Sam Webb won the British light-middleweight title in a dramatic fight at the Goresbrook Leisure Center in Dagenham, Essex last nigh, with a majority points decision over Anthony Small, with scores of (115-115, 117-113, 117-112)
The fight was the joint main event alongside Mathew Hatton´s successful European title fight victory against Gianluca Branco.
Small entered the ring to a chorus of boo´s and whistles for this grudge match, wearing a full white tuxedo and a trilby hat, but the strutting cockiness of Small didn’t hide the respect he had when the first bell sounded and it was clear he was respectful of Webb, who had twice beaten him when the two were rival as amateurs
‘Sugar Ray Clay Jones Jr” aka Small, as he likes to be called in reference to his idols Ray Robinson, Muhammad Ali and Roy Jones, made a bright start to the fight, keeping Webb on the end of his punches, backing him up and landing some meaty punches.
Webb though was willing to take, to implement his own strategy, but his plans were almost dashed when in the fifth round a clash of heads left him with a bad cut above his right eye.
The best cut man in the game happened to be in Webb’s corner though, and the healing hands of Mick Williamson kept Webb’s title hopes alive.
The cut survived an inspection from the doctor in the sixth round after Small had gone looking to finish the bout with a knockout.
Webb, began to look worried that the cut could force the referee to stop it, the change in his tempo despite having to deal with blood flowing into his eye, unsettled Small and this was the turning point in the fight.
A good upper cut in the ninth, hurt Small and down the stretch it was Webb who finished the stronger, and the champion Small who started the fight so impressively, just wasn’t the same fighter in the second half.
Small very tired in the later rounds, which would bring into question his preparations for the fight? and he looked unable to mount any sought of answer to Webb’s pressure that might have seen him hang on to his Lonsdale belt, and stopped Webb scoring an hat-rick in there career trilogy.
“I managed to dig deep and pull it out – I’m over the moon, over the moon,” he told Sky Sports afterwards.
Webb also insisted he held no grudge against Small, who came into the ring in an all-white suit and top hat, following a confrontation at the weigh-in.
“There was a bit of panto beforehand, a bit of banter for the cameras. But there’s no hard feeling at the end of the day, it is a sport after all,” he added.
Daryl Setterfield and Darren Hamilton served up an inside the distance performance for all to enjoy in their four-round tussle however. With Hamilton enjoying the lion’s share of strength he looked to impose himself early in the fight with heavy handed attacks. The Bristol light-welter took his eye off the ball in the closing stages however and it was a chance Setterfield wasn’t about to pass up. The Redhill orthodox steadied his feet and caught a static Hamilton on the top of the head. Such was the force of the previously undefeated fighters fall, the paramedics were immediately called for. Thankfully a groggy looking Hamilton resurfaced and looked to be healthy, if not a little shaken.
Canning town light-welterweight, Joe Catchpole won plenty of admirers with a debut victory over the well travelled Johnny Greaves. East Ham fighter, Greaves looked to dupe his inexperienced opponent into a battle but Catchpole demonstrated intelligence beyond his years as the young southpaw remained behind the safety of straight shots. Although a stoppage victory never looked to be on the cards, the new boy did more than enough to take each of the four rounds up for grabs.
Finsbury Park’s Yassine El Maachi continued to edge his way up the rankings with a convincing victory over Lithuanian Tomas Grublys. El Maachi has made no secret of his belief that the major players in the light middleweight division are avoiding him but the Moroccan born stylist learned little from a 60-53 points win which saw a bloodied Grublys stumble across the finishing line.
TKO Gym prospect, Pat McAleese sold plenty of tickets but he was made to work hard for a drawn contest with Lee Noble. The better work seemed to come from an energetic McAleese but the heavier shots were delivered via the hands of the Barnsley banger and ref Richie Davies settled it a 58-58 tie. Both young fighters would have learned a lot from this outing and if their progress continues, a decider further down the line looks likely.
Undefeated welterweight Denton Vassell put a smile on the face of promoter Ricky Hatton as the up and comer landed telling hooks to both body and head of opponent Kevin McAuley, resembling a young Hitman. It was a one sided affair and there was little surprise when McAuley retired on his stool at the end of the second round.
Elsewhere, Welshman Tom Doran knew far too much for Latvian Janis Chernouskis, taking a points decision, whilst Manchester’s Joe Murray boxed his way to victory over Ukrainian Yuri Voronin after eight rounds.