Sheffield boxing: Sparring Luke Campbell won't help Sam O'maison's opponent at Bramall Lane on Saturday
Sam O'maison's quest for the English title gets underway on Saturday against an opponent who has been sharpening his skills against Olympic gold medal winner Luke Campbell.
Grimsby's Kevin Hooper fights Sheffielder O'maison at Bramall Lane; he's a late replacement who took the challenge with 10 days notice.O'maison's trainer Ryan Rhodes gives Hooper credit for doing so - but thinks not even the quality sparring the opponent has had will save him from defeat.Referring to Hooper's Won 21 Lost 5 record, Rhodes said: "Every time he has stepped up in calibre of opponent he has always been found short. He has always got beat - Liam Walsh, Scott Cardle, Robbie Barrett..."I honestly and truly believe Sam is that next level and more. That's going to happen on Saturday night."Hooper took the English Super Lightweight Title contest at the 11th hour after Jordan Cooke pulled out."Hooper has nothing to lose. He is going into the fight with everything to gain" said Rhodes."I know the last couple of weeks he has been sparring with Olympic gold medalist Luke Campbell.You don't spar Luke Campbell if you are not ready. Of if you are not fit or active. That shows me he is good to go.Hooper fought on March 9 while as O'maison has been frustrated in his attempts to climb back in the ring since defeat in a European match in Spain last August.Five potential opponents have withdrawn from suggested bouts.Rhodes said O'maison: "had some fantastic sparring with the current British lightweight champion Lewis Ritson "You would have paid to watch that sparring. It was that good."I know Sam has not been active but he has been training, been sparring great kids and we are going to see Saturday night if that ring rust has took its toll."Or if the training and sparring we have been doing is going to do its job."Rhodes described Hooper as a "Tall rangey, not a big puncher. He's a good boxer, fit kid. Dedicated."The weigh-in will be held on Friday, 2pm,at Napoleon's casino, Owlerton.Over 18 boxing fans are welcome.