What a weekend. It was one in which we got the highs and boy did we get the lows.
All at Talking Baws will bow to the news that Scott Westgarth dying after he won his fight in Doncaster was a very real tragedy. The rest of that card was cancelled including the top of the bill return of Curtis Woodhouse. I will not defend the sport here. People die. Unfortunately, this young man was a boxer who went into a ring and fought to the point where he lost his life after the fight. At such a young age this is indeed a tragedy. Condolences, though inadequate, are always offered sincerely to his family and friends.
Before we get to the highs of the weekend, there was the matter in Nuremberg, Germany of the World Boxing Super Series Semi Final 2 with super middleweight, Callum Smith who beat the unbeaten Dutch boxer Nieky Holzken on points. It was not a great fight and it was not a great win. Holzken, however came away with a lot of credit a he fought bravely, and he gave Smith an awkward test. This unanimous points win, means we get Groves v Smith in the final.
Smith remains my pick for the tournament and with Groves now going in for surgery and a delay likely to be agreed – suggested it shall be about a month – to get the two top fighters together at the end, the series should end on a high. Whilst the cruiserweights have given us some fantastic fights, the super middleweights have given us the headlines; all in all, not a bad combination…
On the same evening and in the spiritual home of British boxing, York Hall, Warren promotions gave us heavyweight Nathan Gorman who stopped Morgan Dessaux in the 2nd round with another performance that has got people talking.
A future opponent for Gorman could include heavyweight Daniel Dubois who stopped DL Jones to defend his Southern Area title in the 3rd round. It was another really good showing from Dubois though he did not get Jones out of there as early as some predicted. It would be harsh to say it was anything other than a good performance. Dubois and Gorman next? At this level a very decent fight…
Then came the high of the night…
The IBF East/West European title fight between Zelfa Barrett and Ronnie Clark. Clark was expected to come down and lay down. He didn’t. it was an incredible performance from Dundee’s favourite son as he beat Barrett very convincingly. He deserves to move on up and after a tough year where he knows what he has done to himself as much as what was done to him, he is ready to move on up to bigger things. I hope he gets his chance – what a guy!
It left the top of the bill which was the WBO European and intercontinental title fight between Anthony Yarde and Tony Averlant with a tough act to follow. Yarde stopped Averlant in the 7th so all good…
Also, closer – slightly – to home, in Aberdeen Paul Graham gave us super lightweight Shaun McShane up against Liall MacKenzie winning on points over 6 rounds, super bantamweight Billy Stuart managing to stop Ricky Starkey in the 5th whilst super featherweight Kristen Fraser got a 6 rounds points win against Claire Ciantar. Top of the bill saw the Scottish super lightweight title change hands as Eddie Doyle, lost to Darren Traynor with a 7th round stoppage.
The following night, Sunday the 25th of February we were in Manchester with Matchroom and Eddie Hearn who give us light heavyweight Hosea Burton facing Josip Perkovic and getting the rounds in with a decent showing and points win.
Super featherweight Natasha Jonas was back and taken the full 6 rounds for the first time in her professional career by Karina Kopinska. Jonas showed that all should keep their faith in her as he was absolutely on point throughout all six rounds.
Bantamweight Qais Ashfaq was similarly perfect on his debut with a contest against Brett Fidoe that saw him win each of the scheduled four rounds between them.
We then saw featherweight Jordan Gill in a tough fight with Jason Cunningham with Gill putting down a very stubborn Cunningham twice before getting a unanimous point win in a British title eliminator; Gill looked by far the better prospect and things look good for him moving forward.
The top of the bill was a guy I have seen twice and really rate – Lewis Ritson. In the British lightweight title fight between him and Joe Murray we all expected a tough test. Many questioned why Ritson would choose to defend against such a dangerous “name”; aint nobody asking that now as Ritson won within 2 minutes of the start. A devastating body shot took Murray down in the 1st round and the flurry of punches that followed brought the referee in between them to stop it. Next could be the winner of Sean Dodds/Tommy Coyle or Scotty Cardle or both to keep the Lonsdale belt and then Europe, then the world…
During the week we went overseas on Wednesday the 28th of February in Tokyo, super bantamweight Daniel Roman beat Ryo Matsumoto on points, whilst on Thursday the 1st of March the WBC bantamweight fight between Luis Nery and Shinsuke Yamanaka ended in the 2nd round as Nery went 26-0 with a stoppage; Nery though failed to make weight so he did not collect the belt. The IBF contest between Ryosuke Iwasa and Ernesto Saulong ended with a unanimous points win for Iwasa.
We ended the week on Friday the 2nd of March in York Hall middleweight Harley Benn managed a 4 round points win against James Gorman.