The Super Lightweight edition of the excellent MTK Golden Contract tournament reach their conclusion this Wednesday night in Wakefield, with a mouthwatering final.
The brash and outspoken Hackney-based Ohara Davies starts as a warm favourite to take the coveted contract, but Belfast’s hungry Tyrone McKenna will be looking to cause the upset and claim the lucrative prize for himself.
The second scheduled final at Featherweight between Jazza Dickens and Ryan Walsh was postponed on Tuesday, after Dickens and trainer Derry Mathews tested positive for COVID-19, whilst all other fighters on the bill returned negative tests.
Davies (21-2, 16 KOs) has shown much promise throughout his career, but has then stalled at key times, leading to setbacks on the road to the top level.
A pro since 2014, Davies moved up the ranks under the Matchroom banner, and swiftly moved to 15-0 with decent wins including over Derry Mathews (TKO3) along the way, acquiring the WBC Silver title in the process.
He then talked his way into a meeting with Josh Taylor in July 2017 with his belt and the Scot’s Commonwealth crown on the line in a 50-50 fight.
It proved to be no real contest, as Taylor tore through the Londoner, down twice and effectively quitting in seven rounds. Three straight wins on the comeback trail, and a move to Frank Warren, set up a world ranking boosting shot at Jack Catterall in Leicester for the latter’s WBO Intercontinental belt.
In what was a horrible affair, Davies showed little desire to win and Catterall took a points victory.
It nearly went wrong on the return, as the faded former world champion, Miguel Vazquez, looked to have done enough to win a decision, but referee Ian John-Lewis had other ideas, and Davies received a fortunate three point win.
His Golden Contract campaign has gone much better. He retired Logan Yoon in the last eight, before Jeff Ofori was halted in six last time out in February, as ’Two Tanks’ advanced into the final.
Another man with fortune on his side recently is Tyrone McKenna. ‘The Mighty Celt’ looked to have a big slice of good luck in defeating the tricky Frenchman, Mohamed Mimoune in his semi-final, in February at York Hall.
The former European champion appeared to most to have taken their ten rounder, but was denied by four points on one card and two points on two others that looked a shocking decision.
McKenna (21-1-1, 6 KOs) had reached the last four by winning nearly every round against Mikey Sakyi and the 30-year-old only has two blemishes on his record that began in August 2012.
A technical draw out in Spain after a round against Arvydas Trizno due to a bad cut in 2015 and his only loss remains against a common opponent with Davies.
McKenna pushed Jack Catterall all the way in June 2018, despite being floored by the Chorley man twice in the second and fifth rounds.
That cost the Irishman at least a draw, as he lost by one point margins on two cards.
Prediction: This fight depends on which Davies turns up. The Davies that surrendered against Josh Taylor, and looked disinterested in his effort against Jack Catterall, can certainly be beaten and he was also flat against Vazquez.
McKenna will also need to improve from his showing against Mimoune, but the Frenchman is a tough nights’ work for most. I think the Irishman, if he can start well can frustrate Davies and take a tight, upset points win, but by the same token, Davies could take out his man early if he is on his game.
There is also a semi-final offering in the Light Heavyweight tournament on the bill, with Russian-born German, Serge Michel picking Liam Conroy as his last four opposition, as a result of drawing the Golden Ball, allowing him to select his own opponent.
Michel (10-1, 7 KOs) is still pretty much an unknown quantity, with his only defeat against Ryan Ford, who notched an eighth round knockout win in April 2019.
Four months later, Ford would be knocked out in seven against Joshua Buatsi.
Michel is unbeaten in two since and he advanced to the last four by widely outpointing Tommy Philbin, knocking the Scot down twice along the way.
Conroy (18-5-1, 9 KOs) has three early defeats on his slate, but has gone 11-2 in his last 13 outings. His losses in that run have come in good class, against the excellent Buatsi (TKO3) in a vacant British title tilt in March 2019 and most recently in June last year.
The 28-year-old was unlucky that night in Belfast against Steven Ward, who he dropped in the fourth, but a badly cut Ward eye meant the fight went to the cards, and Conroy missed out by a point on all three scorecards after eight rounds.
Conroy then entered the Golden Contract tournament and dropped Andre Sterling on the way to a clear points win.
Prediction: Conroy is much improved, and can use his boxing skills to good effect once he negotiates a tricky first few rounds. My pick is for the Barrow-in-Furness native to take a close points win.
The aforementioned Steven Ward (12-1, 4 KOs) makes the move up to Cruiserweight following a shock first round stoppage defeat to Ricards Bolotniks last time out.
The Irishman meets Fijian, Jone Volau (5-5, 2 KOs) who has been stopped three times in five defeats.
Ben Fail makes his professional debut in a Middleweight contest with the tough Robbie Chapman (6-4,), while William Hamilton (1-0, 1 KO) appears at Cruiserweight, with an opponent to be announced.