By: Oliver McManus
Josh Warrington has become used to late nights by now; his fight against Sofiane Takoucht was no different. The opening bell rang out at the Leeds Arena just past 11.15pm – at the same time TJ Doheny was in an eight rounder in Chicago – with Warrington making the third defense of his IBF world title. The featherweight across the ring was expected to provide a ‘routine’ work-out for Warrington
The start was measured with Warrington eager not to stumble over Takoucht’s southpaw stance. The Frenchman’s lead right was a cause of some early awkwardness with both fighters treading on one another’s feet – accidentally, albeit. Warrington was willing to bide his time in doubling up on the jab and settled for ‘little and often’ in the initial proceedings. A flurry of last minute aggression signalled his intent and put Takoucht on the back-burner.
Though Takoucht was replicating the trickiness of Kid Galahad, Warrington’s last opponent, it was clear that the Champion had adapted suitably. There was an increased tempo in the second round as more punches found their range before a clean right hand caught the Frenchman brash across the face. A flash knockdown and early success for Warrington.
Photo Credit: Frank Warren_tv twitter account
Seconds later and the head of Takoucht became an open target and Warrington pursued it. Like a gorilla playing with the watermelon before devouring it, two quick shots dropped the challenger to the canvas. To his feet he rose, once more, but with the bit between his teeth there was to be no third chance; Warrington was relentless. Barrages of punches scrambled Takoucht, who just couldn’t regain his marbles, and Bob Williams showed compassion in stopping the contest in the third round. Unification surely must now be on the horizon.
Moston light-heavyweight Lyndon Arthur picked up the Commonwealth light-heavyweight title in somewhat awkward fashion. The ‘King’ was facing Emmanuel Anim, 14-2, and struggled with the unorthodox nature of the Ghanaian. Arthur grew in confidence to edge his way into the contest as Anim remained one-dimensional.
Anim, predominantly a super middleweight, looked diminutive in comparison to the macho-man figure of Arthur; 6”2’ tall and stockily built. The Ghanaian made the brighter start and put pressure on Arthur in the first round, forcing the home fighter to temporarily cover up. Anim’s ambition shook up the heavy pre-fight favourite who was struggling to establish a keen jab.
The sharpness from Anim was evident of his former life at 168lbs and he ‘lunged’ into punches far more than most light-heavyweight’s; looking to quickly change the distance of the fight. Shots swung in from all arms of the clock but the predominant success was when Lyndon Arthur tied himself up on the ropes.
To his credit Arthur, accomplished as an amateur, remained calm as he rode the oncoming storm. Perhaps looking to lull Anim into a false sense of security, there was no sense of panic as the rounds progressed. It was only a third into the contest that Arthur started to take a step back in response to Anim’s aggression; a fairly jolting reverse, rarely lateral or angular.
It made little difference to Arthur’s power which was unfurled in earnest for the first time in round four. A range-finding left jab was followed up by a sharp, striking straight right hand caught Anim on the button. The Ghanaian was down, easy as you like. That prompted more frequency to the success of the Moston fighter; a solid uppercut the pick of the punches in the fifth round.
Arthur inched his way into the contest in the middle rounds but the bout remained untidy.The movement of Anim was far superior and he was able to scamper around the ring without much resistance. In return the punches of Arthur became looser, a good thing, with spiteful power attached.
The eighth round saw Arthur in serious trouble despite the same-same attacks from Anim. Every flurry was ‘lungey’ and speculative but Arthur was failing to get to grips with that threat. Those predictable swings had Arthur writhing on the ropes in response but Anim’s inexperience proved dividends as he sat on Arthur’s chest, unable to produce a finish.
A brave response followed in the ninth with Arthur dictating proceedings. Pat Barrett did well to reassure his charge and he came out with relaxed shoulders, backing Anim up with his punches and boxing as he should have done from the start. Arthur boxed assuredly, despite relentless pressure from Anim, potentially to a fault. Urgency was required from Arthur, especially when Anim flagged, but the bout was fought at a similar pace throughout.
Not the most aesthetically pleasing of contests but an interesting one, certainly. 115-112, 117-110, 117-111 in favour of Lyndon Arthur.
There was silkier success for super-featherweight Zelfa Barrett who defended his Commonwealth title against Jordan McCorry. The tenacious Cambuslang challenger was fighting his third Queensbury fighter in quick succession. Barrett settled quickly, as he always does, and utilised the basics very well.
The nephew of Pat, former British and European champion, started quietly but efficiently. The sole loss on Barrett’s record was a fiercely-fought bout against Ronnie Clark but, that fight aside, he’s consistently been patient in his approach. McCorry is notoriously difficult to shift so there was no gung-ho approach from either fighter.
Barrett’s appreciation for the finer details is a rare commodity for a modern day fighter and his dedication to hammering hooks blasted the body of McCorry in the third round. Three in the opening couple minutes softened the guts before Barrett landed four, five in succession at the centre of the ring to visibly sap the breath out of his opponent.
McCorry came back strong in the fourth as he led the charge with optimistic punches – both landing punches, taking punches. A real ebb and flow developed to the encounter with a knockdown bringing the best out in McCorry and, in doing so, producing more quality work from Barrett. Both fighters produced quality moments and landed decent punches but, overall, the classier work was from the Manchester fighter. Barrett, for all his youth, boxing distinctly years above the 26 he possesses. More body punches took their toll on McCorry in the eighth who dropped to the canvas in sheer exhaustion.
Enough was enough in the ninth with McCorry down again and shaking his head; an exemplary performance from Barrett. At the end of the bout it was the Manchester man that took the share of the spoils, deservedly so, with the better work throughout the contest. Brave from McCorry, as we’ve come to expect, but beautiful from Barrett. Crisp, class, composed.
The televised undercard also saw two eye-catching Queensbury debuts for Shabaz Masoud (5-0) and George Davey (debut). Masoud looked fresh on his feet and picked his shots well to win 60-54 against Yesner Talavera. Davey was relaxed and looked to enjoy the occasion, flicking punches out with ease, to beat Zygimantas Butkevicious.