It was another packed championship night at the Copper Box and with a number of preliminaries untelevised, our man at ringside Chris Williamson brings news and views on the card from top to bottom…
Davis vs Walsh
New Malden southpaw Lerrone Richards extended an unbeaten streak to seven without defeat with a useful six round workout at light-heavy with German born Brit Anthony Fox, who drops to 1-6-2. Richards has sparred the likes of George Groves, Billi Joe Saunders and Chris Eubank Jr and won every round with the referee scoring 60-54.
Twenty-three year old “Lethal” Lucien Reid moved to 6-0 with a solid win over Worcester’s Michael Mooney (now 8-31-0) at super-lightweight. Switch-hitter Reid is from nearby West Ham and moved well, digging in hard body shots with both hands. Reid keeps his hands down low and can get away with it at this level. Mooney, who bills himself as “Mad Man” put up a brave effort but lost every round.
Wycombe’s Ben Smith cruised to his fifth win in a row with a straightforward four round win at super-lightweight over Yorkshire based Syrian Youssef Al Hamidi (now 14-108-3). Smith – trained by Jimmy and Mark Tibbs – enjoyed raucous support from one side of the arena. The twenty year old Smith dreams of boxing in Las Vegas and interestingly Al Hamidi also lost a decision to Liam Walsh in his third fight way back in 2008.
Among the American stars at ringside were former WBC super middleweight champ Badou Jack and former IBF welterweight titlist Shawn Porter. The former was wearing designer sunglasses indoors, something one colleague described wryly as “very American”.
Chingford’s popular Boy Jones Jr walks to the ring to 80’s classic “Let’s hear it for the boy” and returned from his first defeat – an exciting ten round TKO to Craig Poxton – with a useful six round win against Hungarian Norbert Kalucsa (14-10) at super featherweight. Jones Jr (now 12-1-1) moved through the gears and looked good without ever looking like stopping the tough little Hungarian, who gave it a real go himself in the final round. Jones Jr has an old head on his young, tall shoulders and isn’t in a rush to British level. The referee scored it 60-55.
Harrow enigma Mitchell Smith (now 15-1) laboured during a six round workout against Derbyshire’s Lee Connelly (6-25-2). The talented Smith is now trained by Adam Booth and has great fundamentals, but having weighed in at 139 lbs the youngster has plenty of weight to shift to perform at his best. He says he’s cut the partying out but the results will be seen in the ring. Connelly has now lost five on the bounce with the referee scoring 59-54.
The ‘Behind the Gloves’ videographer ‘Ouney’ had something of a run-in with Mayweather at the York Hall earlier in the week when Floyd admonished him when his phone rang while Floyd was conducting interviews. Ouney told Slip & Counter the two had made up quickly enough, with Floyd Jr punching his fist as if to say “it’s ok, just don’t do it again”.
Twenty two year-old super-featherweight prospect Archie “sharpshooter” Sharp marked up an eighth straight win with an impressive victory over Hungarian Tamas Laska (19-15-1). Sharp switched his stance and hurt the visitor with sharp right hands in the opener. Laska is well-versed in spoiling and would tie Sharp up when hurt, until a wicked body shot in the third dropped Laska, bravely rising at eight only for the bout to be waved off.
Scouse former Slip & Counter ring girl of the month Rachel Williams found an interesting way to keep herself energised between rounds under the hot, bright lights with salt & vinegar Walkers crisps.
Hornchurch’s Sanjeev Sahota (now 7-0) beat Manchester man Steve Backhouse (now 1-6-1) in an exciting ‘floater’ bout before the TV card started. Backhouse hurt Sahota several times in the first with his right uppercut in particular and arguably shaded the round. Sahota’s work improved in the second and an impressive combination to head and body in the third stanza saw Backhouse dropped and stopped. I’m yet to be convinced by the 25-year-old but he’s in exciting fights, even at this level.
The clash between Southampton’s Joe Pigford (13-0) and Barking’s Aaron Morgan (12-1) had the look of an explosive can’t miss clash of prospects and really delivered. Morgan – recently sparring Demarcus “Chop chop” Corley at the Mayweather Boxing Club – displayed the smoother boxing, slipping Pigford’s telegraphed shots while landing repeatedly with his own straight right. It was a pulsating back and forth bout until a brutal ending in the fifth as a right staggered Morgan to the ropes and follow up left-right saw him crumpled awkwardly on the canvas. There was hushed concern for a few moments until Morgan made it to his feet. This is the kind of match which has fans excited about the partnership between Frank Warren and BT Sport and long may they continue.
Dubois prepares to make his entrance
Daniel Dubois made short work of David Howe to move to 3-0 with a powerful right hand. It’s a good thing the accompanying left whistled past Howe’s head and Dubois later echoed one of the great Lennox Lewis sayings when pointing out he doesn’t get paid overtime. It was all over in forty seconds.
Anthony Yarde (11-0) was supposed to be having his first test as a professional against Southern Area champ Chris Hobbs (6-2-1) but made a fourth round victory seem like a practice session. Yarde is so relaxed in the ring he started the second round with his mouthpiece out and laughed about the omission. The face of maximuscle nutrition – who with delicious irony sponsor boxing at famously ‘in house’ rival sky sports – went on to smile as he dropped Hobbs with a body shot to end the third round. Yarde has swagger borne of huge confidence in his ability and eventually floored Hobbs six times before the towel came in. Ashley Theophane at ringside likes Yarde’s style and will be interested watching him step up in levels.
Anthony Yarde (photo courtesy butterfly boxing)
Ryan Walsh (22-2-1) won the British featherweight title outright with an impressive eleventh round stoppage of Belfast’s Marco McCullough (17-4). Walsh started very fast – no doubt eager to calm brother Liam before his IBF title challenge – and hurt the tough McCullough in most rounds before eventually forcing the stoppage late on. Brother Michael mouthed the words “six minutes” at the start of the eleventh but Ryan ground down his challenger with a two handed assault against the ropes at around the two minute mark prompting Howard Foster to step in and stop the fight.
Rob Butler covers football and boxing for BBC Norfolk and is huge fan of the sweet science, a sport in his blood and boasting a grandad who attended Clay vs Cooper I. Butler told Slip & Counter than post fight, Ryan Walsh provided a quick interview but was keen to put all his focus into the final stages of Liam’s preparation. Rob also tells a feel good story of former British and European lightweight champ Jon Thaxton’s work training disabled enthusiasts at his gym.
Davis lands that vaunted left
The main event had that big fight goose pimple feel which only a dangerous high-stakes clash can create. In the event, and despite the intense will of the crowd, it was the visiting champion’s night. Baltimore’s Gervonta Davis (now 18-0) defended his IBF junior-lightweight title with an emphatic third round stoppage over Liam Walsh (now 21-1).
Switch-hitting Walsh started southpaw during a cagey opening round as both fighters sought to establish control with the jab. Davis shaded the first despite the challenger turning orthodox and landing a couple of good straight rights in the second half.
The southpaw champion’s work improved in the second as he beat Walsh to the punch with fast hard left hooks up close. Davis was relentless in the third while smelling blood as more lightning-quick hooks shook Walsh, who looked to hold the American until a barrage again stunned and a left floored him. The Cromer man bravely rose to his feet at the count of nine but two left hand follow ups from the champ saw referee Michael Alexander rightly call it off despite protests from Liam and brother Michael.
Davis, under the Mayweather Promotions banner, looks to be going places and – on a night when he and Floyd Jr dressed something like the 80’s version of Michael Jackson while walking out to ‘Beat It’ – is beginning to look like the superstar some had anointed him.
A bitterly disappointed Ryan Walsh took the time to talk with Slip & Counter on the Sunday afternoon after the night. “To say I’m gutted would be an understatement,” he said with palpable emotion cracking his voice. “This is the worst I’ve ever felt. I know Liam will be fine and will come back but I’ve took this harder than any of my losses. I’m really, really gutted. I give the other guy [Davis] his credit. He landed a good shot and then it was like a snowball effect.” Unlike his brothers, Ryan doesn’t believe Michael Alexander stepped in too soon. “I don’t think the referee did anything wrong,” Ryan confirmed, before adding wistfully”I wasn’t taking the shots, so I don’t know”.
It’s well-documented how close the Walsh family are. That they really do win and lose together is eloquently demonstrated by the heartbroken demeanour of the new lifetime-owner of a Lord Lonsdale belt.