Watson & Theophane Crowned New British Champions At Wembley
By Ezio Prapotnich
A sad night for Mick Hennessy but a great one for the fans in attendance at Wembley Arena, where Craig Watson, Tyson Fury, and Ashley Theophane put on three spectacular performances.
Craig Watson (20-3, 8 ko’s) avenged his loss to John O’Donnell (24-2, 11 ko’s) and conquered the British Welterweight title in a one sided match. The bout was almost a replica of their first encounter in hi structure, only this time John was unable to turn things around and there were absolutely no doubts about who won the decision. For the first 5 rounds, Watson pressed the fight relentlessly, stalking his opponent and scoring hooks to the body and straight jabs to the head, able to get inside, land cleanly and get out safely. Although either moving around or holding the centre of the ring, O’Donnell looked passive and hesitating.
In round 6, he stepped up his rythm, going aggressively after Craig, and improved his work rate in the 7th firing quick 1-2 combinations. Exactly like the first time, they ended up switching roles, with Watson boxing and effectively keeping him at bay with his jab. With every attack, John was becoming more open to the counter and looked warned out by the 10th, while Craig was fresh and overtly enjoying himself. To his credit, O’Donnell gave everything he had in the last two sessions, taking a lot of chances and occasionally nailing his opponent with straight punches, but getting punished in return. Craig Watson was simply too strong and deservedly won a unanimous decision by scores of 113-116, 112-1116, and 112-117, adding the British title to his collection.
Between the two main events, undefeated English Heavyweight champion Tyson Fury (14-0, 10 ko’s) treated the crowd to the only knock out of the night. Hyped Brasilian Marcelo Luiz Nascimento (13-1, 11 ko’s), in spite of his record, proved to be a very weak opponent. From the first bell, Tyson was regularly pumping his jab in Marcelo’s face an countering his wild swings with straight rights, knocking him down in the first round. Nascimento’s attacks were temptative, very easy too read, and left him off balance and open to the counter. At times, when punching out of range, he looked like he was shadowboxing. Fury dominated all the way, whether going to the body with hooks or using straight or over hand rights, until he connected with a crushing right hook ending the contest at 2:48 of the 5th round. A spectacular finish, but no questions were answered. With opposition of this level, it is hard to estimate Tyson’s real value. Hopefully, under Emanuel Steward guidance we will see better fights than this one.
Talking about which, only minutes before at York Hall, former Fury’s foe John McDermott handed prospect Larry Olubamiwo his second defeat stopping him in 75 seconds after 2 knock-downs to win the Southern Area belt which should make him elegible for another shot at the English title. Well, while Chisora is busy with Klitschko…
The less hyped fight on the card turned out to be the best one. After 12 fast paced and hard fought rounds, challenger Ashley Theophane (29-4-1, 7 ko’s) stripped former champion Lenny Daws (21-2-2, 9 ko’s) of the British Light Welterweight title in an absolute war. It was hard to predict such an ending after Daws dominated the first 5 rounds. Capitalizing on his height advantage, Lenny kept Ashley at bay with straight punches and seemed to beat him to the punch. But, the challenger, although not consistently, was having some success going to the body and counterpunching. Overall, he could not seem to slow down in spite of getting hit, applied constant pressure and could not be taken for granted at any time. From the 6th onwards, it started to look an even fight, whith Daws opening strong and Theophane coming back hard towards the end of the rounds. The 9th was the turning point, as Ashley knocked Lenny down with a right hook and went for the kill punching his opponent furiously all over the ring, eventually ending him to the canvas again. It’s surprising that the referee did not stop the fight, as the 2 times champion looked out on his feet.
Somehow, he managed to survive and stood toe to toe with his challenger till the final bell. It still looked like up for grubs in the 12th, but the savage 9th session must have done the difference in the scoring, as Ashley Theophane was awarded an unanimous decision by scores of 112-115, 111-115, and 111-115 to become the new British Light Welterweight champion.