Monday, May 25, 2009

British Scene: Cleverly, Barker and Fury Score Stoppages

It was a busy weekend in British boxing with both Sky and ITV featuring Commonwealth title contests.

On Friday, Nathan Cleverly defended his light-heavyweight belt against Billy Boyle, while on Saturday Darren Barker (pictured right) put his middleweight crown on the line against Darren McDermott.

Dave Oakes and Matt Chudley have all the details

Photos © Justin McKie

Check out the previews of both shows: Barker vs McDermott & Cleverly vs Boyle

Friday May 22

Cleverly Stops Boyle in Two

By Dave Oakes

Nathan Cleverly retained his Commonwealth light-heavy title on Friday night after stopping the tough but limited Billy Boyle in two one-sided rounds at the York Hall, Bethnal Green.

Cleverly controlled the fight from start to finish with the much shorter Boyle unable to land a single punch of note. The fight soon settled into a pattern of Boyle trying to close the range and Cleverly hitting him with sharp jabs and straight rights before moving out of range.

After a one-sided battering in the first round, you knew that Boyle was in for a hard night’s work. The ending still came earlier than most expected though, when Cleverly trapped Boyle on the ropes and began to hammer home some heavy looking punches towards the end of the second round, Boyles trainer, Glyn Rhodes, jumped in to safe his fighter from taking any more punishment.

Rhodes complained bitterly about the fight being stopped, but in truth, it saved him from taking a sustained beating. The end would’ve come within the next two rounds anyway.

Cleverly is scheduled to fight Danny McIntosh on July 18th for the vacant British title in what should be a much more competitive fight.

On the undercard…

Kevin Mitchell needed just three rounds to stop late substitute Lanquaye Wilson. Mitchell struggled to find his rhythm in the first two rounds and was looking rusty after nearly a year out due to a hand injury.

He was just starting to find his feet in the third round when the referee, Dave Parris, prematurely stopped the bout with Wilson still on his feet and not looking in trouble. Mitchell had landed a couple of heavy shots but the Ghanaian had taken them well enough and in my opinion, should’ve been allowed to continue.

Heavyweight prospect Derek Chisora got away with chewing on Paul Butlin’s ear to take a wide points decision to keep his unbeaten record.

The controversy came in the fifth round when Chisora was tied up against the ropes with Butlin resting his head on his chest. He decided this was the perfect opportunity to have a munch on Butlin’s ear and stooped low to emulate the Mike Tyson incident of yesteryear. It was a moment of madness and one he was very lucky to get away with, he can consider himself very fortunate that the referee was unable to see it.

The incident took the shine of what had been a good performance up until that point. Chisora went on win 79-72 on the referee’s scorecard but major questions have got to be asked about whether or not he’s got the temperament required to succeed against higher level opponents.

e-mail Dave Oakes

Saturday, May 23

Barker and Fury Score Stoppage Victories

By Matt Chudley

Darren Barker impressively stopped English champion Darren McDermott this past Saturday night at the Watford Coliseum to retain his commonwealth title and set up a marquee fight with British champion Matthew Macklin.

Though the eventual outcome appeared in little doubt, the ending to the fight saw referee Dave Paris at the centre of controversy once again. After Paris's contentious handling of the climax to the Martin Rogan-Sam Sexton fight last Friday, the referee angered many with his somewhat premature stoppage of McDermott. Outclassed, but still competitive, McDermott was not given a chance to continue after being put down in the fourth, despite not appearing to be seriously hurt.

Before the bell it appeared that McDermott's physical attributes may cause some difficulties for the unbeaten North Londoner. From the outset though the undersized Barker used his movement and quick reactions to surprisingly out jab his larger opponent who possessed a significant height and reach advantages.

By the third round, Barker had settled into a comfortable rhythm, and McDermott's lack of head movement was being punished consistently with 1-2 combinations and lead right hands. The challenger still fired back and appeared resolute, but much of his work was being caught by the arms and gloves of the champion.

The end came at 2:30 of the fourth round. After catching McDermott's attention with a solid jab, Barker put the challenger down with a big right hand that landed on the side of the chin. Figuring that the fight was on its way to a predictable conclusion and that McDermott may have been shipping a few straight rights, Paris waved off the contest. With his career at stake in possibly his last big opportunity, the Black Country fighter understandably felt it was a quick call.

With the fight doubling as a British title eliminator, Barker now finds himself in line for a shot at the all action Matthew Macklin after the latter's voluntary on the Khan-Kotelnik undercard. If promoters Frank Warren and Mick Hennessy are unable to agree terms the British boxing board of control will hold purse bids for the fight which is likely to take place in September or October.

In an eagerly awaited co-feature, heavyweight sensation Tyson Fury (pictured left) moved into British title contention by impressively stopping fellow British Heavyweight hopeful Scott Belshaw.

The wild and clumsy, but vicious swings of the Belfast fighter were way too crude to trouble the 20 year old Fury. The Cheshire youngster employed a cultured and much improved body attack to discourage and finish the previously 10-1 Belshaw at 0:52 of the second round.

In a classy move, Fury opted not to pile on further damage to his winded opponent, who after being down twice in round one, was still standing but doubled over in pain from a left hook to the body at the end.

On the undercard...

Staying busy was Bermondsey-based middleweight Matthew Thirwall who stopped former sparring partner and good friend George Hillyard. Hillyard’s corner called it off in between the 4th and 5th rounds after a big left hook put their man down at the end of the round. Along with Coventry’s Steve Bendall, the 19-3 Thirwall is now a possible opponent for Matt Macklin on the 27th of June for his voluntary defense.

e-mail Matt Chudley