Boxing

Conrad Cummings v Luke Keeler, Zolani Tete v Omar Andres Narvaez, Tyrone McKenna v Anthony Upton the pick of a quality undercard

Tyrone McKenna and Anthony Upton during the weigh in at the Europa Hotel on Friday Pic Pacemaker

World Boxing Organisation World Bantamweight title: Zolani Tete (26-3) v Omar Andres Narvaez (48-2-2)

AFTER watching Zolani Tete dismantle fellow countryman Siboniso Gonya in just 11 seconds back in November, what stands out about his 29-fight career record are the three losses on it.

All three came during a six-fight spell in the middle of his career but since then the South African ¬who takes on 42-year-old world title fight veteran Omar Andres Narvaez (48-2-2) tonight – has become perhaps the most feared, and avoided, fighter the bantamweight division.

He defends his WBO title against Argentine Narvaez who has amassed a deep reservoir of experience in 36 world title fights, losing only to Japanese wrecking ball Naoya Inoue and Nonito Donaire, who meets Carl Frampton in the main event.

At 42, you have to question the wisdom of putting ageing ‘El Huracan', who began his career as a flyweight, in with a murderous puncher like Tete. It's true that he has only been stopped once in his career (by Inoue) but he will need every bit of his ring craft and experience to test Tete tonight. The South African should have far too much for him.

Tete has become a high-risk/low financial reward, road warrior and he hopes to entice Burnett into a bantamweight decider before the end of the year.

“I would love to fight Burnett,” he said.

“If they said it was my next fight after this one I'd grab it with both hands. It needs to happen before the end of the year.

“There should be one king in the bantamweights, I believe there are two at the moment.”

If he wants Burnett to be in his future then Tete should probably take his time tonight and lull him into a false sense security. Whether he does or not, Narvaez won't have the size, the power or the energy to cause an upset.

Verdict: Tete

WBO European Middleweight title: Conrad Cummings (13-1-1) v Luke Keeler (13-2-1)

TYRONE meets Dublin in a threshold moment for two ambitious Irish fighters at similar stages in their career, who are determined to take a step up the middleweight ladder.

Keeler has been close to title level before, while Coalisland native Cummings has always looked like he had the tools to make a real statement but hasn't made it.

The former Cyclone Promotions fighter who followed Carl Frampton to Jamie Moore's gym last year, says he will show exactly what he's made of tonight.

“I believe that the fight will be as tough as I make it,” said Cummings.

“I respect Luke as a person and as a fighter, but this is my break-out fight and it's a big one for me.

“I have prepared extremely well, I headlined the Devenish in February and I just continued the camp on.

“I was out in Tenerife doing altitude training, sparring and conditioning. My trainer Jamie Moore is getting the best out of me mentally and physically and you are going to see it on Saturday night.

“I'm in a good place, I feel very happy. It's a good fight, a very exciting fight for the people watching, but there's only going to be one winner. Bring it on.”

Cummings was marketed as a ‘barn-burner' during his Cyclone days, but that was never really his game. Tonight he plans to rely on the skills that made him so highly-rated as an amateur - set his attacks up, move his head and “get the job done”.

Meanwhile, Keeler lost to Tom Doran when they fought for the World Boxing Council International middleweight belt back two years ago and since then he has had just four fights. He beat Darren Cruise to win the Irish title last summer but was held to a draw by journeyman Adam Jones in February.

“I was working full-time before but I've given my job up since Christmas,” he said.

“I'm going for broke, I'm giving it everything and I'm going to give my career-best performance and just push on from that.”

This is a perfectly timed fight that fans will not want to miss. Cummings has been striving for a breakthrough while Keeler has totally committed himself to boxing and will expect to show levels of power and durability that we haven't seen before.

Cummings has the better all-round skillset and, with a full camp behind him and a new man in his corner, expect him to come through a tough test tonight.

Verdict: Cummings

Light-welterweight: Tyrone McKenna (15-0-1) v Anthony Upton (17-1)

THIS is another well-matched encounter between two local fighters who are eager to make the transition from the chasing pack and join the pacesetters.

Upton holds a win over McKenna from their amateur days, but ‘The Mighty Celt' has dismissed that one-point loss – in the Irish seniors, claiming his was more interested in partying than training.

At 6'1”, southpaw McKenna is freakishly tall at the weight and he had three comfortable early wins on-the-trot before he ran into Renald Garrido last time out. Garrido was tough, but McKenna gutsed it out and took a points win.

London-born Upton bounced back from his first loss to win an English Light-welterweight title in 2016 and was keen to step in after Phil Sutcliffe pulled out with injury. He'll be giving a lot away in terms of height and reach and McKenna looks a good bet to win this one.

Verdict: McKenna

Welterweight: Lewis Crocker (4-0) v Scott James (1-2)

HAMMER-handed Crocker hasn't been tested yet and unknown Englishman James is thrown in against him in tonight's ‘live floater' for TV.

Rising MTK star Crocker has had a total of just over 10 minutes of action in his four outings up to now and if James gets anywhere close to doubling that he will have done better than expected.

Verdict: Crocker

Lightweight: David Oliver Joyce (6-0) v Jordan Ellison (9-13)

FORMER amateur stand-out Joyce has raced to 6-0 since making his pro debut last summer. Anyone who watched him dismantle Andy Harris at the SSE Arena last October will be in no doubt that he is a dangerous puncher and journeyman Ellison will do well to see out the distance tonight.

Verdict: Joyce

Light-heavyweight: Steven Ward (6-0) v Michal Ciach (1-4)

WARD did his training at Jamie Moore's gym with Frampton and Cummings so it's a disappointment that he's not getting a tougher, more high-profile test tonight.

However, all ‘The Quiet Man' can do is keep winning and his opportunity will come. He plans to do exactly that against Poland's Ciach tonight.

Verdict: Ward

Featherweight: Tyrone McCullagh (9-0) Elvis Guillen (9-36-4)

WITH a Celtic title fight/British title eliminator to follow against Scotland's Joe Ham, Derry fighter McCullagh could be forgiven for taking his eyes of journeyman Guillen tonight.

Of course that's is the last thing he can afford to do and he knows it.

Verdict: McCullagh

Also on tonight's undercard:

Super-featherweight: Marco McCullough (18-4) v Arnold Solano (14-16-0)

Super lightweight: Sam Maxwell (6-0) v Michael Isaac Carrero (13-44-5)

Middleweight: Troy Williamson (5-0) v Christian Hoskin Gomez (7-32-4)

Heavyweight: Alex Dickinson (4-0) v Lee Carter (1-3)

Super middleweight: Ryan Hatton (2-0) v Attila Tibor Nagy (11-30-1)

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