by Geoff Poundes
At the Hillsborough Leisure Centre in Sheffield, hoary old campaigner Junior Witter looks to revitalise his flagging career when he challenges British welterweight champion Colin Lynes on Saturday night.
Witter has had to endure an up-and-down career, when for a time he was the opponent that no-one wanted to fight. When he finally hit the big-time in 2006 he held the WBC 140 pound belt for a couple of years, before becoming a notch on Tim Bradley’s belt in May, 2008. It’s worth noting that Witter ran Bradley close that night, losing a razor thin split decision to the man who’s chasing pound-for-pound glory in July.
At times Witter has been devastatingly effective – he’s a product of the Brendan Ingle school, which fostered the likes of Herol Graham and Nazeem Hamed, and he made full use of a unique and awkward style typical of Ingle’s pupils. At 38 years of age, however, Witter is clearly on the slide, and he’s effectively 2-4 in his last six fights (I’m ignoring his appearance in the Prizefighter series, in which he was favourite to win, and beat up a pair of novices before losing the final to Yassine El Maachi). Overall, Witter is now 40-5-2, 22 KO’s.
Lynes, 36-9, 12 KO’s, has become something of a fixture in British boxing, like an old armchair if you will, and was widely regarded as finished as a fighter when he was stopped in eight rounds by Ajose Olusegun back in 2010. To his eternal credit he has persevered, and in November last year boxed beautifully over twelve rounds to shock British champion Lee Purdy and annex his titles (the record books show it as a majority decision, but fail to register the shocking scoring of judge Ian John-Lewis, who somehow posted a draw).
Lynes is now 34 and has never boxed better than he did in trouncing Purdy – he and Witter have tangled before, in 2005 back when they were both in their prime, and Junior was much the better fighter that night, taking a comfortable 12 round decision.
This time round the match-up is particularly intriguing given Lynes’s resurgence and Witter’s decline.
On the undercard, Prince Naseem lookalike Kid Galahad, 11-0, 4 KO’s, defends something called the WBC International super-bantamweight title against Yorkshireman Josh Wale, 14-3, 7 KO’s. Galahad is being touted as the next Naz, but in truth is a pale replica – he’ll get past Wale readily enough, but he’s in a talent-laden division domestically, and won’t make it past a British title.
Also, Chris Eubank Jnr has his fourth professional fight and takes a step up in class when he meets Harry Matthews, 12-5, 2 KO’s, over six rounds. Eubank looked the part last time out when stopping previously unbeaten Paul Allison in four rounds, and he’ll post another win, but might have to travel the full distance as Matthews’ losses have all come via points verdicts.
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