Boxing Insider Interview with Tyrone McCullagh: European Titlist with Eyes on a World
By: Michael Kane
Tyrone McCullagh is a slick, awkward boxer from Derry, Ireland. He won the WBO European title last month in Belfast. McCullagh (12-0, 6 KOs) put on a great performance to beat English Champion Josh Kennedy for the belt.
Boxing Insider caught up with Tyrone to discuss his recent wins, rejecting the chance to fight for a British title and more.
If you have never watched McCullagh fight, I would advise you to check him out. He fights with a style not often seen, similar in a way to Naseem Hamed, hands down at times, using his quick movement and agility to keep out of range, then peppers his opponent in quick bursts.
Photo Credit: MTK Global Facebook Page
This is exactly what he done to win the WBO European title and as the fight went on you could see Josh Kennedy become more frustrated by each passing round.
How did McCullagh feel about his performance?
“I was delighted with it,” he said, ” I’m usually a bit over critical with myself when I look back at fights but I don’t think I lost a round. That one judge who had it 96-94, I really don’t know, he must have been a relation of Josh and he still couldn’t give it to him! My coaches and the rest of my team were happy and that’s the main thing.”
Did McCullagh expect to be so dominant in the fight?
“Yeah, I always knew I was the better boxer and I just needed to perform on the night and I’d be ok. I knew he was going to come walking forward and I wouldn’t have to go looking. I just boxed and moved and listened to my corner.”
The fight in October was McCullagh’s second title fight in a row, having defeated Scotland’s Joe Ham to win the Celtic title, in what was also a British Eliminator.
However McCullagh is not interested in fighting for a British title, coming as he does from Northern Ireland, the people there can decide to be British, Irish or citizens of both.
McCullagh explains, “Nope not at all, I am Irish, I’m not British, why would I fight for a British title? I’ve turned it down twice this year.”
He continues to say, “What I will say is that it’s nothing against the British people. I have good friends in Britain but it’s my beliefs no one else’s, and if people choose not to respect that them so be it.”
Having had a taste of picking up titles, McCullagh wants to get more, with a world title the aim.
“I want a world title, obviously not in my next fight but soon. I’ve had a great year and I’m going to build on that next year.
“I believe I can win a world title and I think I’ll be in a position to fight for one this time next year.”
McCullagh is also a trained nurse does he still find the time to do some shifts?
McCullagh said, “Not as much, it’s had to take a back seat this year. I’ve had two 10 week training camps back to back for my two title fights this year and it’s just too much to ask to work on top of that. I try and squeeze the odd shift here and there but it’s few and far between. Nursing will always be there for me after boxing and will always have a place in my heart.”
When asked who has been his biggest influence, McCullagh was quick to answer.
“My dad. He’s helped me from day one, drove me all over the country. He’s given me whatever money I’ve needed for trips and competitions when I was younger. He took me training every night, which was a 60 mile round trip and been to all my fights.”
So what was it that made McCullagh take up boxing to start with?
He said, “I was a fat kid when I was younger and needed to lose weight. I’m still a fat kid at heart but I have to limit how often he gets out but when he does he makes the most of it!”
European Boxing Notebook: Khan, Laight, Taylor, and more….
By: Oliver McManus
Seeing as it’s the start of the new season, it seems only appropriate to resurrect the European Boxing notebook from its extended summer break so, without any further ado, let’s get straight into the action –
That Khan’t Be Good –
Amir Khan continued his comeback at the weekend just gone up in Birmingham with a unanimous points win over Samuel Vargas, taking the contest by scorecards of 1119-108, 119-109 and 118-110.
That level of comfort far belies how unimpressive the Brit looked over the course of 12 begrudging rounds – looking comfortable in the opening couple of rounds, Khan looked agile on his feet and was unleashing combinations in flurries as large as eight or nine.
Dropping Vargas to the canvas with a straight right in the second round, it looked as though this could be routine for Khan before a rocking overhand right from his opponent sent Khan sinking to the floor.
He was up as quick as he was down but he looked shell shocked and in fear of another crushing defeat, he worked his back into the fight and controlled the pace with ease and whilst he did far more of the busy work and, save for a spell in the 10th round where he was caught again, looked in control throughout.
Controlled, yes, but equally on the edge and wary, fighting on fear, a shadow of his former self.
Khan wants Manny Pacquiao next, potentially in December, putting the proposed showdown with Kell Brook on the backburner – perhaps for good – but if the Amir Khan from Saturday turns up in his next fight then there’s every chance he could be in for a very rude awakening.
Mr Reliable retires
The experienced and robust Kristian Laight recently called time on his career, bringing the curtain down on a show that had 300 showings – winning 12, drawing nine and losing the remaining 279.
But Mr Reliable, as he was known, was one hell of a boxer who prospects just getting started were fed to on a regular basis and, more often than not, taught the cold, hard, brutal reality of the sport.
Four rounds with Laight were worth far more than a thirty second knockout over your, traditional and stereotypical Latvian plumber, and over the course of his sixteen years in the pro game he was stopped a mere five times.
Cyclone set for a whirlwind return
Cylone Promotions – whom Josh Taylor fights under – have announced a stellar line up for their latest card, to be held at York Hall on October 13th with no less than three title fights and a further eliminator already added to the bill, live on Channel 5.
Lee McGregor headlines in only his fifth professional fight with the fiercely impressive IBF Youth champion challenging for the vacant Commonwealth Bantamweight title against Thomas Essomba – Essomba, 8 and 4, was originally slated to face Iain Butcher in a rematch on September 14th but the Scotsman has since pulled out.
Martin Bakole will defend his IBO Continental heavyweight belt against Michael Hunter, the former challenger to Oleksandr Usyk and will be looking to send a statement as he seeks to knock the American out in convincing fashion. Having target a bout with Joe Joyce, Bakole’s trainer Billy Nelson has not minced his words in calling the former Olympian “hypocritical” for claiming Bakole need to bring more to the table.
Chantelle Cameron and Chris Billam Smith round up the card announced thus far with Cameron defending her IBO World title against, vastly experienced and fluid, Dahiana Santana whilst Billam Smith fights in a Commonwealth eliminator against Robin Dupre.
Ritson goes for European glory
Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing’s card on October 13th, at the Metro Radio Arena, is starting to take healthy shape with plenty of fights, and fighters, to get excited about already-
In the headlining bout, the Geordie Golovkin, Lewis Ritson fights for the vacant European Lightweight title against Francesco Patera, former champion, after Edis Tatli vacated the belt and, first contender, Marvin Petit withdrew from the contest (an Oliver McManus exclusive, that was).
Glenn Foot will battle Robbie Davies Jnr in what promises to be an enthralling contest – Foot recently famed for his wars with Josh Leather and Jason Easton will look to add the British super lightweight title to the Commonwealth strap he already owns and will be doing so against one of Hearn’s latest signing, a ferocious Liverpudlian with the energy of, to be frank, a Chihuahua.
David Allen will continue his quest towards a British title with a fight against someone who isn’t Senad Gashi despite all the rumours surrounding the potential fight. It will, however, be against someone of a similar quality in order to best prepare for a potential title challenge in December.
Joshua Buatsi will defend his WBA International light heavyweight belt on the bill whilst Simon Vallily and Craig Glover meet over 10 rounds in the cruiserweight division and Thomas Patrick Ward, Chad Ellis, Darren Reay, John Docherty, Joe Laws and Lawrence Osueke round up the bill.
October 13th… the night for British Boxing!
Talking of October 13th there’s a strong argument to be made for it being THE night for British boxing with an endless array of shows gracing the country – obviously Eddie Hearn is up in Newcastle with Lewis Ritson and Co and, as detailed above, Cyclone Promotions are at York Hall but stay within London and Steve Goodwin is promoting at Tottenham Green Pools & Fitness with a sensational card –
Jumanne Camero and Jeffrey Ofori will face off for Camero’s Southern Area Lightweight title in a bout that sees two real nice guys going at it, Kay Propser will look to position himself in line for the English title as he fights Cassius Connor whilst Curtis Felix Jnr and Justin Menzie also meet in an eliminator contest; Deion Jumah and Jose Lopes fight for the vacant Southern Area cruiserweight title in a mouth-watering contest and there are 11 other fights on the card.
In the Paisley Lagoon Leisure CENTRE, Craig MacIntyre and Marek Laskowski clash in a fight for the vacant Scottish Area super lightweight title whilst Andrew Mackay and Thomas Dickson will look to get back in the title mix – Calvin McCord is on the card and Monty Ogilvie and Trigger Wood, among others, will look to continue their development.
Frank Warren announce Top Rank on ESPN deal
Frank Warren announced an “exclusive, landmark multi-year licensing agreement” that will enable Warren’s UK shows to be broadcast live and exclusive on ESPN and ESPN+, the agreement begins with October 6th’s Leicester card featuring Daniel Dubois, Jack Catterall vs Ohara Davies and Nicola Adams and comes on the back of Top Rank securing an “exclusive output deal” with, Warren-founded, Boxnation.
Erkan Teper vs Robert Helenius and European round-up
Following the withdrawal of Edmund Gerber, Erkan Teper will now face Robert Helenius for the vacant IBF Inter-Continental Heavyweight title. Teper, 3 and 0 since losing to Mariusz Wach, is looking to force his way up the IBF ratings having opted to withdraw from a proposed EBU-EU contest, also with Helenius, before it went to purse bids.
Helenius, on the other hand, comes in to the fight – taking place on September 29th – knowing that his last three performances, a loss to Dillian Whyte and two wins against Yury Bykhautsou have been far from impressive and the Nordic Nightmare’s stock is distinctly falling. A win against Teper would be expected from the Helenius hype back in 2015 but now it’s anything but a formality.
Staying in the heavyweight division and the EBU-EE-EU (External European Union) vacant title will be on the line come October 20th when Umut Camkiran, of Turkey, faces of with Adnan Redzovic in Podgorica, promoted by SESBoxing.
The EBU European flyweight title clash between Vincent Legrand and Andrew Selby looks to be back on, after Selby previously announced he was retired, with Jamie Sanigar winning the purse bids and a date TBA.
EBU-EU champion Otto Wallin has been installed as the mandatory challenger to full European champion Agit Kabayel with the two parties in negotiations, meanwhile Kabayel will make a voluntary defence of his belt on October 27th in Germany.
EU flyweight champion Mohammed Obbadi has been ordered to defend his belt against Commonwealth champion Jay Harris and with the two parties having failed to come to an agreement on terms the contest will go to purse bids on September 26th; Jay Harris, 13-0, will defend his Commonwealth title against Ross Murray on October 12th after a frustrating year for the Welshman.
Elliott Matthews, first contender, will see a proposed bout with Andrew Francillette go to purse bids on September 17th but the former English champion will fight for the Commonwealth belt on the 29th of this month against Rasheed Abolaji,
Finally, brining it full circle, Robert Helenius has been mandated to fight Petar Milas for the vacant EBU-EU heavyweight belt with purse bids due on September 26th.
The final word for this notebook goes to Ermal Dida, 2 and 0, from Bedford who says –
“I want to be Ermal Dida (in the ring), I don’t want to be an imitation
European Boxing Notebook: DeGale, Fury, Saunders, WBSS, and more…
By: Oliver McManus
A busy, busy couple of weeks has seen action across Britain aplenty but, for a while, there were relatively few major talking points. Nonetheless here is everything you could possibly need to know from the course of the last two weeks –
Chunky chases the dollar
James DeGale chose to relinquish his IBF super-middleweight title ahead of purse bids with his mandatory challenge Jose Uzcategui to chase fights that will define his “legacy in the division”. The 32 year old British boxer would have been up against a tough, powerful, Venezuelan in Uzcategui and the risk far outweighed the potential reward.
By ridding himself of the IBF title and, therefore, the mandatory situations he is now free to chase huge, money-making fights as he nears the end of his career. Without doubt the ideal location will be in the United Kingdom and DeGale never really managed to take off in America but, back home, there is the potential for some genuine mega-fights.
The winner of the World Boxing Super Series immediately springs to mind with Callum Smith and George Groves both providing stern tests and the appetite for a rematch with Groves has, arguably, never been hotter.
Billy Joe Saunders is another name that had been sounded out with potential for a clash to take place on September 15th but the finances of such a bout were believed to be a sticking point.
Watch this space, though.
Billy Joe Saunders mandated to defend against Demetrius Andrade
Talking of Billy Joe Saunders, the World Boxing Organisation has mandated their middleweight champion to defend his belt against mandatory challenger Demetrius Andrade – ranked number 2, the WBO’s number 1, Daniel Jacobs is facing Sergiy Derevyanchenko for the vacant IBF title – with purse bids expected before the end of the month.
Saunders was scheduled to face Martin Murray on two occasions already this year – April and June – before pulling out with injury both times and with Murray, now, reluctant to sign on for a third bout there was seemingly few attractive avenues for the champion to go down.
Against Andrade, Saunders would be up against a former super-welterweight champion and, you’d say, one of the hardest challenges of his career. We already know September 15th is the date being mooted for Saunders’ next fight, at the O2, and Andrade would provide quite a nice test in anticipation of a potential showdown with the winner of GGG-Canelo.
Saunders has already declared his willingness to take the fight as well as his confidence in beating the American but with Andrade signing with Eddie Hearn and Matchroom Boxing USA we could be set for one tasty purse bids.
WE HAVE A TOURNAMENT for 2018/19 with the World Boxing Super Series announcing the complete line-up for the Bantamweight division with no less than four world champions – the WBC are the only governing body not represented by a world champion (mainly because the belt is currently vacant) – in Emmanuel Rodriguez, Naoya Inoue, Ryan Burnett and Zolani Tete the belt holders to have signed up.
The other four fighters in the tournament are Jason Moloney (IBF Mandatory), Juan Carlos Payano (WBO #1), Nonito Donaire and, 4-0 Russian, Mikhail Aloyan.
Safe to say this tournament is shaping up to be the cruiserweight equivalent for 2018/19 and Emmanuel Rodriguez vs Jason Moloney will serve as one of the first quarter-finals having been called as a mandatory whilst Burnett, Tete and Inoue will be the other three seeds.
Fury looks to freeze Pianeta
The former heavyweight kingpin will be returning to the ring for the second time since his much awaited comeback kicked off and will face Francesco Pianeta at Windsor Park on August 18th, on the undercard of Carl Frampton vs Luke Jackson.
Fury will be looking for a far more polished and serious performance than the crowd at Manchester Arena witnessed on June 9th against Sefer Seferi with critics accusing him of not taking the sport seriously. Against Pianeta there is, on paper, a far more challenging opponent in the opposite corner with Pianeta a two-time world title challenger.
Those title challenges both ended with the Italian-born German getting knocked out, by Wladimir Klitschko and Ruslan Chagaev and the 40 fight veteran has had a less-than-impressive record over the past 12-18 months having lost to both Petar Milas and Kevin Johnson in depressingly convincing fashion.
Tyson Fury should, then, sweep past his latest challenge with relative comfort.
MTK Scottish card
MTK Global announced their first card as part of the new BoxNation broadcast agreement, to take place at the Emirates Arena on Friday 24th August in Glasgow with an absolutely stacked card of action set to take place.
Ronnie Clark, who sensationally upset Zelfa Barrett earlier in the year, defends his IBF European title against unbeaten prospect David Oliver Joyce – 7 and 0 – with the Irishman coming off the back of a sixth round TKO victory over Jordan Ellison.
Joyce has already proven his natural power with six wins via knockout and he’ll be looking to stamp his authority throughout the course of this, scheduled, 12 rounder. Clark is well aware of the threat posed by his 31 year old counterpart having declared the bout will be “amazing” to Irish-Boxing.com.
And, mark my words, this will be a war. There are no other ways of putting it.
On the undercard, local-legend, Willie Limond will return to the ring to take on MTK’s new signing in Darragh Foley over the course of 10 rounds with Foley fighting for the first time on British shores as a professional having been based in Australia up until now.
Rankin’ Rising up the Rankings
Hannah Ranking, the leading light in female Scottish boxing, will look to put behind her the previous issues in finding opponents when she travels to New York for her world title challenge on August 4th. Fighting Alicia Napoleon for the WBA Super Middleweight title, Rankin is in with a counterpart who has lost just once previously – to Tori Nelson – and is moving up YET ANOHTER weight category having last fought at middleweight and, prior to that, super welterweight.
British purse bids
As is always a busy period in the month, it was time for the BBBofC purse bids and seeing as there is so much to get through, this will be brief;
Cruiserweight – Matty Askin has been mandated to defend his British cruiserweight belt against up-and-coming Lawrence Okolie after the two have been verbally sparring across social media for weeks. The contest will go to purse bids on Wednesday, August 8th.
Light Heavyweight – Following a tempestuous fight for the English title back in February and months of expectation, a date was set for the rematch between Liam Conroy and Miles Shinkwin – slated for Friday, September 14th – but just days afterwards Liam Conroy decided to vacate the title and avoid the fight.
Middleweight – With the English middleweight belt being vacant promoter Errol Johnson reached an agreement with Reece Cartwright and Tyler Denny for the two to go toe-to-toe on Saturday, September 29th in Walsall for the title.
Super Welterweight – An agreement was reached by Eddie Hearn and the respective parties to stage Asinia Byfield vs Ted Cheeseman for the vacant British Super Welterweight title with the fight to take place on Saturday, October 20th in London; Adam Harper and Billy Bird will meet for the vacant English title on Saturday, September 22nd in Ipswich.
Super Lightweight – Robbie Davies signed a three-fight agreement with Eddie Hearn earlier in the month and his first fight will be on Saturday, October 13th in Newcastle for the vacant British Super Lightweight title and he’ll be up against Glenn Foot in a bruising encounter.
European Boxing Notebook: Taylor, WBSS, Postol, Hearn, Fury, and more…
By: Oliver McManus
Welcome along to the latest instalment of the European Boxing Notebook and boy, oh boy, oh boy it’s been a stellar couple weeks of action across the continent so nothing too in-depth today but let’s rattle through all the key talking points;
Photo Credit: Josh Taylor Twitter Account
Taylor Thumps Postol
Josh Taylor was in action on June 23rd in Glasgow as he took on Viktor Postol in a WBC Final Eliminator – off the back of a third round KO win against Winston Campos in March, all the pressure was on Scotland’s hero with many placing him as the best in the division.
A ferocious fight at the SSE Arena saw both Taylor and Postol finding success with no real round – aside from the 10th – being anything less than 50-50 and, let’s be clear, this was a case of incredible matchmaking with Postol’s stock falling and Taylor’s rising, make no mistake by that, however, Postol was very much here to take glory as opposed to make up the numbers.
The fight started off with the Scottish southpaw and the orthodox-stance Ukrainian circling in the middle of the ring, Taylor punching high with his right jab – against an opponent taller than him – whilst Postol searched in an aggressive fashion, looking to land lunging punches.
Throughout the duration of the 12 rounds we witnessed aggression galore with the intent often being better than the finished product but silky combinations and toe-to-toe, phone-box, fighting ensured this would go down as one of the most aesthetically pleasing “brawls” in recent memory.
A high tempo combined with heavy pressure saw Josh Taylor home with success being born out of his superior work-rate and crisp, clean, body attacks – a flurry of such punches sent Postol down to the canvas in the 10th with his legs seeking to betray.
117-110, 118-110, 119-108… the scorecards were nothing to be get excited about, Taylor’s promoter said as much as that in his post-fight interview, 115-112 was a fair score-line but the right man won and a world title shot is, surely, his next calling.
World Boxing Super Series
Talking of a world title shot the big news regarding Josh Taylor is that he will enter the 2018/19 Super Lightweight World Boxing Super Series in a tournament that, should, guarantee him a shot at, at least, ONE world title; Kiryl Relikh and Eduard Troyanosky will form one of the opening quarter-finals, Ivan Baranchyk and Anthony Yigit will make-up another one whilst the winner of Regis Prograis and Juan Jose Velasco will also enter the tournament.
In the bantamweight division Zolani Tete and Ryan Burnett have long been confirmed as participants for the 2018/19 tournament, along with Emmanuel Rodriguez. It is widely believed that Nordine Oubaali and Tassana Sanpattan will fight each other in a quarter-final match-up whilst Jason Moloney, IBF mandatory challenger, has also been confirmed for the tournament.
Butcher and Camacho set sights on Commonwealth glory
With Jason Moloney entering the WBSS it’s more than likely that he’ll vacate his Commonwealth and with Iain Butcher being the mandatory challenger his title shot could come sooner than expected – the most likely opponent for Butcher to face would appear to be Kyle Williams in a bout that would see Williams, the English champion, looking to add a second belt to his collection.
Wadi Camacho has been confirmed to BoxingInsider as the mandatory challenger for Lawrence Okolie’s Commonwealth strap and Camacho has been vocal on social media in wanting the contest; Okolie has been mandated to defend his belt against Camacho by the end of September 2018 and, Camacho’s manager, Steve Goodwin has said he intends to outbid Eddie Hearn for the rights to stage the event with a likely date being September 22nd.
Conlan’s technical brilliance
Mick Conlan returned to his home town of Belfast in significant style as he fought in Northern Ireland for the first time in eight years. His opponent was of the ideal calibre, a former world title challenger looking for redemption but easily beatable, and Adeilson dos Santos played his role to perfection.
The Brazilian came to box and wanted the win but ultimately was out-classed by the supreme technical skills of Michael Conlan who hardly looked like stepping out of first gear – really silky with his footwork, Conlan’s confidence grew as the rounds went on and a swift counter-punch and, space-creating, jab ensured the Irish hero controlled the bout from the outset. 79-73 to Top Rank’s super-protégé, The Conlan Revolution has only just begun.
On the undercard Jono Carroll handed out a nine round beat-down to his most ferocious of rivals in Declan Geraghty; the challenger seemed to lack the conditioning required for such a high tempo, aggressive fight and after the 2nd round he was visibly huffing and puffing.
Carroll had a wobbly first round but after that he got into his stride with ease, keeping the punches flowing and varying from body to head with ease, a ninth round knockout ensured he retained his IBF Inter-Continental super featherweight title.
Jazza Dickens vs Martin Ward
Jazza Dickens and Martin Ward will meet for the vacant British super bantamweight title on July 27th, live on FreeSports, in Houghton-le-Spring, as the pair compete for the second time in their careers with the first bout, some three years ago, producing an enthralling split decision victory for Dickens; since then Jazza has faced Guillermo Rigondeaux and the belief is that he has improved greater than Ward in the time following but this is, still, too close to call.
Hearn’s new shows
Eddie Hearn has announced two new shows with the first being a NXTGEN event in Cardiff headlined by Joe Cordina vs Sean Dodd; Cordina headlines in his home country for the first time against, ever-game, Dodd in a scrap for the WBA International and Commonwealth lightweight belts.
The Commonwealth belt was vacated by Tommy Coyle who will fight in America in September.
Also on that Cardiff show, August 4th at the Ice Arena, will be Sean McGoldrick, Daniyar Yeleussinov, Jordan Gill and Tasha Jonas.
Amir Khan will return to the ring for the second time since his comeback began, in April, on September 8th in Birmingham, facing, world-ranked, Samuel Vargas in a contest that will be sure to test the former unified champion far more than his 39 second outing against Phil Lo Greco.
Jason Welborn and Tommy Langford will go toe-to-toe for the second time this year as they rematch for the British middleweight championship – the last time they met, in Walsall, there was non-stop action for the full 12 rounds with Welborn, just, nicking a split decision to steal Langford’s title… here’s hoping for more of the same.
Fury’s route to the top
With Jarrell Miller, seemingly, following Dillian Whyte in refusing to travel to Bulgaria to face Kubrat Pulev for an IBF final eliminator contest it is looking increasingly likely as though Hughie Fury will be the next fighter to be mandated against the 37 year old. Negotiations are still ongoing with the Miller camp but with such a public declaration of reluctance to travel it seems inevitable that the governing body will turn to their next eligible challenger in a bid to get the contest staged rather than later.
MTK ink BoxNation deal
Last notebook we reported on the breaking news that BoxNation were to cease broadcasting Frank Warren shows and the news emerging since has revealed that MTK Global will broadcast, at least, 12 shows a year on the 24-hour channel.
The first broadcast will occur on Friday 24th August, from the Emirates Arena, as Ronnie Clark and David Oliver Joyce headline in a contest for Clark’s IBF European Super-Featherweight title; local legend Willie Limond will tackle, MTK newcomer, Darragh Foley whilst Stephen Ormond battles, stable-mate, George Ashie. Also on the bill is David Brophy, Kieran Smith, Stephen Tiffney, Tommy Philbin, Chris Wood and Aidan McGlynn.
European round up
Tony Yoka took on teak-tough David Allen at the Dome de Paris-Palais des Sports on June 23rd with the Rio Olympic gold medallist in the toughest test of his professional career – David Allen was receiving his biggest payday but it wasn’t about the money, there was a genuine belief from Allen that he could find success over the Frenchman and there were periods in which he did rattle some serious punches through. The superior condition of Yoka was enough to see him have the more dominant periods of the bout and he triumphed via 10th round TKO.
That’s the main result but other quick ones – Pavel Sour and Vaclav Pejsar rematched in the Czech Republic, Sour won in the first fight, and got the win the second time round thanks to a unanimous decision to retain his Czech heavyweight title; Abigail Medina defended his EBU Super Bantamweight title against Anthony Settoul and finished the bout in style with a classy first round knockout.
That is it for this edition of the European Boxing Notebook, like I said, there was a lot to get through but it’s been a busy couple of weeks!
European Boxing Notebook: Fury, Flanagan, Hyland, Fielding, and more…
By: Oliver McManus
Hello and welcome along to Boxing Insider’s European Boxing Notebook, covering everything you need to know from the world of boxing over here in the UK and on the continent – it’s been a sensational couple of weeks so let’s get straight into the action;
Fury’s less than furious comeback
Tyson Fury returned to the ring on June 9th with a cacophony of hype, glamour and ecstasy surrounding the lineal champion’s return to the ring after an extended period of absence – two and a half years.
Fighting at the Manchester Arena in front of 20,000 fans, the opponent chosen was Sefer Seferi from Albania and whilst everyone knew, going in, that this was THE Tyson Fury show and, even, that Seferi had shown nothing worthy of warranting a place in the ring with the Brit, NO-ONE knew just how poor Seferi was going to be.
Coming into the ring a diminutive figure, looking half the size of Fury – who, despite having lost 8st, still looked a good 1.5-2st out of shape – the mockery of the sport began instantaneously with Fury jumping around with a big smile on his face and Seferi whipping out an Ali shuffle of his own.
The fight lasted four rounds during which few shots were thrown from either man – probably none that landed from Sefer – but Tyson Fury, to his credit, looked loose and liquid-like in his movement, still as active as ever before, sharp and energetic.
He looked happy in the ring and, as we all know, you need to be happy in yourself in order to perform at your best. Ring rust was non-existent but it would have been nicer, far nicer, to see Tyson really go for it and pummel Sefer Seferi as quickly as he could.
Make no mistake, if Fury had pushed the case, Seferi could have been bounced out of the ring back to Albania, quite literally, within one round.
Tyson Fury will return to the ring on August 18th at Windsor Park but if we are, truly, to believe this comeback will result in a long-term Tyson then he’ll need a far better performance against a far better opponent.
Faltering Flanagan, the bait on Mo’s Hook(er)
On that same card we witnessed Terry Flanagan stepping up in weight to fight for the vacant WBO Super Lightweight Championship of the World against, little-fancied, Maurice ‘Mighty Mo’ Hooker.
Hooker, going in to this fight, was dismissed extensively by British fight fans – myself included – who saw him as little other than an easy win for Terry Flanagan; there were odds of 6’s and 7’s being offered on Hooker just minutes before the bell rang.
Terry Flanagan started off slowly but with more intent, looking in control, whereas Mo Hooker began with fire in his belly, seeking to rough up and annoy the British favourite and, boy, it worked.
Truth be told it took a gaping cut and a cascade of claret down the face of Flanagan to really get him into gear. Aware that time was not his friend, the cut worsening, he really exploded into life sending barrage after barrage of combinations towards Hooker.
The rounds would follow the same pattern, however, with Hooker coming on strong in the final 90 seconds and, ultimately, it was Flanagan’s footwork that seemed to be his downfall getting his feet almost, metaphorically, in a tangle with him never seeming too confident in where to place them.
We went to the scorecards and with two judges giving it 117-111, albeit one to Flanagan and one to Hooker, we headed to a split decision with the third judge giving it 115-113 to the American challenger.
A horrible fight to watch, make your own mind up on the scorecard.
Lewis Leather’s Hyland
Lewis Ritson produced a stonking performance as he returned to the North East to win the British Lightweight title OUTRIGHT by stopping Paul Hyland Jr in the very first round – dropping him on three occasions.
Now with seven successive fights ending before the final bell, Lewis Ritson has need just four rounds in his last three bouts to finish off Joe Murray, Scott Cardle and Hyland – all were expected to be his “toughest challenge yet”.
An absolute superstar in the North East the mission, for Hearn, is now to turn him into a global sensation because he certainly has the talent to get there; domestically he’s a step above but the gap to world level is even bigger so finding the right for Ritson is going to be mighty hard over the next 12 months.
Josh Kelly was another stellar fighter in action at the Metro Radio Arena, co-headlining, but he left the fight with more questions asked than answered. Kelly looks phenomenal when going forward and attacking but from a defensive point of view, he shows very little of the fundamentals and looks likely that he could get caught out against elite fighters.
Rocky’s Road to Germany
Announced over the past week was Rocky Fielding’s challenge to Tyron Zeuge’s WBA ‘Regular’ Super Middleweight title, the bout to take place on July 14th in Offenburg, Germany.
For about a month, now, we were aware that Zeuge’s next defence would take place against either Fielding or John Ryder but, Rocky was the man who got the nod with the 26-1 fighter looking to move to higher heights having vacated his British and Commonwealth Super Middle belts earlier this year.
Fielding’s only loss came way back in 2015, as he was viciously exposed in a fight with Callum Smith, dropping Fielding three times in the first round before the bout was waved off; since then Fielding has bounced back with five successive wins with the standout performances being against John Ryder and David Brophy.
Zeuge, on the other hand, will enter the ring with a 22-0-1 record having defended his title three times since claiming it via a 12th round KO over Giovanni De Carolis – arguably one of the worst world champions of all time – and was most recently in action back in March with a two round demolition job over Isaac Ekpo.
Fielding represents the toughest test for Zeuge and vice versa, save for Callum Smith, but should Rocky come back to Britain with the belt, bring on a super-fight between him and the winner of George Groves and Callum Smith for THE proper WBA belt.
Whyte poo-poo’s Kubrat
Dillian Whyte has withdrawn from his IBF final eliminator contest against Kubrat Pulev after it emerged that fight was edging even closer to being hosted in Bulgaria; Eddie Hearn, Whyte’s promoter, lost the purse bids in sensational fashion and Dillian Whyte will now face Joseph Parker, live on Sky Sports Box Office, on July 28th.
Eddie Hearn says this fight sends a big “f**k you all” to the boxing community but, if anything, it screams of hypocrisy after having accused all the big names of avoiding Dillian Whyte, also WBC number 1, before avoiding the golden opportunity of forcing a MANDATED rematch with Anthony Joshua.
Take nothing away from this fight, however, it’s a brilliant contest by Dillian Whyte who gets the opportunity to really produce a big performance against a fighter, still, at the top of his game.
Parker will view this as his opportunity to bounce back, immediately, into the world title scene as well as a chance to upset the apple cart and with the Kiwi having been AJ’s last opponent there is a direct yardstick for which you can measure up Dillian Whyte’s performance.
Josh Leather’s Leave of Absence
Josh Leather has decided to take an extended leave of absence from the boxing ring and has withdrawn from his fight against Ohara Davies on June 23rd at the O2. Leather was being lined up for a potential block-buster of fights including himself, Davies, Jack Catterall and Terry Flanagan but, having split with his trainer, it will be a long time before he returns to the ring.
Hopefully for fight fans Leather can find his love for the sport, again, because he’s a cracking boxer.
BoxNation and Frank Warren are ON A BREAK!
Today (June 19th) BoxNation have announced their broadcast agreement with Frank Warren will cease to exist as of July 1st with the channel’s founder now taking his shows exclusively to BT Sport – with whom he has signed a multi-year agreement, believed to be until 2022.
This doesn’t mean an end to the 24-hour subscription channel, however, who will continue their exclusive output deal with Top Rank as well as airing other international shows, at least 12 cards a year from MTL Global and, who knows, the World Boxing Super Series?
British Boxing Purse Bids –
This will be nice and snappy because there’s a lot to get through;
Jason Welborn (Holder) will defend his middleweight title against Tommy Langford – the man he won the belt off – after a request for the rematch was approved, having been put forward by his promoter. The winner of the bout will be required to defend against Mark Heffron when called to do so.
Asinia Byfield and Ted Cheeseman will meet for the vacant Super Welterweight title after the withdrawal of Liam Williams and Joe Pigford from proposed bouts with Byfield. Eddie Heard has confirmed his intention to put the fight on.
The British super lightweight belt has been sent to purse bids with Glenn Foot vs Robbie Davies Jr the two chosen challengers for the vacant belt whilst Akeem Ennis Brown and Joe Hughes have been mandated in an eliminator.
Liam Conroy (Holder) will, again, face Miles Shinkwin for the English Light Heavyweight belt after their first fight ended in controversy with Conroy appearing to land a series of shots to the back of Shinkwin’s head; the purse bid was won by David Haye and the fight is likely to take place on terrestrial TV in either Dave or Channel 5. Ricky Summers and Craig Richards are set to meet in an eliminator.
Elliott Matthews vacated his English Middleweight title and Reece Cartwright, IBF Youth champion, and Tyler Denny have been selected by the board of the control as the two challengers for the belt.
There we have it, then, the best bits from British and European boxing over the past two weeks, it’s been stupendously busy but I’ll give the last nod to David Allen who travels to Paris on June 23rd to face , Rio 2016 gold medallist, Tony Yoka .