WELSH DRAGONS SET TO ROAR OVER CARDIFF
Welsh boxing fans are once again spoilt as Cyclone Promotions bring a card entitled “Enter the Dragon” to the Cardiff Motorpoint Arena on May 26th. The card is headlined by a man who although has had only had 8 professional contests(all wins)carries the nickname of “superstar”yet is almost certain to challenge for a world title in his next contest. Andrew Selby of Barry has always been almost a dead cert to win a world title even when he was blazing his way through the amateur ranks. Brother Lee who currently holds the IBF featherweight title has conceded his younger sibling is the most talented. Quiet and unassuming out of the ring Selby sets upon his opponents straight away with bewildering hand speed and hurtful punches from crazy angles. Matching Selby has been hard of course especially as there are very few flyweights in the Uk. Selby captured his first title against the only reasonable contender around in Louis Norman. Selby had nowhere really to go but into world level and he picked up a couple of international belts against Jake Bornea and Arden Diall in his last bout. 26th March could be a tough assignment for Andrew as he steps up in competition to face Nicaraguan Cristofer Rosales. An impressive looking record of 23 wins, 15 coming by ko and only 2 defeats looks good on paper but the Nicaraguan has compiled his record in his home country and is only venture out resulted in defeat to the quality British fighter kalid Yafai in Sheffield. Top Trainer Tony Borg has all but guaranteed Selby will be a double world champion with his brother lee. Its hard to disagree really and if he gets by Rosales expect to see a world class operator such as Japans sensation Diago Higa or Donnie Nietes of the Philipines, in the opposite corner, hopefully at a venue in wales
Also earning a rightful share of top billing will be the long awaited British Cruiserweight title fight between Cardiff hero Craig “The kid” Kennedy and Blackpool’s Matty “The Assassin” Askin has been spiced up by a war of words between both camps as for one reason or another this bout has continuously been pushed back. Kennedy has recently been receiving a lot more exposure and his popularity has been growing, so its understandable that he was becoming frustrated when he couldn’t nail down a shot at the title he really wants. After blazing through his first ten contests,Kennedy announced himself has a top contender at cruiserweight with a pair of wins over Wadi Camacho and a clear points victory over Courtney Fry. Craig then showed he has a tremendous heart and determination after recovering from heavy knockdowns in the second and sixth rounds to outpoint Belgian puncher Joel tambwe Djeko. That gutsy performance earn’t Craig the IBF international cruiserweight title but the British title is the belt The kid has set his heart on. Winning the coveted Lonsdale belt will certainly not be easy though as opposing Kennedy will be experienced Blackpool puncher Matty Askin. The Englishman has a record of 21-3-1 including 13 early so will certainly test Kennedys chin on the 26th. He’s coming off two good wins against undefeated Tommy MCcarthy and a stoppage win over Simon Barclay which won Askin the English title. His three defeats have all come when he has stepped up in class, a Ko defeat against Dangerous Pole Krzysztof Glowacki plus points reversals against Ovil Mckenzie and Jon Lewis Dickinson. This contest has been widely tipped to be a war with both fighters guranteed to bring plenty of fireworks to the motorpoint arena.
Looking to build on his impressive one sided win over Chris Nixon in Ebbw Vale last month, Pontypridds Jermaine Asare once more stakes his claim to be the best light heavyweight in the country.His opponent will be undefeated Libyan now based in Malta Malik Zinad. The Impressively built Darren Wilson trained Asare has successfully rebuilt his career after suffering a devastating KO defeat to Eric Mokonzo. Asare can punch as well as box and it was testament to the toughness of Chris Nixon that he was still standing after being hit by hurtful punches to both head and body. Asares opponent Zinad looks a puncher on paper with seven early wins in a perfect 8 fight professional career. He’s certainly used to travelling as well, registering wins in Slovenia,Germany.France
and Hungary. Im sure Asares team have their man well prepared and a victory here could move their man to more lucrative fights.
A welsh derby with Jermaine Asare is certainly a fight Nathan Thorley would relish as the Cardiffian also fights on this stacked Cyclone Promotions show. In his last contest Thorley managed to stop the teak tough Jamie Ambler,Although considered a journeyman a stoppage against Ambler certainly sends warning to his rivals that Thorley has the ability to put his opponents away as well as use his nice boxing at range. Nathan has a perfect 6-0 record so a fight with Jermaine Asare would certainly be a big treat for welsh boxing fans. Thorley must get past Czech import 5-2-1 Stanislav Eschner which on paper looks to be a perfect opportunity for “thunder” to shake off further ring rust and challenge for domestic honours.
World class female super bantamweight star Ashley “storm” Brace also features on the “enter the dragon”bill in a 6 round contest against Croatian Nevenka Mikulic. Brace has not stopped receiving plaudits for the excellent demolition job on tough Alexandra vlajk which brought the first professional title of her career. Trainer Tony Borg has declared Brace a world champion in the making and its very hard to argue with that.Her relentless two fisted assaults to head and body have been far too much for her six opponents to date and actually finding sufficient calibre of opposition to test her has proven to be quite difficult for her team. 37 year old Croat Mikulic has competed all over europe to varying degrees of success in her 8-7 record. A challenge to Karin Renaldo in France for the european title proved unsuccesful. Its hard to see Mikulic handling the storm here but you never know in championship boxing so the Ebbw vale talent must remain at the remarkably high standard shes set.
Two more Sanigar fighters stay busy on the bill. Kristian Touze and Gavin Gwynne are both likeable men out of the squared circle but are a very different proposition inside it. Lightweight Gwynne has done little wrong in the short space of time he has been a professional and has quickly racked up five wins on the bounce as a professional. Last time out Gwynne very comfortably outpointed Adam Bannister almost stopping the tough man from Torquay with hard hooks to head and body.Training at the famed St Josephs gym with Tony Borg and sparring with the Selby brothers has definitely rubbed off on Gwynne who is looking like he is improving with every outing. Gwynnes opponent is yet to be announced but im sure the man from Treharris is desperate to showcase his talents in front of a large audience.
Kristian Touze has stated on numerous occasions he hopes to help re establish big time boxing in his home city of Swansea. Touze has captured the attention of the public with his charity work and willingless to help his community. Touzes footwork is exceptional and you can see how he set the amateur scene alight.By his own admission the transition to the pro ranks hasn’t been without the slight hiccup.In his last fight Touze, although i personally thought he did enough, had to settle with a draw against Dean Evans. Spaniard Victor Villaneuve will provide the opposition on Friday. A pro since 2015 Villaneuve has managed 5 bouts to date all in his own country. He’s only managed to win one but is sure to give Touze a good test in these early stages of his career
Barry’s Jonathan O’kelly will hopefully finally get the opportunity to get his second win as a professional after a frustrating few months. Cruiserweight O kelly got off to a winning start against Florians Strupits back in October.He has been scheduled to fight at least once more since then ,but opponents pulling out among other things have curbed the Barry mans momentum somewhat.O kelly will be itching to get back into the ring and will do so on this Cyclone Promotions bill against Jan Hrazdira.The Czech visitor has a mixed record of 2-4 and has been defeated on both previous visits to the United Kingdom.
Two debutants make their professional bows on the show, the first is the highly anticipated Welsh olympic silver medalist Fred Evans. Also a European amateur champion,Evans is set to be moved very quickly as a pro similar to Englishman Luke Campbell. Evans begins his pro campaign at Super Welter and the opponent lined up for him is novice Belgian pro Najim Fennane. Evans was only denied olympic gold by master kazakh boxer Seik Sapiyev so will not be mixing at Fennane’s level for long. Fellow Welshman Joe Cordina has been wowing fans on national Tv lately, expect Fred Evans to be doing the same very shortly.
The other debutant is Northampton’s Chantelle Cameron who was signed to a promotional contract by Barry Mcguigan after narrowly missing out on Rio 2016. Cameron who will fight at Lightweight considers Nicola Adams her role model and also has strong views on how Female boxing is looked upon by some sections of boxing fans.The success of Nicola Adams,Katie Taylor,Ashley Brace among others have really gave the women’s game a shot in the arm Its great to see the likes of Cameron having the platform to showcase their talents which are more then up to the standard of their male counterparts. Cameron has no easy match however and will have to draw on her amateur pedigree to beat experienced Polish counterpart Karina Kopinska 9-16-3
Completing an excellent stacked card is the welcome return of Newport Middleweight Lee Churcher. Churcher has not fought for over a year and is looking to ease back into contention with a win over Czech David Bauza 3-4-3. Churchers best win to date was undoubtedly a 9th round TKO over Barrie Jones winning him the Welsh middleweight title. He’s only had two fights in two years so inactivity has really been a problem for Churcher Bauza could at least provide some rounds to shed off the ring rust and lets hope that Churcher see’s much more
By Michael Ward