Alan Dawson – London
Tony Bellew outpointed Roberto Bolonti on all three of the judges’ scorecards despite suffering a problematic cut in the third round of a light heavyweight tussle at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham on Saturday, November 17. The cut changed the complexion of the fight, from a gutsy encounter that could have finished early, to a cerebral hit-and-not-get-hit affair. Bellew’s promoter Eddie Hearn, of Matchroom Sports, will now push for a final WBC eliminator in March.
Official verdict: Bellew via unanimous decision.
“I felt like I could have got rid of him in the first three rounds,” said Bellew (19-1-0, 12ko), who picked up the WBC silver title at 175lbs with his victory. “He was tough, good chin. I just didn’t get the knockout.”
Pre-fight hostilities that involved Bolonti (30-2-0, 19ko) making throat-slashing gestures at the weigh-in on Friday were a mere appetiser for what ensued on the co-main event for the True Brit bill in the Midlands as both fighters landed with aplomb as early as the first round.
Bellew, who has boxed with a more risk averse method since suffering knockdowns at the fists of Ovill McKenzie in 2010, abandoned that strategy against his Argentine opponent as he fought on the front-foot and had his man on his knees, receiving a referee’s count, prior to the opening chapter’s conclusion. That decision was to Bolonti’s chagrin, who vehemently protested the count as he claimed the resultant punch was to the back of the head – a valid argument when watching the replay.
Bolonti was on his seat for the second time in the third round after getting caught with a hooking left early in the stanza. Even though he was losing rounds, the 33-year-old from Buenos Aires was no slouch in attack and was adept at landing his left, a shot that eventually slashed open Bellew’s brow and had claret waterfalling down the middle of his Chevy Chase.
Bellew, cheered on at ringside by Everton football stars Sylvain Distin and Tim Howard, did not his tactics in the fourth despite the cut. In the fifth, though, Bellew boxed Bolonti. The Bomber’s bleeding had ceased – largely thanks to the calm work of cutman Mick Williamson – and he bobbed and weaved away from Roberto’s swinging fists and fought with caution. Bellew had become more methodical in his approach and focused his attention to Bolonti’s midsection, particularly with his left mitt as he wisely kept his right at head-level in order to protect the gash.
Bellew picked his shots well in the sixth stanza and kept Bolonti at jabbing range. Boxing for the first time outside of Argentina, Bolonti did attempt to target the open trench on Bellew’s mush but his hooks and one-two combinations were largely thrown in vain as the popular Liverpudlian prizefighter’s athleticism and intuitive defensive movement ensured he was able to keep himself out of harm’s way.
In the ninth, Bellew backed Bolonti against the ropes but just when the attack could have proven troublesome for the visitor, he slipped out of the danger zone and back to the centre of the ring. The next round, Bolonti was hurt and on spaghetti legs following a body-bound combo and an uppercut. However, the South American’s recovery rate was sterling and he steadily walked to the red corner after hearing the bell.
Bellew popped a mustard one-two at the beginning of the 11th and there was not a moment that passed that wasn’t controlled by the Englishman. The fight’s finish was not climactic… considering the simmering heat during the weigh-in and the initial duelling this evening, the bout lost it’s fizzle sharpish, largely due to the cut suffered by Bellew.
Tony did well to adapt and shut out his opponent, but Bolonti and his corner would need to be asked why they didn’t force a stoppage on the cut. Even if he stuck his jab out and used his orthodox shots with more regularity he could have angered what was a large laceration, but, if anything, Bolonti boxed in a more timid fashion than he had in the first three rounds.
Credit for Bellew’s win must be placed with his corner, as well as himself. The change in tactics was on point but the work done by Willamson in calming the cut was nothing short of heroic.
“We’re in the pain business… we gotta go through it [but] I’ve got the best cutman in the game in Mick Williamson,” concluded Bellew.
Alan Dawson – London
Khalid ‘Kal’ Yafai, 23, continued to attract accolades with a hellacious first round knockout against overmatched Italian opponent Pio Antonio Nettuno at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham.
Press release – Betfair
Betfair punters make Scottish fighter Craig McEwan the 7-4 favourite to win the final Betfair Prizefighter of 2012, the Light Middleweight III event at York Hall in Bethnal Green, London, tonight. Edinburgh-born McEwan, who has spent most of his career boxing in America, will be hoping to triumph on his return to the UK. The 30-year-old looks like the man to beat in the fight for the £32,000 winner’s cheque.
The inexperienced Larry Ekundayo, with just two previous fights to his name, is next in the betting at 11-4 to lift the coveted trophy, the novice having looked particularly impressive during those previous bouts. Hard-hitting Curtis Valentine is an 8-1 shot, as is McEwan’s fellow Scot, Kris Carslaw.
12-1 chance Navid Mansouri, Ryan Toms at 18-1, 19-1 shot Terry Carruthers and Peter Vaughan, available at 24-1, complete the line-up for boxing card.
Betfair’s Alex Bake said: “We’re excited to be back at York Hall for the final Betfair Prizefighter of the year. The Scots look on great form and our punters are backing McEwan to come out on top. But with a brand new £2,000 bonus on offer for a KO victory, expect lots of big punches to be thrown, and when that happens every fighter is in with a chance.”
To win Betfair Prizefighter boxing Light Middleweight III – Betfair bet: 7-4 Craig McEwan, 11-4 Larry Ekundayo, 8-1 Curtis Valentine, Kris Carslaw, 12-1 Navid Mansouri, 18-1 Ryan Toms, 19-1 Terry Carruthers, 24-1 Peter Vaughan.
On The Beak – Admin
InterBox and Lucian Bute met with media representatives at the Cage aux Sports restaurant in the Montreal Bell Centre earlier this week. Team InterBox revisited Lucian’s last bout on May 26 and revealed the future plans for Lucian and Carl Froch. Below, is a detailed resume of declarations by Lucian Bute, InterBox president Jean Bedard, Matchroom Boxing president Eddie Hearn and head trainer Stephan Larouche.
- That was not the real Lucian Bute in that Nottingham ring last May, 26. I spent the last few weeks reflecting about what went wrong, what happened, and the only thing that is crystal clear in my mind is that I want my rematch with Carl Froch as soon as possible.
- I am convinced the loss was due to critical errors on my part and that I will beat him.
- I did not use my primary weapons of speed and my jab at all during the fight. I fought Carl Froch’s fight instead of dictating the pace and forcing him to fight my fight.
- It was a bad night for me in Nottingham. A nightmare, really. I lost my IBF belt, my perfect record and I suffered a hard loss.
- I cannot wait to step back into the ring. I am already back at the gym training. I feel fresh, in good spirits, my health is very good and my goal and motivation is to prove to myself and to everyone that [my] last [fight] was just a bad day at the office.
- I do not want to take anything away from Carl Froch’s accomplishment. He was the better man that night. He was hungrier and more motivated and he won. But now I have to look ahead. My promoter Jean Bedard, my coach Stephan Larouche and I have had numerous serious discussions and we have established a plan that I am very comfortable with. In the next two fights I will erase the bad memory from my mind and from the minds of my fans.
- There is no hiding the fact that the result was hard on everyone. But even in defeat, in the locker room after the fight and the days following the loss, I still felt Lucian had the fire in his belly to come back stronger and demand his rematch with Froch.
- Lucian was in my office the morning after his return from Romania to reaffirm his intentions. He looked me straight in the eyes and asked me to set the plan we detailed with him and Stephan in motion.
- In all likelihood Lucian will box in Montreal or Quebec this Fall. However, it is also not out of the question that Lucian make his November ring return in Romania. We are already in discussions with an opponent and have sent them an offer.
- We do have a rematch clause with Matchroom Boxing, which could have been a direct rematch bout no matter the outcome. Matchroom Boxing is a great organisation to work with and I have been speaking to Eddie once or twice a week since [the defeat]. I almost know his number by heart. We decided together that in the interest of effectively promoting the rematch, Lucian and Carl would fight in separate events and that we will coordinate our efforts for both to fight on the same day, in November. We agreed the Bute/Froch rematch would take place on March 16th or March 23rd at the Montreal Bell Centre.
- The Carl Froch v Lucian Bute fight has already gone down as one of the greatest fights in British boxing history. It generated record audiences and a sold-out arena that were treated to what many respected pundit and fighters have described as one of the greatest atmosphere’s ever.
- Carl put in an incredible performance and against all odds recaptured a world title. Both Carl, I and the people of Great Britain have the utmost respect for Lucian for first accepting the challenge to come to England but also the manner in which he accepted defeat.
- Like any fighter, I’m sure Lucian would like an opportunity to avenge this defeat as per our agreement he has the opportunity to try and make that happen. Together with Jean Bedard we have agreed in the interest of both fighters that we will have an ‘interim’ fight and then look to rematch in March 2013. I’m sure this will build into another huge fight and will do record numbers in Canada.
- Team Bute has been analysing all factors and circumstances pertaining to the May 26 bout, including Lucian`s preparation.
- As Lucian confirmed earlier, he is already back in the gym. We want to make sure he stays in great shape.
- We will not be “starting from zero” with Lucian. I want to make it clear to everyone that Lucian did not lose the fight because he was over trained, or not ready. He lost that fight because of several small mistakes that combined gave all the advantage to Carl Froch.
- We are not looking for an “easy touch” for the November fight. We are looking for, and have possibly found, an opponent that will test Lucian and give him a difficult fight. I want Lucian to be tested, to work, and to step out of his comfort zone as well.
Alan Dawson – London
In a bout that contained two contrasting halves, Kell Brook survived a fight of the year nominee to land himself a potential shot at the IBF welterweight world title. On Saturday, June 7 at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield, Brook was punch perfect for six rounds yet seemed to have emptied his tank as Carson Jones came on strong in the latter half, mashed Kell’s nose up and made a strong case for the draw…
Official verdict: Brook by way of majority decision (116-113, 116-113, 114-114).
With the backing of a 10,000 strong reception in Yorkshire, Brook (28-0-0, 18ko) boxed perfectly in round one, rendering Jones’ output redundant as the American came forward in a one-paced manner which thus allowed Brook to move effortlessly around his opponent and pump two, three and four punch combinations into Carson’s frame. Jones (34-9-2, 24ko) entered the bout as the power puncher with the kayo threat but on first impressions it was The Special One who was able to penetrate Jones’ guard, rumble him with uppercuts and deft left hooks and generally make himself a nuisance.
In the subsequent rounds, Brook fought behind his jab and using the shot to introduce body shots and uppercuts. The Englishman also produced an extremely competent and tight defence, making Jones miss, which was not good for Carson as the visiting pugilist was not even active. At the end of the third round, Brook received raucous applause and noise from his numerous fans for his aggression, however, there were few shots that were clean as Jones diverted shots with his arms.
While Jones got his act together in the fourth, it was Brook who finished in the more commanding position as Carson’s enhanced work-rate allowed Kell to show off his slickness, his counter-punching ability and his shoulder-roll. While Jones concentrated on Brook’s midsection, the home fighter was more varied… and double-jabbed with precision. In the fifth round, Jones boxed more positively, yet this opened him up and Brook clubbed hooks around Jones’ guard, shook up the American’s foundations and genuinely hurt his man. Jones came back at Kell for what was left in the round, sticking Brook into the red corner but Kell’s defence troubled Carson as he struggled to land anything of significance.
Jones’ limitations were further exposed in round six. Carson’s guard was ineffectual as, when Brook teed off, he was easily able to separate Jones’ high guard and land – with aplomb – straight right punches into the mush, however, he lost round seven. Brook’s work-rate was on the wane, he fought in a fatigued fashion and Jones perturbed him from action, forcing Kell to resort to headlocking him with a left arm in order to dilute the inside tussle.
Brook’s sudden lack of interest in the fight worried his corner so much that head coach Dominic Ingle poured an ice bucket over his head prior to the eighth in order to wake his charge up, however, this did not produce the desired effect as Jones went on to bloody Brook’s nose and score a cut to the side of the eye. The famed power of the American fighter, one year Brook’s junior, was finally revealed as he battled Brook into corners and rocked his head back repeatedly yet Brook closed the round with a peach of a countering uppercut which demonstrated that he still had something to offer with four rounds remaining.
With a nose leaking profusely and with blood smeared all over his philtrum, Brook showed an aggression in the tenth that had disappeared from his game from rounds six to nine and he got the crowd back on his side by attacking Jones in a positive 20 seconds of action before backpedaling, countering with right hands but having to take punishment from Carson who battled back convincingly in the final 30 seconds of the session.
Brook’s attempts to switch to the southpaw stance did little to confuse Carson, who was able to see the portside jab coming and parry it with his high glove. Those half-hearted jabs were all Kell seemed to have in the penultimate round whilst Jones continued to torture Brook’s body. The Brit’s defence abandoned him further in the final stanza and Jones genuinely troubled and hurt Brook before the referee separated the pair. If the fight had another round to go, Jones could have secured a stoppage finish, however, after the 12 round distance, Brook eked out a narrow victory on points.
Tommy Barber – London
Maturing super bantamweight prospect Carl Frampton rose to 14-0-0, 9ko as he produced a cultured display to outbox erstwhile undefeated Mexican Raul Hirales on Saturday, May 26 at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham. Frampton was patient, precise and is fast beginning to live up to his acclaim as he showed different facets to his boxing style that are all proving to be equally reliable.
Official verdict: Frampton wins by way of UD (scores: 120-108, 119-109 x 2).
“[That was] easily the toughest [fight],” said Frampton to Sky Sports One after the scorecards were announced. “Like the scores say I only lost one round and I boxed as well as I ever did as a professional… I hit him loads clean!”
Clean punching was not the only talking point analysts will take away from Frampton’s performance against Hirales as he boxed a very clever fight as early as round one, where he showed caution and relinquished the centre of the ring to Hirales during the opening swordsmanship. From there, the Northern Irish 25-year-old – who bolsters his reputation from fight to fight – bossed Hirales with precise single-fire shots and intuitive movement.
The Jackal thumped right hands into Hirales’ ribs and darted out of the pocket before the return fire, leaving the Mexican with no flesh to connect with so the consequent air-shot left the visiting pugilist off-balance. Frampton’s right hand lead shots in the second round also left Hirales perplexed and it fast became clear Frampton was the heavier hitter.
In the third, Frampton rocked Hirales onto the backfoot and foiled his man with his movements to the left, parrying of the incoming straight rights, the countering left hands and the clubbing rights over the top. Frampton boxed in a more cerebral fashion than he perhaps had done before and against Hirales it worked to tremendous effect but, in the fourth, there was more of a trade-off with Carl just gaining the upper hand in each altercation.
Hirales’ best moments were seldom, but when Frampton had his back to the ropes, he looked his most vulnerable as the Mexican could work from short-range while what had been a frustratingly elusive target had less room to maneuvre himself into.
One key factor in the lack of blood and guts may have been the 12-round distance in the back of each fighters’ minds. Neither man had gone past ten rounds (30 minutes) prior to May 26 and so preservation of stamina could well have been fundamental, especially in Frampton’s approach.
Effectively keeping himself out of harm’s way, showing good head movement to back away from shots, together with fine counter-punching, Frampton may have done enough to just win the points during rounds six to nine but the style will not have been swashbuckling enough to win him more fans during an event broadcast internationally. What was impressive, though, despite the inability to rouse the 10,000 strong crowd, was that Frampton nullified an undefeated fighter’s tactics whilst imposing his own.
The championship rounds were owned by Frampton who was boss, like he was during the opening third of the contest. In the 12th and final round, Frampton remained slick, kept a high and tight guard when Hirales combo’d, but was also stringent on maintaining attention to the body and devoted to accurate punches.
Frampton’s past fights showed he had grit and concussive power but against Hirales, he showed he was disciplined, could follow a gameplan, his coach’s instruction and box. His adviser, Barry McGuigan, commented: “It’s hard not to be happy, I’m a bit hoarse now! It was a great display, he showed he could box. [Hirales] was a tough, genuine fighter. This kid [Carl] is a world class fighter.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn added that they would now gun for Kiko Martinez: “That was the perfect opponent for a step-up, we’ll get ranked now by the IBF and we hope to get Kiko Martinez.”
With the win, Frampton became the IBF intercontinental champion at super bantamweight.
On The Beak – Admin
Matchroom Sport have confirmed that the IBF have made Carl Froch the mandatory challenger to Lucian Bute’s super middleweight world championship title. The former two-time WBC champion had been linked to a “home and away” clash with Bute and now the 34-year-old looks set to challenge the Canadian for the title after the IBF installed him as the number one contender for the belt.
Froch’s promoter Eddie Hearn confirmed that he has been in constant – and constructive – talks with Bute’s Interbox team since Froch completed his Super Six World Boxing Classic journey to the final against Andre Ward in December, and he hopes that the projected two-legged contests between the pair could begin in Froch’s hometown of Nottingham, in May.
“I’m delighted that Carl has been installed as the mandatory for Lucien Bute’s next bout,” said Hearn. “Positive discussions have been ongoing with Interbox since the Super Six final and we hope to get this fight made.
“It is Carl’s dream to have his next fight in the UK and that is something very important to both of us. After recent discussions, I believe we can bring Lucian here in May and we will be happy to give him the rematch in Canada once Carl has taken the IBF title from him.”
Tommy Barber – London
Technically proficient middleweight contender Darren Barker has not boxed since his October knockout defeat to lineal 160lb champion Sergio Martinez and the Londoner’s promoter, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sports, is in discussions with a hat-trick of alphabet champions as well as an emerging Englishman and recent world title challenger. Dmitry Pirog, Daniel Geale, Julio Cesar Chavez Jr and Martin Murray are all viable opponents for Barker’s next bout.
A professional fighter known for his defensive strategy, sharp left hook and precise punching, Barker (23-1-0, 14ko) – in defeat – was noted for laying a potential blueprint in how to defeat the respected Martinez as the Englishman frustrated the Argentine with a stubborn guard in Atlantic City.
It is that performance that fortified his status as a player on the international scene having dominated at British and European level. And, Hearn has confirmed that he has sought out match-ups with IBF world championship incumbent Geale, Russian pugilist Pirog – the holder of the WBO title and WBC belt holder Chavez Jr, an undefeated 160lber from Mexico.
“I have had positive talks with Pirog and Geale’s promoters and I am in constant communication with Top Rank over a Chavez fight in May,” Hearn said.
“We have also made an offer to Martin Murray and are waiting to hear back from his team. It’s a very exciting time for Darren and he needs to have a date in his head to focus on now that he is back in the gym, so a decision will be made soon.”
According to reports, Murray (23-0-0, 10ko) was receptive to an all-English encounter with Barker in what would be another north versus south card much like John Murray and Kevin Mitchell, last year. Should a world title fight not materialise for Dazzling Darren, then a mouthwatering tie between two cerebral British prizefighters could very well bear fruit.
On The Beak – Admin
Manchester man Matthew Hatton has implied that Kell Brook’s preparation may suffer in the build-up to their fight and has warned the Sheffield man that becoming a father for the first time will hurt his quest to win the battle of Britain’s best welterweights. Hatton and Brook clash at the Motorpoint Arena on March 17 in a bout that is broadcast on Sky Sports and the spotlight will be on the unbeaten Brook in his biggest headline show to date.
Hatton believes that the pressure to perform coupled with becoming a Dad for the first time could be too much for the 25-year-old. Both men are due to have baby girls in the build-up to the fight – with Kell’s partner Lindsey due in mid February and Hatton’s partner Jenna early March. But, while Hatton has already experienced training for a fight while become a father, he believes Kell’s plans could be thrown into chaos as he enters parenthood.
“Jenna and I have gone through it all before so there will be nothing new there for us,” said Hatton (42-5-2, 16ko).
“But for Kell it’s a new experience becoming a father for the first time. It’s absolutely amazing of course, but it’s a real shock and it takes some getting used to. It can be a really difficult period and it’s hard to stay focussed on the training. But sometimes in life there are more important things than boxing and being a father is one of them. When you bring kids into the world you have to provide for them so it’s a motivation for the training and the fight as you are doing it for their future.”
Jenna is due to give birth to a baby girl on March 4, just 13 days before he meets Brook (26-0-0, 18ko) in the huge domestic 147lb clash. Hatton has been in this situation before when Jenna was carrying their son Jack as he was preparing to face Craig Watson for the Commonwealth title in Manchester in 2008: “It wasn’t a great performance against Craig,” admitted Hatton. “Jack was about three months old then so it was a difficult time and it definitely affected my performance – and it will have an effect on Kell.”
He continued: “Our baby girl is due on March 4, but Jack was two weeks late. If she goes two weeks over with the new baby it’ll be the day after the fight, so she’s sweating a bit. Jenna’s a massive support for my career and she represented Great Britain and England in a number of swimming events so, as an athlete herself, Jenna knows the dedication involved and the pressures you are under ahead of competing. She was never a boxing fan before we met but she loves her boxing now and she’s more keen on Saturday Fight Night than me to be honest!”
Jenna has left her part-time job as a learning mentor for kids in Salford to go on maternity leave, and as she gets close to her due date, Hatton said he may be tempted to include her into to his preparation.
“She’s quite big now, I think she’s up to about Cruiserweight so we’ve been having a laugh about that around the house!” quipped Hatton. “I’m into camp now, roadwork is underway and I start sparring next week so I had a good Christmas but it’s great being back in the gym and we’re just going to start upping it and upping it as the weeks go on, but the start has been fantastic.”
Over 5,000 tickets were sold in just three days worth of sales, VIP tickets are already sold out, but £30 (tiered), £40 (tiered), £60 (tiered/floor) and £100 (ringside) are available from the Motorpoint Arena Sheffield Box Office on 0114 256 5656 or here.
Related article: Khan: I used to slap Brook around the ring in sparring
Petra Kirsch – Gelsenkirchen
Bloodied, beat up and stopped in three rounds, former world champion Sebastian Sylvester was technically knocked out by new middleweight arrival Grzegorz Proksa who has celebrated his new found fame by signing terms with one of Britain’s most prominent promotional vehicles; Matchroom Sports. Barry Hearn was elated with the latest acquisition to his flourishing stable and claimed a world title shot in 2012 beckons for the latest EBU champ at 160lbs.
Having exchanged contracts with Proksa at Matchroom Sports headquarters in Essex, Hearn commended Proksa’s emphatic win over Sylvester in Germany: “Grzegorz was fantastic against Sylvester, he went into the lion’s den and dominated a world class fighter on his home patch.”
Using angles, moving laterally and showing good speed of hand and foot, Proksa (26-0-0, 19ko) combined technical skill with hard, unforgiving power punches that wore down Sylvester, a seasoned veteran with wins over Billy Lyell and Amin Asikainen, whilst also taking Felix Sturm the 12-round distance.
At Matchroom Sports, Proksa joins undefeated welterweight star Kell Brook, the incumbent of the WBC super middleweight world championship Carl Froch and, intriguingly, Darren Barker, who recently announced himself to global fight fans with a commendable tactical performance against lineal middleweight champion Sergio Martinez.
“He is aggressive and relentless in the ring and ambitious out of it,” Hearn continued of Proksa. “The desire he has shown has impressed me greatly and we will be looking to get a well deserved World title shot next year.”
Proksa, meanwhile, stated that the decision to sign terms with Matchroom was an easy one for him: “Ever since watching Chris Eubank fight Graciano Rocchigiani in Germany in 1994 I’ve dreamed of joining up with Matchroom. I believe with Matchroom behind me I can go on to win a world title next year.”