Fight Preview: Dickens vs. May; Murray & Flanagan Return
By: Ste Rowen
As 2019 heads into the peak of summer, the boxing schedule is beginning to get busy again. With Pacquiao vs. Thurman on the horizon, this weekend includes Brant/Murata2, Dubois/Gorman, Joyce/Jennings and Vargas/Kameda, just to name a few. To add to that excitement, on Friday at Liverpool’s Olympia, fighting for the vacant IBF ‘European’ featherweight belt, James ‘Jazza’ Dickens tops the bill against Australian, Nathaniel May.
Dickens, 26-3 (11KOs), probably unfairly, is most famously known for getting his jaw disjointed by former pound-for-pound player, Guillermo Rigondeaux, but since then ‘Jazza’ has accumulated four wins from five, with the one defeat coming via technical decision after nine rounds vs. Thomas Ward ten months after the Rigondeaux loss.
But the southpaw featherweight sounded confident ahead of Friday,
‘‘We are going to war. I’m looking forward to it…I’m going into a fight, what’s he gonna do? Punch me.
I’ve never lost in the Olympia, it’s just a great place for boxing…Before I take this European title there’s nothing after that other than a world title.’’
His opponent, Nathaniel May, 21-1 (12KOs) of Australia criticised his British foes power, or lack of and was convinced he didn’t travel to the other side of the world to go home with nothing. May hasn’t lost since his fifth fight where he drop a decision to 6-5, Waylon Law. Since then ‘Cheeky’ has mostly stayed close to home to rebuild again from defeat, that was until last year when he won his first two bouts outside of Oceania.
In October last year, Nathaniel outpointed Ruslan Berchuk in Belfast, and then just last month, the 23-year-old was in Tijuana, Mexico where he knocked out home fighter, Jose Miguel Tamayo inside a round. On Friday May will be up against another hostile crowd, but more importantly a much bigger challenge.
Two of England’s best also feature on Friday’s card, flying somewhat lower on the radar than usual as four-time world title challenger Martin Murray, 37-5-1 (17KOs) takes on late replacement Rui Manuel Pavanito, 10-8-1. The St Helens native was set to fight the much sterner test in Kim Poulsen, but Murray, who ended last year with a decision defeat to Hassan N’Dam, isn’t letting the change of opponent faze him, or anything for that matter.
Murray spoke on Wednesday about his underwhelming 2018, but his brighter outlook for the rest of his career,
‘‘If you ask me now, I’m nor arsed about anything. I’m in a good place mentally. Every fight now is a bonus…Even last year I had a good year, but I didn’t enjoy myself or the training. Now, for me it’s just about getting in there and enjoying myself.
There’s a saying, ‘You get out of it what you put in’ but I think it’s bullshit. I grafted my arse off last year and what did I get for it?…I’m fighting now cos I want to fight.’’
Former WBO lightweight champion, Terry Flanagan hopes to put an end to his two-fight losing streak with victory over WBF African champion, Jonas Segu, 19-8-2 (6KOs). ‘Turbo’ Flanagan is fighting for the first time since his decision defeat to Regis Prograis in the junior-welterweight World Boxing Super Series in October 2018. It was a loss that followed the first defeat in Terry’s professional career when he dropped a split decision to Maurice Hooker in June.
Flangan, 33-2 (13KOs) sounded determined to not only get the taste for winning again, but also join the elite again at 135lbs,
‘‘I believe I can still win a world title at ten stone but the best opportunities for me now are at lightweight…I’m not one for shouting my mouth off, I just like to let my boxing do the talking but it’s not always a good thing though (for exposure).
I thought probably the pound-for-pound best in the division (Prograis) and I thought it was a close fight. Now I’m back down to win a world title.’’
The fight card will be aired on ESPN+ and live on IFL TV on Friday.
ESPN + Boxing Results: Martin Murray Earns 12-round Decision Over Garcia
By: Ste Rowen
Martin Murray earned a 12-round decision over Roberto Garcia to win the WBC ‘Silver’ strap in a disappointing bout that made fans wonder if it’s time for both fighters to call it a day.
Murray, now 37-4-1 (17KOs) had previously held and defended the ‘Silver’ belt in 2014, but each fighter was taking a cautious approach to the early stages of this matchup, with both fighting from the distance, looking to get up on the cards in the first few rounds. Garcia, somewhat harshly, was deducted a point early on for punching below the belt towards the end of the 2nd round, which no doubt dented the native Mexican’s morale as well as his scorecard.
Roberto sensed he wasn’t in for an easy night with the referee and looked to dominate the middle of the ring, and the pressure seemed to be showing at the end of the 3rd as Murray began to allow punches to slip through his high guard.
Martin, trained by former British junior middleweight champion Jamie Moore, was lacking the kind of enterprise that saw him earn a ‘dangerous contender’ status from 2011-2015. There seemed to be a lack of power when the St Helen’s fighter landed.
Into the 6th, Murray continued to fight off the back foot, now timing his counters off with a little more quality than in the earlier rounds. With 1:15 left of the round, both fighters received a warning for leaning in with the head. The bout was in danger of being overshadowed by dirty antics.
Expectations were pretty low heading into tonight, Garcia, 41-3 (24KOs) was a late replacement after all, so in that respect it didn’t disappoint, but in every other way it did let the O2 crowd down. Rounds 7, 8, 9 were carbon copies of one another, until the final seconds of the 9th when, for some reason, the referee called break, Garcia continued fighting, and the referee eventually took a point away from the defending WBC ‘Silver’ champ. Despite entering into the championship rounds, neither fighter seemed to change tact. Garcia fought on the front foot, Murray was on the counter, and the bout remained awkward to judge.
If you’re reading this without watching the fight, just watch the 10th and final round, to sum up tonight’s events.
Close, difficult and disappointing.
After post-fight in-ring arguments between the two fighter’s trainers subsided, the scorecards were returned as, 116-111, 118-109, 118-108 all to Martin Murray, the new WBC ‘Silver’ middleweight champion.
‘I’ve been around a long time and I knew what was needed to win.’ Murray said.
And to agree, yet again, to fight WBO champ Saunders?
‘For me, to do that again. You can’t trust the man. I do this for my family. I’m a fighting man. If there was an insurance policy in place I’d do it again.’
If it’s not Saunders next for Martin Murray, and if he truly wants a 2nd shot at unified champion Gennady Golovkin via the WBC route, then logic dictates he should realistically target the likes of Jason Quigley, Kamil Szeremeta or Gary ‘Spike’ O’Sullivan next.
Daniel Dubois vs. Tom Little
Dubois impressed in a 5th round stoppage of worthy challenger Tom Little, to become the new English heavyweight champion.
There was a bit of needle heading into tonight’s only heavyweight fight, but whether the pre-fight antics from Little affected Daniel or not, ‘Dangerous’ Dubois dispatched his latest foe in the same vicious style, if slightly delayed, that got rid of his previous 7 opponents.
In a scheduled 10-rounder, Dubois forced Little onto the back foot immediately and though the punches weren’t as clean as he would’ve hoped, it was obvious the unbeaten fighter was up on the cards early on.
Into the 2nd and the man who was stopped in 4 rounds by former Olympian, Filip Hrgovic five months ago, Little, was here to spoil and survive. With 30 seconds left of round 2, Dubois landed a barrage of punches, that kept Tom humble, but they were unable to get rid of the bookie’s outsider.
Round 3 saw more of the same domination from Dubois however, with less than a minute into round 4 ‘Dynamite’ landed a wonderful left hook to the body that dropped Little, but only temporarily. Tom rose, and though the body shot looked as if it had setup the finisher, he survived into the 5th.
It proved too far for the game challenger though, as in the 5th round, Dubois displayed the killer instinct that’s built up his big reputation. Daniel landed unanswered combinations of heavy head and body shots that forced the referee to step in and called an end to the fight.
Now 8-0 (8KOs), ‘Dynamite’ Dubois will not doubt be targeting both, British champion, Hughie Fury and Commonwealth champion, Joe Joyce. Not to forget fellow Queensberry Promotions stablemate, the unbeaten, Nathan Gorman, who two weeks ago dispatched of Sean Turner in three rounds.
Anthony Yarde vs. Dariusz Sek
Light heavyweight Anthony Yarde moved to 16-0 (15KOs) as he stopped 27-3-3, Dariusz Sek in 7 rounds to defend his WBO European and Inter-Continental straps.
Sek may have had the height advantage heading into the fight but with 50 seconds left of round 1, Yarde sent Dariusz sprawling to the canvas, but not hard enough to stop the eastern European surviving into the 2nd.
The Pol had previously never been stopped in 33 bouts, that included 3 losses and 3 draws, but ‘The Beast’ was putting that record to the test early on. Even as Sek looked to gain the middle ground Yarde came out the superior fighter, landing the cleaner punches in a more economical and effective way. Southpaw, Sek was more vigilante heading into rounds 3 &4 but he wasn’t able to keep Yarde off him anywhere near long enough to have a hope of stealing some rounds.
Rounds 5 and 6 saw Anthony remain dominant, looking to finish off Dariusz, though, despite the Brit seemingly teeing off on his opponent with ease, the Pol clearly had the chin to withstand the storm coming his way.
Anthony has only been taken the distance once as a pro, a 4-round bout with Stanislavs Makarenko in Yarde’s 2nd bout and he showed he was in no mood to go the scheduled distance for a 2nd time. In the 7th round Yarde, laid off heavy handed left and right hooks to the head and body forcing referee, Steve Gray to step in and call an end to the fight.
When asked who’s next, 26 year old Yarde was as succinct as a fighter can be,
‘Anybody. I’m not a promoter, I’m not a manager. My job is to fight. He’s (Sek) never been floored before, I floored him, I stopped him.’
There’s a lot of talent domestically for Anthony to eye up, with the likes of British & Commonwealth champion Callum Johnson, Frank Buglioni and Joshua Buatsi being possible fights in the near future.
Paul Kamanga vs. Ohara Davies
Fighting for the WBC ‘International’ super lightweight title, now 18-1 (14KOs), Ohara Davies knocked out Paul Kamanga in two rounds.
Neither fighter established themselves in the 1st round. Both choosing to tentatively fight from a distance, but then, after more of the same for 2:30 minutes of round 2, Davies landed a crushing right hand to the temple of Kamanga, which sent the DR Congo native face down onto the canvas and signalled the premature end of the bout.
ESPN+ Boxing Preview: Martin Murray vs. Roberto Garcia
By: Ste Rowen
If all had gone to plan for this weekend, Martin Murray would be fighting in a world title bout for the 6th time in his pro career, but due to a second injury pull-out from WBO middleweight champ, Billy Joe Saunders, Murray, who’s fought for championship honours at both 160 and 168, will be taking on Mexican, Roberto ‘La Amenaza’ Garcia for the WBC ‘Silver’ belt at London’s O2 arena.
‘The fact I’m fighting a dangerous fight and it’s a meaningful fight means a lot.’ Said Murray at Wednesday’s press conference. ‘I was gutted Billy Joe pulled out, but I’ve not took my eye off the ball.’
‘He’s the complete opposite to Billy Joe…He’s orthodox, come forward fighter, in your face. It’s gonna be a tough fight. You could say it’s a tougher fight in some respects.’
‘It’s about levels, and I’m a level above and I’ll show that on Saturday.’
Murray, 36-4-1 (17KOs), fought twice last year marking his return back down to middleweight after his brief, unsuccessful, spell up at 168, which included defeats to George Groves and Arthur Abraham. The St Helens native scored a decision victory over Gabe Rosado in April 2017 and then on the undercard of Smith vs. Skoglund, the 35-year-old scored a body shot KO of relative unknown, Arman Torosyan.
In fact, before those two bouts, Murray’s last fight at 160 was his 11th round stoppage loss to 31-0 at the time, Gennady Golovkin back in early 2015. But as Martin said himself, sometimes it is about levels and Murray’s level of opposition, win or lose, has been significantly greater than La Amenaza’s.
Garcia, 41-3 (24KOs), now a relative veteran of the game (his debut fight coming in 2001), will be hoping this is finally his time. The 38-year-old, despite an impressive record on paper is in danger of his defining fight being his 2010 defeat to Antonio Margarito who, after earning a 10-round decision over Roberto fought, and loss to Manny Pacquiao just six months later.
‘La Amenaza’ was last in the ring in August 2017 where he travelled to Mexico to take on Julio Cesar Chavez’s son, Omar for the WBC ‘Silver’ strap. For 10 rounds, Garcia rushed forward laying hands on his opponent, not allowing him to breath, as Chavez struggled to maneuverer and counter. Roberto emerged the unanimous victor that night and showed that he has more left to give to boxing even if he remains a few levels below the elite.
‘It’s been one hell of a ride. I’ve always been the B-side my entire career. I’ve always fought against all the odds. I’ve built a career on pulling off upsets.’
‘We took that fight (vs. Chavez) on 28 days’ notice and I do a full time. We went over there with everything for him, the judges, it’s nothing I’m not used to.’
‘I fight hard as hell and I’ve had many, many guys say they’re gonna rip my head off, but it always changes…I go as hard as I want to. I walk the line.’
Whether Murray will have a tougher time, as he put it, in the ring with Garcia than he would with Saunders is highly doubtful, but the change of opponent should make a for a much more exciting style matchup.
Daniel Dubois vs. Tom Little
With the vacant English heavyweight title on the line, one of Britain’s most exciting prospects enters the ring in arguably his toughest test to date. 7-0(7KOs) Daniel Dubois will take on Tom Little, 10-5 (3KOs) in a fight that’s been simmering nicely over the past few weeks.
At the press conference, Little wasn’t shy in letting Dubois know he was in for a tough ride when the two meet,
‘He’s alright against whatever taxi driver you put in front of him. If you stand in front of him, he’s gonna cave your head in. Put him in with someone with an intelligent boxing brain then it’s gonna be a whole different story.’
‘I’m gonna take him into deep water and I’m gonna drown him very slowly.’
Not usually a big talker at press conferences, Dubois kept his time on the mic brief,
‘I’m a strong swimmer… Tom looks like a very weak man…You are a weak man and I’m gonna show you that on Saturday.’
Both fighter’s share a previous opponent in Dorian Darch. Dubois wiped out the Welshman in 2 rounds, whereas Little suffered his 3rd pro defeat to Darch back in 2014. The two seem polar opposites in terms of talk outside the ring vs style inside it, and the rate of which Dubois is climbing makes it seem, on paper at least, that both could in for an early night at the O2, but there does seem to be something in Little that’s got Dubois’ back up however, from what we’ve seen so far from ‘Dynamite’, that’s probably bad news for Tom.
Anthony Yarde vs. Dariusz Sek
Another of Britain’s exciting crop is back in between the ropes this weekend as, 15-0 (14KOs), light heavyweight, Anthony Yarde takes on southpaw, Dariusz Sek 27-3-3 (9KOs) for the WBO inter-continental and European belts.
Sek has lost two of the three occasions he’s fought outside of Poland, but he’s yet to be stopped and with Yarde on a 13-fight KO streak, things could get interesting when the two collide.
Asked about his opponent and the difference in training for a southpaw ‘The Beast’ said,
‘Doesn’t matter if they’re southpaw, west-paw, north-paw, east-paw, it’s a fight and we’ll see what happens on fight night…It’s a little bit different but I haven’t struggled.’
Yarde’s promoter, Frank Warren also revealed that he rejected the offer to fight Sergey Kovalev the current WBO champion,
‘We were offered the fight against Kovalev and we turned it down. He’s not ready for that. He won’t want to hear that, he wants to fight, but Tunde (Ajayi) and I discussed it and he’s not ready for that.’
‘The objective is to win the world title and once you’ve won it, you’ve got to defend it and to do that you need experience.’