Thursday, March 26, 2009

British Scene Weekend Preview

In store for British boxing fans this weekend...

Dave Oakes previews Friday night's commonwealth super-featherweight title clash between champion Ricky Burns and challenger Michael Gomez.

Matt Chudley takes a look at the vacant British super-middleweight title bout between Tony Quigley and Tony Dodson. Matt also touches on what might be next for Ireland's Bernard Dunne.

Friday March 27

Michael Gomez vs Ricky Burns (SKY)

By Dave Oakes

Michael Gomez’s demolition of Alex Arthur in 2003 remains the career highlight for the erratic, self-proclaimed madman of Manchester. On Friday night, he returns north of the border to challenge Ricky Burns for the Commonwealth super-featherweight title at the Bellahouston Sports Centre, Glasgow.

A lot has happened to Gomez since that famous night, namely a movie of his life story being made, a split from trainer Billy Graham, four knockout losses, including his strange walk-out midway through the 5th round of a fight he was winning comfortably against Peter McDonagh, and a dabble at lightweight resulting in a failed attempt to beat the then unbeaten Amir Khan. It’s safe to say Gomez doesn’t do quiet.

He had Khan down and hurt that night, but was taking too many punches and was ground down in the 5th round when he appeared to run out of energy. It’s a common trait in Gomez’s career, if he doesn’t get his opponent out of there early, he tends to fade later on.

The similarities between this fight and the Arthur fight are there to see. Burns is a long range boxer with height and reach advantages and is considered the up-and-coming fighter. Gomez is seen as past his best and is the underdog going into the champion’s backyard. Gomez knows this and will thrive off it; he’s already started the war of words and will certainly try to unsettle his younger opponent at the weigh-in with his usual antics.

This will be Burns’ second defence of his title and his biggest fight since losing to Carl Johanesson two years ago. He has improved since that fight but the fact he struggled to cope with the aggressive style of Johanesson must be a worry for his team. Burns will be looking to hit and move rather than trading with the stronger Gomez. His stiff jab and quick straight right will be of great importance in this fight and the need to keep a calm head early on could decide the way the fight goes.

Gomez will be looking to force Burns onto the ropes from the first bell and will deliver some punishing hooks to head and body. If Burns can survive the early attack and establish his jab as the fight progresses, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him wear Gomez down and stop him around the 9th round.

e-mail Dave Oakes

Saturday March 28

Tony Dodson vs Tony Quigley (Setanta)

By Matt Chudley

On Saturday at the Echo Arena in Liverpool Tony Dodson and Tony Quigley clash for the vacant British super-middleweight Title on a card that has seen more chopping and changing than the average HBO Boxing after Dark show.

Initially the main event was to involve British light-middleweight champion Ryan Rhodes defending his title against loud mouth Londoner Anthony Small with the co-feature being Belfast’s Brian Magee defending his British super-middleweight title against local boy Tony Dodson.

Rhodes, the resurgent Sheffield fighter pulled out due to a cold although the idea of facing awkward stylist and mandatory challenger Small when he had once again crept into the WBC top ten couldn't have been the most enthralling of prospects.

After suffering a back injury during training Brian Magee opted to vacate his Lonsdale belt, allowing scousers Tony Dodson and Tony Quigley to contest the vacant title.

Dodson, a big character on the British circuit held the title previously but was unable to defend it himself after suffering a string of injuries resulting from a car crash in May 2004. It is a big step up in competition for Tony Quigley, who auditioned unsuccessfully for a place on the latest series of mixed-martial-arts reality TV show “The Ultimate Fighter”. Sporting a soft 12-1 record Quigley was afforded the opportunity out of convenience as he was previously scheduled to fight for the English title on this card.

While Haymaker Promotions may have lost the three most established fighters from this bill they have been lucky enough to hold onto the services of the two biggest tickets sellers. The last of the British Olympians to turn pro and the oldest of the group, local Heavyweight Bronze medalist David Price will accompany the controversial “Dirty” Derry Mathews in filling out the undercard. Mathews, who is renowned for testing referees and socializing with football stars had built quite a following in the region until losing 2 of his last three and is looking to rebuild against South African journeyman Harry Ramogoadi over six rounds. Price is to take on short notice trail horse David Ingleby, also over six.

e-mail Matt Chudley

What next for Bernard Dunne?

Without a doubt the fight which everyone in the British Isles would like to see is Dunne vs Leicester man Rendall Munroe. However, it is reasonable to assume though that the same promotional complications that have hampered this potential fight will continue to plague it.

Dunne’s promoter Brian Peters has an ongoing deal with Irish flagship broadcaster RTE and Munroe’s promoter with the British based Sky Sports who are also present in Ireland. With an unwillingness to jump networks, an overstating of their man’s value and the public finger pointing it has become a similar situation to that of Arthur Abraham and Felix Sturm.

The real WBA champion Celestine Caballero has been amongst the many who have now called out the Irishman, guaranteeing a sell-out crowd and a big TV audience in his native land Dunne has become the meal ticket of the division. Peters had said that their dream fight would be Israel Vasquez in Las Vegas but that a voluntary defense is the likely next move.

- Matt Chudley