Boxing: Fight Week Preview
By Gary Kittilsen
After an unforgettable week of boxing, the sweet science comes roaring back for another action-packed week with four major cards in three different countries.
The action starts in Bolton, England as undefeated Scotsman “Lightning” Lee McGregor takes the biggest test of his young career as he takes on the battle-tested Karim Guerfi, of Manosque, France, who sports an impressive record of 29-4, for the vacant EBU bantamweight title.
McGregor emerged on the scene back in 2019 when he took a hard-fought and highly competitive split decision over Ukashir Farooq in Glasgow and followed that up with a one-sided beat down over the very skilled Ryan Walker last August.
A win over a veteran like Guefri could fast-track the young Scotsman to a world title shot in the very near future. For, the 34-year-old Guerfi who briefly held the EBU bantamweight title twice, capturing it in 2013 and against in 2016 looks to gain the strap a third time and finally challenge for a major world title.
The Frenchman has ran off three consecutive victories over mediocre competition since being stopped by Michael Dasmarinas, in Singapore in 2018.
In the co-main event, two skilled veterans square off for the vacant British lightweight title as “Maximus” Maxi Hughes looks to continue his impressive winning streak as he battles Paul Hyland Jr. who looks to bounce back from a loss to Francesco Patera in Italy back in June of 2019. Hughes had a spectacular 2020 going 3-0 and upsetting former world title challenger Jono Carroll and then outpointing undefeated prospect Viktor Kotochigov this past October.
The action in the UK continues on Saturday as Lawrence Okolie battles hard-hitting former world champion Krzysztof Glowacki of Walcz, Poland, for the WBO cruiserweight title. A belt that he held in 2015 thru 2016 before dropping it to Oleksandr Usyk.
Glowacki again challenged for the belt in 2019 and was stopped by Mairis Briedis in three rounds. Okolie, a former Olympian sports a perfect 15-0 (12) record, has stopped two undefeated prospects in his last two fights. Stopping the highly touted Yves Ngabu in seven rounds and then followed that up with a two-round destruction of Nikodem Jezewski this past December.
The undercard features fellow 2016 Olympian Anthony Fowler, who has barely lost a round and scored multiple stoppages in his four fights since coming up short in a very close decision to Scott Fitzgerald in 2019.
Fitzgerald battles Jorge Fortea of Spain. Fortea dropped a wide decision to Bakhram Murtazaliev in later 2019 but looked impressive in a tune-up fight against Kelly Figueroa this past October. The highly touted 130-pound prospect Joe Cordina will also be in action as he battles Faroukh Kourbanov in a scheduled 10-rounder.
The action moves to Moscow, Russia as national hero and unified light-heavyweight champion Artur Beterbiev takes on. Adam Deines, of Magdeburg, Germany for Beterbiev’s WBC and IBF titles.
Beterbiev is regarded as the premier 175-pounder in the world and has a 100% knockout ratio, winning all 15 of his pro bouts by way of stoppage. The Russian has not fought since his career-best win against Oleksandr Gvozdyk in October of 2019.
Deines has an impressive record of 19-1-1 with his only loss coming to Fanlong Meng in a world title eliminator back in June of 2019. The German has scored two wins in tune-ups fights since his only career loss but has been inactive since September of 2019.
In the weekend’s final card, boxing returns to the Lone Star State as 22-year-old, welterweight phenom Vergil Ortiz battles former 140-pound world champ “Mighty Mo” Maurice Hooker square off in a good old fashioned all-Texas shootouts.
Both Ortiz and Hooker hail from Dallas County. Ortiz sports a perfect 16-0 record with a 100% knockout ratio. and takes a big step up in battling Mighty Mo, its the first former world champ, who is still in his prime that the young prospect has faced.
Ortiz’s name has been mentioned as a possible opponent for WBO world title holder Terence Crawford, should he win.
The winner of this fight takes a major step forward in the world title picture at 147. The undercard features three undefeated prospects.
The Matador Luis Alberto Hernandez battles Alex Martin. Additionally, Tristen Kalkreuth and Oscar Valdez who both hail from the Dallas area will be in action in step-up fights. Kalkreuth, a cruiserweight battles Dustin Long and Valdez a 122-pounder takes on the rugged, Alberto Torres in an eight-round affair.