THE GEN­ER­A­TION GAME

Ball, Bu­atsi and co. pre­pare for an­other show­case, writes Ge­orge Gigney

Boxing News - - News -

EAR­LIER this year, pro­moter Ed­die Hearn promised more of Match­room’s NXTGEN shows, in which some of the sta­ble’s bright­est prospects take cen­tre-stage.

Though they don’t typ­i­cally have the most com­pet­i­tive fights, the cards serve as a de­cent plat­form for up-and-com­ing tal­ent to be ex­posed to a wider au­di­ence, while also al­low­ing them to fur­ther their ap­pren­tice­ships as pro­fes­sion­als.

On Fri­day night (Septem­ber 1), the lat­est in the em­bry­onic ini­tia­tive rolls into Lon­don at York Hall, in Beth­nal Green. Three Olympians – light-heavy­weight Joshua Bu­atsi [be­low], cruis­er­weight Lawrence Okolie and su­per­feath­er­weight Joe Cor­dina – fea­ture on the show, which will be aired on Sky Sports Ac­tion and on the Sky Sports Face­book page.

Croy­don’s Bu­atsi, who won bronze in Rio last year, will bring plenty of sup­port with him as he faces Ar­gen­tinian Pablo Sosa over six rounds in what will be his sec­ond pro­fes­sional fight.

The 24-year-old de­buted at the O2 Arena in Green­wich in July, stop­ping Car­los Mena in two rounds.

An ex­cel­lent am­a­teur who wowed fans by pro­duc­ing two em­phatic stoppages at the Olympics, Bu­atsi is backed by An­thony Joshua’s man­age­ment group and plenty are ex­pect­ing him to achieve big things in the paid ranks.

An­other promis­ing light-heavy­weight, Jake Ball, fights Joe Sher­riff over 10 rounds in an English ti­tle elim­i­na­tor. The English strap is cur­rently held by Joel Mcin­tyre, who will de­fend it against Liam Con­roy next week.

Ball last fought in July, when he stopped Jamie Am­bler in four rounds, hav­ing also halted Olegs Fe­do­tovs

ear­lier in the year. Those vic­to­ries, while against lim­ited op­po­si­tion, served as bounce-back wins for Ball, who was beaten in­side a round by JJ Mcdon­agh

in Novem­ber.

South­paw Ball, who was also a top am­a­teur, wants a re­match with Mcdon­agh, but as things stand is head­ing in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion and is ex­pected to see off Sher­riff.

Wales’ Cor­dina, trained by Tony Sims, who has sev­eral other fight­ers on the bill, will meet Jamie Speight in the first six-rounder of his fledg­ling ca­reer. The 25-year-old de­buted back in April and has beaten Jose Aguilar, Sergej Vib and Josh Thorne all in­side the dis­tance since then.

Wel­ter­weight Conor Benn – son of Nigel, if you didn’t know – con­tin­ues his re­turn to form af­ter a lengthy spell out of the ring due to in­jury. The ex­cit­ing Es­sex man spent the first half of 2017 on the side­lines while he re­cov­ered, and stopped Mike Cole back in July.

With lit­tle am­a­teur ex­pe­ri­ence be­hind him, Benn is very much learn­ing on the job, but has steadily im­proved with each out­ing. He fights Birm­ing­ham’s Kane Baker over six ses­sions.

Okolie, who up­set the odds to qual­ify for Rio given his rel­a­tively short am­a­teur ca­reer – the Lon­doner only turned to box­ing when he saw An­thony Joshua win Olympic gold in 2012 – will have his fifth pro bout on this show.

He’s had a cou­ple of frus­trat­ing nights where he’s served as a float fight and not been given a chance to box on cer­tain cards, but he has not yet been taken past the first round by an op­po­nent. At the time of writ­ing he does not yet have an op­po­nent.

Newly crowned English su­per­wel­ter­weight cham­pion Ted Cheese­man

ap­pears on the bill, though it is not yet clear if he will be de­fend­ing his ti­tle, as his op­po­si­tion has not yet been con­firmed.

Back in July, Cheese­man stopped Matthew Ryan in three one-sided rounds to win his first pro­fes­sional ti­tle in what was his ninth paid fight.

Also on the bill are mid­dleweight Felix Cash, su­per-mid­dleweight Danny Dignum and mid­dleweight Wil­liam Web­ber, who makes his pro­fes­sional de­but.

‘BU­ATSI WAS AN EX­CEL­LENT AM­A­TEUR WHO WOWED FANS BY PRO­DUC­ING TWO EM­PHATIC STOPPAGES AT THE OLYMPICS’

Photo: AC­TION IMAGES/JOHN CLIFTON

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