A MAGNIFICENT SEVEN title fights are set to be showcased on one night at the AO Arena, Manchester, on Saturday November 18, live on TNT Sports.
With the day being free from club football, supporters from London, Liverpool, Stoke, Nottingham, Derby and Southampton can plan a party weekend in Manchester to get behind their local fighting favourites.
In a fight that is certain to draw a bumper crowd from the city of Stoke, Nathan Heaney (17-0, 6) will attempt to realise his dream when he challenges Denzel Bentley (18-2-1, 15) for the British Middleweight title, with the WBA Continental championship belts also on the line.
In the co-headline bout, a final eliminator for the WBC World Featherweight Championship, the WBC Silver champion Nick Ball (18-0, 11 KOs) will come up against former WBO world champion Isaac Dogboe (24-3, 15).
In world championship action, the vacant WBC Super Welterweight Championship will be up for grabs when Hannah Rankin (13-6, 3), the former WBA and IBO world champion from Glasgow, takes on the Slovenian Ema Kozin (23-1-1, 12).
The IBO World Super Featherweight Champion Anthony Cacace (21-1, 7) will turn his attention to the undefeated Ryan Garner (14-0, 8) in a thrilling clash of experience versus youth.
At super bantamweight, the British, WBC International and European champion Liam Davies (14-0, 6), fresh off a first-round stoppage of Jason Cunningham, will face his mandatory challenger for his EBU belt in Vincenzo La Femina (13-0, 7), the undefeated EU champion.
In a second of three British title fights on the night, Ekow Essuman (19-0, 7) tackles his mandatory challenger in Harry Scarff in a Nottingham vs Derby welterweight cracker.
Essuman was mandated to challenge Codey Crowley in a final eliminator for the IBF welterweight title. Queensberry won the purse bid for Essuman v Crowley and Crowley has until tonight to sign for the fight, if this is not signed Essuman will defend his British, Commonwealth and IBF European titles against Harry Scarff as part of a huge night of title action.
Completing the British title action will be Nathaniel Collins (13-0, 7), making a second defence of his British and Commonwealth belts following his 24 second destruction of Raza Hamza in August. The Scot will be up against the undefeated Manchester man Zak Miller (13-0, 3), who will enjoy home advantage at the AO Arena.
Liverpool man Ball, 26, who has made three successful defences of the WBC title he won against Isaac Lowe in 2022, reckons he is in for an almighty scrap in his final eliminator against a decorated opponent in Dogboe, a fighter fully accustomed to operating at the highest level.
“It is a good fight, and he has got a similar style to me in that he is small and comes forward,” he considered. “It is only going to make for an action-packed fight in my eyes. He has been a world champion and has been in with a few world champions so, on paper, he has got more experience. Although, if I can’t beat him, I won’t be no world champion.
“I definitely make myself favourite and always back myself. All my fights have been in London recently so, with this one being in Manchester and only 40 minutes away, my people will all get down and support me. There will be a big interest, and everyone will be taking notice of this one. I am one step away from a world title fight now and within touching distance.”
The formerly London-based Ghanaian Dogboe, 29, known as Royal Storm, attempted to win a featherweight world title in April against the celebrated Cuban Olympian Robeisy Ramirez, having previously reigned at super bantamweight following his defeat of Jessie Magdaleno in 2018.
“I know coming off a world title loss, to many, it would’ve sunk them into the abyss,” said the now US-based star who hails from Accra. “But I am still on my feet and God is guiding me day after day. Fighting in a WBC world title eliminator against an opponent like Nick Ball is a wonderful opportunity. He’s a great fighter with a lot of buzz behind him in the UK. This fight is about redemption. I haven’t fought on English soil since I turned pro. My passion for boxing started there, and I can’t wait to return home.”
Battersea Banger Bentley, 28, is making his third defence of his second reign as British middleweight champion against Heaney, having brutally dispatched Kieran Smith in a matter of 45 seconds last time out in April, following his unsuccessful world title challenge against Janibek Alimkhanuly in November of last year.
“It will be interesting to go to Manchester and I have never boxed there before,” he said. “He was doing the public workout stuff before my last fight, and we came together and he said ‘let’s do it’ and since then it has been brewing. I am up for it, and he has got a nice little title that I can take off him as well.
“It will be nice; the arena should be packed out and it will be special. We are two names in Britain, and it is a big fight domestically. He has got a big following in Stoke and I have sort of become a fan-favourite fighter over the last year or so.
“I can see him bringing 5,000 fans to the arena, which will bring a different dynamic. It will be good though, to see how loud they can boo me! I live from nights like this, and I am very excited to see how the night plays out and how I deal with all the fans.”
For Stoke hero, Hitman Heaney, Manchester will host his dream fight with the treasured Lonsdale belt awaiting, should he topple the champion.
“It is an absolutely phenomenal fight,” said the 34-year-old pride of the Potteries. “The British title is something every fighter dreams of fighting for and people have probably had easier fights for the belt, but this is the task in front of me. Denzel Bentley has proved himself to be above British level, so it is a very high-level fight that I will do everything I can to win.
“This is the time for me and, by putting a great performance in and becoming British champion, it sets up everything for the future. I am performing well, feeling great and it is the right time.
“I will go into this as a big underdog and my people will back me to make sure I do well. With all this YouTube stuff going on, this is a proper professional fight that I think people are really going to love. There will be people who doubt me, people who believe in me, so we will have to see what happens on the night.”
Incredibly, Hannah Rankin is heading into her ninth world title fight in her 20th fight as a professional in Manchester when she goes up against Ema Kozin, an opponent who has been on her radar for some time.
“I am absolutely over the moon to have the chance to fight for the WBC world title,” said the 33-year-old. “It is one of the most prestigious belts, one fighter’s want to get in their career and it is amazing for me.
“Most of all I remember Ema from fighting Claressa Shields over here in Cardiff. She is a southpaw, an aggressive style fighter who I am looking forward to sharing a ring with and I think we will put on a great show.
“There were plans for us to fight much earlier on in our careers, but Covid got in the way and now it is finally coming to fruition. It will be an exciting fight for the fans, and I am looking forward to putting on a show for everybody. This is a special night for me, and I really can’t wait to showcase everything I have been working on in the gym.
“I came into this sport to see how far I could go after coming into it late in my early 20s. This is me going for a third world title to take back to Scotland and I really couldn’t be prouder.”
Promoter Frank Warren added on the prospect of a title-laden night up in Manchester: “This card is going to be something very, very special. It is a throwback, packed with incredible 50-50 fights and fan favourites who we know will deliver the goods for those inside the AO Arena and those watching at home on TNT Sports.
“Such is the quality of talent on display, it is tricky to pick out a headline attraction as they are all worthy of the accolade.
“This show puts me in mind of the Magnificent Seven card we put on in Birmingham back in 2010, but I think this one is even stronger, with bigger titles on the line and so many popular fighters who will bring strong travelling support on a day clear of club football.”