Last week saw yet another smorgasbord of conflict, argument and awe – and that was just outside the ring.
In Hollywood, Florida there was the middleweight battle for the WBO strap between Demetrius Andrade and Liam Williams. There were plenty of patriotic Brits who hoped that Williams would do enough to take the world title, but the fact was that Andrade proved what an elite fighter he was. Make no mistake Andrade was well aware he was in a fight but Williams, after a knockdown in round two, proved to be little match for the champion. The judges scored it 118-109, 118-109 and 116-111 and there was little you could argue with any of them as there were a few close rounds but not enough to edge a win.
On the same night, in San Jose, Costa Rica, the WBA light heavyweight title, joined by the WBC one, were on the line between Hanna Gabriels and Martha Patricia Lara Gaytan. I thought it might be one of the best shortest ever female world title fights as Gaytan, in 20 fights, had 9 losses – now 10 in 21. It managed to get past round one and then Gaytan was stopped in round two.
From boxing putting two people in a ring who should not be there to the circus in the USA with the card of curiosity in Atlanta, Georgia. Youtuber and loudmouth Jake Paul stopped former MMA star, Ben Askren in less than two minutes. Askren looked bent out of shape and the best shape in the ring was probably Paul’s mouth and inflated sense of himself. Tommy Fury has put himself forward to sort the whole thing out, however, Paul has worked hard, put in the hours and deserves some respect. A fight with Fury, should he win, would cement a reputation many would struggle to accept. I just cannot see how he should manage a win over a hardened boxer, but you never know. The argument about new eyes on the sport harks back to the Ebanie Bridges debate and whether these eyes are genuinely going to stay focussed on the sport? I don’t know but this is something we can no longer ignore. Why? Not just because of the decent numbers who watch it and the attention it brings but the real boxing people in the midst of a global pandemic are trying to make a living – this could provide one.
It was also a bill where heavyweight Steve Cunningham beat Frank Mir who was making his debut from MMA and was simply outboxed – fancy that – and lost over six rounds on points! We also got the very bizarre and given that Paul and Cunningham were in fights were filled by ostensibly non boxing people it was ironic that it should be the former world champion that would fight in the freak show. Super lightweight Regis Prograis took on the curious Ivan Redkach and beat him by stoppage. In the 6th round, Redkach hit the canvas rolling around for all like he had a bit part in a Kennedy assassination. He was eventually tended at the ring and left on a stretcher holding his groin. The referee ruled it a low blow. Redkach appeared to have felt a low blow. Prograis was left wondering who had hit Redkach because he had not hit him low. Replay after replay was left wondering from where the low blow came. The doctor at ringside deemed the Ukrainian unfit to continue and off he went. Prograis won on the score cards very comfortably.
And so, the circus gave us a phantom blow end, a man out the ring for four years beating a debutant and a man who has fought three times and believes he is the new Mayweather. The debate rolls on.
Back in the UK, in Bolton, England, Scotland’s super bantamweight Joe Ham lost a points decision against Jack Bateson, and it looked very much as Ham was outpointed in the beginning and towards the end, finding the middle rounds his most competitive but it was simply not enough on the night.
The WBO European title was on the line between Danny Dignum and Andrey Sirotkin with Dignum very lucky to score a draw and retain his belt. Dignum boxed cleverly at the beginning and opened up a lead that Sirotkin caught but could not overcome. Dignum ended up being rather fortunate.
Last night in Lazio, Italy the IBO super featherweight title was retained by Michael Magnesi as he blasted out Khanyile Bulana in the first round and in Cataluña, Spain, the EBU super lightweight fight between Sandor Martin and Kay Prospere lasted the full twelve rounds with a points win for Martin. Also in Spain, the EBU featherweight title between Andoni Gago and Gavin McDonnell endedin a technical draw after McDonnel was seriously cut in the first round after an accidental head clash. The scorecards determined the draw after the fight was stopped in the 5th. Also, on the card super welterweight Jez Smith took on Kerman Lejarraga in a fight that saw the Spaniard hit the canvas twice in the 3rd and 4th but he was able to get up and stop Smith in the 7th.