THE WITHDRAWAL of Pat McCormack through injury hands Shabaz Masoud the chance to headline at the Newcastle Arena on Saturday night. Matchroom promote and topping the bill is the super-bantamweight 10-rounder between new signing Masoud and Jose Sanmartin.
The come-forward 34-7-1 (21) Colombian veteran has lost two of his last three, but in good company, against Mauricio Lara and Mexican southpaw Kevin Gonzalez. Sanmartin actually looked disappointed after the Gonzalez verdict went against him on the David Benavides-Caleb Plant undercard in Las Vegas in March. The margins were six, four and eight rounds on the cards.
Sanmartin has been fighting at a good level for several years and lasted into the 12th with Emanuel Navarrete in June 2018 before being dispatched by a left hook to the ribs. Masoud, however, is the fighter in the ascendancy.
The 27-year-old switch hitter, who’s billed out of Stoke and has links to Telford where he was taught to box by uncle Mo Fiaz, was snapped up by Matchroom after a career-best win last time out, a 12th round stoppage of Leeds’ Jack Bateson at the Sheffield Arena 12 months ago.
Boxing exclusively as a southpaw, Masoud dominated what had appeared a 50-50 fight beforehand.
Throughout, Bateson found him hard to catch cleanly and Masoud, 11-0 (4), was forever picking clean counters. He landed the better punches in every round and unravelled Bateson in the last, dropping him twice. That was Masoud’s 11th straight win and his fourth since joining trainer Ben Davison during lockdown.
Masoud, who made his amateur debut aged 11 and had a win over Liam Davies on his way to winning the 2016 NABC Class D title during his 50-bout amateur career, turned over in 2018. The excitable Masoud of his early pro fights has settled into a composed, hard-to-get-to counter puncher.
Covid kept him out of the ring between November 2019, and March 2021, and he’s impressed in his four fights since.
He dropped former English flyweight champion Louis Norman three times for a fourth-round stoppage before dominating stubborn Argentine Diego Alberto Ruiz. Ruiz went on to hold Lee McGregor to a controversial draw over 10 after struggling to lay a glove on Masoud for 30 minutes
Frenchman Yoann Boyeaux – previously a challenger for Naoya Inoue at 115lbs – didn’t come out for the third after being sickened by second round body shots and then Masoud dismantled Bateson for a career-best win.
In Sanmartin, Masoud faces an opponent who describes himself as “a swarmer.”
Two inches shorter than Masoud at 5ft 5ins, Sanmartin is sure to take the fight to him and look to apply pressure, but from what we’ve seen so far, the Colombian doesn’t move his head too much.
Sanmartin has only been stopped twice in seven defeats. Navarrete broke him down in 12 and Lara took him out in three rounds last October. Sanmartin engaged with the Mexican and got dropped in the second and third rounds.
We can see Masoud slowing down the Colombian and then picking him apart to either win clearly on points or even by late stoppage.
The locals will be getting behind West Rainton middleweight Mark Dickinson as he steps up to 10 rounds against veteran Grant Dennis, 18-5 (3).
Dickinson, also trained by Davison, is having his sixth fight. The 24-year-old, formerly a top junior and youth amateur with Great Britain, has dealt with game fighters with winning records in his last three in Peter Kramer (11-4-3), Gideon Onyenani (4-2) and Ben Ridings (5-3).
Kramer had his successes when Dickinson was complacent, Onyenani took a round off him and Ridings got a share of one of eight.
Dickinson is sure to be more switched on this weekend.
The capable Dennis (Chatham) is now 40 and has been on the fringes for years without breaking through, losing for the English title and reaching the final of Ultimate Boxxer.
He has lost two of his last three, to Danny Dignum and last time out, Caoimhim Agyarko, the quality Irishman. Dickinson, whose uncles Jon-Lewis and Travis were good pros, can hand Dennis another loss, on points.
At super-welterweight, Jarrow southpaw Ewan McKenzie, 8-0 (3), takes on Leeds’ Ishmael Davis, 11-0 (5) while, in the division below, Gateshead’s promising Calum French, 4-0 (1), gets a stern test in the shape of Tottenham’s Jeff Ofori, 12-5-2 (3).