Thursday, September 3, 2009

British Scene: John O'Donnell vs Tom Glover Preview

Matt Chudley previews this Saturday's ITV4 Hennessy Sports show.

Photos © Justin McKie

ITV4's first live action of the season sees Commonwealth welterweight champion John O'Donnell defending his title against perennial outsider and upset specialist Tom Glover.

The TV date had originally been set aside for North London's brightest star, Darren Barker and his much anticipated showdown with Matthew Macklin but Macklin decided to go in another direction after the EBU came calling with an opportunity to fight for the vacant European title. With a lack of suitable opponents available for Barker and the ever game brickie Tom Glover fresh off a big win over former European lightweight champ Jon Thaxton, O'Donnell-Glover was a natural replacement to headline the card.

Guided by Robert McCracken, former middleweight world title challenger and trainer of Carl Froch, O'Donnell has begun to regain the form that saw him once touted as one of the UK's finest prospects. The slick West London based fighter last outing saw him headlining a televised card for the first time, and he came through with a gritty effort in narrowly outpointed Craig Watson for the Commonwealth title. While many punters and the judges themselves couldn't agree who deserved the nod, all where in agreement that they had witnessed one of top domestic fights of the year to date.

This time out, up against more limited opposition the onus will be on O'Donnell to impress and prove that he belongs amongst the elite of the current crop of talented British Welterweights. As Kell Brook is taking on Michael Jennings in a domestic super-fight later this autumn, a poor showing could see O'Donnell slip under the radar.

Starting out his career with an unimpressive 5-5-3 record, Essex bricklayer Tom Glover (pictured below after topping Jon Thaxton) has since upset the apple-cart in his previous four fights in the role of 'opponent'. Noted for his good conditioning, durability and lack of power, Glover was viewed by many as a decent test to ease more established fighters who where rebounding from losses back into a decent level of competition.

The man from Maldon though, turned in gritty performances to outwork Scott Woolford (8-2), Chas Symonds (14-2) and the aforementioned Thaxton (34-9) all by one point on the referees score cards. Along the way he also overcame the 22-1 Nadeem Siddique via a DQ for low blows and had earned the right to challenge Adnan Amar for the English title before this opportunity presented itself.

If his career to date is anything to go by, Glover will undoubtedly turn out to fight Amar in a months time should he come through this weekends fight unscathed yet unsuccessful.

Given that Glover had a significant size advantage over Thaxton, O'Donnell clearly presents Glover with his toughest proposition to date and with Glover's proven lack of firepower and O'Donnell's previous display over 12 rounds, its hard to make a case for Glover being able to out hustle the much more skilled fighter.

The main support is a rematch between Lee Purdy and Peter McDonagh, after their exciting 10 rounder last December in which McDonagh truimphed over 10 rounds for the Southern Area 140lb title. This time around they will clash at 147lbs for the welterweight version of the same title which was relinquished by Glover. Purdy, the younger fighter at only 22, was favoured prior to their previous fight will likely be more suited to the higher weight. He has fought above 140lbs in 4 of his 5 last fights, while McDonagh has spent much of his career as a lightweight.

Filling out the undercard are the Brendan Ingle trained duo of Abdul Barry Awad and Richard Towers (2-0) and also light middleweight prospect Steve O'Meara (9-0). Making his pro debut and known as 'Kid Galahad" Adbul Barry Awad will undoubtedly face tough comparisons to Naseem Hamed since he is of Yemeni descent, fighting out of Sheffield and a bantamweight trained by Hamed's former coach Ingle.

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