The next Prizefighter tournament is set to take place on Friday, December 4, at London's Olympia's National Hall, with the junior welterweights being featured for the first time. Tournament organizers have set up a nice collection of former titlists, ex-contenders and all-around scrappy fellows, making for a pretty solid lineup for one of these things.
29-year old Rees has been out of the ring for about 14 months at this point, and will make it around 16 by the night of the tournament. He's a former WBA junior welterweight titlist, an inexplicably stunning upset over Souleymane M'baye giving him that strap in July 2007. Rees is a tough cookie, but he's very limited and will almost surely never contend on the world stage again. It helped him that M'baye, frankly, was himself a regional-level fighter who had come into world prominence. In his first defense of the title, he was knocked out in 12 by Andriy Kotelnik. His one fight since that loss was a win over a guy who came in with a 2-36 record.
Young Mutley (26-4, 13 KO)
Mutley, 33, was knocked out in the third round in his last fight, which came this past Saturday on the Froch-Dirrell undercard. He's won a couple of regional titles at junior welterweight and welterweight. He hasn't actually made the 140-pound limit since 2007, when Colin Lynes stopped him in eight, and he's actually only fought at 140 pounds on four occasions. He's fought as high as 150 as recently as February.
Colin Lynes (31-6, 12 KO)
31-year old Lynes once had some promise, but, well, that was then. He once challenged Junior Witter for the European junior welterweight title, but was outpoined (2005). Since then he's been your average knockaround guy, losing some, winning some. He's lost his last three, two split decisions (M'baye his most recent, as well as Gianluca Branco), and between those decision losses, a destructive TKO loss to Paul McCloskey.
At 34, Cook is the oldest guy in the field, and at 5'9", he's also the tallest, though the latter claim is easily up for debate with a couple of the competitors listed as 5'8 1/2" and boxing's habit of going the pro wrestling route and fudging heights (Andre the Giant, for instance, was billed as 7'4" while standing no taller than 6'11". Anybody want a peanut?)
Cook has also never really fought at 140, most recently fighting in September at about 150, and during his peak fighting days he was at 135. He also had a fairly extended retirement, after being knocked out by Aldo Rios in 2004 and then winning a DQ over Gary Reid in 2005. He was out of the ring just shy of four years before his September return. He retired, he said, because of problems with his shoulder, and said at the time that life as a journeyman was not for him, but also said, "If I was going to fight four or six-rounders, then it might be OK." Prizefighter is perfect for him, apparently.
Cook also did serve a six month prison sentence for credit card fraud back in 2001.
David Barnes (24-1-1, 11 KO)
28-year old southpaw Barnes has won seven in a row, including back-to-back wins over two fellow tournament competitors, Ted Bami and Barry Morrison. His only loss came to Joshua Okine back in 2005, but those wins over Bami and Morrison came in March and July...of 2008. He held the British welterweight title from 2003 to 2005 when he vacated it, and he also held the British junior lightweight title with those wins over Bami and Morrison, but was stripped when he didn't want to face Lynes, and hasn't fought in 15 months.
Ted Bami (26-5, 13 KO)
Bami, 31, was born in Congo but now lives in Brixton, and has fought his entire career in the UK rings. He took part in the 2008 welterweight Prizefighter tournament, losing to Michael Lomax in the final and going 2-1 overall on the night. Since then he's fought once more, losing to Matthew Hatton at 147 pounds by sixth round TKO this past March. The last time he fought at 140 was against Barnes in March 2008.
Barry Morrison (17-4, 7 KO)
Morrison, 29, hasn't beaten anyone with a winning record since a split decision win over Lenny Daws in 2007. The two rematched in September and Daws knocked Morrison out in the 10th. Overall, he has all of five wins over opponents with winning percentages greater than .500.
Lee Purdy (12-1-1, 6 KO)
The tournament's baby at 22, Purdy's lone loss to Peter McDonagh has been avenged. He's also the one fighter in this tournament who hasn't been through the wringer in his career. Most of these guys have fought each other, but Purdy has faced none of them and will surely have the freshest legs of the bunch. The Prizefighter tournament isn't a marathon, it's a series of sprints. He could be a sleeper just because he's the youngest of the lot.