British super-bantamweight gaffer Scott Quigg will be bidding to off the man looming one spot ahead of him in the domestic rankings this weekend — as perplexing as that must sound to the layman — Nottingham veteran Rendall Munroe. After relinquishing the European championship he guarded with distinction for the better part of two years (in order to mount an unsuccessful alphabet title tilt against the underrated Japanese Toshiaki Nishioka) Munroe aims to capture domestic gold for the first time while solidifying his status as the best 122 pounder of his country.
Quigg, 23-0 (17), almost came unstuck last time out against another old hand in the guise of Welshman Jamie Arthur. The Bury stalker, who built a solid defensive base under former taskmaster Brian Hughes, bumbled into a straight left hand which flipped him over onto his face. It was a flash-point that quickened the pen nibs of the critics of Joe Gallagher, the Manchester guru who inherited Quigg’s reins and whose stable have been under fire of late, accused of having a propensity to fight with their faces.
Since the Nishioka disappointment, a long, muggy drubbing over in Tokyo, Munroe, 22-10 (2), has wandered aimlessly through a trio of rather anonymous assignments. A kinetic mish-mash at times in the ring, the Leicester southpaw tends to stumble out of the stalls before deliberately gathering steam — a slow-burner who can really pour it on over the latter course of a contest.
Unfortunately, Quigg plays a mean pressing game also, only the favourite has pop to accentuate his threat. He simply overpowered Munroe’s long-time promotional stablemate Jason Booth eight months ago, and he looked a different breed in doing so. The 23-year-old was altogether too strong and urgent for the weather-beaten Booth who succumbed magnanimously in seven (only the second time he’d been halted in 44 bouts).
In a fevered, bustling affair, both men will have their moments until Quigg’s power shots, particularly those delivered downstairs, begin to take their toll. Munroe will be on his bike in the Velodrome towards the end of 12 thumping rounds. Quigg is the pick, most likely via decision.
Those making the trip to the National Cycling Centre in Manchester will be rewarded with an undercard that includes Ryan Rhodes, Richard Towers, Adam Etches and Martin Murray – a bill that marks the end of the working relationship between Hatton Promotions and Sky Sports. Sheffield’s Rhodes, 46-5 (31), attempts to regain the European junior middleweight championship he once conceded in order to play punching bag to the Mexican starlet, Saul Alvarez. The Yorkshire veteran faces unbeaten Belarusian Sergey Rabchenko, 20-0 (15), in a virtual pick ‘em bout that appears too close to call. With matchmaking this intriguing, one can only wonder what the bigwigs at Sky were thinking.