Wood-Lara postponement a blow but two 50/50 clashes remain, writes Declan Taylor
Despite postponing the planned main event, Matchroom have decided to go ahead with their final show at the Nottingham Arena – now with Kid Galahad and Maxi Hughes taking center stage.
It was set to be another big night for City chairman Leigh Wood, who had expected a showdown with Mexican Mauricio Lara topping the bill.
But when Wood injured his bicep in sparring earlier this month, he was forced to pull out of the fight, leaving the entire show hanging. However, promoter Eddie Hearn decided not to cancel the whole thing and gave the rest of the boxers on the card a chance to steal the show on DAZN.
The new main event features the returning Galahad, back for his first outing in 10 months, in an intriguing lightweight clash with Hughes. Galaha hasn’t been seen since Kiko Martinez knocked him out in the sixth round of their November encounter – and he takes on Hughes two divisions heavier than he was that night.
The Sheffield man was just over a pound short of the first ask in this fight and knew his featherweight days were over. But instead of weighing in at 130 pounds, Galahad has jumped straight to lightweight.
Hughes, meanwhile, has enjoyed his career in the Covid era, scoring five major wins since his first shutout in 2020. The latest of these came in March when he brought out Ryan Walsh, aged 12, at the First Direct Arena in Leeds. There’s no doubt who has the better momentum here.
This Yorkshire derby between Rossington’s Hughes and Sheffield man Galahad looks like a long-distance fight waiting to happen, but it will depend on how well the latter copes with a bigger and stronger opponent than he is used to. Hughes has plenty of experience at his weight and is sure to use his size on Galahad.
The 32-year-old also believes Galahad may be emotionally scarred by his latest outing. “He says he doesn’t have demons, but a hit like that carries demons,” Hughes said. “There are demons about his chin – is he going to get hit? Has it sapped his confidence? See you in the evening.”
Given his Ingle Gym education, Galahad is good at handling southpaws and beat Jazza Dickens in his last fight against the lefty a year ago. Meanwhile, his wily and clumsy style will likely make it difficult for Hughes to catch him. But that’s what Martinez said.
There are enough intangible assets that this choice is far from easy. How does Galahad handle athletics? How Much Does Hughes’ Momentum Make a Difference? Will Kid ever be the same after this loss to Martinez? Whatever the answers, it seems even and almost 50/50. Hughes is the gun-head choice in a close decision.
Another boxer making her debut in the new division on Saturday night is Terri Harper, who will face Hannah Rankin in her featherweight debut. The 25-year-old continues her recovery from a stunning loss to Alycia Baumgardner at super featherweight on the same card that Martinez knocked out Galahad in November. She returned to featherweight in March and beat Yamila Abellaneda over 10 and will move up again on Saturday night.
Rankin, on the other hand, has spent much of his career mixing it up at middleweight. Indeed, in 2020 there would have been £30 between the pair. But as is customary in women’s boxing, they have also done their share of movement. Again, this makes picking a fight difficult.
Rankin has faced — albeit lost to — both Claressa Shields and Savannah Marshall, so she’s mixed at the highest level. But if he and Harper were the same size, you’d want Harper to put out the Glaswegian.
Harper has worked tirelessly under performance coach Danny Wilson, and this fight against the biggest opponent of his career will be a test of that process. With three stoppages in 12 outings, Rankin isn’t a significant hitter, so Harper backs off to go the 10-round distance unscathed. If he does, he wins here on points.
Underneath these two fights are six undefeated Matchroom Boxing prospects who will be hoping to continue their steady progress so far.
The most certain of these is 4-0 heavyweight Solomon Dacres, who will take part in his first scheduled 10-round bout against Dominic Akinlade, although the odds of him going the distance seem slim. Dacres’ last two outings were eight-round points wins over Kevin Nicolas Espindola and Kamil Sokolowski, so he has no problem going long. However, a question mark hangs over Akinlade.
The London bus driver is a former Southern heavyweight champion but has only boxed once in the last five years – a four-round points win over Phil Williams in February 2020. Before that, he had lost three times in a row in 2017, the last of which was a first-round stoppage at the hands of Martin Bakole. That fight was so long ago that Bakole went 8-0 that night. He is now 18-1.
So how can Akinlade be expected to hang around in good form and shoot Dacres? It seems unlikely. A stoppage for the 28-year-old seems likely.
Elsewhere, Dacres’ former Great Britain team-mate Cheavon Clarke bids 3-0 against 7-5-2 Argentine Marcos Nicolas Karalitzky, who has never been stopped.
Cyrus Pattinson (4-0), Rhiannon Dixon (5-0) and Nico Leivars (2-0-1) are also in action, while Rotherham southpaw Junaid Bostan, who is 2-0 since turning pro in March, is making his first fight . since signing a promotional deal with Matchroom earlier this month.
Verdict: Shame on Wood-Lara, but there’s still intrigue in Nottingham.