It is now time to discover the skills of Dennis McCann.
In his previous 14 fights, all of which he has won, eight by knockout, McCann has never faced a challenge like Ionut Baluta, who he will face at the York Hall on Friday night (August 19). The super-bantamweights will go head to head over 12 rounds, with TNT Sports filming the event.
McCann, a 22-year-old left-handed boxer from Maidstone, has never gone beyond eight rounds before. He will take on a seasoned professional known for his endurance and ability to cause upsets, as demonstrated by his points victory over Andrew Cain (10-0) in Telford in March.
Although Baluta was knocked down twice in the first round and was behind on two scorecards after eight rounds, he managed to turn the fight around in the ninth round by knocking down Cain and delivering powerful shots in the final minute. Baluta ultimately won by split decision, although there was controversy surrounding the result.
Following that fight, McCann’s trainer Alan Smith immediately requested that manager Francis Warren arrange a fight between McCann and Baluta.
Smith takes confidence from Cain’s performance against Baluta, despite Cain fighting with a hand injury, as well as the sparring sessions between McCann and the Romanian at Smith’s iBox Gym in Bromley.
Smith believes that the saying “Styles make fights” holds true in this case. He states, “Every time he’s (Baluta) lost, it’s been to a boxer. You don’t stand in front of him. He beat Cain, but if Cain hadn’t hurt his hand he might have lost.”
In his last fight, McCann delivered his best performance yet, dismantling Joe Ham to win the vacant Commonwealth title in eight rounds last November. However, there may still be a disparity in skill between the rusty and declining Ham and Baluta.
Baluta, who currently holds a record of 16-4 (3), is still fresh and filled with fighting spirit. He has switched trainers since his victory over Cain, joining forces with Albert Ayrapetyan in Marbella. Ayrapetyan, who had a pro career of 20-4 and faced Sergio Martinez and David Lemieux, is known for working with passionate Irishman Jono Carroll.
Ayrapetyan is recognized for refining fighters, while Baluta’s style is rugged and wild, always coming forward. This style has led Baluta to surprising victories over TJ Doheny, Brad Foster, and Cain. This raises questions about why he made the switch. Perhaps Baluta realizes he needs to improve after sparring with McCann or maybe he was not entirely satisfied with his performance against Cain.
Liam Davies, the British and European champion who defeated Baluta, has heard stories about the sparring sessions between McCann and Baluta. He said, “McCann was probably 10.5 stones when they sparred and Baluta was nine stone. McCann could outbox him, but he will be asked questions. It’s not a massive ring, it’s a hot venue and Baluta will keep coming.”
Baluta potentially secured the victory in the last 45 seconds of his 10-round fight against Cain, as he managed to outwork his opponent and make a comeback. Though Baluta may not produce the cleanest shots, he is difficult to discourage. Davies may have thought he had him under control as he outboxed and cut Baluta, but Baluta would always come back fighting.
Does McCann possess the maturity and skills to deal with Baluta at this stage of his career? His performance against Ham, where he shifted through the gears, suggests that he does. McCann seems well-suited to fighting over the championship distance.
As confident as ever, McCann predicts that he will be the first to stop Baluta. However, we predict that McCann will use his footwork and precise punching to secure a victory by points.
As the main supporting bout, Nathaniel Collins, a left-handed boxer from Scotland who recently joined the Queensberry stable, will defend his British featherweight title for the first time against Raza Hamza from Birmingham (see following page).
In two 10-round fights, expect Raven Chapman (6-0) from Wycombe to display his skills against Brazilian super-bantamweight Lila Furtado (9-0) in the 126lbs division, winning comfortably by points. Furthermore, Ryan Garner (13-0), a Southampton boxer with a powerful punch, should break down Juan Jesus Antunez (12-1), the Spanish featherweight champion, in the second half of their fight.