Martinez v Warrington 2: Plenty of excitement awaits on the undercard with two world title fights and a rising star from Sheffield
Josh Warrington will look to become a world champion for a second time as he faces Kiko Martinez for the IBF featherweight title.
There is plenty of anticipation over the main event but the undercard action looks set to ensure there is a thrilling evening in store from the first bell.
Martinez’s defence against Warrington is one of three world title contests taking place in Leeds while there is plenty of Yorkshire representation on the card. Let’s take a look...
Maxi Hughes v Ryan Walsh
The IBO lightweight champion is putting his title on the line against fellow Brit Ryan Walsh.
Hughes, who is also trained by Warrington’s trainer Sean O’Hagan, claimed the IBO title in September last year with a thrilling victory over Mexico’s Jovanni Straffon.
The 32-year-old from Doncaster is in the form of his career after he almost walked away from the sport for good four yours ago.
The IBO champion did temporarily hang up his gloves after losing a British super featherweight title contest against Sam Bowen at the King Power Stadium in Leicester in April 2018.
Within six months, he decided to return to the sport and has won his last six fights while picking up the WBC international title, British title as well as the IBO crown.
He beat Straffon for the world title via a unanimous decision after dominating the fight and had the Mexican on the ropes, nearly knocking him out midway through the fight.
Hughes had hoped for a lightweight unification bout but those dreams will still be within reach if he can beat Walsh on Saturday.
The English fighter will be no walkover for Hughes. The Norfolk-based boxer, spent almost an entire year out of the ring as he lost a WBO European featherweight title fight to James
Dickens in December 2020, before winning a six-round contest against Ronnie Clark late last year. The bout has added motivation for Hughes, whose last career defeat came against Ryan Walsh’s twin brother Liam in November 2019.
Dalton Smith v Ray Moylette
The Sheffield fighter picked up the first two titles of his career last year as he won the English super lightweight title and the WBA inter-continental belt.
On Saturday, he will face Ireland’s Ray Moylette for the WBC international silver title.
It looks set to be one of the sternest tests of Smith’s career, with his opponent’s record sitting at 12-1, while the Sheffield native is undefeated in nine professional contests. The 25-year-old has been tipped for big things and is considered one of British boxing’s brightest prospects.
He made his pro debut in 2019 and was signed by Matchroom Boxing ahead of his first fight.
Smith knows Saturday’s fight will be the toughest he has faced since turning pro, with his 31-year-old opponent winning a gold medal in the World Youth Championships and European Championships as an amateur.
An avid Sheffield Wednesday fan, Smith hopes that his club’s rivalry with Leeds United will be put to one side by the fans in Leeds as he aims to be part of a successful night for Yorkshire’s fighters.
Maria Cecilia Roman v Ebanie Bridges
Bridges, the Australian bantamweight, will face Argentina’s Maria Cecilia Roman for the IBF belt in the first of Saturday night’s three world title contests.
Bridges was well supported on her last outing in Leeds as she scored a points win over Mailys Gangloff at Headingley in September. Roman won the IBF title in 2017 and has successfully defended the belt six times.
She has been beaten in that time however, as she lost a super bantamweight bout against American Melissa Oddessa Parker.
Meanwhile, Commonwealth Games gold medalist Skye Nicolson has been added to the undercard in what will be her UK debut and second professional outing. Yorkshire fighters Cory O’Regan of Dewsbury and Mali Wright of Leeds are also on the bill, alongside Gateshead’s Calum French.