IF anyone was left shaking their head at the news that Joseph Parker and Derek Chisora would fight again in a needless return, the undercard should appease. The heavyweight rematch, set for December 18 at the Manchester Arena, gets sterling support from Joshua Buatsi taking on Russia’s Maxim Vlasov in a light-heavyweight 12-rounder and, down at super-middleweight, 15-0 (3) Lerrone Richards fights fellow unbeaten starlet, Carlos Góngora of Ecuador.
The matchmaking from Matchroom is excellent here, it must be said. There’s two other 12-rounders on the DAZN-televised card. The improving Jack Cullen takes on Germany’s Emre Cukur in a battle for the vacant European 168lbs strap and, at super-featherweight, Zelfa Barrett is matched tough against Tanzania-born Aussie, Bruno Tarimo.
But it’s the fight between Buatsi and Vlasov that might turn out to be the best on the entire bill. Vlasov, ranked No.4 in the world at 175lbs, is coming off a contentious 12-round points defeat to Joe Smith Jnr in April and even though 35 years old, he represents the toughest test of Buatsi’s career to date. Should the Briton – 15-0 (13) and ranked No.8 – get the job done against the 45-4 (26) stalwart he puts himself in prime position for a scrap with the No.1-ranked Dmitry Bivol. Watching developments carefully will be the fearsome world champion, Artur Beterbiev.
There is plenty to gain for the winner of Gongora-Richards, too. Southpaw Gongora is 32 years old, 20-0 (15), and proving his worth in the professional code. In his most recent contest, the two-time Olympian (2008 and 2012) halted Christopher Pearson in eight rounds in April. That followed a December 2020 stoppage of Ali Akhemdov. Richards, meanwhile, will be looking to build on a May win over Giovanni De Carolis that saw him crowned European king at 168. Wins over Lennox Clarke and Tommy Langford in 2019 further strengthen his ledger. Neither Gongora nor Richards is ranked at super-middleweight but the winner will surely make their case to be among the world top 10.
Cullen will be favourite to beat Cukur, 17-1 (3). The Munich-based 28-year-old has not particularly impressed as a pro. He’s not been beyond 10 rounds and has not fought anyone approaching world class.
Barrett will have his work cut out against Tarimo. The rough and tough 26-year-old, 26-2-2 (5), has wins over Kye MacKenzie, Joel Brunker and Nathaniel May and will come with ambition. Further down the event, fans should keep an eye on New Zealand’s David Nyika, 1-0 (1), a cruiserweight prospect with skills to burn.