The fragility with which British boxing holds all their world crown was again exposed and given some solace on the same evening as we saw in Sheffield another world crown drop, and one being picked up at the same venue.
Beforehand we got treated to a possibly rosier future as cruiserweight Lawrence Okolie managed to stop Czech boxer, and late replacement Rudolf Helesic with yet another first round stoppage. Eddie Hearn revealed that he had gone through 43 possible opponents before settling on the Czech. It means that Okolie may have to move faster through the ranks than they would have liked, just to get opponents.
There was also super featherweight Joe Cordina who faced Josh Thorne and stopped him early as Thorne did not get up from his stool after the first round; Cordina was also very lucky as he was warned for an illegal blow – he was not the only one on Saturday to be so lucky not to be disqualified as well, being not the only one who got a first round win.
We got the debut of middleweight Anthony Fowler who also stopped Arturs Geikins in the first round and was the second very lucky guy of the night, a fault to which he admitted later on. Fowler was guilty of hitting Geikins when he was unable to defend himself and got off with a warning when the internet went daft calling for his disqualification.
Super featherweight Andy Townend and Jon Kays went head to head for a vacant Commonwealth title which only Kays could take as Townend failed to make weight. In the end, the belt sits on a shelf until someone can make weight and fight for it as Townend got a 2nd round stoppage – in terms of the way things were going that night it makes him a bit of a slowcoach.
Super middleweight Jamie Cox got a points win against Lewis Taylor for the vacant WBA continental title. It was also counted as a stoppage as the doctor intervened in the 9th as Taylor had a bad cut from a clash of heads.
Then we had the surprise and the awful sight of the White Rhino, Dave Allen losing on points to Lenroy Thomas for the vacant Commonwealth title in a split decision with which few argued. Allen will go on and his heart rending interviews afterwards left us knowing he shall go on abut it shall be at a level with which he can achieve; it’s a journey that WILL sell tickets and keep us tuning in.
We then found hope in the shape of the bridesmaid taking the full crown as the bride as the super middleweight “super” WBA title went to challenger George Groves who stopped the champion Fedor Chudinov in the 6th round. Having weathered the early storm, Groves went on to stop the champ and finally to become world champion. The win was dedicated by Groves to Eduard Gutknecht, his last opponent, who is still covering from that contest.
Finally, they both made the 147lbs weight limit but Kell Brook lost his belt to a highly impressive Errol Spence Jr. Spence was a worthy champion as Brook found himself unable to continue in the 11th round having had his other eye socket broken in conflict. Brook nearly lost his sight in the Golovkin contest and nearly lost it here too, in the other eye. To have lost it in the 11th whilst he was a few minutes away from hearing the final bell was a little harsh but he has lived to fight another day and it was his professionalism that brought a halt to the contest and nothing else.
So too in Manchester we had a new Central Area Middleweight champion in Darryl Sharp who beat Ben Davies on points; as I said on Saturday, stranger things… Sharp will look to defend and being the guy many had down as simply a journeyman, this could be an interesting turn in his career.
In Maidstone, the featherweight action between Martin Millman and Jamie Speight for the Southern Area Championship ended with Speight winning in the 10th by stoppage – like Sharp, Speight has brought a belt to a career many would have previously dismissed.
It leaves us in the week ahead on Friday the 2nd of June in Brentwood a British welterweight title fight between Bradley Skeete and Shayne Singleton that ought to be a total cracker and I cannot wait to see who gets through it.