Boxing: Oliver is back for more

Click to follow
The Independent Online
Spencer Oliver hopes to go one better than Naseem Hamed and stop Italy's Vincenzo Belcastro when they meet for the Londoner's European super-bantamweight title at Alexandra Palace tonight. Belcastro, now 36, lost the European bantamweight title to Hamed in Sheffield in May 1994, surviving two knockdowns but still losing by a landslide.

Oliver, whose fight with Patrick Mullings last February earned the Best Contest of the Year trophy at the British boxing awards this week, has, like Hamed, had a meteoric rise to fame. The 22-year-old, with 12 straight wins, has graduated from a four-round fighter to European champion in just over two years. Oliver said: "Belcastro, despite his age, is very durable, so a win inside the distance would be a bonus. Naz may have dropped him early, but he stayed there."

Nicky Piper expects a swift conclusion to his challenge for the World Boxing Organisation light-heavyweight title held by the Pole Dariusz Michalczewski in Hanover. It is certainly the 31-year-old Welshman's last chance to gain a version of the title, having had two previous unsuccessful attempts. Piper said: "I think it'll be a short fight. It looks that way - about seven or eight rounds. I think I'll be able to stop him. He's a very aggressive fighter and I think his style is made for me."