Former world champion Barry McGuigan is predicting a ‘barnstormer’ when St Annes boxer Matty Askin fights for British cruiserweight title at the Motorpoint Arena in Cardiff against local hero Craig Kennedy on March 11.
McGuigan is the figurehead for Cyclone Promotions, who have won the purse bids for the championship contest, which will be shown live on Channel 5.
And ex-world featherweight ruler McGuigan declared: “This has all the makings of being the fight of the year because both these blokes are in top form.
“There is the British title at stake and there could be more than that for there is every chance that the winner will be boxing for a world and European title.
“Whichever you look at it, it is going to be barnstormer.
“Both have shown that they can go down and get back up again and both of them are exciting fighters. They are in fine condition and a credit to boxing.
“Matty has to go down as the favourite because he has been in with the better opponents, while Craig is a late starter. He only started boxing when he was 23 but he has won all his 18 fights, eight of them by knockout.
“It should be a great fight and a great bill for Channel 5.
“They got two million viewers when they showed George Grove’s last fight and this should be just as attractive, with the two best cruiserweights in the country meeting each other.”
“It will be a big weekend of sport in Wales. There is a huge rugby international the night before, when Wales take on Ireland.
Kennedy, who hails from Cardiff and should have huge support on the night, is confident that he grasp the chance in what will be his first bout over 12 championship rounds.
The 31-year-old said: “I am leaving no stone unturned to be ready for this. I am never out of the gym and by March 11 I will be raring to go.
“Everything is going well in my preparation, and though Matty Askin is the more experienced fighter I am sure that I can bring it to him. “I have done 10-rounders already, as well as 15 rounds in the gym.”
Askin is convinced that he will be successful this time when he makes his second attempt to win the British cruiserweight next month.
And though Askin is four years younger than his rival, he is vastly more experienced, having won and retained the English title.
He also pushed the immensely durable Ovill McKenzie all the way in a previous, unavailing bid for the Lonsdale Belt.
He also tested Krzysztof Glowacki, of Poland, before that fighter went on to win the World Boxing Organisation version of the world title.
In addition, Askin boasts a far superior amateur pedigree compared to his Welsh rival, having won the Amateur Boxing Association title in the unpaid ranks.
Askin, from St Annes but always announced from the ring as being from Blackpool, vowed: “I will be the third fighter from this area to bring back a British title.
“I have fought for the British title before and many people though I has beaten McKenzie.
“Kennedy is unbeaten, but he has only been beating journeymen.”
If Askin beats Kennedy he will follow a trail blazed by Brian Rose – who won the light-middleweight Lonsdale Belt outright on the back of three defences – and Scott Cardle, who is only one victory of his own away from performing that feat as well.
Askin said: “I have fought in a better class than Kennedy and I have not even come into my prime yet.
“I have fought at championship level and I have even been offered world title fights as well but I didn’t take them as the offers came at the wrong time.”
Askin trains at the Coppull gym of Michael and Dave Jennings, a team that is very much on the up.
They have guided Jack Arnfield to the World Boxing Association international middleweight title and now see him lined up to take on Brian Rose at Manchester Arena in the spring.
Askin said of the Jennings: “They have both been a massive help.
“Everyone has seen how much I have improved as a fighter since I joined then,
“The old Matty Askin would not have beaten Simon Barclay and Tommy McCarthy the way I did in my last two fights.
“I am 10 times a better fighter with them than I was before. I am just coming into my own,” Askin added.