1st October 2012

Martin Ward English Champ
County Durham’s Martin Ward is the English bantamweight
champion after outpointing Nottingham’s Jason Booth over 10 rounds for
the vacant title in a terrific contest on Pro Box North East’s ‘Clash of
the Titans’ bill at the Hartlepool Borough Hall on September 30. 
The fight between this pair of stylists brimmed with class and skill, and the action was non-stop for the duration.
The opener was a chess-match, with Ward (8st 5¾lbs) staying behind
his southpaw lead and Booth managing to connect with a couple of lefts
over the top.

In the second, Jason (8st 4¾lbs) again landed with a
notable left that rocked Martin’s noggin, but Ward had his own success
with counters.
The contest ebbed and flowed with Jason doing much of the pressing
while Martin, happy to fight off the ropes, tried to keep him at bay
with jabs and straight backhands.

With the bout still in the balance, from the seventh round onwards
Martin noticeably came on stronger.  Booth remained busy and kept trying
to force the action, but Ward was now clearly landing twos and threes
for every one of Jason’s scoring shots.

Jason came out fast for many of the sessions, but Ward’s fast, accurate hands just never allowed him to get a foothold.

Many of the rounds, especially the early stanzas, were tight and both
fighter’s faces showed the signs of the other’s success; Jason sported a
mouse under his right eye from the seventh; Martin’s nose leaked from
the eighth.
At the final bell both held each other aloft and, after the result was announced, took to the mic to sing each other’s praises.
All three judges went unanimously for Martin; Howard Foster 96-95;
Dave Parris 97-94, and
Steve Gray 97-95.  Referee was Victor Loughlin.

Martin is now 16-1 (4) and will be hoping for an imminent British
title shot; Jason is 36-11 (15) and leaves the North East having lost
his last five.

Darlington’s Neil Hepper (9st 8½lbs) boxed well for four rounds against Fishburn’s Gary Fox (9st 8lbs) before it all came crashing down in the fifth.

After Fox (pictured) had edged their March six-rounder by a point,
Hepper had promised he would box, not brawl, in this return for the
Northern Area lightweight title and he stuck to his word.

From first bell, Neil kept Gary on the outside with his jab and had
plenty of success with the right hand over the top, with Fox just unable
to get in close.

As the contest progressed Gary did begin to have some success and a big left hook in the third seemed to faze Neil.

During the fifth, Neil continued to have it mostly all his own way
before, mid-way through, a crunching right hook sent him down heavily.
Up for a count of eight, but still looking glassy-eyed, Fox pounced
and managed to get in another couple of meaningful blows before referee
Mark curry waved it off at 1:50.

Neil, now 3-2, complained about the stoppage.  Gary is now 9-1 (1) and will look to move ahead in the lightweight division.

With the pair producing great entertainment over two bouts to date,
North East fight fans wouldn’t complain if they get matched for the
trilogy in the future.

Undercard

Boxing fans want to see competitive fights, whether they are headliners or down-the-card bouts, and that’s what they got with the undercard on the Pro Box North East ‘Clash of the Titans’ bill at the Hartlepool Borough Hall on September 30.  All involved came to win, which made for a really entertaining afternoon of boxing.

Callum Winton was involved in a thrilling contest against Mansfield’s Rob Sharpe.  Hartlepool’s Winton, having his second pro fight, was determined to succeed after drawing on his debut in July and, working behind a high guard, banged home hard hooks incessantly.  Sharpe, meanwhile, took everything Callum threw at him, often flush, and beckoned him on while fighting back.  The pattern continued from the first to last bell with referee Andrew Wright eventually handing Callum a 39-37 scorecard.  Sharpe is now 2-4 (1); both weighed 9st 11lbs.

Middlesbrough’s Mohammed Waqas (8st 4lbs) stepped in with debutant Brett Fidoe (8st 3lbs) and both gave a good account of themselves.  Stoke’s Fidoe clearly wanted to win and gave it a real go, using effective upper body movement and decent foot work to create angles and dig home scoring shots.  Mohammed weathered the early storm and took the fight back to Brett.  Working himself into range behind his jab, Waqas showed smart defence by taking plenty on the arms and gloves, while engaging in good inside work.  Referee Wright awarded it to Mohammed 39-37, who moves to 3-0.

Gateshead’s Rob Ismay (12st 10lbs) was involved in a rematch with Scunthorpe’s Jody Meikle (12st 11lbs), an opponent whom he had knocked out in a round previously and who was now back looking for revenge.  Meikle may have a, now, 4-26 (1) ledger, but he’s only been stopped twice in those 26 defeats and is known as durable and awkward.  Coming into this fight on the back of a rare KO victory, Jody tried to win and, although on the back foot, kept swinging away.  Rob (pictured) produced all the pressure, constantly came forward and utilised an effective jab, especially when doubled up.  Ismay, who revealed afterwards he had damaged an elbow and his right hand during the bout, did land power shots, particularly to the body, but Meikle completed the four rounds.  Referee Mark Curry scored 40-37 for Rob, now 7-0 (2), who will look to take his power down to the super-middle division in future.

Greg O’Neil (11st 8lbs) battered Andrej Cepur (11st 5lbs) from pillar to post for four sessions but was unable to put away the tough Lithuanian.  Greg, from nearby Horden, continually backed Cepur onto the threads and teed off but Andrej, who took an eight count in round two, refused to cash in his chips and call it a day.  Whenever it seemed referee Wright was ready to intervene, Cepur would emerge from his shell and fire back.  Now 3-0, Greg got rounds under his belt, while Andrej deserves credit for lasting the distance.  The score was an inevitable 40-36.  Cepur is now 5-12-1.

By John Hannen – North East Fight Scene



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