AFTER 45 YEARS IN THE HEART OF DARKNESS AFRICA ROARS BACK ONTO THE GLOBAL BOXING SCENE

Class vs Mwale and Pulev vs Meroro co-headline historic ‘Rumble-in-Dar’ Global TV event on Jan 29th

Over the years African Boxing has been seen as the poor relative when it comes to Global audiences for professional boxing from the Continent. America and Europe have dominated the scene it seems forever, but that had already began to change, as more recently it is the Middle East that has come to the fore hosting the big events that attract the Global interest. 

In just over a weeks time Boxing from Africa, will roar back onto the scene determined to make such an impact that the fans of sport’s focus will begin to shift towards that Continent too.

Historically Boxing in Africa has attracted Global audiences, who could forget that one of the biggest fights of all time took place in Africa. Back in October 1974 the world’s eyes were on Zaire as Muhammad Ali challenged George Foreman for his World Crown in Kinshasa. 

Whilst Rumble in the Jungle, arguably the greatest sporting event of the 20th century, was the most watched boxing event ever, drawing an estimated one billion viewers Globally, the expected Legacy for Boxing in Africa failed to materialise. Yes, since then there have been a few fights on the Continent that were shown on Major Networks in America and Europe, these were one offs, there have been no regular international events to maintain the momentum, but that is all about to change…

On the 29th January 2021, Botswana based Global Boxing Stars and Tanzania based Jackson Group present the first of six planned Fight Night events in the Tanzania, evocatively named “Rumble-In-Dar“, they hope will redress the balance and attract fans of the pugilistic arts around the World.

The ground breaking event is co-headlined by Tanzania’s Ibrahim Class (24-6-0) versus South Africa based Malawian Dennis Mwale (8-0-0), who will be competing for the World Boxing Federation (WBFed) Intercontinental Lightweight Championship. 

Bulgaria’s Tervel Pulev (15-0-0), the brother of Heavyweight Kubrat Pulev, who was KO’d by Anthony Joshua back in December, versus Namibia’s Vikapita Meroro (29-9-0) co-headlines in a non-championship ten rounder.

The packed undercard features a further Championship contest, between Tanzania’s Shaban Hamadi Jongo (7-1-2) and New York, USA’s Shawn Miller (18-5-1) for the WBFed International Heavyweight belt.

Unbeaten Zambian World Prospect Lolita Muzeya (16-0-0) makes her return to the ring on the event and South Africa’s rising Heavyweight sensation Ardi “The Iron Fist” Ndembo (1-0-0) makes his second pro outing.

‘Rumble-in-Dar’ will take place in front of an audience at the Next Door Arena in Dar-Es-Salaam, as Tanzania, unlike much of the World today, has been little affected by the COVID 19 pandemic and will be broadcast Globally, providing free to view access to in excess of three quarter of a Billion Homes and Billions more Devices.

So just who are the people so intent on changing not only the perception of African Boxing but also on showcasing African talent on a Global platform.

Scott Patrick Farrell, the founder of Global Boxing Stars, is the former CEO of Ringstar Boxing and former Managing director of Commvault inc, a corporation that that went ipo for over 500 million dollars whilst Scott was part of the senior Management team. 

“In business and in life timing is everything, I believe this is the right time, Tanzania is the right place and between GBS and the Jackson Group we have the right partnership to take this platform to the next level, plans are afoot to deploy world titles, world title eliminators as well as international non-title bouts on the future bills, so as to raise the profile and quality of the bills show by show. We have a strategy to position Dar es Salaam as a new sports tourism hub.”

Scott lives the dream and works regularly with the only Boxing hall of fame eight division World champion Senator Manny Pacquiao as co-promoter and producer/event director for the Manny Pacquiao Championship Boxing Series. 

Over the years Scott has built and been a very integral part of numerous contenders becoming World Champions, such as; IBF Bantamweight number one contender Michael Dasmarinas. Scott took the unknown boxer from the Philippines to become the IBO world champion, and then to a victory in the IBF world title eliminator. Making Dasmarinas the mandatory challenger for the much-sorted crown of the IBF world title. Other success comes with four division World Champion and current WBO World Champion John Riel Casimero as part of the Sean Gibbons & Manny Pacquiao Championship Boxing team, and Paulus ‘The Rock” Ambunda former WBO and IBO world champion, Scott secured his third world title victory with Ringstar Asia. 

Scott has now taken all his life lessons and experience and partnered with Jeremy Bean, who has Pan African connectivity and experience in staging live broadcast events from all  major economic hubs of the continent to create Global Boxing Stars, a professional management company to represent and build a fighter’s career. His focus is developing fighters based in Africa and other parts of the world, to build new World Champion prospects to sign with the top promoters in the USA, UK and other parts of the world. Scott has a great working relationship and proven track record with the giants of the boxing industry such as Top Rank, PBC, Golden Boy, DAZN and Matchroom, and many more… 

“We are extremely energised by this collaboration partnership, we have alignment, a common vision and the energy is good. Together Global Boxing Stars and the Jackson Group seek to develop a new commercial model for Pan African boxing and unlock value through pooling of our networks, resources and operational capacity. Myself and Kelvin are marketing guys that the boxing bug has bitten, we see Pan African boxing as a sleeping giant and believe our partnership will pioneer a new approach that will bring corporate partners with a Pan African footprint to the table.” Said fellow Director of Global Boxing Stars Jeremy Bean.

Jeremy comes from an advertising background, along with practical sports marketing and event staging experience along with a proven track record of producing international, live broadcast boxing events across the African continent. 

While producing the Pan African boxing content for the Kwesé ESPN partnership, Jeremy staged fights in all the major economic hubs of Southern, East and West Africa.

Joining the dynamic duo on this major project  is Kelvin Twissa, CEO of The Jackson Group.

“Jeremy and I first connected when I was doing shows with Sport Pesa in Kenya and he was producing the Pan African boxing content for the ESPN Kwesé partnership, now under different banners and with what appears opportune timing we are teaming up to position Tanzania as a new fight mecca and sport tourism hub. The Jackson Group and Global Boxing Stars have formed a powerful, cross functional team – we can talk marketing and commercials to brands and sponsors, we can talk television and production specs to broadcasters and now we can talk boxing, all as a single powerful partnership unit.” 

Kelvin, a high-level marketing strategist with experience managing campaigns and brands across Africa, is the former Global Chief Marketing Officer of SportPesa, brings to the team vast experience via various marketing roles at Exco level with some of the largest corporates and Telcos on the African continent. 

Now in the role of CEO under the banner of the Jackson Group, Kelvin is able to unlock value through commercial partnerships and connectivity across the East African hub and the continent at large. Kelvin’s experience in sports ranges from football working with Clubs and Leagues in Africa and Europe including the Everton, Arsenal, Laliga and Cape Town City FC.

During his time at SportPesa Kelvin created the SportPesa Fight Night, as well as brought Tony Bellew to Kenya as part of the Everton SportPesa Boxing Road Show. The Nairobi Figth Night Series commanded over 7.4 million audience in Kenya alone being shown in over 7 channels across Africa.

Without doubt the stage appears set for a new energy and approach to Pan African boxing, with Tanzania providing the backdrop and this exciting partnership between Global Boxing Stars and The Jackson Group pioneering a new commercial and collaborative model.

Rumble in Dar, co-headlined by Ibrahim Class versus Dennis Mwale for the World Boxing Federation (WBFed) Intercontinental Lightweight Championship and Tervel Pulev versus Vikapita Meroro takes place at the Next Door Arena, Masaki, Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania on Friday the 29th January 2021.

Joining host broadcaster Azam TV are numerous broadcast platforms worldwide such as NBC Namibia, Astro Arens (Malaysia) plus more (check local Channel/Cable Network schedule) and will also be streamed live and free to view on FITE.TV, Gineko Network, Boxing TV, PPV Live,  360 PR App etc (further Streaming Channels to be announced soon) as well as on the Go Boxing YouTube and Daily Motion Channels, Rumble in Dar will also be available as Video on Demand seven days after the event on Sports channel Network (SCN) and other VOD platforms.

#RumbleInDar

www.globalboxingstars.com

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Pulev Vs Meroro and Class Vs Mwale Co-Headline Globally Broadcast Event on 29th Jan

With the distinct lack of televised boxing events for fans of the pugilistic arts to watch in January 2021, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Botswana based Global Boxing Stars and the Jackson Group have entered into an agreement with United Kingdom based Go Sports & Entertainment, for the world-wide broadcast distribution for a series of International Championship Boxing Events in Tanzania throughout 2021.

“It’s an exciting joint venture in a beautiful part of the world. The broadcast partners Azam TV are providing a world class production, and it’s refreshing to be working with great like minded people from Jackson Group Sports who have been instrumental in bringing this deal together” stated Global Boxing Stars CEO Scott Patrick Farrell, before adding “Get ready for the first of the Rumble In Dar boxing series on January 29th, non-stop action is guaranteed “

The first event takes place at the Next Door Arena, Masaki, Dar-Es-Salaam, Tanzania on the 29th January 2021.

Bulgaria’s Terval Pulev (15-0-0), the brother of Heavyweight Kubrat Pulev, who was KO’d by Anthony Joshua back in December, versus Namibia’s Vikapita Meroro (29-9-0) co-headlines the event along with Tanzania’s Ibrahim Class (24-6-0) versus South Africa based Malawian Dennis Mwale (8-0-0), who will be competing for the World Boxing Federation (WBFed) Intercontinental Lightweight Championship

The sensational undercard features a further Championship contest, between Tanzania’s Shaban Hamadi Jongo (7-1-2) and New York, USA’s Shawn Miller (18-5-1) for the WBFed International Heavyweight belt.

Unbeaten Zambian World Prospect Lolita Muzeya (16-0-0) makes her return to the ring on the event and South Africa’s rising Heavyweight sensation Ardi “The Iron Fist” Ndembo (1-0-0) makes his second pro outing.

The full line up for this exciting International show is:

Lightweight: Ibrahim Class versus Dennis Mwale

World Boxing Federation (WBFed) Intercontinental Championship

Heavyweight: Shaban Hamadi Jongo versus Shawn Miller

World Boxing Federation (WBFed) International Championship

Cruiserweight: Vikariat Meroro versus Tervel Pulev

Super Welterweight: Nicolaus Michael Mdoe versus Gomotsang Gaasite

Featherweight: Nasibu Ramadhani versus Nkosinathi Biyana

Super Lightweight: Happy Daudi Mwagike versus Lolita Muzeya

Super Flyweight: Stumai Muki versus Recai Madondo

Lightweight: Hashim Japhari Kiranga versus Said Mlosi Mussa

Cruiserweight: Hafidh David versus Kaminja Ramadhan

Heavyweight: Pascal Lezile Enock versus Ardi Ndembo

In addition to the above event on the 21st January the dates for the full series of Global Boxing Stars and Jackson Group events in 2021 is:

26th March 2021 – Full line up to be announced 

28th May 2021 – Full line up to be announced 

30th July 2021 – Full line up to be announced 

24th September 2021 – Full line up to be announced 

26th November 2021 – Full line up to be announced 

Various broadcasters world-wide (National Broadcasters, Digital, Cable, Satellite as well as On-Line) have already been secured, however the full list of channels will be announced in the coming week or so once all syndication agreements are finalised.

The GSE developed Broadcast Distribution Network for the 29th January 2021 event is anticipated to provide Free to View access to around Three Quarter of a Billion Homes and Devices Globally.

Further details, as well as press releases, interviews and videos will be distributed over the coming days and weeks. 

www.globalboxingstars.com 

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Joshua Stops Pulev In 9th To Retain Titles.

12 x 3 mins IBF, WBA, WBO & IBO Heavyweight World Titles
ANTHONY JOSHUA WKO9 (2:58)v KUBRAT PULEV 
(Watford, England)                            (Sofia, Bulgaria)

Anthony Joshua dominated and then floored mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev to score a ninth-round knockout and retain his IBF, WBA, WBO & IBO Heavyweight World Titles at The SSE Arena, Wembley on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and Ireland and on DAZN in the U.S. and more than 200 countries and territories on its just-launched Global platform.

With 1,000 ticket-buying fans allowed into the building for the first time at a British fight since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Joshua’s entrance was met by a huge roar from the crowd.

Joshua floored Pulev heavily on three occasions, twice in the final round, and ended the fight with a vicious right hand. The explosive performance from Joshua would have demanded the attention of WBC ruler Tyson Fury – they remain on a collision course to decide an Undisputed Champion in 2021.

Joshua told Sky Sports afterwards: “I started this game in 2013. I’ve been chasing all the belts. I’ve been dealing with mandatories.”Of course I want the challenge. It’s not about the opponent, it’s about the legacy and the belt. Whoever has got the belt, I would love to compete with them. If that is Tyson Fury, let it be Tyson Fury. It’s no big deal.

“It’s one fight at a time, picking them off one by one. That’s all it’s about for me. I’ve got to stay focused.”

“There’s been a lot of talk,” Eddie Hearn told Sky Sports. “As he said, it’s less talk, more action. Since he came into the office, he wanted to be the Undisputed Champion of the World.

“We’re going to be friendly, we’re going to be nice. We know what we have to do. Starting from tomorrow, we make the Tyson Fury fight straight away.

“It’s the only fight to be made in boxing. It’s the biggest fight in boxing. It’s the biggest fight in British boxing history.”

12 x 3 mins vacant WBO International Cruiserweight Title 
LAWRENCE OKOLIE WTKO2 (1:45)v NIKODEM JEZEWSKI
(Hackney, England)                                (Koscierzyna, Poland)

Lawrence Okolie swiftly demolished Nikodem Jezewski to stay on course for a WBO Cruiserweight World Title fight next year. The unbeaten 27-year-old was denied a fight for the vacant WBO belt after Krzysztof Glowacki tested positive for COVID-19 last week, but Okolie made short work of his Polish replacement opponent.The explosive power in Okolie’s fists was evident in the opening minute as he rattled in a right hand before a body shot sent Jezewski to his knees.A straight right hand then sent shockwaves through Jezewski’s legs as he tumbled back to the canvas. Okolie would not be denied a quick finish and a right hand sent Jezewski tumbling backwards for a third and final time in the second round.

Speaking to Matchroom afterwards Okolie said: “I’m really happy. I was in the back room thinking I’m really calm and chilled. I just went out there to try and execute what I do every day in the gym. I really came out of the cage. I’m happy to get the win. I’ll have to watch it back, but from the reaction ringside, it seems like it was good. It’s what we’ve been working on. I do it every day in training. It’s about taking it from training to the fight. If I’m able to do what I’m doing in training in my next fight, I’ll be a World Champion. I’m excited. 

“He was undefeated and he was in shape preparing to fight. It was a risk, he had the world at this feet. It felt like a normal show, even with everyone spread out. It felt good. I’m really excited to watch it all back. That’s five stoppages on the trot. I’m feeling good and I want to keep the KO run going. It was good to shake out and make the weight. I had a good training camp and we’ll just build off that for the next one.”

10 x 3 mins International Heavyweight contest 
HUGHIE FURY WUD10 (100-90 x2, 99-91) v MARIUSZ WACH
(Manchester, England)                                  (Krakow, Poland)

Hughie Fury overcome a gaping cut as he defeated Mariusz Wach on points to keep alive his hopes of another World Heavyweight Title fight. The 26-year-old suffered a nasty gash over his left eye, but still managed to control Wach with his clever skills to earn a unanimous decision win with scores of 100-90,100-90 and 99-91, continuing his climb back up the rankings. 

“Everything is moving in the right direction,” Fury told Matchroom afterwards. “I did rush my work a little bit. I was hurting Wach with the right hand. I was getting to him. As I threw the right hand in the fourth there was a clash of the heads as he came in. I couldn’t see out of the eye at all. I went back into the corner and my dad told me to get back to my boxing. Wach is a tough man. We just relaxed and flowed back into it, and picked him off. 

“I don’t have any doubt in Kerry Kayes. He’s a guardian angel. As soon as I got back to my corner he got to work. He deserves all of the credit in the world. I’ve been in with everyone, and to be honest with you, I was like a boy against men. Now I’m a man people can see a big difference, and I’m coming. This is just the start. People will see a lot more to come from me.”

10 x 3 mins vacant WBC International Heavyweight Title
MARTIN BAKOLE WUD10 (98-92, 97-93, 96-94)v SERGEY KUZMIN
(Kananga, Congo)                                                     (Saint Petersburg, Russia)

Martin Bakole outpointed Russia’s former amateur standout Sergey Kuzmin to land the vacant WBC International Heavyweight Title.

The Congolese fighter, who is based in Scotland with trainer Billy Nelson, neutralised Kuzmin’s aggression with his accurate jab as he earned a unanimous decision with scores of 98-92, 97-93 and 96-94.

“I want to thank god for this big victory,” Bakole told Matchroom. “To be honest, I’m not happy. I didn’t work the way I was supposed to work. I did three weeks in the gym. We kept that a secret. I was not 100% fit. I won the belt and I’m now WBC International Champion. It was a tough fight. if you look at round 2, I was close to knocking him. He survived because he’s a big guy. I needed to win this belt for my baby. I’m ready now. I’m in the top 10. I’m ready to face anybody. I’m going to see my family and then come back quickly to get in the gym to prepare for next year. 

“I want anyone. I’m ready to face anyone. I’m not in this business to play around. I’m in this business to win and I have a belt now. I told Michael Hunter to watch this fight. My next one is going to be him! Michael Hunter, look at my eyes; let’s do it again. This time I will beat him, believe me. I made a mistake, and now I’ve fixed my mistakes. I’m improving, and he can see that himself. Anthony Joshua is going to beat Kubrat Pulev, believe me!”

10 x 3 mins Super-Welterweight contest
KIERON CONWAY WUD10 (100-89 x2, 100-90)v MACAULAY MCGOWAN 
(Northampton, England)                                        (Wythenshawe, England)

Northampton Super-Welterweight contender Kieron Conway improved his unbeaten record to 16-1-1 (3 KOs) with a dominant points with over late stand-in Macaulay McGowan. 

Conway was originally slated to fight Frenchman Souleymane Cissokho before the Anthony Joshua-managed fighter was forced to pullout last week. 

‘Too Class’ floored McGowan as he sealed a unanimous decision victory with scores of 100-90, 100-89 and 100-89, before calling out the winner of the Ted Cheeseman vs. James Metcalf fight that is slated to take place early next year. 

“I’m content with the performance to be fair,” Conway told Matchroom afterwards. “I just did what I had to do. He was tough as anything. I hit him with everything that I possibly could have. I thank him a lot for stepping in at such short notice. He gave it everything and made it a good fight. As soon as these sharp, accurate and hard punches land, people go on the defensive. It make it a hell of a hard night for them. They just don’t want to keep taking them all night. I was really frustrated about the Cissokho fight, but I’m happy I still got to fight in the end on such a big stage. Job done now and we move on.

“I’m very grateful to get out twice this year. I feel like I’m one of the privileged ones. Especially this kind of opportunity on the big stage. Hopefully there was a good bit of exposure there for me. It was actually quite refreshing having people there shouting. It was nice to have them back. I’m very confident. People underestimate me. As soon as they take one or two stiff shots they just want to make it a hard night and survive. Hopefully I get the winner of Ted Cheeseman vs. James Metcalf. We’re all shouting for that though. I guess we’ll all have to wait our turn. I’m coming, and I’m not going anywhere. I want anyone who wants it. I’m not ducking or avoiding anyone.”

8 x 3 mins International Welterweight contest
FLORIAN MARKUv JAMIE STEWART DRAW (76-76)
(Lushnje, Albania)    (Longton, England)

Florian Marku vented his frustration after he was forced to settle for a controversial draw on his Matchroom debut, despite flooring Jamie Stewart in the second round and forcing the pace throughout the fight. The London-based Albanian has been calling for a Welterweight clash with stablemate Conor Benn and Dillian Whyte’s Chris Kongo, but endured the first blemish on his eight-fight record after referee Marcus McDonnell scored it a 76-76 draw.A disappointed Marku told Matchroom: “This is my life. They give a draw on my record. I didn’t deserve it. I was beating this guy every round. Congratulations to him, he accepted the fight on four days’ notice. He had a tough head. This wasn’t a draw. I put him down in the second or third round. I was outboxing him. He was running sometimes and he was making the jab. What else did he do? He punched me in my guard, nothing else. 

“He can take many punches. He is a tough opponent. This is a shame, a shame for the referee that gave me this draw. I don’t know what I can say. It’s a shame for the sport. They are trying to ruin my career. I feel so disappointed with this decision. The referee doesn’t like me. That is the only justification for this. Maybe because I am from Albania and my opponent was from England? This is my life. He couldn’t handle the pressure and he took many shots to the head. This wasn’t my best performance. I wasn’t as powerful as usual but I was beating him.”

8 x 3 mins Super-Bantamweight contest
QAIS ASHFAQ WTKO4 (0:22)v ASHLEY LANE
(Leeds, England)                         (Bristol, England)

Leeds Super-Bantamweight Qais Ashfaq bounced back from his first loss in the pros with a fourth-round stoppage of Bristol’s Ashley Lane.

The 27-year-old 258 MGT talent suffered a points loss to Marc Leach last time out at the Marshall Arena in Milton Keynes, but got his career back on track with an impressive win over former Commonwealth Champion Lane. 

Ashfaq displayed far more aggression as he floored Lane in the first and third rounds before the fight was halted in the fourth, improving his record to 9-1 (4 KOs).

Speaking to Matchroom afterwards Ashfaq said: “It felt great. I was out here to prove a bit of a point, without letting that get into my head too much. I was here to do a job first and foremost. It was great to get the win, and in style. Ashley Lane came over to me just before the decision was announced and he said, ‘listen, I saw your last performance and that’s why I took this fight’. He wanted to see if it was just a bad performance or if I was just saying that. He told me that my last fight was just a bad performance and I’m going to go places. I was here to prove a point and I believe I’ve done that in style. 

“I put him down twice before it was stopped. Just before the stoppage I was waiting for the ref. I was hitting him clean. The ref had to jump in at some point. The referee is there to protect his health. Ashley Lane is no mug, he’s had his best days at my weight. He’d only lost one of his last nine fights before this one, and that was a British Champion who stopped him in 12 rounds. I did it in 4. That’s a lot quicker. Two fights ago he boxed for the British and Commonwealth Titles at my weight. Two fights later I’ve just done that to him. I’m proving a point.”

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JOSHUA VS. PULEV WEIGHTS AND RUNNING ORDER

17:10 LIVE ON SKY SPORTS FACEBOOK

8 x 3 mins Super-Bantamweight contest
QAIS ASHFAQ 8st 12lbs 4oz v ASHLEY LANE 8st 10lbs 6oz
(Leeds, England)                      (Bristol, England)

followed by

18:00 LIVE ON SKY SPORTS BOX OFFICE

8 x 3 mins International Welterweight contest
FLORIAN MARKU 10st 6lbs 15oz v JAMIE STEWART 10st 5lbs 14oz
(Lushnje, Albania)                            (Longton, England)

followed by
 
10 x 3 mins Super-Welterweight contest
KIERON CONWAY 11st 5lbs 10oz v MACAULAY MCGOWAN 11st 4lbs 7oz
(Northampton, England)                  (Wythenshawe, England)

followed by
 
10 x 3 mins vacant WBC International Heavyweight Title
MARTIN BAKOLE 17st 13lbs 6oz v SERGEY KUZMIN 18st 6lbs 7oz
(Kananga, Congo)                            (Saint Petersburg, Russia)

followed by

10 x 3 mins International Heavyweight contest 
HUGHIE FURY 17st 9lbs 5oz v MARIUSZ WACH 19st 8lbs 6oz
(Manchester, England)            (Krakow, Poland)

followed by

12 x 3 mins vacant WBO International Cruiserweight Title 
LAWRENCE OKOLIE 14st 3lbs 13oz v NIKODEM JEZEWSKI 14st 3lbs 11oz
(Hackney, England)                              (Koscierzyna, Poland)
 
followed by

12 x 3 mins IBF, WBA, WBO & IBO Heavyweight World Titles
ANTHONY JOSHUA 17st 2lbs 13oz v KUBRAT PULEV 17st 1lbs 11oz
(Watford, England)                             (Sofia, Bulgaria)
 
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JOSHUA VS. PULEV UNDERCARD UPDATE

The full undercard to Anthony Joshua’s long-awaited return to UK soil against Kubrat Pulev at The SSE Arena, Wembley on Saturday December 12, has now been confirmed. All of the action will be shown live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and Ireland and on DAZN in the U.S. and more than 200 countries and territories on its just-launched Global platform.

Following Krzysztof Glowacki’s positive COVID-19 test last week, Hackney Cruiserweight star Lawrence Okolie (14-0, 11 KOs) will now take on Poland’s undefeated Nikodem Jezewski (19-0-1, 9 KOs).London-based Albanian Welterweight sensation Florian Marku (7-0, 5 KOs) makes his keenly anticipated Matchroom debut in an eight round contest with Derby’s Alex Fearon (9-2) just over a week on from signing promotional terms with Eddie Hearn. Northampton Super-Welterweight contender Kieron Conway (15-1-1, 3 KOs), who was originally slated to fight Frenchman Souleymane Cissokho, will now clash with Wythenshawe’s Macaulay McGowen (14-1-1, 3 KOs) over ten rounds. 

Ramla Ali’s (1-0) second professional fight against Vansea Caballero (3-9-3) has been removed from the show after the Somali-British fighter, who made a winning start to life in the paid ranks in October, returned a positive COVID-19 test.

Anthony Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) defends his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO Heavyweight World Titles against Mandatory Challenger Kubrat Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs), Manchester Heavyweight Hughie Fury (24-3, 14 KOs) returns against Poland’s Mariusz Wach (36-6, 19 KOs), Martin Bakole (15-1, 12 KOs) and Sergey Kuzmin (15-1, 11 KOs) fight for the vacant WBC International Heavyweight Title and Leeds Super-Bantamweight Qais Ashfaq (8-1, 3 KOs) looks to return to winning ways against Ashley Lane (14-9-2, 1 KO).
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SAUNDERS RETAINS WBO 168LBS WORLD TITLE WITH DOMINANT POINTS WIN OVER MURRAY

12 x 3 mins WBO Super-Middleweight World Title
BILLY JOE SAUNDERS WUD12 (120-109, 120-109, 118-110) v MARTIN MURRAY
(Hatfield, England)                                                                        (St Helens, England)

Billy Joe Saunders retained his WBO Super-Middleweight World Title with a dominant unanimous decision win over St Helens veteran Martin Murray to stay on course for a huge unification battle with the winner of Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez vs. Callum Smith next year. 

The unbeaten 31-year-old dominated from the opening round with his superior ring skills as Murray fell short in his fifth World Title attempt, losing out on the judge’s scorecards with scores of 120-109, 120-109 and 118-110 at The SSE Arena, Wembley.

“I wasn’t really happy with that performance,” Saunders told Matchroom. “I’m not taking anything away from Martin, he came with a good game plan. He got through it. He tucked up and survived well. I can only be a bit critical of myself because I had a bit of ring rust. My jab was there but there was just that bit of snap missing. I was trying to look for stuff when naturally it’s there. 

“When you’re in a training camp getting ready for Canelo Alvarez and you’re in the biggest fight of your life, you’ve got that fear factor and everything there, and then the pandemic came and I can only be thankful to be out this year. But then you’re back in camp and it’s a defence against Martin Murray, I was pencilled in to fight him twice in 2018. It was sort of like a hard kick in the teeth. But look, I’ve got to be thank my management team MTK that I’m even out this year. 

“It is what it is, and we move on. I’m 30-0 and still unbeaten and still World Champion. I’ve been World Champion now since 2015. People can run my performance down but let’s make the big fights, because it’s certainly not me turning them away. Eddie knows that I’m always there to sign. I had the Canelo fight signed and it fell through, that’s nobody’s fault. 

“A big well done to my lads who boxed on the show tonight. Lewie Edmondson and Donte Dixon did well. Martin was a cunning old fox, he knew what he was doing and he had the ref on his side, he had the ref eating out of his hand. Fair play to him. I learnt a lot from him to be honest. Perhaps everything happens for a reason and I learnt a hell of a lot from the fight. 

“Fair play to Callum Smith and I really do wish him all of the success in that fight. I think he’s got the tools to do the job. Canelo would have been training since May for this fight. He would have had Smith in his eyesight from day one. It’s been sprung on him at five or six weeks. They’re very clever in the way they work. If Smith has done his homework and prepared well then I give him a good chance of winning the fight. We are pushing for big fights constantly. After the Canelo fight I want to know my next date. I’m not getting any younger and I want to show my full potential.”

12 x 3 mins WBA Lightweight World Title Eliminator
JAMES TENNYSON WTKO1 (2:14) v JOSH O’REILLY
(Belfast, Northern Ireland)                   (Hamilton, Canada)

Hard-hitting Belfast Lightweight James Tennyson took a step closer to the WBA World Title by taking out Canada’s Josh O’Reilly in one round. 

Tennyson produced a ferocious display before the WBA World Title Eliminator was stopped by referee Marcus McDonnell after two minutes and 14 seconds.

It is Tennyson’s sixth straight stoppage win since moving up to Lightweight, further enhancing the 27-year-old’s reputation as one of the most exciting contenders in the red hot 135lbs division.

“It was great to get the win on another great show,” said Tennyson. “I went out and it was sort of nip and tuck, and then I think I caught him with a left hook. I saw him go a wee bit so I thought, ‘you know what’, and just put it on him and it paid off. We came out and there wasn’t too much to see between the two of us until I clipped him with that one shot. I got the win and an early night.

“I’m feeling like I’m going to go all of the way here at Lightweight. I’m feeling a heck of a lot stronger and sharper. Eddie just mentioned about Jorge Linares at The SSE in Belfast and the thought of nights like that make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Those are the sort of fights that I’m in boxing for. Given the opportunity, I can put my name right up there and mix it with the top names. The Lightweight division is red-hot. There’s Teofimo Lopez, Gervonta Davis and Devin Haney. I’m here and I’m going to start making some noise.”

8 x 2 mins International Bantamweight contest
SHANNON COURTENAY WTKO7 (1:35) v DOROTA NOREK
(Watford, England)                                     (Poznan, Poland)

Shannon Courtenay landed the best punch of her career to knockout Dorota Norek in the seventh round as she returned to winning ways.

Fighting down at 118lbs for the first time, ‘The Baby Face Assassin’ had to deal with a fast start from her Polish opponent who was intent on imposing another unexpected defeat on her.

The Watford prospect brawled her way back into the fight then gradually took control and Norek’s defences began to unravel.

“This was needed,” said Courtenay. “I felt like I was back at home. I felt like myself but better. I just needed this to finish the year on a high. I can go into the next fight, whether it’s the rematch or not, with good momentum behind me. She was so rough and coming in with her head, I just thought, ‘you’ve got to be patient’. Like I said before the fight in many of my interviews, timing was going to be key. I had to be patient and wait to let my hands go. I was countering with the left hook when she had me up against the ropes. I wasn’t losing my head and making it scrappy. I knew that if I paced myself, and didn’t rush in, I’d catch her with a right hand because she was open for it. I knew that if I was patient it would come and it did. 

“She had a really high groin guard so the body shots weren’t really having an affect. I was going to try and slow her down to the body but it was such a high groin guard I knew that wasn’t going to work. I knew I had to catch her flush to end it so that’s what I did. 118lbs is the lightest I’ve ever been, amateur and pro career. I want the rematch with Rachel Ball. If she genuinely believes that she won the fight, which many people don’t think she did, why wouldn’t she want to prove people wrong. It’s a fight that everyone wants and it makes sense.”

6 x 3 mins Featherweight Contest  
DONTE DIXON WPTS6 (58-56) v ANGELO DRAGONE
(Sheffield, England)                     (Carmarthen, Wales)

Rising Sheffield Featherweight prospect Donte Dixon moved to 5-0 with an impressive points win over Welshman Angelo Dragone. 

The Billy Joe Saunders and MTK-managed talent was taking a big step up in class against his first opponent with a winning record and raised his game to suit the occasion. 

“I thought I boxed good. At some points in the fight I was standing there a bit too long and not covering up the best I can. We’ll learn from it and come back better. I’m alright with it. I noticed that I’m up there when it comes to the levels. Levels-wise and skills-wise, I was better than him. He kept coming and made it difficult at times but I feel like I passed with flying colours.

“Billy is managing me so it was nice to look good on his undercard. Billy is helping us a lot getting on these big shows, this is my third time on a Matchroom show. These are the best shows. Today I got to fight on Sky, I’ve always wanted to fight on Sky. Big thanks to Billy Joe, MTK and Adam Etches. 

“I got some very important rounds under my belt. He was a tough guy and kept on coming. I thought I nearly got him out of there in the last round when he was holding on. He was looking at the ref but it didn’t happen. It was a good learning fight. Whoever they put in front of me I’ve just got to keep on beating and then we’ll move on from there. Big thanks to my mum, it’s her birthday tomorrow. Happy Birthday mum.”

8 x 3 mins International Super-Middleweight contest
LERRONE RICHARDS WPTS8 (80-72) v TIMO LAINE 
(New Malden, England)                             (Helsinki, Finland)

Lerrone Richards made a winning start to life as a Matchroom fighter with a comfortable shutout points win over Finland’s Timo Laine.

In what was also his first fight under new trainer Dave Coldwell, unbeaten Richards quickly established his probing jab in the opening minute.

Laine, who was fighting in the UK for the just the second time, had clearly come to survive and offered very little offensively, to the frustration of Richards and his new team. 

Richards, who had been out of the ring since outpointing Lennox Clarke in November 2019, cruised to an 80-72 decision on the referee’s scorecard.

“I’m pleased with it, we got the rounds under our belt,” said Richards. “We move forwards now towards European honours. He tried to do something in the opening round and I put him in his box, he didn’t want to come out. It was frustrating at times so I stuck behind my jab and got the victory. I’m very pleased, it was my first fight under Dave Coldwell as well and it was good that I could get the ring rust out for the new year. 

When asked about fighting behind closed: “To be honest it didn’t feel any different. I just get on with it, it’s my job. I think I started to enjoy it a little bit more later on in the rounds. In round eight I started to talk a bit and have a little fun. I’m happy with my performance overall. We all bounce off each other in the gym and we’re always learning. Like I said, Dave Coldwell is a teacher, he’s not just a coach. We’re all improving every day.

“It’s some story and it has been quite hard really the last few years, I’ve been funding myself, nobody really knows that. I’ve not had many sponsors backing me but I believe in myself and I believe that I can go to the top. That’s what we plan on doing. I’m going to auction off my shorts and all of the money will go to the NHS. The NHS has done a great thing for our country in supporting everyone. 

“This is a marathon, not a sprint. I know I’m going to get there in the end. When I get there I’m going to stay there. European, and then we’ll talk about world honours after. I’ll tell you and this is a fact, I’ve had more promotion in the last two weeks than I’d had in my whole career and I’m grateful for that. The future is bright.” 

6 x 3 mins Super-Middleweight contest
LEWIS EDMONDSON WTKO3 (2:22) v JOHN TELFORD
(Southampton, England)                        (Manchester, England)

Southampton Super-Middleweight prospect Lewis Edmondson moved to 4-0 with the first stoppage win of his career against John Telford in the evening’s opening bout. 

‘The Saint’, who is guided by WBO Super-Middleweight king Billy Joe Saunders and MTK, dominated Manchester’s John Telford from the opening bell, landing sharp hooks and jabs at will. 

Telford was dropped in the first round before being put down again in the third, the 26-year-old bravely rose to his feet once more before the ref waved off the fight after another onslaught from Edmondson.

“We had a game plan with the team and we stuck to it,” Edmondson told Matchroom afterwards. “It obviously paid off. I think it confused him because before the fight he said he couldn’t find much fight footage of me. I think he only found a bit from when I was a kid, and when I was a kid I was only orthodox, as soon as I went southpaw I saw it in his eyes, he was thinking ‘what’s going on here?’. Boom I caught him, and I knew I had him every time I hit him. His legs went a little bit funny and I knew I had him.

“I didn’t want to rush it. In previous performances I’ve caught my opponents and I’ve rushed it. I took my time, that’s what we’ve been working on, and I got the job done. I can’t thank my team, Billy Joe Saunders and MTK, enough. I’ve been out twice within a month. This was meant to be a good step-up on paper and a lot of people thought it was a hard fight for me. I’m glad I got to show my level. 

“It’s hard trying to break those journeymen down because it’s their job to survive. We knew the stoppages would come once my opponents started opening up a bit. It was a big step up and I think I made light work of him. Billy Joe wants to move me quickly, he’s seen what I’ve been doing in the gym. We’re ready to move forwards. I feel like I’m improving every day.”
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SAUNDERS VS. MURRAY WEIGHTS AND RUNNING ORDER

17:45 LIVE ON SKY SPORTS FACEBOOK

6 x 3 mins Featherweight Contest  
DONTE DIXON 9st 1lb 10oz v ANGELO DRAGONE 9st 1lb 14oz
(Sheffield, England)                (Carmarthen, Wales)

followed by

6 x 3 mins Super-Middleweight contest
LEWIS EDMONDSON 12st 3lbs 3oz v JOHN TELFORD 12st 2lbs 8oz
(Southampton, England)                      (Manchester, England)

followed by

19:00 LIVE ON SKY SPORTS

8 x 3 mins International Super-Middleweight contest
LERRONE RICHARDS 12st 4lbs 0oz v TIMO LAINE 12st 3lbs 10oz
(New Malden, England)                          (Helsinki, Finland)

followed by
 
10 x 3 mins WBO International Super-Middleweight Title
ZACH PARKER 11st 13lbs 0oz v CESAR NUNEZ 11st 13lbs 11oz
(Derby, England)                            (Pamplona, Spain)

followed by
 
8 x 2 mins International Bantamweight contest
SHANNON COURTENAY 8st 5lbs 14oz v DOROTA NOREK 8st 3lbs 14oz
(Watford, England)                                     (Poznan, Poland)

followed by

12 x 3 mins WBA Lightweight World Title Eliminator
JAMES TENNYSON 9st 8lbs 13oz v JOSH O’REILLY 9st 8lbs 5oz
(Belfast, Northern Ireland)                (Hamilton, Canada)

followed by

12 x 3 mins WBO Super-Middleweight World Title
BILLY JOE SAUNDERS 11st 13lbs 5oz v MARTIN MURRAY 11st 13lbs 6lbs
(Hatfield, England)                                   (St Helens, England)
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SAUNDERS VS. MURRAY + UNDERCARD PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES

Eddie Hearn:

“We’re back in the bubble for a big night of boxing this Friday, the World Super-Middleweight Championship between Billy Joe Saunders and Martin Murray, live on Sky Sports in the UK and DAZN around the world. It’s great to be here. We’ve been lifted by the news that fans will return for the Anthony Joshua versus Kubrat Pulev fight on December 12. 1,000 allowed into The SSE Arena, Wembley for that, so this effectively, touch wood, will be our last ever show, we hope, behind closed doors. We’re ready to make the most of it, and ready for a great night of boxing.”

Billy Joe Saunders – Hatfield, England – 29-0, 14 KOs – defending his WBO Super-Middleweight World Title against Martin Murray:

“First of all I’ve got to thank yourself and Sky for even getting us out this year. I didn’t think I was going to get out. All of the big fights were tied up, out of the fights that were left out there Martin Murray’s name was screaming out. We were supposed to fight twice before, it didn’t happen. He’s boxed for the World Title four times, he should have been a two-time World Champion, he was on the wrong end of two decisions. 

“People are looking at this fight as a walk in the park for me and think I should win easily. If you look at Martin, he’s never took damage. He’s never been beaten up in a fight. Golovkin was what it was, he got him in his prime. I promised him his shot and it’s here. I believe that it’s my time to shine now. I’m doing this fight for my uncle Tom who passed away who was like a dad to me. “I want the Jacobs fights and the Canelo fights and the Andrade fights now, but sadly everyone was tied up this year. The only one really worthy of taking the fight which was available was Martin Murray. He’s a four-time World Title challenger. In my opinion, two-time World Champion, so it’s not a bad pick out of the bunch.”I know Martin is coming to fight. I haven’t been beaten on the UK soil since I’ve been 12-years-old. I’ve got a good track record, and I’m going to keep it that way. He’s going to bring a good game, but afterwards he can go back to St Helens, take his cash back and have a good Christmas and retire with the family, because that’s what I’m planning on doing, retiring him.”

Martin Murray – St Helens, England – 39-5-1, 17 KOs – challenging Billy Joe Saunders for the WBO Super-Middleweight World Title:

“This is my fifth one now. I know how hard a fight it’s going to be. I really rate Billy Joe. We’ve got unfinished business. Everything happens for a reason. I firmly believe, and truly believe that the pull outs years ago, all of the little set backs that I’ve had, have all brought me to this point and like I said, I’m fit, focused and ready. 

“I get it, I get why he pulled out to be honest with you. We all want those bigger fights. It makes sense. There was a little bit of frustration at the time but I left that where it was and I’ve got nothing against Billy. We shook hands when I got beat in my fight against N’Dam, he was on the card with me. He’s here now and he’s honoured his word. He’s going to be in top condition himself and we’re going to lay it all on the line. It’s going to be a good fight.

“No one has ever done it in five times in the UK. I believe Groves four, Frank Bruno four, and I truly believe that there’s been a reason why I’ve picked myself up off the couch when times have been low and I’ve not wanted to go to the gym, but I’ve forced myself to get there. There’s been a reason for it and it’s for Friday. For me to achieve what no-one else has done in the UK.”

James Tennyson – Belfast, Northern Ireland – 27-3, 23 KOs – fighting Josh O’Reilly in an Eliminator for the WBA Lightweight World Title:

“It’s good to hear people saying things like that, it means I’m doing something right. I’m really looking forward to the fight night now. I’m going to put on a masterclass performance in another fan-pleasing fight. I come out every time and I give the fans what they want. I do what I need to do to get the win as well as that. I’m just going to go out and be me, box hard and box smart.”

Josh O’Reilly – Hamilton, Canada – 16-0, 6 KOs – fighting James Tennyson in an Eliminator for the WBA Lightweight World Title:

“I’m super excited. I’ve never been on a stage like this. It’s awesome to get this opportunity. I’m happy to be sharing the ring with James, I think it’s going to be a great fight and I’m looking forward to it. I started boxing when I was 14, I didn’t really do much as an amateur but I got to travel enough with a few teams. I got over to Ireland when I was younger and I have a bunch of people supporting me out in Cavan, I got to train there for a bit. I had a really good time and I trained there for a few months when I was younger. I expect nothing less. I’m a fan, I like watching the kid. I’ve seen him enough and I think there’s a lot of stuff I can do in there to negate a lot of the stuff he does. I’ve got my own plan on what’s going to happen, it’s just about executing it.”

Shannon Courtenay – Watford, England – 5-1, 2 KOs – fighting Dorata Norek in an eight round Super-Bantamweight contest:

“I think there’s nerves with every fight, and coming off a loss I’ve got to prove myself now. Pressure is a privilege. If there’s no pressure then nobody believes in you, so I’m taking it in my stride. I’ve made the choice to move, so I’m now living in a hotel next to my camp. I’ve made a lot of sacrifices but it’s paid off because I’m at 118 for the first time. It’s time to make a statement. 

“I think it would be easy for me to sit here now and say, ‘oh it’s fine’. I’ll be honest. I felt like the floor underneath me had been taken. I felt like my world was over. You’ve got to hit rock bottom to come up again. Now I’ve had that bitter taste of what a loss is like, I’m never going to taste it again. It’s made me more determined. Mentally and physically I’m a lot stronger.”

Dorota Norek – Watford, England – 6-1, 1 KO – fighting Shannon Courtenay in an eight round Super-Bantamweight contest:

“Thank you Eddie, I am very grateful for the opportunity to be here and to participate in such a big event. I love to fight. I’m a fan of Shannon’s. I’ve watched a lot of her fights and I know this will deliver for the fans. I come from the MMA background as you mentioned, so I’m not scared of big boxing gloves. I promise to show my full potential and my aggressive style. I’m here to win.”

Zach Parker – Derby, England – 19-0, 13 KOs – fighting Cesar Nunez for the WBO International Super-Middleweight Title:

“I’ve got to focus on Friday night. He’s going to be a tough opponent. I can’t look too far ahead with this mandatory spot. My full focus is on Friday night and Cesar Nunez. You’ve got to make noise with every fight. That’s why people want to watch you, for the knockouts and the showbiz. Hopefully I can give a good performance and make a big fight next year with Billy Joe or any of the other World Champions. I think Saunders vs. Murray is going to be a good fight. It’s last chance saloon for Martin Murray so we’ll just have to see what version of him turns up. I’m picking Billy Joe on points.”

Cesar Nunez – Pamplona, Spain – 17-2-1, 0 KOs – fighting Zach Parker for the WBO International Super-Middleweight Title:

“First and foremost I would like to thank Matchroom and Sauerland for the opportunity. I’m coming to take this chance and win on Friday night.”

Lerrone Richards – New Malden, England – 13-0, 3 KOs – fighting Timo Laine in an eight round Super-Middleweight contest:

“I’m very happy and excited. Let’s go! There’s no pressure, I just need to do Lerrone Richards. Like I always say, it’s all about the skills. On Friday night you’re going to see that. Timo is a tough competitor. I’m taking him very seriously and I’m going to do a job on Friday night.”

Timo Laine – Helsinki, Finland – 28-14, 12 KOs – fighting Lerrone Richards in an eight round Super-Middleweight contest:

“It’s going to be a hard challenge for me. I’ve seen a couple of Lerrone’s fights and he looks really skilful. I want to say thanks for this opportunity. When the fight starts I have to get going straight away. It’s eight rounds and I have to be fast.”

Lewis Edmondson – Southampton, England – 3-0 – fighting John Telford in a six round Super-Middleweight contest:

“Firstly I’d like to say thank you to Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren. I’m contracted to Frank Warren, I don’t know if anyone knows, but they’ve come together for this one and let me get on the bill, so I’d like to thank them for that. I feel like I’m ready to move forward. I feel like I done well as an amateur, I won National Titles and boxed for England. I feel like that’s helped me. I’ve got great fighters training alongside me like Billy Joe Saunders and a great team around me. I’m looking to move forwards fast. I’ve seen a little bit of John. I’m 25 and I don’t want to wait around too long, I want to get in the mix.”

John Telford – Manchester, England – 11-2-1, 2 KOs – fighting Lewis Edmondson in a six round Super-Middleweight contest:

“It’s a big opportunity for myself. We only got a week’s notice but we were already training to box three weeks ago on the Ultimate Boxxer show. That fell through because of my opponent testing positive for COVID. We had a couple of days off then had a call that very weekend asking if we’d be interested on boxing on a Matchroom show. I jumped at the chance. I’ve had a quick look at Lewis, he seems good at what he does. There’s not a lot to look at in his professional career. We’ve seen what he did as an amateur, let’s see how it stands him on the night. Good on him for jumping straight up, there needs to be a lot more of that in the sport now.”

Donte Dixon – Sheffield, England – 4-0, 3 KOs – fighting Angelo Dragone in a six round Featherweight contest:

“I’m looking forward to it and I’m ready to go. All through training everything has gone well. All of my road work has been done and all of my work in the gym has been done. I just can’t wait to fight now. Billy always gets on to you about me and that’s good, I kind of like it because he wants me to get out there so he gives me these opportunities. He knows I can perform. I look forward to putting on a good performance on Friday.

“This is another tough opponent for me but the better they are, the better I’m going to perform. I like that it’s going to be a tough one. I’m happy with my progress right now. I’ve sparred a lot of these guys and I hold my own against them. Right now I’m on the right track. When we get those fights in the future, I’ll do good against them guys.”

Angelo Dragone – Carmarthen, Wales – 5-1 – fighting Donte Dixon in a six round Featherweight contest:

“100% I’m ready for this. I’ve trained really hard, we had a six-week training camp and I’ve trained twice a day every day. I’d just like to thank Matchroom for the opportunity. We’ve seen some upsets over the last few weeks and there’s going to be another upset on Friday night. I’m ready to go. I’m a 30-year-old man, he’s younger, a 20-year-old. All of the hype is around him. I’m an experienced man, I’ve been involved in Title fights on live TV. I’ve been there and I’ve done it. Let’s see if he can beat the stallion. I’ll be on him from the first round to the sixth round. I’m going to set a fast pace, I’m always in battles. I’m going to give 100% to get the win.”
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RITSON EDGES PAST VAZQUEZ VIA SPLIT DECISION – RESULTS FROM PETERBOROUGH

12 x 3 mins WBA Intercontinental Super-Lightweight Title
LEWIS RITSON WS12 (116-113 Vazquez, 117-111 Ritson, 115-113 Ritson) v MIGUEL VAZQUEZ
(Forest Hall)                                                                                                          (Mexico)

Lewis Ritson won a controversial split decision against Miguel Vazquez at the East of England Arena in Peterborough to claim the vacant WBA Intercontinental Super-Lightweight Title and improve his record to 21-1 (12 KOs).Newcastle’s Ritson looked in trouble of slipping to defeat through 12 frustrating rounds which he later described as an “eye-opener”. Ritson got the nod from two out of three judges, with one giving the fight 116-113 to former Lightweight World Champion Vazquez.
“It just depends what you like doesn’t it,” Ritson told Matchroom afterwards. “He was tapping me and running away. I was hitting him with the cleaner jabs. It was very frustrating being out the gym a year and then facing that style.

It was probably more awkward than I thought it was going to be. The more the fight went on the more frustrated I got. It was a big eye opener. We’ve been mentioning the Prograis fight, tonight was a bit of an eye opener that we’re a million miles off that fight.

“We need a couple more fights like Vazquez, maybe not his style. That’s what you get when you step up. We had a hard job doing it. I’m improving as a fighter but I’ve got a lot more improving to do.”

10 x 3 mins British Super-Bantamweight Title Eliminator
QAIS ASHFAQ v MARC LEACH UD10 (95-93, 96-93, 96-92)
(Leeds)                (Salford)

Salford’s Marc Leach earned himself a shot at British Super-Bantamweight Champion Brad Foster as he upset former amateur star Qais Ashfaq, dropping him twice on the way to winning a unanimous points decision in their ten-round eliminator

“I’m feeling over the moon,” Leach told Matchroom afterwards. “I’ve said before in previous interviews, the underdog tag means I’ve got nothing to lose and lots to gain. I felt good in there. Mine, Jamie’s and Nigel’s tactics worked to a T. Happy days.

“I felt like I had had him in trouble. Nigel and Jamie know that I’ve got power behind me. We moved up a weight as well. I presume he didn’t know I had that power. I believe in myself and it worked. Even at my weight, Bantamweight, I’m supposed to be next in line for the British Title. Whichever one comes first, I’ll happily take.

“Hopefully after one or two more fights at this level I won’t have to work anymore. This is the life I have chosen. I work nights, six until two. It’s not ideal but I’ve got kids to feed and a family to look after. Hopefully this turns into more opportunities for me.”

6 x 3 mins Super-Lightweight contest 
JOE LAWS v RYLAN CHARLTON WKO3 (1:39)
(Benwell)      (Norwich)

Joe Laws was knocked out and lost his unbeaten record in a disastrous fight against Rylan Charlton. Fan-favourite Laws was sent crashing to the canvas three times in a third-round wipe-out.Charlton hurt Laws with a body shot in the earliest exchange then floored him with a left hook in the opening round. Laws never recovered – Charlton did major damage with the second knock-down then landed a massive uppercut which ended the fight in brutal fashion.‘The Benwell Bomber’ Laws entered wearing his trademark Mexican attire and sporting a nine-fight perfect record but experienced the most punishing night of his short career against the ‘Pint Size Powerhouse’ Charlton.“It’s what I expected,” said Charlton afterwards. “I’ve been training my ass off for this. No disrespect to Joe, I think he’s a great guy, a great boxer, but he’s a ticket seller. He sells loads of tickets to get into the positions that he gets in. He’s a good fighter and he’s a very nice guy. I have been training my ass off. I can’t really sell that many tickets. I’m the fighter. I’m just pleased I got the opportunity to showcase my skills. 
 
“I felt like it got a little bit scrappy at some point. I was trying to stay as composed as possible. I saw the opening and I stuck it up there. That’s all she wrote. I always knew that this would be the result. I trained too hard for it not to be the result. My power was too much.

“Pint Size Powerhouse all the way! He’s got a massive following and this won’t be the end of Joe. He’ll be back. This has just rocketed my career in the right direction. Eddie get this contract, and let’s go! Get me out before Christmas.”

10 x 3 mins Super-Bantamweight contest SD (88-85 Essomba, 88-84 Ward, 86-86 draw)
THOMAS PATRICK WARD v THOMAS ESSOMBA
(West Rainton)                      (Wolverhampton)

Thomas Patrick Ward survived a horror cut in his war-draw with Thomas Essomba but lost his status as Britain’s most in-form fighter. 

The County Durham Super-Bantamweight, trained by Neil Fannon alongside Lewis Ritson in Hartlepool, arrived at the East of England Arena with a perfect 29-0 record and both eyes on a World Title shot in 2021.

But an accidental clash of heads in round seven of the rollercoaster rumble took the fight to the cards early and the three judges could not split the rivals. “To be honest, the fight was close, but I knew I was better than him,” Essomba said afterwards. “We had the accident, and then the judges decided the outcome, I have to respect their decision. I didn’t see the head clash. I don’t know who’s fault it was.

“I’ve had a really long and good camp since my last fight against Sunny Edwards. If I would have had two or three more weeks’ notice then I could have prepared more for Tommy. I had six days’ notice. I know if we fight again the fight will be totally different. I will give him a rematch, any time and anywhere.”

6 x 3 mins Super-Lightweight contest 
KANE BAKER WPTS6 (59-56) v MESHECH SPEARE
(Birmingham)                              (Liverpool)

Birmingham’s Kane Baker handed a first loss to Tony Bellew’s Meshech Speare, outpointing the Liverpudlian over six rounds. 

Speare’s crafty left hand twice snapped back Baker’s head inside the first 45 seconds. Baker wouldn’t take a backwards step but his come forward style played into Speare’s hands at times. Speare landed the best punch of a reckless exchange in the final seconds of the opening round. 

Baker’s determination to plough forwards resulted in him being caught by lead hooks. Another vicious brawl broke out in the second round and Speare had the best of it. Speare went two rounds up after a breathless start to the fight. Baker began piling on the pressure in rounds three and four, and suddenly the 30-year-old looked the most comfortable boxer in the ring. Up close, Baker banged away at the body and Speare was coming off second best. Former Midlands Area Lightweight Champion Baker was by far the busier fighter in the second half of the fight and his relentless pace earned him a 59-56 points win on the referee’s scorecard. 

“I’m floating,” said Baker afterwards. “It’s amazing. I’ve been here a few times. That winning feeling is something else. When I fought Fiaz two weeks ago my corner was quite confident in how I was doing. Tonight, they were telling me I was losing every round! I did think I’d won, but you just don’t know.”When I heard Birmingham first, I knew then and it was amazing. He caught me twice to be fair. He caught me with two good shots. He’ll be back again, he’s a strong kid. I hope it was a good fight for the fans. It was a lot tougher this time than it was two weeks ago. The two weeks off didn’t recharge me as much as I’d have liked. It was tough but I was never going to say no to being here. I bit down on the gumshield and toughed it out.”

6 x 2 mins Super-Bantamweight Contest 
ELLIE SCOTNEY WPTS6 (60-53) v BEC CONNOLLY
(Catford)                                           (Swindon)

Catford’s acclaimed amateur Ellie Scotney shined on her professional debut as she outpointed Bec Connolly over six rounds, dropping the tough 36-year-old in the third.

Scotney’s fast left hook connected four times inside the first minute. The speed advantage for Scotney was blatant to see during an impressive and dominant first round.

An overwhelming flurry of hooks forced Connolly to sink to a knee in the third round. With 10 seconds left in the round, Scotney landed more hard shots but the bell saved Connolly.

22-year-old Scotney tried to force the stoppage but Swindon’s Connolly bravely stood up to her best punches, despite bleeding from a cut above her right eye. 

Scotney was in complete control throughout her impressive debut but Connolly heard the final bell, with the referee awarding Scotney a 60-53 win on his card. “Bec is a tough person and she came to fight,” Scotney told Matchroom afterwards. “It was brilliant to share a ring with her. She gave it her all. She’s a nice woman. I feel like I’ve got a lot to work on still. I’m 22 and boxing at the weight above, so now I’ll be going down to the weight I should be at and I’m so looking forward to getting out again.

“I rushed it a little bit. I got a bit carried away when I landed a shot. I’ve got a lot to work on. I’m buzzing to get the first one out of the way. It’s been a long time coming. I’m going to get back in the gym on Monday if Adam lets me. I love boxing.”
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JOSHUA VS. PULEV CONFIRMED FOR DECEMBER 12

‘AJ’ faces IBF Mandatory Challenger at The O2
Unified Heavyweight Champion of the World Anthony Joshua OBE will defend his IBF, WBA, WBO and IBO World Titles against Mandatory Challenger Kubrat Pulev at The O2 in London on Saturday December 12, live on Sky Sports Box Office in the UK and on DAZN in all of its nine markets including the U.S.on a show promoted by Matchroom Boxing in association with Top Rank and Epic Sports and Entertainment.
 
Joshua (23-1, 21 KOs) recaptured his belts and position as the Unified Heavyweight World Champion with a masterful unanimous decision victory over Andy Ruiz Jr at the Diriyah Arena in Saudi Arabia on an historical night in December that saw the Heavyweight World Titles contested for the very first time in the Middle East.
 
December 12 will be ‘AJ’s’ first fight on UK soil in over two years, since he defended his crowns with a devastating seventh round knockout of Russia’s Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium, and the former Finchley ABC man will be aiming to deal with Pulev in style to set up an Undisputed showdown against WBC Champion and fellow Brit Tyson Fury in 2021.
 
Pulev (28-1, 14 KOs), the IBF’s No.1-ranked Heavyweight Mandatory Challenger, gets his second shot at World honours after his defeat to modern legend Wladimir Klitschko in 2014 – the only loss of his 29-fight professional career. He has won six fights in a row since then, including victories over Derek Chisora and an IBF Eliminator win over Hughie Fury in 2018.
 
The Bulgarian superstar was set to challenge Joshua at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium in October 2017 but was forced to withdraw through an injury and will now get his opportunity to ruin the champion’s plans to face Fury in an all-British blockbuster showdown in the future.
 
“December 12 is the date and once again the Heavyweight belts go up in the air and it is my sole focus to make sure that come December 13 they are in their rightful place in the UK,” said Joshua
 
“The O2 is the original lion’s den, I have a lot of history with the arena, but without the fans something huge is missing. I am really hoping that, safety permitting, we might be able to bring some boxing fans in, but we will have to see.  I respect every opponent and I respect Pulev. I wish him well during his preparation.”
 
“For a small country of Bulgaria to stand up for the Heavyweight Titles is a great accomplishment,” said Pulev. “This fight is for my late father and all Bulgarians around the world! I’m coming to London to seize the Heavyweight Championship of the World.”
 
“After a challenging year for everyone, to end with the unified World Heavyweight Championship is very special,” said promoter Eddie Hearn. “Over a year after regaining his crown, Anthony Joshua takes on yet another dangerous opponent in Mandatory Challenger Kubrat Pulev. AJ’s resume is unrivalled, and this is the final hurdle until we challenge for the undisputed crown next year. 
 
“Whilst it’s unusual to think of an AJ fight without tens of thousands of fans in attendance, we will be doing everything we can to lobby for the safe return of fans to this event, we have to move forward together. I know Team Pulev and Bob Arum will be doing all they can to become World Champion on Dec 12 but AJ constantly evolves and improves and I expect a dominant performance and a spectacular KO to close out 2020.”

Bob Arum, Top Rank Chairman, said: “Eddie Hearn better watch out. Kubrat Pulev is going to destroy his plan for a Joshua-Tyson Fury unification fight.”

258 Managing Director Freddie Cunningham said: “Anthony again shows his willingness and desire to chase the Undisputed Title with another tough mandatory fight and despite the challenges of making a fight of this scale during these times it is important for AJ to keep momentum. It will be an exciting way to end the year and unique in every way. We will be working with Matchroom to build a card full of 258 fighters to give the fans entertainment throughout the undercard.”
 
John Wirt, President of Epic Sports and Entertainment, said: “Crowd or no crowd, we are coming to AJ’s backyard to claim the titles. Come December 12, there will be no more excuses or delays. I guarantee that it will be an epic battle and that Kubrat will stop AJ inside the distance.”
 
“Anthony Joshua returns to the ring, a year after recapturing his World Titles from Andy Ruiz Jr, and Britain’s Unified World Champion will be determined to reign supreme in a hotly-contested Heavyweight division,” said Adam Smith, Head of Sky Sports Boxing Development. 

“Kubrat Pulev has proven pedigree, with just that sole defeat to Wladimir Klitschko, and he’ll be hoping to send more shockwaves through the sport with an upset victory, but I know that AJ has been training tirelessly, priming his explosive power for another night of fireworks.

“Tyson Fury will of course be watching – as an Undisputed World Title fight is within touching distance – and AJ cannot afford a slip-up in a blockbuster ending to the boxing year.”

“We’re thrilled to bring the Heavyweight Championship of the World to all DAZN subscribers,” said DAZN EVP Joseph Markowski. “AJ-Pulev will have major consequences for the entire boxing landscape as both men aim to end the year in emphatic fashion.”

DAZN is currently available in the U.S., as well as Austria, Brazil, Canada, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain and Switzerland.
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