It wasn’t polished, it wasn’t pretty but it was well worth the money. The contestants were all novices and it showed. We did not see technical skills or strategy: they went at each other from start to finish like rabid dogs fighting for a bone. The level of intensity and raw desire, the pure heart and determination seen on display makes them all winners, for the excitement they gave to the crowd often lacks in world title fights. But, the rules demand that only one hand gets raised at the end of the night.

Drew Brown (10-0, 1 ko) from Northampton is the winner of Ultimate Boxxer 1. He did say in the build up to the event that he was going to win for his son and kept true to his promise. In order to do so, though, he had to face the opposition of other good and hard men as motivated as he is. Let’s take a look at how he did it.

QUARTER FINAL 1: DREW BROWN (10-0, 1 KO) VS JIMMY COOPER (6-1-1).

Cooper opened first looking to work the body and having some success, but things heated up quickly with Brown taking initiative with an uppercut-body-uppercut combination at close range punctuated by a short right hand that sent his opponent down. Jimmy’s quickness in getting up was not a good sign and quite rightly the referee stopped it at 2:23.

QUARTER FINAL 2: KAISEE BENJAMIN (4-1, 1 KO) VS SAM EVANS (10-1-1, 3 KOS).

Although it was Evans who pressed the action in round 1 stalking his opponent and trapping him on the ropes, Kaisee seemed comfortable with the pace while boxing on the back foot. In round 2, Evans found a home for his right hand working around Benjamin’s guard and increasingly getting through. More of the same in round 3. While Kaisee never looked in trouble and managed to land a right hand flush, he did not look as active as Sam who got awarded a unanimous decision with scores of 29-28 on all 3 cards.

QUARTER FINAL 3: TOM YOUNG (6-1, 1 KO) VS BEN ELAND (4-1-1).

From the opening bell, Young established himself as the aggressor drawing first blood and setting a suffocating pace, absolutely relentless in his attacks. Eland was unable to match fire with fire and did his best to survive by tying his opponent when he could. He also touched the canvas but due to an obvious slip. Tom maintained his high work rate in round 2 but felt the pace himself as his punches did not have the same sting, which allowed Ben, who was in great condition, to retaliate. Nothing clean seemed to land in round 3, although Eland’s shots looked more accurate, but Young just kept on coming earning a well deserved unanimous decision with scores of 30-27 twice and 29-28.

QUARTER FINAL 4: ISAAC MAC LEOD (11-1, 3 KOS) VS ANDY KREMNER (9-1, 2 KOS).

Mac Leod opened fast focusing his attacks on the body of Kremner, not allowing him any room to box. Round 2 was a more balanced affair. Andy adapted and did some good work while staying in the pocket with his opponent. Isaac was cut from a clash of heads at the end of the session. They went toe to toe in the final stanza, with some good back and forth action. Kremner work seemed more accurate but it was hard to separate them. In the end, Mac Leod got the nod with a split decision, scores being 29-28, 28-29 and 29-28 in his favour.

SEMI FINAL 1: DREW BROWN VS SAM EVANS.

In spite of his reach advantage, initially Brown seemed unable to keep Evans at bay and got caught with a couple of hooks that landed flush but closed the round strong with his right hand. Drew started using the jab effectively in round 2 and scored some solid head shots while holding the centre of the ring. At this point the fight was still in the balance. Sam pressed the action in round 3 landing more clean hooks, the last of which opened the way to a 4 punches combination, but Brown absorbed it and fired back. The moments before the decision were very tense and Evans seemed confident he had done enough but the judges favoured Drew who moved to the final via a split decision with scores of 28-29 and twice 29-28.

SEMI FINAL 2: ISAAC MAC LEOD VS TOM YOUNG.

After they went immediately toe to toe, a right hand to the temple from Young put McLeod on the canvas. Although able to beat the count, he had not fully recovered and moments later a left hook on the chin knocked him down again for the referee to waive it off at 1:15 of round 1.

FINAL: DREW BROWN VS TOM YOUNG.

The grand finale started with an even round that saw both men having some success and landing clean shots on each other with neither willing to give any ground. The attrition increased in round 2 as the pair got reckless and engaged in furious toe to toe exchanges. Gradually, Brown seemed to gain the upper hand hammering Young with his right cross, which proved to be the most effective weapon in his arsenal throughout the whole night. Round 3 was as close as the first one, but Tom’s shots seemed to bounce off Drew who kept coming back with his own to seal a unanimous decision with scores of 30-27 and 29-28 twice.

It is a fairy tale ending for the painter and decorator from Northampton but there were no losers tonight at the Manchester Arena. Ultimate Boxxer 1 lived up to the expectations and credit has to be given also to Carl Greaves for his smart matchmaking. We look forward to see if the formula can be repeated at different weights.

Ezio with the winner Drew Brown

Undercard results:

Sam Hyde (13-0-1, 6 kos) bt Dmitrij Kalinovskij (13-44-4, 5 kos), TKO 5th round (Scheduled 6×3, Cruiserweight).

Ryan Oliver (3-1) bt Dale Arrowsmith (1-15-1, 1 ko), PTS 40-36 (4×3, Welterweight).

Ben Sheedy (10-0-1, 4 kos) bt Emanuel Moussinga (4-11-0, 1 ko), PTS 39-37 (4×3 Middleweight)

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