News April 2018

Brown becomes the first Ultimate Boxxer

28.04.2018

By John Evans

In the early days of Prizefighter, the one night competition would quickly descend into a shootout and the winner would generally be decided by whoever had the biggest gun. Eventually, tactics sucked much of the excitement out of the tournament and it died a slow but steady death. Last night at the Manchester Arena, the eight previously unbeaten fighters chosen to take part in the inaugural edition of Ultimate Boxxer provided an enjoyable throwback to the good old days.

Placed on high alert by the sight of three thousand fans and just as many floodlights and TV cameras and too inexperienced to avoid being dragged into a brawl, the fighters simply fought.

Drew Brown and Jimmy Cooper got the action underway. Brown found his range straight away and was able to land in combination from the opening bell. A right hand dropped Cooper (6-1-1, 1 KO) hard in the opener and gave Brown the first knockout victory of his career.

Kaisee Benjamin (4-1-1, 1 KO) tried to utilise some slick movement but found Sam Evans just too aggressive and determined. Both men put everything they had into the three round contest, Evans gaining a semi final place but losing a fair amount of energy.

Tom Young came out firing against Ben Eland. Eland (4-1) wanted to box but Young’s constant pressure and aggression forced him to dispense with that strategy. The fight became a give and take battle with Young earning a unanimous decision victory.

The two pre-tournament favourites met in the final first round match up. Isaac Macleod and Andy Kremner (9-1, 2 KO’s) produced a quality match up that deserves a re-run over a longer format. Macleod got off to a quick start but Kremner altered tactics and fought back well and took the third. The fight was probably decided on who won the second round. Two judges sided with Macleod and he progressed via split decision.

We paused for breath. A DJ called Charlie Sloth appeared for half an hour and then the crowd sat through a 30 minute video recap of the quarter finals which must have been unusual for the fighters who had returned to their seats to watch the rest of the evenings action after being beaten.

The semi finals. Brown - with less than a rounds action and over an hours break under his belt - started slowly against the aggressive Evans (10-1-1, 3 KO’s) but fought well enough over the final two rounds to deserve the split decision in his favour.

On paper, the skill differential between Macleod and Young was the biggest in the competition. The sight of a former white collar boxer and academy footballer blitzing a European youth gold medallist and a World youth silver medallist is one of the most memorable of this years small hall scene. Macleod (10-1, 3 KO’s) was dropped twice in the first round, the second time hard from an almost casual left hook.

Another break, during which I think we were treated to a 20 minute performance from a grime MC called Big Narstie.

Now, this wasn’t your normal boxing crowd. There were even more highlights in the audiences hair than there were in the ring and some of them seemed to enjoy the show. No matter how entertaining the beautiful people find the other attractions, they are still going to have to sit through some boxing. Mr Narstie could have shouted his way through his entire back catalogue twice but the sight of two tired novice professionals mauling their way through three scrappy rounds isn’t going to hold the interest of those who have a passing interest in the sport at best. Luckily, Brown and Young both carried on where they left off.

After a hard fought and entertaining three rounds during which Young still managed to somehow push the pace, Brown fully deserved the unanimous decision he received and The Ultimate Boxxer ‘Golden Robe’ that Ricky Hatton presented him with.

Shows like this live or die on the quality of the fights and last night, the fighters provided enough excitement to ensure that The Ultimate Boxxer will get a sequel.

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