The Midlands, once something of a hotspot for British boxing, has had to take a backseat in recent years. The last really big show off the top of my head was the Nigel Benn-Juan Carlos Giminez world title fight in 1994, held at the huge NEC centre in Birmingham.
However, after an extended absence, the industrial Midlands are starting to gain a foothold once again. Wayne Elcock, the gutsy middleweight contender, is developing something of a cult following in his hometown of Birmingham, and now West Bromwich hero Lee Woodley, better known by his ring moniker of Young Muttley, is bringing his newly acquired British Welterweight crown back to England’s second city to defend against unbeaten Kevin Anderson of Kircaldy, Scotland at the Aston Villa Centre this Thursday night.
Muttley, hard hitting and aggressive, impressed all when winning the belt he defends tomorrow, working hard and gutting out the final rounds to clinch a narrow decision over champion Michael Jennings, who himself was 28-0-0 coming in. Many disagreed with the verdict, but no-one can deny it signalled a new and exciting addition in Muttley to the packed welterweight scene in Great Britain. It also marked a step up from 4, 6 and 8 round class (which Muttley, 20-1-0 with 11 KO’s, had been forced to operate in around the West Midlands small hall shows) to championship class for the Midlander, and he performed admirably, despite looking lucky to clinch the close verdict.
However, in Kevin Anderson, Muttley finds himself a tough test for his first defence. The unbeaten Scot has run up an impressive 16-0-0 (10) log to date winning the Commonwealth belt two fights ago against African Joshua Okine, who had snapped the unbeaten record of English hope David Barnes in his previous fight. Anderson followed that up with a relatively low key defence against fellow Scot Craig Dickson, stopping the unbeaten challenger in the 7th.
So far, Anderson has looked classy and hard hitting...but how will he deal with the power and aggression of Muttley? Against Dickson, Anderson was struggling after several bitterly contested rounds with an opponent he was expected to deal with in impressive fashion. However, after a torrid 6th, Anderson launched a superb barrage of punches to take Dickson out.
I guess it boils down to who you like...the classier skills of Anderson or the aggression of Muttley. Both seem to punch with authority, but I see this fight going the distance, with some heavy exchanges and dramatic action throughout.
Roared on by a home crowd, I expect local lad Young Muttley to engage Scotland’s Kevin Anderson in a tear up, with both men giving and landing heavy punches in a contest that will ebb and flow. After 12 rounds of close and absorbing action, I believe the judges will side with the home fighter, and Muttley will retain his British belt and claim Anderson’s Commonwealth belt as championship boxing makes a welcome return to Birmingham.