The Royal Albert Hall is a 148-year-old venue more associated with hosting classical orchestral music and ballet than punch-ups -- but on Friday, boxing resumes its association with the grand, old London venue.
Only one professional boxing show has been staged at the Royal Albert Hall in nearly 20 years, but there will be another there on Friday in a bill that will be screened live on ESPN+ in the U.S. and on BT Sport in the UK.
Billy Joe Saunders beat Tony Hill in 30 seconds for the Commonwealth middleweight title at the Hall in April 2012, which was the first boxing show there since a bill in 1999 that featured the British heavyweight title clash between Danny Williams and Julius Francis. On the same show in 1999, Mexican Marco Antonio Barrera made a quick first defence of the WBO world super-bantamweight title against England's Paul Lloyd while a young Ricky Hatton had his 12th professional fight.
But later in 1999, local residents won their battle against boxing being hosted there (due to noise levels) and the venue lost its license to host the sport until 2012.
The concert hall, with its ornate surroundings, balcony boxes and dome, once regularly hosted boxing, with performances from the likes of Muhammad Ali as well as British world champions Ken Buchanan, John Conteh, John H Stracey, Lloyd Honeyghan, Charlie Magri, Frank Bruno and Lennox Lewis.
Ali fought there three times in noncompetitive exhibition bouts -- not on his official record -- in 1971, 1974 (against Joe Bugner) and 1979.
When boxing returns to the historic 5,000-capacity venue on Friday, British middleweight champion Liam Williams will make a first defence against Joe Mullender, light-heavyweight contender Anthony Yarde will try to secure a WBO world title shot against Sergey Kovalev with victory over Travis Reeves, and highly-rated heavyweight prospect Daniel Dubois will continue his early career education.
Dubois, 21, was not even born when the Royal Albert Hall was last in regular use for boxing, but the London star will follow in the footsteps of Bruno and Lewis when he has his tenth professional fight there.
The rising star of the future, who has eight KOs in nine outings, is making quick progress. "It's a great venue and I've seen footage of a few fights there," Dubois told ESPN."I wasn't really aware of how good a venue it was but I'm looking forward to fighting there, it will be different to where I have so far boxed."
It will be a departure from what the Royal Albert Hall usually hosts. Composers Richard Wagner and Edward Elgar, physicist Albert Einstein, crooner Frank Sinatra, The Beatles and Elton John have topped the bill there, while it regularly hosts the Proms -- an orchestral classical music concert -- and the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTAs).
The venue was an important part in the early careers of Bruno and Lewis, who made their debuts there in 1982 and 1989 respectively and went on to win world heavyweight titles.
Bruno fought 15 times -- all KO wins -- at the venue, situated in London's affluent Kensington borough, while Lewis had seven fights there including wins over Derek Williams and Glenn McCrory for the British and European titles. Sir Henry Cooper, who twice fought Ali, also boxed at the venue four times.
In 1968, Welshman Howard Winstone stopped Mitsunori Seki to lift the vacant WBC world featherweight title.
More recently, the Royal Albert Hall hosted fights including Barry McGuigan, Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn, Duke McKenzie, Prince Naseem Hamed, Hatton and Joe Calzaghe. McKenzie had two WBO world bantamweight title fights there in 1992 and Hamed was not the only Prince associated to the Royal Albert Hall: it was named in memory of Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, who opened the venue in 1871.
The Royal Albert Hall started to put on boxing in 1918, when servicemen from the British Empire and America met in an amateur boxing tournament.
Professional boxing soon followed and in 1921 Welshman Jimmy Wilde, by then the former world flyweight champion and is arguably Britain's best ever boxer, was stopped in the 17th round by American Pete Herman in front of the Prince of Wales (the future Edward VIII), who was ringside.
It is a venue steeped in boxing history, with most of Britain's best boxers fighting there at some point in the careers.