Unbeaten Welsh fighter Jeff Evans has replaced Tony Quigley in the line-up for Prizefighter Super-Middleweights on June 30 at York Hall, Bethnal Green.
Mystery surrounds Quigley’s decision to pull out, with the official reason of a foot injury clouded by rumours of a domestic dispute – but 27 year-old Evans is delighted to have been called up to the 13th edition of Barry Hearn’s eight-man, one night tournament, live on Sky Sports.
The Pontypool-based boxer came close to grabbing the final spot on the night by winning the first ever Prizefighter public vote, only to lose out to Londoner Tony Salam. But now the hot prospect with three wins from three fights has been granted a second chance and is determined to grab it with both hands.
“You don’t miss an opportunity like this – I’m absolutely ecstatic,” said Evans. “I was told that I had received a lot of votes which made me proud as you wouldn’t expect me to get that many after just three fights.
“But I’m from a big community and I know they have backed me and I want to do if for them to thank them. The word has only been out for a day now and I’ve already had lots of people wanting to come to London to support me and I can’t wait.”
Working as a welder and fabricator by day, Evans admitted he has thought about what victory and the £32,000 winner’s cheque could do to his fledgling career, and the effect on his profile in his home country which already has a Prizefighter winner in Gavin Rees.
“Getting seen performing in front of big crowds and becoming a big name in Wales is what it’s all about for me,” said Evans. “Winning Prizefighter could take me to places I didn’t expect. I’ve always wanted to give boxing more of my time and this could open so many doors. I’m a family man and I have a mortgage just like everyone else so I can’t just focus on the boxing, but winning Prizefighter would give me that chance.
“I’m not really that bothered that it’s short notice, I’m in good shape and I’ve got two weeks to get up to my peak and I’m confident that I have the tools to do the job. I have power there so I need to work my opponent from the off and get that working but I’ve got no doubts in my ability.”
Evans is embarking on his career under the tutelage of Gary Lockett, the former world title challenger and the man who also trains Prizefighter light-welterweight winner Gavin Rees and super-bantamweight semi-final winner Ricky Owen who had to withdraw from the final due to a cut in the last show in May.
“I’m a quick learner, and since turning pro – or semi-pro in my eyes – I am learning with every day, and Gary is key to that,” said Evans. “Experience is a so important in the sport and Gary is perfect to teach me. I sparred with him on Wednesday and was great, he was a great fighter and he’s still in good shape and you cannot get better than sparring with someone who’s seen it and done it.”
Lockett was in the corner for Owen’s bruising quarter-final encounter with Gavin Reid in May before withdrawing the fighter with a cut ahead of the final, and having seen just how demanding the night is on a fighter, Evans may have the perfect guide to lift the trophy on the night.
“You have to take it round by round as anything can happen, less than half the favourites have won which shows that,” said Lockett. “Ricky looked brilliant against Reid but then he got dropped in the second round because he didn’t stick to the game plan, and it ended up being so much of a war that he didn’t have anything left for the semi and the final. I think that by pulling him out of the final I was preserving his career really because there was just nothing left in him.
“Jeff has been sparring with the likes of Nathan Cleverly and Bradley Pryce regularly and he does pretty well against them,” said Lockett. “He’s a strong and tough kid – he needs to develop his skills but he’s got heart and power, he’s a hard worker and intelligent too.
“I’m a little bit sore around the ribs today after sparring – I’m going to be taking more money out of his purse this time for all that! But joking aside, he’s a good boy who wants to learn and he likes to hear the stories of the good nights I had and with a bit of luck he’ll have a good night himself on the 30th.”
Joining Evans and Salam on the night is Dudley’s Sam Horton fresh from his title fight with James DeGale, former British Masters champion Eddie McIntosh, Northampton’s Paul David, Waltham Abbey’s Daniel Cadman, Peter Fedorenko from Sheffield and 19 year-old Patrick Mendy, the youngest ever boxer in Prizefighter.
Tickets for Prizefighter Super Middleweights are available now at £35 (unreserved), £60 (ringside) and £100 (VIP) – call Matchroom Sport on 01277 359900.
Home town: Stoke Newington
Professional record: Won 9 (5 by KO), Lost 1, Drawn 0. Total 10 fights.
Achievement: BBBofC Southern Area super middleweight champion
Home town: Pontypool, Wales
Professional record: Won 3 (0 by KO), Lost 0, Drawn 0. Total 3 fights.
Achievement: Undefeated in 3 fights
Home town: Maidenhead
Professional record: Won 5 (0 by KO), Lost 4, Drawn 0. Total 9 fights.
Achievement: Youngest ever Prizefighter contender
Home town: Birmingham
Professional record: Won 10 (2 by KO), Lost 1, Drawn 0. Total 11 fights.
Achievement: Former British Masters champion
Home town: Northampton
Professional record: Won 10 (4 by KO), Lost 4, Drawn 0. Total 14 fights.
Achievement: BBBofC Midlands Area super middleweight Champion
Home town: Sheffield
Professional record: Won 5 (3 by KO), Lost 2, Drawn 0. Total 7 fights.
Achievement: Three wins inside the distance
Home town: Waltham Abbey, Essex
Professional record: Won 11 (3 by KO), Lost 4, Drawn 0. Total 15 fights
Achievement: Former amateur champion
Home town: Woolwich
Professional record: Won 10 (1 by KO), Lost 4, Drawn 0. Total 14 fights
Achievement: Has won his last six fights – three of them at York Hall
Home town: Plymouth
Professional record: Won 5 (4 by KO), Lost 5, Drawn 1. Total 11 fights
Achievement: Defeated Eddie McIntosh in March
Tickets cost £35, £60 and £100 and available from 01277 359900.