Boxing continues with a particularly strong schedule to close out was has certainly been a difficult year for all involved. With mouth watering Anthony Joshua and Canelo Alvarez PPV’s coming up over the next few weeks, not to mention the return of Billy Joe Saunders, Errol Spence and Gennady Golovkin, boxing fans have some truly brilliant bouts to look forward to. But amongst the glitz and glam of these huge stars, here’s five Christmas crackers you may have missed.
Harlem Eubank vs Daniel Egbunike
In a battle of two unbeaten super lightweights, Harlem Eubank (10-0, 3 KO’s) faces off against Chessington’s Daniel Egbunike (6-0, 3 KO’s) at the MTK Golden Contract finals on Wednesday night.
Harlem, the nephew of British boxing icon Chris Eubank, is trained by revered coach Adam Booth and can count Michael Conlan and Josh Kelly amongst his chief training partners. The 26 year old has improved fight on fight, culminating in a career best performance last time out, earning only his third stoppage with an eighth round TKO of fellow MTK Global prospect Martin McDonagh.
Egbunike handed McDonagh his first loss last summer, in a fight many expected him to lose, and followed that up with another points win last November over the previously undefeated Billy Allington, earning the vacant Southern Area title in the process.
With the winner putting themselves right in the mix for big domestic dust-ups with the likes of British and Commonwealth super lightweight champion Akeem Ennis-Brown next year, here’s a matchup that highlights everything that’s right with boxing.
James Tennyson vs Josh O’Reilly
After being thoroughly outclassed by Tevin Farmer in his first world title bid in October 2018, it seemed Tennyson (27-3, 23 KO’s) might be just short of reaching the level required to lift world honours.
Fast forward five fights and five KO’s later, Tennyson is not only on the cusp of another world title shot up a weight class, but he’s one of the best fighters to watch in the whole of Britain. With a resume that reads as good as any 130 to 135 lbs fighter in the country, the Belfast man holds wins over the likes of Declan Geraghty, Martin Joseph Ward, Atif Shafiq and Gavin Gwynne all of which came via stoppage.
The only thing separating him from another shot is Canada’s undefeated Josh O’Reilly (16-0, 6 KO’s) his opponent for Friday’s WBA World title eliminator.
Despite never tasting defeat thus far into his professional career, the 29 year old has never faced anyone with the experience or ferocious punching power of ‘The Assassin’, and will certainly have his hands full.
Quite simply Tennyson is must watch TV and should collect his sixth win in a row, don’t be surprised if this one doesn’t go the allotted 12 rounds.
Sam Eggington vs Ashley Theophane
A fight that hasn’t landed on a big card and will be available on Freeview TV pits exciting brawler Sam Eggington (28-7, 17 KO’s) with former Mayweather Promotions contender Ashley Theophane (48-8-1, 17 KO’s).
Fresh of a close decision loss to Ted Cheeseman at Matchroom’s Fight Camp in August, Eggington seems to constantly find himself in must win fights with his ‘career on the line’, but due in part to his exciting come forward style, always seems to be granted fresh opportunities.
Theophane is one of the most well travelled Brits in the game, having fought in Germany, Poland, Mexico, Romania, Denmark, UAE, Hungary, Luxembourg, Saint Lucia, Britain and the USA. A former British super lightweight champion and WBA super lightweight world title challenger, Theophane has enjoyed an interesting career that has played out mainly away from the spotlight.
With the 40 year olds level of competition being rather questionable since his 2016 world title loss to Adrien Broner (only two of his last 11 opponents have had less than double figure losses) Theophane faces a very stern test in the much younger and bigger Eggington.
With all the ingredients for a war between a young man known for only having fun fights and a retiring veteran looking for one last hurrah on home soil, keep your calender free for the night of December 11th.
Martin Bakole vs Sergey Kuzmin
Landing on the huge AJ PPV card on December 12th, Martin Bakole (15-1, 12 KO’s) faces his first real test since losing his undefeated record to Michael Hunter as he faces towering Russian Sergey Kuzmin (15-1, 11 KO’s).
Both men have enjoyed similar careers so far, having identical records while both suffering their only losses to fleet footed American Michael Hunter and both have found themselves in the ‘who needs them’ club.
Kuzmin has the better resume on paper, with wins over the likes of David Price, Joey Dawejko and Malcolm Tann, while on the other hand Bakole’s best win was an April 2019 TKO of Mariusz Wach, also being one of just three men to stop the ultra durable Kevin Johnson.
With Matchroom’s broad array of heavyweights its fair to say the winner of this one has the potential to go on to get some seriously big fights for seriously big money. Two big punching heavyweights clashing in a real 50/50 scrap, expect fireworks.
Shakan Pitters vs Craig Richards
The most successful alumni of The Ultimate Boxxer tournament, Shakan Pitters (14-0, 4 KO’s) has gone from strength to strength since beating Dec Spelman in the tournaments final in November 2018.
Two journeymen were bested before a rematch with Spelman for the English light heavyweight title saw Pitters win his first title. Another step up in his next bout saw him add the vacant British title to his collection, dominating nearly every round against Chad Sugden on route to a wide points win.
Richards (15-1-1, 8 KO’s) is no stranger to British title fights, having lost his first attempt at the 175 lbs title to Frank Buglioni on short notice. Since then Richards has gone on to win domestic scraps with Jake Ball and Andre Sterling, being held to a draw with former Pitters foe Chad Sugden last time out.
The last big British fight of the year, this one is uber competitive and is again free to air on Channel five, an added bonus for fight fans with a pricey month ahead. The domestic light heavyweight division is thriving right now, with Joshua Buatsi, Anthony Yarde, Callum Johnson and Lyndon Arthur all waiting in the wings for the winner.