McKenzie vs Askin, Friday night 7.00pm, BoxNation
The first of three televised boxing cards this weekend emanates from London’s legendary York Hall, as British and Commonwealth Cruiserweight champion Ovill McKenzie defends against Matty Askin.
23-12 across a 12 year career, McKenzie lost three of his first five bouts as a professional, but the 35-year-old is enjoying an Indian summer and has won five of his last six fights via stoppage.
Those victories included a triumph over former world champion Enzo Maccarinelli, before a move up to Cruiserweights earned him quick stoppage wins, and two prestigious titles against Tony Conquest and Jon-Lewis Dickinson.
McKenzie’s power has developed at his new weight, but opponent Matty Askin represents a difficult challenge.
The 17-2 fighter has won his last three matches, but it will be almost a year since he last competed when he steps into the ring on Friday night.
Askin began his career with 13 straight wins, but two defeats in three to Jon-Lewis Dickinson and Krzsztof Glowacki halted his potential.
At 26, he is the younger man by nine years, and will see this as his opportunity to finally make it to the big time in the seventh year of his career.
The bookies can barely split the two, with McKenzie a slight favourite at 4/6, while Askin is available at 6/5.
An undercard full of prospects is in store for fans watching this event, with 9-0 Miles Shinkwin taking on 9-2 Richard Horton, 10-0 Tom Baker meeting 6-4 Kevin Greenwood, and there are also outings for undefeated fighters Gary Corcoran, Romeo Romaeo, Mitchell Smith and Ryan Burnett.
Brook vs Dan, Saturday night 7.30 pm, Sky Sports 1
Kell Brook’s victory over Shawn Porter for the IBF welterweight title back in August was one of the greatest boxing moments of 2014, but a brutal stabbing to the champion just a month later threatened to curtail his career.
The 33-0 star has shaken off the injuries physically, but will they be playing on his mind mentally when he defends his world title for the first time against 34-2 Ionut Dan Ion?
Ion, known more familiarly as ‘Jo-Jo Dan’ has won his last five fights, including two split decision conquests over Kevin Bizier.
Canadian based, but Romanian born, Dan’s lone losses have both come to Selcuk Aydin on points, although he was knocked down by the Turk in each of the fights.
Kell Brook - pictures by Steve Morgan
Brook has stopped four of his last five opponents, and last competed in Sheffield against Vyacheslav Senchenko in late 2013.
Despite the injuries sustained from the stabbing, which severely affected his legs, Brook is a wide favourite to win this bout at ½, with Dan a 9/1 underdog.
Value hunters may enjoy the 4/6 for Brook to stop the Romanian, or those who feel Brook’s tactics may be hindered will enjoy 6/4 for the fight to go the distance.
12-0-2 Gavin McDonnell fights for the vacant European super bantamweight title on the undercard against 13-0-1 Oleksandr Yegorov, but those excited about an undefeated battle should perhaps temper their expectations.
Ukraine’s Yegorov has won 13 bouts, but 10 of those have come against boxers with one win or less, and his other three victories have occurred against competitors with a combined record of 51-65-6.
McDonnell looked good in defeating Vusi Malinga last time out, but seems to be an inconsistent fighter who struggled mightily with Josh Wale last year, and had to dig deep to win the British title against Leigh Wood before then.
Belarusian Middleweight Sergey Khomitsky has been kryptonite for many British boxers over the years, starting with a win over Jamie Moore in 2010.
After pushing Martin Murray close in December 2013, Khomitsky took the undefeated record of Frank Buglioni a year ago, and drew with Nick Blackwell in Monaco.
Although now 40-years-old, he is by far the best opponent Adam Etches has faced so far in his career, despite the Sheffield man boasting an 18-0 record.
Etches is a powerful puncher, with 15 stoppages already in his career, but his opponents have been a scattered mix of domestic journeymen and European no hopers, so it will be interesting to see how he fares against a man who has consistently mixed with excellent talents.
The Brit is a surprisingly wide 2/5 favourite, with Khomitsky available at 5/2 outright, and 9/2 to stop his opponent.
A very good undercard in Sheffield also features Frankie Gavin’s first bout as a Matchroom fighter, as well as appearances from Stephen Smith, Khalid Yafai and Charlie Edwards.
Gonzalez vs Russell Jr, Saturday night 3.00 am, BoxNation
Mexico’s 65 fight veteran Jhonny Gonzalez defends his WBC featherweight title in Las Vegas against 25-1 American Gary Russell Jr.
Gonzalez shocked the world when he knocked out the previously undefeated Abner Mares in one round to win the title in August 2013, and defends the championship for the third time.
The Mexican will be dedicating this fight to luchador Perro Aguayo Jr who died last week in the wrestling ring, which will add emotional significance to this bout.
Russell lost his first attempt at a world championship when he fell to Vasyl Lomachenko last year, and the 26-year-old will hope it will be second time lucky in Vegas.
Jermell Charlo aims to remain undefeated in his 26th bout when he meets Vanes Martirosyan on the undercard, while twin brother Jermall looks for his 21st consecutive win against Michael Finney.