BBN writer Gus Devlin previews the first title fight of the year in Britain
The English cruiserweight championship is on the line as unbeaten prospect Deion Jumah (12-0, 7KO's) looks to a make a successful maiden defence of his crown against Manchester’s Sam Hyde (15-1-1, 8KO's).
Trained by Gary Logan, this is Jumah’s first defence since defeating Wadi Camacho last September to win the vacant belt at his York Hall stomping ground. The 30-year-old defending champion who is unbeaten, closing in on seven years now, had his most notable win in his last outing - a stunning fifth round stoppage victory over Wadi Camacho.
Jumah first turned pro under Sauerland Promotions after ABA title wins in 2011 and 2012, but injuries, illnesses and inactivity stunted his progress and he inked a management deal with small hall promoter Steve Goodwin in 2017 to resurrect his flailing career. His next four fights during an 18 month spell between March 2018 to September 2019 saw him KO two European journeymen before claiming Southern Area and English titles, both with fifth round TKO's.
Cheshire's Hyde, 30-years-old, will be looking to stake his claim as a legitimate cruiserweight contender as he enters into his second title fight.
Trained by Joe Gallagher, 'Nowhere 2' Hyde has registered two consecutives wins against Jozef Jurko and Jiri Svacina, both in 2019, since his defeat to now-British cruiserweight champion Richard Riakporhe, which was his last fight of 2018 on the undercard of Tony Bellew's retirement fight with Oleksandr Usyk. The Sale man's left eye was grotesquely swollen and his corner were forced to throw in the towel in the eighth round. At the time of the stoppage, Hyde was ahead on all three of the judges scorecards.
Given that this bout is being held in Hyde’s home city of Manchester, he will be looking to draw on that home support in search of a victory. Jumah, who has never boxed in Manchester before, must be commended for going to his opponent’s backyard for his maiden title defence.
Stylistically, how will these two match-up?
Jumah's unorthodox style of his punches coming from down low makes him difficult to prepare for. There are only a select few boxers who could replicate the specific style in sparring. A southpaw will always be awkward and tricky to deal with for an orthodox fighter like Hyde, but even more so when they hang their hands down low by their hips. We saw this in his last fight when a destructive left hand dropped and finished former Commonwealth titleholder Camacho.
Hyde, however, is regarded as a higher level fighter than Camacho by fans and pundits alike so this will Jumah's toughest test of his career.
How could Hyde win?
Experience will play a major key.
Hyde will need to close the distance, not allow Jumah to get into his flow and natural rhythm. If he does let Jumah have the space to relax and operate in, then this could be a comfortable night for the champion and a frustrating time for the challenger.
To avoid this, Hyde needs to apply the pressure, dictate the pace - of which it sould be a high one - and wear the champion down, make this an ugly fight at times, but be cautious at the same time as Jumah has the power to hurt Hyde and anyone else in front of him. The challenger will want to take Jumah into deep waters, especially as the champion has not been past six rounds ever before in his career. Talking of rounds, Jumah as just 48 professional rounds to count on as experience, compared to Hyde's 71.
How could Jumah win?
Will he be prepared for a potentially higher level opponent than he's ever faced before? It's a completely different experience for Jumah, as he ventures away from home.
It's an intriguing clash of styles. The tricky yet still dangerous power of Jumah to the experienced pressure fighter that is Hyde. 'The Ghost' needs to fight his own fight and try not to get smothered. His alias tells you that he is elusive, and along with his power and problematic style, he is tough opponent for anyone.
Jumah potentially has some big fights ahead should he get the win, and his confidence will be sky high as the unbeaten champion. He has already proved his self-assurance by taking the fight. Although his opponent is keen to throw his name back in the domestic mix so will represent a formidable foe for Jumah to try to contain and overcome.
The vacant central area Super Middleweight title is up for grabs as undefeated Mark Jeffers (10-0, 2KO's) takes on Ben Thomas (2-1-3, 1KO) Thomas, who lost his first professional bout to Ben Douglas (1-0) in September 2018, but hasn't lost since. He comes into this title contest unbeaten in his last five fights, albeit only two wins with three draws.
21-year-old Chorley man, Mark Jeffers, turned pro shortly after his 18th birthday and notched up three wins per year until he only managed one outing during 2019, which he made count with a first round KO victory. So, Jeffers has only one professional round under his belt - which lasted less than two minutes - during the past 13 months. His opponent has had five fights and 19 rounds during that same period.
Despite the way this fight Central Area championship clash might look on paper, it's far from decided yet.
Welshman Osian Williams makes his professional debut in the super-lightweight division.
Marcus Morrison (22-3, 16KO's), the current WBC international super-middleweight holder, is also in action and should entertain the expectant crowds with back to back stoppage wins behind him.
Undefeated welterweight Connor Lynch (5-0), 22 from Middleton, could be looking to get his first stoppage victory of his career to kick off 2020 in the right way.