The weekend for many people is a time for partying and socialising, but for the majority of boxing fans it represents pugilistic paradise. Boxing as a television product is arguably at an all-time peak, with plenty of channels showcasing the sport on a regular basis
Warrington vs Dieli, Saturday night 8.30pm, Sky Sports 2
Although their football team is struggling at the moment, the city of Leeds are lucky to have another sporting hero in boxer Josh Warrington, who fights for the vacant European featherweight title against Italian veteran Davide Dieli on Saturday night at the First Direct Arena in Leeds.
23-year-old Warrington was somewhat of an unknown boxer prior to the end of last year, but he made a big name for himself in November 2013 when, in his opponents backyard, he stopped the previously undefeated Samir Mouneimne in the 12th round of their contest.
Now 18-0, that was Warrington’s first ever win via stoppage, and he followed that up with his second against former world title challenger Rendall Munroe in April. Just over a month after picking up the Commonwealth title in that clash, he added the British featherweight title to his already glittering collection, defeating Belfast’s Martin Lindsay on points in front of his home fans in Leeds.
Those fans will be out in force again to see their star who mixes his boxing with being a dental technician. His opponent, Italy’s Davide Dieli is 35-years-old, has a 15-3 record, and has won nine of his last ten contests, albeit against standard opposition.
Both fighters seem to lack power, with Dieli having stopped just one of his last seven victims, but after 15 fights without a stoppage, Warrington now has two in his last three fights.
Backed by a boisterous crowd, Warrington is a huge favourite to win, although fans of the upset are in luck - you can get odds of up to 14/1 if you fancy Dieli to not be afraid of the dentist.
The undercard sees a mix of former World Champions and challengers, with some of Matchroom’s up and coming stars featuring as well.
Former two-weight World Champion Ricky Burns has had a year to forget, having enjoyed just one win in his last four bouts, with that victory being against Jose Gonzalez last November, a fight in which Gonzalez was ahead on the cards when he pulled out through injury at the end of round nine.
Burns then struggled to a controversial draw against Raymundo Beltran, before losing his WBO lightweight title against Terence Crawford in March. The Scot then split with long-time trainer Billy Nelson ahead of his comeback match against Montenegro’s Dejan Zlaticanin, but his first fight under new trainer Tony Sims ended in defeat.
Now moving up to light-welterweight, Burns (36-4-1) faces France’s Alexandre Lepelley (17-3-1) who hasn’t lost since 2008. Lepelley comes in with just three knockouts from his 17 wins, so Burns, who was put down in the first round by Zlaticanin, should be able to focus on his boxing and not worry about power shots.
The 31-year-old Burns fights outside Scotland for the first time since 2011, and will hope this low-key contest will see him return to the sort of form that saw him defeat the likes of Kevin Mitchell, Paulus Moses, and Roman Martinez.
Blackpool’s Brian Rose was last seen in action in June when he was stopped at the Barclays Center in New York by Demetrius Andrade during round seven of their WBO light middleweight title contest.
Rose was dominated in every round of the fight, but returns to action in Leeds still as Britain’s number one light middleweight, and looking to improve on his 25-2 record. His opponent has been changed over the last week, and he now faces Argentina’s Ignacio Lucero Fraga, who has never previously fought outside of his home country.
Fraga has only won two of his last six fights, and his 11-7-3 record would indicate that this is very much a confidence booster fight for Rose.
Elsewhere on the card, 29-1 Tyrone Nurse takes on 15-8 Dave Ryan for the Commonwealth light welterweight title. Nurse’s lone defeat was a Prizefighter loss to Adil Anwar, while Ryan surprisingly defeated former world title challenger Paul McCloskey last December.
Liverpool’s Callum Smith is one of Britain’s most touted prospects, and the 24-year-old super middleweight has won all 13 of his professional contests, with ten wins coming inside the distance. Ahead of a huge fight in November against Nikola Sjekloca, Smith ticks over in Leeds against Uruguay's 48-10 34-year-old veteran Rafael Sosa Pintos, who lost on points to Matthew Macklin in 2009.
Elsewhere undefeated Scottish super middleweight David Brophy fights Vitalie Mirza, cruiserweights Arfan Iqbal, Simon Vallily and Stephen Simmons are in action, while light heavyweight Callum Johnson continues to rebuild his career following a long absence from the sport.
Barthelemy vs Saucedo, Saturday night 2am, BoxNation
Meanwhile, for those up late on Saturday night/Sunday morning, Boxnation will televise a card from the Foxwoods Resort, Mashantucket, Connecticut, USA which is headlined by an IBF World super featherweight title clash between champion Rances Barthelemy of Cuba (20-0) and Argentina’s 60 fight veteran, Fernando David Saucedo.
Barthelemy officially won the IBF title in July against Argenis Mendez, after their first fight was ruled a no contest. Saucedo is his opponent for the first defence of his belt, and though the Argentine has lost five and drawn three of his career contests, his only defeat in ten years was in 2010 against the then unbeaten Chris John.
Saucedo has only won eight fights via stoppage across 52 wins, but four of those have come in his last six fights. Don’t expect an all guns blazing affair, but Saucedo might be worth a look at, especially at very generous odds of up to 7/1.
On the undercard, former light middleweight title challenger Vanes Martirosyan (34-1-1) takes on Willie Nelson 23-1-1, who will again seek to step out of the shadows of his country singing namesake. Elsewhere, ‘Bad’ Chad Dawson continues his recovery from two stoppage defeats in his last three fights, as he takes on former Nathan Cleverly victim Tommy Karpency.
Non-televised action over the weekend includes Puerto Rico’s world class prospect Felix Verdejo looking for his 15th consecutive win against Mexico’s 26-4-2 Sergio Villanueva, while in Atlantic City, entertaining light middleweight Glen Tapia returns for his second fight of the year, with intriguing 24-0 Canadian welterweight Mikael Zewski on the undercard.
Fights are also taking place in Belfast and Staffordshire, while Olympic gold medalist Oleksandr Usyk continues his rapid run to the top of the cruiserweight division in Lviv, Ukraine.