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First round matchups set for MTK Global Golden Contract light heavyweight tournament

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All four matchups for Saturday are in place.

Boxing at Metro Radio Arena Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

The first round matchups are set for Saturday’s MTK Global Golden Contract tournament in the light heavyweight division, picked on Wednesday and fully finalized.

Here’s the lineup:

  • Hosea Burton vs Bob Ajisafe
  • Andre Sterling vs Liam Conroy
  • Steven Ward vs Ricards Bolotniks
  • Tommy Philbin vs Serge Michel

All fights are set for 10 rounds and the winners will move on to the semifinals, obviously. In the event of a draw on the judges’ cards, the referee decides who moves forward.

The matchup most intriguing to most is between Burton (24-1, 11 KO) and Ajisafe (19-3, 9 KO), the most experienced in the field.

The 34-year-old Ajisafe won the British title in 2014 and the Commonwealth title in 2015, though he never defended either belt. His losses have come to Umar Salamov and Tony Bellew, and he also lost to Carl Dilks in a three-round Prizefighter bout in 2009.

Burton, 31, won the British title in 2016, then lost it 10 months later in a first defense against Frank Buglioni in a bit of an upset.

Sterling (10-1, 4 KO) is coming off of a 12-round decision loss to Craig Richards in a British title eliminator, while Conroy (17-5-1, 9 KO) is a scrappy fighter who’s lost two of his last three, walloped by Joshua Buatsi in March and then losing a tight technical decision to Steven Ward in June.

Ward (12-0, 4 KO), meanwhile, faces Bolotniks (15-5-1, 6 KO), a Latvian fighter who has come down from cruiserweight in the last 14 months and is 4-0 at 175 pounds since doing so. He did fight at 175 before moving to cruiserweight. His biggest fight was a 2018 loss to Thabiso Mchunu at cruiserweight.

Philbin (13-0, 4 KO) is a Scottish fighter looking to stay unbeaten against the Russian-born German Michel (9-1, 7 KO), who was upset in April by Ryan Ford.