On Saturday night, whilst most British fight fans were waiting to watch Nottingham’s Carl Froch face, and lose to, Mikel Kessler in the latest Super Six offering on Sky TV, London’s York Hall, in Bethnal Green, played host to the equally exciting Steve Goodwin promoted “A Night Of The Rising Stars” fight show.
Headlining the show was Finsbury Park’s Yassine El Maachi and France’s Bertrand Aloa for the International Masters Light Middleweight title. This fight was always going to be a real cracker, not just because this was a very well matched fight, as promoter Steve Goodwin offered the tough Frenchman an extra £15,000 if he could stop El Maachi within the distance.
Right from the first bell Aloa, clearly intent on pocketing the bounty, sprung into attack mode letting rip with a vicious flurry of hooks to the head and body of El Maachi. The London based Iranian seemed unfazed by the attack, ducking and weaving his way out of trouble before retaliating with a series of equally vicious uppercuts and hooks.
Throughout the first round, and most of the subsequent rounds, control of the fight passed between El Maachi and Aloa in equal measure. The cheering legion of fans were treated to nine scintillating, action packed, yet very close, rounds before a clear, and indisputable, winner could be called. When that moment came, just seconds from the bell to end round nine, El Maachi clinically let rip with a magnificent hook to the head that sent Aloa crashing to the canvas. Aloa quickly got to his feet to survive the final couple of seconds of the round.
The final round was all El Maachi, his movement was fluid and his punches telling, whilst Aloa seemed unsteady and his punching ineffective. Mid way through the final round the Frenchman was sent sprawling face down on to the deck, although not by a clean shot but due to his unsteadiness and a little helping push by El Maachi. Aloa again jumped up quickly and as if the second trip to the canvas acted as a wakeup call came back at the London based Iranian, albeit too late to win the final round and close the deficit. When the scorecards were read out they declared, by a 96-93 margin,Yassine El Maachi the new International Masters Light Middleweight Champion.
The co-feature, a Lightweight contest between unbeaten Michael Devine and former Olympian Mark ‘The Flash’ Alexander, was equally spectacular.
You would have thought that this was the main event by the level of vocal support both of these popular fighters received as they entered the arena. The noise level rose to a whole new level as the first punches were thrown, beautiful jabs from Alexander and a vicious roundhouse that failed to make contact by Devine. It was clear that Devine was looking for another KO on his flawless record as each punch he threw was a power punch. Alexander, on the other hand, was showing some serious style as he danced around ducking Devine’s shots before clinically landing hurtful shots to the head and body, of his own.
Within a minute of the start of the first round Devine found himself crashing to the canvas following a beautiful one two combination to the head and body by the ever so slick Alexander. As soon as the referee finished the standing count Alexander was all over the clearly shaken Devine like a rash. It seemed that Alexander could land clean punches and move out of harms way in a flash, each time leaving Devine to be punching at fresh air.
Alexander’s movement and power was telling on Devine, who seemed to throw his fight plan out of the window as he tried to pursue the phantom that was his opponent. Within a minute of his first trip to the canvas he was back there again courtesy of a vicious left to the body followed by a lightning quick hook. Again, after the standing count, Alexander went on the attack and rocked Devine on numerous occasions before the end of the round.
Devine didn’t fare much better in the second round as the elusive Alexander came on the inside, playing Devine’s ribs like a xylophone before ducking and swaying out of harm’s way. It was clear at this point that Devine was getting more and more frustrated by not being able to land any meaningful shots.
Around the middle of the round Devine rushed at Alexander and managed to bundle him onto the ropes, but before he could land a decent shot ‘The Flash’ had already moved causing Devine to turn into a looping right which sent him crashing to the canvas for the third time. Alexander stepped it up another level and just plain out boxed and out moved the hapless Devine who could see his perfect record disappearing at a pace.
Everyone, but everyone, was on their feet as it seemed the fight would surely end before the end of the round. Devine is made of sterner stuff and although he was being given a boxing master class by Alexander he managed to make it to the bell.
Devine’s corner must have really fired him up for the third round as he came out with both barrels blazing. Again he managed to rush and bundle Alexander into a corner, this time even managing to land a punch or two, albeit on the gloves of ‘The Flash’.
Alexander seemed content to just play with his opponent like a cat plays with a mouse, at times his magnificent movement sending Devine off balance as he let rip with yet another huge air shot. It was inevitable that ‘The Flash’ would stop playing with his prey but no one, not Devine or any one at ringside, saw the lightning quick punch that sent Devine to the deck for the fourth, and final, time. Devine did make it to his feet but the referee decided enough was enough stopping the fight at two minutes and eleven seconds of the third round.
Whilst both the El Maachi – Aloa and Devine – Alexander fights were exceptional, many of the bouts on the undercard were not that far behind in terms of quality and excitement.
Prior to Devine – Alexander those present were treated to a highly entertaining four round Cruiserweight battle which saw Romford’s Tony Conquest increase his unbeaten record to four with a 40-36 points victory over Bulgarian Tayar Mehmed.
Fight four on the card saw former English Super Featherweight Champion Ryan Barratt beat Birmingham’s Sid Razak in a Lightweight contest by 60-54 margin.
John Wayne Hibbert took his unbeaten run to six following a superb performance against Nottingham’s Matt Scriven in a six round Welterweight contest with a 59-56 points victory.
A debuting Michael Norgrove gained his maiden victory at the expense of veteran Duncan Cottier (3-60-3).
Opening the show was a Super Middleweight contest which saw Woolwich’s Eder Kurti dominate the first three rounds against Doncaster’s James Tucker. Kurti, who seemed to be cruising to a nice easy victory, found things a little harder in the fourth after Tucker landed a superb right which clearly shook Kurti.
Urged on by his corner Tucker then bundled Kurti onto the ropes before letting rip with a flurry of body shots. Kurti managed to survive the continuous onslaught and see it through to the end of the round to secure the victory by a 39-37 margin. photos courtesy of Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro