The Danish rivals have been embroiled in a bitter feud since Nielsen made the move up to super middleweight, prompting Markussen to return from retirement to challenge the young southpaw. On Saturday night, both men face their final test ahead of a domestic mega-fight later this year with must win fights against tough international opposition.
Nielsen, the current WBA International Champion, takes on Brazilian brawler Samir Santos Barbosa (36-12-3, 25 KOs). ‘’I’ve been training harder than ever for this fight and breaking all my records in the gym,’’ reveals the 24 year-old.
‘’I’ve been growing and maturing with every new challenge, and right now, I feel unstoppable. In boxing you can never overlook an opponent, so Barbosa has my full attention, but once I’m finished with him, my attention turns to Rudy, and I’ll be ready to send him back into retirement!’’
In the co-featured main event, Markussen, the former European Champion and World title challenger, returns from a near to three year absence to face Ramazi Gogichashvili (19-6-2, 9 KOs).
‘’A fight with Patrick gives me all the motivation I need,’’ said the 38 year-old, who insists he is in top shape ahead of his ring return. ‘’My training has gone better than expected. I’m injury free and as fit as I’ve ever been. This is a fight I must win, and one I am well prepared for.’’
Nielsen could not resist the chance to antagonise his future opponent, presenting the ‘Hard Hitter’ with a ‘special welcome back gift’ – a framed photograph of Markussen suffering a KO defeat to Brian Magee in his February 2012 World title challenge.
‘’Rudy has been out the ring for a long time so I thought I would give him a special welcome back gift reminding him of what happened last time he fought a southpaw like me,’’ said Nielsen.
Said promoter Nisse Sauerland: ‘’Patrick versus Rudy is potentially one of the biggest domestic fights in Danish boxing history. It’s no secret that they don’t get along. You can feel the tension whenever they are in the same room. This is a fight the fans want to see and a fight that will happen if they both win on Saturday night.’’