It is not just the main event at the T-Mobile Arena that should draw great interest. The Ward vs Kovalev Undercard of the Pay-Per-View event holds a pleasant surprise.
Topping the Ward vs Kovalev undercard will be Isaac Chilemba 24-4-2(10KO’s) as he looks to manoeuvre himself towards a second crack at world honours, following his impressive showing against Sergey Kovalev (L UD 12).
But his opponent is another prodigy from the Eastern Block, in Ukraine’s Californian based Oleksandr Gvozdyk 11-0(9KO’s).
Gvozdyk has demolished both Nadjib Mohammedi (TKO 2) and Tommy Karpency (TKO 6) this year, and a similar win over Chilemba would make him a prime candidate to face the winner of the main event.
But it could all so easily come unstuck against the awkward Chilemba, who has also given Eleider Alvarez and Tony Bellew fits in respective points defeats.
But the positive pressure applied by Gvozdyk should be enough for the 29-year old to record a career best win to date, but it will have to come on the scorecards after a fascinating 10 round battle.
Maurice Hooker 21-0-2(16KO’s) sets his sights firmly on the brass of the Super Lightweight division, and he can move himself to within touching distance of the WBO title currently held by sensation Terence Crawford.
But first he must beat former Lightweight world champion Darleys Perez 33-2-1(21KO’s), and that will be no easy task in spite of Perez moving up in weight.
Perez came unstuck in the 5th round of his rematch with Anthony Crolla, and he will look to the higher weight class to re-vitalise his career.
But the man in front of him will not be so accommodating, and the feeling is that Hooker will follow on from his first-round knockout of Ty Barnett with another inside the schedule win. This one will come in the mid-to-late rounds of a 10-round contest.
Curtis Stevens 28-5(21KO’s) will look to move back into title contention with a potential barnburner against James De La Rosa 23-4(13KO’s).
The two hardened boxers have suffered tough defeats in recent years, but matching up against one another should bring the best out of both.
De La Rosa’s marquee win came in 2014 when he outscored a fading Alfredo Angulo, but that was followed by a 5th round stoppage loss at the hands of Hugo Centeno Jr. A points loss against the rising Jason Quigley came following over a year out in May this year.
Stevens saw his own spell of inactivity end in May, but for the New Yorker, it came in a comprehensive and slightly surprising win, as he taught unbeaten Brazilian Patrick Teixeira a valuable lesson inside 2 rounds.
Stevens is revitalised and should prove too much for De La Rosa, and could force a stoppage before the conclusion of this 10-round fight.
American amateur boxing sensation, Claressa Shields also makes her debut on the undercard in what will certainly be a televised bout for the two-time Olympic Gold Medallist.
The Super Middleweight contest will mark the beginning of a significant change in the current state of women’s professional boxing, with Shields and Katie Taylor turning over with big-time promoters on either side of the Atlantic.