|Lee Selby Celebrates his title win|
Lee Selby upset the odds to dramatically knockout Stephen Smith in round eight, of a fight he had dominated throughout with clean powerful shots, to claim the British and Commonwealth featherweight titles at Liverpool’s Olympia on Saturday night.
Smith though just never seemed to get into the fight and looked flat from the start, but that’s taking nothing away from a composed solid showing from the Welshman.
But it was the left uppercut that was to be the telling and finishing punch that smashed off Smith’s chin and sent him crashing to the canvas. The referee didn’t take up a count and Smith’s trainer Joe Gallagher jumped straight in the ring to tend to his stricken student who was out cold for some worrying moments.
Smith started the first round well, but from the second onwards after getting tagged with a big right hand that jolted his head back, the champion struggled to get any hold in the fight as Selby grew in confidence.
Selby in just his 11th fight, 1 loss – proved much better than his record and voluntary challenger status suggested and he was ring savvy beyond his experience, tying Smith up when the champion got inside to nullify his work, always keeping Smith off balance.
|Selby lands another right hand on Smith’s chin|
The Barry man was unfazed by the big support in the venue for the home bred champion and grew in confidence as the fight wore on – an hurtful left hook in round 3 shook Smith to his boots. Selby claimed centre ring, stood his ground and met the champion head on to maximum effect.
Smith’s lack of defence and head movement was becoming worrying, but the common consensus was that he would come on stronger in the second half of the fight, territory he knows well having been the championship distance in his last two title fights.
With Selby never having gone past round 6, maybe Smith was looking to take the challenger from Barry down the home straight and into deeper waters, but the cries from ringside were, ‘Smith cant keep taking these shots all night’ – something had to give!
|Selby traps Smith on the ropes|
But as the fight passed the halfway point Selby was still there, Smith’s eyes were beginning to mark up and he looked to be running out of ideas or a plan B – continuing to come at Selby in straight lines, open to Selby’s big right hand – and the challenger couldn’t miss.
In round 7, both traded big shots and it looked like Smith might just have rode out the Selby ambush to claim an unlikely second wind to take the fight back in his favor. But Selby came out of the trade-offs un-ruffled.
In the 8th and finishing round Selby started to push Smith back and caught him with a left hook that seemed to dip the defending champions legs. Selby had been cocking his right hand all night, showing it Smith and then administering it with the power that many thought he didn’t posses.
Then at At 2:04 of the round the finish suddenly came. – With Smith looking dazzled and there for the taking, Selby unleashed a viscous left hook cum-uppercut that put a chilling end to the fight and Smith’s short reign as champion.
|It’s over – Smith is knocked-out and Selby claims an unfancied win|
Selby just 24, boxed and fought out of his skin and looked accomplished beyond his years, the power shots that he conjured up from acute angles would have felled a lesser man than Smith.
As Smith sunk to the floor in a limp position out cold, Selby took an un-sportsman like pose over his helpless foe and gestured in no uncertain terms his victory war cry in an outburst of emotion.
An unknown quantity going into this fight, Selby deserved his success after putting on a fantastic performance and would give any featherweight a run for there money on this form.
Smith can come back from this after a long rest, but must go back to the drawing board after a rapid start and rise to his short pro career. Smith hasnt become a bad fighter over night, he had a big off night, but can regroup and come back stronger for it.
There was a def silence and sombre atmosphere in the Olympia as Smith who had regained consciousness and got to his feet to watch his knockout defeat on the big screen. His disappointment was etched on his bruised motionless expression as he leaned dejected over the ropes.
|Team Lee Selby|
The night wasn’t over for the Smith’s because big brother Paul Smith still had to fight and coach Gallagher had to gather his thoughts to prepare him backstage. Paul had watched his siblings cruel knockout on a TV in the dressing room and with his head in hand, grimaced at the images before him of Stephen being knocked-out.
‘Smigga’ who was to face Welsh veteran Paul Samuels looked devastated, but to his credit and professionalism came out with a look in his eye that I’m not sure we’ve seen before. He looked on another level and almost bursting with an inner rage.
That rage was unleashed on Samuels after just 2:04 of the first round, when a combination of hooks from Smith had his man over for the count. The referee waved Samuels on to continue but Smith never let him breath, jumping on him again to force the refs intervention as Samuels went over again.
Smith will now prepare for a British and Commonwealth title challenge against George Groves on the 17th December at the Echo arena in his home City of Liverpool.
Earlier in the night another Smith from the scouse boxing brothers was on the card – Liam Smith, who impressed with a 3rd round stoppage of Welshman Barrie Jones.
Smith boxed well in the first two rounds, used good left hooks to the body and was working Jones out. In the finishing session one of the left hooks finally broke the guard of Jones and Smith followed up with a barrage of shots. With his opponents back to the ropes, another left hook to the body dropped Jones finally, who stayed on one knee for the full count.
Super middleweight contender and former Prizefighter winner Rocky Fielding continued his fledgling career to take a 60-54 victory over Paul Morby. Fielding worked well behind his jab and was always in control of the tricky southpaw Morby.
Rocky wasn’t on top form but it is hard to look good against Morby who wanted to spoil and tie up the Liverpool fighter whenever he got inside. But it was another win and a good learning fight for Rocky who takes his record to 8-0, 3KOs – on his journey through the rankings and a possible domestic title shot.
Other than Selby’s terrific performance, boxer of the night if there was one – was surely Paul Butler from nearby Ellesmere Port and trained in Manchester by Anthony Farnell.
Butler outpointed journeyman Delroy Spencer over six one sided rounds and looked like a prospect and a boxer that needs keeping your eye on.
The former ABA flyweight champion has every punch in the book and throws them from all angles, switching from orthodox to southpaw with ease, impressively working the body and switching his attacks with effectively to the head with fast combinations and timing.
Butler moves to 4-0, 1KO – and dealt with Spencer who was having his 139th fight, in a manner not many novices do. At times it looked like Butler would claim a stoppage, but Butler was happy to settle for the points win 60-54 – as the veteran made it through to the final bell.
Journeyman Spencer 43, will be fighting again next weekend against Terry Broadbent at the Leeds United FC Banqueting Suite and is a true professional and life blood of the sport, who just keeps going. Giving the up and coming prospects the fights and experience they need, while earning a living in the hurtful end of the hurt business.
Butler 22, won the ABA’s last year and his conversion to the pro ranks is a welcome addition that seems to have been seamless. He was totally focused and purposeful in his approach and his speed and reflexes to avoid shots and counter, will see this one to watch go along way.
Light welterweight Lewis Rees pummeled Damien Turner, before stopping him in the fourth round of scheduled six. The Welshman attacked Turner constantly behind a high guard and every punch seemed to have a sound effect as they digged into the body of Turner, with some meaty uppercuts thrown in for good measure. The end came at 1:08 of the finishing round, when Rees dug a hurtful right to the body of Turner who’s knees dipped as the wind was knocked from his lungs.
Turner bravely stayed up, but Rees was all over him and the referee jumped in to call a halt to any more of the same. It was Rees second pro fight and he was impressive in his attacks and looks very heavy handed.
By Chris Maylett
Pics by Al Stevenson.