By Daniel Cann
Strong Support: Tony Bellew v Ovill McKenzie
British and Commonwealth Light heavyweight titles
Frankie Gavin v Curtis Woodhouse
WBO Intercontinental Welterweight title
Echo Arena, Liverpool
16 July 2011
On an already cracking bill this Saturday at the Echo Arena that sees John Murray tackle Kevin Mitchell and Ricky Burns defending his WBO world super featherweight title against Nicky Cook, we have two excellent supporting bouts: Liverpool’s Tony Bellew and Derby’s Ovill McKenzie meet in a rematch with the British and Commonwealth Light heavyweight titles at stake and Birmingham’s Frankie Gavin defends his WBO Intercontinental welterweight title against ex-footballer Curtis Woodhouse of Driffield.
Both bouts promise to be memorable for all the right reasons and there is plenty of needle and rivalry between these boxers.
Firstly let’s look at Bellew versus McKenzie. These two met in a thriller last December that saw Bellew having to get off the canvas in the first and second rounds to eventually grind down and stop McKenzie in the eighth. It had the fans on their feet and was a real ‘throwback.’
This time the boxers have the added incentive of contesting the vacant British title, which is on the line as well as Bellew’s Commonwealth crown. McKenzie was adamant that the referee stopped the last contest between them too early, yet many observers at ringside felt that he was all at sea after a blistering Bellew attack. McKenzie will be fired up for this one and knows he is the underdog and would love to spoil the party. His 18 – 10 (7 inside) record may look more like a ‘journeyman’s’ log but do not be deceived, he is not nicknamed ‘The Upsetter’ for nothing.
Expect Bellew to have a tighter defence this time. Forewarned is forearmed as they say and listening to the ‘Steve Bunce Boxing Hour’ podcast he said that he was ‘totally focussed on McKenzie’ and not overlooking him in any way. Should he get past McKenzie as expected then there is a strong possibility that promoter Frank Warren will arrange a WBO world title fight against Nathan Cleverly this Autumn and that would be huge box office in Britain and a cracking match-up.
This one is first and I am sure that McKenzie will give it his best shot and may spring a few nasty surprises on Bellew once again, but like last time I see Bellew taking control to eventually grind his opponent down for a late rounds stoppage, thus setting up the mouth-watering prospect of a Bellew versus Cleverly world title fight.
Also on the bill is the previously mentioned Frankie Gavin (10 – 0, 8 wins inside) versus Curtis Woodhouse (15 – 2, 10 inside). This one has plenty of needle as well with a war of words in the days leading up to the contest. Gavin is making the first defence of his WBO Intercontinental welterweight title, which he won in May on points against Young Mutley. It was another landslide win for the Birmingham boxer who has so much promise and potential in the professional ranks.
Gavin had a distinguished amateur career and has a big following and high hopes so won’t want to let anyone down, least of all himself. In Woodhouse he faces a former professional footballer who coincidentally played for Birmingham City the club that Gavin supports. Since turning pro in 2006 Woodhouse has built a decent record but on Saturday will start as a big underdog against the more established and fancied Brummie fighter.
The two were scheduled to fight last September but Woodhouse pulled out citing a hand injury (shades of Mitchell v Murray). Gavin has said that there is no way he is going to lose to Woodhouse and Woodhouse has responded by admitting that he won’t be able to ‘out slick’ Gavin but ‘I’m going to come forward and, if I land clean on him, I’ll take him out.’ With 10 wins inside the distance in 15 wins out of 17 contests going for a knockout may be Woodhouse’s best chance of victory. I cannot see him out boxing the skillful Gavin, so he must get inside and apply a lot of pressure.
Personally I think Gavin will have too much natural talent for Woodhouse and expect him to win on points against a brave and spirited challenge. I don’t like Gavin’s remarks that he will retire if he loses to the likes of Woodhouse, that’s all a bit unnecessary and denigrating to a fellow professional. It should be entertaining but on a bill of 50-50 fights Gavin has to be the clear favourite here.