|Darren ‘Mr R&B’ Hamilton|
Promoter Spencer Fearon always talks a good fight and his build up to Friday’s double title fight headlined Shamrock Showdown show may have seemed to have been nothing but a load of hype – but it wasn’t, If anything Spencer undersold the show by a country mile.
Spencer has always stated that his shows would feature real 50/50 fights, no journey man specials designed to build up records rather than entertain the paying public. He sure didn’t disappoint on this promise or his promises of all action, drama packed bouts.
The show may have only had four bouts, following Menay Edwards and Jamie Arlain both pulling out rather than face Johnny Eames’ super tough Ultrachem TKO Boxing Gym pairing – London based Cruiserweight prospect Mitchell Balker and Carshalton’s Danny ‘Cassius’ Connor respectively – and Alex Dilmaghani had to pull out after injuring his ankle in training just a few days earlier, but they were four top class, action filled bouts.
Headlining the show was The Real Fight Club’s very own Darren ‘Mr R&B’ Hamilton’s challenge for Peter McDonagh’s Southern Area Light Welterweight crown.
At the weigh-in Hamilton stated that the fight could either be a very technical stand off, which may be boring for the spectators, or it could be a small hall classic. Well ‘Mr R&B’ got that one hundred percent right when he said it could be a small hall classic.
The first round started a little slow, as both protagonists felt each other out, Hamilton had made some radical changes to his fight style, instead of his usual covered up style he was more open, and took control of the round behind a fluid jab.
More of the same in round two with Hamilton taking the fight to McDonagh. Not to say that McDonagh didn’t have some success with his counters, he did but Hamilton was flowing, his movement was supreme which caused most of McDonagh’s punches to miss, even when McDonagh had backed Hamilton on to the ropes.
McDonagh pushed more in third, constantly backing Hamilton on to the ropes. The big problem for McDonagh was that once he got him backed up he wasn’t able to take advantage of the position. Hamilton just dipped and swayed to avoid McDonagh’s wild shots before opening up with some of his own, which invariably landed. By mid way through the tables had turned and Hamilton was backing McDonagh up and letting rip with extraordinary levels of punches, most of which were hitting the target. McDonagh was already
looking to be in trouble.
Round four was all Hamilton, incredibly he’d stepped up the work rate each time he corned McDonagh on the ropes. Often his 10-15 punch flurries were totally unanswered and it looked just a matter of time before the referee would step in to stop and the fight, but he didn’t.
More of the same in the fifth with Hamilton totally dominating the proceedings and pushing McDonagh back constantly before letting rip with exocet after exocet. About half way through the round it looked to be all
over bar the shouting as Hamilton backed McDonagh into the corner and let rip with a heavy handed twenty four punch flurry ending with a big overhand right to the head followed by a cracking left to the body. McDonagh legs were gone but the Savvy lad grabbed hold of Hamilton and hung on for dear life until his head cleared.
Hamilton was on a roll and secured the sixth in similar fashion. His constant attacks were causing McDonagh a major problem. McDonagh tried to change his fight plan, by charging down Hamilton with wild swinging shots, however each forward move lead to him being on the receiving end of a double handed counter.
Round seven was virtually a replay of the fifth, with Hamilton walking McDonagh back onto the ropes before letting rip with heavy handed unanswered ten-twelve punch combinations, all of which were now landing as McDonagh’s defense was virtually gone.
Hamilton stepped it up even more in the eighth, chasing McDonagh around the ring letting off overhand rights and heavy body shots at will. McDonagh was taking so much punishment and a knockout end to his title reign looked inevitable. His corner were looking concerned as late on Hamilton launched yet another vicious attack which lead to them throwing the towel into the ring with just two seconds of the round left on the clock.
To put this win for Hamilton, who was ranked #37 in the UK before the bout, into context, McDonagh was ranked #11 and had just come off an excellent win against then top ten ranked Curtis Woodhouse.
Even more importantly Hamilton’s performance was vastly superior to that of the much better known Frankie Gavin, you could say Hamilton out Gavin’d Gavin with his fast hands. Hmm, now that’s a future match up to make every boxing aficionado salivate in anticipation.
Co-feature to the Hamilton-McDonagh was another well matched between two heavily avoided classy fighters – #15 ranked Adil ‘Platinum Kid’ Anwar and #8 ranked Nathan ‘De Lick’ Graham – for the International Masters Light Welterweight title. The Hamilton-McDonagh fight was a cracker and worthy of a ‘Fight of the Year’ nomination, in normal circumstances. However this fight even outshone that!
Both fighters started hard and fast in the first round with some superb exchanges taking place throughout. Second round started in similar fashion but by about midway through Graham had started to exert some serious pressure, landing more and the most telling punches.
Round three was an all action thriller that started off with Graham piling on the pressure against the slippery, quick footed Anwar. But that was not to last as Anwar landed a cracking right that sent Graham down to the
canvas. Graham was quick of the block as the fight resumed and pushed hard to win back the lost point.
About midway through the round Graham was piling on the pressure when Anwar let rip with lightning quick right that sent Graham to the deck for a second time.
This time it was Anwar that attacked hard an fast as the count finished. Graham fought back and tried to take the upper hand. During yet another forceful exchange, prior to which it looked like Graham was about stop
Anwar, Graham chased down a rapidly backing up Anwar before suddenly leaping forward with a heavy left, but as he did so Anwar also let a big left off which sent the off balance Graham past him and through the ropes and into the photographers area. Graham scrambled back into the ring just as the bell rang to end the round.
Round four was another all action affair which see Graham dominate for about eighty percent of the round. With just seconds remaining Graham slipped and was unlucky that it was judged to be a knockdown.
The fifth was a very close round with neither really getting the upper hand, both worked their socks off with the dominance exchanging hands to equal measure. Great round of boxing that had the fans on their feet from
start to finish, as had the previous rounds.
More of the same in the sixth and again Graham makes a visit to the canvas, whilst I felt this was a genuine knockdown, the referee waved it off which kind of made up for the previous slip counting against him.
Graham pulled back a point with this round as not only was he the more forceful he also landed the most meaningful shots by far.
Round seven was an awesome round, with both protagonists giving their all from start to finish. At one point Graham was lucky not to end up outside the ring again, after forcing Anwar back onto the ropes Graham let rip with a big left, but just as he did Anwar side stepped and the momentum carried Graham right over the top rope.
Graham seemed to be really looking for a knockout finish to the eighth, constantly coming forward and letting of bomb after bomb, as Anwar was beginning to look tired and in survival mode. Anwar defense seemed to be stay out of the way and was constantly moving away from Graham and letting out lazy jabs. Each time Graham got close Anwar would frustrate him by grabbing hold before skipping away to safety.
More of the same in the ninth, although this time Anwar’s tactics worked against Graham in the worse way possible as he was caught by a surprise heavy right that sent him crashing to the deck again just mere seconds
before the bell.
The tenth and final round was a frantic affair with Graham hunting for knockout finish, which is the only way he could possibly salvage a win for the magnificent effort he had been putting in, however just over midway through the round Anwar lets rip with a cracking right counter to send Graham through the ropes and onto the BBBofC officials table.
Just seconds after returning to the fray Graham finds himself again down and through the ropes, this time on the opposite side of the ring. This time the referee calls a halt to the proceedings on the 2 minutes and 20
Preceding the Anwar- Graham bout Hard Knock Boxing Promotions presented awards to Choi Tseveenpurev – for his excellent round 2 performance against Derry Matthews at Prizefighter Super Featherweights last November – and Ashley Theopane for his beating Lenny Daws to become British Light
Side note to this Spencer Fearon has said that he is hoping to have Darren Hamilton challenge Ashley Theopane for the British title in the near future.
Back to the action as the second bout of the night, between highly rated and unbeaten Erick ‘The Eagle’ Ochieng and former ABA winner Luke ‘Lionheart’ Robinson, proved to be a cracking fight, albeit with a highly controversial end result.
Robinson was out of the traps quickly to close down Ochieng, to neutralise his highly effective jab. Ochieng used a bit of savvy and went on the back foot to find some room to get his jabs off. Robinson kept coming forward throwing some pretty wild shots until eventually he had backed Ochieng onto the ropes. Robinson kept throwing wild off target shots at the ever ducking and weaving Ochieng. Ochieng responded with some highly effective stiff jabs to force Robinson back until his next rally. It was a close round, Robinson the more aggressive, but failing to hit the ever moving target, whilst Ochieng was more controlled and getting results by landing good solid jabs.
Round two was more of the same with Robinson pushing. Ochieng on the other hand was content to stay with his back to the ropes and pick off Robinson at will, with stiff jabs and punishing one-twos to the body. An easy round to call as Robinson barely landed a punch for all his wind milling whilst Ochieng, who barely threw a couple of dozen shots the whole round, landed each effort solidly, much to the delight of this fans who in unison chanted ‘Eagle, Eagle, Eagle’ after each contact.
Both rounds three and four were more of the same, Robinson flies out of the trap but ‘The Eagle’ just stays calm and picks him off at will – Robinson pushes forward but barely lands a glove on the ever mobile Ochieng, yet gets caught himself by every precision counter.
The crowd jeer as the referee raises Robinson’s arm aloft declaring him victorious by a 39-38 points margin. Ochieng and his manager-coach Brian Lawrence look around confused as Robinson celebrates.
Shortly after the result was officially read out promoter Spencer Fearon announced that there will be a rematch at his next show, much to the delight of the assembled crowd.
The opening bout of the night see the debut of Danny Davies against Lithuanian Vlad ‘The Impaler’ Balaklijec.
The two very different styles made for an interesting fight. Throughout Davies looked to walk down the elusive Balaklijec with some effect, especially the final round where Davies landed some good straight rights and a couple of hooks.
In the end Davies’ come forward style got the better of slick ‘Prince Naseem’ style of Balaklijec and after four entertaining rounds was rightly declared the winner by a generous 40-36 margin.
Spencer Fearon is a great addition to the promoter ranks and if he keeps putting on bouts of this quality is surely set to be one of the main players in the near future.
By Gianluca (Rio) Di Caro