Meet the Prizefighters
Liverpool Olympia, Saturday, live on Sky Sports HD1 from 8.30pm
By Adam Norman - Twitter @SkySportsNorm. Last Updated: 05/10/12 6:06pm
Saturday sees the latest instalment of Betfair's Prizefighter - The Lightweights, which features arguably the best line-up in the history of the event.
The eight-man contest has provided a launchpad for many boxers in the past and this week's event at Liverpool Olympia is likely to be no exception.
No fewer than three former British champions are in the mix as they look to get back into title contention and here we take a closer look at them and the other five contenders...
Likely to enter the tournament as one of the favourites despite coming into it having lost to both his main rivals. On an upward curve since losing to Gary Sykes in 2009, Crolla's reign as British champion was ended by Derry Mathews six months ago. That sixth round stoppage loss was a crushing blow for the Mancunian, although revenge and victory here will put him firmly back on the title path.
Sky Bet odds 5/2
This is local lad Mathews' second Prizefighter after he lost to Gary Buckland in the super-featherweights final two years ago. An up-and-down career that has seen him fight many of the best domestic fighters arguably peaked with victory over Crolla in April. However, he too comes into the event with a loss on his CV after his clash with European champion Gavin Rees ended in the ninth round after a thrilling fight.
Sky Bet odds 9/4
The Dewsbury man defeated Crolla on the way to becoming British super-featherweight champion but when he put his unbeaten record on the line in Prizefighter the plan backfired spectacularly. Sykes was dropped and stopped in his first round clash with Gary Buckland in 2010 and last September was unable to gain revenge over 12 rounds as Buckland snatched the British title away. Like his two rivals, Sykes has it to prove up a division.
Sky Bet odds 4/1
Flannigan is a southpaw from Manchester and undefeated with 15 straight wins under Steve Wood's guidance. He's already won and defended the English super-featherweight title - the defence, a 10 round decision over Troy James was only two weeks ago. Flannigan also boxed the full 10 rounds in May when he first won the title, so he'll have some adjusting to do to think about three rounds again. No weight issues, though, as he's coming up from the super-featherweight division.
Sky Bet odds 8/1
Another unbeaten hopeful, Coyle is a product of the same amateur club - St Paul's - that produced the 2012 London Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell. Once on Hull City FC's books, has won 13 in a row - and is the baby of this bunch having turned 23 on Tuesday. Coyle says his dream since he began boxing is to hear the words 'lightweight champion of the world' said right after his name. That's a long way off yet, but winningPrizefighter would put him further along the road..
Sky Bet odds 6/1
Liam Patrick Walsh
Walsh is the old man of the group at 30, but he's brought excitement whenever he's appeared before his home town fans in Halifax. He's won 10 of 11 so far. His most recent victory was a points success over six rounds against William Warburton in June, getting straight back to winning ways after his only professional defeat to date when he was outpointed in an eight rounder by Stuart Green in April.
Skybet odds 20/1
Jennings is the most inexperienced in the line-up having had only seven contests following a lengthy amateur career. Came from obscurity to fight Mathews for the British Masters title last year where he was stopped in the sixth round. He hasn't fought since. Prior to that defeat, he had put together a promising start to his professional career with a run of five wins and a draw, including technical knockouts of George Watson and Henry Janes.
Sky Bet odds 18/1
The line-up is completed by Jamie Spence, who calls himself Mr Excitement. Spence, from Northampton, has won 10 of 13 and was a national junior champion as an amateur. He comes into Prizefighter on the back of a run of five victories, all by points, which includes only two fights in the last 18 months - which at least means he has not lost for three-and-a-half years! He is the rank outsider with the longest trip north to Liverpool.
Sky Bet odds 28/1
Reserves are 31-year-old Mark Evans (7-0) and 19-year-old Tony Pace (3-4)