Lee Selby won a truly punishing lightweight 12-rounder via
majority decision over Ricky Burns. Selby, from Barry in Wales, was moving up
in weight while Burns was coming down. They collided in the middle like a
couple of runaway cars. After 36 foul-tempered minutes, Steve Gray scored
115-115 while Howard Foster (116-112) and Victor Loughlin (116-113) scored for
the right winner.
Burns ignored Selby’s invitation to touch gloves at the
opening bell, instead choosing to attack his rival’s ribs. Burns continued to
attack throughout the first session but Selby, on his toes, pinged in accurate
Selby’s jab started to find the mark in the third and, as Burns continued to
look for openings in close, the Welshman tagged him with his right. It was far
from one-sided though as Burns, determined to keep the action at a fast pace,
chased after his opponent, scoring occasionally.
Burns landed his right in the fourth but was too often having
to walk straight into Selby’s lead in order to get his own shots off. Selby
appeared to hurt Burns with lefts and rights in the fifth only for the Scot to
At the end of the round, Burns appeared to signal he had been
hit with the head. Selby clouted him across the face as the bell sounded.
Enraged, Burns landed a right hand that was several seconds after the bell. Both
fighters were warned at the start of the sixth.
There was an unquestionable clash of heads in the seventh.
Burns again appeared to take the brunt of it and he again screwed up his face
in pain. Selby sensed his opponent was hurt and, though Burns got through with
some punches, there was an urgency, which bordered on desperation, that gave
the impression it was Selby who was in control.
In truth, it was a ferocious battle between two proud
fighters. Two boxers who have sparred many rounds in the past, two former world
champions eager for bragging rights beneath the lights. At the end of the
eighth, in keeping with the theme and to level the score, Selby cracked Burns
with a left hook after the bell.
By the 11th Selby was landing regularly. A left in
particular seemed to hurt Burns. But the Scot dug deep and fired back. It was untidy,
neither was fighting within the law, and referee Bob Williams – his shirt wet
with sweat – struggled at times to keep the fighters in check – particularly as
punches clattered into the back of heads.
Burns, ever the warrior, went all out for the strong finish.
Again, they rabbit punched, hit low and jammed their elbows in faces. It was a
gruelling, gruelling fight and one not for the squeamish.
Lawrence Okolie is the new European cruiserweight champion after stopping Yves Ngabu in the seventh round. There was some suggestion the finish was premature but the Belgian, at 2-27 of the session, was in no condition to continue.
A short left hand was followed quickly by a right and Ngabu rocked backwards. It was an ugly movement, as his head wobbled and his body failed to keep him steady. His eyes were foggy, too. The referee’s interception was correct.
Okolie used his reach advantage well in the opening round, scoring with his left behind Ngabu’s guard and appeared the hurt the champion in the second with the same hand. As the stocky Belgian went back to the corner, he shook his head at trainer, Dominic Ingle.
Indeed, it was Shane McGuigan who was the happier trainer as Okolie increased the pressure in the third, a perfect left hook to the body briefly stopped Ngabu in his tracks.
There were better signs for Ngabu in the fourth as he burrowed inside and scored to the body. A left hand, flung up from a crouch, also tagged Okolie. At the end of the session, McGuigan urged Okolie to get back on his toes.
But the action continued at close quarters in the fifth. Again, the underdog scored with his left but Okolie, with those long levers, kept out of any trouble.
Okolie should be pleased with his performance. Though he isn’t always pretty to watch, he’s going to be exceptionally hard to beat.
CONOR BENN turned in a typically exciting and ruthless display, when he knocked out Steve Jamoye at 2-15 of the fourth round. After taking a left hand, the Belgian staggered backwards before Benn swept inside and unleashed four further blows. The last shot, a right hand, sent Jamoye down heavily. He was cheered when he got his feet, after being administered oxygen, several minutes later.
Benn had been in control from the start. A left hand over the top scored in the opening round but Benn was measured and showed little of the carelessness that has drawn criticism in the past.
But the animal instinct was there for all to see before long. Benn slashed at Jamoye’s body. The smack of the blows could be heard at ringside. Benn, however, strayed low with his punches on more than one occasion.
The finish was brutal. Jamoye went down face-first and instinctively tried to rise immediately but his arms and legs would not respond. Referee Steve Gray called an end immediately. Doctors rushed in and put Jamoye in the recovery position.
The ferocious Abass Baraou continues to feast on the middle-aged. In seven fights, the exceptionally promising German had beaten veterans Carlos Molina and Ali Funeka. John O’Donnell, classy but fading at 33, was wiped out in six rounds after a gallant effort to halt the prospect’s march. O’Donnell started brightly enough and countered well through the opening rounds.
But Baraou, who is signed with the Sauerlands, was just
getting going. Rough round the edges he might be, but his relentless pressure,
as he targeted the body, soon drained the reserves from the Shepherd’s Bush
A bristling attack, that started with a sapping left to the
body, sent O’Donnell down. Clearly exhausted, the Galway-born southpaw got to
his feet and signalled to referee Victor Loughlin he could continue. Baraou attacked
with menace and, though O’Donnell was not in desperate trouble, the compassionate
stoppage from the referee, at 2-59 of the sixth, was timed impeccably.
Austin “Ammo” Williams, a 23-year-old from Houston, Texas, impressed for large sections of his four-rounder with Czech Republic’s Miroslav Juna. The southpaw, who has been sparring WBC super-middleweight champion Callum Smith and is hoping to bag a spot on the Andy Ruiz Jnr-Anthony Joshua undercard in Saudi Arabia, bullied his sturdy opponent’s head and body throughout with eye-catching blows.
A vicious left hand sank into Juna’s midsection in the closing seconds. A few more, and Williams may have scored the stoppage. Referee Ian John Lewis scored the bout 40-36 in the American’s favour.
The career of Darwen’s Luke Blackledge dipped further when he retired on his stool after four rounds – scheduled for six – against unbeaten German prospect, Denis Radovan. Blackledge, a former Commonwealth super-middleweight champion, was under the cosh from the start. A right hand dropped him at the end of the third and he was under pressure throughout what turned out to be the final session.
In a lively four-rounder, Shannon Courtenay extended her unbeaten record to four when she outworked Melinda Habran, winning 40-36.
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