A recharged Jono Carroll will look to build on his superb victory over Scott Quigg earlier this year when he headlines MTK Global’s return behind-closed-doors event tonight at the Production Park Studios in South Kirkby.
The Dublin super-featherweight dominated former world champion Quigg at the Manchester Arena in March, forcing the Bury man’s corner to throw in the towel in the 11th round. Carroll’s widely acclaimed performance put him firmly back on the path towards a second tilt at world glory in the 130lbs division.
However, days later, the UK was forced into lockdown, scuppering many fighters’ planned contests, a disappointment ‘King Kong’ never suffered. The 28-year-old believes that the period of inactivity has served him well and the prospect of fighting with no crowd is one that will make no difference to him whatsoever.
Carroll (18-1-1, 4 KOs) told Boxing Social: “Everything has actually been wonderful, I cannot complain. The last three months has been fantastic, as I’ve got to spend quality time at home with the baby and not have to be in the gym every day. I’m a true professional so I’ve been at home training, in fact it’s been quite nice to train in the garden and have my family around me.
“I literally got the Quigg fight out of the way the week previous to it all getting locked down, so it was the perfect time for me to take a break and have a little relax that I truly needed. The fight with Scott went exactly the way me and my trainer planned it. It was an easy night’s work to be honest, much easier than we expected, mainly due to the graft we put in in the gym. We were prepared for anything he could have thrown at us.
“Without the fans, I don’t actually see it being any different to what it is normally. It’s just me and my opponent in there. I go into almost tunnel vision anyway, so I don’t really hear anyone except my trainer. If anything it might take a little bit of excitement away, as I love the ring walk but I’m there to do a job and I will take care of that job.”
In the opposite corner will be the experienced Maxi Hughes (20-5-2, 4 KOs) who is unfazed by the prospect of facing Carroll. The 30-year-old from Rossington has been around British title level for some time and, despite falling short in previous attempts against similar levels of opposition, he refuses to let those defeats dent his ambitions.
‘Maximus’ suffered a defeat at the hands of Liam Walsh last November before bouncing back to winning ways with a four-round points win over Kris Pilkington in February at the Doncaster Dome. Nevertheless, Hughes knows he could be in for a tough night’s work with the ever-improving Irishman.
“I’m not under any illusion as to how tough this will be. He’s coming into it off a good win over Quigg, so he’s going to be bringing in plenty of momentum and confidence, but I wouldn’t be here unless I planned on bringing all of that to a halt,” Hughes told Boxing Social.
“He’s been respectful and doesn’t seem to be looking past me, as he knows what is coming his way from me. I want a win at the top level over someone like Jono to show that I belong here and I’m not just a gatekeeper. My ambition hasn’t changed at any point, win, loss or draw.
“I like working with MTK, going back to when I fought Walsh last year. They look after you well and I was more than happy to accept the fight when it was offered. I’d actually already accepted one in Russia, but then this came in a couple of days later and it was much better. Now I’m focused on pulling off the sort of upset that would top my career off.”
In the main supporting bout, highly touted Sean McComb (10-0, 5 KOs) will look to continue his march up the levels with a win over Siar Ozgul (15-4, 3 KOs). The Turk, now based in Hackney, has shared the ring with former world champion Viktor Postol and contender Anthony Yigit so McComb knows a win will be an important step for his career.
The Antrim 27-year-old eventually intends to campaign down at lightweight, but for this clash with Ozgul he is just grateful to be back in the ring after seeing his scheduled meeting with Craig Evans fall through, like many others, due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
“This is a tough fight at any point and even more so, as we’re coming out of lockdown. Siar is a really good operator and doesn’t ever shy away from anyone,” McComb told Boxing Social. “He gave Yigit a tough night and I will have to be really zoned in on the gameplan to make sure I get the win.
“Fighting guys like Ozgul makes you raise your game and I have to win well, so I can move on to the next level. It’s a make or break sort of fight and it will have to be a 10 out of 10 performance from me. This year was the time for me to step up and show what I’m about and I’m planning on showing what I’ve got on Wednesday.
“I was due to fight Evans on April 25 and anyone who knows the sport in the UK will know about him. He’s a proper test for anyone at 135lbs and a win over him could have sprung me right up towards European level, which is where I want to be headed. Hopefully, after Wednesday, I can move towards that and, depending on how everything is with the virus, I want two more fights this year.”
Wednesday will be the first card for MTK as the promotional and managerial outfit returns behind closed doors. There are three more fights on the undercard, led by unbeaten Scottish super-lightweight Craig MacIntyre (11-0-1, 4 KOs) who faces late replacement Ishmael Ellis (11-2, 0 KOs).
Rounding off the action are two battles between unbeaten prospects. First up, a WBC youth belt will be on the line for welterweights Sahir Iqbal (7-0, 1 KO) and Maredudd Thomas (11-0, 2 KOs), whilst Dubliner Pierce O’Leary (4-0, 1 KO) takes on Huddersfield man Jacob Quinn (4-0, 0 KOs) at super-lightweight.
Photo: Matchroom Boxing.