By: Oliver McManus
Birmingham was the location for a pulsating night of boxing promoted by Frank Warren. Six title fights featured on the show – including a world title clash and three British bouts. The world title fight on the card saw John Riel Casemiro stop Zolani Tete to claim the WBO bantamweight title. Casemiro started rather nonchalantly but didn’t need two bites at the cherry.
It began quietly with a mutual respect between the two fighters; Casemiro a two weight world champion with the IBF. The Filipino challenger looked serene over the opening rounds and had the time to draw a backwards step and turn 90 degrees on a couple of occasions. There wasn’t much in the way of front-footed pressure from Tete.
Photo Credit: Frank Warren TV Twitter Account
The South African was popping away his right handed jab with enough regularity to control the fight. Physically he looked huge in comparison to his challenger – significantly taller and bulkier in the arms, as well. In the third there was what looked to be a short, digging hook from Casemiro that blindsided Tete and dropped the champion. It came about from nothing, really, but it scrambled Tete and after light pressure he dropped to the canvas again.
Casemiro wanted to force the stoppage and it didn’t take much more from the challenger. A couple of swinging shots with Tete at the ropes prompted Steve Gray to call the contest off. The damage came about after Tete dipped his legs and was caught with a solid punch to the body coupled with one to the temple – a brain bashing shot. He was dazed more than anything and just couldn’t regain his senses.
Lerrone ‘Sniper The Boss’ Richards picked up where he left off with a classy over Lennox Clarke. In doing so the super middleweight added the vacant British belt to his Commonwealth title. Having returned to title contention with a smooth win over Tommy Langford, in April, this was the second domestic name on Richards’ record this year.
Challenger Clarke oozed with menacing confidence. He was keen to be first to the punch and prodded away with a lead left to find his range. Richards was quick to circumnavigate away from the threat and Clarke fell short initially. Clarke shortened the gap between his feet and began to edge his way further forward.
Richards, trained by Alan Smith, hit his stride almost immediately. He boxed beautifully from range and was sharp on the balls of his feet – changing direction and angles in a buzz. The Commonwealth champion was sporting bumble-bee themed shorts and his footwork was suitably floaty.
Clarke found his range but what he landed wasn’t of much concern to Richards. The local fighter failing to land with real intent. Richards dealt with the shots comfortably and picked punches off from distance. Clarke’s clunky footwork, moving in straight lines, ensured Richards landed with crisp timing. In brief spells there was good work from the challenger who was keen to stay busy with his output. He was showing variety, as well, and was looking for openings. A strong showing but Richards, still, looking the classier operator.
Sniper The Boss seemed happy at not having to force the pace. The fight was playing out an ebbing rate with Richards confident and competent on the backfoot. Clarke gained respect as rounds progressed thanks to his continued commitment to walking forwards. He landed good shots but they weren’t frequent, or sustained, enough to really catch the eye.
It seemed as though the Commonwealth champion was doing what was required – and not much further than that. He was sticking to the basics, carrying them out well, and in doing so looked a level above his counterpart. Could he have forced his cause? Probably, yes. But he didn’t need to – he was looking the better fight and cruisingly comfortable in the process.
When there were pockets of pressure his hands would loosen and fluid three, four punch combinations would flow. It was intelligent boxing from the southpaw who knew when to flick the switch and when he could play it cool. Clarke did grow into the contest and had more prominent success in the second half; a good eighth, tenth and twelfth round did his courage justice. Clarke’s efforts were commendable – he poured his soul into the contest and felt as though he’d won. After the first six rounds he was getting outclassed but he crawled his way back into it in gnarly fashion. Richards the champion but made to think.
115-113 Clarke, 117-112 Richards, 116-113 Richards.
Anthony Cacace defeated Sam Bowen to secure the British super featherweight title. The contest was a real bone-shaker from the off with both men ‘getting involved’. Cacace was the more tactful tactician whilst Bowen looked to dust him up on the inside. It was a plan that had worked, so far, for the defending champion; against Maxi Hughes and Jordan McCorry he was able to find real success to the body.
Facing a slicker opponent in the form of Belfast’s Cacace posed different questions of the Ibstock boxer. Cacace held his ground as the attacks became more frequent. He retained the sleek, stylish element to his output but was more willing to hustle. Indeed, he bustled. Bowen continued to apply pressure as he looked to hurt his man. For every shot Bowen landed it seemed that Cacace would respond in turn; often with sharper, crisper punches.
The middle rounds saw Bowen having his best rounds. High quality in his output and relentless with his workrate you could see why he was a touted talent. Cacace was able to withstand the pressure and held up to the best of Bowen. From that point and into the final third was where Cacace began to move clear in the contest. Both men trudged forward with their heads down and their hands swinging. Cacace was making the jab count in addition into his more adventurous aggression.
Bowen was tough, he was rough and he was ragged. It didn’t matter what he was getting hit with because he was going to hit Cacace back and be damned if he didn’t. The contest was a real boat floater but the challenger did enough to win. 115-113 from Steve Gray and Howard Foster seemed a fair measure of the fight; 112-115 from Terry O’Connor raised eyebrows.
Chris Jenkins retained his British and Commonwealth welterweight titles but not in the fashion he would have liked. The Welshman was cut after a clash of heads before either man had imposed themselves on the contest. As four rounds had yet to be concluded it was declared a technical draw – Jenkins keeping his belts. He will be eager to avoid cuts when he returns in February / March next year as he looks to win the Lord Lonsdale belt outright.
The two WBO European contests saw Sam Maxwell bounce back to his brilliant best with a seventh round stoppage of Connor Parker. Parker withstood much of the pressure but didn’t look like testing his opponent – the stoppage was welcome with Parker taking punishment and looking to brave for his own good. Hamzah Sheeraz defeated teak tough Ryan Kelly with a fifth round stoppage to claim the super-welterweight belt. The fight was evenly matched for much of its duration but Sheeraz softened his man in the fifth with a sharp body shot. Kelly winced and Sheeraz pounced – a thunderstorm of punches finishing the contest.