Paul Wheeler surveys the five fights on the Oleksandr Usyk vs Dereck Chisora undercard
FIVE fights make up Matchroom’s Oleksandr Usyk vs Dereck Chisora undercard, which takes place at the SSE Arena in Wembley this Saturday (October 31). Sky Sports Box Office televise in the UK, while DAZN broadcast stateside.
LEE SELBY (28-2) vs GEORGE KAMBOSOS JNR (18-0)
In the chief support to Usyk vs Chisora, Welshman Lee Selby takes on Australia’s George Kambosos Jnr in a 12-round final eliminator for the IBF lightweight title, which is currently held by undisputed champion Teofimo Lopez.
After losing his IBF featherweight crown to Josh Warrington via split decision in 2018, Selby chose to move up two divisions to 135lbs. Fighting at his new weight last year, he unanimously outscored Omar Douglas and overcame Ricky Burns on a majority verdict. His scraps with Warrington, Douglas and Burns were all gruelling affairs, which will give Kambosos confidence, especially considering that Selby is now 33 – six years older than the Sydney man.
The tenacious Kambosos demonstrated his speed and effective inside work against Mickey Bey 10 months ago. In the biggest test of his career so far, he secured a split points win. As the fresher fighter, he will aim to set a fast pace and pressurise the seasoned Selby. Although the Barry boxer is primarily regarded as a slick and skilful counterpuncher, this is not a case of style over substance, as his toughness is not in question.
This is a hard one to call, but Selby should have enough left in the tank to edge it.
BN predicts: Selby on points
SAVANNAH MARSHALL (8-0) vs HANNAH RANKIN (9-4)
The vacant WBO female middleweight belt is up for grabs in the battle of Britain between England’s Savannah Marshall and Scot Hannah Rankin. Hartlepool’s Marshall, 29, enjoyed a glittering amateur career, during which she claimed gold medals at the World Championships and the Commonwealth Games, as well as twice participating at the Olympics. Although Glasgow’s Rankin, 30, cannot compete with Marshall’s amateur achievements, she does boast greater professional experience. While Marshall has only been the full 10-twos on one occasion, Rankin has completed the championship distance five times.
This will be Marshall’s first fight at 160lbs, as the lowest she has weighed has been 163 1/4lbs. Rankin, meanwhile, has been switching between super-welterweight and middleweight. She has fought the far better opposition as a pro, including Alicia Napoleon-Espinosa and Claressa Shields, both of whom she lost to on unanimous decisions when contesting world honours in 2018.
Having been desperate to showcase her talents on the world stage, expect the tall and heavy-handed Marshall to grasp her opportunity.
BN predicts: Marshall on points
TOMMY McCARTHY (16-2) vs BILAL LAGGOUNE (25-1-2)
Cruiserweights collide as Northern Irishman Tommy McCarthy and Belgium’s Bilal Laggoune face off for the vacant European title. Belfast’s McCarthy was stopped in the fourth round by Richard Riakporhe in early 2019, but bounced back later on in the year with a split verdict victory over Fabio Turchi on away turf in Italy. The 29-year-old boxed well off the back foot against Turchi and was able to largely keep him at bay.
Aalst’s Laggoune, 28, has challenged for the EBU strap once before. That was five years ago against Dmytro Kucher, whom he battled to a split draw. He dropped a split decision to Doudou Ngumbu in 2017 during a short stint at light-heavyweight, but has since won five on the spin back up at cruiser.
Laggoune has a decent jab, yet has only once performed outside of his homeland. With his strong amateur pedigree, the composed McCarthy is favoured to come out on top.
BN predicts: McCarthy on points
AMY TIMLIN (4-0) vs CARLY SKELLY (3-0)
Southam’s Amy Timlin and Liverpudlian southpaw Carly Skelly put their ‘0’s on the line in a clash for the vacant Commonwealth female super-bantamweight belt.
Timlin, 20, transferred to boxing in 2017 following a successful spell as a kickboxer. The 33-year-old Skelly did not get started in the sport until the age of 29. Despite beginning late, the Merseysider was still able to reach the flyweight final of the 2017 England Boxing National Elite Championships.
Neither woman has lost a round yet, but Timlin looks the likelier to triumph.
BN predicts: Timlin on points
KASH FAROOQ (13-1) vs MARTIN TECUAPETLA (15-13-4)
There were many observers who felt that Scottish bantamweight Kash Farooq was unfortunate not to come away with a victory against Lee McGregor 11 months ago. Instead, the Pakistan-born Glaswegian was forced to accept his first defeat, with a split verdict relieving him of his British crown.
His upcoming adversary, Martin Tecuapetla, has been around the block. The experienced and well-travelled Mexican, who fights out of Gerona in Spain, is a former IBF light-flyweight title challenger. The dogged 30-year-old has frequently mixed in good company, but Farooq, 24, will be determined to return to the win column. With his smart movement and quick, spiteful punches, he can do just that.
BN predicts: Farooq on points
The Verdict An eclectic mix of matchups.