It’s a double dose of the Heavyweights at the O2 Arena in London this Saturday, as the big men take centre stage in the capital.
Topping the bill is the hugely popular “Doncaster De la Hoya” David Allen (16-4-2, KO13), who tops a major bill after several appearances on Matchroom box office events over the last couple of years. Some would say he has been fortunate to have been afforded these opportunities, but for the most part, Allen has grasped these with both hands.
He came to prominence in a brave but losing effort against Dillian Whyte back in July 2016, losing on points over ten. He followed this by facing the much-avoided Luis Ortiz, giving another good account of himself before being stopped in seven.
Two failed attempts at the Commonwealth Title in 2017 and 2018 against Lenroy Thomas looked to have found Allen’s ceiling for achievement. He lost the first meeting in a dour points loss at Bramhall Lane, before being ruled out during the opening round of the rematch, as he sustained a bad cut.
After another good showing but punishing last round stoppage defeat to 2016 Olympic Champion, Tony Yoka in May last year, one month later, he took on Nick Webb at short notice. With Allen shipping punishment in the first three rounds, he turned the tide in the fourth, and poleaxed Webb with a Hail Mary right hand to breathe new life into his career. Since then he has had two straight stoppage wins against Samir Nebo and Ariel Esteban Bracamonte. He has been trained for this fight by former IBF Middleweight Champion, Darren Barker.
His opponent this weekend is Lucas Browne (28-1, KO24). The 40-year-old Aussie is a former WBA “Regular” Champion, although he then spent time out of the sport due to a drug ban, following his famous tenth round stoppage of Ruslan Chagaev in March 2016 to lift the Title when way behind on the scorecards away from home in Russia. He has looked distinctly average since, suffering his first defeat in March last year when, out of shape, he took a shellacking from Dillian Whyte before being knocked out cold in the sixth round. He has rebounded with three straight wins since, but in a run out last month ahead of the Allen fight in Turnberry, Scotland, he was floored by journeyman Pole, Kamil Sokolowski in round two before taking six round points win by a single point.
Prediction: Betting underdog Browne is firmly on the slide but has to be respected as a former World Champion. He had a scare last month, and pictures of him in a workout last week showed signs he was again not in the peak of physical shape. Allen on the other hand is on the up and looking in tremendous nick. He is also thirteen years Browne’s junior. That said Allen also shipped a fair few shots against the unheralded Bracamonte last time out, and both will surely not expect the fight to last the distance. I’m going to go against the grain in this one, and predict that Browne will get to Allen first, and score a knockout within the first five rounds. Anything past that and it’s Allen’s fight to lose. It could well turn into a scrappy, maul filled affair if this is the case.
The second offering at the top weight features the always value for money Dereck Chisora (29-9, KO21) who meets Senad Gashi (17-2, KO17) over twelve rounds. It’s an uninspiring choice of opponent for “Del Boy” as Gashi was last seen being stopped in seven rounds by Carlos Takam in December 2018. Chisora knocked Takam out in a thriller five months earlier, and the plan may very well be angling towards a rematch between the pair later on this year. Takam will more than likely drop back into the pack after his assignment against Oleksandr Usyk in the Ukrainian’s Heavyweight debut next month, but Chisora has been also more than open to facing the former Undisputed Cruiserweight Champion.
Chisora’s last outing was in a thriller on the same card as Takam v Gashi, topping the bill in a rematch with old foe Dillian Whyte at the O2. It was another cracker of a fight, with Chisora up on the cards, but unable to see out the job. Whyte eventually flattened the former World Title challenger in eleven pulsating rounds. It’s last chance saloon for the ever colourful Chisora, and he will look to be reborn under a new training team. Gashi has fought all over Europe, with all his victories via knockout, but against a severely low level of opposition. His only other loss was on a disqualification against Tyson Fury’s next opponent, Tom Schwarz, blatantly headbutting him three times before being thrown out.
Prediction: Chisora has linked up with Dave Caldwell as his new trainer, and this will hopefully see a more patient and measured approach, with Chisora having many miles on the clock. I can’t see Gashi causing many problems if any for the Finchley man, and if Chisora can take his time and take his chances at the right time, he can stop the Kosovo born German around the halfway mark.
Precocious Welsh talent, Joe Cordina (8-0, KO6) looks to take advantage of Lewis Ritson’s move up in weight, as he contests the vacant
British Lightweight Title against Andy Townend (22-4, KO14) on the bill. Cordina had a stop start 2018, only in action twice. He halted Hakim Ben Ali in three on the big Joshua v Parker bill in Cardiff in March to lift the WBA International belt, and then headlined a JD NXTGEN card at the Ice Arena in his home city of Cardiff in August, when he handily outscored Sean “Masher” Dodd to pick up the vacant Commonwealth Title.
Townend has been patiently waiting for his shot at the Lonsdale Belt, and moves up from Super Featherweight. He was due to meet Ritson on the bill at the Copper Box last month before the Geordie moved to Super Lightweight. A former English Champion at that weight, Townend has won six on the bounce since a September 2016 eighth round stoppage defeat in a challenge for Martin J Ward’s British Title. He should have captured the Commonwealth belt at Super Feather too, but failed to make weight in a second round stoppage win against John Kays in May 2017.
Prediction: Cordina is tipped for big things, and I don’t see Townend getting in the way of these plans. I expect Cordina to stick to a high work output, and target Townend’s body in the early going. This investment should pay off in the later rounds, and I favour the Welshman to prevail by late stoppage.
After a mystery illness curtailed Josh Kelly’s (8-0, KO6) proposed match against David Avanesyan just hours before it was due to take place in Sheffield last December, he faces unbeaten, but light punching Pole, Przemyslaw Runowski (17-0, KO3). A fight with new European Champion Avanesyan is a target for Kelly for later this year, and Kelly is also tentatively booked to appear in New York on the big Joshua v Miller card in June. Runowski shouldn’t derail any of those plans. Although unbeaten, he has not fought outside his native Poland, and has no recognisable names on his record.
Prediction: Kelly has looked spectacular in his professional career so far, with a variety of punches and eye-catching work. I think he can blast out his over matched opponent within the first three rounds, as Runowski will not have faced anyone near the Sunderland man’s calibre, with the O2 being a daunting place to visit.
Conor Benn (13-0, KO9) is also in action, over eight rounds at Welterweight against Czech import, Josef Zahradnik (10-2, KO5), who hasn’t been stopped as a professional.