Boxing: Fight Week Preview
By Gary Kittilsen
Following boxing’s entertaining weekend of fights in Uzbekistan and Dubai, major world championship boxing returns to both the US and the UK. Boxing enthusiasts have four world title fights on tap this weekend.
This action kicks off in the UK as undefeated welterweight contender Conor “The Destroyer” Benn takes the biggest test of his young career as he battles long-time welterweight contender Samuel Vargas in the main event of a card in London’s Copper Box Arena.
Benn, the son of legendary former two-division world champion Nigel Benn, sports a perfect 17-0 (11) record and is coming off a career-best performance, a one-sided beatdown of Sebastian Formella of Germany back in November.
Vargas who originally hails from Bogota, Colombia, has been in the ring with some of the best 147-pounders of the era including Errol Spence Jr and Amir Khan, and most recently took on the former prospect of the year Vergil Ortiz.
The Colombian was stopped by Ortiz in seven rounds. This fight should be a good metric to see how far the young Benn has progressed as Ortiz was seen as a legitimate contender after dismantling Vargas in 2020.
If Benn has similar success he will likely be moved up the rankings quickly as well. The undercard features two women’s world title fights also.
WBO Middleweight champ Savanah Marshall puts the belt she won by stopping Hannah Rankin in seven back in October on the line against Maria Lindberg of Malmo, Sweden.
Lindberg sports a record of 19-6-2 and last fought in December of 2019 in Germany where she outpointed Mariam Tatunashvili.
The card’s other title fight is for the vacant WBA bantamweight title. Shannon Courteney scored a career-best win when she stepped Dorota Norek in seven rounds on the Billy Joe Saunders vs Martin Murray card back in December. She takes on Australia’s undefeated star Ebanie Bridges. Who is a perfect 5-0 (2) and fought just four weeks ago, outpointing Carol Earl in an eight-round affair. Courtenay and Bridges clash for the vacant title in a much talked about fight.
The action moves to the US in Tulsa. Oklahoma as Joe Smith Jr, makes his second attempt for a world title. Smith, a native of New York came up short back in 2019 against Dmitry Bivol in an entertaining affair. He has scored two very high-level wins since then, outpointing Jesse Hart and stopping Eleider Alvarez in 2020 to move his record to 26-3 (21).
Smith battles the veteran Russian Maxim Vlasov for the vacant WBO light heavyweight title. A belt that was last held by Canelo Alvarez who won it by stopping Sergey Kovalev and then vacated it.
Vlasov has won three in a row against high-level opposition since losing to Krzysztof Glowacki for an interim cruiserweight strap. He last fought in November of 2019 and shut out the then-undefeated Emmanuel Martay over 10-rounds.
The undercard features four undefeated heavyweight prospects including the 14-0 Efe Ajegba of Nigeria as well as the hard-hitting son of Tommy Morrison, Trey Lippe Morrison, who puts his prefect 16-0 (16) record on the line.
Top Rank’s brightest and youngest heavyweight prospect “Big Baby” Jared Anderson also features when he takes a big step up against Jeremiah Karpency. Additionally, Philly based heavyweight Sonny Conto returns as well and battles Waldo Cortes Acosta in a four-round affair
The weekend’s actions conclude in Uncasville, Connecticut as undefeated mega prospect Jarron “Boots” Ennis battles former 140-pound titleholder Sergey Lipinets in a 12 round affair.
Ennis, a Philadelphia native is considered among the best prospects in the world and on a fast track for a world title. It’s the first former world champion that Boots has faced in his five-year career. The Philadelphian sports a 26-0 record and last fought no contest against Chris Van Heerden back in December of 2020.
Lipinets won a vacant light-welterweight belt in 2017 and lost it to Mikey Garcia in 2018. He scored a career-best win against former world champ Lamont Peterson 2019 and last fought in October of last year when he scored a majority draw against undefeated Canadian prospect Custio Clayton.
The co-main event features the return of the IBF super-flyweight champ “Pretty Boy” Jerwin Ancajas of the Philippines. Ancajas, who has not fought since December of 2019, battles 25-year old Mexican Jonathan Javier Rodriguez who sports a 22-1 (16) record and last fought this past December when he stopped Julian Yedras in the first round.
The card also features an intriguing welterweight matchup between undefeated Lithuanian prospect Eimantas Stanionis who takes on former world title challenger Thomas Dulorme in a 12-round affair.
Photo Credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing