The goal-laden Premier League has been put into a two week lockdown while international fixtures take place, but boxing is still in business.
This Saturday Welsh KO king Liam Williams defends his British title against game veteran Andrew Robinson, heavyweight sluggers Nathan Gorman and Richard Lartley battle it out to get back to winning ways, and Commonwealth champ JJ Metcalf is promising a tasty tear-up with Jack Flatley.
A defeat to Daniel Dubois is nothing to be ashamed of, but Gorman and Lartey would both like to move on from their respective KO defeats to the heavyweight sensation with a win this weekend. Although their losses were similar, Nantwich’s Gorman is levels above his Ghanaian rival, and I expect him to show it this weekend.
The big Brit has notched up significant wins in the paid and amatuer codes. He’s known for his slick boxing skills more than his pop, but 11 of his 16 wins have come early.
Lartey is a plucky challenger who will be in decent nick, and hopefully he’s still sporting his blonde Abraham Lincoln chin curtain.
I am tempted by the 6/1 for Gorman to win by KO in rounds 5-6 but it looks as though he’s carrying some lockdown timber. I still think Nath will get the KO but I’ll go with the safer method-of-victory bet.
Commonwealth super welterweight boss JJ Metcalf wants to join the party with the big British names at 154 pounds. While the Liverpudlian has been steadily collecting stoppage wins out of the limelight the likes of Anthony Fowler, Scott Fitzgerald and Ted Cheeseman have been knocking lumps out of each other on headline TV shows.
Metcalf, and his opponent Flatley, have a prime spot on BT this Saturday to show off their skills, even more so after the British title bout between Anthony Cacace and Leon Woodstock fell off due to illness.
Flatley is not a big name, but he’s a young, solid unit. ‘Quiet Storm’ has only lost once – a close points defeat in an English title fight – and he got back to winning ways in December.
Metcalf is 32 now and he needs to get on with it if he’s ever going to break into boxing’s upper echelons. ‘Kid Shamrock’ looked sharp recently in some social media videos with his dad on pads – 90s boxing cult hero Shea Neary – but I think this could be a hard fought affair with Metcalf taking it on points.
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The man they call ‘The Machine’ is due a world title tilt but instead of twiddling his thumbs and waiting for the call he’s going to defend his domestic middleweight belt against Andrew ‘D’Animal’ Robinson. Paddy has Williams down as a huge favourite and I make him right on that score.
Instead of having his name up in lights on the Las Vegas strip, Williams is stuck behind closed doors in the east London BT studio, but he’s the kind of chap who will probably find some kind of masochist pleasure in that, and I am sure that the Welshman will have been doing extra hours of training in isolation.
Robinson won’t be lacking for motivation either as this British title fight is the pinnacle of his career. The Midlands man lost a scrap for the lightly regarded English title in 2016 and, at the grand old age of 36, this is his last shot at a proper strap.
‘D’Animal’ has all the tricks of a seasoned pro but he’s never been a puncher, and without that deterrent he’ll be in for a tough night. Robinson lost inside the distance for the first time in 2018 – to a man Williams stopped last year.
Williams is on six-fight knockout spree since moving up to middleweight three years ago. The Valleys fighter has always been aggressive and relentless, but now, at age 28, his power seems to have been turned up to maximum.
If Williams can’t shake the ring rust Robinson might just be able to guts it out to hear the final bell, but that’s a big “if”. 12 rounds is a hell of a long time to keep ‘The Machine’ at bay and I think this contest will be done by the middle sessions and we’re backing Williams in rounds 4-6.
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