Monday, June 1, 2009

British Scene Weekend Recap: Edwards, Sutherland and Sykes All Win

This past Friday at the Fenton Manor Sports Complex in Stoke, Commonwealth flyweight champion Chris Edwards made the first defence of his title against tough challenger Usman Ahmed.

Also in action were Gary Sykes and Anthony Crolla who battled it out in a British super-featherweight title eliminator, as well as super-middleweight Darren Sutherland who looked impressive in his 3rd pro outing.

Dave Oakes has all the details.

Check out our preview of the show: Edwards vs Ahmed

Friday May 29

Edwards, Sutherland and Sykes are Winners in Stoke

By Dave Oakes

Chris Edwards retained his British and Commonwealth flyweight titles on Friday night after beating Usman Ahmed on points.

The more experienced Edwards was always in control of the fight but was made to work hard for the victory against the brave but outgunned Ahmed.

Edwards made a quick start to the fight, crashing several hard left hooks to the body and head of the challenger. Ahmed responded well but his punches were having little effect on Edwards who kept marching forward.

As the rounds went by Ahmed began to look more dishevelled and the fight became more one-sided, but to his credit Ahmed kept battling away trying in vain to land a punch that could turn the fight in his favour.

The only blemish of the night for Edwards came when he was harshly deducted a point in the eighth round for hitting on the break. With such a vociferous crowd cheering him on I wasn’t surprised that Edwards couldn’t hear the break call. Therefore I was a bit surprised that the referee decided to deduct a point at what was Edwards’ only infringement of the night.

Edwards looked on the verge of stopping Ahmed on a few occasions late on but couldn’t quite put the punches together to force the stoppage. Ahmed was on a survival mission in the last two rounds and bravely kept throwing enough punches back to deter the referee from stepping in.

Both fighters received a great reception from the fans at the final bell. All three judges were in agreement that Edwards had won the fight. Two judges had the fight 118-109 with the other scoring it 117-111. I also had it 118-109.

Edwards should make another defence in September, with Ashley Sexton being the most likely opponent after Sexton easily came through a six rounder against Delroy Spencer on the undercard. Ahmed comes away with his reputation enhanced and should now be advised to have a few more learning fights before taking the step up to championship level again.

On the undercard…

Darren Sutherland bettered his old amateur and Olympic rival James DeGale by stopping tough journeyman Vepkhia Tchilaia in the fourth round. DeGale was forced to go the distance by the tough Georgian on his debut three months ago.

Sutherland was in total control from start to finish, boxing behind a beautiful looking jab, taking his time and mixing shots from head to body. He really looks like he could become a major force in the super-middleweight division in the next few years.

The stoppage came halfway through the fourth round when the referee jumped in to stop the fight after Tchilaia was taking far too many punches for his own safety.

Sutherland moves to 3-0 (3) and is already looking capable of taking a step up in class. A fight against someone like Paul David or Nathan King would be a good step up without being too much of risk at this stage of his career.

The fight of the night was undoubtedly the British super-featherweight title eliminator between Gary Sykes and Anthony Crolla. The fight was a barnstorming back and forth affair with both lads having successful periods and both having to suck it up at some stages before firing back again.

Both fighters threw well over 900 punches each in a ten round fight; it was a non-stop battle that everyone in the venue was thrilled to have witnessed.

Sykes’ heavier punches were just about giving him the upper hand and this is what swayed the fight his way with the referee scoring the bout 97-94 in his favour.

Sykes is now guaranteed a shot at the title before the end of the year. Current champion Kevin Mitchell will be looking to relinquish his belt if he gets a world title shot against Roman Martinez. That would pave the way nicely for a Sykes-Crolla rematch.

e-mail Dave Oakes