Tony Hill’s first step towards domestic boxing greatness begins tonight with a Southern Area light heavyweight title shot against current holder Leon Senior. The Southampton-based fighter has the chance of winning the strap in the first set of quarter-finals in the new MaxiNutrition competition at Rivermead, Reading.
The event could see the 27-year-old claim the British and English titles over four live events, but faces stern tests against seven other boxers – from up-and-comers with world class ambitions, to former British, European and Commonwealth champions. Hill could be the second fighter to bring the Southern Area prize back to Millbank, after Jon Fernandes did it in 2012 in the super bantamweight class when he beat Jamie Speight.
Hill’s trainer, Wayne Batten said: “Tony has what it takes to pull it off (win the MaxiNutrition event); we’ve got to take one step at a time though. “There isn’t much in it between Leon Senior and Tony, but this is another massive opportunity for him.
“Tony knows what he’s got to do psychologically. This is a great opportunity and hopefully we’ll have the second Southern area champion from the area.
“Obviously we’ve done our research and we’ll have a game plan – that will all become clear tonight.”
Hill and Fernandes are good friends after training in Batten’s Gym together. “They are best buds and they speak all of the time outside of boxing, so I know they would have spoken about the Southern Area fight,” said Batten.
Senior has been defeated twice in his career and won ten, and the 34-year-old has cited his pure “boxing ability and fitness” as the skills that make him capable of winning the competition. Hill’s record of three losses and 12 wins is similar to his opponent, but the local boxer is undefeated in his last four bouts whereas Senior lost his last battle to Arfan Iqbal. The Kent-based boxer took the Southern Area title last March, beating Danny Couzens, and has since defended it once, beating Dan Woodgate. The other fighters in action in the competition are Bob Ajisafe, Dean Francis, Danny McIntosh, Travis Dickinson, Matty Clarkson and Lee Duncan.
Also on the bill tonight, Ajisafe and Basingstoke’s Francis will go head to head for the vacant British title, live on Channel 5. The winners of the quarter-finals will be drawn to meet in two semi-finals after next week’s second quarter-final in Sheffield.
The winner of the overall final will be awarded the British and English title belts.