On Wednesday, September 30, the Golden Contract tournament finals take place between super-lightweight rivals Ohara Davies and Tyrone McKenna, plus Ryan Walsh vs Jazza Dickens in the featherweight finals, live on Sky Sports, behind closed doors at the Production Park Studios in Wakefield.
BBN’s Editor Tim Rickson previewed the entire six-fight card:
Ohara Davies vs Tyrone McKenna
Bitter rivals Ohara Davies (21-2, 16KOs) and Tyrone McKenna (21-1-1, 6KOs) finally lock horns on the same day in history that film icon James Dean died in a road accident in 1955.
The 140lbs enemies first clashed in October 2019, which was a whole month before the Golden Contract super-lightweights tournament even begun. During an iFL TV interview, McKenna approached ‘OD’ in an unfriendly way, according to him, so he threw him up against an ambulance around the back of the York Hall and the pair choked each other before being split apart by Kugan Cassius.
Since that incident, the pair are still at each other’s throats, but they will finally get to settle the year-long feud on the last day of September.
Both boxers have the same number of wins – 21 – and two fights each that didn’t result in victory, so their records are almost identical, apart from their KO counts – Davies has almost triple the amount of stoppages.
‘OD’s’ defeats have come at the hands of world level fighters – Josh Taylor (16-0, 12KOs) is the world's No.1 140lbs fighter, and Jack Catterall (25-0, 13KOs) has been the WBO No.1 for almost 20 months now.
Since his last loss in October 2018 (points loss to Catterall), Davies has defeated former long-reigning IBF World lightweight champion Miguel Vazquez (42-9, 16KOs) on points; then halted unbeaten Hawaiian Logan Yoon (15-1, 11KOs) in seven rounds in the tournament’s quarter-finals in November last year. Then, he blasted fellow Londoner Jeff Ofori (10-1, 3KOs) away in six thrilling rounds in the semis. ‘Jeffy’ Ofori notably pushed Archie Sharp (19-0, 9KOs) to a razor-thin 95-96 points decision in August.
Ofori aso gave Ohara lots to think about in their fight, but the finish in round six was clinical. Davies stunned his opponent with a hard right hand and followed up with another three heavy rights to force referee Kieran McCann to rightfully step in.
Post-fight, Davies said sorry to his coach, Angel Fernandez, for not putting into practise a lot of the new things they had worked on in the gym, so he essentially said there’s still improvements to come. However, he has since switched to training with Will Jones and Kevin Mitchell.
McKenna received some exciting news this month when he found out he had been ranked in the top 15 in the WBC’s World rankings, just one place below no.14 Lewis Ritson. Both rivals are also ranked highly in the IBO tables, with Ohara at #13 and Tyrone at #21.
McKenna’s sole defeat was to the same man that conquered Davies last – Catterall. The scores were 93-94 twice and 91-95.
Although he was tipped for bigger things, the Hackney hitter is a former English champion and has collected regional titles with the WBC and WBA.
The Belfast boxer, trained by Danny Vaughan, is also a national champion, like Davies, when he won the Celtic Nations title in his 13th fight. He has also claimed a WBC regional belt – the WBC International title – which he has defended twice, firstly in the quarters to Mikey Sakyi (8-3, 4KOs), then in the semis to disgruntled Frenchman Mohamed Mimoune (22-4, 3KOs). The 33-year-old Toulouse fighter was adamant he should have won the fight against McKenna and was very vocal about it.
The southpaw is rangy, but he doesn’t use that advantage always. He’ll stand there and trade rather than use his attributes appropriately. He doesn’t possess knockout power, so when he goes to toe-to-toe with Ohara Davies, there’s only one winner in that shootout.
Davies is also rangy, with exceptionally long arms. He looks like he is out of range but can land deceivingly from afar. His long, left jab can land at almost any time he wants and he has devastating power in his right fist.
With the bad blood between them and a big point to prove, I think the fight will end early. McKenna will not quit and if he goes down, he’ll be back on his feet again, so I believe the referee will have to intervene at some point when he takes too many hard hits to the head.
With so much at stake, I’m not expecting the fight to ignite immediately, perhaps from round three onwards we’ll see the pace and action begin to pick up. It does depend on McKenna and whether he will come out and box clever or get drawn into a war. If he boxes smart, he could be triumphant on points.
However, I think it will get tasty from the fourth round forward, but I believe that Davies’ power will win this grudge match between rounds six-eight.
Ryan Walsh vs Jazza Dickens
Long-reigning British featherweight champion Ryan Walsh (26-2-2, 12KOs) clashes with former English and British super-bantamweight champion Jazza Dickens (29-3, 11KOs) in what is set to be a fantastic 50-50 affair.
Both boxers are English and British champions, ranked fourth (Walsh) and fifth (Dickens) in BoxRec’s featherweight ratings.
Walsh is a busy, pressure fighter, who likes to come forward and sets a high pace. He is a natural fighter and there’s a clear reason why he’s been the British champion for so long. He is a consummate professional and looks as fresh in the final round as he does in the first.
His worthy adversary is also a come forward fighter, who likes to lunge in with punches in bunches. He dips his head down and throws powerful overhands with precision and has a tremendous work rate.
This pair are going to light up the night with their fight! It’s set to be a thrilling, skilful war fought in the middle of the ring, with bundles of talent and proficiency on display.
The odds for a draw are as low as 12-1, when usually it’s always above 20-1 in most fights. That tells you how likely this fight is to ended evens.
For me, Walsh just pips Dickens in his overall boxing ability and I expect him to win this incredible contest on points.
Liam Conroy vs Serge Michel
One half of the light-heavyweight semi-finals takes place between Cumbria’s Liam Conroy (18-5-1, 9KOs) and German Serge Michel 10-1, (7KOs).
A former English light-heavyweight champ, Conroy has challenged for British title against future star Joshua Buatsi (12-0, 10KOs).
The 28-year-old defeated Andre Sterling (11-3, 4KOs) in the quarter-finals, knocking him down in the seventh to win a unanimous decision on points. He lost his previous fight to another quarter-finalist in Steven Ward (12-1, 4KOs), who appears on the same card. An unfortunate head clash left Ward, who had been down in the fourth, in no position to continue and the scorecards were brought into play to determine the winner, which was announced as Ward by a single point on all three cards.
Heavy-handed Bayern boxer Michel reached the semis with a resounding victory over unbeaten Scot Tommy Philbin (13-1, 4KOs). It was a wide points verdict to the 32-year-old ‘Bavarian Sniper’ who decked Philbin twice during the 10-rounds.
He possesses a ramrod jab and he uses it to full effect. He has sound boxing skills, a disciplined style and is rarely caught out.
Conroy will be looking to slip the ‘Sniper’s’ shots to counter with his own, but it’s possible that will rack the rounds up in the favour of the German, who should box expertly to win this bout on points. Conroy will aim to rough up Michel and unleash barrages of shots, but I believe the German will be too shrewd to allow that to work against him.
Steven Ward vs Jone Volau
Steven Ward (12-1, 4KOs) makes his cruiserweight debut against Fiji-born ‘Brown Bomber’ Jone Volau (5-5, 2KOs).
From Gateshead, Volau comes down from heavyweight to cruiserweight, whereas Ward is coming up from light-heavyweight.
‘The Quiet Man’ Ward admitted to ‘boiling down’ to 175lbs to make the Golden Contract light-heavyweight tournament quarter-finals, which saw him stopped by Latvian Ricards Bolotniks (16-5-1, 7KOs) in the very first round.
Volau won five of his first six fights, but hasn’t been successful in any of his last four outings, so should represent a good test for Ward in his 200lbs inauguration.
Ben Fail vs Robbie Chapman
Debutant Ben Fail makes his pro debut against Southern Area title contender Robbie Chapman (6-4).
Ben turned pro alongside his twin brother Carl in July this year. He was a National champion as well as a Haringey Box Cup winner, experiencing 78 amateur fights in total. Both he and his twin were Team GB members for several years.
William Hamilton vs TBA
From Rainham in Essex, William Hamilton (1-0, 1KO) knocked out 23 of his 28 amateur opponents on his way to winning the ABA Under-20’s national title.
He has continued the trend into the paid ranks, stopping fellow debutant John Shearer (0-1) in the second round of his pro debut in February at the York Hall.
There’s no reason why the heavy-handed 24-year-old won’t continue to blast his opponents away, so whoever he gets given on the night, you can expect an explosive encounter.