Preview – Stars of the show: Terry Flanagan vs Orlando Cruz, Tommy Lanford vs Sam Sheedy and more

Preview – Stars of the show: Terry Flanagan vs Orlando Cruz, Tommy Lanford vs Sam Sheedy and more

A number of fighters will visit Cardiff for the next step of their careers this weekend and the carrot of major title fights has been dangled for leader of the pack, Manchester’s Terry Flanagan (31-0, 12KO).

If the reigning WBO world lightweight champion comes through his fourth defence at the Motorpoint on Saturday, he’s set for career defining opportunities.

Hall of Fame promoter Frank Warren is currently in talks with American powerhouse Bob Arum about not just one but two back-to-back blockbusters.

Standing in the way of those fights is Orlando Cruz (25-4-1, 13KO), a man on a mission to make history live on BoxNation. The Puerto Rican is the only openly homosexual boxer in the world and he’s now within one win to become the first one to capture world honours.

If Flanagan wins, he will progress to a mandatory defence of his belt against another Puerto Rican. Felix Verdejo (22-0, 15KO) is receiving big backing from broadcasters HBO, establishing himself as one of the sport’s brightest young talents and ‘Turbo’ will have to face him next.

Warren is in talks with Arum’s Top Rank, Verdejo’s promotional handlers, for that fight to take place in Britain and for Ukrainian superstar Vasyl Lomachenko (6-1, 4KO) to appear on the undercard with a view to facing the winner.

Should Flanagan and Lomachenko, who fights former featherweight ruler Nicholas Walters in a super-featherweight title defence tomorrow, both win then Warren is working towards the pair fighting each other in Britain during summer 2017.

Lomachenko is widely regarded as one of the best amateur boxers of all time, amassing a remarkable 396-1 record and winning gold medals at Olympic Games, World and European Championships.

The maverick has transferred his box of tricks to the pro-code, winning a world title in his third outing and becoming a two-weight titlist with a brutal knockout of Roman Martinez earlier this year.

Flanagan is keen to improve on his last performance when he appeared at the Cardiff Ice Arena. The 27-year-old won every round against Africa’s Mzonke Fana but was displeased with his inability to end matters before the final bell.

He will hold a significant size advantage over Cruz, who only stands at five foot four inches tall. While Cruz has contested titles at super-featherweight, suffering a fourth round knockout to Lomachenko’s only professional conqueror Orlando Salido, there has been repeated talk of Flanagan going north to super-lightweight.

Though Flanagan isn’t a noted heavy hitter, he will be presented with opportunities to land counters. Cruz has been stopped on three previous occasions and that’s partly due to his willingness to trade when he shouldn’t, which may feature again in this fight.

The other title fight featuring visiting boxers sees the Midlands’ unbeaten Tommy Langford (17-0, 6KO) square off with Yorkshire’s ‘Speedy’ Sam Sheedy (17-1, 4KO).

Chris Eubank Jnr was supposed to face Langford but withdrew, citing an unexplained elbow injury and his vacated British middleweight title will be up for grabs.

It’s an interesting clash of styles that pits a fundamentally sound operator against his polar opposite opponent in the form of an unorthodox flamboyant southpaw. While Langford bases his game on mastering the essentials, Sheedy can call on flashy counters from his more varied arsenal.

Both have had learning fights along the way but it’s undoubted that both are also the best boxer each has faced. At 27 and 28-years-old respectively and with almost exactly the same number of fights, Langford and Sheedy are also facing a fighter at the same stage of their careers.

It’s likely to be closely contested, arguably the best matched fight on the 10-fight show, but Langford’s extra aggression may do more to catch the judges’ eyes. It’s also worth noting that Sheedy has only recently moved up to the weight, while Langford looks large for the 160lbs limit. It will be competitive and the result could come courtesy of debated scorecards in one of the show’s not-to-be-missed encounters.

Earlier this week, the show was hit by the withdrawals of Ahmet Patterson, who was due to challenge British super-welterweight Liam Williams, and the postponement of Billy Joe Saunders’ maiden defence of the WBO world middleweight crown against Russia’s Artur Akavov.

However, Sheffield’s Kid Galahad (20-0, 11KO) remains an unwelcome addition and is unlikely to be warmly received by fans in Wales on fight night.

It follows an 18-month ban for the banned Performance Enhancing Drug, stanozolol – a synthetic anabolic steroid. Galahad attempted to excuse himself by saying that his brother spiked his supplements but it was rejected by UK Anti-Doping, who use a strict liability principle.

The super-bantamweight still claims to be capable of beating the very best in his weight category, including Cuban maestro Guillermo Rigondeaux, despite fighting his third journeyman on the trot.

This time, Galahad faces the unknown Reynaldo Mora (7-19-1, 4KO), who has lost 19 consecutive fights and been knocked out on seven occasions, in an eight rounder.

Ricky Hatton’s up-and-comers Nathan Gorman (6-0, 5KO) and Rueben Arrowsmith (7-0, 2KO) complete the show against Igor Mihaljevic (4-6, 1KO) and Ivica Gogosevic (12-19-2, 5KO) at heavyweight and super-welterweight, respectively.

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