Boxing: Dunne ready to go on Holiday

LIVE BOXING returns to a Saturday night ITV slot for only the second time in four years tonight - and the network hopes there will be no repeat of the comedy of errors that marred last October's broadcast from Liverpool.

That night, a board beneath the ring canvas came loose, providing a work surface more treacherous than anything featured on Match of the Day's simultaneous transmission (Stamford Bridge notwithstanding).

But boxing is a proven winner in the TV ratings war and while the 10 million-plus viewing figures of Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn and Naseem Hamed remain a distant dream, ITV sees the three million who tuned into Shea Neary's World Boxing Union light-welterweight (10 stone) title defence last autumn as an encouraging base.

The network's association with the Liverpool promoters, Munro-Hyland Brothers, and the Norfolk-based WBU is based on solid matchmaking rather than star names, a trend continued this evening when Colin Dunne defends his WBU lightweight (9st 9lb) title against South Africa's Phillip Holiday.

Dunne's "Dynamo" nickname sums him up, while "No Deal" perfectly describes the uncompromising manner of Holiday, a former International Boxing Federation champion thought to be the world's premier lightweight until he met boxing's best body-puncher, Sugar Shane Mosley. But Holiday's only defeat in 35 fights remains the one occasion that an opponent has survived 12 rounds with the Californian.

Tonight will mark Dunne's 20th appearance at Bethnal Green's York Hall, but venue-familiarity is unlikely to help the transplanted Scouser against his most experienced opponent to date. The workrate of Holiday, a part- time triathlete, should allow him to edge an exciting encounter on points.

Also tonight, the East London middleweight, Jason Matthews, travels to Oldham in search of his first major title when he challenges Sheffield's seasoned Paul "Silky" Jones, the Commonwealth champion, on a Frank Warren promotion televised by Sky. But the former World Boxing Organisation champion Jones should be too varied for the "Method Man" from Hackney and should retain his title on points.

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