By Daniel Smith
On April 17th forever rising management stable MTK Global put on another card filled with domestic talent looking to progress their careers even further over in Bolton, headlined by previous GB amateur fighter Danny Dignum in arguably his biggest test to date against Andrey Sitokin.
There is also room for highly touted Light-Heavyweight contender Dan Azeez who takes on a step up in competition as he faces the seasoned pro in Ricky Summers, along with a further solid matchup in both the Super Bantamweight division as another ex GB amateur Jack Bateson takes on Joe Ham.
Also on the card is former ABA Amateur champion and 2018 European silver medallist Carl Fail who is coming off the back off a competitive debut win over an extremely game Jordan Dujon at Junior Middleweight. Three time Irish national amateur champion and 2015 World Amateur games Bronze medallist Paul Ryan makes his introduction into the professional ranks by making his debut on the card at Middleweight alongside fellow Irish Middleweight Fearghus Quinn who makes his 3rd outing as a pro, whilst Light Heavyweight Lewis Edmondson gets a run out for his 5th pro fight vs the experienced Luke Blackledge.
Danny Dignum vs Andrey Sirotkin
On the top of the bill Danny Dignum looks to capitalise on the back of 2 solid wins back-to-back against both Conrad Cummings & previously undefeated Alfredo Meli as he defends his WBO European title against 19-1 Andrey Sirotkin, whose only sole defeat has come to the hands of World Super Middleweight contender John Ryder as he was stopped within 7 rounds.
This is somewhat of a risky fight and a big step up for Dignum especially so early on in his professional career as this will be only his 14th professional contest, whilst it also may be worth mentioning that Sirotkin (who has also campaigned up at super middleweight and light heavyweight along with having a notable win over former 2 weight world champion and extremely controversial figure in Ricardo Mayorga) is undefeated since making the transition down to 160 lbs and the Russian’s size could ultimately be a factor in this fight.
Dignum, who is also ranked highly with the WBO at #5, has been extremely vocal about seeking various domestic clashes in a stacked middleweight division that currently contains fighters such as Chris Eubank Jr & Liam Williams, who have their sights fully set on world honours especially with Williams’ upcoming fight with WBO champion Demetrius Andrade, whilst on the domestic front you have British champion Denzel Bentley challenging Commonwealth champion Felix Cash towards the back end of the month and Dignum could very well be mandated to face the winner after winning a final eliminator for the British title in his last fight which could very well open up an opportunity for Dignum to further raise his profile.
Nonetheless this could prove to be a good test to assess what level Dignum is at within his career and full credit has to be given to his team for taking such a risky fight so early on in his career.
Dan Azeez vs Ricky Summers
In the UK we currently have a crop of talented fighters in the Light Heavyweight division from the likes of Callum Johnson & Anthony Yarde who have had their respective attempts at world titles,albeit both unsuccessful but giving a good account of themselves. to the highly touted Joshua Buatsi who is due to make a big step up in competition over the course of the year along with Lyndon Arthur who is well-positioned in the rankings in all major governing bodies after his win over Yarde.
Also in this division is newly crowned British Champion Craig Richards who,after picking up a devastating stoppage win over previous champion Shakkan Pitters in a highly contested bout, takes on a monumental ask as he aims to dethrone current unbeaten WBA World Champion Dmitry Bivol on May 1st.
One man who has been looking to reach these heights is current English Light Heavyweight Champion Dan Azeez who is coming off the back of a solid win over domestic rival Andre Sterling becoming the first man to stop Sterling in the process.
Azeez,31, has been forever vocal about fighting his domestic rivals and has sparred with many of them in past occasions including both Yarde & Buatsi and they are both fights he calls for in the foreseeable future however on April 17th his attention will be solid domestic rival Ricky Summers whose only defeats in 20 fights have came to the hands of previous British Champion Frank Buglioni & Andre Sterling ( who Azeez stopped in his last fight) so immediately this presents Azeez with his toughest test on paper thus far.
Summers will present a solid test for Azeez & a win in dominating fashion will most definitely send out a potential statement to the fighters he seeks to face especially with MTK as his management.
Jack Bateson Vs Joe Ham
Also on this card accomplished amateur & Leeds native Jack Bateson (12-0) takes on seasoned pro Joe Ham (16-2). Bateson has a decorated amateur background spanning 120 fights with 100 wins & with gold medals at the 2011 commonwealth youth games, 2012 ABA Championships, a bronze medal at the 2013 European Championships whilst also competing in the 2013 senior World Championships. His opponent Scotsman Joe Ham undoubtedly provides Bateson his hardest test to date and only has losses to former GB amateur Qais Ashfaq & Tyrone McCullagh both via decision.
It will be interesting to see if Bateson can replicate the form that made him a successful amateur into the pro ranks against a well-seasoned opponent in Ham.
Lewis Edmondson vs Luke Blackledge
25 year old Light Heavyweight Lewis Edmondson (4-0 1KO) faces former Commonwealth Champion & British title challenger Luke Blackledge who has shared the ring with former WBA World Super middleweight Champion Callum Smith & former WBA ‘regular’ Champion Rocky Fielding suffering 2 knockout defeats to both. Despite losing 3 out of his last 6 the late addition of Blackledge should provide a stern test for the youthful Edmondson.
Coverage: Broadcast live on IFL TV
Start time: 19:30 GMT