Welch offered chance to revive his career

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The Independent Online
Boxing

Scott Welch will have the chance to put last month's World Organisation heavyweight title setback behind him this summer.

The Brighton fighter, who hardly got out of first gear before losing on a wide points margin in his challenge for Henry Akinwande's title in Nashville, has been nominated to meet the world-rated Croat Zeljko Mavrovic for the European crown.

Being promoted by Frank Warren under his Sky television deal, Welch is counting on home advantage to secure a victory which could help him right a lot of the wrongs of the Akinwande defeat.

However, the European Union is not in a hurry to get the fight on. The EBU has called for private negotiations between promoters to be completed by 15 May, but the fight is more likely to go out to purse offers after that deadline.

The German-based Mavrovic, who is trained by the Londoner Darkie Smith, will be looking for a British hat-trick after his stoppages of Clifton Mitchell and Julius Francis.

"I don't really care where it is, but close to home would be nice. I'm at that level now where I've just got to go in there and win," Welch said. "I watched the Francis fight. Mavrovic is unbeaten and I definitely won't make the mistake of underestimating him. But I think it's a fight I can win.

"My credibility has taken a battering after the Akinwande fight and I don't want it to get worse by fighting bums. I don't want to get involved in any hype; just to go out there and get the right result."

Welch has clearly learned a lesson from the Akinwande fight, in which he waged a war or words, a mind game which was completely out of character and simply did not work. He may take a 10-rounder in early May, and a fight this year against the South African former International Federation champion, Francois Botha, has not been ruled out.

Billy Schwer, the former British lightweight champion has been nominated to meet the EBU title holder, Manuel Fernandes, of Spain. Schwer and his manager, Mickey Duff, were at ringside to see Fernandes stop the French defending champion, Angel Mona, in five rounds in Paris on Saturday.

Schwer has long been waiting for a European title fight, but accepts that it could take six months at least to set up a fight against Fernandes. "I might have a warm-up fight in the meantime, I'm not sure," he said. "Fernandes is a good puncher, is young and has plenty of energy. He stopped Mona, but was out of his feet in the third round. It's just good to get a title chance. It's been a bit frustrating in the last few months."

Jose Bonilla, of Venezuela, easily retained his World Association flyweight title when he stopped Japan's Hiroki Ioka yesterday. The American referee, Rafael Ramos, stopped the fight after 2min 49sec of the seventh round in Osaka with the challenger helpless against the ropes. Bonilla floored Ioka in the second round to take control of the fight. Bonilla, who took the title from Thailand's San Ploenchit last November, improved his record to 22 wins, including 11 knock-outs, against three losses.

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