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Fight Night Preview: Dilmaghani steps up in IBO world title re-run

This Saturday York Hall hosts the re-arranged IBO Super Featherweight World Title fight between Alex Dilmaghani and Francisco Fonseca, after the first attempt to stage the fight saw it controversially called off at the last minute.

Englishman Dilmaghani has an interesting story, having gone away to Mexico, the US and Canada to learn his trade, after starting his boxing career in the UK. He took an early loss to an opponent with a losing record, Mickey Coveney, and was soon inspired to take himself off to Mexico, sparring in tough gyms with renowned coaches and fighters.

Now, he’s on the brink of world title glory, albeit the lesser viewed IBO World Title. The Hennessy Sports event will be live on Channel 5, which makes for a nice reprieve from pay-per-view boxing.

Dilmaghani impressed last time out, making easy work of Martin Parlagi at Manchester’s Victoria Warehouse. His style impressed pundits and fans at ringside and he showed power too, stopping Parlagi in the eighth round. The Slovakian, Parlagi, struggled stylistically however, and this weekend’s opponent will have much more to offer.

Fonseca, to his credit, has been the distance with a stand-out global talent, Tevin Farmer, though ultimately lost via a unanimous decision. He’s also been in with world level talent Gervonta Davis, but was found to be out of his depth. Davis stopped him in the eighth.

As a result this is a hard bout to predict- on paper. Fonseca has better in-ring experience but Dilmaghani was hugely impressive when, in his last fight, he returned to the UK. Dilmaghani will enter the ring as the favourite but will have to work extremely hard to overcome his Nicaraguan opposite number.

On the undercard, John Joe Nevin and Freddy Fonseca contest the vacant WBA International Super Feather Title, which could gift the victor a tasty rankings spot. John Joe Nevin has far less professional experience but enters this contest with momentum, where his opponent is coming off a loss.

Connor Marsden takes on Craig Woodruff, in another interesting undercard bout. Woodruff has racked up five losses but every one came against good opposition. He even went the distance with Luke Campbell back in 2014. As a result, this match-making looks like an attempt from Marsden to make an early-career statement. It’s likely to be one of the highlights of the undercard for fans.

Samuel Antwi looks to gather some momentum with another win, as he takes on Fernando Valencia. Valencia’s losing record suggests this will only go one way and Antwi’s only career loss so far came when he took a fight in Harare, Zimbabwe, for the WBF Intercontinental Super Welterweight title. Expect a showcase of Antwi’s skillset.

At heavyweight, Lucian Atana looks to continue his 100% stoppage ratio, going into his third fight against the oft-stopped Ferenc Zsalek, of Hungary. Zsalek has lost inside the distance a total of 30 times so Atana’s fans can hope for another display of explosive, destructive power.

Elsewhere, Romania’s Flavius Biea takes on experienced Berman Sanchez, who is without a win in his last two fights.

Lewis Smith looks to add to his fledgling career tally, stepping in against one of the British boxing circuits most consistent journeymen, Naheem Chaudhry. The Blackburn man is yet to be stopped and has competed in 62 contests.

Billy Underwood aims to rack up a third win, taking on Danail Stoyanov, of Bulgaria. Underwood’s camp will hope to get a routine win and make more progress in the new year.

At flyweight, Sam Cantwell takes on Pablo Navarez, who hasn’t won since 2017. Don’t expect him to change that on Saturday, but Cantwell will hope to get some rounds under his belt and learn from the experience at an iconic venue.

Jahid Munim appears, at super lightweight, to take on Reece Smith. Smith has lost four times, each time by stoppage. Munim will be hoping to add to that tally as he goes into his second bout.

Rhys Edwards, at super featherweight, and Michael Hennessy Jnr, at middleweight, are both set to appear, though their opponents are yet to be confirmed. Alireza Ghadiri is in the same boat at featherweight. Hopefully all three men manage to get opponents lined up before the doors of York Hall open on Saturday.


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