Mikael Lawal’s intense rivalry with Isaac Chamberlain is “like a volcano waiting to erupt” and the British and Commonwealth title battle “is not going the distance”, says Sky Sports expert Johnny Nelson.
The British pair are finally going to fight after months of back-and-forth and a rescheduled bout ahead of the score being settled in the ring on Saturday night.
“This fight has everything,” said Nelson at Thursday’s press conference.
“Regardless of the other fight being called off, I was always looking forward to Lawal and Chamberlain.
“These two are headliners now, so rather than being back-up dancers, they’re front of house.
“So, they’ve both got to turn up and Lawal will hate this [verbal assault from Chamberlain] because he knows Isaac is too smart, too sharp, too frisky to get involved in a one-on-one with him.
“If you don’t like that kind of stuff, you don’t want to get mixed up in it – you just want to weigh-in and get on with the fight, so I think today is going to be really hard for Lawal to keep his cool because this fight can be won and lost before they get into the ring.
“It’s like a volcano waiting to erupt.
“The fight is not going the distance – I can’t see it.
“Remember there are over 26 million viewers on NBC – these people fighting Saturday night could be catapulted into a position to be seen by American fighters who select them as an opponent.
“So, the opportunities are not just here in the UK but worldwide – this is a great opportunity for them to become stars.”
Macklin: This could be a barn burner
Sky Sports’ Matthew Macklin has predicted a “barn burner” of a fight after Chamberlain’s continual efforts to get under Lawal’s skin.
“I think Isaac is trying to goad him,” said Macklin.
“Lawal is a very proud man, and questioning your character – I don’t care how placid or calm you are, nobody wants that being questioned, especially a proud fighting man.
“I think it’s a good fight.
“Chamberlain has more experience – he’s gone in deeper.
“But Lawal has improved, he’s getting better – he’s had a tough life and I know that doesn’t always carry over, but with him I think it does, and he can bang.
“So, I think it could be a barn burner.”
Clarke: Good idea for Lawal to withdraw from Chamberlain verbal assault
Despite Chamberlain’s digs, Sky Sports’ Andy Clarke has warned Lawal not to lose control of his emotions after the “long road” he has been on to this point in his career.
“There’s plenty of bite, plenty of history,” said Clarke.
“We saw that Mikael chose not to go to the open training workout.
“The fight was supposed to happen in Bournemouth in May – he pulled out of that and Isaac was very unhappy – Isaac has been going at Mikael since then.
“Mikael is choosing to withdraw and not engage.
“I think that’s actually quite a good idea because if you know in that verbal battle that you’re going to come second, you’re maybe better off just not engaging.
“These two fights, this and Sam Gilley vs Louis Greene for the Commonwealth title – they are classic York Hall fights, it’s where they belong.
“It’s never easy to keep the emotions in check on Saturday night because there’s a lot on the line.
“This has been a long road for Mikael to win the title.
“It’s interesting what fighters use to try and fuel themselves.
“Lawal I think feels like he’s not as celebrated as he could be – he feels like we favour Isaac as a broadcaster and whether that is true or not doesn’t matter – he can use that.
“But when the bell goes, you just have to be switched on to what is the best method of victory for you.”
Find out who comes out on top when the talking stops and the York Hall bell rings on Saturday night, live on Sky Sports.