By Lucy MacDonald

A bright, sunny day in Wembley got even brighter for European welterweight champion, David Avanesyan, and 22-year-old prospect, Hamzah Sheeraz.  

To kick off his career in the middleweight division, Sheeraz moved to 15-0 with a second-round knockout after fiercely overwhelming his opponent, Jez Smith. Standing tall for a middleweight at 6’3, Sheeraz used his substantial reach advantage and quick hands to send his opponent to the floor in both rounds prior to the knockout. This victory comes following his controversial win over Bradley Skeete in his last outing as a super-welterweight at the Copper Box Arena in December. The referee took a point from Sheeraz in the eighth round of the fight after he landed two illegal blows on Skeete while he was on the floor. Many believed that this was insufficient punishment, and he should have been disqualified. Sheeraz continued to win by TKO in the nineth round. He can now put this bittersweet experience behind him and be proud of his dominant performance which should give him a big confidence boost as he commences his campaign at 160lb.  

Avanesyan returned to Wembley to fight Finland’s Oskari Metz and make his fifth defence of his EBU belt. The OVO Arena, previously the SSE Arena, is happy hunting ground for Avanesyan as this is the same venue that he got the better of the previously unbeaten Josh Kelly and Liam Taylor. Having recently signed with Frank Warren of Queensbury Promotions, he is keen to keep busy, continue to impress and aims to return to world title contention this year.  

Oskari Metz was 15 fights unbeaten going into the bout however, had yet to compete with a fighter of Avanesyan’s calibre. This was very clear from the first bell as it took only two minutes of the first round for the bout to come to a swift end. Catching up with his manager, Neil Marsh, after the fight, he commented: “Making statements isn’t important, keeping him [Avanesyan] active is. In the past we’ve been left on the fence and Frank offered him activity straightaway. He is very proud of the EBU title, he’ll keep defending it, and beating everybody, until that big opportunity comes – which we’ll keep campaigning for.” 

In attendance on the night was unbeaten super-middleweight, Zach Parker, who announced on Saturday that he will take on Demetrius Andrade for the WBO interim world super-middleweight title. Having supported Derby County since he was a youngster, Parker is delighted to be colliding with Andrade in front of his home fans at Pride Park on 21st May. After a tough time of late for their beloved football club, he is eager to give his fellow Derby County fans something to celebrate. Undoubtedly, this is the toughest test of his career, however, Parker is confident his skills will prevail: “It’s a hard test. He [Andrade] is a southpaw, he’s slick, but I feel like this is the right time for me and it’s the wrong time for him. It’s getting late on in his career, he’s 34-years-old and I am too big of a puncher for him. I feel like it’s all in my corner and I’ll show it on May 21st.”  

Neil Marsh, who manages both Avanesyan and Parker, expressed his confidence in Parker’s ability to get past the former world champion in Andrade: “He’ll knock him out. He’ll completely knock him out. Andrade is dangerous early, I think the weight will suit him a bit better, he’s unbeaten, he’s a two-weight world champion, we’re under no illusion how hard the fight is. But, he gets hurt in every fight, you cannot get hurt by Zach Parker and that is why I believe Zach will knock him out.” 

Exciting prospect, Dennis McCann, featured on the undercard in a battle with Charles Tondo in the super-bantamweight division. Although he was slightly disheartened by his performance, ‘The Menace’ took a wide unanimous decision on the scorecards and moved to 12-0, with big dreams of becoming a world champion.  

Sam Noakes brought a loud crowd to Wembley, who will have been impressed with his performance as he knocked out Vincenzo Finiello in the fourth round in defence of his WBC international silver lightweight title.  

Ben Davison trained Royston Barney-Smith made his debut on the card. The 18-year-old southpaw displayed his skill in ring and bagged a clear victory on the scorecards after four rounds. Hopefully the first of many big nights for ‘Sugar Boy Roy’ as he commences his professional career.  

Also on the card were Mark Chamberlain, Masood Abdulah, Henry Turner, Sonny Liston and Khalid Ali, who all added a win to their existing, unbeaten records.  

Photo Credit: Queensberry Promotions

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