Manchester’s AO Arena will play host to a huge heavyweight showdown between Britain’s Joe Joyce (14-0-0, 13KOs) and New Zealand’s Joseph Parker (30-2-0, 21KOs) in a true 50-50 affair on Saturday evening.
The build-up has seen an entertaining but competitive tone, with enough tension existing between the two camps to ensure the affair will be anything but dull as the two come together on Saturday night. Joyce, who deserves enormous credit for taking the fight given his comfortable position at number one in the rankings, takes on his toughest test yet against the former heavyweight world champion who has already shared a ring with the likes of Anthony Joshua, Dillian Whyte, Dereck Chisora and Andy Ruiz Jr. respectively.
Nevertheless, discussions throughout fight week suggest it is the thirty-seven-year-old Joyce who heads into the contest a very narrow favourite, seemingly his robust chin and persistent, aggressive style leading to many favouring the Rio 2016 silver medalist down the stretch. Parker is no stranger to the big fights though as eluded to earlier, and trainer Andy Lee has spoke about the potential of Saturday being an ‘easy night’s work’ for his man if all things go to plan for the thirty-year-old. The better footwork, hand-speed and possibly punching power surely lie with the away fighter who heads to Manchester off the back of two back-to-back victories over the aforementioned Chisora, the second of which saw the New Zealander dominate at the same venue he will trade blows with Joyce this weekend.
The confidence of both men has been clear to see throughout fight week and, regardless of the outcome, the partnership between rival promotional entities in Queensberry and BOXXER, the latter of whom promote Parker, is a refreshing and positive sign for the sport moving forward.
The pair engaged in a final face-off on Friday at the Hilton Hotel in Deansgate, with ‘The Juggernaut’ Joyce coming in at 271.4lbs compared to Parker’s 255lbs as both men look to secure a victory which could prove instrumental in how the remainder of their respective career’s play out. It is also important to note that a rematch clause is in place to ensure a second fight between the pair in the event of a Parker victory this weekend.
Amanda Serrano (42-2-1, 30KOs) bids to become the undisputed featherweight champion of the world against IBF titleholder Sarah Mahfoud (11-0-0, 3KOs) of Denmark in the chief support as she looks to cement her legacy as one of the greatest pound-for-pound fighters the sport has seen. Despite her narrow loss to Katie Taylor in April, Serrano remains one of the standout female competitors on the planet and has already picked up titles in seven separate weight divisions. Mahfoud does bring an undefeated record to the table however and picked up the IBF strap in April with a unanimous decision in Copenhagen.
Anthony Cacace (19-1-0, 7KOs) also steps-up against unbeaten Italian Michael Magnesi (21-0-0, 13KOs) at 130lbs for the lesser IBO title, while Ekow Essuman (17-0-0, 7KOs) looks to make the third defence of his British and Commonwealth welterweight titles versus a driven challenger in Samuel Antwi (14-1-0, 6KOs). An intriguing domestic middleweight scrap is also slated for the AO Arena between Stoke’s popular Nathan Heaney (15-0-0, 6KOs) and Bolton’s Jack Flatley (19-2-1, 4KOs), a contest that will no doubt draw a lot of attention from a large portion of the crowd on the night.
Newly-crowned British and Commonwealth champion Mark Heffron (28-2-1, 22KOs) runs out two months on from his big night against Lennox Clarke, this time facing Argentina’s Martin Ezequiel Bulacio (10-6-0, 7KOs) over eight rounds. Featherweight Raven Chapman (3-0-0, 2KOs) makes her fourth professional appearance against Jorgelina Guanini (10-4-2, 1KO), while Amaar Akbar (3-0-0) takes on Karlo Wallace (0-2-0) at super-lightweight. Liverpool’s James Heneghan (7-0-0) collides with Rod Douglas Jnr (3-4-0) at middleweight, while Callum Thompson (4-0-0, 1KO) faces-off against Delmar Thomas (5-2-0, 2KOs) at 135lbs. Cruiserweight prospect Tommy Fletcher (1-0-0, 1KO) makes his second appearance over four rounds versus Toni Visic (20-34-2, 5KOs).
Frank Warren‘s Queensberry Promotions promote the card which will be broadcast live on BT Sport Box Office.