After a four-week break, the British boxing season gets underway on Saturday night as Leeds plays host to the Commonwealth featherweight title encounter between Yorkshire's Josh Warrington and Australia's Joel Brunker.
On the undercard, British super-middleweight Martin Murray will attempt to move closer to another opportunity to fight for a world title against Jose Miguel Torres, while on Sunday, British bantamweight Jamie McDonnell will put his WBA title on the line for a second time in his rematch with Tomoki Kameda.
Below, Sports Mole takes a look at each fight, while attempting to predict who will prevail from each contest.
1. Josh Warrington vs. Joel Brunker
Less than two years ago, the name of Josh Warrington would have only been recognised by the most hardcore of boxing fans, but in the space of six fights, the 24-year-old has established himself as one of Great Britain's brightest prospects who could land himself a shot at the world title with two more victories. It has been a sharp rise to prominence for a fighter who had been used to competing in town halls and leisure centres, but so far, he has taken everything in his stride as he moves to the brink of the big time.
Not only has Warrington extended his unbeaten record to 21 matches, he has also claimed the British, Commonwealth and European belts. He has perhaps faced the opposition that he has done at the ideal time, with a below-par display still being enough to comfortably see off Dennis Tuberion for the WBC international strap in his last fight, but that performance should only result in improvements being made for his showdown with Brunker, who will undoubtedly provide him with the sternest test of his career.
© Getty Images
On his last visit to England last October, Brunker was thoroughly outclassed by Lee Selby before being brought to a standstill, but it would be naive to judge the Australian solely on that outcome. Selby has since proved that he is one of the best in a stacked division, and before that loss, Brunker had put together 27 victories in a row. The defeat would have hurt his pride, and given his relentless come-forward approach, he is going to throw everything into a fight that he knows he must win to remain in contention for a future world title shot.
Brunker will put pressure on himself to perform in a hostile environment, but the onus will be on Warrington. He has a future encounter with Selby at Elland Road in his sights and that won't come to fruition if he doesn't beat Brunker on Saturday night. Warrington is justifiably the slight favourite, but this bout has the potential to be a war. Not only will Warrington's chin come under fire, so will his ability to remain calm under pressure, and if he gets drawn into Brunker's kind of battle, the First Direct Arena could be treated to a humdinger of a fight.
2. Martin Murray vs. Jose Miguel Torres
After making the step up to super-middleweight, Martin Murray has shown that he doesn't intend on hanging around for a world title shot in his new weight division by breezing through a couple of warm-up fights in quick succession. The St Helens fighter has made light work of lower-tier opponents but he faces a solid test this weekend in a match where he must impress to potentially secure a meeting with Arthur Abraham in the winter.
Jose Miguel Torres is relatively unknown on the worldwide scene, but he did go seven rounds with David Lemieux at middleweight two years ago. That is the only time that he can claim to have been in with real high-level company but it provides an indication that he is capable of lasting rounds at world level.
© Getty Images
From Murray's perspective, he should overcome the Colombian but a few questions will be answered about his chin, which hasn't been tested since he went 11 rounds with arguably the hardest puncher, pound for pound, in the world, Gennady Golovkin. That's the only time that Murray has been stopped, but on that night, as brave as he was, he received a lot of punishment and we are yet to see how much that took out of him.
Regardless of his opposition, Torres can boast 27 stoppages from 31 victories, which is a record that must be respected, and that kind of firepower, as well as the pressure that he will put on Murray, means that the result isn't a foregone conclusion. However, if Murray applies himself in the same way that he did against the likes of Golovkin, Sergio Martinez and Felix Sturm, he should be able to record either a late stoppage or one-sided points win.
3. Jamie McDonnell vs. Tomoki Kameda
Despite winning his first world crown in May 2013, British bantamweight Jamie McDonnell hasn't received the credit that he has been due with his title outings usually taking place on the undercard of another major clash, but earlier this year, McDonnell made the statement that he has been striving for by getting off the canvas to inflict the first defeat of Tomoki Kameda's career.
The victory was made all the more sweeter by it coming on American soil, where the Japanese star has based himself for his past three fights, and in front of a large audience, and it has put McDonnell on the brink of some of the biggest matches in both the bantamweight and super-bantamweight divisions. The manner in which he recovered from a heavy third-round knockdown to end the Texas showdown on the front foot has also made him marketable on the other side of the pond and he has a big opportunity on Sunday to safeguard his future.
© Getty Images
That said, despite already beating Kameda, MacDonnell is arguably the slight underdog this weekend. Kameda is well backed by advisor Al Haymon and if he is to remain in the limelight in the United States, he can't afford to suffer back-to-back defeats. He had already entered the first McDonnell encounter having been fortunate to hang on to his WBO belt in a narrow split-decision triumph over Alejandro Hernandez and he simply has to deliver on a bill that also includes the return of former world super-middleweight champion Anthony Dirrell.
This showdown is a difficult one to predict, with Kameda proving that he can hurt McDonnell and the Doncaster man already showing he can go at a fast pace for 12 rounds better than his opponent. What shouldn't be in doubt is the nature of the fight - it will be breathless and action-packed as they look to catapult themselves into lucrative fights next year.body check tags ::