The final Prizefighter tournament of the season is set for June 7 at York Hall, live on Sky Sports, and the first two combatants have been announced for the welterweight bracket.
UK veterans Junior Witter and Colin Lynes have signed on for the tournament, and are the biggest names announced. Here's the full lineup.
Junior Witter (37-4-2, 22 KO, 37 y/o)
Witter is probably best known internationally as that loudmouth "other" UK junior welterweight who chased Ricky Hatton around for years and never did get a fight with him. He is also well-known as that loudmouth "other" UK junior welterweight who, at the time when that fight would have been highly-relevant, was seen by many as a guy who would have been absolute hell for Ricky Hatton in the ring. But that was a while ago. Witter sat out all of 2010 and has lost three of his last four dating back to a 2008 loss to Timothy Bradley, but honestly age and inactivity are more his problem, in my view, than a decline in ability. He was close with Bradley in that fight, which it seems time has forgotten. A sixth round knockdown of Witter gave Bradley a deciding card by a 114-113 score, which means if that hadn't happened, the fight would have been a draw, and I think it was legitimately that close. He also was hanging tight with Devon Alexander in 2009 before pulling out with a hand injury.
But now, he's not losing to guys who are that good. In February, Witter returned against Victor Puiu in Canada and dropped a ten-round decision. If Junior is going to continue his career on any meaningful scale, then he needs this tournament win badly.
Colin Lynes (34-8, 12 KO, 33 y/o)
Lynes is a 13-year pro out of London who actually fought Witter back in 2005 for the European, British and Commonwealth titles at 140. He lost that fight, but did beat Barry Morrison for the British title in 2007, and then just a month and a half later, picked up the vacant European title as well by beating Young Mutley. Since 2008, Lynes is just 3-5, and two of those wins came in a December 2009 edition of Prizefighter, which was a good tournament that saw Lynes lose in the final to Gavin Rees. But he's been losing to credible competition, at least -- Gianluca Branco (SD-12), Paul McCloskey (RTD-9), Souleymane M'baye (SD-12) and Ajose Olusegun (KO-8).
Kevin McIntyre (28-7, 9 KO, 33 y/o)
A former British welterweight champ, McIntyre hasn't fought since June 2010. The southpaw from Paisley, Scotland, has been stopped five times in his seven losses, and overall has had sort an up-and-down, very inconsistent career. In 2008, he was stopped in 2:00 flat by Kell Brook, and in January 2010 dropped a British title eliminator to Mark Thompson. His last fight, against Stephen Haughian in Belfast, was a decision victory over 10 rounds.
John Wayne Hibbert (7-0, 4 KO, 26 y/o)
Bobby Gladman (7-0, 0 KO, 24 y/o)
I know nothing about either of these young men other than their records, how old they are, and the fact they haven't beaten anyone good. Prizefighter produces some major breakouts for unhyped prospects sometimes, either by strong performance or by actually winning the damn thing, as Rocky Fielding did in March.
Yassine El Maachi (14-4, 5 KO, 31 y/o)
The press release calls El Maachi "popular," but I just can't stand the dude. He's the type fighter who celebrates too much after beating Alex Spitko. Plus he just isn't very good. He's won ten straight against mostly lousy competition.
Peter McDonagh (16-20, 2 KO, 33 y/o)
Professional opponent McDonagh is maybe slightly better than his record indicates, but not much. That's not meant to be bashing him, it's just that if he happened to win this thing somehow, it should be treated as a huge upset. McDonagh has lost to all stripes of fighter over the years. Legit pros, real prospects, novices, "bums."
Nathan Graham (11-2, 5 KO, 28 y/o)
His nickname is "De Lick."