British cruiserweight champion Matty Askin (22-3-1 14KO’s) will face mandatory challenger Stephen Simmons (18-2 8KO’s) on March 17 at York Hall on a Hayemaker Promotions show.
The top two cruiserweights will reignite the ‘Auld Rivalry’ between Scotland and England on Ireland’s national holiday – St. Patrick’s Day.
The BBBofC confirmed that the winning bid was submitted by promoter David Haye, following the opening of purse bids on January 10.
Haye reportedly outbid rival promoter Frank Warren by a sizeable amount to land the fight.
The 200-pound pair were initially due to meet in Edinburgh last October but Blackpool’s Askin, 29, withdrew with a shoulder injury just weeks before the intended clash, but Simmons, 33, went on to defeat Kettering’s Simon Barclay by unanimous decision instead to land the IBF European cruiserweight belt.
‘Sparkly’ Barclay is a shared opponent; the 28-year-old was stopped by Askin inside two rounds in 2016 in a defence of his English title.
Coming into the fight, Askin has ruined his previous three opponents’ unbeaten records – Craig Kennedy (16-0); Tommy McCarthy (9-0); Simon Barclay (8-0).
His last defeat was three years ago to Ovill McKenzie in 2015 in a challenge for his British and Commonwealth belts, losing via a mixed decision after being deducted two points for holding.
The challenger, Simmons, has reeled off three victories in a row following his loss to Noel Gevor for the WBO International cruiserweight title in October 2016.
Two of those bouts were routine six-rounders against Northern Europeans in May and July last year, culminating in the IBF European title win over Barclay in October.
His only other career loss was to Prizefighter winner Jon Lewis Dickinson in April 2015 when challenging for his WBC Silver strap.
County Durham’s Dickinson, who owns a Lonsdale belt outright, is another shared opponent and was the first person to inflict a loss on Askin’s record three years before halting Simmons.
Scores of 98-93 and 97-93 twice in the British cruiserweight eliminator contest with Dickinson denied Askin the right to move on to a British title fight with Shane McPhilbin next, and also deprived him of lifting the vacant English title that was also on the line on that night in April 2012.
The champion boasts twice as many knockout wins as his challenger and has only been stopped once in his three career defeats at the hands of former WBO world champion Krzysztof Glowacki in November 2012.
Simmons has also been stopped just once to the aforementioned Dickinson when he barraged him to the canvas in the last minute of the eighth-round in their 2015 fight. The Edinburgher bravely rose to his feet but referee Ian John-Lewis immediately waved the fight off.
All three of Simmons’ last ring opponents made it to the last round, although his second to last victim, Lukasz Rusiewicz didn’t hear the final bell after being disqualified for persistent fouling in the sixth and final round.
The Auld rivalry between England and Scotland football clubs, which dates back to 1872, is currently scored at 48-41, and this approaching fight between the old enemies is also 50-50 on paper.
The upcoming cruiserweight championship contest on St. Patrick’s Day certainly gives cause for celebration for fight fans as the top two 200-pounders in the country go head-to-head on a show promoted by the best cruiserweight in British history.
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Matty would like to thank his sponsors Caecillian Ltd.