Tommy Barber – London
Joe Murray picked up the IBF youth featherweight title after dominating James Ancliff, winning every round on two of the three ringside judges’ scorecards, at the Robin Park Centre in Wigan on Saturday, June 18. Despite taking a lot of punches, Ancliff was never dropped and remained game throughout the contest. It was the first time in Murray’s career that he had gone 12 rounds.
Judges scores: 120-109, 120-110, 118-111 all to Murray by way of unanimous decision.
Round By Round Summary
Murray boxed with a hunched posture and showed quick feet when moving in and out of range to fire shots then evade any incoming blows. Throughout the first minute, a good portion of his left hands were reaching Ancliff’s head and Murray himself proved an awkward target to hit. The attempted measuring punches from Ancliff landed on Murray’s gloves or forearms and the wilder shots missed completely. Murray found success with both hands.
There was a gulf in class between Murray and Ancliff. Murray showed great reflexes, intuition, evasive maneuvering, blocking, countering and good punch-ability in both hands. The fistic arsenal Murray could call upon was immense and he landed jabs, uppercuts, straights and crosses to the head and hooks to the body. Despite the attack, Ancliff was on his fight and still looked strong seeming like a stubborn and durable opponent, however, Ancliff has been stopped twice in the opening two rounds before.
In the opening minute of the third round there was a good toe-to-toe exchange as both men traded head-shots. When Ancliff was on the move, some of his punches looked slappy. The right uppercut from Murray was a reliable and solid shot against Ancliff. Murray’s ability to punch from a variety of angles looked fancy.
By the fourth round, Murray began introducing a straight left with the right uppercut, loading up on a number of one-two combinations. In the second minute of the round, Ancliff was kept at bay for a good period of time as Murray boxed around Ancliff and stuck out left jab after left jab. Ancliff struck Murray with a straight right in the final 30 seconds.
Murray laid traps in the fifth. He sent a jab to Ancliff’s midsection, diverting his opponent’s attention from an incoming right to the head. Ancliff remained game. He had been continually out-boxed throughout the fight and had a boxing style crude in comparison to Murray but every so often the Scotsman still landed. He had to clinch midway through the round after a punishing torrent of punches from Murray. Ancliff grimaced after a body-punch.
Ancliff wobbled after a strong hook shot at the start of the sixth. Midway through the round, both fighters traded left hooks. The jab to the body and straight to the head move that had fooled Ancliff in previous rounds, again duped the 27-year-old. Ancliff was a busy fighter but ultimately scored little due to the superiority of Murray.
Murray’s hook shots landed flush time after time in the seventh. A right hand from Murray knocked the gumshield out of Ancliff’s mouth. Ancliff pieced together a slow six-punch flurry but they were all blocked by Murray who, with 20 seconds remaining on the round clock, landed an angry right hook.
Murray worked the right uppercut well again in the eighth and ninth round. Ancliff tried to showboat in the second minute of the ninth, but while he elaborately wound up a shot, Murray beat him to the punch with a left hook. And again. And again. Ancliff was forced to clinch at the round’s end as he was left troubled by repeated hooks to both the face and body.
Prior to the tenth, Murray’s head cornerman Joe Gallagher informed his fighter that the left hook to the body was his best weapon against Ancliff. Jabs, hooks and right uppercuts all worked for Murray. Ancliff, with his energy-levels waning, was missing more and getting hit more.
Gallagher gave Murray a bit of a pep talk prior to the start of the eleventh round: “Go out there and show him who you are.” Ancliff had to be warned by the referee for tying Murray up into a headlock. Ancliff was more focused on spoiling rather than engaging. The right cross, left hook and right uppercut all struck Ancliff and the Scot was wobbled by a number of the punches.
The holding from the eleventh round continued into the twelfth. Murray exerted his jab with a good authority and Ancliff again had no answer for Murray’s hooks. Murray’s one-two also troubled his opponent. Murray landed an overhand right but Ancliff remained on his feet. Despite dropping a one-sided decision to Murray (11-0-0, 5ko), Ancliff showed astounding drive, determination and heart. Murray completely out-boxed Ancliff (11-14-2, 2ko) and got 12 good rounds under his belt.