BY: Ste Rowen
Controversy, Olympians and a world title fight. Here’s the breakdown of this weekends Joshua vs Parker undercard.
Alexander Povetkin v David Price
The most high profile, and controversial bout of the undercard pits Alexander Povetkin, 33-1 (23KOs) a man who failed multiple drug tests in 2016; resulting in two aborted fights with Deontay Wilder and Bermane Stiverne; vs David Price, 22-4 (18KOs) a man whose 3 of 4 career defeats have come against two men who went on to fail drugs tests in Tony Thompson and Erkan Teper. All three controversial defeats to Price were punishing stoppages, which makes it even more remarkable that Price has offered himself up as some form of sacrificial lamb for the extremely talented, but unbelievably tainted Russian.
Povetkin was last in the ring in December, scoring a whitewash, 12-round unanimous decision victory over the last man to overwhelm David Price to a 7th round stoppage, Christian Hammer. Price’s only fight since the Hammer defeat was a 6-round decision victory over one of Britain’s favourite heavyweight gatekeepers, Kamil Sokolowski.
On paper, this fight is the definition of ‘a puncher’s chance’ for David Price. In reality, it’s a stepping stone bout for Povetkin to attempt to setup a fight with Anthony Joshua in the near future. That is, as long as his consequent drug tests come back negative…don’t count on it.
Ryan Burnett v Yonfrez Parejo
The world title fight on the undercard sees WBA bantamweight champion, Ryan Burnett take on mandatory challenger, Yonfrez Parejo, 21-2-1 (10KOs). Burnett, 18-0 (9KOs) was forced to vacate the IBF strap he won when he defeated Lee Haskins last year, due to an interim bout between Haskins and Emmanuel Rodriguez falling through, meaning Rodriguez’s team called for purse bids with Burnett, after Matchroom had already made a deal for the Parejo bout.
Parejo, currently on a 4-fight win streak, last tasted defeat at the hands of Burnett’s most recent adversary, Zhanat Zhakiyanov, when he lost a 12-round split decision back in 2015. Burnett hasn’t fought since earning a correct, but unjustly wide decision on all three scorecards over Zhakiyanov back in October. He suffered a ruptured ligament in his neck, which scuppered talks of an immediate fight with Rodriguez, and subsequently lost him the IBF belt, but the Northern Irishman didn’t seem too concerned at the thought of dropping a belt back in February,
‘I don’t really get involved in the politics, but we knew that when we faced Zhakiyanov that it was likely we may have to vacate one of the belts because of mandatories, but I’ve unified the division and now we move on to new challenges.’
Josh Kelly v Carlos Molina
One of Britain’s most exciting prospects, Josh Kelly, 5-0 (4KOs) takes on former super welterweight world champion, Carlos Molina.
Kelly, who fought to the last 16 at the 2016 Olympics, defeated by eventual gold medallist, Daniyar Yeleussinov, is being accelerated though the early stages of the pro ranks by trainer, Adam Booth who’s no passenger when it comes to recognizing talent.
Molina is currently on a two-fight losing streak, so it seems like the perfect time for Kelly to step in with someone as experienced as the Mexican. A real statement to the rest of the welterweight scene would be for Kelly to become the first man to stop Molina.
Anthony Crolla v Edson Ramirez
Anthony ‘Million Dollar’ Crolla returns to the ring since earning a competitive decision victory over Ricky Burns in October. Crolla, 32-6-3 (13KOs) takes on Mexican, Edson Ramirez, 18-2-1 (8KOs) in an 8-round contest. The former WBA world champion is aiming to get back into the world title mix at lightweight but, speaking to The Independent, wouldn’t rule out a domestic dustup with Luke Campbell.
‘I need to get out there and get another win and then we can look for a big fight in the summer…Luke Campbell and I both want to win world titles and I don’t think either of us would have a problem fighting the other…I’m not targeting anyone in particular, I just want a world title shot. I’ll take any of the champions.’
Joe Cordina v Hakim Ben Ali
Hometown favourite, Joe Cordina fights for his first professional title when he takes on late stand in, Hakim Ben Ali, 19-5 (1KO) for the WBA International lightweight title.
Cordina, 6-0 (5KOs) hasn’t had quite as an accelerated start to his pro career as his fellow 2016 Olympian, Josh Kelly.
This weekend’s fight will be just the second time he’s stepped in the ring with a fighter holding a wining record. He was originally set to face Andy Townend, 21-4 (14KOs) who had to pull out last week due to injury.
Joshua Buatsi v Bartlomiej Grafka
The third 2016 Olympian on the card, Joshua Buatsi comes up against journeyman, Bartlomiej Grafka, 20-28-3 (5KOs). The real test for Buatsi will be if he’s able get Grafka out early, if not, expect a relative 6-round sparring session for the exciting prospect.