By Jordan Neild @jjneildwriter
James ‘Jazza’ Dickens (26-3 11KO) returns to the ring on Friday evening and headlines a stacked card in his home city of Liverpool against Australian, Nathaniel ‘Cheeky’ May (21-1 12KO) with the IBF European Featherweight title on the line. Promoted by MTK Global, the full card is live in the UK on IFLTV & USA on ESPN +.
Fittingly placed at the top of the bill, this fight presents an intriguing clash of styles and the winner could well find themselves in touching distance of a title shot in a thriving featherweight division. Local favourite and former British champion Dickens, 28, conquered the domestic scene at super bantamweight before taking a huge jump in class to face pound for pound star Guillermo Rigondeaux in 2016.
He ultimately came up short and suffered a broken jaw in the second round that consequently kept him out of the ring for ten months. A frustrating defeat on his comeback to domestic rival Thomas Patrick Ward followed in May 2017, with the fight being stopped by the doctor due to a cut. This defeat led to another period of inactivity, a trait that seemed to plague the Liverpool man’s career at that point.
However, since returning to the ring in March 2018, Dickens has had four fights and finished them all inside five rounds. Clearly benefiting from the activity, all signs indicate that ‘Jazza’ is beginning to display the natural talent that people inside the game have always suggested he possesses.
Admittedly, the level opponent has not been anywhere near world level but the matchup with Nathaniel May is coming at the right time for Dickens to display his progress and remind people why he can be a genuine contender at featherweight.
In the opposite corner, Nathaniel May arrives in Liverpool as something of an unknown quantity to the general boxing public. The majority of his fights, to date, have been in Australia against unknown opposition but during fight week he has talked up his power and insists he is on Merseyside to knock ‘Jazza’ Dickens out in front of his home fans.
‘Cheeky’ originally took up boxing purely for the fitness aspect but clearly displaying talent for the sport, he turned over to the professional ranks aged just 18. Still only 23, he has admitted his career has already progressed far past his original aspirations and after building momentum in his home country, he is ready to test himself against the world’s best.
Now managed by MTK Global and training under the guidance of Freddie Roach in Los Angeles ‘Cheeky’ has all the tools outside of the ring to mount a challenge at the top end of the featherweight division should he be victorious in Liverpool on Friday evening.
The fight has plenty of interesting angles and looks very difficult to predict. Despite Nathaniel May claiming this week that ‘Jazza’ doesn’t have the power to trouble him, records suggest both fighters carry enough power to warrant respect from each other and the fight could swing towards whoever can implement their style more effectively.
It is fair to say that the pedigree lies with southpaw Dickens who was a very successful amateur and has shown as a professional that he can mix it at a high level when it comes to pure boxing. But, as we have seen in the past, he is not afraid to stand and trade and should he do so this weekend, it would open the door for Nathaniel May to stamp his own authority on the fight.
With the IBF European Featherweight title on the line, this fight looks like an ideal opportunity for ‘Jazza’ Dickens to make a statement and earn himself a world ranking at featherweight but the unpredictability and confidence that Nathaniel May brings to the ring, makes him a dangerous proposition.