By: Ste Rowen
York Hall, London was the setting for the inaugural featherweight MTK Golden Contract tournament quarterfinals that saw Tyrone McCullagh, Jazza Dickens, Ryan Walsh and Leigh Wood progress to the semi-finals.
All four bouts provided their own kind of entertainment but let’s start at the end.
The fourth quarter-final of the Golden Contract tournament tonight saw Leigh Wood massively impress with a fantastic performance that saw him knockdown formerly unbeaten David Oliver Joyce twice and finally force the stoppage in round nine.
Talk before the fight was wondering why Wood, the featherweight Commonwealth champion had chosen Joyce, 11-0 (8KOs), as his quarter-final opponent, considering Joyce’s reputation within the boxing community, but in round two Wood landed a perfect, hard left hand that dropped the Irishman and clearly put Leigh, 22-1 (12KOs) before tonight, up on the scorecards early.
But Joyce reacted well to the knockdown, and his experience as an amateur kicked in as the fight drew into the middle rounds. Wood’s power was clearly affecting the Irishman when he landed clean, but David’s punch selection and speed was making it a tough fight to score. However, once again, in the 7th, Leigh Wood cracked onto the head of an open Joyce and, but for a strong display of defence and conditioning from Joyce, he struggled his way out of that particular attack but, with seconds left of the same round, the Irishman was toppled for a second time with a slightly soft knockdown. He was hit with a solid right but seemed to be dropped by a light left hand body shot. Still, the unbeaten man made it into round eight.
Then in the penultimate round of a scheduled ten, after the Commonwealth champ obviously rocked Joyce whilst he was still on his feet, the referee stepped in before any more serious damage could be done and called an end to the fourth quarter final.
‘‘I’ve never been one for taking the easy route. I wanted to make a statement and I did that…I just didn’t wanna upset my corner. I moved and showed my power. People don’t believe I have power, but I did it.
I think I beat the best kid, so bring it on.’’
Tyrone McCullagh got the MTK Golden Contract quarter-finals underway with a conclusive decision victory over Razaq Najib.
It was sloppy from the start by both the southpaw, McCullagh and late replacement, Najib, 11-3 (2KOs), before tonight, with both men seemingly more happy to swing and clinch that take on a more technical approach to the bout. The unbeaten man from Northern Ireland was struggling to get to grips with the awkward, Razaq but as the rounds passed on Tyrone’s good work was overshadowing ‘Lionheart’s’ spoiling style. Whilst Najib continuously struggled to close the distance, McCullagh countered at an almost perfect rate. The fight went the full 10-round distance with the final scorecards returning as, 97-93, 98-92, 96-94 all for McCullagh.
‘‘I thought I controlled most of the fight.’’ Now 14-0 (6KOS) Tyron said post-fight. ‘‘It was good to get the ring-rust off. We’re working everyday hard in the gym.
I have aspirations of winning the tournament, but I want the performances to be better.’’
James ‘Jazza’ Dickens, 27-3 (11KOs) heading into tonight, improved his winning column to 28 as he scored a decision victory of Carlos Ramos.
Dickens, of Liverpool was keen to set fire to the bout and excite the crowd earlier as he swung with fury in the early rounds but for the most part, Ramos did well to avoid his opponent’s best shots as well was landing his own fairly decent body shots. Carlos, a southpaw like Dickens, seemed happy enough to fight off the back foot as the fight continued beyond the middle rounds of another scheduled ten, but Jazza’s selection of punches seemed superior to the Spaniard’s occasional spurts. The hard work paid off for the Brit as he scored a knockdown in the 4th round, landing a right-left to the crown, but Ramos, 11-1 (7KOs) responded well with some sharp left hooks to the body to end the round.
As the fight headed into the final two rounds, it became much more tit-for-tat than the fiery exchanges of the earlier rounds and both fighter’s inside game suddenly became crucial to the scoring of the bout. Dickens jumped to the corner when the final bell rang for the second quarter final. The final scorecards came back as, 97-92, 99-91, 97-92 all for Dickens, and the IBF European champion spoke immediately after,
‘‘We knew he was tough, game and had one shot but we went from there. He was dangerous but we put him on the backfoot and boxed.’’
The third quarter-final of the night saw British featherweight champion, Ryan Walsh, now Walsh, 25-2-2 (12KOs) blasted out the previously unbeaten Hairon Socarras in the penultimate round to progress to the semi-finals.
Socarras, 22-0-3 (14KOs) when he stepped into the ring, seemed to make a more successful 1st round but Walsh began to rough up his Cuban foe as the bout hit the midway point. And with the momentum behind him, the British champ scored the first official knockdown where he landed a precise left hand, sending Hairon sprawling with only the ropes to keep him standing. Three rounds later, the fight had switched back to a much more technical event, with both men seeming to be looking for the point scoring shots rather than the finisher, that was until with thirty seconds left of the 9th, Walsh landed a dislodging right hook, once again sticking Socarras to the ropes and the Brit unleashed an almost non-stop fury of punches until the referee stepped in and ended the bout, rocketing Ryan into the semi-finals.
‘‘After I win this tournament, I’m taking my kids to Euro Disney. My team are my family.’’