By Elliot Foster (@FreelanceFoz)
Thomas Stalker and Craig Evans will do battle again next month.
The pair fought to a controversial, albeit entertaining, draw at the Manchester Arena last month, live and exclusive on BoxNation (Sky channel 437/HD 490, Virgin channel 546 and TalkTalk channel 415).
And they will do it all over again at the same venue on December 19 for the vacant WBO European lightweight title.
Many thought that Stalker did enough to win the fight against former British title challenger Evans back in October, when the pair were handed scorecards of 96-94 (Evans) 97-93 (Stalker) and 95-95, and the Liverpudlian will be hoping to impress against the Blackwood man on the undercard of Andy Lee’s WBO middleweight title defence against mandatory challenger Billy Joe Saunders.
“The first fight wasn’t bad was it?” southpaw Stalker, 30, asked humorously.
“It’s a great Christmas present for the fans and for me to end the year as the WBO European champion.
“I’ve been in the gym since that fight and knew that it was going to happen again. I respect Evans, he’s a tough kid, but he can’t bring anything different this time around.
“I know what I’ve got to do this time, I’ll be throwing more punches and as the fight goes on I’ll be getting stronger and stronger.
“I’ve watched the fight over and over again and I’m convinced that I won, as were many that night, but if the judges saw it different what can you do?
“At least we’re doing it again and I know that this will be my moment.
“If he’s expecting the same Tom Stalker he’s in for a big shock.”
But while ‘The Captain’, who skippered the 2012 Team GB Olympic team, is confident going into the return, his co-challenger for the fringe WBO title is in equally bullish mood.
Evans said: “I’ve watched it back plenty of times and still believe that I won.
“It was a great fight and the fans will get to see us go at it again, but this time it will have a different ending with me taking the title back to Wales.
“I didn’t fight to the best of my ability last time and I know that this time I will be one hundred per cent ready for him.
“He’s shown me everything he’s got. What else can he bring to the ring? He’ll have to knock me out and he hasn’t got the power to do that.
“For whatever reason the short right hand punch I dropped him with wasn’t scored so this time when I land I have to make sure he doesn’t get up again.
“My preparations will be spot on and I ideally I don’t want to let it go the judges again so I can see me stopping him late.”
Elsewhere, Liam Smith makes the first defence of his WBO super welterweight belt against Wythenshawe’s Jimmy Kelly Jr. and Derry Mathews will also feature.
As well as the addition of WBA interim lightweight champion Mathews in an eight-round contest, Mitchell Smith will defend his WBO Inter-Continental super featherweight title against George Jupp in a rescheduled clash.
Adrian Gonzalez, who stopped John Kays in a sensational display on that aforementioned October bill, will return, and Tommy Langford is set to defend his WBO Inter-Continental middleweight title for a second time.
Meanwhile, Liam Williams will defend his Commonwealth title in the super welterweight division for the first time when he faces Scotland’s Kris Carslaw, with the pair also contesting the vacant British trinket.
WBO Inter-Continental and WBO European super lightweight title holder Jack Catterall will return in title action.
The Chorley hotshot, 22, defended his aforementioned Inter-Continental crown at Manchester Arena earlier this month, cruising to a shut-out points decision victory over previously unbeaten Jarkko Putkonen from Finland.
And Commonwealth super middleweight champion Luke Blackledge, who was handed a three-year deal by promoter Frank Warren following his last fight against Lee Markham, is expected to feature on the card, while former fringe WBO titlist Joe Selkirk returns to the super welterweight mix after recovering from a hand injury.
Tickets, priced at £40, £50, £75, £100, £200 (VIP) and £300 (VIP + food), are available from frankwarren.com or by phone on 01992 505550.by