Eddie Hearn has been criticised lately due to the lack of quality shows currently being put on in Britain, but even the most cynical boxing fan will struggle to criticise this weekend’s bill in Liverpool.
The card is stacked from top to bottom with British talent and features nine Liverpool based boxers. Liverpool is a city steeped in boxing history and the locals enthusiastically back their own and with the newly named M&S Bank Arena sold out this weekend, the atmosphere will be electric on Merseyside.
Although not officially top of the bill, the build up for Anthony Fowler (9-0 8KO) vs Scott Fitzgerald (12-0 9KO) has been relentless since the fight was announced. The former Team GB team mates have built up a genuine rivalry and the insults have been brutal from both sides.
The one time friends, both won gold medals at the commonwealth games and enjoyed highly successful amateur careers. Fowler, in particular, is an Olympian with genuine pedigree but his transition to the pro game has not been as seamless as he may have expected.
However, the influence of trainer Dave Coldwell has been evident in his last couple of bouts and Fowler may just benefit from fighting someone with their own aspirations such as, Scott Fitzgerald.
The fight found more controversy at yesterday’s weigh in when Fitzgerald only made weight at the 3rd attempt. Although only 6oz over the 154lb limit, Fowler was in no mood to go easy on his rival as he labelled him an “unprofessional joke".
No matter how this fight is broken down or how people predict it will play out, both fighters have grown their profile in recent weeks and regardless of result, both Fowler and Fitzgerald will progress in the 154lb division.
Liam ‘Beefy’ Smith (26-2-1 14KO) officially tops the bill in his first outing under the Matchroom banner against Sam ‘The Savage’ Eggington (24-5 15KO). ‘Beefy’ has publicly stated he has been disappointed with his lack of activity in recent years and he will be looking to use Saturday as a chance to build some momentum ahead of a busy 2019. Smith, 30, has his eyes on reclaiming his world title that he lost when he fought Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in 2016 and although he came up short in his last outing against the highly touted Jaime Munguia, he proved beyond doubt, that he can mix it with the very best that the 154lb division has to offer.
In the opposite corner, ‘The Savage’ is looking to bounce back after suffering a shock stoppage defeat at the hands of the little known African Hassan Mwakinyo (14-2 10KO). Many people have suggested the manner in which Eggington was beaten by Mwakinyo suggests the Birmingham favourite is on the decline but at the age of just 25, it is perhaps a premature assumption to make.
The two fighters have similarly exciting styles and neither will be prepared to take a backwards step and it is very difficult to envision a scenario where this fight disappoints the fans.
The fight acting as chief support will see Robbie Davies Jnr (17-1 12KO) and Joe Hughes (17-3-1 7KO) clash for the British & European super lightweight title, respectively. Both fighters are gifted technicians and although the build-up has been extremely respectful, it wouldn’t be a surprise if this fight catches fire once the first bell goes.
Davies Jnr, 29, spent a large part of his career on non-televised shows in the North West but proved he belongs on the big stage in his last outing winning the British title against Glen Foot in Newcastle. Hughes, on the other hand, claimed the European belt with a split decision victory over Andrea Scarpa (23-5 10KO) in November and comes to the ring with a clear experience advantage over his Merseyside rival.
Another fight that has caught the public’s imagination is between Heavyweight’s David Price (23-6 19KO) and Kash Ali (15-0 7KO) both fighters arguably stole the show at Thursday’s press conference and spent a large part of it arguing back and forth. The clash was seemingly out of character for local favourite David Price who many describe as one of the nicest men in the sport. However, the 6ft 9 former British & Commonwealth champion did not take well to his chin and character being questioned by his Birmingham based counterpart.
Price, 38, has experienced a rollercoaster of a career with big wins sometimes overshadowed by brutal knockout defeats. Despite several set backs, the 2008 Olympic bronze medallist remains one of the biggest single punch knockout artists in the sport and when combined with his clear vulnerabilities, big fights are never to far away for David Price.
His opponent, Kash Ali, is undefeated and carries respectable power himself. Drafted in as a sparring partner for a lot of the bigger players in the division, including Price, this fight is the perfect opportunity for All to announce himself as a player in the British Heavyweight division. A classic cross roads fight that is sure to catch fire early, a knockout, either way, is all but guaranteed.
Further down the card, popular Scouser Tom ‘Fazza' Farrell (16-1 5KO) challenges for the first major title of his career against the slick Commonwealth Champion Phillip Bowes (19-3 3KO).
Farrell, 29, has a fantastic fan base and they will make themselves known in the arena tonight. ‘Fazza’ has a fan friendly style and will be looking to overwhelm Bowes with his impressive work rate. Bowes, who is a tight bookies favourite, has tasted defeat 3 times in his career but has natural talent in abundance. The fight may well come down to which fighter can implement their style more effectively, but a win for either makes them a major player in the domestic 140lb division.
Also on the card, exciting cruiserweight Craig Glover returns as he looks to keep active against former heavyweight Vaclav Pesjar.
Former IBF super flyweight champion Paul Butler also features in a ‘keep busy' fight over 6 rounds. His stalemate Natasha Jonas also returns looking to put the first defeat of her career behind her.
Ged Carroll takes on Des Newton over 6 rounds in the lightweight division and finally, former Team GB member Thomas Whittaker Hart, who is guided by former WBC Cruiserweight Champion Tony Bellew, makes his debut over 4 rounds.