By: Ste Rowen
This Saturday, one of the great cities of the western world plays host to a packed card of boxing, no, I’m not talking about New York’s and Joshua vs. Ruiz Jr; instead this weekend, in the great city of Cardiff, a battle for the vacant EBU European flyweight title between Jay Harris and Angel Moreno of Spain headlines a bout sheet that also includes a fight between Craig Evans and Stephen Ormond for the WBO European strap currently held by Evans.
Welshman, Harris , 15-0 (8KOs), has earned his stripes for the right to challenge for the vacant European belt. In his 10th fight he scored a unanimous decision over then Commonwealth champion, Thomas Essomba in 2017, but had to wait over eighteen months before defending it for the first time. But the layoff between the two big bouts didn’t seem to have taken any sheen of Harris as he overcame a cut to score a third round TKO of then 8-1, Ross Murray.
But the current Commonwealth flyweight champion was well aware of the step up he was making this weekend as he spoke at this weeks press conference,
‘‘This is the biggest step up I’ve had…He’s been in with two world champions and a European champion so he’s no pushover.
Anything can happen on the night and we’ll take each rounds as it comes…The future looks bright it’s only one fight at a time. This is the new generation of Welsh boxing and it’s booming at the moment.’’
His opponent on Saturday is just one fight removed from one of those aforementioned world champion opponents. Just over two months ago the Spaniard, 19-3-2 (6KOs), was dominated over twelve rounds by WBC champion, Charlie Edwards, losing 120-107 on all three judge’s scorecards. The other world champion Moreno fought and lost to was the much feared Ukrainian and current WBA flyweight titlist, Artem Dalakian. Once again Angel was dominated over twelve rounds and once again lost on three identical scorecards of 118-110.
However, despite his ominous record in title fights, the Spaniard seemed confident of returning to winning ways,
‘‘I hope he’s (Harris) had a good camp and is ready because we’re ready for whatever he brings to the table.
I’m very lucky an blessed that everyone in Spain gets behind me and hopefully I can take the belt back to Spain.’’
It’ll be big scalp for either boxer who takes the victory, but with the likes of Andrew Selby sat in number three of the EBU’s April rankings, the big fights for the winner will not be getting easier.
Also on Saturday’s show at the Vale Sports Arena is WBO European lightweight champion, Craig Evans of Newport coming up against Ireland’s Stephen Ormond in a rematch of their 2017 bout in Ormond’s home city of Belfast, for the very same belt. It was a bout that saw Evans score a very convincing points victory on enemy territory and Craig, 19-2-2 (3KOs) made no bones about mentioning that at the press conference,
‘‘I fought him in his hometown last time but there’s only two of us in the ring, so let’s get it on…If I turn up and give 100% I know the title will be staying in Wales.
I obviously know Ormond well. He’s a tough fighter who comes to win… Hopefully a win pushes me to world level.’’
Stephen Ormond heads into the weekend with a professional record of 27-5 (13KOs) and aiming for vengeance. 36-year-old, Ormond followed his defeat to Evans in 2017 with another loss, this time to Paul Hyland Jr but has since gone on a fight 3-fight winning streak but only one of those was against an opponent with a winning record.
But although the Belfast man was magnanimous in defeat to Evans, he aims to put right the wrongs and promised the fans he’s more than ready for Saturday,
‘‘I’m enjoying boxing again. Craig beat me the last time we met, and this is a great opportunity now I’ve got the rematch, so I’m looking forward to it.
I got beat fair and square in the first fight…I’m not looking past this and I’m fully focused on getting the job done.’’