Sky Sports, BOXXER and Wasserman Boxing kick off the British boxing schedule in 2022 with an entertaining fight card at Cardiff’s Motorpoint Arena this Saturday night, topped by Chris Eubank Jr and Liam Williams. The show marks the start of a strong Sky/BOXXER line-up for February, following with Amir Khan v Kell Brook in Manchester and Josh Taylor v Josh Catterall in the two weeks later. Saturday’s main event has been eagerly anticipated for several months now, suffering multiple postponements due to a shoulder injury to Williams and then changes in Welsh COVID restrictions as we entered the new year. There can be little doubting the approach of both men who are eager to secure a second shot at world honours after coming up short the first time around.
Finally, Chris Eubank Jr. and Liam Williams will come head-to-head in what will surely prove an early contender for Fight of the Year after suffering from two postponements since the fight was originally announced late last year. A shoulder injury to Williams initially pushed the fight back before COVID regulations introduced by the Welsh Government forced a further delay of seven days. Credit should first be afforded to the two fighters, BOXXER, Wasserman Boxing and Sky Sports for coming together to make a fight which is destined to prove an entertaining watch for all.
The man whose hand is raised at the end of the night will be left in a very strong position on the Middleweight scene, particularly given the current landscape where it’s possible that three of the four current champions could potentially move up to 168lbs as they chase a fight with boxing’s cash cow in Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. WBC champ Jermall Charlo has reportedly been offered to the Mexican by Al Haymon’s PBC, whereas Eddie Hearn has proposed a trilogy bout with the experienced Kazakh Gennadiy Golovkin who holds the IBF strap. The WBO’s champion Demetrius Andrade meanwhile appears to be considering a move up in weight of his own after seemingly outgrowing 160lbs and in seek of a career-defining fight. Given Eubank’s strong position with the WBA, where he is currently ranked at number one, and the fact that at least one of the three other belts could soon become vacant, the winner could soon find themselves thrust within touching distance of a second shot at world honours after both lost in their first attempt. Eubank was outpointed by fellow countryman George Groves in 2018 as part of the World Boxing Super Series tournament at Super-Middleweight respectively, while Williams also came up short on the cards against Providence’s champion Andrade in April of last year.
There’s lots of incentive therefore for both men heading into Saturday night, with Williams revealing to Sky Sports this week that he has found it easier to motivate himself for the upcoming clash with Eubank Jr than he did for his shot at WBO champion Demetrius Andrade last year.
Saturday’s main event will prove Eubank Jr’s third fight under the legendary Roy Jones Jr, after outpointing Marcus Morrison of May 2021 before retiring Wanik Awdijan between the fifth and sixth rounds in October. The approach taken by the Brighton man has provoked some criticism from those inside the boxing fraternity, with many questioning the compatibility with trainer Jones Jr, claiming his attempts to employ a style on Chris that he simply is uncapable of pulling off and that he is forcing a square peg into a round hole. Eubank Jr has long been associated with his innate toughness, one of the few things he shares with his opponent on Saturday night, and his high-volume output despite his sometimes limited technical ability.
The fight this weekend will be the first for Williams under new trainer Booth since leaving the Ingle Gym following his defeat to Andrade, and the Welshman should be praised for jumping straight into a big domestic fight after defeat and also linking up with a new voice in the corner.
The two have engaged in lots of back-and-forth dating far beyond the first announcement of a fight which will surely prove to be a brilliant spectacle for all who set eyes on it. Eubank Jr perhaps enters the ring a slight favourite on the night, arguably holding the best win out of the two following his dismantling of an albeit severely depleted James Degale in 2019, and both desperately need a victory if they are to secure another attempt at a world title this year.
Wales’ unbeaten Featherweight prospect Rhys Edwards (11-0) will face Russia’s Ruslan Berchuk (13-13) over eight rounds as he seeks to maintain his unbeaten record and continue to climb the domestic ranks at 126lbs. Cousin of Chris, Harlem Eubank (12-0), also features on the card, his opponent still to be confirmed at the time of writing. The so far undefeated super-lightweight will seek to uphold his unblemished record as he gears towards domestic title shots over the next twelve months. Sharing a trainer with his cousin’s opponent in the main event, with Williams having recently teamed up with Adam Booth heading into this fight, Harlem told Sky Sports this week how he avoided sharing any time with the gym’s latest acquisition during camp due to his family ties with Chris.
Tyneside Heavyweight Steve Robinson (4-0) will make his fifth professional appearance on Saturday as he continues to climb the domestic ranks in the sport’s premier division. Shane Gill (0-1) will stand in the opposing corner.
The Heavyweight theme continues with Sweden’s Otto Wallin (22-1), who previously went twelve rounds with WBC Heavyweight king Tyson Fury back in 2019 and will make his UK debut this Saturday against the tough veteran Kamil Sokolowski (11-24-2). Wallin was slated to face-off against Brixton’s Dillian Whyte last October before Whyte pulled out due to a shoulder injury, a fight which, in the event of victory, would have provided Wallin a direct route for a rematch against old foe Fury. Since then, Wallin has disposed of Travis Kauffmann inside five rounds and notably Dominic Breazeale whom he comfortably outpointed over twelve rounds via unanimous decision. Sokolowski has provided numerous of timely reminders that he is not the pushover his record may suggest he is, with many feeling he beat David Adeleye last year despite the Briton’s hand being raised at the end, and the Pole also comfortably overcame prospect George Fox in an eight-round bout. Nevertheless, Wallin should be expected to run out a comfortable winner, especially if he has any chance of dining at the top table in the sport’s premier division again.
Caroline Dubois will finally make her much anticipated professional debut on Saturday against Vaida Masiokaite (2-14-4), originally planning to do so on the undercard of Riakporhe v Durodola back in November last year. The Dubois name is already well-established on these shores, her older brother Daniel having already won the British title up at Heavyweight and appears to be lining up a route towards world honours with the WBA. Caroline enjoyed considerable success as an amateur, winning the European Youths, World Youths and gold at the Youth Olympics in 2018 before appearing on the big stage at Tokyo 2020 last Summer. Despite coming up short at the quarter-final stage, the twenty-one-year-old will be hoping Saturday will mark her first step towards making her name in the professional ranks.
English Welterweight champion Samuel Antwi (13-1) will seek to make his first successful defence this weekend in Cardiff against Wolverhampton’s Conah Walker (10-0-1). Antwi picked up the vacant belt as victor against Darren Tetley in February of last year, bagging a technical knockout in the sixth round. The Stockwell-born welterweight suffered his only defeat out in Harare, Zimbabwe back in 2018, succumbing to a second round TKO against the then undefeated Emmany Kalombo, and has since won six on the bounce. The only blemish on Walker’s resume meanwhile is a 2019 draw against Ohio Kain Iremiren in Dudley and he will be hoping to secure his biggest win to date in adding the English to the Midlands area title he secured in May of last year.
Since losing his British Welterweight title to Ekow Essuman in July of last year, Chris Jenkins (22-4-3) returns in a tough match-up against former Super-Lightweight champion of the world Julius Indongo (23-4). While Indongo is hardly the fighter that faced off against Terence Crawford back in 2017, losing three of his four fights since then, the bout still marks a considerable step-up in class for Jenkins who up until this point has operated at domestic level. The match-up could prove a masterpiece in matchmaking in favour of the Welshman against the faded Indongo, allowing an immediate opportunity to throw himself back into the mix at 147lbs with victory on Saturday night. Timing could well be of the essence for Jenkins who hasn’t had much luck of late, missing out on a big payday against the in-form Conor Benn eighteen months ago due to typical boxing politics and you will find few who will not be happy to see the Welshman secure victory this weekend.
THE CHIEF SUPPORT:
Arguably the number one pound-for-pound female fighter in the sport makes her UK professional debut this weekend in the chief support of the evening. Claressa Shields (11-0) seeks to defend her WBC, WBA and IBF Middleweight titles against Slovenia’s Ema Kozin (21-0-1) before hopefully teeing up a mega clash against old adversary Savannah Marshall. The Briton is the only fighter to ever defeat Shields both amateur and pro following her victory back in 2012 and holds the other belt party to the Middleweight World Championship in the WBO strap. Both fighters have engaged in regular back-and-forth on social media and in interviews and are now both signed to BOXXER and Sky Sports in the UK, making a clash in the professional ranks closer than ever before providing both emerge victorious in their next fights. Marshall is slated to face Femke Hermans atop of a Newcastle show in March, a fight Shields will hope to be ringside for providing she plays her part with a win over Kozin on Saturday night.
The Slovenian harbours plans of her own however and will be looking to tear up the script this weekend as she seeks a shot at the undisputed title herself, and so Shields must remain on-guard if the Marshall fight is to come off. It is a fight the sport is desperate to witness and would continue the highly encouraging outlook of those in the female code in unifying the belts and securing the big fights that fans want to see, a lesson that the men could perhaps seek to learn from themselves, but that is a discussion for another day.