A Flurry of Interesting Fights on Friday feeds Into a Soft Saturday Slate


By Arne K. Lang

It’s rare when the Friday boxing slate is stronger than the Saturday schedule, but that’s the case this weekend. There are no world title fights on either day, but some interesting offerings that warrant a closer look.

York Hall in gritty East London, which might be described as the nerve center of British boxing, has been holding fights since the 1950s. Friday’s offering, a Queensberry Promotions (Frank Warren) event, stands as one of the better cards staged at the intimate, 1,200-seat venue. Topping the marquee is a 12-round fight between Dennis “The Menace” McCann and the noted spoiler Ionut Baluta, his longtime sparring partner.

McCann, an Irish Traveler who took up boxing at age 11 after dropping out of school, was Matt McGrain’s 2020 British Prospect of the Year. McCann “seems as though he belongs in another era,” wrote McGrain. “From the period, parochial nickname, to the absence of an amateur career, to the haircut that would look just fine on Billy Conn, McCann has the feel of a throwback.”

Dennis the Menace was 19 years old and had eight pro fights under his belt when McGrain wrote those words. Nowadays, he’s 14-0 (8 KOs) but his appearance hasn’t changed. He still has the aura of someone who walked off the cover of a teenage fan magazine from the 1950s, more Pat Boone than Elvis Presley.



McCann, 22, has never fought beyond eight rounds. In the 29-year-old Baluta, a U.K.-based Romanian, he is meeting someone who lacks a big punch but has never been stopped. Baluta (16-4, 3 KOs) went 12 competitive rounds with Michael Conlan at this venue in 2021, earning a draw on one of the scorecards.

In the co-feature, Scotland’s Nathaniel Collins (12-0, 6 KOs) opposes Raza Hamza (17-1-1, 7 KOs). A 29-year-old southpaw who enters the contest in good form -- four of his last five wins have come inside the distance -- Collins will be defending his BBBofC featherweight title.


On this side of the pond, the most attractive of the Friday cards will be staged in Atlanta at an intimate basketball stadium. It’s a card with a “ShoBox”-feel. The participants in the three featured bouts, all 8-rounders, are collectively 83-3-1.

The fighter with the biggest upside, it says here, is super lightweight Kurt Scoby (12-0, 10 KOs). In his college days at Azusa Pacific University in the LA-area, Scoby (pronounced Scooby) was a record-setting football running back. Back then, he carried about 200 pounds on his five-foot-eight frame. Now he weighs 140 when fighting trim, but he hits like a heavyweight as his former opponents can attest. None of the last seven lasted beyond the second round.

Scoby’s opponent, southpaw Narciso Carmona (11-0-1, 6 KOs), is a 25-year-old Spaniard.

What figures to be the most competitive match on the card is the super middleweight contest between Money Powell IV (13-1, 8 KOs), a fighter with a strong amateur pedigree, and Colorado’s Shawn McCallum (13-0, 7 KOs) who delivered a smashing performance in his last start, scoring a third-round TKO on a PBC card in Minneapolis. A workout partner of Terence Crawford, McCallum, 29, is managed by former Main Events matchmaker Jolene Mizzone who is now flying solo.

Another 8-rounder pits North Carolina’s Javon Campbell (12-1, 10 KOs) against Venezuela’s Lorenzo Parra (22-1, 17 KOs). And in 4-round featherweight match of note, 22-year-old Hawaiian southpaw Asa Stevens (4-0, 2 KOs) will showcase his talent against Milwaukee’s D’Angelo Hopgood (2-1.) A 2019 National Golden Gloves champion, Stevens is managed by David McWater who also handles Money Powell IV.

The Atlanta show is listed on Friday’s DAZN schedule.


There are no world title fights this weekend, but a Friday show in Buenos Aires features a fighter on the cusp of a world title shot. Gustavo Lemos, ranked #1 by the IBF at lightweight, opposes countryman Javier Jose Clavero at historic Luna Park. This is a “stay busy” fight for the undefeated (28-0, 18 KOs) Lemos. Clavero (30-10-2, 7 KOs is 3-5-2 in his last ten and coming off back-to-back draws against opponents who were collectively 15-68-11.

Lemos likes to fight off his front foot. His style has been compared with Jeff Fenech. In his last outing, Lemos brutalized former IBF world featherweight champion Lee Selby of Wales en route to a fifth-round stoppage. Selby hadn’t previously been stopped. Prominent Argentine boxing scribe Diego Morilla, writing from ringside, called it “an epic performance.”