Boxing


Heavyweights IV: The ‘Big’ Boys Are Back In Town

The London and Southern area seismic call centres will have to be on full alert this coming weekend, when Barry Hearn’s exciting Prizefighter series returns to the York Hall in Bethnal Green with Prizefighter -Heavyweights IV on Saturday.

Prizefighter’s unique format, 8 competitors battling it out, in a one night 7 fight tournament, for the £32,000 prize, continues to bring boxing fans an adrenaline fueled night of action and drama..

It’s not just the healthy prize fund that drives the boxers to give their all. Over the years the highly exciting series has been responsible for making, or resurging, careers and none more so than with the Heavyweights. The three previous Prizefighter -Heavyweights winners have seen their careers blossom following their success in the tournament.

Audley Harrison, who in the final of Heavyweights III at the ExCel in October ‘09 beat Coleman Barrett with a second round knockout to lift the coveted title, has since gone on to win the European title, with a last round knockout of Prizefighter IV contender Michael Sprott, and earn a shot at David ‘Hayemaker’ Haye’s WBA World title on November 13th.

The Prizefighter II win, in September ‘08, opened the door to title honours for Norwich’s Sam Sexton. Since winning Prizefighter Sexton has only fought championship fights. The very next fight after his tournament success see Sexton secure the Southern Area title. Six months later he won the Commonwealth crown, his next fight see him defend his Commonwealth title. Then in September this year he faced, and lost to, Derek Chisora for the British title.

The very first Prizefighter winner, Martin Rogan, got to fight, and beat, Audley Harrison in his first fight following the win. His next fight was a Commonwealth title shot against defending champ, and Prizefighter IV favourite, Matt Skelton. Rogan then defended, and lost, his title to Prizefighter II winner Sam Sexton.

So who are the likely candidates to follow Rogan, Sexton and Harrison as Prizefighter - Heavyweights Champion?

The bookies seem to be going for Michael Sprott and Matt Skelton meeting in the final, not surprising really as their experience levels state these two as the likely suspects, but hold on before making any bets, there are a few dark horses at the starting gate.


MATT SKELTON VS. ALI ADAMS

As already stated Matt’s one of the favourites, and rightly so as he’s been at the top of the game, previously having won a World title and held almost every European and domestic title at least once.

A long time campaigner Matt has the experience to win, but he’s up against a young, very fit and athletic fighter in Ali Adams in the first fight of the night.

Now I know more than a little about Ali, the World’s only Arab Heavyweight Boxer, as he is trained by my old mucker Johnny Eames at the Ultrachem TKO Gym.

I have watched Ali sparring with the likes of Derek Chisora, Tyson Fury, Damian Campbell etc. He’s fast, very fast, has a good chin and can mix it up when he needs to. More importantly he’s hungry, no let me correct that - he’s plain starving. He wants to win so bad.

Ali has gone on record stating,“What he (Matt Skelton) has achieved he’s achieved, but this is my time. This is my big chance you know, it’s my time now.

I think I am too fast for all the heavyweights in this country, I think I have got an amazing jab.

Prizefighter is my chance to show people I can box, you know, It’s my big chance, I’m not wasting it.”

Brave words from an underdog you may think. I don’t, Ali is the first of my ‘Dark Horses’ so don’t be surprised to see him there holding the trophy at the end of the night.

In the semi final the winner of Skelton Vs. Adams will face the winner of...

KEVIN McBRIDE VS. FRANKLIN EGOBI

IBC Americas Heavyweight Champion Kevin ‘The Clones Colossus’ McBride may not be favourite to win Prizefighter but he does have the ability and punching power to cause a big upset.

Michael, who lives in Boston in the United States, holds the distinction of being the last person to stop ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson, recently said “I still have that dream I had as a kid to be the first Irish-born Heavyweight Champion of the World and winning Prizefighter would be a great stepping stone to that goal.

Everybody said to me that I only beat Tyson because he was at the end, but every man in the ring with two hands is dangerous - and that's the same in Prizefighter, as it's so explosive and all eight fighters will believe they can win it. I know I can win it that's for sure - I may have lost a few fights but the desire is there and these fights could be over with one big punch, and I have The Equaliser in my armoury.”

Michael’s work will be cut out for him though as his first round opponent is another of my ‘Dark Horses’, this time in the form of former IBF Continental Africa Heavyweight Champion Franklin ‘The Prince’ Egobi.

Franklin’s manager, Bruce Baker, told me, “Franklin is in good shape, although he’s been inactive he’s a good boxer and he’s up for it. I expect him to do well and at 16-1 he’s worth backing.”

Bruce isn’t the only person to say this to me, some of my most trusted boxing pals have also been telling me that their money’s on Franklin to win the £32K prize on offer.


MICHAEL SPROTT VS. DANNY HUGHES

On the other side of the draw Michael Sprott will face Danny ‘Boy’ Hughes.

First I have to admit I am a huge fan of former British, Commonwealth and European Union Heavyweight Champion Michael Sprott.

I was ringside when he fought Audley Harrison for the European title. He dominated that fight from the start and would have won if Audley hadn’t landed the killer shot in the twelfth. By rights it should be Michael fighting David Haye on the 13th November, but he’s not.

On his future after Prizefighter Michael said, “If I come through this then who knows what might happen but this is going to be explosive and anything could happen as there's been some real shocks in Prizefighter in the past so I'm fully focused on Danny in the quarter-finals.”

He’s right to be focusing on his fight with Danny. One of the big problems championship boxers have with the Prizefighter format is adapting their style to work for the short three round sprint against the marathon of ten or twelve rounds.

Danny ‘Boy’ Hughes has been there and done that, having made it to the semi’s at the previous Prizefighter - Heavyweights.

This could prove to be a huge advantage for Danny, along with his being some eleven years younger than Michael.

Even taking that into account I have a good feeling that Michael will make it all the way to the final, that is if he gets past the winner of...


DECLAN TIMLIN VS. SHANE McPHILBIN

Those same pals that have been talking about Franklin Egobi have also been giving me their thoughts on this first round match up between unbeaten Declan Timlin and three fight veteran Shane McPhilbin.

What struck me as interesting is that everyone said that Shane could well turn over Declan, even though the Irishman has more experience and is unbeaten.

Shane’s manager/trainer Carl Greaves also told me “Shane is in a confident mood ahead of Saturday nights Prizefighter. Having shared the ring with some big heavyweights as an amateur including Tyson Fury in the semi finals of the ABA's he fears no one.”

Shane himself added “I'm the smallest heavyweight in this competition have had the least amount of notice and I'm the most inexperienced but with it only being 3x3 minute rounds I feel I have the speed and ring craft to over come all that. My manager and trainer Carl Greaves has done his best to get me ready for this so I'm gonna give it my all and we will see what happens.”

My personal prediction (or is that wish) for the final is Michael Sprott against Ali Adams, but with upsets being the order of the day neither may be there. That’s the beauty of Prizefighter, every single fighter taking part has an equal chance to lift the Prizefighter Trophy, and pocket the £32,000 cheque, at the end of the night.

Prizefighter - Heavyweights 4, at York Hall on Saturday 9th October, is already sold out. Luckily for those that were unable to score a ticket the don’t miss event is televised live on Sky Sports from 9pm.


SKELTON AND SPROTT JOINT 5-2 FAVOURITES FOR PRIZEFIGHTER TITLE

PRIZEFIGHTER returns on Saturday with Matt Skelton and Michael Sprott neck and neck in the betting to win the fourth heavyweight edition of the competition. The 200lb plus fighters can both be backed at 5-2 on Betfair to lift the trophy.

Skelton, 43, and 35-year-old Sprott have traded blows on two previous occasions, with Skelton coming out on top both times.

The two former world title challengers are tipped for glory ahead of Ireland’s Kevin McBride. McBride, a 10-1 shot, is best known for defeating Mike Tyson in 2005, effectively ending the former world champion’s career.

Declan Timlin, of Galway, Ireland, is available at 11-1 while Danny Hughes is a 14-1 chance. Nottingham-born Shane McPhilbin is a 16-1 punt followed by Ali Adams at 17-1. Franklin Egobi is the least fancied competitor at 18-1.

Betfair’s Alex Bake said: “This is the last chance saloon for Skelton and Sprott; both need a win to get their careers back on track. But at this stage it’s too close for the punters to call.”

To win Prizefighter outright Betfair bet: 5-2 Skelton; Sprott, 10-1Kevin McBride, 11-1 Declan Timlin, 14-1 Danny Hughes, 16-1 Shane McPhilbin, 17-1 Ali Adams, 18-1 Franklin Egobi

Article posted on 08.10.2010



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