Saturday night at the Copper Box in Hackney Wick sees Charlie Edwards, fresh from an inspiring World Title win at the back end of last year, topping the bill in what should be a routine first defence of his WBC Flyweight Title.
The card also has some solid support alongside the main event, with domestic Titles on the line, and a step up in weight for Lewis Ritson.
Charlie Edwards (14-1, KO6) v Angel Moreno (19-2-2, KO6), 12 Rounds, WBC Flyweight Title – Edwards makes a first defence of his newly won WBC Flyweight Title at the site of the 2012 Olympic Boxing tournament. In September 2016, Edwards challenged for a World Title in just his ninth fight, but the IBF Title was too much too soon for the Epsom man, and he was stopped in ten by John Riel Casimero.
It was expected to be the same story against Cristofer Rosales at the O2 Arena in December 2018, as Edwards this time went for WBC glory. This was the same Rosales who ruthlessly stopped Paddy Barnes in Belfast just four months earlier, but Edwards impressively diffused the Mexican to win the famous green belt by a comfortable unanimous decision.
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His opponent this Saturday is little known Spaniard, Angel Moreno. Quite what has merited his shot at the Title is unclear. The Madrid man has lost every time he has ventured outside his home country. He lost in Ukraine to Artem Dalakian in July 2015 by wide points decision, and his only other loss came in a challenge for the European Title in March 2016, as Thomas Masson outpointed Moreno in France. Since then Angel has won nine on the spin, but eight of these have been scheduled six rounders against trial horses, with the other a ten round points win over Juan Rivas for the WBO Latino Title in September 2017. Edwards will start as a heavy betting favourite in London.
Prediction: This is the typical homecoming first defence of a World Title, and Moreno should allow Edwards to negotiate a straightforward first defence. Little is known of Moreno, and he has fought nowhere near this class before. Edwards has a great engine, and against Rosales on his coronation night, his movement was impeccable, and he stayed behind an impressive jab. I expect him to do the same this Saturday, and the pick is for him to retain by wide points decision.
The undercard is jam packed with competitive contests.
Joshua Buatsi (9-0. KO7) competes for his fist domestic Title, as he contests the vacant British Light Heavyweight Title against Barrow in Furness’ Liam Conroy (16-3-1, KO8). Buatsi is certainly on the fast track to success, and the 26 year old is fast running out of credible opponents as he has blown away his last three opponents, supposed to be steps up, in one round apiece.
The Lonsdale Belt is a good route to take, and Liam Conroy, although a former Northern Area and English Champion, isn’t expected to provide the 2016 Olympic Bronze medallist with too many problems. Buatsi was last seen in December 2018 blasting out former IBO Super Middleweight Champion, Renold Quinlan inside a round, while Conroy was last seen almost a year ago, stopping Miles Shinkwin in two.
Prediction: Buatsi is a joy to watch, and will use his relaxed and measured style to full effect in this one. He doesn’t waste many punches. Conroy is a stand up fighter, who, although he tries to work off a range finding jab, loves to go for the jugular, and this will likely play into Joshua’s hands as a superb counter puncher. I can see this one being yet another impressive nights work for Buatsi, and can see him capturing the prestigious British Title with a spectacular knockout around the fourth.
The British and Commonwealth Titles are on the line at Cruiserweight, as British Champion, Laurence Okolie (11-0, KO8), who has also held the Commonwealth belt, meets Wadi Camacho (21-7, KO12) who is the current holder of the rainbow belt.
Okolie has endured a tricky last twelve months, as he has been best known for two stinkers of fights. February 2018 saw a grudge match with Isaac Chamberlain. Although Okolie scored two knockdowns, and enjoyed a wide points win, it was a tough watch, and was messy and hold filled. An impressive third round stoppage against Luke Watkins to lift the Commonwealth belt four months later seemed to banish those bad memories, but on the biggest stage of all, Wembley Stadium in September, Okolie won the British Title in possibly the worst domestic fight of the year. The fight saw “The Sauce” deducted three points in all in an extremely scrappy affair, where there seemed to be more holding than boxing. Okolie was booed as he was announced the winner, dropping his stock somewhat. His last outing saw a quick run out in dismantling the limited Tamas Lodi in three rounds last month at the O2 in London.
Camacho could be the perfect opponent for Okolie to impress and look good once again. A former two time Southern Area Champion, Camacho shipped the belt in his first run as Champion to the aforementioned Chamberlain in September 2016 in a brutal fight where Chamberlain dislocated his shoulder before toughing it out to win on points. He won the Commonwealth Title in November 2018, when he avenged a July 2017 stoppage defeat to Arfan Iqbal in a challenge for the English Title, by winning via technical decision, with Iqbal unable to continue during the seventh round after hurting his back falling through the ropes. Camacho won as the fight went to the cards.
Prediction: Camacho is a bit of a domestic gatekeeper, and his style could be tailor made for Okolie to impress the fans and get them back on side. Okolie carries power, and is a concussive puncher, with Camacho susceptible to being hurt. He has been stopped four times in his seven losses, and I think that could be the telling statistic. If Okolie can relax and let his hands go, rather than being partial to holding and smothering his own work, then I favour him to stop Camacho just after halfway.
The bill also sees the return of Lewis Ritson (17-1, KO11). The Tynesider was last seen in a surprising defeat in a challenge for the vacant European Lightweight Title, when Francesco Patera hurt him several times on the way to a shock points win. Prior to this Ritson had cut a swathe through the Lightweight division, winning the British Title outright in just eight months.
He returns to the ring at Super Lightweight this weekend, and it will be interesting to see if we will witness a new and improved fighter. Ritson did seem to have stamina issues in the Patera fight, but he was hurt to the body early on, causing him problems further on in the contest.
His opponent over ten rounds is German Argentino Benitez (21-3, KO9). Ritson will need to be careful not to overlook the Argentine, as we saw Sam Eggington grossly under estimate Hassan Mwakinyo last September, knocked out in two rounds.
Benitez has only been stopped once, but has never fought outside Argentina, so I anticipate Ritson to go back to his ruthless pressure fighting style to shift Benitez out before the halfway mark.