FRANCESCO PATERA may be a Belgian by nationality, but he travels to the land of his ancestors, Italy, to defend the European lightweight title tomorrow (Friday October 25). Venue is the Allianz Cloud in Milan and challenging is Domenico Valentino, who won the World Amateur Championships in 2009. Yet Valentino didn’t turn pro until three days past his 33rd birthday, in May 2017, and it’s likely his best boxing is behind him.

As a professional he’s won all eight fights (one early), but only half of those came against opponents with a winning record. And while he’s won two bouts for the Italian title, neither was against a name of much value.

Patera, by contrast, has plenty of form – something British fans know well. Francesco dropped a split 10-round decision to Birkenhead’s Sean Dodd in 2016 but returned to the UK last year to punch out a split (but deserved) points win over unbeaten banger Lewis Ritson for the vacant European title.

A shock win at the time, that performance on away turf in Newcastle looks even better given the way Ritson has just beaten Robbie Davies Jr up at 140lbs.

Patera has retained twice this year, outscoring France’s Marvin Petit and stopping (six rounds) Ireland’s Paul Hyland Jr. Despite only eight early wins from 22, against three points losses, he’s a more hurtful puncher than those stats suggest.

That power, combined with proven stamina – he’s gone 12 rounds six times while Valentino has never gone past 10 – means Patera is favoured to retain on points.

On the same show tough Welshman Tony Dixon, 12-2 (3), meets Italy-based Romanian Maxim Prodan, 17-0-1 (14) over 10 rounds for the IBF International welterweight title.