By: Oliver McManus
Daniel Dubois looked to impress in front of, new stablemate, Joe Joyce ahead of a potential British title fight with the Juggernaut. Though each passing day does see that “agreed contest” seemingly further apart. Dubois had to deal with his latest challenger, anyway, as he took on Richard Lartey for the WBO “Global” heavyweight title. The English and WBO European champion was up against an imposing Ghanaian sporting a ginger beard – not much was known about Lartey and any available footage was grainy and untelling.
Indeed Lartey was supposed to face Joe Joyce in the Summer of last year, for the Commonwealth title, but failed to turn up for the fight. He emerged looking to swing, landing a right hand with his long levers as he sought to immediately derail Dubois’ momentum. Dubois looked unfazed in the face of an erratic opponent, despite getting dragged into a clinch, and was popping away with a measured jab.
Lartey, not pronounced like the coffee, was warned about his constant bear-hugging before taking time-out due to an accidental low-blow. Dubois was finding his target by now, halfway through the second, but wasn’t allowing himself much variety – staying focussed on the jab. The 27 year old Ghanaian fancied his chances at catching Dubois with an overhand right and after being caught with a flush left to the chin he simply swung for glory. Warren’s bluechip heavyweight stumbled across the ring but didn’t look seriously troubled.
Photo Credit: BT Sport Twitter Account
This was the first fight of Dubois, eleven contest, career in which he was actually taking meaningful punches and he seemed to pass the chin-check comfortably – though, of course, Lartey’s power is of unknown proportions. In the fourth round Lartey was slow in pulling up his defence and was battered with a stunning right hand, thrown over the top, that slammed into the cheek of the Ghanaian. Catching him with his feet stock square, Dubois felled his man like a tree.
A fourth round knockout against a livewire opponent saw Dubois advance his record to eleven without defeat in thunderous fashion.
The most evenly matched contest, certainly on paper, saw Lerrone Richards and Tommy Langford battling it out for the vacant Commonwealth and WBO International titles. The fight marked a return to the ring for Richards after a considerable thirteen months away from the ring; Langford was in just his second fight at the weight, having moved up at the turn of the year following a disappointing 2018.
Langford hit the scales marginally heavier at 167lbs and despite being a former British champion at middleweight he was a considerable betting underdog with odds of 13/5 available as the bell rang. Richards, sporting furry bumble bee shorts, carried the greater aesthetics with foreboding shoulders but the opening rounds were cautious, to say the least. Richards edged forwards against an opponent who was looking to engage but, perhaps weary of his previous losses, refused to commit.
No meaningful punch was landed in the first round and the same could be said for the second, though there was more action. Richards extended his jab but didn’t really look for variety whilst Langford was frequent in changing levels, flexing at the knees, and looking to land a lurching hook to the body of his opponent. The younger gentleman was wise to this threat and was able to take a step back and move out of range.
The fight had echoes of Ohara Davies vs Jack Catterall, with the lure of the limelight leaving both competitors overly cautious and not wanting to over-commit. In honesty this was Langford’s last opportunity to a level whereby he can really push on – a loss and you feel as though he has found his ceiling. At the third-way mark the Langford corner urged their charge for “a big, really clear round”, in order to gain a foothold in the contest. The workload was comparable but it always seemed as though Richards was on a upwards trajectory whereas Langford was remaining stagnant in first gear.
Sniper the Boss was living up to his nickname with a preference for precision punching as opposed to a machine-gun splatter of shots. He was holding his ground now, no longer stepping back out of range when Langford looked to come in low but countering the Birmingham man.
Langford, who in his two losses to Jason Welborn made a similarly slow start, was loosening up with his feet within the middle rounds and began to land shots with more frequency. Certainly he wasn’t getting dominated by Richards but it was his opponent who was picking up the rounds in, relatively, comfortable fashion. The former British title holder was looking to force openings with the worried words of his corner ringing in his ear. There was a distinct feeling of frustration and an acceptance he was behind, as he began to chip forward with more urgency.
This renewed urgency prompted a more composed Richards to find greater success, timing his shots to perfection to counter the come-forward nature of Langford. A superb technical display from the New Malden fighter, a former Tesco worker, who showed the ability to adapt to style of Langford and control the contest at will. A spiteful combination in the tenth round showcased just how in-tune he is with timing and precision, landing his shots on the duck’s beak – a thrilling South American football expression.
A mature display from Lerrone Richards who showed just what boxing has been missing over the last thirteen months; it started off cautiously but he relaxed into the contest and found a rhythm easily enough. 118-110, 116-113, 118-111 all in favour of the 26 year old who becomes the new Commonwealth and WBO International champion – well deserved, no bones about it, and a fighter with plenty more to offer.
Sunny Edwards was the co-main event for this Wembley card and the 23 year old defended his WBO European title in comfortable fashion against Pedro Matos, from Portugal. His opponent was eight years older and has campaigned at bantamweight for much of his career and found himself a punch-bag pretty much from the off. Edwards, switching stances, was chopping punches with vigour. A left hand to the side of the head would set up a brutal left hook, landing around the ear-drum, and the face of Matos was reddened by the halfway stage of the first round.
It’s fair to say Matos was overmatched but, at the end of the day, it is very hard to find consistent tests for developing European flyweights simply because there is a limited pool to choose from. Edwards, in fairness, has stated his desire to test himself at a domestic level against the likes of Tommy Frank or Jay Harris so it’s hunger is not a criticism you can direct towards him.
One half of the Croydon Klitschkos – his brother Charlie, the WBC champion – it’s fair to say he offers more entertainment than either of those, former,heavyweight kingpins. Not only in his shot selection but his fleet footwork, making use of the full ring dimensions and switching between orthodox and southpaw with a lucid fluidity. Matos was swinging with gusto, gleeful in letting his gloves go, but Edwards returned with interest. Chopping shots straight down the gully, busting up the nose and snapping the head back on frequent occasion. A huge shot on the bell of the seventh saw Matos grab the rope for balance, he emerged for the next round a shaken man and started to soak up the punishment. The ref jumped in, rightfully so, calling a halt to the contest in the eighth round.
The rest of the undercard saw Zak Chelli claim the first title of his career with a scrappy, yet comprehensive, performance against Jimmy Smith. Chelli won the Southern Area super middleweight belt by 100-89; Denzel Bentley battered Pavol Garoj but didn’t look to force the stoppage against a durable opponent, 60-54; Jack Catterall and Caoimhin Agyarko both registered third round stoppages, against Oscar Armador and Martin Kabrhel, respectively; Chris Bourke made it three stoppages from three fights, stopping Stefan Slavchev in two; Umar Sadiq forced Chris Dutton to retire on his stool following two rounds whilst Archie Sharp and Hamzah Sheeraz also picked up second round finishes; Shakiel Thompson’s Queensbury debut lasted just one round and; Mohammed Bilal Ali and Alfie Price secured convincing points victories over four rounds.