Alan Dawson – London
Carl Froch‘s first defence of his IBF super middleweight world title was as swift as it was brutal as he knocked American challenger Yusaf Mack out with an acute body punch in the third round of their confrontation at the Capital FM Arena in Nottingham on Saturday, November 17. Froch’s promoter, Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Sports, wants only the elite for Froch in 2013 and spoke of potential rematches with Lucian Bute, Mikkel Kessler and Andre Ward.
Official verdict: Froch by 3rd Rd TKO.
Boxing with the Stars and Stripes on his trunks and adopting his trademark slick style with his left mitt low, Mack (31-5-2, 17ko) appeared unfazed at the rowdy reception provided by the partisan English crowd. However, like Lucian Bute in May, Mack had no answer when he was bum-rushed by Froch (30-2-0, 22ko) and suffered a flash knockdown in the first round before looking unsteady and ready to fall a second time mere moments from the bell.
Upon replay, though, the knockdown may have been aided by leg entanglement, but Mack’s body language when on his stool between rounds was that of a man who was shocked at the effectiveness of the bombardment he was forced to endure in the opening three minutes.
In the second round, Froch, 35, varied his jabbing to the mouth and to the gut. Midway through the stanza, he threw combinations to the sides of the Philadelphian’s body and, when Mack had his back to the ropes, there was a fan-friendly kerfuffle as both men swapped heavy leather, explosive bombs and egotistical smiles. While Froch got the better of each argument, Mack was no slouch when it came to retaliation and enjoyed most of his success with his left cross.
Froch worked behind his under-rated jab in the third round and his focus was mostly upstairs as Mack’s adapted Philly-Shell guard prevented access to the body. When Mack let his hands go, though, he left his body unprotected and this became his undoing as he was felled for a second time with a tortuous blow just above the belt-line. The decisive flurry included a right to the rib cage, a left to the body and a left to the skull before Mack submitted to his knees and required paramedic attention – perhaps due to broken, or at least severely battered and bruised, ribs.
“I get my body in A-level condition,” said the ageless Froch to Sky Sports 1 following the official announcement of his win. “If anyone comes in below par – that is what happens to them. Physically I feel at my best, I’m smashing my personal bests in training. Mentally, I’m dealing with these opponents. He didn’t come out sharp, I found my range early and them body shots would have hurt.”
Promoter Hearn spoke of Froch’s future: “[Bute and his management have] got to decide whether they want the fight. We’re contractually obliged to go over there [but] I don’t think there is one super middleweight out there – Andre Ward included – who can beat Carl Froch in Nottingham. Bute, [Mikkel] Kessler and Ward. That’s who we want in 2013 and the more fights in Nottingham the better.”
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.
Ibrahim Harb – Birmingham
Box Nation, a channel that had been airing a number of past Frank Warren promoted shows on a loop in past weeks, will now be developed into a dynamic platform that will be broadcasting live fight cards, boxing news and, as well as working with Sports Network, will also have access to Sauerland shows and Golden Boy Promotions events, as confirmed by Box Nation CEO Simon Green and prominent British promoter Frank Warren.
Accessed via the Sky platform on channel 456, Box Nation will initially run as a free-to-air channel – from six in the morning until midnight – but will then turn into an encryption service that requires a £10 monthly fee to unlock, however, for the money received, fight fans will get, in return: the most highly-anticipated global fights, scintillating domestic scraps and even amateur shows.
Speaking to the assembled media at a conference in London, Green explained that: “The main element of content will be two promotions a week. It’s an extremely exciting line-up of live events from now until December. There will be news content every day. We also intend on broadcasting mixed martial arts. It will be reactive to what is going on in the world of boxing. The channel is a celebration of the art of boxing with taglines such as: ‘Grace And Glory‘, ‘Life With Guts‘ and ‘Birth Of A Nation‘.
For Warren, the ability to now promote his stable of fighters on a channel he has helped launch represents “a dream come true”. He said: “This is a dedicated channel. It’s about our sport. There’s a big audience there for live fights and we’re bringing it to UK viewers.”
Regarding the line-up of shows slated to be broadcast on Box Nation, Warren listed: “It all starts on September 30. We open up with Liam Walsh and Paul Appleby at York Hall. Then we go to amateur boxing with the World Amateur Championships live from Azerbaijan.
“On October 1 we go to Germany for the cruiserweight unification between Steve Cunningham and Yoan Pablo Hernandez. You’ll also see archive fights, and fights from all around the world. We go to boxing at the Royal Albert Hall for the Royal Albert Hall Cup [which pits] UK forces against US force – it’s an annual event.
“Box Nation is getting behind the amateur sport,” Warren clarified. “Without the amateurs there’d be no professionals,” he said, before continuing with the immediate fixture list that will the channel will air: “On October 15 we have a double-header between WBO light heavyweight world champion Nathan Cleverly and Tony Bellew, and the European title fight between Piotr Wilczewski and James DeGale. But, to give you even more we go to the Staples Center in LA for Bernard Hopkins and Chad Dawson.
“These are the types of fights we want to bring fans. Frankie Gavin will also be aired, then a big night from Wembley for Ricky Burns and Michael Katsidis, then George Groves and Paul Smith. We’ll also be doing the the Mikkel Kessler and Robert Stieglitz bout and we want one of our fighters getting the winner of that fight. It’s about big, quality fights,” Warren iterated.
“The fighters will be getting regular exposure. Eight to ten shows per year on Sky was not enough for my fighters. I’ve got a contract I’ll see out until June next year but in the meantime my fighters will be getting fights. Amateurs turning pro can now get eight to ten fights per year. It’s fabulous and great for boxing. I’m putting my heart and soul into this to ensure it’s a success.”
Warren has been liaising with the top promoters on the planet, he said: “We’ve done a deal with Sauerland and we’re working with Golden Boy Promotions… that tells you where we’re coming from, we’re going for the best. I’ve spoken to Bob Arum [Top Rank founder] and Richard Schaefer [Golden Boy CEO] about it.”
All sorts of fights will be broadcast on Box Nation, not just boxing, but mixed martial arts to, in order to satisfy the growing demand for the UFC: “I’m a boxing man not a mixed martial arts fan but this is what the fans want, not what I want,” Warren noted. “So MMA will be on there. But one thing is for certain, we’re not having kids fighting,” he said, a reference to the misplaced controversy that had arisen in light of eight-year-olds practicing ju-jitsu in a cage in the north of England.
Two of Warren’s fighters, Cleverly and Bellew, expressed their excitement at being able to strut their styles on the channel. Cleverly said: “The viewing figures will be good because of the fights. We’ve got a good table of talent here. All the other fights with Sauerland and Golden Boy, we’ve got the best promoters in the world and the best fighters.”
Tony Bellew commented: “I’ve never heard a schedule so exciting to be honest. It’s massive for boxing.”