Preview: Morgan Jones and Jake Anthony clash at the crossroads

Preview: Morgan Jones and Jake Anthony clash at the crossroads

Aberdare’s Morgan Jones (12-2, 5KO) aims to bounce back from consecutive losses when he faces Ammanford’s Jake Anthony (6-0) for the vacant Welsh title in an intriguing crossroads clash.

The super-middleweight duo co-headline Sanigar Events’ double-header on Friday at the LC2 in Swansea, live on terrestrial broadcaster S4C.

Seven years of seniority gives Jones a wealth of experience over 21-year-old Anthony. That also comes with the added reality that a loss comes with greater consequences for Jones.

Jones’ recent losses have come in surprising circumstances. Victory slipped away in the final seconds against New Zealand’s already-dominated Mose Auimtagi Jr at the Principality Stadium 18 months ago. He returned in March and lacked his usual confidence when he was knocked down and out-pointed against serial upsetter Anthony Fox.

At Jones’ best, the South African-born contender is an awkward handful for anyone at British level. Long levers have enabled Jones to offset opponents, forcing them to take risks to get inside.

The wide stance, backed up with concussive power, has presented 12 of Jones’ opponents with a conundrum of whether to stay at range or stick close. He appears to prefer distance but is likely to have worked with trainer Paul Paveltish on tightening up his defence to tie up Anthony at close quarters.

Jones’ debut win against Chris Ware and early stoppage of Jade Karam signaled him as ‘one to watch.’ Rediscovering that form is key to his first title fight.

It’s difficult to find many significant faults with Anthony’s work to date. In his 23 months as a professional, the pressure-fighter’s approach has appeared well measured and evenly balanced.

Anthony’s favoured output often focuses on body punches, shifting from side-to-side to keep opponents guessing. Sometimes, he can be a bit too blatant but his previous six opponents have still struggled to evade the onslaughts to their ribs.

That raises a point about Anthony’s quality of opposition. On first glance, it doesn’t look the deepest resume. However, closer inspection spots Bristol’s handy Liam Hunt, who was handled easily and sent to the canvas, and former central area champion Darryl Sharp. Both are positive indicators, albeit a few levels below Jones’ ability.

Anthony intended to box for titles at middleweight but trainer/manager Richie Garner insists that isn’t possible anymore. The jump from 160lbs to 168lbs is the third biggest transition that can be made in boxing. Anthony had significant size advantage over his opponents until now and it would be a real achievement if he can be as physical against Jones, who comfortably competed at light-heavyweight as an international amateur.

Neither boxer has been the 10 round distance before and their management of the duration could be the difference. Both are likely to try and warm their way into action and the cornermen will be called on to steer the ship.

The fight’s determining factors are mostly intangibles, relying on Jones’ ability to regain his momentum and Anthony’s ability to step up in levels – exactly the type of factors that can’t be known until the opening bell, making this one of the most unpredictable Welsh title fights in recent memory.

The undercard sees Mountain Ash’s Tony Dixon (11-2, 3KO) in a Commonwealth eliminator, whilst hot prospects Jake Tinklin (3-0) and Robbie Vernon (3-0, 2KO) are worth turning up early for. Elsewhere, Jordan Withers and Joshua John make their professional debuts.

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