Boxing Insider European Notebook: Conlan Stops Ruiz, Jenkins Victorious
By: Oliver McManus
Many a year has gone by without too much happening, in the boxing sense, throughout the month of August but the dry month has seen mouths unusually salivated by the prospect of Sergey Kovalev vs Anthony Yarde. There’s a full support act scattered across the breadth of the month and that all began on Saturday night (August 3rd) with a simply sensational celebration if Irish boxing and community.
InFEILEable Conlan stops Ruiz
The silkily talented Michael Conlan fought on home turf, Belfast, for just the second time of his career and characteristically left a rapturous crowd wanting more. The local hero, with four murals dotted around the city, transformed Falls Park into one of the most breathtaking boxing venues of recent memory and THE prospect from Ireland was never going to disappoint under such circumstances.
His opponent, Diego Alberto Ruiz, had flown in from Argentina boasting a career record largely spanning bantam and super bantamweight: this only his second contest at 126lbs. Ruiz, truth be told, didn’t present much for Conlan to work with but you’d be short-changed to suggest he was underwhelming as he boxed, essentially, as video footage suggested. Perhaps Conlan could have started to relax and unfurl more adventurous shots earlier on in the contest but it made no difference with the 27 year old continually in control.
When the stoppage did come about, in the ninth round, there could be no complaints with a short flurry of shots enough to convince Michael Alexander to stop the contest. A measured performance from Top Rank fighter that split opinion ringside on the BT Sport broadcast but kept fans happy. It wasn’t a faultless boxing display but it’s unrealistic to expect that all the time Conlan is being forced to search for angles and opportunities against negative opponents. It was, however, a good account of his natural ability and his progression in the last 18 months under Adam Booth.
Bob Arum suggested, speaking after the fight, we could see Conlan fighting a former world title challenger in his next outing and, at featherweight, there are plenty to choose from; Oscar Escandon has been used against other prospects (Tug Nyambayar and Brandon Figueroa) whilst Kiko Martinez is a good gatekeeper to the top 15.
And Still, And The New, Jenkins packs away the belts
Swansea’s Chris Jenkins will have to make space in his hand luggage for two extra items this coming week, when he jets off on a family holiday to Spain, having returned home with the British (retained) and Commonwealth welterweight titles (claimed). He fought Paddy Gallagher on Saturday night as the main support act to Michael Conlan’s bout. For the most part Jenkins looked to be in control of the contest as he deployed similar tactics to his fight against Johnny Garton in March. He had made the smoother start and was light on his feet to stay out of range of Gallagher’s more spiteful shots; the only thing missing, in comparison to March, was a peppery overhand right. The notoriously fragile skin of the Champion began to cause havoc as two cuts opened up over the eyes- ‘what’s new?’, rightfully quipped Gary Lockett. The fight, which seemed to be going in Jenkins’ favour, was thrown a slight curveball when Jenkins was dropped due to a wincing body blow in the sixth round to tighten things up on the cards.
Ultimately the fight was stopped halfway through the ninth round with the ringside doctor deeming Chris Jenkins’ cuts – officially caused by a clash of heads – too bad to continue and the fight went to the scorecards. All three judges had it 86-85, the slimmest of margins, to the Welshman who added the Commonwealth strap to his Lord Lonsdale belt. Cries for the rematch were immediate but that will have to wait until after a mandatory defence against Liam Taylor.
I will say this, though, Chris Jenkins and Paddy Gallagher are two of the nicest guys in boxing so I shan’t get het up in the whys and wherefores of the decision. Both men fought hard and should, if the sport is fair, be rewarded with deserved opportunities.
By Royal Appointment
Having been heralded as an all-round success back in March, boxing doesn’t have to wait too long for its next outing at Royal Albert Hall. Frank Warren brings the show back into Kensington on September 27th with Daniel Dubois headlining the show.
Dubois, 12-0, looked flawless as he stopped Nathan Gorman last month to win the vacant British heavyweight title and he vies for another belt, the vacant Commonwealth title, as he faces Ebenezer Tetteh from Ghana. Tetteh is best known for being the former WBO Africa title, a belt he won in December 2017 against Boniface Kabore and has built an unbeaten record of 19-0 exclusively out of his home country. Only two of his fights are available on YouTube, in which he looks particularly raw technically, but the hope will be that he is as game as his Richard Lartey – his countryman who Dubois fought earlier in the year.
Of course the fight is a step down in comparison to Gorman but realistically it was always going to be hard to fight an immediate defence of the British title without it being so; David Price, Hughie Fury and Dave Allen are all signed up with Matchroom and going in different directions and then you’ve got Tom Little, who Dubois has beaten already, and the likes of Kamil Sokolowki and Alex Dickinson.
Nicola Adams ‘defends’ her WBO flyweight title on the show and the word ‘defend’ seems rather crude in this fashion given Adams was elevated from interim champion just a few days ago. That is through no fault of her own given she was meant to fight for the full title back in March but the champion pulled out and subsequently, we believe, declined to defend the belt against Adams.
The ‘tentative’ fight being arranged for Adams is to unify her title with that of the IBF – a belt that will be contested by Leonela Paola Yudica and Isabel Millan (a former Adams opponent) on August 16th. Assuming there are no injuries or cuts, the winner will face the Lioness from Leeds in a welcome move to fast-track her career – especially given the British double Olympic champion is now 36.
Indeed after doubts emerged as to whether we would see Adams in the ring again it is a pleasant announcement that she will take part in the first ever female boxing contest at the Royal Albert Hall. Having carved a new path for female fighters in the amateur game it will be good to see if that success can transfer to the paid ranks. Further additions to the card will be made in due course.
European Boxing Notebook: Saunders, Dubois, Joyce, and more…
By: Oliver McManus
Welcome to the third instalment of Boxing Insider’s European Boxing Notebook – it’s been a fairly quiet couple of weeks in the boxing scene so this edition will be shorter than usual but nonetheless here are the headlines from the British and European fight scene;
Billy Joe says “NO”
Billy Joe Saunders has withdrawn from his scheduled WBO Middleweight title clash against Martin Murray with a hamstring injury – the fight was originally slated for the 28th April at the O2 Arena before Saunders withdrew from that contest claiming an injury. The whole card, minus Terry Flanagan vs Maurice Hooker, was moved to the 23rd June at the same venue but once again the headlining fight has been scuppered.
Martin Murray has gone public in saying he believes Saunders is a “sh***house” and doubts the extent of the Champion’s injury with many fans seeming to share the scepticism of Murray. What is for sure is that Billy Joe Saunders’ pursuit of a mega-fight with either Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez or Gennady Golovkin is not relenting and, indeed, just 45 minutes before pulling out of the fight on June 23rd he was calling for Golovkin to sign a contract.
The current focus remains on getting another defence scheduled in the intermittence and whether or not Murray is willing to take the risk for a third time will be the telling factor as to how quickly we’ll see Saunders back in the ring.
Dynamite Dubois’ Explosive English Title Tilt
Daniel ‘Dynamite’ Dubois will look to claim the third title of his professional career from just his eight bout – the 20 year old heavyweight sensation has already secured the WBC Youth and Southern Area titles with victories over Muarico Barragan and AJ Carter, respectively – and the challenge comes in a far sterner form by way of Tom Little.
Don’t let the name fool you, this is a BIG test for Daniel albeit one that he should be able to navigate through convincingly if, we are to believe that, he is the real deal.
Tom Little poses a challenge yet to be faced by Dubois and, to be frank, that is an opponent who actually comes to fight and throw fire. We’ve seen before that Little has the power relevant to expose those who don’t take him seriously and his awkward nature ensures no opponent has an easy night.
Dubois will want to look far more emphatic than he did last time out against DL Jones where the prospect seemed lacklustre and sluggish but with a full, uninterrupted camp under his belt this looks to set be an explosive showdown between two cracking young prospects.
Big Baby Miller wants $3million for Joyce
Joe Joyce’s pursuit of the top contenders has been dampened by the consistent pricing out of potential opponents – Jarrell Miller has been the latest to demand big figures in order to face the seasoned amateur with Big Baby demanding up to $3million in order to face the Juggernaut.
Joyce was scheduled to defend his Commonwealth title at York Hall on June 15th and whilst he’s still fighting on the card, the situation of the belt remains unclear with Hayemaker Ringstar, Joyce’s promoters, not applying to the Commonwealth Boxing Council for a defence.
Monster Mashes McDonell
Naoya Inoue lived up to his reputation of being a supreme knockout artist in the lower divisions with the Japanese sensation claiming a world title at a third weight – this time Bantam – with an unrelenting one-round stoppage of WBA champion Jamie McDonnell.
The odds were always against the Brit, who travelled to Japan for the fight, but no-one outside of the Inoue camp could have expected such a savage beat down.
The former light-fly and flyweight world champion, Inoue’s move up to the Bantamweight division has immediately marked him out as one of the fighters of his generation and in an increasingly competitive division with the likes of Zolani Tete, Ryan Burnett and Emmanuel Rodriguez there’s a never-ending plethora of super fights to be made – good job there’ll be the World Boxing Super Series this year, then.
World Boxing Super Series Update
The World Boxing Super Series seemed to encounter hiccup upon hiccup over recent months and the lack of efficient communication from the tournament has left many fans – and fighters frustrated.
Over the past two weeks we have, however, learnt the fate of the Super Middleweight final which WILL include George Groves as he’ll face Callum Smith for the WBA and WBC Diamond title’s in the United Kingdom at some point in “late summer” – I suspect the 25th August.
The undercard is expected to feature Chris Eubank Jr vs John Ryder with Ryder coming off the back of two tremendous victories against Jamie Cox and Patrick Nielsen whilst Eubank will serve as the reserve opponent for the final and will step up as a late replacement if need be.
Zach Parker is also expected to feature on the card.
York Hall SUPER Card
Eddie Hall brings a taste of the big time to the small hall scenes with a Commonwealth title double header taking place in the iconic York Hall – a sold out venue will see 1,500 fans witness the most sumptuous of headline fights between Luke Watkins and Lawrence Okolie for the Commonwealth and WBA Continetal Cruiserweight titles.
Unusually for a fight of such magnitude there has been no bad blood but rather a magnanimous respect for each other and what a fight this will be – Okolie looking to take the biggest name of his career, thus far, and claim another belt whilst Watkins will be looking to catapult himself into household name territory by derailing the hype train.
The co-main event sees Reece Bellotti looking to extend his unbeaten ledger to 13 fights against the game and gritty Ryan Doyle – Bellotti on a run of nine straight early finishes will be looking to sweep aside the threat from Doyle and continue his rapid rise up the featherweight ranks.
The card also sees Ted Cheeseman defending his WBA International title against Paul Upton, Daniyar Yeleussinov in his UK debut as well as Danny Dignum, Felix Cash, Craig Richards, Sean McGoldrick and Louie Lynn.
British Warriors return
Mo Prior and British Warriors will return with a promotion on June 30th at York Hall as they look to continue their guidance of a number of sensational prospects. Prior has been heralded in recent times by those inside the industry as being one of the best managers around and the impact he has on fighters is clear to see from both an outside perspective and conversations I’ve had with various boxers – no less than Jeff Ofori.
On the card Jez Smith is expected to get a shot at the Southern Area title currently held by Louis Greene whilst Ryan ‘Run ‘Em Over’ Charles will be in his second fight – at his natural weight of cruiser, as opposed to heavy.
Ofori returns to the ring as he looks to further his pursuit of a Southern Area belt and the big name on the card will be Chris Kongo.
No shortage of explosivity, that’s for sure.
THAT just about rounds up the last two weeks of action in Britain and Europe – it’s not been action packed but there’s certainly been several spoonful’s of news to digest!
European Boxing Notebook
Compiled By: Oliver McManus
Welcome to the second edition of the European Boxing Notebook, covering all the events and news from the 6th-21st May and even include a bonus section about an Asian world title doubleheader;
Photo Credit: Hughie Fury Twitter Account
HUGHIE FURY CLAIMS BRITISH TITLE
Boxing returned to terrestrial television on the 12th May with Sam Sexton’s first defence of the British heavyweight title he earned by outpointing Gary Cornish in the latter stages of last year – Hughie Fury was the challenger in a contest that saw Sexton taking huge risks but the rewards, should it pay off, were exponential.
The fight started off rather cagey but it was clear to see Hughie Fury’s natural talent shining through. Before fight there was an incredible lack of respect for Sam Sexton not by the opposite corner but rather by a section of fans who seemed to assume he was the challenger based on solely on the fact that Hughie was the more recognisable fighter.
And it was clear to see that Sexton was not to be underrated as his staunch defensive boxing withstood early barrages from Fury before capitalising with an effective flurry of his own when his challenger attempt to shorten the distance between the two fighters.
Ultimately the power of Hughie Fury would prove to be Sexton’s undoing as he was eventually battered and worn down, succumbing to a fifth round stoppage. A career to be proud of for Sam but for Hughie his career has only just got started.
WARRINGTON WHITWASHES SINKING SELBY
Josh Warrington fighting in his home town of Leeds, his dream venue of Elland Road in front of a crowd of over 20,000 looked to become the city’s first ever world champion against embittered rival Lee Selby, from Wales.
The build-up had been spiteful with Selby’s father infamously claiming Warrington wasn’t “even a top five fighter in Leeds” a quote that was delivered in a typically staged manner but there was nothing staged about the performance on the night.
Out jabbing from the start, Warrington was clearly buoyed by the incredible support beckoned in the cauldron of Elland Road, and opened up a gaping gash on the above the left eye of Selby within the first quarter of the fight.
Ironically there was no looking back from that moment for Josh who maintained an educated pressure throughout the bout, cautious not to walk onto the ever-lingering threat of Selby’s counter-punches.
Played in by the Kaiser Chiefs and their iconic “I Predict a Riot” the song seemed almost foreshadow how this IBF Featherweight fight would unfold with Warrington exploding into life, pressuring his Welsh opponent who had struggled with the weight pre-fight.
The rounds that Leeds’ lion won were clear, decisive battering’s whereas Selby appeared to merely scrape the rounds he claimed and throughout the fight it was continually Warrington who managed to control his emotions and the ring.
A scintillating performance not just for Warrington but for the whole city of Leeds resulted in history being made as Leeds were bequeathed their first ever world champion – courtesy of a, controversially, split decision with everyone perplexed as to how Alan Davis scored it 115-113 in favour of Selby.
On the undercard Jack Catterall faced a late replacement opponent in Christopher Sebire as he looked to regain his WBO Inter-Continental Super Lightweight title. Predictably Catterall dominated and within the first round the overweight Sebire sunk to the floor, dislocating a shoulder in the process. Job done for Catterall but bigger, tougher tests are just around the corner.
Darren Tetley and Mason Cartwright clashed in what was a real “trade fight”, on paper the best scrap in Britain across the weekend and so it proved with Tetley and Cartwright throwing shots left, right and centre throughout the duration of this fight, scheduled for 10, rendering both fighters battered and bloodied but it was Cartwright who would fall victim to this bruising encounter, splitting a lip with blood smattered all over his face – a warrior who WOULD have continued had he been allowed, the doctor called it off with Cartwright bearing horrific superficial damage. A rematch would be incredible if not likely.
HEXICUTIONER ENDS TAGUCHI’S REIGN
Former minimum-weight world champion survived a late barrage from WBA and IBF junior flyweight champion Ryoichi Taguchi over in Japan as he became a multi-weight world champion and a hero back in his home country of South Africa.
The judges all scored the fight 114-113 for the former WBA and IBO Champion who, himself, was looking for redemption following a loss to Milan Melindo – the opponent who Taguchi defeated last time out.
Not necessarily an action packed fight, Budler controlled the fight from the beginning with higher work rate and sustained pressure, particularly taking charge of the first 6-7 rounds before tables flipped on The Hexicutioner with his 27-2-2 opponent really building momentum with the crowd getting behind him.
Ultimately it would prove too little, too late as Budler’s early onslaught of pressure saw him the deserved winner of the IBF and WBA Light Flyweight titles.
9 and 0 IBF minimum-weight world champion Hiroto Kyoguchi was making the second defence of his title at, regular territory, Ota-City Gymnasium against a fellow undefeated boxer in the form of Vince Paras – a nineteen year old Filipino competing in his first 12 rounder and his first fight on foreign soil.
A serious threat, Paras proved to be much less of a walkover than many expected with a thunderous left hook to the temple sending Kyoguchi down in the third round but the champion did well to recover and control the tempo of the fight with a cautious jab.
All three judges scored it 117-110, 117-110, 117-110.
TAYLOR TACKLE’S POSTOL
Cyclone Promotion’s announced the next fight for their golden boy Josh Taylor who will take on Viktor Postol, former challenger to Terrence Crawford, on June 23rd. The event will take place in Edinburgh as Taylor seeks to extend his professional record to 13 and 0 against one of the world’s best super lightweight’s.
A former world champion himself, Postol claimed the belt by knocking out Lucas Martin Matthysse in the 10th round back in October 2015 and has an impressive CV with names such as Yvan Mendy, Karen Tevosyan and Jamshidbek Najmiddinov joining Matthysse on the list of Postol’s conquered opponents.
At 34 years of age Postol will be determined to prove he’s still capable of packing a punch at the top level of world boxing against an opponent seven years his younger.
The contest serves as a final eliminator for the WBC title but with the kingpin of that division, Kiryl Relikh, entering the, as yet to be announced, 2018/19 Super Lightweight World Boxing Super Series, there’s every possibility that that may yet prove to be Josh Taylor’s next move in entering the tournament alongside the likes of Regis Prograis, Eduard Troyanosky, Anthony Yigit and Ivan Baranchyk.
EDDIE HEARN’S BILLION POUND DEAL
Eddie Hearn and DAZN announced the largest broadcasting deal in boxing when they inked an eight year, $1billion contract that would see Matchroom Boxing USA put on 16 shows a year over in the States with 12 “big” shows and 4 “monster” cards being provided to subscribers of, Perform Group’s, DAZN.
The streaming service has already been available in Germany, Japan and Canada with whom there are pre-existential agreements with Eddie Hearn to show a variety of Matchroom Cards. The announcement is expected to impact on UK cards with additional spending power being granted to Hearn across the board.
BEEFY LOOKS FOR WBO SHOT
Following on from Jaime Munguia’s sensational stoppage victory against Sadam Ali, Liverpool’s Liam Smith has been mandated as the next contender for the WBO Super Welterweight belt. Smith was the original challenger to Ali on May 12th before an allergic reaction two weeks out from the night lead to his withdrawal.
But the performance from Munguia enhanced the vocal belief that Smith would have been too much to handle for Cotto’s conqueror and attention now turns to a far more exciting clash with the Mexican belt holder who enhanced his record to 29 and 0.
Smith, of course, previously held the WBO belt before putting it all on the line in a brave effort against Canelo Alvarez – since then he’s claimed two victories over bitter rival Liam Williams and has catapulted himself to the mandatory position in the WBO rankings as he looks to re-establish his name at the top of the world scene.
The fight is believed to be taking place on either the 21st or 28th of July.
Joe Joyce, who captured the Commonwealth Heavyweight belt, is scheduled to make the first defence of his title on June 15th at York Hall with the card featuring a plethora of Hayemaker Ringstar talent including Ruqsana Begum and Kody Davis.
The choice of opponents are seemingly slim with the Commonwealth Boxing Council’s official list of contenders either already signed up to fights or unlikely to accept the bout. Couple that with the fact the CBC told us exclusively that they’ve yet to receive an application for a title defence, the ultimate scenario looks as though Joyce will end up fighting a journeyman… we wait and see.
THE LAST WORD
The last word for this week can go to Harvey Horn, I asked him how he’d feel if he looked back on his career and there were three losses on his record from three excellent fights as opposed to guarding his unbeaten record throughout;
“Of course, I would definitely feel better because if I protected it and didn’t take those chances then I’d feel like I cheated myself and I cheated my talent, I wouldn’t feel like I’d explored everything I can do in the boxing game and I think if it took them losses to experience it all then so be it but obviously I’d love to keep my 0 but I’ll take those chances.”
Boxing in Europe News and Notes
By: Oliver McManus
As part of a new feature here for Boxing Insider, this is the first edition of the European Boxing Notebook – a round-up of all the major boxing news and action from Europe over the last two weeks.
Skeete’s Spanish Slip
Bradley Skeete took a trip to Bilbao, Spain, to face the toughest test of his career to date against Kerman Lejarraga for the European Welterweight title; Lejarraga was a bit of an unknown product going into the fight with his best wins coming back in 2016 – against Laszlo Toth and Denton Vassell, respectively – but the Spanish media and, promotional company, MGZ were ringing the bell that said he was the real deal beforehand so there was every expectation that this would be a challenge.
The general expectation, however, was that Bradley Skeete’s four years of title-pedigree would see him claim the European belt and, potentially, take him even closer to a world title shot.
10,000 hostile Bilbao-residents packed into the Bilbao Arena for a packed night of action and such was the extensive schedule that Skeete didn’t get into the ring until gone midnight but, despite that, the crowd were ferociously backing their man.
A tricky opening round saw the Prince from Penge finding it difficult to land on his awkward Spaniard opponent before the Revolver burst onto the scene with the explosive power that saw 19 of his previous 25 opponents see an early bath.
The body of Skeete was struck thrice and on each occasion he crumpled to the canvas, wincing in pain, as the toll of the third knockdown rippled its way through Bradley’s body, the towel came in to scupper Skeete’s Spanish dream and send Bilbao into ecstasy.
Brilliant Bellew DOMINATES Hap-hazard Haye
May 5th saw a bitter rivalry reach a climatic ending as David Haye and Tony Bellew looked to finish off what has been brewing for well over a year – Bellew wanted to prove his victory last March wasn’t a fluke, resulting because of Haye’s freakish injury, whereas Haye was out to reinforce his heavyweight title credentials.
Coming to the ring with the old-school music and old-school shorts, there was a distinct feeling of nostalgia surrounding Haye – could we see a vintage performance? The opening two rounds saw Haye get the better with solid jabs that were much missing during the first instalment, still searching for the big shots but seemingly more patient.
Bellew lost in balance and was marked up under the eye, finished the opening two rounds respectably, however, before digging in to his heels in the third, landing power shot after power shot with real peaches sending Haye to the canvas on two occasions, a 10-8 round for the Liverpudlian.
Blood was in the water and the piranhas were circling with Bellew looking to finish, he went for, GUTS AND GLORY ON THE LINE, Haye was gone, shot, a shadow of his former figure and Bellew, even when looking like taking a breather, was impeccable in his shot timing, selection and power.
David Haye was out-worked in every aspect of the fight and so it proved in the fifth round, of this scheduled 12 rounder, when Bellew turned on the heat, reverting to a jab before countering Haye’s reaching shot… down for a third time, the fight was over for Haye.
Surely now it’s time for David to call it a day on his, once-glistening career, but for Tony Bellew? Well only he knows what’s next.
On the stacked undercard at the O2 there was a sensational super-middle encounter between John Ryder and Jamie Cox – the victor would be propelled into world title contention whilst the loser would need to rebuild themselves at a domestic level.
In a tasty tussle, both fighters looked to establish their individual gameplan, engaging in a phonebox war, but it was always Ryder who was likelier to land the big KO punch – the stoppage itself was bizarre, Cox went down seemingly an age after being hit by Ryder, himself coming off the back of a career-best victory, before waiting until the 10 count to stand up.
Strange or not, Ryder put in a scintillating performance to claim the stoppage and enhance his standing with the WBA – a shot at ‘regular’ champion Tyron Zeuge looks increasingly likely.
The other main talking point from the night was that of Joe Joyce and Lenroy Thomas’ encounter for the Commonwealth Heavyweight championship – definitively the toughest test of Joyce’s fast moving professional career, he started fast and never slowed down.
Standing stock in the middle of the ring, looking relatively fast on his feet, Joyce’s punch out-put was relentless, bashing the face of his Jamaican counterpart up, before knocking Lenroy out in the second round to secure the Commonwealth title and, with it, a plethora of all-British match-ups in the pipeline.
Le Grande, Legrand
From the continent the biggest news were victories for Vincent Legrand and Arthur Abraham – Legrand was initially supposed to fight Andrew Selby in a mouth-watering clash for the European Flyweight title before Selby withdrew due to illness, Juan Hinostroza (7-8-1) was the replacement opponent – something that says something about the quality (or lack thereof) in the European flyweight scene.
The durable Spaniard, born in Peru, didn’t really came to fight and only really threw the occasional punch as a signal that he wasn’t actually asleep rather than to display any real challenge – Legrand played to his tune and boxed within himself, not exploding into the fire-fighter that he has shown glimpses of in the past, but did enough to make sure he won every round on the scorecards.
Over in Germany on the weekend of the 28th, Arthur Arbaham returned to the ring after a nine month absence, following a unanimous decision loss to Chris Eubank Jr, in a much tougher test than the one Legrand faced.
Patrick Nielsen was the chosen opponent, 29-2, the Danish super-middle who’d established himself on the world scene prior to a spectacular knockout loss to John Ryder last October – Nielsen is talented and explosive but, nonetheless, someone who Abraham was expected to take to task.
Abraham started slowly without throwing many punches but utilising a stead-fast defence against a mobile Nielsen looking to upset the odds – targeting the body of Abraham, success was found with the German almost looking like he was stuck in mud.
The theme continued until the latter half of the bout in which Abraham began to enforce his tactical superiority, fatiguing his Danish counterpart whilst managing an astute game-plan; Abraham began to toy with Nielsen, controlling the pace nicely but, regardless, it was a nip-and-tuck encounter that saw a, fair, split-decision victory for King Arthur – 116-111, 116-111, 113-114.
Other notable results from the European scene include Leon Bunn’s unanimous decision victory over eight rounds against Tomas Adamek; former WBSS participant Nieky Holzken’s 3rd round come-back TKO Bernard Donfack; Erkan Teper made it three wins in a row thanks to a 2nd round TKO over Davit Gorgiladze (16-10).
Frank Warren – Homecoming, BT Sport and MAJOR fights
Frank Warren announced a new five year broadcast deal with subscription channel BT Sport having first joined partners in April of last year – the move sees Warren’s cards shown exclusively live on BT from September, moving away from his BoxNation channel – and on the back of that we saw a healthy number of quality fights announced for the next couple of months.
Added to the under-card of Billy Joe Saunders vs Martin Murray, at the O2 on June 23rd, were two cracking domestic clashes; the first being Josh Leather vs Ohara Davies (or Ohara Davie vs Josh Leather, depending on what camp you’re in), a fight that goes to show the unending number of super-lightweights promoted by Warren with credible claims to being elite level – Leather and Davies join Terry Flanagan and Jack Catterall in the stable.
Questions were raised as to why Leather avoided a potential rematch with Glenn Foot for the Commonwealth and British titles but, either way, this fight is just as good.
Daniel Dubois and Tom Little will square off for the vacant English Heavyweight Championship with Dubois taking a much-needed step-up in quality of opponent for his 8th fight with Little, 10-5, representing a live target who’ll throw as much as he does talk.
Also announced by Warren was the homecoming of Michael Conlan, making his professional UK debut, who’ll face Adeilson Dos Santos, a former WBO World title challenger, on Saturday 30th June in Belfast; also on the card is Jono Carroll vs Declan Geraghty, in a postponed clash, for the IBF Inter-Continental Super Feather title, Gary Corcoran and Paddy Gallagher will meet, so too will Tyrone McKenna and Philip Sutcliffe Jnr whilst Joe Ham and Tyrone McCullagh clash for the Celtic Super-Bantam belt AND Lewis Benson meets Johnny Coyle to round up a sensational card of PURE 50-50 fight.
Eddie Hearn – North East boxing & York Hall return, IBF title tilt
Matchroom Boxing and Eddie Hearn announced their intention to bring big-time boxing back to the North East and did so in style with Josh Kelly and Lewis Ritson co-headlining a stellar card; Ritson will be fighting to keep the Lonsdale belt following two quick-fire wins this year, already, and he’ll face Paul Hyland Jnr, the mandatory challenger, boasting an 18 and 0 record.
Josh Kelly, in only his 7th fight, will battle the, Australian, Commonwealth Welterweight champion, Kris George who comes off the back of three very convincing wins – namely against Cameron Hammond, Jack Brubaker and Maximiliano Leonel Scalzone – in his own backyard but Toowoomba-resident will be making his first trip to fight overseas and, against Kelly, he may just have to head home empty handed.
Also on the card will be a tasty all-British match-up between Charlie Edwards and Anthony Nelson, both 12-1, for the vacant WBA Continental Super-Fly title; Gavin McDonnell and Stuart Hall look to regain world-title challenging credentials as they look to claim the WBC International Super-Bantam title; Arfan Iqbal and Simon Vallily will meet, finally, to settle their grudge match for the BBBofC English Cruiserweight title.
The other major announcement from Matchroom revolved around a cruiserweight duel between Luke Watkins (Commonwealth champion) and Lawrence Okolie (WBA Continental champion) – a clash that’s seen respect aplenty from both sides and promises a thrilling encounter when they take to the ring on June 6th at York Hall, Bethnal Green.
Daniyar Yeleussinov, the Kazakh national hero, will make his UK debut having had his first professional fight last month, in Brooklyn, he’ll be looking for an expedited track to title contention and, indeed, a potential professional rematch between himself and Josh Kelly.
Commonwealth Champion Reece Bellotti will defend his belt, in his 13th fight, against Lancashire-man Ryan Doyle (16-2-1) whilst Felix Cash and Ted Cheeseman have also been confirmed for the Wednesday night bill.
In closing news from Eddie Hearn’s corner is an IBF title shot for, new, British light-heavyweight champion Callum Johnson who sensationally knocked out Frank Buglioni within one round back in March; the IBF have mandated Johnson to face world champion Artur Beterbiev after last month’s top 10 all refused the opportunity to fight the Russian.
Propsect Watch – Ryan Charles
As profiled in our feature last month, Ryan Charles made his professional debut on the Mickey Helliet card at York Hall on the 28th April in a heavyweight match-up against Ferenc Zsalek – Charles will drop back to cruiserweight for his 2nd pro bout on the 30th June.
Distinguished as an amateur, the former World Championship and Commonwealth competitor, spoke to me after the fight and said;
“I think it went really well, my first pro fight, I was a bit nervous but I think I boxed really well, I used my jab well and landed quite a few good right hands. Let off a few combinations on him and didn’t get hit very often, which is a good thing, I’m not in this game to take punishment.
One thing I was a bit disappointed is that I think that if I were to press him a bit more, I probably could have got the stoppage but it’s all learning experience, all good to get the rounds and go the four rounds.
It was a good bout, kept it long, rocked him but the guy was solid, he wouldn’t go down. I won it clearly, 40-36, the last bout of the evening so I had to sit and wait and watch everyone else. I was just waiting and waiting, I wanted to get in the ring.
It was a good experience, I really enjoyed it”
That then just about rounds up the best of the European action from the last two weeks – a truly thrilling couple of weeks but it’s only going to get better – we’ve got purse bids, heavyweight title showdowns, debut makers looking to impress and an all-British world title clash between Lee Selby and Josh Warrington over the next fortnight; check back with the next European notebook for the lowdown on everything you could possibly need to know.