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Jeovanny Estela, Aaron McKenna and others to clash in ‘Prizefighter’ for $1M

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by Francisco Salazar | 

The ‘Prizefighter’ tournament is back, with the winner pocketing a $1 million dollar prize and becoming a legit contender in the middleweight division.

Matchroom Boxing, in conjunction with Rakuten Ticket and Never Say Never (NSN), made the announcement Wednesday at a press conference, promoting the opening round of the tournament, which will take place on March 31 at the Congress Center in Nagoya, Japan.

The card, along with the rest of the tournament, will stream live on DAZN and on Abema in Japan.

The trio of promotional companies reached a landmark agreement last September to host a series of events in Japan in an attempt to further promote the sport, committing to staging three major events per year over the next three years, featuring some of the best domestic and international fighters.

“This is a fantastic way to start our landmark three-year deal in Japan,” said Frank Smith, CEO of Matchroom Boxing. “Prizefighter was immensely popular with boxing fans in years gone by – and they will love the new inception of the $1 million (dollar) series.

“(The tournament) promises to be a thrilling spectacle, filled with tough 50-50 fights, that will capture attention around the world.”

The opening round will feature 10-round fights, including a $100,000 bonus to be split amongst the winners who score knockout victories. As the tournament progresses, the latter bouts will be scheduled for 12 rounds.

Highlighting the tournament will be a compelling clash between unbeaten middleweights Aaron McKenna and Jeovanny Estela.

McKenna (18-0, 9 knockouts), who is originally from Smithborough, Ireland and lives and trains in Los Angeles, California, last fought on January 20, stopping Mickey Ellison in the sixth round. In his previous fight on June 16, McKenna defeated Uisma Lima by unanimous decision in a clash of unbeaten middleweights.

The 24-year-old McKenna fought twice last year and only once in 2022.

Estela (14-0, 5 KOs) has been far more active as a pro, fighting four times in 2023. The 23-year-old has displayed more power and aggression in recent fights.

In his last bout on December 8, Estela stopped Juan Egana Elizalde in the opening round. Two and a half months before the win over Elizalde, Estela stopped Luis Caraballo Ramos, also in the first round. Both fights took place in his hometown of Orlando, Florida.

Estela will be making his middleweight debut against McKenna after fighting most of his career at welterweight, then at junior middleweight.

In other tournament fights taking place on the March 31 card:

– Kieron Conway (20-3-1, 5 KOs) of Northampton, England will face China’s Ainiwaer Yilixiati (19-1, 14 KOs) in a clash of fringe contenders. Conway has close defeats to unbeaten middleweight Austin Williams and to unbeaten junior middleweight Souleymane Cissokho.

– In an all-Japan clash, Riku Kunimoto (10-1, 4 KOs) of Osaka will defend his Japanese middleweight title against Eiki Kani (8-3-3, 4 KOs) of Atsugi, who is unbeaten in his last three fights.

– Anauel Ngamissengue (13-0, 8 KOs), who represented France in the 2016 Olympic Games, will square off against Mark Dickinson (6-0, 2 KOs) of West Rainton, England in a clash of unbeaten prospects. Ngamissengue defeated Fiodor Czerkaszyn in his last bout on August 26.

 

Francisco A. Salazar has written for The Ring since October 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. Francisco also covers boxing for the Ventura County (California) Star newspaper. He can be reached at [email protected]

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