by Scott Milner
Friday 2nd August sees 25-year-old Jack Cullen (16-1 7ko’s ) make the first defence of his English middleweight title as he takes on 34-year-old John Harding Jr (7-0-1 1ko) in what looks on paper to be an exceptional card, and could possibly be the best JD NXTGEN show to date.
Cullen was due to challenge Felix Cash for a Commonwealth title but was left disappointed when the champion was forced to pull out of the fight due to a hand injury that he picked up in training but the 25-year-old believes a career-best performance on Friday night could see the cancelled bout rearranged for October / November.
The Bolton man believes the step up in class is too soon for his Brixton based opponent who, managed by Dillian Whyte has spent the early part of his professional career honing his craft in the southern area region, having boxed at the York Hall on a number of occasions before being given the opportunity to compete on a huge stage at the O2 arena last time out on the undercard of Dave Allen vs Lucas Browne.
34-year-old Harding Jr has been quite vocal in a number of interviews in the build-up to the clash believing he has what it takes to cause an upset and defeat the English champion as he steps up to ten rounds for the first time in his career, but while Cullen says it is good to have someone coming to fight that believes they can win, he completely dismissed the Londoner's chances saying he is simply too good.
6ft 3in Cullen already has some impressive names on his record including wins against the likes of Nick Quigley and Chris Blaney before he stopped Jack Sellars back in May of this year for the vacant English title making it four stoppages in a row and will be hoping to carry on his tremendous run of form.
While Cullen has undoubtedly the better pedigree on paper he has urged the less experienced man not to just “talk the talk” but to make sure he “walks the walk” when they meet.
Although the bookies favourite and only fighting a short distance down the road from his home town he can’t afford to look past his southern opponent in anticipation of a clash with the commonwealth champion, he must keep his feet firmly on the ground and ensure his entire focus is on the job in hand.
The card is being shown on both Sky Sports and DAZN so it is a fantastic opportunity for both fighters to shine on the big stage and dramatically improve their stock.
The bill also features Liverpool prodigy Anthony Fowler looking to get back to winning ways against the vastly experienced Brian Rose after a devastating defeat to Scott Fitzgerald last time out in a thrilling encounter, fellow Scouser Robbie Davies Jr, Scottish based heavyweight Martin Bakole and the professional debut of unbeaten amateur sensation Naytrix Nay Farrell.