MTK Hits Merseyside

Since its inception in 2012 MTK Global has grown from Matthew Macklin’s gym brand to the world’s premier boxing management company. They represent numerous boxing superstars including Tyson Fury, Carl Frampton, Billy Joe Saunders, Liam Smith, and Micheal Conlan as well as UFC star Darren Till. With their roster of over 200 professional boxers, they have risen to be one of the most powerful entities of our sport and having conquered management they have started to go into promotion. They have found a gap in the market and used their considerable influence to exploit it for all its worth. The small hall show has been a staple of British boxing for decades but in the mass media age, they had fallen somewhat by the wayside, leaving those competing for their in the wilderness hoping to be picked up by one of the sports mega promotional entities. MTK has moved in to change this. Through their athletes, they have fostered close ties to Top Rank, Matchroom and Queensbury promotions, three of the promotional monoliths that rule boxing and set up quasi feeder leagues to both supply them with new talent and keep their big names active while they wait for big fights. With their small hall shows and ‘Golden Contract’ Tournaments streamed on IFL/ESPN and Sky sports respectively they have become the third main promoter in British boxing.

This weekend is no different as the MTK circus brings some of their biggest names home to one of the most illustrious venues in British boxing. The Liverpool Olympia opened in 1905 only 39 years after the formalization of the Marquess of Queensbury rules we know for modern boxing. A concert hall where caged animals used to rise from beneath the stage and trapeze artists would swing from the rafters this iconic venue has provided a home for the proud pugilists of Liverpool since its resurrection in 1990 as the Olympia, the original name restored after decades of pseudonyms. Scouse legends Tony Bellew, Derry Matthews, David Price as well as Liverpool’s other fab four Paul, Stephen, Liam, and Callum Smith, have all boxed there in recent times. Now it is the turn of some more of the Merseyside fighting elite to take their turn to light up the West Derby Road.

Topping the bill, fresh from headlining at the mecca of boxing, Madison Square Garden is Rocky Fielding. ‘Rocky From Stocky’ will be looking to get back to winning ways after being stopped inside 3 rounds by the new WBO Light Heavyweight champion Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. There is no shame in losing to a pound for pound superstar like Canelo but I’m sure ‘Rocky From Stocky’ will be wanting to put the loss behind him with a huge comeback in Liverpool. His career before the Canelo fight had been exhilarating to watch, he was flying through the ranks beating the likes of Charles Adamu and Brian Vera to earn a 21-0 record and a shot at the vacant British Title against fellow Scouser Callum Smith. Although Tocky lost in a single, exhilarating, back and forth round, the success Callum has gone on to achieve shows once again there is no shame in this loss. Rocky bounced straight back winning the WBC International title in his next fight and then the vacant British title against now world title challenger John Ryder. This earned him a shot at the WBA (regular) World title. Thinking such opportunity would not come knocking again Rocky went out to Germany, to Tyron Zeuge’s home town and stopped him in 5 thrilling rounds. With this, he earned the Canelo fight, a career-high payday, and recognition worldwide. However, there’s nothing quite like home and despite his opponent being the relatively unknown Abdallah Paziwapazi Rocky will be looking to show he belongs at a better level than the 26-6-1 Tanzanian. My prediction, Rocky Feilding fourth-round Knockout.

Although St Helens is considered by many Lancashire its ‘L’ postcode and Merseyside political billing says otherwise. Nearly a homecoming then for veteran campaigner Martin Murray who takes on Sladan Janjanin in Fridays co-main event. Murray is one of boxing’s true characters and his 38-5-1 boxing record only shows a tiny fraction of his epic story. Two robberies in world title fights, one against Sturm, the other against Abraham, two epics with all-time greats in Gennady Golovkin and Sergio Martinez, four stints in prison one in Cyprus, Martin Murray can never be accused of being dull. He once said of his younger days “It was jail, dying or boxing and I chose boxing,” and what a choice it was. With a trusted trainer in the late Oliver Harrison by his side, he climbed the ladder and gave 100% against the very best in the sport. Now teetering on the precipice of retirement he has finally been given what he has always deserved, an extremely winnable fight in front of his devoted fanbase. Janjanin is 4-3 in his last 7 where Murray is 5-2 in his fights have been against world champions in Groves and world title challengers in Rosado and N’Dam, therefore my prediction is Murray by 8th round stoppage.

The rest of the card is stacked with talent, mostly they are like the headliners in confidence boosters. ‘Turbo’ Terry Flanagan, former world lightweight & super lightweight world champion, continues his rebuild looking for three straight victories after his back to back losses against the divisions elite, Hooker and Prograis. Natasha Jonas also looks to make it three in a row on Friday. She is ready to back up the top of the women’s lightweight division after her hock loss to Viviane Obenauf. A stand out amateur and an all-action pro, Tash is not one to miss this Friday. Although I expect both Flanagan and Jonas to win I think Friday will be a great measuring stick to see how much, at 30 and 35 these two great champions have left.

Finally we the fighting paramedic Ged Carroll looks to make it 12-0 as he takes on the former southern area champion the 9-1 Jeff Ofori. This one is a much more competitive bout than some of the others as both are around that domestic title level and both will be looking for a big win especially with the exposure this card will get on IFL and ESPN. If you haven’t watched a Ged Carroll fight yet then rectify your mistake immediately, he fights tooth and nail with his heart on his sleeve, never giving an inch. The super lightweight division is, in my opinion, Britain’s strongest division at the moment, and Liverpool’s strongest division too. Nationally we have Taylor, Davis Jr, Ritson, Flanagan, Catterall and Mckenna and from Liverpool the likes of Maxwell, Farrell, Dodd and if he were to win this, Ged Carroll. My prediction for this one is a unanimous decision victory for Carroll and if he comes through in style I would love to see him fight either veteran gatekeeper Lee Appleyard or MTK stand out Lewis Benson for some domestic accolades.

All in all, I think this is a fantastic card and the talent MTK have been able to club together on what is essentially a small hall show is frankly mind-boggling. I would have loved to be in attendance and I think those who have managed to snatch a ticket have spent their money wisely. It is my firm belief that the MTK model is the future of the small hall and I am totally on board.

Ewan Breeze – Rebel Boxing for SimBoxx🥊

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