The OVO Arena in Wembley is the location for a night of championship boxing this Saturday night, as Joe Joyce attempts to keep on track for a potential world title shot with a defence of WBC Silver and WBO International heavyweight titles against seasoned campaigner Christian Hammer.
Joyce vs Hammer will be broadcast on BT Sport in the UK and the show is promoted by Hall of Fame promoter, Frank Warren.
Joyce (13-0, 12 KOs) was seemingly on course for an intriguing clash with former WBO champion Joseph Parker, but, with the New Zealander now having signed with Ben Shalom and BOXXER, that meeting could be on ice for now, with a proposed July date cancelled due to Parker’s trainer, Andy Lee, being unavailable.
‘The Juggernaut’ is a 2016 Olympic Silver medallist, and has passed every test that has come his way with flying colours in the paid ranks.
British, Commonwealth, European and fringe world belts have been collected, and the Putney man has really come to the fore since his impressive dismantling of the recently crowned WBA champion, Daniel Dubois, in November 2020.
The 36-year-old started as the underdog, but broke down Dubois and eventually forced the 24-year-old to wilt in eleven rounds.
Since then Joyce has made one appearance, halting the respected former world title challenger, Carlos Takam in July last year.
Hammer (27-9, 17KOs) has been in with some big names in the division, but has always been defeated in better class, as losses to the likes of Tyson Fury (RTD8), Alexander Povetkin (UD12), Luis Ortiz (UD10), and Tony Yoka (UD10) attest to.
The 34-year-old has lost three of his last five outings, retiring after five rounds against Hughie Fury and his last to Frank Sanchez in America in January, losing every round of ten and dropped in the final frame.
He was last out in May, stopping Drazan Janjanin in a round.
Prediction: Joyce will want to get Hammer out of the way and look to force a meeting with the winner of the Anthony Joshua and Oleksandr Usyk rematch, and he shouldn’t have too many issues here. The Londoner can break Hammer down for a stoppage or retirement win around the halfway mark.
Cunningham clashes with Tete
An interesting looking chief support sees the evergreen Jason Cunningham take on a dangerous assignment, as he defends his Commonwealth and IBF International super bantamweight titles against the dangerous two-weight former world champion, Zolani Tete.
Cunningham (31-6, 7 KOs) was considered a solid domestic contender, always falling short when stepping up in levels, but May last year saw a breakthrough that has turned the Doncaster man’s career around.
A superb points win over Gamal Yafai to win the European title was followed by a win on the cards against Brad Foster to win the British and Commonwealth crowns, and his last fight saw him dominate Terry Le Couviour in a sixth round knockout win.
‘The Iceman’ has won seven straight, but Tete (29-4, 22 KOs) will provide a stern test of that run. The South African has served as world champion at super flyweight and bantamweight, and is a big puncher, but has only been seen once since losing his WBO belt at 122 pounds in a third round stoppage defeat to John Riel Casimero in November 2019.
The 34-year-old returned in December last year, blasting Iddi Kayumba out in a round in his homeland.
Prediction: This could well be smart matchmaking, and Cunningham can take an impressive points win.
Callum Johnson is in desperate need for big fights after an injury-hit career, and he defends his WBO Global light heavyweight title against former European champion, Igor Mikhalkin.
Johnson (20-1, 14 KOs) thankfully was a lot more active in 2021, but he laboured to a majority decision win over Server Emurlaev in his last contest in October last year.
The 36-year-old former world title challenger was set to receive a second world title shot against then-WBO champion, Joe Smith Jr in January but was ruled out after testing positive for COVID-19.
Mikhalkin (24-3, 11 KOs) is coming off a seventh round retirement loss to Mathieu Bauderlique in a bid for his vacant old belt in September last year.
Prediction: Johnson can score a win after halfway.
Mark Chamberlain (10-0, 7 KOs) can take his first belt as a professional, when he contests the vacant IBF European lightweight title against Spain’s Marc Vidal (13-2-5, 5 KOs), a former European champion. He may need the full ten rounds to take victory.
Micky Burke (6-0, 3 KOs) should take a points win over six at super welterweight against Serge Ambomo (7-31-3, 3 KOs), and Henry Turner (7-0, 1 KO) can do the same at super lightweight against Jakub Laskowski (4-16-1, 2 KOs).
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Mark Tibbs-trained cruiserweight, Tommy Fletcher makes his debut, and he will likely need all four rounds to see off the vastly experienced Daryl Sharp (6-91-1, 1 KO).
Cruiserweight prospect, Arnold Obodai (1-0, 1 KO) is also set on feature on the bill against an opponent to be announced.