Boxing: Oliver is back for more

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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."

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