The first Prizefighter tournament of 2011 sees the light-heavyweights take over Olympia in London on Saturday January 29 – with Sky Sports showing it in 3D for the first time.
The 16th edition of Matchroom Sport’s eight-man one-night tournament breaks new ground again as just the second boxing show to be broadcast in 3D – with some of Britain’s hottest light-heavyweights enter the Kensington venue in the second outing for the division in the format.
Four young unbeaten fighters are aiming to grab their big chance to leap to the top of the queue for title shots in the division. 22 year-old Travis Dickinson – younger brother of Cruiserweights II winner Jon-Lewis – has three knockouts under his belt from his seven wins so far, with his first victory coming against Super-Middleweights champ Patrick Mendy when the pair made their debuts back in March 2009.
Former Wales amateur captain Llewellyn Davies has five wins to his name with three KOs, 26 year-old Kent fighter Menay Edwards has four wins from his first four fights with one knockout and popular Romford man Billy Slate in undefeated after his opening two fights as he kicks off his career at 28.
Former British super-middleweight champion Tony Dodson returns to the fray on the back of two high-profile tilts at retaining the title in Liverpool against local rivals Paul Smith and Tony Quigley. St. Albans boxer Joe Smyth will be aiming to build on a 7-1 record and is joined by Surrey fighter Michael Banbula, the Pole who enters in the best run of form in his 40 fight career, currently unbeaten in his last five fights including a win over previous Light-Heavyweights champ Tony Oakey and a draw against Tony Jeffries that halted the Sunderland Olympic bronze medallists winning streak. The final fighter in the line-up will be announced soon.
The Light-Heavyweights II follows Gary Buckland’s shock victory in the Super-Featherweights in November in arguably the finest night of the series to date after the Welshman stunned British champion Gary Sykes with a semi-final knockout before lifting the trophy with a second KO against Derry Mathews.
“After the last cracking Prizefighter, we’re excited to kick-start the year with the light-heavyweights division,” said Matchroom Sport’s managing director Eddie Hearn. “As always, there’s an interesting mix of hungry fighters looking to use the series to catapult them to a title shot as we’ve seen so many times before.
“We’re also delighted that this will be the first ever Prizefighter event to be broadcast in 3D – which will literally add another dimension to another thrilling night of action.”
It’s the second time the event has graced Olympia, after Gavin Rees’ claimed victory in the Prizefighter Light-Welterweights in December 2009 – a triumph that propelled the Welshman to fight for the British lightweight belt he claimed in November with victory over John Watson.
Tickets for the Prizefighter Light-Heavyweights II are on sale now, with tickets starting at £20 and £30, ringside tickets at £40 and £50, and VIP packages at £120 – call Matchroom Sport on 01277 359900.
Prizefighter stages its first offering of the New Year with the light-heavyweights getting their chance to shine in front of the Sky Sports cameras at London’s Olympia on Saturday night.
This is perhaps the weakest field I have witnessed for a Prizefighter event with 30 year old Tony Dodson the standout fighter, but it is a competitive gathering nonetheless and when you place that life changing £32,000 in front of eight evenly matched, hungry men – sparks will fly. You could throw a tea towel over a large portion of these competitors in the betting ring, making life difficult for punters hoping to eek out some value, but if Barry Hearn’s revolutionary take on the noble art has taught us anything in the past, it is that this format guarantees at least a handful of shock results and big priced winners.
Kent’s Jack Morris opens the evening against Billy Slate in the first of the quarter-final match ups fought out over three, three minute rounds. Romford boy Slate will bring a large crowd with him to the London venue but the 29 year old concedes valuable experience to his opponent. Morris has had 4 fights more, has been in the game 2 years longer and has contested 18 rounds more than Slate and that previous should see him through. Neither man has been overly active of late, Slate last boxed Dec 09 and Morris Nov 09, so there should be plenty of ring rust on show, with mistakes likely to play a part. It will come down to who really wants to re-launch their career and who is here just to pick up the appearance fee. Morris lost his first fight but is on a 5 bout winning run and is worth the benefit of the doubt at 9/10 (Victor Chandler).
Next up and Travis Dickinson battles Llewellyn Davies for the chance to meet the winner of Morris/Slate in semi-final number 1. Travis’ older brother, Jon-Lewis, has already scooped Prizefighter success and the younger of the fighting siblings has been priced up as favourite in many firm’s books to claim the trophy. A well decorated amateur, the 22 year old from County Durham earned two junior ABA titles, a four nations title and bettered George Groves on two occasions in the unpaid ranks, stopping him once. He faces tricky southpaw Davies in his first test, a man ranked 25th in the UK, but should have the tools in his bag to get his name in the hat for the next round. Dickinson is the naturally heavier man and will use his strength to progress at 8/11 with Bodog.
The second half of the draw offers up a real cracker in Tony Dodson v Michael Banbula. Dodson is the 30 year old veteran on the cusp of retirement, throwing his hat into the ring in the hope of one last major pay day. Banbula is a little bit different, not just from Dodson, but from any fighter I have seen before. No more than a journeyman, the Polish born scrapper based in Staines had a record of just 7 wins against 25 defeats and 3 draws but since losing to Craig Denton in November 2009, the 5ft 11inch orthodox has embarked on an incredible 5 fight undefeated run, scalping Tony Oakey and forcing a draw against Tony Jeffries before going on to outpoint JJ Ojuederie to claim a Southern Area gong. Stories like this were made for Prizefighter and the in form battler will have the vast majority of neutrals on his side. Unfortunately he meets former British champion Dodson at the first time of asking and I expect the Warrior to go through. When I saw Banbula beat Oakey last year I thought he was made for a Prizefighter success but Dodson still has plenty to offer and can be backed at 4/9 (Coral). I am going against my first thought but hopefully it will prove to be the correct decision.
Lastly we have Joe Smyth v Menay Edwards in a real pick’em affair. Neither have boxed since the summer of last year and I am not expecting this to be the best fight of the night. 26 year old Menay Edwards is ranked as high as 12th in the UK rankings and although he is not favourite for this one, I expect him to turn the bookies over. The Emperor is undefeated in 4 starts and will fancy himself to eliminate a man who sits 12 places below him in the rankings and already has a loss on his record. There should be very little between the two but Edwards’ willingness to protect that untarnished record means he merits a punt at 2/1 (Sportingbet). This one won’t be pretty but every accumulator needs a big priced selection.
Moving on to the outright market and two men have been given the curse of the bookies favourite. Audley Harrison did it, as did Gavin Rees, but very few who started as jolly for outright success have gone on to claim the grand prize. Prizefighter is famous for throwing up some memorable fights with some surprising results and I think we will see a few more before the end of this competition.
Tony Dodson and Travis Dickinson head the field and have been placed in different halves of the draw, so a meeting in the final is a real possibility and can be backed at 4/1 with Sportingbet. Dodson faces what could prove to be a banana skin fight in his first outing and how much Banbula takes out of him will be a major factor in how far he goes. He is a real hard man though and his fitness has never been in question. He lost his last two outings against Paul Smith and Tony Quigley, both for British titles, so will be desperate to show he can still cut it at the top table of the sport. He has the style and intelligence to get through but is a brawler and could pick up a cut at any moment. Despite that, I wouldn’t put anyone off his outright price of 7/2 (bet365).
Critics of the Prizefighter series say the format suits talented amateurs and has very little in common with professional boxing, and they have a point. A long, fast jab and energetic style will win 10 out of 10 Prizefighter competitions and I think Travis Dickinson has the ability to at least book his spot in the final. He has suffered a lot from niggling injuries and setbacks during his career but this competition gives him a stage to jump head first into big time boxing and become an overnight success. He can hit, move, battle and bang and I struggle to see him not being a success here. He knows from watching and training with his brother what it takes to bank the money and his 7/2 (Sportingbet) tag looks worthwhile. More cautious punters can back the 6/4 (Boylesports) about him reaching the final.
0.25pts Lucky 15 on – Morris, Dickinson, Dodson, Edwards
2pts on Dickinson to reach the final
1pt on Dodson to win Prizefighter.
Written By Frank Monkhouse
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