This Saturday, the M&S Bank Arena in Liverpool is hosting a night of fights that any Scouser would be proud of. The main event promises to be an absolute war between home town favourite Liam Smith and Birmingham’s ‘Savage’ Sam Eggington.
The undercard includes the North West grudge match of Anthony Fowler versus Scott Fitzgerald, the battle for British and European gold between Joe Hughes and Robbie Davies Jr, and David Price’s heavyweight shootout with Kash Ali.
In America, we have light heavyweight title action when Oleksandr Gvodzyk takes on the challenge of Doudou Ngumbu, and in the prelims, rising star Egidijus Kavaliauskas plans to add the scalp of Ray Robinson to his mantelpiece.
The people of Liverpool might have been hopeful that the Smith brother with the world title would have a homecoming fight this spring, but Callum remains opponent-less six months after winning the belt in Jeddah. So, big bro Liam is headlining, and if he can emerge victorious he’ll be in contention for another crack at the crown.
Smith lost his world super welterweight trinket to Canelo Alvarez back in 2016 and he came up short over 12 rounds when he tried to win another belt from Jaime Munguia last year. Sandwiched in between the defeats were a pair of solid victories against British rival Liam Williams.
In the opposite corner, Eggington has won the British, Commonwealth and European titles, but he’s lost twice in the last 18 months to opponents he was expected to beat. ‘The Savage’ has a style which is not suited to longevity and we may have already seen the best of him at the age of 25.
Eggington’s best wins have come at 147 pounds against an overweight Frankie Gavin and a washed Paulie Malignaggi – both were super silky on their day but neither could punch a hole through tissue paper.
This bout is mandated at 154 pounds and Smith is not feather-fisted, out-of-shape or over-the-hill. The boxers will meet in the middle of the ring but Eggington’s non-existent defence will be his downfall.
DeGale-Groves was an early-career epic, while Okolie-Chamberlain was a damp squib, but you know when two young, inexperienced rivals meet they will leave it all out there, and the loser can come again. Fowler-Fitzgerald could be a coming-of-age classic.
The northern English boxers both won gold medals at the 2014 Glasgow Commonwealth Games – Fowler as a middleweight and Fitzgerald as a welterweight – and both signed for Matchroom Promotions as professional super welterweights.
Fowler is bigger, older and has the better amateur record, but so was James DeGale and he still lost to George Groves. Fitzgerald is a 4/1 underdog – a similar price as Groves was – and if Fowler goes looking for the spectacular KO he could get picked off.
There have been warning signs in ‘Fitzy’s’ career though – he was dropped by a journeyman, he’s missed weight previously and he’s already switched trainers. I think Fowler will be too strong and he’ll force the KO win.
The bout with most belts on the line is between European champ Hughes and British boss Davies. The domestic super lightweight titleholder will have the crowd on his side but that won’t affect Bristol’s Hughes, who won the continental title in Italy.
Davies is the man with the hype behind him – he’s from a boxing family, he was a good amateur, and he has the flashy footwork – but he’s been stopped once already, despite being kept away from punchers. Hughes doesn’t have great power but at 14/1 to win by KO he’s worth a punt.
Hughes is always in close contests and Davies hasn’t faced a better opponent. It’s likely to go the distance and it could come down to whether they like the Scouser’s big shots or The West Country man’s solid jab – I’m backing the draw at 22/1.
Also on the card, David Price is hanging on to his career by a thinner thread than Theresa May – the big man has lost three of his last five and if the 35-year-old is defeated by former sparring partner Ali it’ll be time to pack it in.
Ali has beaten 15 journeymen in an eight-year pro career, but he’s never lost and he’s stopped seven of his last nine. A prime Price would win this fight easily but now I’m not so sure – my bet is that the fight will end in round 5 at 8/1.
Possibly the best light heavyweight on the planet, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, makes the first defence of his strap in Philadelphia this Saturday. Doudou Ngumbu is better than his name suggests but he won’t be able to cope with Gvozdyk’s attack, and I’m putting some dollar on the champ to win in rounds 7-12.
Kavaliauskas is a man to look out for in the welterweight division. Whether the Lithuanian banger can win a title is debatable but it’ll be exciting watching him try. Back Kavaliauskas to stop Robinson in rounds 6-10.