It was a big weekend in the boxing business last week in the UK and the charge for 2019 has begun in earnest.
Over in the USA we did get, on Saturday the 23rd of February in Minnesota, supermiddleweight action for the WBC belt between Anthony Dirrell and Avni Yildrim. I thought this would be fairly straight forward – what a fool I was; not for the first time in last week’s predictions. Dirrell got it in a split decision that was called after, controversially, the fight was stopped due to an accidental clash of heads in the 7th which left Dirrell with a cut. By the 10th the cut was so severe that it meant he could no longer continue. Yildrim was ahead – considerably so – on one score card (98-92) – whilst the other 2 had it for Dirrell. Dirrell has spoken of having one last fight in him – a possible unification with Caleb Plant is mooted – on his horizon whilst Yildrim’s team are howling about the decision and want a rematch.
Meanwhile at the 02, London, light heavyweight Sebastian Eubank did not get his 2nd professional fight against now lucky debutant, Dan Belcher because of times so we have to wait to see if son 3 is as good as sons 1 and 2.
Super featherweight Anthony Cacace, did get in the ring and got an 8 round points win against Alan Isaias Luques Castillo; dust is off.
New lightweight, Lee Selby thereafter faced the tough Omar Douglas, for the IBF intercontinental title and did not come out it that well. He was badly cut and though he won the fight, looked off his usual technical brilliance.
The heavyweight contest between Joe Joyce in a Commonwealth title fight with former WBC world champion Bermaine Stiverne was even less impressive. Joyce looked very stiff Stiverne was awful. It is fights like this that draw people away from the sport. Stiverne was in no fit shape to lay his life on the line but Joyce did not dazzle.
The headline “retirement” do, also didn’t dazzle. The super middleweight fight between James DeGale and Chris Eubank Jr for the IBO title was not as bad as the support act but it was far from a pleasure to watch. This was not the handing of the baton from one generation to the next BUT it is easy to dwell on the negative. Eubank Jr, for me, came of age in this fight. His progress should include the trainer fella and not return to the past, though I am picking up subtleties in the after fight comments that might take us back on the Eubank rollercoaster. DeGale is now out the game and Junior is now ready for his next fight. It’s interesting to see what that might be and given the mix up with the WBO and Billy Joe Saunders… rematch anyone?
In Scotland we also had action in Glenrothes where SM Promotions brought featherweight Eftychia Kathopovki against Vaida Masiokaite, super featherweight Elaine Greenan facing Liliya Simova, flyweight Emma McCulloch up against Teodora Hristovaand super middleweight John McCallum taking on Casey Blair. It was indeed home wins all round as expected with all winning in 4 rounds on points.
Overnight, on Sunday the 24th of February in Tijuana, Mexico Matchroom brought a stunning set of fights with a surprise result in the top of the bill welterweight clash between Brandon Rios and Humberto Soto. I expected a Rios win, everyone expected a Rios win and we got a Soto points win instead. It was a great night and Mexico is Matchroomed now.
Finally, last night in Cardiff the super lightweight title action for the IBF European belt between Akeem Ennis-Brown and Bilal Rehman ended with my pick Ennis-Brown winning. The only fight I knew nothing about and the only won I got right…