The third show of Matchroom Boxing’s summer season, titled ‘Matchroom Fight Camp’, features five fights, headlined by a Commonwealth middleweight title clash between champion Felix Cash and challenger Jason Welborn
BBN previewed the entire five-fight card that will take place behind closed doors at the Matchroom Boxing HQ:
Felix Cash (12-0, 8KOs) continues to test himself against decent competition as he defends his Commonwealth strap for a second time since winning it in February 2019 to former British champ Jason Welborn (24-8, 7KOs).
Trained by Tony Sims, 27-year-old Cash has persistently pushed himself to take on better competition as a pro, with just three or four journeyman to kickstart his paid career, all dropped or stopped, within five months from June 2016 to November.
When he restarted the season in Match 2017, he won every round of a six-round contest against unbeaten Jay Byrne (4-0). He then smashed through another four winning fighters to land a WBC International Silver middleweight showdown with former WBO European welterweight and current WBA Continental super welterweight champion Stephen Danyo (14-1-3), who Cash outpointed 100-90 on all three judges cards to win his first professional title.
He then surpassed expectations in his next fight to win the vacant Commonwealth middleweight title by despatching of Nigerian champion Rasheed Abolaji (11-4-1) in 155 seconds. He defended the honours successfully against English champion Jack Cullen (17-1) in November last year, which remains his last performance in the ring.
That last fight was his hardest yet, despite having the rangy Cullen down twice – once in the first and again in the seventh. ‘Little Lever’s Meat Cleaver’ landed plenty of his own shots and it was quite a shootout, possibly even a contender for ‘Fight of the Year’.
It was the body shots that were getting to Cullen, but in the eighth round, the finish came from an ongoing onslaught that Cash wouldn’t cease for a second. It probably took around 20-30 punches before the referee jumped in.
The Walsall challenger, aged 34, is nearing the end of his career and this seems like intelligent matchmaking to provide Cash with a tough test, but ultimately another decent scalp on his ledger.
A two-weight Midlands Area champion, Welborn surprised everyone when he halted fast-rising Matchroom Boxing prospect Marcus Morrison (14-0) in March 2017.
It sparked the beginning of an incredible campaign at middleweight where he shocked everyone once again by ripping the British middleweight title away from champion Tommy Langford (20-1) in a barnstormer of a fight that went on to win BBBofC Fight of the Year.
The rematch was just as dramatic, this time played out on Sky Sports, with Langford hitting the deck heavily in rounds one and three. Once again, Welborn won on a split decision, this time as the defending champion.
That fifth straight win at 160lbs remarkably landed the Tividale boxer a shot at reigning WBA Super, IBF and IBO World super welterweight champion Jarrett Hurd (22-0) at the Staples Center in LA.
Not for the first time in his career, he was stopped with a body shot in round four of the unified world championship contest. Staying at 154lbs, he then went for the Commonwealth title last year but was halted in the eighth by unbeaten James Metcalf (19-0).
His 33rd bout has a strong possibility that it could end the same way as five of his eight defeats have ended – early. Despite not winning a fight for almost two years, Welborn is a very good boxer with excellent technique and has knocked down a considerable amount of good fighters in his time. He will always be dangerous throughout.
Cash should weather any storms Welborn brings to win inside the distance.
Current Commonwealth super featherweight champion Zelfa Barrett (23-1, 14KOs) will clash with ‘Lilywhite Lightning’ Eric Donovan (12-0, 7KOs).
An outstanding amateur, Donovan was part of the celebrated Irish team that enjoyed unprecedented success around the turn of the decade, winning the World Series Boxing in 2012. A five-time Irish Elites Senior champion, he won a European bronze in 2010, after gaining the European union bronze the year before.
Donovan still has a lot of the amateur in his style of fighting, he’s very bouncy on his toes, but can still stun his opponents with a single shot.
The 34-year-old has stopped seven from 12 opponents and claimed the vacant Celtic featherweight title in his fifth fight, followed by the Irish in his ninth outing.
He comes into the contest as an experienced fighter with good schooling and the confidence of being undefeated. He will need that belief against Barrett, as he represents a very big step up from what he has already faced in the pros. He beat some big names in the amateurs, such as Tom Stalker, James Tennyson and Davey Oliver Joyce, but he hasn’t faced that level of opponent in the pro ranks yet.
The ‘Brown Flash’ has really racked up a lot of vital experience during the second half of 2019, with solid wins against Leon Woodstock (19-1) to win the Commonwealth strap last June, followed by a confident defence four months on in October when he defeated Jordan McCorry (18-6-1) via ninth-round TKO.
As a 19-0 English super featherweight champion, Barrett was unexpectedly beaten by the green-haired Ronnie Clark (20-4-2) in their IBF European super featherweight title clash. The uppercut that put him down in the sixth round was an incredible shot, but Barrett showed his resilience and maturity with how he got back up and got through the rest of the round.
Zelfa has many strengths, his defence is very tight, his reactions and reflexes are excellent, good head and upper body movement, he can whip in body shots that really hurt opponents, and his footwork is exceptional, you will never find him off-balance.
Zelfa doesn’t possess anywhere near the same level of experience as Donovan in the amateurs because he was groomed to become a pro fighter very early on. At 15, he was working with professionals such as Scott Quigg and Michael Jennings, while being guided by Manchester boxing guru Brian Hughes. Now, Zelfa’s uncle and trainer is former British and European champion Pat Barrett, known as the ‘Black Flash’.
In his 25th fight, the experienced pro comes up against an experienced amateur, which could prove the difference in this contest. Barrett’s better knowledge and understanding in the professionals should provide him with the upper hand against the lesser qualified pro in Donovan.
John Docherty (8-0, 6KOs) will attempt to continue his meteoric rise against German-born Anthony Fox (8-12-4).
Trained by Tony Sims, Scottish southpaw Docherty gets his first real test as a pro against 25-year-old ‘Matador’ Fox, who has won his last three fights.
The Wiltshire-based Fox took Londoner Duane Sinclair’s ‘zero’ in his last fight in June last year, with a resounding 79-73 points victory in an eight-round light heavyweight contest at the York Hall. Prior to that, he defeated a Welsh Area super middleweight champion, Morgan Jones (12-1), as well as triumphing over former Commonwealth champion Luke Blackledge (24-5-2).
Both Kody Davies and Danny Dignum, who were both 5-0 at the time, beat Fox on points before that hat trick of victories. However, current WBO European champ Dignum struggled against Fox, suffering two surprise knockdowns in the fourth round, but just managed to get the win by a single point.
Preceding that brace of defeats, ‘The Matador’ had put together four wins on the spin between October 2017 to May 2018, making it seven wins from his last nine fights.
Apart from the experienced Lewis van Poetsch (9-112-2) and former Central Area middleweight champion Darryl Sharp 5-56-1), who were both defeated on points, Docherty has stopped all his opponents in rounds one and two.
The heavy-handed 22-year-old was a 2018 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist and won gold in the Commonwealth Youth Games in 2015, as well as two British junior championships, Scottish Elite championships, and a Three Nations gold too.
His pedigree is evident in his performances, but he has settled into the pro ranks with devastating results. On his pro debut, he knocked down unbeaten Jordan Latimer (2-0) within seven seconds! Latimer felt the power of his punches and immediately gestured to his corner to throw in the towel.
He stands in at close quarters so he can get his heavy hooks off. He lands body shots for fun and it takes the willpower away from his opponents. To put it bluntly, he is a stone-cold killer!
Fox will be a live opponent, confident and eager to make a name for himself in this fight on the big stage. He is sharp and counters well, so he should have a lot success against Docherty.
Docherty will be the heavy favourite and, although Fox will be a tough, game, live opponent, the talented Scot is expected to score another stoppage in this eight-round super middleweight clash, which could see a very exciting shootout take place.
British super welterweight title contender Kieran Conway (14-1-1, 3KOs) meets former English super welterweight champion Navid Mansouri (20-3-2, 6KOs).
The 31-year-old from Rotherham has lost two from his last three contests, so seems to be on the way out of his 10-and-a-half-year career.
Northampton’s ‘Too Class’ Conway was unfortunate not to pull of a shocking upset when he drew with Ted Cheeseman in his British title challenge in June last year. It demonstrated the level he belonged at and hopefully he’ll get his chance again soon.
His sole career defeat was over three rounds in the Ultimate Boxxer tournament to the eventual winner Derrick Osaze (8-0).
Neither of these skilled boxers are known for their stoppages so this will likely be a very skilful boxing match that will go to points, with the unbeaten, younger fighter expected to reach his 15th victory.
Super bantamweight prospects Shannon Courtenay (5-0, 2KOs) and Rachel Ball (5-1) clash in a competitive contest where each female puts their reputation and record on the line.
West Midlander, Ball, stepped up to face now-interim WBC World Female super featherweight champion Katharina Thanderz (10-0) in March 2019, and did a valiant job from the away corner in Norway, with one judge ruling as a draw. The other ringside officials two both gave it to the Norwegian by a few rounds.
Ball has a fantastic jab and is a very skilled fighter, formerly a word kickboxing champion before switching to boxing. She showed in her fight with Thanderz that she can handle pressure really well. It was a busy fight with plenty of punches thrown and landed by both boxers.
Tipped for stardom, Courtenay is trained by Adam Booth and signed to Matchroom Boxing. A Haringey Box Cup champion as an amateur in 2015, ‘The Baby Face Assassin’ is unbeaten so far as a pro.
27-years-old from Watford, she has raced to 5-0 within the space of nine months. She has a very patient style, with good footwork and head movement. She always looks very composed and relaxed when she fights and can whip in body shots like a Mexican! She can switch from body to head effortlessly and knows when to finish a fight.
This will be fantastic fight between two very equal fighters. Ball has the upper hand in experience, but Courtenay comes from one of the country’s best gyms, surrounded by some of the best fighters. Ball has been down before and given eight-counts, so she can be caught and hurt. Howver, she has also proven to have very good chin and absorbed some hard body shots before and not even winced.
This contest could turn into a war very quickly and possibly even steal the show. Who wins is anyone’s guess!