|Ian Nappa with trainer Brian Lawrence|
On the 4th June, former British and European Bantamweight Champion Ian ‘Dappa’ Napa returns to the ring for the first time since contentiously losing his British title to Jamie McDonnell back in January this year, to face Doncaster’s tough, unbeaten prospect Stuart Hall at the Peterlee Leisure Centre in Peterlee, Tyne and Wear.
Following a sparring session with Matthew Marsh at the Ultrachem TKO Boxing Gym in Canning Town, Napa took the time to talk a little about the upcoming bout, “I’m looking forward to the fight. My opponent’s Stuart Hall. He’s a good fighter, lots of aggression and determination. You know, I’ve faced these type of opponents before, they make for a good fight. My preparations are going well, I’m in good shape and I’ve just got to box well and get a result.
|Ian Nappa sparring with Matthew Marsh|
32 year old Napa, whose impenetrable defensive style has been likened to that of Floyd ‘Money’ Mayweather, seems to have been on the wrong side of dubious judging more than most. None, though, could come close to the outrageous score of 112-117, in favour of McDonnell, given by Dave Parris back on the 22nd January.
The first few rounds started slowly, with Napa using his superior defensive skills to neutralise McDonnell’s seven inch height advantage and considerable reach. No matter how hard he tried McDonnell just couldn’t land a clean punch.
Napa kept his cool under pressure before capitalising, when McDonnell’s desperation led him to making uncustomary mistakes, with overhand rights and vicious hooks to the body.
By round three McDonnell seemed to have run out of ideas and just stuck to the basics. Meanwhile Napa was winning the rounds easily by setting traps and skillfully working the body before moving upstairs.
Round five not only saw McDonnell cut by an accidental clash of heads but he also had a noticeable swelling of the right eye. McDonnell looked as if he had been in a war, whereas Napa had barely broken a sweat.
Napa seemed to be in full control of the fight, masterfully turning McDonnell’s ineffective aggression against him. When McDonnell came forward, in straight lines, throwing a barrage of shots, Napa would just duck and weave before letting rip with slick, telling, combinations of his own.
Boxing Scene’s Oli Smith best described this with the statement “He (Napa) hit without being hit. Ultimately he made McDonnell look inexperienced”
The sixth round went McDonnell’s way as Napa seemed content to soak up some pressure. That didn’t last though as Napa stepped things up a pace in the seventh by taking the fight to McDonnell and throwing serious power into his punches.
During the eighth and ninth rounds Napa, uncharacteristically took control of the centre of the ring and again was by far the more aggressive fighter.
McDonnell’s corner got him to up the pace in the eleventh to try and gain control, but again the telling shots all came from the diminutive Napa as McDonnell barely laid a glove on the slick moving Londoner.
The raucous crowd ringside were on the feet as both men upped their work rate still more for the final three minutes. When the final bell rings it is clear to all but the most fanatical of McDonnell supporters, that Napa had done more than enough to retain his British title as well as secure the vacant Commonwealth belt.
Or had he? When the score cards were read out they showed the judges had declared a split decision victory for McDonnell by 115-114, 114-115 and the ridiculous 117-112.
The boxing media were as mystified as Napa that the result had gone against him, as clearly were the BBBofC who reacted quickly by making Napa the mandatory challenger for the title.
Napa had hoped that would mean a rematch with McDonnell, but that was not to be. McDonnell vacated the British title in order to face, and beat, Jerome Arnould for the vacant European bantamweight title.
When asked for his thoughts on the dubious loss to Jamie McDonnell, Napa just shrugged his shoulders and said, “The response Boxing News had, you know letters, alone shows you what people thought of the fight and that I won it. But I’m not going to keep on and on about it. That’s in the past. I want to go forward and regain the European title like I done when I first got robbed for the British title, I got it back. I just keep doing this, proving myself over and over again.”
Napa’s long time manager/trainer Brian Lawrence, who had been sitting next to his supremely talented charge throughout, then added, “Things like the Jamie McDonnell result just doesn’t affect him, it just makes him more determined.
He hasn’t been out of the gym since the McDonnell fight. He’s in good shape. Stuart Hall is gonna know about it on the night. There’s no way he can win.
Straight away after we win I’m going to call for Jamie McDonnell to put it on the line. I’ll say If you really thought you won the fight and you are Champion then defend, don’t run away.
As I said, straight after the British fight we’ll be looking for the European and then we want a World title shot. So that’s what we will be looking for. If Jamie McDonnell is in our way then we’ll be going right through him. Basically he can hide or come and face Ian Napa to prove who is number one.”
Napa nodded in agreement before adding, “Yeah, I want to get on the World scene, but obviously I have to get back on the European title scene first. In order to progress back onto the European scene I’ve got to get the British title back. So that’s my main objective”
Ian ‘Dappa’ Napa versus Stuart Hall for the vacant BBBofC British Bantamweight title will headline the Frank Maloney promoted event at the Peterlee Leisure Centre in Peterlee, Tyne and Wear on Friday, 4th June.
The stacked under card includes a six round bout featuring Prizefighter – Cruiserweight II winner John Lewis Dickinson and Olympic medallist Tony Jeffries in a six round Super Middleweight contest.
Also on the card are bouts featuring Kirk Goodings (Lightweight ), Martin Ward (Featherweight), George Watson (Lightweight), David Fergurson (Heavyweight) and
Gary Fox (Welterweight).
photos by: Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro
photos by: Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro