By: Oliver McManus
Frank Warren’s latest promotion, dubbed The Time is Now, and the first under an enhanced partnership with ESPN in America took place at the Leicester Arena and played host to some of Britain’s brightest prospect;
Jack Catterall was defending his WBO Inter-Continental belt, against fellow domestic super-lightweight, Ohara Davies with the winner seeking a shot at, WBO world champion, Maurice ‘Mighty Mo’ Hooker.
Photo Credit: Frank Warren Twitter Account
The belt holder has looked rejuvenated under the tutelage of, new trainer, Jamie Moore and those trademark body shots of his would be something he looked to enforce on Ohara Davies – who was caught at the body several times in his only career loss to date, against Josh Taylor.
The bout kicked off at three minutes to eleven, UK time, but neither man looked in a rush to get to bed going by their opening exchanges as both men circled each other, slowly, from the centre of the ring before Catterall attempted to jump into the bout with a nice left hand that injected some energy into the encounter.
Both men pawed out their respective jabs with Ohara, arguably, landing the better of those across the opening rounds whilst Catterall looked target the body of his controversial counterpart – a clear game plan, from both.
The Morningside Arena became a cauldron of noise as the bout went on and whilst the first third of the fight remained cagey it was Catterall who appeared to be doing more of the composed, point-scoring work with Davies unable to really find the ignition switch and bring his right hand into play.
Fought from the centre of the ring, the game of cat and mouse continued into the second third of the bout and Ohara began to relax, finding his range and starting to let some shots go as he kept a high defensive left hand before twisting the knuckles into shots of his own – Catterall showed good defensive intuition to elude most of the shots thrown his way but both men were opting for a patient game plan, throwing the jabs repeatedly before trying to open up and land some telling punches.
Truth be told it looked as though both fighters were looking for the other to take the initiative before doing so themselves but the fifth round was the first where you could say with confidence that a fighter looked to be gaining the upper hand with Catterall working the body well, keeping his jab extended and upping the output as he looked to move into a rhythm of his own.
Davies kept his lead left foot stood on the tip toes of Catterall’s lead right in an attempt to tie him up and whilst Catterall stumbled once, the Chorley man simply reciprocated the tactic; the champion looked lighter on his feet and was throwing punches with more variety as he frequented one-twos as opposed to Ohara’s one-paced jab.
Davies had failed to back the power of his right hand throughout the bout and wasn’t landing it with any telling frequency or accuracy – the London-man wasn’t taking it to his man or really pushing his case.
The ninth round was the first time we really saw that right hand showcased by Davies who began to load up a little more, looking sprightly on his poised legs as he began to come forward a little more in the final stages of the bout; Catterall responded in turn with an increased output of his own, remaining elusive and leading with his jab but failing to double up on the promising openings.
Davies looked downtrodden when he sat down in his corner but it was still all to play for in the championship rounds of the fight with the preceding 10 being hard to score with any degree of confidence – the fight continued with the same rhythm with both men standing in the centre of the ring, patrolling the canvas but without fully committing to any big shots of their own.
Catterall continued to land the cleaner shots as he controlled the tempo of the fight, not allowing Davies to launch into any explosive salvos that we know he possesses and nullifying the threat of his opponent thanks to slicker footwork and silkier shot selection.
A fight that won’t be remembered, that failed to live up to the build-up and deliver the expected fireworks but the winner, by 118-110, 115-113, 115-115, was the man who put in the busier work, Jack Catterall!
Daniel Dubois was in with the biggest name of his short career as he took on Kevin ‘Kingpin’ Johnson – a 15 year veteran of the sport – over the course of a scheduled 10 rounds but, with Dubois owning eight wins from eight inside the distance and Johnson a fading gatekeeper, no-one was expecting it to last the distance.
Dubois, now 21 years of age, hopped immediately to the ring with an imposing jab and Johnson looked in trouble almost immediately as he covered up against the ropes – Dubois was throwing shots but remaining at a good distance as he demonstrated his power from the early stages.
Johnson, seeking to shimmy his shoulders, was getting caught repeatedly by Dubois with several hooks landing and the occasional chipping uppercut finding their way through the guard of his American counterpart.
The English heavyweight champion has built a burgeoning reputation off the back of his mammoth jab and the shot was working well for Dubois, who was showing more energy than perhaps we’ve seen before, as he sought to engage against a negative opponent.
Throughout the rounds, Dubois kept on pressuring his man, looking to load up with big shots up against the ropes but Johnson had a wry knack of being able to, almost, absorb the punches of Dubois and keep on going – no doubt, though, all the work was coming from Daniel Dubois.
As the rounds progressed, Dubois kept on pushing and keeping up his high-tempo fight-plan. The shots themselves began to vary up with Dubois’ uppercut being used more frequently as we advanced towards the halfway stage of the bout – landing with great efficiency.
Into the fifth round we went and the pace of the bout began to slow with Dubois opting to take a breather but keeping on the front foot and being the only fighter to show any sign of aggression; the English boxer was fighting a learning fight, against a man who hadn’t really came to box and Dubois was working the angles to attempt to open his opponent up.
Rounds reminiscent of a heavy bag session, that’s all it was, Dubois kept on sending in punches and Johnson just kept on soaking them up all the while telling Dubois to “keep ‘em coming”… the heavyweight prospect duly obliged and continued to fire shots in the direction of the American but without ever finding the opportunity to fully sink his weight into the punches.
Uppercuts reigned supreme through the course of the final three rounds but the fight was subdued with the crowd failing to get behind it and the one-way traffic that Dubois was providing proving to be less eye-catching than expected pre-bout.
Not that that was his fault, Johnson showed little ambition in remaining on the ropes throughout the duration of the contest and Dubois did all that could be asked for against a wholly dour and downbeat opponent; 100 points to 91 sees Daniel ‘Dynamite’ Dubois move to 9 and 0 but the aura of explosivity just goes down a notch for the 21 year old.
Nicola Adams OBE, fighting in her fifth professional bout, was up against Isabel Millan for the interim WBO Flyweight championship and the Lioness from Leeds started off the stronger fighter against an opponent who had no real technique, so to speak, but was giving it a good go.
With Adams relaxing into the bout she caught her counterpart with some smooth shots to the body and extended her jab outwards frequently to tee up some big shots; Millan didn’t falter, showing her heart and landing some decent shots of her own to show she wasn’t just there to get paid.
A fight that had no real highlights or lowlights but instead remained at a constant rate provided the necessary rounds for Adams who didn’t have proceedings all her own way and, indeed, got caught up in some moments that required her to work through the fight as opposed to simply going through the motions – Adams had to think and whilst she looked a little less convincing then perhaps you could have expected, Millan was one of a hell of a shade tougher and more gung-ho than people would have thought.
Millan found success in the ninth round and for patches of the latter rounds but it was Nicola Adams who produced the classier output and took the decision by scores of 96-94, 97-93 and 97-93 to set up an anticipated world title shot on December 22nd.
A night of championship boxing in Leicester that provided tough tests for the highly touted men and women of Frank Warren’s stable and whilst it may not have been as high-jinks and explosive as we may have hoped, they were valuable fights for the careers of the fighters so whilst the time might not necessarily have been now, there are promising fights on the horizon – bring it on!