Kid Galahad and Jazza Dickens have both developed since their first encounter. They meet again to headline the second Fight Camp bill, writes Declan Taylor
KID GALAHAD and James ‘Jazza’ Dickens’ clash in a rematch almost eight years in the making at the top of the second Matchroom Fight Camp bill on Saturday night (August 7) The pair met at Rotherham’s Magna Centre way back in 2013 for the vacant British super-bantamweight title and went hell for leather until Galahad found a superb finish midway through the 10th round. But much has changed since then. They are now both campaigning up at featherweight and will this time do business at Matchroom Square Garden. With Galahad No.4 and Dickens No.9 in the world this is an important bout in the featherweight division. The vacant IBF belt relinquished by Josh Warrington earlier this year will be on the line. Galahad has boxed just once since he was beaten by the Leeds man for the same strap in 2019, when he forced Claudio Marrero into an eighth-round retirement in the February of 2020. Dickens, meanwhile, has been the busier of the two, beating both Leigh Wood and Ryan Walsh during 2020. Indeed, since his back-to-back defeats to Guillermo Rigondeaux (July 2016) and Thomas Patrick Ward (May 2017), Dickens has rebuilt steadily and is now on an eight-fight winning streak, which has resulted in his surge up the world rankings. But, although eight years have passed since their first fight, they have hit each other regularly since then. With the two southpaws both based in the north of England, they have shared many rounds of exceptional sparring and both have expressed how much the other has improved since 2013. It’s clear there is vast mutual respect between the two but it will matter little once the ring clears.
“When I boxed Claudio Marrero, I actually sparred Jazza Dickens,” Galahad said. “I’ve known him for a long time and we’re friends.
“But at the end of the day, when we get in there, friendship will be pushed to the side. It’s about seek and destroy. I’m not here to make friends. I can’t wait to get in there and take what’s mine.”
Dickens said of Galahad: “He’s a humble guy deep down. I know he is. He’s not stupid and he knows he shouldn’t judge this fight on the first one.
“I want the KO. I want revenge. I remember back then it was tough losing. It was tough on my ego and humbling. It was a humbling experience.
“It was either swerve it or carry on and win a [IBF] title and get a revenge, and that’s where I am now.”
Over the years, showdowns between two southpaws have sometimes failed to deliver and this one certainly has the potential to be cagey, given just how much they know about each other. Galahad can be about as awkward as anyone in world boxing when he wants to be but he does it with intelligence in order to collect the rounds on the cards. Dickens will have to set a high pace from the off to avoid falling behind and giving himself a hill to climb in the second half of the fight.
It looks like a tall order for the man from Liverpool, who might struggle to pin Galahad down with any real conviction. Although their first encounter ended early, it looks like a distance fight this time around. Given their respective styles, do not be surprised to see all three judges return 7-5 cards either way. And, based on overall pedigree, the result last time and his performance against Warrington – albeit in a losing effort – expect Galahad to nick it.
While two little men top the card, there are heavyweights galore further down. First, Fabio Wardley and Nick Webb, who both won in Gibraltar four months back, have been matched together this time.
Before that night, not many would have picked against Wardley to stop his fellow Brit Webb, who was beaten inside the distance by both Dave Allen and Kamil Sokolowski during 2018. But he bounced back in 2019, winning the heavyweight Ultimate Boxxer and continued the rebuild by stunning German Erik Pfeifer in March.
That night, Wardley moved to 11-0 (10) with a fifth-round stoppage of former Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder opponent, Eric Molina. However, he was hit more often in that fight than any other and Webb will fancy his chances of a second successive upset win.
With all that being said, the ever-improving Wardley looks much the fresher and will have learned a lot in his fight with Molina. He clearly carries power and should be able to catch up with Webb inside the 10-round distance.
One fight just about guaranteed to finish early is Alen Babic’s showdown with Mark Bennett. Babic is now 7-0 and none of his opponents have made it beyond three rounds. It seems that every time he fights, the suggestion is that whoever can absorb the power in his wild hooks and uppercuts will beat him easily. Nobody has even come close to doing so yet.
“The Savage,” however, is not the biggest heavyweight and could quite comfortably be competing at cruiserweight. Indeed, two of his last four opponents have weighed in below 200lbs. “Bad News” Bennett has not been below 250lbs since March 2019, so it will be interesting to see how Babic handles that extra weight.
The feeling is he should do so quite comfortably. Bennett, 7-1, has won just once inside the distance so it does not seem like he carries the requisite power to keep Babic off him for any length of time. Whatever happens, this looks like the sort of tear-up from which only one man will emerge standing and conscious. As ever, Babic inside three seems a very smart bet. “Bennett was a potential opponent for my previous fights but he rejected the offer,” said Babic. “I’ve had seven fights, seven knockouts, all within two or three rounds. This is going to be no different. Mark Bennett is going to feel the Savage, I already know.
“I’m not coming to box Mark Bennett. I destroy people.”
Completing a hat-trick of heavyweight fights is the young Romford Bull Johnny Fisher, who takes on Danny Whitaker in the third fight of his professional career. Fisher was supposed to be facing Josh Sandland in a clear step up but the man from Halifax withdrew, which meant Whitaker got the nod.
Whitaker has had a difficult 18 months having been stopped by Webb and David Adeleye as well as dropping a decision to Chris Healey for the vacant Central Area title last month. Fisher should add to those defeats but won’t have it all his own way.
Two of the real characters of Matchroom’s post-Covid offering, Ebanie Bridges and Bec Connolly, will meet each other in a bantamweight clash. Bridges had a memorable scrap with Shannon Courtenay in April while scaffolder Connolly lost to both Ellie Scotney and Ramla Ali in differing bubbles either side of the turn of the year. Based on her performance against Courtenay, Bridges will be too much for Connolly and win a decision.
There are also outings for undefeated pair Ellie Scotney and Aqib Fiaz. For Scotney, this will be the first time she will box in front of fans after racking up her first two professional wins inside behind-closed-doors bubbles. The highly-touted Fiaz, meanwhile, is bidding to move to 7-0 early on the card and will finally get the chance to box on Hearn’s lawn nearly a year after falling ill on the eve of his scheduled clash with Kane Baker at Fight Camp last August. Fiaz and Baker eventually met in October with the former winning an eight-round decision in what was his first fight against an opponent with a winning record. He will be hoping to build on that display this time around.
The Verdict Familiarity should breed quality.