By: Oliver McManus
Many a year has gone by without too much happening, in the boxing sense, throughout the month of August but the dry month has seen mouths unusually salivated by the prospect of Sergey Kovalev vs Anthony Yarde. There’s a full support act scattered across the breadth of the month and that all began on Saturday night (August 3rd) with a simply sensational celebration if Irish boxing and community.
InFEILEable Conlan stops Ruiz
The silkily talented Michael Conlan fought on home turf, Belfast, for just the second time of his career and characteristically left a rapturous crowd wanting more. The local hero, with four murals dotted around the city, transformed Falls Park into one of the most breathtaking boxing venues of recent memory and THE prospect from Ireland was never going to disappoint under such circumstances.
His opponent, Diego Alberto Ruiz, had flown in from Argentina boasting a career record largely spanning bantam and super bantamweight: this only his second contest at 126lbs. Ruiz, truth be told, didn’t present much for Conlan to work with but you’d be short-changed to suggest he was underwhelming as he boxed, essentially, as video footage suggested. Perhaps Conlan could have started to relax and unfurl more adventurous shots earlier on in the contest but it made no difference with the 27 year old continually in control.
When the stoppage did come about, in the ninth round, there could be no complaints with a short flurry of shots enough to convince Michael Alexander to stop the contest. A measured performance from Top Rank fighter that split opinion ringside on the BT Sport broadcast but kept fans happy. It wasn’t a faultless boxing display but it’s unrealistic to expect that all the time Conlan is being forced to search for angles and opportunities against negative opponents. It was, however, a good account of his natural ability and his progression in the last 18 months under Adam Booth.
Bob Arum suggested, speaking after the fight, we could see Conlan fighting a former world title challenger in his next outing and, at featherweight, there are plenty to choose from; Oscar Escandon has been used against other prospects (Tug Nyambayar and Brandon Figueroa) whilst Kiko Martinez is a good gatekeeper to the top 15.
And Still, And The New, Jenkins packs away the belts
Swansea’s Chris Jenkins will have to make space in his hand luggage for two extra items this coming week, when he jets off on a family holiday to Spain, having returned home with the British (retained) and Commonwealth welterweight titles (claimed). He fought Paddy Gallagher on Saturday night as the main support act to Michael Conlan’s bout. For the most part Jenkins looked to be in control of the contest as he deployed similar tactics to his fight against Johnny Garton in March. He had made the smoother start and was light on his feet to stay out of range of Gallagher’s more spiteful shots; the only thing missing, in comparison to March, was a peppery overhand right. The notoriously fragile skin of the Champion began to cause havoc as two cuts opened up over the eyes- ‘what’s new?’, rightfully quipped Gary Lockett. The fight, which seemed to be going in Jenkins’ favour, was thrown a slight curveball when Jenkins was dropped due to a wincing body blow in the sixth round to tighten things up on the cards.
Ultimately the fight was stopped halfway through the ninth round with the ringside doctor deeming Chris Jenkins’ cuts – officially caused by a clash of heads – too bad to continue and the fight went to the scorecards. All three judges had it 86-85, the slimmest of margins, to the Welshman who added the Commonwealth strap to his Lord Lonsdale belt. Cries for the rematch were immediate but that will have to wait until after a mandatory defence against Liam Taylor.
I will say this, though, Chris Jenkins and Paddy Gallagher are two of the nicest guys in boxing so I shan’t get het up in the whys and wherefores of the decision. Both men fought hard and should, if the sport is fair, be rewarded with deserved opportunities.
By Royal Appointment
Having been heralded as an all-round success back in March, boxing doesn’t have to wait too long for its next outing at Royal Albert Hall. Frank Warren brings the show back into Kensington on September 27th with Daniel Dubois headlining the show.
Dubois, 12-0, looked flawless as he stopped Nathan Gorman last month to win the vacant British heavyweight title and he vies for another belt, the vacant Commonwealth title, as he faces Ebenezer Tetteh from Ghana. Tetteh is best known for being the former WBO Africa title, a belt he won in December 2017 against Boniface Kabore and has built an unbeaten record of 19-0 exclusively out of his home country. Only two of his fights are available on YouTube, in which he looks particularly raw technically, but the hope will be that he is as game as his Richard Lartey – his countryman who Dubois fought earlier in the year.
Of course the fight is a step down in comparison to Gorman but realistically it was always going to be hard to fight an immediate defence of the British title without it being so; David Price, Hughie Fury and Dave Allen are all signed up with Matchroom and going in different directions and then you’ve got Tom Little, who Dubois has beaten already, and the likes of Kamil Sokolowki and Alex Dickinson.
Nicola Adams ‘defends’ her WBO flyweight title on the show and the word ‘defend’ seems rather crude in this fashion given Adams was elevated from interim champion just a few days ago. That is through no fault of her own given she was meant to fight for the full title back in March but the champion pulled out and subsequently, we believe, declined to defend the belt against Adams.
The ‘tentative’ fight being arranged for Adams is to unify her title with that of the IBF – a belt that will be contested by Leonela Paola Yudica and Isabel Millan (a former Adams opponent) on August 16th. Assuming there are no injuries or cuts, the winner will face the Lioness from Leeds in a welcome move to fast-track her career – especially given the British double Olympic champion is now 36.
Indeed after doubts emerged as to whether we would see Adams in the ring again it is a pleasant announcement that she will take part in the first ever female boxing contest at the Royal Albert Hall. Having carved a new path for female fighters in the amateur game it will be good to see if that success can transfer to the paid ranks. Further additions to the card will be made in due course.