Tonight at the Barnsley Metrodome in Barnsley, England, super flyweight Andy Bell aims to succeed where fellow Doncaster native Jamie McDonnell failed by beating Chris Edwards to become the first British champion to hail from the South Yorkshire town since Jon Jo Irwin was the domestic featherweight ruler back in the late 1990s.
The bill has dubbed "Northern Rock" by promoter Frank Maloney and is televised live by Sky Sports.
31 year old Edwards, from Stoke, won the inaugural 115 Ib Lonsdale belt last December by narrowly squeezing past McDonnell and it was a result that greatly astounded Andy Bell.
He told local press: "To be honest I thought that Jamie would beat Edwards and I was surprised that he didn't. I went to Wigan on the night and I felt Jamie boxed the wrong fight. Apart from experience, Jamie looked to have everything in his favour. But Edwards was in the great shape and he kept going for the full 12 rounds."
Edwards, a pro fighter for almost ten years, didn’t have the greatest of starts in the paid ranks. After winning by second round knockout out on his debut, the little man from the Potteries didn’t taste victory again for over two and a half years.
A lot fighters would have turned in the game but, in the mould of Steve Robinson and Johnny Nelson, he’s shown great determination and achieved things that many people thought would be simply beyond him. He’s going to have to give his all tonight if he wants to hang on to the position he has worked so hard to acquire.
"I’m taking nothing for granted," Edwards is quoted as saying via an Impact Boxing press release sent out this week. "Andy Bell is a good fighter and will be just as keen to win the belt as I am. I know what I need to do to get past him and as long as I stick to the game plan and listen to my corner during the fight I am confident I can bring the belt back to Stoke again."
Like Edwards, Bell - who has prepared for this bout in Tenerife at a place normally used for putting trainee pole dancers through their paces - was also in title action last time out as he retained his English title by scoring revenge over Grimsby’s Wayne Bloy in a ten rounder. Bloy had outpointed Bell over four – threes back in 2005.
So who will be superfly?
Verdict: Edwards stands at just over 5ft tall and, Ian Napa apart, is possibly the smallest man in modern British boxing but he’s been fighting bigger men for his entire career and should not be fazed by the prospect of facing Bell. I expect him get at Bell from the off but the Doncaster man is a decent switch hitting box-puncher and I feel he has the style to ensure that the country’s newest pugilistic prize comes into his possession.
Chief support on the Barnsley bill sees another battle at 115 lb as former Commonwealth flyweight champion Lee Haskins squares off against the aforementioned Jamie McDonnell. At stake is a shot at the winner of the main event.
Haskins has lost two of last three fights – one of which saw him bail out with an arm injury- but they have been in ambitious title tilts up at bantamweight and he will come down to this division with the confident swagger that has been his trademark throughout his career.
The Bristol southpaw can be frustrating to watch as he fights with his hands down in a style similar to Naseem Hamed. However, he does not possess either the skill or the get out of jail power Naz did and I feel this will be his comeuppance against a tall and rangy fighter like McDonnell.
Another interesting clash sees Sheffield prospect John "Fireball" Fewkes warm up for his delayed lightweight tussle with John Murray by engaging in a six rounder with durable Frenchman Frederic Gosset.
Fewkes, 16 – 0 (2), is a fighter on the periphery of genuine title class and should ease past Gosset with a clearcut decision.