All of the fighters participating in the televised portion of yesterday Matchroom’s card at the Copper Box arena were out to make a statement about their role and future in their respective divisions. And they did.
With final eliminators, titles and pride on the line, a selection of some of the best domestic names and prospects over 5 divisions provided a solid night of boxing entertainment with all the right men getting their hands raised at the end.It was up to middleweight Felix Cash (10-0, 6 kos) to open the dances and while his bout against Stephen Danyo (14-2, 6 kos) was not the most exciting of the evening nothing can be taken away from his performance.
This was supposed to be a step up for both men with the WBC International Silver belt on the line. Although Danyo already fought (and lost) for an international title in his previous outing, both men records coming into the ring consisted mainly of wins over journeymen.It took Cash 2 rounds to study what was in front of him, after which he went to work increasing volume and power and finding a home for his shots both to head and body. With the exception of rounds 6 and 10 where he tried to take the initiative, Danyo was on the defensive for most of the fight, landing occasionally but ineffectively.The final score of 100-90 for Cash was accurate, although it seemed that a point was to be deducted in round 8 for a low blow. On the base of this performance, Felix, who felt avoided up to this point in his career, is now ready to go up a notch in the division and test himself against livelier opponents.
Some of the best and most determined performances in boxing history often came from fighters coming back from a loss in must-win fights necessary to remain at the top. That proved true in the case of former Okolie’s victims Luke “The Duke” Watkins (13-2, 9 kos) and Isaac Chamberlain (10-1, 4).Watkins declared in the build-up of this Cruiserweight contest that he would show his boxing skills against Chamberlain, instead their fight turned out to be a classic battle of power and pressure versus technique and precision in which the contrasting styles gelled perfectly.
They didn’t waste time looking for each other in the opening round, which Isaac won by landing the few clean shots, while Luke took the second on aggression. The man from Swindon kept on imposing his physicality for the next 2 rounds but the Brixton boxer seemed to be controlling the action and the pace with his scientific approach even while in retreat or occasionally dragged into the trenches, again landing single but cleaner shots. Watkins got through and demanded Isaac’s respect in the 5th while the 6th was a more balanced affair.In round 7, blood started pouring from Chamberlain’s nose, who seemed tired at this point. Luke was still coming forward throwing plenty in the 8th not giving his opponent the time to try and come back with something of his own. Isaac seemed to acknowledge the situation and engaged in a war at close quarters in round 9, trying to beat Watkins at his own game.It was still anybody’s fight going into the final session which started with both going toe to toe. The Duke had his man on the ropes when Chamberlain suddenly turned him, knocked his gum shield out of his mouth and made him touch the canvas. Watkins was saved by the bell, but the knock- down saw him losing a 95-94 decision. A hard fought and deserved victory for Chamberlain but on the base of this performance Luke can surely come again.
The true main event of the night, as far as the crowd was concerned, was Ted Cheeseman’s (15-0, 9 kos) grudge match with Asinia Byfield (14-2, 6 kos) for the British Light-Middleweight title. The arena erupted as the former English champion from South London walked out letting Byfield know he had very few friends in the Copper Box and Cheeseman rewarded his fans with an educated but gutsy performance against a very game and durable opponent. For the first 4 rounds, he stalked patiently his man biding his time and picking his shots, working mainly the body.All throughout, Asinia kept up a high volume output but his punches were largely ineffective and inevitably found his back against the ropes most of the time. Ted’s pressure paid off in the 5th when he stunned Byfield with a right cross followed immediately by a hook that sent him down.
To his credit, he was still punching and moving for the rest of the round but in the next session Cheeseman seemed to have finally solved his riddle as he found ways around and inside his guard. Asinia was hurt again on the ropes in the 7th but somehow managed to come back and give Ted a nose bleed.The South London fighter seemed a bit over eager to land his right hand in the next session and left himself open for retaliation but regained composure in round 8 and showed good defensive skills slipping and dodging most punches while feinting and taunting his opponent. Byfield seemed to be running out of gas from the 10th onwards and looking just to survive. Cheeseman showed signs of tiredness for the first time in the last round where they went toe to toe with some moments of tension but made it safe to the last bell to deservedly win the British title by scores of 117-110 and 117-111 twice. The best for him is yet to come.
A stereotypical saying in boxing is that the challenger must take the title from the champion. Jordan Gill (22-0, 6 kos) must be a firm believer of this saying as he really brought it and ripped the Featherweight Commonwealth belt off Ryan Doyle (17-3, 9).From the opening bell, he showed no respect for the former champion and went at him peppering him with a regular and stiff jab while circling around him. Doyle was in the fight for the first 2 rounds but from the 3rd onwards Gill started standing out for aggression and activity, keeping him constantly guessing at the end of his left hand.Jordan opened up with a 4 punches combo in the next round and led a rally trapping Ryan on the ropes while unloading with both hands, then reverted to pick him off with the jab in the 5th with Doyle constantly beaten to the punch. In the 6th, Ryan rushed in only to be caught flush with a left hook that put him down just before the bell but the writing was on the wall.At 1:32 of round 7, the referee stepped in to save him on the ropes while Gill was overwhelming him with shots. Jordan had stated before the fight that he was looking to crash a whole new level of the domestic scene and certainly did that. It is surprising that he went relatively unnoticed for 21 fights but he surely won’t be ignored anymore on the back of this performance.
In the main and final bout of the evening John Ryder (18-2, 10 kos) faced Andrey Sirotkin (15-1, 4) in a final eliminator for the WBA Super-middleweight title. The Russian boxer looked nervous on his way to the ring, while Ryder oozed confidence and walked with a sense of purpose. Sirotkin was a bit of an unknown quantity for John (or anybody else) as not much could be inferred from his record.The Islington fighter approached the first round carefully jabbing to the body while Andrey took some chances with the right hand. In the second, Ryder was still economic in his output but more aggressive and effective, scoring hooks to the body and straight left hands while blocking everything coming his way.The pattern of the fight was established. For the next 3 rounds, John methodically broke his man down with a crafty, composed and mature approach, while Sirotkin attacks looked tentative and erratic as he launched forward head first with overhead rights. In round 6, Ryder finally found his range and stepped up the tempo opening up with combinations until a clash of heads opened a cut on his eyebrow.Andrey got more aggressive in the 7th trying to capitalize on the wound but it was Ryder to catch him clean and trap him on the ropes with a barrage of punches until a right hook to the body put him down for the count to end the bout at 2:54. A solid performance with as spectacular ending for the man from Islington although against a fighter that can hardly be classified as world level material.While the eliminator was officially announced as for Callum Smith’s Super title, it was the winner of Canelo-Fielding that was mentioned in the post fight interview as likely opponent. Regardless of who he will end up facing, we sincerely hope John Ryder will get his world title shot in 2019. He earned it.
|John Ryder||W||KO||7/12||Andrey Sirotkin|
|Ryan Doyle||L||TKO||7/12||Jordan Gill|
|Ted Cheeseman||W||UD||12/12||Asinia Byfield|
|Isaac Chamberlain||W||PTS||10/10||Luke Watkins|
|Felix Cash||W||UD||10/10||Stephen Danyo|
|Martin Joseph Ward||W||KO||2/6||Mohammed Kambuluta|
|Reece Bellotti||W||PTS||6/6||Brayan Mairena|
|Craig Richards||W||TKO||2/6||Michal Ludwiczak|
|Louie Lynn||W||TKO||3/6||Rafael Castillo|
|Charlie Duffield||W||PTS||4/4||Josip Perkovic|
|George Fox||W||PTS||4/4||Igor Mihaljevic|