By: Oliver McManus
The iconic York Hall, Bethnal Green, played host to the latest promotion courtesy of British Warriors – dubbed Fire and Fury there was no shortage of action as 18 fights took place over the course of 7 hours.
When the action started at 4pm the first men into the ring were Connor ‘The Lion’ Vian and Ricky Rose who duelled it out over 4 rounds of welterweight action – at 6 and 0 Vian was the heavy favorite over a 3-2 Rose but the underdog was game and arrived ready to fight.
Vian, a former Army champion, looked to control the ring early on and established his superior aggression with relentless rope work and inside punches forming his attacking game-plan.
With an ever-bobbing head from his opponent it was hard for Rose to be the thorn in Vian’s side but he gave as good as he got, showing heart and courage aplenty to rattle the Lion on occasion.
Despite these momentary threats it was the army-man who came through this war with the victory on his resume – a final flurry of body shots securing a 39-37 points victory to set the tone for what be a night of non-stop barnstormers.
Returning to the ring for the first time in four years was Tommy Williams – known as The Wisp – who set to work immediately with a sharp left jab, taking to the centre of the ring and keeping his opponent at distance.
Despite this being his first fight in such a significant period of time, Williams showed no signs of ring rust although the occasional shot saw his head in jolt in recognition of a live opponent. Sustained pressure and a high work rate ensured he had nothing to worry about.
In the final stages, a stunning salvo of shots to the head failed to land the knockout but a convincing 40-36 points win saw successful return for The Wisp.
The next fight of note saw John Harding Jr fight Victor Edagha over four rounds – although initially slated as a six rounder – with Harding heralding a strong fan base and trained by Leon McKenzie.
Beset by an awkward opponent who held from the beginning, Harding showed great mental fortitude to stick to his game plan – a game plan that saw Edagha wobbled seriously in the 1st.
A composed performance was enough to gain the win but the lasting impression was one of good movement – a strong core supported by fleeting footwork and evasive body swivels enabled him to stand clear of any potential fire coming from his opposite man.
Instead Harding was able to pile on the pressure to Edagha, frustrating the Anglo-Italian in the process to the point of a head butt that almost saw Harding tumble out of the ring.
Talking to me after the fight he said “because he was so awkward, I was just trying to jab-jab stick to my gameplan… but you learn from these tricky experiences, the main thing I can focus on is job done and what I learnt.”
Jeff Ofori took to the ring, fighting for the first time at super-feather, and started strongly against Aleksandrs Birkenbergs – a durable Latvian – with the first two rounds all going his way comfortably.
The third round saw Ofori’s onslaught ramped up to maximum gear, unloading a never-ending series of shots to bounce Birnkenbergs, quite literally, all over the ring. Ducking and weaving would do the Latvian no good as Jeffy’s shot selection seemed superior.
“On paper it was a good fight but round one it took me a while to find my range, round two I caught him, he took two solid shots and he wobbled but he was still game.”
“The thing is he wasn’t throwing back and I could see the ref creeping up on my shoulder so I was trying to give him a good whack but at the same time I understand the referee didn’t want any injuries”.
In the fight of the night was Daniel Egbunike, “Danny Darko”, a 2-0 welterweight looking to make it three wins and three knockouts on the trot. Having sold 150 tickets there was vocal support from all corners of York Hall – an incredible atmosphere, salacious noise.
Darko looked to establish his control over Ivan Godor (an 81 fight veteran) in the 1st round with incredible hand speed and power keeping his opponent in check, with the roar of the crowd behind him, Darko refused to back down and slammed shots repeatedly for the opening three rounds.
The young fighter remained relaxed throughout despite his incredible hand speed seeming to come with ease, a real snap of the wrist whilst throwing showed vicious intent and the he displayed all the characteristics of a top quality technical fighter.
Continuing in the same vein, Godor absorbed the punishment like a sponge whilst Egbunike put on record his “box office” credentials, flashy footwork perfectly complimenting his sumptuous shot selection.
Bouncing his head like a watermelon between the hands of a gorilla, Darko appeared to be toying with Godor and was an easy points winner over the course of six rounds but it could easily have been stopped on two or three occasions.
Speaking to Godor afterwards “the Slovakian Dragon” told me he’d welcome the fight again, “next time we do it in London or in Glasgow”. For Darko, however, it’s onwards and upwards.
Also on the card was a young Polish-born, Camden-resident in Peter Mirga who, hands down, is one of the nicest people you will ever meet – he eased his way to a points victory over Harvey Hemsley and in his post-fight interview Mirga said remained humble;
“Fight was all good, boxed nicely, took my time, my second fight now, get as many rounds as I can and hopefully it will pay off in the future. I can box until I’m at least 30, I’m realistic with my goals at the moment, stick to Southern Area titles.
When my managers think I’m ready, for now just learning fights, I want to keep really busy – maybe 5, 6 times this year, just keep busy and keep learning – I love having people, voices that I know, just feels like someone has my back”.
Other fights on the bill saw Andre Grant move to 3-0 with a points victory, Darren Gibson was involved in a thrilling fight against an ever-game Elvis Dube but secured a points win to go 2 and 0; Chavez Campbell enhanced his record with a points victory as did Tommy Williams and Lewis Adams.
The proclaimed headlining fight, Kallia Kourouni vs Monika Antonik proved to be a damp squib with the most notable action coming when Kallia turned up to the ring with the wrong size guard on, prompting a 15 minute delay to the fight.
A chess match encounter failed to see styles mesh and Kallia managed to get the tactical better of her opponent – perhaps the most telling comment as to the nature of the fight is that her second (corner-man) sat next to me and said “this is one of the worst fights I’ve ever seen”.
That aside this was an INCREDIBLE night of boxing courtesy of Mo Prior and British Warriors, with the whole of British boxing set on notice for these youngsters poised to set the domestic scene on fire.