefer version, while Emanuele Leo doesn’t look to be anything special , Joshua’s team have still opted to take on an 8-0 boxer over six rounds in his début. I consider that a positive statement of intent, especially when you consider how little experience Joshua has even as an amateur.
The entire bill is full of interesting bouts. Sky Sports will carry the card on the UK while for US viewers ESPN3 is streaming the card.