Boxing duo out to put Merrie City on the map

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THE Merrie City may not be a big player in British boxing but two talented big-hitters will be hoping to put their hometown firmly on the map over the next few months.

Andy Townend, of Portobello, and James Oliphant, of Normanton, will look to pack a punch when they enter the ring for their next professional bouts.

Townend, a 22-year-old lightweight, is undefeated and will look to make it three wins from as many pro’ fights at Doncaster Dome on Friday, June 8.

He defeated Bulgarian Evgeni Geshev in his last outing and is eager to get back in the ring after upping his training at Stefy Bull’s Empress Gym recently.

“I’ve been training really hard twice a day, doing some good stuff in preparation for the fight,” said the former White Rose boxer.

“I just can’t wait to get out there after my last fight.”

An opponent has yet to be named for the former Kettlethorpe High School student.

But he needed less than two minutes to claim victory in his last fight and will be in confident mood whoever he comes up against.

The England international also has the advantage of sparring with British, Commonwealth and European champion Jamie McDonnell, who attends the same gym.

Townend’s fight will be one of a number of mouthwatering contests on show at the Dome. There will be six international contests and two title fights.

And tickets are now on sale, with Townend calling on a bumper support to cheer him on in Doncaster in June. They’re priced £35 each or £55 for VIP and can be bought by contacting Townend on 07807 427954.

Normanton heavyweight Oliphant is also looking forward to a big bout at Hillsborough Leisure Centre in Sheffield next month.

The 31-year-old will have a rematch with Kash Ali, of Sheffield’s renowned Ingle Gym, eager to secure his first win as a professional on Saturday, May 12.

He’ll be on the undercard for Kid Galahad’s ‘Pride of Yorkshire’ bout against Josh Wale, which will be televised on Channel 5.

Oliphant, who’s trained by Craig Vayro, took on Ali in his pro’ debut at Rotherham’s Magna Centre last November and fell to defeat, but will be out for revenge.

He’s been training at Vayro’s gym in Normanton and it’s been a rapid rise for the boxer.

“James just came in to the gym one day and said he wanted to start boxing, his first fight at any level was only about two years ago,” said Vayro, himself a former boxer.

“He loves the sport, he’s so enthusiastic about it but he’s got a lot of catching up to do because he started out in the sport quite late.

“He needs to get the experience in the ring so I’m hoping to put him in for quite a few fights this year all being well.”

Oliphant followed his pro’ debut with an encouraging draw against Gary Johnson.

And he’ll be hoping to go one better in Sheffield next month and get rewards for his hard work with a maiden victory.

Former White Rose Boxing Club member Luke Robinson will box on the undercard at Carl Froch’s title fight against IBF super-middleweight champion Lucian Bute in Nottingham next month.

See this week’s Wakefield Express Sport for all the latest sports news from around the district.