The Mersey Fighters: Volume 3 hits the shelves
Liverpool may currently boast a number of champions but the city has a long and rich boxing history. Two respected voices from the Merseyside fight scene have taken it upon themselves to share some of the stories which are all too easily overlooked by those without links to Liverpool and have released the third volume of the popular Mersey Fighters series of books.
Gary Shaw and Chris Walker spent months speaking to the fighters featured in the book and have painstakingly assembled fourteen individual stories which not only provide detailed analysis of the careers of the men involved, but also mix in interesting and amusing tales about what takes place outside the ring.
George Turpin talks about competing at the 1972 Munich Olympics whilst eleven Israeli athletes were being held hostage by terrorists. Former British flyweight champion, Paul Edwards, talks about picking up the Lonsdale belt and his love of the amateur game. Noel Quarless describes life as a heavyweight in the entertaining 1980's and world title challenger and former British super bantamweight champion, Richie Wenton, talks about his fateful encounter wth Bradley Stone and facing off with Marco Antonio Barrera. The stories are endless and the characters entertaining.
If you fancy treating yourself to a late Christmas present or are simply interested in reading about some of the sport's unsung heroes, get in touch with Gary or Chris and pick up a copy.
The Mersey Fighters: Volume 3
Contact @MerseyFighters3 @GaryMerseybox or @OfficialWalks for ordering details.
Ibeabuchi to launch comeback Livefight remembers the Ike of the 90’s
By Michael J Jones
JUNE 1997 in Sacramento, two young undefeated heavyweights collide for the WBC International title. In one corner is the feared David Tua, the stocky, lethal-punching Samoan who looks destined to win a portion of the heavyweight championship after leaving a trail of destruction in the division. In the other corner is a little-known Nigerian whose name nobody can pronounce.
That Ike Ibeabuchi beat Tua that night wasn’t what made us heavyweight fans turn our heads. Several men would out-box and beat Tua by keeping away from that left hook and utilising the jab but only one man walked right up to Tua and stood toe-to-toe and won.
The two fighters slugged it out over twelve thrilling rounds before Ibeabuchi prevailed by scores of 117-111, 116-112 and 115-114. Only the latter score reflected the competitive nature of the contest which amazingly featured no knock-downs.
Ike, who raised his record to 17-0 with the victory, threw 975 punches during the fight and they weren’t range-finding taps; every shot was loaded up with the single intention of causing maximum damage to his rival. Tua also scored hard and often with both hands but, incredibly, his potent fists would never inflict significant damage to the determined Ibeabuchi.
The winner would thus rise from unknown prospect to contender in just 36 minutes but there is where the story of Ike Ibeabuchi turns the darkest shade of black…
The 6’2” Ibeabuchi turned to boxing in the early 90’s after watching Buster Douglas upset “Iron” Mike Tyson. The muscular heavyweight made his mark as an amateur winning the Dallas and Texas Golden Gloves before turning pro in late 1994.
The Texas-based Nigerian fell under the radar for his first two years but did gain victories over respected fighters such as Terry Porter, Greg Pickrom and the hard-as-nails journeyman Marion Wilson. Tua was deemed a massive step-up but Ibeabuchi came through with flying colours.
Following his biggest win to date, Ibeabuchi started complaining of head-aches but was given the all clear after a battery of medical tests. He then began insisting demons were inside his head but only he and his mother could see them.
The heavyweight star continued his bizarre behaviour and proceeded to kidnap an ex-girlfriends son before driving both he and the boy into a concrete pillar. The troubled fighter escaped jail after his defence argued it was in fact a suicide attempt gone wrong (no I’m not making this up).
Despite the odd goings on, Ibeabuchi resumed his career 13 months after the Tua bout and stopped both opponents in the second half of 1998 to set up a match with fellow unbeaten Chris Byrd.
The contest took place in March 1999 and would be the final bout of Ibeabuchi’s career (to date). Byrd, then 27-0 and already being avoided by many contenders, put on a terrific exhibition of defensive boxing for four rounds. The speedy southpaw left Ibeabuchi hitting air for most of the first few rounds. Ibeabuchi’s 36lb weight advantage slowly started to tell though…
Entering the fifth the fight was even on the cards but a massive left uppercut took all of the zip out of Byrd. Despite nearly having his head taken off by the blow, Byrd rose from the knock-down but a further trip to the canvas and follow up flurry resulted in the fight being waved off with one second to go in the session.
The victory raised Ike Ibeabuchi’s record to 20-0 (15) with many tipping him to be the next dominant heavyweight champion with stars like Lennox Lewis, Mike Tyson and Holyfield all well into their 30’s.
However, instead of heavyweight glory, the ensuing year for Ibeabuchi reads like something from a horror movie.
Before the Byrd bout, “The President” was said to have chased, punched and strangled Ezra Sellers after a sparring session resulted in Ike getting cut. The worrying incident was brushed off as nothing but things would go from bad to worse following his win over Byrd.
Potential big-money fights against leading contenders Jeremy Williams and Michael Grant were turned down before an ill-fated night at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. A young escort was called to Ibeabuchi’s suit for the heavyweight’s pleasure but was instead violently attacked.
Once the case was brought to court, more reports of similar incidents involving Ibeabuchi were brought to light as well as dozens of accounts from boxing folk to underline the troubled heavyweight’s disturbing behaviour.
Despite the shocking train of events and subsequent incarceration, Ibeabuchi was released from prison last month, has sought the help of boxing advisor Mike Koncz and is set to make his boxing comeback at the age of 42 in 2016.
At the time of his arrest, Ibeabuchi was, for me, behind only Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield in the heavyweight rankings. Although he is said to be in good physical shape with a clean bill of health, it is hard to forget the darkly tormented man who clearly had a mental illness akin to schizophrenia. Can that be simply ignored as the former contender embarks on his unlikely comeback?
It probably will as money talks and nothing sells better than a notorious heavyweight. Ibeabuchi has claimed he is ready to make his ring return on the April 9th Pacquiao-Bradley bill. Bob Arum has even mentioned matching Ike with undefeated Andy Ruiz Jr.
There were suggestions the incident in Vegas was a set up but with all the other reports it’s hard to make a case that Ibeabuchi was the victim of a sting. Guys who are sound of mind don’t bundle kids in cars and drive them into a wall, nor do they violently attack sparring partners or wave knives at promoters (which Ike did to the startled Cedric Kushner).
Ibeabuchi apparently behaved himself in prison and even picked up two college degrees so deserves credit for that. It’s doubtful he’ll ever be even half the fighter he was 16 years ago but could still feature in an open division if he can score a few wins.
What If Ike had never left boxing in 1999?
I don’t think Ike could have beaten a tactically astute man like Lennox Lewis. The same way Lewis tamed Tua, I think the Brit great would have formulated a plan to nullify Ibeabuchi’s aggression and out-boxed him for a decision victory. Almost certainly Ike would have been more competitive than Tua was (this writer never gave the Samoan a round in a landslide defeat to Lewis).
One match which would have been fun was Ike against Mike Tyson. By 99’ Tyson had suffered those two defeats to Holyfield and probably would have found Ibeabuchi too strong and hungry to subdue. Ike would have knocked “Iron” Mike out in eight pulsating rounds.
The gifted Nigerian would have been too young and busy for Holyfield, would have knocked out Grant in four or five rounds and would have also been the favourite over the likes of Michael Moorer, Hasin Rahman and Axel Schulz.
I don’t believe Ike would have been a unified champion with Lewis around but would have almost certainly have picked up one of the other belts from Byrd or John Ruiz. His combination of strength, determination and work-rate would have left all but Lewis in an unceremonious heap…
…but we will never know for sure. Remember that when he was put away, Ibeabuchi was only in his mid 20’s and still developing and could have potentially become an even better fighting machine.
Fury snubbed in New Year’s Honours list Frampton made MBE
By Michael J Jones
WORLD heavyweight champion Tyson Fury continues to be snubbed by all this time humiliatingly being left completely out of the Queen’s New Year’s Honours list despite winning sport’s greatest prize just last month.
Who could have predicted the abuse Fury would receive following the single most defining victory of any British boxer in 2015? Following his historic victory over long-time champion Wladimir Klitschko, Fury has, instead of getting praise, been subjected to a fierce media back-lash resulting from comments made in the build up to his world heavyweight title shot.
Not one to sit on the fence, the newly-crowned champion has paid a reputation-damaging price for comments regarding women and homosexuals with a prolonged media hate campaign and subsequently was left out of the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year award (eventually coming a lowly fourth).
Now comes the news the controversial champion has been omitted totally from the New Year’s Honours List. Even giving the content of some of Fury’s views it will be yet another bitter pill to swallow for the 25-0 champion. Let’s remember Anthony Joshua was made an MBE for winning an Olympic medal a few years ago.
Poor Fury must at times think his cherished world titles are jinxed with the way he has been treated in the last month and-a-half. Winning the world heavyweight crown should be a life-changing achievement; instead Fury continues to be ignored and/or heavily criticised.
With British sports fans often favouring a good loser over an unfancied victor, it may have done the 27 year old Fury more service to his reputation had he been robbed against Klitschko. For example, nobody here in the UK liked Lennox Lewis until that hugely controversial draw with Holyfield in 1999.
The only boxer mentioned in the Honours List was Belfast’s reigning IBF super-bantamweight champion Carl Frampton who was made an MBE. In 2015, Frampton defended his title twice with victories over Chris Avalos and Alejandro Gonzalez Jr.
The 28 year old is currently in intense training for his February unification bout vs WBA counterpart Scott Quigg.
Also on the list, legendary jockey AP McCoy was deservedly knighted while Carry On actress Barbara Windsor was made a Dame.
Former Manchester Utd Striker Denis Law was made a CBE while Snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan was made an OBE.
Paddy Fitzpatrick’s debutant Sniper Sam Smith wins pro bow on points
By Tim Rickson
Light-heavyweight prospect, Sam Smith (1-0) won his professional debut, defeating opponent Mark Till (3-18-2) on points on December 20th at the Grange Leisure Centre in Swindon.
The 175lbs four-round contest was scored at 39-37 to the 22-year-old from Surrey known as Sniper, he said, “It was a hard fight to be honest, he came to win and he was tough.”
Travelling opponent from Stoke-on-Trent, 28-year-old Mark Till has upset the odds before to defeat other debutants during his two year-long professional boxing career.
“He’s had over 20 fights and I expected a tough fight so I knew he would always be there,” Smith continued. “There’s only four rounds so not much time to break him down, I came out a bit slow and didn’t have the best start, probably nerves or the occasion got to me but I was relaxed in the changing rooms, I just stiffened up when I got in there.”
Referee, Jeff Hinds scored the contest at 39-37 to Smith who admitted, “The last three rounds I won, I hit him with some lovely shots and he still came back so it was a good learning curve. There’s a few bits to work on but the longer the fight went on, the more it suited me.”
Respected trainer, Paddy Fitzpatrick added, “When any boxer is making their professional debut it’s about dealing with the new emotions and keeping their composure. Sniper hadn’t boxed in two years leading into his first pro fight and so he had a lot more to deal with than the usual debutant does.
“He was very relaxed in the changing room and on the mitts but during the ring walk, the reality of the situation got to him a bit.
“He controlled his composure quite well but was tight in the first round with his jab. Half way through the second, he started to loosen up and find his opponent with jabs and uppercuts, and by the third and fourth, he was bossing every exchange albeit exchanges that his opponent was initiating and came out on top at the end over an extremely aggressive and game man.”
The former three-time national amateur champion from Dunsfold spent an entire year in the gym preparing for his inauguration into the paid ranks.
However, Smith anticipates a busy 2016, stating, “Few days off over Christmas and the next fight will be in February in Swindon.
“I’ve got six fights lined up with KM Promotions next year, I should be in a good position if I win them all.”
Sniper hails from Fitzpatrick’s Boxing Gym in Swindon and benefits from the best sparring possible, he explained, “Paddy has got good contacts with a lot of people so the top sparring will continue into next year.
“I went down to Wales and sparred Enzo Maccarinelli in preparation for his Roy Jones Jr. fight.
“He hits hard, probably the hardest hitter I’ve ever sparred against. We did five rounds the first week then went back and done six the next week.”
The 175-pounder also counts unbeaten cruiserweight, Luke Watkins, welterweight prospect, Garvey Kelly and IBF Inter-Continental middleweight champ, Eamonn O’Kane as teammates.
“I’ve got a great team around me and we all learn off each other, the sparring is fantastic as well,” said Smith. “In a really good place right now with a good team around me so I’m really looking forward to next year.”
For tickets to the next show contact Team Sniper on 07887 245 035
To follow Sam Smith on Twitter click here @SniperSamSmith
Sam Smith would like to thank his sponsors, A1 Group and PR Manager Tim Rickson
Remembering Harry Scott
C/o Gary Shaw – Boxing historian and writer
With a host of champions and contenders at every level, domestically, in Europe and beyond, Liverpool’s claim as the current boxing capital of the UK is, with only Manchester able to form a comparative and capable counter-argument, a persuasive one. That the city also has a rich boxing heritage is however, beyond dispute, but earlier this week local fight fans were lamenting the loss of one of their greatest fighting sons when news broke that Harry Scott, one of the country’s top middleweights in the 1960s, had passed away after a long illness.
When the death of a past sporting great is announced, the reactions are mainly two-fold. For many of the same era it is a signal that yet another link with their past is broken, a time for reflection and gratitude that they knew, saw, or once just chatted to, a famed star of the day. For others, mainly the younger generation for whom the term ‘sporting great’ seems to apply only to those they can view on their smart phones let alone something as antiquated as a DVD, the reaction is somewhat different. If informed of the recently departed by their parents or grandparents, a few will know at least some of the esteem in which they were once held, but for many the news passes with little acknowledgement – a name to add to the list of others whose impact they will never know, and which they perceive can never stand up to so–called modern day ‘greats’. Other references may simply list achievements based on an online search – in many former boxers’ cases, a brief read of BoxRec is sometimes seen as sufficient enough research to build up a picture of former greats. It isn’t.
For Harry Scott his achievements as both a fighter and a man are worthy of far more than cursory discussion or brief concession for he is universally acknowledged as one of Liverpool’s greatest ever boxers. A fighter who was as humble outside the ring as he was hurtful inside it, Harry was a man who never boasted of his achievements – and they were many - even in the presence of fighting men for whom he was looked upon with increasing and often justifiable awe. When asked to join the Merseyside Former Boxers’ Association many years after his retirement Harry, maintaining that he thought himself unworthy of such an honour, innocently asked why? He wasn’t joking. Yet this was a man who had represented his country as an amateur at the highest level and who, as a professional, fought four men who held, or would hold, versions of the world title – all set against the backdrop of the greatest and most sustained period of social significance Liverpool has ever experienced. He was equally modest, gracious and thankful when asked to become President of the Association, and the Northern Ex-Boxers Association, some years later.
Born in 1937, originally Harry took up boxing purely as a means of keeping fit as a teenager and it was only when he turned 20 that he decided to give the sport serious attention. Fighting for the famous old Maple Leaf ABC in Bootle under the direction of renowned coach Dave Rent, Harry, despite his age, soon built up a reputation as a talented and hard hitting boxer who was more than capable of giving anyone a decent fight.
In 1959, he was chosen to represent his country at the European Championships, then dominated by the Soviet Union, Bulgaria and East Germany, in Lucerne, Switzerland, after the selectors’ first choice, ABA and Army champion Fred Elderfield, pulled out as he had turned professional. Harry had lost to Elderfield, unluckily for many, in the ABA final just a few weeks previously.
Thought to be nothing more than a learning experience for the then 22-year old, Harry performed brilliantly to win a bronze medal – a feat that only the very best domestic fighters have ever achieved – losing to Poland’s Tadeuse Walasek by the narrowest of margins (after their scores were tied the Russian judge marked the Pole as the winner) in the semi-final. Harry ranked his podium finish here as one of his greatest boxing memories (he also won a prize as the best loser) but his pride was soon chilled when he returned home to find that his extended time away had resulted in him losing his job. He turned pro soon after, winning eight of his first ten. In the next 13 years he amassed 79 contests in a career that, although not widely recognised, included three British title eliminators, a Central Area belt, and the scalps of some of the finest 160lbs fighters of the day.
Although best known for a win over Ruben ‘Hurricane’ Carter in April 1965 – a victory hailed by Boxing News as one of the greatest by a British boxer in the past 20 years – and which saw the Liverpudlian down for a short count in the first round, Harry also met the likes of Nino Benvenutti, Alan Minter, Sandro Mazzinghi and, in October 1965 and with only a week’s notice due to many fights being cancelled following his victory over Carter, Emile Griffith - when the Virgin Islander was reigning world middleweight champion. He more than held his own in all of these fights. Also worthy of mention are meetings with Wally Swift snr., Mick Leahy, John McCormack, Bo Hogberg – a future European champion who Harry sparked clean out in one round in Sweden in 1963 just 10 days after his first child, Yvonne, was born - Tom Bogs, Les McAteer, Bunny Sterling, Chris and Kevin Finnegan and an unlucky loss to the great Laszlo Papp, a three time Olympic gold medallist, in Vienna in 1964.
Papp was badly cut in this contest and, although the legendary Hungarian held on to win on points over 10 rounds, Harry always felt he did enough to win – a fact confirmed by esteemed boxing writer Harry Carpenter, who later said that if the fight had been held anywhere else other than continental Europe – where Papp was especially popular – then it would certainly have been stopped in the scouser’s favour.
Nicknamed ‘The Iron Man/Cast Iron’ due to both his early work as an iron moulder and his style in the ring, Harry retired in 1973 aged 35 with 39 wins and six draws from his 79 pro fights. Besides meeting the best fighters of his generation, he also sparred some top names - Joey Giardello prior to the American’s world title fight v Terry Downes in 1960, and Jack Bodell amongst them – whilst he is also fondly remembered by many former local fighters for the words of advice, on training and tactics, he gave them as they worked their way through the professional ranks. Indeed, brief discussions about Harry I have had with former fighters in the days since his death have focussed on this aspect of his character – together with phrases such as, “what a fighter he was,” and “he was a true gentleman.”
Harry tuned pro in 1960 when Liverpool FC were in the second division and the Beatles had yet to become the most famous band on the planet. By the time of his peak, Shankly’s red army were competing with Everton for every domestic honour going whilst the mop-topped four piece were the centre of the musical world. Alongside Alan Rudkin, another of the city’s most famous boxing sons, Harry’s position alongside them whenever talk turned to the city’s sporting and cultural importance at this time was entirely justified. He really was that well-known and that good.
Difficult to get hold of now, Harry was also the subject of a 45 minute Granada TV documentary prior to his fight against Uruguyan Rubin Oricco at Liverpool Stadium in 1967. Showing the dedicated family man in his element, the show is a fascinating insight into the trials and tribulations of a fighting man juggling home life, work and a boxing career, just so he can provide his family, as he states numerous times on camera here, a better life. The previous year Brenda had given Harry a son, Mark, and the Scott quartet can be seen visiting family and friends, as well as local parks, interspersed with Harry’s training in the gym, in the build-up to the fight. It is a touching legacy to the great man.
As equally as difficult to track down, Brenda wrote and published a short biography of Harry’s life in 2004, the same year he featured in the very first volume of Mersey Fighters. In it, Brenda describes Harry’s life both in and outside the ring in touching detail. Harry worked throughout his boxing career and held a variety of jobs, most notably at British Leyland till he was made redundant in 1978 whereupon he bought a greengrocer’s shop. He sold this in 1988 and then worked at Ashworth Hospital until he retired for good in 1995.
I was lucky enough to speak to Harry about his career on numerous occasions over the years and he always did so with not only great insight but also with a self-deprecation that belied his standing in the eyes of many. Always immaculately dressed, always gracious and always forthcoming with anecdotes and assessments of his career, Harry Scott was a true Liverpool boxing legend. He will be sadly missed.
b. 27 October 1937
d. 16 December 2015
Tuesday 29 December 12.30pm
Blessed Sacrament Church
Followed by Anfield Crematorium 1.20pm
Billy Joe Saunders becomes WBO middleweight champion
Throughout his professional career, Billy Joe Saunders has put his faith in the tried and tested.
Guided from the start by Frank Warren and prepared expertly by legendary trainer Jimmy Tibbs, Saunders has followed the traditional British, Commonwealth and European title path into world title contention. Finally in position to challenge Andy Lee, 34-3-1 (24 KO’s), for the WBO middleweight championship of the world, the 26 year old realised that in order to join the elite, he needed to reassess one crucial part of his regime. Something that only he could manage and monitor. His own dedication.
Ahead of the biggest night of his life, Saunders, now 23-0 (12 KO’s), linked up with the team at MGM Marbella and shut himself away from the fun and games and temptations that have crept into previous camps. The decision had clear physical benefits - Saunders turned up in exceptional condition - but the mental edge that the long, hard training camp gave him might have been even more crucial.
Rather than the give and take war many expected, the fight became an intriguing battle of margins and, eventually, the title swapped hands courtesy of the pair of knockdowns Billy Joe scored during a tumultuous third round. The time spent away from his friends and family made Saunders realise just how much the title meant to him and he fought every second of his twelve round majority decision victory with determination and concentration etched on his face.
Strangely, Saunders became the puncher in the fight. The short right hook that floored Lee heavily in the third round would have finished a man without the bravery and toughness off the former champion. For the first two seconds of Steve Gray’s count it seemed like the fight may be over but Lee slowly steadied himself, locked his gaze with Adam Booth in his corner and hauled himself upright. The double right hook combination which floored Lee for a second time moments later wasn’t as hurtful but added to his woes. Saunders momentarily risked everything in his eagerness to end matters but wisely tempered his aggression. A huge overhand left which brought an instant swelling to Lee’s right eye in the fifth round was the other most eye-catching punch of the fight and Saunders himself was able to navigate the entire fight without being hurt. Jimmy and Mark Tibbs designed the perfect gameplan and Saunders engineered it perfectly.
The general perception that Saunders would slow down as the fight wore on and that Lee would be at his most dangerous as the final bell loomed was right to a certain extent but those predictions were made on the assumption that the fight would have been an intense, hard fought nip and tuck battle. The fight was certainly intense but - for Saunders at least - the twelve rounds were a severe test of his mental abilities rather than his physical.
As expected, Lee came on during the final third of the fight but the slow, counter punching route the fight took meant that Saunders had enough energy to ensure that rather than having to fend off a runaway train, he just needed to keep his shape and be watchful. Lee must have known he was behind, but having been badly hurt the Irishman was unwilling to throw caution to the wind and throw everything at a relatively fresh Saunders. Saunders is an extremely difficult man to peg back once he has a lead and his rhythm. With the additional two point cushion he secured in that devastating third round, Lee faced an almost impossible task in overhauling him and the Irishman deserves endless credit for regathering himself and making the fight as close as it was.
As a reigning world champion in one of boxing’s most prestigious and fashionable divisions, Saunders finds himself in an enviable position. Unless a monumental offer lands on Frank Warren’s table, Saunders won’t attempt to unify the division by meeting the fearsome Gennady Glolovkin but with his new found dedication to his conditioning there is absolutely no reason why he should fear any of the other leading lights in the 160lb class. In the post fight press conference, Billy Joe stated that he would love WBC champion, Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez next and he would enter a fight with fighters like Daniel Jacobs, David Lemieux, Peter Quillin on better than even terms.
The WBO light middleweight title fight between champion, Liam Smith, 22-0-1 (12 KO’s) and Jimmy ‘Kilraine’ Kelly went according to script. Kelly, now 16-1 (7 KO’s), performed well in his first contest at anything approaching world class but couldn’t put a significant dent in Smith. The nasty Liverpudlian - and I mean that int he nicest possible way - seems to take any challenge as a personal affront and clear enjoys punishing his opponents for their insolence. He was just too seasoned and strong for Kelly. The man from Wythenshawe did his best work when he stood in front of Smith and put shots together in combination, ending with his excellent left hook to the body. Sadly for the challenger, that meant Smith could score with his nice short, sharp punches and own body work. The end came when a tired Kelly flagged towards the end of round seven.
Smith, 27, would dearly love to take on modern great Miguel Cotto in his next fight but whether the Puerto Rican star would be interested in taking on the Liverpudlian in what could be his final fight is another matter. There are no shortage of attractive options for Smith, though. Either of the Charlo twins - Jermall and Jarmell - would provide him with a high profile and beatable opponent. Jack Culcay, James Kirkland, Austin Trout………the list goes on. The world 154lb scene is ready for somebody to take charge of it and Smith should find himself in the thick of the action in 2016.
George Jupp recorded the sweetest victory of his career as he handed Mitchell Smith a first defeat and a serious reality check. Jupp was given a thoroughly deserved unanimous decision after ten disciplined rounds during which he pinned Smith on the end of his punches and easily avoided his telegraphed hayemakers.
Jupp’s mental and physical preparation seemed to be on a whole different scale to Smith’s. Whereas Smith, now 13-1 (7 KO’s), spent the weeks - and in particular the days - leading up to the fight getting more and more irate about having to face a fighter he deemed as unworthy, Jupp and his team simply concentrated on nailing down their gameplan. 25 year old Jupp, now 13-2 (4 KO’s), is riding a nine fight winning streak since losing to Mongolian warrior, Choi, in a Prizefighter semi final four years ago and can feel confident about mixing it with the likes of Maxi Hughes, Martin J.Ward and Anthony Cacace for the domestic titles.
Smith needs to tear his career apart and start again. The 23 year old has been given an enviable platform to perform on since a stunning debut back in 2012 but - save for a couple of highlight reel worthy knockouts of overmatched opponents - he has flattered to deceive. Smith is clearly too small to seriously compete above the featherweight division but seems to have been talking about losing the extra four pounds for the entire year. If last week’s events don’t hammer home the fact that Mitchell urgently needs to begin living, training, eating and concentrating like a professional fighter and justifying the faith that Frank Warren has shown in him, then nothing will.
At his best, Smith carries the air of menace that elevates the very good fighters above the crowd. It would be a terrible waste of talent should Smith fail to fulfil his potential. The ball is firmly in his own court.
It was good to see a fighter try to beat Chorley light welterweight, Jack Catterall, 14-0 (9 KO’s). Since thumping Liverpool’s Thomas Stalker to defeat in October 2014, Catterall has faced opponents who either didn’t want to fight him and resorted to spoiling or fighters who didn’t believe they could win and ran. Noe Nunez arrived from Mexico with a decent C.V and a tonne of ambition.
Catterall seems to be the type of fighter that thrives on a challenge. Nunez held advantages in height and reach and gave the 22 year old southpaw plenty to think about. Catterall had a bloody mouth when he bulled Nunez back to the ropes, planted his feet and winged in a series of hard, accurate hooks. It was a brutal but exciting finish.
It will be extremely interesting to see whether Catterall moves on to fringe world title level - a clash with Mauricio Herrera has been mooted - or aims for Tyrone Nurse’s British title.
Liam Williams returned from a thirteen month lay off to destroy Kris Carslaw inside two rounds. The Commonwealth light middleweight champion added the British title to his collection with an excellent display of punch picking and control of distance. Having initially been told that his career was over due to a finger injury, Williams and his trainer, Gary Lockett, maintained their belief and stayed in the gym until a second opinion gave him a route back into the sport. Rather than ease their way back with a routine eight rounder, Lockett trusted Williams’ ability and pitched him straight into the fight with Carslaw. His faith was justified as Williams turned in a sensational performance. After hurting the Scot along the ropes in the first, Williams walked him onto a ramrod jab within seconds of the second round. in one fell swoop, Carslaw was pitched face first to the canvas and Williams reminded everybody of the immense potential he displayed before his prolonged lay-off.
23 year old Williams, 13-0-1 (8 KO’s) and from Clydach Vale in Wales, has fought less then five rounds in 17 months and would benefit from some time in the ring before pushing on towards European and world level. If he continues to impress, a natural progression of opponent should lead him into world title contention within eighteen months. Williams could be a special talent, there is no rush.
Robbie Davies jnr. continues run of stoppage wins
Liverpool super lightweight Robbie Davies jnr continued his eye catching run of inside the distance wins with a second round stoppage of Sheffield’s normally durable Ryan Hardy in Blackpool at the weekend.
A former English title challenger, Hardy had never failed to hear the final bell in his 16 pro bouts to date but Davies, gaining his eighth early finish in 11 fights since turning over in 2013, proved to have too much power for the game Yorkshireman who admitted afterwards he had been outclassed and outgunned by the hard hitting Liverpudlian, telling his twitter followers that Davies was, “a superior boxer,” and, “a different breed.”
Starting the contest with the same intent and purpose that had seen his previous five opponents stopped early, the 26-year old Dave Tonks’ trained switch hitting puncher tore into Hardy from the first bell and it wasn’t long before the Sheffield native found himself under pressure. A slow jab by Hardy near the end of the opening round saw an overhand right catch him clean and he hit the canvas for the first, but not the last, time. Jumping on his opponent once he had regained his feet, Davies bewildered Hardy with his speed and accuracy before, mid-combination, referee Steve Gray was forced to intervene at the bell.
Walking to his corner on unsteady legs, it seemed that Hardy would do well to last the full eight rounds and so it proved in the second session when, with 1:19 of the round gone, a Davies’ back hand uppercut from the southpaw stance sailed clean through his defences and caught him flush once more. Hardy managed to get to his feet with the help of the ropes but Gray rightly waved it off soon after.
Before the contest Davies revealed he would have taken a win no matter the manner by which it came but, following this victory, it would appear he is developing into one of the hardest punchers in the division and is edging ever closer to domestic honours at 10st.
The former Knowsley Vale amateur star said: “It was a good win against a good opponent and respect to Ryan for his performance. He’s a top fighter and can come again. For me to do that to someone who’s never been stopped before is a good indication of the form I’m in and the power I’ve got. I don’t think there’s anyone in the division who can take those shots and I’m looking at some big fights against some big names next year. I want to be fighting for titles and feel that I’m more than ready. Bring them on.
“Training with Dave [Tonks] was spot on and he told me to throw more uppercuts at the end of the first round and that was the shot that finished the fight. I’ll take Christmas off now and relax but then come the New Year me and Neil [Marsh] will look at what’s next and take it from there. I can’t wait.”
Davies’ manager, Neil Marsh, said: “Robbie’s stopped eight of 11 now, including his last six, so he’s proving himself to be not only one of the hardest hitters in the division, but also one of the most exciting. Robbie is a special talent who is yet to make his mark at 140lbs. I will now get to work on securing him the fights worthy of his ability in 2016."
AJ survives toughest test to complete impressive 2015
By Michael J Jones
LAST SATURDAY night at the O2 Arena saw heavyweight star Anthony Joshua come through his toughest test to date with a brutal seven-round knock-out of the better-than-expected Dillian Whyte. The victory means the undefeated Joshua can now boast a perfect 15-0 (15) record as the British, Commonwealth and WBC International champion.
Despite entering the bout with his own unbeaten record, nobody gave underdog Whyte much of a chance. The Brixton puncher had beaten Joshua while both were raw amateurs but few saw a repeat with many suggesting Whyte wouldn’t see out the very first round….they were almost proven true.
On an already-exciting bill, the young heavyweights didn’t disappoint. Joshua made his usual confident start and within the first minute, Whyte had been shaken and was struggling to stay out of harm’s way. The reigning Commonwealth champion was relentless, reigning punch after punch to have Whyte in serious trouble.
As the final seconds ticked down, many wondered what was keeping “The Villain” up but he unfortunately would come to life AFTER the bell. A final Joshua left hook landed a split second after the bell and Whyte erupted; firstly trying a blow around the ref before launching a wild right while Joshua was in his corner surrounded by his team.
Credit to referee Howard Foster, he didn’t disqualify Whyte when he had good reason to and kept in control of the bad-tempered contest; issuing both with stern words before the start of the second.
While both appeared to listen and acknowledge the third man’s ticking off, they both leapt straight back into war once action had resumed. Whyte was hurt again and reduced to defending desperately off the ropes. Joshua neglected defence in his search for an early and dramatic stoppage but walked onto a superb left hook which shook him up.
The Matchroom-promoted star was clearly hurt as now we had a fight on our hands. Whyte tried to follow up but struggled to land anything significant as both fell into each other. Whyte, 6’4” and 247lbs, was then able to land a few more decent shots to edge the round, one notable left hook downstairs appearing to wind the favourite.
The third was quieter with both now respectful of the other man’s power. Joshua was still head-hunting too much and neglecting the jab while Whyte was more sneaky than quick and picked his moments to land a raking jab or a thumping right.
By the sixth, Joshua was boxing more and seemed to have found his rhythm while his game opponent was visibly slowing down. Joshua still looked ahead on the cards but all wondered whether his 27 year old opponent could land one more devastating blow.
In the seventh, Joshua altered the angle of his straight right and instead curved it around the Whyte guard to explode his fist into the temple of Dillian. The equilibrium of Whyte scrambled, he wobbled on shaky legs and “AJ” smelt blood.
The badly hurt and fatigued Whyte still tried to survive the storm but Joshua was relentless. Several big punches caught the shaken fighter before a last, huge, uppercut ended matters at 1:27 of the fateful round. Whyte was down for a number of minutes but thankfully made a swift recovery.
As he fully admitted in his post-fight interview, Joshua fought with his emotions in the opening rounds and nearly paid the price. Instead of timing his punches and setting them up behind the jab, he threw his punches wildly, at times with an almost maniacal glee in his eye.
Credit to Whyte though, he refused to be steam-rolled like many of Joshua’s previous opponents and dished out some punishment of his own. The left hook and follow-up body shots Whyte hammered into Joshua in the second had “welcome to the pros” written all over them. Joshua, not used to taking heavy shots these last few years, showed he has a chin and can come back from taking punishment.
The 6’6” champion can also say he can remain effective in the bout’s second half with the finishing punches as destructive as many of Joshua’s earlier finishes. With the lesson learned, expect Joshua to get back behind his jab next time out and save the wild swinging for when an opponent has been worn down more by steady boxing.
Joshua’s trainers Peter and Tony Sims have done an outstanding job so far and will have pointed out their charge’s mistakes from Saturday. Many are regarding the performance in a negative way but let’s not forget; Joshua knocked out a strong and game opponent in the toughest test of his short career and isn’t quite the finished article after just two years punching for pay.
The winner is next out on April 9th back at the O2 Arena with former British champion Dereck Chisora (who also won on the bill) a possible opponent. It’s hard to know what to expect from the hot/cold “Del Boy” these days but as a former world title challenger who has faced Vitali Klitschko, David Haye and Tyson Fury (twice), the match is definitely a step in the right direction for the British and Commonwealth champion.
Joshua went 5-0 (5) in 2015 with knock outs of Jason Gavern, Raphael Zumbano Love, Kevin Johnson, Gary Cornish and now Whyte. The opposition will only get sterner from now. Many will fancy Joshua to halt Chisora inside five rounds but if in the mood "Del Boy" could prove a handful.
As for Dillian Whyte
The build-up was colourful and many times heated but there’s no doubt in this writer’s mind, Whyte also came out of Saturday’s heavyweight tussle with much credit. Labelled beforehand as slow and far out of Joshua's league, Whyte showed he can fight and will have also learned from his first defeat.
The chaos which occurred at the end of the first, was no doubt the result of this being the Brixton man’s first main-event, head-lining, PPV show in which nerves will have played a big part. People taunted that Dillian was looking to get disqualified after a torrid opener but his subsequent performance more than compensated his moment of madness (it’s not like he bit an ear or anything).
Whyte is now 16-1 (13) and at 27 has plenty of time to keep working under coach Jonathon Banks to improve for another title fight in the near future. Entering the AJ contest, Whyte had stopped twelve straight opponents and showed a good chin on Saturday to go with the obvious heavy hands.
An immediate rematch would be rather pointless not to mention potentially damaging to both. Instead let both continue their respective careers for the next year as both climb the heavyweight ladder. Joshua is currently ranked with all four governing bodies but seems a good 18 months away from being ready for a potential shot at world glory.
Joshua, who makes no secret to the fact he prefers titles to hard cash, could look to make the Lonsdale belt his own next year before possibly targeting the European belt.
Whyte can maybe target the English belt before fighting for the vacant British title once Joshua inevitably vacates for world honours.