Liam Smith marked his homecoming bout in Liverpool with a fourth-round ‘stoppage’ of former sparring partner Hassan Mwakinyo on Saturday night on what was at times a strange night of boxing in the North-West.
The Tanzanian started the bout brightly, enjoying particular success with the right uppercut as ‘Beefy’ felt his way into the contest, looking to break his opponent down on the front foot behind a tight guard. The opening two rounds were quiet but a late shot after the bell from Mwakinyo at the end of the third looked to have irked the Liverpudlian who uttered a few choice words in the direction of the blue corner before retreating to his own stool. The bell soon rang to mark the beginning of the fourth which saw Smith burst to the centre of the ring with the late punch clearly still on his mind as he looked to put a dent in the in-form African. Midway through the round however marked the first scoring knockdown of the evening as Mwakinyo fell to his knees, seemingly blaming a trip near the ring apron which caused him to lose his balance. Referee Victor Loughlin had other ideas however and began administering a count to the frustration of those seated in the blue corner, with Mwakinyo still gesturing that he had innocently tripped and looked to have hurt his ankle in the process.
The fight soon restarted and Smith increased the tempo, putting pressure on the Tanzanian while still maintaining a water-tight guard from which winging left hooks were sent, seemingly landing now with more fruition. A solid right-hand landed from the Liverpudlian and then, just thirty seconds after the previous incident, Mwakinyo suddenly dropped to his knees again to the bemusement of everyone inside the M&S Bank Arena. The twenty-seven-year-old appealed to the referee still from a kneeling position but Loughlin’s only response was to wave the bout off immediately. The blue corner protested but they only had their man to blame who looked to drop to his knees every time a meaningful shot landed. Perhaps he was still struggling with the ankle injury sustained earlier in the round but there are means of communicating that to the official. Loughlin’s sole responsibility was to look out for the fighters’ wellbeing and his actions on Saturday surely acted in accordance with that.
Smith meanwhile cut a frustrated figure, engaging in verbal exchanges with Mwakinyo’s corner who were still complaining about the stoppage telling them their man ‘had quit’. He went further in a post-fight interview with Sky’s Andy Scott, explaining that similar had happened in a previous sparring session between the pair before expressing his frustrations that he couldn’t give his fans a proper finish. The Liverpudlian now looks to tie down a big fight next, whether that be a shot at the winner of Jermell Charlo and Tim Tszyu or next month’s domestic showdown between Chris Eubank Jr. and Conor Benn.
The chief support saw fellow scouser Natasha Jonas unify the 154-pounds division with a dominant performance over Patricia Berghult to potentially setup a huge all-British affair with the winner of the upcoming Hannah Rankin versus Terri Harper fight. Jonas revelled in the atmosphere generated by the people of her home city and boxed aggressively across the ten rounds, regularly rocking back the head of Berghult who showed phenomenal heart and grit as she refused to go down. The Swede enjoyed spells of success of her own but could not put anything together on a consistent basis to win the rounds, and by the end of the contest it was certain Jonas had done enough to add the green and gold WBC belt to the WBO strap she picked up seven months ago in Manchester.
Dan Azeez successfully defended his British light-heavyweight title with a comfortable twelve-round unanimous decision over former titleholder Shakan Pitters. Though many of the rounds were close, it was Azeez who produced the more eye-catching work as he regularly closed the gap and let his hands go on the inside against the taller, rangier man from the Midlands. Pitters certainly boxed well in spells and perhaps deserved a little more credit than he was afforded on the scorecards but the right man had his hand raised when all was said and done.
Another farcical bout took place in heavyweight prospect Frazer Clarke‘s third professional outing versus Pencho Tsvetkov. The Bulgarian entered the ring on Saturday unbeaten in seven outings but the disparity in levels became evidently clear almost immediately when a straight-right from the Burton man sent Tsvetkov stumbling back into the ropes. Clarke himself looked disappointed, acutely aware that he was in there with an opponent levels below him, and a left hook to the body left Tsvetkov on the seat of his trunks soon after. To his credit he climbed back onto his feet but the end was near, with a bundle of hooks flowing the away man again. Referee Steve Gray rightly waved the contest off, with Clarke expressing his frustration at yet another easy touch in the post-fight interview with Sky.
Further down the card, Adam Azim scored his third consecutive first-round knockout over Argentina’s Michel Cabral. The South American had never been stopped in his four defeats but Azim started razor sharply, pounding a punishing left-hook into Cabral’s rips before further hooks planted him on the canvas. The Argentine’s body language made it clear he had no intentions of continuing and he failed to make the ten count, making it five knockouts in six for Azim. Super-middleweight Diego Costa suffered his first professional defeat of his career to a game Musa Moyo, while Paddy Lacey ran out a comfortable winner over Seamus Devlin in a six-round middleweight clash.
Nathan Quarless outpointed Toni Visic over six rounds to maintain his undefeated record, while Frankie Stringer emerged victorious in his second outing with a comfortable four-round decision over Karl Sampson. Scott Forrest forced a third-round stoppage of Dmitrij Kalinovskij at cruiserweight, while Clark Smith enjoyed a successful professional debut with a four-round whitewash of Peter Aleksandrov at welterweight.