Alan Dawson – London
In his tenth professional prizefight, Tony Jeffries struggled to exert his authority over slippery southpaw Paul Morby in an eight round super middleweight bout at the Doncaster Dome in Yorkshire on Saturday, September 3. Jeffries failed to shine as he, in the words of trainer Tommy Brooks “abandoned his jab“. He lacked rhythm as he became over-reliant on his overhand right, however, he still ultimately had too much for Morby who succeeded in making Jeffries work.
Referee decision: 80-72 to Jeffries.
Undefeated Tony Jeffries hoped to propel his stuttering yet promising career onto a more sustainable and commercially-aware track as, in his debut 2011 contest, he took on super middleweight journeyman Paul Morby. Under the tutelage of noteworthy trainer Tommy Brooks, a stellar performance against what should be an over-matched opponent would be a mandatory requirement for Jeffries; a bronze medal Olympian at the 2008 Games in Beijing.
The Mackem took control of the centre of the ring from the opening of the contest, showed intuitive head movement to slip under Morby’s lead shots and exerted his own authoritative jab. Patient, Jeffries did not lunge into his attack as he got to grips with Morby’s southpaw stance and slippery posturing. Jeffries expelled three punch combination moves from his artillery and, while the second shot landed, it was not flush on the money shots on Morby’s head.
Jeffries’ power had been likened to Evander Holyfield by trainer Brooks, even though there is a gap of 30-50lbs between the two athletes. The 26-year-old has a thunderous right hand, however, while his accuracy was strong in the opening two rounds, he had yet to catch Morby clean with a 100 percent power punch.
Twice in the second stanza, though, Morby was wobbled by Jeffries so the signals were there that he could secure a knockout victory against an awkward operator who had only been stopped once in his six defeats. Jeffries’ best punch had been the overhand right; a shot that he attached to his orthodox jab.
In the third round, Morby’s tentative tactics again took hold as Jeffries sought to take the fight to his adversary while Morby used lateral movement and clinches to negate his opponent’s aggression. The head-bound combinations from close-range forced Morby to back away and the only times the Pompey southpaw appeared comfortable on the inside was when he was spoiling and could land short hook punches to Jeffries’ midsection.
Morby proved tough to pin down as he would be loathe to plant his feet. He was looking to survive. Jeffries was told between rounds by Brooks that he was throwing his right hand too much in order to drop Morby and it would often miss, he would find more success if he led more often with his jab. Such instruction was not taken heed of as Jeffries would lead with the right for the majority of the fourth.
The jab would also create good mid-range distance between himself and Morby but, without it, Jeffries would step too close to his opponent which allowed Morby to clinch and throw his cheeky hook punches to the body. Jeffries began the fifth round by clipping Morby with a crunching hook shot, moments later he followed that up with a hook to the breadbasket.
The referee halted proceedings midway through the round to alert the ringside judges to a cut* that had been caused by an accidental clash of heads. Jeffries, who had been cut in three of his last four fights, had a laceration to the right of his right eye.
Proceedings in the sixth round became a bit more wild. Brooks had informed Jeffries to punch “one-two-three, hook to the body,” however, by the time boxing had restarted, the instruction had either been forgotten, or ignored. The accuracy that Jeffries enjoyed at the beginning of the fight had been diminished by the latter rounds and he failed to find the right distance to stand when trying to land. A plus point to Jeffries’ work was that he began to combat Morby’s spoiling by pummeling his opponent’s body.
The respect that Morby had paid to Jeffries’ power by using constant foot movement and spoiling had been reduced as the fight had gone on as his guard, when at mid-range, had lowered. Because of this, it allowed Jeffries – like a shark to blood – to crunch wide hook shots against Morby’s chin.
For the majority of the fight, despite losing every round, Morby had fulfilled his job of surviving and making things awkward for Jeffries who, after a start that had potential to be brutal, struggled to figure out his opponent. It was a tough night’s work which will draw censure more so than praise, but with the win Jeffries rose to 9-0-1, 6ko while Morby dropped to 6-7-1, 0ko.
“It was frustrating,” Jeffries said to Sky Sports One after the win. “I only found out I was fighting a southpaw a week ago so didn’t have the best sparring. I want to have tougher tests. I’m not grumbling, I’ll go back to the gym with Tommy. I was devastated [with the cut] and it’s not as bad as the last one so I’m not worried.”
Promoter Frank Maloney said: “He was too predictable from round one to round eight.”
*The cut was alleged to “not be a problem” but would require an estimated five stitches according to Jeffries’ corner.