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McComb, Cully and Joyce Impress in Belfast

By: Oliver McManus

MTK Global began their year at Ulster Hall, Belfast on Saturday night with curtain-raising card. Nine fights featured, after some late drop-offs, with The Public Nuisance Sean McComb serving as the nominal headline act.

The 27 year old was looking to make it ten wins from ten having notched the previous nine in a matter of 14 months. His opponent was a second successive Argentine in the form of Mauro Maximilliano Godoy. Last time out, against Emiliano Rodriguez, there were rocky moments with McComb suffering a cut in the first round and being dropped in the fourth: aside from that it was quite a comfortable eight rounds.

Photo Credit: MTK Global Twitter Account

Godoy brought with him experience totalling 38 fights at both super lightweight and welterweight. The 30 year old is a former national champion as well as a challenger at NABA and WBO Inter-Continental level.

McComb stood tall and long in the ring but Godoy matched him for stature. It was the Belfast fighter who fought on the front foot, though, pressuring his man backwards. After the first punch it looked as though his opponent was in two minds as to what he’d got himself into: there was the occasional erratic swing but, for the most part, he looked static and nervous.

The cagey, creative home fighter looked assured in his approach to the bout. He was picking punches off and responded well to the momentary moments of fire coming his way. McComb was able to soften the ambition of Godoy by controlling the pace of the fight with complete ease.

As the rounds went on and McComb’s on the contest tightened, the Argentine became more fast-and-loose in his punches. Several big swings flew well wide of the mark and, in contrast, McComb was making the most of short, sharp, pointed shots to keep Godoy in check. In the fourth round McComb stepped up the pressure and applied a smart array of artillery. Each punch saw the crowd get a little louder and it was intelligent work from McComb – varying his punches but with real spite behind them all. Godoy survived the round and perhaps those at Ulster Hall thought he was more hurt than he let on.

The fifth and sixth rounded were similar provided no shortage of entertainment. McComb looked in the zone and was piecing together punches together with notable fluidity. Godoy began to get pushed around the ring with McComb able to maneuver the fight into where he wanted it: chipping away at Godoy and not letting him take a single step forwards.

At the conclusion of the sixth round Mauro Godoy was withdrawn from the contest by his corner after complaining about his jaw. Little wonder, either, with McComb finding joy over the six rounds through a sustained, calculated breakdown of a gritty Godoy.

At lightweight the BUI Ireland National title was on offer for the winner between Gary Cully and Joe Fitzpatrick. The contest had ignited during the build-up with the pair going nose-to-nose at the weigh-in. Both men were undefeated (9-0 and 10-0, respectively) ahead of the evenly-matched, highly-anticipated fight.

Naas native Gary Cully, 9-0, came off the back of two six rounders in 2019 whilst Fitzpatrick, form Belfast, finished two fights inside the distance as he returned after an extended absence.

It was the southpaw, Cully, who made an electric start to proceedings. Significantly taller, he fought from distance and encouraged Fitzpatrick to close the gap – which he duly did. Cully cracked his opponent on the cheek, from the smallest of opportunities, and dropped his man. Fitzpatrick found his feet but far too quickly and he was on the backfoot thereafter. He was boxing aggressively but just couldn’t find the right rang and Cully was able to walk him down, once more, with a barrage of shots on the ropes. After about a minute and a half the referee had seen enough to wave the contest off and declare Gary Cully the new BUI National champion.

Davey Oliver Joyce and Lee Haskins kicked off the meaningful action with the pair contesting the vacant WBO European super bantamweight title. Joyce was in his first fight at 122lbs, having been WBO European champion at feather, and was up against a former IBF world champion. Haskins won world honours at bantamweight a couple years back before successful defences against Ivan Morales and Stuart Hall. Despite the pedigree he came into this contest as an underdog.

Mullingar’s Joyce, 32, saw defeat in his last fight as he succumbed to the heavy pressure of Leigh Wood (Commonwealth champion). His Bristolian opponent, 37, had two fights in two years coming into this contest: both routine six rounders.

Haskins emerged with a brace around his knee but moved unhampered. He quickly set about adopting his distinctive stance – leaning slightly over himself. The first round was a strong start as he planted feet and looked to flick punches off at a concerted rate. His right jab continually patted away at Joyce and some eye-catching combinations signalled his intent.

Pete Taylor, Joyce’s coach, was clear with his instructions: “you’re not punching enough.” The momentum stayed with Haskins, though, who was finding space to Joyce’s body with a left hook on a number of occasions. The former world champion was showing his experience in waiting for Joyce’s elbow to raise slightly before following through.

The Mullingar-man found his range after a couple of rounds and engaged proactively from the third round. He rallied with his punches and began to load up after, himself, finding tangible success. Shots were coming his way but, now, the heavier fighter was showing that weight advantage: walking forward and rifling shots towards Haskins. There was plenty of out-put but it wasn’t definitive as to how many were catching Haskins clean.

His opponent fought back and landed punches here and there that reminded you of his class. For the most part that was irregular and Joyce was able to keep his nose ahead with a more sustained body of work. The younger man was trudging forward and relaxing at the shoulders to land more significant shots. Haskins didn’t look overly troubled, mind, but was definitely on the back foot.

At the halfway stage the momentum was clearly in the home corner and Haskins hit the deck after swivelling on his leg. He looked in some discomfort as he rose – perhaps the strapped knee was hurt in the process – and Joyce was striking an open, target, almost, with the Bristolian stepping gingerly. Howard Foster stepped in as a result towards the close of the fifth and Davey Joyce was declared the winner after a thoroughly entertaining fight.

An under-the-radar eight rounder pitted Lewis Crocker and John Thain together in the welterweight division. Undefeated Crocker, 10-0, was greeted with rapturous respect from a home crowd for a real step-up contest. Thain, 17-4, hadn’t been seen a ring for nineteen months – last in action against Larry Ekundayo in July 2018.

Crocker led with his rangey right hand against a fighter who was continually on the move – twitching and shuffling his way across the ring. Belfast’s Crocker looked patient as he got to grips with Thain’s style and boxed within himself to an extent; just allowing himself time to think and adjust.

The eminently affable Scotsman stuck to his guns and enjoyed success with a sturdy jab that kept Crocker ticking over. Heavier shots came from Crocker but he was certainly being made to work by a wiley opponent. The undefeated home fighter boxed with more freedom as the rounds progressed and looked comfortable at the pace he was fighting. Comfortable stuff from Crocker: 79-73 he took the fight to advance to 11-0.

Earlier in the evening there were wins for Padraig McCrory who extended his record to 10-0 with six rounds against Lewis van Poetsch; Callum Bradley made it 4-0 at super feather after out-pointing Michael Horabin across four rounds; Ruairi Dalton beat Jose Aguilar 40-36 to record his second pro win; Damien Sullivan returned to winning ways with four rounds against Jiri Svacina to go 2-1 and; Pierce O’Leary went 4-0 after shutting out Liam Richards over four rounds.

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