By Ezio Prapotnich
You might find this surprising but, sometime, when there are notitles, media and related politics involved, people fight for real. It is a shame that true classics like the 10 rounds battle between London adopted Mongolian warrior Choi Tseveenpurev (31-5, 21 ko’s) and former IBO champion Jackson Asiku (26-5, 14 ko’s) go under the radar when we often end up paying 15 or more pounds to buy world level stinkers. Spencer Fearon and Ciaran Baynes’ Hard Knocks Boxing took over York Hall once again with their Summer Smash card to offer a night full of upsets and surprises, although, unfortunately, some were not pleasant.
It’s just physics. It’s just the way nature works. If you mix nitro with glycerin, you invariably obtain an explosion. If you replace nitro with Choi and glycerin with Asiku, you obtain the same result, only sustained for 10 three minutes rounds over which neither man takes a backward step or tries to hold the other. How refreshing! It was a very balanced match between two fighters with power, a high work rate and iron chins. What enabled Choi to end up strong in almost every round was the fact that Asiku would leave himself open for a split second after each time he threw a power shot, especially the left hook to the head, allowing him to land bombs all over him. Jackson took the initiative in the first round, active from the outside with jabs and straight punches, while Choi was fighting is spurts swinging his trademark long head hooks. Neither man seemed to find openings but Asiku might have nicked the round on work rate, although this pattern would not repeat.
Things started to heat up in the second after a big loopin left hook from the former IBO champion left him open allowing Tseveenpurev to score with the right hook and get inside to work the body, but he was able to come back with straight punches and it was still anybody’s fight at this stage. In the third, the two stood toe to toe landing clean punches on each other. Choi’s best shot was always the right hook while Jackson’s most succesful weapon was the right cross. At this point, the Mongolian warrior started to look like the aggressor while Asiku appeared to be rocked at the end of the round. Quite rightly, he switched tactics and started the fourth jabbing and moving, but got sucked into the trenches again and, although eating more hooks, held his own till the bell. Once again capitalizing on the opponent left hook, Tseveenpurev took charge in the fifth scoring heavily to the body and leaving his foe looking all over the place. Jackson started the sixth aggressively and went after his man, but a couple of uppercuts on the chin stopped him on his tracks and shook him, and this time he did not come back. Although taking some straight right hands, in the seventh, Choi managed to knock down Asiku after a hard exchange on the ropes. Round 8 and 9 were two even and brutal affair, where both men gave as much as they took, standing again toe to toe, but in the tenth the Australian based warrior from Uganda was on the back foot and, although still punching back, appeared to feel his opponent punches way more than his opponent felt his. Choi Tseveenpurev earned the victory by way of a 98-93 decision in a fight with no loser, but congratulations must go to Jackson Asiku too or putting up such a brilliant fight.
What should have been the chief supporting contest of the night, a challenge between Southern Area champion Darren Hamilton (8-2, 1 ko) and Midlands fellow title holder Dave Ryan (12-4, 3 ko’s) ended very disappointingly by disqualification at 1:42 of the first round after Hamilton deliberately headbutted Ryan on the ropes opening a gush over his left eye. It is a true shame after his brilliant performance against Peter McDonagh last time around. We hope there will be other chances for Darren and that he can learn from this like he did from his ko loss to Setterfield, but there cannot be any complaints whatsoever about the referee’s decision.
It is well worth mentioning Hard Knocks Joe Catchpole (4-0-1)’s performance against Steve Spence (2-5-2, 1 ko), with whom he drew last time around. The first bout between the two was fought at Welterweight, at Joe’s disadvantage, as he cannot make the 150 limit anymore. But, weight aside, by his own admission there were other flaws in his game that needed to be addressed. In this 4×3 rematch at Light Middle, Catchpole showed great improvement in his defence and a certain degree of maturity in sticking to his gameplan without getting involved in the frustrated attempts of his opponent to drag him into a war. Joe moved well around the ring, slipping and blocking most shots coming his way, while picking and landing his own carefully. Overall, he set the pace and controlled the action to comfortably win a 40-37 decision. A word of praise must go to trainer Harry Andrews for the great work he did with Joe and with Hamilton in his previous fight. Both fighters seemed transformed under his tutelage and, tactically, he is slowly emerging like somebody any other trainer at domestic level should be wary of having in the opposite corner.
Mickey Coveney (11-13, 2 ko’s) managed to score a minor upset over fellow southpaw Lightweight and highly touted Hard Knocks prospect Alex Dilmaghani (5-1, 1 ko) handing him his first defeat over 4 rounds. Alex spent most of the first three rounds with his back on the ropes, as a consequence of his opponent’s constant pressure, where Mickey was able to score more and cleaner punches. He was more effective in the fourth, using all of the ring to move and keeping Coveney’s at range, but it was too little too late and the bout ended with a deserved 39-38 decision for Mickey. While a short guy like Coveney has no choice but to fight one way (to keep low, come forward, and try to get inside), you have to wonder why Dilmaghani’s or, may be, his corner could not come up with a plan B.
In the end, as last time, Spencer Fearon came up 50/50, with two wins and two losses for his fighters, but once again the crowd, made in good percentage of pretty girls, families and other social categories who do not necessarily know in depth the history of boxing or understand all its technical aspects, got their money worth. We will keep an eye on what Hard Knocks will come up next.