Two former World Champions, and a multiple time World Title challenger spearhead the latest MTK Fight Night offering this Friday. The Liverpool Olympia is the setting, where IFL TV on YouTube, and Top Rank in the USA provide the live coverage.
Top of the bill sees hometown hero, Rocky Fielding (27-2, KO15) return after almost a year out following a lucrative, yet crushing defeat at the fists of Saul “Canelo” Alvarez last December. Fielding cashed in his WBA Super Middleweight that night at Madison Square Garden, New York, and his rebuild starts in Liverpool.
A former Prizefighter and Commonwealth Champion, Fielding suffered defeat for the first time in November 2015, when he was trapped in the headlights in a challenge for the vacant British Title. Callum Smith knocked down a shell-shocked Fielding three times en route to an opening round stoppage win. Rocky rebuilt admirably though, with split decisions wins against Christopher Rebrasse, and picking up the Lonsdale Belt, against John Ryder putting him back on track. After two more wins, Fielding travelled to Germany to take on Tyron Zeuge, and sensationally stopped the home favourite in five rounds to win the WBA world championship belt. He then understandably put this on the line for life changing money, but Canelo proved too hot to handle, dropping Rocky four times in a three round stoppage win.
The next phase in the 32 year old’s career begins this Friday, and his opponent may give him rounds, but not too much trouble. Tanzanian, Abdallah Paziwapazi (28-6-1, KO23) is the man in with Fielding over ten rounds, and the African has only been stopped once in six defeats, a one round stoppage defeat to Umar Salamov in Moscow in December 2016. He is on a run of nine wins and a draw in his last ten outings, and picked up the WBO Asia Pacific belt last time out in a third round stoppage of Zulipikaer Maimaitiali in China in August. Paziwapazi is heavy handed, with a big knockout ratio on his ledger, and may look to catch Fielding cold in the early rounds.
Prediction: Fielding will look to bank some rounds after a lengthy lay off, and Paziwapazi should be able to provide this. I expect the Tanzanian to bring early heat to Rocky, but I think Fielding can safely negate this to score a wide points success.
Manchester’s Terry Flanagan (35-2, KO14) continues his busy second half of 2019 with his third fight in four months. The former WBO Lightweight Champion has steadily eased back into the 135lbs after an unsuccessful foray into the ten stone division, with back to back points defeats to Maurice Hooker and Regis Prograis halting his long undefeated streak.
He hasn’t yet made the Lightweight limit, but the aim is to get back there. Jonas Segu was knocked out in five on Turbo’s return in Liverpool back in July, while Michael Ansah was disqualified in four for hitting on the break in October. Flanagan’s assignment on Friday is scheduled for eight at Lightweight, and the Honduran, Jayro Duran (14-6, KO13) is the man in the opposite corner.
Only Johnson Tellez has lasted the distance with Duran when he has won, with all of his other victories coming via the short route showing he has hands of stone. He is now relegated pretty much to journeyman status. After back to back defeats in America in 2017, he then won four in a row in his native Honduras against opponents with a combined 0-1 record, three opponents were on their debuts. Duran has lost his last two, against Samuel Gonzalez via majority decision last month, and a ten round unanimous loss in Spain to Cristobal Lorente just two weeks ago.
Prediction: Flanagan isn’t a knockout artist, and Duran is durable, so this one is likely to go the distance. That’s no big deal for “Turbo” who will be glad of the rounds ahead of what he hopes will be an assault on the World Title scene in 2020. A points win for Flanagan is the pick.
A man in the final phase of a colourful career is St Helens’ Martin Murray (38-5-1, KO17) and he meets Bosnia’s Sladan Janjanin (27-4, KO21) over eight at Super Middleweight.
There was a brief retirement for Murray following a disappointing points loss to Hasan N’Dam N’Jikam in London last December, but he has decided to give it another shot. This has followed no less than four unsuccessful attempts for World Titles at Middle and Super Middleweight.
There was an unfortunate split draw with Felix Sturm in Germany in 2011 in his first challenge for the WBA “Super” Title at 160lbs. He was then well in the fight against Sergio Martinez in April 2013, even scoring an eighth round knockdown, before going down on the cards in Martinez’ home country in a tilt at the WBC Title. Gennady Golovkin then stopped Murray in eleven in Monte Carlo in early 2015, prompting Murray to move up in weight. He would suffer heartache in Germany again in late 2015, with Arthur Abraham winning a split decision in a WBO Super Middleweight Title defence. After a lacklustre loss to N’Dam, Murray returned to action in July, and widely outscored Rui Manuel Pavanito over ten rounds.
Janjanin shouldn’t pose too much trouble for Murray, with all of his four losses coming via the short route. He has been stopped twice in Canada, and once each in Germany and Macedonia. He is coming off two straight wins though, and he knocked out the 15-12 Mika Joensuu in Germany last time out in June.
Prediction: Janjanin is stopped when he loses, so Murray will be disappointed if he can’t get the job done by the short route here. The pick is for Murray to grind the visitor down, and halt him around halfway.
Trade fight of the night sees Gerard Carroll (11-0, KO0) and former Southern Area Champion, Jeff Ofori (9-1, KO3) go head to head at Lightweight over eight.
Liverpudlian Carroll is untested as yet, and doesn’t have a stoppage win to his name. Ofori has been a ten round distance twice, but in his last fight, Alfie Price relieved him of his Southern Area bauble via a 100-92 points margin back in July. I favour Carroll to use his boxing skills to win on the referee’s card.
Natasha Jonas (8-1, KO6) also appears on her home bill, with a six round Lightweight assignment against Hungarian Bianka Majlath (3-3, KO3).