Saturday, July 4, 2009

British Scene: 2009's Best Fights (so far)

It's been an exciting six months in British and Irish rings, and with no shortage of quality battles to choose from, Dave Oakes and Matt Chudley had a difficult task in paring down the list of worthy candidates.

Here are their choices...

Make sure to check out The Boxing Bulletin's British Scene every Monday and Thursday for previews and recaps of all the big fight cards from the UK and Ireland.

1. Bernard Dunne vs Ricardo Cordoba

Photo © Eoin Campbell

Not many people gave Dunne a chance when he challenged the tough Panamanian for the WBA super-bantamweight title in March, and even fewer people thought he would stop Cordoba. That’s exactly what he did though, in what was a thrill a minute fight that included six knockdowns and some ferocious exchanges.

Dunne’s chin was being questioned going into the fight after his one round capitulation against Kiko Martinez, but he showed tremendous resolve in getting off the canvas twice in the 5th round. This was after he’d already dropped Cordoba in the 3rd and was looking the stronger fighter, the knockdowns allowed Cordoba a way back into the fight but Dunne was not to be deterred and fought back toe-to-toe to eventually wear down Cordoba in the 11th round, dropping the champion three times before the referee stopped the fight.

- Dave Oakes

Check out the rest of Eoin Campbell's photos from this memorable bout.

2. Tony Quigley vs Tony Dodson

Down on the cards, Tony Quigley dramatically stopped fellow Scouser Tony Dodson in the last round of their British super-middleweight title clash.

The tiring Dodson had recovered brilliantly after being down, cut and close to being stopped in the 2nd round to build up an unassailable lead on the scorecards going into the 11th. Needing the stoppage, Quigley hurt Dodson late in the round, and piled on the pressure in the 12th, capping the stirring comeback by sending Dodson to the canvas twice, forcing referee Victor Loughling to call a halt to the thrilling contest.

- Matt Chudley

3. Martin Rogan vs Matt Skelton

Despite the lack of talent and exciting fights on the world stage, the British heavyweight scene has shown some very promising signs this year with the emergence of a handful of exciting prospects.

Whilst the youngsters were learning their trade, it was two of the older fighters that provided the best heavyweight fight of the year so far. The likable Martin Rogan won the Commonwealth title after a bruising encounter with the usually dire to watch Matt Skelton. Rogan was the aggressor throughout the fight but Skelton had his moments and put in a gutsy effort. The fight was close until the midpoint when Skelton seemed to tire, Rogan’s better fitness in addition to his willpower came to the forefront and he wore down Skelton before bludgeoning him to the canvas and stopping him in the 11th round.

- Dave Oakes

4. John Murray vs Lee McAllister

Photo © Chris Royle

Fleet footed Lee McAllister started his British title challenge against John Murray (pictured) impressively, out-boxing the unbeaten pressure fighter from the outside and using his sharper reflexes to stay out of trouble. However against the advice of his corner, McAllister dispensed with his thus far successful game plan and decided to stand and trade with Murray in the 5th round. It proved a costly mistake, as Murray unloaded heavy shots to the body as well as bloodying McAllister’s nose.

With the damage impairing McAllister’s mobility, he was no longer able to pick and choose the exchanges and became an increasingly easier target for the Manchester fighter’s sustained pressure. In the 8th, Murray ended the spirited contest by dropping the plucky Scotsman with a ripping left hook to the body.

- Matt Chudley

5. Rob Norton vs David Dolan

This was a fight that surprised a lot of people. It was viewed as being a potentially cagey fight with the skilful Dolan expected to outbox the champion. Things don’t always go as planned though, especially in boxing. Dolan scored three knockdowns, the second of which looked like a finisher, but still lost the fight as both fighters forgot about tactics and just went looking for the knockout.

Dolan was dropped twice as well, both of which were very debatable having looked like a slip and a push, it didn’t make a huge difference on the scorecards though, as the judges scored the fight in favour of Norton by surprisingly wide margins. This is another fight where a rematch is being discussed and one which all British fans are eagerly anticipating.

- Dave Oakes

Honourable mentions

Martin Lindsay’s demolishing of the undefeated Paul Appleby in an unforgettably loud Ulster Hall, Gary Sykes beating Anthony Crolla in an undercard classic, Sam Sexton defeating the always entertaining Martin Rogan in another heavyweight war and Jamie Moore, who hasn’t been in any thrillers so far this year but no top fight list is complete without his name being mentioned somewhere.

e-mail Dave Oakes

e-mail Matt Chudley