The staggering display of guts and gusto delivered in equal measure by Naoya Inoue and Nonito Donaire in Saitama has had us throwing post-fight superlatives around with more frivolity than boxing organisations throw around franchise belts. Not only were fans quite rightly lavishing praise upon the world boxing super series finalists, but fans and experts alike were united in their clamor for promoters to replicate this type of format, which throws up fights between the best in the division.
Fresh off the back of the enthralling finales in the world boxing super series, comes the super lightweight version of MTK Global’s very own knockout competition.
York Hall, Bethnal Green will once again provide the setting for the second installment of MTK Global's Golden Contract tournament. November 22nd will see eight super lightweight fighters face off in a bid to make it through to the semi-finals and move a step closer to securing 'The Golden Contract'. In this case the metaphorical carrot on offer for the tournament winner being a 2 year, five-fight contract with a top promoter and a guaranteed six-figure purse for every fight.
The innovative introduction of the way the draw is made (fighters only learn of their opponent on the Tuesday of fight week) an additional £5,000 bonus for a knockout win, with a bunch of enigmatic, ambitious boxers thrown in, means you have a concoction potent enough to satisfy even the most demanding of boxing fans.
How the draw will be made:
⦁ Eight balls are placed in a bag; four blue (numbered 1-4) and four red (not numbered)
⦁ The eight fighters will each take their turn picking a ball from the bag.
⦁ Once all fighters have picked a ball, those who draw a blue ball will (in numerical order) choose who they wish to face from those who have drawn a red ball.
A look at the eight contenders and their prospective chances
The ‘Marmite’ fighter of the competition, the ‘Pantomime Villain’, the ‘Trash talker’. So many phrases conjured by the mere mention of his name amongst the boxing fraternity, but the simple fact is, he is a fighter who will draw attention. Someone the public are familiar with. Whether that’s more to do with the occasional irreverence with which he treats his opponents, I’m not sure but the recent fracas with Tyrone McKenna, captured by IFL TV has certainly intensified the attention on the forthcoming competition. ‘Not a bad marketing ploy at all’ the cynics will sneer.
In terms of boxing ability, Davies showed plenty of early promise and skill, however in his biggest tests he has been found wanting, losing emphatically against Josh Taylor where he was bamboozled to the point of not wishing to continue and being out-pointed in a somewhat insipid affair against Jack Catterall.
Since then he has tasted victory against Miguel Vasquez and will be looking to this competition to further substantiate his comeback credentials with a convincing win at The York Hall on November 22nd. You would imagine he will have to shake the 'gun-shy' tag that some of his critics will point to from the Catterall fight, particularly with some of the young fighters in the competition incentivised by the knockout bonus.
Another late entry. Was third reserve so could have been forgiven for thinking he wouldn't be fighting in the tournament when they made the line-up announcement, but he insists he always felt it was a possibility. He told MTK "I always felt like I may get in the main tournament, as strange as that is as I was essentially third reserve. I asked the question as soon as it was announced and it's what I've wanted from the start."
He has two defeats on his record but hasn't been stopped. He brings a good chin and rarely takes a step back, two good hands, fights in bursts and has an effective jab that acts as the catalyst for the combinations that follow. Once he has worked his way inside, watch for him leaning back and throwing a left hook under the elbow of his opponent. He will take a shot but he will have to be careful of doing so in this company.
Holds the Welsh Area title and has a win over Bradley Pryce in 2018.
Another southpaw, a very rangy one at that. Standing at 6’1 McKenna is massive for the weight and is likely to have a reach and height advantage over all of his fellow quarter-finalists. Whether that can be transferred into wins is another matter. Some would argue that he hasn’t got the same resume as one or two of the favorites but if the Belfast man can utilise the attributes then he can certainly be a danger.
Fascinating to see whether-given the opportunity-he picks Davies out after their simmering feud over the past few months. This Twitter post from MTK Global suggests he will, with McKenna stating unequivocally that he hopes to get “Blue ball one, him to be a red ball, me to pick him and knock him out”. Davies was on his strategy, refusing to commit to his plan should he draw a blue ball.
A late replacement for Akeem Ennis-Brown, who has pulled out of the tournament, choosing instead to fight Phillip Bowes for the Commonwealth and British titles. Benson is not expected to pose the same threat as Ennis-Brown who had a very impressive pedigree and has sparred the likes of Josh Taylor and Lee Selby, however Benson provides another twist in the plot as he has had a previous spat with Tyrone McKenna who he has already fought in Glasgow last November. McKenna came out the winner in the that contest and now has the tricky conundrum of whether to keep his word and pick Ohara Davies or choose a fighter who he has already defeated and knows well. That is of course dependent on whether McKenna has the luxury of picking and whether those opponents have red balls. (keeping up so far?). Lewis Benson’s record is 12-2-0 with only 2 of his fights coming by way of knockout, but he has not been stopped before and will prove a stiff test for anyone foolish enough to disregard him. A massive opportunity for ‘Kid Caramel’ and an opportunity to also exorcise some demons from the McKenna fight.
Drafted in late following the withdrawal of Yigit and Turarov, Sakyi is Southern Area champion and brings a real spark of excitement to proceedings. He dispatched of Idris Hill inside a round in March of this year with a poetic one-two combination and has 4 stoppage victories in his last six bouts.
Sakyi's movement and style is so aesthetically pleasing, he twists from the waist, turns his shoulders nicely and has an extremely fluid punch action, transferring his weight into his shots.
A quite gregarious character, you sense that, despite the couple of defeats he's experienced, the fact that he now has a title has seen him come into his own and grow in confidence. My dark horse for the tournament.
Also another fighter that isn't a massive fan of Davies, or so it would seem. (Tweet credit @lightsoutboxin).
Formerly a welterweight, where he managed to pick up the European strap by beating Sam Eggington in Manchester. The ex-European Champion nicknamed ‘The Problem’ will be hoping to prove just that for the other contenders as he aims to put the disappointment of his recent defeat to the evergreen Viktor Postol behind him.
With only an 8% knockout ratio, he won’t be the biggest puncher in the competition, but the Frenchman is a slick southpaw operator and shouldn’t be overlooked.
Will obviously be known in the UK for his win over Eggington, which is looking all the more impressive given the recent impressive form of the Birmingham man. Has been in bigger fights than the likes of Benson, Surtees, Yoon and will be hoping to make that count.
The competition is a mix of familiar fighters who have not quite hit the heights on the world stage and prospects who hope to do just that. Darren Surtees falls into the latter category. The unbeaten fighter from Thornley, County Durham has a healthy knockout record in his first 12 fights, with 8 coming inside the distance and is the type of boxer that the other contenders may want to steer clear of, especially if they are worried about being caught cold.
The man who hails from the North East isn’t the type to be fearful of who he gets which makes him a dangerous operator. A genuine dark horse, particularly since the withdrawal of Ennis-Brown.
Having only fought for an area title so far, he will be in with far more experienced operators and you would expect that some of his opponents will feel they have too much, however this format can throw up the unlikeliest of heroes and Surtees, who is a huge hitter, may look to upset the narrative and go for a knockout bonus.
The clear outsider of the tournament. At only 21 years old this shouldn’t define the American’s career should he not be successful. Has operated at welterweight, so it should be interesting to see if he brings some power down. Has 16 wins with no defeats but no real scalps to this point. Should he manage to defeat any of the fighters in the competition, it would probably be viewed as the biggest win to date. It would be a huge upset if he were to navigate his way to the final.