Boxing returns to London's famed Royal Albert Hall for the first time in 13 years this afternoon. Original headliner Nathan Cleverly was forced out of his scheduled light heavyweight trinket defense against Robin Krasniqi, but the show will go on with one of the UK's top prospects in the main event, and a title eliminator at 154 pounds.
BoxNation will televise the show beginning at 2:30 p.m. EDT.
Billy Joe Saunders (12-0, 8 KO) is a former Olympian who has been brought along slow and steady as a pro, suffering a few hand injuries that have kept his advancement held back a bit. When he's healthy and on his game, he's a very strong talent who has at least the upside to reach the levels of recent British middleweights like Matthew Macklin and Darren Barker, and if his hands hold up, could definitely go higher.
Saunders will be in action today against Tony Hill (8-2, 4 KO) in a 10-round bout. Saunders went 10 rounds two fights ago against Gary Boulden, who proved tougher than his record, and last time out in December, Saunders stopped his opponent in the first round.
Hill does not figure to present any substantial challenge whatsoever, but Saunders getting the main event event call here does show promoter Frank Warren has faith in him as a potential draw down the line.
The better fight is the British junior middleweight title eliminator fight between former champion Sam Webb (17-2, 5 KO) and Matthew Hall (24-4, 16 KO). Webb, 31, hasn't fought in just under a year since losing to Prince Arron, which cost him the British title last May. His greatest contribution to the boxing world has been helping rid it of the detestable Anthony Small.
He's a solid fighter, as is the 27-year-old Hall, but Hall's career has taken something out of him over the years. He's had tough losses to Small and Lukas Konecny (when Hall replaced Ryan Rhodes on one of Warren's mega-shows that always halfway fell apart), but last time out he upset unbeaten Kris Carslaw on November 25. He seems older than he actually is because of a tough streak where he lost three of four, but this is an evenly-matched fight on paper. The current titlist is Brian Rose, who defeated Arron in December.
Prospects Bradley Skeete and Bradley Saunders will also be in action, among others. Join us this afternoon as we get the boxing ball rolling toward tonight's Hopkins vs Dawson rematch.