Davies sharp shooting paves the way for a new era
A bank of cannons fired a 21-gun salute to greet the new President of the United States in Washington on Friday afternoon. Last night, it took just a single gunshot to herald in boxing’s reemergence on terrestrial television.
The left hook which Livepool’s Robbie Davies Jnr (15-0 11 KOs) flattened Zoltan Szabo with sounded like a rifle crack from ringside. Szabo dropped instantly, the fight over.
Lapsed fans who were once knowledgeable but had their interest eroded by high monthly subscription fees will always return to the sport but the real power of terrestrial television is its ability to attract new viewers. Boxing is unique in its ability to provide shocking, memorable sporting moments and images and fortunately for all involved, 27 year old Davies’ sharp shooting was just one of a couple of incidents which should ensure floating viewers return to watch ‘The Big Fight Live’ on ITV again.
The vast majority of casual observers may not have noticed the way Jack Arnfield kept his cool and simply picked Mick Hall apart rather than getting involved a in heated brawl in a lively main support bout. They will, however, have been intrigued by the horrific swelling Hall suffered on his forehead and impressed by his willingness to continue pressing forward.
It is unlikely that a twenty something lad, disappointed to be on the sofa on a Saturday night and idly flicking channels until the ten minute free previews on the channels further up the menu began, will have realised that Szabo was being slowly but surely broken down by an increasingly relaxed Davies but they might just have texted a friend when Davies reached around the Hungarian’s elbow and shockingly sunk his left hook into his ribs.
Davies has operated just off the radar but has been highly touted by those ‘in the know’. His manager, Neil Marsh - something of an unheralded miracle worker on the British boxing scene - has refused to panic and jump at the first opportunity available. The pair have stuck to their plan and played the WBA ranking game, certain that a suitable chance to capitalise on the personable Davies’ natural ability would present itself.
For the first time in his career, Davies had to juggle training for the fight with a host of media responsibilities and interview requests, each adding an extra bit of weight to the burden of carrying ITV’s latest foray into professional boxing on his own shoulders. Performing on one of the biggest stages in British boxing seemed to tighten Davies up a little early on. He was playing all the right notes but his tempo was slightly too quick, the beat slightly off. Slowly but surely, Davies began to find his timing. Szabo, a far better fighter than his physique and manner suggest, began to slow down and had no choice but to trade with Davies more frequently.
Officially, the fight ended a couple of minutes into the ninth round but once Szabo opened himself up to the left hook, initially to the head and, conclusively, to the body the writing was on the wall.
The British 140lb division is thriving. Davies is part of a young, vibrant group that includes British champion Tyrone Nurse, Chorley’s exciting Jack Catterall, Scottish star Josh Taylor - who Davies already has history with after their amateur duels - the outspoken Ohara Davies and Tom Farrell. Davies isn’t going to shy away from any challenge but is happy to continue along the path which has finally brought him some national attention.
“I enjoyed the build up. I’ve never shied away from the cameras since I was a little boy so I’m certainly not going to start now,” Davies said about his evenings work. “Don’t get me wrong, I would never turn the British belt down if it ever came up. The way Neil [Marsh] has got me on this WBA route, we’re climbing and we’re building quickly and I’d really like to get a big name next. Maybe somebody else from the WBA top 15. There are some good names in there, maybe possibly somebody who has fought for a world title before. Somebody like Ashley Theophane.
“Theophane is in the gym all the time. You see it on social media, he’s getting pampered every day and he’s making the most of his living while he still can. If ITV or Neil could bring him to Britain, i’d be over the moon with that fight.”
Granted, any work discussions with people who watched last nights card are far more likely to be along the lines of “Did you see the state of that guys head?” than debating in which direction Davies should be moved next, but to criticise that is to overlook the fact that having the names of Robbie Davies Jnr, Jack Anfield and Mick Hall thrown in alongside the Monday morning staples of Wayne Rooney, Jose Mourinho and Jurgen Klopp is a great thing for the sport.