Amid online criticism, we look at Matchroom’s April 20 card featuring heavyweight headliners Dave Allen vs Lucas Browne & Dereck Chisora vs Senad Gashi
The announcement of the Matchroom April 20 show – headlined by the heavyweight fights, Dave Allen vs Lucas Browne and Dereck Chisora vs Senad Gashi – rapidly polarised opinion on social media. For all the fans who stated their gratitude that the O2 Arena bill would be televised on regular Sky Sports (and DAZN in the US) rather than the pay-per-view Sky Sports Box Office, as had been rumoured, at least twice as many criticised the line-up, holding it up as the latest piece of evidence in their case that Matchroom’s focus on DAZN and the American market had led to a dilution of quality back home. So let’s analyse the show, based on the fights that have been confirmed so far.
Dave Allen vs Lucas Browne
While it may be hard to place either man in the current heavyweight top 20 (maybe even top 50), this will surely entertain. We have a skilled but not always very well conditioned fighter in Allen who has built a high profile and large fanbase largely through the medium which is now, on balance, slamming the show. He has been preparing for this contest for an extended period and looks to be in great shape.
In the opposite corner we have Aussie Browne, who was walloped by Dillian Whyte last March and, though he has scored three victories since, looked terrible last time out, getting dropped and scraping by one of the world’s better journeymen in Kamil Sokolowski. Browne has slowed and has never had great footwork. He is a strong, powerful man with limited skills, but that should guarantee a fun fight, if not quite a technical masterpiece.
Dereck Chisora vs Senad Gashi
Two big men coming off defeats may seem to guarantee competitive action, but the manner of those losses were markedly different. Chisora pushed top contender Whyte all the way and was ahead on two scorecards before getting knocked out in the 11th round in December. Gashi, meanwhile, fell by stoppage to a Carlos Takam who had already lost to Chisora.
Londoner Chisora has since switched trainers, from Don Charles to Dave Coldwell’s buzzing stable, and has mixed in far better company that the opposition faced by his German opponent.
Josh Kelly vs Przemyslaw Runowski
Josh Kelly was heavily criticised for pulling out of a fight with David Avanesyan at late notice back in early December. Kelly was unwell but sceptics nonetheless speculated his team had seen the condition and ambition of Avanesyan at the pre-fight events and decided against the challenge. I have no reason to doubt Kelly’s version of events and the 25-year-old Adam Booth-trained stylist is only 8-0 with time on his side. That said, he could have done with a better opponent to silence the critics, especially given Runowski is being marketed as the “toughest opponent of his career to date.”
On paper and via the ‘eye test’, he’s not. The undefeated Pole is more experienced as a pro but has nothing like the amateur pedigree of 2016 Olympian Kelly. With only 3 inside-schedule wins in 17 triumphs, Runowski is clearly no puncher and has never previously fought outside his home country. I would rank both the faded Carlos Molina Kelly defeated last year and Kris George, from whom “PBK” took the Commonwealth belt, ahead of him. This is a showcase for the Sunderland man and that’s fine but let’s not make it something it’s not.
Joe Cordina vs Andy Townend
By domestic criteria, this is a very good fight. The unbeaten Olympian Cordina, a former European Amateur champion, takes on the more seasoned (as a pro), big-hitting Townend for the British lightweight title vacated by Lewis Ritson, who is moving up to super-light.
Cordina is 8-0 (6) but plucky Sean Dodd took him the 12-round distance last time out, leading to questions about his power at 135lbs. Townend has lost on four occasions, but not since moving to lightweight from super-feather and looked to have carried his noted dig up with him, when dispatching Peter Cope in 2017. His only previous British title try saw him outboxed and stopped by another slick former elite amateur in Martin J Ward, but the latter had been through 16 pro fights by then.
This is an intriguing clash and the best of the night.
So an average grade of 2.75 out of 5, just above average. Is that acceptable for a Sky Sports standard fight night? I’d say yes, just about, albeit inferior to the Matchroom shows coming up later this month.