ESPN+ Boxing Results: Yarde Remain Patient, Dubois, Williams and Jenkins Impress in London
Anthony Yarde headlined the first Queensbury Promotions card of 2019 and secured a “xxx” victory over Travis Reeves to round of a thrilling night at the Royal Albert Hall. Topping the card in his 18th professional fight, Yarde has promised to gatecrash the world scene throughout the calendar year. The quality of his opponents will need to take a significant step up if that is to be the case but Yarde got the job done without ever looking troubled.
Defending his WBO Inter-Continental for the fifth time and with the promise of being mandated to face Sergey Kovalev, there was plenty on the line for Hackney’s very own. The final fight of a thoroughly entertaining card, Yarde was the man trusted to end the night on a high but he didn’t exactly start off in explosive fashion.
Photo Credit: Frank Warren Twitter Account
Standing dominant from the centre of the ring there could be no doubt as to who was in charge of proceedings. All that was missing were some punches, very few were thrown in the first round with Yarde seemingly tentative to test out the resistance of his opponent.
The second round saw Yarde begin to push with an accurate right hook catching Reeves off balance, wobbling the legs. That success seemed to spur the 27 year old on, going forward with relaxed hands and firing away with that pawing left jab. All the while continually searching for openings to unload fatiguing punches to the kidneys of Reeves.
Reeves, a former world title challenger, looked in good physique both on the scales and in the ring but Yarde was establishing physical superiority. Jumping forward with urgency, Yarde landed a one-two to keep Reeves on his toes before the American responded with a flurry of searching jabs. A firm jab caught Reeves as the pair came out of a clinch, the 38 year old was starting to feel the weight of Yarde’s punches.
Despite that significant age disadvantage, if you can call it that, Reeves had arrived with a genuine belief that he could win and was firing in shots of his own to ensure Yarde didn’t have it all his own way. A clear second best, mind. Given the level of criticism being levelled at Yarde over the course of 2018 you’d imagine he’d have liked to send a statement by getting rid of his opponent as quickly as possible. No such approach materialised with the WBO #1 working his way through the motions, at a timid pace, with no real bite or ferocity.
The unbeaten prospect was landing some good shots, really nice hooks slammed into the body of Reeves, but there was an urgency lacking and, for me, that’s been missing from his last three, four bouts. The stoppage came, however, as a result of a supremely timed uppercut followed by a bouncing right hook. The legs wobbled as Yarde wound up and it was only a couple more shots before the referee called a halt to the contest halfway through the fifth round.
A convincing stoppage in a performance where Yarde never looked out of his comfort zone but, frankly, that is something we’re going to need to see. We need to see Yarde tested because, until we do, we will never know just how good he can be.
Chris Jenkins opened up the televised broadcast by upsetting the odds and defeating Johnny Garton to claim the British welterweight title.
Jenkins, stepping up in weight, made the smoother start as he rolled the shoulders and dipped the posture out of the reach of Garton. Living up to his “Rok’n’Rolla” nickname, the challenger kept on moving, navigating the ring in circles and keeping the upper body in continual movement. He landed the better shots in the early stages with a doubled-up jab earning him the nod in opening exchanges.
The third round saw a spark click within the champion as he sought to apply some pressure for the first time in the contest. Looking younger than his previous contest, against Gary Corcoran, there was a maturity to the work of Garton when he imposed his physicality with some strong body shots.
Having found momentary success at the quarter mark of the contest, the fourth round saw more tit-for-tat action but Garton landed the more eye-catching work. A combination of hooks at the centre of the ring followed up, twenty seconds later, by a pouncing right hand were the highlights as the contest began to warm up.
A fight fought at a relatively tepd pace seemed to go quite fast and the fifth round crept up relatively quickly. It was the challenger who found himself on the front foot, edging forwards and nipping away at the champion’s territory. Landing semi-regularly with a well-timed overhand right, Jenkins seemed to take the round with a resumption of the boxing basics.
Neither man was running away with the contest but it was Jenkins, you felt, was producing the better quality work. A nice uppercut on the ropes from Jenkins caught the eye but a perennial jab in the face of his opponent was preventing Garton from really sinking his teeth in.
Coming out bullishly in the seventh round, Garton began to fight in that familiar style of his. The 31 year old began to relax as he bounced on his toes, he landed some strong right hands but the pockets of aggression weren’t enough to counter the continued workrate of Jenkins. Garton didn’t seem to really commit to many of his punches, failing to plant his feet or throw punches with the full weight of his body.
Round by round it seemed as though Jenkins was chipping closer to the British title – a belt he has fought for twice before, at super lightweight. Even though Garton tried to rough the contest up in the ninth round and fight on the inside, Jenkins produced a stunning salvo of overhand rights to wear down his opponent.
His shot of choice was landing with an alarming frequency, cutting Garton underneath the left eye, as the Peckham fighter dug in and walked onto many of the shots. To his credit Garton was pushing Jenkins onto the ropes and countering the attacks of Jenkins well. It seemed as though every flurry from Garton, however, saw his guard exploited by the crisp timing of his counterpart.
In truth Jenkins never looked fazed or faltered from the incoming artillery and, indeed, sapped the energy and determination out of the champion. It was a performance that, to be honest, not many out of his close circle expected but those that did were incredibly confident in. You simply cannot fault Garton, however, who came out ferociously in the final couple of rounds but he was simply outworked and outboxed. Jenkins landed the cleaner more consistent punches throughout and was a well-deserved winner, of an entertaining contest, by scorecards of 119-109, 117-112, 116-112.
Liam Wiliams defended his British middleweight belt with a bruising victory over, former English champion, Joe Mullender.
Fought from the centre of the ring, from the off, Liam Williams continued in as similar vein to his performance against Mark Heffron with skillful footwork seeing him slip out of the pocket. Again the jab of Williams was relentless in the face of a come-forward opponent and the Welshman dug with some gritty left hooks to the body.
Mullender stood his ground in the second round with a staunch high guard being kept as he sought to sneak his way into holding range. A stupendous uppercut from the champion saw Mullender lurch upwards before successive concussive shots splattered his head and body. Down he went but upon rising he was allowed to fight on. A simple step forward allowed for a clubbing right hand to crash down on the jaw of Mullender and finish the fight for good.
Emphatic for Williams, there can be no other words for it.
The vacant WBO European belt was on the line for Daniel Dubois’ tenth professional contest with Razvan Cojanu in the opposite corner. Weighing in at 240lbs – as opposed to the 226 advertised the previous day – the 20 year old started brightly and produced a good varitety of shots from the off. Peppering the body of Cojanu, it was interesting to see a tapping jab being used to set up the heavier shots to the midriff.
Cojanu, two and a half inches the taller man, throw his first punches of note in the second round but Dubois remained comfortable in his posture and punch selection. Two accidental low-blows came as a result of Dubois’ intentions to target the body of his Romanian opponent and the 20 year old successfully teed off against Cojanu with around thirty seconds to go of the second round.
A forceful straight left pushed Cojanu onto the ropes before a heavy right blasted through his guard. It was a left hook to the opened up body that set up a brash follow-up to the chin. A strong left hand on the button to send Cojanu crumpling to the canvas, a final right on the cheek finished the onslaught and saw the world title challenger sprawled flat. Despite a desperate scramble to regain his feet, he never beat the count and Daniel Dubois emerged the victor within the space of two rounds.
The best performance of Dubois’ short career, the shot selection and variation from the 20 year old was impressive and he found real success to the body of Cojanu. Beautiful finishing from Dubois who, surely, is at the forefront of future British boxing success.
Oof, what a night. And oof is a word that firmly does it justice because that was a cracking night of boxing for the return to Royal Albert Hall – 2019 is warming up to be a good one!
ESPN+ Boxing Preview: Yarde vs. Reeves, Dubois vs. Cojanu
By: Oliver McManus
Frank Warren kick starts his promotional operations of 2019 at Royal Albert Hall with two cracking British title fights.
There’s a sensational match-up for the British Middleweight title as Liam Williams looks to defend the belt against Joe Mullender. Williams returns to the ring off the back of his peerless victory over Mark Heffron, in December, but is guaranteed to face more fire on the 8th.
In that fight it was the Welshman who dictated the pace of the fight with a lovely jab and sharp footwork to keep Heffron at bay; Mullender will be a far different challenge as he looks to get right in the face of the champion. Smokin’ Joe has made no bones as to the approach he’ll take with the fight, in simple terms, just ‘punch him more than he punches me’. A tactic that the 32 year old has taken throughout his career and one that consistently produces entertainment.
That all out aggression has produced serious results against genuine fighters with two bruising encounters against Lee Markham for the English title, as well as Lee Churcher and Ben Capps over the last two years – though the result of the Churcher bout was later overturned due to an anti-doping violation.
Not looking past Mullender, who will prove to be more than just a plucky puncher, Williams has stated his intentions to drop back down to super-welterweight and re-establish on the world scene at the lighter division. I am eager to see how far he can go at middle, though, with the Ingle Gym fighter a breath of fresh air in the division. Against Smokin’ Joe we’re guaranteed to see a fight that’ll go up in flames.
Drop down to welterweight and Johnny Garton looks to defend his belt against Chris Jenkins. Garton outclassed Gary Corcoran in a bloodied and battered war last October to claim the vacant title. Jenkins, meanwhile, has had mixed fortunes over the last 12 months with two of his three fights resulting in technical decisions.
Likewise with Williams-Mullender there is no chance of this being a quite encounter and I expect Jenkins to actually come out and try to be the more aggressive over the opening couple rounds. We saw against Corcoran the stamina and the work-rate that Garton possesses so you want to get some early rounds in the bag should the fight end up going the distance.
Jenkins, however, has a tendency to cut over the eyes and the skin around that area is getting weaker with every fight. There might be a reluctance, therefore, to fully commit and engage from inside the pocket. Garton, another one who is susceptible to cuts, has really hit his stride over the last five, six fights with the 31 year old starting to produce consistently polished performances at the right tempo.
Now with that consistency it is time to capitalise on the natural ability that Garton has to fight and maximise the rewards for when he finishes his career. Opportunities haven’t always been available for the Peckham-fighter what with, gym-mate and friend, Skeete holding the British belt. Garton now, though, is the man at the domestic scene so let’s see where he goes from here – it’ll be entertaining, that’s for sure.
Away from the Lord Lonsdale fights you have Anthony Yarde facing Travis Reeves in a contest that bears resemblance to the frustrations of last year – yet another opponent that few people will have heard of.
It’s become increasingly clear that while Yarde possesses considerable punching power, he isn’t this one-punch knock-out artist that can end a fight with the turn of a screw. At least not from what we’ve seen so far. Instead he tires out his counterparts, wearing down their bodily resistance and mental resilience throughout a number of rounds. Yes he drops opponents from well timed, accurately placed, shots but rarely do bouts come round to any thunderous conclusion.
Initially set to face Mehdi Amar on February 23rd, the Frenchman withdrew three weeks prior and then the whole show was cancelled, Reeves stepped up to the plate. Two years older than Amar and eleven more than, 27 year old, Yarde, Reeves will enter the ring with a record of 17-3-2. Nicknamed Seveer – purely for the reason it is his surname background – the American intended to turn professional in 2004 with a fight scheduled in Philadelphia. That bout fell through and Reeves’ career fell into extended disarray with the Baltimore man eventually debuting in 2013. Seven fights in a year saw Reeves sitting with a record of 3-2-2 before returning to Baltimore to string some wins together.
By no means a big puncher, Reeves boasts no wins over recognisable names. Indeed his best performance came against Aaron Quattrocchi in November 2016 when the 38 year old knocked his opponent out within two rounds to claim the USBO Light Heavyweight title. Against Karo Murat last March, Reeves struggled to find a foothold in the contest, taking place in Hamburg, before succumbing to a 12th round TKO – a mercy rule finish, if ever there was one.
A fight that could be the straw to break the camel’s back, Yarde needs a performance more than he ever has before.
The final main fight of the card will see Daniel Dubois up against Razvan Cojanu. Having been postponed from December 15th, Dubois will be looking to make up for lost time and, indeed, lost time to his closest rival Nathan Gorman.
Dynamite heads into his 10th professional contest off the back of a disappointing performance against Kevin ‘Kingpin’ Johnson. That contest, back in October, was a case of repetition throughout the 10 rounds with the American reverting to the ropes whilst Dubois fought fairly one-dimensionally. It was, arguably, the first fight where you Dubois’ youth and inexperience came to the fore – you suspect the process coming at such an early stage will stand him in good stead, though.
Cojanu, on the other hand, returns to UK shores for the second time in just under three months with the Romanian having fought Nathan Gorman on December 22nd. In that bout, 12 rounder, Gorman started off sprightly before fading in the latter half of the contest. Cojanu, to give him credit, recovered from a relatively shaky start to hold his own. Well, when I say ‘hold his own’, he didn’t look like getting knocked out but was a comprehensive second-best. Now with a record of 16 and 5, Cojanu’s most recent trio of losses have come to Razvan Cojanu, Luis Ortiz and Gorman. Only Ortiz has stopped him.
Starting off 2019 with a shared opponent, of the calibre of Cojanu, will be a great yardstick for measuring up Warren’s two heavyweight prospects.
It is March 8th that sees the start of Frank Warren’s promotional adventures – a delayed beginning but one that promises excitement. It’s a Royal Rumble but not as you know it…
ESPN+ Boxing Results: Yarde Defends Title, Corcoran and Garton Engage in a War
By: Oliver McManus
The Brentwood Centre played host to a fiddle of fine fights this Saturday night as Frank Warren promoted some of his most hotly-tipped talents with Anthony Yarde defending his WBO Inter-Continental belt against, Argentine champion, Walter Sequeira; Gary Corcoran and Johnny Garton went at it for the British Welterweight strap; and Umar Sadiq and Zak Chelli put their unbeaten records on the line over eight rounds.
Anthony Yarde, looking to move 17 and 0, was in the ring against Walter Gabriel Sequeira – a man who’s record is composed of 21 wins and 4 losses, although his comprehensive loss to Avni Yilidrim tells you all you need to know – in what was widely expected to be a routine victory.
The WBO’s #2 ranked light heavyweight entered the ring just before 23:00 UK time and the Hackney-born man needed to dispatch with his opponent in double-quick time in order to prove he is of the calibre that he is sold as.
The Beast looked monstrous in comparison to the visiting fighter – officially 5ft10inches but looking a fair sight smaller than that – and Yarde bounced out of his corner immediately, swaggering into the centre of the ring, throwing out a meaningful jab from early doors.
Sequeira offered no genuine counter-artillery during the course of their opening exchanges but was offering some shots back as a reminder of his presence, Yarde controlled the tempo of the fight with a relative ease and, whilst not pushing the cause, was on top of the contest from the off.
The Argentine sought to get in close to the body of Yarde at every possible opportunity, working the inside, forcing Yarde to create the space and angles in order to land convincing shots of his own, some strong body shots were landed by the home favourite as a tentative reminder of the power he carries.
Three rounds in and Yarde started to up the pressure, landing some strong uppercuts to check the chin of Sequeira before a couple of battering shots to head started to take their toll on the man from Argentina – rather tame and underwhelming stuff, in all honest, if truth be told.
“This is the round”, we were told between the third and fourth round, the round for Yarde to look for the finish off the back of a convincing third round but Anthony Yarde got caught up in the clinch far too often, almost refusing to find space of his own, to take a step back and explode into the shots.
Having spent a minute trying to paw around to create the angle, he landed a downwards right hand to Sequeira, from the clinch in order to send his man to the canvas before the contest started and Yarde moved through the motions, dropping Sequeria a second time.
Up again and a calm, composed shot selection from Yarde with two “big” rights and lefts sending the challenger to the canvas for a third and final time with the contest duly waived off – a stoppage victory, sure, but the underwhelming opposition will do little for his reputation.
Yarde looked in control and heavy-handed but not necessarily explosive and dyanamic, a good finish but there’s definitely work to be done.
Johnny Garton and Gary Corcoran were the co-main event as the pair faced off for the vacant British welterweight title – Garton, a patient man, had waited nearly three years for this opportunity having been in the shadows of his stablemate Bradley Skeete, who formerly held the belt whilst Corcoran was in the second British title fight of his career.
The crowd were bouncy and so were the fighters, looking eager to get to battle as soon as the fight began and both men came to the centre of the ring, boxing busy, and establishing their respective jabs with Garton edging the initial exchanges with solid one-twos.
Corcoran, the former world title challenger, was showing grit and standing firm at the centre of the ring – true to his words, Corcoran was delivering on his promise to go toe-to-toe with Garton and was throwing some lovely combinations to the body of The Pexican.
Taking a shot to land two, three, four of his own, Corcoran landed good left hooks to the body of Garton before varying up with uppercuts and landed with a dominant flurry in the corner of the rope to sign off the second round in signature fashion.
Fights began to erupt in the crowd in what was a boisterous and ferocious atmosphere as the scraps began to turn ugly but, back in the ring, quality work by both men who were doing their best to remain undistracted by events outside of their control and it was Corcoran who continued to land impressive body shots before a heavy shot cut Garton underneath the eye.
Garton paid little notice to the nick, walking forward himself and taking advantage of the Corcoran’s lack of head movement, firing in some good shots and ensuring Corcoran wasn’t having it all his own way – only three rounds in and it was shaping up to be a cracker.
A former English, Southern Area and IBF European title holder, Garton has been no stranger to pressure fights against an array of strong domestic contenders but it was Corcoran who, arguably, was landing the stronger shots as he pushed Garton to the ropes in a relentless fashion with shot after shot being thrown at the Peckham man.
The cleaner work and more crips shots were being landed by Garton but Corcoran was eye-catching in his work, fighting true to his nature and turning the fight into a real battle.
This rhythm continued as we neared the middle portions of the fight with both men standing their ground at the centre of the ring – no quarter asked and no quarter given – throwing their shorts and absorbing the punishment that was coming their way. A thrilling bout that ebbed and flowed with both men finding pockets of success, Corcoran the more rugged man whilst Garton looked to piece things together in a calmer fashion.
Calmer in this fight, make no mistake, was still ferocious in any other. Garton received a large cut to the head in the sixth round but came out fighting in the seventh as he continued to put together the more composed work.
Claret seeped across the face of Garton throughout the round with Corcoran looking to seize his opportunity, rallying with successive shots to the head of Garton but the fight was mainly being fought to the body with both men landing some brilliant punches.
Warriors, at the core of it, they kept on coming forward with each and every round, embroiling each other in physical warfare but the shots, as punishing as they were, took little toll on either man with both digging in and continuing the pace they began with.
If you were to be hyper-critical you could say Garton looked a little ragged in the eighth round as Corcoran found more openings more angles for success; Garton returned to the safety of the jab whilst Corcoran continued to march forward and throw solid right hands.
That criticism could be flipped completely on its head in the following round as Corcoran began to look the more scruffy fighter, conceding ground for the first time in the bout and being beaten to the punch on numerous occasions as Garton simply refused to relent, swinging the full weight of his body into the punches to force Corcoran onto the back foot.
Blood now decorated the face of both men, the shorts once white with blue trim and white with red, respectively, were gradually turning a pale shade of pink.
After the middle rounds saw Corcoran working his way into the fight and taking the upper-hand, it was Garton that rallied from the ninth round on with storming left hooks seemingly landing at will to snap the head back of his younger opponent but, regardless, Corcoran kept on coming back with fire of his own to keep Garton in check.
Stunning work, simply sensational work from both men who were showing just what the Lonsdale belt means to these guys in a fight full of heart that and as we entered the eleventh Corcoran staggered, almost, to his customary position at the centre of the ring but a ferocious left sent his legs stiffening to the ropes, he ducked and weaved but Garton kept on landing.
A left hook, that trademark shot, forced Steve Gray to step in and halt the bout with Corcoran deemed to be taking too much punishment, Johnny Garton claimed the British welterweight strap with a breath-taking display of guts and glory via an eleventh round TKO.
WHAT A FIGHT!
Umar Sadiq and Zak Chelli – three and four fights without defeat, respectively – were pitting their unbeaten records against each-other over the course of a scheduled eight rounds in a genuine 50-50 fight.
Chelli, the more explosive of the two, began the fight in the centre of the ring as he bounced in and out of the pocket before landing some right hands to the body of Sadiq – Chelli looked relaxed in his body language and comfortable in his footwork but Sadiq, himself, was staying busy with his footwork, staying at range.
A positive start from Chelli, still in full-time education, who retained the higher work rate whilst staying patient and composed in the process – the mild-mannered man was landing full-blooded right hands, seeking to unload with real bad inentions.
Sadiq, 10 years the elder fighter, looked to grow into the fight as he landed the rangy left hand with an increased frequency though an argument could be made for him using the jab more often in order to disrupt the rhythm of his, more combative, opponent.
Towards the halfway stage we went and Chelli maintained the more aggressive fight style but Sadiq was landing with more consistency now and landed a decent right hand as the bout began to warm up – a tepid start from the older fighter, an incredibly down-to-earth man, but things were starting to heat up as Sadiq began to push forward on his lead foot.
Neither fighter was landing with arrow-like precision but the sixth round saw a delightful over-hand right connect from Chelli, a punch that Sadiq walked onto in the process of trying to land a heavy shot of his own, and dropped his man to the canvas but the thirty year old shock it off, got back up and straight back into the fight. Around forty-five seconds later, the Ilford man landed a strong over-hand right of his own with Chelli scampering around the ropes.
A nip-and-tuck fight in which neither man solidified their individual advantages, it was Chelli who fought the more aggressive fight but, as rounds went on, Sadiq started to come forward more and walk his opponent down, popping out shots more frequently and bringing the pace of the bout back into his control.
The eight round saw the Umar Sadiq that many expected to see emerge as he began to impose a physically-commanding gameplan on that of Chelli, bullying his man around the ring, trading leather before a smacking left hook from Chelli, in the final seconds, saw the tide turn and the 20 year old began to unfurl an endless parade of shots, trying to take Sadiq out, but the bell rang to signal the end of a cracking eight rounds between two classy, classy, super-middleweights.
Zak Chelli won the bout by 77 points to 74 on the scorecard of Chas Coakley but that only just begun to whet the appetite… a rematch, for the vacant Southern Area belt, has surely got to be on the table?
It’s fair to say that the headlining fight as underwhelming, it was always going to be, but boy we were treated to some cracking fights on the undercard – Johnny Garton, he’s been patient, he’s bided his time, but now it’s his opportunity to seize everything that his talent and heart will bring.
Five UK Based Fighters Who Need a Big 2019
By: Oliver McManus
12 months can be a long time in the sport of boxing – it can see you go from the cusp of retirement to the brink of a world title and for these next boxers, they’ll be hoping that 2019 is the year for them because these are five fighters in need of a BIG 12 months.
Photo of Jay Harris and Kristian Touze
Andrew Selby – Flyweight
There was a time, not so long ago, that we thought we had seen the last of Andrew Selby when he announced “I’m not fighting anymore”, quite understandably this prompted confusion because for a long time he had been scheduled to fight for the European title – indeed a clash with Vincent Legrand was postponed back in June – and Selby was deemed, by many, far good a talent to be allowed to go to waste.
Last month, at last, there was some good news as Jamie Sanigar won the purse bids for his challenge to, Frenchman, Legrand and set a firm date for the Welshman’s return – October 27th at the Newport Centre. Since then there has been mixed signals about the fight with no official confirmation save for the European Boxing Union website who, incidentally, have assigned officials for the contest but the good news is that Selby is back in the gym with fire in his belly, once more.
Further to that, consider the former Team GB member has been mandated to fight Julio Cesar Martinez Aguilar in a world title eliminator with the winner set to face, WBC Champion, Cristofer Rosales – a man who Selby comfortably outpointed last May – and you start to see the makings of a sensational 2019 where, if all goes well, we could see the crowning of a new British world champion.
Anthony Yarde – Light Heavyweight
With one sharp intake of breath we get reminded that Yarde is the number 2 ranked challenger with the World Boxing Organization and, swiftly after, it is explained to us that he’s still not ready for a world title because he’s learning the trade.
Now there’s nothing wrong with either of those statements but the constant juxtaposition of the two leave me crying out for Yarde to have a monumental 2019 and this is nothing to do with Anthony Yarde, not at all, because he is a genuinely nice guy and rather this frustration is born out of a desire for him to do well and prove critics wrong – at least, attempt to prove them wrong.
Since fighting Nikola Sjekloca on December 9th, Yarde has seen his stock fall with the 27 year old facing, less than inspiring, Tony Averlant and Dariusz Sek in the meantime; that performance against Sjekloca was a top quality, high energy, explosive performance against a respectable opponent whilst against Averlant and Sek it is almost as though he’s dropped down to their level.
Next out on October 20th Yarde, now 16 and 0, will face the Argentine national champion Walter Gabriel Sequeira who steps up to the plate after, it is believed, Sean Monaghan priced himself out after initially accepting the fight – regardless, the whole boxing world wants to see Yarde get in the ring with an opponent will provide him with a solid test and there are plenty of British light-heavies that would be gunning for the fight.
Hopefully, for him and us, 2019 will see Anthony Yarde start to really make his mark on the 175lb scene.
Lawrence Okolie – Cruiserweight
British, Commonwealth, WBA Continental Champion with only 10 fights under his belt, things are going pretty well for Okolie from a belts point of view and you certainly can’t criticise Okolie for the guys he’s been willing to face – Isaac Chamberlain, Luke Watkins and Matty Askin in only his eighth, ninth and tenth fights.
That’s all fine and dandy but his much-hyped contests against Chamberlain and Askin, in particular, have failed to live up to the expectations as Okolie imposed a largely physical, holding game-plan much to the irritation of those watching.
Far be it from me to criticise a professional boxer unnecessarily but Okolie himself admits his performances were disappointing and, yes he got the win, but he’s in a situation where he needs to start letting his hands go and relaxing through the bout in order to become a big Box Office attraction.
With strong amateur pedigree, Okolie was always going to take a hastened route to the top but the cruiserweight sensation needs to go back to basics and work the jab to tee up openings that he can exploit in order to look every bit as good as we know he can be.
Plenty of domestic challengers are salivating at a potential fight with the Hackney-man and I like Okolie, I really like him, but time is a friend not an enemy and, having smashed his way through his first 10 fights, he can afford to be patient for 2019 in terms of names but the performances need to be big.
Okolie needs to be seen as adaptive and exciting otherwise people, having seen what they have, will be inclined to switch off – I’ve little doubt as to the quality and desire of the cruiserweight prospect so he should be able to take it in his stride!
Joseph Parker – Heavyweight
Returning to the ring on December 15th having been subjected to back-to-back losses against Anthony Joshua and Dillian Whyte, respectively, Joseph Parker is in danger of becoming the forgotten talent of heavyweight boxing.
Making history by becoming the first New Zealand heavyweight world champion, you’d be hard pressed to suggest that Parker looked impressive in the fight that saw him crowned WBO king – against Andy Ruiz – or indeed in his subsequent defences over Razvan Cojanu and Hughie Fury and, actually, that fight against Dillian Whyte is, arguably, the best we’ve seen Parker.
That sounds weird to say given that he was on the reverse side of a unanimous decision but when Parker really got into his rhythm he was able to control the tempo of the fight, force Whyte into hot water and he looked like a physically imposing roughhouse fighter as opposed to the technical man we’ve got used to seeing.
It raised questions of WHY haven’t we seen this fire and aggression from the Kiwi before and whilst I can’t answer that question, I look forward to seeing how it impacts the 26 year olds fight plans going forward.
Parker gets the benefit of being in a comparatively weak heavyweight pool of talent than in years previous with a distinct gulf in quality even ranging throughout the top 15 and that should, on paper, ensure that Parker gets back into the world title mix sooner rather than later and, certainly, there are relatively few challengers that you wouldn’t tip Duco’s main man to topple.
The rebuild starts on December 15th, the climb back to a world title shot continues into 2019.
Now this is the slightly left field option for this article because who said I was going for the obvious? Jay Harris is a fighter who has had a frustrating year thus far with the Commonwealth flyweight champion scheduled to defend his belt – won via unanimous decision over Thomas Essomba back in February 2017 – against Dexter Marques back the first quarter of the year before visa issues put that fight indefinitely on hold.
He would fight for the first time in nine months when he entered the ring at the Llandarcy Academy of Sport on August 11th and eased his way to a 60-55 points decision over Critisan Narvaez and with those rounds under his belt he quickly set about establishing a date to defend his coveted belt.
That fight, against Ross Murray, was scheduled for this month but pushed back ever so slightly to November 3rd at York Hall; Mo Prior, the man behind British Warriors, has taken the Welsh flyweight under his wing and is already on a mission to provide Harris with regular fight dates for, put simply, the 28 year old is a sumptuous talent.
With one on the winner of Ryan Farrag vs Sunny Edwards – that bout for the WBO European Super Flyweight strap – Harris has already been mandated for the British Super Flyweight belt as well as the EBU-EU title so there are plenty of opportunities available for the Swansea-man, and that’s without even considering the permutations of the CBC!
By no means is this an exhaustive list of fighters who require a big one next year nor, for that matter, is it the five fighters who need it the MOST but they are guys who, in my opinion, should be hoping to leave a mark over the course of the next 12 months.
For guys like Jay Harris it is through no fault of their own that they are in the frustrating situation that they are and, certainly, there are plenty other candidates for this article – Kell Brook, Amir Khan, Liam Walsh, Roman Gonzalez to name just a handful but keep an eye out on these five fellas as they look for a career-best 2019.
Yarde and DuBois Win In England
Frank Warren’s 2018 kicked off with an emphatic bang last night as his brightest prospects made decisive statements at York Hall, Bethnal Green, to lay the foundations down for an enthralling 2018.
Photo Credit Box Nation Twitter Account
The Untouchables featured three mouth-watering fighters in title bouts as Anthony Yarde defended his WBO Inter-Continental and European titles against Tony Averlant, Daniel Dubois looked to retain his Southern Area strap against DL Jones and Zelfa Barrett took on Ronnie Clarke for the vacant IBF European Super Featherweight belt.
Light-heavyweight Yarde was the headlining act for his 15th professional fight and was up against a durable Averlant, who’s a fair bit better than his 26-9-2 record suggests, in a scheduled 10 rounder. An obvious step-down from, Yarde’s previous opponent, Nikola Sjekloca this was all about putting in a performance in order to set-up exciting clashes against fellow Top 25 opposition for the duration of 2018.
Averlant was looking to prove he had what it takes to compete at the European level with the 33-year-old having fallen short at every other opportunity, most notably from a crunching body shot courtesy of Juergen Braehmer back in 2013.
The fight didn’t start off quite as you’d expect with Yarde opting to patiently sit back and wait for Averlant to approach him before unleashing a handful of heavy right-hand punches against the body of the Frenchman. Movement from Yarde was the prime skill displayed over the opening three minutes as he evaded the shots of Averlant and did well to cut off the ring for his opponent.
That momentum and unfamiliarity of style continued into the second round with Averlant goading Yarde into an opening attack before landing his own series of shots on the WBO #2 – Yarde seemed relatively unfazed and hit back but, nonetheless, Averlant seemed to be a trickier test than many anticipated with Yarde reluctant to be drawn into a firefight.
Order was restored with the bell to mark the beginning of the third round with Anthony Yarde giving reason to his Beast nickname, unloading on his opponent with thunderous shots to both head and body. Often with his hands down by his side, Frank Warren’s prospect slammed his right hand into the head of Averlant, following through with his whole body, reddening the face but no real combination shots to add to the pain.
A quiet fourth and fifth round followed with Yarde undoubtedly dominating but just wearing down Averlant as opposed to seeking to expel him from the ring – the sixth round saw him step the fight up a notch with a plethora of body shots, similar to Juergen Braehmer’s tactics, fatiguing the ribs and solar plexus before a slaughtering shot at the ropes dropped Averlant on the 90 second mark. Mere seconds later and the Frenchman was down again, he hung on until the end of the round but Yarde was ready for the kill.
Averlant had proven to be as durable as can of baked beans but with blood in the water, Yarde wasn’t going to mellow on the Frenchman and battered the body so bad you could order it at your local chippy! Survival mode kicked in for Averlant but his spirit never died regardless of the sheer bombardment coming his way.
With the referee reluctant to stop the fight and Yarde look set to bounce Averlant out of the ring, the French corner pulled their man out at the end of the 7th round to give Anthony Yarde the win AND an enhanced ranking with the WBO. He retains the European and Inter-Continental version of their titles so the only question left is ‘who’s next?’.
Daniel ‘Dynamite’ Dubois was looking to explode into 2018 with a convincing win over his unbeaten Southern Area rival DL Jones who was going into the contest with 8 wins and a single draw – coincidentally that draw came against Dorian Darch, Dubois’ last opponent.
Weighing at his second heaviest career weight Dubois was still the lighter man as his 36 year old opponent weighed in at 110.2kg (243lbs) and behind that stocky frame was a fighter looking to cash in on his career high payday (reported to be near £15,000).
The first round proved to be the hardest of Dubois’s professional career with DL Jones looking to hold for the most part whilst trying to swing in from a crouched position – at times it was reminiscent of a wrestling bout but Jones was successful in subduing outlandish levels of power beheld by Dubois.
Dubois adjusted well into the second round as he begun to tee off against Jones by the ropes, aiming for the body of the Sheerness-born opponent. Visibly frustrated was Triple D but he kept the jab popping into the face of the former army veteran.
Biding his time before eventually unleashing an uppercut followed by a flurry of body punches, Dubois was picking off his challenger with ease whilst never really clicking into gear before relaxing in the third round and letting his natural power come through.
Pinning Jones against the ropes around the halfway mark of the third, Dubois shellacking his man with punishing jabs to the head along with big right hand overhead hooks – three, four in a row – enforcing the pain on Dave Jones. The smile on his face failed to mask the buckle in his legs and a concussive right uppercut-straight combination saw him collapse to the canvas.
A third round knockout for Daniel Dubois to make it seven wins, seven early baths, saw the 20 year old retain his Southern Area title and we’ll see him back out at the O2 on April 14th as he looks to make 2018 his year.
On paper the toughest fight for the three main protagonists came as Zelfa ‘Brown Flash’ Barrett faced Ronnie ‘The Shark’ Clark for the vacant IBF European Super Featherweight championship; Clark, the former British title challenger, represented the biggest step up for Barrett, 19-0.
Determined to steal the limelight from the start, the green-haired Shark gained the best of a tentative opening first round with neither boxer willing to impose their fight plans and both struggling to connect with anything clean and that rhythm followed into the second portion of three minutes with Clark doing well to pressure Barrett against the ropes but failing to ask serious questions of the 24 year old.
Voices from some corners described Barrett as “drawn” during the weigh-ins and public work outs and that started to show as the fight progressed with the, relatively big, super-feather finding it tough to adapt to the southpaw stance of his more experienced opponent.
The fourth round seemed to spark something into the Shark who was now finding the body of Barrett with increasingly alarming consistency to the extent that after switching to the head and landing with a sharp uppercut, the Dundee-man simply smiled.
Relaxed but effective best described the fighting style of Ronnie Clark but by no-means was he in the clear as his Mancunian opponent kept his head moving and shots firing – if not necessarily connecting – to make the first four or five rounds still 50-50.
Barrett was pressing his case across the opening minute of the sixth, upping the tempo and attacking Clark with real grit and gusto but, in a sudden switch, was hit by a stunning, straight, left-hand jab countered by a right hand uppercut that sent his body to the canvas, his teeth to the crowd and his head to the clouds.
From that moment Clark pursued Barrett in relentless fashion, throwing bombs for the remaining 90 seconds in a round of pure hell for the pre-right favourite; whilst Barrett regained his composure during the break between rounds, the only punch of note in the seventh was a left hand from the youngster that was deflected well by Clark.
Into the middle-to-late rounds we went and they seemed to mirror the opening three, after some scintillating rounds of boxing both men needed a breather. When the fight ignited again, around the ninth round, Zelfa managed to find a good flurry of shots to the body of Clark as he began to edge his way back into the fight from a shot which, to be fair , would have stopped many a lesser fighter.
The healthy flow of punches continued into the 10th round of super-featherweight action with both men exchanging leather, Clark trying to drive Barrett back towards the ropes but the Mancunian firing in with repetitive shots of his own.
Championship rounds are the ones that win fights and Barrett was aware of that, making a strong start to the 11th as he kept Clark in sight and having, by far, the better of the exchanges in terms of work rate and consistency but the more eye-catching skills were coming from the man from Scotland.
With both fighters wanting to seal the win the 12th round was always going to be an absolute belter and so it proved with both men giving it their all, sapping their energy with combinations from both men in a phone-box competition marred only by the Barrett’s gum shield dropping out. Clark kept the right hand leads flowing into the body of Barrett whilst receiving the full artillery from his opponent. Clark was static but sensational, Barrett lucid but lacklustre.
To the scorecards it went with no-one in the venue able to confidently predict the outcome; 116-111, 116-111, 114-114, a majority decision to the NEW IBF European Super Featherweight champion Ronnie Clark, but by five?
Also on the card we saw Nathan Gorman stamp his authority over Morgan Dessaux to move to 12-0 in the heavyweight division; Archie Sharp stopped Ivan Ruiz Morote in the 7th round to improve his record to 12 wins, no defeats, in the super-feather weight class; Ryan Garner returned to the ring after 6 months out with a points decision over Lesther Cantillano, The Piranha goes seven without defeat; in the super middle division, Umar Sadiq beat Yailton Neves comfortably to go to 2-0; Hamza Sheeraz obtained the same record at super-welter; Boy Jones Jr went 8 rounds in the lightweight division but enhanced his record to 15-1-1 whilst Harvey Horn moved to 2 and 0 in the flyweight division.