Monday, May 18, 2009

British Scene Weekend Recap: Sexton Stuns Rogan

There was a fair bit of controversy over the ending of the Martin Rogan vs Sam Sexton Commonwealth heavyweight title bout this past Friday in Belfast.

Matt Chudley has the details, along with some notes on the under-card bouts.

Friday May 15

Rogan Controversially Stopped by Sexton

By Matt Chudley

Sam Sexton relieved Martin Rogan of his Commonwealth title this past Friday in one of the more memorable heavyweight fights of recent memory. The circumstances however were highly controversial as the refereeing of Dave Paris became the deciding factor in the contest, leaving a packed house at the Odyssey Arena incensed.

From the outset it was clear that the underdog Sexton had capable enough boxing skills to use his superior reach to outscore and control Rogan from the outside. Using these advantages, Sexton started well, surprisingly rocking Rogan in the second, when single right hands staggered the hometown fighter. Sexton continued to pot-shot the oncoming Rogan over the next three rounds, while successfully tying him up on the inside.

Cheered on by the partisan home crowd, Rogan kept to his game plan, and by the mid-rounds his pressure and superior conditioning were beginning to tell. The tiring Sexton was becoming less mobile, and Rogan’s lunging attacks were now starting to find the target, although by this time, an ominous swelling had appeared under his left eye.

In the 7th round, with the direction of the fight turning, Sexton showed his mettle and fought back hard. Standing his ground, he wobbled Rogan on multiple occasions with right hands that left the Irishman hanging on for dear life in the clinch.

At the start of the 8th, Rogan’s left eye was almost completely shut, but he kept putting the pressure on, and his desperate swings paid off when he badly hurt the challenger with a right hand, left hook combination. To avoid the onslaught, a lost and defenseless Sexton turned his back in the corner in an attempt to shield himself from further punishment. With Rogan still swinging away, Paris stepped in to get Rogan a drawn out warning for hitting behind the head, which afforded the challenger precious time to recover.

It was not long before Sexton was in big trouble again, and after he stumbled backwards with his hands down, the fight looked to be over. However, in a bizarre act of sportsmanship, Rogan held back and motioned for Paris to stop the fight, but the man in charge did not oblige.

Having passed up the opportunity to attack his seemingly defenseless opponent, Rogan went back to worth with Sexton still just hanging on, only for Paris to again stop the action and take Sexton over to his corner for his gum-shield to be put back in. The delay took at least 15 seconds, and with every moment precious to Rogan due to the circumstances, it proved to be a huge break for Sexton.

A few moments after the bout had resumed, Paris called time and sent Rogan over to the ring doctor. Unable to see out of his left eye, Rogan was pulled out by the doctor, giving the TKO victory and Commonwealth title to the man from Norwich and stunning the hometown crowd.

Though a rematch appears on the cards, promoter Frank Warren may have some hard words for his matchmaker Dean Powell. Sexton had been selected as a voluntary defense for Rogan’s big homecoming and despite his lesser accomplishments, in hindsight appears to posses a style that will always give the Irishman problems.

On the undercard…

Faced with a chorus of boos, Olympic middleweight Gold medalist James DeGale turned in a stunning performance to relieve some of the pressure that resulted from his lackluster debut. Southpaw DeGale caught 5-0 Czech fighter Jindrich Kubin with a hard right hook that sent the slightly off balance Kubin down early in the 1st. Kubin was never given a chance to recover as the fired up DeGale, having switched to orthodox stance, finished him off with an onslaught of measured right hands.

Former amateur World Champion, Frankie Gavin faced a far less game opponent in the shape of Frenchman Mourad Frarema. The cagey Frarema was on his bike from the opening bell. Normally a counter-puncher himself, Gavin used the jab effectively to eventually catch-up to the Frenchman and used a two fisted attack to force a referee stoppage at the bell for the third round.

19 Year old Olympian Billy Joe Saunders used a vicious body attack to break down 2-1 German Ronny Gabel in the 2nd to move to 2(2)-0.

Veteran former British welterweight champion, Neil Sinclair did give the locals some cause for celebration, as the Belfast fighter stopped County Mayo's Henry Coyle to capture the Irish light-middleweight title.

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