Published on 10 Feb 2021 3:30 am (UK Time)
Fight fans in the UK will be treated to a bumper boxing bonanza this weekend with an action packed bill coming from the O2 Arena in London that includes three world title fights.
The main event will feature IBF Welterweight champion Kell Brook (34-0, 23 KOs) defending his title against fellow Briton; Frankie Gavin (22-1, 13KOs).
As an opponent Gavin brings both a solid amateur and professional pedigree to the ring. Gavin was the England’s first Amateur world champion at Lightweight in 2007. He was expected to box in the 2008 Olympics but his failure to make weight for the Lightweight division forced his withdrawal. Since turning professional he has held the Commonwealth Welterweight title, and his only defeat came in a challenge for the European title against Leonard Bundu.
Gavin faces a completely different challenge in Kell Brook. In reality the Sheffield fighter is biding his time before he gets the opportunity to face the other title holders in the Welterweight division. Gavin is a solid professional but he is not on the same level as Brook. Expect Brook to win by stoppage in the early rounds.
The remaining world title fights on the bill include Kevin Mitchell’s (39-2, 29 KOs) tilt at WBC Lightweight champion; Jorge Linares (38-3 25 KOs) crown, and the clash between Lee Selby (20-1, 8 KOs) and Evgeny Gradovich (19-0-1, 9 KOs) for the IBF Featherweight title.
The fight against Linares will be Mitchell’s third bid to win a world title. His previous attempts resulted in early knockouts at the hands of Michael Katsidis and Ricky Burns. They remain the only blemishes on his record. Linares is a world champion in three weight divisions; he also has an impressive knockout record against sturdy opposition.
The feeling about Mitchell is that he seemed to be unable to deal with the pressure of the occasion during his previous world title fights. He has attributed his previous shortcomings in title fights to his partying between fights and insists that he is reformed. Despite this admission it will still be a monumental task for Mitchell to overcome the hard punching Linares. It may be the case that he comes up short again against a seasoned and dangerous fighter.
In contrast, Welshman Lee Selby’s fight against Russian Evgeny Gradovich seems a much closer affair on paper. Both fighters enter the ring with similar records. Gradovich upset Australian Billy Dib to win the IBF title in 2013 and then won the rematch by knockout later that year. For Selby this will be a definite step up in class. The Russian has made four title defences to date, although his last fight against Jayson Velez ended in a draw.
That fight demonstrated that a strong jab, lateral movement and sheer volume of punches form the blue print to defeat Gradovich. Selby’s height, reach and technical ability may just be enough to wrestle the title from the Russian.
Fans will also be treated to a full undercard; Anthony Joshua (12-0, 12 KOs) will take on American Kevin Johnson (29-6, 14KOs) as he seeks to build his reputation as a legitimate heavyweight contender. Johnson is a significant choice of opponent for Joshua, the American has gone the distance with Vitali Kiltschko, Tyson Fury and Derek Chisora.
This is an important fight for Joshua in his development as a fighter; Johnson has the defensive ability to take him the full ten rounds here which is exactly what the young heavyweight needs. Joshua may be seeking to add a knockout to his impressive record but it may be more important to get the rounds and experience under his belt. Expect Joshua to win on points by a wide margin.
Also on the undercard is the clash between Dave Ryan and John Wayne Hibbert for the Commonwealth Light welterweight title, Scott Cardle and Craig Evans for the vacant British Lightweight title and John Ryder and Nick Blackwell square off for the vacant British Middleweight title.