Rocky Fielding Back with a Bang
By: Ste Rowen
Rocky Fielding got back to winning ways at Liverpool’s Olympia Arena with a 2nd round victory over Abdallah Paziwapazi that’ll add to the KO reel of 2019 and one he hopes will bump him back into the fringe contender status at super-middleweight he held just less than a year ago.
Abdallah, 26-6-1 (23KOs) came out swinging from the first bell as he looked to shock the home-town favourite. Rocky, the much taller man, attempted to slow his opponent down with his lengthy jabs but the Tanzanian’s pace keeping the early momentum with him.
Fielding was fighting for the first time since his early TKO loss to Canelo back in December and it seemed the inactivity was playing a big part in the first few rounds in Liverpool tonight. But with 60 seconds left of the 2nd, Fielding landed a heavy 1-2 that offset the Tanzanian and forced him onto the backfoot, and then Rocky really laid it on thick to setup the finisher. With his back to the ropes, Rocky landed four unanswered hooks and dropped Paziwapazi to the canvas.
He attempted to rise, but the referee waved it off before he could properly steady himself. So the Liverpudlian, now 28-2 (16KOs) sealed a comprehensive return to winning ways and then spoke ringside immediately,
<em>‘‘As a kid I looked at the Olympia and said, ‘Oh it’d be great to fight here.’
I’ve been in camp waiting for that big shot. I said after the Canelo fight I just wanted that break with the kids…I was looking to get back in. The buzz of the gym, this is what I want.
It felt fine in there, he’s a bit swingy cos he’s got a bit of power in him…We’ve been working on those shots. Hopefully I can get out in December and get back in the mix.’’</em>
Former lightweight world champion, Terry ‘Turbo’ Flanagan scored whitewash win over Honduran, Jeyro Duran. The Mancunian outclassed his foe from the first bell to the last, but still sounded a little disappointed post-fight.
<em>‘‘The last few rounds he tried to tie me up and I fell into his trap, but it was still an easy fight. I was always in control.’’</em>
Jayro may have a famous surname but the Honduran headed into tonight on a two-fight loss streak and was forced into a passive start by an aggressive Flanagan. ‘Turbo’ was intent on throwing combination punches and clearly wasn’t settled with just trying to land single shots. The relentless attack continued into the 3rd but Duran, 14-6 (13KOs) was hanging in without making a dent in Flanagan’s dominance.
Terry, who was two fights removed from his decision loss to former WBA Super-lightweight champion, Regis Prograis, ended the fight in much the same way he started it, and despite not getting the stoppage, eight rounds in the bank of constant pressure won’t do the Mancunian much harm as he heads into 2020 hoping for a big fight at 135lbs. The final scorecard was 80-71, meaning he improved to 36-2 (14KOs).
Martin Murray scored a shut-out points victory over eight rounds, against Bosnian, Sladan Janjanin and promised big things to come for 2020.
Murray had clearly planned to target the body from the outset, landing swift left hooks to Janjanin’s torso and keeping him on the backfoot. Within the first minute of the 2nd round, the away fighter was already struggling with Martin’s constant body attack, even at certain times looking over to the ref helplessly protesting for a low blow.
The Bosnian, 27-4 (21KOs) continued in his retreat as the fight progressed into round six and former middleweight contender, Murray with his hands low was mixing up his shots, even risking taking a few hits to land more. Before tonight, Sladan’s four defeats have all came via stoppage, ranging from super-welter to super-middleweight, so despite the constant pressure and domination Martin will be disappointed that his opponent survived to hear the final bell, but survive was the key word and Murray took a comprehensive points victory with the referee scoring the bout 80-72, and, now 39-5-1 (17KOs) he spoke post-fight,
<em>‘‘We knew he couldn’t hurt me…Another easy one for me, I enjoyed it in there. If I’m honest people like that need to be going but the bigger the fight, the better I am.
I believe I’ve just been made mandatory for the European at middleweight and I’ve just been offered a big fight in America, so that could happen next year…I’ve forgotten his name but he’s a big, big puncher.’’</em>
Fight Preview: McGregor vs. Farooq
By: Oliver McManus
Promoting a fight when it makes sense: not letting it “marinate” or touting it as “one for the future”. It’s a rare commodity nowadays within the sport but Lee McGregor vs Kash Farooq provides some fresh relief this weekend.
The contest is a bruising all-Scottish affair with the Commonwealth and British bantamweight titles at stake. Between them the pair have had just 20 pro bouts – eight in title fights. This particular piece of matchmaking has been in the works for a while and doesn’t look like disappointing.
Farooq is touted as the slight favourite (4/6) having defended his British title on three occasions. The likeable 23 year old has proven to be a spiteful fighter over the course of 2019 with sharp stoppages over Kyle Williams and Duane Winters. His power at 118lbs has been evident from the early stages of his career with stoppages in all but one of his five title fights.
Eighteen rounds, over the course of two fights, with Scott Allan provided the most learning for Farooq. Their first bout, at the beginning of 2017, was comfortable enough for Farooq; Allan tied him up at points to prevent more fluid combinations. In the second encounter, ten months later, Farooq was wary of this and demonstrated a strong adaptability to get his shots off and stop Allan in the eighth.
Kash has looked effortless, breezily comfortable, in his thirteen professional fights. His reign as British champion hasn’t been too testing; Iain Butcher the only challenger to go the distance. It’s through a lack of competitive matchmaking – he’s faced a former Commonwealth challenger, a two time British title challenger, an undefeated English champion and a Southern Area titleholder. The youngster has simply been in the right fight at the right time and his class has shone through; Lee McGregor will take him to the well, of that you can be sure, and then we’ll see how he responds.
Edinburgh’s McGregor will be in his second bout since linking up with Grant Smith having left the McGuigans earlier in the year. At 22 years old he has wasted no time in establishing himself among the upper rungs of the domestic bantamweight division; Commonwealth champion in just his fifth fight.
Against Thomas Essomba in October last year, to secure the Commonwealth belt, a few challenges were posed of the Scotsman but he responded acutely. He was able to show plenty of grit to finish the contest with just over 90 seconds to go and he has always got that relentless, full-blooded body of assault to get himself out of trouble. That finisher’s instinct to kill a fight given even half a chance has been apparent from the off; McGregor has been able to produce a stoppage even against the most traditionally durable of opponents.
The experienced amateur – a competitor on the World and European stage – isn’t a one-legged Shetland, however. His workman-like approach to as meticulous as it is thorough and he can respond to different propositions. He always appears itching to get involved and make something of nothing – to put on a show – but as he’s got older there’s the realisation that patience will benefit him. A violent hook to the midriff will sneak out at every possible opportunity but McGregor is wiser than his past performances and has a genuine maturity to his boxing nowadays.
This should be twelve rounds of pure, unfiltered violence. We saw what happens when willing participants go to war just the other week; Jay Harris and Paddy Barnes sharing four rounds of “hell and abuse” – to quote Harris. This is set to be a second serving of that spirit.
My advice for Saturday night; put the kids to bed, turn off the phone, tell your wife you love her and sit in front of the television with a pack of Jammie Dodgers to enjoy one of the most joyously unpredictable fights you’ll see all year.
MTK Golden Contract Quarter-Finals Results
By: Ste Rowen
York Hall, London was the setting for the inaugural featherweight MTK Golden Contract tournament quarterfinals that saw Tyrone McCullagh, Jazza Dickens, Ryan Walsh and Leigh Wood progress to the semi-finals.
All four bouts provided their own kind of entertainment but let’s start at the end.
The fourth quarter-final of the Golden Contract tournament tonight saw Leigh Wood massively impress with a fantastic performance that saw him knockdown formerly unbeaten David Oliver Joyce twice and finally force the stoppage in round nine.
Talk before the fight was wondering why Wood, the featherweight Commonwealth champion had chosen Joyce, 11-0 (8KOs), as his quarter-final opponent, considering Joyce’s reputation within the boxing community, but in round two Wood landed a perfect, hard left hand that dropped the Irishman and clearly put Leigh, 22-1 (12KOs) before tonight, up on the scorecards early.
But Joyce reacted well to the knockdown, and his experience as an amateur kicked in as the fight drew into the middle rounds. Wood’s power was clearly affecting the Irishman when he landed clean, but David’s punch selection and speed was making it a tough fight to score. However, once again, in the 7th, Leigh Wood cracked onto the head of an open Joyce and, but for a strong display of defence and conditioning from Joyce, he struggled his way out of that particular attack but, with seconds left of the same round, the Irishman was toppled for a second time with a slightly soft knockdown. He was hit with a solid right but seemed to be dropped by a light left hand body shot. Still, the unbeaten man made it into round eight.
Then in the penultimate round of a scheduled ten, after the Commonwealth champ obviously rocked Joyce whilst he was still on his feet, the referee stepped in before any more serious damage could be done and called an end to the fourth quarter final.
‘‘I’ve never been one for taking the easy route. I wanted to make a statement and I did that…I just didn’t wanna upset my corner. I moved and showed my power. People don’t believe I have power, but I did it.
I think I beat the best kid, so bring it on.’’
Tyrone McCullagh got the MTK Golden Contract quarter-finals underway with a conclusive decision victory over Razaq Najib.
It was sloppy from the start by both the southpaw, McCullagh and late replacement, Najib, 11-3 (2KOs), before tonight, with both men seemingly more happy to swing and clinch that take on a more technical approach to the bout. The unbeaten man from Northern Ireland was struggling to get to grips with the awkward, Razaq but as the rounds passed on Tyrone’s good work was overshadowing ‘Lionheart’s’ spoiling style. Whilst Najib continuously struggled to close the distance, McCullagh countered at an almost perfect rate. The fight went the full 10-round distance with the final scorecards returning as, 97-93, 98-92, 96-94 all for McCullagh.
‘‘I thought I controlled most of the fight.’’ Now 14-0 (6KOS) Tyron said post-fight. ‘‘It was good to get the ring-rust off. We’re working everyday hard in the gym.
I have aspirations of winning the tournament, but I want the performances to be better.’’
James ‘Jazza’ Dickens, 27-3 (11KOs) heading into tonight, improved his winning column to 28 as he scored a decision victory of Carlos Ramos.
Dickens, of Liverpool was keen to set fire to the bout and excite the crowd earlier as he swung with fury in the early rounds but for the most part, Ramos did well to avoid his opponent’s best shots as well was landing his own fairly decent body shots. Carlos, a southpaw like Dickens, seemed happy enough to fight off the back foot as the fight continued beyond the middle rounds of another scheduled ten, but Jazza’s selection of punches seemed superior to the Spaniard’s occasional spurts. The hard work paid off for the Brit as he scored a knockdown in the 4th round, landing a right-left to the crown, but Ramos, 11-1 (7KOs) responded well with some sharp left hooks to the body to end the round.
As the fight headed into the final two rounds, it became much more tit-for-tat than the fiery exchanges of the earlier rounds and both fighter’s inside game suddenly became crucial to the scoring of the bout. Dickens jumped to the corner when the final bell rang for the second quarter final. The final scorecards came back as, 97-92, 99-91, 97-92 all for Dickens, and the IBF European champion spoke immediately after,
‘‘We knew he was tough, game and had one shot but we went from there. He was dangerous but we put him on the backfoot and boxed.’’
The third quarter-final of the night saw British featherweight champion, Ryan Walsh, now Walsh, 25-2-2 (12KOs) blasted out the previously unbeaten Hairon Socarras in the penultimate round to progress to the semi-finals.
Socarras, 22-0-3 (14KOs) when he stepped into the ring, seemed to make a more successful 1st round but Walsh began to rough up his Cuban foe as the bout hit the midway point. And with the momentum behind him, the British champ scored the first official knockdown where he landed a precise left hand, sending Hairon sprawling with only the ropes to keep him standing. Three rounds later, the fight had switched back to a much more technical event, with both men seeming to be looking for the point scoring shots rather than the finisher, that was until with thirty seconds left of the 9th, Walsh landed a dislodging right hook, once again sticking Socarras to the ropes and the Brit unleashed an almost non-stop fury of punches until the referee stepped in and ended the bout, rocketing Ryan into the semi-finals.
‘‘After I win this tournament, I’m taking my kids to Euro Disney. My team are my family.’’
MTK Golden Contract Tournament Preview
By: Ste Rowen
Mention the words ‘boxing’ and ‘tournament’ together in the same sentence to boxing fans and most would meet the idea with derision, but despite it still being almost impossible to get the best of the best in the ring together – Wold Boxing Super Series excluded – mainly domestic tournament formats have got hardcores and new fans alike, interested in the sport, and this Friday the inaugural MTK’s featherweight ‘Golden Contract Tournament’ gets going at the famous, York Hall in London.
The tournament, like many creations in boxing, will begin in a quarter-final format, and the eight men only found out who they’ll be fighting this fight week.
Friday’s featherweight scheduled 10-round bouts will be as follows;
Tyrone McCullagh, 13-0 (6KOs) vs. Razak Najib 11-3 (2KOs)*A late replacement for Carlos Araujo
Jazza Dickens, 27-3 (11KOs) vs. Carlos Ramos, 11-1 (7KOs)
Hairon Socarros, 22-0-3 (14KOs) vs. Ryan Walsh, 24-2-2 (11KOs)
Leigh Wood, 22-1 (12KOs) vs. David Oliver Joyce, 11-0 (8KOs)
As it stands, it’s unclear who the favourite for the eight-man knockout format is, but despite his relative professional inexperience, former amateur standout, David Joyce of Ireland, could be the man to watch both on Friday and as the tournament progresses, assuming the 32-year-old makes his way past Commonwealth featherweight champion, Leigh Wood.
The eventual winner of the tournament will snatch up a five-fight contract with a promoter, most likely to be Matchroom.
McKinson vs. Pavko and Cameron vs. Basheel Fight Preview
By: Ste Rowen
As the heat continues to rise, along with the anticipation for yet another Matchroom PPV on Saturday, the much less hyped, but packed show in Essex’s Brentwood Centre takes place this weekend. Topping the bill sees rising British prospect, Michael McKinson up against the Russian, Evgeny Pavko for the vacant WBO European welterweight title.
Both McKinson, 16-0 (2KOs) and Pavko, 18-2-1 (13KOs) are heading into the bout coming off victories. The unbeaten southpaw went the ten-round distance with Ryan Kelly, scoring a dominant unanimous decision to claim the minor WBC ‘International Silver’ belt.
That night four months ago Michael ‘The Problem’ was living up to his nickname as he found angles Kelly could only dream of, moving in and out at speed and, if for a little more power, would most definitely have got his domestic rival out of there early.
Evgeny on the other hand was last in the ring in December 2018 where he scored a technical decision over 8-0, Fedor Vinogradov inside five rounds. Fedor had sustained had a deep cut above his right eye and as a result, his corner threw in the towel in between the 5th and 6th. Before the finish, Pavko was down on two scorecards with three to go, something that McKinson will no doubt take heart from considering how good he himself is at grinding out the points victory.
Speaking to his MTK Global, ‘The Problem’, who also previously held the WBC ‘Youth’ world title, didn’t seem too concerned with his opponent’s approach to fighting,
‘‘He’s clearly a puncher…He’s going to come over, looking to take my head off but that excites me.
Like I always do under pressure, I perform better…You’ve only seen a little bit of what I’m capable of. My potential is massive.’’
The man hoping to take the home fighter’s ‘head off’ also spoke to MTK earlier this week,
‘‘I want to prove again that Russian boxing is at a good level. I also have incentive to win titles that will become an important step for bigger fights.
I know he’s a good technical boxer and that will make it all the more interesting…I never target an early victory. The decisive blow will present itself and until then, I want to show beautiful and competent boxing.’’
Also on Saturday’s Brentwood card is another rising prospect in 10-0 (7KOs), Chantelle Cameron who steps in with Anisha ‘The Massacre’ Basheel of Malawi for the WBC ‘Silver’ lightweight strap and very possibly a future bout with undisputed 135lb female champion, Katie Taylor.
It’s a bout that could end up being the most intriguing of the night as the two women have not been shy in letting the other know what’s gonna happen. Basheel, 10-5 (KOs) has not let her five defeats (three of which came against Lolita Muzeya and all five in her first five fights) dent her confidence as she spoke to WBN,
‘‘They call me The Massacre and I’m going to massacre Cameron…I’m not coming for a holiday, I’m not coming to see London, I’m not coming for a chit-chat and tea. I’m coming all guns blazing.’’
‘Wham Bam Chan’, who’ll be fighting in her third fight in three months, replied in favour,
‘‘She’s delusional. I knew she was going to come out and start saying stuff so she can crack on, but I can’t wait to ram my fist down her throat.
I’ve got speed, power and boxing ability. She’s one dimensional, I’ll like to see what she has to say after the fight.’’
The fights will be shown live on ESPN+ and IFL TV.
Dubai Fight Night Results: Joyce Stops Tiffney In 7; Lasisi Decisions Blandon
By: Ste Rowen
In the heat of the Dubai Friday night, in the Emirates Golf Club, decked out in glorious white armchairs for the attendees, David Oliver Joyce, now 10-0 (8KOs) stopped Stephen Tiffney in brutal fashion inside seven rounds. The co-main event saw Aliu Lasisi score a unanimous decision victory over Ricardo Blandon to claim the vacant WBC ‘International’ belt.
Tiffney, 10-1 (4KOs) heading into tonight, suffered a small cut to his right eye in the first two rounds after a positive start from both men. Joyce was clearly targeting the body of the Scot at every opportunity, unleashing vicious hooks that would help his as the fight drew on.
Photo Credit: MTK Global Twitter Page
Past the halfway mark there wasn’t much between both boxers, in terms of scoring shots and in the closeness of their fighting styles in the ring. Tiffney was having more success with counters, but Joyce’s swift hooks continued to punish his foe’s body. Then with 30 seconds left of round 7, the Irishman landed a wonderful flurry of pin-point punches to drop the Scot. Tiffney rose but David went in for the finisher, and as the bell rang for the end of the round, the referee waved it off as Stephen headed back to his corner. The correct call, if a little late.
The victor and now WBO European featherweight champion, draped in the Irish tricolour, spoke post-fight,
“It was an unbelievable performance…I’ve lived like a professional for the first time ever. The right meals, right training, right speed. I have to give props to my team.
I can mix it with the best. I boxed Valdez in the amateurs in 2009 and they all know I can mix it with them…To all the featherweights out there; David Oliver is in town!’’
The co-feature for the night saw the vacant WBC ‘International’ super-flyweight belt on the line for Nicaraguan, Ricardo Blandon and Aliu Bamidele Lasisi of Nigeria.
Scheduled for 12 rounds, Lasisi was the unbeaten fighter heading into tonight, but it was the 10-1 (6KOs) boxer, Blandon that tried to claim the middle of the ring early. The Nigerian responded well though, stepping off for a moment and firing his own accumulation of jabs. At the end of round 3 Blandon landed an overhand right, not cleanly, but enough to force the flash knockdown and set Lasisi behind on the scorecards.
A round later, the Nigerian was deducted a point for a headbutt which quite clearly seemed to be accidental. But the Dubai resident continued to push on, forcing the Central American to take a back foot and struggle at distance, as the bout headed past the halfway mark. Both men continued to battle it out in a scrappy but fairly quick-paced bout as it drew on into the championship rounds.
Then at the beginning of the 10th, Lasisi landed a quick-fisted uppercut to drop Ricardo and put Aliu into the ascendency. But Blandon then shook up the unbeaten fighter with a thudding right hand at the end of the 11th. Lasisi arguably being saved by the bell. Both men put it on the line for the final three minutes and it was close heading to the judge’s scorecards.
The three scores were announced as, 114-111 all for Lasisi who improves his record to 13-0 (9KOs). Tonight’s victory puts Aliu into a strong position to fight the winner of Sor Rungvisai vs. Estrada 2, next for the WBC world title proper, and he spoke immediately after,
‘‘Blandon is a good fighter, I thought I’d knock him out, but it didn’t o like that. He’s a tough guy. It was great to fight in Dubai.’’
Emirati lightweight, Majid Al Naqbi did his best to impress on his debut bout in front of his home fans with a frenetic but dominant 4th round stoppage over 0-2, Vladimir Lytki.
Southpaw lightweight, Sultan Zaurbek beat up Chenghong Tao before finishing the bout with a thudding hook and add to his now 6-0 (4KOs) pro record.
Debutant Shakhobidin Zoirov of Uzbekistan unleashed two hammer-like left hands to despatch with Indonesian journeyman, Anthony Holt.
Cesar Mateo Tapia scored a final round stoppage over Gaganpreet Sharma. The super-middleweight left it till the 8th to add his 6th professional KO to his record, moving to 10-0 (6KOs).
Home-crowd favourite and Dubai resident, Larry Abarra picked up a six-round decision win to improve to 8-3-1 (5KOs), over super-bantam, Raymond Commey, whose record now stands at 19-8 (10KOs).
Born in Saudi Arabia, raised in England, super-lightweight, Zuhayr Al-Qahtani earnt a 40-36 (x2), 39-37, unanimous decision win over SK Saheb, 2-1. It was the first time the Saudi-Southpaw, now 6-0 (0KOs) was fighting an opponent with a winning record since turning professional n 2017.
The first stoppage of the night saw 154lber, Ablikhaiyr Shegaliyev, 2-0 (1KO), from Kazakhstan drop the Georgian, Teimuraz Abuladze three times en route to a simple 1st round KO.
Armenian, Anahit Aroyan, moved to 3-0 (0KOs) with a 40-36 decision over fellow female bantamweight, Nongnun Sor Praithong.
Super-bantamweight, Hasibullah ‘The Kalashnikov’ Ahmadi, of Afghanistan improved to 4-0 (0KOs) with a split decision victory over Thai-journeyman, Manot Comput.
Boxing Insider Interview with Lee Eaton
By: Oliver McManus
“One of my really good mates died in 2012 and I remember that the last conversation we had was about going to see John Wayne Hibbert fight in Doncaster against Tommy Coward. I’ve always been a big boxing fan, that’s obvious, but I thought I’d do a charity boxing show in his memory. We sold it out, about 800 tickets, and raised £10,000 for charity. Went away from that and, to be honest, thought ‘hold up, if I can raise £10,000 for charity, why can’t I raise it for myself’. Obviously I’m not doing that yet but the basis is the same.”
The voice at the end of the phone was Lee Eaton, the face of MTK Global’s promotional arm, his route into promotion was not conventional and, by his own admissions, almost accidental. You could say it was a lucky break but there was nothing lucky about the initial circumstances that have led him to where he is.
Fortunate enough to have, management giants, MTK Global behind him, Lee doesn’t hide that his life has been made easier by their presence,
“When you have got a team like MTK behind you it makes it a lot easier. I have started from scratch, like most of us do, building the contacts but MTK put you on a different platform. It has surprised me how far we’ve come as a team, it’s not just me, but I believe we have come very far in the last two years. MTK, or MGM as it was, were big before I was around so that’s helped a lot.
I wouldn’t say we’ve got any direct competitors (on the promotional scene) because we’re doing our thing and have our own market. In the South, I would say it’s me and Steve Goodwin who are doing the biggest and best shows, doing the most as well. Don’t get me wrong, across the country, Stefy Bull, Carl Greaves, Errol Johnson for BCB, everyone is on the same sort of level and bringing their own thing. They’d probably agree, though, we are different and target different areas. MTK, I believe, do things a bit different. ”
A case in point, that Lee spoke strongly about, was their repeated desire for in-house fights to take place. Of course this occurs throughout various promotions but Eaton felt that MTK were at the forefront of this,
“Why give other fighters our opportunities when we’ve got plenty of my guys who deserve that opportunity. That’s the way we view it we’d rather give our own fighters the opportunities to further their career. We don’t force them into it, if they don’t fancy it, they don’t fancy it. I’d rather see two MTK fighters headlining a show than MTK vs someone else. They know, win or lose, we’ll take care of them afterwards so why wouldn’t you want that opportunity for your own fighters?”.
Conversation quickly moved onto plans for 2019, in particular the 24 ‘Premium Fight Night’s’ streamed live on iFL. Despite some noteworthy figures suggesting the streaming model could negatively impact on fighter finances, Eaton insisted the agreement is beneficial.
“It’s brilliant, it’s great for MTK Global. 24 shows we’re officially doing, from February 22nd we’re doing six weekends in a row, two week break, then four in a row again. It’s non-stop, I think we might push past 24 and head towards 30. Ever since I’ve started with MTK we’ve provided live coverage of some sort. People say it affects ticket sales, sometimes it does, but we still sell out. We sold out our first show at York Hall and people know that there is nothing like going to the show, in person, being in the crowd. From our perspective they are different markets and being able to stream live is fantastic, especially being able to build off the existing iFL audience.”
With three shows officially announced, thus far, but plans and fights in place until the middle of May, Eaton will promote more than his fair share of contests but March 9th is a card, as he told me, could “steal the show”.
“Michael McKinson vs Ryan Kelly is going to be a cracker, the easiest fight I’ve ever made. It was two phone calls and both guys jumped at it. We’ve got some really good contests, though, Sakyi vs Hill is another cracker. Welterweight’s are booming and I believe Michael McKinson is going to make a big, big statement this year. He’s seriously talented, I didn’t quite appreciate it until I saw him in with McNess. Sakyi was never meant to win that fight against Siar Ozgul, he did in dramatic circumstances, and now we’re guiding his career.”
The mention of Siar Ozgul proved a nice segue into discussing Eaton’s day-to-day role – matchmaking – and in particular I asked him about Ozgul’s fight against Viktor Postol. That particular bout was subject to a barrage of criticism but Lee explained to me why he felt the response was disproportionate,
“Look we got a phone call and Siar immediately said yes, he didn’t want to know about the money, he said ‘I fight, I win’. Then it’s our job to sort out a suitable purse and get the fight on, Siar was over the moon with what he got, everyone thought he’d get stopped but he want 10 rounds and didn’t look out of place. He’ll be back February 22nd, might get the winner of Sakyi vs Hill, we might go bigger.
There was huge criticism, a big backlash, people criticised me for accepting the fight. I’d never put a fighter in a situation where I think they’d get unnecessarily hurt. I knew how tough Siar was and is, if he got stopped he wouldn’t have got hurt because he’s tough enough to take a punch.”
Ozgul returns on February 22nd, at York Hall, and on that card is Sultan Zaurbek, a Kazakh fighter promoted by MTK. Thinking out loud, I suggested to the promoter that I’d been more impressed with Saurbek than, his hype-laden compatriot, Daniyar Yeleussinov.
“Yeah, him and Nurtas Azhbenov are great, great fighters. I’m in a group chat and we speak daily, they’re great kids and it’s a pleasure to work with them. I agree on Yeleusisnov, he’s not been all that but I don’t doubt he’ll transition well as time goes on, Sultan is one that I think will get people talking this year. I know he impressed on the Matchroom Monte Carlo show and 2019 will be great for him. No-one gets any special treatment, regardless of pedigree, they’re all treated the same and we’ll look after them the same. For me, though, keep an eye on Sultan this year.”
The day to day difficulties that the London man has to deal with are ones of matchmaking, trying to find the right guys for Sultan and the rest of his prospects is, by admission, one that takes up most of his time.
“You get these kids who say ‘I’ll fight him, I’ll fight anyone’ and you offer them a fight, they’ll make an excuse. The main issue I have these days is actually trainers, they’re more protective of the ‘0’s’ than the actual boxers. With Josh Adewale, we were putting opponents in, after the original pulled out, and they were getting okayed by Josh but they were getting sent back by the board of control. Then we had a couple approved, terms agreed, the fighters pulled out. All this on the week of the show. I had this last year with Joe Sherriff, I think it was four opponents pulled out and I was still trying to find him names on the Friday.
We have deadlines, you have to have paperwork at the board by 16.00 two days beforehand, to bring in a foreign boxer. It is horrible having to say that to one of my guys, that we can’t get them a fight, after all that training. Worst part of the job, it’s horrible”.
With each passing show comes a renewed hiccup, such is the inevitable nature of boxing, and with Lee estimating he spends 75% of his weekends on the road, it was a poignant reminder of how much of a bedrock his family is.
“I don’t need recognition, I’m happy doing the job that I love.The missus hates boxing, she used to come with me, but I think I’ve turned her off it. She comes to some of my shows but, other than that, I think her and boxing is a relationship that’s over. My little boy and my missus are my world, nothing compares. He’s my miracle kid, four years old. It’s always good to remember what matters in life and they keep me grounded.”
Boxing Insider Interview with Kieran Smith: Looking to Collect Titles
By: Michael Kane
The World Boxing Super Series took place in Glasgow on Saturday 3rd November. On a card that had several current and former champions appear there were also a few bouts that included some local boxers.
One of these boxers was Kieran Smith who stopped his opponent within a minute.
Photo Credit: MTK Global Facebook Page
Smith is now preparing for his biggest fight yet at the end of November at the Emirates Arena in Glasgow when he faces Peter McDonagh for the vacant WBC International Silver belt.
Boxing Insider spoke to Smith after his quick fire finish on Saturday against Pavol Garaj.
Smith was happy to be a part of a big show like WBSS and explains why it was a long night for him. Saturday was a warm up fight before he faces McDonagh.
“Yeah, it was amazing to be part of such a big event in Scotland even though it ended up a long night for me because I was live float and did not get on until after main event, and as you say yes was a warm up fight but got change of opponent on Tuesday and I treat everyone the same, I never overlook anyone… one punch can change your career in this game.
“I didnt know anything about my opponent apart from he had a kickboxing backround and I made sure I kept it that way of knowing nothing about him.”
Did Smith expect a stiffer test?
“I dont know about expecting more from him as I think that if I hit anyone with the shot that I hit him with then I think they would be in a lot of trouble. Unfortunately for him I timed his right hand and caught him while his rib cage was wide open.”
Having appeared on a massive show, there was only one highlight for Smith out with his own performance.
Smith said, “Highlight for me was the same as any boxing fan in the hydro last night… Josh Taylor’s performance. Taylor is the complete package.”
Looking ahead to his fight with McDonagh, Smith only sees one winner.
“I see the fight with me and Peter playing out with me outboxing him point blank.”
Smith has signed with MTK Global and he now sees the benefit of joining up with the management company, with his first-time shot. Smith explains why he is happy with his decision to join MTK.
“Yes definitely (happy). I’ve been waiting on a title shot and had a bit of an unfortunate period there for almost a year until I signed with MTK. Then as soon as they kicked things off in Scotland I knew big things were coming and thats exactly what they are proving. MTK and Danny Vaughan, my manager within MTK have been great with me and they are guiding me on the right path.”
Who inspired Smith to take up boxing as a youngster?
“I first got involved in boxing on holiday, I watched Hatton vs Tszyu and when I saw Hatton win that night it sent shivers down my spine. I have no similarities to Hatton with my boxing style but I think the thing that I loved about that fight, which I believe can take me a long way, was his grit and ability to dig deeper and deeper every round.”
Smith aims to keep winning and to compete for more titles.
“Target for the year ahead is simply to keep winning, keep building myself into a more complete fighter and keep pushing towards bigger title fights.”