Saturday night’s first chapter of Fight Camp marked the welcome reappearance of live boxing on Sky Sports. The show itself went as well as one could have hoped.All fighters tested negative for COVID, each fight was entertaining in its own right, and the Cheeseman vs Eggington headline bout was as a compelling contest as we have seen in recent years, living up to the hype and expectations that proceeded.
Although not a return to the normality we all long for, it was a cautious half-step in the right direction. With any luck, the second innings will produce yet more entertainment, and once more without any hiccups.
Terri Harper 10(5) – 0– 0 vs Tasha Jonas 9(7) – 1(1) –0
10 X 2 Mins WBC & IBO World Super-Featherweight Titles
Since the 2016 Rio Olympics and subsequentmaterialisation of superstars like Katie Taylor and Claressa Shields onto the world scene, women’s boxing has gone from strength to strength. Taylor and Shields have each fought on several of the most significant bills in world boxing and both have headlined their ownshows. In Britain, we have seen the emergence of several British boxers, such as our headliners Terri Harper and Tasha Jonas, along with the likes ofChantelle Cameron, Savannah Marshall and Sandy Ryan. Each is hoping to leave their own mark in the realm of pugilism.
The example set by trailblazers like Taylor and Shields has inspired female fighters across the globe. More and more, we are seeing contests like Harper versus Jonas that are attracting vast amounts of attention. Particularlyso regarding this match-up, in light of the recent trash-talking between the respective trainers of Jonas and Harper, Joe Gallagher and Stefy Bull. The back and forth between the two coaches has helped add a bit of spice to the proceedings.
Terri Harper is yet to put a foot wrong as a professionalboxer. Last time out against the Finnish veteran Eva Wahlstrom, Harper added the prestigious WBC super-featherweight title to her IBO championship. The girl from Yorkshire acquired masses of well-deservedplaudits for her victory over Wahlstrom, having boxed terrifically to cruise to a unanimous decision.
Interestingly, Harper was a big fan of Jonas, who was apioneer of women’s boxing in the UK by representing Team GB at the 2012 London Olympics. There is even a photo that has circulated of Jonas meeting a teenage Harper, then a young amateur just getting started in the world of boxing. Now at the tender age of 23, Harper may well go on to win multiple world honours and become undisputed at her weight, and certainly has time to do so. To that end, she will hope to make a big statement against her former heroine turned domestic rival on this hugely significant stage.
Before turning over, “Miss GB” Jonas was accomplished as an amateur. She missed out on medalling at the 2012 games after dropping a decision to eventual gold medallist Katie Taylor in the quarter-finals. She fought for a few more years after that, competing at the Commonwealth Games in Scotland in 2014. After taking a few years out, Jonas returned to the sport and turned professional in 2017, mimicking former adversary Taylor.
Tasha set about building her record with the intention of rematching foe Taylor, who was kicking on in the lightweight division and aiming for world honours. Jonas took on Brazilian Viviane Obenauf in August 2018, a former victim of Taylor’s, to further build the case for a grand rematch against the Irishwoman. However, a shock stoppage loss against Obenauf left Jonas’s dream railroaded.
Jonas was severely hurt in the Obenauf bout, leading Joe Gallagher to throw in the towel to avoid her shipping any further punishment. Many questioned if the Scouser had what it takes to compete with the upper classes of the pro ranks. However, Jonas was not to be deterredand has rebuilt with wins at the expense of Feriche Mashauri, Bec Connolly and Bianka Majlath. The clash with Harper represents an enormous opportunity for Jonas to fulfil her potential and become a world champion at 130lbs, though most would suggest she really has her work cut out.
The bout entails a genuine crossroads fight. Harper is thirteen years younger than the 36-year old Jonas. Although they both have only had ten professional contests, Jonas will have more miles on the clock from her many amateur matches and training camps over the years. A decent measuring stick for comparing the two women is their performances against mutual opponent Obenauf who stopped Jonas with relative ease, whereas Harper beat her comfortably.
When Jonas fought Obenauf, she was caught a little toooften and a little too cleanly, which led her to get hurt. Harper will throw stinging punches in bunches and look to keep tagging Jonas. Although Jonas has experience, she has not fought anyone at the level of Harper as a professional, whereas Harper will have benefitted from beating a world class operator in Wahlstrom over distance. Therefore, it is my belief Harper will just have too much for Jonas and also has the added benefit of youth.
Providing she is triumphant on Saturday, Harper will hope to fight unbeaten American prospect Mikaela Mayer, with whom she has been beefing on social media. However, Jonas will wish to represent a spanner in the works by emerging victorious. Jonas has the pedigree and experience to make it a tricky night’s work,but all signs point towards Harper being the one with her arm raised at the end of the contest.
Prediction: Harper stoppage.
Chris Billam-Smith 10(9) – 1 – 0 vs Nathan Thorley 14(6) – 0 – 0
12 X 3 Mins Commonwealth Cruiserweight Title
It’s England versus Wales as Bournemouth’s Chris Billam-Smith defends his Commonwealth title againstCardiff’s Nathan “Thunder” Thorley.
“The Gentleman” Billam-Smith has looked solid in his eleven fights thus far. His only blemish was a split-decision loss at the hands of British cruiserweight champion Richard Riakporhe, an exciting contest that Ipersonally scored as a draw. The hard-hitting Billam-Smith bounced back with a solid fifth-round demolition job over Tony Bellew charge Craig Glover on the Smith Ryder undercard.
Trained by Shane Mcguigan, Billam-Smith hopes a win against Thorley will put him in pole position for a rematch with Riakporhe for the unified British and Commonwealth championships.
Thorley has been a staple of the small hall shows since his debut in 2015, and has previously won the Welsh Area title at light heavyweight. Although he previously fought in front of Sky cameras on the Cordina Dodd undercard in 2018, is presented with the prospect of making a name for himself against the well-known Billam-Smith on this monumental platform.
Granted, Thorley is a good fighter; however, one would imagine the powerful Billam-Smith would have the edgecome fight night. The Bournemouth man will have profited from twelve hard rounds with the hefty-hitting Riakporhe and subsequent flattening of Craig Glover,whom is no slouch himself. It is a decent fight, and although Thorley has had more bouts, the lanky Welshman is yet to fight an opponent at the level of Billam-Smith, either at light-heavy or cruiserweight.
Thorley will endeavour to put on a display and impress, and I anticipate him making Billam-Smith work for the win by boxing off the back foot, trying to negate the work of Billam-Smith. However I do not foresee him being able to stand up to Billam-Smith’s power for too long, and I believe when Billam-Smith begins finding his range, he will soon be offloading some heavy artillery and catch the Welshman.
Prediction: Billam-Smith Stoppage.
Anthony Fowler 12(9) - 1- 0 vs Adam Harper 9(0) - 1 - 0
10 X 3 Mins Super-Welterweight Contest
Anthony Fowler returns against Tewkesbury’s Adam Harper in this 154lbs contest. Fowler has been rebuilding since his loss against Scott Fitzgerald in their grudge match, with victories over Brian Rose, Harry Scarff and infamous roller blading boxer Theophilus Tetteh last time out.
A victory over Harper would allow “The Machine” to continue his development under new coach Shane Mcguigan. He will hope to earn a shot against one of the many domestic competitors in the super-welterweight division, and a fight with the victor of last Saturday’s blood bath, Ted Cheeseman would certainly make sense. Although the Liverpudlian has long called for arematch with nemesis Fitzgerald, the Preston man’swell-documented issues with the law has seen himsuspended by the board and is out of the picture for the foreseeable.
Former English and Midlands champion Harper is a tricky boxer and relies more on his boxing skills as opposed to marauding force like Fowler. His only defeat came
in Australia against Michael Zefara, who lost to Kell Brook and holds a win over the Manny Pacquiao conqueror Jeff Horn. After an adverse brain scan in 2018, Harper, then on the cusp of a British title fight versus then-champion Ted Cheeseman, was forced into premature retirement. Harper has since revisited his test and passed all subsequent medicals. He was due to return in March, however, saw his comeback fight cancelled due to COVID. A win over Fowler would see Harper put himself back in contention for a tilt at domestic titles, right where he left off.
In my opinion, Fowler will simply have too much for Harper. Although Harper undoubtedly has skills and has proved his durability by going the distance with Zefara, the high-output Fowler will not afford him a second’srest. After two years out the ring, it’s hard to see how Harper will stand up to that kind of unrelenting pressure. Although Fowler is a powerhouse, he was a decoratedamateur and former Team GB star. He has also been working on his technical game with McGuigan, so will look to showcase different elements to his repertoire when taking on Harper.
Prediction: Fowler stoppage.
Aqib Fiaz 5(0) – 0 - 0 vs Kane Baker 13(0) – 6(2) – 0
8 X 3 Mins Lightweight Contest
Jamie Moore’s prospect Aqib Fiaz is provided with a stern test in the form of Brummie Kane Baker. Baker, aformer Midlands Area lightweight champion and English title challenger, holds a decent win over formerlyundefeated city rival Ishmael Ellis. He has also been in with quality operators like Sam Maxwell, and some notable prospects such as Connor Benn and Gary Cully. He will not be looking to make up the numbers, and will undoubtedly serve as a good measuring stick for where Fiaz is at in terms of his development.
Although it is very early days, Fiaz hasn’t put a glove wrong in his five previous outings, and at just 20 years of age, the Oldham man still has time to grow into his man strength. When he does, we could see him forcing some stoppages in future contests.
He is well thought of, and Matchroom signed him on Moore’s recommendation. He has an excellent opportunity against an experienced Baker, who will hope to gatecrash what could signify a coming-out party for Fiaz. If the Mancunian can win and look good doing so, Fiaz will announce himself to British boxing fans in a big way.
Prediction: Fiaz points.
Ivan Hopey Price 2(1) – 0 – 0 vs Jonny Phillips 5(2) – 4 – 0
Price is one of the hottest prospects in British boxing.Along with Dennis McCann and Charles Frankham, the 20-year-old Price represents an emergence of talented young travellers emerging on the scene. As is the case with McCann and Frankham, people in boxing expect big things from Price.
Price comes up against Jonny Phillips, who has shared the ring with classy operator Stephen Smith and also took a shock win over Chris Eubank Sr's son, Nathaniel Wilson.
The Dave Coldwell charge last fought on the AJ Ruiz II undercard in Saudi and will want to make up for lost time with a win in Fight Camp. As an amateur, he won youth Olympic gold, two World silvers, European gold and seven national titles.
The Leeds native was born to box; he remembers beingtaken on the pads as a toddler and hails from a long line of fighting men. The sharp southpaw will hope a win on this card will help him to kick on and start collecting a few victories when crowds are hopefully able to return to arenas at the end of the year.
Price should have far too much firepower and savvy for the likes of Phillips and can use it as an opportunity to get more rounds in the bank.
Prediction: Price points.
Aaron Ludford of SimBoxx