By Owen Morgan
Swansea’s undefeated Commonwealth flyweight champion Jay Harris tops a mouth-watering bill of championship boxing in Wales on Saturday night.
The 28-year-old takes on Spain’s Angel Moreno for the vacant EBU European title at the #MTKFightNight show at the Vale Sports Arena, in Penarth, which also features Craig Evans’ WBO European lightweight title clash.
And there will be plenty of Welsh domestic action on the undercard as Kieran Gething defends his Welsh Area super-lightweight title against Craig Woodruff, along with support bouts featuring some of the country’s most exciting emerging talent.
Headlining is Harris’ clash with the highly experienced Moreno, a challenge the Welshman is not taking lightly.
“This is the biggest step up I’ve had,” says Harris, who is undefeated in 15 fights – a record which includes eight knockouts.
“As I’ve said in previous interviews, he’s been in with two world champions and a European champion, so he’s no pushover and it will be a big test.
“Everyone has their own opinion about how the fight will go. We watch the videos and take bits from it, but anything can happen on the night so we’ll take each round as it comes.
“The future looks bright but it’s just one fight at a time. This is the new generation of Welsh boxing and it’s booming at the moment. There is a lot of great talent on this card and I think boxing in this country is really hitting a peak.”
Harris’ comments on the future of Welsh boxing are backed up by the quality on show in the undercard at Saturday night’s MTK Global event which is live on ESPN+ in association with Top Rank, and also live on iFL TV.
Craig Evans’ European title fight will see him face a familiar foe in the shape of Stephen Ormond – the Irishman he beat back in 2017.
Speaking at the pre-event press conference, the Blackwood fighter said: “It’s nice to be fighting at home. I’m looking forward to the fight and I obviously know Ormond well. He’s a tough fighter who comes to win, so we’ll see what happens on fight night.
“I fought him in his hometown last time, but there’s only two of us in the ring, so let’s get it on. We’ve both been training hard, so may the best man win.
“If I turn up and give 100 per cent, I know the title will be staying in Wales. Hopefully, a win here pushes me towards world level, but let’s just take it one step at a time.”
On the domestic front, Pontypool’s Gething is hoping a successful defence of his Welsh Area super-lightweight crown will lead to bigger and better things.
“I want to make a statement and prove that I can surpass this level,” said Gething. “I’m proud of my Welsh title and I want to defend it again. Whatever comes next, if I put on the show I want to, I know I can perform higher than that level.”
However, Woodruff, of Newport, has ambitions of his own: “He’s writing me off. Whoever fights me it won’t be an easy fight.
“Win or lose I’ll be coming to fight. He comes to fight and I will too. It’s going to be a good fight for the fans to watch. I’ll let my hands do the talking.”
Saturday night also sees Jacob Robinson’s latest step towards challenging for belts in the featherweight division.
“Baby Jake”, the son of former World Champion Steve Robinson, faces Nicaragua’s Jose Aguilar.
The 24-year-old southpaw said: “Fighting in my own city is the best as I love boxing here. I want to bring big time boxing back to Cardiff as Welsh boxing is on the up again.
“MTK Global have played a massive part in that, so I can’t thank them enough for bringing this show to Wales.
“Things have gone very well in my career so far, and while I’ve still got a lot to learn, I’m getting that experience which is key. I’ve watched my last fight back a few times and I know I could have done some things better, so we’ll see to that this weekend.
“I’m looking to push on now and I want regional titles, that’s the next step. I’m hoping to have some sort of title by the end of the year, for sure.
“It’s great with my dad being an ex-world champion. There is a lot of weight on my shoulders but I like that pressure. We’ll see me shine a bit more come my next fight.”
Also featuring during an action packed 11-bout night of boxing are the likes of unbeaten Newport bantamweight Sean McGoldrick and Cardiff’s undefeated welterweight Maredudd Thomas, both of whom are excited to be part of such a big show.
McGoldrick said: “Every boxer wants to be involved in title fights. First things first it’s Saturday night and that’s got my full attention, and when I’m successful on Saturday I want to challenge for belts.”
Thomas added: “It’s massive to be fighting in my hometown and it’s an amazing show to be on, so it’s great to have this opportunity. It’s brilliant seeing all of these guys doing it too and it pushes me to know that I can do it.
“There have been some brilliant Welsh fighters and that is massive motivation, plus my trainer Gary Lockett achieved a lot in boxing so that’s another thing to look up ,too. I’ve got a lot of great people around me.”
Promoter Lee Eaton said of the show: “We’re happy to be back in Cardiff. We said we wanted to make a dent in the Welsh boxing market and improve things, and we’re back now with ESPN+ which is massive.
“We’ve got screens all around the venue to watch the Champions League final between Liverpool and Tottenham too, so it’s two sports for the price of one.”
Tickets are available on the MTK Global website.