Whether it was Whigfield singing that “Saturday night, I feel the air Is getting hot”, or Elton John exclaiming that Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting, there is no doubt that the first night of the weekend is the perfect time to watch some boxing. Forget no-mark celebrities trying to salsa, ignore sob-story singers trying to con the public, and really, does anybody watch Casualty anymore?
This Saturday night has two live cards on television, with a real mix of world class prospects, excellent trade fights, and comeback stories offering you, the viewer hours of entertainment.
Joshua vs Bakhtov, Saturday night 8.30pm, Sky Sports 1
Anthony Joshua is now a year into his professional boxing career, and London's 2012 Olympic gold medalist takes part in his ninth paid bout on Saturday night, as he looks to extend his perfect record against Russia’s Denis Bakhtov.
Joshua (8-0) made his debut at the O2 Arena, and returns there once again, having knocked out every single one of his opponents so far, with only his last victim, Konstantin Airich, managing to see the third round.
Denis Bakhtov (38-9) also faced Arich in his last fight, although it took him all eight rounds to defeat him on points. Bakhtov is over six inches shorter than the decorated Joshua, but does have punching power, having won via stoppage 25 times across his 38 wins.
Although he has been stopped four times in his career, most recently to former world title challenger Manuel Charr a year ago, he has shown a lot of durability in recent time, as his last four losses before that all came via points.
He can be stopped though, and Joshua can certainly punch, having knocked down all of his opponents so far in his career, many multiple times. The credibility of some of Joshua’s opponents have been questioned in the past, but there is no doubting the pedigree of Bakhtov who will give it his all, but the overriding feeling - especially within the betting industry, is that Joshua will just be too good, with Bakhtov available to win at odds of up to 18/1.
Elsewhere on Matchroom’s London card, Islington’s John Ryder (18-1) faces late replacement Theophilus Tetteh (16-6-2). Ryder was initially set to oppose the incredibly tough and durable Sergey Khomitsky, but the contest fell through, and Tetteh should not pose too much trouble for the man many think is the dark horse in Britain’s packed middleweight division.
The fight with the most intrigue on the night is perhaps Lee Selby vs Joel Brunker, in what is being billed as a final eliminator for the IBF featherweight title.
Hailing from Barry, Wales, Lee Selby (19-1) stormed onto the boxing scene in late 2011 when he sensationally knocked out Stephen Smith to claim the British and Commonwealth featherweight titles. After a run of five stoppages in six fights, the knockouts have cooled in recent time for Selby, who has gone the distance in three of his last four fights, most notably against Romania’s Viorel Simion.
Brunker is undefeated across his 27 fight career, but has only fought out of his native Australia twice, both times in America. The 28-year-old has not competed since August 2013 however, during which time Selby has boxed 30 rounds of hard fought action.
With Josh Warrington’s impressive performance over the weekend in Leeds, Selby will be eager to prove he is the best featherweight in Britain, and one who is ready for the world title opportunity on offer against Brunker.
Undercard action from the O2 includes the return of Erick Ochieng (15-4) after a health scare in his last fight, against Britain’s most underrated journeyman, William Warburton, who has had a very successful 2014. Elsewhere, 12-0 Ricky Boylan faces 10-3 Tyler Goodjohn for the vacant English light welterweight title, 13-2 John Wayne Hibbert squares off against 22-5-1 Leonardo Esteban Gonzalez, while 9-0 Philip Bowes takes on 9-1 Joe Hughes for the vacant Southern Area light welterweight title.
Molina vs Bundrage, Saturday night, BoxNation
Overseas, eyes turn to Mexico, with Carlos Molina (22-5) defending his IBF world light middleweight title against the former holder of the belt, 41-year-old Cornelius Bundrage (33-5) who lost the championship to the man Molina beat in his last fight, Mayweather Promotions’ Ishe Smith.
Molina has enjoyed just one stoppage win since 2008, and fights for the first time in 13 months, while Bundrage has only fought twice since June 2012. With neither man having much recent ring experience, expect a cagey opening couple of rounds, before the floodgates well and truly opening.
Despite having a similar resume to his Mexican opponent, and more power, the popular veteran Bundrage is a big 10/3 to win in the party city of Cancun, while there is no real value in a Molina victory.
In non televised action this weekend, another London card is taking place at York Hall under the Goodwin Promotions umbrella, headlined by former Prizefighter winner Larry Ekundayo (7-0) facing off against 19-year-old Bulgarian Stanislas Nenkov (11-8).
Ekundayo looked to be one of the brightest new faces in British boxing when he won Prizefighter in 2012 having had just two previous bouts, but due to promotional issues and personal problems the talented fighter has had just two more fights since that triumph.
Now 32, time is running out for the talented welterweight to make his mark, and this fight could well be the start of a run to finally fulfill his potential.
The undercard at York Hall features regular Goodwin stalwarts including Kevin Greenwood and George Jupp, while the three Upton brothers - Paul, Sonny and Anthony are all in action as well, with their trainer Ricky Hatton expected to be in their corners.
Another interesting British bout takes place in Bristol, as Danny Butler (23-5) faces off against Jason Ball (8-17-1) for Butler’s English middleweight title.
Butler is the forgotten man of British boxing, and the former British title challenger has been in fine form recently, stopping his last four opponents, taking two undefeated records of Thomas Costello and Frankie Borg in the process.
Despite his modest record, Jason Ball can get it done on his day, and the man who is also a professional Mixed Martial Artist knocked out Kreshnik Qato in April. Watch out for YouTube footage of what could be the most entertaining scrap of the weekend.Reuse content