HOMETOWN favourite Artif Ali will go head-to-head with Zeeshan Khan on Saturday night for the Central Area super featherweight title.

A win for either man could push them on to bigger things, with potential English and British titles to be fought for.

Blackburn’s Ali will have the support of the home crowd at King George’s Hall, but manager Kevin Maree expects this to be a very close encounter that could go either way.

“This is a fight I’m really looking forward to,” said Maree.

“Artif has a record of 14 wins to two losses, so he comes into this fight in fine form having won his last three fights.

“It’s a big fight for him because he’s in front of his home crowd and that comes with added pressure to perform.

“Zeeshan Khan is coming over from Bradford having sold lots of tickets too, so he’s confident he can take the title home with him.

“He’s had eight fights and won them all, so Artif will have to do something no one has managed to do yet and hand him his first loss.

“I’m expecting this to be a long fight, none of Artif’s 14 wins have come from a knock out, so we know he is prepared to go the distance if that is what is required.”

With a raucous atmosphere expected, Maree believes that could go one of two ways for the 31-year-old home fighter.

“Some fighters will step up to the plate and put on a brilliant performance and others will be like a rabbit in the headlights,” added Maree.

“Ali is looking forward to performing in front of his friends and family. He has the chance to further his career and win a good title in his home town, so I’ve got full confidence that he will be put on a show.

“It does come with an added pressure, but you’ve just got to block it all out.

“It can spur some fighters on to go that extra mile when training for the fight, them knowing that they’ll have their loved ones in the crowd watching them.

“Artif already has a win to his name at this venue, so he knows what it is like to fight here.

“It wasn’t for a title so there’s that added pressure that comes with this fight, but he’s excited for it.”

Earby lightweight Josh Holmes is also on the card,with Maree having waxed lyrical about his potential from day one. Holmes now has three professional fights under his belt which have all ended in a win for him.

“Josh is coming along nicely. We’ve got really high hopes for this lad, we think he can go a long way in this sport,” Maree said.

“He’s a great lad, always willing to learn and develop his skills.

“He listens to advice that he is given.

“He’s starting to make a name for himself now, more people know about him and are asking about how he is getting on and developing.

“We expect him to put on a good show for the crowd in Blackburn and get the win.

“We think we can move Josh on quite quickly, he’s always willing to go out and fight.

Elsewhere on the card, Darwen’s Jimmy Roberts makes his eagerly anticipated professional debut while there are also outings for improving Blackburn featherweight Omar Dusary and Rawtenstall’s rising star Aaron Hayden.

Popular Blackburn journeyman Naheem Chaudhry is also in action on the bill put together by local fight figures Maree and Frank Duffin.

Chaudhry, aged 24, has won two of 62 fights and will be looking to upset the odds against debutant Alfie McArthur in front of a home crowd.

Dusary, has won six and drawn one of his seven fights and will be expected to extend his unbeaten record.

Hayden, a 25-year-old super-featherweight rated highly by manager Maree, will be looking to make it a hat-trick of professional wins against Luke Fash.

Liverpool’s Jack McGann, Keighley’s Liam O’Reilly, Fleetwood’s Dan Catlin and Silsden’s Danny Whitaker are also in action and out to impress.

 Ebony Carlin had been set to make her debut as Blackburn’s first female professional fighter only for a hold up in paperwork to mean that will now come in 2020.