Last weekend witnessed Leo Santa Cruz and Abner Mares leading comfortable defences of their WBA featherweight belts. On Saturday, a tread or two further down the division’s ladder, Josh Warrington (25-0) is set to take on Denmark’s Dennis Ceylan (18-0-2).
Frank Warren is promoting this fight as an official eliminator for a shot at the IBF version of the title. Warrington already holds the cut-price international variety of the WBC belt and will be keen to upgrade and secure a date with full IBF champion, Lee Selby.
In his way stands the Aarhus based Dennis Ceylan. The Dane holds the European strap earlier vacated by his upcoming opponent. Warrington is setting his sights above that level after seamlessly manoeuvring his way through British, Commonwealth and European successes.
Denmark has a limited lineage and profile when it comes to success in the square circle. Traditionally their combatants have struggled to break out of European title or contender territory. The obvious exceptions being Mikkel Kessler and for those tapped into their fistic history, the great “Battling” Nelson. The insanely tough and so-called “Durable Dane” qualifies as an all-time great of the lightweight division, plying his brutal trade in the proverbial butcher’s shop that so characterised early 20th century boxing.
Without appearing pessimistic, and despite his unbeaten record, it is difficult to see Ceylan ever touching the heights of these two giants. More realistically he will follow the path of compatriot Patrick Nielsen, who was comfortably seen off by Britain’s John Ryder on last week’s Groves vs Cox undercard.
Josh Warrington vs Dennis Ceylan in an IBF featherweight title eliminator
Where: First Direct Arena, Leeds, UK
When: Saturday, 21st October, 8:30pm UK time
TV: BT Sport 1
In all probability this will be an exceptionally tough assignment for Ceylan. The 28-year-old will be competing for the first time in the UK and faces the added challenge of the match-up being in Warrington’s home city of Leeds. The Yorkshireman is a highly rated local prospect and he will have a passionate, thirsty and vocal crowd behind him.
Ceylan’s unbeaten record, as is so often the case these days, doesn’t really stand up to any great scrutiny. It hides a far from impressive draw against the unheralded Cristian Montilla; one that is only partially redeemed by his later victory over Russia’s Dmitry Kirillov. By the time of their 2015 encounter the former IBF super featherweight champion, had returned from a five-year absence and was irredeemably jaded.
Since dropping to featherweight Ceylan’s most pertinent victory has been against current British champion Ryan Walsh via a questionable split decision. Much needed context should have been supplied in his last outing versus the young British up-and-comer Isaac Lowe. However, a clash of heads early on shelved the outcome as a technical draw.
Warrington, by contrast has some solid and reasonably compelling names on his record. The 26-year-old pulled off an impressive majority decision win over former world champion Kiko Martinez in his last ring appearance. Together with victories over the likes of: Patrick Hyland, former contender, Hisashi Amagasa and Commonwealth champ Joel Brunker, suggest that he is a class or two above the Dane.
Warrington has allegedly been chasing a big ticket matchup with Welshman Lee Selby for some time now. This contest looks to be just a mechanism for locking down his claim as the number one challenger. Ceylan and his unbeaten record provide a respectable, viable and relatively safe obstacle in order for him to achieve this aim. When he does finally secure his night under the lights with “Lightning” Lee, he will find the champion a whole different level of competition, and one that is light-years above what awaits him on Saturday.
Expect the Dane to be solid and measured in the same way he was in the early rounds against Lowe. He will stick out the jab, keep things tight and attempt to ensure that the hometown crowd remain in their seats. Ultimately, Warrington’s superior skills and focused aggression will reel him in as the fight progresses and he should prove able to open a wide points lead.
Warrington is not famed for his destructive finishing and has ended just five of his 25 contests within the allotted rounds. Although, since he has stepped up in quality and distance he has finished five of his last ten early. In reality Ceylan should really be of sufficient ability and character to last the course on his way to a heavy points reverse.
This is the odds-on view propagated by your friendly bookmakers. However, it is not inconceivable that Ceylan, faced with a braying crowd, hopelessly behind on points and lacking a knockout punch, could succumb to the hopelessness of his task, late on. The market is throwing out a rough 6/1 on the final quartet of rounds, and that may well provide interest to canny readers of form and investors alike.
The card is the laced with decent, if perhaps unproven, domestic talent. The actual nominal headliner features Tyrone Nurse (35-2-2) defending his British super lightweight title against unbeaten Jack Catterall (18-0). The bookmakers have the challenger as the narrow favourite in what promises to be a terrific encounter. At just 27 this will be Nurse’s 40th outing as a professional. His personal form book though contains an over preponderance of uncompetitive small hall matchups, amidst a few worthy encounters. The bookies appear to have this one about right.
Elsewhere, Craig Poxton (13-4) will assist Leon Woodstock (9-0) in picking up his 10th professional victory and the regional version of the WBO’s super featherweight belt. Finally, the fantastically self-penned “Brown Flash” Zelfa Barrett (18-0) takes on Chris Conwell (9-2) for the English super featherweight crown. The last time Conwell stepped up to this modest level he couldn’t cope with Andy Townend’s work-rate and was stopped in two short rounds. He may hang around a little longer with Barrett, but the outcome will be the same.
Regrettably, like the rest of Barrett’s resume, we will learn little from his victory here. To date, he has fought just one opponent with a positive win/loss record, and Frank Warren seriously needs to step up his level of competition as he nears his 20th pro-fight.
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