WOW! Last weekend was jam packed with action and here is the rundown of what happened…
On Saturday the 9th of December in Madison Square Gardens, New York super featherweight Vasyl Lomachenko forced the Cuban, two times Olympic champion Guillermo Rigondeaux to quit on his stool and retain the WBO title. Rigondeaux quit, due to an injury to his hand that he claimed was broken – it wasn’t. “No Manchencko” is born – what superlatives are left? All the belts open up now…
In Las Vegas super featherweight Stephen Smith lost after almost losing his ear to Francisco Vargas! It was an amazing effort and one of those fights where you know that the guy who lost, just won something. Respect, plaudits and the possibility he will get a world title shot – he was good enough to be in the ring, not good enough to win but certainly worthy of more opportunities.
We also had farce where Tevin Farmer lost a ridiculous decision on points to Kenicki Ogawa for the IBF title. It was daylight robbery at home!!! Yup AT HOME!!!
It was not the only heartache at the weekend.
In the Copper Box, London heavyweight Daniel Dubois demolished Dorian Darch, welterweight Johnny Garton won the IBF East/West European title against Mihail Orlov with a 10th round stoppage, whilst middleweight Joe Mullender won his IBF East/West European title against Lee Churcher, with another stoppage in the 11th round.
We also got the light heavyweight Anthony Yarde demolish Nikola Sjekloca in the 4th round for the WBO European and intercontinental belts to whet our appetite for what was to come.
We then had super middleweight James DeGale lose his IBF title against Caleb Truax whilst featherweight Lee Selby successfully defended against Eduardo Ramirez.
Of course, that is not the complete story.
Selby did what he had to do and was decent enough after a horrendous year. DeGale was awful. Losing on a majority decision he needed a knockout to win going into the final round and was never in danger of getting one. His defeat has led to some asking him to leave the sport. I do not think he should but he needs to work out if he wants this or not. His injuries stopped him getting into the money spinning World Boxing Super Series, his heart may stop him from getting a world title back.
On the following night, in Glasgow super bantamweight Joe Ham beat Jefferson Vargas on points, welterweight Stewart Burt also won on points against Andrej Cepur, welterweight Aly Black made a welcome return to the ring with a points win against Edvinas Puplauskas, whilst postman, Charlie Flynn also won on points against Fonz Alexander. All home fighters came home safe.
During the week we got another unbelievable bill of boxing with Matchroom. on Wednesday in the amazing York Hall.
Middleweight Felix Cash stopped Greg O’Neil in the first round, super welterweight Ted Cheeseman continued his impressive march forward with a dominant points win against Tony Dixon whilst welterweight Josh Kelly took a step up in class but took his performances with him in an amazing show against Jean Michael Hamilcaro and stopped him in 6. The explosive welterweight Connor Benn, imploded against Cedrick Peynaud and almost lost his unbeaten tag. The points margin was far too generous to Benn and ending up on his backside early on the first round was a sight to see. It may be a welcome one as he got up, showed immense heart and courage but needs to take a step to one side and get some honesty in his head; I think there are plenty around him to help. The thing is he is young and inexperienced and this was far from a disaster.
Cruiserweight Lawrence Okolie showed out with a 2nd round stoppage against Antonio Sousa whilst his major rival, Isaac Chamberlain watched on, super bantamweight Gamal Yafai stopped Ricky Sharkey in 3 rounds and there must be bigger fights for him in 2018 whilst super featherweight Joe Cordino also stopped his opponent, Lee Connelly, this time in the 4th round
Light heavyweight Jake Ball won on points against Miles Shinkwin for the WBA intercontinental title in what was a highly anticipated contest which really lived up to the billing.
The EBU title fight between Martin Joseph Ward and Juli Giner saw Ward stop Giner in the 6th. Ward has been under the radar and surely now a world title fight? He has won the British and Commonwealth titles and now the European title. Ward is here and now ready, willing, game and able to get in the ring for some serious dough now.
The WBA title fight between Irish sensation Katie Taylor and Jessica McCaskill went the distance and was worthy of being the headliner. It was a brilliant fight and lots was asked of Taylor – she replied with an emphatic win. McCaskill was a worthy opponent though and whilst disappointed, I would love to see her fight again in the UK.
We ended the week in Merthyr Tydfil with lightweight Gavin Gwynne beating Henry James on points and light heavyweight Nathan Thorley stopped Jermaine Asare in the second round for the Welsh titles. Bantamweights Ashley Brace and Melania Sorroche faced off for the EBU female title but it ended in a draw.