By: Oliver McManus
MTK Global returned swiftly to Belfast as they promoted their penultimate show before Christmas featuring some of the hottest talent from both sides of the Irish border.
Conrad Cummings initially stepped in to fill the boots of Luke Keeler in a contest for the WBO European Middleweight belt against Brian Rose – that contest scheduled for December 14th. Fight week saw Rose withdrew citing injury and in came, unbeaten Hungarian, Ferenc Berki to keep the title fight alive.
On the scales and in the ring, Cummings looked far more physically impressive than his counterpart but Berki came to win, despite assumptions, as he tried to work a nice, downward right hand for much of the first round. A tentative opening couple of rounds saw both fighters looking to stake a foothold in the bout without expending too much energy.
Berki, the Hungarian national champion at welterweight, entered the ring for the first time in 10 months and, unquestionably, against the significantly best opponent of his career. Whilst the initial energy manifested itself in trying to experiment, almost, through the motions, it was Cummings who fought well from behind the guard.
Principaly targeting the body shot, Berki found his mark with a repeated left hook but seemed to register little in way of response from his 27 year old counterpart.
An argument could be made for Cummings to do more passive work, utilising the jab more frequently, but seemed like doing enough throughout the rounds to nab them on the scorecards. A tepid first half of the fight saw the bout fail to ignite as one might have hoped but Cummings carried out the necessary work – he didn’t do it with a particular explosivity, mind, but was doing well against an opponent who refused to engage.
The second half saw Cummings more lucid in his movement, leaning back with a relaxed upper body as he began to move with more freedom. In turn we witnessed small pockets of activity from Berki but, in honestly, the Hungarian’s shots seemed to be thrown without full commitment.
The ninth round saw the home fighter continuing to impose his game plan of relaxed counter boxing against a fighter who, he knew, was posing very little threat. A fresher, fitter fighter from fights previously, it was clear to see that Cummings had full-belief in his ability to out-work his opponent and never looked like forcing the cause.
In the final round Berki came out knowing that only a knockout would do and upped the work-rate, met in turn by an increased aggression from Cummings who carried the rounds. With 40 seconds left saw the away fighter land the only shot of note, from his side, as he shimmed on the ropes and sunk three left hooks towards Dynamite, forcing him to take a knee.
An accomplished performance from Conrad Cummings who boxed effectively to nullify an opponent who very little to work around. Marred only by the momentary blip in conversation in the final round, Cummings looked to have plenty left in the tank if required.
99-90, 98-91 and a, oddly close, 95-94 saw the Craigavon-born man claim the WBO European Middleweight title.
Gary Cully has begun to impose himself on the domestic lightweight scene with the southpaw moving to six and 0 before his fight with Mohammed Kambuluta. The Tanzanian boxer represented a step up for the Irishman but it was Cully who went into the year-ending fight full of confidence.
Fresh off a third round knockout over Jordan Ellison on October 5th, Cully was in no mood for to play the waiting game with the 22 year old looking to close out, four fight 2018, in style. Kambuluta emerged swinging wildly as Cully stood, the taller man, at the centre of the ring. Long and rangy from the southpaw stance, Cully landed a repetitive reaching right-hand in the early stages in place of his jab.
Keeping mobile, it wasn’t long until the Naas native landed a well-placed left-hook out of the break to drop his travelling opponent and, with the challenger rushing on, he dropped Kambulta with an rapid, in the pocket, combination of shots.
Looking like he wanted out of the fight, it would take one more push from Cully to finish the job and so it proved with the MTK prospect landing accurately with the left, throwing quickly and accurate to fore Kambuluta to the canvas for a third time – the referee stopping the contest with 12 seconds to spare of the first round.
Gary Cully moves to 7 and 0 in the lightweight division with a classy victory – the 22 year old should look above himself for fights in 2019 because, certainly, he has all the talent required to make the step up in class.
Third on the bill was Padraig McCrory, fighting at super middle, in his sixth professional encounter. With slots on BT Sport this year and Sky Sports last year, McCrory is already making the move into the limelight as he continues his development.
Opposite him was Gabor Detre, a Hungarian with a winning record of 5 and 4, and The Hammer looked to make short work of his opponent. Immediately positioning himself at the centre of the ring, the taller frame of McCrory looked honed in on his target from the off.
A stiff right hand hook, one minute in, landed square to the side of Detre’s face to rock his opponent. The legs began to weaken as McCrory loaded up with each and every shot, fainting out the left jab in between. A heavy right to the body of Detre saw the Hungarian get fatigued and, in rather anti-climatic scenes, the referee called the fight off with just over a minute left off the first round.
An understandable stoppage with Detre getting hurt by each shot, McCrory advanced his record to 6 and 0, three wins by knockout, to set up a blockbuster 2019.
The other fights on the bill saw Sean McComb take a step up fight against, ever game, Zoltan Szabo in a free-flowing fight. A comfortable night for the super lightweight prospect who moved to 5 and 0 thanks to a 60-53 win. Paddy Gallagher worked through the motions over six rounds against Fernando Valencia, landing with heavy hands, to secure a 60-54 decision. Philip Sutcliffe Jr returned to the ring after after 53 weeks out, the super lightweight looked to draw his opponent in and claimed every round to win by a margin of 40-36. Stevie Collins Jr’s fight witnessed momentary confusion with the opponent led to believe the bout was scheduled for four. Six it went with Collins winning 60-54. Making his debut on the card was Stephen Webb, nephew of Commonwealth Games champion Jim, who floated in and out of range to secure the victory by 40-36.