In a match for Commonwealth bragging rights, Felix Cash defends his title against Jason Welborn under the bright lights of Eddie Hearn’s back garden (technically, Matchroom HQ’s land). 14 August 2020.
Boxing has been slow to return to televised action following the global pandemic of COVID-19, lagging behind combat sports rivals UFC who restarted operations on 10 May. Hearn and Matchroom have also been pressured into an earlier than ideal return as a result of Frank Warren and Queensberry Promotions, hosting boxing on BT Sport since early July. Despite this, Hearn has managed to organise a typically stunning and efficient production despite all of the complications. The ring and surroundings have added a more intimate aesthetic, whilst the return of the usual commentary gang has helped to keep the traditional fight night hype.
The only issue with Matchroom’s return, and the wider boxing world in general, has been the lack of big-name fights to be excited about. Sure, Cheeseman vs Eggington was a twelve-round war, but we are talking about two men who will struggle to remain long at the European level. Although there is still a lack of star quality names on Friday’s card, it still contains a handful of prospects with reason to be genuinely excited about.
Zelfa Barrett makes his promotion debut for Matchroom, having transferred from Warren’s Queensberry Promotions, and is a very slick back-foot boxer who prefers eye-catching combinations over power. Keiron Conway is another traditional boxer who fires his rangey, straighter shots with a speed that he has no right to possess. Finally, the main event involves the highly regarded Felix Cash in his first real test against Jason Welborn, a fighter who tagged Jarrett Hurd with surprising ease before falling to a fourth-round stoppage during his IBF/WBA world title bid.
Commonwealth (British Empire) Title
Felix Cash (12-0, 8KO) vs Jason Welborn (24-8, 7KO)
Felix Cash enters the main event looking to secure the second defence of his Commonwealth Title. To be honest, I still have my reservations about Cash. Opting for a defensive strategy based around pressure fighting, we have not had the chance to see Cash under significant, sustained firepower. Sure, Cash’s previous fight against Jack Cullen involved a bit of back-and-forth tussling over the centre of the ring, but Cash’s athleticism and physicality were able to bully Cullen into his preferred range. Welborn can charge on the front-foot with high-volume attacks, having had some success in his horribly mismatched world title fight against Jarrett Hurd. Importantly, however, is Cash’s chin has looked solid in his twelve professional bouts. Going the full ten rounds against Steven Danyo, and contemptuously disregarding the power of Jack Cullen (18-2, 9KO), Cash can likely absorb the shots of the relatively feather-fisted Welborn.
Jason Welborn has had a strange career. Stopped regularly by higher-quality British fighters (Frankie Gavin, Liam Smith, and James Metcalf), Welborn has managed to stick around by cleaning up middling British competition. Perhaps the high-point of Welborn’s career, consecutive split decision victories over prospect Tommy Langford for the British title, resulted in an undeserved world title shot against Jarrett Hurd which unsurprisingly ended in the fourth round. During the bout, however, Welborn gave it a real go and emptied everything he had at the champion. Now thirty-four years old, this fight against Cash will surely be one of Welborn’s last. There is little to suggest that it will be a pleasant retirement for Welborn.
Predicted Result: Cash TKO Round 8
Cash is the stronger, younger fighter whose offence-first style will allow him to out-volume Welborn. Welborn has recently shown a weakness to body shots in his last two fights, seemingly dropping to his knees as soon his opponent has even looked at his mid-rift. Cash incorporates a beautiful left hook to the body in his lengthy combinations, and should break the will of Welborn late in the contest.
Result: Cash def. Welborn // Retired Round 5
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
(Vacant) International Boxing Federation Inter-Continental Super Feather Title
Super Featherweight (130)
Zelfa Barrett (23-1, 14KO) vs Eric Donovan (12-0, 7KO)
An excellent fight, certainly the most exciting bout on the card. Since being out-foxed by veteran Ronnie Clark back in February 2018, Barrett has been on an upward trajectory that has shown no signs of stopping. An utterly dominating unanimous decision against Leon Woodstock to win the Commonwealth, was compounded with a nine-round beat-down of rugged Scotsman, Jordan McCorry. Barrett utilises fancy footwork to work his way around the perimeter of the ring, never rooting himself down long enough for opponents to dictate the range. Moreover, Barrett regularly flicks a low-angled jab that causes opponents to reset whilst also stealing rounds on the judges scorecards. Most importantly, though, is Barrett’s willingness to focus on the body. Chipping away early at the opposing gas tank lays the foundation for Barrett to throw his flashier, extended combinations during the later rounds, that often lead to finishes.
Having fought a delectable menu of journeymen during his twelve-fight career, Donovan is making a huge step-up in quality against Barrett. Stopping Stephen McAfee in four rounds for the vacant BUI Ireland National Feather Title has been the high-point of Donovan’s career so far. It is important to note that Donovan had a successful amateur career which included bronze medals at European Championships in 2009 and 2010. At thirty-four years of age, and entering the ring against the first hard hitter of his professional career, Donovan is a big underdog.
Predicted Result: Barrett Decision
Donovan should have enough experience to negate Barrett’s harder shots early in the contest, and his chin has not endured the mileage that indicates it will break in the later rounds. Barrett will cruise to a classy decision and emphatically mark his debut with Matchroom.
Result: Barrett def. Donovan // TKO Round 8
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
(Vacant) World Boxing Association Inter-Continental Super Welter Title
Super Welterweight (154)
Keiron Conway (14-1-1, 3KO) vs Navid Mansouri (20-3, 6KO)
Ignore the split decision dropped against Derrick Osaze in a three-round scrap, Conway is a terrific boxer. Possessing an aesthetic, quality technique, Conway is unfortunately let-down by a limited gas-tank and lack of knockout power. Unanimous decisions over tough fighters (Konrad Stempkowski and Craig O’Brien) and a draw with Cheeseman (that probably was a Conway victory) highlight Conway’s ability to at least prosper at British level.
Mansouri has never really found his feet in the professional ranks. Racking up a wealth of wins against the dregs of super-welterweight for the past decade, Mansouri only began to test himself in 2019. Conceding decisions to Jorge Fortea and Stephen Danyo suggests that Mansouri lacks the quality to break out of his regional level of purgatory.
Predicted Result: Conway Decision
Simple decision victory for Conway as long as he keeps a lid on his output and doesn’t burn himself out early.
Result: Conway def. Mansouri // Decision (unanimous – 98-92, 98-92, 99-92)
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Super Middleweight (168)
John Docherty (8-0, 6KO) vs Anthony Fox (8-12-4, 0KO)
On paper, this looks as though Docherty is being fed a journeyman, but don’t get it twisted. Docherty performed as well as he could in his last fight, cranking up the quality of opposition in Nicaraguan, Pablo Mendoza, and seeing him off in the first round. There is a lot to like about Docherty; lots of power, range, and a tight high guard. Docherty’s ‘mummy-esque’ footwork needs to improve, however, if he is to continue progressing the ranks.
Anthony Fox’s record is abysmal, but it was once much worse. Before October 2017, Fox held the dismal record of 1-10-4. The late-career resurgence of Fox is commendable, especially when it is down to his ability to out-point and out-hustle rising prospects. Wide decision victories against Duane Sinclair (10-0) and Morgan Jones (12-1) prove that records are for DJs.
Predicted Result: Docherty Decision
Fox has only been stopped once in his career, and that was during his second professional fight back in 2016. If Docherty is to stop Fox, then it would be a huge feather in his cap.
Result: Docherty def. Fox // TKO Round 7
Winner ✔️ // Method ❌ // Round ❌
Women’s Featherweight (126)
Shannon Courtenay (5-0, 2KO) vs Rachel Ball (5-1, 0KO)
Shannon Courtenay has been pushed hard by Matchroom since her debut back in March 2019, and has racked up five wins against awful opposition. As such, it is difficult to gauge how good Courtenay is. Perhaps Courtenay has been trying too hard to achieve highlight-reel finishes, but Courtenay has not looked slick enough to in-fight as consistently as she chooses, regularly being tagged by the boxercise opponents she has faced.
Rachel Ball is a three-time world kickboxing champion, who crucially, has boxed once at a high level. Dropping a majority decision to Katharina Thanderz in Norway, in a fight that looked like a sneaky hometown decision, revealed the skillset of Ball. Combining a laser-sharp one-two on the front-foot, and a counter left-hook when backed up, Ball is a women’s fighter who deserves more recognition.
Predicted Result: Ball Decision
Ball can shock the odds despite coming into the bout with a less than ideal training camp.
Result: Ball def. Courtenay // Decision (referee’s scorecard – 77-75)
Winner ✔️ // Method ✔️ // Round ✔️
Matchroom: Felix Cash vs Jason Welborn
2020 Boxing Season
Takeaway comments: Matchroom’s commentary on the Courtenay-Ball fight was scandalous.
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