Tommy Barber – London
Brian Rose made a fourth successful defence of his British junior middleweight title at Bowler’s Arena in Manchester on Saturday, June 2 as he outpointed Scottish challenger Kris Carslaw. The judges scored a unanimous decision in the reigning champion’s favour, with one verdict one-sided, but Carslaw was competitive and enjoyed rounds where he was a swarming nuisance that Rose struggled to swat away.
Official verdict: Rose by unanimous decision (118-112, 116-113, 115-114).
Carslaw’s style was praised by Rose (20-1-1, 5ko) post-fight, who told Sky Sports One that: “[Kris is] the most awkward fighter I’ve ever met or ever boxed. He’s hard to pin down.”
However, it took a number of rounds for the all-out brawl to ensue as the opening two sessions of the 11 stones clash were in stark contrast to the other as the first two minutes of round one were tentative, with each fighter feeling the other out. Carslaw (15-2-0, 3ko) was the more active boxer, yet defending champion Rose was the cleaner hitter. That changed in the second stanza as Carlslaw forced an even higher tempo with a greater rate of accuracy which pushed Rose, who only really had the jab to rely on, out of his comfort zone.
Carlsaw’s success was largely down to throwing up to five or six shots in swift succession. While Rose may have been able to get out of the way of the first, it was the second punch – the straight right – that would catch him, leaving him more vulnerable to those that followed after, such as the uppercut.
Indeed, it was repeated uppercuts that proved to be a thorn for Rose in round three yet all that good work threatened to be offset when an accidental clash of heads left Carslaw bleeding profusely from the crown. Referee Howard Foster allowed the corner to briefly inspect the cut, they cleaned it with a towel, but when boxing resumed, the claret was pouring out the wound, over his nose, all over his face.
Prior to the fourth, Carslaw’s cutman – Benny King – smeared Vaseline over the laceration and went to work with the adrenaline in an attempt to halt the blood-flow, however, there was little he could do to close the angry cut in such a short space of time. Midway through the fourth, there was still leakage, albeit far less than what had previously been seen. While physically the Scotsman may have been able to proceed with the contest, mentally it may have had an effect as he was prone to mistakes. He was looking for hail Mary punches, perhaps in an attempt to stop the fight on his own terms, but when his lunging punches missed, he looked crude and was swiftly countered.
Rose even noted that it was the cut that may have turned the fight to his favour: “When he got the cut, it knocked him.” Carslaw concurred: “It was a bad cut… I was drinking my own blood. Benny did well to stop the cut.”
Rose was more hurtful in the fifth. He’d block Carslaw’s attacks with a high guard, while picking the challenger off with precise jabs, left and right hooks round the sides and, when Carslaw attempted to close the gap, uppercuts from short-range.
When the contest was it the midway stage, Rose may have bossed the centre of the ring but there was little stopping Carslaw’s tenacity. The two had polarising styles yet were fairly matched. Where the greatest difference between them existed – and something the judges at ringside noted – was the crisper and more accurate punching from Rose.
By the seventh, Carslaw found a tactic that brought success: inside fighting, left hooking and right uppercutting. All three together prevented Rose from playing up to his range and length and also forced the champion to begin clinching, something Foster gave Rose a stern warning for.
Showing good conditioning, Carslaw’s pressure was unrelenting into the eighth and ninth. Rose had enjoyed the finer boxing in the preceding rounds, but there just wasn’t enough of that in the middle to late rounds to guarantee him the ten scores. Carslaw, though, got through with straight right shots and body-bound hook punches… even the attacks that were denied access to Rose’s frame took their toll as his arms, which had been providing the cushion, were severely reddened.
Rose crucially interrupted Carslaw’s momentum in the tenth round and, in the first of the concluding two sessions, capitalised on that. In the 11th, Rose peeled off the jab while reverting back to the defensive stubbornness that had confounded Carslaw so early on. However, in the 12th, Carslaw upped his work-rate and clubbed Rose with right hands over the top and pummeling short-range blows to the midsection. Rose attempted to tie up and scored some eye-catching points with crisp straights but Carslaw was, on the whole, pushing Rose around the ring and to the wire in what had been a thoroughly competitive contest.
While Rose retained his honours and will now be aligned with Sam Webb, his mandatory challenger for the 154lb throne, he acknowledged Carslaw’s craft: “I’d be more than willing to rematch, he’s a tough guy.”