By: Ste Rowen
At the York Hall in London, Conor Benn dealt with Jussi Koivula inside two rounds to defend his minor WBA belt; Ted Cheeseman and Kieron Conway fought out a rough but action-packed draw; whilst Craig Richards settled a domestic rivalry.
Benn, 14-0 (9KOs) rushed out and tried to dominate the middle ground early but his Finnish foe was ready to fight back and did his best to avoid a 1st round blowout. Jussi had a decent looking record heading into tonight (24-6-1) but hasn’t actually beaten a fighter with a winning record since June 2015 when he decisioned 5-3, Michael Obin.
And it showed, as though Joivula made it to round two, he was dropped twice in the 2nd with a vicious attack from Benn who, once he sensed the ending, went in for the kill. ‘The Destroyer’ fired off on the Finn as he was backed up on the ropes and the referee was forced to wave off the bout.
Speaking post-fight, now 15-0 (10KOs) and still WBA ‘Continental’ titlist, the victor with the famous name spoke post-fight,
‘‘He tried to throw me out of my game plan, thought I’m a little boy and I knew he was gonna come out and thought he was gonna bully me but I weren’t having none of it.
He caught me with some good shots, didn’t faze me so I thought, ‘You know what? Gonna let my hands go.’ I wanted to get my balance; the old Conor Benn and then the new and improved.
I think I did box, I just applied the aggression…The injuries have done me good, it’s about treading carefully.
Everybody wants to see blood and when I wanna see blood it is what it is. I don’t need that much stirring on.’’
On the undercard…
Ted Cheeseman and Kieron Conway fought out a draw in their British junior-middleweight matchup. Cheeseman was hoping for an immediate victory after his European title bout loss to Sergio Garcia last February, but it wasn’t to be as both men went hell for leather in the final round which kept it close on the scorecards, and ultimately a draw.
The current British junior-middleweight champion was also looking to defend the rainbow strap for the first time and was firing off the more efficient shots in the early rounds. Conway, 12-1 (3KOs), consistently looked to wrap up the big betting favourite but struggled to get a hold of Ted. ‘Too Class’ Conway continued to fight off the back foot into the middle rounds of the schedule twelve-rounder but was having success at times with his quick flurry attacks, Cheeseman’s relentlessness to come forward was doing a good job of supressing the challengers best moves.
By round nine Ted had seemed to be happy to resort roughhousing tactics, attempting to be stuck on the chest of Conway, and fire on the inside. 23-year-old Kieron was moving relatively well at times and though it may have looked as if Cheeseman was dominating the action, ‘Too Class’ was showing his class in spots with his defensive work.
The fight made its way to the 12th and final round with the more of the same tactics being employed by both fighters. ‘The Big Cheese’, 15-1 (9KOs) heading into tonight, was consistently let off with rabbit punches but Conway wasn’t one to complain as both men kept swinging to avoid going to the scorecards. But it was to the scorecards we went, and the final cards were returned as, 116-113, Conway, 115-114 Cheeseman and 114-114; a draw. Ted is now set to face his mandatory, Scott Fitzgerald next.
In arguably the most anticipated bout of the night Craig Richards score a unanimous decision over unbeaten light-heavyweight, Andre Sterling over twelve rounds. The victory now puts Richards in prime position for a shot at British champion, Joshua Buatsi for the Lonsdale belt.
‘Spider’ Richards made sure to fight behind a solid jab in the early rounds. The obviously taller man was keeping Sterling at bay and kept his from laying a significant hand on Craig. The best Andre could muster was to swing and hold, attempting to spoil his opponents biggest advantage. The end of round five brought a little more action but only brief as both men successfully landed big right hooks, but it was in round six that got the crowd excited.
Following a barrage of sloppy looking, but clearly effective punches from Richards, Sterling, 10-0 (4KOs) hit the deck for the first time tonight but rose relatively quickly and made it to the end of the round. Sterling found his way to the 12th almost despite himself at times, but the occasional hook that landed gave him and his corner hope of victory.
It wasn’t to be however, as even though the unbeaten man made it to the final bell, it was ‘Spider’ who took the win after the judges scorecards were returned as 117-111, 116-111, 115-112 all in favour of Craig Richards. Craig Richards, 15-1 (8KOs)
American super-featherweight, Otha Jones III improved to 2-0 (1KO) with a comprehensive showing against 2-12, Michael Horabin. Jones forced Horabin to the canvas twice in the 1st and there was no return for his foe on the second time of asking. At times Otha looked a little careless but it was almost definitely due to the quality of opponent. At just 19-years-old, there’s a lot of time for improvement in Jones III.
Reece Bellotti finished off overmatched Josue Bendana with a vicious left hook body shot in the 4th round, which could be felt through the Arena. Bellotti, who has lost out to Ryan Walsh last time out for the British featherweight strap, now moves to 14-2 (12KOs).