Preview: Chris Jenkins to start new chapter against Irish power puncher Sutcliffe

Preview: Chris Jenkins to start new chapter against Irish power puncher Sutcliffe

Garnant’s returning Chris Jenkins (16-1-1, 8KO) is finally back and has a chance to shoot straight back up the pecking order against the equally exciting Phil Sutcliffe Jnr (11-1, 7KO).

The super-lightweight starts a new chapter on Saturday 5 November when he appears on the undercard of Frank Warren’s show at Belfast’s iconic Titanic Exhibition Centre.

The 10 round contest will feature towards the top of the BoxNation (Sky Ch. 437) broadcast, which has been put together by Macklin’s Gym Marbella [MGM] and headlined by world rated super-flyweight contender Jamie Conlan.

There has been fresh input to Jenkins’ career with the 28-year-old leaving long-term Cwmgors mentor Ronnie Morris to link up with Gary Lockett. The world title challenger will act as trainer and manager to Jenkins, who stormed on to the scene in 2013 by winning the Prizefighter tournament and following it up by collecting the fringe WBC International strap.

The fight will be Jenkins’ first outing since November 2015 and Sutcliffe won’t afford ‘Rock n Rolla’ time to shake off any cobwebs that might have accumulated in the last year. The Irishman will apply pressure and Jenkins will have to call on the work he’s done in the Cardiff Bay based gym, including fending off heavy handed British super-welterweight champion Liam Williams in sparring.

In Jenkins’ last fight, he was edged out against Huddersfield’s tricky Tyrone Nurse in a rematch of their draw for the vacant British title. The post-fight reflections have seen Jenkins split with Paul Boyce, the Neath based manager who handled out-of-the-ring responsibilities since his professional debut in 2012.

Those issues have contributed to Jenkins’ inactivity and nearly 12 months have passed since the Nurse repeat in Manchester. It’s a significant time away from the ring that will have tested the mental fortitude of the enthusiastic Welshman.

Nurse is a flashy counter-puncher who would present problems to most at domestic level. Thankfully, Sutcliffe’s style is almost the exact polar opposite. Renown as one of the Emerald Isle’s hardest hitters, the 27-year-old Crumlin native does the fundamentals well, though he’s blatant in his no-nonsense approach.

That has been enough to end matters early against seven of Sutcliffe’s 12 opponents. However, there are signs under the surface that his temper can take over. On numerous occasions, Sutcliffe has tried to strike victims when they’re down, often pulling the shots at the last second but sometimes catching them and getting away with it. The contender’s last outing was a foul fest that saw journeyman Edvinas Puplauskas eventually disqualified.

The only official blemish on Sutcliffe’s record is a loss to Swedish Olympian Anthony Yigit, who was granted a controversial draw against Tony Pace in 2013. To Sutcliffe’s credit, his meeting with Yigit in May came at late notice and was on away territory – factors he will rightly take heart from.

Interestingly, Jenkins has recently sparred John Wayne Hibbert ahead of the former Commonwealth champion’s fight on 26 November against Tommy Coyle, who has been on the road to share rounds and gym-time with Sutcliffe.

It’s an intriguing matchup of styles and the difference between them may be their respective discipline – not only in their behavior but more so in their ability to pace the rounds. The furthest Sutcliffe has been is the eight round distance, while Jenkins has gone beyond that length on three occasions.

Sutcliffe is yet to score an early finish after the fourth round, too – another aspect that’s likely to be factored in Jenkins’ tactics. For a long time, Jenkins’ favoured shot was a left hook to the body and if he starts throwing it early, it could deplete Sutcliffe’s gas tank by the second half of the fight.

To win on the scorecards, Jenkins may be required to win rounds clearly to get the nod and he can do that, owning the speed to be first off the mark. Sutcliffe can boast an advantage in power and Jenkins’ underrated jab will be required to counteract that and put distance between the pair.

An impressive performance for Jenkins could open doors with Frank Warren, who promotes a number of up-and-coming contenders in the weight category. Even if Jenkins doesn’t get signed, his absence of ego and eagerness to be in competitive fights will be satisfied by more appearances, even if they’re in the away corner – although he’s long deserving of real promotional backing.

100 miles away in Dublin, Newbridge’s Bradley ‘Sugar Sweet’ Pryce (38-20, 20KO) fights the Celtic Warrior Gym’s all-action Luke Keeler (10-2, 5KO). Their 10 rounder will headline the Red Corner Promotions show at the National Stadium and the winner will walk away with the Boxing Union of Ireland’s Celtic Nations middleweight strap.

Pryce enters the contest with three straight wins, albeit against opponents levels below the former Commonwealth super-welterweight champion. 35-year-old Pryce has fought a who’s who of European boxing and has more fights under his belt than any other active professional boxer in Wales, so it’s unlikely he’ll face something he’s not faced before.

He’ll need that experience against Keeler, who has less miles on the clock and possesses the edge in natural size, having always campaigned at middleweight. However, it’s unclear how ‘Cool Hand’ will be affected by his last fight when he was brutally knocked out by Connah’s Quay’s Tom Doran in a two-round up-and-down war.

Stylistically, Keeler presses behind compact straight shots and steps in with solid backhands. On the other side of the coin, Pryce’s unorthodox attacks often see him dip under his opponent’s output before replying with uppercuts and hooks, often delivered out of the recipient’s eyeline. Their respective strengths may cancel each other out and it’s likely to be a competitive fight that should go the distance to be decided by Irish judges.

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