Tyrone McKenna takes on Jack Catterall and feuding Dubliners Jono Carroll and Declan Geraghty meet on stacked undercard
Light-welterweight: Tyrone McKenna (16-1) v Jack Catterall (21-0)
McKENNA took this fight at shortish notice after his original opponent – and long-term rival - Phil Sutcliffe pulled out with injury and it is undoubtedly a brave move for him.
‘The Mighty Celt’ will have advantages in height and reach tonight and he will have to utilise them to keep Jamie Moore-trained Catterall at bay.
The Chorley man, a stablemate of Carl Frampton, is being tipped for the very top by some good judges – including Moore – and has a dozen stoppage wins on his pristine 21-0 record.
McKenna has said that he wants to showcase his boxing skills tonight and he’ll need to get on his toes and fire out jabs to create openings.
McKenna came through some sticky patches in his previous fight against Anthony Upton to win. You can expect him to have learned from that and box well tonight. If he produces his best he has the skills to cause an upset, but Catterall starts as favourite.
International Boxing Federation Inter-Continental Super Featherweight title: Jono Carroll (15-0) v Declan Geraghty (17-2)
THERE is no love lost in this all-Dublin super-featherweight rumble. Carroll and Geraghty came to blows at the press conference and they’ll go at it tonight with the IBF Inter-Continental title and life-long bragging rights at stake.
They’ve met before, four years ago when Carroll won after Geraghty was disqualified by referee David Irving for illegal use of his head. However, Geraghty had his nose ahead on the judges’ scorecards at the time and he is confident of winning tonight.
Geraghty was knocked out by James Tennyson at the Waterfront Hall in March last year. Stylish ‘Pretty Boy’ was in the groove and boxing beautifully until Tennyson dropped him with a thumping right hook and the Belfast fighter went on to close the show in the sixth.
Pressure fighter Carroll will close Geraghty down and go to work at every opportunity. He has only two stoppage wins on his record and will know that he can’t afford to let his rival build up an early lead because Geraghty can box and move and pick him off if he has to chase the fight.
If Geraghty retains his composure he can box his way to victory. Carroll will catch up to him at some stage but he lacks the punching power Tennyson needed to turn the fight his way.
Vacant BBBofC Celtic Super-bantamweight title: Joe Ham (14-0) v Tyrone McCullagh (10-0)
THE biggest clash between Derry and Glasgow fighters since Jim Watt and Charlie Nash locked horns for the WBC lightweight title back in 1980.
Watt hauled himself off the canvas to stop Nash that night and McCullagh is determined to level the score for his former coach at Ring ABC tonight.
“It’s a great fight,” said McCullagh, whose last amateur contest was against bill-topper Michael Conlan in the Irish senior final back in 2014.
“He’s undefeated, I’m undefeated and neither of us have fought any real calibre of opponent yet so this will be the first real test for both of us and I’m very keen to announce myself on the big stage.”
The fight doubles up as an eliminator for the British super-bantamweight title, but McCullagh is concentrating solely on beating Ham.
“I’m just focussed on Saturday night for now and I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it,” he said.
“The bookies have it close but they’re going to lose money.”
As he admits, this is the first real test for both boxers and it’s one McCullagh should come through tonight.
Light-welterweight: Lewis Benson (10-0) v Johnny Coyle (18-0-1)
UNBEATEN ‘Kid Caramel’ Benson warned Coyle “I’m gonna ping you” when they meet at the SSE Arena tonight.
Traveller Coyle sees it differently of course. The Essex boy beat Belfast’s Paddy Gallagher and now European welterweight champion Sam Eggington on the way to winning Prizefighter back in 2014.
“I’m looking forward to putting on a show on Saturday night,” said Coyle.
“To be honest I don’t know much about him (Benson), he ain’t done much as a pro.
“He’s gonna know he’s in a fight. He’s not going to be able to run all night and I’ll get him.”
Scotland’s Benson is game enough but Coyle has the pedigree here and should take a points win.
Welterweight: Gary Corcoran (17-2) v Victor Ray Ankrah (8-2)
CORCORAN was due to face Paddy Gallagher but Belfast’s ‘Pat-Man’ had to pull out after breaking his jaw in sparring.
Journeyman Ankrah steps in but Corcoran should have no problem chalking up another win.
Super-flyweight: Sunny Edwards (7-0) v Cristian Narvaez (15-7-4)
THIS should be a good scrap as emerging Londoner Edwards meets improving Nicaraguan Narvaez. Edwards won the WBO European super-flyweight title late last year while Narvaez fought out a draw with former Paddy Barnes opponent Eliecer Quezada.
Featherweight: Neslan Machado (12-0) v Jose Aguilar (16-48-4)
CUBA-born Machado has been based in the USA for the last four years and is up against Spain-based Nicaraguan journeyman Aguilar who hasn’t won in three years. He is durable so expect this to go the full six rounds.
Lightweight: Gary Cully (4-0) v Zoltan Szabo (24-12)
NAAS lightweight Cully takes on dangerous Hungarian journeyman Szabo over four rounds in what should be a good learning fight for him. He’ll need to have his wits about him to get the decision tonight.
Welterweight: Lewis Crocker (5-0) v Adam Grabiec (5-21)
HAMMER-handed Crocker has blasted out everything in his path so far but 34-year-old Pole Gradiec could stay with him for longer tonight.
“Lewis is in fantastic shape,” said his coach Ray Ginley.
“Gradiec is one of the toughest journeymen out there, he’s taken a lot of good prospects the distance so hopefully we can get some rounds out of Lewis and let people see how much boxing ability he has.
“To me it doesn’t matter who he’s up against – once he lands on their chin or on their ribs it’s a different story.”
Crocker’s withering body-punching should pave the way for another stoppage win.
Super-middleweight: Taylor McGoldrick (1-0) v Casey Blair (5-41)
SOUTHPAW McGoldrick made his professional debut in December last year and the former Holy Trinity ABC fighter gets his first run-out on a big show against durable journeyman Casey Blair. Typically, Bangor native Blair is late replacement. He recently fought out a fight-of-the-night six-rounder against John Telford in Manchester and, with the carrot of a possible 10-round challenge belt rematch in the offing, he will be out to impress tonight.
Super-middleweight: Padraig McCrory (3-0) v Harry Matthews (15-28-2)
WEST-Belfast native McCrory gets his fourth fight since turning pro in June last year and will hope for a third stoppage win in-a-row against Matthews AKA ‘The Pocklington Rocket’ tonight.