By Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro
Last night at the York Hall in Bethnal Green 40 year old ‘Mongolian Warrior’ Choi Tseveenpurev won the excellent Matchroom Sport promoted Prizefighter tournament on his second attempt, having failed last year in the Super Featherweights.
Choi may have been the ‘big name’ in this the 22nd edition of Prizefighter but the real star of the show was someone half his age, 20 year old ‘Saint’ George Jupp who was unlucky not to be facing Rhys Roberts in the final. I say unlucky but that really is not a the right word as in my opinion, and the majority of the York Hall crowd, Jupp was robbed of a certain final round appearance by some dubious judging. More on that later.
The evening of sumptuous pugilistic fare started with the Prizefighter Prospects featuring Light Heavyweights Andreas Evangelou and Matt Inman.
Whilst not the most thrilling of bouts, Evangelou and Inman both worked their socks in equal measure. There were no highlights as such and I feel that a draw would have been a fair result, but the man that counts, referee Terry O’Connor, see it as 39-37 for Evangelou.
Now onto the tournament itself, which was a real cracker.
The first quarterfinal see Choi up against previously unbeaten Lee Glover. First round was a close fought affair, Glover used his jab to good effect, to slow the hard charging Mongolian, for the early part of the round, however late on Choi caught an off balance Glover with a solid right to send the youngster to the canvas. Glover protested it was a slip, but to no avail and a standing count ensued. As soon as referee Victor Loughlin waved them back in battle Choi went on all out attack until the bell.
The second round started where the first left off, Choi smelled blood and was going in for the kill. Around the one minute round Choi let rip with a big right to send Glover to the canvas for a second time. Glover appeared dazed as he rose to his feet and just wandered off, on unsteady legs, towards his corner which lead to referee Victor Loughlin waving the fight off.
The second quarterfinal see Belvedere’s George Jupp against Liverpudlian Lee Jennings.
Jennings started strong but the South Londoner kept his cool and used his jab to seriously good effect to turn the round his way. With his confidence growing Jupp started digging into his well stocked arsenal and put together a cracking left hook, right uppercut combination that rocked Jennings to the core.
Jupp motored on at the start of the second and was really getting down to business, throwing a variety of heavy right hands, one of which opened a cut in the corner of Jennings’ left eye. Jennings turned up the wick in an attempt to keep Jupp at bay but the cut had worsened and on the one minute fifty five second mark causing the referee stopped the fight.
Next up was Jupp’s TRAD TKO team mate Ian Bailey against future finalist Rhys Roberts.
Bailey, who’s really a Super Bantam, struggled to control the slick Mancunian throughout the bout. Bailey showed heart and determination, as he tried to get himself back into the fight, but to no avail as Roberts confidence had grown to such a level that the Slough man was struggling to land a punch at times and being picked off with ease.
No surprise then that all three judges score cards read a shutout 30-27 in favour of Roberts.
The final quarterfinal pitched Troy James against Barrington Brown.
Nottingham’s Brown was out of the corner like a rocket and looked set to provide the third stoppage of the night, but he didn’t as James is made of sterner stuff. Brown kept up the major assault for a good part of the first round but from then on it was all James, who worked his heart out to overcome his much taller opponent and earn a semifinal place by 30-28 and 29-28 (twice) points margin.
Choi and George Jupp squared up in the first semifinal, and what a cracker it was. Throughout the first round Choi was frustrated by the youngsters mature ringcraft, Jupp kept the charging bull that is Choi at bay with superb crisp jabs. Whenever Choi did manage to bully his way through and land a blow, Jupp responded in kind, landing an equally heavy glove on the Mongolian, before reverting to his jab.
More of the same in the second, even after Choi had wrestled the youngster to the canvas – and following through with a punch to the back of the head when Jupp was down, which should have been punished by a point deduction according to the tournament rules – Jupp remained calm and let his boxing skills do the talking.
Choi, clearly aware that he was two rounds down and needing a stoppage to progress to the final, started the third stanza like a man possessed. The Mongolian threw bomb after bomb but the resilient youngster wasn’t overawed one iota and just returned exocets of his own.
When the final bell rang Jupp’s team celebrated certain in the knowledge their man was through to the final. These celebrations were bought to an abrupt halt though when the judges scorecards were read out – 27-30 and 28-29 (twice) in favour of Choi.
As Choi’s large contingent of fans celebrated the majority of the York Hall crowd showed their disapproval.
George Jupp may have been denied his rightful place in the final, but he sure won a lot of new fans on Saturday so hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more of this talented youngster in the future.
The second semifinal see Rhys Roberts grow in stature, against Troy James, from the off the Mancunian took control, Rocking James with a huge left hook early on. James responded in true pit bull style, coming forward and letting rip with flurries of shots. Unfortunately whilst throwing plenty of punches James barely slowed the slick Roberts who seemed to be able to pick him off at will.
Throughout the three action packed rounds Roberts was in full control and cruised into the final by 30-28 and 29-28 (twice) points margin.
Not surprisingly the final started out as quite a cagey affair, with Choi landing the only meaningful punch, a huge left hook that shook Roberts to the core, following a lot of scrappy exchanges.
Roberts confidence took another massive blow in the second, when Choi landed a peach of an overhand right. From then on the Mancunian was on survival mode and relied a little too much on his sharp counter punching to keep the marauding Mongolian at bay. Choi’s savvy at the best of times so it was no surprise that Choi was able to undo Roberts’ game plan, landing further big shots in-between roughing the Mancunian up on the inside.
The final round was a bit of an anti climax, instead of the barnstorming finale the early rounds promised instead there as almost three minutes of nonstop mauling and arm locking interspersed with the occasional flurry of hard action.
Even before the scorecards were read Choi’s corner and fans were celebrating, quite rightly so as Choi had easily won every round by a shutout 30-27 margin.
Once again Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Sport team have produced another superb night of tournament boxing – Roll on the 23rd Prizefighter edition, if it’s half as good as the 22nd it’ll be brilliant.