Boxing: Akinwande set for a modest moment: Nelson prepares for Waterloo

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The Independent Online
HEAVYWEIGHTS traditionally capture the imagination of fight fans, but only the most dedicated follower of the genre will be enthralled by the prospect of tonight's engagement between Henry Akinwande and Johnny Nelson at the York Hall, Bethnal Green.

Following Frank Bruno's first-round pounding of the hapless Jesse Ferguson and the near-tragedy of Michael Bentt's demise at the hands of Herbie Hide, the heavyweight scene is in need of fresh impetus and a restoration of credibility.

Instead, we have Akinwande and Nelson, two fighters whose careers provide a persistent reminder that the fight game really is the art of self-defence. Safety and self-preservation are their watchwords: both know how to protect themselves, neither likes to come forward.

To be fair to the promoter, Mickey Duff, it is not a match he would have chosen. Akinwande was originally scheduled to risk his European and Commonwealth titles against Clifton Mitchell of Nottingham.

When the challenger was forced to withdraw with a hand injury, Duff unearthed James 'Bonecrusher' Smith, the 41-year-old former world champion who had shattered Bruno a decade ago. However, the creaking hull of this once formidable destroyer was deemed unserviceable by the British Boxing Board of Control's medical officers.

Nelson, who accepted the invitation as late as Saturday, is the reigning World Boxing Federation champion.

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