Matchroom’s latest instalment of JD NXTGEN reaches the East Midlands this Friday night, as the Nottingham Arena hosts a busy night of action, where several prospects are again showcased.
Sky Sports is again the place to see the action unfold.
Nominal top of the bill sees hometown hero, Leigh Wood (21-1, KO11), make a first defence of the Commonwealth Featherweight Title that he won on the most recent NXTGEN show in Peterborough back in March. It’s not a soft defence for him either, as opposing him will be a former Champion himself in Manchester’s Ryan Doyle (17-3-1, KO9).
Gedling resident Wood captured the vacant Title he holds with a second round body shot knockout of the overmatched Ghanian, Abraham Osei Bonsu. He is also on a ten fight winning run that stretches back to February 2014, when Gavin McDonnell stopped him in six rounds in a challenge for the British Super Bantamweight Title in Hull. He regrouped, and possibly reflected that the chance for domestic honours came a little too early for him. The highlight of his current winning streak, was a clear and wide ten round points win over Josh Wale in October 2015. Wale of course went on to become British Bantamweight Champion.
Wood has also benefitted from being taken under the managerial wing of Dave Coldwell, and has instantly been exposed to more opportunities than before.
“Ruthless” Ryan Doyle will come to Robin Hood territory intent on causing an upset, just like he did on another NXTGEN show in June last year at the iconic York Hall. The Mancunian had no regard for unbeaten rising prospect Reece Bellotti’s reputation, and ripped the Watford man’s Commonwealth Title away from him with a shock fifth round stoppage win. Doyle has been matched pretty tough, and his reward for the Bellotti win was a first defence against Jordan Gill (who will feature on the card).
Gill was just too much for Doyle, with a body shot dropping Ryan in the seventh, before a follow up barrage confirming Doyle’s defeat. Doyle also holds a split draw with Isaac Lowe, and was stopped in six rounds by World Title challenger, James Tennyson in June 2017.
This one is a tough one to call, but maybe tellingly, Doyle struggled with body shots last time out, whereas Wood delivered a brutal one of his own in his last outing. I lean towards Wood to invest to the body, and eventually break down Doyle for a late stoppage win.
Sharing the top billing will be the aforementioned Jordan Gill (23-0, KO7), who defends his WBA International Featherweight Title, against a pretty underwhelming choice of opponent in Mexico’s Enrique Tinoco (17-5-4, KO12).
Gill is fast rising through the ranks, and has really found his “man strength” in his last three fights in particular.
David Berna was stopped in a round in August last year, before Gill impressively dismantled Ryan Doyle to pick up the Commonwealth Title. He vacated this belt to allow his stablemate, Leigh Wood to win it, as he topped a NXTGEN bill that also featured Wood in Peterborough in March. Gill impressively halted Emmanuel Dominguez in three to pick up the Title that will be on the line in Nottingham.
Gill is flying under trainer Dave Coldwell, and will be looking to make some statement in a bid to secure bigger fights in the second half of 2019.
Tinoco shouldn’t pose too many questions of Gill, with a modest 2-2-3 record in his last seven outings. The most recognisable name on his ledger is probably Devin Haney, who widely outpointed the Tijuana native over eight in September 2017. Haney is in line to challenge for the WBC Lightweight Title at some point this year.
Gill has an impressive repertoire of punches, and has really come on in leaps and bounds since receiving a lot more TV exposure in his last few fights. Tinoco represents another chance for Gill to shine, and I can’t see the Chatteris man passing on the opportunity. Gill should be too hot for Tinoco, and although he has only been stopped once, by Miguel Roman back in February 2014, I expect “The Thrill” to get the job done before halfway here.
Female Boxing is booming currently, and there is a spot on the bill for Terri Harper (6-0, KO3), who defends her recently won WBC International Lightweight Title against Argentine visitor, Claudia Andrea Lopez (25-9, KO6).
Harper came through a battle of unbeaten prospects, when she clearly outpointed Nina Bradley in Barnsley back in March. Harper dropped Bradley twice on the way to a wide points victory.
In Lopez, Harper takes a step up in class. A former IBF Super Featherweight Champion, 39 year old Lopez has more limited ambitions these days, reflected by a 3-3 recent six fight record. She has only fought four times in the last five years, and this should show against a young hungry Harper.
The pick is for the much younger and fresher Harper to take a clear points win.
Stephen Smith (25-4, KO15) makes a comeback following a lengthy lay off after suffering a horrendous ear injury last time out against Francisco Vargas. He returns over six rounds at Super Featherweight. Smith has lost three of his last five contests, albeit two of those in attempts at World Titles. The Liverpudlian will look to benefit from his time away from the ring, and shake off the rust against Spanish based Mexican, Arturo Lopez (5-9-3, KO0).
Chris Billam-Smith (8-0, KO7) warms up for his tasty July meeting with Richard Riakhporhe with a six round Cruiserweight contest against Moroccan born Italian import, Yassine Habachi (5-13-5, KO3). Habachi is somewhat of a draw specialist, with four draws in his last seven fights.
Further prospects on the bill will include Felix Cash, Fabio Wardley, Qais Ashfaq, Charles Frankham and Dalton Smith.