The Friday Faceup

Promo courtesy of BOXXER et al.

With the ongoing ‘tennis match’ between heavyweight world sanctioning belt holders Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk, the avoidance of a world welterweight unification between USA’s Terence Crawford and Errol Spence and, adverse opinions on welterweight Conor Benn’s frank interview on British TV this week, you could be forgiven for thinking the sport has become irrelevant, or in a perennial, incurable decline.

There is though hope tomorrow night in Paris, France as we focus on the big BOXXER/All Star Boxing promotion to be shown live on Sky Sports in the UK and Canal+ in France.

Headlining is the British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight champion Dan Azeez (18-0, 12 KO’s) facing Frenchman Thomas Faure (21-4-1, 2 KO’s) for the vacant European crown. Azeez from Croydon, England, threatens challenging for world titles and is now The Ring #10.

A throwback in attitude and appearance to the late, great Marvelous Marvin Hagler. Not folically challenged, but Azeez is working up the hard way from small hall shows to winning progressive titles, and even wearing a copy of his hero’s claret shorts. He should have too much quality for the Frenchman who is workmanlike but not a concussive puncher.

Azeez has recently been training in Florida under the tutelage of former elite welterweight/junior-middleweight James ‘Buddy’ McGirt and this should tell over the contest.

The light-heavyweight division is arguably the hottest in the UK and a number of fighters have either contested or are on the cusp of world honours. Azeez among them.

The co-main event features an all-French affair between 2016 Olympic super-heavyweight champion Tony Yoka (11-1, 9 KO’s) against perennial contender Carlos Takam (39-7-1, 28 KO’s).

Yoka controversially declared the victor over Joe Joyce in the Rio Olympic final is now trying to bounce back from a first defeat as a professional to Martin Bakole last year. He needs to get back into winning ways and a Joyce rematch is a natural meeting of top heavyweight prospects further down the line.

Yoka is only 30 years old compared to Takam’s 42, and although it will be interesting if Yoka tries to stop his foe, he should prevail over the distance. Takam has mixed in good company in the splintered heavyweight division; is very durable, but age and ambition should be the telling factors here.

The card also features Team GB 2020 Olympic gold medallist Lauren Price (2-0, 2 KO’s) who faces German Naomi Mannes (6-1, 4 KO’s). Price, from Wales and a welterweight, is facing a step up in opposition with a former European title challenger, but should be too classy and win convincingly.

British middleweight Macauley McGowan (17-3-1, 3 KO’s) also faces undefeated French prospect Farrhad ‘The Professor’ Saad (8-0-1) on the card.

It should be a good night’s viewing all round. Enjoy.

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