Katie Taylor (14-0, KO6) bids to become a two weight World Champion against Greek based Domenincan, Christina Linardatou (12-1 KO6) at Manchester Arena and she will be looking to banish the memory from her controversial last outing.
At Madison Square Garden, New York in June, Taylor was expected to go through her usual dazzling repertoire to blow Delfine Persoon out of the water and add the Belgian’s WBC Lightweight Title her WBA, IBF and WBO straps.
Persoon, however gave the Irishwoman all she could handle before losing on a majority decision.
Prior to the Persoon fight, Taylor had not put a foot wrong and her step up in weight against Linardatou this weekend should be a chance for Taylor to shine once again.
Linardatou lost a wide points loss to the aforementioned Persoon in June 2016 in a challenge for the WBC Lightweight crown and won the vacant WBO Super Lightweight title in March this year, with a sixth round stoppage of the previously unbeaten Kandi Wyatt. She backed this up in June with a first defence against Deanha Hobbs, with a unanimous points win.
Prediction: This fight has all the hallmarks for Taylor to get back to her dazzling best. I expect Taylor to leave Linardatou chasing shadows, as she puts the finishing touches on a shutout points win.
Crolla (34-7-3, KO13) bows out in a fight for the vacant WBA Continental Lightweight Title, and his opponent, Frank Urquiaga (13-1-1, KO1) shouldn’t spoil his last goodbye.
Crolla has nothing left to prove in the sport, as a former WBA Lightweight World champion, achieving the feat on a magical November 2015 night at the Manchester Arena with a stunning fifth round knockout against Darleys Perez, who he had shared a draw with four months previously.
Crolla would make an impressive first defence, knocking out against the dangerous Ismael Barroso, but would then drop his Title in daring back-to-back defeats to the excellent Jorge Linares in unanimous decision losses.
The Manchester man then won three straight, to set up a challenge for the WBA (Super) and WBO Belts in Los Angeles in April, but the formidable Vasyl Lomachenko would ruthlessly stop Crolla in four.
This defeat would convince Crolla to hang up the gloves, but not before thanking his adoring Manchester fans one last time. Frank Urquiaga will obviously come to win and the Peruvian will have to defy thousands of Crolla’s fans to do this.
Prediction: Crolla has never possessed one-punch knockout power, but is a relentless, close quarters pressure fighter when needed. Still only 32 himself, Crolla certainly doesn’t look like a “shot” fighter, and I can see him lapping up the adoration of his home fans to box his way to a wide win on the cards.
Elsewhere on the bill, Felix Cash (11-0, KO7) makes a first defence of his Commonwealth Middleweight title that he won inside a round back in February against the hapless Rasheed Abolaji at the O2 Arena.
He gets a much stiffer test against English Champion, Jack Cullen (17-1, KO8). Cullen was last seen defending his belt in an eighth round stoppage win against John Harding Jr in Liverpool back in August.
Prediction: This should be the most competitive contest of Cash’s career, but I expect him to negotiate the challenge of Cullen, and take a deserved, comfortable enough, points win.
In a second female contest on the card, the fast rising Terri “Belter” Harper (8-0, KO5) takes on the tried and tested Vivienne Obenauf (14-5, KO7) in a defence of her IBO Featherweight Title.
Obenauf retired in losing efforts to Chantelle Cameron in December 2017, and more recently, Maiva Hamadouche in a challenge for the IBF World Title last December.
Obenauf did upset Natasha Jonas in August last year, in a shock fourth round stoppage win.
Harper makes a first defence of the vacant crown she won in an eighth round stoppage win against Nozipho Bell in Rotherham in July.
Prediction: The pick here is for Harper to make life difficult for Obenauf in the early going, forcing a corner retirement or stoppage by the halfway mark.
Qais Ashfaq (7-0, KO3) goes for a first pro Title against the two time former British Amateur Champion, Joe Ham (16-1, KO6). The vacant WBA Continental Super Bantamweight Title is the prize over ten.
Prediction: I can’t see there being a stoppage for either man in this one, but Ashfaq’s slick and busy style should see him to a wide enough points victory.