By Ezio Prapotnich
“Nothing so big ever runs smoothly” Don King famously said when “The Rumble in The Jungle” was jeopardized because of an injury that George Foreman sustained in sparring. Mick Hennessy could probably relate to these words when his February 19th card at Wembley Arena suffered the
withdrawal of some of the biggest names on the bill.
The long awaited European Middleweight showdown between champion Matthew Macklin and Darren Barker fell through once again when Macklin decided to go after Winky Wright instead, in the pursuit of American fame.
Still, at domestic level, Hennessy hands British boxing fans more than they can chew. Top of the bill is the eagerly anticipated rematch between former Commonwealth champions John O’Donnell (24-1, 11 ko’s) and Craig Watson
(19-3, 8 ko’s). This is a fight that sells itself and has been the
main focus of the media approaching to the event, as the burning memory of the explosive first encounter is still vivid to this day, fueled by the divided opinions about the result and the open dislike between the fighters, plus the extra incentive of the British title on the line.
But, Lenny Daws (21-1-2, 9 ko’s)’ third defence of the Light
Welterweight British crown is just as important, if not as
eye-catching. Daws record is as solid as can be and must be
After dispatching the usual crop of journeymen, he made a huge leap in class by defeating former IBO, European, and British champion Colin Lynes in his 13th fight in 2006 to gain the Southern Area Title and becoming British champion for the first time in the very next fight against Nigel Wright. Barry Morrison ended his reign snatching the belt at the first defense, but Lenny proved to have the heart of a true champion and patiently brought himself back into contention, won the English title against tough Irish brawler Pat McDonagh in 2009, and regained the British belt, avenging its loss at the same time, in a rematch against Morrison.
In his second reign, he has defeated a former European champion in Jason Cook and an English one in Steve Williams, although Williams, in all fairness, was not experienced enough to fight at British level at this point of his career.
On the other hand, experience is something Ashley Theophane (28-4-1, 7 ko’s), the man in the opposite corner, definitely does not lack of, being a former IBO international champion and having defeated American Demarcus Corley, who shared the ring, although in losing efforts, with proven world champions like Miguel Cotto, Devon Alexander, Junior Witter, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. It is a winnable fight for the defending champion, but not an easy one.
Another promising clash on the card is the challenge for the vacant Southern Area Welterweight title between Colchester Lee Purdy (14-2-1, 7 ko’s), who previously owned the belt, and Chingford former Prizefighter champion Michael Lomax (17-3-1, 2 ko’s). Purdy always proved himself a crowd pleaser in his appearances on ITV, while Lomax, coming from an unsuccesful British title shot against Kell Brook and a defeat against former Commonwealth champion Bradley Price in his last outing, simply cannot afford to lose. This one has “war” written all over.
Last but not least, keep an eye on hot prospect Chris Evangelou (5-0, 1 ko), who, in spite of his short record, has already built a strong fan base, apparently selling no less than a 1,000 tickets at his appearance on Harrison-Sprott undercard last year. Chris was seen with his brother Andreas, who will debuit as a pro on the 19th, at Emanuel Steward’s Boxing Clinic in London last month and has discussed with the legendary Detroit trainer the possibility of joining him for a summer training camp this year.
Also on the bill, Middleweight John Ryder (2-0, 1 ko), Light Welterweight Tyler Goodjohn (2-0, 1 ko), and Tyson’s cousin Phil Fury (7-0, 2 ko’s) against yet to be named opponents.
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