Two of Matchroom’s world-ranked contenders will ply their craft before Billy Joe Saunders defends his WBO super middleweight title against Martin Murray on December 4th. Newly crowned British champion James Tennyson takes on unbeaten Josh O’Reilly in a WBA lightweight eliminator, while WBO #2 super middleweight Zach Parker stays busy against Spain’s Cesar Nunez.
Tennyson (27-3, 23 KO) has looked strong since a destructive loss to Tevin Farmer sent him from 130 to 135 pounds. “The Assassin,” whose last 10 wins have come inside the distance, overpowered Gavin Gwynne last August to claim the British title land secure himself a spot in several sanctioning bodies’ rankings.
“I’ve been grafting away with Eddie for over three years now and it has been an incredible journey, and while I’ve collected British, Commonwealth & European Titles, I feel I’m only getting warmed up,” said Tennyson. “I want the full deck, so I am continuously prepared to go deep until I get the World Title.
“Josh O’Reilly is undefeated and a great test for me, he is ranked 8 with the WBA and is their North American Champion, I am number 10 and the WBA International Champion, so we both have a lot to gain and it is a great achievement for us both to get this far.
“While it is pretty amazing to be out twice this year in big fights given the current climate we are living in, I’m getting pretty fed up with hearing these American’s names being thrown about as the next big thing. I would take Gamboa out in a few rounds and after the O’Reilly eliminator, I want to be headlining bills!”
O’Reilly (16-0, 6 KO) is ranked 8th by the WBA to Tennyson’s 10th, but that’s more a product of the WBA’s eternal hackery than anything else. The 29-year-old has exclusively feasted on mid- and low-level opposition in his native Canada, picking up a couple of alphabet trinkets along the way.
Note that this is simply labeled an “eliminator”, not a “final” eliminator.
Parker (19-0, 13 KO), previously the British super middleweight champ, stopped Rohan Murdock in maybe-sorta-kinda eliminator back in March, and now sits just behind Canelo in the WBO 168-pound rankings. With the Mexican star fighting for the WBA “super” title on December 19th, odds are he winds up being Saunders’ next mandatory challenger unless Demetrius Andrade jumps the line.
“I’m here and I’m ready to go again” said Derby County fan Parker. “Everyone knows I’m in the game to win world titles and fight on big shows. I’m ranked by the WBO as Billy Joe Saunders mandatory, he knows who I am, and I’m coming for him.
It’s my dream to bring a World Title back to Derby and I’ve worked really hard with my team to get into a place where we’re not far from a shot at that.”
Nunez (17-2-1, 9 KO) has his first two fights of note last year. In the first, Vincent Feigenbutz took him out in eight. In the second, he lasted longer than most against Edgar Berlanga, by which I mean he got within 15 seconds of seeing a second round.