Keates could be the danger man as Es­suman steps up to ti­tle level

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THE va­cant English wel­ter­weight ti­tle will be on the line when un­de­feated Ekow Es­suman, 8-0 (2), locks horns with the game and durable Andy Keates, 13-7-1 (1), at the Har­vey Had­den Sports Vil­lage in Not­ting­ham on Satur­day (Oc­to­ber 20).

Orig­i­nally from Botswana, now based in Not­ting­ham, Es­suman, 29, has dom­i­nated the usual or­der of Eastern Euro­pean jour­ney­men since turn­ing pro in De­cem­ber 2016 and it’s high time he was tested. In Keates, he gets that test.

Keates, two years younger than his op­po­nent, has won only one of his last five fights but has been matched tough – matched tough from day one, in fact. A Midlands Area cham­pion at su­per-light­weight and wel­ter­weight, the Stafford­shire na­tive has fallen short in English light­weight ti­tle fights against Kevin Hooper (pts 10) and Ohara Davies (rsf 4), as well as one at su­perlightweight against Joe Hughes (pts 10).

Be­low that level, though, Keates has man­aged to beat the likes of Jor­dan Cooke and Luke Pad­dock, tak­ing their un­de­feated records in the process, and also Ryan Fields, against whom he suc­cess­fully de­fended his Midlands Area wel­ter­weight ti­tle last Oc­to­ber.

Although Keates is the more bat­tle­hard­ened, and the one with ti­tle-level ex­pe­ri­ence, the re­sult of this fight will largely de­pend on what Es­suman, still some­thing of an un­known quan­tity at this level, brings to the ta­ble. If he’s go­ing places, he should be backed to get past Keates and con­tinue his rise to­wards other do­mes­tic ti­tles. If, how­ever, he’s found want­ing, or has been rushed into this English ti­tle fight, Keates, a man ac­cus­tomed to up­set­ting the ap­ple­cart, is the last op­po­nent he’ll want in the other cor­ner.

But the pick is the former. Es­suman should nab the ti­tle on points.


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