Ready to rumble: Ultimate Boxxer presser

Paul Zanon
29/11/2019 10:55pm

Live and direct from the iconic BT Tower, eight of Britain’s most diverse heavyweights lined up for the Ultimate Boxxer press conference on Friday. Paul Zanon reports...

The field for the Ultimate Boxxer heavyweight tournament is enticing to say the least.

Some of the eight entrants are able to boast of unbeaten records, high knockout ratios and an impressive amateur pedigree, whilst others bring a degree of the unknown and a fierce desire to win. Some have also beaten each other in the past, so an element of revenge is certainly real amongst the diverse group.

Combine these factors with a size variation of 5'10" to 6'5" and weight differences of approximately 60lbs and this is certainly an eclectic mix for the quickfire tournament which takes place at Planet Ice, Altrincham, on 13 December.

The quarter-final draw came out as follows:
1] Kamil Sokolowski (8-15-2) vs Josh Sandland (4-1-1)
2] Danny Whitaker (2-0) vs Jonathan Palata (7-0)
3] Jay MacFarlane (10-4) vs Mark Bennett (5-0)
4] Nick Webb (13-2) vs Chris Healey (8-6)

Former two-weight world champion, Paulie Malignaggi kicked off proceedings by stating: “Ultimate Boxxer is yet to have a bad show. We have a formula which brings excitement, but the heavyweights will bring that extra level of excitement.” With the crop of eight included this time around, I’d have to agree.

The first fight of the night has the potential to be a barnburner. Polish-born Kamil Sokolowski, a resident of the UK for the last six years, boasts a very deceiving record of 18-5-2. His losses have come against the likes of David Price, Lucas Browne, Nathan Gorman (twice), Gary Cornish, Dillian Whyte and Martin Bakole, most of whom he lasted the distance with. In the words of Jay McFarlane, “he [Sokolowski] looks like a [James] Bond villain!”

However, discount his opponent, Josh Sandland at your peril. The former professional rugby player - the shortest man in the competition at 5'10" -  weighs in at a solid 16 stone and has only lost once in six fights. He made it clear that he’s not there to make up numbers.

The next contest of the evening will pit two unbeaten fighters willing to risk their records. Jonathan Palata (7-0) takes on last minute entrant (two weeks' notice) Danny Whitaker (2-0). Having only turned professional in August, the softly spoken Yorkshireman has a tall order in front of him against London favourite, Palata, but a high knockout ratio in his white collar days indicates he’s certainly a threat. Palata’s lack of handshaking and evil staredown spoke volumes. I don’t think this one is going the distance.

If you had to pick the most ‘stand out’ fighter, on looks alone, it would have to be the 6'3", 21-year-old Glaswegian Jay McFarlane. Wearing a set of goggles reminiscent of a Mad Max movie, a pair of Doctor Martens boots, holding a bright pink teddy in his hand and with a heavily tattooed face, the affable Scot brings entertainment by the ton load. In his own words, “I’m a lovely guy. I just look a bit scary!”

But let’s not forget, the man can fight. The youngest fighter in the tournament spent some time in a Caribbean orphanage as a child and at the age of 18 turned professional. In his third contest he fought at Madison Square Garden on the undercard of Gennady Golovkin vs Danny Jacobs, losing a majority decision. Six fights later he dropped an immense amount of weight to fight for the Scottish Area cruiserweight title... and won.

Boasting a record of 10-4, McFarlane has never been stopped, however, his opponent, mammoth Mark Bennett brings an unbeaten record to the table (5-0) and an inbred fighting gene due to his army background. The 6'5" former soldier, who toured Afghanistan, made it clear that he intends to extend his unbeaten record and that he fears no man in the competition. Bombs away!

The fourth and final of the last eight match-ups is between Surrey man, Nick Webb (13-2) and Stockport’s Chris Healey (8-6). The Lancashire fighter was stopped by Webb in 2017 and possesses the weaker resume of the two. That in essence means one thing: he’ll be looking for revenge and with a five-figure cheque awaiting the competition winner, hungry Healey will bring the heat.

The 6'5" Webb looked possibly the calmest man in the room. He has only two losses to his name in 15 fights, one of which was against fellow entrant Sokolowski. He expressed his desire to avenge his loss and locked an intense stare with the Devon based Pole when doing so.

Steve Bunce is tipping Jonathan Palata to take home the prize money, but in heavyweight boxing, especially in this rapid fire competition format, nothing is a sure thing.

One thing is for sure – sparks will be flying as each fighter tries to wreak destruction!

Ultimate Boxxer will be shown live on BT Sport 1 and the BT Sport YouTube Channel at 8pm on 13 December. Tickets are nearly sold out, the last remaining are available at www.ultimateboxxer.com