A brief departure from the football stadium super-fights and billion-dollar TV deals, this well-balanced card at the Copper Box Arena in London is nevertheless a worthy instalment in the Matchroom boxing calendar, filled with domestic talent in competitive match ups.
Main Event – John Ryder vs Andrey Sirotkin
John Ryder is a tale of two halves. He is a very watchable fighter with a fan friendly style, but has come unstuck at some crucial moments, having to rebuild from some high profile and not-so-high profile losses. He finds himself in a must-win match against undefeated Russian Andrey Sirotkin in a match that could make or break his career – the winner will secure a shot at the WBA super-middleweight title, while the loser will have a long road journey back to the top that neither man can afford to take.
Sirotkin is a capable super-middleweight, but it is hard to give him the edge in any department here. He has spent the past two years as a European and Inter-continental champion, but the rest of his 15 wins have come against very over-matched opposition. His first 9 opponents had a combined record of 15-55-5 when they faced him, and three of them were debutants. He lacks power too, with only 4 wins coming via stoppage. Ryder, knowing he has few options if he loses, will win a decision with a good performance. An excellent performance could bring him another stoppage win, and would send a statement out to an already exciting 168lbs division.
The chief supporting bout sees Ted Cheeseman challenge Asinia Byfield for the vacant British super welterweight title. Cheeseman, who is undefeated in 14 fights and has won a WBA international title previously, is more experienced and has beaten the better opposition (a points win over Carson Jones and a stoppage win over Paul Upton stand out). However, he won’t have it all his own way against Byfield, who punches deceptively hard and is difficult to hit. He also has a habit of upsetting the odds; Erick Ochieng went into their 2016 clash for the Southern Area title as the favourite, yet was beaten on points by a sharper, slicker Byfield. Sam McNess, at the time one of the future stars of Frank Warren’s stable, was out-foxed, out-punched and out-manoeuvred as his more orthodox style of boxing succumbed in the 5th round to Byfield’s awkward switch-hitting.
Cheeseman is a different fighter though. His high-intensity work-rate will see him throw punches to follow the ones that miss, and it is these that Byfield may not be able to avoid so easily. Cheeseman hits hard, too, with 9 of his 14 wins coming via knockout – Byfield will make things competitive, but he may not be able to avoid a gunfight for the whole 12 rounds. Cheeseman will likely draw him into one in the second half of the fight to emerge victorious via points or late stoppage.
Chamberlain vs Watkins
An excellent match between two men who will be keen to impress. Both are coming off losses to the same man (Lawrence Okolie), and victory here will certainly put the defeat behind whoever emerges on top in emphatic fashion. Chamberlain will feel particularly aggrieved after being wrestled, held and dragged around the ring for 12 uninteresting rounds by Okolie, whose recent similar performance against Matty Askin suggested that this wasn’t a one-off. He will drive the point further home with a win against Watkins, who has had questions asked of him at the higher levels of the sport.
Doyle vs Gill
Ryan Doyle had established himself as a good domestic featherweight by twice claiming the English title, but no one predicted the dismantling of previously undefeated prospect Reece Bellotti in an excellent small hall affair earlier this year. He claimed the Commonwealth title for his efforts, and makes his first defence against another unbeaten fighter in Jordan Gill, whose career had been building slowly until he suddenly announced himself to the broader British scene in February, defeating former British and Commonwealth champion Jason Cunningham over ten rounds.
Two more wins followed, making it three from three so far in 2018 for the Cambridgeshire man. A fourth would make an excellent year’s work, but he will have his work cut out for him against Doyle, who has faced better opposition and has more experience over longer distances. His additional advantages in height, reach and power will likely see the champion keep his title in a nevertheless well-contested fight.
Felix Cash contests the vacant WBC International Silver middleweight title against Stephen Danyo over 10 – the Englishman should have enough to bring home the title despite the step up in opposition; Martin Joseph Ward returns following his knockout loss to James Tennyson, this time against Mohammed Kambuluta over 6; Reece Bellotti also hopes to return to winning ways in a six rounder, while Louie Lynn, Charlie Duffield and George Fox continue their apprenticeships.