MTK have bulldozed the small hall circuit in recent times collaborating with the big dogs like Matchroom, Top Rank, Sky and ESPN as well as YouTube outlets to boost the viewership of small hall shows and promote their signe talent to try and make them big stars. No format has been more blatant in its aim to build stars and get them big opportunities than the MTK Golden contract series. 8 competitors enter an elimination tournament where the winner is awarded a two year, six figure deal with a (as yet unspecified) major promoter.
This is a mouthwatering prospect for boxers just at the periphery of greatness, some coming up, others looking not to fall the list of names that have thrown their hat into the ring is impressive. After two rounds we have Lee Wood, Jazza Dickens, Tyrone Mcullough and Ryan Walsh in the featherweight semi finals alongside Tyrone McKenna, Ohara Davies,Jeff Ofori and Mohamed Mimoune in the Junior welterweight semis. The tournament thus far has been a roaring success with some great fights and great KO’a all aired free, so now we move to the Light Heavyweights.
Having just finished watching the draw, a format of choosing opponents I have to say is really exciting and gives a real psychological edge to the normally mundane task of matching them up,
I will give my instant reaction to the fights and try to predict the outcomes…
Tommy Philbin v Serge Michel
The fighter to pick a blue ball with a number 1 and therefore his opponent was Edinburgh native Tommy Philbin. At 13-0 Philbin is relatively inexperienced but definitely on a skyward trajectory coming into the competition as one of a handful of undefeated fighters in the competition. He is a good prospect but his wins are only really over Journeymen and we have not yet seen I’m unleash his potential in the ring.His opponent is the 9-1 Serge Micheal who like Philbin is somewhat lacking in the experience department. He was stopped in his only loss however by Ryan Ford, the tough Canadian who was controversially stopped by Joshua Buatsi in his last outing.
Prediction: I although I have not watched the two boxers as much as I would have liked I lean toward Philbin for three reasons; his unbeaten streak, familiarity with MTK cards and the fact he picked first and he picked Micheal, meaning he must sincerely believe he has an advantage. My final prediction: Philbin by unanimous decision.
Steven Ward vs Ricards Bolotniks
Next up is Carl Frampton’s in camp housemate “The Quiet Man” big Stevie Ward. The 6”2 northern Irishman despite picking a blue ball didn’t opt to run back his fight of the year contender against Liam Conroy instead opting for the tough Latvian, Ricards Bolotniks. Ward is one of the top seeds going into this tournament having beaten Conroy, because of his training set up with Jamie moore and Nigel Travis and having been asked to spar world Champion Aurtur Beterbiev. Bolotniks on the other hand has a more up and down record, 15-5-1, Bolotniks is experienced but all of the best fighters he has faced have beaten him and often fairly comprehensively, he is still however highly ranked and would be a good name for Ward to add to his resume.
Prediction; This is the least competitive fight in my opinion. Bolotniks for all his experience will have little to offer the slick and rangy Ward. Wards pedigree and size will be the difference for me. My final prediction is Ward by KO round 8.
Liam Conroy v Andre Sterling
This is the fight of the night without a doubt. The Pride of Barrow in Furness Liam Conroy has rapidly become, in two losing efforts, one of my favourite fighters. Where most people curl up and succumb to the formidable powers of Joshua Buatsi Conroy did the opposite went out throwing bombs. He did the same against Stephen Ward throwing bombs and dropping Ward hard before coming up on the wrong side of a technical decision. The heart of a fighter is well and truly beating inside of Conroy. Andre sterling too is coming a valiant losing performance against the highly touted Craig ‘the spider’ Richards. Knocked down twice sterling fought a phenomenal fight which at its conclusion I scored a draw. Despite losing their biggest respective fights I believe sincerely that these two are dark horses and whoever wins could well see themselves in the final of this tournament.
Prediction: I believe Sterling to be the more talented boxer of the two but Conroy is the harder puncher and by far the less predictable. I think the volume and cruel intent in Conroy’s punches will lead him to a 6th round KO victory. I wouldn’t be at all surprised however if the results are totally reversed and sterling gets the KO.
Bob Ajisafe vs. Hosea Burton
This is the fight I believe will be the main event at the Brentwood Center as the two most experienced competitors go head to head. Former Bellew foe Ajisafe is looking to revitalize his career. At 34 years old and with three losses on his record this is really last chance saloon for the former British and Commonwealth champion. He will be a big underdog on the night however as the man in the opposite corner is my, and most others, pick to win the whole tournament. The Slick Hosea Burton trains out of Gallaghers gym and is the cousin of lineal heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. Combine this with his 6”4 height and his 24-1 record he is undoubtedly the favourite to win.
Prediction: I think this one will be at a higher level but with less fireworks than some of the other fights on the card. Burton works at distance and has a patient and refined long range game. I predict he will come away with a Unanimous decision victory over the ever durable Ajisafe
Ewan Breeze for SimBoxx 🥊
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