It has been an interesting few days in the world of boxing. On the spectrum of fight nights, this last week has offered up the exhibition of two aging boxing legends in Mike Tyson vs Roy Jones Jr, the freak show of YouTuber Jake Paul vs ex-NBA basketball player Nate Robinson, and the all-British heavyweight clash of Dubois vs Joyce. With these as the backdrop, a Wednesday night matchup of Jazza Dickens (29-3, 11KO) Vs Ryan Walsh (26-2-2, 12KO) can almost certainly be chalked up as a ‘trade night’.
Respect between finalists | Sky Sports
This Wednesday sees the conclusion of MTK’s Golden Contract tournament with James ‘Jazza’ Dickens and Ryan Walsh contesting the featherweight edition’s final. Originally scheduled for September the final required a postponement after Dickens tested positive for Covid-19. Thankfully, both fighters are fit and well and the show goes on!
Dickens arrives in The Golden Contract final on the back of unanimous and majority decision victories over Spaniard Carlos Ramos and Brit Leigh Wood, respectively, after demonstrating all that can be asked of a finalist: grit, determination, and resilience in adversity. In a hard-fought semi-final that tested the resolve of both men, Dickens emerged victorious, in a knife-edge decision with two judges favouring him by no more than two rounds, and the final judge unable to separate the fighters. On balance, Dicken’s fast footwork and relentless pressure was the telling difference, as he nullified the reach advantage of Wood and created openings, most notably the barrage of punches that landed in the ninth that Wood bravely withstood. Dickens invested heavily in the round and caught Wood with clubbing blows that for some referees may have just been enough to provoke intervention. Regardless, Dickens was the judges' favourite and he emerged victorious.
Dickens edges McCullagh to earn his spot | Sky Sports
In the opposite corner, Walsh’s route to the final saw him dismissing two previously undefeated boxers - in Cuban Hairon Socarras, who Walsh stopped in the ninth of the ten rounds scheduled, followed by a wide unanimous decision over Brit, Tyrone McCullagh - to book his spot in The Golden Contract final. Walsh showed his intent immediately in the semi-final, as he burst out of his corner on the opening bell and sought to pressure McCullagh, a start that would set the tone for the first half of the fight, with Walsh continuing to chase and pin McCullagh to various points in the ring, with the latter instead seeming content to limit his engagement and endeavour to keep the fight at a distance. The turning point came in the sixth round when Walsh connected with a looping right hand that left McCullagh desperate but unable to clinch. Sensing his opponent's need for respite, Walsh brought anguish for McCullagh, who eventually succumbed to the pressure and fell to the canvas. Although not significantly hurt, McCullagh seemed to resume the action in a more sheepish and wary fashion; conversely, Walsh grew in confidence at the realisation that he may just get to his opponent before the final bell. Walsh did get to his man again, putting him down in the closing moments of the ninth round, but it wasn’t enough to stop McCullagh, who heard the final bell but knew the night wasn't his.
Walsh books his ticket to the final | Sky Sports
In what many are calling a genuine 50-50, this fight, and The Golden Contract prize itself, neatly epitomises what Dickens, Walsh, and the thousands of professional boxers up and down the country toil for: the opportunity to step out from the relative obscurity of ‘trade nights’ and to move into the more lucrative exposure of mainstream audiences and the financial security that this affords them; essentially, the opportunity to devote themselves wholly to their craft.
Both men are come forward, front foot, pressure fighters with bundles of energy and heart, a concoction that can only end in a fight to remember. Dickens will look to meet his opponent in the middle of the ring and to command respect with his punches, that come in flurries and his power shots that come with bad intentions. Walsh, as ever, will be ready and waiting prepared to fight fire with fire from the first bell until the last.
Date: December 2nd 2020
Time: Ring walk approx. 21:00
Venue: Production Park Studios, Yorkshire, England
Channel: Sky Sports Arena (UK) / ESPN+ (USA)
Elsewhere on the card, the light-heavyweight final takes place with Ricards Bolotniks (17-5-1, 7KO) of Latvia and Serge Michel (11-1, 8KO) of Germany set to clash for the right to be crowned Golden Contract recipient in their division. Also part of the undercard is the coming together of undefeated British prospects Daniel Egbunike (6-0, 3KO) and Harlem Eubank (10-0, 3KO).