The resurgent Colin Lynes embarks on the maiden defence of his European light welterweight crown this Friday evening when he faces late substitute Juho Tolppola of Finland at the Goresbrook Leisure Centre in Dagenham, England on a Matchroom promotion.
Lynes, 30-3 (12), was expecting two time world title challenger and former European king Gianluca Branco to be coming out of the opposing corner at fight time but the Italian withdrew earlier this week, not that it will really bother the 30 year old former printer from Hornchurch. After two journeys on the road to hostile venues, Lynes will just be happy to have his first defence in front of his adoring East London fans.
To say that Lynes has had a mixed career so far would be an understatement. As an amateur, he was a three time National junior champion. After turning pro in 1998, he racked up 21 straights wins and claimed the IBO Intercontinental title, but in the first defence of his new crown he was overworked by South Africa’s Samuel Malinga in 2003 and forced to quit on his stool with two badly swollen eyes after eight punishing rounds.
After three routine comeback fights, Lynes won the IBO title proper when he edged a split decision over Argentina’s Pablo Daniel Sarmiento in 2004. Things were looking up again and, after successfully defending his trinket against Juaquin Gallardo, he got the opportunity to challenge the then British, Commonwealth and European ruler, Junior "The Hitter" Witter in October, 2005.
Lynes was a major underdog but made a good account of himself as he extended an off key Witter but still dropped a close points but unanimous verdict.
He returned two months later but again tasted defeat as he was literally sick in his corner against the undefeated Lenny Daws and after nine rounds of action, was forced to quit. He now attributes this loss to a viral infection.
He then scored back to back stoppage victories over lightly regarded opponents Janos Petrovics and Arek Malek before, in June of last year, he annexed the 140 Ib Lonsdale belt from Barry Morrison in the Scot’s hometown of Motherwell.
When Brixton based European Champ Ted Bami suffered an injury and, as a result, was forced to give up his title and pull out his scheduled defence to West Brom’s Young Mutley last summer, Lynes agreed step into the fray at short notice.
In what was a glorious night in the Black Country, Lynes outclassed the former British Welter champion in all departments and stopped him with a barrage of punches in the eighth stanza - he’s been enjoying his status as the continent’s top man ever since.
Although coming in a short notice, Juho "TNT" Tolppola is a live opponent. At just 26 years of age, he his in the prime of his life, has won 20 of his 24 professional contests and has never been stopped. His recent outings have been low key affairs in his home country of Finland but he has challenged for a European title before, albeit the less prestigious European Union version, losing a 12 round unanimous decision to Italy’s Michele Di Rocco a year ago.
His last visit to these shores was in January 2005 when he lost a ten round decision to stylish Manchester southpaw David Barnes.
Having not scored a stoppage victory in over two and a half years with a career knockout percentage of less than 50%, the "TNT" moniker is a curious one but doesn’t mean the Finn isn’t a threat.
Verdict: With the Finnish stand-in’s durability, I see a long night at the proverbial office for the champion. That said, I foresee Lynes dominating every session and cruising to deservedly lopsided decision.
On the B-side of the Dagenham show appears "Dangerous" Ted Bami, 22-2 (11), in an eight round contest with French journeyman Nicolas Guisset, 16-10-1 (0).
Until recently Bami, a Congolese born former barber from Brixton, was the European beltholder but (as mentioned earlier in this preview) was forced to relinquish his crown due to injury. This is his first fight back and the result can almost be viewed as a foregone conclusion.
Bami, 29, isn’t called "Dangerous" for nothing. He may have only 11 wins inside schedule on his résumé, but he carries a vicious left hook and holds a very impressive stoppage win over current Commonwealth Light Middleweight Champion Bradley Pryce and I personally can’t see any way that Guisset will get to the final bell.
Taking into the account the fact that the 28 year old Frenchman has never been halted in his 10 career losses, you could feel that my forecast is a little optimistic on Bami’s part but, the truth is, Guisset has never faced anyone of the SW9 based fighter’s calibre.
Who knows, with good showings, Lynes and Bami could end up meeting. They have faced off before but that came with the vests on at the 1998 London ABA finals. Lynes won that time but if he would again is as questionable as Britney Spear’s sanity.