It’s the latest instalment of JD NXTGEN this Friday, and the iconic York Hall is the venue. The poster for the event sees Conor Benn centerstage, but the main event has to be a British Middleweight Title fight, with a British Title eliminator at Light Heavyweight a close second. Sky Sports televise in the UK, with DAZN the outlet to see the action in the USA Here is my preview and predictions for the card.
The British Title fight on the card sees Bermondsey banger, and British Middleweight Champion, Ted Cheeseman (15-1, KO9), defend his belt after a tough loss in his last outing.
Cheeseman was last seen headlining the O2 Arena in London back in February, but he was battered from pillar to post in a challenge for the European Title against Sergio Garcia. He has since confessed to gambling problems, and has stated that he feels better than ever ahead of his defence in Bethnal Green this weekend.
“The Big Cheese” claimed the Lonsdale Belt with an eye catching win against Asinia Byfield in October 2018, dropping the Reading man in the fifth before dominating a points win. He also has impressed in outscoring gatekeeper, Carson Jones, and stopping Pauly Upton in four.
His opponent is Northampton’s Keiron Conway (12-1, KO3) who lost his unbeaten record, albeit in a Ultimate Boxxer semi final match last month. In order for him to contest the British Title, he returned to winning ways in a four round points win against Harry Matthews at the end of last month.
Prediction: We will see on Friday, how much Cheeseman’s heavy loss to Garcia has taken out of him. He is a man that likes to set a high tempo, and wing in power punches to head and body wherever possible. Conway is more of a stylist, but is making a huge step up in class for this one. I expect Cheeseman to impress, and shake off his recent defeat. He will start off strongly, and may even put Conway down, but once the action settles down, Cheeseman should retain via wide points decision.
In what could take fight of the night honours, Craig “Spider” Richards (14-1, KO8) looks to build his recent good form, but faces a tough test in unbeaten fellow Londoner Andre Sterling (10-0, KO4).
The match doubles as an eliminator to the British Title at Light Heavyweight, currently held by Joshua Buatsi. Richards was impressive last time out in another all London affair, when he ruthlessly dropped Jake Ball three times in the opening three rounds before forcing a stoppage. Richards picked up the WBA Continental Title for his efforts.
Croydon based Richards’ only reverse thus far came in a short notice challenge for the British belt back in October 2017, where Frank Buglioni soundly outpointed him in a spirited effort.
Sterling is another man off the Mickey Helliet production line, and he has gone from strength to strength so far. He won the Southern Area Title in November last year, when he outpointed Kirk Garvey at the same venue as where he will meet Richards.
He backed this up with another decent win, picking himself off the floor to widely outpoint Ricky Summers over ten rounds in February.
One assumes that Richards v Sterling is now a final eliminator, as Sterling’s win over summers was also an eliminator.
Prediction: This is a real intriguing contest, but I lean towards Richards, who has recent good form, and is finally starting to fulfil his potential. Sterling will provide a tough test, and won’t be fazed by the occasion, as shown by his win over Summers. I think Richards will have the best of the exchanges between the two, and will generally dictate the pace. I favour Richards to score a late stoppage win.
The aforementioned Conor Benn (14-0, KO9) is also in action, and he defends his WBA Continental Welterweight Title on the bill.
He meets 35 year old Finn, Jussi Koivula (24-6-1, KO9) in what is a pretty uninspiring choice of opponent.
Benn has looked a lot more assured since suffering an almighty scare against Cedric Peynaud on a NXTGEN bill in December 2017. The pair shared four knockdowns in a fight Benn scarcely deserved to win, but he did on the cards in a six rounder. He was much more improved in a rematch, widely outscoring the Frenchman at the O2. His last outing sure again a more mature display in taking every round of an eight rounder with Josef Zahradnik at the O2 in April.
His opponent at the York Hall has just come off a points loss for the EU belt. Jussi Koivula is durable, and has only been stopped twice, including one to Leonard Bundu back in April 2016.
He also lost out via split decision to Samuel Vargas in Canada in November 2017, the same Vargas that gave Amir Khan hell last year. He is 3-3 in his last six fights though, and shouldn’t pose Benn too many problems.
Prediction: Benn should start off frenetically as is his custom, but he may then settle to coast through the motions, and I think he may have to settle for a landslide points win in this one.
Other prospects on the card include Charles Frankham, Otha Jones III and Shannon Courtenay, while there is also a return for Reece Bellotti.
What are your predictions?