Matchroom Boxing’s early 2021 schedule has been revealed and a number of title fights have been announced.
All five shows, starting with February 13 and ending on April 10, will be streamed on DAZN in most markets around the world, excluding the UK and Ireland.
“Even in a pandemic I feel like this is the strongest start to a year Matchroom have had in a long time. It’s going to be a rough ride over the next couple of months but with plenty of drama and excitement along the way. We have some thrilling main events and stacked cards that feature some of the biggest names in British boxing returning to action as we look to make a real statement in 2021,” promoter Eddie Hearn said in a press release.
The biggest of the five shows announced is the rematch between Alexander Povetkin and Dillian Whyte. That fight, streaming on DAZN, will take place on March 6. The fight is a rematch of their August 2020 bout when Povetkin knocked out Whyte to capture an interim WBC heavyweight title.
That knockout dashed Whyte’s hopes of getting a heavyweight title opportunity anytime soon. Whyte opted for an immediate rematch set for last December. However, the fight was called off after Povetkin tested positive for COVID-19.
Also fighting on the Povetkin vs. Whyte 2 undercard are Ted Cheeseman and James Metcalf for the British junior middleweight title. Heavyweight prospect Fabio Wardley will take on Eric Molina while Campbell Hatton will make his pro debut. Lastly, Youssef Khoumari will take on Kane Baker.
The first of these shows take place on February 13. In the main event, IBF featherweight champion Josh Warrington will fight Mauricio Lara. Lara was not Warrington or Matchroom’s first choice for an opponent, but plans to make a fight against Xu Can fell through. Both fighters’ parties still plan to make that fight happen later this year.
This will be Lara’s biggest test to date as he has not fought anyone near the world title level throughout his pro career.
On the undercard, Zelfa Barrett and former super bantamweight champion Kiko Martinez will square off in a 10-round fight. In addition, Leigh Wood and Reece Mould will fight for the vacant British featherweight title, last held by Ryan Walsh. Other fights and fighters announced for that show are Dalton Smith vs. Lee Appleyard as well as Shannon Courtenay and Hopey Price in action.
The second February show will take place on February 20 featuring the long-overdue welterweight bout between David Avanesyan and Josh Kelly. Avanesyan and Kelly have had three prior fight dates going back to December 2018. Avanesyan and Kelly were last set to fight for the European title back on January 30, but was called off due to a ruling from the British Boxing Board of Control as a result of increased positive COVID-19 cases in the UK.
The undercard of the February 20 show will feature Florian Marku vs. Rylan Charlton as well as Anthony Fowler vs. Jorge Fortea and Amy Timlin vs. Carly Skelly. Johnny Fisher will make his pro debut on the card as well.
After Povetkin and Whyte’s rematch, Matchroom Boxing shifts its focus to a cruiserweight title fight on March 20. Lawrence Okolie and Krzysztof Glowacki will fight for the vacant WBO cruiserweight title in the main event.
The fight between Okolie and Glowacki is not the only world title bout scheduled for March 20. Chantelle Cameron will defend her WBC junior welterweight title against Melissa Hernandez in Cameron’s first title defense. Other fights announced for March 20 are Chris Billam-Smith vs. Deion Jumah while Ramla Ali, Solomon Dacres and Joe Cordina will see action as well.
The last show announced will feature another welterweight matchup as the main event. On April 10, Conor Benn will take on Samuel Vargas for Benn’s WBA Continental belt. Also on the card is a rematch between Rachel Ball and Courtenay for the vacant WBA bantamweight title. Ball narrowly beat Courtenay back in August on Matchroom Fight Camp.
WBO middleweight champion Savannah Marshall will make her first title defense on the undercard. Rounding out the Benn vs. Vargas undercard is Felix Cash and Kash Farooq seeing action in separate bouts.