NEWPORT boxer Craig Woodruff will challenge Tony Pace for the vacant Welsh lightweight title in front of his home crowd at the Newport Centre next month.

The 20-year-old caused a major upset by beating the experienced Carl Johanneson just before Christmas and will face another stern test against the exciting Pace on Saturday, February 23.

Talbot Green fighter Pace, also 20, won the British Masters lightweight title in thrilling fashion against Aberdare’s Lance Sheehan in Newport in December.

That fight, eventually won on points by Pace, was one of the most entertaining contests of 2012.

In round five a left hook from Sheehan rocked Pace badly and referee Wynford Jones appeared to be on the verge of stopping the action.

But Pace absorbed the onslaught, Sheehan slowed and amazingly, Pace was able to seize centre ring for the final moments of the round.

And after 10 brutal rounds Pace finally prevailed 97-93 on the scorecard and moves on to fight Woodruff.

Also on the bill Sheehan looks to bounce back from that defeat and Newport light-heavyweight Justyn Hugh is back in action following his defeat to Dean Francis last time out.

Blackwood’s Dai Jones faces Cardiff’s Luke Robinson, son of former world champion Steve Robinson, and Mitchell Buckland, Lloyd Davies and Liam Williams will also be in action.

The planned match-up of Blackwood’s former Team Calzaghe fighter Hari Miles and Aberdare’s bruising heavyweight Dorian Darch is no longer happening but promoter Steve Sims is confident that the show will be value for money.

Former British featherweight champions Sims, who trains Woodruff at his Alway gym in Newport, said: “After the success of our last show we have another action-packed bill at the Newport Centre.

“Craig Woodruff against Tony Pace should be a cracking fight after they both had excellent wins last month.”

Tickets for the February 23 show are available from the participating fighters, from Sims on 07761 965416 or from the Newport Centre box office on 01633 657757.