After what feels like an eternity of waiting UK boxing makes its much needed return this Friday night inside the BT Sport studios in London.
The landscape has dramatically changed in the sport, and every safeguard and precaution has been taken to ensure the show is as safe as possible.
Initial rounds of testing has seen all the fighters taking part having a clean bill of health, and they will be tested again on Wednesday before entering the hotel which they will all call home until after their fights on Friday.
Frank Warren and Queensberry are the first promotional outfit to bring boxing back to the UK since the enforced lockdown, and top of the bill for the first show is a battle for the British and Commonwealth Super-Bantamweight belts.
Lichfield’s Brad Foster (12-0-2, KO5) is still only 22 years of age, and its also hard to believe that he has had no amateur boxing background, with his combat experience coming in the world of kickboxing.
As a British, European and World kickboxing champion Foster decided to turn to professional boxing. Making his debut aged just 18 in December 2015 in a four round points win against Josh O’Donnell at the Dudley Town Hall.
A draw in his seventh fight against the always tough to beat Brett Fidoe in June 2017 was a blot on his record.
Brad bounced back to win the Midlands Area Super-Bantamweight title, retiring the unbeaten Leon Gower in eight in Walsall just over a year later.
This win set up an early tilt at the vacant Lonsdale Belt against the experienced Josh Wale in Wale’s Barnsley back yard.
Foster would start as firm underdog, but he proved the oddsmakers wrong in a dominant points win.
He added the Commonwealth crown just two months later in May 2019, stopping the brave Ashley Lane in the twelfth and final round in Stevenage.
A fair few would say that Foster was lucky to keep hold of his belts in September of the same year. Lucien Reid seemingly had the beating of him at York Hall, only to be denied in a majority draw.
A rematch was the logical next step, and in February this year at the same venue, Foster made the necessary adjustments to impressively force a corner retirement after the sixth round.
Foster has been keeping busy during the lockdown period, becoming a key member of the front line by signing up to work at a supermarket.
Now for Foster, comes a chance to win the coveted Lonsdale Belt outright, and standing in his way will be the young and hungry James Beech Junior (12-0, KO2).
23-year-old Beech hails from Bloxwich, making this fight a tasty all Midlands affair, and the unbeaten boy from the Black Country will be looking to seize a big opportunity to become a double domestic champion.
Beech fights under the BCB Promotions banner, and the Foster fight will represent his first fight outside of the West Midlands.
James has mainly campaigned at Super-Featherweight and Featherweight, and has only fought three men with winning records in his 12 paid outings.
Beech is a two weight Midlands champion though, winning the Super-Featherweight version in December 2018 with a ninth round knockout of Louis Fielding in Walsall.
His last appearance came in December of last year, and he picked up the Featherweight strap with a razor thin 96-95 win on the referee’s card against Luke Jones.
One thing that sticks out for Beech throughout his professional career is his proneness too cuts, having been cut in four fights, with all coming above his eye. This could be a factor in a fight with an all action Foster.
Prediction: The aforementioned cuts could play a big part here, but I feel this big opportunity may have come a bit too soon for Beech. Foster is super fit and always in shape, and his engine could prove the difference here.
Beech is likely to cut at some point during the contest, and I think he may struggle to keep Foster off him. The pressure should tell after halfway, and I expect a Foster stoppage win somewhere around the eighth or ninth round.
A good looking meeting for the WBO European Super-Welterweight belt heads the undercard.
The champion, Hamzah Sheeraz (10-0, KO6) looks a real talent, and he defends the title for the first time against Dundee’s Paul Kean (12-1, KO1).
Sheeraz has looked impressive thus far, and won the belt he defends in November 2019 with a sixth round stoppage of Ryan Kelly in Birmingham.
Kean ventures outside of his native Scotland for the first time, and has mainly campaigned on the dinner show circuit in Paisley, Glasgow and Turnberry.
He is a former Celtic champion, and Scottish Area champion, and his sole defeat came in September 2018 in a tight points loss to Stefan Sanderson.
Sheeraz will be looking for a statement win here, and I can see him halting Kean around the halfway mark.
Promising Ukrainian Heavyweight Dorion Krasmaru (2-0, KO2) continues his pro career against the tough Phil Williams (3-24, KO1).
Williams has only been stopped three times in 24 defeats, with Fabio Wardley and Kash Ali scoring early wins against the Swindon man.
Krasmaru is now based in Sidcup, and serves as a sparring partner for Daniel Dubois.
The Ukrainian has chalked up two early wins from as many starts, and will be looking for a statement stoppage win in London.
In another Heavyweight meeting, Tyson Fury’s sparring partner, David Adelaye (1-0, KO1) continues his fledgling career against West Bromwich’s Matt Gordon (2-2-1, KO0).
Gordon has been stopped in the first round in his last two contests, which doesn’t bode well here.
Popular Portsmouth Lightweight Mark Chamberlain (5-0, KO3) goes in over a scheduled six rounds for the first time as a pro, and he will meet Stu Greener (3-4, KO1).