By: Ste Rowen
As 2019 heads into the peak of summer, the boxing schedule is beginning to get busy again. With Pacquiao vs. Thurman on the horizon, this weekend includes Brant/Murata2, Dubois/Gorman, Joyce/Jennings and Vargas/Kameda, just to name a few. To add to that excitement, on Friday at Liverpool’s Olympia, fighting for the vacant IBF ‘European’ featherweight belt, James ‘Jazza’ Dickens tops the bill against Australian, Nathaniel May.
Dickens, 26-3 (11KOs), probably unfairly, is most famously known for getting his jaw disjointed by former pound-for-pound player, Guillermo Rigondeaux, but since then ‘Jazza’ has accumulated four wins from five, with the one defeat coming via technical decision after nine rounds vs. Thomas Ward ten months after the Rigondeaux loss.
But the southpaw featherweight sounded confident ahead of Friday,
‘‘We are going to war. I’m looking forward to it…I’m going into a fight, what’s he gonna do? Punch me.
I’ve never lost in the Olympia, it’s just a great place for boxing…Before I take this European title there’s nothing after that other than a world title.’’
His opponent, Nathaniel May, 21-1 (12KOs) of Australia criticised his British foes power, or lack of and was convinced he didn’t travel to the other side of the world to go home with nothing. May hasn’t lost since his fifth fight where he drop a decision to 6-5, Waylon Law. Since then ‘Cheeky’ has mostly stayed close to home to rebuild again from defeat, that was until last year when he won his first two bouts outside of Oceania.
In October last year, Nathaniel outpointed Ruslan Berchuk in Belfast, and then just last month, the 23-year-old was in Tijuana, Mexico where he knocked out home fighter, Jose Miguel Tamayo inside a round. On Friday May will be up against another hostile crowd, but more importantly a much bigger challenge.
Two of England’s best also feature on Friday’s card, flying somewhat lower on the radar than usual as four-time world title challenger Martin Murray, 37-5-1 (17KOs) takes on late replacement Rui Manuel Pavanito, 10-8-1. The St Helens native was set to fight the much sterner test in Kim Poulsen, but Murray, who ended last year with a decision defeat to Hassan N’Dam, isn’t letting the change of opponent faze him, or anything for that matter.
Murray spoke on Wednesday about his underwhelming 2018, but his brighter outlook for the rest of his career,
‘‘If you ask me now, I’m nor arsed about anything. I’m in a good place mentally. Every fight now is a bonus…Even last year I had a good year, but I didn’t enjoy myself or the training. Now, for me it’s just about getting in there and enjoying myself.
There’s a saying, ‘You get out of it what you put in’ but I think it’s bullshit. I grafted my arse off last year and what did I get for it?…I’m fighting now cos I want to fight.’’
Former WBO lightweight champion, Terry Flanagan hopes to put an end to his two-fight losing streak with victory over WBF African champion, Jonas Segu, 19-8-2 (6KOs). ‘Turbo’ Flanagan is fighting for the first time since his decision defeat to Regis Prograis in the junior-welterweight World Boxing Super Series in October 2018. It was a loss that followed the first defeat in Terry’s professional career when he dropped a split decision to Maurice Hooker in June.
Flangan, 33-2 (13KOs) sounded determined to not only get the taste for winning again, but also join the elite again at 135lbs,
‘‘I believe I can still win a world title at ten stone but the best opportunities for me now are at lightweight…I’m not one for shouting my mouth off, I just like to let my boxing do the talking but it’s not always a good thing though (for exposure).
I thought probably the pound-for-pound best in the division (Prograis) and I thought it was a close fight. Now I’m back down to win a world title.’’
The fight card will be aired on ESPN+ and live on IFL TV on Friday.